Alexandria, VA., March 5, 1872.
DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: - Though somewhat in heaviness through manifold temptations, yet I feel impressed in mind to pen a few lines for publication in the SIGNS. I know not as I have any particular text upon which to give my views; but a feeling sense of the vanity of all earthly things, and a cheering hope of eternal life, and a faith’s view of the immortal glory which shall be more fully revealed in the saints, encourages me to write. Paul says, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” The sufferings of Christ are experienced in the saints through a vital, actual union to Christ, as members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.” This union is indissoluble, vital and experimental. It is real, and sensibly felt by the saints. When the truth is spoken in love, and received in love, it is the foretaste, or earnest of heavenly joys, when we can feel its application by the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. How helpless and dependent we are! How true the declaration of the apostle, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ we are of all men the most miserable;” yet, thanks be to God, Christ is risen from the dead, and lives in his people, is in them the hope of glory. Not only so, he has ascended on high, and is exalted at the right hand of the Father. The gospel glass of eternal salvation is clear and brilliant, full of glory and excellency; but the veil of this flesh intervenes between the church here and the unveiled glory of the eternal world. In all our sufferings here, which at times may seem intolerable, a moment’s view, by faith, of Christ as our salvation and glory, removes all our sufferings, and is more than an antidote for all we suffered, or were called to endure. As our glorious Redeemer will be known no more after the flesh, as he was once known in the days of his flesh when he suffered and died for his people, so, as he appears in the experience of his saints without sin unto salvation, he appears as their life and immortality. But not only does he appear in the experience of his saints here, but will more gloriously appear when mortality is swallowed up of life, and death is swallowed up in victory. Some suppose that we deny the second coming of Christ because we do not believe in his appearance on earth in a way that men with their natural eyes will see, and behold him as we naturally see and behold objects or persons around us. That he will appear in the eternal glorification of his saints the scriptures abundantly sustain, but not in a way which can be comprehended by the natural mind, even of the saints. Everything natural or fleshly will be done away or swallowed up in immortality. This is the truth in the resurrection to immortality of all the vessels of mercy. While the saints remain here it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know, says John, when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. We shall see him in glory, and be like him in a way beyond human comprehension.
The prophetic application of the Old Testament scriptures in reference to the coming of Christ in the flesh, and for what purpose he came, and also in reference to the church, and kingdom of God in gospel times, is not any better understood by the mass of religionists in our day, than they were by the Jews of old, or are by Jews of this age. The veil is on their minds as they read the scriptures, and they know not that Christ’s kingdom has come, and is not of this world. The disciples of our blessed Redeemer did not understand it until their understanding was opened by our Lord in his conversation with them after his resurrection. And it rather appears the apostles did not fully understand that the gospel should be preached among the Gentiles until after the baptism of Cornelius, the centurion. And, in truth, none can see, nor understand the indivisible union of Christ and his church, and the nature and character of Christ’s second coming, unless taught of God. His second coming is in his kingdom with power and great glory. He comes without sin unto salvation in the experience of his saints. Volumes have been written, and thousands of sermons preached on this subject, which have been but little else than the conjurations of the natural mind, the theories and speculations of men. He came with power and great glory on the day of Pentecost, and also in the experience of every subject of grace since the setting up of the gospel kingdom on earth. There is a patient waiting for the coming of our Lord in all the scenes of trial, affliction, tribulation, distress and persecution attending the saints on earth. His coming is not limited to days, and months, and times and years, as is generally understood in the imaginations of men. Paul says to his brethren, I Cor. 1:7-8, of their “waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The sufferings of the saints are limited to “this present time,” and they cease forever at the end of their pilgrimage in the day of the Lord Jesus. The day of the Lord is one day, the gospel day, the day of salvation, which day will never end until the whole church of God, from the least unto the greatest, will be experimentally called, justified and glorified. Waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, being confirmed unto the end, and being blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, are all in immediate connection, as setting forth the perfect glorification of the church in her exalted Redeemer. This cannot take place on earth, hence the future is spoken of in relation to its full consummation. Not future with Jehovah, but future in reference to time, the end of time with the church, and the full manifestation of the glory which does not yet appear; that is, appear in time, but will appear when Christ, who is our life, shall appear to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe. This can be seen by faith even now, but then it will be known and understood without the veil of this earthly tabernacle to intervene between the saints and the unclouded glory of our God. I think Paul must have had this view by faith when he said, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them, also, that love his appearing.” I am not certain that the word day applies to eternity, but rather to the state of glorification of the church in the world of immortal glory, and is so used, perhaps, in the way of contrast with the darkness of this present time, and the vanity of earthly things. All of the individual sufferings of the saints, as partakers of Christ’s sufferings; in truth, all of the sufferings of the church, from the days of Abel until the last heir of immortality is brought in, altogether considered, “are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Things are compared with each other in order to learn their relative value, or excellence. In this case there is no comparison. Hence all the sufferings of the church in times appear very insignificant, very small, and are but for a moment. Our light affliction is but for a moment, &c. In truth, from the beginning of time unto the end of time, is but a moment; also, from the beginning of the experience of a saint until the end of his pilgrimage is but a moment. Compared with the glory which is to be revealed; yes, compared with eternity, what is it? We are lost in a boundless sea of immensity. A moment only. The greatest reduction to an infinitely small quantity, or period, is here presented to us. The fullness of Christ’s second coming, including the mystery of the resurrection, is “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed,” &c.
