South-hill, Bradford Co., Pa., March 5, 1841.
BR. BEEBE: – Being requested to make a short communication to you, (which you will find at the bottom) I send you, to accompany it, a few of my thoughts on a part of the twenty-fifth chapter of Isaiah, for your perusal.
Verses 1 & 2: – Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt! Add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices; yet will I distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow; and it shall be unto me as Ariel. I think the prophet was foretelling events the antitype of which is found in the gospel dispensation. Christ is the antitypical David. (See Ezek. xxxiv. 23, & Luke i. 32.) The Jewish national church was in some sense a figure of the gospel church; and the literal Zion where David dwelt, typical of Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. The literal city became corrupt, and so have gospel churches become. Ariel signifies altar, or lion, light of God. Now I take it thus: the city where David dwelt was at, or so near the place where the tribes went up to attend their three annual festivals, that on all suitable occasions they could enjoy the presence of their king at the altar, and associate with him in their sacrifices: so the church enjoys the presence of Christ when they offer the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Or if we call it lion, Christ is the Lion of the tribe of Judah; and when his people enjoy communion with him at the altar, they are as bold as a lion, having the same spirit with Him. Or if we say, light of God, Christ is the Light of his people, or the light which God gives his people: in his light we see light. The glory of God and the Lamb is the light of the city.
Then I think we have it thus: Woe to Ariel, the church in the gospel dispensation, under certain circumstances and for certain causes, to wit: corruptions, &c. The Lord will distress Ariel [the church] and there shall be heaviness and sorrow. And well may it be expected, when he spues them out of his mouth as he did the church in Laodicea? for their lukewarmness.
Verses 3 & 4: “And I will camp against thee round about, and will lay siege against the with a mount; and I will raise forts against thee, and thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be as of one that hath a familiar spirit out of the ground; and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.” And thou shalt be brought down – be poor, be oppressed, despised and persecuted. Shalt speak out of the ground – sometimes hardly dare tell what they think. Again, Thy speech shall be low out of the dust, – as of one that hath a familiar spirit – In trying times longing for deliverance and enlargement; looking to some great men or men, who are but dust, and depending on human effort, as on Constantine, or Fuller, or some other combination of men, for deliverance, instead of looking to God and trusting wholly in him. At such times, and on such occasions, Jezebel, the MISTRESS OF WITCHCRAFT, is always ready to help, and to teach and seduce the Lord’s servants to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols.
Verse 5: “Moreover the multitude of thy strangers shall be like small dust, and the multitude of the terrible ones shall be as chaff that passeth away, yea, it shall be at an instant, suddenly.” The multitude of thy strangers shall be like small dust: – Strange children, the children of strange wives and of whoredom, which have been begotten by their treacherous dealing against the Lord, under the influence of that familiar spirit possessed by Jezebel, who taught them to commit fornication, &c. Shall be like small dust: – numerous, troublesome and worthless. And the multitude of the terrible ones shall be as chaff that passeth away, – at an instant suddenly. When the LORD OF HOSTS visits the church with thunder, with earthquake, with storm and tempest and the flame of devouring fire, (as in v. 6) the strangers, strange children, however numerous, troublesome or terrible they may have been, are then blown out of the church and burned. Or, as John said, His fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat unto the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with the unquenchable fire.
