Some one has sent us a slip taken, as we presume, from the Richmond, Virginia Herald, containing the following abridged account of some of their doings, viz.:
“Introductory Address by R. H. Bagby, D.D.
The Virginia Baptist State Sunday School Convention met last evening, in the Second Baptist Church.
Long before the hour appointed for the meeting, the church was crowded to suffocation.
The altar was neatly decorated with evergreens; in the centre of an arch formed by Magnolia leaves, was a shield designed by Mr. W. Montague, painter, with the motto, “Feed my lambs.” On the shield was painted an open Bible.
The exercises of the evening were opened with a beautiful hymn by the children of the Sunday Schools of the Second and Grace Church.
After which Mr. C. H. Ryland moved that the Rev. Dr. Burrows be appointed temporary chairman, and Rev. J. Hardy Hendren of Norfolk, secretary pro. tem. This motion was unanimously carried.
On taking the chair, Mr. Burrows, in the name of the Sunday Schools of Richmond, welcomed to the city the representatives of the Baptist Sunday Schools of the state of Virginia. He said that they were glad that there were so many present, and he was pleased to see such a spirit of unanimity throughout the state. They were cordially welcomed to this city, and to the deliberations which were about to commence. At the conclusion of Dr. Burrow’s remarks, Rev. Mr. Cornelius Tyree offered a most fervent prayer.
The Chair then announced that the Convention was ready to proceed to the election of permanent officers as the first business in order.
Mr. Ellyson suggested that previous to the permanent organization, Dr. Bagbee be requested to deliver the introductory address.
The suggestion was adopted by the Convention, and the Reverend Doctor was introduced by the Chair, and proceeded to deliver the address, of which we make the following brief synopsis:
He said, ‘I need hardly say that I am not at all responsible for the position I now occupy. It has been assigned me by others who have a right to control, and I accept, with diffidence and with pleasure.’
The subject of the address has already been announced - ‘The relation of the Sunday School to the Church.’ He thought it was well in the introduction of a Sunday School Convention to enquire what authority the word of God furnished for such an institution? ‘Since no mention is made of Sunday Schools in the Scriptures, what right have we to claim for them divine authority, or to expect upon them the blessing of heaven?’ He said that in making it the duty of the church to convert the world, Christ had authorized and required the use of all agencies intelligent piety can adopt or invent for the accomplishment of this great end. Among these, the speaker said, the Sunday School stood pre-eminent. ‘Sunday Schools, though not even mentioned in the Scriptures, are nevertheless scriptural.’ He said there was no good excuse for the church that had not a Sunday School. If there were no children, the members of the church themselves should meet, and together study the word of God. He was also in favor that every church should hold monthly Sunday School prayer meetings.”
Remarks: – In the earlier days of our editorial career, when the separation between the children of the bond woman and the children of the promise was progressing, in obedience to the command of God in Galatians 4:30 and Genesis 21:10-12, we were frequently brought into collision with the new order of professed Baptists on the subject of Sunday Schools, as well as other unscriptural innovations upon the faith and order of the Primitive Baptists; but since the separation has been consummated, and the lines of demarcation fully known, we have paid but little attention to their idolatrous progression in iniquity. Nor do we now propose to renew the discussion with them. They are joined to their idols, and we will let them alone. As the Baptist church of Christ, we are no longer responsible for their admonitions. The names which they assume are the number of the name of the apocalyptic beast; it is the number of a man, and by no means signifying the “remnant (which is) according to the election of grace (Romans 9:5).” Baptist, as a name, in its scriptural signification, has in all former ages from the days of John the Baptist, been used to identify the church of Christ, composed of his baptized followers, in distinction from all the sects and denominations of anti-christ. But when that sacred name has been desecrated by thieves who have entered, not by the door, into the sheepfold of Christ, but have climbed up some other way, and have come but to steal and to kill, and to destroy, their object in assuming a name which they hate, is obviously to take away their reproach (Isaiah 4:1). Yet lest that name should subject them to the persecutions and obloquy which the church of Christ has to endure, they have adopted also the number of the name of the beast, which, being interpreted, reads thus: “The Baptist State Sunday School Convention.” The first expressing what they profess to be ecclesiastically, as religionists; the next is to show what they are politically, and in the adulterous connection of church and State; and the other name, Sunday School, for which institution, in this very extract they confess they have no Bible authority, they show that their reliance for success is not in God, but in a humanly devised institution; a strange conglomeration of religion, politics and worldly institutions.
