Dear Brother Beebe & Sons: – From the reading the obituary of Mr. Ebenezer Alden in the last received number of the SIGNS, I have felt like offering some few thoughts upon this subject. The following clause in that obituary awakened this desire in my mind: “He has long entertained a hope in the Redeemer of lost and helpless sinners, but, like many others, has failed to follow his Redeemer in the ordinance of baptism, waiting as we presume, for a brighter evidence of his heavenly calling.” I have thought of the number, the “many others” referred to in the obituary, who, like Mr. Alden, fail to experience the holy joys that flow from obedience to the Redeemer’s commands, waiting for an additional evidence. There are no doubt many of this character who are readers of the SIGNS, some of whom have been for many years the happy recipients of a hope in the Redeemer, and in these long, anxious and weary years have been waiting, anxiously waiting – for what, I do not know, unless it is “for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” They inform us that in these long years their evidence grows no brighter, but apparently more dim, which shows to us that they are waiting for something that is not consummated in time. This desire for a brighter manifestation is not confined to the class of lovers of the Truth of whom I have spoken, but is found among them all, whether members of the visible church or not, and is a sure mark of life eternal.
Many who are now members of the visible church can refer to a time in their experience when they waited for months or years in the hope of receiving a brighter evidence in time. This desire itself, as I have stated, is a sure mark of life eternal in itself. It is a hungering and thirsting after righteousness, after the unclouded glory of a world without end. The natural mind has no such experience as this, nor has it the slightest emotion of uneasiness or fears, as felt by one who is made to tremble in view of his depravity, sin and native corruption. The light of salvation shining in the heart of a redeemed sinner causes him to abhor himself, and to shrink back with terror from the depravity manifested there. He cannot understand how such a sinner is the recipient of salvation, and desires earnestly that his vile body should be changed, and fashioned like unto the glorious body of his exalted Redeemer. Here then is a desire for a brighter evidence. “For now,” says Paul, “we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face.” Again he informs us, “For in this [earthly house] we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.” Consequently, the tempted child in his mortal journey experiences a continual desire for a brighter manifestation. In the sense in which I speak of it, this desire is not realized upon the shores of time. “As for me,” says the psalmist, “I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied when I awake with Thy likeness.” His language implies that nothing short of this will entirely satisfy him, and so with the saints to-day; no matter how pleasant are his surroundings in this world, his hope reaches beyond this world for perfect rest and bliss: “it entereth into that within the vail.” “For our conversation,” says Paul, “is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it might be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the workings whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.” – Philippians iii, 20,21. Here is a brighter evidence, for which the quickened sinner pants as the “hart panteth after the water-brooks.” Never will the emotions begotten within him of life eternal be entirely realized in all of their bright consummation, until the perfect glory of eternal noon breaks forever upon his co-raptured vision. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” – 1 John iii, 2. To those who are lingering around the footsteps of the flock, with a living desire for a place in the visible fold. We ask, “What more evidence does the Scripture require than the knowledge of your condition as a sinner, the hope (no matter how small it may appear to you) of salvation in Jesus’ name, the love of the brethren, that earnest desire that you have for baptism in their fellowship, and to be kept ever by the power of our God “through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time?” These things are manifest in the outward walk and conversation of the believer. His love to the preaching of the word and to the brethren is manifested by his punctual attendance upon the preaching, and his being found among the brethren whenever he has the opportunity to be with them. His outward walk manifests the purity of the work within. We say to such, “Why not lay your case before the church for their judgment?” The way of disobedience is a way of darkness and continual chastisement; but the Lord is faithful and good to His children, and whatever may be their lot here, not one can possibly fail of entering into the fruition of their eternal inheritance.
Can we conceive of anything more bright than this? The righteous shall shine forever in the brilliant glory of their God. Not a taint of mortal woe can in any sense mar their uninterrupted joy. Here is the bright evidence for which they have been so long thirsting. The brightest and most glorious evidence of eternal life, the eternal fruition and perfect consummation of the Christian’s hope, the boundless ocean of God’s everlasting love, the eternal haven of perfect bliss. Their earnest desires are at last realized, their hungering and thirsting after righteousness close in the perpetual feast, their warfare in this wilderness of sin is finally over, and they enter the bright portals of endless bliss. In full prospect of such glory, the saint can sing,
“When nature faints, around my bed
Let Thy bright glories shine,
And death shall all its terrors lose
In raptures so divine.”
With a deep sense of my unworthiness of the very least of the mercies of our God, and, I hope, an earnest desire for the welfare of Zion in every place, I remain, as ever, yours in Gospel bonds,
WM. M. Smoot,
February 26, 1879.