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by Dr. John Thomas
Their pre- tended successors answer, "No, they did not".
They contend that there are vast regions which were unknown to the ancients, where the gospel has never been preached; and, therefore, that, as it is to be preached to every creature, it is incumbent on them to do it; and that the end of the world will not come until they have converted all the nations to Christianity!
Hence, they have established societies de propaganda fide, both Romish and Protestant.
Every principal sect has its missionary society, whose utopian speculation is the conversion of the world under the warrant of the apostolic commission!
As if a command given to the apostles to preach the gospel of the kingdom were a command given to modern missionaries to go and preach Churchism and Dissenterism, Calvinism, Arminianism, and Popery to all the world!
But the apostles were not sent to "all the world" in the Gentile acceptation of the phrase.
They were sent to all the nations of the then habitable, or civilized world; principally, and almost exclusively, comprehended in the limits of the Roman dominion.
Nor were they sent under the idea of converting them nationally to the gospel; but to preach it eij" martuvrion, for a testimony; that is, for their information, that disciples might be made among them all; so that a people might be taken out of them (ejx ejqnw`n) for the administration of the affairs of God's kingdom and empire upon earth.
The apostles left nothing for "successors" to do under the commission given to them.
They preached the gospel of the kingdom to "every creature" of the Roman nations; if not in the Gentile sense of "every creature," at least in the sense of the phrase as used by the Lord Jesus.
I feel strong upon this point, sustained as I am by the direct testimony of scripture; which is worth all the theories, and all the logic of the schools en masse.
The apostle, in speaking of the "one hope of the calling," contained "in the word of the truth of the gospel," tells the Colossian believers, that "it had come to all the world" (parovnto" ejn panti; tw`/ covsmw/) in the sense of "every creature," as appears in another verse of the same chapter.
In this place he says, "The hope of the gospel was preached to every creature which is under the heaven".
This was the result of some thirty years' apostolic labour; for the epistle in which he makes the statement is assigned to a.
62; which was about eight years before the desolating abomination appeared before the walls of Jerusalem, as "the sign" of the end of the age.
The gospel of the kingdom, so efficiently preached by the apostles, was soon after perverted by "men of corrupt minds"; whom Paul, who was very severe, but not too much so, upon this class of professors, styles, "seducing spirits, speaking lies in hypocrisy, and having their conscience seared as with a hot iron".
Let the reader consult the references below.
These characters were the "successors" from whom modern apostles and ambassadors of Christ have originated.
When the Hebrew commonwealth was broken up by the Romans, they claimed to be successors to the priests and Levites of the law, as well as to the apostles.
Thus they united a worldly priesthood (for all Christ's disciples are kings and priests elected for the purpose of the approaching kingdom) with eldership; and became a distinct order unrecognized by the scriptures, by which they are repudiated as "reprobate concerning the faith".
This order of men, as I have already stated elsewhere, had the presumption to style themselves God's heritage, or "clergy"; as though He had a delight in them above all other professors!
But with all their praying and preaching, and profession, neither they nor their successors love the Lord; for they do not obey Him: and He has made obedience the test of love, as it is written, "Love is the fulfilling of the law".
They corrupted, and perpetuate the perversions of the faith from age to age; therefore, says the scripture, "Let them be accursed when the Lord comes".