JUDSON’S LETTER.

Agreeably to an intimation given in our last, we are now about to embellish our columns with a copious extract from the Cross and Baptist Journal, of Cincinnati, Ohio; and as ‘the editor of that paper specially requests that we should copy his notes entire, or say nothing about them, we feel willing to gratify him by making as fair a display of his learning, piety, truth and modesty, as the materials which he has favored us with will admit of. We will here insert his notes, [without the use of brackets] and then endeavor to avail ourselves of the liberty which he has so generously given us, of commenting on them as we please.

(From the Cross and Baptist Journal.)
“MR. JUDSON GUILTY OF BLASPHEMY.

Startle not, reader, this is not our assertion; yet it has been asserted; and by whom and for what you shall see.

It will be borne in mind that at the close of the year 1831, Mr. Judson, Missionary in Burmah, addressed a letter ‘To the female members of christian churches in the United states of America,’ on the subject of dress. The circumstances that gave rise to it were stated in the letter itself; and it contained a pungent appeal against the use of expensive and fashionable ornaments, contrary to apostolic precept.

The letter was extensively published in this country, in May 1832, and the general spirit and sentiments of it almost universally commended. A single clause, forming part of a sentence, was exceptionable, and by some was strongly objected to; among others, we have been told, by Mr. Cone, of New York. Brother Ira N. Allen, agent of the Baptist General Tract Society, in writing to Mr. Judson shortly after, took occasion to refer to the exceptional clause of his letter, and to the objections made against it. Mr Judson’s reply was published in the Baptist Tract Magazine, and copied, with a prefatory remark, by the Baptist Register. The Signs of the Times copies from the Register, and appends remarks. We now copy the whole from the Signs of the Times; and we request the reader to notice the candor, kindness and accuracy which are displayed in the remarks made by the editor of the Signs of the Times. In copying the remarks we shall insert some words in brackets, to correct the misspelling of the learned editor of the Signs of the Times.” - See “Signs of the Times,” - No. 14, page 222. * * *

REMARKS ON MR. STEVENS’ NOTES.

This learned editor seems to be greatly shocked at the mention of the word blasphemy, in regard to the sentiments animadverted upon in our former remarks on Judson’s letter to the females of America, while he admits with us that the sentiment alluded to is objectionable, and so much so that he purposely and for that reason suppressed it in the copy which he published in his paper; and so much so as to a]arm Mr. Allen (of Philadelphia, the General Agent of the B. G. Tract Society) to that degree as to cause him to write to Mr. Judson on the subject. If through our ignorance, or incapacity to understand the language of the great and wise we have over-rated the amount of wickedness contained in the sentiment alluded to, we can assure Mr. Stevens it will, when we are convinced that such is the fact, give us more pleasure to retract and confess, than it did at first to publish our remarks. His preconceived opinion of our feelings to the contrary notwithstanding.

On what grounds Mr. Allen and Mr. Stevens objected to the sentiment in question, he has not informed us. Our reasons for rejecting the sentiment we frankly give, viz; It was in our opinion blasphemous. First, inasmuch as it made God a liar, (see 1 John v. 10) by rejecting his testimony. Second, because it was, in our opinion, an attempt to supercede the atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the substitution of the efforts of American female, and consequently to abase Christ and his atonement, and to exalt them with their works, by ascribing to them and their sacrifices an efficience which, according to his doctrine, the atonement of Christ had failed to exert. And lastly, because it was calculated to lead captive silly women, for filthy lucre’s sake, by swelling their pride to believe that the destiny of many precious souls was so far at their disposal that they might be saved or damned, according as they should be disposed to give or withhold their ornaments, &c.

Now as this doctrine denies the positive declaration of God, it of course reflects on his veracity, and unavoidably comes under the denomination of what the bible calls blasphemy, as we read and understand the scriptures. If Mr. Stevens can make it weigh any less, we will hear him, and request him to inform us what objection he had to the sentiment, if it was not the same which we have expressed; he ought not to reject Mr. Judson’s doctrine without a cause.

The reader will observe that after the quotation of each note, our remarks will follow.

“NOTES BY THE EDITOR OF THE ‘CROSS AND JOURNAL.’”

