Second. We notice the manner in which the apostles presented these things in their ministry, 1st, negatively, and 2d, affirmatively. 1st. “Not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth.” These words would be without meaning if there were no men attempting to teach the art of preaching. If there were no schools in Paul’s day established for the purpose of qualifying pious young men for the ministry, there are many in our day, and since the famous schools of Alexandria, there has been no lack of those hot beds of heresy and priestcraft; but the apostles and ministers of the apostolic order did not avail themselves of any qualifications from them. If our limits would admit, we would dwell largely on the manner of wisdom which man teacheth. First, it is human wisdom, and such as the natural mind of man, with out a knowledge of God, or the things of the Spirit, is susceptible of. Secondly, it is that which God disapproves of, and which, being opposed to the wisdom of God, is foolishness with God. It is that kind of human policy which leads false apostles and graceless ministers to handle the word of God deceitfully, giving flattering titles to men, such as Rev., A. M., and D. D., with such other titles as fashion may render flattering. The words taught by man’s wisdom are such as are made use of by those who creep into widows’ houses, lead captive silly women; and such as are employed by teachers heaped to their manufacturers, having itching ears, and who preach for filthy lucre’s sake. The words of those who bring in damnable heresies – who teach for doctrines the commandments of men; and who for a pretence, make long prayers, influenced by seducing spirits, and preaching the doctrines of devils are words which man’s wisdom teaches. Man’s wisdom teaches to avoid the offence of the cross of Christ, lest the ministry be rendered offensive and unpopular; and to study to please the carnal ears, and fed the vanity of carnal hearts at a sacrifice of the truth as it is in Jesus. Man’s wisdom teaches the preachers, under its instruction, what manner of doctrines will suit the depraved hearts and vitiated tastes of the children of this world; and those governed by it will never present to their hearers that which will be likely to subject themselves to reproach, persecution or a reduced salary. Man’s wisdom has a vocabulary of its own, especially in regard to religious things – words which are capable of a double construction, so that they may be construed in a manner to suit all parties. When worldly men read or recite their sermons, in which they assay to preach and set forth the things spoken by Paul, they are not in the habit of using the plain word shibboleth, for they can not frame to pronounce it; but they say sibboleth. The pulpits of these diviners never ring with the doctrine of sovereign, effectual, discriminating and irresistible grace; for man’s wisdom teaches that the carnal mind of man will not receive it. The total depravity of fallen man – his entire helpless condition – the necessity of quickening grace, eternal love, cleansing blood, justifying righteousness, and a living union to Christ, are parts of speech, for which their grammar lays down but one rule, viz: to avoid them. There is a considerable confusion in the language taught by man’s wisdom, such as appeared among the ancient builders of Babel, so that those who are so taught cannot fully comprehend each other – their creeds vary as did the sound of the voices of their brethren, the builders alluded to: but, it is always well understood, however discordant their notes, that they always want bricks or mortar, for their people always “Have a mind to work,” not however in building up the waste places of Jerusalem, like Nehemiah and his men, but, like their own type, they build monuments of their own folly. All schemes for proselyting and convert-making by men are productions of man’s wisdom; and, the words employed in that work, whether coaxing, persuading, reasoning, terrifying, threatening or scolding, are taught by that wisdom which is not of God, and which was discarded by the apostles. The wisdom of men, in preaching, leads them to transpose, mutilate and pervert the scriptures – applying the terrors of the law to such as are no more under it; and the consolations, invitations and assurances of the gospel to such as know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The wisdom of man teaches worldly preachers to discriminate be tween the rich and the Poor, to court the favor of the former, and neglect the latter. As in all the organized societies of false benevolence, goodly seats and flattering titles are provided for and lavished upon the rich, who pay by their tens or hundreds, and some humble place is provided for the poor, who can only ape their wealthy neighbors by handing in their shillings or their dollars. The gospel plan of neither purse nor scrip is quite too antiquated to be taught by man’s wisdom.
All those words, maxims, mottoes and sayings which are taught by man’s wisdom were laid aside by the apostles and primitive ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, lest the faith of their hearers should stand in the wisdom of men and not in the power of God. They denounced the hidden things of dishonesty; they walked not in craftiness, neither handled they the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth, commending them to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. This brings us to consider the affirmative proposition, viz: The manner in which they preached these things.
