“He that is first in his own cause seemeth just but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him.” - Solomon.
WE have, in a former number, noticed our intention of briefly reviewing some numbers which have recently appeared under the editorial head. of the Cross and Journal. In entering the lists with the writer of the numbers alluded to, we have neither time, room, nor inclination, to follow him through his labyrinth of New School logic, but simply to notice, and attempt to refute what may have been intended by the author as the bulwark of his defence.
However worthy the Bible, Tract, and Missionary Societies, and Sunday School Union, are of the character which they assume, benevolent efforts, the writer admits, must “depend upon their influence; their own works must praise them.” Be it so; yet, should it appear that the influence exerted by these institutions were, to human view, productive of results in their nature beneficial to mankind, this would fall infinitely short of proving them scriptural, or acceptable to God as religious institutions. There was certainly a great show of benevolence on the part of Saul, when he spared Agag, king of the Amalekites, alive, and when he reserved the best of the sheep and oxen to sacrifice unto the Lord, who had made him victorious; yet for this very benevolent effort, Saul was rejected from being king over Israel. But that the institutions in question exert a benevolent influence, remains a matter of dispute, and which nothing short of divine revelation can satisfactorily and infallibly settle. On the the one hand it is urged, that, by these popular efforts, the bible is circulated, the gospel is preached, sinners are converted, churches are raised up, ministers are multiplied and rendered efficient, saints are comforted, the heathen are christianized, the latter day glory of Zion hastened on, and, in short, some, yea many precious souls, saved from the quenchless fires of hell, where without such effort, they must suffer to all eternity. While facts on the other hand testify in a voice of thunder, that, although the copies of the scriptures are multiplied, the knowledge of bible truth is not increased; and notwithstanding the efforts of Mission Societies and their hirelings, the spread of the gospel is not facilitated,. nor the number of ministers approved of God, increased. Churches, not a few, are raised up by this sort of effort; but they are invariably composed of the children of the bond woman; for none but those whom the Son makes free, can be free indeed. We are well aware that mission effort-tract and Sunday School effort, as well as the more ancient horn of the same beast, infant sprinkling effort, will produce multitudes of mocking Ishmaels; but it must and will remain forever true, that “Grace and truth are,” and must be brought alone “by Jesus Christ;” and “every plant that the heavenly Father bath not planted, shall be rooted up;” and all who get in the church without God’s grace, shall be thrust out without his favor.
The influence of the popular institutions may be further traced by the havoc they have produced among the churches of the saints. As by taking the back track of a wolf we shall soon find the blood-marked spot where the brute has been killing sheep, so by a retrospect of the benevolent effort system, we find churches which once stood as the perfection of beauty, rent asunder; brethren who once took sweet counsel together, now alienated in their affections, and divided in fellowship; ministers whose voices once echoed the high praises of God, and with thrilling eloquence to the ear of every child of God, pouring forth the doctrine of sovereign, eternal, immutable, and almighty love, personal and unconditional election, invincible and discriminating grace, in the salvation of sinners, the sovereign and infallible efficacy of the atonement of our Lord Jesus in removing all guilt from every soul for whom it was made, the effectual calling of all the election of grace by the Holy Ghost, by whom also they are quickened from the dead, washed with the washing of regeneration, and made savingly acquainted with their Lord Jesus Christ, who of God is made unto them wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption; ministers whose theme was once to dwell upon the doctrine, by the influence of these institutions have departed from the faith, and are turned unto fables, (tracts) while the few yet remaining in Sardis, or on the old apostolic platform, are ridiculed, despised, persecuted, and compelled to prophesy in sacksloth. The numerous churches scattered throughout the great valley of the Mississippi, united, thriving and happy, until the rage of missionary efforts broke in upon them, now groaning under the oppressive burden of hordes of greedy wolves, let loose upon them from the Eastern priest-mills; and all this is the legitimate consequence of that influence called up by the editor of the Cross and Journal, as a test by which to determine the character of the popular institutions, for which he pleads with a zeal worthy of a better cause. Does any one inquire by what influence general atonement, offered salvation, or salvation by works, efforts, front-bench conversions, protracted, distracted and camp-meetings, with all their arminian machinery, have gained among the Baptists? The answer is at hand: all these owe their existence to the influence, called in the Ashdod tongue, Benevolent Efforts; and this sickly assemblage, this sable catalogue of the direct results of effort influence, is now called up by the editor of the Cross and Journal, to speak in praise of those efforts which gave them being. But alas! how vain the editor’s challenge! He had forgotten, or did he never know, that “There is a generation that curseth their father, and blesseth not their mother?” In vain he asks for praise. Instead of praise, they tell of the widow and fatherless who have been visited by their horse-leach agents, and robbed of their earthly substance, under the pretense of replenishing the exausted treasury of the Lord; and in the hollow tone of one of their commissioned gentlemen beggars, who took from a wretched and starving family in a new settlement in the interior of Pennsylvania, their last cow, and boasted on the floor of the Philadelphia Association, after committing the horrid deed, that it was the main dependence of a large and helpless family. This is no fiction. This is the result of benevolent efforts, (awful perversion of language) and for which the writer calls for praise! Does he not glory in his shame?
For want of room, we close for the present; but shall hereafter attempt a review of Mr. Stevens’ decision upon the following questions, which we copy from his remarks, viz: “Have we any authority from the scriptures to do, as individual christians, or as churches, the things which are contemplated in the operations of the benevolent societies, so? In answering this inquiry, we shall draw freely upon the document contained in the “Proceedings of the General Meeting of the Western Baptists,” held in Cincinnati, in the year 1833. “Is it right to circulate the bilge in the world?”
NEW VERNON, N. Y.,
January 29, 1836.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 275 – 279