Freeport, Ill., Dec. 28, 1841.
BROTHER BEEBE: - Please give your views in full, through the “Signs of the Times,” about the “benevolent institutions” of the day, as they are so called, and on abolitionism.
“The reason I wish to know your views is, there was an association organized last fall, in Jo Daviess Co., of this state, denominated, the First North Western Baptist Association,” who believe in all the above named; and some of them are the rankest abolitionists I have ever seen.
JOHN B. KAUFMAN.
REPLY: ALMOST ten years have we been laboring to give our views in full, through the “Signs of the Times,” and, through other mediums, for a much greater length of time, on what are denominated the benevolent institutions of the day; but which with more propriety might be called the covetous institutions of the night, or of the hidden things of dishonesty, and of darkness. Ten years’ incessant labor has not been sufficient to give utterance to all we have to say, expressive of our views upon the subject. If by the day, we are to understand what the scriptures mean by the use of the same term, we should apply it to the gospel dispensation, which is emphatically an institution of pure benevolence founded in grace, breathing good will to man, and having its consummation in eternal glory. When the all-creating fiat was issued from the mouth of God, “Let there be light,” its power was known, and light appeared. God divided the light from the darkness; and the light he called day, and the darkness he called night. Moreover, God created two great lights, and gave them their stations in the heavens; the greater to rule the day, and the lesser to rule the night; and he made the stars also. From the handiwork of God in the creation of the natural world, figures are borrowed by the Holy Spirit, with which to illustrate the things of the Spirit. In the application of the figure of light, of day, &c., Christ is brought to view as the fountain, fullness and origin of light to the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Unto you that fear his name, said the prophet, shall the Sun of Righteousness arise. In bearing record of his advent, the inspired evangelist says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” - John i. And this is the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. On the rising of this Sun of Righteousness, the people that sat in darkness saw a great light. As the refulgent flood of light, life and glory broke forth upon the heavenly kingdom, the Spirit applied the words of prophecy, “Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” To which Sion responded, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
All the institutions of the gospel, therefore, are institutions of the day; and all are benevolent, because instituted and founded in grace, for the most gracious and benevolent purposes; while on the other hand, all the humanly invented religious institutions, brought into being by authority of the rulers of the darkness of this world, being under the influence and control of the prince of darkness, are consequently institutions of the night. Hence the propriety of calling the popular societies of the present age, institutions of the day, is as questionable, as to call such institutions benevolent. We have, with others, often misapplied the word day, meaning only the present time, when night would be far more appropriate.
Having defined terms so far as to be understood, we will proceed to give brother Kaufman some of our views in regard to the institutions of the night. And first, we view them as comprising within their serpentine coils, every religious institution known or practiced by mankind, for which there is no express authority in the scriptures. In the long dark catalogue, Bible, Missionary, Tract, Religious Education, Abolition and Temperance Societies, Infanct, Sunday and Theological schools, Protracted Meetings, Monthly Concerts, National and State Conventions, as organized bodies, occupy very prominent places; and as none of them can bear the light and scrutiny of the scriptures, and none of them can prove themselves of heavenly birth, we consider them all, as we have proved repeatedly, and as we shall probably have occasion to do again and again, the brood of their arminian mother, whose house is the way to hell, leading down to the chambers of death. Prov. vii. 27. On each of those sable institutions we might write a volume; but the depth of their iniquity we can never hope to set forth in all its abomination.
