Henry County, Ind., Sept. 30, 1851.
BROTHER BEEBE: - I embrace this opportunity of saying to my brethren who have so frequently written to me, (and thereby greatly strengthened and comforted me) that I desire sincerely to thank my God and them for the enjoyment of such privileges, but must acknowledge myself far in the rear. I will, however, say, by way of apology, that my close confinement to business at home, (in building a dwelling house) together with my engagements abroad, have more than ordinarily hurried me through the preceding part of the present year. I hope therefore to receive your and their pardon for my backwardness. I hope, my brethren, that none of you will conclude that my delay in writing has proceeded from a lack of respect or christian regard. In the foregoing remarks, I wish to be understood to include all my dear brethren and sisters with whom I have had correspondence, both through the columns of the SIGNS OF THE TIMES, and privately.
Brother Beebe seems to request, at the close of my last communication in the SIGNS, that I should write oftener. I would, with all freedom, brother Beebe, but when I look over my productions and compare them with those of my brethren and sisters, they seem so lean, tedious and awkward, that I feel ashamed of them. I remind myself of a young bird when first setting out from its nest; it goes flopping and wobbling through the air, without knowing where it is going, and when stopped, where it has been.
Having thus far wasted time and paper in a good degree, I will proceed to make a few remarks in relation to some of the religious doings in our western region. Religion is a term much used in our western country; but when used, it requires a special qualification or explanation in order to a fair understanding of it. For it is applied to sentiments and practices as perfectly antagonistical to each other as light and darkness, love and hatred, sin and holiness. Is the question asked, why it is that one word brings to view such conflicting sentiments and actions? We answer, Because it is of two kinds. One is "pure and undefiled," and prompts to actions and sentiments like itself; the other is said to be, (by an apostle) “our religion,” and (consequently) "vain," and therefore prompts to all the superstitions, persecutions and vain sentiments and actions of which the human heart, influenced by the enemy of all righteousness, is capable of conceiving or bringing into requisition against that which is pure and undefiled. This being the case, those two religions differing as they do, in sentiments, actions, aims and ends, must ever stand necessarily belligerent to each other. They have their different places of origin, too. One is from above, and prompts its subjects to extol its author, believe his word, obey his commandments, keep his ordinances, in short, to believe and practice all that is amiable, all that is divine. The other is from beneath, and influences its subjects to reverence its author, believe his (lying) words, obey his commandments, attend to his witchcrafts, and to practice all that is earthy, sensual and devilish. The subjects of those two religions constitute two different kingdoms; one the kingdom of Christ, the other the kingdom of anti-christ. One bears the characteristic appellation of a unit, (Song vi. 9) and has one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. The other is significantly characterized a multitude, (Rev. xiii. 18) and has "lords many," many faiths, and several baptisms. One is represented comparatively as a "little flock," (Luke xii. 32) traveling in a "narrow way," and but "few," [Matt. vii. 14] and also are said to be "an afflicted and poor people," trusting in the name of the Lord." - Zeph. iii. 12. The other requires a broad way to travel in, and are represented as being "many," (Matt. vii.) and as "trusting in their wealth, and boasting themselves in the multitude of their riches."- Psalm xlix. 6. They are trying very laboriously to redeem their brethren, and give to God a ransom for them. But David says, in the seventh verse of the forty-ninth Psalm, that none of them can by any means do it; and yet the silly dupes will be incessantly trying, (as they say) and continually begging, and even gambling, for money for that professed purpose.
A large proportion of the religion of our country at the present day may with propriety be termed, "our religion." Money and works constitute the very life and soul of it. The Corresponding Secretary of the Indiana Baptist (falsely called) General Association, in filling the minutes of that branch of anti-christ, held at Logansport last September, says, [page 29,] "We hope our brethren will please remember that our principal dependence is upon the village subscription to carry on our missionary operations as a board. Brethren, be prompt, like good businessmen, in bringing tithes into the store-house of the Lord." We commend him for speaking the truth this one time. We believe it is their principal dependence. But should we not pity the dupes who have no better dependence? And of course they have no better, as that is their principal one. And then it is enough to shock the senses of a christian, to think of the presumption and downright wickedness of those sons of Belial, in pretending that the Lord's "store-house" is to be filled with their ill-gotten filthy lucre.
