MR. SANDS, through his Herald, has attempted a description of a call to the ministry; the concluding part only, we have read; and from the specimen which we will give, we conclude it may pass as a call to the New School ministry; but the ministers of Christ are very differently taught of the Lord. He says: “It is sometimes urged that the apostles were illiterate men. Never was a grosser error entertained. The epistles of Peter, John, James and Jude, are standing monuments of its falsehood.”
Upon the subject of ministerial qualifications, Mr. Sands is at issue with the scriptures of truth. Compare the above bold assertion with Acts iv. 13. “Now, when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled: and they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus.” We are aware of the manner in which the advocates of scientific divinity dispose of this text. They tell us this was the testimony of wicked men; that it was a slander on the apostles, &c. But is this the testimony of wicked men? By no means; it is the testimony of the Holy Ghost. We are not informed that the priests, captains and Saducees, called them unlearned and ignorant men; but we are informed expressly that they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men. Therefore, who art thou, O Sands, that repliest against God? contradicting the express declaration of God, and saying that a grosser error was never entertained, than that which God himself hath spoken. Had these ungodly Jews perceived that Peter and John were graduates from some far famed college, and that they were well versed in all the sciences of human knowledge, that they were powerful logicians, and fully capable of managing any cause, they perhaps would not have marveled so much, and certainly could not therefrom arrive at the conclusion that they had been with Jesus. The whole testimony of the scriptures upon this subject, is in perfect harmony. Paul came not to the churches in excellency of speech, or in the wisdom of this world; for God hath made foolish the wisdom of this world; and it has pleased him to ordain that man by wisdom shall not know him, or find him out. And why? That the faith of the saints should not stand in the wisdom of men; but in the power of God. Thus in the example above, no splendid display of human erudition had dazzled their eyes; no astonishing developement of worldly wisdom had overbalanced their prejudices; but what was by far more remarkable, that two ignorant and unlearned fishermen, having been divinely taught, having been with Jesus, could put their wisdom and power at defiance, and that God had given such signal evidence that these were truly his approved ministers. They had been with Jesus. But why? Never man taught like Jesus.
“He calls the fools and makes them know
The mysteries of his grace;
To bring aspiring wisdom low,
And all its pride abase.”
He has hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes; even so; for so it seemed good in his sight. They took knowledge that they had been with Jesus; for Jesus had himself often surprised the learned Jews in the same manner; and when but twelve years old, and on many other occasions, they were astonished, mortified and confounded, that all the talent, wisdom and knowledge of their greatest, wisest and ablest men could not stand before the divine wisdom of him who requires no letters or human science to establish his cause, accomplish his designs, or prostrate his opposers. Could Mr. Sands, or any other person, succeed in proving the position which he has taken, and which the New School have generally taken, they would prove the scriptures unworthy of our confidence; but thanks be unto God, we have not followed cunningly devised fables. How frequently, even in modern times, do we have examples of the same kind. Take, for instance, the young graduate who has served seven years in a classical and Theological School, fully equipped, and duly set apart to the work; he appears in the consecrated desk, a “reverend divine;” his gestures, how graceful! Service commenced, he says his prayer with eloquence; calls on the god of missions, of Sabbath Schools, and tells him in grammatical language what to do, how to do it, and when. His prayer finished, he draws his profound sermon from his pocket, or perchance his hat; the production of mental labor, hard study; yes, his week’s labor is comprised in the sheet he has prepared. He squares himself in the pulpit, adjusts his gold spectacles, and then begins to read. His sermon (for so he calls it) is made up of feathers plucked from various birds, His voice is soft and oily, for their lungs are always weak; the clock tells thirty-five minutes, and the farce is over. The lesson is read, the preacher is admired, and all the learned and polite take knowledge of him that he has been at school.
But we have listened to the preaching men of a very opposite description. We have heard a Van Velsen, brought up at hard work, laying stone fence; which honest calling he still followed, for the support of his family, for years after he commenced his ministerial labors; he could scarcely read, write or speak a sentence according to the rules of gram. mar; but we have heard the truth of heaven thundered in awful eloquence from his lips; before him the learned ministers of the city of Yew York have quailed in amazement not one of them could stand before him in the discussion of gospel truth; his hearers perceiving that he was unlearned and ignorant, took knowledge that he had been with Jesus. Time would fail us to speak of a Warren, a Mead, a Choat, and a host of others, some of whom have never spent one week in school. Brother Mead (if we do not mistake) informed us that he had never spent but half a day in school in his life; yet who that knows the man, as a preacher, does not know that he has been with Jesus. Not all the flowing tide of moon-shiney nonsense, taught in the halls of human science, and learned by the studious school-boy, can ever feed a heaven-born soul, as God is often pleased to feed his hungry children, through the gifts which he has bestowed on such unlearned and ignorant men as we have named.
Mr. Sands says he will never term any one illiterate, who can embody his thoughts in writing with the accuracy and force of the apostle Peter. Has Mr. Sands the audacity, in the face of heaven, to ascribe to human literature, the accuracy and force of the gospel that Peter wrote by immediate. inspiration of the Holy Ghost? Does he not know that holy men wrote and spake as they were directed by the Holy Ghost? We are particularly informed by our Lord himself, where Peter received his knowledge of the Son of God. “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjonas, for flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee; but my Father which is in heaven.” Painful as it is, the conclusion is unavoidable, that all who embrace the theory of Mr. Sands and his brethren on this subject, are strangers to the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and are therefore left in the blindness of their minds, and in the gross darkness of human wisdom, to worship their drag and burn incense to their net. They are ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
NEW VERNON, N. Y.,
May 15, 1840.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 615 – 618