Dear brethren and sisters scattered abroad, through Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and elsewhere: – I am now in the office of the Signs, So. Middletown, Orange County, New York, and as many of you have requested me to write to you on my journey, I have taken this method to write to you all at once. God has blessed both my wife and myself with good health, and a pleasant journey ever since we left home. I have met many of our heavenly Father’s children from different parts, viz: – Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Maine, &c., and at the four associations which I have attended, viz: – Baltimore, Delaware, Delaware River, and Warwick. I have heard fifteen different preachers, and not one discordant note has ever jarred upon the tune of salvation by grace. Jesus Christ and him crucified has been the theme, and no one has seemed to have any other object in view but to glorify God, exalt his Son, and feed the lambs and sheep of his fold, and to stop the mouths of gainsayers. I have been received with marked attention and christian friendship at ever place I have visited. Their open freedom, plain manners, and warm hearted friendship has made me feel perfectly at home, although among a people I never had seen before, and to add to all the above, not the last of my comforts sprung from the cordial, and even joyful manner in which the gospel was received, and the plainness with which it was preached and defended by all that I have heard. I have been often led to believe that I viewed a full verification of the saying, “Thy children shall all be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children.” It may surely be emphatically said that we of the West, and these of the East, have been called in one hope of our calling, one Lord, one faith, and one baptism; hence we all speak and mind the same things. This is to me not only pleasing, but very strengthening. I have been long convinced that the world and the church, are both preparing, through a train of well laid providences, for some great event, and I have believed that event will be a severe trial of the faith and patience of the people of God; and I think it is obvious that the many factious parties, which from time to time are going off to form another sect, to oppose and persecute the church of Christ and try the faith of the saints, are answering two great ends; one is to cleanse the church of unsound, unruly, and unworthy members; and also to rouse up a spirit of enquiry into truth, a close searching of the scriptures and self examination in every christian. In this way the enemy is becoming formidable for numbers, diversified in appearance, to suit the different notions of the carnal mind, and aspiring and vain enough to court the applause of the world, and so both their numbers and splendor will continue to increase, and their doctrine of human powers, means, agency, and importance on the one hand, and the subordination of God, as being dependent on their will and compliance, all engender in the mind a more fiery and malignant spirit of manifest hatred against the church and people of God. But on the other hand the truly regenerated child of God knows in whom he has believed; as these deceivers now preach, he knows with what awful forebodings he resorted to all these refuges and tried these means, until black despair surrounded him, and all these inventions left him, naked and exposed. Nothing could now relieve him, nothing now could give him one ray of hope but the sovereign mercy and grace of a sovereign God. He can never forget how full – how free – how sovereign and how sufficient the Savior then appeared, when his righteousness, his self, his official performances – his cleansing blood, and pardoning mercy poured a stream of consolation into the breaking heart and caused it to rejoice in God its Savior, with joy unspeakable and full of glory. The remembrance of these things is so deeply engraved on the tables of the new heart of flesh that it cannot be forgotten. Being born of the Spirit, they are spirit, and can henceforth receive the things of the Spirit. They are spiritually minded, and of course they are led by the Spirit, and by the Spirit can say that Jesus is the Christ. In this way they are taught of God and come from all other hope to Christ, and so walk in the truth. Every trial they pass through, and every comfort they enjoy, serves but the more to drive them off from all confidence in self, and to establish them in their faith and reliance on Christ. The frequent departures from the truth by many of those we have esteemed as leaders, causes them to examine themselves, and feel as though the solemn question was fresh put to them, “Will ye also go away?” but they have no one to go to, for they have long since tried all others and must still reply, “Thou hast the words of eternal life.” Thus the church is not only cleansed of its unsound members but its living members are cleansed of their unsound notions, as the dross and tin, and from the many trials they have to endure, together with their experience, a confidence and fellowship for each other grows up, and from the reproaches of the wicked, and the persecution of these factions and apostates, they are inured to hard trials, and are drawn close to each other in love and union, and so are being prepared to endure the more severe trials which the signs of the times plainly indicate are coming upon them.
Now dear brethren, although I am far from you in body, yet I am present with you in spirit beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. Stand fast, my dearly beloved, love one another, not in word only, but in deed and in truth. Love is of God; God loves his people, and when we love them, we have the assurance that we love what God loves, and this proves that we are of God, for God is love, and he that loveth is born of God. If ye love him, keep his commandments. I know your trials are great and many, the world, the devil, and false religionists without are encamped around you, and the law in your members, the evil propensities of the flesh, and the body of death and sin that dwells in you, often cause you to cry out, Oh! wretched man that I am; but trust the promises of your Lord, live looking to Jesus, remember salvation is by grace, and this grace is sufficient for you. If God be for you, who can be against you.
Now dear brethren and sisters, I hope to have a prosperous journey to you by the will of God. Pray for us, and give our love to all the saints with you.
Signs of the Times
Volume 16, No. 12
June 15, 1848