"The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground!" - Gen. 4:10.
"Wo unto them, for they have gone in the way of Cain!" - Jude 11.
It is worthy of remark that the first blood that was ever shed by man resulted from a religious controversy, in which the murderer claimed a right of dominion over the conscience and faith of his innocent and unoffending brother - and the first death that ever occurred in the human family was that of righteous Abel, whom Cain slew, because his religion did not suit the creed of the murderer. But since that dark and damning crime was perpetrated, what rivers of blood have crimsoned the earth, and by far the greater portion of that blood has been shed by those who, like Cain, have stained their guilty hands in their wicked cruelties in coercing the consciences of their fellow men. Including the Pharisees and Scribes of eighteen hundred years ago with the murderers of all preceding ages, our Lord pronounced them a generation of vipers, and demanded of them which of the prophets their fathers had not stoned; or otherwise put to death; and charged all the righteous blood shed from the blood of Abel, to that of Zacharias, the son of Barachias, whom they slew between the temple and the altar, upon that generation. Shocking as the disclosures of blood had been, before the advent of the Prince of Peace, the crimson tide has deepened and over-flowed its banks in the subsequent ages of the history of the world. The sun grew pale and ceased to illuminate the world for three hours, when guilty hands had nailed to the cross the guiltless, spotless Son of God. The apostles of the crucified Redeemer, and very many of the primitive saints, were also slaughtered by the same mad and blood-thirsty persecutors of the servants of the Most High God. And all this blood was shed by those who made the loudest professions of piety, and who were by the world accredited as the most religious class of men upon the face of the earth. But all the rivers of blood which that malignant generation had shed - could not satiate their murderous disposition. In scarlet lines of history we trace the carnage, desolating whole nations; and by racks, tortures, gibbits, flames, through the dark ages, which records the martyrdom of slaughtered millions, for their alleged lack of orthodoxy to some humanly dictated religious creed. Nor has the sea of blood ceased to swell its tide since the pagan and papal powers have been measurably restrained by what has been greeted as the radiance of a brighter day. Reformers who have protested against the cruel deeds of their fathers have followed in their track, to the full extent of their power; although restrained by the providence of God, they have become weary of restraints, and in the midst of their boast of progression in civilizaČtion, science, and divinity, have never lost their thirst for blood. In the early settlement of our country, the Puritans who professed to have fled from persecution in the old country, but in reality had left the old country because they had lost the power there to persecute others, set themselves up as dictators of the faith of all others, and immediately drew the sword to defend their unholy claim. Baptists, Quakers, and all others who dissented from their religious dogmas, were most cruelly persecuted, some were whipped publicly through the streets, tortured with red hot irons, chopped, mutilated, imprisoned or banished and sold into slavery, while others were put to death. That same puritanic persecuting spirit has not yet died out, but has always been ready and eager to hurl its thunderbolts against all who would not yield to them the keeping of their consciences, and hail them as the authorized exponents of the pleasure of the Supreme Ruler of the Universe. Born, as we were, among them in New England, and for three score years, we have been a close observer of their attempts at usurpation and domination, we have always found them the most eager to persecute all who will not acknowledge their divine right to control the religion of others. Though loud indeed they have been, at times, in their professed love of liberty, we have never known them to omit an opportunity to sap the foundation of all religious liberty - or to accredit to others what they grasp after for themselves. At one moment they call on the secular power to enforce the observance of their holy days, or to inflict pains and penalties on those who refuse to allow them to judge them in their meats or drinks. At another, they seem suddenly alarmed for fear the country will sink to perdition for running the mail on their Sabbath day, anon a well feigned horror seizes them, because the institutions of Jehovah in the relationship of masters and servants is tolerated in some of our States, and indeed when it is not one thing, it is sure to be some other, that they will use to the full extent of their ability to stir up strife, animosity and divisions among us. The strides with which this anti-christian spirit has advanced, since the religious conscience keepers of our country have managed to control our public schools, and by chartered advantages obtained from the government, have plyed their Sunday School, Missionary, and other kindred institutions to a telling effect, so that at the present day their spirit is so widely diffused abroad, that it pervades nearly all the churches of the various religious denominations. The effect of all this is painfully apparent at this moment. Very few pulpits in our country can be found, either in the North or in the South, devoted to the doctrine of peace on earth, and good will towards men. The present fratricidal war which is now threatening to desolate the fairest portion of the earth, is principally attributable to the maddening appeals which have been constantly made from the pulpits both North and South to the most violent passions of the human heart, calling for blood. Judging of the nature of the religion of America today, by the "howling of the shepherds," or clergy, one might well conclude that Mars, and not that God who is Love, is the accredited deity. While the war cry is thundering from every popular pulpit and nearly every religious press in all the States - and those who profess to be the commissioned ministers of the gospel of peace, are foremost in denouncing as traitors all who will not receive and indorse their howlings for blood, as the genuine doctrine of the meek and lowly Lamb of God, is it strange that the most bitter hatred and revengeful feelings of depraved human nature are engendered on both sides of the dividing line? The Georgia State Convention of the New School Baptists recently presented a preamble and set of Resolutions to the Congress of the Southern Confederacy, urging on the war, and pledging themselves religiously to sustain it. While at the North almost the entire clergy are lashing their laity into a tempest of violence against their Southern brethren. As Old School Baptists, we disclaim all affinity to, or fellowship for, those New School, or Missionary Baptists, both North and South, whose principal efforts are now employed in fanning the flames of war. Our mission is very different. As Old School Baptists, we are loyal to the powers that be, and we have from the days of John the Baptist held the reputation of a peace-loving, law-abiding people, always ready to render to Caesar the things belonging to Caesar, and to our God the things which belong to God. But never have we been known to howl for war, or seek to excite the civil powers to shed blood. How striking is now the contrast between them and those who are in their religious capacity, like hungry tigers, pressing on to deeds of cruelty! The true ambassadors of the Prince of Peace are weeping for the cause of humanity, and pouring their prayers before the throne of heaven, for a divine interposition, to roll back the war cloud, which darkens our country, to hush the ravings of demons who thirst for human gore - and to restore peace and prosperity to our distracted country. But woe unto them who have gone in the way of Cain! Their judgment slumbereth not. The righteous Judge presides upon the eternal throne of Justice - and midst the din of war, his awful voice proclaims, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay."
Brethren in Christ, wherever located, by whatever circumstances surrounded; let us endeavor to conform in all our walks and conversation strictly to the word and spirit of our God. Deal justly, love mercy, and walk humbly, with our God. As much as in us lies, let us live peacibly with all men. Render not evil for evil, nor reviling for reviling. Pray for your enemies as well as for your friends - for all that are in authority over us, that we may lead a peaceable life, in honesty and godliness; for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.
"Bless'd are the men of peaceful life
Who quench the coals of growing strife;
They shall be call'd the heirs of bliss'
The sons of God, the God of peace."
Whatever duties may devolve on us as citizens of this world, to respect and to sustain the governments under which our lots, in the providence of God, are cast, as Christians and churches, or in our religious characters, it does not become us to interfere with the political affairs of States or Nations; much less to use our influence to engender strife and urge for violence. If those who are placed over us in authority find it necessary to resort to the sword, let us lament that such necessity exists - and pray that peace and prosperity may return to every part of our beloved country and to all the world, if it can consist with the pleasure of our all-wise and gracious God.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
June 15, 1861.
Republished: The Remnant
Volume 4, No. 2 – March – April, 1990