“Good is Jehovah in bestowing sunshine;
Nor less his goodness when a storm of hail comes
Rattling amain down.”
Good is Jehovah when he grants us favors;
Nor less his goodness when Almighty vengeance
Comes to destroy them.
BROTHER BEEBE: – Be not surprised nor vexed, because I call so often to have you read my poor scribbles. O could I set forth the beauty and glory that appeared to my view on the night of the 5th, or morn of 6th, inst.! I am satisfied that neither yourself, nor my brethren, (if you publish this) would be sorry to see it. But I cannot: language, if I could use it with my pen to the best advantage, is so meager; besides the view of things that I had, is not seen now, as it was then; it is only remembered. It was my calculation when I went to bed to leave home on Lord’s-day morning, early, and ride to Rome, in time to fill my appointment, and from thence to follow a line of appointments nearly through the month. But He that prepared his throne in the heavens, and whose kingdom ruleth over all, saw fit in his infinite wisdom to disappoint me, and cause me to disappoint perhaps nearly twenty assemblies. Being arrested with something like the cholera-morbus, soon after lying down:
“As when a raging fever burns
We turn from side to side by turns;
It is but poor relief we gain
To change the place, or bear the pain.”
So, I with a sore conflict, both in body and in mind, lay tumbling in my bed, sleepless and wondering at so unexpected a change in my circumstances: yet, I thought, more than commonly preserved from the exercise of that peevish fretfulness which forms so large a component part of my natural system, and is so apt to disturb not only my own, but the peace of others, when I am crossed in my understanding. I was thinking, or rather trying to think it was the hand of God directed in infinite wisdom, and perhaps in great mercy to me, or some one or more besides mes, or both, no matter who, God knew for whose cause and for what end the thing was done. It might be in kindness to me, that as I must be sick it must be at home; so as neither to trouble others to wait upon me in such a situation, when they had other concerns to attend, or to trouble me to try to wait upon and do for myself for fear of troubling others when they wanted sleep, (I write not in reference to any indisposition ever manifested by friends, or strangers, to waiting upon me when I have been sick, which I have several times from home;) for I thought of the kind treatment I had met with in different places, and even among strangers. But little however did I think at this time about such concerns, for my mind was soon attracted by a view of the infinite wisdom (as far as manifested) of the plan of government of that God who is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent, who never began, nor will ever case to exist; and in whom, and with whom, as to his essence, no change can ever possibly take place. To him no new thought ever occurs, no new circumstance ever appears; to him omniscient view, all worlds, all beings, all things, and all circumstances, even the most minute, with all their various changes, in every possible form or case, with all their contentions, jars and schisms, whether angels, men or devils, whether things animate or inanimate, with all their dependence, or independence, connexion, concatenation, concord or discord, all, in every possible case, all that ever was, is, or ever will be, all are perfectly present; and by his omnipresence and omnipotence they are and were appointed, directed, governed and controlled, so that not the least fraction of the disposition of an intelligent being, a single flake of snow, or the least drop of dew, or smallest dust that is moved by the wind, can stay where it is, or move, or be moved to another without his knowledge and direction to accomplish what his infinite wisdom designed. This God is an holy God, inflexible in his holiness, unchanging in his being; and he is a Sovereign; he is the King of kings and Lord of lords; he has a right to do what he will with his own; his having a right to do, connected as it is with the incomprehensible wisdom, holiness and perfection of his nature – these governing his purposes* and his actions – nothing can be wrong which he does. He has, and ever had, and ever will have a sovereign right to make what he is or was pleased to make, to make it for what purpose he pleaseth, to govern it as pleaseth him, and to do with it or dispose of it, making it happy or miserable, according to his sovereign pleasure. This God I must love, or I cannot be happy in the enjoyment of his sensible presence, either in this life or that which is to come. All my travelling, praying, preaching, correct theoretic notions of doctrine, and all my punctuality among my fellow men, can never qualify me for the enjoyment of such an holy Being, such a glorious Sovereign, unless I in my heart love holiness: all the trying, crying, seeking and striving, of all the physical and mental powers of natural creatures, with all their sorrow, grief, pain and penitence, and all their joys, hopes, love of religion, and all the religion they get, have and keep, with all their rhapsodies of pleasure and determination to serve God, and go to heaven, will all end in shame, confusion, disappointment and eternal damnation, unless prevented by the grace given them in Christ Jesus before the world began: and that according to God’s unchanging purpose, as an act of his sovereign love, without any reference to any of the foregoing exercises foreseen in them as a cause of his grace being given to them, or as any means of their salvation. These things I know I was as sensible of in my mind as I was of the distress in my feeble carcass, and I have no idea of ever discovering anything in my mind that will appear more glorious to my understanding than the holy sovereign Lord of lords and King of kings, who is in one mind, and whatsoever his soul desireth that he doeth. Then came a question in my mind, if all that God does is right, Is sin right? If God governs all things, and nothing can move without him, and God is so unchangeably holy, and hates sin so much, how came he or why did he suffer sin to enter into the system of his government? Sin is certainly wrong; it is opposition to God in nature, and a transgression of his law in action. God is certainly right, and so is all that he does; he was right in suffering sin to enter into the system of his government, yea, in purposing that it should. That sin is in the world, is an undeniable fact; and that it could not enter in opposition to his purpose, being opposed to his nature, unless it was more than a match for his omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence, is perfectly plain: besides to suppose that God purposed to save sinners, without having sinners in his purpose, is such a contradiction that no man can believe it. “O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past find out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory forever. Amen.” And I did hope my soul responded, amen.
