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I PETER 2:4.

Alexandria, VA., May 1, 1873.

DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: - A friend at Booneville, Miss., requests my views through the SIGNS on I Peter 2:4, “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.” I had rather answer him privately, but cannot make out his signature.

As Peter is speaking of false teachers in the connection of our text, and also speaks of the destruction of the old world by the flood, and the overthrow of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, making them an example unto those who should hereafter live ungodly, and as Jude speaks of these angels in the same connection of the subject, I conclude they are false prophets, false teachers, false apostles, Satan’s ministers transformed into ministers of righteousness. In truth Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light, and it is no great thing that his ministers, his angels, should be transformed into ministers of righteousness. Their original habitation, or first estate, which they left, was not the heaven of immortal glory, for they were never there; but their habitation or estate on earth was in the same sphere of action common to all men; not above, nor below them. They left voluntarily the place of their first adobe, and sinned by assuming to be sent of God to proclaim his word, and to prophecy in his name, while they were the servants of corruption, and enemies of God and truth. The men of this world who make no pretensions to Christianity, though sinners, have not sinned in the same manner of those who have assumed the prerogative of teachers in holy things.

These angels, {messengers} were manifest in the antediluvian and postdiluvian periods, and under the Mosaical dispensation. In gospel times they are distinctly manifest by assuming to be ministers of Christ under the name of Christians, claiming to be followers of Christ, and preachers of the everlasting gospel. They will so far counterfeit the ministers of Christ in their appearance and course of conduct, as to deceive some of the saints for a season. Within the last fifty years they are very distinctly known as Baptist ministers, who, while some of them claim to preach the doctrine of the apostles as maintained by orderly Old School Baptists, they are themselves the bitterest opponents of the everlasting truth of divine revelation, and speak evil of the things which they understand not in their unmitigated persecution of the right ways of the Lord. Presumptuous are they, self willed; they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. In their presumption and vile pretensions to superiority, they will say in their heart, with ancient Babylon, typically representing Mystery Babylon, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth: “I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High God.” The prophet further says, “Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” Isa. 14:13-15. Paul points out their character in several places, so does Peter and Jude, in a very emphatic manner. They are called dumb dogs, greedy dogs, that can never have enough; blind watchmen, wolves in sheep’s clothing, &c. In truth they are cast down to hell, delivered into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment. Awful doom. They are already reserved, in everlasting chains under darkness. They are under its dominion now. Terrible consideration. They do not cease to pervert the right way of the Lord. They work unceasingly to accomplish their purpose. It is with all deceivableness of unrighteousness that they work incessantly night and day. Chains of darkness. A strong expression of their awful condition; but it is descriptive of the “strong delusion” under which they are held. Under this “strong delusion” they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge, because it is not according to the scriptures. They zealously contend for Sunday Schools, and numerous other religious institutions, the work of their own hands. They as zealously oppose the doctrine of the redemption of the church by the blood of Christ, and that salvation is of the Lord, as they zealously contend for their own inventions. When bible truth is clearly and faithfully preached by the ministers of Christ, and the deceitful works of darkness are exposed, and presented in their true light, they gnash with their teeth, and distinctly manifest the chains of darkness under which they are held. Some of them who have had a standing among us, and have turned aside unto Satan, whose servants they are, have represented us as denying the Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ, or of any change in the new birth, and other egregious misrepresentations which it is not worth while to mention. These were spots in our feasts of charity, when they feasted with us, feeding themselves without fear; clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. Fearful description. We are witnessing these things in our time, and I trust leave the subject with an agonizing cry, Save us, O Lord, for thy mercy’s sake.

I read your article headed, “The power of an endless life,” in May 1, No. 9, of the SIGNS, with much satisfaction. Not that it was new to me at all, but I was in a state of mind to read it with comfort, and I hope with some heavenly emotions of soul. Further I am compelled to contend with some opposition from those who bear our name, and who are diligent in their efforts to represent us as believing what we do not believe. Of course we can have no respect for those who represent us falsely, neither have I any disposition to do them injustice, but those who are subjects of grace, to be led away by them, produces some feelings of regret. But we fall back on the great truth of divine revelation as expressed by the inspired apostle, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” God’s care of his flock in the midst of terrible calamities and fearful judgments ever has been abundantly manifested. God says by the prophet Zechariah, “And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock.” And there are many poor, weak and feeble of the flock in our day. And they are indeed the flock of slaughter, for they are killed all the day long, and are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. And the poor of the flock that wait upon the Lord know the word of the Lord when it is preached or publicly proclaimed in the assemblies of the saints. The Lord God feeds his flock like a shepherd, and gathers the lambs with his arm, and carries them in his bosom. Our God is the God of salvation, and from the eternal heavens his voice is heard, speaking unto his people by his Son, in words of joy, peace and comfort. The high and ennobling principles of eternal salvation through our exalted Redeemer, fraught with divine excellence and glory, is soul-inspiring and soul-comforting to the poor and feeble of the flock. In truth all of the flock rejoice therein with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

A feeble worm,
Joseph L. Purington.