BROTHER BEEBE: – I wish to ask a question or two through the SIGNS OF THE TIMES.
1st. Is there any positive evidence in the New Testament that the right to administer the ordinance of baptism ever extended beyond the hands of the apostles who were commissioned by Christ?
2d. Did they, (the apostles,) preach the gospel to all nations?
Yours in christian love,
WESTFIELD, Mass., April 10, 1843.
IN answer to the first of the above inquiries we refer brother C. to John the Baptist, by whom the administration of the ordinance of baptism was introduced, and who also was not of the twelve chosen as apostles. Christians are commanded to observe the ordinance of baptism as a token of taking up their cross and faithfulness in following the Lamb “Whither soever he goeth.” Nor was this beautiful symbol of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ confined to the apostolic age; but its perpetuity is to be co-extensive with the other christian ordinances which ornament the church militant. But should our inquiring brother desire further instances than that of John the Baptist, we cite that of the eloquent Apollos, (Acts xviii. 24, and onward) who was not an apostle, but a co-laborer with the apostles, preaching and baptizing. So instrumental was Apollos in practicing these functions, that in speaking of the inability of man by any means to add to the church of Christ, the apostle was constrained to say, “I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.”
From the above considerations, as well as from the whole tenor of the New Testament, we can entertain no doubt of the propriety of the administration of the ordinance by any regular minister of the church of Christ. Indeed preaching and baptizing seem to he inseparable functions, and we are not aware of any instance iii which they have not been combined since the day of John the Baptist.
In reference to the second inquiry above, we answer that in the persecution which arose at Jerusalem it is said that the saints were scattered, and they that were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. Again, on the day of pentecost, by the miracle of tongues, the gospel was preached, and every man heard in his own tongue, wherein he was born: “Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia in Egypt, and in the parts of Lybia about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” Again, “All they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus.” – Acts xix. 10.
At sundry times, from the age of the apostles to the present, persecutions have scattered the saints, and they that were scattered as of olden times went everywhere preaching the word.
When the saints became from time to time troublesome to the Roman pontiffs and popish prelates, persecutions arose against them, and they were scattered from the opulent and populous regions of the Roman dominions to the deserts of Arabia and Africa, among the then savage tribes of the northern coasts and islands of Europe and elsewhere; and thus the gospel was proclaimed to the Arab, the Hottentot, the Ethiopian, the Barbarian, Druidist and others for they that were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.
When in God’s good time it was necessary to send the gospel to America, he caused the persecutions of the saints in the eastern world to wax hot, and drive them from their native land to the unknown wilds of the western hemisphere and when driven here they did not fail to preach the gospel of God’s grace.
In reviewing the history of the church we shall see her driven from nation to nation; and as her members have gone about from one place to another with the flame and fagot be hind them, and thus been scattered up and down in the world, they have gone everywhere preaching the word. And as long as the carnal mind is enmity against God, the world will continue to persecute the church, and the saints will be scattered to and fro, and thus God will ever send his word just where it is his own good pleasure to send it, without the unhallowed aid of human inventions to obtain such corruptible things as silver and gold for its propagation.
New Vernon, N. Y.,
June 1, 1843.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 2
Pages 266 – 268