“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” II Tim.3:13.
A striking illustration and verification of the above declaration has been placed in our hands by a friend. A pamphlet of nearly one hundred pages, published by the American Baptist Publication Society, 530 Arch Street, Philadelphia. The title is, “The First National Baptist Sunday School Convention of the United States, under the auspices of the American Baptist Publication Society, St. Louis, Nov. 2-4, 1868.” The persistent aspiration of the New School Baptists for a church and state connection is clearly visible in their efforts to become national.
Don’t forget that they publish this as the first National Baptist S.S. Convention; for it is highly probable that before many who read this report shall finish their course on earth, the successors of this aspiring party will stoutly affirm that National Baptist Sunday School Conventions were common in the days when the apostles were here in the flesh. While with one breath they boast of progression and improvement, and bitterly denounce those who remain firmly on apostolic ground, with the next they claim that they are the simon-pure Old School or Primitive Baptists themselves, and consider it uncharitable and unkind for us to doubt their veritable antiquity. Well does the writer of this article remember when the first Sunday School Union was formed in the city of New York, and when the first schools were patronized by the Baptist churches of that city, the solemn protestations of their advocates that nothing of a religious, sectarian, or political tendency was ever to grow out of them. The only object, professedly, was to collect from the streets poor neglected children, and teach them to read. This and nothing more, they declared, was intended. The little bantling was however regarded by a few with considerable suspicion, but they were denounced as a crabbed set who were opposed to everything that was good and benevolent. The foster parents and nurses of the pet protected that it was perfectly innocent and harmless, that it had neither horns, teeth, nor claws, and only heartless cowards were afraid of it. But the bantling grew very rapidly, and in a very few years it was with great pomp and ceremony received into the “pales of the Baptist church,” and christened, and dignified by the imposing cognomen, “The Nursery of the Church,” from which the church was to supply herself with members in after ages. The Sunday School Union was a mongrel affair, and wore a coat of many colors, and soon assumed a national character. “The American Sunday School Union” was so ingeniously constructed, that with very little shifting of its gearing it could manufacture from the raw material any sort of converts, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, or New School Baptists, in almost any quantity. As this creature of means; this child of many fathers, has now in process of time developed some of its huge proportions, the harmony of the Union of its paternity has been interrupted by sectarian jealousy, and each religious sect who owned stock in the great speculation have become ambitious to run a machine of their own.
This National Baptist Sunday School Convention was composed of delegates from twenty-eight states, and as they put on their National sectarian habiliments, looked imposingly magnificent and grand, but little inferior to the Ecumenical Council, now in session with the Roman Pontiff, for nearly the same purpose.
No longer hampered with the antiquated doctrine of salvation by grace alone, which has subjected the people of God to cruel persecutions, prisons, tortures, and death, they arise like a rocket from the earth to blaze in the air. They were greeted at their Convention by the “reverend” Doctors of other denominations, and by magistrates and rulers of the earth.
For specimens of the doctrines, purposes, and expectations now held and promulgated by this new fledged National establishment, we will copy a few of their own declarations, as published in their pamphlet by the American Baptist Publication Society.
On page 13, it is stated that “the objective point for the Sunday School work is that children need a Savior. To bring them to Christ is the primary aim of the Sunday School worker.”
This declaration supposes that Christ is stationed in some locality, ready and willing to do any work we may employ him to do. He cannot get to the children, nor can the children get to him; but we can supply what is deficient. The children need a Savior, and here we are, and we have the ability to bring them to him, or place them within the limits of salvation, and this is the first, the primary work of the Sunday School worker, who work this Sunday School machine for the transportation of children to Christ, and so prevent their damnation. On page 14. “No other aim can so infuse the souls of Sunday School workers with the spirit of earnestness and consecration to Christ as this. This work of saving souls is more than enthusiasm of humanity.” &c.
The eternal God declares that he is the Savior, and there is none else. And as inspired apostle testifies that there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. Yet these presumptuous pretenders have their souls infused with the notion that the work of saving souls is committed to Sunday School workers. Now suppose for a moment that this were so, and that these workers, as they call themselves, could and should save any on whom they work, would such be saved by grace, or by works? Paul declares that if it be by works, then it is no more by grace. It cannot possibly be of both. How then? “By grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.” On page 15, they again say, “As Sunday School workers, our primary aim therefore should be the salvation of the souls of all we teach. But as Baptist Sunday School workers, we have another aim. I have said the first aim was to bring the children to Christ. But, brethren, when this is done, our aim should be to make these converted children Baptists.” The convention seems to think it would be labor lost for National Baptist Sunday School workers to convert the children, and save their souls, and bring them to Christ, that it will not do to entrust them to his care, for the other denominations might catch them; they say, We must make them Baptists; and we infer that they must still go a step or two farther, and make them National Baptists, and Sunday School workers. What would be gained to convert them, and save their souls, and bring them to Christ, if they are to be left to his care? They are already in his care.
