Orwell, Bradford Co. Pa.
March 20, 1835
BROTHER BEEBE, I have only time to tell you, that in my visit to Windham, I find the Church has been labouring under trials, partly broken and few in number. There having been some mismanagement, it offered an opportunity for the introduction of a preacher among them, that claimed to be sound in doctrine, and agreed with those that held the doctrine of divine sovereignty, distinguished grace, &c. I had an opportunity to hear him preach, and in consequence of it I learned something that I do not remember learning before; to me it has unravelled what has been mysterious for a long time. The idea is this: that, the Gospel is addressed to men as rational beings, and that the rational faculties have not been impaired by the fall. The sentiment was attempted to be vindicated and enlarged upon to show that though men were totally morally depraved, which I understand to mean totally destitute of any disposition of love or serve God, yet as rational beings they had power to obey the Gospel.
To allow that the rational powers were impaired by the fall, would destroy the idea of accountability. The rational powers not being impaired by sin, just opens the door for the use of means; and presents the great necessity and importance of being in earnest to teach religion by every means they can, and thus become workers with God in the great work of converting the world. In short, to me it reads thus: it is God to reveal the outlines of the plan, employ us, and succeed our effort; i. e., give us opportunity with life, health, learning and money; it is ours then to preach, teach, and use all our efforts, with all the plans we can invent to instruct, persuade, flatter, threaten, and enforce by the power of moral suasion and union of effort, combining all of every order with the world, that we can get to join in our different ranks, to help us to present this gospel to our fellow men in such an attractive manner that they will believe. And as it is their to believe and they having natural power to do so – if we can make them believe according to the working of the mighty power of our united efforts, then they will be saved and we shall share the glory of labouring together with God.
This I think, is another Gospel; yet they so cover it up and daub it over, that they entangle and draw away (I have no doubt) many of the dear children of God, who for a season will have to mourn in captivity, and serve in hard bondage. But the Lord reigns, and blessed be his holy name. The government is on the shoulder of Jesus, and he will rule until all things are subdued unto him.
I am in haste, yours,
Signs of the Times
Volume 3, No. 8
April 15, 1835