"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." - Mark xvi. 15.
TRUE to the promise made to our correspondent at Burdett, in our last number, we will give a brief expression of our views upon the above text. We regret the want of room to give our mind more fully on this important subject, as we conceive it to be most awfully and wickedly perverted by the popular theologians of our day. It is by them perverted to mean anything and everything but the truth. They quote it as a full and sufficient warrant for theological seminaries and colleges; they profess to be governed by it in the formation of Mission Societies, adn profess obedience to it in getting up and sustaining Sunday Schools; they inscribe these words as a motto upon the frontlet of their tracts, and other popular religious publications; and in short they would use it to sustain any practice they may choose to adopt.
And yet how very simple and plain the language is, when stripped of the sophistry and confusion into which the subject is thrown by the artful management of those who handle the word of God deceitfully. This text, like all others from the same source, is spoken with divine authority; and in the investigation of the subject, we will first notice the commander; second, the persons addressed; third, the command given; and lastly, the inference we are warranted to draw from the subject.
1st. Who is the commander? This is a very important question in the consideration of the subject in our estimation; for we hold that there is but one being in existence, either in heaven or on earth, who is clothed with such authority to give such commands; hence whoud we -, should an angel from heaven, or a Missionary Society on earth, say to any of the sons of Adam, Go ye and preach the gospel, it would me most daring presumption, and woe to the wretch who would obey our command. The commander in this case is none other than the Lord from heaven; and he prefaced this exhibition of his power and Godhead, by assuring his disciples that all power is given unto him in heaven and in earth. See Matt. xxviii. 18; very evidently implying that less power would not be sufficient to authorize any one to issue this supreme command; but assuring them that he was in full possession of all the power of both worlds, said unto them, Go ye therefore. This divine commander is then the Almighty God, the great and glorious Head of his church, and the Supreme Monarch of his kingdom. At his command his heralds fly, and his gospel is proclaimed.
"He looks and ten thousand of angels rejoice,
And myriads await for his word;
He speaks, and eternity, filled with his voice,
Re-echoes the praise of her lord."
2d. The people to whom this command was addressed. It has been very common with christians to suppose that this text was addressed to all those who in every age are divinely called to preach the gospel; and that a very similar commission, in may respects, is given by our Lord Jesus Christ to every one whom he has called to that work, we do not doubt; but those words were addressed exclusively to the eleven disciples whom it was his pleasure to name apostles. We have already shown that many at this degenerate age attempt to apply this commission to the various schemes and inventions of the day. We recollect seeing some twelve months ago, if our recollection serves correctly, an advertisement in the Baptist Repository of New York, calling for six hundred persons to distribute tracts in that city, in obedience to the command "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel!" We are persuaded that every candid child of God is fully prepared to say with us that this commission belongs to none but such as are specially called and chosen of God to that work.
If our space would serve, we should here look a little into the manner of the calling adn qualifications of the eleven, and of all others whom the God of heaven has called to preach his everlasting gospel. They were not called or enticed by the glittering charm of gold, for they held that the love of money was the root of all evil; (what a strange creed for this day!) nor were they qualified by colleges or theological seminaries, neither were they employed or sustained by mission societies. But they were men of god, born of his Spirit, and generally illiterate, as God's ministers are to this day. Only think what sort of an agent for modern purposes Peter would make, if he were now on earth, to tell Simon, "Thy money perish with thee. Thou hast thought the gifts of the Holy Ghost might be bought with money," &c. Would not our modern missionaries rather say, Give us the money and perish for aught we care? Paul, too, would make an odd figure at that business, unless he would quit working with his own hands to administer to his necessities, and to those that were with him.
And can our readers believe that God, who changes not, now delights in a different class of ministers, of opposite sentiments, greedy for filthy lucre? Impossible.
