"1st. We read, John x. 12, 'But he that is an hireling and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming and leaveth the sheep and fleeth; and the wolf catcheth THEM, and scattereth the sheep.’ Which does the wolf catch; the hireling or the sheep?
"2d. Is the ‘washing of feet,’ (see John xiii. 4-18,) to be regarded as an ordinance or example, binding on the Christian church at this day? If so, When and where should it be performed?
"3d. Were the twelve disciples mentioned Acts xix. 1-7, re-baptised?"
REPLY: THE plural pronoun them, in the first of the above queries, cannot refer to an hireling, which is in the singular number; which they stand, in number, &c.; therefore the plain English of the text shows that the sheep are caught by the wolf, in consequence of being deserted and left unprotected in the hour of danger, by the hireling shepherd, that careth not for the flock. This passage of divine instruction, comfort and admonition to the saints, to "Beware of false prophets that should come unto them in sheep’s clothing;" hireling shepherds, protectors, &c.; but more immediately in this case, to set forth in the strongest possible manner, the superior qualifications of our Lord, as the chief Shepherd and Bishop of his people; and these are the more strikingly illustrated by the contrast drawn between the selfish mercenary and treacherous motives of an hireling, and the very opposite motives of goodness and love most gloriously developed in the illustrious Shepherd of Israel.
An hireling fleeth, our Lord says, because he is an hireling. Yet how eagerly do thousands at this day labor to represent the blessed Savior as an hireling; as being induced to bestow his pastoral care upon his children in return for a consideration of works, merits, obedience, use of means, or from some cause infinitely short of free, sovereign, discriminating and invincible grace. If our Lord Jesus Christ could be induced to save sinners upon the principle of free will or creature merit, or even for the generosity of a poor hell-deserving sinner in giving his heart to the Lord, would not this doctrine present our Lord as a hireling? For if salvation be of works it is no more of grace, otherwise work is no more work. But how gracious the language of Jesus in this connection! He assures us that he does not bestow his care upon his flock in the hope of thereby becoming the proprietor, but because they are his own – not on account of profit he expects to derive from them; but because "He careth for them," he knows them, he loves them and has laid down his life for them. This scriptural view of the subject gives divine assurance that he who has loved and given his life for them will not leave nor forsake them; he will not leave them to fall from grace and sink to hell at last – "He giveth unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of his hand."
It is true that since the departure of Paul grievous wolves have found their way into the enclosure of the flock: men have crept in unawares, bringing in damnable heresy, &c. These are hirelings who, notwithstanding all their specious pretensions to benevolence, will prove the truth of our Lord’s words, by fleeing from the flock in the time of persecution and when they can no longer feed themselves of the flock.
In regard to the wolf’s catching them, the wolf has no occasion to catch the hirelings; for they themselves are wolves in sheep’s clothing; but the consequence of the sheeps’ being caught by the wolf is that he scattereth them: become alienated in their affections and fellowship from each other. How many examples have we at this day of the entrance of grievous wolves among the churches all around us, and in the Western States! We think brother Parks has himself known instances of the kind; for he informs us in his postscript that the missionaries continue their work of rending and tearing the vine in his vicinity. In every instance, as far as our information extends, where churches of our order had been supplied with hireling watchmen previously to the rage of modern missionism, their hirelings have left the ancient premises of the gospel and fled over to the New School side, and in consequence of their treachery their wolves. By hireling watchmen we mean such only as care not for the flock, and such as preach only so long as they can make the business more lucrative than any other to themselves.
In reply to the second query, in relation to the washing of the saints’ feet, we refer brother Parks to an article on that subject, written by brother Trott in reply to brother A. Moore of Tennessee, published in Vol. VII. No. 3, in which, to our mind, the negative is clearly shown, from the fact that the primitive churches when in their official characters occupying the twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes (or gospel church) and having the keys of the kingdom committed to them, with instructions to bind and to loose, and to teach the disciples of Christ to obey all things whatsoever he had enacted. We fully agree with brother T. that the washing of the saints’ feet was not instituted to be observed in the church as a church ordinance. But we hold the circumstance referred to by brother P. (John xiii. 4-18) as an example of humility to be copied by all the disciples, at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances.
To the third and last query, "Were the twelve disciples mentioned in Acts xix. 1-7, re- baptized?" we answer, No. The twelve disciples whom Paul met at Ephesus had been baptized probably by Apollus, with or unto John’s baptism: and Paul expounded to them the manner of John’s baptism: that he (John) baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on him that was to come, namely, on Christ; and when the people heard this preaching of John they were baptized (by John of course) in the name of the Lord Jesus. This accounted for these disciples’ ignorance of the name of the Holy Ghost, as that sacred name had not been mentioned in the administration of the ordinance by John. Had they been baptized by any of the apostles after the commission to preach the gospel to every creature, &c., baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; but, as they knew only John’s baptism, they needed that the apostle should give them the instruction contained in the passage under consideration.
Some have mistaken the words, "When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus," to mean that when these twelve disciples had heard what Paul said about John’s baptism, they were re-baptized by Paul: but this cannot be, for at least two good reasons. 1st. Paul’s definition of John’s preaching and baptism would have been vague and incomplete if separated from that clause which was especially designed to show wherein John’s baptism differed from the manner of administration by the apostles, after the ascension of Christ. And 2d. If Paul had re-baptized them he would not have administered the ordinance in the name of the Lord Jesus, as this would have been but a repetition of John’s baptism. As in the baptism by John the name of the Holy Ghost was not mentioned, so neither in the ordinance as administered by the apostles after the day of Pentecost, was the name, Lord Jesus, mentioned.
Again, to have re-baptized these because Apollus had baptized them after the manner of John, would have been to invalidate the baptism not only of these twelve but of all who lived in that day who had been baptized in the same manner; and what would be still more dreadful, it would have been virtually charging our Lord with setting an imperfect example when, being himself baptized of John in Jordan, he said, "Thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness."
New Vernon, N.Y.,
April 15, 1841
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 679 - 683