BROTHER JEWETT, – In receiving your August number a few days ago, I see that Parson Benedict has not replied to my letter, only in an oblique way through his letter to you. It only remains for me to reply to him through the same channel by writing to you; unless I observe the taciturnity and neutrality, he would so kindly impose on me. Although you have promptly written nearly every thing, that I car to say on the subject of your correspondence, yet with your permission I will offer a little more.
I did not (as I stated in my letter to him) aim at general historical facts, such as he was likely to obtain from minutes, &c., but stated such things as he would not in all probability gather form general correspondence; nor did I design any thing beyond local information, as he had correspondents in the different parts of our state. But he says my address ‘is in a turgid style, bordering on the battering and bombast.’ Now, Br. Jewett, had I used the term Brother in my address instead of ‘Parson,’ to which he so much objects, and had I said there was no difference between the O. S. and N. S. Baptists, but what cold be put into a “nut shell,” that it ought to be waved between us, and that it was high time for the O. S. to cease contending for the old unpopular ways, with a request for 50 copies of his history when published; then my letter would have been weighty and not ‘bombastic,” clear and not ‘turgid,’ conciliatory and not ‘bantering,’ and something could have been gathered from it. But alas! I unfortunately used the term, the appropriate term, ‘Parson’ and as you have very properly inferred, wrote too plainly for him; besides, he only has a “nut shell” for all such information as I gave him! He says, “The matter of dispute is all in a nut shell.” Strange notion indeed for a historian to entertain of the difference of opinion between the O. S. & N. S. Baptists! And what is still more strange and absurd, he says, ‘As to Baptism, all whom I recognize as Baptists, are alike and all agree. As to their different Creeds, it is the least of my trouble to obtain them.’ Strange course this something like a historian’s pretending to write a nation’s history, without giving any attention to its internal economy! What kind of a history will this b? Do we not see fore-shadowed a sickly pandora of Baptist history, with a ‘nut shell’ to obtain all difference of opinion among Baptists, and a swollen, half digested compliment to set forth the acts, doings, and efforts of the “many wise,” the “many noble,” and the “many might;” their numbers, their discoveries, their religious inventions, institutions, general charity and great compromise with all creeds and denominations? Shall we look for any thing beyond this? Should it turn out any thing more I shall be greatly disappointed.
I have all along had great misgivings about this work, that is to be palmed on the world as a general History of the Baptists; and my confidence is reduced to ‘5-8ths,’ as the Parson thinks fit to express it, of even a reasonable expectation.
Yet, brother Jewett, after all it has been my wish to see the plain, weighty, scriptural objections of the Old order of Baptists to the idol-institutions of our day, set forth in that forth coming history; but I now despair of it, and in lieu thereof expect only to see a few garbles, perversions, and misrepresentations. Yet, after all, I rejoice that there are yet some channels open, through which the Old order of Baptists can still speak and be heard; and while I have my pen in hand, I will offer a few conclusions, aphorisms, or truisms, at which I have arrived by a course of prayerful and faithful investigation of the subject during the last ten years, which cannot be refuted so long as the authority of the WORD OF GOD is admitted.
i. The Lord’s way of calling, sending, directing and sustaining his true ministers, is fully set forth in his revealed word, so that his divine course in these things may be plainly seen.
ii. Modern missionaries in their efforts to evangelize the world, go contrary to the Spirit and letter of the Lord’s plan; therefore, their course is anti-scriptural.
iii. If they do not admit, that their course is anti-scriptural, they are bound to tell us what part of the primitive church went out into a distinct institution to form rules and regulations, devise plans and means for carrying out the commission given to the Apostles; to call, hire, and send out, and to appoint to a particular place or work; also, what were then the rates of preaching, i.e., how much per sermon, month, or year, was then given; and how many remained at home or at school for the want of employment or funds; and whether the evangelizing of the world was then estimated at 900 millions, or less.
iv. All know, that nothing of this kind can be shown in the word of God; therefore, all that can be said in behalf of such a course of things in view of his word, is, that it is expedient in this day to adopt such plans and means – all of which then degenerates into human expedience, or rises into something superior to the Lord’s plan, an improvement upon it, I suppose, in their estimation.
v. Not one instance can be adduced, in which the church of Christ was ever benefited by altering, or substituting any thing other than the course or things the Lord has ordained. But very much good has been done by throwing out such things as have been instituted on man’s authority, and rejecting such alterations as have been made for the sake of expediency; which principle of anti-christ, as filled out by popes, bishops, and parsons.
