Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Robert Edge by Elder Belnap Part 3

[Below is the continuation of an article written by Hyrum Belap about Robert Edge. Hyrum was responsible for telling the most detailed stories about this mysterious preacher. He wrote years after the fact and for the purpose of telling it to an audience. Like most stories, his tale was more detailed than the earlier versions]

As I have given a brief outline of the course persued by Mr. Edge when he first came into this neighborhood, as well as some of his peculiarities, I will mention some of the doctrines taught by him.

Although he had been speaking quite freely upon the principles advocated by the various sects, seemingly to draw around him the different classes of people, he gave them to understand that he believed first in a tangible God, in a God that cold walk, talk, understand and be understood, in a God that has passions to love and hate right and wrong principles. Second, he believed in a repentance that consisted in turning from sin and learning to do well; third, in a baptism after the likeness of the death, burial and resurrection of our risen Redeemer, in a baptism that would cleanse one from his sins and enable him to walk in a newness of life, as did our Savior, when He passed from mortality to immortality. At this time he only referred to the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost, as being a principle taught by Jesus Christ and His apostles and left the query in the minds of the people how such and such doctrines could be taught in His church then and not now and yet He be an unchangeable being.

Mr. Edge dwelt very elaborately upon prophecy contained in the Old and New Testament. First, he referred to prophecies that have been literally fulfilled, giving them a correct idea of the term prophecy. Then he very ably referred to many prophecies that are being fulfilled or that have not yet been fulfilled, such as those referring to the second coming of Christ, to the gathering together of Israel, to the rebuilding of Jerusalem by the Jews, to the mountains of ice flowing down and highways being cast up for the people to travel upon who should come from the north countries, whither they have been scattered, to the restoration of God’s Kingdom upon this continent before that reign of peace for one thousand years with Christ and this people.

About this time Mr. Edge held a meeting at the city of Lexington that will long be remembered by the multitude that gathered to hear him from the surrounding country. They were first impressed with his prayer, in which he asked the Lord to grant unto all people everywhere the desires of their hearts; should they seek knowledge to cause that they might be filled; should they ask for wisdom, give it unto them; if notoriety or fame be their object, to permit them to obtain it; if it should be gold they were seeking, to fill their laps; should the reverend divines seek to bring souls unto Christ, to aid them in so doing; should they preach for hire and divine for money, to hinder them not from receiving it; should the loaves and fishes be their desire, to fill their plates. More especially did he appeal to God that all those who were then assembled might depart filled with that for which they came; if gospel truth be what they were seeking to fill them to overflowing; if curiosity was what they came for, to cause that they might return feeling more curious.

Those who have listened to the many long appeals for the wandering sinner by the reverend divines can better imagine the amazement of this assembly than I can describe it.

When Mr. Edge arose to speak every eye was fixed upon him, wondering what next. That afternoon he took for his text “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of Harlots and Abomination of the Earth,” referred to in the 17th Chapter of Revelations.

At first he explained in a short but clear manner how beautifully God’s Church was organized in the apostles’ days; how nicely every principle was linked together from faith, repentance, baptism and the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost, to the resurrection of the dead; after which he brought down in a vivid forcible manner the history of God’s people until the last one that had the testimony of Jesus was driven to an untimely grave.

With this he connected Catholicism and the dark ages, when man could circumnavigate this globe in search of one divinely authorized servant of God, who had the spirit of prophecy and not find him.

After Mr. Edge had proved from the scriptures and profane history that God’s people had been destroyed and every vestige of this Church taken from the earth he very frankly told them that every sect and creed over this broad land was wrong and that all had departed from the faith once given to the saints. He then bore a powerful testimony that the gospel in all of its primitive beauty had been restored to the earth and that too, with apostles and prophets and inspired men at its head. He then called upon all to repent of their sins and come out of Babylon and follow Christ for the hour of God’s judgment was at hand.

After this most wonderful discourse Satan himself seemed to turn loose, the people were divided among themselves and began contending with each other. The preachers flew into a perfect frenzy and began plotting and planning how to get rid of this fellow and by and by our new preacher seemed to have turned loose also, for he went thru the country like a man inspired of God, warning the people to repent and serve their maker or some of the most fearful calamities that ever befell man would come upon them and this nation.

To be continued..


Ardis said...

I still don't know what to think about Robert Edge -- I appreciate your other recent posts from other points of view that help me start to evaluate how much of the tale is Robert Edge and how much is colored by Hyrum Belnap. I wonder if Belnap had not dwelt on "his peculiarities" and colored our expectations with references to the "mysteriousness" of it all whether we would find anything odd about this at all -- if he had just reported the contents of his sermons, without suggesting that he had come from nowhere and returned to nowhere, we'd probably just think he was a man who had studied his scriptures and lived close enough to the Lord to understand them.

BruceCrow said...

Elder Belnap did have some "hype" in his presentations.

My take so far is that much of the Robert Edge story can be explained by an ordinary man who understood the gospel. There are a few odd events that are unusual, but the story does not need them to be remarkable.