Elder G. Beebe’s Sons – Dear Brethren In Christ: – A man who is now past his three score years, in his youthful days used to hear and sometimes read the remarkable story of one David, who “escaped to the cave Adullam, and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him, and every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him, and he became a captain over them, and there were with him about four hundred men.” This same old man learned in early life from some source that Adullam meant “their witness “or testimony, but what meaning there could be in such a statement he could not imagine, for such a class as were described as gathered themselves to David, seemed to him to be a class of persons wholly unprepared to testify to anything but their own wretchedness, although he had read in a book, called the New Testament, the following description of certain characters: “Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place, and labor with our own hands; being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat; we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.” What possible connection there could be in these declarations, and the characters described as being in the cave Adullam, could not be seen so as to be understood.
When this now old man was about eighteen years of age, a strange something took hold of him, and he became convinced that everything between him and his Creator, God, was wrong on his part, and then it required no elaborate argument to convince him that he was a sinner, justly condemned by the righteous law of God, and it needed no learned disquisition to convince him that there was a state of existence beyond this world, where all the race of mortal men would still have a being in either weal or woe. After seeing such to be the case, he immediately went to work to change his condition, not knowing that the fountain within was totally depraved, and that nothing but corruption could issue from such a source; though there were times that there seemed to be some relief, but soon the matter seemed worse than ever, and some two years or more passed, and he found himself to be “in distress, in debt, and discontented,” and in some unaccountable way to him, he found himself in the cave Adullam, mingling with persons having exactly the same kind of trouble, and after being in the “cave “some time their captain, David, made him a personal visit, and that lovely, sweet and charming countenance can never be forgotten while reason remains upon the throne, for he truly appeared “the chiefest among ten thousand,” and the one altogether lovely, and when those heart-cheering words were uttered, “Because I live, ye shall live also,” the distress, poverty and discontent seemed gone; soon followed the words from that precious Captain, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Then the man remembered that it was written, “For it became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings,” and so sweetly and powerfully were those declarations applied to him that he clearly saw why David was the captain over them in the cave Adullam. He read in the New Testament the following: “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan, unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me! And Jesus answering, said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” So powerfully were the circumstances connected with the baptism of the Captain of our salvation, by his servant John, applied unto that man at times, that a glory indescribably great appeared to surround and envelop that awfully sublime scene, and three important things were clearly seen as connected with that baptism of Jesus, viz: A proper mode; a prepared administrator of the ordinance; and the true character, for in that ordinance was set forth by that man Christ Jesus not only the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but every member of his body. But the man who saw such glory and majesty in the ordinance of baptism had at times an anxious desire to obey his glorious Captain by following him into the “watery grave “as soon as he felt “good enough,” but after waiting a long time and finding no improvement whatever in the principles dwelling in his flesh, and that he had not got far removed from the cave Adullam, the words of the apostle Peter, which declare that baptism is “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,” had such an effect on him that he was constrained, out of love, he hopes, to obey his Lord, by being baptized by a servant of the church, “in the name of Jesus Christ,” which act he has never regretted, but has been made sad and gloomy very, very many times, on account of his shortcomings and his wanderings in forbidden paths, and although he has had a hope in the mercy of God toward him through Jesus Christ about forty years, and has been a member of the visible church over thirty-six years, he finds that he has not improved his fleshly passions and lusts any during that long period of time, and he still finds himself in distress and discontented, at times, fearing that he must be mistaken in the great matter of salvation, and he is often made to say, “Woe is me that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar.”