vi. The errors of the Roman Catholics, may be most clearly seen by studying their abominable institutions, for which there is no authority in the word of God; likewise the errors of Protestants are more clearly seen by testing their adventitious institutions by that divine word; for religious error must have its institutions and ordinances, as well as truth.
vii. If all the institutions of modern missions, missionary plans, expedients and projects, with all their modern course which have no authority in the word of God, were cast out, retaining all for which their such authority, modern missionaries would find themselves on the very ground now occupied by the Old order of Baptists, from whom they have departed through their human plans, institutions, and devices; which, as they multiply, go further and further from the true way.
viii. The words “Go Ye” must come to the hearts of the ministers, ‘not in word only, but in power, in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance,’ so as to extort the cry, ‘woe is me if I preach not the gospel;’ (not what will the society or church give me to preach per trip or year.) Then nothing but going by faith in the providence of God, and preaching his word, will satisfy the conscience and preserve the peace of mind of such an one; who feels such obligation to be greater, than if he had been hired at the highest missionary rates; and his going forth is more prompt and energetic, the less he can see of earthly considerations as a moving cause.
ix. “GO YE INTO ALL THE WORLD AND PREACH THE GOSPEL TO EVERY CREATURE,” does not mean, that a part of the church should go out into an institution devised on man’s authority and judgment, to call, prepare, hire and send out missionaries into all the world. But the church is to pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers. And when the Lord says to any, “Go ye,” not in word only, but ‘in power, in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance,’ then such laborers will go to the extent of his power, purpose and mercy, in such a case, even if it be unto the whole world; not for ‘filthy lucre’s sake,’ but of a ready mind; not as relying on idol-institutions, but by faith in him who has said, “Lo, I am with you.”
x. When the blessed Lord commissioned his disciples to go and preach the gospel to every creature, he had a people among all nations, that he designed to bring in by the preaching of his word in power and demonstration of the Spirit. At no time since,, has there been so general a gathering of the people of God out of all nations: and preaching in the power and demonstration of the Spirit, has been confined to comparatively a few, since then. Hence I infer, that those to whom the Lord has said, ‘Go ye,’ have not in his providence been sent so generally throughout the world since the days of the Apostles; neither has a similar providence been experienced by his ministers; yet the Lord has been with his chosen servants, all the while, in directing them in his providence to those places and countries where he would have his gospel preached ‘in power and demonstration of the Spirit,’ whither he went before them.
xi. The gospel was preached on the Lord’s plan throughout the whole world, after the commission was given; but it was so done under his special care and providence; and if his plan does not carry it throughout all the world now, it is because his power and mercy are not put forth to the same extent, and not for the want of human power, human benevolence, and human institutions, as modern missionaries would have us believe. However, none dare deny, that the gospel under its greatest general dispensation, was withheld, at particular times, from particular countries.
xii. The gospel has not degenerated into the power of man, but is yet ‘the power of God,’ and its goings forth are according to divine and not human power. Nor have its spiritual blessings degenerated into human benevolence; therefore it still blessed ‘with all spiritual blessings,’ according as the subjects were chosen in Christ before the world began, and not according to general benevolence. The blessings of the gospel are communicated after having been ‘made sure to all the seed,’ the elect or chosen seed; not according as man’s power, wisdom, or benevolence may devise, but according to the course of God’s grace and mercy on earth.
xiii. We are told, that if we wait for the operations of God’s grace in this affair, the world will not be evangelized. Then I suppose, we are not to wait in faith, praying unto the Lord to send forth more laborers, and for putting forth his power and mercy according to the Divine plan, but must devise plans of our own, and carry them out by human power put forth through human institutions, on the principle of general, human benevolence, at the cost of those millions and means, that the scriptures know nothing about.
xiv. Thus we see, that the missionary course now pursued, is calculated to lessen our confidence in the Divine plan to oppose the operation of faith in the providence of God, and to beget idolatry of heart in relation to the institutions and millions of gold and silver, that have been brought into requisition to subserve the world’s plan. The ‘Golden Calf’ of Missionism has been fully set up, and much idolatrous worship has been offered up to it.
