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A Reconsideration Of Reply To Elder Goldsmith.

BROTHER BEEBE: - On looking over my reply to Elder Goldsmith, touching the resurrection, as published in the fourth number of the SIGNS, current volume, I find one expression which I much regret should have slipped my pen. It was this, “But really these expressions imply that Elder Goldsmith is as ignorant of the nature of the new-birth as was Nicodemus.” In the first draught of that communication I find there is a little variation of expression, and additional word which perhaps would have prevented the force of the expression being applied to an object different from what I intended. For it is not the severity of the expression that I now regret, but its liability to a wrong conclusion, as though I intended to infer from Elder Goldsmith’s remarks, that he was experimentally ignorant of the new birth, that he was not a regenerated man. It was not my intention at all to convey such an idea, but only to convey the idea that his expressions, in themselves, conveyed as wrong a notion of the new birth as did Nicodemus’ remarks, as I go on to show in what follows. I have no disposition to judge the man, but only to judge his sentiments. Indeed, I have seen nothing in Elder Goldsmith’s writings, {and through them is the only acquaintance I have with him,} that would lead me to believe that he is not a subject of grace. We frequently hear and see a direct denial of what the christian knows is the essence of an experience of grace and also a denial of the true ground of a believer’s hope; in such cases we are constrained to believe that the persons are ignorant of an experience of grace; but on the other points, I am far from being prepared to set the limits as to how far a person may advance error and yet be a subject of grace, unless the criterion is discovered in the spirit manifested. But this I know that God hath purposed to destroy the wisdom of the wise, and to make foolish the wisdom of this world, and therefore, it is that he doth not suffer even his children to attempt to be wise beyond what is written on subjects of revelation without making foolish their wisdom by leaving them to run into error; and the stronger confidence they have in their own understanding, or that others have in the powers of their mind, perhaps the greater error they run into.

But to return to the subject. I regret the more the unguardedness of my expression above referred to, lest any should suppose that I was hurt of Elder Goldsmith’s accusing me of prejudice, and that I said what I did in answer to his views, in a spirit of retaliation. It is true, I noticed that accusation for the sake of other remarks, and afterwards touched the subject once and again in a jocular way, to show that I was not hurt at it, and that my object in writing was not to retaliate for that. The fact is, I felt more deeply wounded, than such an expression would wound. I felt as though, instead of having the SIGNS continued as a faithful beacon, a banner, a kind of rallying point, we were likely through it, to be split all to pieces. A series of communications were being published, in which, although a denial of the resurrection was not directly made, yet according to my understanding of things was fully implied. For if the coming of Christ promised in the scriptures were consummated in his coming to take vengeance on the Jews; and therefore no future coming is to be looked for; then of course no future resurrection is to be looked for; and then when Elder Goldsmith by his queries implied a direct denial of the resurrection of the body, I felt as though Quakerism; yea, infidelity was to be inscribed on our flag in company with truth. I therefore designed and aimed to present the subject of the resurrection in the strong light in which it is presented in the New Testament, in hopes it might lead those who had erred, to a reconsideration, and awaken our brethren generally to a consideration of the importance of that doctrine. That the scriptures declare that a denial of the resurrection involves fully a denial of the resurrection of Christ, and therefore involves infidelity; and also that the advancing of the sentiment that the resurrection was passed, was not future, tended to overthrow the faith of those that received it. Hence it is evident that this point of gospel doctrine is placed on no ordinary footing in the New Testament; it is declared, defined, and the consequences of its rejection are pointed out with peculiar care. I remark further, that this point of doctrine is presented to us in the New Testament as pure revelation, as exclusively an object of faith, human reason cannot begin to investigate it further than to enquire what is written; it must at once be resolved into the display of that sovereign power which the Father hath committed unto the Son according to his declared will. The instant we depart from this rule we plunge into error.

So far as anything is contained in my communication, that has the appearance of sparks of anger towards the man, or that may be construed as judging him, I beg leave to recall it, so far as it is an expression of my decided testimony against the ideas involved in his queries; and of a determination to hold such sentiments as entirely heterogeneous to the Old School Baptist doctrine, so far it must stand until refuted by the scriptures.

And I beg that what I have herein said may not be construed as an attempt to set myself up as a standard; no, my brethren, let the New Testament, and that alone, be our standard, and let everything be tried by that.

Neither would I wish by any means to dictate, brother Beebe, to you what is to be admitted into the SIGNS; that is, what is to be admitted as Old School sentiments, for error may be published as error, without incurring the charge of sanctioning it. Nor do I desire the SIGNS to be closed against a candid discussion of such points of doctrine, or of circumstances connected therewith; such, as brethren may honestly differ on. But what I wish to be at is, that there are certain limits relating to doctrine, as well as to measures, which, when passed, it ceases to belong to the Old School cause; and whilst my confidence, brother Beebe, in you remains firm, that you would not directly sanction what would be a passing such bounds, I would say, let not your confidence in man, neither in brother Trott, nor any other brother, lead you to admit speculation, as from them, and as Old School sentiments; which are manifest and self-evident departures from, or going beyond the limits of consistency, as Old School views.

I may be too strenuous on the subject of the resurrection and other points connected therewith in the estimation of my brethren. Well, brethren, let the New Testament, in the plain declarations thereof decide. I ask no quarters, no stay of judgment, no wrapping up, if I stand condemned at that judgment seat of Christ; that is, by his Apostles, so let it be declared. But at the hands of Christ, I do ask for mercy, mercy to forgive my errors and backslidings, and mercy to deliver me from falling into error.

Centreville, Fairfax County, Va., Feb.22, 1842.