THOUGHTS ON MISSIONS
by John Taylor
Franklin County, (Ken.) 1820.
CHARITY, I consider as the brightest ornament of the christian character. Paul speaks of it more than any other divine writer. Indeed he fills a whole chapter on that subject -- I. Corinthians, 13. chapter -- besides many other places in which he encourages charity. He speaks of it as better than all gifts, and urges, "let all your things be done in charity." The following Essay on Missions, is a thing lately done. If it is not done in charity, from the authority already cited, the author is blame-worthy. Perhaps the best definition of the word charity, is supreme love to God and good will to men -- by which both tables of the law are fulfilled. Paul who so much preached charity, practised [sic] it himself in prayer to God for his greatest enemies, the Jews, and in giving food and drink to his enemies, when they were hungry or thirsty. Nor did he violate the heaven-born law of charity in the case of Elymas, the Sorcerer, who strove to turn away the Deputy from the faith; or when he was dealing with the men, whom he styled false Apostles, deceitful workers, who transformed themselves into the ministers of Christ. It may also be remembered, that those base men last named were of the same religion with Paul, as to profession. I have one rule by which I decide on myself in this important case. If I ever blame a man more than I pity him, I charge myself with lack of charity; for commiseration, is the offspring of charity. If I have said any thing apparently harsh in the following sheets, let it not be construed to lack of charity; for the Missionaries have done me no personal harm. Indeed, flattery rather than otherwise has been their course towards me; so that I cannot possibly have animosity against them. When I began my first sheet on missions, it may be seen, it was on my birth day, and for apparent cause I expected to never see another; and should now change that part of the first sheet, but it may stand as it is, as a witness that I was conscientious in what I wrote. For it would look strange not to be conscientious, when a man expected soon to stand in Heaven's great assize. The same conscientiousness, has induced me to publish the following sheets, though invited to it by no man on earth. My serious belief is, that religious society is much imposed on by American Missionaries, and that it is like to be an increasing evil. Though it will be seen that my own mind is very fully made up, yet I cheerfully invite conviction on this head.
THIS day, October 27th, 1819, I am sixty-seven years old. This being my birthday, it is probable from the appearance of things, that I shall not live to see another, and if it is the Lord's will, I have no objection; for there is very little in this poor little world worth living for, and a great deal in the world to come worth dying for; so that to depart and be with Christ (and in his Father's house, where are many mansions) is far better, than what belongs to this world of sin. I now labor under bodily calamity, of which I expect never to recover, which is likely to grow into a speedy rage, and make quick work of mortality. AMEN, O LORD - as for this I have long looked with pleasing and awful hope.
Perhaps it is more owing to constitutional make, than any uncommon evidence of religion, that I am not startled at the thought of death: For since my hope in Christ, which has been nearly forty-eight years, I know not that I have had a distressing tremor on that head. This I state as a fact, and not as a certain evidence that I am a religious man; for I make no doubt that many, and perhaps the best of God's people, "are all their life long, through fear of death, subject to bondage."
But though on this subject I have had but little trouble, yet in many other cases, my trouble has been such, that with Job, Elijah and Jonah, I have been ready to pray for death, or with Paul say, without were fightings, within were fears.
Through my infirmity this year, I have only been to five Baptist associations; though I have been in the habit for many years of going to from six to eight of those great annual meetings, and found some considerable degree of pleasure at those councils. But for a number of years past, many things attending these great councils, throw an awful shade over them; some of which I will name. First. -- A number of the messengers are members of the Legislature of the state, and filling some of the highest offices in the commonwealth. But to the praise of a number of those great men, they seem much more humble than many others of common rank, and who labour hard, and perhaps a year before hand, to carry some favorite point, and aim at parliamentary exactness, and with all the cunning of the bar; so that whether by hard working, or overwriting, or especially overtalking [sic] their opponent, they seem much to exult when the vote is carried on their side. Judge ye, is this from Heaven or of men?
But great as this evil may be in religious society, there is another in my belief much greater, though bearing the semblance, and innocence of a lamb, by which advantage is taken of many of our greatest men, and which has made a general sweep among Baptist associations, bearing all down before it. The deadly evil I have in view, is under the epithets or appellations of Missionary Boards, Conventions, Societies, and Theological Schools , all bearing the appearance of great, though affected sanctity, as the mystery of iniquity did in the days of Paul, when the man of sin was in embryo. Ten or twelve years ago, I obtained the use of two large octavo volumes of about 1000 pages, on the subject of Papal missions, in the great country of Paraguay, in the new settlements of the great river of Paraguay in South America. This great mission was conducted by the Jesuits, and from their statements, great miracles were wrought by them among the natives. And all this is credible with Papists, as they think that miracles are yet in their church. According to their tales, thousands of poor natives had been converted; for if they can only get them baptized, (old or young) converting work is done. These holy fathers gained such influence, power and wealth in Paraguay, that they at length held the King of Spain in defiance -- and a heavy war ensued, and much bloodshed, before they could be driven out of the country. Most of the Protestant Societies, since the days of Luther and Calvin, have had propensities to send out missionaries, as stated in a large work lately published in America by Mr. Coles. This work contains about eleven hundred large octavo pages, including all the Protestant missions since the reformation by Luther. I have had patience to read it through, and though there are some things interesting in the work, the greater part is so romantic, that except the reader has more of faith than is needful to make a christian, he sickens at the imposition or insult offered to his understanding.
Perhaps the Moravians have manifested the greatest sincerity of any other society, both by the dangers they have encountered, and money they have spent. But the most respectable, and perhaps the most useful that Coles has published, is the English Baptist Mission to Calcutta; for there England has many subjects, and though the natives are but sparingly benefitted [sic] as yet, their other subjects, and especially their soldiery, have been.
But, to be sure, nothing ever could be more preposterous than an American Mission to that part of the world, of which the American Baptists never would have thought, but for Luther Rice; and as this man is in a manner the life and soul of the American Missionary operations, it will not be improper to give some little history of him and his old colleague, Judson.
About eight or ten years past (and previous to any Baptist Missionary Society in Kentucky,) two young men by the names of Mills and Schermerhorn, being on a missionary tour, from the Presbyterian Board of Missions in the East, by their direction, were to travel through the States of Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, the Natchez settlement and to New Orleans; and then return to the board who sent them, make a report by a faithful journal, of all the Missionary and Bible Societies they had formed, all the money they had collected, their success in preaching, &c. From Cincinnati in the state of Ohio, their object was to travel to Lexington in Kentucky. By an acquaintance of mine in Cincinnati, they were induced to travel sixty miles out of their way to see me, then living in the lower end of Gallatin county. Their object of an interview with me, was to know the state of the Baptist Society in Kentucky, and shape their course accordingly. They were at my house about one day and night. They were respectable looking young men, well informed, and zealous in the cause in which they were employed. They gave me a full history of the ordination and mission of Messrs. Judson and Rice, and the mighty effect it had on the people of New-England; and particularly this good effect, that many poor ministers could scarcely get their bread before, but by stirring up the people in the mission cause, and getting them in the habit of giving their money, it was now cheerfully communicated by thousands, so that ministers who staid [sic] at home, were now richly supplied. Was all this Priestly art? Those young visitants of mine were very sociable, and among other freedoms asked me how I had got through the world, as they saw me then well settled and now old; which led to another question, What amount of supplies I had generally received from the people for preaching? After having considered it very puny indeed, and in a friendly way blamed the badness of my policy; after finding that the Baptists in Kentucky were a great people (from the copies of Minutes I presented them of different associations,) now about fifteen associations in the state, and about that number of churches in an adjacent county (Shelby), they became quite impatient with my indolence, assuring me if I would only stir up the people to Missions and Bible Society matters, I should find a great change in money affairs in favour of the preachers; urging by questions like this, Do you not know when the springs are once opened they will always run? Only, said they, get the people in the habit of giving their money for any religious use, and they will continue to appropriate for all sacred purposes.
I have no doubt these young men meant friendship to me, and to preachers in general. It is also probable, from what my acquaintance had told them at Cincinnati, they supposed my influence was greater among the Baptists, than it really was.