(a) Perhaps we ought to inform our readers that the ‘signs of’ the Times’ is a semimonthly paper, published in the State of New York, (an eastern production - we are sorry that New York produces such things) and professes to be ‘devoted exclusively to the Baptist cause;’ and moreover is of the opinion, we believe, that its own precious self is the only advocate of genuine bible truth in the world, believing, as it would appear, that not one of all the religious publications in the country contain, as brother Thompson said of the Baptist Weekly Journal, a single word of gospel. Elder Stephen Gard, of Butler Co., Ohio, is agent for the ‘Signs.’”

(a) We feel ourselves obliged to Mr. Stevens for his kindness in informing his patrons that ours is a semi-monthly paper, and published in the State of New York, anti of his regret, &c.; for this is saying more in our favor, perhaps, than he intended - and of our agent for Butler Co., Ohio. In his next, it will be highly gratifying to us if he will give his readers our post-office address, our terms, &c.; and if it would not be asking too much, we would thank him to give a full list of the names of our agents in the great Valley of Mississippi, and especially all the ministers and brethren who have discontinued his paper and added their names to our subscription list, in the bounds of his own state. (Ohio.) We are sensible of the imperfection of our paper, yet we mean to contend for nothing but pure bible truth, and Mr. Stevens will confer a very great favor if he will point us to another paper which contends for the same purity of faith and practice.

“(b) Please do notice, reader, these expressions, which are found in the remarks of the ‘Signs:’ ‘The blasphemy of Mr. Judson’s letter.’ ‘The abhorrence in which he holds his doctrines.’ ‘His guilt,’ &c. Who, deriving his only knowledge of Mr. Judson’s character from the remarks of the ‘Signs,’ would not look upon him as a monster of iniquity? for what can be a greater crime in the sight of God than blasphemy? Is Elder Beebe utterly ignorant of language? or does his hatred against missions make him a maniac?”

(b) We are not only willing, but desirous, that the friends of truth should take particular notice of our remarks, and of the expressions to which Mr. S. objects. If the sentiments embraced in Mr. Judson’s letter are indeed blasphemous, (and we believe they are) we have a right to hold them in abhorrence, and to call them abominable; and inasmuch as Mr. J. would rather publicly palliate than confess, we can only look upon his course as wicked, and of course attaching guilt to him. We make no boast of our knowledge of language; yet we are not utterly ignorant of language. We were able to discover some expressions in Judson’s letter which do not accord with the language of the bible, or with christian experience. And in answer to the other interrogatory, whether Elder Beebe’s hatred of missions makes him a maniac, we adopt the language of the great and learned apostle to the Gentiles: “I am not mad, most noble Festus, (alias Stevens) but speak the words of truth and soberness.”

“(c) The statement that the language of Mr. Judson, containing what the editor of the ‘Signs’ calls ‘blasphemy,’ ‘abominable doctrine,’ and so on, was ‘eulogized by nearly all the editors of religious periodicals in our country,’ is as far from being true as any thing could be written. In our reprint of Mr. Judson’s letter, in May 1832, the exceptional clause was omitted, and the omission indicated in the usual way. We omitted it because we deemed it a loose and careless expression, and highly objectionable. We doubt whether the editor of the ‘Signs’ can find a single religious editor in the United States who has undertaken even to justify the language of Mr. J., now in question; and we challenge him to find one, even one, who eulogized it. The general spirit and drift of the letter was commended, highly commended,. and justly so; but not the clause in which Elder Beebe finds blasphemy.”

(c) Here Mr. Stevens would represent us as being guilty of falsehood in saying, We could not view this as a single handed stroke, casually given by a slip of Mr. Judson’s unruly pen; but we viewed it as the language of the idolized oracle of the East Indies, and coming to us endorsed by the missionary fraternity of the United States, and eulogized by nearly all the editors of religious periodicals in the United States. Our readers will notice that we stated this as our views; if we were wrong, why could not our learned opponent correct our mistake, by supplying another pair of brackets, instead of attempting to judge the secrets of our heart, and to toll the public that such was not our views, by his assertion that this expression of our views is as far from being true as any thing that could be written? But we shall venture to repeat the assertion, that such were, and are, our views; and we call upon our accuser to prove that they were not.

