REPLY TO W.L. WILLIAMS, ON SABBATH SCHOOLS.

We admire the candor of our correspondent, and will not allow ourself to doubt the sincerity of his desire to know and embrace the truth, and to seek after it as for hidden treasure; but we are somewhat surprised that he, being a subscriber to, and reader of the SIGNS OF THE TIMES should have to enquire what are our objections to Sabbath Schools. For a statement of some of our objections we will refer him to number 15 of the current volume. A careful perusal of our article headed, “The National Baptists and their idols,” will probably convince him that we regard them as being unscriptural and idolatrous.

If we regard the scriptures as a record of the wisdom of God, and the New Testament as a complete and perfect rule of faith and practice to the church and people of God, we must regard everything that is not therein enjoined, as positively forbidden. How fearful are the judgments written against any man who shall add to, or diminish from the words of the book of this prophecy. See Rev. 22:18,19. An inspired apostle has informed us that the inspired scriptures are given for our instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. II Tim.3:16,17. No works therefore can, in a religious sense, be good in the sight of God, for which instructions are not found in the Holy Scriptures. Sabbath Schools are not taught, or enjoined by precept or example in the scriptures; they are therefore forbidden. That Sabbath Schools, so called, are a modern invention, unknown to the primitive apostolic saints, and that they are now held to be a nursery to the church, and an efficient means of saving souls from hell, and of conducting them to heaven, see the extracts in the article referred to in our number for August 1, 1870, copied from the published proceeding of the First National Baptist Sunday School Convention of the United States,” held at St. Louis, MO., Nov.2-4, 1869, and published by the “American Baptist Publication Society,” at 530 Arch St., Philadelphia. If it be idolatry to ascribe the salvation of souls to any but the true God, then Sunday Schools, as held by the National Baptists of the United States, themselves being judges, is idolatrous. When Aaron set up a golden calf, and ascribed to it the temporal salvation of Israel from Egypt, the anger of God was provoked, and he threatened to destroy them. Is it not still more presumptuous to ascribe the eternal salvation of lost sinners to a Sunday School, or to anything else short of the saving power and grace of God?

Whatever may have been the original object of Sunday Schools, for teaching children to read, that object is now but secondary, or of minor importance. They are now devoted to the salvation of souls; for in their report, page 25, they say that their work as Sunday School teachers is a failure if their scholars are not saved. They not only teach, but thousands and millions of children are induced to believe in, and to rely upon them for salvation – while the eternal God has declared in the most positive terms that he is God, and beside him there is no Savior.

Beside the abominable idolatry of the institution, the pernicious effect of their delusions on the infant and rising generation is truly appalling. Nursed up in self-righteousness and pharisaic zeal, they become bitter persecutors of the people of God, and two-fold more the children of hell than their teachers.

Let what we have written suffice in regard to our objection to “Sabbath Schools,” we will pass to notice some other portions of our correspondent’s letter. He sincerely believes that both the Missionary and the Old School Baptists are in some respects in error. He admits that the “former have drunken too freely of Arminianism.” In what does their arminian intoxication more glaringly appear than in their Sabbath School arrangements? Can arminianism go any farther than to place the final salvation of millions of our children in the hands of Sunday School teachers, very many of whom themselves have never professed any experimental knowledge of the true God and eternal life?

The error charged on the Old Baptists is that they repudiate works, and the advancements of the age in which we live. Well, be it so. If to oppose all religious works except what Christ has enjoined, and all works, as a ground of salvation, and to be behind the age in regard to religious improvements, is to be in error, then we stand convicted. We have no ambition to avail ourself of any of the modern religious improvements of this adulterous age, but desire rather the primitive simplicity and apostolic purity of the faith and order of the gospel, as it was once delivered to the saints by Christ himself and his inspired apostles. And we hold ourselves bound by a solemn charge, if any man, saint or angel, shall teach otherwise than did the apostles, or any other gospel, to let them be accursed. And if any man come to us, and bring not the doctrine which was preached by Christ and his apostles, we are forbidden to receive them into our houses, or to bid them God speed, lest we be partakers of their wickedness. We are perfectly content with the primitive faith and order of the church of God, as it was established at the Day of Pentecost. We have no fellowship for those who would make void the law or institutions of God our Savior, by their own traditions which they call advancements.