Verses 7 & 8: “And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, [the gospel church] even all that fight against her and her munition, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision. It shall even be as when a hungry man dreameth, and behold he eateth, but he awaketh and behold his soul is empty; or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and behold he drinketh, but he awaketh and behold he is faint and his soul hath appetite.” So shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against Mount Zion. The prospects and hopes of all the enemies of God and his people, are but as a dream of a night vision. When the strange children, and the terrible ones, can no longer live in the church, then, like Ishmael, they mock, and, like Cain and Esau, they hate and seek to kill, and the unclean spirits, like frogs, that came out of the mouths of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet, gather them to battle against the church of the living God; and with their mode of operation, we, my brother, are at this day somewhat acquainted. If the prophet lived at the present time, could he tell more plainly of certain men that now appear and things that are now taking place? See the votaries of the present religious institutions: like men dreaming of eating and drinking, they dream of evangelizing the world. Surely, should they awake now, they would be as much dissatisfied as a man dreaming of eating, &c. is, when he awakes; – and their victory over them that hold the pure testimony is only dreamed of. Their success in their operations is as a dream of a night vision; yea, their religious exercises and ecstacies, founded on their exertions and their monied societies, are but dreams. This is evident to all that walk in the light of truth, who are acquainted therewith, with themselves, and with the power of God. All that fight against the church of God, and her munition, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision. The Lord is the Munition or Strength of his people: he is their strong Rock, their strong Tower, &c; and they that fight against them fight against God. What, my brother, can dust and ashed do, though they have a ministry taught in the schools of men, and thousands of money collected by their money-hunting priests, for their different societies, to carry on their mammoth operations? Though they, like the Syrians, fill the country, yet the people of God, though they be but like two little flocks of kids, having the Lord for their Munition, shall overcome them; in the name of the Lord they shall put them to fight. The Lord can preserve his people from or among them as he preserves lambs among wolves. The Lord hath said to his people that walk in the truth, No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment, thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me saith the Lord. Therefore may we say, as in the ninth verse, Stay yourselves and wonder; cry ye out, and cry, They are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. That they are drunken is easily known by their staggering and stumbling; and not one of them could walk erect, straight and steady, were it to save their souls from endless woe. They stagger in their system of doctrine; they stagger in their calculations; they stagger in their operations; they stumble at the law; they stumble in judgment; they stumble at noonday as blind men, yea, they stumble at the stumbling stone.
Verses 11 & 12: The vision of all (of them) is become – as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed: and the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I am not learned. The vision of all, &c. The vision of instruction from god to his people, is a sealed book to men who are trusting to the study of Hebrew, Greek and Latin, heathen mythology, polytheism and belles-lettres, to qualify them for the gospel ministry. None, whether otherwise learned or ignorant, can understand it, but according to the gift of the grace of God unto them, by the effectual working of his power.
Verse 13: “Wherefore the Lord said, forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with lips do honor me; but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men. Therefore behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder; the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” For as much as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, &c. Hear the Savior say to the Pharisees. Matt. xv. 7-9. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophecy of you, saying, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. As in water, face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.” Can anything come nearer the case and character of the ancient Pharisees in this respect, than the men who are now so engaged in strong cries, and money prayers; and even engaged in monthly concerts of prayer, that God would save the heathen, and prosper their other professedly benevolent operations? While their hearts are so far from believing that God either can or will save the heathen without their aid; that they depend on the liberality of the public, to furnish money to educate their ministers to send to convert them; and also to support them while they are converting them. And for the money they seem to pray to men with as much fervency, as they pray to God for the heathen. And their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men. This seems to answer. 1st: To their teaching religion in their infant and sunday schools. 2d: To the doctrine they generally teach of the great importance of money and human effort, for the salvation of souls. 3d: To the spirit and practice of witchcraft, or the magic art, by which they draw men into their net. And 4th: To their linsey woolsey stuff, or mixture in word of law and grace for a covering or cloak, by which to hide their abominations. But, The wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. The Apostle in his first letter to the Corinthians, and his first chapter, seems to bring this forward, to correct the notion that some of the heathen had embraced, in relation to human wisdom; and says, It is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this word? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? He saith also, The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. Yet we see men professing godliness, as with a Bible in their their hand, professing to believe it; and yet bold and heaven-daring enough to contradict it; and with great zeal and profession of love to god, and confidence in him; looking to the wisdom of men, instead of the wisdom of God, for the increase of his government.
Verse 14: “Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark; and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?”
I must close and leave them under the woe, or curse of God; where they are stationed in his holy book, assured that the things written therein shall be fulfilled. In Isa. v. 21, we find, “Woe to them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” And (in the 23, 24 verses,) “Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him. Therefore, as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottonness, and their blossom shall go up as the dust, because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
I still remain under the influence of a powerful evidence that I am a sinner; and ahve some consolation in hope of being saved.
Signs of the Times
Volume 9, No. 7.
April 1, 1841