Circumstances have occurred in the course of a year or two past, which have caused some letters to pass between myself and some of my brethren, on the mission system, which letters have created an anxiety in the minds of some of my acquaintances, and they have requested me to bring my views on that subject before the public. And as I feel my mind seriously impressed to detect error and defend the cause of Truth, I feel willing to answer my part, and shew my opinion.
It is evident that great talents have been engaged, and much time and money spent to vindicate the mission plan, and yet, but little said or done against it. It makes me shudder when I think I am (the first one that I have knowledge of) among the thousands of zealous religions of America, that have ventured to draw the sword against the error, or to shoot at it and spare no arrows; and more particular, when I know that I lack that qualification that is pleasing to the spirit of the world, for I have no formal education but to read, and have no knowledge of the English grammar, only as my Bible has taught me; but all the apology I shall make for my grammatical errors is, that God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. . . . therefore, I will venture:
About eighteen years ago, when I was in the state of Georgia, I believe the Lord called me to preach the Gospel (1802). Since that time, I have traveled through a great many of the States of America, and spent much of my time in the state of Tennessee; but I am now a citizen of the state of Illinois, Clarke County. Through this course of my life, I have found it my duty, to defend the cause of my Master, and contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. In doing this I have been under the necessity to expose error, and when I find it among my Baptist brethren, which I believe is the living Church of Jesus Christ, my feelings are worse hurt, and I am apt to strike the harder. I have observed four things that cannot be denied.
- The errors that have flowed from the misled zeal, and from under the cloak of religion, are almost innumerable.
- These errors have nearly all originated amongst the wise and learned.
- They are more generally supported by arguments drawn from the wisdom of the world, than from the authority of the Bible.
- That when the Scriptures are introduced as evidence, they are sure to be drawn in more to answer the plan of man’s invention, than give the true meaning of God’s word; and so the error is better supported by the cunning craft of ingenious argument than the force of evidence. By this means the dear children of God are thrown into a state of confusion, and friends of religion or enquiring characters stand amazed in wonder and the enemies of religion take latitude to deny revelation and persecute the saints.
I make these remarks to lead our minds to the subject in hand, which is “the principle and practice of the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions.” In attending to this subject I shall aim to give my views in as short a manner as I can, so as to give the reader a plain understanding of what I mean to oppose, and what I am willing to support, without making use of any unfair argument, stubbornness or bigotry. In doing this, I hope you will admit me to speak my mind freely without offering any violence to your feelings, as I know I am an accountable creature to God for all I do. As such, consider what I say, and may the Lord give the understanding in all things. As I am writing to a people that I hope are well acquainted with their Bible, it relieves me of the trouble of referring to chapter and verse in my quotations, except in some particular cases.
In order to be well understood, I shall undertake the subject in the following manner.
- To remove the prejudices that have arose against us who oppose the mission system.
- To show what we stand opposed to, and what we are willing to do.
- To understand what the Baptist Board intends to do, from the face of their Constitution, and prove it by their doctrine and practice.
- Examine the principle evidences they introduce for its support.
- Try the principle and practice of the Board in sending out preachers by the principle and practice of Christ and His apostles.
- Point out some of the particular evils that I view in the mission plan.
- And lastly, take a small view of the whole.
It is not my wish to cause any further distress among my brethren than now exists, but hope this short epistle may be a means in the hands of God to show them the great evil they are supporting; for the confidence I have in the religion of my brethren induces me to believe that if they could lay aside the vices of their mind, and examine their zeal, they would find it was not according to the knowledge given in God’s word. They would then come fairly to the Truth, and we could say, we are of one heart, one soul and one mind; how pleasant this would be. Now as the subject is of great magnitude on which the peace of Zion greatly depends, I hope my reader will not pass too hasty a judgment, but will read, consider, and compare with God’s Word, then ask his heart whether these things be true or not. I now proceed to take up the subject.
In endeavoring to remove the prejudices from the minds of the people, I shall have to answer the charges exhibited against those who oppose the mission system. I am informed we are charged with the following accusations:
- That we are opposed to the spread of the Gospel, among the heathen. To this I answer, we are pleased with the spread and growth of Emanuel’s kingdom throughout the world. But we wish it under His direction and government, and crown Him with the glory, which we believe is not the case in the mission plan.
- We are charged with opposing the translation of the Scriptures, and the education of the heathen. To this I answer the charge is incorrect, for we oppose neither; but will help with heart and hand if it could be taken in a proper manner, and take the evils from it.
- We are charged with holding a tyrannical principle, inasmuch as we are not reconciled to our brethren in their giving their money to the mission system, and the argument is that they have a right to do what they please with their own, and we would bind them down that they should not have liberty to bestow their money to the relief of any of their fellow mortals, whatever. To this I answer, as to the bestowing your money to relieve the needy in a point of moral duty, we believe is performing good works, and we truly wish such good works were more common among the Baptists. But as to a professor being at liberty to do what he pleases with his own in all cases without being accountable to the Church, is a very absurd idea. I ask would you be willing that your brethren should gamble on his own money, or even lend it to a gambler for that purpose; or give it to the priest to forgive his sins, or to the worship of idols, or in many other cases too tedious to mention? I think the spirit of religion saith not willing. Just so if the mission system be an evil, and God has never required it at your hands to give the blessings He has bestowed on you to support an unscriptural plan that is repugnant to His Gospel government, then we are no tyrants; but have a right to deal with you as violators of the government of Christ.
- It is said by some that the Wabash Association had no right to interfere with the mission system in the way she did; or did not understand what she was doing. To this I answer, the Wabash Association well understood what she was doing, and had an undoubted right to make head against the penetration of heterodox principles or disorderly practices among her. And if the mission principle and practice is not agreeable to the “law and the testimony”, then it is to be deemed heterodox in principle and disorderly in practice. These charges, with many other similar ones are very improperly stated in order to weaken the confidence of the people in our objections against the mission system, and by this means practice fraud on the minds of the public, by unfair arguments, grounded on false charges. But I hope when the public are informed of the (Board’s) intrigue, their prejudices will be broken that were against us and they will come fairly to the Truth and give due weight to our arguments.
I now proceed to the second thing proposed, which is to shew what part of the mission object we oppose, and what part we are willing to support.