It has been but a few years since the Indianapolis Association, when a few of the Old School Baptists were about to leave them, denied, in the most positive terms, being missionaries. But now they are increased by compassing the land and making proselytes, till they can "trust in their wealth and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches;" and nothing appears to be more desirous with them than to see those who contend for the truth swept from the face of the earth, that they may have the better opportunity to wring from their deluded followers their hard earnings, and thereby pamper a set of hypocritical demagogues, and have none to expose their base schemes of swindling. In the same minutes it is said, Page 43, "The anti-mission spirit, is doomed to extinction. May its death be hastened, and its struggle short, though severe, and even desperate." Two things are clearly exhibited in the foregoing extracts. 1st. A principal dependence upon filthy lucre. 2nd. An inveterate hatred to the spirit that trusts in the living God, which they are pleased to call anti-mission. But what better can we expect to find in earthly schemes, concocted by earthly men of corrupt minds, to gratify an insatiable earthly appetite for gain, which they think is godliness? Those were the distinguishing marks of their mother, (Rev. xvii. 5) and in vain may we look for anything better in her daughters. But for the laws of our country that protect us, that same disposition that prays for the destruction of the spirit that influences the Lord's children to oppose those diabolical measures, carried on under a cloak of religion, our land would be drenched with the blood of the saints. It is hard even to imagine the lengths to which a zeal for "our religion" will lead its advocates. It breaks every curb, and unlocks every avenue to the most malignant passions of carnal nature. It annihilates every vestige of humility, and puffs up the possessor with self-conceit and bigotry. It sweeps from the bosom every beacon of light, and enshrouds the mind in the grossest darkness. It destroys every regard for the truth, and clogs the heart with the basest falsehood. It bars the intellect against every principle of love, and fetters it fast in the most malignant hatred. It prompts individuals to spurn the commandments of God, and begets in them a reverence for the commandments of men. It steels the heart against every principle of holiness, and cultivates every species of ungodliness. It defies the power of saving grace, and causes its advocates to depend principally on money, works, &c. It would sap the foundation of civil and religious liberty, and build up in lieu thereof a religious aristocracy, intolerant as Mohammedanism and cruel as Paganism. It would raze the very foundation and consign to destruction and oblivion the kingdom of Christ, and "compass land and sea to make proselytes" for the building up of the kingdom of anti-christ. But a glance at the history of the past and the present time will clearly show that these are some of the characteristics that have in every age distinguished the wayward march of those who have been under the influence of a worldly religion, or drunken with the wine of the fornication of the Mother of Harlots. It has been their common course, while their numbers were sufficient to carry out their designs, to make great pretensions to benevolence, charity, and a voluntary show of humility; to make fair speeches, and use smooth words; to resort to every species of trickery, every sly, creeping and insinuating measure, for the purpose of swelling their numbers and enhancing their worldly emoluments, until they have gained their desired summit, and then down goes every opposition. Every other earthly power must coil at their impious feet. Kings have been dethroned and kingdoms subjected, the inalienable rights of men have been relentlessly torn from them, and whole nations bathed in blood.
Of all denominations in the United States, none are more conspicuous than the New School Baptists in exhibiting a starting point to those enormities. What species of crime has not been perpetrated under this kind of a cloak? Those who have visited our western aborigines can testify to the fruits of modern missionism, by witnessing the number of half-bloods that inhabit the different tribes where there have been missionary locations, and which the natives boast of as being "half missionary." How disgusting to morality, how shocking to humanity, how reproachful to the name of Christianity it is, to see those who carry that sacred profession upon their infamous tongues, thus scandalize and abuse it. Can we not here see, dressed in the most sable hues, "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like," all perpetrated by "men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness. From such [O my soul] withdraw thyself."
How wide the contrast when we turn our attention to the effects of that religion which is "pure and undefiled before God." The apostle gives this brief description of it: "To visit the fatherless and widow in their affliction, [not to get their money, nor prostitute them] and to keep himself unspotted from the world." It is peculiar to the kingdom or subjects of Christ, and is accompanied with a commendable submission, and a becoming reverence to his will in all things. It is a principle of holiness, and has its origin in the fountain of purity - in the ocean of holiness. It causes old things to pass away, and all things to become new. It blunts the affection and desires for earthly aggrandizement, and sets them on things above. It portrays the blighting tendency of all sublunary things, and develops riches and blessings durable as eternity. It throws a necessary restraint over our vile passions, and teaches us to bear all things patiently. It exercises a withering influence over self-conceit and intolerant bigotry, and settles us submissively in the vale of humility. The sable shades and gloomy darkness is driven from the mind by the lucid radiance of eternal light, which unfolds to view both the sinful propensity of our carnal nature, and the "glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." It ransacks and razes from the mind the love of falsehood, and fills it with the love of the truth as it is in Jesus. It destroys in us an undue hatred even to our worst enemies, and fills us with the "love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." It fills us with reverence and obedience to the commandments of our God, and enables us by grace divine to trample under our feet the commandments of men in matters of religion. It teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and fills us with holiness as God is holy. It enables us to realize the riches and power of divine grace, and prostrates every dependence upon money, works or anything short of God our Savior. It buries in our inmost intellects a profound reverence for a Deliverer who proclaims liberty to the captives, the opening of the prison to them that are bound, and who "breaks every yoke and lets the oppressed go free." It also works in us a desire that the blessings of civil and religious liberty should be extended to all men. It makes us rejoice in the fixed, steadfast and eternal "foundation of the apostles and prophets," upon which the kingdom of Christ is built, and convinces us of the sandy foundation upon which rests the kingdom of anti-christ, and that when the rust eats up their gold and silver, and moth consumes their paper, and their works are no longer available, they must inevitably meet their final overthrow and eternal downfall, as sure as the prediction of God is true, who has sealed her everlasting destiny and declared it by his word. Thus by works "our religion" is obtained, by works its short duration is sustained, and by works it falls. O how the children of light should extol the power of reigning grace in their salvation. While their enemies have nothing better than their own exertions and withering treasures to depend upon, all-competent grace begins the work of their religion in their hearts, all-sufficient grace perpetuates and sustains it there, and all-conquering grace supplies the topstone, completes the finishing, or, in other words, crowns the whole in a final and eternally triumphant victory, "with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it." Fear not then their numbers or their wealth. Both afford us sure testimonials that they are the brazen-faced bantlings of their ancient mother, who was first typically portrayed by the tower of Babel, then by ancient Babylon with her golden head, and afterwards anti-typically illustrated by the splendid appearance of the old lady with her myriads of numbers and millions of money, who is called, "MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS," &c.
