BROTHER BEEBE: – Again I address you from the hill country of Franklin Co., at a season of the year when all nature assumes an aspect consonant with the winter months, and bears testimony to the declaration of scripture, that, “While the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease.”
An article headed “Not preaching to sinners,” appeared in “Zion’s Advocate,” of Sept. 28, 1847, giving an account of our Associational meeting at Richmond. It was written by a New School Baptist minister residing at Richmond, who was present at our meeting on Friday and Saturday. It contains but few correct statements. Independent of the slurs, misrepresentations, and unjust inferences therein expressed, there is one (if not more) false statement. In speaking of Jay church he says “They reported themselves as miserable, and that God had added five to their miserable number.’” There was no such report. The statistical report read thus “Within the past year, there have been added to our visible number five.” As the writer does not manifest candor, nor a knowledge of gospel truth, in what he has written, therefore, I think it worthy of notice only as the barking of a dog.
I trust there a few of the Lord’s people in Maine, that have not defiled their garments with the doctrines and inventions of men, and are willing to be considered “a converted, misguided, self-conceited people,” as the filth of the world, as fools for Christ’s sake. They have a little strength, and have kept the word of his patience, and have not denied his name, in this day when men blaspheme the Most High, and oppose his eternal truth. They can say with the Psalmist, “Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. They speak vanity every one with his neighbor: with flattering lips, and with a double heart do they speak. The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things; Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail: our lips are our own: who is Lord over us? For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy now will I arise, saith the Lord; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him. The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation forever.” They rejoice that “the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his;” and that the church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;” therefore the foundation cannot be destroyed, nor can the powers of darkness prevail against the church. “And let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity,” not only in regard to ungodliness, and every worldly lust, but in departing from the errors, and delusions of men.
Whenever I have a retrospective view of my christian experience, in the way and manner the Lord has led me, I can but exclaim, “His mercy endureth forever.” My soul is often humbled in remembrance of my affliction, and my misery, the wormwood, and the gall, therefore have I hope. I cannot sufficiently express the debt of gratitude I owe to my God, for his goodness and mercy extended to me when I found trouble and sorrow, and cried, “O Lord I beseech thee, deliver my soul.” And as I was led about and instructed, I found it was hard kicking against the sovereign purposes of Jehovah, and exceeding bitter thing to sin against God. I also learned that “the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel,” and “the blasphemy of them who say they are Jews, but are not, but are of the synagogue of Satan,” and “that there is a path which no fowl knoweth, that the vulture’s eye hath not seen, nor the lion’s whelp trodden, and the wayfaring man though a fool, shall not err therein. I sensibly feel my spiritual destitution and poverty, yet at times I can say that to him that hath no might he increaseth strength, and my bow abideth in strength, and the arms of my hands are made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.” And “Where the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.” Blessed consolation! Truly our God is worthy of praise, and adoration by all creating beings.
It is a consolation to hear through the Signs and Monitor from brethren and sisters, in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, throughout this wide extended Republic; it is a token of the love and union that exists among the people of God. No one can love the doctrine of sovereign grace, nor appreciate gospel privileges, but the christian, who has died to every thing, in his salvation but Christ, having entirely failed of life, strength, or support, from the arminian heresy, in any of its circuitous doctrines. The zigzag course, and meandering movements of anti-christ are enough to cause despondency of soul, and despairing feelings in them that have seen an end of all creaturely perfection, unless the great God supports them by his grace, and enables them to triumph over the world, the flesh, and the devil. There is nothing in this world of itself, that affords any true consolation; it is like dwelling in the parched plane of the wilderness, in a salt land, and not inhabited. But Jesus is the soul of his people; in him they live spiritually, and enjoy at times his comforting presence. Times and seasons change, but our God changeth not, neither is weary, nor asleep. He heareth the prayer of the destitute and afflicted souls, and will answer their prayer.
A good hope through grace is like a strong anchor to the heirs of promise; but a hope based upon the resolutions, and determinations of the creature is like the spider’s web, or like the arminian idea of evangelizing the world, or saving souls by the means of money, but means, money, and souls, will all go down to the depths of darkness together, as to saving sinners in that way. That the christian has many serious queries, as to his hope, I doubt not, but as he cannot get rid of it, it rather proves that his hope holds on to him, instead of his holding on to his hope, for we are saved by hope. The nominal professor holds on to his hope, by his prayers, resolutions, and good determinations; whereas the hope of the believer inspires him with confidence in God, and faithfulness in the cause of truth.
