IGNORANCE OF OLD SCHOOL BAPTISTS.

WE are not unfrequently reminded by the votaries of new religious institutions, that if the Old School Baptists were more enlightened upon the subject of missionary operations, they would be less hostile to what is called the missionary cause. Although extremely modest in their pretensions to worldly wisdom and human knowledge, many of our churches have been furnished gratuitously with many sad examples of the nature and tendency of the American Home Missionary operations, and for these instructions they have been made to suffer dearly in many parts of our land. The peace, harmony and fellowship of many branches of the Redeemer’s kingdom have been invaded, heresy introduced, truth turned away backward, and spiritual wickedness exalted in all high places. But of the doings of the foreign missionaries, we are dependent chiefly on their own reports for information. Many of their reports have been very flattering, have told of thousands converted from gross darkness and pagan idolatry to the more refined darkness and popular idolatry of New School religion. The plea for general co-operation in the Foreign Missionary enterprise has often been predicated on the wonderful success that they have assured us has crowned their exertions in evangelizing and converting the heathen. Lest our brethren should die in ignorance of the great things effected by human means, measures &c., we have occasionally served up to our readers a dish cooked, spiced and made ready to our hand by our benevolent friends; and that our readers may be more abundantly enlightened in regard to the prospect of the immediate evangelization of all the heathen world, we will now present them with a very luminous account of how the missionaries do things in Jamaica. The following account is written by an American Missionary from that island, and by the Banner and Pioneer credited to the Christian Reflector. Let it be observed by the reader that the following account is now going the rounds through the New School papers, and is by them admitted as authentic:

THE LEADERSHIP SYSTEM IN JAMAICA.

DEAR BROTHER: I am aware that something is known, by the community, of the “Leadership System,” practiced by the English Baptist Missions ill the Island of Jamaica, and that many desire to know the whole. I have been often importuned to lay before the public a full and candid statement of the facts in the case, as I have labored, as a missionary, in the island nearly two years, and know the truth of the matter. Until now, I have not thought it expedient for me to do so.

One reason that has prevented me from making these practices public, was, those missionaries are not directly amenable to an American tribunal, and therefore I could not perceive that much good would result from a disclosure in this country. I also feared that if the whole truth were made known about the English Baptist Missionaries, it might bring into suspicion, in some minds, at least, our devoted American Missionaries, for such I believe our missionaries to be. After considering the subject, as I trust, prayerfully, and with a desire to advance the cause of our common Lord, and after consulting with many judicious friends, I have come to the conclusion that more evil will probably result in withholding than in making it public.

In doing this, I do not charge any of the missionaries with being ungodly men. I will simply state some of their practices, and leave them to their own Master to stand or fall.

When I arrived on the island, Jan., 1840, I visited several of the missionaries and inquired of them for a place where I could be usefully stationed. After a few weeks one of them told me he had lately purchased premises in the interior of the island for a station, and he would like to have me take it and labor for him. I did so. Previously, however, to my going there, while at his house, I had an opportunity of witnessing his manner of examining candidates for baptism, which seemed to me exceedingly novel. Yet I put such implicit confidence in missionaries, that I did not dare to question his correctness.

I observed that while he was questioning the candidates, a man stood by whom he called Leader, and that when the candidate could not readily answer the questions, the leader answered for the candidate. I also observed that several who could not readily answer any of his questions, were for a time rejected. And upon their returning afterwards and telling him that they could answer the questions now, he would further interrogate them and accept them for baptism. I noticed also that no one of the candidates said anything about being born again. Nor was the question asked them. None told about their wicked hearts, but all began by saying, “Me feel well since de leader set me off.”

I went to my station quite ignorant, knowing simply that those men were called “leaders,” and that the people had some called inquirer and some member tickets; and that the people brought these tickets to the missionary every month and had them marked, and then each paid 12 ½ cents.

Being told that these tickets were used to make the people feel under obligations to support the preaching of the gospel, and also to see that they were regularly at meeting every month, I went on with the tickets myself.

