IN a late number of what is called the Christian Index, (a significant name, inasmuch as that paper often points at christians, as Ishmael did at Isaac, although it never pursues ‘the christian course,) we find a kind of illegitimate article, having no one to father it; and being disowned by its progenitor, it is cast upon the hospitality of the editors of the pointer, with instructions for them to take in the little foundling, or let it die unnoticed and unmourned, as they may choose; but rather than expose the author, let it die. The humane editors have adopted the little nondescript, and being highly gratified, desire more of the same brood.
The article alluded to commences with high commendations of the Baptist church, and holds the following language, viz:
“It has been our peculiar glory to take the scriptures as our guide. We have built upon their broad basis, and in simplicity of soul have attempted conformity to the primitive church of Christ. In our denomination there are no splendid innovations; the constitutions of our churches, their ritual, discipline and creed, accord with the New Testament. Bible truth has been the object of our investigations, and finding it, we have attempted to yield obedience to its requisitions. This simple hearted faith and obedience constitute the beast of the Baptists. I have confidence, therefore, in their integrity to do what they see clearly to be their duty.”
To the above paragraph, abstractly considered, we Would not object, provided the declarations were all true, which unhappily is far from being the case. We most cheerfully admit “it has been the peculiar glory of our churches to take the scriptures for their guide;” and that there are still a remnant, according to the election of grace, who glory in a strict conformity to the law of Christ, as laid down in the New Testament, we fully believe; but to assert that there are no splendid innovations among the Baptist denomination is so palpably false as hardly to require a contradiction. The balance of the article will show its writer entering our denominational enclosures laden with the wedge, and the garments of the Babylonians, and giving a full contradiction to the assertions quoted above.
He stops his commendations, as he calls them, and anon he takes up a lamentation, and the first sob that breaks his heart is that the Baptists are in rear of many denominations in active and efficient effort, &c. ‘What harmony! first congratulate the Baptists for being perfectly scriptural, and free from splendid innovations, and then lament that the Canaanite, the Hitite, the Jebusite, the Hivite, &c., are in advance. How are we to understand these disciples of Gamaliel? Do they mean to say the Baptists are the most scriptural people on all the earth, and yet the other denominations are far more scriptural than they? Or, does this apparent discrepance arise from the fact that “the legs of the lame are not equal?” But, lest we subject ourselves to the charge of uncharitableness, we will conclude the writer does not mean to say the other denominations are more scriptural than the Baptists; for if they are, he may wipe his tears and go and join them. But we will suppose he means that the other denominations are in advance, in regard to the unscriptural enterprises of the present day; and that we now hit the right nail on its head will be clearly demonstrated by the specifications of his lamentation, viz:
“First. We are remiss in our attention to Sabbath Schools.
“Second. We are guilty in furnishing the world the ministry we have given it, &c.
“Third. We are remiss in the cause of education.”
At all, and each of these pours, the sorrows of his pious heart break forth. No grief on account of non-conformity to the divine rule; all his tears are absorbed in weeping over our non-conformity to the humanly devised corruptions of other denominations wherein they excel us in zeal.
But will it be thought sensorious, or unkind, if we examine these mellow spots on this adopted article? What denominations are those so far in advance of Baptists in regard to Sabbath Schools? Shall we say there were more Sabbath Schools in the primitive church in the apostolic age than there are with us at this time? No; for in that case we would be guilty of departure from scriptural rule; but from this charge the writer himself has absolved us, and the editors of the Pointer have endorsed the absolution. Are we in the rear of the Baptists of any former age in this particular? If so, at what time since the day of John the Baptist. has our churches been infested with a greater number of Sunday Schools than at the present? Their own reports from time to time assure us there never were so many Sabbath Schools among the Baptists as at the present.
But to the question: What denominations excel us in this particular? In searching the good book we learn that the old Pharisees used to keep a Sabbath School, and by time same authority we learn they were very tenacious in attending it on every Sabbath day. At these ancient schools they used to read Moses in their synagogues, and they were very much engaged in winning souls, making proselytes, &c. But the apostolic church being anti-Sabbatarian, (See Col. ii. 12-17.) chose to remain far behind those denominations, whose zeal ‘was not according to knowledge. For the comfort, however, of the nameless author of the article, we will assure him that the New School Baptists are not so far in the rear of their Pharisaic brethren of eighteen hundred years ago, as he seems to imagine.
