FOR THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES.
“Why will not men think?” Answer, Because it is written, The simple pass on and are punished. But the editor of the Baptist Register seems surprised “That men of intelligence can give up their thinking faculties, to be led by ignorant prejudiced editors of journals, whose columns are occupied with tirades against the benevolent doings of the age.” I am however, not much surprised that the men who have been drinking out of the golden cup carried by the Mother of Harlots, as Mr. A. M. Beebe has – as has been proved to my satisfaction for a number of years by the paper he conducts – should be surprised that others could not love the filthy draught as well as himself nor am I much surprised that he should be so inebriated by it as to spew out such a filthy mass of stuff as follows his text: “Why will not men think?” If he has sufficiently disgorged his stomach as to be rational, I will not only tell him that the men he thinks have given up their thinking faculties are a sober set of thinking men, but I will present a sample of thoughts worthy of Alexander’s notice, showing the difference between them, and that thinking some other way will do as well.
When Abel would worship God, he thought he would offer a Lamb – this was more excellent than Cain’s fruit of the ground, and was accepted, but Cain’s was not. Noah thought the deluge was coming, and prepared an Ark to the saving of his house; his neighbours no doubt were surprised to see him work so exactly by the rule of God had given him, and thought they were safe in following their own imaginations. Moses thought it was best to make all things according to the pattern shown him in the mount, but Aaron, when Moses was in the mount with the Lord, thought it would do to make a Calf for the people to worship. Saul the son of Kish, thought he had obeyed the voice of the Lord in destroying the Amalekites, when he had saved Agag alive and the best of the flocks &c.; but Samuel thought he had done evil in the sight of the Lord, and charged him with stubbornness, rebellion, and idolatry notwithstanding the noble sacrifice he had proposed to make, for Samuel thought to obey was better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. Jeroboam thought it was best to make and set up golden calves, one in Bethel and one in Dan, and change the time of the festivals, to prevent his subjects from killing him and returning to Babylon. But the inspired penman who recorded the fact, thought it was sinful thus to deviate from the rule God had given. Ahab thought it best to proclaim a religious fast when he coveted Naboth’s vineyard, and would kill him to obtain it, but Elijah the Tishbite, thought that Ahab had sold himself to work evil in the sight of the Lord. Ahab also thought there was abundant evidence of prosperity attending his going to Ramath Gilead to battle, when the multitude of his prophets said, Go up, for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king; but Micaiah thought a lying spirit was in the mouth of all his prophets.
The multitude of Nebuchadnezzar’s princes, governors, captains and judges thought best, at the king’s commandment, when they heard the sound of his band of music, to worship the golden image which he had set up, except a small number of Hebrew captives, who chose rather to go into his overheated furnace than to worship any but the God of their fathers; and God manifested his approval of their conduct by his presence among them in the midst of the fire, by their miraculous preservation. And there is no doubt but God will appear in due time for the deliverance of them that worship him in spirit and in truth. When Ezra and his brethren were rebuilding the Temple, their adversaries came unto Zerubbabel and the chief of the fathers, and said, Let us build with you, for we seek your God as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esar-haddon king of Assur which brought us up hither. But Zerubbabel, and Joshua, and the rest of the chief fathers of Israel, though, ye have nothing to do with us to build a house unto our God; but we together will build unto the Lord God of Israel. The woman with whom our Lord conversed at the mouth of Jacob’s well, thought that in the mountains of Samaria it would do to worship; but Jesus said she worshiped she knew not what, and informed her that the hour was coming and then was, that the true worshipper should worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The scribes and pharisees thought that their pompous show, great parade of extra-ordinary zeal, with their enlarged garments and bread phylacteries, with their idolatry, hypocrisy, and teaching for doctrine the commandments of men, would pass well for religion, seeing they had Abraham to their father. But while Jesus acknowledged their tithing of mint, rue, and all manner of herbs, he thought they passed over the judgment and law of God, and were as graves that appear not, worshipped in vain, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men, and that they made the commandments of God of none effect by their traditions.
