A Sweet Savor Contact Miscellaneous Audio Messages Penmen


Richmond, Maine, Jan.17, 1845.

DEAR BROTHER {W.L. Benedict} IN CHRIST: - In obedience to my promise, and agreeably to your request, I now take my pen in hand to address you, wishing you grace, mercy and peace from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. On my way home from Warwick, via New York City and Boston, I tarried one night in Woburn, had the privilege of some conversation with Elder P. Hartwell, and found him and his family enjoying a good degree of health. He intends visiting New York the coming season. As it regards my bodily health it is good; and as to my mind, I trust God has blessed me with some insight into those glorious truths upon which our eternal salvation is based, and I feel established in the belief that God worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, and that the eternal salvation of his people is secured in the covenant of grace; yea, and was ere time began; and it is not in the power of men or devils to frustrate his purpose, but he will accomplish his design in the dispensation of the fullness of times, by the working of his mighty power, in raising up from the grave of sin those that are dead in trespasses and sins, in the implantation of a holy principle of life in the soul, Christ formed in them the hope of glory; and such are, and will be kept by the power of God unto salvation, through faith, which is the operation of the Spirit of the living God. As my only hope and confidence is in the immutable purpose of Jehovah, in regard to the salvation of my own soul, or the salvation of others, I cannot, I dare not, look to any other quarter, or proclaim any other doctrine but the doctrine of free, sovereign and discriminating grace. But, dear brother, there are but few in these parts that have any relish for gospel truth, and it does appear at times like as though God was about to shake, not the earth only, but also heaven, in separating the precious from the vile, and in fact, this shaking has already commenced, owing to the accumulation of the progeny of anti-christ. But we are not to suppose that any true believer will be shaken from the foundation, which is Jesus Christ, on which the true church, the whole elect of God, does rest. No one whose name is written in the Lamb’s book of life will be removed. And when the vast assemblage of the body of anti-christ is destroyed, which we are to consider as those things which are shaken, as of things which are made, then the gospel church, which cannot be shaken, will remain and shine forth, “fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.” Therefore let us not think it strange if we meet with a few fiery trials in our progress onward, for the scripture expressly declares, “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction,” which scripture relates to Jesus Christ, “as one chosen out of the people,” and also to the whole chosen people of God, who were chosen in Christ, before the foundation of the world, which people are scattered among all nations and descriptions of men.

We need not think it strange when we see confusion and disorder in the religious world, considering how prevalent the arminian heresy is, and how truth is left free to combat it, by which we discover the two contending spirits that agitate the professedly christian world at the present day; for there is a vast difference between being saved by grace and being saved by works, in regard to the eternal salvation of the soul. Neither need we think it strange to see those two spirits manifested, even in a single church; for what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? Or what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? Hence we discover the truth of the scripture. “How can two walk together except they be agreed?” Therefore this shaking of the heaven {which we are to understand to be the professed church of Christ} must continue until there is a complete separation of anti-christian policy and hypocritical profession from the true church of Christ.

The prophet Micah has given a very clear description of the state of things as they now exist, when he says, “They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money; yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? None evil can come upon us. Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field &c.” Also the prophet Habakkuk has given the same sentiment when speaking of the evils in his day; he says, “They take up all of them with the angle, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag; therefore they rejoice and are glad. Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag; because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous.” By this we can discover how Zion is laid waste by false teachers, who have privily crept in, supposing that gain is godliness, deceiving the hearts of the simple and leading them astray. But the eternal God is at the head of affairs, and for the sake of his anointed he will make bare his arm and show forth his power in the redemption of his people, in his own way and time. I do not think it is any worse for the heathen nations of the earth to worship idol gods such as they have made with their own hands, than it is for professed christians to worship Sunday Schools, Abolition and Tract Societies, with numerous other societies of the same description, which is based upon money and morality, and to consider them as appendages to the church of Christ. It is through such falsely named benevolent institutions that many are drawn into their net and gathered in their drag, whereby the D.D.’s and Rev. clergy are fed, and their portion is fat, through heavy salaries bestowed on them. They consequently rejoice and are glad when their plans are effected in the works of their own hands, while the poor tempest-tossed and afflicted child of God weeps in secret places, and mourns over the disconsolate state of Zion. But, dear brother, in the midst of these calamities remember that the Lord God omnipotent reigneth, who is Head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all. It is a pleasing consideration that the Lord God is the defense of his people, their refuge and deliverer in the day of trouble, and that “Israel shall dwell safely alone from him that puffeth at him;” and they are a happy people whose God is the Lord, because they are a people saved by the Lord, and the eternal God is their refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms; consequently their enemies shall be found liars unto them, and they shall tread upon their high places. Seeing, therefore, that the conquest and victory will be complete through Christ, who is their Savior, Redeemer, and chief Captain of their salvation, and as we hope that we are interested in that salvation, and belong to the true Israel of God, let us also go without the camp, bearing his reproach, looking unto Jesus, who is the author and finisher of the faith of his people.