After a time I found that the people understood the tickets very differently from what the missionaries did. The people supposed them to be a passport to heaven. This I first ascertained from an old man, who one Monday morning came to me early, saying, in great earnestness, “Massa Minister, me lose me ticket yesterday. Me want new ticket. Me give Massa Minister all me money.” I replied 1 would let him have a new one the next month, when I exchanged or marked them again. “O, Massa Minister, perhaps me die before then, Massa Minister, me must have ticket. Do, good minister.” I now began to inquire the use of tickets, and found that when one died a friend put his ticket into the coffin, so that if any one disputed his right to heaven, he had only to present his ticket and pass in. On being satisfied of this use of the tickets by conversation with different members, I was horror struck; but more so on learning that the missionaries knew that the tickets were so used.

In a little time one of my deacons brought a man to me to be “set off,” informing me that he had rather be set off by the minister than by the leader. I told him I did not know what he meant. He said I must kneel down and teach him to pray. Accordingly I knelt, and prayed that he might become a good man, and give his heart to God. When I arose from my knees, I observed the candidate did not rise. The deacon, finding that I, being an American, did not understand their religion, took the candidate by the hand and raised him up, saying, “In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I raise you to newness of life.” I asked, “Is this what you call being set off?” He replied, “Yes.” “But is this what you call being born again?” “Yes, is not this it, minister?” The reader can little imagine my feelings at this moment.

It now rushed to my mind that when I earnestly pressed upon my people the necessity of being born again, there had been much call for new “inquirer tickets.” These they have as soon as set off by the leader. Upon further conversation with my deacon, my mind was disabused concerning this soul-destroying system which the missionaries were supporting and I had been allowing. I immediately called on the other leaders, and found by them that I was not mistaken in my fears. I saw more and more of the evils of the system. As soon as I had an opportunity I conversed with the missionaries. They all tried at first to evade my inquiries and remarks, but all as one eventually acknowledged the practice of the system, and endeavored to support it on the ground of its bringing so many within the pale of the church.

The next Lord’s day after the above incidents, I preached to my people with a burdened heart. I told them plainly, and I think feelingly, that this setting off and giving tickets would never gain them admission to heaven. I endeavored to show them more clearly the nature of the new birth &c. After meeting, the chief members of the church held a long consultation, and then came to me, saying, “Massa Minister, it never do to preach so here in Jamaica. It may do to preach so in America, but it never do to preach so in Jamaica. English religion and American religion no like.” I told them that the religion which I had preached was the religion of the bible - of that bible by which we must all be judged. And we could not answer for other people and other missionaries. And though all the original members of my church (375) had been members of other churches, they had never heard the like before. And they could not be convinced but that American religion was wrong and English was right.

Another objection; said they, “Massa Minister never have another baptism, if he no let the leaders set them off! That the only way tother missionaries get so many.”

But I proceed to state a little more definitely the “Leadership System.” Nearly every estate has a man called a leader, generally appointed by the missionary, who conducts the meetings held by the people on his estate.

These leaders can very seldom read, yet they seem very vain of their office. The leader is held in sacred esteem by the class, and no member of the class ever meets or passes him without bowing the knee. When they salute him it is always by the title of father or papa, and he always addresses them as children. If a member can obtain the privilege, as one sometimes can, to wipe on the same napkin, sit down on the same chair or drink from the same vessel after the leader, such consider themselves as in high favor with heaven.

It is the leader’s duty to induce a person to be set off when he finds one willing. Such persons are brought into the classroom and assigned to a particular seat, when after some heathenish ceremonies, the candidate is made to kneel and repeat over a short prayer which the leader puts, word by word, into his mouth. After this the leader takes him by the hand, saying, as before, “In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I raise you to newness of life.” They are now termed by the missionaries “Inquirers,” and receive an inquirer ticket. And both missionaries and people believe, or pretend to believe, that when a person is thus set off by the leader, he is made a new creature, or born again! After being set off, the candidate is instructed in a round of questions similar to the lectures in a masonic lodge. The leader at the first puts the question and gives the answer.

