New Castle, Henry Co., Ind., June 20,1852.
BROTHER BEEBE: - Having arrived at home from a tour of meetings in Kentucky, in company with brother McQuery, I now, in compliance with the request of many brethren, inform them that I returned on Friday, the 25th inst., (having been gone just four weeks) in good health, finding all well. Brother McQuery reached home on Wednesday before, finding his family enjoying tolerable health. Saturday and Sunday following my return being our meeting days at home, we were comforted together with a very pleasant interview, where peace and harmony smiled in our midst. And now, being for the first time disengaged from company, I am made to reflect upon the incessant goodness and mercy of the indulgent God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in protecting, preserving, sustaining, comforting and consoling his children in the midst of dangers, apostasies, despairings, sorrowing and weakness, and exclaim with the psalmist, "O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endureth forever." It is both encouraging and consoling to me to find my Father's children "standing fast in the liberty, wherewith Christ has made free," notwithstanding the "untiring effort" of the daughters of anti-christ with all their counterfeit, feigned and falsely called benevolence, to entangle them again in the yoke of bondage. Having heard many, very many conflicting reports respecting some of the brethren of the Licking Association, Ky., we were induced to pay them a visit, in compliance with a promise given some eight months ago to some of her members, with whom I had formed a short acquaintance, with a sincere desire, I hope, at least, to arrive at the truth or untruth of many things that came to my ears concerning them. I endeavored to go untrammeled with prejudice. Well, after the closest examination that I, with my limited capacity, could give their doctrine and their order, I think I can confidently say that I found them "walking in the truth," contending for the faith which was once delivered to the saints, standing in the way, seeking and asking for the old paths and walking therein. Justice to those misrepresented brethren, as well as to myself seems to call upon me for such an expression. It is a matter of notoriety that difficulties have existed to an alarming extent between the brethren of the Licking Association and some others who went out from them, and still claim the name of Old School Baptists. But it is to feared [I would fain hope otherwise] that those difficulties found their mainspring in jealousy and envy, which have seemed to lead some to take up the war-club against those primary and fundamental points of doctrine, the actual, absolute and unconditional election of the saints before time, and consequently against the everlasting oneness of Christ and the church. But we find another bone of contention there. Some of those absentees contend that the old, Adamic man is the subject of the new birth, and therefore raise a hue and cry about the christian warfare. Now, I do think that the experience of every christian must afford him conclusive testimony in this case, if they are not bewitched or greatly bewildered.
If it should not satisfy us, let us bow with due submission and a becoming reverence to the voice of revelation. On the one hand, we are told that the old man is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and, of a law in our members warring against the law of our mind. "The flesh [that which is born of the flesh] lusteth against the spirit, [that which is born of the Spirit] and the spirit against the flesh," &c. And on the other hand, that "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."
But to investigate those points was not the object of this communication, having a more pleasant object in view, which is to inform the saints of the sameness of the teaching of God in all parts of the world. Our communications in Kentucky were principally with the Old School Baptists of the Licking Association. Inasmuch as our personal acquaintance with those brethren was very limited, and taking into consideration the variety of reports we had heard respecting them, we of course knew not what kind of reception we should meet with; but professing to know nothing of God or godliness beyond what he had taught us by his Spirit and in his word, our desire was to enter humbly, but fearlessly, so far as man was concerned, upon our mission; to keep back nothing that was profitable, and shun not to declare all the counsel of God; in short, to know nothing among them save Jesus Christ and him crucified, whether they would hear, or whether they would forbear. Neither were we very solicitous to please those who would not be pleased with the truth. It is a pleasing consideration, however with us, that if there was a dissenting voice or discordant note respecting any item of doctrine, so far as those Baptists are concerned, we have yet to find it out. More than our highest anticipations were realized in finding the brethren and sisters all of one heart and one mind. Besides, it is extremely humiliating to me, in view of all my unworthiness, to reflect upon the repeated testimonials afforded me that I could participate in a fellowship so dear. Here permit us to render our hearty acknowledgements to the brethren, sisters and friends for the special regard and liberality manifested toward us.
Never have I performed a more pleasant journey, or had more satisfactory evidences that all the Lord's children are taught of him. Surely it was evident to us that the God of the Baptists in Kentucky is the God of the Baptists in Indiana - is the God of the Baptists everywhere. I think I have been made to realize the apostle's observation, who says, "We are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." And although our different localities are far distant from each other, if I do not bear them in my affections it must be because of imbecility of my affections, and not for want of worthiness on their part. When I consider the special regard that they seemed to manifest for the truth, and for each other, I feel like exhorting them, with all the dear saints, to "stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel, and in nothing terrified by your adversaries, which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake." In conclusion, dear brethren, permit me to observe, that although our personal interviews are much restricted in consequence of our different, and from each other distant locations, let us rejoice in, and often embrace the privilege of presenting our united petitions to the throne of grace, for the unanimity, peace, prosperity and lasting fellowship of all the beloved saints. Brethren, farewell; love each other, live in peace, serve the Lord in newness of heart, and may the God of love and peace preserve you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in his sight. I remain your unworthy servant and brother in tribulation, if worthy of the appellation.
J. F. JOHNSON.