The first important particular in regard to the manner of primitive preaching which we shall notice is, that those whom the Holy Ghost had designated for that work, were determined to know nothing among the churches save Jesus Christ and him crucified. These comprehensive words comprise all that belongs to the gospel of our salvation. Jesus Christ is the First and the Last, the sum and substance of all that the apostles preached. The Savior, the Anointed, the Hope of Israel, and the Savior thereof; neither is there salvation in any other name. As the Anointed he is lull of grace and truth, anointed of the Father, to preside as head over all things to his church, which is his body and the fullness of him that filleth all in all. The anointed Prophet, Priest and King: and him crucified. Christ and the Resurrection. The vicarious sufferings of the Redeemer. His conflict with the powers of darkness. Bis bitter death and his triumphant resurrection and ascension to glory. Justification by his blood and righteousness, deliverance from the law, the curse, and. from all guilt. And all this without anything else to qualify, modify, improve or neutralize it so as to make it palatable to the enemies of the cross. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him. Crucified. – 1 Cor. ii. 2. Paul knew nothing among them about Sabbath schools, Bible classes, Tract societies, Missionary boards, Education sermons, or Total Abstinence lectures. It was enough for him to know Jesus, and the gospel of the Redeemer, and he could recognize nothing else as the gospel.
2d. His manner of preaching was in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. If any man had whereof to glory, Paul was not a whit behind him, but he gloried only in the cross of Christ, by which he was crucified to the world, and the world was crucified to him. If this great apostle to the Gentiles felt weak and trembling when he attempted to preach, how ought we to feel when engaged in the same blessed work? Is it becoming in those who attempt to preach Jesus, to glory in their own strength? Are they the ministers of Jesus who manifest nothing of that weakness and fear and trembling of which Paul spake? When we see and hear men who claim to be the successors of Paul, and the servants of Jesus, vaunting of their borrowed plumage, and offering their prayers and intercession for sinners, and calling them up to anxious benches and altars to receive the benefit of their intercession, can we discover in them anything like the spirit which Paul evinced when he acknowledged he knew not how to pray as he ought, but depended on the Spirit to help his infirmities, and make intercession for him according to the will of God? The truth is, our modern religious stock jobbing revivalists think nothing about conformity, in their prayers, to the mind of God; they desire God to so far change his mind as to adopt their plans, second their motions and grant their petitions. Not so with Paul. He felt his weakness and insufficiency, and cast himself upon the sovereign bounty of his gracious God.
3d. The words in which the apostles spake these things were words which the Holy Ghost teacheth. It is true the apostles were inspired by the Holy Ghost, in a manner which is not to be looked for by the ordinary ministers of the same gospel in subsequent ages of time; but it is equally true that all the ministers of Jesus Christ are required to speak in the words which the Holy Ghost teacheth, although not by special inspiration, as when he spake to our fathers by the prophets, or unto us by the apostles, still the teaching of the Holy Ghost is as indispensably necessary to qualify the ministers of Jesus to preach, as it was to inspire the apostles to write. The Holy Ghost teaches what words are proper in setting forth Jesus Christ and him crucified, first, in the scriptures; secondly, by his indweling power and government, opening to the understanding of his servants the things of the kingdom; leading them into all truth; taking the things of Jesus and showing them unto them; also in giving them a door of utterance. As the husbandman must be partaker of the fruit, so he that laboreth in the vineyard of Christ must have an experimental knowledge of the things which he is required to preach. No one can give evidence that he is called of God to preach who has not learned that the words which the Holy Ghost teacheth are altogether dissimilar to the words taught by man’s wisdom, whether in seminaries or elsewhere. But there is another prominent mark by which to discriminate between the ministers of Jesus, and false apostles; those called of God, as was Aaron, compare spiritual things with spiritual; while those of the opposite class compare spiritual things with temporal or earthly things. The force of this truth may be illustrated in many ways; two or three must, however, for the present suffice. First, the ministers of the Lord Jesus compare the instructions of the Holy Spirit in the scriptures, with the instructions of the same Spirit in the experience of all the saints of God; for the testimony of the Holy Ghost in the scriptures, is copied with infallible accuracy in the experience of all the saints, so far as they are taught by that