Brother Beebe, my father requested me to ask you to state what are your objections to Sabbath Schools. Yours in christian bonds,
William J. Thorp
Mount Morris, N.Y., May 7, 1860.
Reply. - As a friend of education, we would not object to schools taught on the first day of the week, if conducted on the principle on which they were first originated by Mr. Rakes, of England, that is, merely to teach neglected children, in manufacturing towns, who have no other opportunity to learn to read, or to acquire any other branch of useful education, but such are not the objects or designs of what in the present day are denominated Sabbath School, they are now used to teach religion, or to allure into sectarian traps, the unsuspecting and confiding children of our country, and therefore we object to them.
2. They are now called nurseries of the church, a means of grace, an open thoroughfare to the portals of immortal glory, thus calculated to deceive the simple, by implying that men have found out a way to heaven which is not revealed in the Scriptures, was not sanctioned by the apostles and primitive church, and which was unknown in the world unto the present century, and therefore we object to them.
3. They are based upon the false theory that the religion, which is essential to salvation, is a mere science which can be taught and learned in schools, as lessons in grammar, mathematics or geography are taught and learned; and consequently they assume to supersede the work of the Holy Spirit in quickening, regenerating and saving lost sinners; and therefore we object to them.
4. They are totally incompatible with the provisions of the New Covenant, under which the Church of God is established, as that covenant expressly provides that those embraced in it "Shall no more teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord." The grand object of Sabbath Schools, openly avowed by their advocates at this day, is to teach the unregenerated to know the Lord. Therefore we object to them.
5. For as much as God has declared in the Scriptures of truth, "I am God, and beside me there is no Savior," every institution of man claiming to possess a power to promote the salvation of the children of men, is contradictory of what God has said, and in claiming to do what God declares none but himself can do, they become an idol, and all who look to them for the salvation of themselves or their children, or who countenance or sustain them in their infidel and blasphemous pretensions, directly or indirectly, are, in the scriptural sense of the word, idolaters. Therefore we denounce them.
6. Sabbath Schools, as patronized at the present time, are bringing into a religious profession thousands of graceless hypocrites, who neither know, or even profess to know anything of the work of the Spirit in the new birth, and who have been invariably taught in their schools to despise, hate, and ridicule the doctrine of God's sovereignty, as exemplified in election, predestination and effectual calling, and to boldly repudiate the doctrine of the total depravity of all mankind in a state of nature, and to rely upon the fatally delusive doctrine of freewill and human ability to direct their own everlasting destiny. And therefore we object to them.
7. Sabbath Schools, instituted under the General S. S. Union, for the professed object of saving souls, which work, as we have shown, Jehovah declares that none but himself can accomplish, are idols set up in rivalry of Jehovah's throne, defiance of his law, which forbids that we shall set up any other god, and in open contradiction of his express word, are hostile to the cause of truth and holiness, God-dishonoring, heaven-daring, and productive of hypocrisy, deception and idolatry. And therefore we discard them.
8. In the organization of the gospel church, the wisdom of God has been displayed in the institution of all her ordinances, rites, usages, doctrine, discipline, laws and provisions. And Jesus Christ, who is given to be the Head over all things to his church, has sent his angel to testify these things in his churches, with the solemn warning If any man shall add unto these thing, God shall add unto him the plagues which are written in this book. Therefore we reject them.
9. Sabbath Schools, in the present form of their organization, drive a trade of religious stock-jobbing, selling dignified titles of memberships, life-memberships, directorships, with many other high sounding titles, for stipulated sums of money, thus making a religious aristocracy, and even promising a title to mansions in heaven, to those who will invest their money to their support. Therefore we object to them.
10. We belong to a kingdom which is not of this world, the laws of which require us to acknowledge no Savior but Jesus, to trust in him, and in him alone, to come out and be separate from anti-Christ, to touch not their unclean things. And as it is impossible that we should stand in the Sabbath School Union, and yet obey the command to be separated from them, we therefore stand aloof from them.
11. Zion, in distinction from Mystery Babylon, is the city of the Great King, Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion in the sides of the north. God is in the midst of her. She, therefore, has no need of Sabbath Schools, or any other human inventions, or anything whatever which her God has not supplied, either for helps or for ornaments. In the simple comeliness which God has put upon her, she is now the perfection of beauty, and that which is perfect cannot be improved. As the sun in the natural heavens can only be seen in its own radiance, so the church of God, which he has set as a city on a hill, must be seen only in the light and glory of God which has arisen upon her. The Lord God and the Lamb are the light of this city: therefore we have no use for Sabbath Schools.
12. So far as our observation extends, the proselytes made by the Sabbath School machinery and its kindred institutions, like those male by the Jews, who, in their blinded zeal, compassed sea and land to make one, are two-fold more the children of hell after being made. The statistics of our country, the records of crime of every revolting name and class, have increased in our country within the last half century in proportion to the increase of Sabbath Schools and the like modern religious institutions. And although we readily admit that these modem institutions have brought many thousands into a profession of religion. who have swollen the professed churches of all the workmongrel orders, it is also lamentably true that our penitentiaries, prisons and gallows have been very liberally supplied with subjects from the same source. And the very contentions, strife and treason which at this moment shake the foundation of our states, threaten a disruption of our Federal Union, and the overthrow of all our liberal institutions, as a nation, has been occasioned by the spirit of fanaticism nurtured and matured under the clerical influence of the managers of the American Sabbath School Union and their kindred institutions. For these and many other reasons, which we could name, we refuse to recognize Sabbath Schools as having any claims under the kingdom of Christ, or the saints of God.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Middletown, N.Y., May 15, 1860
Editorials Volume 4