THE LORD’S METHOD OF EXTENDING THE PUBLICATION OF HIS GOSPEL, CONTRASTED WITH THE DEVICES OF MEN FOR THE SAME OSTENSIBLE OBJECT.
THE gospel is emphatically “The power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth,” it is substantially, “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, and its report or proclamation is glad tidings of great joy to every heaven born child. We should always bear in mind that the gospel is one thing, and the preaching of it another; the gospel is invariably the power of God unto salvation, while neither the preaching of it by apostles or ordinary ministers can affect anything like salvation or even comfort, edify or instruct the people of God any farther than it is attended by the sacred power of the Holy Spirit; and this it will effect to the exact extent which the Lord designs. With the spread of the gospel, strictly speaking man has no agency whatever; but God has raised up, qualified and sent forth men whom he has commissioned to preach the gospel; that is, to preach the power of God, through faith unto salvation to all that believe; but that God has ever authorized men to exert the power of salvation cannot be proved. In sending his messengers forth, God acts no less independently than when He created the world. He saith unto one go, and he he goeth; to another come, and he cometh. No human contingencies can possibly interrupt his divine arrangements. He did not from necessity call the unlearned, the poor and the weak into this work, but from choice; for God has chosen such, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of man; and the sublime mysteries of his kingdom he has hidden from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes, because so it seemed good in his sight. But the methods by which he has generally caused the publication of this gospel have always confounded the wisdom of this world. In the primitive age of the gospel church, while the wisdom, zeal and bigotry of the carnal Jews, had invented their foreign and domestic missionary plans for compassing the seas and land for the extension of their religion, our Lord adopted such a course of operation, as to all human wisdom, was most likely to exterminate from the earth every subject of his kingdom. Such the divine policy.
First: No luring bait of salaries or fame to “call out” the talent, erudition and influence of the great and mighty of the earth: and when any volunteered to join his band, he told them “The Son of Man bad not where to lay His head,” and if any would come after him, they must deny themselves, and take up the cross, &c. In the present day the wisdom of this world as manifested by the New School, speaketh on that wise, viz:
“WESTCHESTER, April 2, 1840.
“MINISTERIAL HELP WANTED. - Dear brother, As your situation affords you an opportunity of frequent intercourse with ministers of our denomination, I address myself to you in behalf of the church in this place. We are now without a pastor, and have no prospect of getting one. If we could command money that would soon bring us a Shepherd. We are however, a feeble band, but lately organized as a church; built a substantial house, have been struggling alone, and made more sacrifices, and contributed more to sustain ourselves according to our means, than any church in Pennsylvania. Although I say it, I believe it to be solemn truth.
We feel now that the question must be met - shall we exist as a church, or shall we shut up our house and permit the cause to languish and die? We can and will hold prayer meetings, and try to keep the church together, but you know that without a pastor it will fare illy with us. Our church numbers some 70 members, can raise $300, and are in as good condition as any other church spiritually.
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Now where is the minister in our denomination of equal grade of ability with them who will come here for the cause sake and receive 400? My most fervant prayer is, that the Lord may send such a man along.” - Bap. Record.
The above specimen may serve to show the decisions of human wisdom on the subject. No money - no preaching; no preacher - no church; but,
Secondly: All those whom our Lord originally called into the work, were just such men as the wisdom of this world would conclude would do more hurt than good: the poor, obscure, weak, illiterate, despised and base men of this world, yea, publicans and sinners. Such was the divine choice: it was not necessity but choice; for all power over all flesh was in his hands. Even so, that the excellency of the power of the gospel might be of God and not of men. Is it objected that out of eighty three that were called to the work, there was a Saul who had received a religious education? True, but with it all he knew not the Lord who addressed him on ‘his way. No theological rules taught by Gamaliel, or any other professed divine can bring a poor lost sinner to a knowledge of Christ; for none calleth him Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. And Paul, laying aside all his boasted knowledge of the Jew’s religion, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, came not to the gospel ministry in excellency of speech or of wisdom; but was with them in weakness, fear and much trembling; and his speech and preaching was not with enticing (persuasive) words of man’s wisdom, &c., that the faith of the saints might not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. See 1 Cor. ii. 1-16.