The Roman Catholics are another denomination who seem to be very actively engaged in their Sabbath School services, and if their visits to their Cathedrals at an earlier hour on ‘what they denominate the Sabbath, or the zeal of’ their devotion, or the number of attendants, or their methods of impressing on the minds of their pupils their lessons, be any criterion, we judge the old lady may be somewhat in advance of all her daughters in her attention to Sabbath Schools. As far as our own observation extends, however, we cannot discover that any of the Protestant daughters of the Mother of Harlots are in advance of the New School Baptists in regard to Sabbath Schools; the former are no more expert in inventing new projects than the latter are in copying the in, and the copy is so complete a transcript of the original that, for our life, we can detect no essential difference.
The second defect complained of is not to be got over by the Baptists quite as easily as perhaps some may at first imagine; they are charged with being guilty in furnishing the world with the ministry which they have given it. We freely admit the righteousness of this charge, in all its severity, as far as it is applicable; but we beg leave to say that it does not touch the Old School Baptists. They have given no ministry to the world, nor have they ever been able to furnish themselves with ministers. They have no factories under their charge for making either ministers or converts, they have no oil to give, even to those whose lamps have gone out; but we tell such to go rather to those who sell or traffic in that article, and buy for themselves.
When the great Head and Leader of the Old School Baptist church ascended on high, when he led captivity captive, he gave gifts to men, yea, he gave some apostles and teachers, &c., and these he crave not to the world, but to his church; for they preached themselves the servants of the church, for Christ’s sake; and he gave a charge to his church, if she should discover a want of laborers at any subsequent period of her existence, to pray the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers into his harvest, and his disciples have always obeyed him; for except ye deny yourselves, and take up your cross and follow him, ye cannot be his disciples; but then are ye his disciples indeed if ye do whatsoever he commands you. Such are the characteristics, and such the course of conduct by which the church shall be known on earth, while all anti-christian harlots shall be equally well known by their propensity to make void his laws, prerogatives and institutions, by their own traditions, while they shall as they at present do, teach for doctrines the commandments of men. That portion of the Baptist denomination involved in the charge of guilt for usurping the prerogative of giving to the world a ministry, are not the Old Regular Baptists, but they are the strange illegitimate creatures of means, which have come in by climbing up some other way, not by the door into the sheep fold; and our Master says they are thieves and robbers; and this being their character, it is not after all so very strange that they should attempt to steal away from us our name, and call themselves the Baptist denomination, while they manifest a disposition to rob Christ of his sceptre and his crown, and assume the work which he has reserved to himself to do. They alone can be guilty of giving a ministry to the world who have committed the outrage against the Divine Majesty. The writer seems however to attach the principle blame upon his brethren, for the quality of the ministers they have given, and seems to overlook the heaven-daring sin of their assuming the right to take this work out of Messiah’s hands. “Look at them!” he says, “they are pious, laborious men.” But piety is not holiness, all the old Scribes and Pharisees were pious; industry is not grace, the former were as laborious as the latter. But he further testifies, “As teachers, the majority are not well qualified.” Ah true, neither are the minority; for how can well qualified ministers of the gospel come to us from any source short of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Few understand thoroughly their own language,” he says; this we do not doubt, for God confused their own language as long ago as when their fathers were engaged in the mighty enterprise of constructing a new way to heaven, and they have never recovered from the shock “A smaller number still (he says) know the original languages in which the bible is written, and consequently are unable to make critical comments on the word.” Really, so much truth from such a source, almost leads us to exclaim, “The dumb ass has spoken in a man’s voice!” to rebuke the false, hireling prophets, which the new school have given to the world. But we are happy to testify that the Old School Baptists have no such complaint to make of those whom our blessed Master has given his church. Look at them! They are men of experience, men of grace, all of them well quail fled; we do not mean to teach in the wisdom which the world teaches; but by demonstration of the spirit, to commend them. selves to every man’s conscience, in the sight of God. Yes, well qualified, precisely as the Lord would have them. Their feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel, they are not therefore afraid to tread on serpents and scorpions; their loins are girt about with truth: what better girdle could they have? The breast plate of righteousness; for a helmet, the hope of salvation, and above all, the sword of the Spirit; for their is some fighting to be done; and they are so well qualified, that, although they are of themselves very weakness itself, one of them shall chase a thousand, and two shall put ten thousand to flight. These all understand thoroughly their own language, for the Lord has turned to them a pure language; it is the language of Canaan, no Jew and Ashdod sound, but the real gospel’s joyful sound. Their enemies can neither understand nor learn it; for they sing a song, and dwell upon a theme, which none but the hundred and forty and four thousand, and the innumerable company redeemed from the earth, who have the seal of God, can learn. They are taught by that Spirit which searcheth the deep things of God, even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him. They are in the Old School of Christ made quite familiar with the original language in which the word was communicated to “holy men of old who spake.”
