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ON THE FOURTH CHAPTER OF ISAIAH. No.3.

{Continued}

BROTHER BEEBE: - I proceed to the further consideration of verses 3 & 4; verse 4 being more immediately the subject of remark in the preceding letter in which I endeavored to point out what was to be viewed as the filth of the daughters of Zion, mentioned in the same verse.

As the daughters of Zion of the text, are so manifestly, the visible branches of Zion or churches constituted upon gospel principles, we must from the connection in which the two are here placed, understand the term Jerusalem also to have reference to the gospel church. That the term Jerusalem is repeatedly used to denote the gospel church, will, I presume, be admitted by most conversant with the scriptures. Paul uses it in this sense, Gal.4:26, where he calls the gospel church in distinction from the Jewish, the Jerusalem which is above. Among other texts of the Old Testament in which the term Jerusalem is used to denote the gospel church, see Psal.147:2; Isa.33:20; and Jer.33:16. We are not however to understand the terms, Jerusalem, daughters of Jerusalem, daughters of Zion, &c., when used by the Holy Spirit in reference to the gospel church, as used without regard to a distinct idea conveyed by each. In the passage before us, the distinct idea of each term is manifest. The expression, daughters of Zion, as I have before showed, designates the gospel church in her distinct visible branches. Jerusalem, signifying the vision or possession of peace, properly denotes the true body of Christ, as none but living members have had the vision of peace or possess it. And Jerusalem as a city builded compactly together, and builded of the Lord, {Psal.122:3, 147:2,} fitly represents the body of Christ in its collective relation.

But the most difficult point to be understood in this case, is what is intended by the blood of Jerusalem. Is it literally the blood of saints which has been shed by persecution? No; that is to be visited upon the inhabitants of the earth; the earth shall disclose her blood; and blood shall be given them to drink, whilst the Lord’s people shall be hid in their chambers, compare Rev.16:6 with Isa.26:20,21. But the blood under consideration is to be purged from the midst of Jerusalem. Is it then the blood of persecution which the saints have shed? Certainly not. They have been in every age, a people sought out by persecutors, and have been as sheep in the midst of wolves; not only in that like sheep, they have been subject to be devoured by their persecutors; but also in that they have never returned devouring for devouring. The blood here spoken of is evidently connected with idolatry, or the filth of the text. And looking to typical Jerusalem, we find the shedding of blood charged upon her as connected with her idolatry, and which is without doubt, figurative of the subject of our present enquiry. The Lord charges Jerusalem, in connection with her filthy abominations, with taking her sons and her daughters, which she had born unto him, and sacrificing them unto the images of men which she had made, of the gold and silver which the Lord had given her. He adds, “Is this thy whoredom a small matter, that thou hast slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them?” Ezek. 16:12-21. In this passage, I think we have in figurative language, a full development of the blood of our text. We have also similar charges against Jerusalem in Ezek.22:2-4; and 23:37-39. Jeremiah also in charging upon Jerusalem her corruptions, says, “Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents &c.” Jer.2:34. I would just remark here, that I do not understand the Prophet in using the term innocents, as having any reference to the idea of native innocency; but that he uses the term simply in relation to the crime of idolatry which he is charging upon Jerusalem, and thereby accuses her of making those participate in this corruption who are involuntary, and therefore without guilt in the act.