[We did not, however, intend to be understood that that abstract sentence was singled out and eulogized, but that; Judson’s letter which contained it was eulogized by all the religious periodicals of our country, which had come within our notice, not excepting that of Mr. Stevens.’ The letter (not merely its general drift) was commended, highly commended, without excepting the clause in which Elder Beebe finds blasphemy.]

If we had preserved our file of exchange papers, we could readily make such extracts as would probably bring a blush even from Mr. Stevens; and if he insists upon it, they shall yet be looked up, and published for his special benefit. But in the mean time we will from recollection state some of the unqualified eulogies expressed by the editor of the Baptist Repository. (Mr. Crosby) After speaking in the highest terms of approbation and applause, he recommended. it as being worthy to be taken into every pulpit, and read at the close of divine worship; and he recommended that all who had not, should read it; observing at the same time, for his own part, he had a great relish for re-perusal. This one instance will perhaps be sufficient to meet Mr. Stevens’ challenge; and if he wants any more, or if he insists on the language of the Repository, verbatim, it shall hereafter be furnished. It was also recommended through the Repository, to have the letter (as it was) incorporated with the tract called ‘A cry (or call) from Burmah;’ and it is actually now going the rounds, in the form of a tract; and the very principle of this letter is now being acted upon, the objectionable sentence not excepted, as we will show by the following extract from a late number of the Repository.

In the Baptist Register, copied into the Repository, the writer of the following extract has the presumption to assume one of the consecrated appellations of the Deity, ‘Alpha,’ and after speaking in approbation of Mr. Judson’s letter, breathes out the same sentiment in the following language, viz:

(From the Baptist Repository.)

“A certain minister requested a christian tailor to make him such a coat as would be judicious if he knew ten other ministers would have similar ones, and that the example of each would be followed by twenty brethren, and every cent so saved put into the treasury of the Lord. The result was, the tailor’s bill differed from his ordinary one in quantity of cloth, one-eighth; in work, one-fourth; and in trimmings, one-third. This coat has been imitated by several ministers and brethren, and in consequence, contributions for the cause of God are increasing. And is it too much to expect that some ransomed heathen will be raised to heaven, who, but for this self-denial’ would have sunk to hell? Well may this hope in a christian’s breast diminish the mortification occasioned by such singularity.”

“(d) FULLY substitute them - Shameless and stupidly perverse accusation! He accuses Mr. Judson of setting aside entirely, the atoning blood of Christ, and ‘FULLY substituting’ as a sacrifice in its place, the costly apparel of the ladies!! Let Elder Beebe utter but a moiety of this falsehood against any of his fellow citizens in relation to their mercantile transactions, and we might expect the penitentiary would catch him very quick.”

(d) Why so angry, Mr. Stevens? We will not resent the imputation of shamelessly, stupid, perverse, &c.; not even that of falsehood; but we would decline if possible the proposed honor of a penitentiary! We can assure Mr. Stevens, that as bitter as he may think us against the mission cause, we would much rather pray the God of heaven, if consistent with his holy purpose, to make Mr. Stevens and Mr. Judson, and all others who are as we conceive at war with the truth, the subjects of his saving grace, than to betray such feeling as he has expressed towards us in his note; but we forgive, and pray God to “lay not this sin to his charge,” as we presume that in the heat of his feelings his zeal has run away with his better judgment; and at the same time we bless God that it is not yet in the power of our enemies to thrust us into prison for believing and publishing what we conceive to be the truth.

Before we pass this note, let us carefully and prayerfully examine, and see whether our expression was or was not reprehensible. The question is, Does Mr. Judson’s language imply any thing like substituting the sacrifices which he recommends, in the place of the atonement of Jesus Christ, and does he ascribe a saving power to the former, and inefficiency to the latter? Hear him.

