IN offering few remarks on this subject, we will confine ourself to the idea of building what are denominated christian churches. Although the Dove, the undefiled of our Lord is but one, and is identified with Christ her head, yet the queens and concubines being many, and all passing among men for christian churches, the plural number must be employed in order to include the variety.
By reference to the scriptures of divine truth, we learn that the church of God, which he purchased with his own blood, and which is the ground and pillar of the truth, was primitively built up of lively stones. The stones had been hidden for a long time in their native quarry, where they must have remained, had it not been for the design and effectual working of the builder. Now “He that built all things is God.” - Heb. iii. 4. Our Lord Jesus Christ is brought to view as the builder of his church, and being the builder hath more honor than the house, (or church.) That Christ is the builder of his church we have the clearest testimony both in the Old and New Testaments. The Psalmist says, “Except the Lord build (not help us build) the house, they labor in vain that build it.” - Psa. cxxvii. 1. And again, “Titus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, “Behold the man whose name is the BRANCH, and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord; even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” - Zech. vi. 12, 13. “His foundation is in the holy mountains’ - Psa. lxxxvii. 1. “And upon this rock will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” - Matt. xvi. 18. “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, his hands shall also finish it.” - Zech. iv. 9. “And he shall bring forth the head-stone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.” And to exclude forever the idea of human power or effort in rearing up this magnificent monument of God’s sovereign love and distinguishing grace, he says in verse 7, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.” From the above we learn that in the scriptures Christ is viewed,
First. As the foundation of his church. Hence David said, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?’ - Psa. xi. 3. “For other foundation can no man lay than that that is laid, which is in Jesus Christ.” - 1 Cor. iii. 11.
Second. As the sole controller or performer of the work. “The counsel of peace shall be between them both.” - Zech. vi. 13.
Third. As the only efficient builder. “Even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and except he build, they labor in vain that build it. I will build my church. His hands have laid the foundation; his hands shall also finish it, and bring forth the head-stone,” &c. No might nor power can be contributed by angels or men to aid in this work. It is begun and carried on alone by him, and by him it shall be consummated, amidst the shouts of all the redeemed, crying, Grace, grace unto it; and
Fourth. As entitled to the exclusive glory of the whole. “Even he shall bear the glory.”
The manner in which he builds is also taught in the scripture, viz: he takes the stones from the rude quarry; hence we hear the inspired prophet admonishing the election of grace to look to the Rock whence they were hewn, and to the hole of the pit, whence they were digged. Isa. li. 1 “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock.” - Psa. xl. 2. Or if the figure be varied, and instead of stone we contemplate the materials of timber. “The axe is laid at the root of the tree.” - Matt. iii. 10. “He prepareth his work without, and makes it fit for himself in the field; and afterwards builds his house.” - Prov., xxvi. 27. The subjects of his grace designed for the building are not brought into the church in their natural state. John the Baptist rejected them who brought not fruits meet for repentance, saying, “O generation of vipers,” &c. - Matt. iii. And Christ says, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” - John iii. 3. The sinner is arrested by the power of God, while he is without, while an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, and a stranger to the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world; and such are made nigh by the blood of Christ, and are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the foundation and chief corner stone; in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.” - Eph. ii. Thus in the building up of the spiritual Jerusalem, Christ causes his glorious voice to be heard. Isa. xxx. 30. “Yea, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live.” - John v. 25. “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” - John x. 27, 28. “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him for they know his voice.” - Verse 4.
In short, All that the Father giveth to Christ shall come unto him, and shall in no wise be cast out. John vi. 37.. “And all who hear and learn of the Father do come unto Christ. While Christ is the way, no man cometh unto the Father but by him; and no man can come unto him except the Father draw him. But his people shall all be taught of the Lord, and they shall all know the Lord, from the least of them unto the greatest; and to know him is eternal life.
Thus in the building up of the primitive church, “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed, and they that gladly received his word were baptized, and added to the church, and continued steadfast in the apostles’ doctrine. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” For the building up of the saints in their most holy faith, the Lord gave them all the variety of gifts which he saw would be useful or in any way necessary, some pastors, some apostles and teachers; and it was his prerogative alone to set the members in the body (the church) as it pleased him. Thus in the primitive age, Jesus, our Lord, did build, and he alone bare the glory. His people considered that every good and perfect gift came down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. None in those days but Simon, the Sorcerer, thought of buying the gifts of the Holy Ghost for money, and he received the rebuke of an apostle for his presumption.
