Lawrenceburg, Ky., July 26,1873.
BROTHER BEEBE, BRETHREN AND FRIENDS: - The next day after my return from the eastern associations I met with the brethren at Goshen Church, in this county, at one of our annual June meetings. Elders A. B. Nay and J. A. Johnson of Indiana were with us, and we had a very pleasant meeting on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On Wednesday afternoon following we had a meeting in Rough-and-Ready, and the great pleasure of meeting our dear brother Wm. L. Beebe, in company with the above named brethren. Then on Friday following our annual meeting commenced at Little Flock, where the three brethren for three days administered the gospel of the grace of God, to the joy and edification of the saints who were there, but a stumbling-block to workmongers.
On Monday brethren Nay and Johnson took the cars homeward, and I accompanied brother Beebe to Lexington, where we met my son, and all dined with brother and sister T. P. Dudley, after which Joseph again took the cars for home, brother William and myself remaining, and spent the afternoon and night very pleasantly with brother and sister Dudley, sister Childs and others. On Tuesday morning we set out for Georgetown, in company with brother James Dudley, and after arriving there, again had the pleasure of hearing our dear brother Beebe proclaim the glad tidings of salvation to us, after which we took dinner together at brother J. Talbot's, and soon after came the sad hour of separation. Brother Wm. L. proved to be a dear companionable brother to me. At the late associations east was the first personal acquaintance I had with him, and I have since wished that we could be oftener together, if the Lord would have it so. Since then I have been engaged in filling my several appointments, and other matters, and this seems to be my first opportunity to comply with the requests of many brethren and friends to write to them through the SIGNS after my return home. My dear friends, I hope I was not insensible to the kindness and courtesy shown me while with you, and shall remember with gratitude the tokens of friendship and fellowship extended to me, a very unworthy sinner, on so many occasions.
I met there several of the careworn heralds of the cross with whom I had been formerly acquainted, and others younger whom I had not seen in the flesh before. But again, I had the unspeakable pleasure of meeting and forming acquaintance with many dear young sisters and brothers, which caused my heart to overflow with joy, as I thus received additional testimonials of the faithfulness and favor of our dear Redeemer in perpetuating his kingdom. They seemed so much devoted too, to his cause and kingdom. May the Lord preserve, support, and enable them to hold on their way, and with clean hands to grow stronger and stronger. I was often reminded of the predictions of our enemies which I have been hearing all my lifetime, including Benedict, the historian, that before his stereotype edition would have time to reach the distant parts of our own country, the Old School Baptists would be numbered among the things that were. This, however, affords us no uneasiness, but gives us additional evidence of the truth of revelation, which says that our enemies shall be found liars unto us, &c. - Deut. xxxiii. 29. Recently the Arminian Baptists have gotten up a new ruse, and seem to have a particular reverence for the name "Old School Baptists." Many in this country who have been decoyed away from the truth by them are leaving them, and I suppose they think there must be something sacred in the name, and are therefore claiming that they are the Old School Baptists. Let them have it if they want it. I care nothing about the name. They imposed it upon us in the first place, saying we were five or six hundred years behind the times; and when we agreed to bear it, with the understanding that the word School should have no reference to their new schools of divinity, as brother Trott said in the SIGNS, which they lately have perverted, making him say, "We assume the name Old School," which name they have tried to disgrace us with for about forty years, after giving it to us as a reproach, as their members know. Again I say, let them have it, if while eating their own meat and wearing their own apparel they think that being called by our name will take away their reproach from among men. But they will find that there is more than a mere name required to give them credibility with the people of God; we want "truth in the inward parts," which precious jewel they lack shamefully. Let them lie and steal all they can under the influence of their father, who was a liar from the beginning.
"We laugh to scorn his cruel power,
While by our Shepherd's side;
The sheep he never can devour,
Although he may divide."
But to return to my narrative. I attended first the Baltimore Association, in Maryland, then the Delaware, in Delaware, the Delaware River, usually held in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the Warwick, in New York, the Chemung, in Pennsylvania, and Western Conference, in Western New York, besides many other meetings at different churches in the intervals of the above named associations, and frequently in company with the ministering brethren from different and distant locations, and hearing them preach many, very many discourses. I did not discover a jarring note or conflicting sentiment in the whole program. There were as many as twenty ministers at the Warwick Association, and perhaps I heard as many as thirty or forty sermons at the different meetings, without a discordant sound. We hailed from Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Maine, Illinois and Kentucky. Many of these traveled many hundreds of miles and had no modern missionary fund to go to for an outfit, no newly gotten up Theological Schools to prepare them for the ministry, but with the Spirit in their hearts to prepare, and their Bible in their hands as the man of their counsel, to direct them, were enabled to lift up their voices together, and with the voice together sing.
We defy the arminian world, new-fangled Baptists and all, with all their pretended scholastic divinity, directors and boards, to produce anything resembling a parallel case. No two of their spouters can preach without producing confusion, and it would be rare for one to go through his lesson without serving up a dish of Babel as he went. But this unity was manifest not only among ministering brethren that attended these meetings, but there were private members there from most of the states named, and their social intercourse was all harmony, giving the most satisfactory and consoling evidence that "One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all," characterized the proceedings of the entire family. The solace I received in witnessing on so many occasions how good and how pleasant it is for the saints to dwell together in unity will be fondly remembered by their unworthy servant as long as he has a memory.
Since my return I have had several pleasant interviews and meetings with the churches here, and the same harmony that prevailed at our eastern meetings was realized here. In conclusion I will say to all the dear saints, "Pray for the peace of Zion; they shall prosper that love her." The four churches that I have the honor to serve for the last ten and thirteen years have been blessed with an unusual degree of peace, love, and fellowship during the whole time, so that an arminian Baptist preacher on witnessing the same at one of our meetings, was frank to acknowledge that it made him feel bad to think of his own churches, because he could not find such love and fellowship amongst them. Of course he could not find it, because it does not exist there. Their worldly interests and sectional prejudices outweigh their religion and TEKEL is visible in all their new-fashioned performances. The saints are taught to "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness," and while their secular preferences are but secondary matters, they must yield to the first. But, brethren, when having had a long reign of peace, is there not danger of our failing to appreciate the precious boon as we should? Let us be careful to guard against such negligence; and let us, my dear brethren in the ministry, remember daily the wholesome admonition of the apostle who says, "Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood." Made you overseers? Yes; but not to rule, for we, are servants. Not to lord it over the Lord's heritage, but our oversight is to consist in feeding the church, and we should be very careful as to the quality of food we administer. The body and blood of the Redeemer is to be the meat and drink of his church, the sincere milk of the word is to constitute their rich repast.
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost be with you all."
Your brother affectionately,
J. F. JOHNSON.