On page 22, they say, “Give us but this plighting of hands and hearts in view of the cross, and we have the earnest of the day when the children, early trained, and early saved, shall flock as doves to their windows. When the great spiritual temple raised upon the ruins of Anti-christ shall stand forth in all its beautiful proportions, ready for the Headstone, which shall be brought forth with ‘shoutings of Grace, Grace unto it.’ The consummation of these high aims depends upon individual consecration to the work.” How magnanimously generous, on the part of this National institution, when they by working have converted the children, and saved their souls, and brought them to Christ, and these workers with plighted hands and hearts, in view of the cross, have early trained, and early saved the children, and when they shall have got the spiritual temple builded, not on Christ the true foundation, but upon the ruins, or rubbish of anti-christ, and ready for the Headstone, to allow that stone to crown the building with shoutings of Grace, when the apostle declares, as we have shown, that “if it be of works, it is no more of grace.” Why not shout the praise to the workers who have converted the children, saved their souls, and brought them to Christ? Surely the laborer is worthy of his pay.
On page 25, this passage occurs: “Let us remember that our work as Sunday School teachers is a failure, if our scholars are not saved.” This strips the object of Sunday Schools of all the false pretences which were urged fifty years ago, of teaching to read, and to become more intelligent and useful citizens. Unless we can convert and save them, and bring them to Jesus, and make them Baptists, and National Baptists, all our work is a failure.
In the address of Rev. E.A. Dickinson, page 25, he says, “Brethren, let me urge you, as I would seek to urge myself, to greater earnestness in the work of saving little children. I would urge it by all the joys that come to us in this world from saving little children.” And this same speaker in his concluding remarks, on page 26, says, “I heard of a Sunday School Superintendent that had been out looking up little ones and bringing them into the Sunday School, when one after another was converted. One day he was sent for to see a little child. The little boy said to him, ‘I want to thank you, the last thing before I leave this world. When I go to heaven, I am going to tell Jesus it was you that put me in the way to heaven – it was you who saved me, and I am going to look out for you when you get up there. I will meet you, and take you by the hand, and carry you to Jesus, and say, Lord Jesus, here is the man that put me in the way to heaven.’ Oh, I tell you, that Superintendent went away with his heart almost bursting with joy at the thought of meeting that dear little fellow up at the pearly gate! If we are faithful – if christian workers, from the North and South, and East and West, are faithful in this work – laboring to save little children, when you get up yonder at the shining gate you will be surprised; for they will come from every direction. Every one will want to take you by the hand – and they will say, ‘Come, I want to carry you to Jesus.’ They will say, ‘Lord Jesus, here is the man, and here is the woman, that put me in the way to heaven.’“
Not a word of objection was made to this abominable blasphemy, but the full approval of the whole was expressed thus: “The Convention joined Mr. Doane in singing the work song.”
These extravagant expressions are not to be regarded as the ravings only of the mad fanatic who uttered them, but as the delusion and heresy of the whole National Baptist Sunday School Convention of the United States, fully endorsed and published to the world by the American Baptist Publication Society. Let us examine this expose of New Schoolism. Our Lord Jesus has warned his disciples, saying, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” Matt. 25:4,5. Is the Jesus whom the Convention has described the same which is described in the scriptures as “The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace,” whose name sent down from heaven was to signify that he shall save his people from their sins? Is it that Jesus who as the Foundation of God hath this seal, “The Lord knoweth them that are his?” That Shepherd who says he knows his sheep, and calleth his own sheep by name? &c. If Jesus has saved his people from their sins, whose people are they who are saved by “Sunday School workers?” If it be true that Jesus is the Lord, and knows all his, what Jesus is this described by the Convention, who has to be informed of and introduced to them after they have been raised to heaven by the Sunday School machine? We hesitate not to declare that the Jesus whom they have portrayed on their walls has no more resemblance to Jesus Christ our Savior, than had the golden calf which Aaron made, to the God which brought the children of Israel up out of Egypt. Nor is the heaven which they have painted any more like the paradise of God, than is the paradise of Mahomet like the throne of God and the Lamb. Nor does their cherished views of salvation bear the slightest resemblance to God’s method of salvation as set forth in the inspired scriptures and revealed by the Holy Spirit to the faith of God’s elect. Yet man will drink in such delusion with greediness, because they love darkness more than light. But the apostle John explains the mystery: “They are of the world; therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God; he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” I John 4:5,6.
