PHLEGON, alias Eld. J. Mathias, has written and published in the American Baptist an article in which he objects to the following language, which was used in an article copied by the American Baptist from the Boston Recorder, signed “H. E. W.,”viz:
“GOD FURNISHED THE CHURCH WITH AMPLE MEANS TO BRING THIS WORLD INTO SUBJECT TO CHRIST. God never requires of the church anything which he does not give her the means to accomplish. The subjection of which I speak is purely of a moral nature, and the power by which it is to be done is purely a moral power. The work is great – the redemption of HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF IMMORTAL SOULS from the grossest ignorance and pollution to wisdom and purity; the REGENERATION and SALVATION of a lost WORLD. Yet the church has power to do it, and that too in a short time!”
To the above extravagant language Phlegon enters his solemn protest, and closes his communication, (the insertion of which in full is prevented for want of room,) in the following words: “And now, Mr. Editor, (C. C. P. Crosby,) a word to you in the close. While such departures from old-fashioned Baptist principles are countenanced and sent forth by you, how can it be expected that those who love the truth can relish, fellowship or lend their aid in support of such preposterous errors?”
Mr. Crosby says: “We readily admit the article from an aged and reverened minister but feel impelled, however, to append a few remarks;” among which we notice the following:
“By the way, as Phlegon informs us in a letter accompanying his communication, that he, though “an Old School Baptist, is not one of the Beebe Signs of the Times-men, but has entered the lists with them,” we take the liberty of suggesting that he may find this argument turned against him, in defending missions, &c., as they allege as their chief, and in their opinion, sufficient objection to these, that they are not mentioned in the bible.”
Now we wish to enquire of the venerable Phlegon, alias Eld. J. Mathias, of Pennsylvania., what definite idea he intended to convey to Mr. Crosby in this note, which accompanied his communication? To us it is somewhat ambiguous; and since Mr. Crosby has betrayed his trust in publishing that which was confidential, and our name and publication is implicated by his treachery, we consider ourself entitled to an explanation at least; and we are confident that if Elder Mathias is the same man that he appeared to be a few years ago, he will not hesitate to advise us on this point, through the columns of the Am. Baptist, if he is fearful of becoming identified with Beebe and the “Signs of the Times.”
To be more explicit in the statement of our question, we ask, What is meant by a “Beebe Signs of the Times-man?” Can it be possible that Eld. M. would throw out the insinuation that there is an organized body of men under the command, control, or bearing the name of Beebe, and connected with the “Signs of the Times?” If so, we need not say the insinuation is gratuitous and untrue. Or does he wish to disclaim all fellowship for, and union with the doctrine published in the “Signs of the Times?” If so, his favorite editor, Crosby, is a swift witness against him; for it will be seen that Mr. Crosby has in the above extract consigned him to us, as a stickler for bible authority in support of the doctrine and practice of the Baptists, accusing him at the same time of inconsistency, in being an advocate for bible authority in all things, and yet a defender of missions.
We can hardly bring ourself to believe that Eld. M. does not believe the doctrine advocated in the “Signs of the Times;” for we have heard him defend it strenuously, both before this paper was even published, and in his strictures on the communication of H. E. W., which when compared with the general tenor of the “Signs of the Times,” will exhibit no great discrepancy.
But again we will enquire, Did Phlegon intend to cast a stigma on those brethren throughout the United States who have sustained the publication of the “Signs of the Times,” by their subscription and by their communications, as being led away into error by its editor? We confess that to us his remarks plainly imply as much; for in telling Mr. C. confidentially that he was not a Beebe Signs of the Times-man, implies that others are; and if so, who are they? Certainly not those who are opposed to and pursecutors of the “Signs of the Times,” and we can infer no less than that the patrons of this paper are intended.
But if this was the design, what must we think of Phlegon, who has been personally acquainted with many of the writers for this paper, whose locks are white in the service ot their Lord and Master, and to his certain knowledge have contended for the doctrine and practice, to the interest of which this paper is devoted, before Beebe was born or this paper ever was thought of. Or could it have been the design of Phlegon to purchase the smiles of the editor of the national paper by contributing his mite of scurrility on us? Did he suppose that we had not yet suffered a sufficient quantum of abuse from Mr. Crosby, and the fraternity of his popular editorial brotherhood?
Eld. Mathias will greatly relieve our mind on this subject if he will at his earliest leisure answer these inquiries – and if it should be impracticable to communicate them through the Am. Bap., by some means forward them to us, and he may rest assured they shall have an early Insertion in our persecuted paper.
Mr. Crosby, in retorting on Phlegon, is right in saying that we consider that the utter want of bible authority in support of the modern system of missions is a sufficient reason why they should be rejected by the children of the kingdom of God, who cannot go beyond the word of the Lord to do less or more. But he is wrong in saying that we allege this as our chief objection to the mission system; we have one still heavier to which we choose to give the precedency, viz: That those systems as contended for by himself and others are expressly forbidden by the law of Christ, and are a reflection on the wisdom, power and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we have formerly shown, and if spared shall repeat from time to time, as we may have opportunity.
NEW VERNON, N. Y.,
Signs of the Times
Volume 3, No. 7
April 1, 1835.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 214 – 217