ASSOCIATIONS.

REMARKS ON AN ARTICLE IN THE “CROSS AND BAPTIST JOURNAL.

WE freely admit that the argument of our correspondent alluded to, in favor of continuing associational meetings, would come very far short of demonstrating that they were of God. This we were aware of when we inserted the letter; but our brother barely expressed his thoughts on the subject - he did not attempt to enter into the full merits of the subject argumentively. Mr. Cole, editor of the Cross and Journal, however, for want of something better, has availed himself of the abstract expression, and hitched it on to his New School machinery, and is endeavoring to make it step off to the tune of “The house that Jack built.” Baptist Associations, according to their original design, are very different things from those mentioned by Mr. Cole as occupying equally elevated ground. All meetings for social worship are, strictly speaking, associations. The correspondence also of churches one with another is fully sanctioned in the practice of the primitive church. Nor do the Old School Baptists object to the length of such meetings as are lawful to be held. It is not the protracting of a religious meeting that we consider objectionable; but the appointment of those excitement meetings, whether protracted or otherwise, for the express purpose of getting up revivals, and making converts, and where anything but the social warship of God, and the edification of his people, is carried on.

We believe there is abundant scriptural authority for protracting a meeting as long as the Spirit of the Lord may direct and circumstances require, providing, however, that such meetings be conducted in the order of the gospel - in preaching the gospel, in singing praise to God, and in exhortation - but when instead of this, Arminian doctrines are substituted for the gospel, man’s ability and creature performances are puffed up, anxious benches, submission chairs, together with all manner of Methodist camp-meeting machinery, are introduced, as being calculated to promote the salvation of sinners, and the upbuilding of the church of God, we say of them, “My son, come thou not into their secret, unto their assemblies, mine honor, be thou not united.”

We have no doubt, as Mr. Cole says, some have thought at Sabbath School, and among excited children, is the place to teach the gospel; and we further believe that many have thought that the gospel of Christ could be as easily taught to such unregenerate children as the art of reading; but in this we are of quite a different opinion. We believe, as the scriptures teach, that except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God; and that none but such as have heard and learned of the Father will or can come to Christ; that to the natural man or mind the things of the Spirit are foolishness, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Again, in applying our correspondent’s remarks to the missionary operations of the day, Mr. Cole is again unfortunate; for the Old School Baptists have no objections to ministers of the gospel going everywhere and preaching the gospel of Christ; so far are we from opposing, we are more forward in this work than any New School preacher we have ever been acquainted with. Witness the thousands and thousands of miles traversed by our Old School preachers, amidst the taunts and jeers of the new order, expressly to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. It is true we do not carry our life in our hands when we go; our life is with Christ in God, and from his fullness we receive grace for grace.

Again, we differ from the new order in regard to the formation of Missionary Societies, not only because they are unauthorized in the scriptures, but because they are in direct hostility to the laws of the kingdom of Christ, and especially in the following particulars, viz:

1st. In amalgamating the church and world in a religious society, contrary to the word which commands the disciples of Christ to come out and be separate; and the prophet says, “Wo unto them that go down into Egypt for help,” &c.

2nd. They violate that order which forbids that they should preach for filthy lucre’s sake.

3rd. Because by the missionary operations and arrangement, the missionary is to look for his direction and his reward from his society, each one for his gain from his quarter; and thus they pervert that order which requires the ministers of Christ to trust exclusively in God.

And last, but not least, because they do not preach the gospel of Christ, but another, which is not another gospel, but a perversion of the gospel.

We may subject ourselves to the charge of a want of charity by the expression of our candid opinion; but we have never heard a gospel sermon from any one connected with the popular institutions of the day, nor do we ever expect to; for we might as well look for grapes from thistles, and figs from thorns, as for the gospel of Christ from men-made, men-directed and money-bribed preachers.

We are free to admit there are many things connected with modern associations, and in some instances among Old School Baptists, for which there is no more bible authority, or in support of which no better reasons can be urged, than can be made to bear in favor of Sabbath Schools, Missionary Societies, &c. For such unscriptural things we do not contend.

ALEXANDRIA, D. C.,
November 15, 1839.

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 545 – 547