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EARNEST HEED.

May 25,1853.

TO THE READERS OF THE SIGNS: - Religionists of all classes, or sorts, that profess to believe the Bible, readily admit that Paul was an unwavering advocate for truth, but differ respecting the truth which was advocated by him. It would appear as though there were as many opinions as there are stars in the firmament; but when those opinions are fully analyzed, the difference appears very small. To more fully explain my meaning, there are differences which appear very essential among religionists, and which cause much difficulty at times, each class being very strenuous to contend for opinions of their own, but on a close examination of their principles to the foundation, the difference is found to consist more in appearance than in reality. It is in substance salvation by works. I have no reference in these remarks to the church of Christ, but to the systems of false worship manifest in these days under the disguised name of Christianity.

At the late anniversary of the American Tract Society in New York, it was stated that “the design of the tract society, is practically to save souls.” This was expressed in connection with a preamble of their movements. In the celebration of holy mass, at a funeral, Archbishop Hughes of the Roman Catholic Church in New York, stated that “the offering of holy incense in behalf of the deceased, was accepted of God through the merits of Jesus Christ; and God through the merits of Jesus Christ would bring his soul into the world of felicity and happiness if it was not already there.” He was saved practically, by holy mass! Where is the difference between being saved practically by holy mass, or being saved practically by the Tract Society?

It does not require much discernment to discover the absurdity and wickedness of such statements. A bade in Christ can detect the deception. Salvation is of the Lord, but yet thousands called Protestants practically oppose this truth by patronizing such unscriptural societies.

Paul said in his epistle to his Hebrew brethren, “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” Heb. 2:1. Those brethren to whom Paul wrote were not fully established in the truth. They had given sufficient demonstration of the work of God in their hearts, but they were liable to become involved in the meshes of that old Jewish system in some of its rites and ceremonies. To use a figure, they only saw men as trees walking, therefore could not behold things clearly in their spiritual vision. They were liable to be imposed upon by false teachers, and Paul in his arguments labored to establish them in the truth, and to comfort them in their afflictions. The apostle declared that God who spake unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son. They had heard his gracious voice, and felt his love in their hearts, but as they were babes in Christ there was danger of their being poisoned in their minds by some improper influence, and therefore fail of entering into that perfect rest which is enjoyed by those who are settled and grounded in the truth. If they had heard the things pertaining to their salvation in relation to their obedience to Christ, to follow him, to keep his commandments &c., they were under obligation to give an earnest heed thereto, lest at any time we should let them slip. Paul reckons himself with them, and it is very evident he was addressing the saints of the Most High. To be more explicit on this point, he very conclusively shows that salvation is of the Lord, and that they were under law to Christ and not under the law given to national Israel. The things they had heard led them off from the system of works for justification, and led them to love, and obey Christ. To let them slip; not that their salvation was committed to their charge to keep, and they were warned to keep it from slipping from them, as though it depended upon themselves; but to disobey the commands of Christ as his followers, would bring upon them the rod of correction and chastisement. Under the old dispensation every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward, so under the gospel, a violation of Christ’s commands is followed by many stripes. There is no way to escape chastisement if any of the Lord’s people neglect so great salvation, or turn away from him who speaketh from heaven. Therefore to let them slip is virtually a turning away from the commands of Christ, which afford peace and pardon, to the doctrines and commandments of men, which envelop the saints in darkness and distress.

The foregoing text is applicable to the church of Christ and to no others. It is perverted from its legitimate meaning by many, but its true application is alone to the saints of God. If they depart from the commands of Christ they experience the reward of their folly. If any brother or sister is prompted by a wrong spirit to act contrary to the gospel of Christ towards any one, or towards one another, they will learn by experience that the scriptures are true. And it is very probable that some have become useless to the church by improper conduct, and by indulging a carnal spirit. This does not effect their eternal salvation which is exclusively of God, but it effects their peace and happiness in this world.

