C H R I S T A D E L P H I A N R E S E A R C H
The letter below is reproduced in full to show the kind of abuse and slander that was commonly used by the founder of the Christadelphians, Dr John Thomas, when others did not follow him in his theological developments. It was originally penned in a letter sent by John Thomas to Robert Roberts and published by him in the Ambassador Of The Coming Age, April 1866. It was quoted in a redacted form in an article
by David King who was a leader of the Restoration Movement in Britain. He had seen it reproduced in The Gospel Banner and Millennial Advocate, September 1867.
To put this quote into some perspective the man who was the editor of this magazine, Benjamin Wilson, with his brother Joe was baptised by John Thomas and had nearly the same understandings as him. They had separated over whether the believers would be raised mortal or immortal. In fact Benjamin Wilson went on to set up the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith, one division of which some Christadelphians would now like to reunite with:
This kind of language was not unusual for John Thomas and has been excused and justified by later Christadelphians who feel ashamed to acknowledge its place within their history. For instance in the introduction to Elpis Israel, 15th edition, we read:
“At the time when it was written, frank speech expressed in robust language was indulged in without offence, and in this matter the book reflects its age. The forthrightness of the writer is seen in the vigour of his words and modern readers must make some allowance for this”
… and again in the introduction to “Dr Thomas, his Life and Works” in 1954, W.H. Boulton writes:
“Modern readers may think that Dr. Thomas sometimes wrote, or spoke of his opponents rather uncharitably. If they do, they should bear in mind that the eighty years since his death have seen a great change in this aspect of controversies. The Doctor lived in an age when most controversialists fought “with the gloves off.” It was a time of hard hitting whether the subjects in dispute were theological or political. A man has to be judged largely by the ethics of his time; judged in this way Dr. Thomas used language that was usual among those to whom the subject in debate was vital. One of those who opposed him in those days said of him, “The pen, matter, and versatility of the gifted Editor of the Investigator is well known”; a tribute that indicates that his hard hitting was not considered to be something calling for condemnation. It was part of the times.”
It is worth reading the article by David King to see that many did not believe engaging in such diatribes to simply be “part of the times” but to be lacking the Spirit of Christ. We also have to wonder as he did how such a man could rediscover the lost saving truth.
LETTER FROM DR. THOMAS
West Hoboken, Hudson Co., N. Jersey,
Dec. 11, 1865=A.M. 5955=
An. Tem. Apoc. 1259.
Dear Bro. Roberts,
Grace, mercy, and peace from the Father Deity, and His Son Jesus Anointed, our Elder Brother, High Priest, and Lord: and may He soon come for our deliverance from this present evil world, and the machinations of all knaves and hypocrites, in which it abounds greatly.
If a man be of any real use to any of his generation besides himself and his immediate dependants, it is inevitable that he be evil spoken of and abused. This is seen in all worlds—the political world, the literary world, the scientific world, and preeminently in the “religious world.” What is really useful is good and true; and therefore, in some sort, identifies the useful man with goodness and truth. But the religious world does not love the really good and true, because it is neither itself good nor true. In all its developments it has proved this abundantly. It only loves those who flatter it; and no one who knows the truth can flatter a world which is ignorant, unbelieving, and disobedient, and be guiltless before God. It was the religious world that persecuted Jesus and the Apostles unto death; and for the simple reason that they testified the truth in opposition to that which was highly esteemed among men; for Jesus said, “that which is highly esteemed by men is abomination in the sight of Deity”: and Paul endorses the same idea when he says, “if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” By men, he evidently means those religious professors who were zealous for traditions, which made void the gospel.
These are “fellows of the baser sort,” however “respectable” the world, which loves its own, may deem them. They are always ready to throw dirt at and to bespatter those whose excellencies and goodness they envy; but, owing to their ignorance and the evil rampant within them, they cannot imitate. They generally appear to be most zealous for the virtues in which they are most deficient. Hence, “they appear to men to be righteous”; they pass themselves off as singularly conscientious men; but they flatter only to deceive: they are fair-looking whited sepulchres; very pious and devout, but full of abominations—of envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness.