Peter, in the third chapter of his second epistle, treats upon the same subject, or at least I so understand it. He says, “that the long suffering of our Lord is salvation,” or, in other words, God is long suffering to his people, “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” He speaks of his beloved brother Paul, who “according to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” These things. What things? In relation to Christ’s second coming, and the day of the Lord. The natural mind is disposed to take a natural view of these things, from whence emanate a vast amount of theories and speculations on this subject. Peter says, “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” In truth, it is only a moment. Speaking of these things, a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, Peter says, “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that you look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” The saints then were looking for these things. Paul says, “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ. These things are only seen by faith, and are revealed to faith, and understood by divine teaching. If by faith, the saints, anterior to the incarnation of our Lord, saw the day of Christ, and Isaiah saw the new heavens and earth which God says, “I create,” only by faith can the gospel church behold the same things in her experience, now and ever, while she remains on earth or in time.
The future prospect of the church is upward and onward. She is looking for these things. In her experience she has an earnest of them, she enters into them by faith. Time, and all things belonging to time, must end with her. Peter, addressing the saints, says, “But the end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” Paul says, “But this I say, brethren, the time is short. It remaineth that both they that have wives, be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoice not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it. For the fashion of this world passeth away.” Instructive considerations, important admonitions. It does not become the saints to be speculating as to when the natural heavens and earth, and all things belonging to them, will come to an end; but it is very important, as the end of all things relating to time will soon end with them; that they should observe and follow the instructions set forth by the apostles Paul and Peter, as I have quoted. None of us know exactly the time of our departure from this world, unless it should be shown us by the Lord beforehand. The saints should always be at their post, always ready, or in a state of preparation. In every number of the SIGNS the obituary notice of more or less of the saints is published. And I never look over the obituaries of the saints in each consecutive number, but what I read of the death of some brother or sister with whom I have been acquainted. I say never; seldom at least. Truly, “the time is short.” How solemn, yet how wonderful, the deliverance, and how great their joys. In the fulness of time the whole church shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Though the saints groan in this tabernacle, being burdened, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon, with their house, which is from heaven, they are looking for the full fruition of glory and of joy. The death of the body is falling asleep, or being asleep in Christ. God has set the bounds of our sojourn in time; he has established by firm decree the full time for the complete deliverance of the countless numbers of the redeemed, or ransomed of the Lord – soul, body, and spirit. Yet it is in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, with Jehovah. Christ’s second coming and the glorious resurrection of the body, or the adoption, is a profound mystery, and being so, how futile and vain to suppose our finite minds can understand or comprehend it. When the church is made like him, and see him as he is, then she will enter into the full enjoyment of the cloudless glory of her exalted Redeemer. The mystery of God respecting his church, in her salvation, will then be finished. When the end cometh, the Son will deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all. May the saints, therefore, comfort one another with these precious things of the everlasting kingdom of our God while in this vale of sorrow and distress.
