MY DEAR B’R BEEBE: – Having returned from my visit to Ohio, without discovering much that was new, I would suggest some of my thoughts for your consideration and publication, if you think it proper.
For I think that the Baptists, some 30 or 40 years ago, were a poor, despised and afflicted people, hated by the world; as the Lord said they would be. And many of them, especially in the New England States were oppressed to pay for preaching, what they neither believed, nor loved, & scarcely ever heard. And while, as to their order they stood on Gospel ground, requiring either precept or example for every article of their creed; they began to work off in their feelings, and seeing other religious denominations increasing by the use of means; began to think, that they too could use means to increase the number of God’s children and thus enlarge their churches. In this they embraced the spirit that was manifest in Rachel, when she said to Jacob, “give me children or I die.” Having begun like Eve, to listen to the Tempter; they saw that the tree “was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired.” And Jehovah might well be displeases with such anxiety for numbers and power: though they were groaning under the oppressive yoke; they should have waited upon the Lord, and not have depended so much on the use of such means as were better calculated to make proselytes to the Baptists, than children of God. I think indeed, as he was displeased with Israel, when they would have a King; that they might be like other nations; so he was displeased with the Baptists when they began to adopt the use of such means to increase the numbers of his children, as others made us of to increase their proselytes. And as he gave Israel a King in his anger; so I think that he gave the Baptists a few men that like the Son of Kish, were from their shoulders and upward higher than any of the people. Men of easy address, shining talents, flowing speeches, and worldly influence, who cold paint, in glowing colours, the advantages of literary attainments possessed by other religious denominations, and highly recommend the means pursued by them, to obtain members, wealth and popularity. They also understood human nature, better than they did the Gospel of Christ. And could with more ease operate on the natural passions of their hearers, than they could on their hearts. They being of the world, the world would love them; and the Baptists began to increase rapidly, and many among them were soon spoiled through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Now their adversaries, like Tobiah, & Sanballat, had long had great indignation and said, “Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.” But, when they saw their rapid increase, they came unto them and said, “Let us build with you, for we seek your God as ye do, & we do sacrifice unto him.” Now I think this temptation was not so firmly withstood by the Baptists, in the spirit of truth, as it was by the Prophet Ezra. For though they chose to build by themselves as a separate denomination: yet through fear of having counsellors hired against them, or from matters of improper policy, they soon began to form alliances, or intermarry, and did not keep themselves separate from the people of the land, but followed some of their traditions, customs and inventions – formed alliances with the world in matters of religion. Yea the hand of the Princes (D. D.'s & Rev’s.) and rulers were chief in this trespass, and some of them were allied to the Ammonite, and had prepared for him a chamber in the house of the Lord, and there his household stuff was stored, and there were many among the Baptists that were confederate with, if now sworn unto the mystical Moabites and Ammonites, because of their connexion with some of the chief men, and occupied the place of sons-in-law, & helped greatly with their cash to support their ministers &c. Oh, for some one to stand up in this day in the spirit of the Gospel, with the influence of Nehemiah, to cast forth the household stuff of Tobiah, out of the chambers of the house of the Lord. It was found written in the Book of Moses, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God forever, because they met not the children of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should curse them,” &c it was also written in the preaching of John the Baptist, that Jesus Christ should “thoroughly purge his floor.” I think then that unconverted Gentiles, have no more to do to build the house of God, nor any more right to occupy it for store rooms for their household stuff, under the gospel dispensation than the Ammonites & the Moabites had under the Mosaic. For it remains forever true, that he that is not with Christ is against him, and he that gathereth not with him scattereth abroad. – “Behold they shall surely gather together, but not by me; whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake,” is the language of inspiration, for the comfort of mourning Zion.
