Middletown, N. Y., Dec. 27, 1880.
The following letter from our late venerable brother, Elder Trott, written to brother John Thorne, of Baltimore, when he was unsettled as to his duty in uniting with the church, contains of suggestions which may be useful to others in the same condition; therefore I have obtained the consent of brother Thorne to allow it to be published in the SIGNS. I am sure that very many readers will feel the revival of enduring memories that the sight of that once familiar name, as well as receive valuable instruction from the thoughts presented.
WM. L. BEEBE.
ESTEEMED FRIEND THORNE: – Your favor of the 9th inst. was yesterday received with pleasure, for I was glad to hear from you concerning your further exercises. I have been quite unwell for week or two from the cold, so much so that it is quite doubtful whether I get on to Black Rock in February; and therefore, lest I should not see you soon, I have concluded to write you in answer. It seems you have found that the Canaanites and Amalekites are still in the land. Yes, and the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation; so that he must expect the warfare to continue. But having an altar with Jehovah-nissi (the Lord my Banner) written on it, you have nothing to fear. See Exodus xvii. 15, 16. I conclude from the few remarks you make about Sunday schools, and the like, that you are satisfied that human efforts can not make spiritual children, that to be spiritual they must be born of the Spirit, “Born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” In reference to missions, that if any feels, that is, has by faith the covenant in himself that the Lord has called him to go and preach to the destitute, live and go, and the Lord will prosper him; and let others whose hearts the Lord opens, by giving them to have fellowship for his call to the work, contribute to his wants as they would to him who preaches to them, and thus on the subject have one purse; this was apostolic practice, and will undoubtedly be the practice again among the saints when the Lord’s time comes to send his gospel among the heathen. This is very different from men’s selecting fields and sending missionaries there without knowing or asking whether the Lord has any people there, then to be gathered in, as is the mission plan. So that upon all these points you are a pretty correct Old School Baptist.
Now, dear friend, I come to the important inquiry which you have confidingly made of me, Had I better wait, or come out at once? I might answer you in a few words, and correctly, by referring you to the text, Eccles. ix. 10, “Whenever the hand findeth to do, do it with thy might,” which you quoted to me, and gave your views on it, that is, Whatsoever you find pointed out in the word as your duty to do, do it with you might; and doing with your might, I should say would be doing it in the strength of the Lord, who is told you that his gray shall be sufficient for you. But I prefer enlarging a little on the subject. First. It certainly is the duty, according to the New Testament, for the disciples of Christ, or those taught of God, to be connected with his church. The more I have reflected on your exercises as she related them to me, the more I am satisfied that God has been teaching you, but in a way peculiar by displaying his own sovereignty; and that he had commenced his dealings with few at the time of your first exercises when you join the church. You’re being left to wander in the desert of skepticism so long is no worse, as I can see, than for others to try, for the same length of time, to produce salvation from the sterile, barren Mount Sinai. There appears to me to have been something of God’s control in your skepticism, for was in itself consistent as I understand you, that you came to the conclusion to believe nothing that you did not for yourself know the truth of. In the affairs of this world such a position could not stand; it would be derangement if carried out, for we are dependent one on another for our knowledge; so that the most we know, we know from the teachings of others. But when we come to that spiritual religion which is of God it is very different; that can only be known by revelation from God. God has hid these things from the wise and prudent and has revealed them unto babes. Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Hence all the reasonings and searchings of men by human reason and human teaching to find out God and the truths of his religion, lead but into labyrinths of folly, for God has made foolish the wisdom of this world. Hence, the conclusion you was led to from the fact of God’s having revealed himself to you as the one God in Christ, viz., that you was a child, was correctly drawn. You evidently was led to know your own ignorance and entire dependence on God to teach you. But from the relation ye first gave me, I was in doubt whether you had been fully led to a sense of your just condemnation as a transgressor of the laws of God, and to a corresponding view of the blood of Christ as that which alone with cleanse you from your sins, and be the ground of your acceptance with God. Hence I thought probably there was a lesson or two more necessary for you to learn in the school of Christ before you would be properly fitted as a member of the church of Christ; for the church is rightly composed of those who know themselves to be sinners saved by grace, if saved it all, and that alone to the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. When, therefore, you suggested keeping still a while, I rather recommended it. But from some questions I afterwards asked you, and from further reflections in the way you had been led, I must conclude that in substance you had been led to know your guilt and just condemnation as a sinner, and that alone through the atonement of Christ you can have hope of salvation. If such is the case, as I think it must be, there can be no advantage gained, nor is there in the scriptural ground for your waiting longer, however I would advise you to go before the church at their next meeting, and tell them what the Lord has taught you.
There’s one more on which I think of offering a few remarks, though perhaps they may appear unnecessary in me. You have once been baptized, and baptized by a proper gospel administrator, your father; hence there could be no call for your being again baptized on that ground on which we require those have been baptized in the New School churches to begin baptized; that is, on the ground of their not having been baptized by a properly authorized administrator. It is probable the Ebenezer church would not require you to be baptized again in order to be received among them. Neither should I insist on it if I were with them, the church being satisfied, and you being satisfied for yourself that you have complied with the gospel requisition on this head, viz., To believe and be baptized; that is, believing first. But my opinion is, that to be strictly conformed to New Testament order, it would be proper you should begin baptized, and I mention it for your reflection, hoping that he on whom to have been depending for direction, made direct you on this point to your satisfaction, if your mind is not satisfied about it. To constitute gospel baptism, there is required immersion in water; and administrator, one who has been called of God and fellowshiped by the church as a gospel minister; and as a candidate, one who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ with all his heart. You were immersed by your father, and he was undoubtedly a gospel administrator, that his being a gospel administrator could no more make you a proper gospel subject, without faith, than a gospel subject could make a gospel administrator out of a man-made preacher. But there is another view to be taken of the subject and which I am not prepared to say is not the correct one; I think it probably is; for I know not how far a person may backslide, nor how along, and yet be a subject of grace; that is, you may have been a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ at the time you was baptized; that is, had had such a revelation of Christ made to you as the way of salvation, that you was enabled to rest on his blood alone for pardon in cleansing. If that be the case, there can be no ground for your been baptized again. All that can be required is for you to relate to the church your former experience, and shall them from your recent exercises that the Lord has healed your backsliding, and giving you repentance for them, for them to receive you into membership. May the Lord direct you to that which shall be your peace and establishment in the truth and consolations of the gospel, is my prayer for Christ’s sake.
Signs of the Times
Volume 49, No. 2.
January 15, 1881