Being in my own house, and these respectable young men being strangers, as also not of my own society, common modesty forbade my making as free as I should have done at another place and time. But surely, it will not be thought uncharitable to say, that I did begin strongly to smell the New-England Rat. It may be well remembered, that these men were educated in the same school, sent on a mission from the same Board that Judson and Rice were, though to different parts of the world. Their being baptized at Calcutta is no evidence of their religious or political principles being changed, only in the use of much water. We know not so much of Mr. Judson as we do of Mr. Rice.
The most we know of Mr. Judson, is from the letters of him and his wife. If we attend to the long, celebrated letter of Mrs. Judson, in the first report of the Board of Foreign Missions, in page 34, it would look as if her husband had the same taste for money that the horse leech has for blood. In the instance of the poor religious soldier in the Isle of France; this poor soldier from her own account, who had a family in the army, and his income but very sparingly supported them, paid eight dollars per month for several months together for the use of a room for Mrs. Judson to preach in. This poor soldier after all this, gave us twenty dollars, and though he weeps much through religious affection when he parts with them at the Isle of France, yet these innocent missionaries bear away his twenty dollars, regardless of his family's wants; though they feel tender for the poor slaves at the same Island, wishing their house full of gold that they might emancipate them all.
Judson and Rice being baptized by the English Missionaries in Calcutta, and in place of uniting with the English Baptist Mission in that country, which would have seemed much more prudent, seemed to contemplate something much higher, and by which their names would be more aggrandized. At the Isle of France, Rice receives a furlough for two years, to return to America, and Judson speeds his way to Rangoon, to take possession of the great empire of Burmah. In process of time we find him there under the patronage of the American Baptist Board of Missions. He is now in high spirits, and full of faith, encouraging us to hope, that in twenty years, if we should live so long, we may possibly hear of his success in that country, and especially if the Board would furnish him with that many thousand dollars, and as many fellow labourers, [sic] on the same terms as he will ask for, and the sterling cast desired by himself, and exemplified in the person of Mr. Hough.
In his letter to Mr. Rice, from Rangoon, 3d Report, page 164 (he has now got Mr. Hough,) he urges his friend to great caution in the Missionaries he sends to him, stating their quality himself; men, says he, of an amiable, yielding temper, willing to take the lowest place, to be the least of all, (had Judson and Rice been of that cast, they would not have left Calcutta, but by direction from the English Mission.) For, says he, one wrong headed, conscientiously obstinate fellow, would ruin us; so that it seems a conscientious man does not suit Mr. Judson. He is to make no scruple of getting money by gift, any way he can, should it be from a poor soldier; however straightened his family may be, it is no odds. In the days of the Apostles, it was thought, all the men in the world could not overthrow the works of God. But this work being of men, Mr. Judson greatly fears one wrong-headed fellow, and especially if he should be conscientious. By wrong-headed, he must mean writing in opposition against Mr. Judson's deep concerted scheme of self aggrandizement, and getting money. However worthy his character may otherwise be, if he opposes this mercenary plan of Priest craft, he dont [sic] deserve the name of christian nor gospel minister, but fellow. Thus, Paul, by way of reproach, was called fellow, as his master before him had been. The men of whom we are speaking, are about antipodes with us, and it is about as far to get to them, as once round our earth, and in no national connection with us. What but vanity or wrong headed folly, could ever induce the American Baptists to thus tempt the LORD their God; to work a miracle in the preservation of their mission in Burmah? But Mr. Rice can almost work miracles, or like the philosopher's stone, turn dross into gold, and money answers all things. If I ever accurately understood why Luther Rice left the Isle of France, and returned to America, it has escaped my recollection. But his movements are an explanation. We will therefore conjecture a little. There can be but very little doubt, when Judson and Rice were baptized by the English missionaries in Calcutta, that they would cheerfully have received them as fellow laborers in the field of missions. Neither do we suppose, from the people who first sent them on a mission, they would have had any aversion to the English government. But equality in labour, I apprehend, did not suit those aspiring gentlemen. Nothing short of a large empire would answer their ambitious views. Therefore, Rice receives his furlough, as Judson terms it, to return and seek his fortune among the American Baptists, and succeeds, to be sure, far above his most sanguine expectation. He finds a people equally vain with himself, and if not superstitiously bent, by a few of his puffs blown up to the enthusiasm that perfectly answered his purposes. They were the great machine, which by him as their agent, was soon brought into action all over the United States. Poor, half witted Baptists, may Luther well say.
The first piece of policy with Luther and his Board (for I call them his board,) was to enlist all the Baptist associations in the United States, upwards of a hundred as they since boast. Their means for so doing was a Circular published, a copy of which was sent by the trusty hand of their agent, Luther himself, or some understrapper of his; but much better executed when delivered by himself. The purport of this circular letter was, among other fine tales, craving a correspondence with all the associations. Surely no objecting voice was heard to the correspondence. All seemed hearty in exchange of compliments with these great people, while the meekness of a lamb, and the harmlessness of a dove, appeared in Luther himself with his bows and scrapes. But it was not hard to see, that he was a man of great subtlety. The Saviour directed his disciples to similar measures to gain souls to himself, but Luther's object was to get money. With the circular, was sent by the Board, their first report on Missionary matters, a pamphlet of near sixty pages, all of which was chiefly dictated by Luther. Their first number was in the year 1815. The same year with all the above named lumber, Mr. Rice made his first appearance in Kentucky, at Elkhorn association, near Lexington. He got to the place on Saturday evening after meeting had adjourned, and though a year before, the Association had decided that there should be no collections made on the Lord's day, a few leading men encouraged Luther, in the prime part of the day to preach a Missionary sermon, and make a collection. When Luther rose up, the assembly of thousands, seemed stricken with his appearance. A tall, pale looking, well dressed young man, with all the solemn appearance of one who was engaged in the work of the Lord, and perhaps he thought he was. He also being a stranger, every eye and ear was open; his text was 'Thy kingdom come.' He spoke some handsome things about the kingdom of Christ; but every stroke he gave seemed to mean MONEY. For my own part I was more amused with his ingenuity than edified by his discourse, and more astonished at his art in the close, than at any other time. He had the more pathos the nearer he came getting the money, and raising his arms as if he had some awfully pleasing vision, expressed without a hesitating doubt, that the angels were hovering over the assembly, and participating in our heavenly exercise, and just ready to take their leave, and bear the good tidings to heaven of what we were then about, in giving our money for the instruction and conversion of the poor Heathens; and as if he had power to stop Gabriel's flight, in the most pathetic strain cried, Stop angels! till you have witnessed the generosity of this assembly. About this time, perhaps twenty men, previously appointed, moved through the assembly with their hats and near 200 dollars was collected. -- Though I admired the art of this well- taught Yankee, yet I considered him a modern Tetzel, and that the Pope's old orator of that name was equally innocent with Luther Rice, and his motive about the same. He was to get money by the sale of indulgences for the use of the Pope and Church: Luther's motive was through sophistry and Yankee art, to get money for the Mission, of which himself was to have a part. Tetzel's great eloquence, and success in getting money, alarmed first, Martin Luther, and afterwards, the chief of the states of Germany. Our Luther by his measures of cunning in the same art of Tetzel, may alarm all the American Baptists. Tetzel's operations were, when the Pope of Rome and the mother of Harlots were at their zenith. Luther's movements bespeak the man of sin or men of sin in embryo; and Baptist associations too soon became the adopted daughters of the old mother of Harlots. Money and power were the signs of the times, when the mystery of iniquity began to work in the days of Paul. The same principle is plainly seen in the great Board of Missions in America, and Rice, their chief cook, as also in their mighty convention. -- Witness their resolves in their first triennial meeting; their hateful flattery of each other; their fulsome public thanks to their officers while in session; as also no quantum of money can be too much to answer their purposes - 3rd Report, 1st page. Money and power are two principal members of the old beast. That both these limbs are found in this young beast is obvious, and exemplified in the great solicitude of correspondence with all the Baptist associations. Power is acquired by connection with a hundred Associations, a fine nest egg of gold to answer their future ambition.