Some additional considerations rather press upon my mind in the connection of this interesting subject. After the resurrection, and up to the time of the ascension of our glorious Lord, he showed himself alive to his disciples, or followers, by many infallible proofs, in being seen of them in person, and in speaking to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. No others saw him after his resurrection but his followers. He appeared to two of them, and conversed with them, and then vanished out of their sight. He appeared to them when the doors were shut where they were assembled, and said, “peace be unto you,” and showed them his hands and his side. They saw him when he ascended to glory, and a cloud received him out of their sight. That they should be proper witnesses that he was alive, and has ascended to glory, as they saw him in the days of his flesh, so he was manifest to them, and they could declare, most assuredly, that he was risen, and had ascended into the heavens. His coming again will be in like manner as the disciples saw him go into heaven. Not in the flesh did he ascend into heaven, or, in other words, he was not flesh when the clouds received him out of their sight, though he had said to his disciples, before this, “a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have.” When he comes again it will be in a state of glory, faintly presented by John in his description of the appearance of our Lord on the isle of Patmos; but will be fully presented in a manner beyond the power of men, or angels, to describe, and which the seraphims and cherubims of glory cannot overdo in description, or equal in fullness of glory. The saints, then, will be like him, for they shall see him as he is. His coming in like manner, therefore, presents the fullness of his glory in the accomplishment of God’s unchangeable purpose of salvation in the adoption, to wit; the redemption of our body, that is as I understand it, the redemption of the body of Christ, which is the whole church: soul, body, and spirit. Paul says, “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” Again, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Therefore the beginning of his second coming is to his people on earth, and the full accomplishment of it, will be the glorification of the whole church in the day of Christ, when the end cometh and the eternal purpose of God respecting his church and people is finished.
Among men, when the heirs to an estate, upon the death of the testator, are minors or under age, they must wait, or should wait, patiently until they leave the state of minority, or become of age, before they can receive the property or inheritance which is promised them. They cannot be fully satisfied until they receive the inheritance. The heirs of immortality in time are minors, but there is an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for them. And they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time. They rejoice in this precious truth, though they are often in heaviness through manifold temptations, “that the trial of your faith,” says Peter, “being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honor, and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” The saints cannot be satisfied on earth, for this present evil earth is not their home. Our blessed Lord “gave himself,” says Paul to the churches of Galatia, “for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” This glorious truth applies to the saints now. We are saved by hope, Christ in us the hope of glory. The psalmist said, “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.” There cannot be a full satisfaction to the saints on earth, though they taste the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, but in the world to come, in the day of Christ, they shall be satisfied.
Paul, speaking of the resurrection, and of the day of Christ, says to the Thessalonians, “But of the times and seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you; for yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” They understood it perfectly. Therefore he says, “ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day.” As this had an application to them, it is also applicable to the saints now. We are living in a time of frightful demoralization in nearly, if not quite, every sense of the word. Words cannot express the state of things now existing. It is useless to try it. The saints cannot but see the application of this scripture, “but let us watch and be sober.”
Though Paul says to the Thessalonians, “that the day of Christ is at hand,” yet he says, “Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come except there come a falling away first,” &c. A falling away! What does he mean? A departure from the faith, and order of the gospel. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith &c.” Paul to Timothy further says, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come,” &c. Perilous times for the church and the people of God. Among the list of men he speaks of in the perilous times of the church, are false accusers. We have this class among others in our day. There are many anti-Christs now. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” A falling away first. The man of sin, the son of perdition, that wicked must be revealed. He is being made manifest. He has been in the way of being revealed for ten centuries, but it seems like within the last half century, or less time, his growth and development has been very rapid. Under the name of Baptists there has been a great falling away. Your experience, brother Beebe, with some other surviving brethren, bear the marks of many trials and temptations in maintaining and contending for the doctrine and order of God’s house, in the falling away which has taken place in the revelation of the man of sin in our day. And the mystery of iniquity is still working. The strong delusion which God has sent upon men that they should believe a lie, &c., is very fully manifesting. We are living in the last days. The Lord will consume “that wicked” with the spirit of his mouth and shall destroy him with the brightness of his coming. John says, “Behold he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so. Amen.” The final overthrow of the man of sin, that wicked, including all the workers of iniquities, is a truth clearly revealed, and will be accomplished in the day of Christ.
Paul says, “But 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; whereunto he called you by our gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The saints now, as in the primitive times, in all ages, and among all nations, in truth, all who love the appearing of our Lord, every where, should be comforted with the declaration of the Holy Ghost, as follows, and also respond to the same, “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly: Amen.” The response, “Even so, come Lord Jesus.” The holy benediction follows, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
Joseph L. Purington.