Our friend demands, “Why do you oppose paying the preacher?” &c. We are not opposed to paying our debts. If any preacher has any just demand against us, to the extent of our ability we are ready and willing to pay him. But we are opposed to making merchandise of the gospel of Christ. Nor can we encourage any to preach for filthy lucre’s sake. But we will challenge the world to point out to us any order of people on earth who are more ready to contribute, in any scriptural manner, to the loosing of the hands, and feet and hearts of God’s ministers, to go and preach the gospel of Christ, and feed his sheep and lambs, than are the Old School or Primitive Baptists. But we insist on doing all this in obedience to our Savior, and in the way and manner he has commanded.

There seems to be some obscurity or want of clearness in the declaration of our friend, when he says, “We believe that salvation is wholly of grace. We believe also that when our blessed Lord said, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel, he meant what he said.” Who does he mean? Paul says, “If it be of grace, it is no more of works.” Does Mr. Williams mean to say that the Missionary Baptists believe that salvation is wholly of grace, and in no sense, and to no extent in anywise of works? If so, let him compare his declaration of their faith with their own, as published to the world by their delegates from twenty-eight States, in their late publication, in which they as positively affirm that the work of saving souls depends on “Sunday School workers,” and that “no other aim can so infuse the souls of Sunday School workers with the spirit of earnestness and consecration to Christ, as this. This work of saving souls is more than enthusiasm of humanity.” If they believe that salvation is wholly of grace, and not at all of works, lest any man should boast, why do they publish to the world that they believe otherwise? Why do they tell us that “to bring them {children} to Christ is the primary aim of the Sunday School worker?” If Mr. Williams means to say that the New School Baptists believe that salvation is wholly of grace, why does he charge them of having drunken deeply of Arminianism?

That Christ meant just what he said to the apostles, when he commanded them, saying, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel,” is most certain. He meant no more, nor did he mean any less, and so they to whom the command was given understood him; for they went everywhere preaching the word, not organizing Sabbath Schools, or Mission Societies, as a more efficient way of saving sinners. Nor did they wait for a commission from some humanly devised board of Missions, to provide them an outfit, or to collect funds for their support. It is also conceded that the inspired writer meant just what he said, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should {not had} taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings,” &c. This we believe, because thus it is written. But we have not been able to find in the Bible any place where God has said, “Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, and be ye saved.” We believe that God always means just what he says, and therefore if he says unto Israel, as in Isa. 45:22-25, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength; even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” All this is said, and was doubtless all meant; but as God evidently means just what he says, no man has a right to change the words which have gone out of God’s mouth in righteousness. God’s Israel, though scattered to earth’s remotest bounds, shall hear his voice, and shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation. God has also said, in the same connection, “I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain; I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.” But, why must they look to God for salvation, from the ends of the earth? Because he is God, and in all the earth there is no other Savior. If salvation could be obtained from Sunday Schools, or from “Sunday School workers,” there would be no necessity for all Israel to look alone to God for salvation; but as God alone can save a sinner, he has commanded them all to look to him for it, and to look away from everything else for it. And this he has not said in vain, for he has sworn by himself that his word shall be effectual in the complete salvation and justification of all the seed of Israel; for he said not unto them, Seek ye me in vain. Isa. 45:19.

As our friend has proposed his questions, not in a spirit of controversy, but for information, we have designed to reply respectfully, and sincerely hope he will accept what we have written in the spirit of love and of a sound mind, and if any light shall be elicited we shall not have labored in vain.

Middletown, N.Y.
October 1, 1870.
Elder Gilbert Beebe