“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
The apostle Paul, and all the apostles, were inspired by the Holy Ghost, and thereby duly qualified to give such instructions to Timothy, and to all other gospel ministers and gospel saints, as they were then, or ever should be in need of. Without the immediate inspiration of God, they could not have predicted the things which should come to pass in subsequent ages, both in reference to the church of God, and the development of the man of sin. In reference to the manifestation of that wicked spirit which was to be developed, Paul had already informed Timothy in the first epistle, iv. 1-3, that the Spirit had spoken expressly on that subject, saying, “Expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils”; and the Spirit had with equal clearness expressly spoken of the lies they should tell, the hypocrisy they should practice, what should be the state of their consciences, what heresies they should utter, and what restrictions they should lay upon the church. Now, in closing this second and last epistle, when he was ready to be offered, and the time of his departure was at hand, in his valedictory charge, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ who shall judge the quick and the dead, repeats to him the admonition to “preach the Word,” and that constantly, and the admonition is enforced by reminding him of what the Spirit had expressly said, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.” The time specified, is the time which God had appointed, until which time the man of sin could not be manifested. “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way: and then, [at that time] shall that wicked be revealed.” The time is expressly declared by the Spirit, as the last time. All the powers of darkenss could not anticipate the time which God had determined on for the fulfillment of these important events, nor could all the efforts, devices, good works or bad works, of saints or sinners, postpone that development one hour or one moment beyond the appointed time.
Some very conscientious and good brethren have seemed afraid to admit that God has set the bounds of wickedness of men and of devils, so that they have no power to change them; but we would ask such brethren whether the Spirit would speak to us of things which it would be wrong for us to believe? Would the Spirit tell us expressly, things which we ought not to know? Has not the Spirit told us expressly that that wicked shall be revealed in his time, and that God withholdeth it until its time, and has pledged his word that it shall in its time be revealed? Read the Scriptures on this subject, and then ask yourselves, Could the beast with seven heads and ten horns, have risen up out of the sea before the great red dragon had been manifested? Or could the second beast have preceded the first? Or could the image of the beast have anticipated any of its predecessors? If they could not, it was because God had ordered things as they came to pass.
Even so, likewise the apostacy predicted in our text, has its time fixed. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.” But who are they that will not endure sound doctrine? Some have supposed that this could not mean christians, and that it must mean the world or antichrist. But when, we ask, has the world or antichrist ever endured sound doctrine? Did the world, the Jews or pagans, endure the sound doctrine set forth by Christ and his apostles, in their days? Did the carnal Israelites endure the sound doctrine that was reported to them by the prophets? Which of them did they not slay? The truth has, in all times since sin entered the world, been opposed by the world, and by all unconverted men. We cannot, therefore, suppose that the Spirit spake thus expressly of a time when nothing unusual was to be revealed. These nonendurers of sound doctrine are marked as apostates, thus, “Some shall depart from the faith.” We do not understand that these apostates are the children of God, born of the Spirit, or that they ever possessed the vital principles of faith in their hearts. But we do contend that they are those who have professed the faith of the gospel, and have been held in the fellowship of the church of God, otherwise they could not depart from what they never professed to hold. Christ has said, “Every plant that my Father hath not planted shall be rooted up.” And again, “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away.” Thus signifying that all who enter not in by the door into the sheepfold, or church, are thieves and robbers, and all who come in without his grace, shall be cast out without his favor. These things began to develop in the apostolic age, and John speaks of some who went out from us, that it might be made manifest that they were not all of us. So in those events which are traced in the revelations made to John on Patmos, there were times signified in which the world rushed into the church nominally, but they could not endure the sound doctrine of the gospel, for they had neither ears to hear, nor hearts to understand or love it. Whatever direct allusion our text has to the times of the apocalyptic beasts, or false prophet, we feel justified by the words “last times” in the context, in applying the prophecy to the present time, including the last forty or fifty years. We do not feel sufficiently liberal to apply this subject to the various protestant or catholic denominations, *by which the church of God has been surrounded in ages past, for we do not believe they, or any of them, ever did, or ever could, depart from the faith of the gospel, for they never, any of them, strictly speaking, held it, and they could not depart from what they never professed to hold.
*We speak of them as denominations; Christ has but one church on the earth. “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” - Eph. iv. 4,5. We freely admit, and fully believe that as there have been many nominally connected with the church of Christ, who were not children of God, not born of God, not taught by his Spirit, so there have been many of God’s children nominally connected with the various branches of antichrist, but so long as they remain there, they are living in disobedience to their Lord and Master; and, by that order of discipline which he has established in his church, we cannot extend our fellowship to them, as long as they continue to rank and file with the enemies. “What agreement hath the temple of God with idols?” “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” - 2 Cor. vi. 17, 18.
