It is written, my Father's house shall be called a house of prayer but ye have made it a den of Thieves. THE MASTER.
Perhaps in the annels of the Gospel dispensation, a period of deeper interest, or fraught with more important events than the present cannot be found. In a retrospective view of the church, from the days of John the Baptist, a parellel with the present cannot be pointed out. In her infancy, she was persecuted, her members were few, and scattered; but even then, amidst the savage rage of her invetrate foes, she presented to the enemy an unbroken front, and the “Shout of the King was among them.” In her on-bound passage down the channel of time, we see her immerged in floods of gore, and flames of Papal persecution the most horrid engines of cruelty that demons could invent were prepared for the diabolical work of torturing and destroying the Saints of the Most High, – but then, even then! amidst the hellish rage of Pontifs, Bishops, Kings and Priests, the church maintained her virgin purity. She then at the peril of mortal life, contended earnestly for the faith once delivered to the Saints, nor could the galling chain of despots, – the pains of bloody persecution, or of death in its most terrific forms, present any sufficient inducements to the Sons of Zion to abandon their faith, or any part of it, or in any measure to fall in with, or countenance any of the new and more popular schemes, plans, laws, ordinances or doctrines, then contended for by their enemies, passing thro' seas of their own blood, or evaporating in flames of fire, their spirits crowned with victory, went home to the embrace of the God whom they so dearly loved, and in whose name alone they trusted and were triumphant.
But, Alas! “How is the gold become dim, and the most fine gold changed.” Where are champions for the primitive order of the church of Christ? Whose hands have been taught to war, and their fingers to fight. – Where shall we find the undaunted sons of Zion, who are prepared to meet the torrent of opposition and bearing the fearless breast, submit to stripes, tortures and death, rather than to give up on of their Lord's commands, or submit to any thing unauthorized by him? Do they all slumber in death? Have they indeed all finished their course and gone home to glory? No, it cannot be. The hour has not yet come in which the Lord's two witnesses must be slain, and trodden under foot in the streets of the Great City Spiritually called Sodom and Egypt. For here & there we see one or more of the witnesses of the Lord clothed in sack-cloth prophecying. But they are comparatively few; yea, very few, and placed under circumstances of the most trying kind. Truly we may adopt the language of Zion, in former times, “Except the Lord, had left us a very small remnant we should have been as Sodom, and like unto Gomorrah,” (ie.) like the other Denominations professing christianity around us which are altogether given over to Idolatry, and whose end is to be burned.
But while we compare the present, with the former state of the church; let us enquire after the cause of the evident discrpance. When Zion dwelt alone, she dwelt in safety. “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.” & “When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died!”
Even so, when the church was under the lash of persecution, she spake trembling with holy fear, and divine reverence she asked counsel of God, and turned neither to the right hand nor to the left without his instruction.
But another reason why it is not with Zion, as in years that are past and gone, is this viz: when the saints were persecuted into strange cities, cast out of the Synagogues, whipped forty stripes, save one, thrown into prisons and dungeons, and into boiling oil, banished to desolate Islands, stretched on racks, dragged into courts of Inquisition, sustained the loss and confiscation of all earthly possessions, had their names cast out as evil. Yea when on the shores of our New England States (then colonies) they suffered their tongues to be boared through with hot irons, and many of them were even put to death for their faith, and practice as christians. See 208th page of the Signs &c., also Goodrich History of U.S. Page 67.
We say when such as the standing of the Baptist church; she was unable to offer any inducement to her enemies, to amalgumate themselves with her, consequently hypocrites, and nominal professors were kept back, they had no mind to share the tribulations of the saints, of the Most High. But now since a profession of piety has become the road to popularity, fame and opulence, since even the once despised, persecuted and afflicted Baptist, have many of them waxed fat, and kicked, since the Baptist Denomination have heaped to themselves teachers having itching ears, have builded Theological Seminaries to manufacture their own Ministers, Bishops, and Doctors, having formed unhallowed connections with the world, and with their former persecutors, under the specious names of Bible, Education, Sunday School, Missionary, Magdalen, Temperance, Anti-Tobacco, Penny, Might, Shirt collar, and Rag, Bag Societies, with numerous lucrative offices, Agencies &c. She can, she does hold out inducements of no ordinary kind to the world to “cast in their lot with her and all have one purse.”
And the children of this world flock over to her in multitudes, saying “We will eat our own bread, wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, (christian) to take away our reproach. (Infidel.)
And instead of the Denomination as such rending her garments, and sitting in sack-cloth and ashes, on this account, – the leading characters are making their boast, that their plans are owned and approved of God, because of the multitudes that are constantly joining them. But such are the present signs of the times.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Signs of the Times
Volume 1, No. 17
July 17, 1833