“The men of grace have found
Glory begun below –
Celestial fruit on earthly ground
From faith and hope may grow.
When God reveals his love
To sinners here on earth,
They sip the sweets of the worlds above
Rejoicing ev’ry breath.
There’s joy within their hearts,
‘Tis glory dwlls within –
The strength which God to them imparts
Makes them hate ev’ry sin.”
What could we poor feeble creatures, dust and ashes, who at our best estate are altogether vanity, (see Psa. xxxix. 5-11) ever have known of God as a sin-forgiving God? Of all the spiritual comfort he so graciously bestows upon his people, if sin had not been in the system of God’s glorious government? What did an earthly natural Adam in his innocence know of God’s eternal unchanging love? of his infallible holiness? of the spirituality of his law? or the deliverance from its just demand by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus? And what could he or any of his posterity ever have known of the omniscience of God, had they remained in a state of Adamic innocence forever? Surely Adam must have had very incorrect or rather no views at all of this subject, or he never would have thought of hiding from Him who is equally present at all times, and in every place, nor would any creature under any circumstance whatever, think of hiding from his presence more than the glorified in heaven do, did they fully realize that /God is equally everywhere present. But no thanks to sin for any use God might make of it, to show forth his divine perfection and fulness, any more than to Pharoah for his ignorance of God, and disobedience to his commands in not letting Israel go: Unto whom it was said, “Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth,” or than there was to Judas for betraying his Lord, or to Herod and Pontius Pilate with the gentiles, and the people of Israel, when they were gathered together to do what God’s hand and counsel had determined before to be done, in putting him to death by whose blood his people are justified, and through whom they are saved from wrath, and without the shedding of whose blood there cold have been no remission of sins. My mind took a turn to view the amazing work of God in saving sinners: and in viewing it, I tried to find a comparison that I thought would show the idea as it was in my view, but nothing could I find that exactly suited me; the nearest that I could find was that of ashes, by which to represent Adam in his primeval state. As ashes by water are spoiled, and are the same identical ashes still; so man by sin is spoiled, and is the same identical man. How to restore the ashes, and give them a far better quality than they at first possessed I could not tell; for God did not show it me, though I did not doubt his ability so to do if he pleased, and yet preserve their identity.
But if the wondrous plan of saving sinners according to what I had learned in the Bible, yes, precious Bible; O how glorious! The blood of Christ cleanseth elect sinners from all sin – the holy principle of divine grace implanted in the soul; the laws of God put into the mind, and written in the heart; the love of God shed abroad: thereby the Holy Ghost which is given, together with the declaration of an unchanging God that cannot lie, that “I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people,” preserving the identity of the persons, so that the same persons that hated God should love him; and the same that was taken out of the ground, though it return to dust again, should in the resurrection be identified, as in the case of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, &c. Though It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. Looking the subject through, as it came to my mind, it appeared to be a plan of an infinite mind; the work of a sovereign Judge of the quick and the dead, who while he executed his just sentence upon some for their hatred of him, as manifested by their hateful conduct in his sight; yet was pleased to forgive and save others equally guilty, if not more so in nature, provoking in conduct, and as unpromising (at least to human view) in circumstances, herein to show what his almighty grace could do.
The discovery that I had of these things, (however beggarly what I have written of them appears) was attended with such glory and power to my mind that if not greatly deceived, weak and distressed as my body was, I was willing to be disappointed of my expected tour, yea, I verily thought at the time that I was willing to be sick as I was, if I might have such enjoyment by such means only. But God is holy, and in my flesh dwells no good thing: God is a Sovereign, and will not barter his grace for our works or our sufferings. As I said when I began, its sweetness is not now enjoyed, as it was at the time; but it is remembered with some degree of comfort.
Yours, I hope, to serve in the cause of God and truth, while I am permitted to remain on the footstool
* For the word purposes, see Jer. xlix. 20-50-45.
Signs of the Times
Volume 10, No. 7.
April 1, 1842