If what I have expressed is correct in substance, we learn the faithfulness of our God to correct his children, and to prepare them for his own glory. When led to acknowledge and confess their folly, they behold his hand in truth, and righteousness.

Peter said to his brethren, “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby, if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” This evidently corroborates the testimony of Paul in regard to the obedience of faith, and being under law to Christ, to follow him in all his commandments. There is a great necessity of taking heed to our ways, so as not to be involved in the corrupting influence of this deluded age. The people of God are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

Dead men, literally, have no life, consequently cannot perform the functions of life. Dead sinners are represented as being destitute of spiritual life, consequently are dead in trespasses and sins, and the wrath of God abides upon them. If a man has life, he breathes and moves; so if a man has spiritual life in him, he breathes and moves in spiritual things. There never can be an extinction of this life which is Christ in the believer, the hope of glory. We know we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. We love them because the truth is among them, and because the Lord has set his sanctuary in the midst of them forever.

The apostles and ministers of Christ in primitive times traveled, and preached the gospel in its purity. They were men of like passions with us, as is manifest by their own account, and the testimony that is given of them. They traveled throughout the Roman empire, and were treated in a cruel and abusive manner for the truth’s sake. The Jews came to Paul on a certain occasion and said to him, “We desire to know of thee what thou thinkest, for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.” The gospel preached by the apostles subjected them and the lovers of truth to the obloquy of the world. The same truth has been vilified from that time to this. The way of truth is evil spoken of at the present day and age of the church. To declare what God has spoken, to maintain his truth, and to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, is an important matter for consideration. Let it be like apples of gold and pictures of silver.

I will draw my desultory remarks to a close. When I left the New School Baptists and became connected with the Old School Baptists, I experienced a great deliverance. I feel to hope the Lord was in it, and I supposed, soon others would leave them {New School} of my acquaintance. But I have been mistaken in my anticipations. Some that did leave them and join the Old School soon turned aside, and I have concluded that it is altogether useless to plan out a path for others. Follow me, said Christ to one of old, and may every disciple of Christ remember the injunction in his own experience. I am still counted among Old School Baptists, and notwithstanding their infirmities, I am not yet willing to forsake them. I do not expect very likely that I shall find any worse man among them than myself; so on the whole I might as well remain where I am. It is very evident that there is nothing very inviting among them in a natural point of view, but from some cause I love them notwithstanding their decrepitude in appearance. Various motives may prompt a man in a course that may appear right for a season, but the day of trial will make manifest who are on the Lord’s side. Flesh and blood is not able to endure the hard scenes that the church of God pass through in this vale of tears. We are not subjected to the persecuting power of any law enforced by the civil magistrate in a direct infringement on our religious privileges, but depraved human nature is the same as ever it has been, where ever it is manifested. Our privileges are great in this country, but gospel truth is as unpopular, and as antiquated as ever it has been. Its preciousness and intrinsic value to supply all our need is a sufficient antidote for all the exigencies of our situation under the most trying circumstances.

I wish well to Zion amidst all her changes, and vicissitudes. I still feel to pray for her prosperity, and that the Lord will increase her with men like a flock; as the holy flock, and as the flock of Jerusalem is her solemn feast. Many of the poor of the flock are now rejoicing in the word of the Lord, in what God has spoken, and can bear simple testimony that the mercy of the Lord endureth forever. Again, there are many who are in the wilderness, in distress, and trouble, and some who know not where they are, but would like to know if it was the Lord’s will. Some are probably distressed on account of the apparent differences existing among the Lord’s people at the present time. It is indeed a matter of grief and sorrow; but the differences are more in appearance than in reality. Let no one strive to be great, but every one be willing to be small, and a part of the difficulty, if not the whole, will be removed.

As I cannot write to my own satisfaction, I cannot justly complain if the readers thereof are not satisfied. I will close without note or comment.

Affectionately yours,
Joseph L. Purington.