“A Reply to ‘An Open Letter’”American Sentinel 3, 2, pp. 9, 10.

February 1888

IN the Christian Nation of December 14, 1887, there came to us “an open letter” from Mr. W. T. McConnell. Mr. McConnell lives in Youngstown, Ohio. He is a preacher of National Reform politics, and the president of the National Reform Prayer League: Somebody sent him a copy of the Sentinel, and it caused him to have “some reflections,” of which he gives us the benefit in his “open letter.” He proposes to comfort us by an endeavor to make it appear that the troubles are only “imaginary,” which we point out as certain to come upon the Nation in the train of the success of the National Reform movement.

He starts out with the usual National Reform compliment to an opponent—that of naming us along with “Liberal Leagues,” “the Freiheits Bund,” “and the Liquor Leagues.” But this is not enough relief to the pent-up charity of the Rev. W.T. McConnell; he graciously puts us in the fellowship of king Ahab in his murder of Naboth and the confiscation of Naboth’s vineyard; taking good care of course to give himself and his associates the companionship of Elijah, in the controversy, and even making Elijah to be “the General Secretary of the National Reform Association of his day.” Upon all this we shall offer no comment at all. Such transcendent modesty, and such benignant charity, as is displayed in this, we have not the heart to disturb by offering the slightest criticism.

Then he clothes the National Reformers with this rendition of Elijah’s answer to Ahab about who was the troubler of Israel:—

“I have not troubled Israel, said he, but you and the others who run this Government have made the trouble in that ‘ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord.’”

Now as the National Reformers set themselves up as the special champions of the commandments of God, and as the enforced observance of Sunday is the grand aim of the National Reform project, we here ask Mr. McConnell, or any other National Reformer, or all of them put together, to show any commandment of God for keeping Sunday, or the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday. Come now, Mr. McConnell, Elijah could quote a plain commandment of God, in support of his opposition to Baal, and Ahab’s worship of him. You take it upon yourself to fill Elijah’s place in our day, in rebuking the Nation for desecrating Sunday, so please fill his place also in this, and cite us to a commandment of God for keeping Sunday. You take it upon yourself to rebuke this Nation for its sin against God in not keeping Sunday. Sin against God, is transgression of the law of God. Now please show the law of God that commands the keeping of Sunday. You may show it in the form of “an open letter” or in that of a sealed letter; in a public letter or in a private letter, just as you choose; but we insist that you show it. Come now, don’t dodge.

Then to give proof that our fears of trouble, in the event of the success of the National Reform, are wholly imaginary, Mr. McConnell tells us this:—

“You look for trouble in this land in the future, if these principles are applied. I think it will come to you if you maintain your present position. The foolhardy fellow who persists in standing on a railroad track may well anticipate trouble when he hears the rumble of the coming train. If he shall read the signs of the times in the screaming whistle and flaming headlight, he may change his position and avoid the danger, but if he won’t be influenced by these, his most gloomy forebodings of trouble will be realized when the express strikes him. So you, neighbors, if, through prejudice or the enmity of unregenerate hearts, you have determined to oppose the progress of this Nation in fulfilling its vocation as an instrument in the divine work of regenerating human society, may rightly expect trouble. It will be sure to come to you.”

Of course it will. That is precisely what we are trying to get the people to see. We are doing our very best to have the American people understand that the National Reform movement is nothing but a Satanic car of Juggernaut that proposes to relentlessly crush every person who refuses to submit to the dictum of its managers, every person who chooses to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience;—this we know will be, as surely as these men secure the power to enforce by law what they choose to call the will of God.

See again how sweetly he manifests the grace of Christian charity, in his attributing to us “the enmity of unregenerate hearts.” How do you know, Mr. McConnell, that our hearts are unregenerate? By what right do you mount the throne, and arrogate to yourself the prerogative of God, and pass judgment upon men’s hearts?

And if this “fool-hardy fellow” “shall read the signs of the times in the screaming whistle and flaming headlight, he may change his position and avoid the danger.” Oh yes, that is all that John Huss needed to do. If he had only read the signs in the [10] “screaming whistle” of the Bishop of Lodi, and the “flaming headlight” of the Pope, he might have changed his position and avoided the danger. But “fool-hardy fellow” that he was, he wouldn’t be influenced by these, and so his most gloomy forebodings of trouble were realized when the Papal express struck him. His was “the enmity of an unregenerate heart” too. Devils were painted all round about him to prove that it was so, and he demonstrated it himself when he publicly refused to kiss the crucifix, and submit to the Papacy. He too, determined to resist the progress of that Nation in the worship of the Papacy. He too, rightly expected trouble, and it surely came to him, as it likewise came to multitudes beside him. And now these National Reformers are about to set up in this Nation the living image of the Papacy, and to compel all men to worship both it and the Papacy, and whoever lifts up his voice against such iniquitious “progress,” thereby shows “the enmity of an unregenerate heart,” and all such “may rightly expect trouble” for “it will surely come.” All these are their own words, and yet many men think the SENTINEL is performing a useless task in telling the people about it. Well, they may think so if they want to, but they shall not cause us to cease to tell of it; and when they find themselves fallen into the power of these men, they will wish they had believed the warning. We only wish and pray that they may believe it now.

Mr. McConnell closes his letter with an invitation to come over and join with them. He says:—

“We also have an invitation for all men of energy and power. There is room here for you, and a demand for all your talents. You may now be opposing this cause, but we frankly extend to you the invitation, ‘Come with us and we will do you good,’ for good is written concerning the work of our Reform Associations.”

Thank you, for the compliment, Mr. McConnell, but we are not going to “come.” There is plenty of room for us where we are, and there is urgent demand for all our talents in the work in which we are now engaged. Can’t you come over and join us, Mr. McConnell? There is room here for you. You could not do us good if we should go with you, for good is not written concerning the work of your Reform Associations; at least there is no good written of it by any authority that can do anybody any good. The best that the Scripture has written concerning it is that those who follow its pernicious ways “shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation.” Revelation 14:9, 10. Yes, we are now opposing that cause. And we intend by the grace of God, to continue to oppose it, with all our talents, all our energy, and all our power, till the day that Christ gives us the victory over it. Revelation 15:2.

We shall be glad to hear from you again, Mr. McConnell, especially in regard to that commandment about which we have asked. Please write soon.

A. T. J.

Share this: