That is, why will not men think as does the editor of the N. Y. Baptist Register? or, why will they presume to maintain an opinion of their own so adverse, to the sentiments of A. M. Beebee, Esq., and so hostile to the interests of the N. Y. Baptist Convention? - for the defence of which the talents of this learned, pious, and eminent member of the Bar have been secured in the editorial department of the Register. Surely this subject needs some investigation. Therefore, let the unthinking men of intelligence who read the “Signs of the Times,” pause, read, reflect upon, and if possible, profit by the following editorial article which we copy entire from the Register of the 3d inst., notwithstanding its great length, for the special information of our readers; and as we presume our right will not be disputed, we shall perhaps ruffle the smooth surface of this profound article with a few notes, for the consideration of our logical opponent.
WHY WILL NOT MEN THINK?
“It is indeed surprising that men of intelligence can give up their thinking faculties, to be led by ignorant, prejudiced editors or journals, whose columns are occupied with tirades against the benevolent doings of the age.
(1) Every thing is wrong, and should receive no support from christians, that is not projected and executed according to their views of charitable action, let it be a Missionary Society, or Bible Society, or Sunday School. However abundant the evidence of blessings to dying souls, they are to be utterly repudiated, because the names of such charities are not found in the bible, or because some imperfection may be detected in their organization or management; Unless good be done by just such a rule it must not be done at all. Human beings may remain in brutal ignorance, and die, and go to perdition, before this rule shall be contravened. The sleeping tenants, in a flaming habitation, shall not be awakened unless they be approached by the regular entrance and staircase; no ascent shall be made by a ladder on the outside of the house, nor shall any individual pass in to arouse them, unless he be attired in just such a dress - no matter however ardent or benevolent. Though the bible says, “It is lawful to do good,” and not only so, but urges us to “do good unto all men,” yet wo to the man who ventures upon such obedience; because the form of the act is not prescribed by the bible.
(2) At any rate, these consummately wise and good editors will throw you into such embarrassment if you attempt it, save within a very narrow circle, that your plans must be necessarily abandoned.
(3) If the bible be translated into a foreign language it can be of no benefit, because the man who performed the labor was a missionary in the employ of a Missionary Society; and another reason equally potent, because he was not sound in doctrine, according to the opinions of these wise ones, An accurate kniowledge of a language is not the qualification that capacitate an individual for this great labor; it is the doctrinal sentiments he entertains; if he should be less Calvanistic than Dr. Gill, or the sagacious editor of the “Signs. of the Times,” such qualification is quite unimportant.
(4) Though Mr. Judson is as well acquainted with the Burmes as with the English, his translation of the bible into the Burman tongue is worse than worthless, because he is not more Calvanistic than Dr. Fuller; and though he has completed a dictionary of the Burman tongue, it surely can not be good for any thing, because he is a Fullerite. The principle will apply as well in one case as the other, for the injury is not in the translating of one language into another, (as the English into Burman) what words in the latter correspond in exact meaning with those in the former, but what is the creed of the translator? What have all tile mighty labors of Dr. Carey amounted to, in translating the bible into various languages of India, if he should not have agreed in his doctrinal views with such. sagacious men? What have Morrison’s vast labors on China amounted to, by which the bible has been given to millions of Chinese, should he be less sound than Dr. Gill? Au investigation ought to be immediately made in regard to the creeds of these distinguished men, lest some of the poor Gentoos and Chinese should get to heaven through the instrumentality of bibles translated by men unsound in the faith.
(5) The “Signs of the Times,” which we rarely notice, repudiates the translation of the bible into Burmese by brother Judson, on account of the unsoundness of his creed.
(6) The very learned editor has probably not yet perceived where this objection lands him and his followers. His opposition against the missionary enterprise so greatly blinds him that he is like the horse with one eye, which, in crossing a bridge, to avoid danger on one side, goes off on the other.
(7) So he, in his bitter opposition to Mr. Judson, on account of his alleged arminianism, would give his Burman bible to the winds, as unsafe and worthless, notwithstanding his competent scholarship and intimate acquaintance with the Bur. man tongue; and by parity of reasoning, nullify the translation we all use. Let us see where this champion of light comes out. The English version of the bible, in general use, was translated out of the original languages, in which it was written by forty-seven men selected by James the First, king ,of England, at his express request. The number first selected by him was fifty-four; but in the year 1607, when they assembled for the commencement of their labor, seven of the original number had deceased, These persons were eminent for their learning, and for their perfect acquaintance with the languages in which the scriptures were originally written. They arranged themselves in committees, prosecuted their work, and in about three years finished it. Their translation was first published in 1610; and this is the version to which the vast portion of the people of England and America are indebted for their bible knowledge - and the editor of the “Signs of the Times” among the number; for the original languages he knows nothing about. Many of these translators were Episcopalians, and all Pedo-Baptists! What does he think of a translation by such men? And what dependence can he place on his own bible after this? And what must be the embarrassment of his followers who may fall in with this article? If his most wise decision in regard to the incompetency of Mr. Judson as a translator, on account of the unsoundness of his doctrinal creed, be correct, and our version is given us by Episcopalians, and other Pedo-Baptists, he so effectually strips his followers of all their bibles, except a few who may read the original languages, that they may most properly demand of him to go to work and acquire a knowledge of the ancient tongues, and furnish a translation on which they can safely depend.