I consider these great men are verging close on an aristocracy, with an object to sap the foundation of Baptist republican government. The highest court Christ has fixed on earth, is a worshipping congregation, called a Church. An association is a creature of the churches, whose power is only self-government while together, and whose work, as to the churches, is to settle differences if possible, and that only by advice, without any kind of coercion. But these men foolishly conclude, if they get the associations to correspond with them, they at once grasp the whole society, consisting of hundreds of thousands, and would fondly make their advisory counsel a great court of appeals to the society. But a Baptist association, from their native style (advisory counsel) has no right to go into a permanent correspondence with any set of men, but by direction from the churches, and especially such a motley tribe as the Board of Foreign Missions, or their committees, which consist of almost all characters of men. For my own part, I would full as soon be in religious correspondence with the Masonic friends, as this sanctimonious tribe.
Meek and lamb-like as Mr. Rice first appeared at Elkhorn Association, a few years after he made a very different appearance at Dover association, in Virginia; for being expected at the meeting on Sunday, he with others had been elected to preach on that day. He did not arrive till about the time worship began. After being invited to the stage, he took his seat by Mr. Semple, who privately informed him of the previous day's selection of Mr. Rice to preach, and after asking if Mr. Semple had appointed men to make a collection after he was done preaching, and being answered in the negative, he positively averred if he did not do it, he would not preach. Perhaps, says Mr. Semple, you mean, you will not preach us a Missionary Sermon, if I do not appoint them. He replied, I will not preach at all, if you do not have the men ready for that purpose. Rather than quarrel with the gentleman on the stage, Mr. Semple appointed the men, and himself one of them, and about ten others of the oldest and most respectable ministers (of that great body of more than forty churches) bore their own hats through the congregation, making the collection, to please his lordship. But all this was several years after Luther had been collecting thousands upon thousands, and his fame was very great.
For my own part, I have never seen one of those Missionaries, but which like Daniel's little horn, was more stout than his fellows -- chapter vii, 8 and 20. Whatever their preaching talents may be, they seem more stout than other preachers -- STOUT in their own esteem; and though some of them have very moderate preaching capacities, they seem stout -- the approbation of the Great Board has made them stout, more stout than their fellows. Indeed, my own opinion is, from my acquaintance with some of those renowned men, that the board itself is either weak in judgment about gospel ministers, or unfaithful in the choice of their men; for it seems not so much the question, "What is your character or preaching talents, as who will go for us -- answer our purpose to hook-wink the people, and get plenty of money? If this be done, great plaudits ring forth to the four points of the earth, in the "Latter Day Luminary."
The very many modes, and artful measures of those great men to get money, are disgustful to common modesty. They begin with Missionary Societies; then they create a great Board of different officers, and then select the most vigorous and artful agent they can find, to create more societies of different grades, as Female Societies, Cent Societies, Mite Societies, Children Societies, and even Negro Societies, both free and bond; besides the sale of books of various kinds, and in some instances the sale of images. Every Missionary to a foreign country is authorized to follow all these arts, as well as common begging to get money; so that no set of men ever yet seen on the earth manifest a greater thirst by these various modes of peddling to get money. -- Their shameful cravings are insatiable. How very different are the characters of those men from the ancient Missionaries of the cross of Christ; for they went forth taking nothing from the Gentiles -- and all for the name's sake of Jesus Christ. -- 3rd John, 7th verse. These men grasp all they can, from saints and sinners. -- In verse 8th, John exhorts Gaius to receive such Godly ministers, who preached without pay. By the same parity, all preachers who will not preach but for money, should be rejected by all the christian world -- and held in contempt by all mankind. Paul, in the 20th chapter of Acts, 33rd and 34th verses, coveted no man's silver or gold, or apparel. -- (how unlike these men?) Yea, holding up his hands, he could say, ye, yourselves know that these hands have wrought, and ministered to my necessities, and to them that were with me. How is it with these white-handed gentry, always stretched out for money, and like the horse-leech, ever crying, give, give!! Paul was determined not to be chargeable to any. 1st Thessalonians 2nd chapter, 9th verse -- and 2nd Thessalonians, 3rd chapter, 8th verse. Indeed he glories in preaching the Gospel without charge. -- 1st Corinthians, 19th chapter, 15th verse, and so on. Yea, he had rather die, than do otherwise.
But it seems as if these men would die if they did not get plenty of money. What a striking contrast! Are not these gentlemen on the side of Satan and his ministers, though striving to transform themselves as the ministers of Christ? How bold the Devil is! And what but modern missionary brass, could ever induce these men to such shameful presumption?
Perhaps I might not use the freedom I do, but for two tours I have taken in the Missouri country within a year past. The marvellous [sic] tales, coming from that country, about the mission there, were some inducement to my enterprise. To read, or hear the Reports of Peck and Welch, it would seem as if the whole country was almost a blank as to religion. But the fact of the case contradicts their Reports. From their statements, one would think, there was not surely a preacher in the country that deserved the name, and hardly a church there that was in good order, whereas the fact is, there are three Baptist associations in the territory, and as many preachers, perhaps, as there are in Kentucky according to the number of the people, and many of them respectable. But it is probable these men think, that but few deserve the name of preachers, but missionaries. The first of these associations is from Cape Girardeau down and up the Mississippi to Merrimack [R]iver, about twenty miles below St. Louis; the country from Merrimac [R]iver, taking in St. Louis, and up the Mississippi and Missouri [R]ivers about sixty miles from their junction, forms a second association; and the country about Boon's Lick, is a third association. All these associations contain perhaps twenty-five or thirty churches, and as many preachers. Yet, by these men, all is blank; for when they baptize a few people at St. Louis, they suppose those waters were never before consecrated to that use from the creation of the world. When they write of the great space of country between St. Louis and Boon's Lick, they state it to the board, as destitute, and needing preaching as much as the Empire of Burmah; when in truth, the same country, at the very time they wrote, was overspread by two Baptist associations, of which they had full knowledge.
What can be the object of all these false statements, but to prevail on the board to keep them in their service in that place? A brother, Lewis Williams, informed me the church of which he was a member had existed many years, and the meeting-house was about twelve miles from St. Louis, and on the public road from that place to St. Charles; and though Williams was a respectable minister, and had been ordained a number of years, yet an older man by the name of Musick had long had the pastoral care of said church, and in which he had baptized a hundred members since its constitution, and all in these waters so sparingly used from Missionary accounts! A worthy old Baptist preacher, (David Bagley) whom I saw baptized more than forty years ago in Virginia, and who has been preaching nearly that long, now lives in the state of Illinois, about fifteen miles this side of St. Louis, and near the road from Vincennes to that place. Bagley now lives in a very thick settlement, where are two churches of very considerable magnitude. Another respectable ordained minister lives three miles from Bagley. His name is M'Kinney; his character procured him a seat in their convention to form their state constitution, and perhaps since in their legislature. There is a considerable association including the settlements between Bagley and M'Kinney, and to, and up and down the river against St. Louis. Bagley about twenty years past settled on the river not far below St. Louis; his labours [sic] have been successful from the beginning of his preaching there, as well as in Virginia before he removed. A number of churches by his labors as well as others, have been raised not far from St. Louis. He told me himself, he began to baptize there twenty years ago. Of all this the Missionaries could not be ignorant, for they became acquainted personally with Bagley soon after they went to St. Louis, so that nothing can excuse the false statements of these vain young men, but the conclusion that nothing was valid except under the direction of the Board of Missions.
There is a great boast of what they have done in St. Louis, in building a spacious meeting-house, the dimensions of which, I do not precisely recollect. I suppose it would hold a thousand people; underneath the whole is a story of stone for the purpose of storage; an L adjoining the house two stories high as a dwelling house for the Missionaries. It is said five thousand dollars have been appropriated, and the house only covered in. It is thought three or four thousand more will finish it. The means used to procure money, so far as they have gone, would put any man to the blush, but a Missionary. We have some knowledge of this by James Welch's tour to Kentucky a year or two past; and the reader will be the more surprised when he is told, that the greatest number that attends to hear these men preach, is about one hundred. This I was an eye witness to. But it seems the ambition of these men was to vie with the Catholics, who have lately built a large brick church.