Paul thought that those who taught the brethren the necessity of being circumcised, and keeping the law in order to be saved, troubled the churches, and that they ought to be cut off; yea, he said, Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. John thought that they were anti-christs who went out from the Church; he thought that if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us, but they went out that it might b made manifest that they were not all of us. Those that went out from the church, teaching circumcision and keeping the law, no doubt thought with Alexander, that ti was not worth while to be so very exact about having Apostolic command for all their religious and “benevolent doings;” but the Apostles condemned it, alledging that they had given no such commandment, and they thought the doctrine was subverting the souls of their brethren. I think that the offering of temporal sacrifices now, with a view to promote the eternal salvation of men, is as subversive as it was then; for it is written, Sacrifices and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou has had no pleasure. Then said I, lo, I come to do thy will O God. Above, when he said, Sacrifice and offering, and burnt offerings, and offerings for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein, which are offered by the law; then said he, Lo, I am come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified (set apart) through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ one for all.
The foregoing are only a sample of the great body that occupy the thoughts of “men of intelligence,” who patronize the paper that Alexander sets so much at nought; and they show us distinctly what, in the judgment of God and his Apostles and Prophets, the character of such men are, who dare thus to trifle with the divine rule and lean to their own understanding. They prove that no service can be done acceptable to God, but that which is done in spirit and in truth. They show as clear as the sunbeam that a great part of the religious (so called) worship that has been and is now in the world, is vain – is not acceptable to God; and “men of intelligence” that are taught of God, hate vain thoughts; and lest their religion should be vain, choose to walk “by just such a rule” as God has given.
Respecting the abundance of Bible; Missionary or Sunday School societies being a “blessing to dying souls,” if he would be understood by it, that they are made the children of God by these means, I think every sober, candid, thinking christian must have some doubt about it, if such as I am acquainted with be a fair sample; and I can see no reason why we should think they are better, or better made, in foreign climes than here at home. As touching his remarks on waking the sleeping tenants of a flaming habitation by ascending a ladder on the outside, if he intended it should apply to the support of his theory in relation to Bible, Missionary, and Sunday School Societies – and if not what could he indent it for? – he has only to turn to John x. 1, and there he has the character of such specified. In reference to his argument in favor of Adoniram’s translation of the Bible, and the dreadful dilemma into which he thinks the Editor of the Signs, is heshed by his mighty performance, together with, “the embarrassment of his followers,” little need be said to show that it is a mere editorial puff without substance enough to embarrass a common woodsman.
Who that has common sense and is not blind to his own weakness, would suppose that any one man, was he ever so orthodox, learned, and honest, wold be able to accomplish so great a work alone. Can it be doubted that King James had as learned and as great men in his empire as Adoniram Judson? Why did he select so many, but that they might assist and correct each other – and of different denominations too that they might be a check upon each other? And after all the care and pains of so many leaned, and perhaps as faithful men as Adoniram, there have been found some few imperfections in the translation, that are complained of by the learned of several different religious denominations.
But suppose it was a work that any one learned and honest man might reasonably be expected to perform correctly; I have an objection that in my mind outweighs both of them that are named in Alexander’s argument – though to be employed as a missionary according to the present plan, and to be a rank Arminian, are qualifications that I do not highly prize; yet for a man to write in so solemn, affecting and impressive a manner, with so much zeal and apparent concern for the honour of God and the good of souls, and afterwards plead that it should be taken “in a popular and not strictly theological sense,” and excusing himself because he was writing “to the ladies” destroys the last remains of confidence in him as an honest man. Concerning what he has said of our course leading to papacy, I shall but remark; I believe that a papal college can make as good ministers as a Baptist College, and as soon pray souls out of hell as a Missionary Society can give life to the dead, or as Jesus himself will save men with using money as he did his hearts blood for the salvation of a lost world.
Signs of the Times
Volume 3, No. 12
June 10, 1835