WHILE admonished by our highly esteemed brother Hughes in his letter in this paper, and also by other brethren, whose kindness we appreciate, we are led to inquire how far it is proper that a paper, professing, as this does, to chronicle the signs of the times, should be restricted? If we are to reject all communications which in any way, directly or indirectly allude to or involve the consideration of political subjects, we shall not be at liberty to protest against Mystery, Babylon, for she has committed abominations with the kings of the earth, and the kings of the earth hold a political standing in the organization of human governments. We are certain that our brethren would not wish us thus to be restricted. While on the one hand it would be improper to enter the area of party political strife, and use our humble sheet to urge the claims of one set of men and measures, and to the disparagement of others, which have only a political bearing, we are led to believe that it would also be wrong to withhold our protest against the prevailing abominations of anti-christ, because her imperial ladyship claims to sit a queen, and hold a power over the kings and governments of the world. In short, it has been our conviction that the course pursued by the apostles and primitive saints, should be regarded as a pattern for us in these last days. They fought against principalities and powers, and against the rulers of the darkness of this world; and while they became subject to the powers that were, and yielded obedience to those in authority as unto God, they withheld that obedience when their magistrates required them to disobey the laws of the kingdom of Christ. They not only appealed unto their rulers, saying, “Whether it be right for us to obey God or men, judge ye;” but they enjoined upon the christian church to “Let no man judge you in meats, or in drinks, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath,” or in respect to the things of religion in general. To the civil department, we conceive, belongs the right to enact laws, and to enforce them for the civil government of the people; but the right to regulate the religious course of men, belongs only to God. Neither the church or the clergy should interfere with, or dictate to the powers which are properly vested in the legislatures of this world; nor should the legislatures of this world assume the right to regulate the affairs of Christ’s spiritual kingdom. Let the decision of our Redeemer concerning the payment of tribute money be regarded, and christians will learn their duty to God, and to human rulers. There are things which in this respect belong only to God, and with which we are not permitted to suffer even Caesar to interfere; and there are also things which God has commanded us to render to earthly potentates or powers, to disobey which would be to resist an ordinance of God. With the foregoing remarks premised, we appeal to our brethren in general; but especially to those who have flit alarmed at our course. Should we, or should we not protest against the efforts that are now being made throughout our country, to induce our legislatures to legislate upon the laws of God, to define and enforce a Sabbath, to compel the reading and expounding of the scriptures, the singing of psalms and prayers, &c., in our public schools, on forfeiture of our equitable share of the money for which we have been taxed? Is it right or wrong for us to apprize our brethren of the rapid advance of the man of sin, in drawing around us the fetters of priestcraft, because, forsooth, they are effecting this through their political schemes of intrigue? But few of our Our School brethren have the same opportunity to know the movements of the popular religious orders at this time that we have had; exchanging, as we do, with many of their organs of communication. They have proposed the organization of what they call “A Christian party in politics;” they have held several state and national conventions, for the expressed and openly avowed object of creating public sentiment in favor of their ambitious designs; they have their presses and societies engaged in facilitating their measures; they are now publishing a paper which they denominate The Christian Politician, and they have openly avowed their design to monopolize the tract and book making business, and force out of all our schools all such books as do not suit them, by making their books so cheap as to bring them into universal use. And they have boasted that “in ten years - certainly in twenty” - they are, through a monopoly of the schools, to control the government as they please. In harmony with this threat, they have applied to our legislatures and have obtained all the power they can at present desire. And in this state, (New York,) although the constitution expressly provides that no minister of the gospel or priest of any denomination, shall ever hold any office or place, either civil or military in its bounds, our legislature has sanctioned the appointment of two “Reverend Doctors of Divinity,” (so called,) to govern the Normal Schools; in connection with two others and tile State Superintendent; and that Normal School contemplates preparing teachers to take the charge of more than seven hundred thousand children of this state! Thus virtually the whole rising generation is chained down by legislative enactment under the control of clergymen of the popular order, and into their clerical hands is placed by constitutional legislation, more power than is held by any other officers of our government. Such are only some of the startling facts of the case. And shall we seal our lips in silence and restrain our pen and press? Or shall we not rather speak out while we are at liberty to speak, and improve every moment that remains, before that liberty of speech and of the press is gone irretrievably and forever?
Our brethren who have supposed that this subject as it is agitated, is of a political party bearing, have been in error. Those among us of every political party, have taken ground together upon this subject; without yielding their political party views on any of the leading points which divide them into parties in what properly belongs to politics; those who have investigated the subject stand shoulder to shoulder in Opposing the prevalence of this anti-christian monster. To us it appears to be a duty imperiously devolving on us to leave our testimony against the hidden things of dishonesty; and if in this we are judged to be in error, we think we shall not be considered obstinate. We would gladly consult with our brethren upon the subject, and profit by their superior judgment. But we earnestly desire such of our brethren as have entertained fears as to the propriety of our course in this matter, to investigate the subject and see if there is not a cause for alarm. It is certainly not an enviable position which we occupy, bearing the frowns of the clergy and their dupes, and if our exposure to reproach and persecution in this matter is uncalled for, only make it so appear, and we will cease to fight the “poor bears.”
We would again remark, that the course we have pursued has not been dictated by any political party feeling, but rather from a desire as a watchman upon the walls of Zion, to inform our brethren of the approaching danger.
New Vernon, N. Y.,
April 1, 1845.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 2
Pages 532 - 536