But the opposition of this accomplished editor, who would sink a ship to destroy a rat, results from his blind opposition to all the benevolent objects of the day. His blindness is such that he is disqualified to discriminate what is right and what is wrong. And what most surprises us is, that men of any intelligence and benevolence should have yielded him their patronage for a moment, after his shallow, as well as wicked condemnation of Mr. Judson’s Burman translation of the bible. We imagine that hardly a greater outrage on the good sense of mankind can be found, than this repudiation by the “Signs of the Times,” of the translation of the scriptures by Mr. Judson. It goes hand in hand with the principles of the Papacy. A man must be of the Pope’s creed, exactly, to qualify him for a translator for his holiness; and the editor of the “Signs of the Times“ requires pretty much the same qualification. O Adoniram Judson! what an unfortunate man thou art, to be condemned by such a critic!”
(1) We do not wonder at the consternation of this editor, who in concert with his popular editorial brethren throughout the land, have from time to time taken unwearied pains to convince the good people of America that we are an ignoramus, and unworthy of public patronage, while he discovers that his wise counsel, like that of Ahithophel, (see Sam. xviii. 14 - 23) is rejected, and he with his coadjutors brought under the insufferable mortification of witnessing the last struggles of the defunct Columbian Star, Cross and Banner, Narrator, World, Christian Gazette, and Baptist Repository, all of which, in concert with the Register, have wasted their fury in the vain attempt to overthrow the “Signs of the Times,” which amidst all their wrath has steadily and rapidly continued to advance her partonage, and to extend her circulation into almost every State and Territory of America. Truly! why will not men think? flow are the mighty fallen; and how hath God chosen the weak and foolish things of this world to confound the wise, and the things that are not to bring to naught the things that are.
(2) What prejudice and ignorance! What superstition and bigotry, according to the notion of the Register, for men who fear the Lord to require scripture authority for their religious course, or to oppose the “Benevolent doings of the age,” merely because God has not required them at our hands; or to speak, write, and print against a union of the church with the world, in the form of Missionary and Bible Societies, and Sabbath Schools, because there is no rule for them in that book which they claim as their only and infallible guide in all their religious pursuits. In short, what contemptible blindness - what profound ignorance, to reject every thing but the bible; and thus with the Register before their eyes, staring them full in the face, without a blush make void the commandments of men, by the scriptures of truth. How strikingly analogous is our case to that of refusing to rescue the suffering inhabitants of a flaming tenement! But our learned namesake, after tacitly acknowledging that these ;societies are without rule or authority in the bible, and after urging the unimportance of bible rule or authority for them, makes them essential in the salvation of human beings from brutal ignorance, death, and even from final perdition, and then to cap the climax of his inconsistency, he attempts to bring a rule from the bible iu their support. But why, if the bible rule be unimportant, does he attempt to bring forward such a rule? and why, if it be important, does he labor to make us believe that it is not? But now for his. scripture. He has brought forward two passages, one of them only from the bible; where he finds the other he has not informed us: they read thus: “It is lawful to do good,” and “Do good unto all men.” Admitting, as we most cordially do, that the bible requires us to do good, and that too, to all men, as much as lieth in us, is there no line drawn in the scriptures between good and evil, or rule for performing the former and rejecting the latter? Are we left like the Israelites, when they had no king, to do every man that which is good in his own eyes? If so, our opponent (if sincere) is found obedient to the divine command in opposing us, and we are equally obedient to the same precept in opposing him. Saul was doing good when he saved Agag, and the best of the cattle; although Samuel charged him with rebellion in the same thing. Indeed, according to the Register, it would be hard to do wrong. The Mother of Harlots, and nearly all her Protestant daughters, consider it good to sprinkle infants. The popular Baptists think it good to unite with them and with the world, to convert sinners and to evangelize the world; and a few remain who believe it good to oppose every unscriptural association of church and world, together with the entire mass of humanly invented forms and rules for serving the Lord.