Within the space of the last half century, the prophecy of our text has been manifestly realized in the Baptist Church, which, as a church, is the only organization that has ever stood on the foundation of the apostles. Many in this last time have departed from the faith, and in their apostacy have demonstrated that they could not endure sound doctrine. Those who are now denominated New School, or Missionary Baptists, or at least those churches who took that ground at the time of the division, once professed to hold the faith which we now hold. The same articles substantially, which were held by us before the separation, are held by us now, but these prominent sentiments which have distinguished the church of Christ from the apostles’ days, and which they professed to hold once in common with us, they have now departed from, and do now wantonly repudiate them. They are, therefore, very manifestly embraced in the prediction of the text, as having departed from the faith. We challenge the world to point us to a single church or congregation of them who can at this day endure the sound doctrine which in all former ages characterized the Baptists, from the time of John the Baptist, until the time of their apostacy.
Neither Old School Baptists nor New School Baptists, will deny either of the following propositions, namely: first, that we were once all included in one religious denomination, and all professed the same faith and order. Second, that we are now very widely apart, that we do not all hold the same faith and order, and therefore one party or the other, or both, have departed from the faith which we all once professed to hold.
Now, as it is not very likely that either party will admit that they have so departed, but as each charges the other with having departed from the faith, we have but one alter. native for the settlement of our respective claims - to the word and to the testimony. What does the Spirit expressly say, by the mouth of the inspired Paul, shall be the distinguishing marks or characteristics of those who in the last times will not endure sound doctrine? And with which party are these marks and characteristics found? Will any sane man who has any knowledge of the Old School Baptists, say that we have, since the division, after our own lusts, heaped to ourselves teachers? Will the New School Baptists themselves so charge us? So far from it, they have continually thrown it in our teeth, that instead of having heaps of teachers, that we have but very few, and they have been predicting that in a few years we shall have none. Some of them have exultingly said they expected to live to see the last of the Old School preachers buried. If, then, we have no such heaps of teachers, it cannot be that we are the party who are advertised in the holy Scriptures as having heaped to ourselves teachers.
Again, who will charge that the Old School Baptists have itching ears, leading them to lust after heaps of teachers, and evincing such lusts and such itching, by running after all the new doctrines and institutions of the age? Is it not proverbial that the Old School Baptists are behind the age? That they are an antieffort, unprogressive people, and more than five hundred years behind the improvements of the age in which we live?
Once more! Will any one say that what preachers we have, have been raised up by any effort of ours? That we have employed any kind of machinery to heap or to multiply the number of our ministers? Do our teachers or ministers, show so much of the wisdom and polish of this world, as to give any just grounds to suspect that they have been called, qualified or brought into the work by the agency of men? No rational man who has any knowledge of us believes any such thing. The marks, therefore, which are to identify and distinguish the class of apostates in our text, cannot apply to the Old School Baptists. Nor can it be said in truth, of Old School Baptists, that they are turned away from the truth, and turned unto fables. We have been constantly charged with obstinancy, for so pertinaciously adhering to the Scriptures, as our only standard and rule of faith and practice. Our refusal to depart from the Bible as our standard of morality and religion, and to unite in the various schemes of the age for reforming society, reclaiming drunkards, converting sinners, and evangelizing the world, has brought down on us such epithets as Hardshells, Iron Jackets, and a profusion of titles indicative of anything but a readiness to turn away from what we hold to be the truth, and of being allured by fables. Flatteries and frowns alike have failed to draw the Old School Baptists from the Bible as their standard. We could mention cases where flattering titles of presidents, vice-presidents and directorships in popular, humanly devised religious societies, and lucrative missionary appointments, have been tendered, as a bait to draw some of our number from their steadfastness in the faith, and other instances could be particularized where proscription, reproach and calumny, have also been employed for the same purpose, but all in vain. How then can any of the marks which divine revelation has fixed on the apostates, described in our text, apply to the Old School Baptists?
As these marks cannot be found on the Old School Baptists, they cannot be the people who have departed from the faith, or who cannot endure sound doctrine. We will now proceed to show that the New School or Missionary Baptists have them all as plainly stamped on them as was the mark which was set on Cain, and as indelibly written as were the words, “Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother of Harlots,” &c., on the forehead of the woman that John saw sitting upon the scarlet-colored beast. (Rev. xvii. 5.)