xv. Besides all the foregoing, the modern missionary spirit is decidedly Arminian in its course and tendencies – is disposed to compromise with all errors – is the bond of union for all the religious shame and devices. It matters not to this spirit, whether it goes forth through a Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Pseud-Baptist, or Roman Catholic, in evangelizing the world. All units in their means of human power, gold and silver, put forth through human institutions. Their machinery may differ somewhat, but it is to be feared, that the same spirit works them all. Moreover, this spirit has so little fellowship for the Lord’s way, so little regard for world-pleasing truths, that it seems to be on better terms with the world, than with the unpopular truths of the Bible, which it shows far more good will to pervert, than to defend. Another characteristic of this spirit is, that in its efforts to evangelize the world, it looks more to the world for help, than to heaven.
xvi. It is very strange to look back and see how much opposition and what little help primitive ministers derived from the world, and how much is now offered and given [professedly] for such service! Surely it cannot be the same gospel, but is ‘another gospel,’ that the world has fellowship for, in like manner as have all its ministers.
xvii. Take particular, and unconditional election, the predestination and effectual calling of these, along with so many other things as most modern missionaries are want to take, from the gospel, and connect all its blessings with time contingencies, free agency, and moral power, and the world will find no fault therewith; neither will Satan oppose a gospel of this kind, but on the contrary, will espouse its cause, transform himself into an angel of light, and raise up missionaries in all denominations to propagate it and bring all this world’s availables to help it on.
xviii. How very different is the Lord’s way in such things! how plain, and easy to be understood! “Pray ye therefore that the Lord of the harvest would send forth laborers.” This is our duty, a plain one. And when the Lord says to a “chosen vessel,” “Go thou,” in power and in much assurance, we are to fellowship the call, and give all the assistance enjoined in the word of God in helping such an one on his way, as the providence of God may direct. All such, but no others, have a right to “tithe the free will offering” of the saints, by preaching the plain word of God, that makes plain our duty in such cases. When the prophet complained that there was deficiency of meat in the house of the Lord, he taught the plain commandments of the Lord; but did not, as modern missionaries do, in view of the remissness of the churches toward their ministers, get up a human institution with human plans and regulations to effect the object in view.
xix. It seems that the missionaries with all their moral machinery, arminian institutions, and millions of gold and silver will turn the world pharisaical at least; for the spirit of missionism delights in all its kindred arminian institutions; and the great general spirit of pharisaism takes them all under its fostering care, casts aside the Lord’s plans to having his gospel preached, and institutes another predicated on mundane powers. It takes the subject of Temperance in hand, forms an institution in its behalf and enacts laws more rigid and prohibitory, than those of the Bible; and were Christ now on earth, would, as before, call him “a wine-biber and a glutton.” For the very same spirit, that called him such 1800 years ag on, is now on the earth, ready to reproach any who may make even a Bible use of wine; for it has said, that it is wrong to use it at all! What if one should now convert 50 or more gallons of water into wine at a wedding, and eat and drink with publicans and sinners? Would he not be called by the temperance societies a wine-biber and a glutton? The Pharisees of old affected to be offended at the lawful use of wine and they now do the same thing, showing plainly what spirit they are of.
xx. The different denominations go out of their churches to unite with the world in a higher grade of morality, as is enjoined in its temperance societies, than is enforced in their churches! Thus pharisaism in her institutions affects to go beyond what the different denominations have in their churches.
xx. Are the Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches, formed and governed as is pretended, by the word of God, so remiss on the subject of temperance that one needs to go out of them into a temperance society in order to practice temperance? Or, if it be, as is said to unite, with the world on that subject, why institute a higher grade of temperance there, than in the church? Because I suppose, the church is to be governed by the word of God, but the temperance society by the enactments of men, which say it is wrong to use wine at all, notwithstanding the Bible example to the contrary.
xxii. “Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up,” still remains a solemn truth and sweeping commentary on all the proud doings of ancient or modern pharisees. But how consoling the thought that eveyr plant, which our heavenly Father hath planted, shall not be rooted up; and that even now there are many such “trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” Thus our “star of hope still beams, night as it is.” True “the howl and wail of mighty winds is passing by” before the “deep tempestuous force” of which the very church seems to tremble, as it were; but only seemingly so, for her foundation is “deeper than the earth and higher than the heaven.” And all opposition to her, fearful and terrible as it may seem, is only “working to prescribed issues,” that will strangely, mysteriously, and powerfully subserve her spiritual interests, under the hand of HIM, who has set limits to all opposing forces.
Were it not for these and similar conclusions, my brother, “this mad word might have its way” in all religious affairs. But as things are, I will continue to speak out, feeble and unheeded as my words may be.
With sentiments of brotherly regard I remain,
J. M. WATSON.
Oct. 2, 1843
Signs of the Times
Volume 12, No. 1.
January 1, 1844