THE GOSPEL COMMISSION.

“Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” – Matt. xxviii. 19

UPON the work of the gospel ministry our views have been repeatedly given; but more particularly in the Circular Letter of Ketocton Association of 1839, published in Vol. VII., page 130; copied by Warwick Association in 1840, and republished in Vol. VIII., page 108; also adopted by the Chemung Association last June, and again published in their minutes of this year.

We refer brother Fox to that circular, as expressing our views on the subject of preaching the Gospel, as that letter was written by us on the very subject to which this part of his inquiry refers. For the accommodation of such of our readers as cannot lay their hands on that circular, we will briefly say that this passage has become a sort of stereotyped authority with all the new-fangled Arminain tribes of our day for their new inventions. If we demand of them divine authority for infant (religious) schools, Sabbath or theological schools, mission societies, tract peddling, or anything of the kind, we may safely anticipate a reference to the commission, “Go ye,” &c. It is stated by a writer in the Religious Herald,as a reason why a new translation of the scriptures is needed, that the style, language, &c., of the present English version is so bad that much of the will of God cannot be learned from it. We would suggest, for the consideration of that learned and benevolent writer, to have this passage so rendered as to cover the whole new school ground. It is too akward to read, “ Go ye,” when the thing to be established is, “ Send we.” But if the New School must have a new bible, to suit their improved systems of religious legerdemain, the old bible is good enough for Old School Baptists. The language of the commission given to the apostles by our Lord Jesus Christ is perfectly plain and intelligible to the household of faith; every word is full of meaning, and set by the Holy Ghost “as apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Mark the force, beauty and consistency of every word and syllable. Go. This word was spoken by one who saith unto one, Go, and he goeth; to another, Come, and he cometh. He speaks the word and it stands fast; he commands and it is done. Nothing short of modern scholastic divinity could fail to observe a wide difference between the words Go and Send. But lest there should appear to be room for caviling, the pronoun ye is added. Go ye. Not send somebody else, but Go ye, i.e., ye to whom the order is given by the King of Sion.

It does not require a new translation of the scriptures to satisfy the Old School Baptists that this commission was addressed to the eleven apostles of the Lamb by our Lord Jesus Christ personally, after his resurrection from the dead, and a little while before a cloud received him out of their sight. Although the eleven were illiterate men, fishermen, &c., it does not appear that they had the least difficulty in understanding these words of their Lord, for they went forth, as we are informed by Mark, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, in signs and wonders, &c., and that was precisely where their Lord told them to go. But we will read still further. “Go ye therefore,” – wherefore? not because they had all power in earth and heaven, and not because they were on that account duly authorized to transmit the keys of the kingdom, to appoint their successors, or to qualify pious young men to preach, and send them out, by any means. No honest hearted disciple of Christ can possibly so understand this scripture. The term therefore refers them to his exclusive right to call and send forth his ministers. “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth, go ye therefore,” &c. Go, because I send you, because I have a right to send whom I please, and I send you; you are duly authorized and commanded to go. Was there anything in these words of our Lord so very intricate as to require a different version? The very fact that all to whom it was addressed did both understand and obey forbids the thought. But where were they to go, and what were they to do? This was all fully understood; they were to go to all nations, and teach them to observe all things whatsoever Christ had commanded, baptizing such as believed, in the name he had directed to administer that ordinance in.

It would have required the stupidity of modern Gamalielites to have mistaken him to mean that they must go to school and learn to preach; or, being learned, to go lounging about the cities and market places, waiting for a monied call; or go and form mission societies, contract with mission boards, or anything of the kind. Go teach. Teach what? That it is more blessed to give than to receive, and that the salvation of the world and the exaltation of Christ depends on the liberality of the people, teach the nations that what Christ had commanded was but an outline of christian duty – a mere blank to be filled up by the ingenuity of priests and people, by inserting, to suit the times, Education, Bible, Mission, Tract, Temperance and Sunday School Societies, or anything else that in their judgment would suit the sate of the times or taste of the people? Not one word of all this. They had nothing more nor less to teach than the observance of all things that Jesus Christ had commanded them.

Perhaps our brother Fox will inquire whether we suppose that this commission was restricted to the apostles. Most certainly we do; nor is there one particle of authority in that commission for any but the apostles to whome it was given. But as all the power of both worlds was and still is retained in the hands of Jesus, as the Head over all things to his church, and as he has instructed his children to pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into his harvest, we are persuaded that from time to time he has, does and will continue to call whom he pleases, and give them the same imperative order, Go ye, or Go thou. The commission to the apostles directed them to the field of their labor: “Teach all nations.” Not, as formerly, were their labors limited to cities of Judea, or the men of Israel; but they were to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. And in an extraordinary manner were they to preach to all nations, so that their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the end of the world. Rom. x. 18. We are not to suppose, because the sound and the words of teh apostle went into all the earth, that every minister of Jesus is required to go to all nations; very few, if any, of them have the liberty, in providence, to go to any other nations than that in which they are raised up. But if any are called of the Lord, in this day, to go into foreign lands to preach the gospel, and will prove that their calling is of God by showing a readiness to obey, relying alone on God to be with them, to sustain and keep them, without leaning upon mission societies, or any human invention, we are ready and willing to divide our last loaf with any such servant of Jesus, and to bid him God speed.

Elder Gilbert Beebe
New Vernon, N. Y.,
August2, 1841

Editorials Volume 1
Pages 700-703