BROTHER BEEBE: – As the first page is not particularly designed for you to publish, but to inform you a little how some things appear in my view, partly in relation to the Signs, and partly relative to associational concerns; and having so much spare paper and a little time to write, I thought I would send you a few thoughts that have passed my mind, and you may publish them if you have nothing better with which to stain our paper.
Engaged in war against the few and feeble sheep and lambs of Emmanuel’s flock, is a mighty and numerous host of beasts, both wild and tame: or, such as are domesticated, and such as are not. Among which we may name bears, wolves, dogs, and foxes: using them as figures of men, as sheep are used to represent the people of God. The sheep, defenceless in themselves, are an easy prey to such beasts; not able to stand in personal combat, nor to run as fast or as long as their enemies without being worried, they would soon be destroyed, were it not for the power and care of the good Shepherd, who knows his sheep – calls them by name, and never slumbers; whose wakeful eye is ever over them, and he is always so near that when they are attacked he could deliver them if he choose without a struggle of their own. But he for their good, and his declarative glory, frequently gives them opportunity to exercise their dexterity and try their strength in running to meet him; and yet shows them that if he had not hastened to their relief, they would have been a prey to their enemies. /So in his economy towards them, they learn to watch and pray, and in reference to bears and wolves, they are frequently more watchful than dogs, as there are so many dogs that show no disposition to injure them, being kept under by their masters. With regards to foxes, they are so small they prey chiefly upon young lambs, and the old and strong of the flock seem not to be much frightened at their appearance. But the Shepherd has directed to beware of dogs; and one of old, seeming to be afraid when called to show herself, said, Take us the foxes, the little foxes, &c. As to that part of the army properly called bears and wolves, it is not our purpose to treat distinctly at present; but to offer a few thoughts respecting dogs and foxes. A well disciplined dog, with which the sheep become acquainted, may seem for a while occasionally to run among the sheep, and no harm is apprehended. Indeed, a familiarity may be so formed, that they may appear to regard each other: but no dog ever was so changed as to become a sheep, or a sheep so changed as to become a dog. Though dogs may be useful under the eye and command of their masters, in guarding and defending the sheep, yet they are not worthy of confidence without their master’s control; for the nature is to prey upon the sheep; and no intimacy formed between them will prove a barrier against the demands of appetite. If dogs are not well fed, a pack of hungry ones may soon worry and wound the sheep in order to feed themselves thereon.
The above will in some sort apply to nominal professors who become church members, some of whom become preachers. I have thought that some such characters are found in bodies called churches in modern times. They profess to occupy a middle ground, and seek for a union, i. e., in the figure, to unit dogs and sheep, claiming a relation to both, as though they were half breeds. But it is all a deception: place such to guard the flock, and they will admit into the fold all the hungry dogs that come along. If the sheep appear to be suspicious, they may growl a little, but cry peace and safety, never mind such small things, they are harmless; at any rate they cannot do much hurt, it is notmuch to loose alittle wool: and while they are endeavoring to allay the fears of the sheep, are in heart in union with the dogs, seeking the annoyance of the sheep. This is their policy in war. Though they profess great love for the sheep, and a vehement zeal in the cause of God, they are in heart real enemies and when opportunity suits them, show it by treachery. Foxes are, if possible, still worse. They are said to be a species of the dog kind, and much more subtle than common dogs: they perhaps in nature are no greater enemies to sheep, but are not so easily domesticated. Being a small animal, they do not naturally excite so much fear as a strange dog; nor are they able by force to do so much injury: hence stratagem in their main resource. They privily bring in damnable heresies; covetousness is the principle upon which they act; hence they use feigned words, (good words,) and fair speeches. With their many fair speeches they deceive the unwary; yea, force them to believe that they are friends, when in truth they are enemies. Thus they creep in to houses (churches) and lead captive such as they can decoy. They use great swelling words, allure through the lusts of the flesh; and though they provide liberty to their dupes, they are themselves the subject of corruption. In this is showed the nature of the beast, whose seed they are. He made mother Eve believe she would obtain a great accession of knowledge by transgressing the command of God, while himself was ignorant of God’s plan of government. How important then that we keep in view that we are in a state of warfare, that we are surrounded by, and live among our enemies; that we attend strictly to the instruction given, Take heed that no man deceive you; watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation; beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For we wrestle (war) not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, againstspiritual wickedness in high places. (Places of worship.) How important that we are clad with the whole armor of God, that we may be able to stand in the evil day, having our loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness, and our feet shod with the preparation of this gospel of peace. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith we may be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And taking the helmet of salvatoin, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, walking in obedience to divine direction, depending wholly on the good Shepherd for protection. Though he sometimes suffers the dogs and foxes, (middle grounders,) to worry us for a season for our good, yet they cannot destroy, and eventually it shall show forth his glory, and a complete victory will be ours, though the blood of the Lamb, and the word of our testimony. Paul fought with beasts at Ephesus, and we must in America.
Your unworthy fellow soldier,
Patchin’s Mills, Steuben co., N. Y., July23,‘44.
Signs of the Times
Volume 12, No. 16.
August 15, 1844