Harrisburg, Fayette Co., In., March 15, 1839.
DEAR BROTHER: – I rejoice to say that the Baptist denomination in this part of the world are generally well established in the doctrine which distinguishes what you call “Old School Baptists:” yet there are some few who seem to speak half Ashdod, and will suffer Jezebel to teach and seduce the servants of God; and these, you know, would always feed Baal’s prophets, and so they do still.
Some of our churches have enjoyed a refreshing season from the presence of the Lord: smart additions have been made to some, and I believe there is more visible zeal and love in the churches than usual, and we hope that these symptoms are like the showers which precede a more general and copious rain.
We who try to preach to the people in this section of the great field, still contend that salvation is all of grace; that a true knowledge of this gracious salvation is by faith; that this faith is a properly contrasted with law works as grace or salvation is contrasted with such works. We believe, and therefore preach that salvation is the ultimate result of a great plan which God in infinite wisdom laid in the secret of his own immutable will, for the development of his own glory. The creation of all worlds, systems and things, with all their grades, forms and uses, with their various revolutions, ministrations and relative services, all combine to unfold to intellectual beings the first page, or, if you please, the compendious preface of the revelation of the eternal power and Godhead. The patriarchal and Mosaic dispensations, combined with all the prophets, promises, ceremonies, law and psalms, are of two parts; the one to instruct the spiritual man. The christian dispensation is a more full exhibition of all the above in one great focus. Here God himself was manifested in the flesh: in this familiar form he became our teacher by both precept, argument and example; in this way many great secrets which had not been made known by all the foregoing manifestations of God, are now revealed. By thus revealing more of the secrets of his will, an additional lustre is given to many of those which had gone before; and to complete the whole exhibition, the law must be honored, the sacrifices perfected, the promises fulfilled, the prophecies must come to pass, and the glory of God, in the publishing and executing of his own will, must be confirmed both upon the principles of grace and legality. To show that it is all of grace, we are taught that there is no worthiness or merit either in us or in any of our works or thoughts, and that we must be saved from ourselves, and from all our own thoughts, ways and doings; therefore salvation, in such a case, can only be by grace. Works are not only excluded from any essential place in this plan, but they are excluded from any share in the sinner’s obtaining any sensible personal interest in that salvation; for this is attributed to faith, which is a fruit of the Spirit, and is contrasted with works. So the revealed will of God is enjoyed by faith that it might be by grace, that the promise might be sure to all the seed: but its legality is as fully shown by the death of Christ, who, in behalf of all the heirs, as the Mediator, or Executor if you please, has stood in the law place of the heirs, has paid off every debt, cancelled every bond, removed every barrier, and shows in the clearest legal plainness that God can be just as well as gracious in the justification and salvation of his elect children. These heirs were as complete in his eternal will before he revealed it as they are now since he has revealed it: his will is the same, the heirs are the same, the guarantees are the same – all are the same; and the only difference is, it was formerly hid in God, but is now made known by the appearing of Jesus, and illustrated by the apostles and prophets. The Holy Spirit has its work to do in the heirs, not to make them heirs or children, but to mark or acknowledge them as such: “It is because ye are sons that God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying abba father.” This is one part of the blessings bequeathed to the heirs, and this good Spirit produces in them its own fruits, such as love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, faith, &c. These fruits of the Spirit are all replenished by the same Spirit who bore them, and actuates the heir in his conduct, in conformity to the dictates of this Spirit and its fruits: this makes the obedient conduct of the child.
In the resurrection the heir will have ended his minority, and will no longer think, speak, understand or see in part, for all that is now but in part shall be done away, and that which is perfect shall have come, and the heir shall come fully into the possession of the very kingdom which was prepared for him from before the foundation of the world. Then the will of our Father, and all the innumerable subserviences and allotments of things, actions and revolutions, either immediate or remote, shall all have touched the spot and at the moment for which their motion was directed by the all producing or all controlling hand. In the end too it will be found that every soul that would have Christ as their Saviour to reign over them and in them, will be owned as an heir; and all those who never loved him, never sought him, but always hated and opposed him, must be lost of course.
I am yours, in hope of heaven,
Signs of the Times
Volume 7, No. 9.
May 1, 1839