Mr. Saluson: In fulfillment of my promise, I will state some of the most important incidents of my life. I was born in the town (now city) of Norwich, Connecticut on the 25th day of November, 1800. At a very early period, and as far back as my memory extends, I was seriously impressed with a solemn conviction of my sinful and lost condition as a sinner, and of the necessity of being "born again," to qualify me to see the kingdom of God. When I think from my best remembrance of the date, I was made to hope and rejoice in God as my Savior, and to feel his love shed abroad in my heart. I think that at that tender age I was taught of God to know what no other being could teach me, that "Salvation is of the Lord." From that hour I have had no confidence in the power of men to effect or help in the least to effect the salvation of a sinner. In 1811 I was baptized by Elder John Sterry, and received as a member of the Baptist Church in Norwich. This was many years before the division of the Missionary or Fullerite Baptists from the Primitive order, and before any organized religious societies or institutions were known or tolerated in the Baptist denomination in our country.
In 1816, I came to the city of New York, and afterward became identified, by letter, with the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where I was called to exercise my gift, and was finally licensed to preach the gospel; this was about the year 1818. I then traveled in several states as an itinerant preacher, and supplied the Third Baptist Church in Baltimore three or four months in about 1821-22, but it suited my mind better to be traveling. I never failed to find places where I was well received, and without any support from missionary arrangement I was fully sustained, so that I could say as did the disciples whom Jesus sent out without purse or scrip, when they returned, that I had lacked nothing.
In 1823, February 4, I was married in the city of New York, and in the same year was ordained to the pastoral care of the Baptist Church of Ramapo, in Rockland County, N.Y., and continued with them until May, 1826, when I accepted a call to the pastorate of the Baptist Church in New Vernon, N.Y. This church was constituted about 1786, and my predecessor, Elder Benjamin Montanye, had served them as pastor thirty-three years. He died in December, 1825, and I succeeded him the following May. So it will be seen that this ancient church has been supplied for the last eighty-three (now eighty-eight) years by but two pastors. During the fifty years of my connection I spent the principal part of three years and a half in Alexandria, and Upper Broad Run, Va., and the Shiloh Church in Washington, D.C., but continued to visit New Vernon regularly during the time, and finally removed to New Vernon in April, 1840.
For about forty years I have also served the Middletown and Wallkill Church, in connection with my labors in and with New Vernon.
During the half century all the members of both churches have been called to their inheritance above with the exception of about four or five. The two churches contain a membership now of about one hundred and eighty, nearly all of whom have been gathered into the fold, besides many others who have been called away, since I have been with them.
The division, or separation, of the Missionary Baptists in these parts, from those of the old order, took place about forty years ago. I stand today rooted and grounded in the faith and order on which the whole Baptist denomination in our country stood when I united with them sixty-five years ago. I have found no occasion to depart from either the faith or order of the Church of God, as organized on the day of Pentecost. I cannot find by sixty-five years of careful and prayerful searching of the Scriptures that those primitive saints who gladly received the word at Pentecost and continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, had any religious organizations as auxiliaries to the Church of God, existing among them. No Mission Boards for converting the heathen or for evangelizing the world; no Sunday Schools as nurseries to the church; no schools of any kind for teaching theology or divinity, or for preparing young men for the ministry; no pious rehearsals of the "Melodies of Mother Goose" or "Jack Horner" or the "cow jumping over the moon," among the institutions of Christ or his apostles. I am content to be considered all of eighteen hundred and forty-three years behind the progressive religious doings of the more popular religionists of the present time. I have never been identified with, nor have I had any fellowship for any religious rites, forms, fashions, or customs which cannot be found in the laws of Christ, and practice of the apostles and primitive saints. I do not denounce those who differ with me in regard to these things; to their own masters they stand or fall; nor do I dispute that there are among them some of God's quickened children; that is not my province. "The Lord knoweth them that are his," and he can bring them out of their idolatry in his own good time. But while I live I expect to protest solemnly, soberly, but not with unkind or malicious feelings, against their spiritual wickedness in high places.
The Signs of the Times, as you are aware, has been published by me nearly forty-four years. During all this time it has been devoted to the defense of what my eternal destiny rests upon as the truth as it is in Jesus. My warfare is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, and against the rulers of the darkness of this world. My race is nearly run. I am now in the seventy-sixth year of my age. My voice will soon be silenced in death, my pen will pass into the hands of another, and I hope, abler writer, but the eternal truth for which I have so long contended will be lasting as the days of eternity. And when all the deceptive and luring doctrines and institutions of men shall be exposed, and all who have trusted in a refuge of lies shall bewail their folly and call for rocks and mountains to hide them from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the presence of the Lamb, those who know and love the truth shall in the truth rejoice for evermore.
Elder Gilbert Beebe. Middletown, N.Y. April, 1876.