“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God?” Micah vi. 8.
BROTHER BEEBE: – Having been requested to give the public, through the Signs, the substance of my views of the above passage, and since preaching from skeletons has become popular, I would (with your permission) give liberty to the fashionable of our day, if any of them should be called up, (as they sometimes are,) to preach without time to prepare, to adopt and use the following sketch, should it suit their taste.
Micah, the Morasthite, prophesied in the days of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and spake the things which he prophetically saw, concerning Samaria and Jerusalem, and in the spirit of holiness called God for a witness against them, yet they would not hear. As their dispensation was typical, and they a figurative people, I shall briefly notice they were once few and feeble, despised of the nations, and oppressed bondmen in Egypt. But with an high and stretched out arm the Lord brought them out of it, and exalted them into a nation. He caused them to multiply as the bud of the field, and they increased and waxed great. And the Lord entered into a covenant with them, and they became his. He thoroughly washed away their blood, and anointed them with oil; clothed them also with broidered work – shod them with badger’s skin – girded them with fine linen, and covered them with silk: decked them also with ornaments, put bracelets upon their hands, and a chain on their neck; a jewel on their forehead, earrings in their ears, and a beautiful crown upon their head. Thus were they decked. And they did eat fine flour, and honey, and oil, and were exceeding beautiful, and did prosper into a kingdom: and their renown went forth among the heathen, for their beauty was perfect, through the comeliness which God put upon them. But they trusted in their own beauty, and poured out their fornications on every one that passed by. See Ezek. xvi. 1-16.
Herein we have a figure of the people called Baptists. Looking back to their rise as a people, we find them hated of all men, for their Master’s name’s sake, esteemed as the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things. Their Head cut off out of the land of the living, crucified as though he was the worst of criminals, and they (his followers) persecuted, imprisoned, scattered, and many of them slain. But Jesus having all power in heaven and earth, was able to rise from the dead, and so to manage the concerns of his kingdom, and control the conduct of his enemies, that his gospel spread, and subjects were gathered, and the visibility of his kingdom increased by means designed by his enemies to destroy it. For notwithstanding the great distress, the deep poverty and many rising billows of trouble which like a deluge threatened to swallow up all that dare to own Christ as their King, with which they were sometimes pressed out of measure and above strength, insomuch that they despaired of life; yea, had the sentence of death in themselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: and their insignificance and feeble circumstances brought to view by the Lord’s comparing them to lambs among wolves, together with their own sensibility of their native corruption, unworthiness, and utter incompentency to succeed in any important enterprise, – helpless and deplorable, as every thing to the eye of natural sense might seem, yet the Lord directed that they should confidently trust in him; and by the experience of his grace they enjoyed an acquaintance with, and confidence in him who is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent; and, receiving life from him, strength by him, and comfort in him, they met their various difficulties and potent foes with such firmness and success, as astonished the world. God shedding abroad his love in their hearts – communing with them from the mercy seat – dwelling in them richly by his grace – communicating to them of his fulness – adorning them with gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit – feeding them with the true bread from heaven, and giving his own blood for their drink – working in them both to will and to do of his good pleasure; so comforted them in all their tribulations, and filled them with joy and peace in believing, that they triumphed in the jaws of death, and overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony, and loved not their lives even unto the death.