Dear brother, you have entered upon a very arduous enterprize. If I understand you right, you are where I was some twenty-five or thirty years ago. You are now more intelligent in the faith than I was then. I was seeking for it with no one to help me to find it; but many ready to mislead or misdirect me. You have found it, with many ready and rejoiced to help you to walk in the way of the kingdom; and therefore you have more power for immediate usefulness than I had. Yet, in some sort, our situation is similar. I was one and nearly alone against the world; and the world against me as soon as it discovered that I was for the truth whatever that might be, and wherever found,
“On christian or on heathen ground”; and that, too, without regard to the dogmata of sects, Romish or Protestant, or mere human authority. This discovery brought down their anathemas upon me thick and heavy. Power was upon the side of the oppressor; and they would have swallowed me up, if God had permitted them to triumph. Now, if you are courageous, faithful and valiant for the truth; if you are really a good and useful man in your day and generation, you may lay your account with being misrepresented, slandered and abused in various ways: but if you turn traitor in faith or practice, or in both, you will become popular, and obtain the applause of the ignorant and hypocrites. This is my experience, and it will certainly be yours. And how can it be otherwise? Human nature is the Devil; and, if ignorant and uncontrolled by the truth, will act devilishly. Nothing good is to be expected from it, for there is in it “no good thing.” Now, you are not to suppose that in its devilish working, it will work undisguisedly. No, it will be as careful as possible to conceal the cloven foot; though for lack of wisdom, it is not always successful in so doing. The ordinary disguise assumed is scripturally styled “sheep’s clothing.” It makes great profession of piety; pretends to be extraordinarily conscientious; it strains enormously at gnats; and has a great zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. It is not the naked wolf, or roaring lion, that comes out against the faithful to trample and rend them in these times. The devil undisguised thus would have but little chance of success; for pietism is the fashion of the day; and it is one of the devil’s proverbs, that “a man may as well be out of the world as out of the fashion.” Piety being the fashion, then, the devil is prudent enough to conform to the fashion; and as he is sure to run into extremes, he is pious to excess.
Now, the devil intensely pious is “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”; in other words, Human Nature pretending to be what it is not—pretending to be a partaker of the Divine Nature: a wolf pretending to be a sheep. But such a pretender is a hypocrite, and only a hypocrite, and can naturally be nothing else but a hypocrite. A hypocrite is one who personates a character, a playactor. The Pharisees were denounced as hypocrites because “they feigned themselves just men.” Here the just man’s character became the garb of the hypocrite. They played the part of just men for the purpose of ruining the Holy and the Just One; which he perceiving, his indignation was aroused, and he exclaimed, “Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?”
When, then, a man professes to be full of zeal for the truth; makes great and wordy demonstration for “the precious cause”; gets up pious melodies, preaches, and so forth, you have before you all the paraphernalia of pietism. It is possible he may know the truth and be really zealous for it; but if he is of the right stamp, he will be a man of action, not of profession. But to know whether he is genuine or counterfeit, a wolf or a sheep, an original or a hypocrite, we must work by the rule given by Him, who, in his day, was the terror of hypocrites, namely, “By their fruits shall ye know them.” Out of the fulness of the heart the mouth speaks and the pen writes. One who presents himself, or is brought before the public, can only be known to that public by his sayings or writings. These are his deeds or his fruits, and by these it may be known whether he is a hypocrite or not. Thus, when he professes great zeal for the precious cause, and acts great zeal for his own selfishness; while he professes devotion to the truth, and acts devotion to water-cureism, vegetarianism, teetotalism, abolitionism, and all the other current isms in which the devil delights; when in view of years of professions you look for the deeds, illustrating such a man’s devotion to the truth, and you find nothing but an evil influence, and the sentiment that “preaching pays better than printing”—if that preacher be a printer, you may know that he is a hypocrite—a mere actor on the ecclesiastical stage.