We stand opposed to the mission plan in every point and part where it interferes or is connected with the ministry, either in depending on the Church to give them a call, or seminaries of learning to qualify them to preach, or an established fund for the preacher to look back upon a support, and when the Board assumes authority to appoint the fields of their labor, we believe they sin in attempting a work that alone belongs to the Divine Being. Consequently we are not reconciled to the unfruitful works of darkness but feel it our duty to reprove them; and as to the extravagant plan of translating the Bible and civilizing of the Indians, we could bear with it, if it was not under the sacred name of religion, but we believe as paper, types, and the labor of men, all cost money, and belong to the things of nature, that it should be conducted under the direction of moral government, and not at the expense of religion; and as to educating the heathen, we think it very improper for to establish missionary families securing the rights of flocks and herds, farms and incomes, all under the color of religion. It seems like making the sacred character of religion no greater than the merchandize of this world, and putting it in a long line of trade and traffic, when the colonization of the heathen ought to be conducted under the direction of our civil government, or a society formed for that express purpose, not under the character of any society of religion whatever. But we rejoice at all good that is done in translating the Bible, or educating the heathen, and are willing to give our aid in counsel, or money, provided it can be done and not dishonor the cause of religion. So you may see we are not opposers of the translating of the Bible, nor educating the heathen, but we think there could be a better way fallen on and not mingle matters of religion with the things of the world. But the object of missionary societies in respect to the ministry we are opposed to in every point, and our reasons will be more fully understood before we are done; so I shall go on to the third thing proposed, (Note, when I use the word “we,” I include myself with the common objections of those who stand opposed to the mission plan,) which is to understand what the Baptist Board intends to do from the face of their Constitution and prove it by their doctrine and practice.
The reason I take up this point is that the principles of the Board are denied by numbers who are engaged in the practice, and it is often smoothed over and the true meaning not admitted; by these means the ignorant are drawn in to support those errors which they otherwise would not do. The points often denied are that the Board does not claim the government of the ministry or hiring preachers and sending them out. These points I shall attempt to prove by their own principles and practices, which I think will not be denied by any candid mind, if they understand words; if they will but reflect one minute on the exalted title they are pleased to be known by which is the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions for the United States of America. I ask what are we to understand by the word “Missionary”? Is it not designed to convey to our understanding a mission given, and alone belongs to the ministry, when spoken of relative to religion?
Then by the title they bear, we understand a society formed for the purpose of sending the ministry to foreign parts. There is one thing now I wish to notice in the title they bear, where they claim their authority of the foreign ministry for the United States of America. This evidently proves they claim the government of the ministry and consequently arrests the government and authority Christ gave His Church; for the first article of the Constitution cites them to the general missionary convention for the Baptist denomination in the United States of America, for foreign missions. Here they have claimed the Baptist name and authority, which the Baptist union or government has never authorized them to do, and in the 13th article claim the authority of domestic missions in our own country; but if we will notice the 4th article, we will find they do not only claim the power, but deem it their duty to employ missionaries, by which I understand preachers, and take measures if necessary, for the further improvement of their qualifications, and fix on the field of their labors; also on the compensation to be allowed them for their services. What are we to understand the Convention means in this article, or shall we say they did not understand the meaning of these words? No, they are men that understand the grammatical sense of these words. Well, shall we think they intended to impose them on us, thinking we would not know what they meant? I would fain hope not; but then why not the meaning of these words be freely acknowledged, for when they say to “employ missionaries,” do we not understand to “hire preachers”? Yes, we are obliged to understand that, especially when they have to agree on the “compensation” for their services, for if I get only one meal a day for my services, it is so far a part of the pay for my labor. Then I must be an hireling although I work for so little. Well, who has hired or employed me? The Board. Where will I get my pay? From the Board I look to for it, for they have employed me, and appointed the field of my labor. I am under their government and direction. Well, what has the Board got to pay a man for preaching? Are they better off than the “wise virgins”? Have they got any “oil to spare”? I trow not. Then it must be money or something of this world’s goods to pay me for preaching. I ask who has the right to appoint the fields of the labors of the preacher? certainly the authority that has employed him. Well then, the Board acts consistent with their principle, for they have employed preachers and sent them out, and pay them for their labours, and to the Rev. Luther Rice, as high as eight dollars a week, besides his traveling expenses, so I hope the mission friends will no longer deny this truth, but defend the cause of their principle, or forsake its evil.
The principles of the Board are further understood by the 14th Article of their Constitution: In this article, as well as some others, it goes to prove they believe education essential to the gospel ministry, and their practice in the urgent resolutions entered into in their paper, the Latter Day Luminary, No. 5, pages 234-235, goes to prove the fact, for in those resolutions they have resolved to divide America in three sections, and two men in each district appointed to receive contributions, and to attend to the business under the control of the Board. Here we find the Baptist Board has urged us to form auxiliary societies. What is this great exertion for? It is stated to give pious young men education to qualify them to preach. This pointedly proves their principle is not only to educate preachers, but also to hold the government of the ministry in their own hands. Many other facts might be referred to, but this is sufficient to the point in hand. But there is one thing more observable in the mission principle that I think ought not to escape the notice of the Baptists; and that is, they prove to us by their writings that it is the business of the churches to impress on the minds of their “pious young men to preach the gospel,” or call them to the work; although they say in one place, it is the Holy Ghost that makes us able ministers of the new testament. But in this their Constitution they only claim gifts and grace to introduce them to the seminaries of learning. I ask, may not man possess all these and yet never be called of God to preach the gospel? And further, in urging the necessity of supplying the world with preachers, it appears their eye is on the churches to call them to the work of the ministry, which may be observed in the following remarks made by them in the Latter Day Luminary, No. 6, page 281. This remark is, “If Christian teachers are to be sent forth, it is obvious that the Christian churches must send them.” In the same number, page 284, they say, they take it for granted, that in all Christendom, there are not less than thirty thousand suitable young men, that might be called to this work. On page 285, they say it is granted that there are suitable men enough, if they were disposed to go, and the churches were able to send them to the work. On page 290, they say to the churches it belongs to move forward it is for them to implore the guidance and blessings of the Lord, it is for them to seek out and call forth the messengers of salvation, &c. Also, on the first page cited, they tell us, it is the duty of Christians to send forth preachers of the gospel, in such numbers as to furnish the means of instruction of the whole world. Many other similar passages might be referred to, but it is unnecessary, for these remarks evidently go to prove, to call or send forth preachers, they deem it the work and business of the church. I ask my Baptist brethren to realize this principle, and ask their Bible and their hearts, if they dare believe that God has ever called on the Christian world to look out, call, qualify and send out preachers of the gospel? Or has He reserved that work to Himself, and will fulfill it in His own time and way?
I now pass on to the fourth point in hand, which is to take notice of or examine the most common evidences introduced to support the mission plan. In this there are three points to be observed:
- The Scripture they introduce to justify them in qualifying, sending out, and supporting the missionaries.
- The evidence that justify them in their plan for collecting money in the manner they do, and. keeping an established fund for that purpose.
- The right of the titles and names of the officers in the mission system.
But the first point named is the most important matter to be considered; for if I am right when I say the mission system has neither precept nor example to justify its principle and practice, and those Scriptures introduced cannot support it, then the error must be great in the mission plan and ought to be rejected, for on this hangs the whole point. It is “to the law and testimony, for if they speak not according to this, it is because there is no light in them.” For we have a right to reject men or angels that bring any other gospel than that which is already brought. But to the reverse, if I am wrong and the mission plan is right, then I am in an awful error, and should be withstood. So we agree the Bible is the standard, and to it we will go.