Now God either has, or has not given us a direct rule for doing good. If he has not, we cannot know whether our work be good or bad. It is vain to say it is good because it seemeth so to us; for “There is a way which seemeth right to man, but the end thereof are the ways of death;“ and equally vain to argue that we are doing good because our number and influence are increased, or because our plans are prospered and we have succeeded in accomplishing our enterprises. This can prove nothing for the” Signs” or the “Register.” The Mahometans and Roman Catholics have greater numbers and more influence than we; yet this will not prove to us that their works are good. But if God has given us a rule by which we are to know what is, and what is not good in his sight, let us not call it unimportant. Will the editor of the Register admit that the scriptures are a perfect rule to the saints, and that in them the man of God is thoroughly furnished to every good work? or will he contend with the Quaker, that he has an inward light or monitor, that he esteems as a better or more infallible light? If the bible is the only rule for doing good, then we are right in rejecting every other rule, notwithstanding all the slurs and ridicule of men but if the Quaker creed, or our opponent be right, we know not to what use we are to apply our bible; and if the editor of the Register can feel safe without the bible, we do hope he will allow us to be governed by ours.
(3) If we were consummately wise and good, we should feel disposed to say, that in this solitary sentence we were justly represented; for he has hit by accident, or by design, the very point. This is what we mean by narrowing down our operations to scriptural limits, and thus embarrass those who, like our learned antagonist, cannot dispense with their unscriptural plans.
(4) Here we find ourselves quite unexpectedly thrown into the company of John Calvin and. Dr. Gill; but as this may have been an oversight, we will not venture to be too much flattered. The compliment, however, if as such it was designed, might have been spared; our friends know that we have disclaimed all connection with Calvin, and also refuse to call Dr. Gill father; although these men professed to believe much of the doctrine which we have learned from Christ and his apostles.
(5) What can be the views of the editor of the Register, concerning getting to heaven? Does he know that the Holy One has said, “I am the Lord, and besides me there is no Savior?” and that an inspired apostle has said, “Neither is there salvation in any other?” or does he wittingly intend to treat with contempt the express declarations of the word of God, by insinuating that salvation may result to Gentoos and Chinese from the exertions of men? Really, in this case we hardly know whether to pity or to blame him. However this may be, we are under no apprehension that any of the sons of Adam will ever get to heaven in any other way than by grace through faith, and that not of themselves, as saith the scriptures.
(6) We know not to what statement of ours this declaration is intended to refer.
(7) How modest! how polite! and how forcible! are the words in which we are likened to a one-eyed horse falling from a bridge. Surely this erudite lawyer, like Balaam, has taken up a parable by which, he has been enabled to convey to us some just idea of his feelings, in which, however, we do not envy him. We are glad that he has not in his metaphor robbed us of both eyes; and we would fondly hope that the one he has left us in possession of, may prove to be the same which is mentioned in Cant, iv. 9, and that it may ever be single to the glory of God.
His followers! By this slur we suppose he intends to reproach those who read and patronize the “Signs of the Times,” the distinguishing sentiments of which, were held by the Baptist Church from the days of John the Baptist. But our subscribers have become somewhat inured to reproach, and will require something more potent to drive them off the ground than all the abuse he is capable of. He seems to anticipate some serious embarrassment on their part, should any of them fall in with his famous article.
We were perfectly aware, before Mr. B. stuck. this flaming torch into our eyes, that James 1, king of England, and head of the Episcopal Church, did not select Old School Baptists to revise for him a translation of the holy scriptures; and that his translation has been frequently compared with the original text, and revised again and again by the learned of every religious order; and after all is treated with the utmost disrespect by all the advocates of the new order of things, who, in utter contempt of the authority of its pages, still go on teaching for doctrines the commandments of men, and making void its commandments by their traditions.
We have never questioned the competency of Judson to translate the bible into the Burmese language, in regard to his literary abilities; but we very much doubt the honesty of the man. For one, we would be loth to trust a man, however learned he might be, to translate for us, who for the sake of extorting from the people more of the filthy lucre, would deliberately write and publish throughout our country the following blasphemous words: “Some, yea many precious souls might have been redeemed from the quenchless fires of hell, where now they must lie and suffer to all eternity, had you not been afraid of being thought unfashionable, and not like other folks,” &c. Yet these are the words of Adoniram Judson, published in a letter to the American females, and defended by A. M. Beebee of the Register. As soon would we receive a translation from the Pope of Rome, as from the man who for the love of mammon will set his name to the above doctrine.
The men who were employed to translate the scriptures for us, though differing from us in some important points, were, notwithstanding, men of common honesty; this we cannot say of Judson’s translation. Our translation has been subject to the revision of learned men of our own faith – not so with Mr. Judson’s Oars accords with the teachings of the Holy Spirit: and so may Mr. Judson’s, but we very much doubt it.
How many and how various are the appellations awarded us in this article! How strangely we are whirled from one character to another! And if our case be correctly stated, we are ignorant, prejudiced, consummately wise and good, Calvanistic, very learned, champion of light, accomplished editor, shallow, wicked critic. It would seem that his vocabulary had been exhausted to furnish a sufficient quantity of names with which to honor us. Yet being accustomed to the reproaches of the New Order, we are prepared in same measure to bear them with patience. Indeed we do esteem such reproaches greater riches to us than all the treasures of Egypt.
NEW VERNON, N. Y.,
April 29, 1835
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 224 – 233