When it is supposed the candidate can answer the questions expertly, if he pleases the leader and give him sufficient money, he is taken to the missionary in these words, “Minister, here is one fit to be baptized; I give him good character.” The missionary then questions him as he pleases. But here let me remark, that the missionary asks the same questions as are asked in the class meeting by the leader. If the candidates do not answer the missionary readily, the leader who stands by answers for them. Frequently have I seen the candidate turn to the leader and ask him what to answer. After the examination the missionary enrolls their names in a book for baptism.

Sometimes when a candidate can answer but few questions, (as it often happens with old people) or when they give the wrong answers to questions, as for instance, when asked, “Who died for sinners?” The candidate will say, “At the right hand of God.” Giving the answer to the question - “Where is Christ now?“ The leader is required to take such aside and catechise them more. After which they return to the missionary, and if they then can answer readily, they are received.

The leader has the whole care of making christians, and I think I may say the acknowledged care. For one missionary who has baptized over 4,000, said, “I do not know that I have ever been instrumental of the conversion of a single soul. All that I have baptized were converted at the time the leader set them off.”

When baptized, the white, inquirer ticket, is exchanged for a red, member ticket.

Several times when I was examining candidates for baptism, I told them I feared they never had been born again. Upon which they would go away with the leader awhile, and by-and-by return, saying, “Now, minister, me can answer the questions.” On one occasion I labored more than two hours trying to convince one who had returned in this way, that if he was not a christian before, I feared he was not now. I told him he might answer all my questions and yet not be a christian. But he could seem to get no idea of what I meant. He said, “Tother minister always take them when the leader tell them what to answer. And he spose I had some mad ‘gainst him, so I no baptize him.” My heart bled for the poor soul, and for the thousands of others going to destruction under the care I had almost said of “blind leaders of the blind.”

I never heard any of the English Baptist Missionaries, excepting three, of whom I shall speak by-and-by, ever pray that the Spirit of God would convert souls, or even in their preaching mention the necessity of such an agent. Nor do they need the Spirit, for their manner of making christians being purely mechanical, they are almost sure to have a large number to baptize twice a year. And this is as often as they generally wish for a baptism, viz.: at the first of August and at Christmas. This manner of making christians accounts for the “glorious” we so often hear from the Island of Jamaica of the triumphs of God’s grace. O, my soul, come not thou into their secret!

The missionaries have no intercourse with their people except through their leaders, unless it be to mark their tickets and raise their money; and this money very generally goes through the hands of the leader. I knew many well and. hearty members who did not visit the chapel for months, and even years, and some who never attended from the day of their baptism to the day of their death, and yet they were safe. They were good members; they had tickets regularly paid up through their leaders, and were therefore sure of heaven.

I was most severely reprimanded by the missionaries for visiting the people from house to house, for preaching to them on the estates on Wednesday evenings. The missionaries. said the people did not want me to meddle with their affairs at home; it was enough to preach for them on the Sabbath.

Whenever a leader is displeased with a member he “puts him back,” that is, he assigns him the delinquents’ seat, and tells him that now God has put him back, and if he dies before he is restored to favor he cannot go to heaven. In one such case the poor man, driven to desperation, ventured to come to the minister, and wringing his hands in agony, said, “Minister, what me do” If me die fore leader take me back me go to hell. What me do?”

I will not say that these missionaries feel no interest in the spiritual welfare of their people; but I will say that if they do love souls they have a very poor way of showing their love.

Aside from their schools, I can see very little to choose between their religion and practice and the basest Catholicism. Many of the missionaries receive by their tickets, as a consequence of the leadership system, over $500 per month; and by exchanging, as they call it, once in four weeks, they make thirteen months a year. For this money they make no account with the society at home. The plate of their missionaries, their equipage - their sumptuous fare, would astonish the people in this republican land. They riot on the price of the souls of their people; amid then wiping their mouths, they say, We have done no wickedness! Is this language too severe? These vast sums are given by the poor, unsuspecting people with the confident expectation of procuring an. admittance to heaven therewith. The missionaries know this. What then can I say less?

