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Signs of The Times – July 1836

Brother Beebe: – We are in a world of conflicting interests and contending parties. These act as causes producing feuds and turmoil. These embitter the sweets of social life, and blend their unhallowed influence in almost every circle of community. This bane of social harmony not only infects the political and fraternal associations, but too often, like an evil genus, is seen exhibiting its many magic and enticing forms in the theological departments, alluring the weak and unwary, and thus producing divisions in the ranks of that once united band which, like an army with banners marching in the strength of the Lord, has struck, with terror and dismay, every opposing foe, and filled the hearts of aliens with appalling consternation.

I have not been altogether an indifferent or idle spectator while these tragical scenes have been passing before the ordeal of the public. I have seen much to admire and much to deplore. I have observed truth and error in contrast, and while some of the partially concealed beauties of the former and many of the partially covered deformities of the latter have been exhibited by the comparison, I have believed an increase of knowledge would be the result.

From the earliest age of Christianity up to the present time, men, even Christians, have been prone to be diverted from gospel simplicity by will-worship, feigned words, vain philosophy, and worldly policy. Spacious displays of these have perverted many, and the glossy and sophistical covering has so effectually concealed the deformity of the fraud, that for a time it was nourished as virtue, and extolled as holy benevolence. Under these expanded appearances of charity and disinterested philanthropy, many, no doubt, who love the truth and wish to walk in it, have inadvertently been engaged with all their energies, not seeing the evil tendency of their course.

While we consider all these disguises and the various seducing schemes in which error intrudes itself upon the child of grace, and our own weakness and imperfection, let us learn with meekness and patience to bear with each other. Have we always escaped the snare? Have our feet well nigh slipped? If not give God the glory, but if we have, and this is most likely, let us with patient forbearance, brotherly love, and long suffering, endeavor to convince others of their error froth which we have but just escaped, and give them time to repent; yet while we thus act let plain faithfulness mark every step and a zeal for truth prompt all our actions. While we earnestly contend for the faith and order of the gospel, we shall not be crowned except we strive lawfully--let us endeavor so to run that we may obtain. The Baptist Church , as their history shows, was set up at the day of Pentecost. Their history from that time to this is correctly traced among the Waldenses in the valleys of Piedmont and not through the Papal See, or in the church of Rome. Taking this for granted, as all Baptist do, it follows of course that they are intruding on the privileges of the Romish church when they claim these plans of which she is the proprietor. It will be vain to pretend that those schemes, which of late have so generally spoiled the peace and divided the ranks of the Baptists, was not first invented by the church of Rome. I well remember when the missionary plan was first put into operation among the Baptists of the west, the advocates of it would argue that the church of Rome subdued nations by this plan and converted multitudes to her views in this way, and if error was so successfully propagated by this plan, truth could be spread with equal success. This is, then, a scheme of Rome , which to say the least of it, the Baptists have seized upon in order to extend the truth, by the same means which anti-Christ had employed for the spread of error. There are schemes exerted for the introduction of the millennial glory. One is to amalgamate all sects, irrespective of any principles, and by this modus operand to destroy all party names, and so effect an universal harmony and communion, and then all party strife and confusion must die and the millennial glories will blaze forth in all its translucent splendor on every nation, expelling every shade of Papal and Pagan superstition from the religious hemisphere, and burn like a flaming beacon on every hill, and the benighted heathen will come from all the habitations of cruelty and pay the tribute of their grateful hearts at the shrine of the King of kings. Others with as much zeal and knowledge, suppose this latter day glory, with all its hallowed splendour, will be ushered in by a different policy. These have observed that wealth and learning give power, these being the two great engines of human policy, and the possession of these gives influence, and facilitates enterprise; and knowing how the Pope extended his holy sovereignty and dominion by these agents, combined with a show of benevolence and divine philanthropy, they have seized upon the same combination and with equal zeal have engaged in a similar enterprise. To obtain learning, seminaries and theological schools for religious instruction are gotten up to prepare them for missionary labors; and then send these to the heathen and destitute to instruct them; and to give children the proper bias in infancy to patronize this plan after their maturity, Sunday Schools are employed; and as common school books or the scriptures will not give these young twigs the proper bend to suit the plain. Tracts must be printed suitable to effect this end; and a library of these be procured for the Sunday Schools.

To complete this well organized train of events, much wealth is indispensable; hence agents must be sent out to extol this benevolent enterprise, take up collections, obtain donations, establish auxiliary branch societies, and employ every other means compatible with the end which may best secure the two great agents--money and learning. In this way, children are deprived of the freedom of thought and, in their tender infancy, are made to sub-serve these plans. The votaries of this scheme of operation form different societies to conduct the affairs of the different branches of the scheme; all must have money, all must have agents and auxiliaries, all must have a share of power; thus room is made for their preachers: some as agents for some one of these societies, some as domestics, and some as foreign missionaries, some to conduct the different schools, and some to edit their journals, and all in their different ways to enlist the youth in their enterprise, and obtain money and learning. The Pope subdued Africa by the plan of a monk who sprinkled the children, and when these came to maturity, they were catholic subjects and Africa was subdued. Now Sunday and Catechism schools are for the same end, and if all our children are taught to read and believe tracts, and admire the benevolence of these societies, who with half an eye cannot see that the whole reins of government, of both Church and State, as far as human agency is concerned, will be in the hands and at the control of this great monopoly, and, like Africa, our freedom is gone like a pleasing dream. The complete and universal success of this scheme is what its friends are avowedly laboring for, it is what they are praying for, and it is what they are grasping learning and wealth for; and when they shall have accomplished their design, they expect the halcyon day to break with divine orbed brightness and lock the jaws, and palsy every arm and tongue that would refuse tribute to this hallowed flame.

Now, sir, suppose the first of these plans should succeed, and all parties with their names, should be forever lost in one great body, including all who now fill the ranks of the sects that now exist; and by this amalgamation the millennium should be ushered in; in that case the Catholics and all reformers and Protestants of every grade, with all their diversity of opinions, would be combined--all would have but one interest, and their numbers would be sufficient to control all nations. Why should we now hear the alarm sounded of Roman Catholic influence in America , and yet see without suspicion, the exertions now making, by many reformers, to identify themselves and their interests with the Catholic church. Who cannot see what the glories of this millennium would consist of, and who does not know that Constantine established such a one long ago! If either of these plans should succeed, our liberties are jeopardized, and the nation will be governed by the will of the church. If both should succeed, and this is most likely, for in the management of most of these societies, they are united already, and in doctrine and practice they rapidly approximate each other, then wealth, learning, numbers, and minds inclined in youth, and well prepared to act in concert, our liberties are gone at their will. These plans may thus succeed, and just as sure as either, or both of them should, our liberties as a nation and as Christians are lost. The Church of Christ has been a sect, as we have seen above, which has every where been spoken against, while Rome and all her daughters have been inventing, and prosecuting these plans, and must suffer if ever they are consummated; and I believe it is the spirit, and children of Mystery Babylon that is now working, and many of these have crept in among the Baptists, and under the specious pretext of benevolence many lovers of truth are spoiled through this disguise. As a Christian, as a politician, as a citizen of the world, or a friend of the Baptists, I stand pledged to oppose with religious firmness, all these plans: and as many of my old friends, have manifested a strong solicitude to know my views an these subjects, who live too remote to know by word of month, I send you this sheet for their perusal.

Elder Wilson Thompson
Harrisburgh , Ind. , Jan. 25, 1836