But my brethren will be surprised that I should suppose there is to be found in the gospel churches, what answers to the odious crime of sacrificing children by the typical Jerusalem. But I think I shall show, that figuratively, the blood of the souls of poor innocents is to be found upon the skirts of the gospel churches and that without secret search. To prove this, I will produce the Apostle’s remarks, I Cor.8:11, “And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish for whom Christ died.” To understand the Apostle here, we must consider the different senses in which the term perish is used, as meaning, to lose, to fall away, to become useless, &c., as well as to die, to be damned, &c. For instance, a person’s arm perishes when it withers and becomes useless. In this sense, the weak brother might perish or wither, not only as to his comforts, but also as to his usefulness to the body of Christ, and be, as Paul was afraid he might become a cast away, that is from the visible church. In this sense some perished, who are mentioned in I Cor.11:30. In this sense, I think many of God’s spiritual children have been sacrificed in years past, by the churches of Christ, to the vain notion of competing with the worldly denominations as to worldly respectability. That is, they have been made to perish as to their usefulness in the gospel of Christ, and as to their enjoyment of those precious consolations, and that liberty which the truth imparts. How many, for instance, of God’s children have been left to perish, like the Prodigal, {Luke 15:17,} with hunger, in consequence of churches choosing for their pastors such preachers as would, by their oratory and learning, be likely to draw a respectable congregation, and such in preference to the plain, faithful gospel minister? How many promising gifts for the ministry have been buried, been destroyed, as to their usefulness in feeding the sheep and lambs of Christ, by being encouraged by their churches, {and some of them by the persuasion of older members and preachers, in whom they had confidence, involuntarily, like Jeremiah’s innocents,} to seek to fit themselves for the work, by resorting to literary and theological schools; and which only fitted them for promoting a speculative religion, and feeding the goats. Multitudes, it is true, enter the ministry with no other idea than that of qualifying themselves by education for making their profession honorable and profitable. Such characters I have nothing here to do with. Again, there are those, who have been highly esteemed by the saints as able ministers of the New Testament, but have since been flattered by their churches to aim at obtaining fashionable congregations; and where are they now? Going with all their influence in support of the man of sin, in its various new measures; and if they now touch the gospel string, it is in a lifeless, discordant manner. We are not, I apprehend, capacitated rightly to appreciate, at this day, the depth of the evil which has been produced by the churches having sacrificed the entire usefulness of many of the children of God, as to that kingdom, which is not of this world, and the gospel peace and consolations, to a great degree, of all, as peace offerings to the world and its prejudices, see Psal.81:6-16; and Isa.48:17-19. Those of us now on the stage, came into the church in its defiled state, and as we began to suck the breasts of our mothers, the churches into which we were brought, we imbibed much of a defiling conformity to the spirit and notions of worldly religionists, so that it became incorporated into our feelings and views. As a consequence of God’s Israel having joined himself to Bael-peor, the god of shame; that is, having become ashamed of the old fashioned doctrine and order as revealed in the gospel; and having eaten of the sacrifices to the gods of Moab; that is the world’s means of salvation, how many of the children of Israel have died of the plague; that is to the visible church of Christ, is not for me to say. See for the type, Num.25. I have therefore believed when any departed from the doctrine and order of the gospel, who once professed them, it was because they never loved the gospel in truth; that is, were not subjects of grace. And this, no doubt, is the case with many who fall away; their open opposition to simple gospel truth proves it. But from the view I have been led into upon this subject, I now believe that many of God’s children have been heretofore sacrificed or have perished in the sense I have given. {I say heretofore, for now seems to be approaching a separating time between those who are receiving the mark of the Beast, and those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.} The Galatian brethren’s having been bewitched, Gal.3:1; the texts I have already quoted, I Cor.8:11; and 11:30, and what Peter says of some, “that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit,” {I Pet.4:6,} all go to support the idea that the children of God may awfully depart from him, and his word, and as Peter says, “be judged {or punished} according to men in the flesh,” whilst they shall live according to God’s electing, redeeming and regenerating love in the spirit; and will therefore be found among the innumerable multitude which shall stand before the throne and the Lamb, though not of the hundred and forty and four thousand, who were sealed in their foreheads as the servants of God, and who are not defiled with women, but are virgins; not having been seduced off, to intermingle with those corrupt religious combinations or societies formed upon worldly principles. See Rev.7:3-9; and 14:4. But still my brethren may think that these departures from the purity and simplicity of gospel doctrine and order, can never be so odious in the sight of God, as to be pointed out by the charges of sacrificing children, and shedding of blood. But are not God’s spiritual children as dear to him as were his typical children? And the one’s therefore, being deprived of living in the enjoyment of the blessings of the gospel land of promise, {by which I do not mean Heaven,} be viewed by him as being as great, as that of the others being deprived of animal life and the enjoyment of temporal blessings in the land of Canaan? God has given in his word ample testimony of his great displeasure at a departure from the word. Witness the case of Saul, I Sam.15:22-36; the case of Uzza, I Chron.13:7-13, compared with 15:11-13; and also the case of the man of God sent out of Judah by the word of the Lord to prophecy against the altar at Bethel, I Kings 13. If this man of God after prophesying faithfully according to the word of the Lord must be killed by a lion, for suffering himself to be seduced by a lying prophet, to eat bread among the idolatrous people; can those hope to escape the rod, who, though as we believe, they preach the gospel of Christ, will still make a practice of eating and drinking with the open worshippers of the golden calves of our day? Yea, have we not need to watch and pray, lest we be beguiled by some lying prophet, or lying spirit, to depart from the word of the Lord?