But we will copy a few more passages from this pamphlet, in which our readers shall learn from their own statements what is designed and anticipated to be effected both religiously and politically. On page 36 they assert:
“1. The Sunday School is the moulder of public opinion. 2. It is the conservator of public morals.
The Sunday School may be made the moulder of public opinion, a tremendous and powerful influence in controlling all right motives and securing all good results. You can reach, by striking early, the minds of those who are to grow up and control the next community, morally, politically and financially.”
Ah! Yes, that lets out the secret. This august Convention is thirsting for moral, political, and financial dominion over the next community, and the Sunday Schools, by actual experiment has demonstrated that by striking early, while the children are young, while their immature judgment and plastic minds are like the young nestlings, ready with open beak to receive whatever the mother bird may choose to drop into their mouths. Such was the theory and philosophy of their old mother Rome, to catechize and drill the young, and by infant sprinkling and other traps and fetters, bring them into their ecclesiastic pales, and subjugate them morally, politically, and, above all things, financially to their priestly dominion. Here they have the lever, but they must strike early, and spring the trap before the game is conscious of the snare; for, “Just as the twig is bent, the tree inclines.” Morally they aim to bend the pupils to their standard of morality; politically, to unite the church and state, and legislate for the chartering such religious institutions as the “National Baptist Sunday School Convention,” and finally inspire the image of the model beast with political power to proscribe, persecute, and put to death all who may refuse to receive their mark, or image, or the number of their name. And financially they must be drilled to supply these daughters of the horse-leach with all the funds they want.
Page 37. The “Rev. J.F. Elder” says, “The Sunday School becomes the conservator of public morals … I believe that the world is growing better. At all events, we are so far controlling public opinion and public morals, that vice is slinking back into the dark corners, and putting itself under the cover of night.” Is this so? What man or child of ordinary intelligence does not know better? What an insult to common sense. In what respect is the world being improved, except that the people of the world are more easily deceived and hood-winked by modern priestcraft than at any previous time for many ages past? Does his reverence ever read the records of current events in our daily newspapers, or does he mean to lie outright? Are murders, suicides, thefts, incendiaries, rapes, adulteries, wars and tumults, less frequent than they were fifty years ago? Are there any sufficiently verdent to believe that the world is, morally, politically, or in any other particular really growing better? Quite the reverse is unquestionably the truth. In all classes of community, from the halls of legislation, and the rulers of the people, down to the humblest positions, all kinds of the most degrading iniquities alarmingly prevail. And in no class of the whole community is this degeneracy more apparent than with those who are encircled in the folds of this religious viper, called the “National Baptist Sunday School Institution.” Subsequent to its inauguration, the Baptist church, which previously was harmonious, and in fellowship from Maine to Georgia, and from the Atlantic to the far west, have not only been rent asunder, but those who went out from our fellowship have from the advent of their modern idols waxed worse and worse, until their members, and communicants of the same table, have been found on bloody fields of carnage, dealing death to each other, with National Baptist Chaplains on either side the lines hounding on their brethren to deeds of cruelty and violence that might make demons blush, and invoking God to speed their several parties. Is it in this the Convention counts on improvement? Do you say the Sunday Schools and kindred institutions patronized by “National Baptists” are not responsible for the late war that has called for the sacrifice of a million of the lives of our youth, and indescribable distress to our country? We are confident it has been the principal cause of the late devastating war, and so deeply involved, that without their influence, of which they boast, the war would not have been. We boldly assert, and challenge successful contradiction, that since the inauguration of Sunday Schools, Mission Societies, and other unscriptural institutions, for the professed object of evangelizing the world, and saving men, all the astounding crimes to which we have alluded have multiplied and kept even pace with the increasing advancement of these institutions. Basil Manly, D.D., on page 46, says, “A Sunday School in every church will promote the early conversion of children.” Just as human reason said more than three thousand years ago, the substitution of Hagar for Sarah, would promote the early advent of Abraham’s promised seed. As the Sunday Schools will convert children into nominal church members – into hypocrites, on the same principle as did the bond woman in the place of Sarah, promote the early production of mocking Ishmaelites.
