IN primitive times of the Baptist church, the criterion by which the genuineness of a religious revival was demonstrated was according to Acts ii. 42. The converts continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers. But the revivalists of the New School have now hit upon a criterion much better suited to their purpose. Mr. Jacob Knapp, in reporting, through the Baptist Advertiser of New York, the result of his efforts at Albany, holds the following language:
“As one evidence of the genuineness of this work, it may be duty to say, that one of the converts, a member of the Green Street congregation, handed brother Hodge fifteen hundred dollars - five hundred for foreign missions, and five hundred for domestic missions, five hundred for the American and Foreign Bible Society; and on Saturday before I left I went out among the converts and members of Dr. Welch’s church and congregation, and obtained five thousand dollars for the Literary and Theological Institutions of the State of New York. I am quite certain that in these times of great depression in money matters, nothing but the grace of God could have opened these earthly fountains, withered and killed the root of all evil, and caused the golden stream to flow so freely. Yours with much affection,
It is a fact too obvious to be passed without notice, that the evidences required by those of the New School party, that a revival is genuine, does not embrace a single vestige of what was by the apostles and primitive church considered indispensible; and what they receive as conclusive testimony on this point is, as we will presently show, what the apostles and apostolic church attached no kind of importance to whatever. In the course of his letter, Mr. Knapp says: “More than one hundred have been baptized into the fellowship of the church of which Mr. Welch is pastor, and some thirty or more into the fellowship of the church under pastoral care of brother lodge. Many have united with the churches of other denominations, and many more are without the pale of any church.” Now if these revived sinners had been quickened by the Holy Spirit, instead of being revived by Mr. Knapp, they would have been undoubtedly converted from the error of their ways and into the apostles’ doctrine. Such a conversion would, in our opinion, never have inclined them to a connection with Mr. Welch’s church, or that of Mr. Hodge; they would rather have sought for the Zion of God with their faces thitherward. But allowing (what we in conscience cannot do) that these two churches were standing in the apostles’ doctrine; the fact that many of the converts made joined other denominations, shows that their conversions did not bring them into anything like a unity of faith. The same efforts that made converts for Dr. Welch’s church and for the other nominally Baptist church in Albany, also furnished materials Which could be as conveniently worked into Presbyterians and Methodists as into that sort of Baptists. It would be an outrageous misrepresentation of the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, to say that the former was held and the latter enjoyed by all those denominations among whom Mr. Knapp’s converts are scattered. But Mr. Knapp counts them all, the ring, streaked and the speckled, together with all the balance, as Jacob’s cattle; whether they united with the Baptists or other denominations seemed to be a matter of no importance. It should never be forgotten by the saints, that all such as are not in the apostles’ doctrine, are out of the apostles’ fellowship. Hence, John says: “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive them not into your house ;“ and Paul says: “Though we, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” And again: “Mark them which cause divisions and offences among you, contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them.” But these are antiquated landmarks with New School Baptists, quite obsolete. Mr. Knapp has tested his converts by a new standard, and triumphantly reports them genuine, viz: They are excessively liberal in their donations. Well, liberality, if properly directed is good in itself; but even then it is of itself no evidence of a change of heart. According to Mr. Knapp’s criterion, it would not be difficult to prove that Simon Magus was a true convert to the faith; he was as flush with his cash, perhaps, as the Baltimore and Albany converts were; and some where in tho writings of an old Israelitish prophet we read of men who under very similar revival spirits were wont to lavish gold out of the bag for religious purposes, and yet the anti-benevolent Isaiah denounced these liberal souls as idolaters. Another remarkable instance of liberality is recorded of a pious old matron who wholly dedicated eleven hundred shekels of silver unto the Lord, from the hand of her son who had stolen it, to make a molten image and a graven image. - See Judges xvii. 2, 3.
Many other examples are mentioned in the scriptures, such as the women divesting themselves of jewels, to make the golden calf; and we are told in the temporary triumph of anti-christ in the latter days, they should be quite profuse in liberalities, sending gifts to one another. But, as we promised to notice, such evidences of the genuineness of revivals and conversions, would not answer in the apostolic age of the Baptist church, and this pledge we redeem by referring the reader to the treatment which Simon Magus received from one Simon, whose surname was Peter, who very impolitely bid his money perish with him.
We have said liberality properly directed is in itself good; but we do not mean what the worshipers of mammon call liberality, for the day draws near when the vile person shall no more be called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful. - Isa. xxxii. 5. Money lavished out of the bag, wholly consecrated to the Lord, to accomplish what he has forbidden, to make such molten or graven images as shall divert the heart and eye from a dependence on God for all that the New School contemplate doing with this money, viz: sustaining the Foreign and Domestic Mission Societies, to supercede the necessity of God’s sending forth and sustaining a ministry of the gospel among the nations of the earth. The appropriation of five thousand dollars for the Hamilton abomination, &c., is all idolatry and utterly unworthy the appellation of liberality. That liberality which the spirit of the gospel approves, is to give bread to the hungry, and raiment to the naked, to visit and relieve the sick, distressed and wretched of our race, whether friends or foes. But, is this description of liberality popular with the New School? Let their own statements tell. It was announced by one of their agents in Philadelphia, a few years ago, that he had accepted from a poor man in the interior of Pennsylvania, who had a large family, his last cow, which was his chief dependence for the support of his helpless family, the avails of which he had thrown into the “Lord’s Treasury,” as they profanely call their mammon bank. Instances are by no means few where instead of relieving the wants of suffering humanity, they have, like their ancient brethren, robbed the widow and the fatherless, subverted whole houses, led captive silly women, (ah! and men too,) for filthy lucre’s sake.
ALEXANDRIA, D. C.,
March 1, 1840.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 596 – 600