BROTHER BEEBE: - As I proposed in my last communication a further consideration of Mr. Dennison’s famous argument, by which he seems fondly to anticipate the complete conversion before the next meeting of the Philadelphia Association, of those Brethren who have hitherto had no more benevolence than to suppose that the plans drawn by Christ himself for publishing his Gospel among the Nations of the Earth are sufficient for them to attend to, I will now attempt to show the vast difference there is between these things to which those brethren object, and those which Mr. Dennison enumerates as parallel instances of departure from the Scriptures as a rule of practice.
That this gentleman should not have discovered the difference which so manifestly exists between the practice of human inventions as substitutes for things which have been particularly appointed by the King of Zion, for the observance of his Disciples, and those things which are practiced, not as parts at all, of positive institutions, but merely as conveniences, even admitting that there is no Scripture Warrant for them, is not so much to be wondered at, he having till lately been connected with the admirers of Peter Edward’s manner of getting rid of Divine appointments. But that Baptists who have been used to consider a thus saith the Lord, as of more importance in reference to positive institutions than all the reasonings that the wisdom of men could devise, when Baptism has been under consideration – should themselves resort to the same kind of human reasoning to invalidate proofs taken from the plain declarations of God’s word in reference to the dispensation of the Gospel, which is as entirely a positive institution as is Baptism, is well calculated to show what man is, with all his boasted wisdom.
That the Gospel Ministry as entirely originated from the express appointment of the Lord, as did either of the ordinances of the Gospel must be manifest to every reflecting Christian. Consequently the obligation to pay a strict regard to all the divinely prescribed parts of this institution without altering, adding unto, or diminishing from them, is tantamount to the obligation to own the Author of the institution as Lord. See Luke 6:46, “Why call ye me Lord, Lord; and do not the things which I say?”
The Lord has given particular directions in his word, on the several following points, relative to this appointment of Heaven, for making known the glad tidings of salvation.
First, in relation to those who are to officiate in this important work, as in the command given; Go ye teach, &c., being originally directed to certain baptized believers, chosen for the work. Matt.25:16,19. We find those first employed in this work, were called directly by the Lord himself and sent into the work; afterwards as in the case of Paul and Barnabas, we find the precedent set of the preachers of the Gospel, being called to the work by the Holy Ghost, and being recommended to the grace of God for the work, or separated to it, by the Church. See Acts 23:1,2, compared with Acts 14:27,27. Again it is declared that the ministry of reconciliation, is given to them of God, II Cor.5:18; and that they are given especially to the churches for the work of the Ministry of Christ, and consequently are made manifest to the Churches, by their peculiar gifts, given to them by the Holy Spirit, I Cor.12:4,7,8, & 28; or as expressed in I Tim.3:2, being apt to teach. See Eph.4:11,12; consequently it belongs exclusively to the Churches to separate persons for the work of preaching or teaching the Gospel, and they have no more right to send others into this work, than they have to authorize others to baptize; the authority to teach all nations, and that to baptize, being both found in the same command.
Second, these designated persons are commanded to preach the Gospel. This preaching is not as Allen Campbell says, a simple proclamation of the fact of Christ’s incarnation, death &c. It is a teaching; compare Matt.28:19, with Mark 16:15. By referring to the Acts, and to the writings of the Apostles, we learn what they understood the word of reconciliation committed to them to be. It was not a Gospel divested of Doctrine, that they preached, it was an illustration of the situation of man, as under the curse of the Law, and a development of God’s purpose, and plan of saving sinners, by expounding and testifying the Kingdom of God and persuading concerning Jesus out of the Laws of Moses, and out of the Prophets, &c. See Acts 28:23. As the preaching was a teaching, so the teaching was a preaching, not a reading or writing. See Acts 28:31.
Third, the command given to the Eleven, contains the authority to teach all nations and to preach the Gospel to every creature; consequently God has appointed the same ordinance for making known the Gospel to the heathen and to the young, as to others.
There are several other circumstances relative to this institution, particularly appointed by Divine Authority; as First, in the case of a deficiency of laborers, the command is express, “Pray ye the Lord of the harvest that he send forth more laborers into his harvest.” Are not the plans in vogue, at this day, for supplying preachers, in direct violation of this appointment? Second, persons called to preach the Gospel are not to let even the burying of the dead, hinder them from that work; what right then have such to bury themselves and their talents, for years within the walls of Classical or Theological Seminaries? Third, it is expressly declared in the word, that, It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. It pleases men, to save by the wisdom of Mission, Tract, Sunday School, and Bible Societies; whose pleasure will stand? Fourth, “the Lord hath ordained that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel.” The wise men say, that preachers would starve were they to depend on the living their preaching would induce the people to give them; they therefore ordain that men shall preach because they receive a support from mission funds. Still I think their plans do not overturn the ordinance of God, for on examination it will be found that those who preach because they are hired or because they have been maintained from the King’s Mission Palace, do not preach the Gospel. As the avowed object of Mission, Tract, Sunday School and Bible Societies, is to make known the glad tidings of salvation, they are as manifest substitutes of human contrivance for that order which God has particularly appointed for publishing the Gospel, as infant sprinkling is for believers Baptism.
Again, in reference to these several human institutions, they have Societies connected with them, composed of professed believers and unbelievers, who are united together upon the ground of money payments; and which assume the stand of religious Societies. Herein therefore they are opposed to the following plain declarations of scripture: My kingdom is not of this world; My dove, my undefiled, is but one, she is the only one of her mother; There is one body and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness.
Thus, Mr. Dennison, it is manifest that the ground upon which those Brethren, whom your brother of the PIONEER would denominate Anti-mission Baptists, object to these several institutions, which to you, and to the majority of your venerable Association, are so precious, is the same as that upon which you would object to infant sprinkling; namely, because they are substitutes of human contrivance for a positive command of God. Remember, Sir, to do something else instead of that which is commanded, is not merely a doing what is not required; it is a plain refusal to do as commanded. Now, Sir, admitting that as you insinuate, there is no Scripture warrant for the practices which you enumerate in your inquiries, can you show in one instance, that either of them is a substitute for something particularly commanded of God? If you can; then are we thus culpable in conforming to such practice. But if you cannot, as is evidently the case, there is no proper comparisons between these things, and those which you denominate charitable institutions.
I will leave you to reflect on this subject for a little season, and when another opportunity offers, I will examine your allegations, concerning those practices which you name as not being warranted by Scripture.
I again subscribe myself,
Valley of Achor, Nov.4, 1832.