To Mr. Alexander M. Beebe:
I next proceed to take a little notice of Mr. Kincaid's examination before the Court of Ava. In the Register for the 3rd of April, and in the one you refer to in this, there appears no material difference on the point to which I allude, and as I have the one for the 3rd of April before me, I shall take it for my model.
Says Woonge to Mr. Kincaid “Dare you say the religion of the king, his princes, his nobles, and his people is false?” Mr. Kincaid answers “No, my lord, I do not say so, but in my own country, and in all the world, before the knowledge of the living God appeared, the people worshipped idols; and the command of God is, to go into all the world and preach this religion.”
Is this “standing in all the boldness and loveliness of a primitive disciple,” when saying, “before the princes and nobles of Burmah,” “No, my lord, I do not say so,” on being enquired of whether he dare say there religion was false? What! an apostolic minister preaching to the idolatrous heathen, and not tell them their idolatry is a false religion!! It is either the true religion or a false one. If it is the true religion, why wish them converted from it? If it is a false religion why not say so? and what use in his preaching to them if he does not? If their idolatrous religion is the true religion, and they are converted from it by means of his preaching, it must be from the true religion to a false one. Was it ever known or heard that a man was converted from one religion to another, until he was satisfied that the former was false? How much confidence can we place in the man who professes to preach the religion of Christ, and does not say that idolatry is a false religion – “that they be no gods which are made with hands?” What better are the idols of Burmah, than the Diana of the Ephesians? And what credit is Mr. Kincaid entitled to, as a minister of Christ, if he does not say that the religion of the king of Burmah is a false religion? and if he does say so, what confidence can be put in any thing he says?
The next thing that I shall notice, is, his own declaration relative to his object in residing at Ava. Says he, “I told him (the Woonge) that our only object was to teach the people the law of God.” Did he mean to teach that men must be circumcised and keep the law in order to be saved? or was it free will, legal or ceremonial obedience that he meant to teach? If it was either of these it was far from being gospel instruction. Could he teach either the law of God or the gospel of Christ, and not, in substance, say that their idolatry was a false religion? If he did not teach that their religion was false, did he deserve the eulogy you gave him? and if he did, what confidence could a heaven-born Burman (if any such there could be found) place in him, knowing that he would contradict before the court the solemn instruction he had given him?
Upon the whole, I cannot find, judging from your statement concerning him, and his own account of himself that he acted under so pure an influence as that of which you speak. You represent him as preaching “Jesus and the resurrection;” – he declares his “only object was to teach the people the law of God.” You represent that he preaches that “the people should turn from their own dumb idols to the living God;” – his own testimony is, that he does not say that the worship of idols is a false religion. Your testimony and his own differs so widely, that I think no man in his right senses can believe them both; and if he does either of them, which shall he believe, seeing they are both found in the paper edited by yourself? You ask, “Can there be any found among those professing the Master's name, who would unite with heathen rulers, and say, away with such a fellow from Ava? I also would ask, why he should be supported there as a christian minister, if he does not say that the Boodish religion is a false one? Again you say, “Let us candidly ask, what is the difference between the conduct of the court at Ava, and that of the individual refered to in the above correspondence?” Let me as candidly answer, The court at Ava appear mad upon their idols. The minister in western Pa. referred to, appears zealous for the Bible; the court are opposed to the circulation of books of any kind. The minister “strove to circulate the Signs of the Times,” which attempts to vindicate the doctrine of Christ. The court manifested a disposition to coerce to submission. There is no evidence that the minister appeared to use any force but that of argument. The court insisted on a promise to desist from preaching, and giving away books. The minister lays no injunction, but leaves the book merchant to preach and sell his books to such as wish to hear and buy them. The difference, therefore, is very great, and sorry indeed I am for those whose eyes are so full of the smoke of the bottomless pit that they cannot discover it.