I shall in order to be short and well understood, plainly give my own views on the Scriptures, as I bring them in, as well as to show what the friends of the mission system aim to prove by them. I shall begin with Jonah’s being sent to Nineveh: This part of the Scripture is introduced by the friends of the mission system to justify them in sending preachers to the heathen. This is the first account of a Hebrew teacher being sent to the Gentiles; this text is intended to justify the missionary society in sending out preachers. We will now examine and see if it will answer the purpose. We find this was a special act of God in sending Jonah to Nineveh, and that not by or through a missionary society and stands a very pointed evidence in my favor, and against themselves unless the mission society will say they are acting as God, in sending out preachers, and I hope this they will not say. Notice Jonah was not sent to a seminary of learning to prepare him to preach to the Gentiles, but was under the tuition and special order of his God, and was in no case under the order or direction of any body of men whatever; neither did he look back to a society formed to raise money for his support. So we find this text will not answer the missionary purpose but contracts guilt on their own heads; and whenever quoted by them, instead of justifying their system, only proves they assume the authority of God. And the same may be said by every text they draft to answer their purpose; and instead of being angry as Jonah, (as some say we are in a gospel sense) we are hurt with our dear brethren for attempting a work that alone belongs to the great God; that it, to employ preachers, qualify them and send them out, and fix on the field of their labours. I now go on to the mission evidence.
The Covenant of grace that God made known to Abraham, when He told him in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed: this text is brought to justify the mission plan in sending the gospel to all nations in order to secure that blessing to them. Here I wish to observe we can join our prayers with our brethren at a throne of grace, that the kingdom of Christ may come, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, and the whole world be filled with the glory of God, and the kingdom of this world become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; but we cannot join them in prescribing a plan for the Sovereign of the universe, and begging Him to work that way; for as to the heathen nations having the gospel preached to them, we have no doubt that it will be done, for God has said so; but as to the mission plan to accomplish the object, God’s Word knows nothing of such a plan - for in the last quoted text as to the Covenant of grace, Abraham had no knowledge that a seminary of learning or a missionary society formed (independent of the Church) was essential to accomplish the work; but it is evidence that after our Lord had risen from the dead, and God was about to break down the middle wall of partition between the Jews and the Gentiles, and make of twain, one new man to the praise of His glory, and lay the foundation of the gospel faith throughout the world, and build His Church on the Rock, that the gates of hell should not prevail against it; He gave His disciples their commission to preach the gospel throughout the world.
Here my brethren attached to the mission plan lay their main stress on this command Christ gave His preachers, and claim it as fully authorizing them to pursue the mission system now prescribed. Stop here, O my brethren and pause. Was this a missionary society that gave this command, or is it the command of our King and King of Zion, or was there a missionary. society independent of the Church to send them and fix on the field of their labours, and support them, or a seminary of learning lay between those disciples and the place their Lord was about to send them? If there were any of those things, where are the texts? They will do you some good; if you cannot find them, then the others stand pointed against. you, for we are under the same dispensation or commission to this day, for the commission or command that Christ have His disciples in preaching the gospel, plainly manifests His authority, power and wisdom in accomplishing the work of salvation throughout the world, agreeable to His own counsel, and admits of no alteration. So I still say whenever the advocates of the mission system force in these Scriptures to justify themselves in that work, just so far they introduce evidence to prove themselves acting in the place of God; to look out, employ, qualify and send out preachers of the gospel, and fix on the field of their labours, and compensate them for their services.
The next passage to be noticed is about to the same amount, and the same reply might be made to it, which is in the l3th chapter of Acts, where the Holy Ghost saith, “Separate me Paul and Barnabas, to the work whereunto I have called them.” This text will do the mission friends no good unless they will say they are acting as God, or in the place of the Holy Ghost in sending out preachers. But this text shows two things: first, just what Christ told His disciples the Holy Ghost would do when He was come, that He should guide them into all truth and bring all things to their remembrance that He had said unto them. Secondly, show the order of God in His Church, and the union that exists between Christ and His Church. First, His calling His preachers to the work, and then the Church (not a missionary society), sending them out in gospel order to preach and administer the ordinances of the gospel that “all things might be done decently and in order”, which only goes to show the propriety of ordaining preachers to the work; for it is called the Spirit sending them. When the Church or disciples had fasted and prayed, they sent them away, and they went as they were directed by the Holy Ghost, and not by a mission society. Now this text can have no allusion to the present plan of the mission society, as we have no account of a seminary of learning for them to go through, nor an established fund to look back at for a support. No, they depended on the Lord for their support, knowing the laborer was worthy of his hire, and no doubt they believed like some of us, that where ever God sent His gospel, He would send His Spirit with His ministers, or before them, and He would produce a willingness in the hearts of the people to support the gospel, as He did when He sent Peter to Cornelius and Paul to the Gentiles; and if so, there is no need of sending money after them, for even the Church at Philippi, that administered to Paul’s relief, was of the Gentiles, which text is often brought to justify the mission conduct in their plan of supporting the ministry; but I hope it will be remembered that I do not look at the Board of Missions holding the power or authority of a Church as such; no point of Scripture that goes to show the act, power or authority of the Church is not admitted as evidences; consequently this text will not answer their purpose as it was a Church act, or an act of some of the brethren in the time of some particular need, and was not governed by any previous contract made between them. I might go on to answer a number of other texts on this point, but they are all to the same amount and to be answered in like manner. So I shall proceed to the second point in this head, which is to notice their authority in collecting of money, which is the 22nd chapter of II Kings, and the 24th and 34th chapters of II Chronicles, where we have the account of the collection of money for the purpose of rebuilding the temple or repairing the house of God.
I must say there are no greater evidences to prove the falsehood of any system, than to find its advocates put to the pitiful shift to force in evidence that has no allusion whatsoever to the point. Just so the friends of the mission plan force in these Scriptures through necessity; for if you say these workmen engaged in repairing the temple, stand as figures of the gospel ministers, I presume you dare not say the money that was given these workmen, stand as a figure of the money you give your preachers you send; for if you do, you will then acknowledge you look at the money as the real cause of men’s salvation; but you must say the money they received stands as a figure of the preachers’ reward, which is evidently the answer of a good conscience towards God and man, as they preach the gospel not for filthy lucres sake, but with a ready mind, and seeing souls flocking to God, which is better than gold, and you must say the money they received for their labor was not designed to qualify them to do the work, but to reward them for their services; but if you say the money you collect is not to qualify the preachers you send, but reward them for their labors, then you will confess that money is the object in view. But we find that agreeable to the mission plan, that some of the money you collect, is designed to qualify the preachers as well as reward them for their labors; so turn it which way you will, it will not fit your case, and the collection of money on the mission plan must fall when rightly tried by these Scriptures, as those collections of money were for the express purpose of repairing the temple and could not tolerate us further than. public collections for building meeting houses.
I come now to the third point, that is to say something about officers or titles of commission; but as this is a matter of small amount, I shall say but little about it; but the same chapters referred to above, are brought in this case. But as the collection of money falls when tried by these Scriptures, so all the titles or names of commissions will fall with it, but the Book of Daniel is referred to, to justify the title “President,” which I conceive doth not only belong to national affairs but under the tyranny of a heathen king, and when professors of religion give way to the spirit of nature and are pleased with the names of honor from the world, it is time to say, “take care,” for Israel following after the heathen idolatry was the cause of her captivity; so I leave the public now to judge, whether the principle and practice of the mission system, is proven and justified by these evidences or not, and pass on to the next point in hand, which is the Fifth.