In the American section of the Court of the Gentiles, hypocrisy reigns on every side. I do not mean to say that we have more of it here than you have in Britain. It is probable that we have less of it, for in America the devil is not generally so pious as with you. He cares less for disguises; having fewer inducements to play the hypocrite than in an older state of society. With the court generally it is not worth troubling ourselves just now. We are more especially related to those who profess to be “the Ecclesia.” But we have lived long enough in this evil world to know that “profession is not principle.” We have a great many speculators in the faith on this side the Atlantic. Mere theorists, who are a sort of amalgam made up of a little Storrism, a little Adventism, a little Campbellism, and a hodge-podge of traditions, of which water, pork, alcohol, tobacco, salt, leaven, raisins, and “the everlasting nigger,” are the prolific “head-centres.” But of believers, intelligent in “the unadulterated milk of the word,” by which they have grown into “young men” and “fathers” in Christ, we have very, very few. There are very few in whom “the word of Christ dwells richly in all wisdom” and in whom this word rules so as to induce them “to deny themselves of all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly and righteously and godly in the present world.” These are the exception to the rule: the generality do not seem to allow what they call “their faith” to stand in the way of trade, money-making, convenience, or enjoyment. Conscious of their own hypocrisy, or worldlymindedness, they zealously assail those whose opposite course is a standing, though silent, rebuke to them. And this my experience has taught me is the malprincipled policy of knaves and hypocrites. First, they seek to divert public attention from their own abominations, by attacking some conspicuous person, and charging him falsely with immoralities of which they themselves are guilty: and secondly, the vice they denounce most intensely is really and truly their most darling sin. Thus, the loudest brawlers for negro freedom have proved themselves the most savage of tyrants; the scribbler most prompt to give the lie to others, when searched out is found to be the least regardful of truth: he that can see a pope in every one at all useful to his generation is most ready to become the biggest and grandest of popes; and pines in envy and vexation if no one will come to worship him. I fear the Greeks bringing presents. They are mere Greeks, and their presents the horse on which they propose to ride themselves into notoriety. They would rather be notorious for abomination than not notorious at all. Not to be noticed, nor talked about, nor worshipped, is death to these ignoble creatures. They cannot exalt themselves by any service they have done to any others than their own selfishness. What then are these envious sinners to do? They are mere insignificant nobodies, and they are dying to be considered somebodies; how shall they become somebodies in their own conceit at least? The rule of the hypocritical knave is, depreciate the excellent and you thereby exalt the worthless. This is their invariable practice; but oftentimes so bunglingly executed, that the cloven foot is revealed, and they defeat themselves, to the righteous justification of the victim they designed to immolate upon the altar of their unhallowed and mean ambition.
There is a great fermentation of hypocrisy at the present time, both here and in Britain. My remarks upon certain periodicals and so-called “brethren in the West,” which you published in the Ambassador some months ago, threw the devil into a famous paroxysm. Ever since he has been in a state of great bitterness, and there is nothing too evil for him to forge and circulate against me. He was a liar in the beginning; and though he is now 5956 years old, he still continues to lie with all the sanctimoniousness of the character he has undertaken to play. I have got quite a little cabinet of literary curiosities in print and manuscript all written to prove that I am one of the worst men at large and unhanged among men! Their writers would all be thought to be extra zealous for truth and righteousness; and have doubtless experienced great, and probably gleeful, satisfaction in their work. But if these twaddling scribblers had any regard for the truth—for what they profess to believe is the truth, and with the advocacy with which I have been largely identified—instead of blazing my alleged shortcomings, or by whatever other name they may choose to call them, abroad, they would seek to veil them from the public eye, if not for my benefit, at least for the truth’s sake, that it might not suffer by my supposed delinquencies. But no; it is not the truth that these creatures care anything about; but the idols of their own hypocrisy they seek to glorify by depreciating those who stand in their way. Well, I have been the subject of this sort of thing for over thirty years, and am not altogether “prevailed against” yet. When quite young the whole hierarchy of Campbellism was seeking my destruction socially and spiritually. But I still live to witness their unfortunate pontiff, or “supervisor,” as he claimed to be, smitten with imbecility, and his “reformation” with death. Look at my traducers in Britain, palsied and sicklied all over with the pale cast of spiritual decomposition! And as to the same class of malignants in this country, they are destroying themselves in their clumsy efforts to destroy me! I give little heed to any of them; indeed, but for the providence of friends, who keep me informed of the devil’s doings, I should not know what they were doing with their pens. I am attacked by the Serpent’s Seed, who conceal their attacks from me as much as in them lies. There is no nobility of mind in them. I have no means of defence, as they know; hence their presumption and braggardism. But it matters not; the end is near when the constituents of the Holy City will cease to be any longer trodden under foot of knaves and hypocrites, the Gentiles of the unmeasured court.
We have had quite a serio-comic representation on the stage ecclesiastic, very much to the amusement of neutral outsiders in these parts. Of this number is your correspondent, who, being not altogether a fool, has been able to perceive a few things, corroborating and justifying conclusions to which he had come long since.
To understand the affair, you must note that there are certain two periodicals in the West, the one the banner of crotchetarianism commingled with a smattering of the truth; the other, the harbinger of the millenium, and claiming to be set for the defence of the gospel. The printer and owner of the former is one Benjamin W—, largely assisted in his ignoble functions by an ex-player, or theatrical parasite of some sort, and at present a pedlar of quack lozenges, named Mark A—. Benjamin Mark is a name that will cover this alliance. Mark, whose overweening self-conceit is much comforted in seeing himself in print, scribbles nonsense, which Benjamin gives currency to in consideration of the thing implied in the saying, “You tickle me, and I’ll tickle you.” They have pursued this course of tickling one another, until they had tickled their crotchetty banner into the article of death. Geneva, Kane Co., Illinois, was the scene of its expiring efforts; while the Harbinger not very vigorously breathed the breath of life at Detroit, Michigan. The Benjamin Mark paper is a truly bloodthirsty and diabolical sheet, advocating war and destruction in the service of the devil; while the Harbinger, though not guiltless of folly, eschewed the monstrous absurdity of claiming to be at once a defender of the gospel and an advocate for christians fighting against each other in the armies of the world. Both these papers claimed to be conducted by “brethren” in fellowship with each other; and the sanguinary theatrical, “too weak in the knees” to face the death he urged upon others, found currency in both.
