OUR brethren in Georgia are right in asking of us scriptural authority for the position we have taken in regard to the religious inventions of the day. We only regret that any who have read our paper should have overlooked those scriptural references which have been constantly urged by our correspondents and ourself, as our reasons for denouncing as anti-christian, Theological and Sunday Schools, Mission, Tract, Bible, and other professedly religious Societies, except the Church of God, together with the anxious-bench and submission-chair system of getting up revivals and converting sinners. We hold ourselves bound to give, on all occasions, when demanded, scriptural authority for our faith and practice; and when we fail in finding scripture to sustain us, we shall feel ourselves bound to abandon every point.
In all matters of debate, whether civil or religious, it is uniformly admitted that the weight of proof devolves upon the affirmative party; the negative is always established where the affirmative cannot be sustained. By this universal rule of order, the laboring oar is placed in the hands of those who affirm that the institutions in question are of God, and in accordance with his word; but it does not belong to us to prove the negative. Yet the affirmative party have been frequently challenged to produce authority from the bible for these institutions; and they have not only utterly failed to do so, but have published to the world that they could find no such authority in the bible. We copied into the second volume of the "Signs of the Times," the report adopted by a general convention in Ohio, some eighteen months or two years ago, in which they say: "Hence we shall search in vain for any special directions for the wide, and innumerable, and diversified details of christian effort and benevolent actions, which details are nevertheless as imperative on every individual disciple as if specially enjoined. * * * * *
It will instantly be perceived that the question is not whether the New Testament has anywhere expressly directed the establishment of a Tract Society, designating the year, day and hour when in it shall be organized, the number of its officers, and given a schedule of their names; all will admit that no such instructions are given!" And again, in the same report, they use these words: "Under the influence of these views, the individual cannot confine himself to the general rules which are embodied in the New Testament," &c.
The report of which the above is an extract, was adopted at the general meeting in Ohio, and at the time published in the Baptist Weekly Journal, and in various other religious periodicals throughout the United States. Hence, for us to continue to challenge from them bible testimony, when they frankly tell us they have none, would avail nothing. And as they consider themselves safe in proceeding in these things without bible authority, and as we have no right or disposition to forbid them, our only course is to denounce their unscriptural inventions as anti-christian, and to withdraw our fellowship from them as disorderly walkers.
Our first and principal reason then for roundly calling these inventions anti-christian is, that by their own confession they are unscriptural. Our second reason is, that these institutions are evidently hostile to the scriptures. This will appear by comparing them with the word of God. We will begin with - not the bible, but the Bible Society,, so-called. This institution professes to be the efficient cause of the salvation of many souls; whereas the bible assures us that there is salvation in no other name than that of our Lord Jesus Christ. - Acts iv. 12.
The Bible Society, claiming to be a religious institution, requires money as the sole qualification for membership, and has officially solicited, through their Secretary, a successful horse-racer with a part of his gambling gain, to constitute himself a life member, which we are informed he has done, by the payment of the requisite sum.
The scriptures require repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. - Acts. xx. 21. Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. - John iii. 5. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. - Mark xvi. 16. In short, the bible requires that the saints should be separate from the world; that they should not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. - 2 Cor. vi. 14-18. The Bible Society requires an amalgamation. The bible forbids the giving of flattering titles to men. - Job xxxii. 22, 1 Thess. ii. 5. But the Bible Society gives, or rather sells, for a stipulated sum, flattering titles to men. The bible holds the love of money to be the root of al evil. - 1 Tim. vi. 10. but the Society holds that it is the root of great good.
Theological Seminaries, in attempting to qualify men to preach the gospel, virtually profess to hold at their disposal the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and to impart them to men for money. This is anti-scriptural, and consequently anti-christian; as it was fully demonstrated by the apostle Peter, in the case of one Simon. See Acts viii. 20.