“Some, yea many precious souls might have been redeemed from the quenchless fires of hell, where now they must lie and suffer to all eternity, had you not been afraid of being thought unfashionable, and not like other folks - had you not preferred adorning your person, and cherishing the most seductive feelings of vanity and pride. O christian sisters! believers in Christ, in an eternal hell! and can you hesitate, and ask what you shall do? Bedew these ornaments with the tears of contrition; consecrate them to the cause of christianity; hang them on the cross of your dying Lord! Delay not an instant, hasten with all your might; if not to make reparations for the past,” (that is, by bringing precious souls up again from the quenchless fires of hell, as there can be no other way of making preparations for the past, as the many precious souls in hell have got there through the neglect, &c., of the ladies of this address) “at least to prevent a continuance of the evil” (that is, of any more precious souls going to hell is a similar way) “in future, * * * *

‘How easy to conceive, from many known events, that the single fact of a lady’s divesting herself of a necklace for Christ’s sake, may involve consequences which shall be felt in the remotest parts of the earth, and in all future generations, to the end of time; yea, stretch away in the boundless eternity, and be a subject of praise, millions of ages after this world and all its ornaments are burned up.”

The above extract from Mr. Judson’s letter shows the ground on which our conclusions were founded, viz: Mr. J. admits that our beloved Lord has died on the cross. Yet his death has failed, utterly failed, to secure the salvation from an eternal hell, many precious souls who, notwithstanding the death of Christ, are now suffering the quenchless fires of hell, in consequence of the wickedness of the ladies who dwell on the earth. And now as Christ has died, and either because these many were not embraced in his atonement, or because there was not sufficient efficacy in his blood to save them, they are in hell, Mr. J. proposes that another sacrifice shall be forthwith made, without one moment’s delay, by the females; and that the said offering, or sacrifice, shall consist of useless and extravagant apparel, &c., and that the same be consecrated by tears, and then offered upon the same cross on which the inefficient offering was made. If this does not amount to a full substitution, we call upon Mr. Stevens to tell us what item is lacking to make it complete. Will he say we have quoted him unfairly? Let the reader compare our copy with the original letter. Does he say our inferences are not warranted by the language of Mr. Judson? Let the candid judge. Does he say this does not amount to blasphemy? Let him tell us then what will.

“(e) Again, if there is any meaning in Elder Beebe’s words, he charges Mr. Judson with making popular opinion, instead of the word of God, his standard of truth; a charge which it would seem needless to say, cannot be sustained by a shadow of plausibility.”

(e) The words which Mr. S. seems to find fault with in this note, were Mr. Judson’s. He says to Mr. Allen, Tell your friends,’ &c., ‘that he must take it (the exceptional parts of his letter) in a popular, not strictly theological sense.’ So if Mr. S. cannot find the shadow which he is pursuing, he must not blame us, but his favorite, Judson.

“(f) A closing remark or two upon Elder Beebe and his ‘Signs of the Times.’ And first, all the pieces in the ‘Signs of the Times’ are not so bad as the one we have above quoted. Many important truths and just sentiments have appeared in its columns. Even ‘the father of lies’ himself tells many truths. But,

Second: We do not remember ever to have seen any notice in the ‘Signs of the Times,’ of the progress of the gospel in Burmah - of the fact that the scriptures are translated into the language of that empire, and already circulated to a considerable extent - that many of the Burmahs, in the face of opposition and death, have professed belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. and have been baptized - that truth is manifestly making its way to a multitude of minds, and that the light of divine truth seems ready to spring up all over the empire. These facts seem to excite no joy in the breast of Elder Beebe. He keeps the silence of death respecting them. But when the beloved Judson, in the warmth of his heart and the earnestness of his appeals, utters a sentence, objectionable indeed, and which he himself does not justify, see the vulture-like eagerness with which the obnoxious phrase is siezed upon, and the apparent delight which is felt in holding up its author as a blasphemer. Verily, it is perfectly unaccountable to us how any man, with any pretensions to intelligence, candor or piety, can approve such a publication.. Yet such there are.

Third: Elder Beebe, as well as some others, would have us believe that he is well informed on the subject of missionary operations; and that his very knowledge on the subject is the ground of his opposition. It may be that he has read and informed himself about these things, and yet is opposed. Such a thing is possible. But spread information, and approbation as surely follows as the genial warmth of the sun causes the vegetation to spring up from the rich soil. True, there may be exceptions. As in the one case, the worm, the frost, or the hail-storm, may nip in the bud or destroy. So. in the other, some mental or moral obliquity may entirely darken the soul, even in the full blaze of light. A well informed christian may be an opposer of missions; but how he can be, is quite as difficult for us to conceive, as it is to conceive how a well instructed and well informed disciple of Christ in the United States can be a Roman Catholic.

