BROTHER BEEBE: – I will now make a few remarks on the custom of our fashionable Baptists, of calling the houses where they assemble to worship by the name of Churches, and dedicating them to the service of God. This custom is a remnant of Papal Superstition, which has lately been adopted by the Baptists, among other articles of the cast off finery of the “Mother of Harlots.” Nothing can be more contrary to the Scriptures than both of these practices; the first violates the Apostles command to “hold fast the form of sound words,” – the other, the declaration that “the Most High dwelleth not in Temples made with hands.” In this case we will proceed, as in former instances, to detect and expose error, by setting forth truth. And in the first place, what is a Church of God? We answer, It is a number of believers in Jesus Christ, who are Baptized into his name, and are capable of edifying one another in love, who are brought together by the power of Christ’s name, and are one in spirit, one in hope and calling, have one Lord, one faith and one Baptism, and one God, and these are one body. This one body, being animated by one Spirit, moves in unanimity, and not by a major vote, and has but one primary teacher. The holy comforter, called by John an unction, by which the Church knew all things, and needed no human teaching, or teaching by human wisdom; all the gifts of the Church are moved upon by this teacher, taught by him, anointed from on High. To understand the Scriptures, and rightly divide the word of truth, the whole Church are the subjects of this annointed, some to speak, & some to hear and understand, for this anointing is as necessary to the hearer as the speaker, that all may be edified. This company of believers, begotten of God, born of God, taught of God, Baptized into Christ, are indeed God’s workmanship, God’s building, they are styled the house of God, because he dwells in them, by his Spirit they are called the body of Christ, because his Spirit is their life; they are an habitation of God through the spirit, a Spiritual House to offer up Spiritual Sacrifices. This house was dedicated to God, by the Great High Priest of our profession, by one offering, and by that offering forever made perfect; it was purified by the blood of sprinkling, and if any man shall defile it, – him will God destroy; certain conclusions present themselves to our minds, which seems to have been overlooked, by almost all professors of religion. Indeed so great has been the zeal of late to make Proselytes, (falsely called christians,) that very little time has been left to search the Scriptures, or serve the Lord. Therefore, there is need that now we give the more earnest heed to the things that are spoken lest at any time we let them slip. To return therefore to our conclusion – first, if Christ has dedicated his Church to God the Father, and did this by virtue of his priestly office – then any man who dedicates, or pretends to dedicate any thing which he calls a Church, no matter whether wood, stone, or flesh to God, must do it, as the High Priest of that Church, and consequently is a Blasphemer. The Pope was wise enough to see this, and therefore took care to assume the Royal Seat, and occupy the throne of Christ before he exercised this authority of Christ. Second, nothing but that body of which Christ is the life, can be dedicated to that God who is a spirit, with the possibility of acceptance, therefore those who dedicate houses made with hands to God, and those who dedicate their natural children to God, declare that their faith is the same, and prove that they belong to that church who is in bondage with her children, and has confidence in the flesh. Third, those who call such wooden houses a Church, declare they are ignorant of the nature of a true Church, or that they are careless of the Commandment, of the Apostle, to hold fast the form of sound words, or else that they really believe in the holiness, and spirituality of boards and brick, made holy by the foolish mummery of a worldly Clergyman. Surely transubstantiation is a trifle compared to this, and the Valley of Mississippi will gain little by exchanging masters, – from Popery to Protestantism. Fourth, if any say they know better, and only do these things because others do, and have no belief in the efficacy of such dedications, they testify that they are ready to mock God, and disobey Christ; cast contempt on the Church of God, and profane that Holy name, by which we are called, and all for what? Tell it not in Gath, – let not the reason be heard in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the Daughters of the uncircumcised, rejoice and triumph, for the sake of being in the fashion!! In the fashion of what? Of a worldly idolatrous, and ungodly religion. If it be said that these are small things, and of minor consequence, we reply, that Uzzah’s offence was small, and so was Saul’s and if he that transgressed Moses’ Law died without mercy. Of how much sorer punishment shall he be thought worthy, who casts contempt on Christ, it is by little and little that the most gross innovations have crept in, and the present fearful state of rebellion against God, was brought about by little and little, had the most gross innovations have crept in, and the present fearful state of rebellion against God, was brought about by little and little, had the order of this day, and the practices now gloried in, been presented to the Baptist forty years ago* for them to adopt they would have said “Is thy servant a Dog, that he should do this thing?” Yes, our Br’n of former days, went to prison, whipping-post, and stake, for their opposition to the very things which are now trumpeted forth to the world, as proofs of improvement in Theology! and worthiness to be reckoned among the Nations. A word to the wise is sufficient, if any man can disprove our conclusions, by fair argument, we will confess our errors; if not – then let the wicked man forsake his ways, and the unrighteous his thoughts, and turn unto the Lord who will have mercy, and to our God who will abundantly pardon.
* Say not forty years ago Philo, just read the following, which we copy from the Repository – Ed.
From the Baptist Repository
Mr. Editor, – I am delighted at the thought that the great men, and the mighty men of our land are giving their influence and talents to the noble and holy cause of Temperance. We have now a Congressional Temperance Society located at Washington City; and in Massachusetts I perceive a similar society has been formed among the members of the Legislature. This is taking hold of drunkenness with strong hands; and binding the lion in his lair. What heart does not exult at the thought that the President of the U.S. Will be a president (not of a nation of drunkards) but of temperate men, whose glory will be their virtue.
But the contrast, sir, the contrast – I can well remember when in 1823, the plan of a great general movement to put a stop to the evils of intemperance was proposed a society of (?) ministers, judges, lawyers and Merchants. They looked upon it as a brainless enterprise, & treated it as such; not a step would they stir in the work. But others rose up, and have stemmed the torrent, and they have resolutely met the sneers and gibes of their opponents, by saying we are doing a great work, adn cannot come down to you.
In 1823, no political man who considered the votes of the people of any consequence, would dare to identify himself with the temperance-efforts then commencing, but now it is the highway to popular favor in many portions of our country.
In 1823, a sermon on intemperance was preached by an early advocate of the cause, in which total abstinence was incalculated before one of the oldest and richest congregations in N.E., and the result was universal indignation and clamor against the preacher. That same people now now listen to such a sermon with approbation.
In 1823, when a young gentleman of my acquaintance wanted to devote his time to the temperance reform, he could find no one to afford him countenance or support. But now, several men of superior talents are devoted to the work and men of common abilities by scores.
In 1823, there was not a Temperance publication in the world, nor a regular temperance department in any paper on this continent. But now there are fifteen regular temperance publications in the U.S. besides being a common topic in most of our weekly papers.
Signs of The times
Volume 1, No. 12
May 3, 1833