The Illinois is the oldest association in that part of the world, at first taking in chiefly all the churches on both sides of the Mississippi [R]iver, and containing twelve churches. By their minutes, I find they existed in 1815. Bethel, taking in from Cape Girardeau to Merrrimack river, consisting of nine churches and eight ordained preachers. I find from their Minutes, they existed as an association in 1817. The Missouri association existed as such in 1817, consisting of six churches and about as many ordained ministers, extending from Merrimac river to St. Louis, and upwards, sixty or seventy miles. The association at Boon's Lick was formed July, 1818, with five churches, eight ordained preachers, and one licensed preacher. Thus we may see how far truth is sacred to those Missionary men, speaking of a country as an almost blank as to religion which contains upwards of thirty Baptist churches and at least twenty-four ordained preachers; but more especially considering the terms of their own letters in the Luminary , declaring that from St. Louis to Boon's Lick, a space of about two hundred miles, was as destitute, or needs a missionary as much as the Empire of Burmah, when there were in that very space eleven churches, and about thirteen or fourteen ordained preachers. But we will make some allowance, as in their esteem none may be preachers, but those emanating from Dr. Staughton's school, sent by the great Board of Missions; and no churches deserve the name except those set up by this renowned fraternity.
That Welch and Peck think but little of churches, except of their own creation, will appear from a few instances I will give. A worthy man who removed from Bourbon county, (and with his wife, both members of Cooper's Run Church) and rented land for one year on the Missouri [R]iver, about twenty miles above St. Louis, met with one of the Missionaries soon after he removed, whom he knew in Kentucky: and after enquiring of the newcomer where he lived, and whether there were not more Baptists about him, after hearing there were another man and his wife, also on rented land, and perhaps two or three servants in the families, the young fop insisted he must come up to see him and constitute a church; and though the new comer informed him that none of them would be there more than one year, as also that he was not in union with the United Baptists, and that there was another church very near to where he lived, and two ministers that he was very fond of; after all these statements the young lord insisted he must have a church there, 'till the new comer repulsed him with contempt.
In the fall of 1818, a few members having removed to Missouri, and forbore for a time to join a church not very distant from them, the Missionaries hearing thereof, they ran with speed and constituted a church, including a number of the members of the neighbouring [sic] church, without leave from said church. When this thing was complained of, the Missionaries insisted that it was all good order; so that to rob other churches to do Missionaries service was no wrong. Myself happened at the place soon after this affair happened. About the time I was first at Missouri, there were eight or ten Baptists about the town of St. Charles, that having a desire to become a church had held a council, and called for aid and fixed on a time. The Missionaries hearing thereof, intreated those brethren, not to go into their establishment till they could be with them, and by that means got the time prolonged. Falling in company with a very respectable brother who informed me of this circumstance, having been well acquainted with him in Kentucky, I made free to ask him whether they could not become a church without the help of the Missionaries, as they had two worthy ministers living near them? His reply was, O, yes, but the Missionaries will force themselves upon us.
Why this mighty solicitude in these men to constitute churches? The motive is obvious. In the first place, these will be fine tales to write to the great Board; and secondly, every church thus set up by themselves, will be under their own immediate control. Suffice it to say, that in Missouri the Missionaries pursue all the shameful measures to get money, that they do in other countries, though it is a new frontier country, many of the people poor, and all of them straitened for necessaries. It would be thought, being sent on the patrimony of the Board, that they would be sparing as to donations among the poor back-woods people; but even there it is like Judson with the poor soldier, give, give.-- Their shameful trade of begging, disgusts the people wherever they go. They will beg for money to print the Luminary; they will beg for money to build and finish their fine meeting house, when half the churches in the country have no house of any sort to worship God in; they will beg for money to educate young men in Dr. Staughton's Theological school, to make more Missionaries; they will beg for supplies in their own families, both in food and furniture; in short, their whole trade is begging.
It seems, Peck and Welch appeared at St. Louis in the fall of 1817, too late to be at any of the associations that year; but in the minutes of one of the associations, they published a kind of manifesto, hailing them as the messengers of the Lord, telling them fine tales and promising them great things. I have the copy of minutes for three of their associations for the year 1818. These great heralds made their appearance at all these great meetings; the minutes show the methods taken to drill the associations up to Missionary measures, as Rice has drilled the most of the American Baptist world; such as going into correspondence with the great Board of missions, making collections in the prime part of the Lord's day, and even in setting apart the first Monday in every month, in solemn prayer to God for the success of missions. It is always to be understood, that one part at least of the success of missions, is the getting plenty of money.
The truth of the fact is, I scarcely ever met with an intelligent Baptist in Missouri, who, from the movements of these men, was not jealous of, or prejudiced against them; and the most of other men hold them in contempt, on account of their mighty cravings; so that I have but little hope of their being of much service in their present station; for the people in Missouri have as much sensibility, and can judge as accurately as in other places.
What a mighty noise is made in missionary writings about the sufferings and privations of their Missionaries, sent to distant countries! But I consider the chief of it to be pharisaical boast. To be sure, the Moravians in Greenland, and at the Cape of Good Hope, from their own account, were very much perplexed, as also, some among the Indians to the north, when swallowed up in poor living, and dirt and lice. But what greater trouble is there in being at school in Rangoon, to learn a foreign language, than for a boy to be boarded from home, to learn Latin and Greek? In Rangoon, the pupils have correspondence with the greatest men in the nation, the King not excepted; so that in future, should some wrong-headed, conscience-bound fellow, ruin the Missionary affairs in Burmah, Mr. Judson may fill some high office in the Kingdom, and be a favourite [sic] in the King's palace. What has been once, may be so again; and as to privations in the Missouri, our brethren there apprehend, that they have monopolized the whole country, so far as Baptist society goes, and are living in style, in the flourishing towns of St. Louis and St. Charles, without any very great appearance of self-denial, or abstemious living, or any other anxieties or trouble, than are seen in other gay gentlemen, except disappointment in not getting as much money as answers their extensive views. Their cravings are great.
How very little likeness there is between these high-minded men, and the ancient Missionaries, if we take Paul for one of them. From his own account, as also the witness of the Holy Ghost, in every city he entered, bonds and afflictions attended him. Wherever these men go, if they are not honored more than other preachers, they highly resent it. I could give instances, but I forbear. Paul says we are the off-scouring of all things, in which he gloried. Very different with these gentlemen. The Lord told Ananias at the time of Saul's conversion, he would show him how great things he should suffer for his name's sake. God said they should be great, and they were so, and continued more than thirty years before his head was cut off; though his distresses within and without, were great and long, he did not consider them so; for says he, our light afflictions which are but for a moment, work for us, &c. Though all the world can see that these men suffer but little, yet what a racket is made among them, about their great privations! Paul laboured [sic] with his own hands to supply his own and the wants of them that were with him. But these men (more shameless than the steward spoken of, who, when he could not dig was ashamed to beg,) not being fond of digging, are not ashamed of begging extensively, as observed before, and in this they please their masters (the great Board of Missions) well. For it is well understood, that if a Missionary can beg enough to supply him, he is not to draw on the public stock. This is one thing that so deeply disgraces them in their fields of labour. In the Missouri, I travelled [sic] six or seven hundred miles to and fro, in various directions, and but few where they had been, seemed to desire them to come again; so that from the whole, those men bear a greater likeness to the apostles that were against Paul, whom he called deceitful workers, whose character was to love to take from the people. Hence, says Paul, if one of these men smite you on the face and take from you, you bear it all. And though the Lord says, It is more blessed to give than receive, these men are of a very different opinion; for with them, the greater blessing is to receive.
