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Lexington, Greene County, N.Y., Dec.14,1855.

DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: - I was recently requested to examine and give my views upon a tract, published by the American Tract Society, entitled “Muckle Kate: A Gaelic Woman of the Scotch Highlands,” by the Rev. T.M. Fraser, Free Church, Yester. Its purport is to describe the conversion {so-called} of a “wicked old sinner,” between eighty and ninety years of age. Mr. Lauchlan, “a godly divine,” composed a Gaelic song, in which Kate’s known sins were enumerated and lashed with all the severity of which the composer was capable. This was set to music and taught to some young persons, who were known to often sing songs and listen to the gossip of the “old sinner,” instructing them to sing it in her hearing at the first opportunity. The writer says, “It was a strange, and as some may perhaps say an unwarrantable way of attempting to win a soul, nevertheless it was successful. The appeal went home to the old woman’s conscience, backed with all the force of astonishment; the suddenness of the stroke, coming as it did from so unexpected a quarter, gave both point and poignancy to the blow; the shaft had found the joint in the harness, and driven home by the Spirit’s own hand it sunk deep, deep down into that old and withered soul which had hitherto resisted every impression.” The final result is said to be her conversion to God.

Much effort is made to build up a false system of religion under the cognomen of the christian religion; and a zeal of God, but not of knowledge, causes many to do something for God on the principle of false devotion, exercised by a self-righteous, vain-glorious spirit. Supposing God is well pleased with their works, they ignorantly conclude that the more they do for God, the more they will be blest therein, and God will bless their efforts in the conversion of sinners, and the more efforts they use, the more sinners will be converted. Those who do not discern, fully, the difference between the self-righteous religion of men, whether under the name of the christian religion or otherwise, and the religion of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is purely a revelation from heaven, are deluded into the vain notion that the salvation of sinners in some degree depends upon the puny efforts of sinful worms of the dust. Hence the great stress that is laid upon the effort system, or use of means, in saving sinners. The distribution of tracts, and other kindred movements, are consequently harped upon as some of the benevolent objects of the age. They publish and circulate religious stories to feed and strengthen the minds of men into a depraved notion that they can do something for God, and that God blesses the efforts of good men in the conversion {so called} of sinners. And doubtless some of the Lord’s people are deluded by the same self-righteous notion, and carry their influence to sustain such improper movements. Whether the story published in the tract referred to in this article be literally true or not, one thing is certain, that the object is to prove and sustain the idea of the effort system, thereby to evade the truth of God by having the work of regeneration depend upon some secondary or artificial cause. We have a better standard than tracts, creeds, and stories which are often calculated to confuse the mind, and bewilder the understanding, and lead the simple and unwary astray. It is a lamentable feature of this dark and deluded age, that the plain, discriminating doctrine of the gospel is perverted by the substitution of religious tracts, Sunday Schools, and many other societies connected with the doctrines and commandments of men. Upon this principle the effort system must first be brought forward as the moving cause in regeneration, then the Holy Spirit is introduced as an instrument to execute the work. Sinners cannot be saved without the effort system, and the Lord is subordinate in his movement to the puny efforts of men. Such a sentiment is absolutely blasphemous. If there ever was such a person as Muckle Kate, and she was made a subject of grace at the time specified in the tract, it did not depend upon any other power but that of God; but the foolish, ignorant writer of the story brings forward the effort system as the means of her conversion, and puts a false coloring on the whole statement. If sinners are saved by grace, it does not depend upon the effort system; the works of men, either good or bad, have no connection therewith. But if it is by works, then it cannot be by grace, and it must depend upon the effort system altogether. It is probable that the whole story of Muckle Kate is a fiction to turn the minds of men into a wrong channel, and build up an unchristian influence in the world. There is an evident design to turn the grace of God into lasciviousness by a virtual denial of the only Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, by having a wicked old sinner brought forward as the evidence of the practical result of the effort system. The object was to win a soul, and it was successful; therefore salvation, glory, and honor to the effort system forever. Throw off the mask of the christian religion which is now upon the effort system to disguise its hideous and deformed visage, and the whole system of Phariseeism, self-righteousness and hypocrisy is made manifest. But putting a good name to a bad thing will not make a bad thing a good thing. To say that sinners are saved by grace, and yet practically have it depend upon the efforts of men either good or bad, is absolutely false from first to last. It is God-dishonoring in the premises.

We have a more sure word of prophecy than the writings of uninspired men. The infallible word of truth, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, moved the prophets and apostles to record the revealed truth of God. Paul said, in his epistle to the church at Corinth, “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” To declare and testify the things of God and of Christ, as things revealed and known by holy inspiration, strikes a death blow to the effort system in all its ramifications. Some, in relating their experience, have dated their first spiritual exercises at the theater, ball-room, and some other such places; but in every instance, whatever the outward circumstances may be, spiritual life is communicated directly by divine power and grace aside from any human agency. And life always precedes action, and where there is life, there is always more or less evidence of life. The evidence of regeneration is manifest in all the subjects of grace, showing forth sufficient proof that “salvation is of the Lord.” With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. The preaching of Christ and him crucified was a stumbling block to the self-righteous Jews, and foolishness to the learned Greeks, but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. As it formerly was, so it is now. The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. Nothing short of an experimental manifestation of revealed things now, as in the days of the prophets and apostles, can enable any of the subjects of grace to receive the gospel in its proclamation as a joyful sound. And no man can preach the gospel unless called, qualified, and sent forth by the great Head of the Church for that special and definite purpose.

I am obliged to close my letter. May the Lord lead his people into the truth, and deliver them from every evil way and work for his name’s sake.

Yours affectionately,
Joseph L. Purington.