During the forty years he has had a hope that Jesus died for him, one great, important and fearful lesson has been taught him, and that is, not to trifle with what the inspired apostles have written, nor to seek to evade any of their positive declarations, for he has found measurably, at least, what a short-sighted, ignorant, erring mortal he is, and the awfully momentous truth recorded by Paul when he said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not,” he finds true. How trifling those words of the apostle appeared to the man when he was a wild, giddy and foolish boy, but since he was brought “down into the cave Adullam “he has found that the apostle penned the truth, for forty years has not removed out of his flesh, covetousness, wrath, malice, revenge, jealousy and evil surmisings. Those “vile serpents “are all alive, but sometimes more quiet than at other times, but not any of them are dead, and at times, when disturbed, their “hissing “is frightful, but reigning and abounding grace can and does chain them down. The closest and most profound examination shows to this man the certain truth of what the apostle recorded concerning his flesh; and if they were quiet there would not be such a strife, but they are active; hence the same apostle says, “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man, but I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” Upon another occasion the same apostle said, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” These principles are not only in the flesh, bat are active ones, and since this wan has seen himself in such distress, involved in such a debt, and so discontented, and found himself with such a class in the cave Adullam, he has had no desire to shun the company of Paul, by improving what he said concerning the warfare. During the time this man has had a hope, he has heard thousands of sermons, and sometimes he felt elated, and at other times depressed, cast down and gloomy, feeling that he lived undesired, and should die unlamented. It has seemed generally to be more interesting preaching to him when the trials, sorrows and afflictions of God’s dear children have been dwelt upon, and the full, complete and finished salvation, in Christ Jesus, for just such poor, helpless, wandering creatures, has been clearly set forth, than simply to be dwelling on the duties of obedience and “right living” of God’s children while hero in the flesh, especially when it has been urged that their blessings depend upon those deeds, as such, for that position is anti-scriptural because it puts effect for cause. The church, in all her members, is already blessed, according to the following divine declarations: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ; according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself according to the good pleasure of his will.” These declarations positively show that the members of the body of Christ are already blessed; therefore instead of creature obedience being the means of the obtaining of the blessings bestowed by the Father of mercies and God of all grace and consolation, cause the true obedience. How often has this man listened to preaching, and his mind has been like the “fool’s eyes,” rambling far and wide; yet he was present, filling his place among the members of the church, but had a “lean time;” therefore he has learned the just meaning of the following declarations: “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure,” and this man is so childish as to receive these important declarations just exactly as the apostle has penned them, and the reason his beloved brethren had always obeyed was because God gave them the will and the power. Then was their obeying the cause of the will and the power, or was it the evidence and result! The thought has often been given this old man, concerning the spiritual blessings, about as follows: “If great and precious blessings were given a child of God in Jesus Christ before time began, and those blessings were to be given or bestowed according to the obedience of that child, while here in the flesh, and such child should be so disobedient as not to merit one of the blessings, what confusion there must arise in the divine arrangement, for there are surplus blessings given in Christ, according to the carnal theory, you do and then you will be blessed. But how any one who has been in the cave Adullam, and had a view of the great, the wise, the glorious, the infinite and righteous Captain of our salvation, can advance the carnal view that our blessings depend on personal obedience, when the record made by inspired penmen teaches exactly the reverse; but our God, in his infinite love, boundless mercy and endless compassion, has seen fit to give “credit,” as it were, to his dear children, in some places recorded in the Bible, for that which they are absolutely debtors; but this “ignorant” man so understands the matter, and, according to what the apostle James has written, everything for the good of God’s people comes from him, for he says, “Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning;” therefore all the children of men ever have done, are now doing, or will ever do, has not even caused the shadow of turning with Jehovah, if the testimony of the apostle James is to be received and believed; but if it is to be “improved and changed,” woe be unto them of his children who countenance such a thing.
In the New Testament it reads, “We are fools for Christ’s sake;” and this man, who has been in the cave Adullam, as he hopes, is so foolish in the eyes of the “wise and learned “of the present day, that he is willing to take the New Testament just as it reads concerning the choosing of the members of Christ’s body in him before the foundation of the world, the vital unity between Christ and his people, the efficacy of the atonement for the sheep, the spiritual birth, the ordinance of baptism, the warfare between the flesh and the Spirit, the office work of the ministry, the deep mystery of the resurrection of the bodies of the saints, the description given of the invisible God, the final glorification of all the elect in the world of immortal glory, and the everlasting punishment of all the nonelect; all of which matters are as fixed and sure as the eternal throne of God, and can no more be changed than God can cease to exist. He closes these remarks, wishing Zion well, and that our God, if it be his will, will keep his dear people from carnal theorizing and vain speculations, and cause all to be childlike and simple, being willing to take forms of expression that inspired apostles have left on record, and not attempt to suit them to “the favor of the learned world of mankind,” by modernizing them, thereby attempting to accommodate matters with worldly religionists. May God apply the following declarations with sweetness and power: “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
[The above article was written nearly twenty years ago, by our beloved brother, the late Elder Wm. J. Purington, than whom there has not been an abler gifted minister of the gospel since the days of the apostles. It was originally published in the SIGNS OF THE TIMES dated November 15th, 1884, and is now republished by special request. Its publication at that time was received generally by the Old School or Primitive Baptists without causing any discord among them, and if its present publication and indorsement now meets with the objections of any, we leave all candid readers to judge which have changed, the SIGNS, or its opposers? – ed.]
Signs Of The Times
Volume 70., No. 1.
JANUARY 1, 1902.