Agreeable to my arrangement, which is to try the principle and practice of the Board in sending out preachers, by the principle and practice of Christ and His apostles. On this point I shall be short and plain still, I shall find it necessary to take notice of some of their reasonings on the matter, and answer them. My object here, is to show that the principle and practice of the mission system is according to the spirit of this world, and not according to the spirit of the gospel, and the best method to try this, is to come plainly to the word of God as the sure “rule of both faith and practice.” The mission advocates say their principle is good, because it is to send the gospel to the heathen, and by that means have heirs of glory begotten. Just so I might say, my neighbor or friend is very wealthy and wants an heir very badly, and I viewing his wealth, and how happy his heir would be, with his anxiety to divide his happiness with his heir: would it not be a good principle to wish he had an heir? Yes, but a most horrid act for me to attempt to become the father! Just so we all agree the object is good, and we can truly say, O that the heathen were all saints; but for us to step in the place of God to send means to accomplish the birth of these heirs must be horrid and wicked. Just so if the mission system is not compatible with the word of God and they are attempting a work that God has reserved to Himself, and claims all the glory. Then they should be boldly withstood, notwithstanding their wisdom and zeal, for I have thought that their zeal is something like old Sarah’s was when the Lord had promised the birth of an heir, she became so restless and was so anxious, that she could not wait for the Lord to bring it about agreeable to His own purpose, but must give her handmaid to her husband. But still, notwithstanding all it was an Ishmaelite, and was not the heir as God designed, and there has been a constant war ever since, between the children of the bondwoman, and of the free. It seems the mission friends, as God has promised the birth of the heathen, they have become so anxious they cannot wait for God to bring it about, but turn in at it themselves, give their handmaid, that is their money and wisdom, bestow it on preachers of their own appointing, and what will be the consequence God only knows, but I fear an awful war, between the families, both parents and children. And I wish you to notice the awful consequence of the great regard that Uzzah had for the Ark of the Lord, when the cart was jostling, which caused him to put forth his hand as though it was to be supported by the arm of flesh; although the object seems good, yet the principle was so bad, it cost him his life. So it seems the mission friends are putting forth the arm of flesh to support the Ark of the Covenant, and I have but little doubt as striking to our heart as it may be, but it still without a recantation cost them their life in the Baptist union.
Remember the strange fire that the sacrifice was offered with, although on the altar of the Lord, yet it cost Nadab and Abihu their lives. I might make many remarks here, but I must come close to the point in hand, the difference between the plan of Christ and His apostles in the spread of the gospel, and the plan proposed by the mission system, both in the qualification of the ministry, and the preachers being sent out to preach, and their support.
The mission society seems in their constitution to claim the right to qualify pious young men, who have gifts and graces, by conferring with flesh and blood, that is, to give them the wisdom of this world by sending them to a seminary of learning, for I have not as yet known a school set up in this world to teach people the gift of God’s grace, except it is the gift of God’s Spirit in His Church, and that agreeable to His word, and that teaches us a different plan. Notice the mission society does not require a call to the work; only gifts and graces and what sort these are we must guess at. But Christ when He was about to send out preachers, called them, whether they had learning or not (most did not), and gives us no account that a seminary of learning was essential to the ministry. And old Paul tells us when it pleased God to call him, he conferred not with flesh and blood and that he never even sought it of man; neither did he obtain, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ; and the Bible tells us, if any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God. And Paul brings us to view our calling by telling us we see our calling, brethren, that not many wise, that not many noble, after the flesh, are called. Let me observe here, I have thought the mission system is about to give old Paul the dodge here, for it seems that if they are not wise and noble when they are called, they intend to make them wise and noble before they send them out. But God takes the wise in their own craftiness, and Christ rejoiced that it was the pleasure of the Father to hide these things from the wise and prudent and reveal them unto babes.
I could quote many similar texts, and quote chapter and verse; but it would be more tedious and you can search them at your leisure, and I hope my readers will still remember that when he (Paul) came to preach to his brethren, that he did not come with the words of man’s wisdom, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Again, the wisdom of this world was foolishness with God, and if he sought to please man, he was not the servant of God; and he that is a friend to the world, is an enemy of God. So we see the apostles had not only no idea that the wisdom of this world qualified them to preach but seem to stand opposed to such measures as well as some of us, and no wonder while they held their exalted vies of the grace of God, which taught them to look to the Great Giver for wisdom, and not to this world. And again when we apply to the world for wisdom, consider the contempt we throw on the wisdom that comes from above; observe whenever we apply to any source for help, it proves that we look at that as a superior source.
I consider the Board cast this contempt on the school of Heaven, whenever they propose seminaries of learning to qualify preachers; and in respect to sending out preachers, the Scriptures hold out to our view that it is God who calls, qualifies and prepares a preacher for the work He designs him to do, and the Church is the instrumental means, in the hands of God, to send him out in gospel order, that the union with Christ and His Church may appear extraordinarily as it is internally performed by His Spirit, which internal union cannot appear nor be perceived by the act of the Board of Foreign Missions; and as to the support of the minister, the Board teaches their students to look back (remember Lot’s wife) for a support which was not the case with the apostles, for they were taught to forget the things that are behind, and not act like those men that stoop down to the water, but catch as thy pass on and lap like Gideon’s men. That is, they take no thought to themselves what they shall eat or drink, or wherewith they shall be clothed; but they trust the God of grace, knowing that they who preach the gospel shall live of it, and that the laborer is worthy of his hire - and their heavenly Father knoweth what they need, and where they go their support is their due, that is, if they give themselves wholly to the work.
Here let me observe the preachers have no right to look back where they came from, for there is no account that the gospel ministers are supported from behind - for Paul calls it “robbery,” and confesses himself guilty of robbing other churches and taking wages from them to do service to the Corinthians Church, and asks forgiveness for that wrong. We must say that wherever a preacher labors, is the place for him to claim his support, and he has no Scriptural authority to look anywhere else - for the plan of supporting preachers by contribution, is without the authority of the Bible, for the contribution the Scriptures speak of, and taking if from one place to another, was for “the relief of the poor saints” and not for the preachers. For the preachers are supported as a debt we owe the gospel, and that where they preach, and not to be sent after them, and we cannot pay a debt we owe by a liberal gift - so the poor are relieved by an act of charity, and the preachers supported as their just due.
