‘Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:20.
An offering a few remarks upon this part of the commission which was given to the apostles, by our Lord Jesus Christ, when His mediatorial work was finished, and He was about to ascend to heaven, we wish to call the attention of the children of God, and especially of the ministers of Jesus, to the importance of this charge.
The field which would require to be explored, were we to dwell upon the whole of the commission, would involve all that belongs to the proclamation of salvation through the crucified, risen, and exalted Redeemer, together with the administration of the ordinances, the field of their labors, the manner and amount of their qualifications and the prospect of their success, &c., but this would present a greater range than we desire at this time to occupy. We by no means think these considerations less Important, but we are strongly impressed with the idea that the nature of a call to the work of the ministry, the doctrine to be preached and the ordinances to be administered, are more fully understood and more faithfully regarded among our Old School brethren, generally speaking, than the solemn charge which we have placed at the head of this article.
Those to be so taught are the same that were to be baptized, hence according to the common acceptation of the term they were to be Baptists, or baptized believers in Christ. These were not to be any longer confined to the cities of Judea, or the people of the house of Israel, but they should be found in all nations. So the pupils, or disciples to be taught were to embrace in every nation such as the Lord our God shall call. The commission to teach was in this case given especially to the apostles of the Lamb of God. And according to their instruction and decision, those who In succeeding ages of the church should hold the office of Bishops or Elders, must also be divinely qualified with an aptness to teach. It is to be feared that there are some, if not many, who have a much greater aptness to interest, to excite and to please, than to teach or instruct the children of God; and many who do possess a talent to an eminent degree, to teach, instead of teaching the children to observe what Christ has commanded, are teaching for doctrines the commandments of men; or, in other words teaching to observe things which Christ has never commanded. How important then that the New Testament be diligently searched, both by preachers and hearers, to see whether all the things taught by the preachers, are what Christ commanded the apostles. The commission, or command of Christ to teach all that He commanded them, fully implied that they were to teach nothing else, and as we have noticed the importance of the churches and the ministers searching the record of the commands to be observed, we will add that Christ has by His apostles taught, that when one speaks the others shall judge. And as all the Lord’s messengers are called angels, It is said that the saints shall judge angels. There is an awful responsibility resting on the churches, that they should judge righteously on this subject. They are not however, to judge of a minister by the length of his face, nor the number of his admirers. He may be very grave in his appearance, and eloquent in his discourse, and still be no more than a sounding brass or tinkling cymbal; but the standard of judgment Is the New Testament. “Beware of men who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” “If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, (that which Christ and his apostles taught,) receive him not into your house,” &c. If Paul, or an angel from heaven preach as the apostles did not preach, let such be accursed. And the necessity of ministers searching the New Testament as their standard, is fully implied in their commission, for where else shall they look for His commands? In the scriptures the man of God is perfect, thoroughly furnished to every good work; and as every good work is thoroughly furnished In the scriptures, no work can be good In the divine estimation which the word does not enjoin.
To speak of every particular thing which Christ has commanded, would require more space than we can find for this article. And, although we have no right to attach more or less importance to one command of Christ than to another, yet such as seem to be the most neglected, or the least understood by the saints, should be dwelt upon more especially on that account.
One very important command, although a new one, is that the saints should love one another. Now who will presume to think that it is sufficient for the minister of Jesus simply to remind his brethren that there is such a command, if the ministers are themselves indulging in biting and devouring one another? They are to be ensamples to the flock, and so teach by example as well as proclamation.
Christ has commanded that all who love Him should keep His commandments; and through His apostles He has taught us that to fulfill His law, we must bear one another’s burdens. Christ has commanded that all who would be His disciples, should deny themselves, take up their cross and, follow Him; and the grace of God that bringeth salvation, which hath appeared unto all men, (Jews and Gentiles,) has taught us, or is teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world. Here a command of Christ is implied, that self shall be denied of all ungodliness; the flesh is depraved, and the carnal appetite is craving that which is ungodly, evil, pernicious and contrary to the faith. Let the ministers of Jesus solemnly, faithfully and in the fear of God teach, in their preaching and by their example, that these things are to be denied. Teach them how to live. Ministers are to institute no new laws or rules, for the law is laid down, the rule is given. Let it be enforced, let it be taught by precept and by practice. Live soberly, not drunken with wine, wherein there is excess. It cannot comport with the high and holy and heavenly calling of saints, that they should be tipplers or given to much wine, for in such carnal indulgence they find not the footsteps of Christ, nor of His flock. Teach them to live righteously, and remember that nothing can be righteous which is not embraced in the examples and commands of Jesus Christ, and that nothing can be unrighteous that He has enjoined. Teach them to live godly, possessing the love of God, the fear of God, and a desire above all things to glorify God, in their bodies and in their spirits, which are His, let the cost be what It may; although it is certain that If any man will live godly in Christ Jesus, he shall suffer persecution.
But to avoid persecution, no child of God is at liberty to depart from a strict and undeviating course of godliness. Christ has given commands in regard to the order of His church: who are to be admitted, and who retained in the fellowship of the church. He that believeth and is baptized, whether Jew or Gentile, whatever he may have been; whether a moralist or a murderer, a persecuting Saul or a devout Pharisee; if born again, and recipients of the faith of God’s elect, gladly receiving the word, they must be baptized and added to the church, received into the fellowship of the saints, and admitted to all the privileges of God’s house.
He has commanded how ministers and other members are to conduct themselves in the church; all the rules of order and discipline are given perceptively In the New Testament. To watch over one another; exhorting, admonishing, warning, encouraging, comforting and edifying one another; speaking in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, and not forsaking the assembling of themselves together, as the manner of some is. He has commanded what course shall be observed when one brother has ought against a brother, or when one brother has trespassed against another. All the steps that are lawful or expedient to reclaim the offender, are clearly laid down, and the servant of Jesus should teach the saints to observe them all. The course to be observed by the church when her members are come together in the name of the Lord Jesus; how she Is to dispose of heretics, after the first and second admonition. If any is called a brother, be a fornicator, or covetous, or an Idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, with such an one no not to eat; therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. Let the saints of God be taught by the faithful ministry of the word to observe all these commands, together with all others enjoined by Christ.
New Vernon, NY
December 1, 1846
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 2