I know of no discrepancy in doctrine or practice in Jay church; they remain steadfast in the truth, and are at peace among themselves. It is the Lord’s doings, and it is marvellous in our eyes. The Lord is with his people, and the shout of a king is among them. Let her watchmen lift up their voices together, in proclaiming the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God.
Since I left the house of my father at Richmond my bodily health has some improved so that I can preach occasionally, and at times feel willing to spend and be spent in the cause of truth. My father’s health has also so improved that he can again attend to his secular affairs as heretofore. I could write more, but I often then, that my communications are not worth the perusal of any one, especially those who are far more capable of writing than myself. What I have written is at your disposal, to publish a part, the whole, or none at all as you may think proper.
I remain your unworthy brother, in hope of a glorious immortality.
JOSEPH L. PURINGTON.
Jay, Maine, Dec. 25, 1847
From Zion’s Advocate.
The readers of the Advocate may not wish to see a lengthly dissertation on the Old or New School, yet they may be interested in an account of their late Association in Richmond. It was organized according to our method, when several visiting brethren of their stamp were invited by the Moderator to take a seat, &c. Among them was Mr. Hartwell, of the Warwick Association, N. Y. Then said the Moderator, some brother will have to preach; and after some delay Mr. Hartwell was found to be the man. His text was Zeph. iii. 13. He said some good things, but much of his sermon was not calculated to do good. The Sabbath he denounced – every day is a Sabbath – one as much as another. The law of Moses is repealed – (the moral?) He expressed much fear of works, labor, Arminianism, much of which was in him, he said, though he hated it. He compared Christians to cattle feeding in a pasture, with nothing to do but to eat and lie down. Other churches were pastures, in which there was little or no feed, out of which the members are wont to leap. He gave ministers, who preach to sinners to turn and live, a terrible run: spoke of them as those whose mouths are full of lies – as fearing to meet a man with the Bible in his hand. Pity he did not know who are laboring to circulate it in all lands.
Elder Burbank, of Whitefield, preached a very good sermon from Rom. i. 16; with some exceptions. Elder Purington also preached from Luke xxv. 47. A narrative of scripture facts was the great part of his preachment, interlarded with flings against Missions, and an educated ministry. It is right for him to urge his brethren to bear his expenses to Baltimore, but not to urge them to send the word of life to the heathen.
In a sermon from jer. xxiii. 28, 29; Elder Whitehouse spoke of different kinds of dreams, &c., particularly of those which persons have when wide awake, &c., though the presentation of a certain number of cattle might have made a person a life member of Jeroboam’s priesthood in his day, &c.; a fling at missionary effort – that ministers, whose labors are attended with a blessing, are worthy of about as much honor as the ram’s horns mentioned in connection with the fall of Jericho, &c.
The great object of their preaching seemed to be the doctrine of election, predestination, &c., as though there was nothing else in the Bible. They ought to know that there are a multitude of truths in it; and that doctrine, though so important and fundamental in the gospel, is not a part of the theme of Christ’s sermon on the Mount. They seemed unable to preach without flingering against educated ministers, missions, &c. They urged no duties, not even prayer, nor faithfulness in life.
Six churches were represented – 2 in Whitefield, of 43 and 34 members; one in Palermo of 14; one in North Anson of 24; one in Bowdoinham of 31; and one in Jay of 32. In Jay lone has any interest been manifested. They reported themselves as miserable, and that God had added 5 to their “miserable number.” They correspond with the Baltimore, Delaware, Delaware River and Warwick Associations, and the North Berwick Conference. More than once it was said they might become smaller, and judging from appearances, they are in a fair way for it. I think they are a converted, misguided, self-conceited people. They consider themselves a persecuted people – but if others, be they who they may, rail against them half as much as they appear to against others, they are in poor business.
Richmond, Me., Sept. 20.
Signs of the Times
Volume 16, No. 2
January 15, 1848