“It is written, My Father’s house is the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” - Luke xix. 46.
Perhaps in the annals of the gospel dispensation a period of deeper interest, or fraught with graver events than the present, cannot be found. In reviewing the history of the church from the days of John the Baptist, a parallel with the present can hardly be found. In her infancy she was bitterly persecuted, her members were few and scattered; but even then, amidst the savage rage of her inveterate foes, she presented to the enemy an unbroken front, and the shout of her King was heard in her midst. In her passage down the channel of time, she was immerged in seas of blood, and enveloped in flames of papal persecution. The most horrid engines of cruelty that demons could invent were used for torturing and destroying the saints. But even then, amidst the rage of pontiffs, bishops, kings and priests, the church of God maintained her virgin purity. At the peril of mortal life, her sons contended earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the saints; nor could the chains of despots, the pains of bloody persecution, nor death in its most terrible forms, cause the sons of Zion to abandon or deny their faith, or any part of it, or in any measure to countenance any of the new schemes, plans, ordinances or doctrines sought to be enforced by their enemies. Passing through seas of their own blood, or evaporating in flames, their spirits crowned with victory through the Lamb, went home to their God and Savior, whom they so dearly loved, and in whom alone they trusted and triumphed.
But now, alas! “How is the gold become dim, and the most fine gold changed.” Where are now the champions for the primitive order of the church, whose hands have been taught to war, and their fingers to fight? Where shall we find the undaunted sons of Zion who are prepared to meet the torrent of opposition, who bearing a fearless breast can submit to stripes, tortures, or death, rather than give up one of their Lord’s commands, or submit to anything unauthorized by him? Do they all slumber in death? Have they indeed all finished their course and gone home to glory? No. It cannot be. The hour has not yet come in which the Lord’s Two Witnesses must be slain and trodden under foot in the streets of the great city which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt. We yet see here and there a witness of the Lord, clothed in sackcloth, and prophesying under the most discouraging circumstances; but they are few, comparatively very few. Truly we may adopt the language used in former times. “Except the Lord had left us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and like unto Gomorrah,” or like all the religious denominations around us, given over to idolatry; whose end is to be burned.
But while we contrast the present with the former state of the church, let us inquire what has caused the difference. When Zion dwelt alone she dwelt in safety. God has said, “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.” Also, “When Ephriam spake tremblingly, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died.” Even so, when the church was under the lash of persecution, she spake tremblingly, with holy fear and sacred reverence for God and for his word; she then asked counsel of God, and turned neither to the right hand nor to the left without instruction from the Lord.
Another reason why it is not now with Zion as in times that are past is this: When the saints were persecuted unto strange cities, cast out of the synagogues, whipped, thrown into prisons and dungeons, or into boiling oil, banished to desolate islands, or when they were dragged before courts of inquisitors, stretched on torturing racks, dispossessed of all their worldly substance, driven from their homes and families, and their names cast out as evil; yea, when even on the shores of New England, in more modern times, the tongues of dissenters from Puritanic abominations, were bored through with hot irons, and many were put to death for their faith; when such was the standing and persecution of the Baptist church, she was able to offer no inducements to carnal men to intermingle with her sons and daughters. Consequently hypocrites and nominal professors were deterred from entering her ranks. They had no mind to share the tribulations of the saints of the Most High.
But now that a profession of piety has become the road to popularity, fame and opulence; now that even the once poor, persecuted and down-trodden Baptists have many of them waxed fat and kicked, and have heaped to themselves teachers, having itching ears; have erected for themselves Theological Schools, like the nations around them, for supplying themselves with a learned ministry, and for coining titles, as Doctors of Divinity, and have formed unhallowed and forbidden alliances with the world, and with their former persecutors, in Bible, Education, Sunday School, Missionary, and many other unscriptural, and therefore forbidden, institutions, she now can and does hold out strong inducements to the world, and to anti-christ, saying to them, “Cast in thy lot with us, and let us all have one purse.”
Under such inducements the children of this world flock over to her in multitudes, saying, “We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel, only let us be called by thy name, (christian), to take away our reproach,” (infidel.) Instead of the denomination, as such, rending their garments, and sitting in dust and ashes, they allow leading characters of their name and number to boast of the multitudes gained by these departures from the truth as evidence that their plans are owned and approved of God. Such are the present signs of the times.
NEW VERNON, N. Y.,
July 17, 1833.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 66 – 69