It is my intention, if I live, and other providential circumstances admit, to attend the Baltimore, Delaware, Delaware River and Warwick Associations, the coming spring and summer, and also travel somewhat extensively through New York and Pennsylvania, perhaps into a part of Ohio. However, in that I feel like committing my way to the Lord, who I trust will lead and guide aright.

There are in this section all kinds of professors of religion, and all kinds of doctrine that I ever have heard of, and but few who contend for the doctrine of grace. The New School Baptists and Methodists are the most numerous of any denominations in these parts. I do not think it makes any great difference what opinion a person does embrace, provided it is not right, or founded upon the testimony of scripture. So as regards the different denominations of the present day, they concur in principle upon the arminian plan of “do and live,” which plan is old covenant in its nature and its tendency. Though we as a people pass by the name of Old School Baptists, yet we are not to understand it as a mere denominational name, but as a title whereby we recognize ourselves as those who tenaciously adhere to the principles of the doctrine of grace, and the ordinances of the gospel, and also that we may be distinguished from the New Measure Baptists, who have gone into the fooleries and inventions of anti-christ, by departing from the faith and order of the gospel. The Old School Baptist Church in Bowdoinham, of which I am a member, is situated seven or eight miles from the place of my residence, and consists of twenty-nine members, some of whom are very aged, and I am the youngest member of the church. Our church and meetings are in general very interesting. The church was constituted about the year 1785 or 86. It has stood firm upon apostolic principles ever since, and was not led away by the same corruptions with which the Bowdoinham Association did depart from her first principles, of which Association the aforesaid church stood as a member until about five years since, when she withdrew for conscience sake, since which time she has been in a prosperous state, and God has added to her numbers and graces. She is now a member of the Old School Predestinarian Association of Maine.

There are many things worthy of our attention in taking a view of the early Baptists in our country, and comparing them with the O.S. churches of our day, and to find the same unity in principle, the same oneness of mind, while the most of the professed Baptist Churches have gone off on the arminian ground and are in confederation with the anti-christian denominations. And since the introduction of human policy and human effort towards evangelizing the world, there has been a gradual departing from the faith, and it will continue until they utterly perish in their corruption. I believe that God will save all his people in the fullness of times, and that the dark and benighted regions of the earth are to be blessed with the glorious sound of the gospel. But methinks the efforts of modern arminian professors will turn out in abortion. I do not thus write to prejudice your mind against the modern improvements, so called, but to give some of my views concerning them, and to show that the cause of God will stand without the aid of human policy or improvement, and that God will take care of his people without the aid of Theological Seminaries or Universities, or any other human institution, for the church is founded upon Christ, the Rock of Ages, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it.

I must draw to a close, by observing that I intended to have written to you before, but have been hindered by many unforeseen circumstances, but I trust you will pardon me for my negligence, as many things often transpire to frustrate our calculations. It is four weeks since I returned to my native home, and I find my need of that grace which God alone can give, to support my mind and to keep me from the evils and snares to which I find myself exposed in this dark and cold world. I preach frequently, and whenever an opportunity offers, but it is not to large congregations, but to a few of Zion’s pilgrims, such as are not ashamed to own their Lord and make his counsel known; while hypocrites and false professors walk the downward road.

I would exhort you, dear brother, in the language of the apostle Peter, to gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace which is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. I would esteem it a privilege to receive a letter from you whenever you feel free to write.

I wish to be remembered to your wife and family, and to Deacons Burt and Brooks, and to all inquiring brethren and sisters in the Lord.

I remain, with all due respect, your brother in Christ,
J.L. Purington.