Orwell, Bradford Co. Pa.
Feb. 5, 1835
BROTHER BEEBE: To me it appears curious to see how men love to imitate the Serpent, while they know that he is under the curse. But it is not much to be wondered at that many should follow their pernicious ways, since some kind of religion is esteemed necessary; and the religion of the present day is so much more agreeable to the depraved heart than the soul humbling religion of the Cross, and men love so well to follow the fashion.
But I was thinking about Missionaries; no doubt Jesus Christ, his Apostles, and almost all the primitive ministers, except the judaizing teachers, were gospel missionaries. They traveled on proper missionary ground – they were filled with the spirit of their mission – and they taught the people knowledge; they were not housed up like monks for months or years in study after they were called to preach, before they could go on their mission. After the ascension of the Lord, they were induced to tarry in Jerusalem, until they were endued with power from on high. But they were called, qualified, ordained, and sent to preach before this, see Mark iii, 14 – Math. x. 5,7 – Luke ix. 2, & x. 1. They formed no coalition with the world – they regard no parish lines, nor ecclesiastical district; they waited for no appointment from a board of officers, like an executive committee – they sought no emolument – they received the Gospel by experimental instruction, or by the revelation of Jesus Christ. At the call of God they went every where depending on the Lord alone, preaching Jesus Christ and him crucified; yea, rather that is risen again. They were sent forth as lambs among wolves; they took heed to themselves, to the doctrine, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost had made them overseers; they fed the Church of God which he had purchased with his own blood, and they gave charge that others who were to follow them, should teach no other doctrine.
How different the common procedure of the present day. Now, active young men, such as ardently long for the ministry, cannot go into the work until some college or divinity school has qualified them; they are in great trouble and darkness about it – especially such of them as are indigent – until that old serpent called the devil and satan, transforms himself into an angel of light, and appears in dazzling spendor before their darkened and benighted eyes, and gives them light, by which they, whom it is feared are as much deceived in their hope of future happiness, as they are about God’s calling them to preach, and to the work of the ministry – a work they are sensible God has not qualified them for, and they dare not trust him to do it. But now they can see their way plainly open before them by means of an education society, and the liberal donations of nominal religious assemblies for their education. This he tells them will qualify them to shine as stars of the first magnitude. He told mother Eve she should be as Gods knowing good and evil; so he makes them believe that a knowledge of heathen mythology, polytheism, with the dead languages, and a regular course of study in a Theological School, will furnish them with a sufficient quantity of worldly wisdom and knowledge of God, to qualify them to shine as lights in the splendid circles among men; to take the wise in their own craftiness – to govern the saints and convert the world.
When they have accomplished a diligent search, and manifested their shining talents in acquiring a suavity of manners, and a good stock of self-confidence; they then must apply to some self-created body of men – calling themselves a religious society – who are built on a moneyed bottom, to send them forth as Missionaries of the Cross, or employ them as agents in some benevolent enterprize. Thus they are transformed as the Ministers of Christ, professing to believe that salvation is all of grace, and go forth teaching that it is obtained by works.
Notwithstanding the Gospel was once established by the powerful operations of the Holy Spirit, and its miraculous influences; yet since miracles have ceased, it has now become a system of means; the which if attended to by men with plenty of cash, will prove their salvation, otherwise they must sink in woe forever. Instead of giving themselves up to God, to go where and when he calls – trusting alone in him to supply their needs, they devote themselves to some society of men, to be stationed by them – holding them as the Lord’s bondsmen for their support. They go forth filled like Jehu with zeal for the Lord or rather like the Jews, who had a zeal, but not according to knowledge. The feed the people with wind, introduce another gospel, which is not another gospel; compassing sea and land to make proselytes, causing divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which the saints of God have learned of Jesus Christ. By what is published of them, it would seem that it was intended to make us believe that some of them were almost, if not quite equal to the apostles themselves; that they gloried in tribulation &c., and were really engaged with extraordinary success in converting the world. As a specimen of which, I send you the following, which I copied from the Christian Gazette of Oct. 17, 1831. A most wonderful development!
“Our readers cannot but have had their attention and interest strongly excited by what they have read at different times respecting the Thorens; but the statements and developments which follow cannot fail to excite their astonishment. The Thorens, the children of Abraham! Are the lost tribes indeed found? And has God in his providence reserved the work of teaching them to a knowledge of “the Shepherd of Israel,” for the Baptist in these United States! Wonderful discovery! glorious privilege! O, ye descended and named of him who first directed the waiting eye of Judah to the hand of God who taketh away the sins of (?). will ye not be roused to hear the voice (?) brethren breaking, as from the dead, the (?) of 21 centuries, to the God of their (?) Ephraim and Manasseh, stir up thyself and come and save us.” And will ye not haste to seize the honor of pointing them also to Him whose way among their brethren the Baptist first prepared? We trust – we believe ye will. So thrilling a call to missionary enterprise will send the pulse of vitality through the most (?) members of the “body, the Church,” and the valies of the West shall echo to the mountains of the north. “The Thorens shall have the word of the Lord, and be taught to sing Messiah’s praise.”
Yours in Gospel Bonds,
Signs of the Times
Volume 3, No. 9