“They take up all of them with the angle, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag: therefore they rejoice and are glad.”
“Therefore, they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag; because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous.” - Habakkuk i. 15, 16.
O glorious Means! omnipotent in thy power, novel in thine appearance, and miraculous in thine effects. How greatly do the nations admire thee! The Scribes and Pharisees rejoice in thee. Work-mongers and Arminians bless thee! Deluded mortals put their trust under the shadow of thy wings! Ashdod and Moab are among thine admirers! Ishmael and Cain, with Esau and Goliah, are among thy mighty men! In thy praises the daughters of all the uncircumcised unite! To set forth thine excellency, the most popular, learned and influential clergy of modern times are zealously engaged! For thy service, Theological Colleges and Sunday Schools are greatly multiplied, and all who hate God and despise his salvation, and wantonly disregard his word, and do despite to the spirit of grace, are wont to bow obsequious at thy glittering shrine! Great is thine antiquity, and venerable thy hoary locks, for very age. Thine ancient wonders and thy mighty works of old, as with a sunbeam, record the history of thy demoniac renown.
No sooner had the light of heaven shone upon the new made works of God, in the morning of time, than thou wert there, even thou, and thy father, to teach the parents of our race the way to become as gods; and when their eyes were opened, and they saw with shame their nakedness, by thee a covering of fig-leaves was seasonably provided. To thee did Cain apply for reconciliation with the offended Majesty, from whom he had received his existence; and by the use of thee, O means! did he insult Jehovah, with an offering from the earth, then groaning under the weighty curse of God, - an offering which the Lord had not required at his unhallowed hands. And by the use of thee, his zeal waxed hot against the religion of his brother, who rejected thee. Yea, in his fiery zeal did he decree, in thy great name, the complete extermination of heresy from the new born world. A lasting monument of thy ancient works, was, at an early age, erected on the plains of Shinar, to stand coeval with the world, whereon, indelibly, thy name is written; and who, we ask, shall dare dispute that Babel’s mighty tower was the production of means? To thee, the incestuous origin of Moab and Ammon most unquestionably belong; and he doth wrong thee, who this truth denies. And by thine ingenuity were good old Abraham and Sarah, with their bond-women, enlisted in the enterprise of hastening the fulfillment of the promise of the God of heaven. Ishmael also is thy son, and all his numerous offspring have received their existence through thine instrumentality.
O means! if thou wert dead, what pen of scribe could write a fair biography of thy deeds of fame? To frame new gods for Israel’s fickle tribes, resort was had to thee. The borrowed jewels which once adorned the Hebrew women, quickly assumed the form and beauty of a calf, when Israel's mitred priest, in thy dread name, devoted them; and when amid the deafening shouts of all thy Hebrew worshipers, Aaron brought forth the god of means, how thou wert honored. To thy new gods, honors immortal were ascribed; and at the priest’s protracted-meeting, held before it, thousands of converts left the worship of the most high God, and bowed themselves to thee, and owned thy god as their deliverer from Pharaoh’s cruel yoke; nor did this revival cease, until an old school Moses preached his antiquated doctrine in their ears. To fill the land with prophets such as Ahab loved, and kill the prophets of the Lord of Hosts, that monarch sold himself for thee. And in thy name, thy daughter Jezabel, with zeal unequaled, spread her table to sustain thy troops. By thee, the men of Egypt wrought their miracles in the presence of the king, until thy stock of wisdom and of power were overdrawn, to imitate the plague of vermin.
Turn back thine eye, O Means, to days of yore, and in the retrospect behold the heathen world filled with thy temples, swarmed by thy missionaries, and finally worshiping no less that thirty thousands of thy gods. Then turn thyself around, and from the climax of thy splendid Babel look to every high hill, and under all green trees, in Israel, and mark the chosen tribes, in wild devotion burning incense on altars of brick, offering to the Lord swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable things. Yea, see them devoutly baking cakes unto the queen of heaven; all in thy use, and all to honor thee!
If, then, under the sable ages of the world, while the earth in darkness groped, thou wert the pride of princes, and the pillar on which the monarchies of nations learned, what art thou now? No sooner had the God of glory sent his Son into the world, than Herod came to thee for aid to slay the young child Jesus. To help him out, thy hands were stained with the blood of all the infant males, from two years old and younger, throughout his jurisdiction. To perpetuate the connection of church and State, and seal forever to the neck of Israel the yoke Which neither they nor their fathers were able to endure, the Jewish Rabbies had access to thee. In keeping with thy various transformations at that important period, thou didst profess a zeal for God. Then didst thou teach thy sons to swear that they had heard the holy Jesus blaspheme - that they had known him to break the Sabbath, eat like a glutton, and drink as a wine-bibber. They called him Beelzebub, and said he cast out evil spirits through the prince of devils; and to arrest the further progress of his doctrine, the earth was traversed, and the sea compassed, by thy missionaries of Pharisaic sentiments, to make one proselyte, who, when converted to thy craft, thou madest him more the child of hell than were the pious Pharisees. And further, if our recollection serves us, thou didst originate on one occasion, a tee-total abstinance society, in which no less than forty of thy sons not only pledged themselves to drink no wine or beer, but also bound themselves under a curse, that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. Five times didst thou repeat thy forty stripes, in the case of Paul, as means to bring him into thy new measures; and once thou didst persuade him to shave himself, and be at charges. Poor Peter also used thee, to avoid the strong suspicions which attached to him, in consequence of the affirmations of a damsel. Judas, thy treasurer, held unshaken confidence in thee. He found thee useful in collecting funds to fill his bag; and through thine influence he was enabled at one time to lift a collection of thirty pieces of silver. It is true, thy disciple, Simon Magus, did not succeed when, for thee, he offered money for gifts of the Holy Ghost; but it is very evident that if Peter had really known that sinners were redeemed by silver, or with gold, he would not have sentenced the money with the wretch to perish. The money for thy service, would have been kept back.
