“Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of our God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are faithful and beloved partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.”
In the discussion of the subject matter of this text it is our design to address our remarks especially and exclusively to the saints of God, and to the church of our Lord Jesus Christ, as to them who are redeemed from the tribes of the earth, and called out of the world into that kingdom which is not of this world. With the political strife of the potsherds of the earth we have nothing to do: nothing to say. We are not responsible for the policy of human governments, nor are they responsible to us. God will hold them to a strict account who rule not in his fear. But while we shall cautiously avoid as far as possible alluding to the political controversy and strifes of the kingdoms and governments of the world, we design to shun not to declare all the counsel of God to his saints, and especially such portions of the sacred scriptures as Christ, our blessed and only Potentate has, through his apostle, commanded his ministers to “teach and exhort.” Our mission is to the saints, and our paper is devoted to the Old School Baptist cause, and by example of the apostle, and the precepts of Christ, we are forbidden to keep back anything that is designed to be profitable to the children of God. The laws of Christ and the doctrine of the apostles are only applicable to the children of God; they were not given for the government or instruction of the kingdoms of this world; therefore, although they may conflict with the policy of human governments, they are nevertheless to be religiously observed by the disciples of Christ; and if any of them are repudiated by earthly legislation, that fact affords no license to the subjects of Christ’s kingdom for disregarding them. Much of the apostles’ doctrine on which the church of Christ was organized on the day of Pentecost, and in which the primitive disciples continued steadfast, was repugnant of the laws, ordinances and usages of the earthly governments of that period, and brought the apostles and early disciples into frequent collision with kings, councils and human authorities, and they were frequently incarcerated in dungeons, and cruelly punished for the tenacity with which they adhered to their allegiance to Christ as “the King of kings, and the Lord of lords,” for they counted not their lives dear unto themselves; they loved not their lives to the death.
The peculiar circumstances surrounding the saints of God upon the subject presented in our text, the great strife which has recently been witnessed, and the disposition made of the subject by the secular powers, when considered in connection with the divine injunction which commands the children of God to submit to every ordinance of men, for Christ’s sake, makes it the more vitally important at this very time that we carefully, prayerfully, and in the fear of the Lord, investigate the subject and seek to learn from the instructions of the inspired word the decisions of the apostles whom Christ has seated on thrones of judgment over us, what course we are required to take as disciples and followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, and nicely to discriminate between the things which belong to Caesar and those which belong to God.
A careful examination of our text (I Timothy 6: 1-5), compared with Colossians 3:22-25; Titus 2:9,10; I Peter 2:18, and all other passages treating upon the same subject, clearly presents to us the three following propositions, viz.:
First, that the relationship of servant and master, with all the relative obligations of both, is an institution of God in harmony with “the name of Christ, and the doctrine which is according to godliness.”
Second, that Timothy and Titus and all other ministers of Christ are commanded to teach and exhort its recognition and observance by all the church of God.
Third, that all who teach otherwise, and consent not to these wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ, are to be put away from our fellowship; or in the words of our text, “From such withdraw thyself.”
First: Without going back to the record of the ordinances in the Old Testament instituting the different grades of human governments, we find enough embodied in the instructions of Christ and his apostles in the New Testament to sustain our position upon this subject. Indeed, in the absence of all other testimony, the five verses at the head of this article are abundantly sufficient for our purpose. Can it be supposed that the apostle Paul, inspired as he certainly was by the Holy Ghost, would enjoin on Timothy as a minister of Christ to teach and exhort the members of Christ’s kingdom to observe and practice what God has not approved and enjoined upon them? His commission was only to “teach them to observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded.” (See Matthew 28:20.) And if it be admitted that Paul spake and wrote by inspiration of the Holy Ghost, then what he has said on this, as on every other subject, is said and written by God himself. To the apostles were given the keys of the kingdom of God. And what they bound on earth was bound in heaven, and what they loosed on earth is loosed in heaven. How then can we possibly avoid the conclusion that what the apostle has here bound on the church is ratified in heaven, and binding on saints throughout all time? It would be trifling with the holy scriptures to suppose that Paul, as an apostle, solemnly enjoined on Timothy, Titus and others to teach and exhort the churches to recognize and exhort the saints to practice what God has not authorized, much less what God disapproves. The apostle in this text not only recognizes the institution as of divine appointment, but says distinctly that it is presented in the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and according to the doctrine of godliness. And still further, that to fail to observe, and teach, and exhort these things is to expose the name and doctrine of God to blasphemy.