It seems proper here to make some enquiry relative to the manner in which these corruptions crept in, and got such a hold on the gospel churches. The Lord has said that the leaders of this people cause them to err. Isa.3:12 & 9:16. But still it appears from the context in both cases, that the people were to be judged for suffering themselves to be led astray. There is a natural propensity in christians to be more easily affected by objects of sense, even in things pertaining to religion, and hence to be pleased with what tends to resolve religion into outward acts and show. On the other hand, the experience of the christian teaches him that his religion to be acceptable to God or profitable to his own soul, must be spiritual. The fear of God also operates as a restraint upon his mind to prevent his departing deliberately from the express direction of God’s word. A sense also of his own ignorance in spiritual things, and of the deceitfulness of his own heart, prevents his leaning to his own understanding, and disposes him to cleave to the Scriptures as the man of his counsel. Hence, until some person has obtained the confidence of a child of grace, as a guide, and leads him off by degrees, he will not easily be drawn away from the gospel rule. But so far as we are left to give ourselves up to be governed by the dictations and examples of men, we become peculiarly attached to the schemes and views we have received from them. The reason is obvious; namely, that every device of carnalizing religion, tends to make it more congenial to human nature. Again, persecution shows the christian by real feeling, the evil of a carnal religion, makes him abhor such religion, and drives him to the throne of grace, and to the word of God for counsel and support. Consequently, it places him in circumstances to be less influenced by the desire of pleasing men in his religious concerns, and to be more cautious to know that he has a Divine warrant for what he believes and practices. But still the steps of a christian are ordered by the Lord. If God leaves him to the influence of carnal leaders, or his own natural inclinations, he will go astray; but if he hedges up his way as God has said he would do to his church, {Hosea 2:6,} he will be kept back, &c.

Having made these general remarks relative to this subject, I will come to particulars. As that which more immediately concerns us, is the second defilement of the gospel church, or in other words a defilement since her separation from the seven-headed Beast, I shall of course begin where this corruption begins to manifest itself. This was as the Baptists began to emerge from the severity of persecution in England, and were emboldened to put forth a public declaration of their faith. As this had the effect to wipe from them the stigma under which they had suffered, of being Arians, enemies of all government, &c. They began to feel themselves as standing on a footing with the other dissenting denominations; their preachers of course began to aspire after the same respectability in the world, as was enjoyed by those of other dissenting congregations. Human learning was necessary for this, and a corresponding support. Here Satan displayed his utmost art in helping them to a plan by which they might sway the churches into their ambitious measures. The plan of constituting the churches into associations was devised – not as ecclesiastical courts, such a proposition the churches would at once have rejected; but as advisory councils – a less assuming name at first view, but not much less so in truth. Has God said, “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all liberally, &c.,” and has he set before us the evil of not asking counsel of God, as in the case of Joshua and the Gibeonities, Josh.9:14, {see also Psal.106:13-15; 107:11,12, and Prov.1:30,31,} and has the Lord said, “Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom; I am understanding, &c.” Prov.8:14; and is the Lord Jesus Christ made unto his people wisdom, and has he given them his word, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works; and shall any body of men, with impunity, organize themselves into a standing council, for the churches to apply to for advise and direction? Judge ye. It was not, depend upon it, owing to the mildness of the pretensions set up in favor of those advisory councils, that they have not ruled the churches with a heavy hand, but to the mercy of God in hedging up their way, by inspiring his churches, to watch with a jealous eye, the movements of these self-constituted bodies. But still, the leaders by having their efforts combined in these associations, and by inducing the churches to repose a considerable confidence in their advise, have been enabled to establish many customs, in the churches, generally, which have no foundation in Apostolic practice. Among other devices, early after the formation of Associations, the churches were swayed to countenance and encourage the plan for obtaining a ministry, learned in the sciences of the world. Hence, Dr. Going, as quoted in the SIGNS, Vol.5, No.5, page 39, was not so much mistaken in saying, “That the Baptists, both in England and America, from the time they became organized into associations, have approved ministerial education.” His assertion that they approved of missions at so early a period, wants proof. But does this Baptist D.D., by referring to that period as the height of baptist antiquity, and denying our claim to be Old School Baptists, because we differ in this thing from the Baptists of that day, think to gull his disciples into the belief of such a position? I pity their ignorance of the New Testament if they know not that the Baptists existed as a religious people long before that day. Or is it indeed a fact, that the Baptist schools have received the hypothesis of the Paedobaptists, that the Baptists had but just before that, sprung into existence? If so, we may well expect our learned Baptists to be found among the seven women, taking hold of one man, &c.