By some means or other these “brethren in the West” came to agree that the Banner and Harbinger should be regarded as dead after a certain date, and that a periodical with a new name should appear. It was arranged that the partisans of the Banner and those of the Harbinger should convene at Crain’s Grove, Illinois, and organize a joint-stock company to be styled “The Gospel Publication Society.” The subscription of a share, or ten dollars, constituted a member and voter. The society was to own the new periodical, to elect its editor, and to pay him a salary of 600 dollars per annum. Crain’s Grove is an Adventist neighbourhood; and within six miles of the Grove is an ecclesia of Christadelphians who have no fellowship with these “brethren in the West.” It was thought desirable, however, that their co-operation should be secured, for in those parts they are reputed rich. Now it was known at the meeting that Christadelphians only fellowship those who first believe the gospel and are afterwards immersed; and that for this reason “the brethren in the West” and the Christadelphians are two distinct and separate peoples. Hence, to secure their co-operation, their principle of fellowship had to be endorsed by the society. This was done in the preamble and art. 9 of the Society’s constitution. In the preamble they say, “we obedient believers of the gospel”; and in the article, “obedient believers of the gospel, who shall take at least one share of stock are constituted members of this society.” The trap being thus laid and duly baited, bro. F. Coffman, to whom the reader will be mainly indebted for Eureka II, who lives about six miles from the Grove, was sent for. But he declined having anything to do with the speculation, “because they were not of the One Body.” Christadelphians do not accept a man’s testimony of himself. Bro. Coffman could not be enticed into the trap by any such specious declaration; because living in the midst of so-called “kingdom-believers,” or “brethren in the West,” and conversing with them from time to time, he knew that the preamble did not express the truth. He declined their invitation, but added, that if any of them wished a talk with him, he would send his vehicle for them, and bring them to his house. But, it was evident, he thinks, that it was his funds, and not his person, they wanted; for priest and Levite all passed by on the other side, and left him in the hands of that cursed Samaritan, Dr. Thomas!
From what has appeared in the Harbinger, it is manifest that there was no little rivalry and intrigue at work among those dear “brethren in the West,” and self-styled “obedient believers of the gospel.” The number for Dec. 6, ’65, clearly intimates that the Geneva Benjamites who work for the exaltation of their little corporal made lying accusations against the editor and proprietor of the Harbinger, all of which he proved to be lies, before the board of directors in Chicago; but notwithstanding the proof, and a hypocritical profession of friendship, he declares that afterwards “the editor (Benjamin Wilson, editor of the Banner) published the falsehoods knowingly, wilfully, and maliciously.” “We pity the man,” he continues, “whose cause demands such to support it, believing that wilful misrepresentations are beneath the notice of christians, we shall pay no more attention to what he may say on the subject, prefering rather to meekly submit to their saying “all manner of evil against us falsely. The Lord is judge. To him we appeal.”
Thus, at the Crain’s Grove meeting before the tendency of things was seen by little Benjamin and his partisans, these dear “brethren of the West” were sweet as honey with the editor of the Harbinger and his friends, whom they styled their brethren in Christ. The meeting at the Grove was held on Sep. 9; and little Ben is denounced by his dear brother in less than three months for a wilful, malicious, and lying hypocrite! For this is what the words quoted amount to. I do not dispute the truth of the indictment. My experience of the little Geneva fellow agrees with that of Messrs. Newman, Reed, and Stephenson, of the Harbinger. It would therefore be disingenuous and hypocritical in me to affirm that little Ben is righteous and truth telling. I cannot discover from his antecedents that he is either. I have heard of no use that he has ever been but to play the part of a messenger of Satan to buffet those who are really regardful of the truth. His own selfishness has been the god of his idolatry; and to gratify this, such a man will slander, lie, steal, or play the hypocrite, if it will only pay.
