STRAINING AT A GNAT AND SWALLOWING A CAMEL.

A SECULAR paper, in speaking of the receipts of the American Board, seems to be surprised that they should amount to $300,000, and remarks:

“It is to be hoped that the immense sums which leave our country at a period of unparalleled distress are judiciously disbursed and strictly accounted for.”

“The sole reason why this sum is considered ‘immense’ appears to be that it is devoted to an object purely benevolent. But we do not recollect ever to have seen, in any of our papers, a single regret expressed that, ‘at such a time of unparalleled distress,’ such ‘immense sums’ should ‘leave the country’ for the purchase of articles, which, to say the least, might be dispensed with without any serious inconvenience. Thus we send out of the country about $14,000,000 annually for the purchase of tea and coffee; about $9,000,000 for silk; nearly $7,000,000 for spirituous liquors; and nearly $1,000,000 for cigars. In comparison with any of these sums, the income of the American Board is a mere item; yet we have no reason to suppose that any serious distress would be felt in the country, as the consequence, if none of these articles were to be had. Yet our sage political economists, who scowl at the idea of sending away $300,000 to enlighten the world, see no evil in sending millions away for articles of luxury, some of which are positively injurious. And the whole of this paltry sum does not ‘leave the country,’ but a considerable portion of it is expended in this country for outfits, supplies, home operations and Indian missions. We have, also, one other remark to make in view of these facts. It cannot be for want of ability that the contributions for benevolent operations are so much straitened so long as such ‘immense sums’ are expended for luxuries. A tithe of the expenses of christian families in this country, beyond what is required for comfort and convenience, would furnish abundant means for prosecuting the work of the Lord at home and abroad. The reason that the chariot wheels move so slowly is, that there is a want of self-denying and self-sacrificing spirit in the churches.” - Boston Recorder.

“To the above might be added, that these sage grumblers against christian benevolence think nothing of a strolling dancer carrying off more than $100,000 for a few months’ exhibition of her almost denuded person on the stage; and complain as little of the hundreds of thousands which foreign mountebanks, whether they are called tragedians or commedians, take from us during such unparalleled distress; nor of the millions which are worse than plundered from the earnings of the poor by those who are legally authorized to make men drunkards and their families paupers.

“These things are all right; but to send the bible and the missionary to the heathen to save millions from temporal wretchedness and eternal perdition, oh this is a monstrous waste of money in these hard times!

“The truth is, if the contributions to the cause of God had been tenfold what they have been, we might have been preserved from the present ‘unparalleled distress,’ which we can but look upon as a judgment upon the covetousness and idolatry of the nation. We have loved and worshiped money, and our god is taken away and we suffer. The right way to remove the evil is to return unto him from whom we have departed, bringing our tithes into his storehouse, seek from him the blessing we need and which he has promised to bestow.” - Baptist Record.

This rough shod going over is meted out by the two New School Recorders, to some meddlesome editor of a secular newspaper, who has dared to make an allusion to the amount of money lavished upon the foreign mission speculation of the present time. From the indignant and spiteful manner of their rebuke, one would be led to suppose that some awful offence had been given; but what is the nature of the offence committed? Why, first, He has impudently called the trifling sum of $300,000 an ‘immense sum!’ Second, He has alluded to its leaving the country at a time of unparalleled distress!! Third, He has expressed the vain and delusive hope that it is judiciously disbursed!!! How silly to indulge such a hope! And last, but not least, he would have the missionaries give a strict account of the disbursement of so much money!

Now is it not insufferable that a mere editor of a secular newspaper should dare to mention the pecuniary embarrassment of our nation, and the distress of the citizens of our own country at a time when missionary avarice is unsupplied, and that he should insinuate that these poor, self-denying missionaries who are starving in clover on their thousands and even millions of dollars, would be any the better for watching, or that they should be required to give a strict account of the disbursement of the funds put into their pious hands? Out upon such a grumbling editor - what business has he with a press if he cannot let the black coated gentry alone? What an ignoramus of an editor he must be, if he does not know that the clergy of our country have already frowned down nearly every printing press in America that has dared to expose or call in question the propriety of their schemes to fleece the dear people.

