Muncie, Ind., July 7th, 1856.
BROTHER BEEBE: - By your permission, I will give you a short history of my recent visit to Kentucky, through the columns of the SIGNS OF THE TIMES, in compliance with the requests of many brethren there. I reached Lexington, Wednesday evening, June 14th - was met and conducted to brother T. P. Dudley's residence, and very unexpectedly, but with much joy, found my dear brother, Elder James Bicknell of New York, there. I found brother Dudley and his family well, with the exception of his fractured limb, which still disables him, and renders it impracticable for him to travel on foot without his crutches.
On Thursday afternoon, brother and sister Dudley, brother Bicknell and myself, set out for Mt. Carmel Church, which we reached in the evening, and lodged for the night with our esteemed brother Wornal. On Friday morning we reached the meeting at Mt. Carmel Church, which continued that and the two succeeding days. During the meeting two servants came forward and related to the church what great things the Lord had done for them, in the most clear and satisfactory manner, giving unmistakable evidences of the reign of grace. On Saturday morning those two, with three others, (servants,) were baptized by Elder S. Jones, brother Dudley, the pastor of the church, being unable to administer the ordinance, in consequence of his wound. Here we were strongly reminded of the prediction of the Psalmist, Psa. lxviii. 11, "Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God," and Zephaniah iii.. 10, "From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my supplicants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering."
Never, in my life, did I witness a more clear exhibition of the wisdom of Jehovah, in the adaptation of the gospel and the government of the kingdom of Christ to all conditions of men, than was manifested during our late visit to Kentucky. From the rising to the going down of the sun, from the northern to the southern pole, they pour in rich profusion the joyful stream of consolation, and administer in mild and heavenly strains, the wholesome lessons of instruction to the careworn pilgrim of every clime, complexion, grade or condition. The Jew, the Greek, the bond, the free, the male, the female, the aged men, the young men, the parent, the child, the master and the servant, are all made welcome to the same rich repast, all eat abundantly of the same spiritual meat, all drink bounteously of the same spiritual ROCK. O what a theme for the humble servant of Christ and his church to dwell upon is the glorious gospel of the blessed God, and the benign government of the King of saints. How wide the contrast between the employment of the true servant of God, who can, with all prudence, "Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters in all things; not answering again, not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things;" and then turn to the master in like manner, and exhort him to his duty to the servant from the same rich treasury, and that lawless clan who are continually endeavoring to inculcate rebellion and insubordination to servants, and thereby chafing and provoking the master to anger and bitterness, and rendering it absolutely necessary to bind a more galling yoke upon them. The gospel and the government of the Redeemer's kingdom are wisely adapted, too, to the situation of its subjects in every kindred, nation, tongue and people; not only in consoling, but in admonishing to a commendable subjection to the higher powers that be ordained of God; so that their implicit obedience to the laws of the kingdom which is not of this world, instead of making them refractory, disobedient and insubordinate to rulers and magistrates and the laws they administer, brings them into a quiet and peaceable subjection to every law of every nation that is founded in reason or justice.
In short, let them alone to worship and to act in accordance with the gospel and the government of their Savior and their King, and they need no other laws to make them good subjects of any nation under heaven. How unlike those unhallowed will-worshipers who are ever eager to grasp the reins of earthly governments, push forward their diabolical dogmas at the point of the sword or the muzzle of the rifle, and fulminate their anathemas against the rulers and magistrates of mild and rational civil governments.
After leaving Mt. Carmel, we visited, in company with Elders Bicknell of New York and J.M. Theobald of Kentucky, and part of the time, Elders T. P. Dudley and S. Jones, the churches of Elizabeth, Bald Eagle, Elk Lick, Georgetown and Bryans, besides other intermediate meetings. Immense crowds of attentive hearers attended most of the meetings; in some instances the houses, though spacious, were not large enough to seat the ladies that were in attendance. At Elizabeth, particularly, we were under the necessity of leaving the pulpit and addressing the audience from the door, that all who were anxious might hear.
Although the Licking Association was held with this church last fall, it was said that such a crowd had never before been seen at Elizabeth. But best of all was the harmony and love that seemed to pervade the meetings and social circles, during our visit.
Although the speakers in attendance were from three different states of the Union, whose residences were far distant from each other, not one conflicting sentiment, so far as I was capable of judging, was delivered at any one of the meetings; so that while other denominations are split up into "churches north" and "churches south," the Old School Baptist Church, (or church of Christ,) "knows no North, no South, nothing but the Union," if we may be allowed to use the language of an eminent statesman on a different occasion.
Truly, the love of the brethren in Kentucky appeared to "be without dissimulation," and we had, while with them, "a refreshing season from the presence of the Lord." Peace was seen to flow among them like a river, and O may the God of peace still enable all his dear children to "keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace."
I left brother A.F. Dudley's on Monday morning, the 23rd day of June, joined brother Bicknell at Paris, parted with him affectionately in Cincinnati, on the same day, and in the evening reached my son-in-law's in Henry Co., Indiana, and on the next day my home in Delaware Co., finding all well. And I think it certain that down to my latest memory I shall recollect, with emotions of joy, the interviews that we had with the brethren and sisters of the Licking Association in Kentucky.
"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."
"Now, our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope, through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good work." This is the fervent desire of a poor, weak and unworthy sinner, but (I humbly hope) your brother in the precious Redeemer's kingdom.
J. F. JOHNSON.
P.S. - Brother Beebe, please excuse the haste and imperfection of this scribble, as I have been unusually engaged in writing yesterday and today. J. F. J.