Henry County, Ind., May 11, 1854.
DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: - Having returned home from a tour of meetings in the western part of our state, and in the bounds of the Sugar Creek Association, I embrace the earliest opportunity, in compliance with the request of many brethren there, of letting them hear from me through the SIGNS. I left home on the 24th day of April, and returned on the 10th of May, finding all well.
I do not know of anything more vitally important to speak of in the first place, than to name the many reports that have gone abroad respecting the heretical doctrine said to be advocated by the brethren in that vicinity. Often as I have been made to witness the sad consequences among brethren resulting from giving heed to the misrepresentations of the enemies of the truth, I must acknowledge that I took with me some fearful apprehensions respecting the faith of the brethren there, and am therefore again admonished to pay no regard to their base falsehoods. I am made to conclude that misrepresentations from such a source would do but little injury to the brethren if they could get none of the Baptists to peddle for them. In that case their insinuations go out under Baptist authority, and are followed with a train of mischief.
How careful should we be to bridle our tongues in all such cases, and also when there are real existing difficulties among us. Those apprehensions, however, vanished like the morning dew, on becoming acquainted with the brethren. I cannot change my sentiments, nor can I dissemble in the proclamation of them. I knew not, therefore, what kind of a reception I should meet with; but after declaring them as fully, freely and faithfully as my weak capacities would admit of, and after hearing those brethren in both their public and private discourses, there was but one thing in the way of my according to them freely the right hand of fellowship, and that one thing is a matter of no small annoyance to me. It is a feeling sense of my own unworthiness to be reckoned amongst the saints of the Lord. I found an existing difficulty in one of the churches, which I firmly believe to have originated in the miscolorings and mischievous insinuations of the enemies of the truth. My earnest prayer is, and I cherish the fond hope, too, that the Lord will dispel the mists that the enemy has thrown among the brethren, and enable them to feel and to manifest the same love for each other that appeared to predominate in so good and so happy a degree with the heaven-born children, generally, in that region. And here I will observe that I was exceedingly gratified at beholding the harmony and mutuality that existed, the love and fellowship that abounded among the brethren, with that one exception.
Love is one of the best evidences that we can have to testify that we are the children of God. "Whosoever loveth, is born of God." Satan cannot love, nor can his emissaries. Under the influence of a zeal for God which is not according to knowledge, they may form associations; concoct measures and mature schemes for money-making purposes, personal aggrandizement and the acquisition of human or popular applause, yes, they may create their unhallowed combinations, and put into operation all their patented or newly constructed machinations, they may draw out the sword and bend their bow to slay the upright, but they are strangers to the love of God; and therefore, "Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken." O that Zion's children could love one another with a pure heart fervently; not in word only, but in deed and in truth. Do we not daily see and feel the necessity of cultivating such a principle? How comfortable the feeling, how consoling to participate in the reciprocity of sensations flowing from abounding love. How careful should we be to let brotherly love continue; to do nothing to hinder its work. When the children of Zion can patronize such a sentiment, the enemy may shoot showers of his poisoned darts in vain; they will fall harmless at their feet. Then, brethren, "Let love be without dissimulation; abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good." But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
But we have another pleasing consideration to suggest to the saints in relation to the Lord's children there. He appears manifestly to be reviving his work in the midst of them. The meetings were well attended during the time that I was with them, considering the busy season of the year, it being immediately at the time of corn-planting. On Sundays the houses, though large, could not contain the people, who appeared to give the deepest attention, many of whose cheeks were bathed in tears. At Crawfordsville, on the 7th inst., their houses were filled to overflowing. Even the doors and windows were crowded with seemingly anxious hearers. After preaching, there were four baptized, who had previously related to the church what the Lord had done for them. Never in my life have I seen so many in the same length of time, who (though not members of the church militant) were ready to give a reason of the hope that is in them, with meekness and fear. It was not uncommon to find two or three in a house. In the vehicle that conveyed me to the meeting at Crawfordsville, there were no less than four. But I wish it expressly understood that this is not going on under the unholy influence of modern revival makers. It is where the doctrine of God our Savior is preached, where HE in the immutability of his nature is proclaimed as exercising his right in the absolute and actual choice of his People in Christ before the foundation of the world. It is where the myrmidons of anti-christ are manfully opposed, and their hallucinations ably exposed. It is where the hearts of the children of the free woman are smitten, not with the fears of hell, but with the love of Zion's King, and therefore prepared for the reception of the gospel of the grace of God; they receive and enjoy with heavenly transports and celestial rapture and reverence the unsullied bliss that teems from that river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God, the legitimate consequences of which are a hatred for sin, and hungering and thirsting after righteousness. Under the benign influence of that love, they are bending their course to Zion. Their hearts and their affections are there, and nothing appears to be in their way but a deep sense of their own unworthiness. They appear manifestly to be the circumcision that worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. O that God, in the abounding of his grace and in the plenitude of his mercy, may continue to shine in their hearts, to give them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and enable them to see their wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption all complete in him.
I will conclude my scribble by endeavoring to prepare a few lines of poetry for the consideration of the characters named in the foregoing remarks.
Cease, dear children, cease to look,
For selfish righteousness within.
Has not Christ your Savior took,
And borne, and canceled all your sin?
Look to him for righteousness;
To him are all your praises due;
He bore your grief and sealed your peace,
And gives his righteousness to you.
Then give yourselves up to his cause,
And give him all the glory, too;
Accept his grace, obey his laws,
That grace will bear you conquerors through.
Brother Beebe, if you think the foregoing observations will not crowd from the columns of the SIGNS as good, or better matter, give them a place there; otherwise dispose of them as prudence may dictate. Meanwhile, may the grace, mercy and peace that has abounded, as I trust, to the chief of sinners, sustain and console yourself, with all the household of faith.
J. F. JOHNSON.