Thus they grew and increased in number, became famous among the people, and many did cleave to them with flatteries. Satan himself was transformed into an angel of light, and his ministers as the ministers of righteousness. False teachers brought in some dangerous and some damnable heresies – taught the doctrine of Balaam (the love of the wages of unrighteousness, hiring out to preach, hiring ministers, &c.) He also taught Balak to case a stumbling block before the children of Israel, and to commit fornication. The gospel was perverted, some were removed from him that called them into the grace of Christ unto another gospel; some held the doctrine of the Nicolatianes, and that woman Jezebel who called herself a prophetess, was suffered to teach and to seduce the servants of God to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. Thus they became corrupted, would not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts heaped to themselves teachers having itching ears, and were turned unto fables. Some said they were rich and increased in goods, supposing gain to be godliness, trusting in themselves instead of the Lord, depending upon their own plans and following their own inventions, instead of pursuing the plan of God as in the gospel of his Son, saying to the seers see not, and to the prophets prophesy not unto us right things; speak unto smooth things, prophesy deceits. Therefore the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means, and many people love to have it so. So, if a man walking in the spirit of falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and strong drink, (i.e. case and luxuriant living,) he shall be the prophet much esteemed. That the language of the prophets is applicable to men in circumstances represented by the ancient figures is plain, for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. And for the same reason that God anciently complained of Israel for their inconstancy in his worship, he complains of the Baptists for the same things, calling their conduct by the same or similar names. For as the substance answers to the shadow, so have the people called Baptists manifested the same spirit of inconstancy in their profession to worship God. As there was a remnant of Israel in the days of Elias that had not bowed to the image of Baal, even so there is now also a remnant according to the election of grace. And as in the days of Micah the heads of the house of Jacob and princes of the house of Israel abhorred judgment, and perverted all equity, building up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity; the heads thereof judging for reward, the priests teaching for hire, and the prophets divining for money, yet saying they leaned upon the Lord, Is not the Lord among us? none evil can come upon us, – so in the present time we see men professing to be Baptists, and to lean upon the Lord, and to follow the gospel practice, and saying they believe that men are saved by grace, that are mingling with the daughters of the mother of harlots, and following the institutions of men; and occupying the seats of heads and judges in relation to men and measures for the carrying into effect plans of their own, or the inventions of others, professedly as co-workers with God for the salvation of the world; while the titles they boast, the money they pay for their life directorships, with the whole tenor of their conduct, proves as with the light of a sunbeam that they love the uppermost rooms of feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, or the official department of their society system, and to be called of men, rabbi, &c.: and nothing is more plain than that they judge for reward, while they rate men’s religion by the money they pay; and that the priests preach for hire and the prophets divine for money, is true beyond a question, and clearly demonstrated by the facts disclosed in their salary system, and their own testimony that if the money stops their work must stop. Now while all this and much more might easily be proved true, yet their drapery is so smooth, their countenance so solemn, their air so grave, their zeal so great, their profession so holy, their promises so far, their actions sometimes appear so loving and their words apparently so kind, that doubtless some unsuspecting honest minds have been at a loss to know what to do, when they so incessantly dun for at least a few pennys to assist in furnishing the destitute with what they call gospel; and if any such should read over a text, and notice its connexion, it might, yea, would, (if they understood it) dissolve all their doubts on the subject.
While God is denouncing his awful judgments upon such as hate the good and love the evil, who eat the flesh of his people, and flay their skins from off them, and break their bones, and chew them in pieces, as for the pot, &c., he mingles sweet promises to such as are halting, and afflicted &c. He also would encourage them by expostulation, saying, “O my people, remember now what Balak, king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal, that ye may know the righteousness of the Lord.” Then, as though the trembling helpless soul should inquire wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sins of my soul? In answer to such queries our text appears a reply; He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
There is nothing unreasonable in the law, but it is good if we use it lawfully: though it made nothing perfect, it had a shadow of good things to come, and pointed to Christ as the substance of good things hoped for by the poor helpless believer. But if Adam and all his posterity had kept the law till this time, they would have been no nearer heaven than when he was first placed in Eden. As Adam was an earthly man loving God with earthly powers could never fit him for spiritual employment. But as by Adam’s disobedience himself and all his progeny were made sinners, so by the obedience of Christ in fulfilling and answering all the demands of the law for his seed, they were and are made righteous. His sufferings and death and the virtues of his blood were represented by the offerings under the ceremonial law given by Moses to Israel, and as the Lord said unto Moses concerning making the tabernacle, See that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed thee in the mount, – so if under the law they would find Christ answering to their offering, it must be one offered according to the law: nothing else would answer. Cursed was the deceiver which had in his flock a male, and vowed, and sacrificed unto the Lord a corrupt thing. Every thing not directed by the law to be offered was by it considered to be corrupt. How exact must they have been when every thing except one was right, and that only a little strange fire. Two of their priests were slain in one day, and we are told by the Saviour that their worship was vain, while they taught for doctrines the commandments of men. If under the law God was so displeased with the introduction into his worship of that which he had not commanded, that he called it whoredom, how careful ought we to be, who live in the gospel dispensation, not to introduce anything of our own works or plans, either as gospel duties or as any part of the ground or cause of our acceptance with him, lest we subject ourselves to the same charge.
