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“THERE is one duty which has been strangely neglected by christians and other friends of good morals in this city. We mean the duty of voting at elections. We must have power to punish Sabbath breakers, or we never can compel people to observe the Sabbath; and this must be done by preventing irreligious men from being elected.” – New York Observer

THIS extract with some accompanying remarks, was sent us by our correspondent “W.,” to be embodied in his communication in our last number, but did not reach us in time.

The above shows what manner of spirit is abroad in the world. The Observer, from which it is taken, is, if we mistake not, a principal organ of the Presbyterians in the United States. Whether this beast has horns like a lamb or not, it certainly can speak with the voice of a dragon; and from its tone, we may judge that the time cannot be very remote, when the image it has set up shall both speak, and cause that as many as will not worship the image, or acknowledge its supremacy, shall be killed; and cause all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand or in their foreheads; and no man be allowed to buy or sell, or enjoy the right of citizenship, save he that hath the mark, or the number of the beast, or the number of his name. Those who are expected to vote the power into the hands of the Presbyterians, to compel the people to submit to their version of the law of God, and to punish delinquents, are, by way of distinction, called christians and lovers of good morals, as though christians were to look to the polls, to the elections, or to legislative councils for the support of their religion, instead of looking alone to God; but those who would vote against their accumulation of power to lord it over the consciences of the people, are to be regarded as anti-religious, and opposed to morality.

“We must have.” Who must have? The Presbyterians and those immediately associated with them, in seeking to corrupt the government of our country, alter the constitution, proscribe the people, and finally light up the fires of persecution. “Must have!” Somewhat imperious, to be sure. No ifs, no ands about it; no if the people please, either said or implied; but we must have; no two ways about it; we are determined and settled in this purpose. But, what is it “we must have?” Power, to be sure – that is all we lack – and we are determined to be supplied. We have the means to control the elections. The Presbyterians alone could bring half a million voters to the poll seventeen years ago, and now nearly or quite double that number, and the arminians of every religious order are ready to swell the number to an indefinite extent, and we know how to “create public sentiment,” and we can spread like a green bay tree, and power is what we want, and “we must have power.” But, power for what? “To punish Sabbath-breakers.” Ah! this is what they must have power to do, or else they never can compel people to observe the Sabbath. Well, who has required them to compel people to observe the Sabbath? If they, like their ancient brethren, (the Pharisees,) sit in Moses’ seat, to administer and execute the law which God gave to Israel; and, according to their creed, they are a continuation of what they call the Jewish church, there may be some propriety in their struggle after power to punish Sabbath breakers. The congregation of Israel was required to punish Sabbath breakers, by stoning them to death. If any man kindled a fire, or performed any labor on that day, or suffered any labor to be performed on his premises, he was surely to suffer death. And the Jewish (alias Presbyterian) church, is so restricted by the laws of our land and constitution of our state that they are driven to the desperate alternative of calling out its legions to vote down the impediments, in order to regain the power to butcher the wicked Sabbath breakers. What other power to punish Sabbath breakers the Observer can suppose the Presbyterians to stand in need of, we cannot imagine. And certainly if they can obtain this power they will have business enough: for if the people of America are under the law which God gave to Israel, and bound to keep the Sabbath as God gave it to that people, and the same penalty is still attached to a transgression of that law, there is not probably a man, woman, or child in the United States, Texas included, who does not deserve to be stoned to death. And if the Judge of the earth should require of the Presbyterians, as he did of their brethren, that the executors of the law should be themselves blameless of this sin, or that he that has not broken the Sabbath should cast the first stone, it would be a very long time before that stone would be cast; for a more desperately wicked set of Sabbath breakers than the Presbyterians cannot be found on earth, if the fourth commandment be regarded as the standard of the judgment and decision; for they have dared to make void that law by their own traditions, by substituting another day, a day of their own selecting; and a very different manner of observing the day than that which God enjoined on those to whom he gave his law.

But what avails our arguing the point? Power they want, and power they say they must have. “And this must be done by preventing irreligious men from being elected.”

Now comes the tug of war again. To draw the line between religious and irreligious men. Who is to judge between them? Who shall divide the sheep from the goats, and put the mark of the beast on the forehead of the privileged class, which shall admit them to the ballot-box, and disfranchise the heterodox, to await the punishment which the pious Presbyterians have in contemplation for them. Can the Old School Baptists, the Seventh-day Baptists, the Quakers or the Jews, expect to be numbered among the favored order? The thought is preposterous! The same cry which was made against Paul, would be reiterated against those who adhere to the doctrine of the apostles, viz.” “Men of Israel, Help! This is the fellow that teaches all men against the law, and against the people,” &c. Irreligious men must not be elected, says the Observer. And what better right has the church to dictate who shall be elected to place and power in the affairs of state, than the powers of state have to dictate what shall be the government of the church? If the church may dictate to the world, then we see not why the world may not reciprocate the interference. And in discriminating between the religious and the irreligious, we doubt not that the Presbyterian Observer would agree very cordially with the Presbyterian Doctor E. S. Ely, who denounced every president that had held the office, from Washington to Jackson, as irreligious; and frankly confessed that he would prefer for president a good sound Presbyterian.

We would not be understood to hold that a man’s being a Presbyterian or a Baptist, or a member of any other religious sect, so long as he holds his religion as a matter strictly between himself and his God, should be proscribed; it is this proscription which we denounce; but that moment when a profession of religion comes to be regarded as an indispensable qualification for civil office, our land will overflow with hypocrites; and if our streets do not flow with blood, it will be better than our fears.

Never in our recollection has our country been so much agitated as at present, upon the subject of legislating upon the law of God; and what is to be the result of the movement is only known to him who orders the destiny of nations as seemeth to him good. Within a few miles of us there have been several Sabbath conventions recently held, and resolutions passed; but great care has been taken to prevent such discussion of the subject as would be likely to enlighten the public mind in relation to either the typical or anti-typical Sabbath. The convention at its several meetings has, however, come to the conclusion that it is a sad desecration of the first day Sabbath for loaded teams to be driven on our roads; but whether it be wicked for the clergy and laity of this county to send their milk to New York by the railroad cars on Sunday, they have not yet been able to determine. If the poor teamsters who bring lumber to market have occasion to return with bread and provision for their waiting children, they should let their families fast, and they put up at a tavern, which, in many cases, would cost them half their load; but when the clergy and their deacons have milk to sell, they must improve the market.

Truly this is an age of hypocrisy – a day of rebuke and blasphemy, in which the livery of heaven is stolen to serve the devil in. But notwithstanding all the abominations that are committed in the high places, our God is a Refuge for his saints. Though the earth be removed, and the mountains cast into the midst of the sea, his children have no occasion to fear, for all the wrath of man shall praise him, and the remainder of wrath he shall restrain.

New Vernon, N.Y.,
April 15, 1845.

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 2
Pages 542 – 546