But what wrought so speedy a change in these “brethren in the West”? How came they to verify my representation of things spiritual in this country so notably and speedily? To this, it may be answered, that there were two parties convening at Crain’s Grove—the Benjamites, and those who claim to be “set for the defence of the gospel.” The commission of the latter by which they were so “set” I have not seen; but so they say; and if they say truly, I rejoice; but at present I wait for the fruits. From developments before the public, it can be seen that the Benjamites coveted the monopoly of the good things the new society had to bestow. They seem to have thought that the new paper might be their old dirty and bloodthirsty Banner new revived and strengthened by society patronage, and increased profits with diminished responsibility; for editing at other people’s risk, like preaching, little Ben has discovered “pays better than printing” on his own hook. To effect this result was the policy of the party.
It appears that when the time favoured, little Ben “urged his claims upon the Association,” says Mr. Stephenson, “per understanding or agreement;” upon which “bro. Hall rose and distinctly stated that the stockholders possessed the constitutional right, and would claim it, of saying who should be their editor.” From which it is evident that he claimed the editorship of the new paper by prescription. This was to him the prize of the speculation. The editor was to have 600 dollars a year; and then to be appointed editor by “the brethren of the West” would be a sort of certificate of character, and a condemnation of the judgment of those who regard him as not too good for any abomination, if it will only pay and be safe. “The editor of the Banner,” says Mr. Stephenson, “was nominated by his friends as a candidate for the editor of the newspaper, and his name and destiny submitted to the decision of the Association; and in order to make sure of his election, heavy stock was taken by his friends, ostensibly to augment the number of their votes.” This was political wire-working at which practice has made them tolerably dexterous. But ecclesiastical politicians are not always successful any more than other intriguers. The Gospel Publication Society left little Benjamin shivering in the cold. “He was not the choice of the Association”; and as happens to most defeated candidates and their partisans who cannot help themselves, they were completely chopfallen; which Mr. Stephenson more tenderly and ironically terms “an unresisting meekness which excited the admiration of all.” But though the surface was so calm and pleasant, the defeated Benjamites, in their “unresisting meekness,” seem to have breathed hints of duplicity and a desire on the part of their “brethren” who defeated their ambition, to supplant the little Benjamin. But these meek, unresisting, breathings at the loss of the prospective editorial six hundred a year are hushed by Mr. Stephenson’s report. He says, “that no charge of duplicity, or a desire to supplant bro. Wilson can justly be charged upon bro. Reed. I will be permitted to state, that after a number of ballotings without any prospect of a choice without a number of votes going over to one side or the other, bro. Reed arose and offered to withdraw his name in favour of bro. Wilson, but in behalf of bro. Reed’s friends, I objected.”
Mr. Reed was elected, to the satisfaction of all but the Benjamites; who failed to turn the speculation into a “precious cause” for their own glorification and profit. Having lost the election, should they permit the society to publish the gospel through the editor elect? If they had cared anything for the gospel apart from what they could make by it, they would have said by all means. But no; if they could not make it their monopoly, they would falsify their engagements, and destroy the society. They “took heavy stock” not for the gospel’s sake, but for that of their little kinsman and clansman’s. The dodge did not succeed; and now they resolved to try another by which they might get rid of their solemn promises and the organized publication of the gospel altogether. Their trick was the unprincipled subterfuge that the obligations they had solemnly contracted were not binding because the Society had not been incorporated according to United States’ law. In other words, they proclaim by their act that their word is worthless.
This diabolical purpose of repudiation seems to have got wind soon after the Grove meeting: for Mr. Stephenson remarks, “the idea that the want of incorporation has dissolved the organization, and dissevered the sacred ties of obligation to fulfil the solemn compact, has no justification in verity or truth. It looks like a mere pretext for bad faith! And that too without the shadow of an excuse.” But hypocrites are not easily shamed. They had “taken heavy stock”; appointed a business agent at a salary of 600 dollars per annum. Under their authorisation he had removed a printing office from Detroit to Harvard, Illinois; and purchased for them type, paper, and apparatus for publishing the new paper, and so forth. In view therefore of the possibility of their shamelessly enacting the devil openly, Mr. Stephenson remarks, “it would be almost without a parallel in the code of dishonesty and meanness.”
The shameless dishonesty and meanness of the devil is unparallelled in the earth. He is an intense hypocrite, but not always wise enough to hide from observation his cloven hoof. These dishonest and meanspirited traitors to good faith sought excuse and justification in the devil’s law of incorporation. A committee of three had been appointed, consisting of one Pierce, a Benjamite; Reed, the editor elect; and Stephenson, from whom I quote. The Benjamite, without consulting the other two, usurped the authority of reporting in their name such an opinion on incorporation as would suit the dishonest wishes of his confederates. This, of course, stirred up the indignation of Reed and Stephenson. The latter very properly ignored Pierce’s trickery; and testified that “as yet there has been no report of the committee, Bro. Reed and myself have not been consulted in the matter.” He rejects Pierce’s statement as mere opinion, and holds the tricky Benjamites to their obligations.
