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POPULAR INSTITUTIONS

BY THE EDITOR

It is very common with those who are in favor if (what are called) the Benevolent Institutions of the day, to represent us as being opposed. First, to the circulation of the Bible. Second to the publication of the Gospel. Third, to the general diffusion of Bible truth, through the press. Fourth, the education of Children, especially on the first day of the week. Fifth, that we are unwilling that the Ministers of the Gospel should be learned men. Sixth, we are sometimes represented, as being either lovers of Rum, or advocates of drunkenness – if we withold our name from their Associations which they call Temperance Societies.

Our object in this article, is not to complain of reproach, for we have (in measure) become accustomed to it. But our design is, to give a brief statement of our views on these points, for the information of those who do not know our sentiments in reference to them. And first, the Bible is in our estimation, the infallible record which God has been graciously pleased to give us of himself, and of the true state of mankind, and the only possible way of life and salvation. We cannot appreciate its value too highly. We have no objections to its circulation, so far indeed from it we are willing to furnish every person in our region with a copy – of it who stands in need, and are unable either to buy or to borrow one. Neither do we object to voluntary contributions for the purpose of supplying the poor with the Scriptures gratuitously. But what we protest against, is the organization of a great National Religious Society, unauthorised by the Lord, and uncalled for by the wants of Zion, under the ostentatious, pretention of Benevolence, picking the pockets of the ignorant and unsuspecting, and at the same time by their speculations on that best of all Books, becoming a wealthy and powerful body. We shall not be able here to give in detail our objections to the American Bible Society, as that is not our present object, but at some future period we intend to lay before our readers the reasons why we protest. And in the meantime we would refer them to the objections stated in the Address of the Old School Baptist, as answering our mind. See the first number of this Volume.

But second, we are so far from being opposed to the preaching of the Gospel, that we cannot consent to have any thing else preached in its place. We are not only engaged in preaching the Gospel ourselves, but are also ready to divide the last loaf of our bread and the last shilling of our money with any one of Christ’s Ministers who may stand in need; only let us have an evidence that they are called of God to that important work, and we consider them entitled to a share of what God has made us the Stewards of.

But as for those Missionary Gentlemen, who do not own our Master as their Captain, or cannot trust him for their support; but go out under the authority of some Missionary Board, of President and Directors, &c., (who are made so for their money) and who instead of preaching Christ, and him crucified, are preaching up “union of effort,” to get money in his name. We do not know them as Brethren, of the household of faith; for we have not so learned Christ.

In short, if by the term Missionary, we are to understand, one who is sent of God, to preach the Gospel; we are in favor of Missionaries. But we must protest loudly against all Missionary Societies, except “the Church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood.”

Third, that we are not opposed to the use of a Printing Press, for the diffusion of the truth. Witness the Signs of the Times; but we are opposed to Religious Tracts, when they are filled up with fables, or falsehoods, not when they publish truth. We are opposed to Tract Societies, on the same ground that we are opposed to every professedly Religious Society, except the Church of Christ. We protest against all such Institutions as profess to be the Lord’s Treasury, and would make men believe that all that is given to them is given to the Lord, and that the Lord has authorised them to beg money in his name, for their own use, to enable him to save his people from their sins.

Fourth, we do not object to learn our children the necessary branches of Education, even on the first day of the week, when such instruction can be kept disconnected from the popular idea of learning them religion; and where the children of a City or Village, are so situated that they cannot be instructed as well in any other way, or at any other time, but when the children of any neighbourhood have the advantage of a common School six days in a week, we think the time set apart by the Church for the worship of God, ought not to be broke in upon.

Fifth, we have no objection to learned Ministers, provided they have learned in the School of Christ; nor do we care if they are conversant with the dead languages; provided they preach the living language to us, and not the dead carcass of Moses. We do not object to learned men when it is our good Master’s pleasure to call them, but we do consider that a Theological Seminary, for the preparation of young men for the Ministry, is a work-shop of the Devil, and the hot-bed of all kinds of delusion. Perhaps the expression may have a harsh sound, and truly we would modify it if we could consistently, for we have no doubt it will make diviners mad. But what shall we call it? We challenge Creation to prove that they are of God? Nay, we stand prepared to prove they are not of God; and if not of God – they must be of Satan, – and if Satan does not work in them, we are confident he does not work any where. It is there he keeps his Library or Tool-chest, and there he Manufactures his Magicians.

We would use softer language if we could, but truly we have never yet met with a sound man who had learned to preach at a Theological Seminary. In this establishment he does not only heap teachers “having itching ears,” but it is there he Manufactures degrees, Reverends, D. D.'s, Pontiffs, &c. &c.

Lastly, we are not in love with intoxicating Liquors, nor do we advocate the cause of intemperance. But we do believe that there is sufficient virtue in the Religion of Jesus Christ, and a sufficient obligation in a profession of Religion; to restrain the saints, and to exclude the offenders, without our sinning in order that grace might thereby abound. We do think that when a professor of Religion joins a Temperance Society, (as they are called) that they are certainly going down to Egypt for help. Therefore, if any of our Brethren are fearful, that they shall not be able to conquer their thirst and withstand the temptation to drunkenness – we should recommend that he, or she should remember that the name of the Lord is a strong tower, where unto the righteous flee, and are safe.

But as for the world if they think proper to form Societies for the purpose of guarding themselves against intoxication we have no objection, so long as they do not make this a machine to act in concert with the other Societies of modern invention

Elder Gilbert Beebe

Signs of the Times
Volume 1, No. 6
February 13, 1833