The Mission Baptists who have gone out from us, have very clearly demonstrated that they cannot endure sound doctrine, not only by going out from us, on account of our holding sound doctrine, but also by heaping to themselves teachers. Their ears have itched for such doctrines as would make them popular in the eyes of the world, and give them a place and respectability with the worldly religionists of the age. This appears from their pleading the necessity of Theological schools, colleges and universities, for training young men for the ministry, because other religious denominations around them have such worldly insitutions for that purpose, and lest they should thereby draw all the learned, wealthy, and influential, into their societies. This itching for popularity has shown a lack of confidence in God to raise up suitable teachers for them, or a sufficient supply to compete successfully with other denominations. The instruction of the King of Zion to his disciples, is, to pray the Lord of the harvest to supply laborers for the gospel ministry, but their own lusts have dictated to them to heap teachers to themselves, in defiance of the command of Christ, and in contempt of his authority. They not only prepare for themselves a number corresponding to their congregations, but they heap them, so that they have quantities of them for transportation to foreign lands, and an abundant surplus to be employed as itinerant beggars, colporters, &c., at home. Thus they not only crowd out from their pulpits all such as would offend their delicate itching ears, with sound doctrine, but have troops of them to send forth, like the frogs of Egypt, into all the land, to come up into our houses, our kneading-troughs, and our ovens. Is this picture overdrawn? Are there not hundreds of this heap now, and at all times, lounging about the cities and large towns, waiting for a call, and begging their way along, because they are too lazy to work for an honest living? Will any New School or Missionary Baptist deny that such is the case?
Who can deny that the New Order of Baptists raise up, call, educate and qualify their own teachers? For what other purpose do they organize their State Education Societies, build their colleges, and establish their Theological schools? Their white cravated mendicants are constantly abroad in every neighborhood, soliciting funds, and their petitions are spread out before every State legislature, asking for State patronage, to aid them in their work.
Another mark of their apostacy is found upon them: They have turned away their ears from the truth, and are turned unto fables. In no part of the religious world can any be found who are more deadly set against the truth, or who manifest a greater hostility to the very doctrine which they themselves once professed to hold, than do the New Order of Baptists, who are commonly call the New School, or Mission Baptists. Their ears are turned away, and instead of listening to sound doctrine, they are turned to fables.
Webster thus defines the term fable: “1. A feigned story or tale, intended to instruct or amuse; a fictitious narration intended to enforce some useful truth or precept. 2. Fiction in general. 3. An idle story; vicious or vulgar fictions. 4. The plot or connected series of events in an epic or dramatic poem. 5. Falsehood; a softer term for a lie.”
Are the New School Baptists turned to fables, as thus defined? Read their publications and the tracts which they have turned to, which they approve, and which they circulate. Read their “Dairyman’s Daughter.” Their “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and a thousand more of their fabulous stories which have been manufactured to order, and then decide whether these fictitious stories are the sound doctrine of the Bible, or fables.
But, not only in the tracts which they publish and circulate, but in the general ministry of the teachers which they have heaped to themselves, a system of fiction, instead of reality prevails. The sovereignty of God, and the exclusive work of the Spirit, in the quickening and regeneration of men, is denounced, and the power, ability and will of the creature, is extolled. Salvation is by them ascribed to the will and works of men, and the heaven-taught truth of God, that salvation is alone of God by grace, through faith, and that not of the creature, but the gift of God, is by them rejected, and the fictitious doctrine of men, that salvation is effected by the use of means, instrumentalities, and that the gospel, or something else, is the means, and their heaps of teachers are the instruments of saving souls from hell, and of advancing them to heaven, is preached instead thereof. They have turned away from the truth of the gospel, to the fiction and fables of the schools; from the eternal realities which are taught by the word and Spirit of the true and living God, to the vain, delusive, fabulous fictions of their own vain imaginations, and to a teaching for doctrine, the commandments of men.
In conclusion of this long article, in which we have, as we believe, fully proved that all the marks of apostacy given in our text, are legibly written on those who have gone out from the Old School Baptists, and that none of them can be found upon the old apostolic order of Baptists which remain on the old Bible grounds, we would urge upon our brethren the solemn truth, that we have nothing wherein to boast over those who are turned unto fables. God has, as we hope, made us to differ, and all that we have, we have received of him. Let us then rejoice, not that others have fallen, but rather that our names are written in heaven. And let him that standeth take heed lest he fall. May we trust alone in him who is able to keep us from falling, and to give us an inheritance among them that are sanctified.
Middletown, N. Y.
October 1, 1856.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 3
Pages 378 - 387