But the devil’s law did not bind them, and as that, and not God’s law, is their law, there was nothing to hold them. If the hypocrites could have organised a printer’s gospel monopoly for their own covetousness, all things would have run smooth and pleasant; but in this they providentially failed, and in the attempt revealed their true character in the light of open day. On Nov. 29th the Benjamites crowned their iniquity in Chicago, where the society was dissolved. The article of dissolution was signed by one Wilson, who says that he and the business agent stated that they had no claims to present against the society. But Mr. Newman, the agent. explains that the reason why no claim was preferred was “because there was nothing in the treasury to pay with.”
You will probably recollect that my allusion in the Ambassador to what these dishonest tricksters call “the brethren in the West,” was maliciously criticised by one W. P. in Glasgow, on the authority of little Benjamin the rejected, whom he absurdly styles “one of the doctor’s warmest admirers!” The little fellow at Geneva said, “it is not true; it is an unmitigated falsehood.” Here was the devil crying out against sin. The alleged falsehood, which turns out to be most strictly true, was concerning a certain Dr. Jacobs, of Ogle Co., Illinois. Dr. Jacobs admits that what I reported of his sayings is correct; and as to his position, that he is an unbaptized sinner, and the type of a multitude styled “brethren in the West,” his brother-in-law, our worthy bro. S. W. Coffman, testifies to be wholly true. He sent a letter to the little rejected to this effect. But he would not give currency to it; but preferred rather that the readers of his twaddling typography should continue to regard me as the utterer of unmitigated falsehoods.
Now a very amusing incident occurred at this Crane’s Grove meeting in connexion with my friend Dr. Jacobs. I call him my friend, first, because I do not believe he is my enemy; secondly, because I respect his family; and thirdly, because I think that when the truth shall break in upon his understanding, he will acknowledge and obey it. Well, my friend the doctor, being like the rest of the constituents of the embryo-society, a judge in his own case, considered that his immersion thirty years ago into Campbellism was obeying the gospel of the kingdom; and that all he had to do was to offer subscription to the stock. He saw, we may presume, some of his flock buying stock in the face of the preamble and art. 9. Why might not he too, being their shepherd? He deemed himself an “obedient believer”; who of the Gospel Publication Society was divinely authorised to dispute it? But it was disputed; not however by the little rejected of the Banner. but by H. V.Reed, whose election put little Benjamin into a quandary of “unresisting meekness.” Mr. Reed a short time before had non-fellowshipped himself as one who had long been a preacher of the gospel he had not obeyed. Having recently been re-immersed, he was just the one to dispute Dr. Jacob’s verdict in his own case, provided he dealt out impartial justice to all his own flock in Harvard, Illinois, and at the Grove. But if he could fellowship little Benjamin, whom he regards as a bad man and a hypocrite, I think he might have permitted my friend Jacobs to pass unchallenged. I fellowship neither of them; but if I were shut up to the one to the rejection of the other, I should prefer Dr. Jacobs; because I think he unselfishly acts out his erroneous convictions—is honestly wrong; while the other is a mere trader in pietism, because it “pays better than printing.”
The reporter of the proceedings of the Crane’s Grove meeting says, “a subscription was offered by an individual named Dr. Jacobs which was objected to by bro. H. V. Reed, on the ground of his not being an obedient believer of the gospel, as our contitution provides. This elicited some discussion, during which the doctor made the statement that it could not be proved from the Bible that any but those who had lived since the Day of Pentecost (excepting David) would be eligible to share the royal honours of the Coming Age, and be clothed with immortality. Abraham and all the faithful ones living before that time would be raised to incorruptibility, but not to immortality. This was considered as a sufficient evidence by the brethren to prove his ignorance of the faith preached to Abraham and by Christ and his apostles; and therefore his name was erased from the list.” How friend Jacobs would develope immortality without incorruptibility is inconceivable. Incorruptibility without life may be affirmed of a diamond; but what use it would be to any organized human form, beyond preserving the form from change, it would require the man in the moon to divine! Friend Jacobs has yet to learn that incorruptibility is the basis of immortality, and that without this base there can be no immortality; for immortality is life manifested through incorruptible substance.