Their description of their altar shows very clearly that it is consecrated to an “unknown god.” Altogether unlike to any altar described in the Scriptures, or approved as an altar to the God of the Bible. Not like the altar of rough stones on which God forbid the Hebrews to apply any human tool or embellishment. This idol shrine is decorated, and made more attractive to unquickened children and adults, than the altars of brick which the carnal Israelites built to provoke the God of heaven (Isaiah 65:3). “Decorated with evergreens,” comparing well with the offering of Cain, of the productions of the dust of the earth, yet attractive to the eyes of the uncircumcised. “In the centre an arch of Magnolia leaves,” produced from the earth groaning under the curse of God. However appropriate for an idol temple, it is insulting and defiant to the God of heaven. The painting, too, just look at it. A shield, a passage of Scripture, detached from its connection, and perverted, like a pearl cast among swine, or as a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout. And a painted Bible. How expressive! How much protection can the painted picture of a shield afford, when the earth and skies shall be removed, and the elements of nature melt with fervent heat? The picture of a Bible, a show of piety, a form of godliness; but the picture of a book in which the “Reverend Doctor” can find no authority for Sunday Schools. Just such a Bible as we suppose best suited to their purpose. A shade without the substance. The words of Christ to Peter are adopted as a motto, and so perverted as to make them seem to be applied to a vast assemblage of unconverted, or unquickened children, gathered by the attraction of Magnolia leaves, evergreens, fine paintings and heathen altars, and persuaded to trust their final and everlasting salvation to gods which their fathers did not know, to gods which have come newly up.
Our object in noticing this extract was more particularly to review the reasoning of the “Reverend Doctor,” on whose head is written names of blasphemy, by assuming a title which is the name of the supreme God alone. “Holy and Reverend is his name.”
The doctor admits that in the outset it is proper to show the relation of the Sunday School to the church. This, however, he has failed to do; but left us to infer that it is as the relation of Ishmael to Sarah. But he said, “Since there is no mention made of Sunday Schools in the Scriptures, what right have we to claim for them divine authority, or to expect for them the blessing of heaven?” He said, that in making it the duty of the church to convert the world, Christ had authorized and required the use of all agencies intelligent piety can adopt or invent for the accomplishment of this great end. This inference would have some force if the Doctor could show from the Scriptures where, when, or in what instructions, ordinances or commands, Christ has made it the duty of the church to convert the world. We challenge him, or any other being in earth or heaven, to prove that such a duty has ever been imposed on the church. Had such a duty been laid upon the church, with no specific instructions as to the modus operandi, we would then agree that the church might feel at liberty to tax her own ingenuity, and resort to such measures and agencies as she deemed most likely to effect the object, whether Sunday Schools, Bible Classes, infant sprinkling, thumb screws, racks, fire or sword. But no such duty is enjoined; nor is it possible for the church, or even for angels, to convert, savingly, a single soul of all the race of Adam. There is no name or power under heaven given among men whereby we might be saved, but the name of Christ. His name is Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins. It must certainly require the logic of a learned Doctor of divinity to show that Sunday Schools, though not even mentioned in the Scriptures, are nevertheless scriptural. Who would not build colleges and theological seminaries to produce such profound logicians? A learned Presbyterian in this county once argued in the same way. “True,” said he, “the Bible says nothing about infant sprinkling; but what does this silence say? Ah, it does not say we shall not sprinkle them.”
July 1, 1868.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 7
Pages 220 – 224