Such, reader, was the ancient manner of building the church of God; and we are confident that the church of God continues to grow up in the same way now. Of this building, which is not made with hands, glorious things are spoken. She is called the perfection of beauty. She is beautiful for situation. She is and shall be established in the top of the mountains, and exalted above the hills. Yea, and this is the place where the Lord will dwell forever, for he has desired it for an habitation.
But alas! How different the manner of building where this Stone is disallowed which God has made the, head of the corner. Rejecting him, they build without foundation upon the sand, and when the winds shall come, and the storm of Jehovah’s wrath shall beat upon this newly invented Babel,it shall fall, and with it the expectations of all who love and make a lie. For it is written, “they shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them the border of wickedness, and the people against whom the Lord bath indignation forever.” - Mal. i. 4.
Very differently from the plan of the building of grace do men in the present age set themselves about building churches for the Lord. With this class of builders, the first indispensible requisite is money. This they abundantly demonstrate in almost every sermon they preach, or paper they publish, and it is an indisputable fact, that, just in proportion to their amount of funds their churches arise. “Many precious souls might have been saved from the quenchless fires of bell,” &c., says Mr. Judson. “And is it too much to expect that some ransomed heathen will be raised to heaven, who, but for this self-denial, (wearing plain coats,) would have sunk to hell,” says “Alpha.” Yea, this is the main-spring of the whole work. Money answers all things. With virgin gold what wonders may be wrought! Sinners converted, theological seminaries and colleges erected; the gifts of the Holy Ghost purchased, ministers to any amount manufactured; meeting-houses built, learned Doctors and A. M.’s hired; the great valley of the Mississippi renovated and guarded from the baneful influence of Roman Catholicism, the heathen evangelized, the world converted, the Millenium ushered in, and Satan’s throne demolished. Thus we see that money is the principal thing in building these worldly sanctuaries. Let this then be secured, and the builders proceed,
First, to prepare pious young men for the ministry by putting them through a course of six or seven years’ study, in order that man by wisdom may find out God. When a batch of these man-made and men-serving ministers have completed their apprenticeship, as they have no right to look to God for any support, the next thing in course is to make provision for their immediate necessities. To afford them a genteel employment, the Foreign and Domestic Missionary Societies have been brought into requisition.
Having been called and qualified by man, they commence their work, and they are now to be distributed according to their talents. The most active of all are generally set apart to the work of scouring our country in the character of agents, and their business is to extol the institutions of the day, and to beg all the money they can, by fair means or foul, for the support of that system of benevolence which has given them their ministerial existence. Of the residue, some are sent out as foreign and some as domestic missionaries, under the dictation and pay of the Board, while others, unfit with all they have attained in the school, either for want of brains, or from some other deficiency, must seek their living in a more humble sphere; as for instance, peddling tracts, teaching Sabbath or common schools, or some thing of this kind, until they can be promoted to some higher vocation.
Having made the necessary provision for the present support of these disciples of Gamaliel, the next thing is to settle them in some lucrative stations, to have them all disposed of to advantage by the time the next batch are ready to leap forth; and for this purpose the society is in the habit of sending their engineers, at a vast expense, to explore the country, and to look out suitable locations for these young divines, having a special eye to the quality of the soil, the wealth and liberality of the inhabitants, &c. The place being selected, and the hireling furnished with his outfit, he at length arrives on the spot with all the pomp and show that is requisite to maintain his dignity, as his fingers have been too long bleached in the seminary to be fit for handling the axe or hammer. “To dig he cannot, but to beg he is not ashamed.” Therefore for the first year or two he must draw upon the Lord’s treasury, (for by that name they call the mission fund,) for support, engaging in due time to do their utmost to refund the money by the subscriptions of the church which they are about to get up.
