Suitable Words
Dear Brother Beebe:—I heard an Old School Baptist preach some time since, and he remarked that if sinners were lost, it was their own fault. I should like to have your views upon the subject. To me it had an awful, squinting towards Arminianism. I hope you will go fully into the subject as it is one that seems to puzzle the minds of a good many of the Baptists, even in this part of the world, though I am not of that number.
Franklin County, Va., Feb. 3, 1859.

    Reply - Old School Baptist preachers should be exceedingly careful how they express themselves in setting forth their views, as a very considerable of the apparent difficulty which too often agitates the Zion of our God arises from a failure to understand the real meaning of each other. A loose, careless way of dashing out off-handed expressions can hardly fail to produce or promote such agitation, which, when produced, is often very hard to allay. The wise man, we are told, sought out suitable or appropriate words; and words fitly spoken are like apples of gold in pictures of silver. If we would preach, or talk, or write so as to edify the saints, and promote union, harmony and christian fellowship, we should avoid as far as possible all ambiguous expressions. We remember a short time ago a brother in the south said that he did not believe in revealed religion, and the expression startled many of his and our brethren, whereas the brother had no idea of denying what we generally mean when we use those words, but probably designed only to show that in his view the word “religion,” as used in the Scriptures, has reference to the conduct and works of men, rather than to what is revealed to them. So also some expressions made by us, and others, have been so construed as to charge us with holding sentiments for which we have not the least fellowship, and although we have from time to time disclaimed the imputation, the charges are in some quarters reiterated with as much zeal as though we had never disclaimed them.

    In regard to the remark which brother Martin heard an Old School Baptist make, we should be at loss to know the meaning of the brother, unless he should explain. In some respects, with brother Martin, we think the remark has a “squinting to Arminianism.”

First.   Because it is a favorite expression of all Arminians, and is used by them to signify that in their opinion every guilty sinner has salvation offered to him on certain conditions they are able to perform, and that it is therefore optional with them to be saved or damned.

Second.   Should we hear an Old School Baptist make the remark, we would very naturally understand him to signify that he was not in perfect unison in his views with his brethren, or that he designed to convey the idea that his brethren exonerated that class of sinners that are finally and forever lost, from blame, and thus implying a charge of unrighteousness and injustice on God. In either or any case, we think such expressions thrown out are calculated to produce jargon and discord among those who, of all men, should strive to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Third.   The IF in the remark seems to imply a doubt whether sinners will be, and a disbelief in the scriptural doctrine that sinners are already, lost; and this we think implies an Arminian idea. The blessed Savior has informed us that he that believeth not, is condemned already, and the wrath of God abideth on him. From the condemnation and wrath of almighty God nothing short of the blood of Jesus Christ can possibly save any of them, and the application of that blood is by no means within the reach or power of any sinner; if it be applied at all, it must be by the sovereign grace of God.

    That men are in fault for being sinners, and that they are justly and righteously condemned as guilty sinners, is taught both by the word and Spirit, by the word as recorded in the Scriptures, and by the Spirit in his work on the heart, and in the experience of all who are born of God.

    We have not room to pursue the subject farther at this time, but we hope our brethren will be more careful in the selection of words, knowing that we are surrounded by enemies who watch for our halting, and who rejoice when they can, either by fair means or foul, succeed in stirring up strife and discord among us.

    Middletown, N.Y., March 15, 1859.
   Editorials of Gilbert Beebe
   Vol. 4 Pgs 206 – 208

Topics: Gospel Distinctives
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