Fourth: There is one point of view in which the conduct of Elder Beebe, and the men of his stamp, seems strangely inconsistent. Tell them of the increase and prevalence of infidelity, intemperance, licentiousness, Roman Catholicism, of the various forms of vice, and of the flagrant corruptions of christianity, and of the danger which thus impends over the interests of truth, and our civil freedom and safety, tell them of all this, and these men are wonderfully calm and undisturbed. They will say to you, forsooth, that there is no danger, that the Lord reigns, that he will take care of his own cause, that he will preserve his chosen people, and that there. is no cause for fear; and with this they remain perfectly quiet. But go to these men again, and tell them of the Missionary and Temperance Societies, of the efforts of good men to spread the gospel, and to check the tide of vice in its various channels, and behold them starting up again - ‘gorgons and chimeras dire’ haunt their imaginations - the goblins of church and state, money-loving, money-making priests, speculation, truth ruined, and our government prostrated, stare them in the face. They must awake to action, - a semi-monthly tract, the ‘Signs of the Times,’ with all its lying wonders, must be sent through the land - they must blacken the character of the missionaries, they must have their Black Rock Convention, they must take hold like real working men, and that in right earnest - indeed it would seem as if Elder Beebe and his coadjutors now imagined themselves especially commissioned of heaven to sustain the throne of Omnipotence, lest being undermined by missionary, temperence and Sunday School men, it should totter and fall!”

“If Elder Beebe should see fit to copy in full into his ‘Signs of the Times,’ our ‘notes’ on his ‘remarks,’ as above given, he is perfectly welcome to do so; he may then comment on them as he pleases; otherwise it is our special request that he would say nothing in any shape about them.”

(f) While we carefully acknowledge the compliment, (as far as it goes) that all our pieces are not as bad as the one which he has quoted, we cannot refrain from some fearful misgivings on the subject, lest we might in some unguarded moment have left some article so loose as to suit the views of this learned and popular editor. His comparing the editor of this paper to the father of lies, is one step lower than we feel disposed at this time to follow him.

Second. - We have never devoted our paper to the promulgation of the reports of missionary hirelings, either in Burmah or elsewhere, any otherwise than in endeavoring in some instances, by making extracts from them, to undeceive those who have been hoodwinked by their high sounding pretensions. It would indeed give us pleasure to know that a just and accurate translation of the scriptures into all the various languages of the earth, was in progress, although we have no idea that even so desirable a thing would, or could possibly, result in the salvation of one solitary individual of the human family, more than what God has from everlasting ordained to salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Mr. S. has never found the least mention in our paper of the progress of the gospel in Burmah. Astonishing! He says we keep the silence of death respecting them, viz: those who are in that place professing belief in the Lord Jesus Christ; and of the light of divine truth springing up. all over the empire, &c. These facts seems (to Mr. S.) to inspire no joy in our breast. We have yet to learn that the gospel of Jesus Christ is published in Burmah, or that truth is springing up in that empire. True, we have been informed of the progress made by Mr. Judson and others, in the promulgation of their doctrine, but we remain unconvinced that Mr. Judson or his colleagues are engaged in propagating any better doctrine in Burmah than that which is embraced in their letters to this country. This is the cause of our death-like silence on the subject.

Throughout his notes, Mr. S. represents that we have seized, in a vulture-like manner, an exceptional sentence, which in a warmth of feelings was unconsciouly uttered, and overlooking all the rest, had made use of this abstract expression, for the purpose of holding up its author as a blasphemer; but this representation is incorrect in many respects. By reference to our strictures on his letter published in our first volume, number four, it will be seen that there were other exceptionable sentences in his letter, and that there were some few things stated in the letter in which we were agreed with the author, and that we distinctly stated that our extracts embraced the most exceptionable parts of Mr. J.’s letter.

We will not now attempt to solve the unaccountable mystery to Mr. Stevens, how any man, with any pretension to intelligence, candor or piety, can approve such a publication as the ‘Signs of the Times.’ We will only assure him that, in our opinion, his inability to comprehend this mystery is no greater than was that of a certain learned master of Israel, concerning ‘how a man could be born when he was old.’ But,

Third. - Elder Beebe, as well as some others, would have you believe, that we make no pretensions to any extensive knowledge concerning your missionary operations, except what statements have appeared from time to time in the journals devoted to the interests of that cause. On what Mr. Stevens’ round assertion is founded, we leave the candid to judge, as we have never published any such pretentions. It may be proper here, for his edification, to state what we do, and what we do not know about the missionary questions of the day.