We come thirdly to notice the command, Go ye - not send others; this would certainly be an awful perversion of the word of God. Who does not know the sense of language better than to ignorantly fall into so fatal a blunder? Go ye, i.e., yourselves, those to whom our Lord addressed the command, into all the world and preach the gospel unto every creature. The extent of the divine command is not to be restricted for want of funds, for the Lord told his disciples that he would go with them, so there was no fear. they knew that he who rained down manna into the camp of ancient Israel, who fed Elijah by the ravens, who blessed the loaves and fishes, could, and would, if it should be necessary, call up the fish of the sea with money in their mouths to answer all necessary purposes. No parish bounds were set; their field of labor was all the world. These eleven, in the very sense of this text, went everywhere preaching the word. See 20th verse.
The executive committee of the mission societies do attempt to ape or mimic the work of the Lord, by their enchantments, as did their brethren, the magicians of old, the work of Moses and Aaron. They call men, put them through their theological factory, give them what they presumptuously call a commission, appoint to them the field of their labor, direct them when, where and what to preach, and then pay them by the day, month or year their hire. But these being the hirelings of the mission societies are not the servants of Christ, for no man can serve two masters.
But this command not only designates the men, and points out to them the field of their labor, but it directs them what to do: preach the gospel. There is no authority here given to play off seminary airs, read notes or beg money, for after all these things do the Gentiles seek, but preach the gospel. The term gospel means now precisely what it always did, and the apostles in obedience to this very command preached eternal, personal and unconditional election. - See Eph. i.3; 2 Thess. ii.13; 2 Tim. ii.9. They preached Predestination in the most absolute sense of the term. - See Eph. i.5,11; Rom. viii. 28,30; Acts ii. 23, and iv. 27,28. They preached the atonement of Christ specially and definitely for the elect, and for them exclusively. - Rom. iv. 25; Eph. v. 25; Titus ii.14; 1 Peter i. 19,21; Heb. x. 14. In short, they taught the disciples to observe all things whatsoever Christ had commanded, and to let any and every man or angel be accursed who should preach any other gospel.
In conclusion, we were to note some few plain inferences. 1st. As all the power in heaven and in earth was indispensably involved in qualifying the great Redeemer for the work of calling, qualifying, sending forth and sustaining the ministers of the gospel; there are, and can be none of his ministers on earth at this day but what are so called, qualified, sustained, &c., and consequently all such as do arrogantly assume this work, and pretend to call, qualify or send forth ministers, or to do any part of this work, are anti-christ. Second, Inasmuch as Christ has all power, he can, and does call into the ministry whomsoever he pleaseth, independently of all the schemes of men. If, therefore, he has occasion for learned men, the learned are at his command; and the only reason why the church has not a more plentiful supply of faithful and talented ministers, is not occasioned by bankruptcy on his part, but is simply because he has not seen fit at present to call them to the work. Again, as the work is wholly his own, he is as able to raise up the natives of Burmah, Hindostan, or the Indians of our woods, as any of those whom human wisdom might suggest.
2d. As this commission was addressed to none but such as were designated by our Lord, and can apply to none others without manifest violation of its proper sense or meaning, it is insulting to the divine majesty for us to so far abuse its meaning as to apply it to the peddling of tracts, and the promulgation of error, or the building up of the various inventions of men or devils, whether they be called benevolent or otherwise.
3d. As the command plainly expresses what those unto whom a divine application of it is made are to do, there can be no place found in the sense of this, or any other bible arrant, for building or sustaining of theological institutions for that purpose of teaching such as are so called what their Lord and Master would have them do. As their calling is of God - and the King's business always requires haste - it would amount ot rebellion, if not treason, for any one of his called ministers to spend any time to learn, in any humanly contrived school, how or what to preach in his name. We are unavoidably driven to the conclusion, that no minister of Jesus Christ ever has or will be detained any longer in such a place than he could be in teh belly of hell. The sever but irresistible conclusion therefore is, that all the pupils of these Gamaliels of our day are the prophets of Baal, and are fed at the table of that pious old lady called Jezebel, whose children our God has promised to kill with death. - Rev. ii. 23
Lastly, we would say to our brother in Burdett, and to all our readers, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit." Therefore, brethren, try the spirits, whether they are of God, or whether they are not rather of men; and always remember that God in his holy word has set this indelible mark on all the watchmen of antichrist: "they are all greedy dogs that can never have enough."
NEW VERNON, N. Y.
July 22, 1835
Elder Gilbert Beebe