The limits of this article will not admit of a full review of our objections to all the institutions of the day; it is sufficient in this place to say, that the entire mass of all the humanly contrived institutions of the day do profess to have in view the salvation of souls; and men are taught to regard them as possessing a power to convert the heathen to God, to evangelize the world, and to "save some, yea many from the quenchless fires of hell." these institutions are got up by men, and supported by men and money; and as they are looked up to for the salvation of immortal souls, they are esteemed as gods. As gods, they are looked up to for the extension of the gospel, for multiplying the number of the ministry, for the support of the gospel, and for the conversion of sinners, and finally, they are hailed as the indispensable machines of executing the decrees of God.
That these institutions are regarded by man as an instituted means of salvation, is not doubted; nor do we impugn the motives of all who have enlisted in their support; but the very moment the are looked to as a means of salvation, they are, to those who so look to them, gods. The jewels which the children of Israel borrowed from the Egyptians and carried with them through the wilderness, were harmless things, until they were by their priest cast in the fire, when lo! out came this calf! As son as the daughters of Israel stripped off their jewelry, and their trinkets had assumed the form of a calf, it became a god, or an idol, to Israel; and immediately a protracted camp-meeting was got up, and the people were told that these were their gods which had brought them out of Egypt. Even so a share of the good things of this world, when held in the hands of the saints, or distributed among them as every man has need, are good, and to be received with thanksgiving, and used as not abusing them, knowing that their fashion passeth away; but the moment their property, or any part of it, is appropriated to be used by the Priests in the production of a Mission, Tract, or any other Society having in view the salvation of souls, it becomes an idol. Such is indeed the case at this day with the Baptists; they have given their gold, silver, necklaces, rings, &c., to the priests, to support, as they supposed, the gospel; but the astonishment of many, out has come these calves! And the shout is raised by the devoted priests, or agents of these calves or societies, "These be the instituted means of salvation which have bought you out of the land of spiritual Sodom and Egypt;" and men are called upon to sacrifice unto them, and to ascribe to them the honor of "saving some, yea many precious souls form the quenchless fires of hell!" (See Judson's letter.) Hence they are a snare unto the saints and an abomination to Israel.
We are called upon to show that they are anti-christian, and to make it appear by the word of God. By the term anti-christ, or anti-christian, we would be understood to mean the man of sin, the son of perdition, spoken by the apostle, 2 Thess. ii. 3. Anti signifies against; hence whatever is in its nature in opposition toe Christ is anti-christian. We have already shown that the institutions against which we contend are idolatrous in their nature, and are regarded by their worshipers as possessing a power not only commensurate with that employed by Jehovah in the salvation of souls, but even superior; for it professes to convert such souls as the Holy ghost has been striving in vain for years to convert, and which, but for the idols, must have gone down to hell at last. A power is ascribed to these inventions of greater facility in the work, than in the ordinary work of the Holy Ghost. They are represented as possessing a governing influence over the Holy Ghost; so much so that they can appoint seasons of pentecost, revivals, &c., and by an exercise of the power of these inventions, they will influence the Holy Ghost to come down and help them in converting sinners. for testimony as to the correctness of our representations, we refer our Georgia brethren to the popular publications of those institutions.
Having then, as we believe, proved to the satisfaction of the honest inquirer after truth, that the institutions in question are idolatrous, we will inquire with the apostle, "What agreement hath the temple of God with idols?" - 2 Cor. vi. 16. Evidently no more than Christ hath with Belial, or the believer with an infidel. Should any further testimony be wanted on this point, let the reader carefully compare the rise and progress of these institutions with the description which the apostle gives us of the coming man of sin, 2 Thess. ii. First, the coming of the man of sin was to be accompanied by a falling away; and that this falling away should take place in the latter times." - 1 Tim. iv. 1. "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils," &c.
The coming of the man of sin was to be marked by the apostasy of some from the faith. (See 2 Thess. ii. 3.) Is there not evidently a falling away from the faith of the gospel manifested by the Baptists who have gone into the new measures of the day? Professor Eaton, in his Inaugural Address, page twenty, assures us that he cannot withhold the expression of his gratification at the change of views and action which have taken place among the Baptists. Certainly none can be so blind, who have any spiritual light, as not to see that the doctrine of sovereign grace has ceased to ring from the pulpits of all those who have adopted the new order.
The second mark by which the man of sin should be known in his coming is, that he opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, &c. - 2 Thess. ii. 4. The institutions in question bear this mark enstamped most legibly upon their frontlet. they oppose God by reviling and deriding his doctrine; second, by making void his commandments by their traditions; third, by teaching for doctrines the commandments of men; fourth, by persecuting his ministers, and making a theological education the indispensable prerequisite to efficiency in the gospel ministry, and by their general opposition to the saints who refuse to go with them in their wicked pursuits; and they exalt themselves above all that is called God, by claiming the power to give their preachers greater or more efficient gifts than those bestowed by the Holy Ghost on those who preach the gospel of Christ, by professing to wield the destiny of immortal souls, by issuing commissions to preach the gospel, to their hirelings, and by professing to possess the means by which they can readily convert such souls as they tell us the Holy Ghost has been striving for years to convert, but to no purpose. from all of which, it is sufficiently clear that the modern institutions of the day oppose and exalt themselves above all that is called God.
A third mark of the man of sin is embraced in the same chapter, ninth and tenth verses: "Whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power." This they manifest in their exaltation as above noticed; all power to call, qualify, send forth, and sustain what they profanely call ministers of the gospel; all power to exert in the production of revivals of religion, the conversion of sinners, and the conversion of the world to God. And signs . The signs which they present, by which they wish to be recognized as the approved of God, are not such as the word of God authorizes us to look for, viz: that they are hated of all men for Christ's name's sake; or that they are the poor of this world, but rich in faith, &c. No, these are not the signs; but rather, come and see our zeal for the Lord of Hosts! see how we prosper! see how the world loves and unites with us in building up the kingdom of God! look at our numbers! legion! for we are many! we are wealthy, we are popular, we are learned and esteemed of all men. And lying wonders. Thousands of converts to their faith - fire from heaven in the sight of men, &c. (See Rev.) And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. Their facilities for deceiving them that perish are many and various. Their specious pretentions to circulate the bible without note or comment, without money or price, to the needy and destitute, while they are enriching themselves by this system of mendicancy, their pretentions of circulating evangelical truth, through Tracts, Sunday Schools, Missionaries, &c., when in reality they are themselves ignorant of the gospel, and destitute of its spirit; are all admirably calculated to deceive them that perish; because they receive not of the love of the truth. Those who possess the love of the truth are not to be deceived; because god hath chosen them to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. But they that are finally deceived by them, are those unto whom God will send strong delusions, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. - Verses 11 and 12.
But time would fail us to pursue the comparison of the institutions of the day with the marks of anti-christ given us in the New Testament. they shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, (coveting and grasping all that they can dupe the people out of) false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God: having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; of the sort which creep into widows' houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with diverse lusts, ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth, men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. - 2 Tim. iii. 1-8. Unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake. - Titus i. 11. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of; and through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandize of you; whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and whose damnation slumbereth not. - 2 Peter ii. 3,4. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and run greedily after the error of Balaam for reward. these are spots in your feasts of charity when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear; clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out of their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever; walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration, because of advantage. - Jude 11-16.
In thus comparing the rising inventions of men with the predictions going before, how sensibly the mind is struck with the minute accurateness with which the pencil of divine inspiration has portrayed these filthy dreamers, and the productions of their hands. Well may the heavens stand in astonishment, and the earth be horribly afraid, and very desolate at this. The professed people of the Lord have committed two evils: they have forsaken God, the fountain of living waters, and have hewn them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. - Jer. ii. 12,13. Can the Baptists who have followed the daughters of the old Mother of Harlots into all this iniquity, evade the just rebuke of him who says, "I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers, children that are corruptors: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger; they are gone away backward. - Isa. i. 2-4.
Believing that what we have written on this subject is amply sufficient to show our brethren at the South, and all others who are prepared to judge candidly, that we are fully sustained by the word of God in our opposition to the religious institutions of modern invention, we close with the apostolic exhortation to such of our brethren as have been decoyed by seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, viz: "Wherefore, come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters saith the lord Almighty." - 2 Cor. vi. 17,18.
New Vernon, N. Y.,
August 5, 1835
Elder Gilbert Beebe
August 5, 1835