We know that they claim to be of God, and an instituted means of salvation. They claim to have carried the gospel into many places where it would never have gone, but for the modern efforts which they have exerted. We know that in the missionary operations of the day, numerous societies are organized, whose memberships, directorships, and other articles of merchandize, are bought and sold; and we know that they bestow their honorary degrees and titles, according to the amount of money which is paid for them; and that they assume the right to dictate to those whom they call the ministers of the gospel, when, where and how, they shall preach, and what they shall receive for their services; and we have become pretty well convinced that their agents have gone abroad over the face of our country, like the frogs of Egypt, and come up into our houses, and into our kneeding troughs and ovens; and that by reason of them, the ancient order of Zion has been wickedly perverted, union and harmony in many churches not only marred, but utterly destroyed; while their missionaries, and other agents, are carrying on a complete system of mendicancy, which is bordering on a state of hierarchy, and consequently must result, eventually, in the utter prostration of our civil and religious liberties. And we know, or should judge by the specimen of their feelings expressed by their exasperated champion, (Mr. Stevens) that if all the power were theirs, the poor ‘Signs of the Times’ would cease to tell tales, and the editor, much against his inclination, would take up his lodging in the penitentiory.

But we do not know, who has required these things at their hands; nor of a single passage of scripture to justify their pretensions; nor of any good that has ever resulted from them; nor anything but deception, ambition and interest to sustain them; and last of all, we do not know but we may be wrong, in at least some of our views, notwithstanding our ardent desire to be right.

Mr. S. is certainly wrong in supposing that an increase of information would secure the approbation of those who fear the Lord and tremble at his word. It is well known, that the more such persons learn of the artful management of these humanly contrived religious money-getting machines, the greater is their opposition to and abhorrence of them.

Fourth. - We, and those of our stamp, are accused of inconsistency, because we are not so much alarmed at the prevalence of other vice and immorality, or even of that of Roman Catholicism, as we are at the astonishing strides which are taken in advancing what is falsely called the cause of benevolence. If this be inconsistent, we are content to be called so; for truly we do not fear so much, all the combined forces of earth and hell in open combat, as we do the unhallowed influence of those who creep into the churches, and with them bring in damnable heresy. These we dread; not because we fear they will undermine the throne of Omnipotence, or go one step beyond that firm decree which has said unto them, ‘Fill up the measure of your fathers, ye serpents, ye generation of vipers; how can ye escape the damnation of hell?’ But our fears are grounded upon those fearful predictions recorded in the bible, by which we are taught to look for the most sanguinary and pitiless persecution from this very quarter. It is from those who have pilfered the Baptist name, we even now experience the greatest opposition we are called to encounter. The openly profane have never, from the days of Cain unto the present, been so great a scourge to the saints of God, as those who have stood the highest in religious profession.

And we would farther hint to our very sage friend, we feel ourselves specially called on to ‘Blow the trumpet in Zion, and to sound an alarm in God’s holy mountain.’ We are by no means surprised at the spirit in which Mr. S. refers to 6ur paper, and to the Black Rock Meeting, and to our opposition to their new order of things; we know there are such spirits in the world, and yet we rejoice not that thy are made subject to us through Christ our Lord; but rather because our names are, as we hope and trust, written in heaven.

And now a few words to Mr. Stevens. We simply wish to whisper, that we were not brought up exactly at the feet of Gamaliel, nor at any academical institution, where grave doctors and divines are manufactured: but then we have been favored with sufficient information to enable us to read the bible. On bible grounds, therefore, we are altogether prepared to meet you. Now lest you should be under the false impression that we are what you called us, ‘The learned editor of the ‘Signs of the Times,’ we do you to wit: we make no such pretension; and that you may be better informed of the regulations of the kingdom in which we hold our standing, we refer you to 1 Cor. i. 18, to the end of the chapter.

NEW VERNON, N. Y.,
September 10, 1834.

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 144 – 159