No wonder the offensive editor should be accused by our pious and benevolent knights of the goose quill of swallowing a camel, if he would dare make himself so singular as to attack the anti-christian beast, when scarcely another editor of the secular press dare object to any scheme, however absurd, that is set on foot by the clergy.

Perhaps there may be more truth in the figure than these pious editors intended; for brother West says they have got in a habit of speaking the truth sometimes when they do not mean to. A gnat is a very small and insignificant animal compared with a camel, and so is $300,000 very trifling compared with what these greedy missionary mongers want of the people’s money. If we may judge by what was published in a missionary paper called the Ambassador, last spring, containing the proceedings of a convention held in Broome St., N. Y., and an address, in which they resolved that the Lord requires of this generation to evangelize the world during the present generation, and that the amount of funds wanted for the execution of that work is $26,000,000 annually for thirty successive years, beginning with A. D. 1842! The aggregate amount of all these installments will probably somewhat transcend the dimensions of a gnat, and approach the size of a camel. But the beauties of the simile are not exhausted. The gnat, though small and almost imperceptible, is very insinuating, and has a most powerful sting - would rob us of our life-blood, and escape chastisement because of its insignificance in size. So far, at least, the figure has been well selected by our missionary contemporaries; for the money fleeced from the pockets of the people by the mission agents is generally attended with the poison of their bite or sting; for in order to satisfy their appetites with the object of their pursuit, they find it necessary to infuse the poison of their arminian heresy; and it is to be lamented that there are so few guardians of the public press who strain at this description of gnats.

The editor of the Baptist Record admits what his missionary brethren have almost uniformly denied, and charged us with slander for imputing to them, viz.: that the money expended in bibles and missionaries will actually save millions, not only from temporal wretchedness, but also from eternal perdition! If these hypocrites believe what they say, why do they not at once shell out all the gold and silver in their possession for the salvation of lost sinners? Who rides in finer carriages? Who fares more sumptuously every day than do the missionaries and their gentlemen agents? The reason why we Old School Baptists do not contribute to the missionary speculation, is because we do not believe the salvation of any soul rests upon the labor or support of the craft. We believe it a reflection upon the wisdom, power, truth and grace of God, and that it is. virtually a rejection of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We learn from the scriptures, and are taught experimentally by the Spirit, that the blood and righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that alone, has power to save us or any lost sinner from going down to perdition, and we act accordingly. But they profess to believe quite differently, and why do they not act according to their profession?

The last paragraph of the extract we regard as a palpable fraud. They tell us for truth, that if the contributions were tenfold what they have been for some years past, we might have been saved from the present “unparalleled distress.” Which (being interpreted) means if we had raised $3,000,000 for the mission operation, instead of $300,000, our country would have been by this time out of debt and free from pecuniary embarrassments. What fine logic! Only convince the brokers of Wall Street, New York, or the financiers of our government, that such would be the result, and, we doubt not, the $3,000,000 of shining dust will be forthcoming in a hurry.

The truth of the next sentence, if the writer means to apply it to the mission craft, we shall not question, viz.: that they have loved and worshiped money, and that in removing money from them, their god is removed and they suffer. But if the declaration is intended to apply to the public in general, it displays unparalleled impudence and ingratitude, to accuse those misguided and sorely humbugged people, from whom their coffers have been so frequently replenished, at the rate of $300,000 at a time. If to ascribe the salvation of sinners from eternal perdition to money does not amount to idolatry, it will be hard to find idolatry on the earth. The idolatry of Aaron and Israel did not so much consist in their making the calf, as in their saying, These be thy gods which brought thee out of Egypt, and thus ascribing temporal salvation to gold and silver fashioned by the works of their own hands. The pious (?) editors have, in the preceding sentence, ascribed the power of salvation, both temporal and eternal, to the same god that Aaron set up, only with this difference: Aaron fashioned the precious metals into the form of a calf, and the modern missionaries prefer it in the form of dollars, eagles, &c. In view of their wickedness and gross idolatry their confession is appropriate, but we cannot think it sincere. As to their returning to the Lord in the manner they tell us would be right, we have no faith to believe they intend any such thing; but rather that they wish to deceive and defraud the people.

New Vernon, N. Y.,
Sept. 15, 1842.

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials – Volume 2
Pages: 61-66