Had the good Master approved thy doctrine as it is generally understood, and practiced by his professed disciples of the new school, so far from directing them to call upon the Lord of the harvest for laborers, he would have directed them to thee; and by thine aid, to rear up colleges, and Theological Schools, form National and State Societies, Missionary Boards, and to establish a thousand agencies in all parts of the land, to raise funds and inducements for pious, lazy young men, to enter the vineyard. But oh! how unfortunate for the ante-deluvian world - for Sodom and Gomorrah - for Tyre and Siden, and for ill-fated Jerusalem, that the marvelous power to moralize and christianize the world were hidden from their eyes) and the refulgent blaze of thy glory reserved for this wonderful day of Means, in which our lot is cast.
The present is a day devoted to thy service, distinguished from all former time as the peculiar day of means! In the developement of thy powers are brought to light the hidden things of dishonesty, and thou art known and acknowledged as the originator of all the popular modern religious institutions which claim the right to monopolize all the benevolence on earth. Thou art like a powerful locomotive, puffing, snorting, and letting off thy surplus steam, while thy thundering wheels, with sound of mighty power, makes nature tremble, and in thy train are found all the religious inventions of fallen man, drawn onward by thee with the most astonishing velocity. Thy splendid cars, bearing the names of every religious society under heaven - with the bare exception of the church of God - dash on with frightful celerity to consummate thy glory. To thee, the clergy of our day ascribe salvation; the pulpit and the press reiterate the sound that God has ordained eternal salvation through thy instrumentality; that thou art accessible to all men - that thou art even in the hands of all men, and if all will use thee, all shall be saved; and that the reason why any are lost is, because of their rejection of thy sovereign power to save. In the wonderful march of mind, characteristic of the present times, few, very few, are found who dare even pray to God for any blessing, temporal or spiritual, for time or for eternity, through any other name than thine. The name given under heaven and among men, whereby the apostle tells us sinners must be saved, sounds harsh, antiquated, obsolete and barbarous in the pious ears of those who admire thee. To justify the foregoing remark, we refer for testimony to the general language of what bears the name of prayer in every part of our land - “Lord, bless the means made use of for the spread of the gospel, for the revival of religion, for the conversion of the heathen, and for the evangelization of the world! Bless our Theological Schools, our Foreign and Domestic Mission Societies, our Sabbath Schools, our Bible and Tract Societies, with all other means made use of for the good of thy cause,” &c. While on the other hand, sinners are taught to expect salvation through the use of means, and christians are gravely told that all their prayers to God to carry on his work and grace, to build up his cause and kingdom, to supply the walls of Zion with watchmen, to gather in his ransomed people, will prove abortive and vain, unless we apply ourselves to - means!
In the diversification of thy transformations, sometimes thou appearest as a mighty deity, having power to control the mind and will of the unchanging God, and causing him to forego his plans and adopt those which bear thy superscription; and when thou dost assume this god-like form, we are directed to depend on thee to aid us in persuading the Lord to convert our wives, our children, our neighbors, and the world at large - to bless our enterprises, and to give success to all our plans, and efficacy to all our measures. Anon, thou seemest like some net or drag by which the portion of thine advocates is fat and fall of marrow, and by which their meat is plenteous. Just as the silly fish catch at the angle .of the artful fisher, infatuated mortals grasp at thee; and like a net or drag, thou makest fat the portion of thy votaries, who, in return, with grateful hearts and willing hands, sacrifice to thee, and on thine altar burn their incense.
Before we close our eulogy, we would remind thee that all the numerous host of thy disciples have long applied to thee for aid to put down the Old School Baptists! and in thy cause they have not shunned to declare all manner of evil falsely against them, nor left a stone unturned,; yet why have they not, with all thine aid, prevailed? Because that he is mightier who stands for his people, than thou, with all thine armies. Hence, means, WE DARE THEE! Do thy worst, we dread not thy power. The God in whom we trust has set bounds to thy power, saying unto thee, as to the waters of the mighty deep, “Hitherto shalt thou come, and no farther, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.” And even shouldst thou be permitted to wear thine ancient costume of prisons, racks and halters - of gibbets, flames and faggots, as christians trust in God they fear thee not. Put on, therefore, thy most terrific forms, and, as far as in the lies, blast our reputation, operate against our worldly interest, confiscate our property, and even drench the earth with oar blood, still we defy thee, still we refuse to have our portion made fat by thee; for unto us thy base reproaches are greater riches than all thy treasures. The God in whom we trust is able to deliver us out of thy hands - and if not, be it known unto unto thee, O Means, we will not worship thy gods, nor bow down to the images which thou hast set up.
NEW VERNON, N. Y.,
October 1, l836
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 321 – 327