Here then is Dr. Jacobs, one of the so-called “brethren in the West,” and fellowshipped, when I wrote to you, by little Ben, another beautiful specimen of the Western brotherhood, publicly repudiated as an unbaptized sinner; and in said repudiation my alleged “unmitigated falsehood” publicly decreed to be an unquestionable truth: and mark the retribution in the case—the very little Simon Magus, with all his confederate Benjamites present, are made parties to my justification, and their own confusion! Thus the “unmitigated falsehood” became an unmitigated truth; and little Benjamin publicly proved to be what I have long experimentally known him to be, an unmitigated slanderer. When he charged me with unmitigated falsehood, he added, “we know what we say, and whereof we affirm”; when it turns out that he knew no more about the truth of the matter than his uncle in the moon. Such is the creature, and such his confederates in iniquity, who are prompt to bandy unfounded charges of falsehood and other crimes against the long tried and proved friends of the truth; thereby verifying what I have already said, namely, that the most inveterate knaves, the aptest liars, and the most arrant hypocrites, are ever the readiest to impute their own views to those whom they envy, and would if they could destroy.
I have been induced to put you in possession of these details, first, because your subscribers in this country would like to see these mendacions hypocrites exhibited to the public in their real character; secondly, to let your readers obtain a glimpse into the working of things ecclesiastical in this American section of the Laodicean Habitable; and thirdly, that the real friends of the truth in Britain may know by what sort of “natural brute beasts,” as Peter styles such, who “speak evil of what they understand not,” I am assisted; and by that knowledge be able to put a just estimate upon their mendacious misrepresentations and perversions of a few imperfect incidents gleaned by them from wicked persons in their search after evil. Apart from this Crane Grove speculation, which has ended in his being published to the world in the Harbinger for a wilful liar and malicious hypocrite, this Simon Magus of a printer has been splashing and floundering in other waters ready to swallow him up ever since he undertook to enlighten the world, not on the Roman question, nor on any question connected with the truth (for upon the truth he has never shed a ray of light since he took to preaching as more productive of lucre than printing), but upon the much less important inquiry, “Where is Dr. Thomas, and what is he doing?” On this problem he knew nothing, and undertook to say much; and consequently, his loquacity has got him into much trouble, the depth of which he has not been able to fathom. I have hitherto taken no notice of him, his confederate the ex-theatrical candle-snuffer, or whatever else he may have been, nor his question, being too much occupied with the Apocalypse. Others, however, have not been so forbearing towards them as I. They have handled them, as they conceive, according to their deserts, without consulting me; and have in store for them a bottomless pit, out of which, if they cast them in, little Ben will never come to inquire what hath become of Dr. Thomas?
Your readers, then, will understand that we Christadelphians in America are a distinct generation from the so-called Benjamites and their dear “brethren in the West.” These “brethren in the West,” it will be seen, lately so cosy and complimentary, are now at daggers drawn. They have fallen out by the way, and are divided into two hostile bands, ready to swallow one another up. We Christadelphians are an united people with no turbulent ambitious spirits in our midst, and though few and scattered, we are strong in the faith, and unspoiled by the accursed crotchets which, when blended with it, make it, ineffectual, and generative only of knaves and hypocrites. The wicked, who only sympathize with the wicked, hate ns, and deem us outrageously exclusive; and as my works have made me the most notorious among them, I come in for the most of their false and hypocritical abuse. No good man has ever assailed me yet; nor do I fear that such ever will; and as to any other assailants, their shafts shoot past me as the idle wind, which I respect not.
The characteristic of a true Christadelphian is “the obedience of faith” and a “walk worthy of God;” in other words, he first understands the things of the Kingdom of God, and Name of Jesus Christ; secondly, he believes what he understands, and loves what he believes above every other thing; thirdly, his “faith working by love” causes him to be immersed into the Divine Name; fourthly, he walks in the truth, and is careful to do nothing to its injury: and fifthly, he will not fellowship those who do not so believe and do. This is the Christadelphian theory and practice which separates us from Dowieites with you, and Benjamites and “brethren in the West” over here. Personally, I might gain by a less rigid and exclusive order of things: but then, the truth would suffer; therefore I repudiate it. This is the barrier between us and certain in the West who may have obeyed the gospel; they fellowship those who have not; and for us to fellowship them, would be to let in Storrites, Jacobites, Millerites, Adventists, Campbellites, and such like, who, coming in like a flood with their traditions and fanaticisms, would swamp the truth, and in a very short time destroy the labours and conflicts of years. I have been endeavouring to get back to apostolic distinctiveness, and to carry back as many with me as possible, and I will not stand by inertly and see knaves, hypocrites, and brethren, too “charitable” for the good fight of faith, making void this endeavour. I lift up my voice against it, and though it may be little heeded. there is a satisfaction in doing the best we can.
