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mans he had indeed never visited that proud metropolis, though his pilgrim labors had filled the world, in almost every other direction, with the renown of his Master. He says to the Romans, “ from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation; but as it is written,' &c.15 : 19–25. We know that many others, though less eminent, were engaged in the same identica
And here we see the instrumentalities which God from the beginning employed to propagate the gospel; and which, through his blessing, were astonishingly successful. “ Within about thirty years after our Lord's death, the gospel was spread, not only throughout almost all parts of the Roman empire, but even to Parthia and India.” Pliny to Trajan complains of the ascendant influence of the superstition, as he calls it, and of the consequent desolations of heathenism. Tacitus speaks of an ingens multitudo, a huge multitude of christians, in the city of Rome in the time of Nero. Thus onward proceeded this kingdom of the Highest, till it speedily included the whole Roman empire, with the Emperor himself, not only in its territory, but nominally at least in its bosom. Could Quakerism thus have moved a world? What-by inward light, passivity, and silent meetings?
That they must have thus labored to evangelize the nations is further evident from the tenor of their commission. “Go ye therefore,” &c. Matt. 28 : 18–20, and Mark, 16: 15, 16. On these words allow a few remarks. (1) The commission was designed to be (and therefore is) of permanent authority in the church. This might be argued from many considerations; we infer it here simply from the promise ; “Lo, I am with you alway even unto the end of the world." This could not apply to the apostles, or to the men of any one generation, exclusively. True, the apostles as such had no successors, no predecessors, no equals, no
, official similars. As preachers, however, they are comparatively common—they are at the head of a long succession of faithful ministers of the cross of an atoning Savior, from whom each derived his tantamount authority. This shows the permanent constitution of the gospel, and infers the permanent wants of men, as well as the permanent duty of the church. (2) The original word rendered preach is taken from the office of a commissioned town crier, who makes proclamation aloud with the authority of the commonwealth, and arrests the attention of all to his message. is the order to preach the gospel in all the world and to every creature. Not a word in the commission about the light within !
The word teach means to instruct by oral inculcation; and thus to preach and teach the gospel to mankind is the sum of this stupendous order, that remains to this day binding, directly or indirectly— binding in its spirit on every human being to whom it comes, greeting. It is an order to diffuse the truth of the gospel, to propagate christianity ; a
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work of the King's commandment, in which every subject of his realm is bound to be aiding and assisting ; and at least to give it his blessing and his prayers. The age in which we live is beginning to awake to this business. · One third of the present century has gone, the brightest since the Reformation, with the light of the angel's pinions,
flying in the midst of heaven, having THE EVERLASTING GOSPEL to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” Here we see the appointed means of the conversion of the world. Luke, 10 : 1, 2. The scriptures are to be translated into all the languages of the peopled earth; missionaries are to go forth by thousands ; like candles unlighted, though distributed in a large house, the Jewish manuscripts of “ Moses and the Prophets ” (in every synagogue under heaven,) are to be touched and lighted with the torch of christianity, kindling a thousand central fires throughout the world, but shedding one sole light upon the darkness of its inhabitants. But I digress. (3) We see the duty of all who hear the gospelto believe it, to learn it, to love it, and practise it to the glory of God. (4) The sanctions of the preached gospel are at once ultimate and tremendous : they are salvation to the believer, damnation to the infidel; and no alternative! It contains no apology for harshness, no compromise, no ceremony, no respect of persons, no double dealing, no concealment. Let the world tremble-rather let the world obey! (5) There is nothing mystical, or even figurative, in all this high concern of truth and destiny. It is all intelligible. The meaning of every word is plain. It is marked with “truth and soberness." No enthusiasm, no weakness, no artifice, appears ; but the signals of mercy and majesty divine! How totally unlike Quakerism! My last remark is (6) that the gospel so propagated is ALONE recognised as the grand instrument of salvation. As it involves no uncertainty, WE KNOW that by this men may be saved ; for so says Jesus Christ. Can we KNOW as much of inward light ? “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved.” He that minds the inward light-stay! is that in the commission ? That instrument of God is a manifesto of duty to the world, as well as a charter of office to the ministry! Whatever we may guess, or “Friends believe” about the inward light, what divine certificate have we for any thing but faith in the simple gospel ?
All the history we have in the case shows that the apostles understood this commission just as we do. Their practice is a commentary which verbal criticism cannot corrupt, nor any thing but infatuation resist. The light within may clearly see somewhat different, since covetousness and sensuality see the same thing. But genuine piety listens to declarations such as these : “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us who are saved, it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the
scribe ? where is the disputer of this world ? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world ? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom : but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God." 1 Cor. 1: 18-24. Besides, we have a standing order for the recruiting of the ministry to the end of the world. 2 Tim. 2: 2.
I only ask any man of sense to tell me, in view of all this, what are we to think of the inward light? of that inspired sanctimony which denounces all this structure of God, as prosecuted “ in the will of the creature” and as a system of will worship and idolatry? “Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. Wo unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight.” Is. 5: 20, 21.
A correct view of the commission, work, importance, and ends, of the evangelical ministry, might revolution the mind of any Friend, in respect to the distinctness and dignity of the ministerial order: and he who reads the scripture with an eye critically awake to the subject, will see how the total scope of the book of God differs from the