The bladder-headed creatures, too, pretend to have scripture to support their plan of beggary, such as the following: "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Paul spoke that to the "Elders," not to his brethren, nor to the world, to filch their living from them; for he said on the same occasion, "I have coveted no man's silver or gold, or apparel," which they dare not say, or, if they do, everybody knows that they tell a lie. And again, for the purpose of systematizing their schemes, they try to press into their service I Cor. xvi. 2. But that was a request of the apostle in behalf of the poor saints at Jerusalem, and not for swindlers and beggars that they might consume it upon their lusts. As soon might we expect to find a frozen ocean in Africa, a boiling one in Greenland, grapes on thorns, figs on thistles, those hypocrites in heaven, or christians in final torment, as to think of finding the marks of the church of Christ in those dens of fashionable religion of our day. Turn to the apostolic church and ask, Who were their Reverends, Right Reverends, double D.'s, &c.? Who constituted their Missionary Board? Who were its officers? Who their treasurers? Where were their funds kept? Where were their Theological Seminaries located, and who of their gospel preachers were prepared for the ministry there? Where their Sunday Schools, and who their teachers? Where, when and who was it that conducted their Judas pockets round their assemblies, to gratify that "covetousness which is idolatry," so plainly discovered in those money-whining mendicants? They talk about covetousness to those from whom they beg! Why, it is as plain as open day that the term applies accurately to themselves. Covetousness consists in eagerness for gain, or craving what belongs to others. "Thou shalt not covet anything that is thy neighbor's." It is vanity for them to think of finding scriptural authority for their doctrines or practice. If they wish to read their genealogy, let them search their mother's records. There they may find it, and precedents, too, plenteously.
But probably I have said enough on this subject. I hope that none will conclude that the foregoing remarks relative to our enemy have been penned under the influence of an indignant spirit. Why then write them? says one. Because I do believe that some of my Father's children are at times decoyed off by those deceivers, to wander in that dark domain. If it were not so, why should he say, "Come out of her, my people?"
Dear brethren, be not discouraged at the appearance of the lowering clouds that now darken our hemisphere, but remember that you have been warned of these things in the scriptures, and "be separate" from all this silly trickery and bewildering glare of false doctrine that now disgraces our beloved country, and threatens the destruction of our dearest earthly privileges, all of which exhibit the coming in of the enemy like a flood, or uprising of the second beast; but "the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard." Rally to it, brethren, and "stand fast" under his all-conquering banner, clad with the "whole armor of God;" and thus equipped, you must, you will, and by the grace of God you shall certainly prove invincible at last, for the LORD GOD OMNIPOTENT REIGNETH.
"As surely as he overcame,
And triumphed once for you,
So surely you that love his name,
Shall triumph in him too."
Roaring lions; ravening wolves, raging tempests, rolling billows, chilling winds, scorching fires, hissing serpents, venomous vipers, every element, every enemy, must finally bow to the sovereign sceptre of the King of saints. He has no rival! His veracity, his word, yea his oath is pledged for your eternal salvation. His work has, and will sustain his dignity, in crowning you eventually in ultimate and victorious triumph. Then yours should be, and will be, to "show forth the praise of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." Remember that, brethren; that should constitute your good works; it is your best work, and therefore will be your eternal employment; and the nearer you can approximate to that while here, the nearer you will be right. Meet often together when practicable; and when met, let all your works praise him. Be kind and tenderhearted towards each other. And when we are deprived of assembling together, and are separated far asunder, let our united voices ascend to the throne of grace for the peace and prosperity of Zion. Be patient under all your tribulations. "Resignation sweeteneth the cup, but impatience dasheth it with vinegar."
J. F. JOHNSON.