But the religion of the Gospel if love, and there is much said about love in the day in which we live – Jesus taught that we should love our enemies – Paul taught that husbands should love their wives, love is the fulfilling of the law. Now the end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned, from which some having swerved, have turned aside unto vain jangling, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. But, it is called uncharitable for any to speak against the different religious denominations intermarrying, or uniting to evangelize the world, that is to make children of God of them, and he that opens his mouth against the present popular mode of compassing sea and land, to make proselytes becomes a prey. For men verily believe and publish it to the world; that after the departure of our risen Lord, the faith was delivered to the Saints. The diffusion of the Gospel was left in the hands of the Disciples of that age, and it has equally been left in the hands of the disciples of every succeeding age. (See Hintan on Revivals.) This agrees with Walwrath’s letter, that the Temperance cause in its operations is “extending the boundaries of the Redeemer’s Kingdom.” Therefore, they say that union is strength, united effort is powerful effort, and while they call on the Lord for the aid of his Spirit, I think that they mean to ask God to bless the means they use, just as the husbandman prays for rain and sunshine, to bring to maturity the crop springing from the seed he has sown – and in the new settlements the more hands a man can employ, the more land he can clear, the more seed he can sow, the more grain he expects, with the common smiles of providence. – Now I think that as the rain and the sunshine are like the wilderness and on the cultivated field; so their system of operation, attributes nothing more to the operation of the Spirit of God in the work of regeneration, than barely blessing the means used. This I think is the legitimate issue of that sentiment, which now passes so currant among the multitude of the workmen of our day.
If their system be true, it proves that salvation is of works, as much as obtaining sustenance for our bodies is of works, and the multitude of them that unite of every description, &c., pour their cash into the Treasury of the Lord and employ all the hands they can pay to convert the world are engaged in a glorious cause – whatever may be found in the New Testament to the contrary notwithstanding. But if the New Testament contains the truth, and truth itself is true, God has a people chosen in/Christ, before the foundation of the world – predestinated to the adoption of sons – saved and called with an holy calling, not according to our works (as the means used by men to convert hem) but according to his own purpose, and grace given them in Christ Jesus before the world began; then is the popular doctrine of the day, false doctrine, and men with all their means, can no more make children of God, then the Ethiopian can change his skin, or the Leopard his spots.
Now I think if the popular doctrine of the day be true & the efforts they are making are according to the mind of God; – then Tobiah, and Sanballat, and Gusham, the Araiban; and the rest of the adversaries may, and do, help to build the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth, & the declaration of Jesus is not true. He that is not with me, is against me &c.; but Jesus did speak the truth – he is the truth itself; then their gathering together is against him – against his people and they must surely fall.
Then let them which have married strange wives, put them away; yea and their children too. It is written cast out the bond woman and her son – let the people of God separate themselves from the polluted nations, and not mingle the holy seed. For the house, (or Kingdom) is the Lord’s, “and the Kingdom, and Dominion, and the greatness of the Kingdom under the whole Heaven, shall be given to the people of the Saints of the Most High, and the Kingdom shall not be left to other people.” The contention between this and other Kingdoms, (or religions) was the fire that Jesus came to kindle. The separation between the subjects of this Kingdom and other people, was the work he performed with his fan. This is the Kingdom which like a stone cut out without hands, shall break in pieces and consume all other Kingdoms and it shall stand forever. I think it takes its stand directly against all kinds of Idolatrous and false worship. It therefore might and did, and does still expect to meet with opposition from all other kinds, and forms of religion, and religious worship except its own; persecutions, cruel, powerful and more or less extensive have frequently attended it from its rise, unless some of its professed leaders have entered into a compromise with the world and other religions, and through at times there has been a diminution of its visible members by fire and faggot; yet the Kingdom has received the tremendous shocks with firmness and undismayed have trusted in the King. When proud aspiring men have obtained influence with the subjects of this Kingdom, they have always been fond of mingling with the daughters of mystery Babylon, and have been a cause of grief to the humble saints.
I think the movements of the present day have led many of God’s dear children so far into the dark, and filled them with smoke, that nothing but the wind of the Holy Spirit, and the bright rays of the sun of righteousness, will ever clear their minds, and enable them to discover the distinction between the bride the Lamb’s wife, and the vain pretenders to the religion of Jesus. I am yours in Gospel bonds.
Orwell Bradford Co. Pa. Nov. 1, 1833
Signs of the Times
Volume 2, No. 1
December 11, 1833