Orwell, Bradford Co., Pa.
Aug. 15, 1835.
BRO. BEEBE: As I have had another turn of thinking, I have concluded to send you a few of my thoughts, and if you please you may present them to the publick. I was reading the 31st Chap. of Isa., and I think it is somewhat analogous to the popular religious movements of the present time. It is written, “Wo to them that go down to Egypt for help.” &c. Although Israel had seen the wonders the Lord had wrought for them, in saving them from their enemies, and in delivering them out of great and sore troubles; yet they would go down to Egypt for help, and stay upon horses and trust in chariots, because they were many, and in horsemen because they were strong; but they looked not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither sought the Lord!
How plain, thinks I, is the comparison; the people that are now bearing the appellation of the people of God, and call God their Father, and tell of the wonders he has done by the power of his grace in bringing them up from the horrible pit, and delivering them from the curse of the law and the power of sin; yet they will go to men of the world for help. As Egypt was under the curse, so are unconverted men; as the Egyptians were idolaters, they were a snare to Israel – so are carnal men to God’s children when they go to them for help in religion. The reason that Israel went down to Egypt for help, was, because they followed that carnal disposition which feared to trust alone in God for the accomplishment of his purpose, in his own way and time; and for the same reasons are the popular institutions of the day depended upon by those that follow them. Israel stayed on horses. Now from Job’s description of the horse, one would be apt to think him mighty in battle; and so it appears that the leaders of the popular monied religious institutions, think that their moned exertions are. They trusted in chariots because they were many; – so these trust in the numerous, humanly devised, national religious institutions, and their literary attainments, with their winged messengers of mercy, so called, flying as on the wings of the wind, to hear, not the gospel of Christ, but a conditional plan of salvation. They also trusted in horsemen, because they were very strong; so these depend much upon their agents, as horsemen, to stir up the people to give their money, and force auxiliaries wherever they can throughout the earth, to make their forces strong. But they looked not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither did they seek the Lord; yet they no doubt called themselves the Lord’s people, and would sirname themselves by the name of Israel. Even so now, there are many who will subscribe to a sound creed, call themselves the Lord’s people, and who think they can get along well enough all mixed up with the world in their humanly invented religious operations, though every point is not as they believe, and sirname themselves the gospel Israel. These appear to have no more regard to pure gospel doctrine or practice, then the seen women had for the man by whose name they wished to be called, when they said, we will eat our own bread and wear our own apparel, only let us be called by thy name to take away our reproach. “Yet he (the Lord) is wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words: but will arise against the house of evil doers, and against the house of evil doers, and against the help of those that work iniquity:” verse 2. Herein my poor fainting soul found a little comfort. God is wise and will not call back his words; he hath declared the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure. The government is on the shoulder of Jesus. He saith to his people, Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? Ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God besides me? yea there is no God; I know not any. He frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; he turneth the wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish.
“Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord stretcheth out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they shall fail together. As birds flying so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it. Turn ye unto him from whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted. For In that day every man shall cast away his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which your own hands have made unto you for a sin:” verses 3,4,5,6,7. How plain it appears that men’s confidence in the great exertions they are making for the salvation of the world, will prove abortive. Had Isaiah lived in these days, and in the present time, he could not have better told what men under the influence of a false zeal were doing, and what surely would be the event. The Egyptians are men, and not God; therefore, they are cursed that put their trust in them. So we read, Cursed be that man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. And their horses are flesh, and not spirit. O the folly! the wickedness! of trusting in such corruptible things to build an habitation for God. Surely their turning things upside down, shall be esteemed as the potters clay. A man is not delivered by much strength, and a horse is a vain thing for safety; neither shall he deliver any by his great strength. This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, not by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.
Surely, I think, the great claims that they profess to have upon us for money, to send the gospel to the heathen; and their boasted achievements in obtaining accessions to their number of converts, looks much more like the revelation of the man of sin, than it does like building a pure gospel church. Surely in their great national religious societies (if there are any saints among them, and I hope that there are some) they are unequally yoked together with unbelievers; a plain breach of divine rule. For there is no more concord between the spiritual enjoyments, exercises, appetites and views of the children of God, and those of unregenerated men, though they are directors of a missionary convention together, than there is between Christ and the Devil. Therefore, let all such as love God, that can trust alone in him, come out from among them and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing; for as birds flying, so will the Lord defend, protect, deliver and save his people, that trust in him. While he executes the wo! the curse!! upon them that go down to Egypt for help in time of trouble, or trust in their own works, or the works or prayer of others, or the united exertions of any, or of all the new fangled societies or inventions of man, as a condition either of their own salvation, or the salvation of others.
I am, dear Brother,
Your concomitant in tribulation,
Signs of the Times
Volume 3, No. 23.
November 11, 1835