Most flagrant outrage, perversion and insult, has been done to human language, in the selection of names by which to designate the above list of humanly contrived institutions; whereas, some of the same list of names might, in their legitimate use, signify things not only far less objectionable, but things fully warranted in the scriptures of truth; for example, the term Bible Society, if used in reference to the church of God, which is founded on bible principles, and governed by the precepts and examples laid down in that blessed book, would lose all its nightly garb, and all its earthly, sensual, devilish properties. It is only from our attachment to the doctrine of the bible, the supremacy of the law of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we set, ourselves in array against these mongrel organizations, falsely called Bible Societies. Those national, popular institutions, so far from being authorized or required by bible authority, are in direct hostility to both the spirit and the letter of the scriptures. That book which expressly commands a separation of the disciples of Christ from the world, cannot countenance the amalgamation of both, under the fallacious pretence of doing God service. It has been asserted that our hostility to missionary speculations is only founded in a-virulent antipathy against the word mission, &c. This is also a gross slander upon Old School Baptists. If the term were restricted in its application to that mission which God has established, none could be found more heartily delighted with it than those who are, at this degenerate hour of the night, called Anti-missionary Baptists. But in the application of the term to false apostles, and to humanly instituted societies, composed of professors and profane, based upon a moneyed foundation, and requiring a moneyed qualification for membership, and assuming the right to call, employ, direct or pay off men to whom they profanely apply the name, gospel ministers. They pervert the proper meaning of a word, which in itself would otherwise be perfectly harmless. Tracts, if published by individuals or companies, without any amalgamation of church and world, when they contain nothing objectionable, would meet with no opposition from us; but when, as at the present, vast mongrel societies are organized, assuming a national character, under a religious pretence, professing to have authority from God to beg money in his name to be expended ‘as Christ expended his heart’s blood, for the salvation of sinners, we view them as palpably idolatrous as was the calf that Aaron set up, or any idols at whose shrine the Philistines were wont to bow. Education is a most inestimable temporal blessing; and when kept in its legitimate place, marks the distinction between the heathen and the civilized parts of the world. Too much pains can hardly be expended by parents or guardians, in securing for those intrusted to their care a goodly share of it. As an individual, we should rather limit our children in bread and apparel, than to withhold from them the necessary means of acquiring a good education. But the very name, religious education, is an insult to Divine Majesty, in whose kingdom no man shall say to his neighbor, or to his brother, Know the Lord; for they all shall know him, from the least of them even to the greatest. The idea of teaching religion as a human science, is founded in the midnight darkness of the wisdom of this world, which God has made foolish; and such as have never learned the impossibility of finding out God by searching, are also ignorant of the soul refreshing declaration of our Lord, that, This is life eternal: that they should know thee, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. Abolition, if applied in a scriptural sense, instead of sowing discord and - discontent into those relations which God in his holy providence has established among mankind, would treat on the blotting out of the handwriting of ordinances pertaining to the Old Testament, by him who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light. Against the present perverted use of the term, we have, we do, and we probably shall continue to lift up our voice. Temperance, too, is one of those christian virtues that should adorn the character of every disciple of the blessed Jesus. Every christian is required to add this jewel to that of knowledge. See 2 Peter i. 6. Intemperance is inadmissible in the christian’s deportment. Intemperance in eating, or drinking, in zeal, or in regard to any thing else, is a violation of the laws of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. The precepts of that code require the subjects of grace to be temperate in all things. Any exertion to snatch from the ruin of drunkenness, those poor creatures who have yielded to their depraved appetite their judgment, and are sinking down in wickedness, is charitable and praiseworthy, so far as it is made in a lawful manner; and we trust we shall ever be’ found very far from opposing such exertions; but when men set themselves up to be wise above what is written, and take upon themselves to call that a curse which God has called a blessing, and that a sin which the scriptures sanction, and to implicate the Lord Jesus Christ for non-conformity to their rules, we enter our unreserved protest. The Temperance Society, as it is now commonly called, has become so beastly drunk with the wine of the mother of abominations, as to attempt to effect a change in the most sacred ordinance of the church of God. We recently received a large quarto number of a periodical, published under the immediate patronage of the Temperance Society, the principal part of which was filled up with a course of letters, urging the christian church to discontinue the use of wine at the communion of the Lord’s supper, and to prepare a sort of drink to be used in its stead, to be prepared according to the recipe obtained from M. M. Noah, a Jew, an unbeliever in the divinity of Jesus Christ! On the subject or this periodical, we intend to call up the attention of our readers again, when Opportunity may serve. The church of God is emphatically a temperate society. Her allegiance to Jesus Christ is her pledge, the grace of God is her security, and the New Testament is her constitution and her rule. The list of names belonging to her organization are in the Lamb’s book of life; and such as require any farther Pledges, securities or provisions, to restrain them from intemperance,, are totally unfit for her society. Such, therefore, as cannot be restrained from intemperate habits by the wholesome laws of the kingdom of Christ, ought to be expelled from the fellowship of the church. It is a painful truth, that the church has, in every age of her existence on earth, been afflicted with some professors of her faith who have walked disorderly; and among them, some who have discovered a greater regard for their cups, than for a correct and circumspect walk; and if in the present period of her history such persons are found disgracing the christian profession, let them be put away as the gospel commands, and let us, as a city set upon a hill, that cannot be hid, show to a gainsaying world that the grace of God and the laws of our Lord Jesus Christ, are far more effectual barriers against intemperance, than any that have been, or may hereafter be devised by poor, frail, conceited man, whose breath is in his nostrils.
In the foregoing, we have given only some of our views on the subject of brother Kaufman’s inquiry; we should like very much to enlarge, to speak of the national character assumed by the combination of these modern institutions, as being indicative of the signs of the times; but we are admonished of the necessity of closing our remarks, at least for the present, by the already extended space which this article must occupy.
NEW VERNON, N. Y.,
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 746 – 752