Having gone through the Missouri, we will return to Kentucky, and take a little further view of Missionary movements there. In October 1813, a Missionary society was formed in Richmond, Virginia; in imitation of which a society of the same cast was formed at South Elkhorn in Kentucky, in February 1814; but progressed but feebly till August 1815, when the great Luther Rice appeared at the Elkhorn Association, and like Tetzel in Germany, gave life and wing to the Missionary cause through the whole state of Kentucky. His collections at the different associations were immense; for he attended most of the Baptist councils in the state, and they uniformly, to gratify Luther, went into a correspondence with the great Board of Foreign Missions. A collection took place as a thing of course, and especially if they first received the entering wedges (the first Report of the great Board). This riveted the yoke which cannot be shaken off till that correspondence is dropped; and thanks to kind Providence, a number of the associations have found a way to get rid of it, though with much difficulty in some places.
Elkhorn association is perhaps stronger in the faith of Missions, than any other in the state, which can be accounted for partly, because all the officers of the Kentucky Board belong to that body, and partly because the profits, some day, may be an ample reward. It was a little amusing to see the movements of the Elkhorn people, at their last conference. A small church at Mountain Island, of twenty-four members, had complained warmly against doing any Missionary business in the association, and appeared conscientious in their remonstrances. For satisfaction these cunning men refer them to their minutes, which were one uniform essay on Missions. Their long winded circular was chiefly on that subject, and is a flagrant insult on common sense; none but its own author ought ever to read it, or any other missionary tale, much less to read it in an association. For the mournful and devotional tone, in which he reads all those tales, strikes you through with conviction, and draws involuntary tears from your eyes. It was this passed his circular, for all was dumb with silence, though twenty-seven members voted against it being their circular to the churches. Here is Missionary influence, with a witness! For my own part being only a corresponding member, I was also silent, concluding as the Savior directed, let them alone -- for they were blind leaders of the blind, and would not receive conviction till they all fell in the ditch together -- which I think is not very distant. But to the credit of Elkhorn, they did decide that there should be no more Sunday collections for Missionary purposes, which immediately drew forth another question from the author of the circular which was agreed to: that hucksters of no kind should be allowed to come and traffic at associations; by which it would seem, that if missionaries were not allowed to peddle there, none others should. Poor hucksters! If missionaries are stopt from vending their wares, your privilege is gone.
As our friend Luther is the principal hero of all Missionary affairs in America (at least among the Baptists), we should be much wanting in our respects to him, if he did not often pass in review before us. The first authentic account we have of him, is found in a letter from Doctor Holcombe of Philadelphia, to Samuel Ayers of Lexington. Said letter is published in 38th page of the Gospel Herald, and was in answer to a letter sent from South Elkhorn Church, and written by Ayers to Holcombe, on Missionary matters, the date of which was 1813. At the reading of Ayers' letter, and in the council held on it, Rice was there, rejoicing at the good news that money could be got in Kentucky. In Holcombe's letter, he seems to speak of Judson and Rice, as very bright or worthy angels indeed. He states that these worthy men had been sent out on a Mission to the East by the Presbyterians; that they had changed their sentiments and become Baptists in Calcutta; that Judson had continued there, and that Rice had returned to America with reasonable expectations of patronage from the Baptists, as a reward for his late conversion to their way of thinking. The professed object was to set up a Missionary Establishment, the Lord knows where; for none of them yet knew where it was to be, only somewhere about half round the earth from us. The marvellous [sic] event of Judson and Rice joining the Baptists, seems to have put Doctor Holcombe out of his senses. So wrapt [sic] up in his dear brother Rice, even to enthusiasm, he believes everything he tells him. But from accounts, he has since come to a better mind and has a very different opinion of this same brother Rice, than he had in the beginning. This is what I look for with all the upright part of the Baptist world.
About twenty months after the writing of Holcombe's letter to Ayers, and after Rice had been appointed agent of the great Board of Foreign Missions, in a manner created by himself; and after ranging through many of the other states, he gave the Kentuckians an opportunity to be acquainted with him, as observed before so that scarce a man who attends Baptist worship at all in Kentucky, has not seen Luther Rice or heard of his mighty fame, in making merchandise of the people through feigned words, and from the strongest symptoms of covetousness -- 2nd Peter, 2nd chapter and 2d verse. It may be remembered, too, that Peter connects all these movements with false prophets in ancient times, and false teachers in our days. A false teacher always loves money, or popularity, or both, more than the religion he professes; and it becomes him, like Esau of old, to be a cunning hunter, and with all his bravadoes, to take care of Number One. At a meeting of the Board for Kentucky at Silas M. Noel's, soon after the arrival of the young Indians in Kentucky, Luther Rice was present. For the purpose of immediate relief to the agent, who then had the Indians on his hands, a proposition was made for each member to pay in ten dollars. This was designed as an individual thing. Luther was among the first to pay down his ten dollars. Who could have thought, when the Board at Philadelphia had sent on five hundred dollars for the same kind of relief, to find Luther's ten dollars deducted from it! In how many instances cunning Luther has played the same kind of game, is best known to himself. He seems very far from being one of those wrong-headed, conscientious fellows who according to Judson's estimation, would soon ruin the Missionary cause. It is probable when Luther so generously paid down his ten dollars, that he designed it as a bait by which he might catch several tens, or use it as a trump card, by which he might catch a Jack, which would count one in his game; but expected to receive his ten dollars again, as he did . When the Saviour found the disciples fishing, he said to them, hereafter you shall catch men. That Luther Rice would not be willing to catch men in the sense the Saviour designed, I will not say; but that he had much rather catch a fish (as Peter did) with a piece of money in its mouth, I have no doubt. Indeed, I have some charity for Mr. Rice after all; for I have heard him exult that a Mrs. Stout of Lexington was converted under his preaching. If he is a good man, this was more to him that all the money he ever collected, or ever will. Perhaps some of the people are over severe against Mr. Rice, though I have not heard him charged with many vices. But two that I recollect have come to my ears. The first is the love of money; the second is his prodigious appetite at a table. In the first charge, it will be conceded that he manifests the greatest thirst for money of any man we ever saw, except men of the same fraternity. As to the second charge, although I heard a friend of his say, (and by the bye, a missionary agent) that he was the greatest glutton that ever was in Kentucky, I incline to be more favourable [sic]; for I have often been at the same table with Mr. Rice, and never observed anything uncommon, except in a jocular way, he inclined to take a cut from every dish on the table. But from accounts, his greatest performance at the table, is in the articles of coffee and tea. Being not much in the use of these articles, I am not as good a judge as others; but the ladies often make themselves merry on the number of dishes that he can go through. Some of them measure their cups after he is gone, to ascertain the number of quarts he has used at one session, and the most I have heard of, but little overgoes three quarts. Perhaps that is the highest, and two quarts is about the lowest. -- But they ought to remember Mr. Rice's extreme exertions. To ride four hundred miles in six days (which perhaps he often does) is great travelling, [sic] and will excite great appetite; but perhaps it might be well to curtail his appetite a little, to stop the mouths of gainsayers. But it is probable that poor Luther, after all his show and exertions, is not a very self-denied man, without which, none can be the disciples of Christ.
As to the Missionary Society in Kentucky and about Lexington, taking in their Board and all, I consider it a poor little puny thing at best, and very weak in counsel, though a number of them are very sensible men. One of their members informed me, that the society consisted of about five hundred men, out of which, twelve officers are chosen annually. I have only been at two of their meetings; one has already been spoken of at Mt. Noel's, where Luther devoted his ten dollars; but afterwards took care that it should not be finally lost to him. The other was at the Big Spring in Woodford [C]ounty, where only eleven men met to choose twelve officers. Their president is the highest officer in their board. Gabriel Slaughter having filled that office by election for several years, some of the Scott members of this society being displeased with Slaughter's national politics, were determined to oust him from his office as president; and for that purpose brought forward about fifteen young fellows, apparently of the looser sort, to join the society, and each paying his dollar down that day, entitled him to a vote, and by about one hour's caucusing in private, those young fellows brought forward their ballots, and to a man voted against Slaughter's appointment to office; but which poor Gabriel was shut out of his presidency in the Kentucky Board of Missions. What can a serious spectator think of all this political juggling in religious matters? or is this one instance among many, that missionary societies are but motley tribes, and with whom religious societies should have no correspondence? For what communion hath light with darkness, or what concord hath Christ with Belial?