They know little, and care less, about the dead languages; for God the Spirit has quickened them, and they are made alive, and a living language becomes them best; they are not given to the world, like those said to be given by the guilty church, spoken of in the article in the Index; but God’s ministers are all given to the church, a living people of lively stones, a spiritual house, hence living preachers; and that word of the Lord, which liveth and abideth forever, is just what they want. These servants of God, and by his will servants of his church, are enabled to make critical comments on the word, and too critical, by far, to suit the notions of those learned novices which are pouring forth continually from colleges and theological schools; for their teacher has made them as wise serpents and harmless as doves, and should any emergency ever require of them any greater amount of wisdom, their teacher has pledged himself to be with them to the end, and they have only to ask it of him who giveth liberally and upbraideth not. These are classical scholars all of them, all liberally educated; classical, for God has given them the tongue of the learned; liberally educated, being all taught of God, from the least to the greatest, and for their instruction they have never had to pay one cent. Thus we see, their rock is not our rock, our enemies themselves being judges.
There are many things in the article under consideration, on which we would remark if time and circumstances would admit. “Few” of those ministers which the writer says the church have been guilty of giving to the world, “understand the principles of spiritual interpretation, and not many are qualified to build men up in the faith of the gospel after they are converted.” However mortifying this confession may seem to the wire workers of the missionary machine, the concealed author has confessed more truth perhaps than he intended. We can subscribe to the truth of the above extract, when we have struck out, expunged, and drawn a black line around the word “few,” and in the place thereof inserted the word none; for if the church or any other society on earth have ever given a solitary minister to the world, who possessed the above qualifications, we have not been aware of it. But we know that all the ministers God has given his church possess all necessary qualifications to shew themselves workmen approved of God, rightly dividing the word, &c.
But the writer of the article says of these deficient ministers, given to the world, “God called them.” If he means the God of Israel, the assertion is false. They are called only by their god, and their god is their belly, and they invariably think that gain is godliness. We consider it a gross insult on heaven, to charge the Lord with calling an inefficient, unqualified and useless set of ministers to the work. “I have not sent them, yet they run,” saith the Lord. Hence as the writer has shown, instead of these men looking to the Lord for support, and all needed grace and wisdom, they look to money, colleges, and theological institutions, to learn scientifically and mechanically, those lessons of preparation for the work of the gospel ministry, which can only be received, experimentally and efficiently from God, through the teaching of his Holy Spirit.
The third source of the writer’s grief and that which wounds him deeper than all, is that the Baptists are remiss in the cause of education, and in this part of his lamentation, he joins the general “howling of the shepherds,” for he betrays his ignorance of the manner of learning, requisite to a knowledge of the true God, and of spiritual things, and contends that the same instruction which makes the good statesman, makes the good minister. And concluding, with his brother Simon, that the gifts may be obtained for cash, calls loudly on Mammon to aid the new school in renovating the world, in politics and religion; and concludes his bitter wailing and gnashing in the following expressive words, viz:
“Are these things true? Then men and brethren, help! Help, I beseech you, help!”
ALEXANDRIA, D. C.,
February 9, 1838.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 412 – 420