But there are three exceptions to this dark picture of the conduct of the English Baptist Missionaries in Jamaica; three who do not practice the “leadership and ticket system;” three holy, devoted men who, though they are sneered at and ridiculed by the great body of the others, (I speak advisedly) love the souls of their people and labor for their good, viz.:

Messrs. Whitehorn, Kingdom and Reid. With the latter I am most intimately acquainted. He, hearing I had found out the wickedness of the above mentioned systems, came to sympathize with me in my trials. At this time I knew not that I could call a single man on the island my friend. 1 could, therefore, in this trying scene, only go to my God and there unburden my soul.

I found Mr. Reid a truly devoted missionary, and just such a friend as I at this time needed. He informed me that on his arrival on the island he took a church of about 900 members, and that he learned sooner than I did their system of religion. He accordingly commenced an examination of the members, and found but fifteen out of nine hundred that gave evidence of a change of heart. With these fifteen he commenced a new church. The other members were offended for a time and mostly left him; but subsequently they returned to his ministry. The Lord poured out his Spirit, and some 150 were converted and made a new profession.

I was almost overwhelmed one evening after I had preached to those new converts, in hearing them express their joy at having found the right way. One after another would rise and say, “Massa Minister, leader set me off, me baptized, me think me go to heaven cause me pay ticket and carry ticket show there; me think me good, me no know me very wicked heart. Me then no know Jesus; me some talk ‘bout Jesus, but me no know him. Now God show me wicked heart; me come Jesus poor sinner; me now no want leader, no want ticket carry heaven. Me go cause Jesus spill he blood for poor me. Me glad Minister Reid no take us so; me glad, me glad.”

There is another practice common among the missionaries which I believe every true follower of Christ will deprecater viz.: they encourage the people to bring their infant children, not to be sprinkled, but to be blessed. The missionary takes. the child in his arms’ in the public assembly, and imparts a mysterious, holy influence, so that if the child dies in its infancy it will go to heaven. If the child lives to maturity, it will be, in consequence of this imparted holiness, a fit member for the church.

I have given but a sketch of the abominations practiced in Jamaica, but I leave the subject for the present; praying that the Lord would raise up faithful laborers to send into that inviting field.

JACOB WESTON.

NEW IPSWICH, N. H., June 3, 1842.

Oh the privations of the poor self-denying missionaries! How they love the souls of the poor heathen! Who would be so wicked as to suspect them of any other motive than that of pure benevolence I Their outfits and salaries are wrung from the hard earned savings of the starving laborers. of England, who are made to believe, as do also the deluded of our own country, that salvation of souls depends on their contributions. Their princely outfits and their extravagant salaries are but a moiety they require. The speculation in tickets and other popish impositions upon the poor, ignorant, superstitious victims to their avarice, in addition to their stipulated hire, the moderate consideration of $500, thirteen times a year; and many of them more than six thousand five-hundred dollars annually!

Mr. Weston, the missionary who tells these tales on the English Baptist Missionaries, seems shocked at the manner in which the process of setting off the converts is performed; and truly it is enough to shock even a missionary hireling. But is it, after all, more abominable, presumptuous, deceptive or blasphemous than a great part of the mummery practiced at protracted meetings, and other Babel building gatherings under the management of the New School Baptists upon our own American soil?

What if our missionary advocates tell us that all their missionaries are not so much depraved; may not Catholics, Mormons and Pagans plead some exceptions to the general depravity among them?

Accompanying some extracts from the foregoing communication of Jacob Weston embodied in an editorial of the Baptist Register, together with the animadversions of the editor of that paper, brother West sends us the following remarks:

1st. Mr. Beebee [editor of the Register] seems almost as much astonished at the wickedness of the Baptist Missionaries in Jamaica, as Hazael did when Elisha told him of the evil which he should do to the children of Israel, when he said to the prophet, “Is thy servant a dog that he should do this great thing?” Bat as the word of the Lord from the lips of the prophet was true, to me it appears that the principle advocated by Messrs. Beebee, Weston and all their coadjutors, when reduced to its proper centre, acting systematically, will produce substantially the same operation as that which they complain so much of.