As I have gone this far, it is necessary for me to say more, lest my readers may think I aim to make a trade of the gospel. No, this is what I mean: when I travel and preach, I think I have a right to claim my support, and that I am not in debt to the people for the reasonable supplies to enable me to go on in the ministry; and when I am at home it is my duty to labor for the support of myself and family - and whenever my family is in need of assistance, and I cannot relieve them by reason of my engagements in the ministry, then it is the duty of the Church to assist them. But my family cannot eat money, and whenever the offer of a little corn, wheat, or a piece of meat becomes offensive let them alone till they get hungry enough to eat a piece of ash pone. So I think it is necessary for the preacher to know it is better to give than receive, and be looking forward to the mark for the prize, and remember that God is able to cause the Ravens to feed His people. And now the plain fact is, when we try the principle and practice of the Mission system for the spread of the gospel by the word of God, they are different, for the mission plan is to look to the world for qualification and support, while the Scriptural plan is to look to God for both, for the mission society claims the government of the ministers, to look them out, qualify them by learning, send them out and appoint the field of their labors and compensate them for their services; while the Scriptural plan is that God holds the internal government of the ministry by the internal impressions made by His Spirit, and has given the authority of the government of the ministry to His Church, to conduct the executive part of the ministry, in the external parts of the gospel to be performed agreeable to the government in His word; and God claims the right of looking out preachers and qualifying them by teaching of His Spirit, and that agreeable to His word, and of sending them out under the direction of His Spirit and government as above stated. He directs them into the field of their labor by His Spirit, whether to Jews or Gentiles, and compensates them with “well done thou good and faithful servant” - and the promises of the life that now is, and that which is to come.
When all other evidences fail to establish the mission principles, then its advocates will introduce the zeal that attends the mission spirit for justification. But, my dear brethren, if great and warm zeal is to justify the principle, then surely the worshippers of Juggernaut will claim the preference, while the Mahometans may lay in their plea, and the persecutors of the Church of Christ have much to hope, and King Saul’s zeal must be better than his command, for instead of his killing all the Amalekites, as God told him, he save some alive to sacrifice to the Lord. But Samuel told him to hearken was better than sacrifice, and to obey than the fat of rams - so let us fear lest our zeal leads us to do that which God hath not required at our hands, and it returns with curses on our heads like Israel when they wished to be like the rest of the nations of the earth, and prayed for a king, and God granted their prayers - gave them a king - pointed him out to them and instructed him what to do - and at the same time designed him to be a curse to his people. So I wish the mission friends to know that all their zeal, their prayers, their answers to their prayers, and their foregoing all the conflicts of life, even if they give themselves a sacrifice to the mission system, it will never justify the principle nor practice unless they have a “Thus saith the word of the Lord” for it. For, we are commanded not to be wise above that which is written. We have to acknowledge, that the gospel has been conducted, directed and supported for nearly eighteen hundred years without such a plan as the Board has prescribed. I ask, is not the earth the Lord’s now the same as it ever was? Yes, and let the churches do their duty and the thing can be done in a gospel like manner.
I keep thinking of a little anecdote that I once heard, A very homely lady undertook to dress herself before the glass, and make herself look handsome; but let her turn herself or her dress as she would, the glass was true and would show her ugly features until she was very much enraged, and to vent her spite struck a fatal blow at the innocent glass and broke it in pieces and scattered it over the whole house, which made the matter still worse, for then go where she would in the house, there was some piece of glass which would still show her ugly features. This I have thought most beautifully brings to my view the situation of the saints after the day of Pentecost, when they were embodied together, and as a glass all the devil could do in his dissimulations and coming as near the gospel light and beauty, by his dressing error as finely as he possibly could. Yet the saints, as the glass through which the gospel light did shine disclosed the ugly features of the error. The devil got mad, struck the fatal blow through the Pagan persecution, scattered the disciples of Christ through a great many parts of the then known world, and the same may be said by every persecution ever since; but blessed be God there is in a great many parts of the world, and even in what we may call the wilderness and frontiers of America parts of that true glass which will show Satan’s ugly features, let him come in whatever shape he pleases, and even if it is among the Baptists, the true Church of Christ. And I should as soon think that somehow like this, the gospel will get to all nations, as any other way, as God generally breaks the devil’s head with his own weapons.
But I must return to the subject - you will say, perhaps, what will become of the preachers Baptists have sent out? I ask, what made you send them? For if God had sent them, no doubt but He would provide for their support where He sent them, as He has done for His other preachers He has sent. You will say then, what will become of our translators whom we have sent? I answer, support them as long as necessary for that work, but not as preachers but as translators or printers; and remember that the Kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed, that if God has planted it there, it is the Lord’s work to make it grow; and instead of our being opposed to giving the heathen the Bible, we are willing to help you do this; take everything else from it, that is, if further translation is necessary, if it can be taken in a proper manner, as we have agreed that can be done by the things of this world, as types, paper and the labor of men all cost money. But as to preaching of the gospel, we believe it is directed by the special workings of God’s Spirit, and that work we leave for God’s direction, and we cannot join you in that, for we think you sin when you touch it in the way you do.
The mission advocates seem to ground all their arguments on the propriety of sending the gospel to the heathen, but if this was all, we could bear with it better, but when we look at the Plan proposed in the mission system, we find the heathen are not the only object, for we find they are aiming to establish missionary families not only among the heathen, but on our own frontiers where preachers are perhaps as plentiful as among ourselves, there setting up schools and raising family funds and stocks, flocks and herds, of various kinds, all belonging to the mission system. And we see them aiming to get thirty thousand preachers circulating throughout the world, here as well as elsewhere, all to look to the seminary of learning for a qualification, and to the mission fund for a support, and depending on them to appoint them their field of labor.
Dear Brethren, can you blame us for not believing the mission system now pursued, to be the way or medium through which the Lord is about to fill the world with His gospel or preachers, when you are not able to show such a Plan or society, throughout the lids of the Bible? And I ask, can we believe that God ever designed so great a work to be performed in that way, and has given us no account in His Word, so that His children might understand His will and agree with the work?
There is one thing more I wish to notice before I close this point. I have noticed in some correspondent letters from the Board, and some remarks in what they call the “Latter Day Luminary” with some plain hints in the “circular address” by Isaac McCoy, that all we who no not fall in with the mission system, or stand opposed to it, are deemed impious, or not on the Lord’s side, or opposers to the commission Christ gave His disciples to preach the gospel, and unfriendly to the heathens having the Bible.
And what seems strange and inconsistent is the mission system advocates often tell us it is a free thing and with no compulsion, and we are at liberty without any censure or charge from them to act our pleasure and they claim the same right to act in favor of the Plan. Strange indeed that we should be such base characters and still hold our seat in full fellowship, and stranger still to hear them say that they are not hurt with us when we refuse to support the mission system! And still even more strange, if possible, to think we are so foolish as to rest contented under charges of such great magnitude! It must be owing to this one thing, the mission friends know they have no Scriptural grounds to raise or support a charge against us, as we believe and practice as we always have upon constitutional ground. And we have not left them but they have left us. As such we cannot say that our beloved brethren, leaving off the good old way and falling into error, do not hurt us. So I conclude that when we bring the principle and practice of the mission system to the word of God, the sure standard, it will not measure nor weigh with it. As such, we are bound to give it against the mission system, and bring in a verdict in favor of the Bible plan, for making and sending out preachers of the gospel.
I shall let these remarks suffice on this point, and pass on to the 6th head under consideration, which is to show the most particular objections I have to the principles and practice of the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions.