Spirit. It is true the testimony in the scriptures is more extensive – none of the saints have, as yet, experienced all that is recorded in the word, but they shall eventually experience all; and, as far as they have been led, the hand-writing of the Holy Spirit on the tables of their hearts, is a perfect transcript of the same divine truth as recorded in the scriptures. In this therefore the ministers of Jesus shall be known, and the ministers of Satan detected. The experience of God’s children responds to the doctrine taught by the learner; for they compare spiritual things with spiritual. But it is not so with the other description of ministers, whatever may be their show of zeal, professions of love, power of eloquence, or how of tears; they do not, they cannot compare spiritual things with spiritual, for the word of God assures us that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But when they attempt to expound the scriptures, all their imagery is of an earthly kind, being themselves unacquainted with the spirituality of the scriptures, they compare them with things which carnal men can comprehend, as the ancient pagans compared the invisible God to images made of various material substances. False teachers, thinking that God is altogether such an one as themselves, draw their conclusion that his purposes, plans and arrangements must be such as they would make. The gospel itself, according to their conception of it, is comparable to their own preaching, a mere commodity which may be estimated in dollars and cents, and transported by the cargo to foreign countries according to the amount of capital they can persuade men to invest in the speculation. The christian’s experience as by them described amounts to nothing more than every unregenerate man may possess, such as using means within his reach; and heaven itself in their estimation is a place of carnal amusement, consisting principally of flowery fields, pearly gates, golden walks, and the greeting of old acquaintances, and no small part of the joy of that world, by them anticipated, is to consist in robbing God of the glory belonging to him as the only Savior. Every man that has given sixpence into the missionary or tract funds, is taught by them to expect in heaven to meet some soul or souls who shall ascribe to his liberality the efficient cause of saving him or them from hell and bringing them to heaven.
But, again, the ministers of Jesus, speaking the words which they are taught by the Holy Ghost, compare the spirituality of the law of God with the perfect work, righteousness and blood of the Lord Jesus, while those who speak what human wisdom teaches, compare the spirituality of that law with the ability of unregenerate sinners. The ministers or Jesus compare the perfect and complete salvation of all the elect of God with the provisions of grace in the eternal counsel, the blood of Jesus, and the effectual work of the Holy Ghost, while the others regard the work of salvation as being the work of the creature, depending on means, men and money. The preparation of men to preach the everlasting gospel, being a spiritual work, is, by those who have experienced it, regarded as equal, by just comparison, with those gifts which Jesus their Prince and Savior received for them when he ascended up on high and led captivity captive. But, by the others, all the qualifications necessary for preaching are, that the preacher should possess that kind of religion which all carnal men can possess if they please, feel a love for souls and a great desire to save more than the number which God has ordained to eternal life; a willingness to make a trade of preaching; a theological education obtained by application to the study of words which man’s wisdom teaches; a fluency of speech; a gift for begging money; a readiness to hate and persecute, scandalize and culminate the Old School Baptists; strike hands of fellowship with the workmongers of all denominations, take the total abstinence pledge and promise to sustain all the schemes of the clergy. These prerequisites, together with a call, an outfit, a purse and scrip and as many as two coats apiece, &c., &c., embraces what they regard as the most essential qualifications for preaching the gospel.
If any of our readers think our language extravagant or unwarrantable, in regard to worldly preachers, we refer such to the published statements made by themselves in almost every New School or arminian paper published in our country, and to the doctrines preached by them in their pulpits; and, above all, to the fact that they all practice upon the very principles applied to them in this article.
Let then the saints be on their guard – let Zion prepare to try the spirits that are abroad in the world; and if even angels from heaven bring in new doctrines, or such as Paul preached not, let them be accursed. And if there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine (which was preached by the apostles) receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed. Beware of men who come unto you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits ye shall know them.
New Vernon, N.Y.,
May 1, 1843
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 2
Pages 258 – 266