Warwick, Orange Co., N. Y., Oct. 28,1856.
BROTHER BEEBE: - As is out of the question for me, by private letters, to comply with the numerous requests of my dear brethren and friends in the West, and other places, who wished to hear from us soon after our arrival here, and as many of them have access to the SIGNS OF THE TIMES, I will through that medium, by your permission, drop them a line.
My very dear Brethren, Children and Friends: Leaving home on the morning of the 8th inst., and encountering no serious obstacles by the way, we reached Middletown on the evening of the 9th, about sundown, all well. With brother Beebe and others, we spent the time there very agreeably until Saturday morning the 11th, when, through the kindness of Mr. G. J. Beebe, editor of the Banner of Liberty, he conducted my two daughters and youngest son across the country, myself and oldest son taking the cars for Chester, where we were met by a friend, and conveyed to Warwick, where we all arrived in safety about 12 o'clock on said day. We met with a hearty welcome by our friends to our new home; have received the kindest attention from them since; enjoyed the inestimable blessing of mingling with the dear and very agreeable saints here, and have attended very pleasant meetings with them on each Sunday morning and evening since our arrival. What a privilege! How consoling to the care-worn pilgrim to meet, associate and commune with the component parts of that "one body" which is compacted together by joints and inseparable cords, and bounded by immovable stakes, not one of which shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken; vitalized by "one Spirit," which pervades and actuates each and every member of the body, whether located in the East, the West, the North, or the South, in this world or out of it, and by which they are all "called in one hope of their calling," to the participation in, and the fellowship and enjoyment of "one Lord, one faith, one baptism," all reposing under the banner and controlled by the all-competent, but mild government of "one God and Father of all," who stands, has ever stood, and will forever stand, united to them in that paternal relation which eternally secures to them all the glory of that eternal inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled and that fadeth not away; and "who is above all" in glory, and honor, and power, and majesty, and dominion; who speaks and it is done; who commands and it stands fast, saying, "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure;" and who is through all to regulate all the social concerns of the entire family, to assign to each and all the members of the "one body" the different places and spheres in which they are to act or move in the responsibilities imposed upon them for the edification and mutual comfort of the family; and last, but not least, who is "in them all," to mete out to every one a sufficiency of grace according to the gift of Christ, in whom it was given to them before the world began, but now dispensed to each one in ample plenitude to sustain them in all their trials, supply them with every needful blessing, and prepare them for the acceptable service of their God and Father with reverence and godly fear, and which must and will reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord, over the world, the flesh and the devil, whether in the forms of thrones or dominions, principalities or powers; all are completely subservient - all under the full dominion - all at the sovereign disposition of HIM who sitteth upon the throne, Lord of lords, King of kings, who reigns and must reign until he hath put all enemies under his feet, and given us the victory. O what a theme! How admirably calculated to brighten our prospects, inspire our hopes, encourage our faith and sustain our oft dejected spirits while exposed to trials, conflicts, opposition, persecutions and tribulations of various kinds, to which we are incident while passing through the murky vale of our pilgrimage here!
"A hope so much divine,
May trials well endure."
The manifestation and enjoyment of such a relation to our heavenly Father, our elder Brother, and each other, such soul-reviving privileges and brilliant prospects, presents to our minds most glorious exhibitions of the wisdom, goodness and faithfulness of our covenant-keeping God, in the adaptation of his special mercies to our peculiar conditions and situations here, and portrays to us in radiant streams of light and reviving sensations of joy the matchless and unchanging love of God, our heavenly Father; and when shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us, manifestly and joyfully unites us together in one common bond of love, as the nearest, and dearest kindred in Christ. How pleasant it is to love when that love is reciprocated! This mutualizes our fellowship, sweetens our family altars, joyfully enriches our associations with each other, enables us happily to appreciate the gracious provisions of our heavenly Father, while we sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, our dearest and elder Brother. And when we witness the banner of his love over us, playing and streaming in the sweet breezes, that cheer us, his fruit is sweet to our taste, and we are forcibly and happily constrained to love him, because he first loved us, and consequently to love one another with a pure heart fervently.