My object on this point is to show the moral evil that I see in the mission system, and where it causes our brethren to sin, which is the reason we can have no fellowship with them in the mission spirit, and lays us under the heart-rending necessity of denying fellowship with them, while engaged in it.
Now dear brethren, as the mission system is bringing such distress in Zion, although I know you lay the blame of this distress on those who oppose the innovations of the mission plan, yet I as well know the cause is in you, and the time is come when we are compelled to submit to, or join in with, that which we believe in our very hearts to be contrary to the “faith of God’s elect,” and heinously wicked in its nature, or exhibits our charges against the principles and deny fellowship with the practice, so I hope you will pay close attention to my objections or charges, and give every remark due weight and not let prejudice blind your minds nor hardness possess your hearts. And I hope you will not think these statements, because they are pointed and plain, comes from the harshness of spirit; but the sincerity of my heart as an accountable creature to God, and a lover of the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ. And I request one thing more, and that is, not let the arguments lose their weight for the want of being decorated with the flowery language of the learned.
I come now to my first objection; which is the principle and practice of the mission system in its present operation. It has neither precept nor example to justify it within the two lids of the Bible. Therefore we have a right to reject it. For through the precept of the Lord we get understanding; therefore we hate “every false way.” This objection I have fully treated on heretofore and I have just named it now to bring to your minds the weight it justly deserves, and I will now state my second objection, which I hope will be duly attended to.
I conceive the Baptist Board in their principle and practice, have rebelled against the King of Zion, violated the government of the gospel Church and forfeited their right to the union and brought distress on the Church of Christ.
1st. They have rebelled against the King of Zion, inasmuch as they have assumed an authority that Christ has reserved alone to Himself.
2nd . They have violated the right or government of the Church of Christ in forming themselves into a body and acting without divine authority of the union.
3rd. They have forfeited their right to the Union by departing from the gospel plan and the common, constant and constitutional faith and practice of the Baptist Church, and thereby brought distress on the Church of Christ.
In order to be short, I shall notice all these points under one view. It is a soul reviving faith that is peculiar to the Baptists, and I believe denied by none that profess the Baptist faith (as such it saves me the trouble of being so very particular in my evidence to prove my doctrine) that Christ did set up and establish His Church in this world upon that Rock that the gates of hell should not prevail against it. And the Spirit told Daniel that God should set up a kingdom which should never be overthrown and Paul calls it the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth; and Christ has evidently manifested His Kingly power and authority, and has given His law, the gospel government, to be observed and practiced by His Church, and sent His Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth, and bringing all things to their remembrance that He has said unto them; and has never authorized any man nor set of men (although they may have the wisdom of the wise or the tongue of an Angel) to alter His law or change the method of His government, that He gave His Church, nor arrest the authority He has given into their hands; no not from the Apostolic age of the world even until now. But by a proper and close attention, and a just execution of government, the blessed union of the Church, the body of Christ, is preserved and they are united together, and separated from the world even while they are in it. By this means the glory of God is manifested throughout His Church.
Now observe, when a body of men attempt to perform a work that a King has reserved to his own authority, it is evidently a rebellion against that King. Just so I view the mission society, in their attempts to seek out preachers, qualify them, send them out and appoint the field of their labors, they have most certainly rebelled against the authority of Christ, for we Baptists profess to believe, and we think upon Scriptural authority, that the internal work of the calling and sending out of preachers, is as evidently performed by the Spirit of God on the heart, as it is in calling the sinner from nature to grace. And now in the next place observe any society formed, undertaking a work, bearing title of the work of God performed in the name of the Church, and that society not under the government of the Church (whose title it bears) as to the objects of its pursuits, is evidently a rejection of the authority of the Church, or indirectly a rebellion against it. Just so the Board is styled the “General Missionary Convention of the Baptist denomination in the United States of America for Foreign Missions;” still they are not under the government of the Baptist union, and let them do good or bad it is under the name of the Baptists, and we have no way to help ourselves, but must bear it, and cannot call them to account by any authority we have given them or they have given us. I know it is argued by some that the Board is under the government of the Baptist union, but this argument is false, for the membership of the Triennial Convention is composed of members from “missionary societies” and other “religious bodies” of the “Baptist” denomination; that is, if they bring a hundred dollars with them; if not, they have no seat. These members do not possess even delegated authority from the Baptist union to transact the mission business, but derive their powers from the missionary societies which are formed of various persons, believing and supporting a multitude of doctrines. We have no doubt but that these men may be accountable to the churches where their membership is, for their moral conduct; but as to the mission system, the churches have nothing to do with it.
The fact is, the mission society has formed a plan that requires a great deal of money to carry it into effect, and now calls on the churches for to help them get the money. But the counsel of the union is neither asked nor known in the mission plan; for I cannot think that wise men should be so ignorant as to think that asking the counsel of certain individuals, whom they thought would most favor their plan, was the proper method to get the voice of the union. And I now ask, when any person great or small gives themselves, as we hope, first to the Lord and then to us, by the will of God, have they any right to act contrary to the common and constant faith and practice of that body of people, or that government which they have subjected themselves to? You are obliged to answer, “They have no such right.” Well, I ask what have the mission society done, when neither Scripture nor history gives any account that the Baptist Church has ever taken this method to fill the world with preachers? Then I ask, where has the mission society gotten their power? Not from the Baptists’ authority, nor from the authority of God’s word, for that knows of no such a plan, and it has given no such authority. It is then a practice without any legal authority, and has only originated amongst themselves, and claim a power that alone belongs to Christ and His church, and consequently their work is in disorder. The preachers they send, the members they baptize and the churches they constitute are all in a state of disorder. And now if my statements is correct, which I am persuaded you cannot overthrow by the authority by the authority of the Scriptures, and the principle and practice of the Baptist Church, have we no cause of grief? Our beloved brethren have gone astray; they have sinned against the King of Zion; they have violated our government and thereby forfeited their right to the Baptist union, for they have left us; they have gone into these measures without authority or consent; while we believe and practice as the Baptists have generally done and walk in the good old apostolic path. Our brethren have left us; we have not left them; therefore we claim the constitutional grounds and in such cases the minority can exclude the majority. I now leave the remarks on this objection for the candid mind to ponder on, and pass on to the next objection.
My third objection is, the mission society applies, under the character of religion, to the enemies of Christ for help, and therefore cast contempt on His dignity. In this I wish to notice in a brief way the method of the mission society, in collecting money for the support of the gospel. We remember when Christ was in the world with His disciples, He gave them a very particular caution, and told them they were in the world, but they were not of the world, therefore the world would hate them, but He let them know the world hated Him before it hated them. The whole scope of Scripture goes to prove that there is a pointed enmity in the world or carnal mind against Christ and consequently against His Church, because of their union or friendship with Him. And now the question is, has our blessed Lord become so weak, so poor, and so dependent, that He must apply to His enemies for help? O contemptible idea of Christ! We see the mission society opening the door and using every exertion to collect money from the world, and qualify men by the wisdom of the world for the purpose of accomplishing the work of salvation amongst the heathen, and causing the kingdom of Christ to more fully come. And again, not only mingling with the wicked of the world, but with other professions of religion which we believe are the daughters of the mother harlot, and consequently in their system of religion is in part of the anti-Christian spirit; and if so, in that part the enemy of Christ. What is the cause of wicked men giving their money for religious purposes? Is it because the spirit and plan of the mission system is more agreeable to the spirit and plan of nature? No doubt but there will be objections or denials to these charges. But I say these things are so, for the missionary societies formed auxiliary to the Board. Members of these societies obtain their seats and authority here by paying their money; and wicked men here have as great a right as any other by paying their money, and when my money gives me a seat in a religious counsel, I then say money is the cause of my fellowship, and it looks as though I had forgotten that the “love of money is the root of all evil.”