As Christ was the substance of all the shadows in the law, so Christ was the good that was showed. Christ was God manifest in the flesh; Christ was the great expiatory sacrifice; Christ fulfilled the precepts and bore the penalty of the law for his chosen; Christ redeemed them from the curse of the law; answered all it claimed of them, and the law of the Spirit of live in him liberated them from it, – so that to such as the Father hath revealed the Son as their Saviour, Christ is the end of the law of righteousness. They are not under the law but under grace: O how good the thing that God hath shown! Now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held, that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the latter; being delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, and having an experimental union with Christ according to the doctrine of predestination; find Christ our life, Light, Glory and Defence; Christ our King, Captain, Shepherd and Bishop; Christ our Prophet, Priest, Tabernacle, Altar and Sacrifice; Christ our Head, Husband, Friend and Elder Brother; Christ our Rock, Refuge, Rest, Hiding-place, Righteousness, Strong Hold and a place of broad rivers and streams wherein shall go no galley with oars. The arminian row galley never was in Christ, now was there a gallant ship, a worldly popular religion found in him. Christ is their food: they feed upon his flesh; their drink also is his blood. In Christ is their treasure; in him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; in him, with him and by him they are ornamented with the graces of the Spirit as described by the prophet, and their language is like his: I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall be joyful in my God, for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation; he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. Christ is the true Vine, and his people are the branches. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can they except they abide in him. He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good. Christ, then, answers the questions, What doeth the Lord require of thee, &c. Thus, while to do justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with God is substantially what the law requires, Christ for, and instead of his people fulfilled the requirement; and as their sins were charged to him as the Head of a body of which they were counted as members, so his obedience is set to them, and they are thereby made righteous: and in the experience of his love shed abroad in their hearts, they love to do justly, they love mercy, they delight in walking humbly with God. They love him because he first loved them: Love is the fulfilling of the law. Yea, for a man to love God with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. As Christ is the Life of his people, living in them and they in him, s the branch in the vine, receiving nourishment and strength therefrom, by which the fruit found in the branches is the fruit of the vine, the righteousness of the law being fulfilled by Christ, is fulfilled in them that walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. Hence as the vine by its sap sends forth the fruit borne by its branches, so the principle of life in Christ, (not the law,) causes his people to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. In Christ the poor find a treasure; riches and honor are with him: yea, durable riches and righteousness. In Christ the diseased find a physician and the sick find healing; the feeble find strength; the oppressed find an avenger, and the captive a deliverer. In Christ the helpless find a friend that sticketh closer than a brother; the stranger finds a home; and the weary wayworn pilgrim a comfortable and glorious place of rest. In Christ the wounded find balm for their wounds; and the polluted by an application of his blood are cleansed from all their filth and pollution. In Christ the doubting soul is confirmed and the desponding soul comforted and made to hope; the distressed made to rejoice, and the dying revived; – the ignorant are instructed, and the blind are brought by a way that they knew not, and led in paths they have not know: darkness is made light before them and crooked things straight. Such as have no offering to bring find access to God through Christ sooner than such as as are able to bring and depend upon their calves of a year old, or their thousands of rams, or their ten thousands rivers of oil: for Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor are the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering; no, nor would their first born answer for their transgressions, nor the fruit of their bodies for the sins of their souls. All these fall as far short of obtaining acceptance with God as Saul’s splendid sacrifice in Gilgal of the beasts brought from Amalek, (which he should have destroyed there,) did of confirming the kingdom to his descendants. Yea, all these things are infinitely inferior to the offering which Jesus made when he through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, by which he obtained eternal redemption for all the chosen seed. For the kingdom and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we had done, or could do; but according to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; – that being justified by his grace, (not by our works) we should be made heirs according ot the hope of eternal life.
God our Saviour has no more need of a scientific ministry, and all the frigidity, frippery, and foppery of the mission craft; and witchcraft to assist him in gathering his chosen, than David had of a new cart on which to carry the ark of God, or than there was of Uzziah’s unhallowed hand to steady it when the oxen stumbled. All their zeal, and mummery and voluntary humility to hurry on the evangelization of the world, is as foolish as king Saul’s forcing himself to offer sacrifice when the people were leaving him and Samuel did not come quite as soon as he wished. A man’s heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps. There are many devices in a man’s heart: nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.
Your sincere friend,
South-hill Bradford co., Pa., May 27, 1843
Signs of the Times
Volume 11, No. 12
June 15, 1843