I was glad you refused to insert the circular, or epistle from Rochester, and which has since found a place in Dowie’s husky Messenger. My objection to it is its recognition of persons as “dear brethren” who are bitterly engaged in trampling in the dirt the reputation of the best friends the truth has in America. If such “brethren” are “dear” to the signers of the epistle; if proved knaves, and mendacious hypocrites, are their dear brethren. all honest hearted Christadelphians I am sure will pray to be delivered from their fellowship. The epistle is really addressed to three or four in Detroit and little Benjamin in Geneva; the former having thought proper to expose the mendacity and hypocrisy of his gratuitous attack upon me. I am personally acquainted with only two of the signers. One of them is, I believe, one of the best men living; the other is a printer who recently made overtures to join me in the resuscitation of the Herald. The letter, I suspect, was written by the first signer, and is a transcript of his natural benevolence and piety. But the word demands a sterner and more uncompromising dealing with “the servants of corruption.” Wherever the truth is believed, loved, and obeyed by all, there will peace and righteousness flourish; but where it is not, then those who love peace will search out the right and make war upon the wrong, until the right prevails and the wrong-doing is suppressed. True Christadelphians can have no fellowship with Benjamites until they become honest, truthful. promise-keeping, just, and free from crotchets, to which their devotion is alone intense. Their late mal-principled conduct is a key to their previous course; and amply justifies me in the part I took against them as thunderers of excommunication against them that had no other aid. Peace with them would be to become “partakers of their sins.” and, dear brother, whatever ours may be, we are neither knaves nor hypocrites, nor would we do anything to embarrass or nullify the truth.
I am happy to inform you that Eureka II is all in type and the paper obtained. It was the only lot suitable in the market. I feared a delay of three weeks for the manufacture of the paper. But this fear is obviated. It will now consume two weeks in printing, and two weeks more in binding. When bound, 250 copies will be shipped to you, and I think a few of Vol. I. which you can supply to those who want them, if they subscribe for Vol. II. My guess was very near. I calculated the expenses for a volume of 800 pages. Including preface and contents, it will reach 792 pages.The last forty pages I have devote to the
rectification of chronology; for no book requires a sound chronology so much as the Apocalypse. Chronologists have all gone hopelessly astray, stretching and shortening periods at pleasure. I shall publish 250 copies of the Chronikon by themselves; so that those who want it without Eureka can be accommodated.
The Ambassador, I believe, gives satisfaction to the subscribers in America. Little Benjamin, I am told, is out upon it. I do not know what he says. Whatever it may be is of no consequence. Do what is right, be valiant for the truth, teach it without compromise, and all the lovers of the truth will approve you: for all others, you need not care a rush.
But I must conclude, wishing you and all the faithful with you all spiritual blessings in Christ; and that he may come soon and find us watching and prepared is the earnest prayer of
If you look at the dating at the top you will see 1865 and then A.M. 5955. The section highlighted about chronology takes you to a page which explains why it was dated in this fashion. It's a little bit of forgotten Christadelphian history. Early Christadelphians expected the kingdom to start by 1910 based on the chronology of Dr John Thomas. A.M. 5955 was based on his dating from what he believed was the re-creation of the world and was 45 years short of 6000 years.
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PAGE VISITS FROM 16/09/13
THE TRINITY HURDLE
NOVEL: HOLY BIBLE
You lay a great stress upon facts throughout your letters, and are incessant in your demand that I should attend to them. This is good; but facts have to be rightly put together, and then you must have all the facts. I do not think you put the facts rightly together, and you leave out some, I am sure.
(Robert Roberts, a Christadelphian Pioneer, quoted
by Ruth McHaffie in Brethren Indeed)
The Spirit of liberty, based upon the law of faith, is the Spirit of Christ; and this spirit all the Sons of God are privileged to possess, and having it, to breathe. I claim the right of exercising this privilege, as well as my contemporaries; and I require of them that they should do to me as once they loudly required others to do to them…
(written by John Thomas, the founder of the Christadelphians, when he was against creeds in
The Apostolic Advocate magazine, August 1836)
(John Thomas, from Apostacy Unveiled, p. 137,
quoted in The Christadelphian Magazine, January 1906)
Must a man never progress? If he discovers an error in his premises, must he for ever hold to it for the sake of consistency? May such a calamity never befall me! Rather let me change every day, till I get right at last.
(from a letter written by John Thomas in 1848, quoted by Robert Roberts, in Dr. Thomas: His Life and Work)
Do what is right; be valiant for the Truth; teach it without compromise, and all lovers of the Truth will approve you. For all others you need not care a rush!
(from a letter written by John Thomas to Robert Roberts and published in The Christadelphian magazine, February 1866)