I fear that some of my Baptist brethren have forgotten this caution. Some may say that I stand opposed to education from the remarks I have made; but I think education a great common blessing in its place. But when we worship the creature instead of the Creator, we sin, and abuse the blessings bestowed on us. So I oppose the principle of education being an essential qualification to the ministry. It is evident that education makes a man a more accomplished deceiver, and he is better able to practice fraud on the minds of the people, and it has ever been the case and ever will, unless governed by the powers of divine graces; for it is evident that education has made manifest more bad men then it ever has good ones. So I think we had better leave it to God’s work to call men of education when He would have such, than to undertake to make preachers by giving them education. It is true, where grace governs education, both meeting in one man, and that man is called by the effectual workings of God’s Spirit, to the work of the ministry, he is better qualified to express or communicate his ideas. But he still labors under serious difficulty. The pride of his heart calls on him to tickle the ear or please the fancy of the learned part of his congregation; and to do that leaves the less educated part without information.
But this is like the spirit of the world, and like the old proverb, “God help the rich, the poor can beg.” Let the learned part of the world be pleased and informed more and more, but the ignorant stay where they are. So I say, if the “clergy” must have education to understand the grammatical sense of words, so the hearers ought to have the same understanding, lest a fraud should be practiced on them, for through the false zeal and the advantage of education, the whole of the delusions and false ways are imposed on the world of mankind, and have caused thousands of God’s dear children to seal their testimony of Christ with their own blood, when persecution has prevailed under the prejudice of education. Then no wonder when we Baptists dread its appearance, under the name of “religion” and draw the sword against it.
So I conclude that adopting such plans is aiming to make addition to God’s word, and argues that the King of Zion was imperfect and did not know the best plan for qualifying, supporting and sending out preacher. I conceive the mission plan cast this contempt on the dignity of Christ, while they rob God of His glory and make merchandise of the gospel.
Much more might be said on this point, but I shall pass on, hoping you will not count me your enemy because I have told you the truth.
My fourth objection is, the mission spirit does not appear to my view like the Spirit of Christ; it looks like that abomination spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, or where it ought to not. This holy place spoken of, or where it ought not to be, is evidently the Church of Christ, and the abomination spoken of by Daniel is the anti-Christian spirit; it& standing where it ought not, is when that spirit would stand in the Church or holy places. Alas! Alas! Has the time come when the spirit that moved in the Council at the rise of the Popish dominion, that gave education a seat in religion, and made it essential to the ministry, has it now got possession of the hearts of some of our dear Baptist brethren? Will it prevail? Oh, no! For I verily believe it is one of the floodgates of hell, and our blessed Lord has said it “shall not prevail against” His Church.
Oh! My dear brethren, this is the stay and comfort of my heart. The mission system now prescribed never will prevail against the Baptist Church or union; nor be supported by its act. How far it may split the union God only knows. I hope not far. For I have no doubt but there will be a faithful few that will “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints,” as there was at the establishment of the abomination of the Popish empire.
No doubt some will laugh me to scorn and say I am like a timid horse in the lead, which starts at the shadow, when there is no danger, and frightens all the rest. I know there is no danger now, under our republican government, but how soon may this blessed liberty be snatched from us when so much abused? And how soon may the time come when they that kill us will verily think they are doing God’s service? And again I find the mission spirit is to go on to accomplish their object, whether they have the mind of Christ and His Church or not. And although they say “when science would claim the preference, let it be rejected,” I fear my brethren have not considered what maimer of spirit they are of, for their conduct contradicts their words. My brethren, I have traveled through many parts, and I too often see that the mission spirit causes party feelings among the Baptists, and plans laid to weaken the hands of the opposers of the mission system and support their own designs, and the mission friends seem to rejoice in the Latter Day Luminary, while I feet as though the latter day darkness is approaching; for the world is at this time in as great a state of sin and rebellion against God, as perhaps it has ever been. Iniquity is abounding and the love of many waxing cold. My brethren can discern the face of the skies, but I fear they do not discern the signs of the times, for I fear that many are departing from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils and heaping to themselves teachers having itching ears, and the doctrine that is preached is the subject of the millennium.
I do not believe but that subject is too tedious for me to enter on at this time, but drop a hint that I discover the mission spirit has drawn too many of our preachers too far into the Arminian principle or method of preaching, and they have laid down the weapons of war against the prevailing errors of false systems, and unite truth and error together, and give false principles and practices more credit than the Bible authorizes them to do. Brethren, try the spirits, for many false ones are gone out, and are crying “Lo! Here is Christ and Lo! There is Christ. But go ye not after them.” For I discover my brethren of the mission system will sacrifice the government of the union and the feelings of their Brethren to accomplish their object, and it is evident in my view they are better supported by misled zeal and ambition than by the authority of the Bible. There is one thing more I must notice:
It is a stubborn fact that through the States that hold slaves, where the mission spirit prevails very considerably, that there are numbers engaged in the mission plan who do not labor one day in a year, and yet possess great wealth and throw in liberally to the support of missions. Their slaves by intense labor have accumulated this wealth. Now I ask a candid public whether this is the religion of Christ? Let us take a glance at the situation of the Negro. Neither money nor time are given even to teach him to read the Bible. Go to his hut which he built in the night. It is not fit for a work horse to stand in; his lodging is a scaffold with some straw on it; his diet is at best the scraps which fall from his master’s table; perhaps not so good. And as to his clothes, decency and modesty cannot look at him without blushing. All this he endures besides the abuse he meets with from a hard master. These things are so. Now hear his master exclaim, “Oh, the poor heathens! They are lying in a state of ignorance. Their direful situation so oppresses my mind that I cannot rest. Oh! I give my money freely to send them relief and I wonder that all the Christian world does not join in together so laudable an undertaking!” And at this same time the poor Africans, who have earned this money for him, must groan under the under the despotic yoke of these would-be-thought philanthropists, while the products of their labor are lavishly squandered in support of missionaries, sent to foreign countries seeking opportunities of converting foreign Barbarians.
Now my dear brethren, is not the soul of a Negro as precious in America as in Africa? Does it not look like robbery of the darkest shade to hold these human miserables [sic] in bondage - deprive them of the liberty even of learning to read the Word of God, and meeting together to offer up their humble petitions to Him who was nailed to the cross to atone for the sins of mankind - to scourge them with the crimsoned lash - to filch from them even that which is necessary to sustain nature, and then take the avails of their temporal, and perhaps spiritual sufferings to purchase worldly popularity or support a mistaken zeal? I would as soon believe the Devil a saint, as to believe this is the true spirit of true religion. I could say many more things on this point, but I shall just submit I have said to the candid reader, and let him ask his heart whether these things are so or not. I now proceed to the last thing proposed.