Another bravado of the Kentucky board, was the bringing a tribe of young Indians to this state from Missouri, as if they could not be educated tomore advantage in their own village on Merrimac River, than in Kentucky; and as to civilization, they were surrounded by white people where they came from. Lewis Rogers seems to be as civilized a man as those who brought him here; and though Luther Rice approves of the Kentucky plan, it adds no credit to the measure; for with his old school fellows, Schermerhorn and Mills, as named before, this Priestly policy is the same. Only get the people in the habit of giving their money, no matter what it is for, and they will continue to give it for all other purposes. This Indian business is only another thirsty daughter of the horse-leech thirsting for blood, crying, give, give. -- Prov. 30th chapter, 15th verse. It is said of the horse-leech, that it is so thirsty for blood, that when it sticks on the horse's legs, unless prevented, it will suck on till it bursts, and of course falls off and dies. I would willingly if possible, prevent these men from destruction, lest Judas like (who loved money as well as they do) they should some way share his fate; for like the horse-leech, when he fell (from the gallows) he burst open and his bowels gushed out. I wish not to be censorious, for some of my best friends are great zealots for those missionary movements.
I did signify in the early part of this essay, that part of the distresses of my old age, was the plan now set on foot by some of the Baptists, for theological education; and the object of all this is to make preachers, preachers of a certain grade, Missionary preachers. And this produces a new clue for begging or teasing the people for more money, with this pretext, we will make more preachers for you, as if Jesus Christ did not know how to make preachers for his own use among men. Though the plea is, the state of society calls for it, this is an old error, old as the days of Origen, and one of the first mediums to corrupt the religion of Jesus Christ. Was not the state of society, when Christ was on the earth, as to refinement, equal to what it is now? What kind of men did he make choice of, to bear his name to all the world? He went up into a mountain, and called to him whom he would, and of them he ordained twelve apostles. -- Mark, 3d chap. 13th verse. In the 10th chapter of Luke, he sent other seventy, and told them to pray the Lord of the harvest to send more labourers into the harvest. What theological school did he apply to for any of all these? But now money is wanting to make preachers, and prayer is but little talked about for that purpose. The Saviour asks no man's consent to be a Christian, and he prepares their minds by necessity, to preach the gospel, money or no money; so that, woe is me, if I preach not. When Jesus Christ needs a scholar in his harvest field, he calls whom he will, as Saul of Tarsus; but mostly uses those who were neither prophets nor the sons of one, as he did Amos. In the schools of the prophets, their pupils were called their sons; but their education was very different from what is aimed at now. It is said, Christ kept his disciples with him three years before he sent them out to preach. If this was true, it was not to learn literature. Nothing is more absurd than to say, that a man cannot understand the Scriptures, but by a knowledge of the original languages in which they were written. This is some of the doctrine of those Theologians, by which they would destroy our confidence in all translations, and thereby take our Bible from us. This, to be sure, is much allied with the old man of sin, or the mother of Harlots. This I have elsewhere called hoodwinking the people. Nothing can offer a greater insult to the Baptists, than to beg of them money, and thereby send them a new race of preachers; such as they have not been used to. By what kind of preachers have the Baptist society risen to what they now are? In Kentucky, I suppose they are twenty thousand in number. From what theological school have any of their preachers come? Who among them have emanated from under Dr. Staughton of Philadelphia, with his likeness in their pockets or in their saddlebags for sale? But these great men would have us think that our homespun preachers have only been converting the vulgar part of the community; but by a more refined kind of preaching, the rich and wise will become converted. What a pity, that these great men cannot be of the same mind of Christ, who rejoiced in spirit that these things were hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes; and with Paul, who says, not many mighty, wise or noble after the flesh, are called, and God delights to take the wise in their own craftiness, to destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent, which will be the fate of these money hunters, if I mistake not; for the people will find out their trick. But this new style of preachers is to be educated on charity. When they leave the school, they will of course be poor, and always be looking and holding out hands for money. Their hands are too delicate either to make tents, or pick up a bundle of sticks, to make a fire to warm themselves as Paul did; and of course, must be the same kind of shameless beggars, that all Missionaries that I have seen, now are. For not knowing the worth of property by labouring for it, they will never think the people give them enough. I have taken some little notice of the horse leech. It is said of that creature, that it has a forked tongue, with two branches which are called its daughters, with both of which it sucks blood with great vigour [sic]. Thus Missionaries, with many strings to their bow, cry mightily for money. The wicked sons of Eli the Priest, had a flesh hook of three teeth, by which they made a mighty rake in the cauldron while the flesh was boiling. The Missionaries have many hooks by which they rake the world for money.
I have said that Missionaries have but little knowledge of the worth of property; I will give an instance or two. About two years ago, James Welch came from St. Louis to Kentucky, on a begging tour. (This is not uncommon with Missionaries.) The object was the building of a needlessly great meeting house in the town of St. Louis (as taken notice of before). He could say to a man in Kentucky, in middling circumstances, "I shall think it very hard if you do not give me fifty dollars, to help pay for my meeting house," 400 miles from where the man lived. In Elkhorn association, while Welch was there, a proposition was made to pay the clerk of the association for his services. Fifteen dollars was proposed, which was about three times as much as their clerk generally received for such service. Welch rose up, (as I was told,) and insisted that forty dollars was as small a sum as the clerk could do it for. I can never mention James Welch's name, but with great respect to his ancestors, and even to himself; for before he was a Missionary, he was esteemed a respectable young man; but he was with Doctor Staughton in Philadelphia a year or two on the (...)ndicant plan, which produced such a change in that young man, that a number of his connections and friends were less fond to be in his company, by which we may judge of the corrupting tendency of this mighty scheme.
Though, as hinted before, a number of my best friends are some way connected with the Missionary cause, I do not think better of it than I do of the old pharisaical parade; when I examine it in all its branches, I see a great likeness. Silly admiration is very prevalent. To love greetings in the markets, is very obvious. To love festivity and the chief rooms there, is not out of sight. To be called of men, Rabbi, and mingle much with the great, is very notorious. To make a great show of religion, with a design to devour widows' houses, is strongly suspected; a great hard-heartedness respecting a man's old helpless parents, or his heirs; but great assiduity to obtain a corbin [sic] or gift to Missionaries; half the estate is not too much. Money and power is the watch-word of the whole scheme; aiming at lordship over God's heritage.
They fancy that something is done for us, when they number Israel, and give us a statement of all the associations; perhaps a hundred and thirty associations; perhaps upwards of two thousand members; perhaps two hundred thousand: But all this is to show us how great they are, and what a mighty body of people belong to them; which claim is founded on the several associations agreeing to correspond with them; the tenor of which gives them a freehold all over the United States where Baptists are found; and that it is not unreasonable to ask their vassals for money wherever they find them. And hence their boast of two hundred thousand being in their interest both by their money and their prayers. But surely all this grows from being vainly puffed up by a fleshly mind, or great ignorance of Baptist government, which does not belong to associations, -- but to churches internally among themselves. Every preacher emanating from this great school talked of, I consider one link in the chain preparing for the Baptists; and when their own money prepares those chains, they will deserve to wear them. A little money paid annually, for any one of five or six purposes, somewhat pacifies Missionaries -- because that is an earnest of subservience to them; but giving much money being the best evidence that a man is a christian -- Heaven is almost secured to them; as also an honorary seat in any of their councils, on paying one hundred dollars. But a little money is better than none, for the above reason. Hence among many of Mr. Rice's fine tales, one little favorite one is often told by himself, of a poor woman, perhaps a widow, being much affected by Luther's statements of the poor Hindoos, and becoming very desirous to pray for them, understood that she must not do it, till she first paid some money; and not being able to procure more than twenty- five cents, and giving it up with great pleasure, remarked at the time "I now have the liberty to pray for the poor heathen;" and it would seem Mr. Rice is of the same opinion, or he would not so often cite this circumstance.