Again, as an institution appointed, approved, and enjoined on the saints by God himself, it is classified with other unquestionable ordinances, or laws of God, such as that of marriage, and all grades of human government and human subordination to be observed by the children of God. In almost every place where the relationship of master and servant is named in the apostles’ instructions to the churches, it is placed in connection with the relations and corresponding obligations of parents and children, husbands and wives, kings and subjects, governors and governed; and with all these institutions in view, the apostle exhorts most solemnly that every soul shall be subject to the powers (authorities) that be. The soul of the child, of the servant, the wife, the citizen, and even the king or governor, in their turn are to be in subjection to the higher power of him who holds his throne “far above all principalities and powers, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in the world to come.”
No man, in our understanding of this subject, can loose what the apostles have bound upon servants to honor and obey their masters, without also loosing the obligation of children to obey their parents, wives their husbands, citizens their kings, governors, magistrates or rulers. These relative positions are all classified together by the apostle in Romans 13, and the saints are informed that these powers which are, are ordained of God, and whosoever resists them, resists the ordinance of God. “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.” Among those to whom honor is due, the apostle in our text recognizes the master, and commands that as many servants as are under the yoke shall count their own masters worthy of all honor. Dare any servant who fears God disregard this command, and refuse honor and obedience to his own master, or deny that the institution by which he is held under the yoke is of God, or say it is wicked and sinful, and ought not to exist? Peter goes still farther, and commands servants to be subject to their masters, with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. And this rule we presume also applies to all others in subordinate positions. Children may have ungodly parents, wives may have tyrannical husbands, and citizens may have oppressive rulers, yet they are, as Christians, commanded of God to honor them in all cases, and to obey all their lawful commands; that is, all their commands which do not conflict with their obligations to obey God rather than men. The different degrees of power or authority invested in men to rule in any of these positions, as parent, master, husband, magistrate, governor or king, is to be determined by the Christian child, servant, wife or citizen, by the extent of authority expressed or implied in the ordinance of God by which such power is invested; for all the powers that be are ordained of God; for there is no power but of God. That is, as Christians, we have no right to recognize any authority but that which God has given. Neither parents, masters nor kings, have any legitimate power to require those over whom they rule to disobey God. Indeed, the obligation resting on all Christians to obey parents, masters, governors or kings, is simply because God commands them to do so. Hence they are commanded to render this honor and obedience in the fear of God; “as unto God, and not unto men.”
Second: That Timothy was commanded to teach and exhort these things is expressly stated in the most unequivocal terms that human language can afford. “These things teach and exhort.” And as Titus is also commanded in Chapter 2:9, to “Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; nor purloining, but shewing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior, in all things.” And as similar instructions are contained in nearly, if not all, the epistles, we infer that what Timothy and Titus, as ministers of the gospel, and as pastors or bishops of churches were to teach and exhort all the other ministers of Christ, and pastors and teachers of the churches must also teach and exhort. Here are two duties devolving on the faithful minister: First, to teach; secondly, exhort.
First: Teach these things, as the disciples are to be instructed in word and in doctrine; for a disciple means a pupil, a learner; and the minister must be apt to teach, and according to their commission they must teach the disciples to observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded, and these things, among all other things which he has commanded. And if Paul or an angel from heaven shall teach less or more than what Christ has commanded them, Paul says, Let him, or them be accursed. To teach is to expound, to explain, show the authority of God on which these obligations rest, and how and in what manner they are to be obeyed. Timothy must teach servants how they are to honor their masters, and that their adherence to his instructions is required, that the name of God, by whose authority they are required to observe these instructions, and the instructions or doctrine be not blasphemed. Titus is told also that they are not to purloin, or steal anything from their masters, but to please them well in all things; not to be disrespectful, impudent or saucy, but reliable, honest and faithful. Peter adds to the instruction given, that if they have bad, or severe, or froward masters, still they are to bear it for their heavenly Master’s sake; for this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience towards God, endure grief, suffering wrongfully, etc.
Second: In their exhortations, the ministers of Christ are to faithfully admonish servants to discharge all the duties devolving on them in the position and relation which they occupy, in the fear of God; exhort them to do their duty faithfully because it is the command of God that they should; and that they cannot fail to do so without disobedience to God; that is in special reference to the will and law of God which requires fidelity of them, and not merely as men-pleasers.