Seventh, and lastly. In this I design to take a small view of the matter in hand. I have in the first place endeavored to remove the prejudices from the public mind that have arisen from improper charges exhibited against us, who oppose the mission system. I think I have said enough to remove prejudices from every candid mind, and to justify us as candid men, in our opposing the innovations of the mission system. In the second place, I have endeavored to bring to the public view the points of the mission system that we are not reconciled to, and what we are willing to support if brought in a proper manner; and I hope our Baptist brethren will consider the great necessity of preserving the blessed union of the Church, by destroying the evil, and bring the good on principles it can live.
In the third place I have endeavored to bring to public view what we are to understand the Board intends to do from the face of their constitution, and prove it by their doctrine and practice. And I think it cannot be denied but the Board designs to take over the government of the ministry in their own hands, and support it by education and money; and this point I hope my brother preachers will examine, and try by their own experience, as well as by the word of God. Now my brother, consider how it was with you, when the Lord was about to set you to preach the gospel to a dying world; when you were in a great strait in your mind; you saw and felt yourself so inadequate for so great a work, that your spirit shrunk within you; and you were ready to cry out, “Lord it is too great a work for me, I shall dishonor the cause.” I ask you, my brother, where did your mind center, that gave you relief, that enabled you to venture in the work? Was it that you concluded that you would spend a year or two at school, and by that means receive suitable qualifications, and then you would venture in the work? Or was it that you were brought to see there was help in God, the source of wisdom; and He alone it was that was able to supply your needs, and enable you to do the work He designed for you to do? On Him you ventured, and He has been your Helper.
In the fourth place, I have examined the Scripture evidence most generally introduced for the support of the mission system, and find they all fail to answer their purpose. But in this case there is no doubt, but there is and will be Scriptures introduced that I have not taken under view, but if rightly understood will come out about the same way with the other; and I hope the Baptists will examine the reality of those evidences more closely then they have done heretofore.
In the fifth place, I have endeavored to bring to light and shew the difference that exists between the principle and practice of the mission society, and that of Christ and His apostles, which appears plain that one is of man and the other of God. I hope this distinction will be more particularly examined into, and let us come out from amongst the unclean, and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
In the sixth place, I have laid before the public some of my most particular objections against the mission system, and I hope the objections will be duly weighed by all the friends Zion. No doubt but the weight of these objections will be tried to be destroyed by the art of criticism, but I feel willing to bear all the dispersions that the enemy may cast on me for the truth’s sake. I hope my dear brethren who are on the Lord’s side, will stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free; and be careful to walk in their duty and maintain good works.
I know in a little while more I must lie down in death, and know the reality of these things. Now my dear readers, here is the one thing that comforts my heart while tears are ready to flow from my eyes, that when my body is mingling with its mother dust, you may know that there was some in such an age of the world that still stood as witnesses against error, and in behalf of truth; and may the Lord grant it may comfort your feeble minds. Before I come to a close, I feel to give a small glimpse of my views on the matter.
When I look at the difference that appears amongst the Baptists now, and thirty or forty years ago, it really fills my heart with sorrow. They were about that time I think, the very description that Christ gave of His humble followers. They were meek and lowly in mind, and separate from the world both in appearance and conduct. O, how lovely they appeared then, how sweet their company was to the meek and lowly in heart. But alas! Now many, even preachers, when we see them at the court house, by their appearance and conduct, we scarcely can tell them from the lawyers; and common professors are hardly known from the world. This makes me think of old Israel; it appears that when God had blessed them with peace and prosperity, they grew proud and forget God’s goodness, and became neglectful of their duties, and began to follow after the heathen idolatry, which caused God to bring distress upon them, and He gave them up sometimes to the hands of their enemies, and sometimes judgments of various kinds to chastise them for their sins.
Observe, it was generally the leaders of Israel that were cut off because it was the leaders of God’s people that had caused them to err. So when I look at the conduct of the Baptist Church for some times past, with the conduct of the mission system, this is my view, and solemn thought. The Church of Christ has upwards of forty years enjoyed peace and prosperity, and like Israel of old, they have not only grown carnally proud, but spiritually proud, and forgot the goodness of God, and neglected their duty; got above the meek and lowly way prescribed for them to walk in, and drink in the spirit of the world, and rather conform to the practice of the world than bear the reproaches and persecutions, that is the legacy of all the humble followers of our blessed Lord - and they begin even in their religious institutions to pattern after the rest of the nations of the earth; I mean the religion of the world. Just look at the simile between the rise of popery and the principles and practice of our beloved brethren in the mission system, and I have no doubt but Constantine appeared to possess as great zeal as our brethren now do, and what awful consequences attended that establishment. I can truly say, O, solemn thought, I feel like the time is not far distant when God will chastise His people for their pride and folly. And I fear the mission establishment is the way this distress will come - and as the leaders of God’s people are the ones that have brought in this evil, they are the ones that will be cut off, (I mean in a gospel sense,) while the poor and despised and persecuted followers of their blessed Lord will have to mourn not only for their own afflicted state, but for their dear brethren, like Israel mourned for the tribe of Benjamin, their brethren when they were forced to cut them off. But as God has always preserved, even through the worst of times, a little faithful few, although despised, yet witnesses for the truth of free grace, and have respect to all the precepts of their Lord, in self-denial order of the gospel, and I had far rather when I lie down in death, leave my name recorded among these despised few, as a witness for the truth, than have it recorded in the high circles of fame.
I wish the public to know it is not the value of our money we regard, but as honest men in the candor of our hearts, our respect is to the true order of our Lord. My mind is yet fruitful, but I must come to a close, by just observing I am fully apprized of the room there is for criticism. But I hope my reader, as an honest man, will lay aside all criticism with the bias of their mind, and come fairly to the truth, for I can say in truth, I have designed no part of this piece to hurt the feelings of any person whatever; but I think my sincere prayer to God, is that He, by His Spirit, and agreeable to His word may guide you and me into all truth; and if it be His will, that this may be a means in His hands to show my dear brethren the evil they have joined with. I hope my brethren will reconsider the matter, and come fairly to the truth, and remember we are told the love of money is the root of all evil, and to charge them that are rich in this world not to be high minded: And I hope you will take particular notice, and don’t forget that when Christ found in the temple them that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and them that attended to the table of money changing, that He made a scourge of small chords, and drove them out, and overthrew the table, and charged them of making His Father’s home a house of merchandise, or a den of thieves. And we have no account of money changing to be set up in His spiritual temple, and we think He will not, as He overthrew it Himself; and I hope you will not think hard if Christ should with His scourge of small cords, that He has still left in His temple, drive out all such characters, and overthrow the table. So I hope you will trade no more on sheep and oxen, but consider what I say, and may the Lord give the understanding in all things.
Clark County, Illinois - 1820
Elder Daniel Parker