My dear brethren and sisters of Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and other places among whom I traveled so extensively in years that are gone by, and with whom I have so frequently mingled, when and where we have taken sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in company: I scarcely know how to guide my pen further while my overflowing mind recurs with sad and fond recollection to the scenes of trial and joy through which the Lord has brought us. And, though many miles now lie between us, I know that we cannot forget each other.
"Blest be the dear, uniting love,
That will not let us part;
Our bodies may far off remove,
But we are joined in heart.
Joined in one spirit to our Head,
We wait his will to know,
That we in his right steps may tread,
And follow him below."
While absent in body, my roving mind is daily running and ranging through your social circles, and I long to be with you, and shall again visit you if the Lord will. However this may be, it is a consoling reflection that, through a glorious Mediator, our prayers are permitted to meet and mingle at a common throne of grace for each others welfare.
"My soul shall pray for Zion still,
While life and breath remain;
There my best friends, my kindred dwell,
There God my Savior reigns."
But the circumstance of my being either here or there, is but a small item in the vast empire of our God. When I consider the majesty of his person, the brilliancy of his glory, the infinity of his wisdom and the greatness of his power, I am lost in insignificance and made to exclaim, "What is man that thou art mindful of him?" When again I consider that the word man here, without an article to limit it, must be taken in its widest sense, that is, to mean all mankind; when I reflect further, upon the myriads heaped upon myriads that have passed away, that now cover the wide domain of Jehovah's footstool, and that will continue to inhabit it in all time to come; ah! when with those inconceivable heaps of myriads I contrast myself; this little speck of nothing, and less than nothing comparatively speaking; what am I? Who am I? And where am I? And why should I ever hope to attract the slightest notice of the great Jehovah?
But I remember the two sparrows sold for a farthing, and how they were cared for by our Father. And worthless as his children may feel in themselves, they are not only cared for by him, but even the very hairs of their heads are all numbered, and they are precious in his sight.
"O! What is man, poor fallen man!
Or any of his race,
That God should make it his concern,
To visit him with grace?
That God who darts the lightning’s down,
Who shakes the worlds above,
And mountains tremble at his frown,
How wondrous is his love!"
But why? Ah, why are such polluted rebels as ourselves, when considered in our totally depraved nature, precious in the sight of One so gloriously majestic? But again,
"What was there in me that could merit esteem,
Or gave the Creator delight?"
Yes, that is the question, what was there in me? But the question is solved, "He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy." And again, "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight." But still, here may be another question, Why does it seem good in his sight? Let it not be forgotten that we have a higher and holier relationship; a spiritual, aside from a natural one. Our God is a spirit, and his children born of the Spirit; "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Here then is the key to the whole mystery. He is their Father, and they are His children. He is an unchanging Father. "I am the Lord; I change not," and, therefore, having loved his children once, he never has, nor ever will cease to love them. "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee." Then, viewing us in our fallen nature, as he could not cease to love us; nay, was "rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins." That sin was the transgression of a holy law, and, therefore, made us obnoxious to its curse. "Cursed is every one," &c. "The law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good," but we are carnal, sold under sin. Had we then all been sacrificed upon one altar, carnal as we are by nature, that holy law could never have received the offering, and as a matter in course, we must have wailed under its curse forever. But that loving Father would not have it so, but "laid help upon one that is mighty." "Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." In this our Father not only exhibited the immutability of his love, but a wonderful commendation of it towards us, even when we were dead in sins. Here, too, we have a most glorious portrait of the condescension, faithfulness and love of our adorable Mediator "who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
"O, love divine, all love excelling,
Joy from heaven to earth come down;
Fix in us thine humble dwelling,
All thy faithful mercies crown!"
My dear brethren, "seeing, then, that we have a great High Priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Considering, then, this eternal union and relation to us, those wondrous acts of grace in our behalf, and the immense debt that our God and Savior canceled for us, we may readily account for the plenitude of matchless mercies that incessantly flow to us from his divine fullness, and for the special and parental care that is so manifestly exercised toward us.
But I must conclude, as the bell is just tolling on a funeral occasion, which I am requested to attend in one hour.
Farewell, my brethren! Love, praise and serve your highly exalted Redeemer; love one another with a pure heart fervently; live in peace, and that the God of peace may dwell richly in your hearts, is the sincere desire of your unworthy brother, pressed with many cares, and who retains you in fond recollection, desiring to be remembered by you at the throne of grace.
J. F. JOHNSON.