DURING our visit to the District of Columbia, we called at the Capitol to see the new painting. It is a splendid piece of work, but by far better suited to decorate some Popish monastery or cathedral than to be exhibited in the capitol of a nation disclaiming, as ours does, all interference in matters of a religious nature. Alas how empty and vain are the solemn protestations and pledges of human legislatures when interest or fame requires their interference with those sacred rights guaranteed to the citizens of this republic by the Constitution.
While standing in the rotunda of the Capitol, and viewing the splendid and elegant libel on the New Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ, and reflecting that this piece of mockery cost the people of the United States $8000, and, what was still worse, that the insult on heaven was palmed upon us, without our consent, by legislative enactment; and that too, as we conceive, in open violation of those sacred rights for which rivers of patriotic blood once flowed, we were led to fear exceedingly that the time is not far distant when the “image of the beast” will arrive at the climax of its power, and pass the decree that none shall buy or sell who have not the mark of the beast in their forehead and right hand. If any demand the cause of our foreboding, we reply to such, the prospect looks dark when the public servants of the people, the guardians of our rights as citizens, so far forget the duties of their station, the spirit and letter of our Constitution, and the inalienable rights of the people, as to leave their appointed sphere and apply themselves to religious legislation.
For many years past our Capitol has presented the appearance of an idol’s temple. On the eastern porch we are greeted with the statutes of two heathen deities, made of marble; the one is called the god of war, the other is hailed as the goddess of peace Within the two Houses, when in session, we find hireling priests who are amply qualified to officiate in their sacrilegious mummeries, in a temple consecrated to such gods. To these popular idols and idolatrous customs we have hitherto submitted without speaking out in the manner such crying abominations have called for; and now, the consequence is, as might have been anticipated, we have to be instructed when and for what to fast; to be judged by men in meats, in drinks, and in regard to holy days. The funds of our States and Federal Government, distributed with a lavish hand upon theological seminaries, political chaplains, and costly misrepresentations of the ordinance of baptism.
Such, we say, were our reflections while gazing sorrowfully on this last assault upon christianity, this specimen of profanity and perversion of divine things. The painting itself describes a group, composed of white soldiers and citizens, in company with about an equal number of Indians, squaws, pappooses, &c.; in their centre a well-fed looking man, wrapped in a white sheet or surplice, with solemn air and up. sifted eyes, in the act of baptizing - not Pochahontas, but the fingers of his right hand - while the young Indian girl is represented as kneeling before his reverence, as though waiting for a few rantizing drops, if he should ever raise his hand from the urn.
This piece of gaudy mockery is indirectly established by an act of the Congress of the United States as christian baptism; and the sum of $8000 is appropriated by law to pay for this insult on God and man. If the present signs of the times do not indicate the near approach of persecution and oppression of the primitive saints, we have failed to understand them. Such impressions as we have we humbly submit to the clearer judgment of our brethren. Our confidence is in God, unshaken and firm; but we feel disposed to cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils.
NEW VERNON N. Y.,
June 1, 1841.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 688 – 689