I am fully persuaded of the great aptitude in us poor, imperfect mortals, to consider ourselves a standard of orthodoxy, and even in most of the transactions of life; all of which leads me to hesitate a little as to our Missionaries. I have expressed myself in the foregoing sheets, with all the plainness that I think one friend should speak to another. -- Perhaps some things may appear harsh; but I know, that for all the men that I have brought in review, I have a sympathizing friendship. It is probable they think they are doing right, though of their sincerity i have strong doubt. -- Happy should i be hereafter to find myself mistaken, and these men what I wish them to be, the faithful servants of Christ. But my great doubt concerning them arises, both from the scriptures and all the observation and experience I have had for near fifty years. Far back I remember what kind of men of the Baptist name in Virginia, were buffeted, imprisoned and counted the offscouring of all things. I remember their looks, their labors, and their success. Though not willing to make myself a standard, I recollect that far back, the anxiety of my soul for the prosperity of Zion, and the good of my fellow man, so that I could not rest, day nor night, for years together; and of what little moment in that case money appeared to me; so that from my soul I could say, I seek not yours, but you. In that case, I coveted no man's silver, gold or apparel; and perhaps to a man, this temper attended all the Baptist preachers of that day. Myself began to preach at about twenty years of age, and about five months after I was baptized, (by James Ireland, a faithful servant of Jesus Christ). My previous opportunity and my capacities, in my own esteem, were very small, and they must have appeared small in the esteem of others; but the church to which I belonged, treated me with all the tenderness of a mother. Their preachers also treated me as a son; for the church had three other preachers, to wit: James Ireland, their pastor, William Marshall, and the well known, laborious one of his day, Joseph Reding. With the latter I travelled [sic] the most. He being an older man than myself, he was to me as a father, though he seemed to acknowledge me as his yoke fellow. We labored together in the wilds of Virginia about ten years before Kentucky came in vogue, to which place we both came in early times; and here he died a few years past. Our range of labour was from the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah [R]iver to the back of Virginia, on the branches of the Potomac and Ohio [R]ivers, a distance of about two hundred miles; and oftimes [sic] among the dangerous rage of savage fury; though this circumstance took us out of the way of Virginia persecution below the Blue Ridge. Neither of us was ever put in prison, though at times, either beaten or driven from our meetings by wicked mobs. We oftimes [sic] travelled a whole day from one frontier settlement to another, through the rugged mountains without seeing a house, and our lives in danger every step we took; and when we could not reach a house, our lot was to camp in the woods. We went to many places where the Gospel had never sounded before, and so great was the effect, that oftimes the cries of the people would drown our voices. We then hoped, that many experienced conversion, and some churches were built up where the Lord's name was not called on before, but to blaspheme it. Both of us having been raised to hardships, nothing appeared hard to surmount. We therefore performed a number of these tours on foot. I will name one or two of them. In one instance Reding had moved his family about forty miles from where I made my home. From his house about a week's meetings were appointed, and the distance about a hundred and fifty miles. When I got to Reding's, my horse being young, and he nothing to ride, but a mare with a young colt, we concluded to take it on foot. Our first meeting was twenty miles from his house. We started at sunrise, and met a large assembly i due time. As a rich reward of that day's labour a number of people obtained a hope of conversion from that day's meeting. We had twenty miles to the next day's meeting, and eighteen miles afterwards to get to quarters. A number came the last eighteen miles to meet us. It did seem as if the Lord blessed this foot tour more than usual. Another shorter tour we took on foot. I had staid all night at Reding's, and there being neither stable nor pasture, we turned our horses into the woods. On the next morning the rain was violent, and though we turned out in it and searched diligently till near nine o'clock, we could not find our horses, though they were belled. Then the council was, what shall be done? There was but little time to council; for the meeting was fifteen miles distant, and a very mountainous way. It appeared to us awful to disappoint a meeting. The rain slackening a little, off we set. To make this fifteen miles in about three hours, something more than walking was needful. The rain set in afresh; we ran, we walked, we perspired and received the rain from above, till there was not a dry thread on us, and met about twenty people about half after twelve. I will leave the reader to judge whether this effort was not being righteous over much; for myself immediately took such a cough, with all the appearance of the whooping cough, that I did not get rid of it for a twelve month. Reding having a family did not always go with me on these dreary Allegany tours, himself also having the care of a large church, lately built up about the head of the Potomac [R]iver; so that I often travelled [sic] these dreary, dangerous roads by myself; where frost-biting in winter, with snows knee deep, and often unbroken roads, with forty and fifty miles from one settlement to another, and danger of being scalped by the Indians in the summer, marked my way for a number of years. Though a great part of the people would have done anything for me, that they would have done for their own son or brother, their poverty forbade it. The poor things would now and then, make me some little presents of the best they had, that I thought in my conscience was more than my poor preaching deserved -- which perhaps never amounted to fifty dollars per year, exclusive of the food myself and horse lived on, and my own food scarcely safe from putrefaction from want of salt; and from what habit, to this day salt food is disagreeable to me.
I know that I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not, when I say that I do not recollect that it ever occurred to me that I suffered hardship, neither should I name what I now do, only these Missionaries, high flyers -- make such a noise about their privations, when the world knows how ill-founded these complaints are. What I have said of Reding and myself, in some instances, is only a specimen of our general course, and was no singular thing among the Baptists in those days. Were I asked whether such a school as Staughton's when I began to preach would not have been of great service to me, and were I to judge from what I have seen, I should say, that the damage done, would very much overgo the profit.
When I closed my last sheet on missions, I concluded to say no more on that subject, (on paper;) but having met with a worthy young brother, who by the bye, was a great zealot for Missions and had in possession all the numbers of the "Latter Day Luminary", (as is called,) he prevailed on me to give a reading, assuredly concluding that their great light, would give conviction on that subject. I confess they have given me some light, but in a very different way from the brother's expectation; for poor as my opinion was before, of these high- minded self-flatterers, I never so fully took in their mighty presumption; and one thing among many others, is giving God Almighty an entirely new epithet, well adapted to their ambitious views. For our Maker long ago has given to himself titles suited to his own divine character -- as Jah, Jehovah, I am that I am, God Almighty, The God of the Whole Earth, The God of Heaven, The God of Jacob and of Israel, The God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of all his spiritual seed, &c., &c. The lately manufactured epithet is, The God of Missions. Vain men! Presumptuous mortals! so any appeal made to God in the future, must be under this new title given him, The God of Missions!! Their lofty minds lead them to class themselves with the greatest characters that have ever been on earth; such as John the Baptist, the immediate harbinger of Christ, and Jesus Christ himself -- whom they style a Missionary. His scriptural titles, however, don't suit them so well.
In the different numbers of their mighty Luminary, they take up the several apostles with their travels, all of which they style Missionary tours, and the men themselves Missionaries; which favourite [sic] term of theirs, they seem to think an improvement on all the office titles given by Christ himself to his servants; which favourite term of theirs (Missionary) is borrowed from Old Mother Rome. And as they are beholden to the mother of harlots for this handsome phrase, it is to be hoped that our Missionaries will acknowledge their own old mother and the Jesuits of the same race as their brethren; and especially when from their own tales, they have done more in Paraguay and other countries, than our Missionaries can yet boast of. It may be remembered that these Paraguay men assumed great sanctity; therefore called themselves after the name of Jesus (Jesuits). What do our Missionaries say of themselves? It is a little amusing to read in the first section of the second number of the Luminary, the self encomiums there expressed on Missionaries. Scorn, or pity, or both, will soon be awakened in the reader except himself is run away with, by the delusion. Look at the comparisons made between them and ancient prophets. -- Though in some few things, ancient prophets overwent them, yet from the whole, Missionaries are much to be preferred; because, says page 66, prophecy was mingled with obscurity, but Missionary was clear and effulgent. The Lord pity the ignorance of foolish men. As to common Gospel ministers, the comparison can scarcely be made, page 60, for want of that heavenly fire hurled from the altar of Heaven, (such as occupies the bosom of a Missionary). The common minister is so phlegmatic, that he scarcely deserves the name of minister. A Missionary, says the same page, is an eminence of character, an apostolic inspiration, reserved for the days of Missions of the latter days; for if this heavenly fire, says the same page, was hurled into the hearts of common preachers, thousands would apply for license to go to foreign countries. But the heavenly fire boasted of, is suspected to be the love of money and fame. But the comparison is more fully exemplified in an apostle, says page 67; for an ancient apostle was a Missionary, and Missionaries are modern apostles. Some little difference is agreed to; but where the ancient Missionary had the advantage in one thing, the modern apostle has it in another; so that the page leaves the reader at a loss to know which was the greatest, the ancient apostles, or our modern strutting upstarts.
