Tiawah, Okla., Oct. 1, 1916.
DEAR BRETHREN: – In many things my memory fails, but of the day when my uncle, Elder J. C. Beeman, led me into the little stream called Second Greek, Warren County, Ohio, and baptized me in the name of the Lord Jesus, I do not forget. It is just fifty-six years ago to-day. I was then an invalid, and I had been one for about two years. To the natural minds of the onlookers that day it seemed impossible that I should survive many weeks after being immersed in the chilly waters, in the frost-laden air. Six months previous to that day such a step I had not considered, and if I had even thought of such a thing my mind would have revolted against submitting myself to the ordinance of baptism. However, I remember how gladly and boldly I walked into the water, rejoicing inwardly that I was counted worthy to embrace my dear Lord in the flowing stream. I soon afterwards marveled in soul that I was made so strong in zeal to walk firmly into and out of the water. All my brethren and sisters that greeted me on the shore were old, and old-fashioned in many worldly ways, and more so in their religion, but what was my mind then caring for the applause or contempt of the world, so that I might win the approval of my dear Lord and Savior? I believe to-day, that on that day (the first Sunday in October, 1860,) I did believe in the saving power of Jesus, and that I went down into his typical death with a hope as big as my soul; that as I was raised up I did rejoice in his resurrection, a victory over the power of the grave.
“Sweet is thE memory of thy grace,
My God, my heavenly king,
Let age to age thy righteousness
In songs of glory sing.”
Now, looking back over all the years that have passed since that day that is notable to me, I have very many misgivings. My life since then, as I look at my service in the kingdom of grace, seems to be destitute of any merit whatever; I wonder again and again that I have been so much filled with worldly lusts, and that I have given so much of my time to worldly things, when I consider that I was made to rejoice at that time in singing the lines:
“Now, my remnant of days,
I would spend in his praise,
Who hath died my poor soul to redeem;
Whether many or few,
All my years are his due,
May they all be devoted to him.”
The seemingly tender love and holy zeal for the cause of Jesus and his truth which I thought were mine in those early days, were at times in later years lost sight of in the vain strife for the bubbles of this life. To-day, as I look backward over my past life I feel to say with the wise man, All is vanity and vexation of spirit. This of course relates to our mortal existence. Looking again at large over the field of mortal existence that is assigned to the children of men, to me there seems a ray of light which speaks volumes to the wisdom and foreknowledge of the great Creator in this , that his people were made is subject to vanity; that the power of love, mercy and grace of the Redeemer (might abound to all elected in him before the world began. Although we get disgusted and disappointed with the things of this life when we are enabled to view the better things of the Spirit, yet, it was evidently necessary for us to be born into this natural evil world that we might learn something of the mighty power of God in creation and in redemption. O that we may be submissive and satisfied with our natural surroundings, believing that it is God who cast our lot just where they have been; and if that be our feelings of belief, we are emitting a spark of praise to God, who is King of all things. The wisdom of this world says that this kind of belief is insanity, and that every one who believes that God gives evil as well as good ought to be sent to an insane asylum. A late writer in an Arminian Baptist paper that expressed himself in accord with the above, in speaking of the “Hardshells” – (meaning Old School Baptists) said: “If their theory be true, will some man rise up and tell us of any use they can be to either God or man?”
In hope of immortality.
J. F. BEEMAN.
Signs of the Times
Volume 84, No. 24.
December 15, 1916