2d. Then, why should they complain of its being so exceedingly humiliating and affecting to find that there is much reason to believe that their brethren in Jamaica have got ahead of them, and have reduced their theory to a regular practice sooner than Americans? Certainly a man with poor eyes could see by common starlight, that if “Money is no less ;the nerve of missionary enterprise than of war,” a man with “$500 a month,” or $6,500 a year could employ “leaders” to make more converts than a poor man with only $20 a month, or $240 a year. And the man must be blinded by the god of this world that does not see that if men’s using means to convert sinners and save souls proceeds upon the same principle as raising grain, (a fundamental principle in the mission system) that not only the more money, the more men can be employed, and of course the more converts, but also that unconverted men, by using means, can raise as much and as good wheat as them that love God. And proceeding upon this principle, I see no good reason why unconverted men, or negro “leaders,” cannot make as many and as good christians as missionaries.

3d. Mr. W. complains that the leaders have “The whole care of making christians.” Does he think that the profligate missionaries in Jamaica could make better ones if they would attend to it themselves! Or does he think that such as himself could make would be of a superior quality? Or does the editor imagine that the protracted meeting converts in America have any more love to holiness, or partake any more of divine nature than the converts in Jamaica? I have seen no evidence to prove that the chief engineers at camp or protracted meetings &c., are not as graceless as the leaders in Jamaica, or their ancient brethren, the Pharisees.

4th. Mr. Weston complains that he “Never heard any of the English Baptist Missionaries, excepting three, ever pray that the Spirit of God would convert souls.” He grants that they do not need it, because “their manner of making christians is “purely mechanical.” Why then should they insult the Most High by asking him to do by his Spirit that which men can do mechanically? If the various professedly benevolent institutions, with all their numerous operations, of which money is the mainspring, are the means of making christians or multiplying the children of God, and they proceed upon the same principle as raising grain, (though it looks well to see men acknowledge their dependence upon God at all times) there is no more necessity for asking the co-operation of the Holy Ghost to insure success, than there is for a hardened blasphemer to ask God’s blessing on the labor of his hands to insure him a good crop of wheat.

5th. Mr. Weston, speaking of his trouble at not being able to make one understand what he wanted to communicate, says, “My heart bled for the poor soul, and for thousands going to destruction,” &c. Had he said, Mine eyes suffused with tears, it would have looked more credent. But admitting that he told the truth, why should his heart bleed for them that were going to destruction! Did he not believe that the blood of Christ was sufficient to save and cleanse from all sin all for whom it was shed! Or would Mr. Weston give his heart’s blood to save such as God had left to believe a lie that they might be damned I Of what avail could Mr. W’s. heart’s blood be to such as were not interested in the blood of the covenant! Could it save them or do them any good!

6th. In conclusion of the whole, there may be a latent principle in men that will, when it is properly stirred to action, lead them to perform deeds, which being previously discovered in others, appear abhorrent; and they cannot be persuaded that they have a principle in them that would do such things, though they are in the plain path leading thereto. Witness the case of Hazael, and Peter’s denying his Lord.. And from my lengthy and familiar acquaintance with the principles of the whole popular mission enterprise, with its kindred institutions and their effect, I am fully satisfied that notwithstanding the glaring appearance on the face of Mr. Weston’s disclosures of the conduct of the English Missionaries in Jamaica, there is nothing of it nor belonging to it but what is the genuine fruit of that system of religion that embraces the principle that men may or can use means that will increase the number of the heirs of the New Testament.

The publication in the Register and elsewhere may have the effect to make the public believe that the American Baptists have no fellowship with such sentiments and practice; while it is a fact that the sentiments upon which they do act lead substantially the same course.

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

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials – Volume 2
Pages: 44-56