“If ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” – Gal. v. 15.
THE time has been when we thought this admonition to the saints quite inappropriate, when we have supposed that christians had no teeth to devour their brethren with; or, in other words, that the love of God shed abroad in their hearts would always so control their carriage as to make them kindly affectionate one to another. Nor can we yet relinquish that opinion; but we have painfully learned that the children of God, when influenced and governed by the passions and corruptions of nature, evince very little if any of that love, either to God or their brethren, which ought to characterize them as the followers of him who is meek and lowly. The admonition at the head of this article was intended for application; inspired by the Holy Ghost, it cannot be inappropriate; it must be applicable to the children of God, under some circumstances.
We have been led to some reflections on this subject in reviewing our last number, which was principally got, up during our confinement by indisposition, in consequence of which we were unable to give our usual attention to the selection of matter. Of the comparative merits of the parties it is impossible that we can be a competent judge; nor have we any disposition to sit as umpire in local matters of difficulty among our distant brethren. But this we do know, when things which involve the ministerial, moral, or christian character of our brethren are told in Gath, and published in the streets of Askelon, the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, and the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph. We would seriously appeal to our brethren and correspondents: is it in harmony with the rule of our faith and practice, and in accordance with the spirit of our calling, to vent our feelings to the prejudice of each other, through the columns of a public journal? Will such a course result in the peace of Zion, or the declarative glory of God? Is it calculated to bring aggrieved parties nearer to each other, and so promote and facilitate an amicable adjustment of difficulties? So far from securing any such results, all must see that a course of crimination and recrimination, sent out thousands of miles from the scene of action, will provoke resentment, if not retaliation, separating the parties involved so widely as to almost forbid the hope of final settlement. But, besides the effect immediately produced, in the alienation of the parties, such a disposition to publish, and, perhaps, exaggerate each other’s faults, almost invariably places both parties in a very unfavorable and suspicious attitude in the eyes of distant readers. They are regarded as quarrelsome, sensitive, and, sometimes, even malicious. Nor is this all. Others are, however reluctantly, dragged into them; the editors and publishers of papers become involved. If, on the one hand, they refuse to publish the complaints of those who feel themselves aggrieved, they give offence, and are charged with a want of sympathy with their suffering brethren; and if they give wings to these complaints, anti, thereby, aggravate the difficulties, wound the hearts of brethren in all distant regions, and place a weapon in the hands of our inveterate and common enemies, who are ever ready to make capital of all the faults of the Old School Baptists, there also they are victims to censure, and also to the bitter consciousness of having acted in opposition to the spirit of the gospel.
We sincerely hope that in the future our brethren and correspondents will do themselves and us the favor to consider this matter, and they will show by their long-suffering, gentleness, kindness, and disposition to forgive one another as Christ has forgiven them, more of the image of the heavenly and less of the corruptions of the earthly Adam.
We wish not to be understood, however, that there can be no circumstances which will justify the saints in publishing their trials. The case, for instance, of brother _________ of Sing Sing, N. Y., as stated in his letter in this number, is one of the class which ought to be made known. He, for his faith in Jesus, and steadfastness in the gospel, is cast out from a church which once stood upon the ground of the gospel; but now being taken captive by the enemy and carried down to Babylon, hurls her anathemas at all who will not follow her pernicious way. A faithful history of the church in this nineteenth century, requires a record of the persecutions of the saints who continue in the apostles’ doctrine, and of the corruptions of those who are turned away from the truth, and are turned unto fables. Such a history may serve as a warning to the people of God in all subsequent ages of the church. But, let not confusion and intestine war disturb the songs of Zion. Let the remnant whom God has saved from the general deluge of corruption, be employed in praising God and building up each other in their most holy faith.
New Vernon, N.Y.,
April 15, 1844
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 2
Pages 425 - 427