Elder Beebe: Please give your views on 1 Cor. ix. 14: “Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” I want your views particularly on the ordination of God relative to the Lord’s preachers living by the gospel. I presume you believe that what God has ordained comes to pass; if so, why is it that the Old School Baptist preachers generally get little or nothing of a temporal support? Are they not called to preach? or does the ordination of God fail? By attending to the above request you will much oblige an inquirer after truth,
Reply: The word “ordain,” like many other words in our vocabulary, is used to express more than one idea. Sometimes it is used in the Scriptures to express the determined counsel or decree of God, as in Eph. ii. 10. Sometimes it is applied to the setting apart of elders, pastors or apostles to the work whereunto the Holy Ghost has called them, &c.; but in the text under consideration, it is, as we understand it, intended to signify that the Lord had instituted or commanded that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel, just as he ordained, instituted or commanded in the ceremonial law, that they which minister about holy things, should live of the things of the temple, and they which waited at the altar should be partakers with the altars. Even so has he given commandment concerning his gospel ministers, who devote themselves to that work, that they shall be sustained by the brethren. They sow to the brethren spiritual things, and receive from them of their carnal things.
But like all the other commands of Christ, this is sometimes disobeyed, and for this very reason the apostle admonished the church in regard to it. Inasmuch as Christ our King has ordained or enacted this as a law or precept, and made it binding, it should be solemnly regarded by all his loyal subjects.
We certainly believe that the firm decrees of the throne of God shall all be fulfilled. What he predestinates must surely come to pass. As many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And Christ was ordained before the foundation of the world as a Lamb slain for them who, by him, do believe in God, &c. But when the word is used in reference to his laws and ordinances in the church, it does not express what he has promised himself to accomplish, but what he has enjoined on his saints to do in obedience to his commands.
We certainly believe that Old School Baptist preachers are called to preach, for they are the only class of preachers under heaven that we know anything about who do preach the gospel of Christ, but why they, or any of them, fail to receive an adequate support, would be as difficult for us as for brother Cranfill to tell. In some instances it may be that they are located among brethren that are poor, and unable to be as liberal as they wish, and in some cases it may result from a reprehensible negligence, or disregard for the laws of Christ.
But it is possible that the ministers themselves are in fault. When Jesus sent out the seventy as lambs among wolves, he allowed them not to take purse or scrip with them. They were to rest solely on the indemnity of his name, and leave the whole matter of their support to him, and they returned, and reported that they had lacked nothing. Christ’s ministers are still required to go in his name, and to rely on his power and providence to sustain them, and if in doing so they lack anything, let them report the matter to him.
Some of our preachers have in protesting against making a trade of divinity, or merchandise of the gospel, been understood to hold that it is wrong for ministers to be supported by the liberality of the saints, and to denounce those who are so sustained, as hirelings. Others again have, by an overreaching greediness of filthy lucre, by storming, scolding, fretting and complaining of the meanness and covetousness of their brethren, disheartened them. The most liberal hearted christians are, probably, as a general thing, those who are the best fed. But there can be no reasonable doubt that too little regard is paid to the authority of Christ by the churches in regard to the obligation laid on them to communicate to the support of those who labor in word and doctrine among them.
September 1, 1859.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 265 - 266