Middletown, N. Y., Nov. 4, 1880.
Having been favored with the privilege of attending the Salisbury Association, the Yearly Meeting at Olive, N. Y., and several smaller assemblies of the saints, I desire to express to those with whom I met on these very pleasant occasions, my high appreciation of the communion of spirit with the dear saints who so kindly received me into their society, and welcomed me to their unstinted hospitality; and more especially do I feel overwhelmed with the contemplation of the unspeakable goodness of God, to whom alone I feel indebted for the gift of a place in the heart and fellowship of his children, and for every good gift it is kind providence bestowed on and unworthy sinner. For even these temporal manifestations of the goodness of God, language fails to afford expression, and the firm and see if words seems faint; yet when the great principle on which the fellowship of the saints is founded arises in my mind, even the consideration of this great debt of gratitude to brethren and friends is lost in the thought, as the highest mountains of earth become a plain in comparison with the height of the over-arching heavens. In September I was permitted also to visit my old home in Georgia for the first time in four years, and on the way to see many of the dear saints in Kentucky. The kindness shown me on that trip can never be forgotten; and I can only feel that the assurance of the faithfulness of God is the reward to those whose christian love, hiding all the defects and infirmities of my nature, received me with such cordial fellowship as is only known in the kingdom of our gracious Redeemer.
There is peculiar excellence in the sweet fellowship of the saints, in that while it assures those who receive its cordial expression of the confidence of those who receive them; unconsciously to themselves, every one who can receive one and love for the truth gives unquestionable evidence of the indwelling spirit of Christ in themselves. For as the world cannot receive the spirit of truth, neither can they who are of the world receive those in whom that spirit has set its irrevocable seal. It is impossible that the natural mind should love the truth, as it can neither see nor receive it; and indeed it is the “carnal mind” which is itself enmity against God. Will each one of the many who feel this love involuntarily burning in their hearts in viewing the glorious gospel of the grace of God, ask of themselves, “Can this heavenly love spring for my corrupt, carnal mind?” If it does, then you have falsified the conclusion of Job xiv. 4. But it can have no other source but your carnal mind, unless you have the mind of Christ by the indwelling of his spirit. And if you are led by the spirit of God, the inspired record settles the question: “For as many as are led by the spirit of God, THEY ARE THE SONS OF GOD.”
The specific character enjoined by our Lord to keep his commandments (John xiv. 15), is definitely restricted to precisely such as bear this mark. If, then, you find yourself described in this divine definition of the character directed to obey the commandments of the Lord, you are not at liberty to consult either your reason or your fears, but should implicitly obey the word of your Lord. And on this point it is well to be careful that you be not deceived by the devices of the adversary into the presumptuous sin of tempting God, in resorting to such carnal reasoning as is often suggested in such a form as this: “If I am a subject of grace, I shall be saved anyhow; and if I am deceived, it will be far better than I should not profess to know anything about the salvation which is of God. I feel myself so sinful, that it is best to wait until I can feel more worthy.” Then, some very highly esteemed ministers have advice such disobedient ones to wait until they are compelled to obey the command of Jesus. If this advice is authorized by the law of Christ, I confess that I have never found it in the inspired rule, in precept or example; but to the contrary, immediate obedience is always enjoined, and not even the respect and to a dead father was allowed to stay the duty. – Matt. viii. 21. Of course, the obedience of the subject of grace does not secure his salvation in Christ, nor can his disobedience forfeit his life in God; but the answer of a good conscience tort God cannot be experienced in disobedience, nor are the saints authorized to teach that the commandments of Christ may with impunity be disregarded or deferred. The immediate disciples were commanded to teach those whom they should baptize “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” – Matt. xxviii. 20.
As the man of God is in the scripture given by inspiration of God “perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works,” (2 Tim. iii. 17,) it is never safe for us to accept any other authority for our guide. And while our own impressions, and the example of those in whom we can fight, may have great weight with us, we are never safe in following them further than they follow Christ. – 1 Cor. xi. 1. Obedience to his law is the path of peace and rest to all who love him. The first step in that obedience is the taking of his York, were confession of his absolute authority, and all subsequent obedience is included in the brief law, “Follow me.” We can certainly never follow him where he never went, nor can we follow him while adhering to any other leader.
To each of the dear ones whose kindness I have received, I would express my most sincere thanks; and my prayer is that they may ever experience the consolation of the gospel of Christ, and rest with the apostles and all saints in the immutable love and faithfulness of God. In the secure haven the storms of the sin-cursed world can never disturbed your peace.
In my contemplated tour I can only hope to be prospered by the favor of God. May he give me a resignation to is wholly well, and I may not rebel against his providence in afflicting me, nor for get all his benefits daily be stowed on a rebellious sinner. Pray for me.
As ever, in hope of life,
WM. L. BEEBE
Signs of the Times
Volume 48, No. 22
November 15, 1880