From the countenance which the churches in many parts were led by degree to give to an educated ministry, the plan ultimately succeeded so well, and so many learned ministers got into the churches, who necessarily in their display of the wisdom of this world in their pulpits, inculcated also much of the spirit of the world, that a series of corruptions both in practice and in doctrine, has grown out of it. Those who could succeed best in appearing to harmonize the doctrine of the cross with the spirit and prejudices of the world, have in all ages of corruption of the church, been considered the most learned divines, and most readily obtained the honorary title of D.D. It is not necessary for me to follow on in detail, the history of the introduction of all the new things of this day. Suffice it to say, that many of those modern measures have manifestly been brought in to provide a support for the swarms of clergymen, their many schools are turning out; and that the associations continue to be, in a great measure, the advisory councils in which their plans are matured. Hence the cant phrase of the day, about meeting in associations to devise means for the spread of the gospel, and the building up of Zion, &c. But on the other hand, there have been a few churches and preachers that, amidst the greatest rage for education and missionary operations, have never drank in these corruptions to the extent to which they have prevailed among the great body of the Baptists. And besides, the extent to which these filthy abominations have been carried, has had the effect to awaken others to a deep sense of the evil of departing from the simplicity of the gospel, and make them willing, at the expense of reproach to retrace their steps, and to seek to cleanse themselves from the whole source of defilement. And thus the Image of the Beast, like as did the original Beast, is by the excess of its human devises, driving the true church and the saints from it, and leading them to bear their public testimony against those innovations, the introduction of which they too much countenanced. But as the daughters of Zion have polluted themselves, the defilement must be washed away; and as the true visible church by countenancing the introduction of those plans by which many of her children have been sacrificed and thus as Jeremiah says, “The blood of the souls of the poor innocents is found in her skirts,” it will there remain until purged away. Hence the peculiar propriety of the expression used in our text, in speaking of purging away the blood of Jerusalem, from the midst thereof. It is the blood of Jerusalem that is the causing to perish of the living members thereof, as explained before, that stands charged against the churches of Christ, and it is to be purged from the midst thereof, for this purging has relation only to the true churches, so far as they have participated in this iniquity.

Before closing this letter, I would say, to prevent misunderstanding, that in the remark I have made relative to an educated ministry, I had reference to what is generally intended by the expression; namely, Persons being educated with a special view thereby to qualify them for preaching the gospel of Christ. Education in itself considered, has no tendency to injure the usefulness of a minister of Christ. Hence Christ has evidently called some such to the work. But in doing this, he has, as in the case of Saul of Tarsus, first humbled them, and made them esteem all their attainments as loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus; hence Christ Jesus, and not their learning, will be that which they wish to set forth. On the other hand, the class we object to will, from the importance they attach to learning, be putting that foremost in their preaching.

I must beg the indulgence of the brethren, in having to continue this number on to another letter. It is an important subject, though I much doubt whether I feel it as did those marked for preservation, {Ezek.9:4,} I think I know something of the evil I would describe. Is it not manifest that the gospel church at this time, is separated as in her pollutions, from the presence of her Lord and husband, according to the law relating to another figure, recorded in Lev.15:19. But these days of separation will assuredly pass away, for her Maker is her husband. Isa.54:5.

S.TROTT.
Fairfax Court House, Va., March 18th, 1837.