A. D. Gillett, pastor of what bears the name of the Fifth Baptist church of Philadelphia, at the anniversary meeting of the Sunday School connected with his church, asserts for the encouragement of his craft that about one-half of the happy converts which he has baptized into the fellowship of that church during his labors among them, have been fruits of Sabbath Schools! and after some phrenzied displays of his ignorance of God’s method of salvation, concludes in the following manner, viz:
“Parents, guardians, christians, philanthropists, all who wear the shape, and feel the spirit of humanity, I call on you, as one with you, responsible for their present ruinous condition, and ask in the name of my Redeemer, who died for these children? and for the sake of their sin-doomed but immortal souls, can you not help them from the perils that surround them, into the Sabbath School? This is the Life Boat of the ship Zion. Every man to his post and the work is done, and to the Lord Jehovah give all the praise.”
We feel by no means disposed to dispute the matter with pastor Gillett, that one half of the increase of his church may have been the fruits of Sunday Schools, and the other half the fruits of anything but the fruits of grace, or the work of the Holy Ghost, as we cannot be so skeptical as to doubt that Sunday Schools and other human inventions are calculated to yield the kind of fruits which can be satisfied with his pastoral labors. But when he calls on all who wear the shape of humanity, &c., with him to assume the responsibility of the present ruinous condition of those children who have never felt the redeeming and regenerating influence of Sabbath Schools, and to make an effort to help them out of their sin-doomed and perilous condition, into the Life Boat of the ship Zion, we being of the number and shape called on, beg leave to decline, in the words of good old Jacob, “O my soul, come not thou into their secret, unto their assemblies; mine honor be not thou united.” We would not dare assume the responsibility of any of the lost sons of Adam; but as in the case before us, we are informed that Christ has died for these children, and if so it would be insulting to his divine majesty for those of us who were unable to account to divine justice for our own guilt, and who rely alone upon the finished redemption of our Lord, to assume the responsibility of others, and in our view of the subject, it would display an awful want of confidence in the redemption of Christ for us to attempt to ferry those for whom he died to the ship Zion, inasmuch as God has taken on himself this responsibility, and has promised that the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing to Zion, (independently of Mr. Gillett’s life-boat.)
But another reason why we decline having any hand in this business is, that we are very suspicious that pastor Gillett has entirely mistaken the ship! We would suggest to him that there are many privateers, and even pirates On the water, and these sometimes sail under false colors, and are often mistaken for His Majesty’s ship; and what still increases our suspicion is, we know that the Zion of God has no craft bearing the name of life Boat, or the appearance of a Sabbath School union connected with her.
Various descriptions of boats are sometimes called life-boats; some are kept by the government on dangerous coasts to go to the relief of vessels in distress, and to preserve the livea of passengers and seaman by taking them off from the wreck of their sinking vessels. But as the Zion of God has never been in need of any such assistance, the Lord has made no such provisions, nor can we willingly engage with Mr. G. in attempting to seduce from the ship Zion (and into such lifeboats) those who are on board.
Sometimes the fishermen’s smacks are called life-boats; these have their bottoms purforated with holes to let the water into an apartment called the well, where the fish are put to keep them alive until they can be taken to a good market. Perhaps this is the sense in which Mr. G. uses the figure, and would provide a Sunday School for such as cannot live out their native element, (sin) and he would provide a craft which will admit of what is prohibited in Zion, that those who do not love the truth, and such as cannot endure an clement of holiness, may be preserved in their native opposition to God, until Mr. G. can get them to market, or in a situation to make some money out of them.
It is enough to shock the feelings of any but the New School, to witness with what impiety and presumption they will make use of the sacred name of Jehovah. The work must be accomplished by men. Every man to his post and the work is done, and then say the Lord has done it, or ascribe to the Lord the praise of what men have, will, or may do by standing at their respective posts, not as the Lord has marshalled them, but to the posts assigned them by Mr. G. and his coadjutors.
ALEXANDRIA, D. C.,
March 10, 1837.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
pages 362 – 364