On the same page he says, “Now the experience of half a century testifies conclusively that Sunday Schools do promote early conversions.” If this be so, that is, if Sunday Schools really promote, and accomplish genuine conversions, may not such converts be told that these Sunday Schools be their gods which brought them out of Egypt? We admit that they do convert them early from bad to worse.
On page 48 it is asserted that, “The extension of Sunday Schools will, moreover, improve the character as well as tend to increase the number of our ministry.” That the National Baptist ministry are sadly in need of improvement, we will not deny; but we would entreat, Spare us from an increase of their number, for they are already about as numerous and annoying as were the frogs in the days of Moses. But how Sunday School extension will improve their character, we cannot see, unless increasing the cause of their degeneracy will diminish the effect.
On page 50, “Rev. S.B. Page” said, “Here are twenty-eight states represented. I have thought of the words of our great” – apostle Paul? O, no! – “I have thought of the words of our great Wayland, which he introduced into a discourse he delivered before the American Sunday School Union, thirty years ago. As he stood up before the vast assembly, he said, Here is a great moral lever in the hands of the church that is to revolutionize the world.” The great Redeemer and Head over all things to his church, said his kingdom was not of this world, and commanded his disciples to come out and be separate from the world. If he had intended that they should use the American Sunday School Union as a lever to pry up and revolutionize the world, why should that lever be now abandoned, and a “National Baptist” lever substituted? Did Wayland prophesy falsely, or has the Lord changed his mind – laid aside his first plan and adopted the improved lever? But would it not be strange, if he had intended to put such a powerful instrument into the hands of the church, for the purpose of revolutionizing the world, that nothing was said by him, nor by his apostles, about a Sabbath School? That his church should have been left for eighteen hundred years to suppose that besides God there was no Savior, and that all the revolutions that should ever convulse the world were to be directed by his providence and accomplished by his power? Surely the Jesus of whom they speak is one of those false Christs whom our Lord said should come, and the gospel of which they speak is that other gospel which Paul says is not another, but there are some who would pervert the gospel of Christ; and the church which they describe is the same predicted in the word that should sit upon a scarlet colored beast, and have written upon her the names of blasphemy.
Perhaps we have already wearied the readers of the SIGNS with quotations from the pamphlet, in which these “raging waves of the sea” are suffered to foam out their own shame; but before we close these animadversions, we wish to say, this National Baptist Sunday School Lever, which has for its primary aim the salvation of souls, and to bring them to Christ, and to make National Baptists of them, and to improve the ministry of the Nationals, and to increase their number, and then to revolutionize this little mundane ball, and then, incidentally, to provide a multitude of little boys in heaven, to tell Jesus what wonderful exploits they were performing here on earth, and watch for the arrival of their saviors, who have put them in the way to heaven, and be ready to take them by the hand and introduce them to Jesus, and tell Jesus all about them; this is the party who through John M. Peck, and J.R. Graves, claim that they are the genuine Old School Baptists, and that we who continue on the old apostolic platform are the new lights, who have departed from the original faith and order of the primitive church. But the same confusion is in their language that is recorded of their prototype, the builders of Babel in the land of Shinar. Gen. 11:1-9. While they denounce us as a new sect who have no claim to antiquity, who have not existed more than about forty years, in almost the same breath they charge us with being centuries behind the times, and of the progressive spirit of the age. While J.R. Graves, and his party, in the Memphis “Baptist,” say that we have stolen the names of Old School, or Primitive, the National Baptist Sunday School Convention have published to the world, in their pamphlet, page 31, “The Sunday School People denominate the opposition, antediluvians, fossils, old fogies, whose motto is, The thing that hath been – when we were young – is the thing that shall be, world without end.”
We are content to bear the derision of all who have it in their hearts to deride us, while we solemnly avow our firm and unwavering belief that the faith, order, laws and institutions established in the church of Christ at her organization on the day of Pentecost, are still, without the least addition or diminution, amendment or alteration, and throughout all time, shall be the faith and order of the church of Christ, and that no religious organization, sect or denomination, have any right to claim that they are the church of God, only so far as they continue in that same faith and order, steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers. All who have ever professed that faith and have departed from it, are apostates, to whom the disciples of the Lord Jesus are forbidden to give countenance or fellowship. Let them deride us as antediluvians, fossils, or old fogies; for we choose rather to suffer afflictions with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; and we esteem the reproaches of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.
Should any who read this article have any doubts as to the accuracy of our quotations, they can, we presume, satisfy themselves by sending for a copy of the pamphlet; let them apply for it to the “American Baptist Publication Society, 530 Arch Street, Philadelphia.”
August 1, 1870.
Elder Gilbert Beebe