However much the thoughtful reader might be disposed to exercise patience and charity in the citation of the above pages of the second number of the Luminary , I think his fortitude will be brought to a a great trial when he comes to page 73, beginning under the head of A Vision. Whether this mighty dreamer had a vision like Balaam of old, with his eyes open, or whether like him he fell into a trance, or whether it was a real dream that this Missionary bigot had, through the whole like Balaam, he seems to boast that his eyes were open, and that he had great light, or the vision of God was on him. Surely this tale is worthy of the Luminary , for it is all light as that book in its title page boasts to be; but let this dreamer remember, that with all the boast of his brother Balaam having his eyes open, the ass on which he rode while speechless, saw more than her master. Though the Lord in ancient times, made known his will in various ways, and often by dreams and visions while the canon of the scripture was not yet completed, even then the dreamers were to be watched close; and though the sign of a dreaming prophet came to pass, yet if he gave any epithet, or idea of God that himself had never revealed, that prophet was to be put to death; and though we have no desire for any man to suffer for differing from us in religious opinion, yet as this dreamer would turn us away to a new God, (of Missions,) such Missionaries as rank themselves above other preachers and call themselves apostles, together with such a dreamer, we will hold in contempt, with all his visions, and esteem him as a son of the mother of harlots, and his dreams as some of those lying wonders spoken of by Paul, by which the Man of Sin would deceive. He may amuse the followers of Swedenburg with his dreams, and the Shakers with his visions; for very few of the Kentucky Baptists have any use for his merchandise; though by this happy knack of dreaming, he might hope the silver would jingle. Are these Missionaries blockheads, or knaves? Or do they think that the present generation of the earth are fools?
In some former sheet I have said something about the sale of pictures by the Missionaries. Since that, when travelling, I lodged at a private house, where the landlady give me a little history of Luther Rice, who called at her house, her husband being gone from home. His first sally was, Madam I presume you do not know me. She replied, I do not, sir. He then said, I am Luther Rice, the Missionary preacher; I want my breakfast, and my horse fed with corn, oats and fodder. Perhaps Luther was excusable in this freedom, for it was a Baptist house, and the people in good circumstances. Having heard of Luther's great capacities in the coffee way, she hastened and made her pot full of between two and three quarts; she said it was always the greatest plenty for her large family; but it did suffice, by going to the bottom of the pot without cooking again. He then lamented her husband being rom home; for he had expected to have borrowed a horse of him a month or so, and left his to be put in order; but had to bear the disappointment. After peeping a little about the house, and seeing nothing of that kind but a few pictures the young ladies had drawn, he remarked to the landlady -- Madam, your house will very well suit some handsome pictures I have with me. She replied, she could not tell without seeing of them, concluding he had a mind to compliment her children with some play thing. Luther unlades his stuffed saddlebags. Soon after he drew them out, he began to state the usual prices of his pictures from ten dollars and down. After hearing their prices, though he urged their beauty and elegance, she declined taking any of them; after which he showed her a number of religious tracts, with their several prices, but she bought none of his merchandise. Poor Luther had to bundle up and move off without getting any money there, and the lady now talks of his movements while there, with disgust and scorn; for she is a woman of good information, and conscientiously religious. What is to be thought of such Missionary apostles, who affect more sanctity and dignity than other preachers, and yet remain an hour or two in a religious family without a word about religion, but showing a manifest thirst to get a little money? -- But perhaps he thought it was religious enough, to offer to sell the lady some good pictures and good books.
I ask, do apostolic Missionaries appear to have more religion than other men? or does their religion mainly lie in affecting to know more than other men? Then in place of being modern apostles, are they not modern Gnostics? And as they have almost by their superior knowledge, found out the last ten tribes of Israel, is it not likely by their great knowledge, that they will soon find out where a number of apostles were martyred? that we know but little of their labours or death? and will not their relics be used as articles of merchandise among us? It is well known that those ancient hereticks [sic], called Gnostics, gave themselves that epithet, because they knew more than other christians. It is also said that Simon Magus was at the head of them and the founder of the whole tribe, which was vastly numerous. As for Simon's religion, we know how much it was connected with money -- and the severity of Peter's reproof of him. Those who please may make the comparison between the ancient Gnostics and our present Missionaries. For my own part I think the likeness much greater than with the apostles, whose high rank they presume to claim to themselves. It may also be remembered, that this same old Simon, was a Baptist, or baptized on profession of his faith; all of which did not secure him from the gall of bitterness, and the bonds of iniquity. Love of money, and love of power or fame, were the strong bonds by which his soul was held fast. Men bound by these strong cords, are perhaps more to be pitied than blamed. Good Lord, correct all our mistakes. When men assume to themselves higher ground than others, they are, as a thing of course, taken more notice of than others. -- I have in the foregoing sheets been taking a survey of those high minded men, and have narrated a long train of facts, collected, either from their own writings, the use of my own senses, or the reports of others in which I confide; all of which I am responsible for, if called on. And as it is the watch-word of American Baptist Missionaries, to attempt great things, look for great things; and as all new officers, I mean great ones in their own conceit, aim at some new regulations, we look for an attempt at great things by these new apostles. Indeed we already have it before us; for in the tenth number of their great Luminary , page 466, they are directing their young preachers how to preach in foreign countries, from Bishop Lowth's translation. Why not from our own translation? But this comes from their owo [own] apostolic infallibility. Every new Pope must make some new law as a test of his own infallibility. As they begin with Lowth's translation, is it not to be looked for, that they will soon give us a Bible of their own translation which will be equal to John Wesley's, from which he makes his notes on the New Testament? [O]r at least equal to the Shaker's Bible? For they already dictate what kind of churches we shall have, to support even a moderate preacher, same copy, page 477. The lowest sum fixed upon is six hundred dollars. To raise said sum, we must have from their direction, one hundred male members, either of merchants, mechanics or able bodied men to labour [sic]; and then a tax on each man of six dollars per annum, to raise the money. If there are more male members, the preacher must have more. I ask you, reader, whether this is not attempting great things among the Baptists? Should those apostles ever own themselves inferior to Paul, they will at least assume a stand as high as the seven sons of Sceva, spoken of in Acts, 19th chapter, 14th verse -- and will attempt to cast out Devils in the name of Jesus whom Paul preached. And though I may be called a Devil by these new apostles, for making as free with them as I have, I shall insist on it, that the Devil never did a better act in his life than to fall on, and drive these presumptuous men out of the house. My object is, if possible, to drive these presuming men out of Baptist associations; for there they crept in unawares, with no more right than the false brethren of whom Paul speaks; for they are a motley tribe at best. I wish it understood, once for all, that when I insinuate corruption among American Baptist Missionaries, I do but sparingly mean men of my own state; for I only think of three in Kentucky that I suspect, and I rather ascribe it to their weakness and vanity than to corruption -- looking perhaps for a thank'e from these great men; or possibly they may look for some profits in future either in money or applause. A well wisher of poor deluded Missionaries.
"JOHN TAYLOR. "Franklin County, (Ken.) 1820"
[Taken from a copy that was from Harvard College Library (1924). The spelling and grammar are unchanged except where noted with [ ]. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
John Taylor, Frontier Preacher
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