All the necessary arrangements being now made, the next thing is to raise up a church. He has learned at school how this is to be done; the process is simple. He must appoint a day of Pentecost, that is, publish a protracted or camp-meeting, raise an excitement among the people, preach to them the doctrine which they always have loved, viz: It is of him that willeth, and of him that runneth, &c., and tell them that, By works they shall be saved, through the use of humanly contrived means, and that of themselves; it is the gift of the benevolent societies, &c. By all means work upon the natural passions of the people, exclude all doctrinal preaching from the place, prepare anxious seats and submission chairs for the stupid throng, call on all such as would prefer going to heaven rather than being thrust down to hell, to come up to the altar. Let the managers of this machinery go around among the congregation, whisper a little to all who hold down their heads, and if necessary, pat them on the shoulder, and insist on their coming immediately to the front seats to be prayed for; offer to exchange souls with them, if they fail to get religion, if they will comply; tell them that this is their last opportunity, and if they do not give up their hearts to-day it will be eternally too late; and if this should fail to-day, tell them the same story to-morrow. Work the machine this way, day and night, for two or three weeks, and let the ministers officiate as mediators for all who are satisfied to trust their salvation to their intercession, and as sure as natural causes produce natural effects, so sure this process will produce a revival, (of old principles.) One or two meetings of this sort will in all probability furnish sufficient materials for the constitution of a New School church, without one spark of grace or particle of gospel.
Let such converts be constituted into a church, then run them in debt to build a fine meeting-house, spread a fine carpet on the floor, hang a bell under the steeple, place an organ in the gallery, if possible, and if not, a fiddle, let a tub or cistern be placed in the centre of the house, under the floor, with pipes to warm the water, and so remove the offence of the cross from the ordinance of baptism. This arrangement will secure a popular congregation; but as the church is made up of nominal professors of religion, it will be very necessary to provide, for the security of the church, a sort of bulwarks, to prevent these superficial converts going back to their former amusements. As they are destitute of the love and of the fear of the Lord, it will devolve on. the builders to secure their standing; and to this end a Temperance Society will in some cases prevent these disciples from being excluded for drunkenness; a Magdalene Society will serve to make and preserve them chaste; Sunday Schools, bible-classes, &c., will make them sufficiently acquainted with the scriptures, and at the same time will furnish abundance of materials for supplying the church with new members, from time to time, as they shall need.
Churches which are thus built, and thus daubed, are early taught the necessity of giving liberally of their worldly substance to carry on the work, and they are made to believe, what is in reality true, that as soon as they stop giving, their ministers will stop preaching, and the building will come down, and it will then be said, “Where is now the daubing wherewith ye have daubed it?”
Being interrupted by the arrival of the mail, we laid aside our pen for the purpose of taking a peep into the papers, with a view to make ourselves acquainted with the current news. Passing many things on which we might remark, we have just cast our eye on the address of the Ministerial Conference of this State, and we have concluded to let these Babel builders tell their own story. Here you have it:
(From the Baptist Repository.)
ADDRESS Of the Committee of the Baptist Ministerial Conference of the State of New York:
“BELOVED FATHERS AND BRETHREN: - Permit us again to call your attention to the plan of benevolent operations which has been repeatedly commended to your consideration by the conference in whose behalf we now address you. Its object is so to develop and combine the resources of the churches as shall best conduce to the advancement of the kingdom of Christ, and the conversion of the world. The commission of the Savior, issued more than eighteen centuries ago, imposed this great and glorious work upon his disciples. But alas! how far it is from being accomplished at this remote period, and how slow its progress even in this favored age. The reason it advances with no greater rapidity is that the great body of professing christians neither feel their obligations nor perform. their duty. They are “the light of the world,” but how little do they shine. Many, like opaque bodies, rather obscure than make manifest the way of life. There is a degree of ignorance, and a spirit of lethargy pervading a large portion of the christian community, utterly inconsistent with their high responsibility. The man of sin is alert, infidelity active, and the sorrows of myriads who hasten after another god are multiplied, while a strange indifference, or a wicked opposition, characterizes many of the visible children of the kingdom. Nor are the watchmen in Zion innocent in this matter. They should not “sleep as do others,” but “watch in the watch-tower,” mark the signs of the times, “cry aloud and spare not.”