I will notice one more thing more: You complain of an “unlovely spirit” in the Pennsylvania minister, insulting the benevolent agent, and striving to circulate the Signs of the Times, which opposes with unwavering assiduity, all the efforts of the benevolent in behalf of the poor ignorant Burmans, or the instruction of those needing instruction in America.” It needs more proof than I have seen in your paper, to establish the point that the minister in Pa. insulted the benevolent agent, or that the agent had much claim to the character of benevolence, for “he was very desirous of disposing of tracts and books among them.” What merchant is not desirous of disposing of his merchandize? It appears from his own account that he “sold several volumes;” there is no evidence that he gave away any. But thou that findest fault with others for insulting, dost thou not insult? Look at the sentence I have last quoted from your article, and read what you have said respecting “the principles of such men” as support the Signs of the Times, and ask yourself if you believe that the minister in Penn. ridiculed the tracts the complainant had with him more than you have the Signs of the Times; or insulted the man more than you have the men whose principles you have so greatly misrepresented; or told any thing farther from the truth about tracts than you have about the Signs of the Times? Yet I do not mean to complain that you have insulted us, but if you are so ignorant as not to know that some of your statements are grossly incorrect, please let me correct you somewhat, and think yourself not insulted by it.
Has it, indeed, come to this, that if a man wishes to follow the rule laid down by the King of Zion, Math. vi. 1-8, and does not wish to let his left hand know what his right hand doeth, that he must b epublished to the world as being opposed to all benevolent effort, merely because he does not follow the multitude, and have that which he does published in some official report or its collateral, though he might give hundreds or thousands of dollars to instruct the ignorant? Suffer me to tell you that I have read most of the numbers of the Signs of the Times from the first, and do know, and can prove from its pages that you have not told the sentiments contained in it, in your statement. It would be much more becoming an editor of your magnitude to state facts about those that may conscientously differ from your views on benevolence, and represent things as they really are, and not as they are not. If you are honest, and verily believe the brethren that support that paper to be in error; why not state the doctrine that they avow, or some sentiment that they hold, in their own words, and show from plain scripture wherein they differ from the testimony; and not undertake to calumniate as you have done. I invite you to the task; undertake with me, and show from the scripture where the sentiments of the Signs of the Times is contrary to truth, and send me your paper, and I will engage to give up the Signs and come over to your side, so soon as you will show me that the sentiments of that paper are at variance with the gospel of truth, and the course you have taken is in agreement with the Bible. Did it never occur to your mind that men might think that their benevolence shone as bright “before men” as they wished it should, without having some religious periodical, trumpet like, to sound it far and wide? How came those that are sounding their benevolence through the earth, by the right to say that those who are opposed to the course they pursue, are opposing “with unwavering assiduity, all the efforts of the benevolent?” It is not certain that every man's work will be acknowledged as good, by the Master, because he claims it as such, and boasts of the great things he has done in the name of the Lord. See Mat. vii. 21-23; Luke xiii. 24-28.
It is not the instruction of the ignorant, either in Burmah or American or any other part of the world, that we oppose, provided the measures taken, and the instruction given be scriptural. It is not the circulation of the Bible, tracts, sunday schools, or missionary operations that we oppose, provided it be done on gospel principles, and truth circulated instead of error; but that abominable religious speculation under the garb of benevolence, which is more destitute of a plan to support it, than the Jews had for selling doves in the temple that we oppose. For their plea, see Deut. xiv. 23-26, for their wickedness therein, and the Lord's opposition to their conduct, see Mat. xxi. 12-13; Mark xi. 15-17; John ii. 14-16. It is the amalgamation of the church with the world, presenting flattering titles to the unregenerate for their money, and offering religious privileges for sale for money, under the notion that with our money and our efforts we may help save, or be the means of saving, such souls as would otherwise go to hell. It is these false notions and their concomitants that we oppose – not the instruction of such as need it, either at home or abroad, the jars, schisms, contentions and divisions, that now disturb the wold and distract the churches, would all cease, and the glory of the Lord would cover the earth. The sun of righteousness would arise, and all flesh would see the salvation of God, and it would come to pass that whosoever should call on the name of the Lord should be saved.
I subscribe myself one that is grieved for the affliction of the saints,
Signs of the Times
Volume 4, No. 17.
August 12, 1836