Thirdly: These poor “inefficient” and despised “babblers” were sent where, in all human probability, they were the most likely to be killed, and that in the most defenceless way that earthly wisdom can conceive of: “Behold I send you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves!” To carnal reason there was no more ground to expect they would be successful than if our Lord had literally sent so many lambs into the midst of thousands of devouring wolves. Although going directly among enemies, no splendid outfit of purse, apparel, chariots or even staves, or scrip! What an opportunity was here by divine management presented for the display of that protecting care and providence which God did then, and ever will display in defence of his ministers!
Fourthly: We invite the attention of our readers to the manner of dictating the movements of his ministers. Human sagacity says, “When a minister in one city receives a call, by which he can get a higher salary in another, he shall then move; but never stir to supply the Westchester, Pennsylvania, church, or any other at $300 or $400 per annum, while he can get $1,500 or $2,000 at Philadelphia or New York. But our Lord’s instructions to his ministers were, “When they shall persecute you in one city, flee to another.” And persecution has been the principle instrument in the hand of God, in directing to the field of their labors all his ministers in all ages of his church, the present not excepted. By the persecution of the primitive church, they were greatly scattered, and they that were scattered went every where, preaching the word. Here again we see the instrument, (persecution) which above all others threatened the entire extermination of the church, was chosen of God and overruled for its advancement.
Upon precisely the same principle, the Head of the church is at this day presiding over the movements of his servants. We who labor in the ministry, are naturally inclined to make our nest and take our ease; we become attached to the dear people of God among whom we labor, and make our feeble calculations to abide with them until we drop the mortal tabernacle; but anon, our gourd is blasted! The Philistines are upon us, and we must strike our tent, and away to some other field of action.
Cast your eye over the pages of church history for more than eighteen hundred years: Has the gospel, in any one solitary instance, been introduced into any nation or country with, what is now called Missionary Societies, funds, or agencies? Or has it in any instance been accomplished without persecution? True this persecution has been generally waged against God’s people under religious pretensions, they have been charged with heresy and pursued for nonconformity to the popular or prevailing notions of religion, whether Jewish, Pagan, Papal or Protestant, and their persecutors, in every instance, as in the present, have professed to be doing God service in persecuting them. It was thus, as we have shown, in the apostolic age, and it was thus when God’s appointed time had come to light up a heavenly ray in Europe, a few persecuted disciples fled before the fury of the pope, and were conducted thither; and when the vast continent of our birth and present home, which had groaned in heathenish. darkness for many ages, was by God’s appointment to be illuminated with the proclamation of the gospel; a bitter prosecution in Europe drove out the pilgrim pioneers of our early settlements to seek a peaceful grave in the bosom of a soil inhabited by the native savage tribes and the furious beasts of a vast wilderness. Yea, and when the early settlers of Eastern States, thought their troubles ended, and their persecutions had ceased, they began to build and plant, and fixed their expectations on remaining undisturbed in their peaceful houses, when schisms amongst them demonstrated that the hydra monster from whose terror they had fled, still existed among them. Roger Williams, banished from Massachusetts for maintaining the views now held by Old School Baptists, found his way to Rhode Island, and planted the standard of’ religious rights in that colony. But in almost every state in this union, persecution has been employed in scattering the men whom God has provided and ordained for the work of preaching his gospel from state to state. Some were whipped, some imprisoned and some banished, while others were actually slain in our own country, and all this suffering on their part has been overruled and made to contribute directly to the. extension of the propagation of the gospel of Christ.
NEW VERNON, N. Y.,
May 1, 1840.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 610 – 615