“If the trumpet shall give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle I God has appointed a living ministry to enlighten the minds, arouse the energies, and guide the efforts of his people. Ye ambassadors of Christ, do ye sufficiently direct your studies and preaching to these important ends? Or do ye seek rather to please the fancy gratify the humor, or accommodate the prejudices of your brethren? Do ye suitably explain and enforce their obligations? Do ye labor to make them feel that they “are not their own;“ that they “should not live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them and rose again”? Do ye remind them of the Master’s orders, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures on the earth”? Do ye solemnly charge the rich in this world that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, or do ye spare them, lest you should give offence, and lose a part of the scanty support now afforded you? Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it.” While many of the dear ministers of Christ begin to lay this subject to heart, others, like Gallio, seem to care for none of these things, and some are still under a cloud of ignorance and prejudice in regard to the duties of benevolence which belongs to a darker age: and a few indulge a spirit of jealousy, detraction and malevolence which savors of a lower world and a baser cause. “It is high time to awake out of sleep.” God will soon distinguish those that serve him from those that serve him not. A tremendous conflict is at hand; the sound of battle is already heard; the powers of darkness and those of light are coming in close contact, the earth is to be shaken yet once more; the Captain of the Lord’s host is girding on his armor, and summoning his troops to the field; the curse of Meroz will soon light upon those who “come not up to the help of the Lord against the mighty.” Indifference in this cause is high treason against the King of Zion, who says, “He that is not for me is against me.”
The crisis demands the united energies of all the friends of truth. The avowed and secret enemies of the gospel are numerous and formidable, comprising seven-eights of the population of the globe, and spreading over the whole length and breadth of the earth. The battle field is wide, and there is a movement in every part. While a few christian heroes are boldly entering the camp of the alien, and rearing the standard of the cross on the distant pagan walls, the champions of infidelity and Popery are invading the territories of Immanuel, and planting their batteries on the heights of American Judea. The onset is fearful. Who that bears the christian name will dare to take a neutral stand? Let such hear the loud interrogatory note, “Who is on the Lord’s side, who?“ Brethren, who among you is willing, by cold delay, or base cowardice, to provoke the displeasure of the God of Sabaoth? Which of you would forego his palm of victory in the hour of triumph, his “deathless laurel” in the day of conquest? Who of you will live a useless life, and die a cheerless death? For what are the redeemed of the Lord detained on the earth but to speed the chariot of salvation over the world? For what are churches formed but to increase the effect of christian effort, by combination! United strength and systematic action are essential in all great enterprises. The divine plan is a plan of concert. The co-operation of the Father, Son and Spirit is involved in the works of creation, providence and grace. The church of Christ is compared to the natural body to show the necessity of the co-operation of all its members in promoting the general good. “We being many,” says the apostle, “are one bread and one body,” led by one Spirit, governed by one principle, and aiming at one object. Of that body, the Baptist denomination of this country embraces more than four hundred thousand - nearly half a million of members. What a weight of responsibility rests on us! What an amount of moral power is committed to our trust! Oh, let us wield it in his cause and in his name. Then shall the wilderness and the solitary place be glad for us; the habitations of the poor will resound with the voice of thanksgiving, the great western valley will ring with the song of salvation, and millions of heathen will laud the Redeemer; the bible will speed its way to the ends of the earth; tracts will fly as upon the wings of the wind; the “schools of the prophets” will become healthful fountains of knowledge, the missionary will publish the gospel in every land, and Sabbath schools will fill the world with the melody of infant voices. To aid on this blessed work. is a superlative privilege and a paramount duty which belongs to every disciple of our Lord. And neither time, nor talents, nor money is too sacred or too valuable to devote to this cause. We hesitate not to say our money is indispensibly requisite to the success of each of these benevolent objects. Your prayers and sympathies might be accepted, and your obligation discharged, if these alone would accomplish the work; but ten thousand prayers and tears, accompanied by sacrifices, would not demand, either on earth or in heaven, the price of one bible, or save one penniless missionary in a foreign land from actual starvation. “Money answereth all things,” and we boldly plead for it in the Master’s cause, unwilling that it should be swallowed up by the vortex of covetousness, or absorbed in the whirlpool of fashionable dissipation. It of right belongs to Christ. The silver and the gold, as well as the cattle upon a thousand hills, are his. He is now calling on you to stir-render them to him, that he may expend them as he did his heart’s blood, for the salvation of a perishing world. And what better method can be adopted to replenish his treasury than that recommended by the conference above named? Open the book in each church, we beseech you, and put to the conscience of every member, young and old, male and female, the question, “How much owest thou my Lord?” and let the whole sum be written down. Dear fellow pastors, be mindful of your accountability to God in regard to this subject. “If ye put the brethren in mind of these things, ye shall be good ministers of Jesus Christ, nourished up in faith and sound doctrine.” Exhibit clearly and forcibly the claims of every benevolent institution, especially those already specified, and “stir up the pure minds” of the brethren “by way of remembrance.” Let the influence of the example, the command and the promise of the Savior abide in your hearts. Pray not that the millenium may roll on without putting “your shoulder to the wheel.” How grateful should we be that God has bestowed the honor, the pleasure, and the reward of this glorious work on us, poor sinful worms of the dust, instead of conferring it on the heaven-born host. Let this consideration prompt us to be faithful in our high trust. Which act of benevolence done on earth shall we regret in heaven? Which star in our diadem of glory shall we wish plucked out? Of what poor souls, whether from this country or Burmah, or elsewhere, shall we wish the Judge to say to us, “Inasmuch as ye did it not to these, ye did it not to me”? Let us rather aspire to the exalted privilege of hearing him say to each of us, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
By order of the Conference.