Thirdly: We come now to our third and last proposition: the duty of the ministers of Christ to withdraw themselves from those, if any there be, who teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words. Here are two points involving fellowship, or companionship. First, if any man teach otherwise. Secondly, if any man consent not to wholesome words, etc.
Any subject involving Christian fellowship demands a serious and careful investigation; for all the saints are required by the laws of Christ to “Endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace.” Yet to extend expressions of fellowship beyond the limits which are set by Christ and his apostles would be unjustifiable, and tend to disorder and confusion. The precise limitation of fellowship, or at least of companionship on the subject under consideration is so distinctly marked by the apostle in our text as to leave no discretionary power. Neither our feelings nor personal interest have any lawful bearing on our decision. The stakes are unalterably planted by divine authority.
The questions arising on which we are to judge and decide are: what is it to teach otherwise? and who are they that will not consent to the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the doctrine which is according to godliness?
We would not, and perhaps should not, include with those who teach otherwise, those whose minds have not been drawn to the subject; for although it is the duty of all the saints to search the scriptures, to prove all things, and hold fast that which is good; there are those who are weak in the faith, whose burdens we are to bear; and those who are lame and must not be turned out of the way. But by teaching otherwise, we must understand those who teach that which is antagonistic to the plain instructions of our text. Those, it is meant, who teach that the institution itself is wicked, or sinful, and that it therefore ought not to exist; that masters have no right or property in servants; that the relationship is oppressive, unjust, and incompatible with the gospel of Christ, and inharmonious with the doctrine of godliness, or that it is right, scriptural, philanthropic and Christian like to oppose it; that it is not the duty of the servant who is under the yoke to count his master worthy of all honor, but that he may run away, or in any way refuse to comply with the explicit instructions of our text. They are understood to teach otherwise, from what the apostles taught, who use their influence to deprive masters of their property in servants, and who recommend and justify the use of the sword in putting down the institution, and thus of depriving the masters of their property in servants. In short, we cannot conceive it possible for a Christian, or one who professes the Christian religion, to be what is at this time called an Abolitionist, without teaching that which is clearly and palpably otherwise from what the apostle has taught in our text.
Those who teach otherwise from the instruction given in our text are such as assume to be teachers and do not confine their instruction to what the apostles taught; but teach something else, and whatever else they may teach must be otherwise from what Timothy was commanded to teach and exhort. Of this class of teachers, however, few have been found among Old School Baptists; anti-christ has furnished her legions, who have made war upon the institution, blasphemed the doctrine which the apostle says is according to godliness, repudiated the plain instructions of the scriptures, and authority of Christ; and have used all their influence to stir up strife, envy, evil surmisings and perverse disputings on the subject; urging the most desperate and cruel measures for the abolition of the institution, denouncing that as unholy which God has authorized and approved. All these evidently teach otherwise from what Christ by his holy apostles has taught, and we are commanded to withdraw from them. We are neither to hold fellowship nor companionship with such.
They who consent not to the wholesome words of Christ and the doctrine which is according to godliness, whether they be teachers or pupils, are those who will not regard these plain instructions of the scriptures; but set their judgments above the apostles’ instructions; making themselves wise above what is written, and persistently refuse the admonitions of the word, and madly contribute their influence in opposition to what the apostle has so clearly enjoined. From all such we are commanded to withdraw.
We do not however understand that this divine rule requires that we should withdraw from such as merely, from ignorance of the teachings of the apostles, or from the prejudice of education and habit, may feel an aversion to the holding of servants as property; providing they consent to the apostles’ instructions. The institution, as taught in the scriptures, requires no one who does not feel so disposed, to own or hold servants, nor does it forbid the owners of them to set them free; but the law of God does forbid that we should covet, or seek to deprive our neighbor of his man-servant, or his maid-servant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is our neighbors. And the servant, if he may be free, by the consent of his owner, is allowed to choose it rather. But those who teach that the institution is not a divine appointment; that servants are not by the law of Christ required to honor, obey and faithfully serve their masters, and consent not to, but deny these apostolic injunctions, must be put away from our society and fellowship; or, in other words, we are commanded, “from such to withdraw.
The necessity for observing this rule is as important now as at any other time or place, for heresy on this subject is full as productive of envy, strifes, railings, evil surmisings, and perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth now, as at any former time. The fruits of Abolition prejudice against our Southern brethren has already been betrayed, to some extent, and now that intercommunication of brethren, which has been interrupted, is being restored, this subject must be met; it cannot be avoided. Let us meet it on Bible grounds and fear not for consequences.
October 1, 1865.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 6
Pages 243 - 250