E. G., one of the committee.
N. B. - It is earnestly requested by the Conference that this and the addresses of the other members of the committee, which are to follow, may be read in all the Baptist churches in the State.”
NEW VERNON, N. Y., September 24, 1834.
IT will be recollected by the most of our readers that we noticed in the twenty-second number of our first volume the organization of this Ministerial Conference, and published their constitution and resolutions, with our remarks on the same, together with their project to draw all the Baptist ministers of this State, as soon as possible, into their ranks, and of their resolutions to tax the Baptist churches of our State for the last year $30,000. How well they have succeeded in collecting the money they have not told us; but it is certain they have not yet, with all their signs, and lying wonders, and deceivableness of unrighteousness, nor by their sitting in the temple of God, shewing themselves to be gods, &c., been able to draw away all the Baptist ministers of New York after their pernicious ways.
It is true they have exerted a zeal worthy of a better cause in the prosecution of their object, and have, as far as their power would admit, persecuted and proscribed the “few names that are left in Sardis.” They have held their ecclesiastical tribunals, have assayed to expel from the Baptist denomination such as have dared to maintain the Old Baptist order, and to resist their aristocratical dominion over the free-born citizens of Zion; but notwithstanding all they have done, by flattery and by persecution, there are yet a few, of sterling worth, who “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made them free;” and even in the very parts of the State which lie adjacent to the birth-place of this Ministerial Conference, (Hamilton theological mill,) there are a number of the excellent ones of the earth, rising up and boldly opposing the witchcrafts and abominations which the clergy of Baptist profession are practicing.
Witness the case of brother M. Salmon, who for opposing the wicked and abominable project recommended by this clerical conference in the bounds of Black River Association,. to tax the churches $10 on every $1000 which was owned by their members, and other things equally gross, was by an Inquisitorial Council, composed of members of this very conference, published to the world through the profligate columns of the Register at Utica, as unworthy of the fellowship of the Baptist denomination; also that he was excluded from the last church of which he had been a member, which statement has been proved by a communication from the said church to be totally false. So notwithstanding their gallows fifty cubits high, Mordecai still sitteth in the King’s gate.
The extravagant language of the above address will need but few comments from us; the whole warp and woof is of a piece. Not a passage of scripture is quoted but what is awfully perverted, and the entire address exhibits the loud cry of the two daughters of the horse-leech, Give, give!
They estimate the moral responsibility of the Baptist church according to their members and wealth. But the sympathies and prayers of God’s people will not answer the purpose of those divines who are so very greedy of filthy lucre, for they cannot buy bread with prayers, and they seem to be somewhat a kin to those who say, “Put me into the priest’s office, that I may have bread.”
But what seems to cap the climax of their blasphemy, (we cannot find a more appropriate word, Mr. Stephens,) is their representing three gods as helping each other in the work of creation, providence and grace; and Jesus Christ as calling on the churches to return to him his silver, and gold, and cattle, that he may expend them as he did his heart’s blood - for the salvation of a perishing world.
We ask these religious jugglers how they know that our Savior intends to make another sacrifice for sin, and We call on them to tell us by what conveyance we may send our gold, and silver and cattle, so as to be sure that the Lord would realize the benefit of them. We wonder if the Conference would not be willing to take charge of the cash and cattle themselves, and free us from the responsibility?
NEW VERNON, N. Y.,
September 24, 1834.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 159 – 173