« הקודםהמשך »
of divine love and sanctity. It is essentially personal. Its requirements cannot be met by deputy. Do you wish your religion to be "pure and undcfiled before God and the Father"? You must be personally a visitor of those who need the ministrations of loir. You must also keep yourself in sanctification, separateness. "unspotted from the world." None but a faithful follower of Jesus can do this. Every other kind of religion (so called) is vain—utterly worthless.
"TO YOU WHICH BELIEVE HE IS PRECIOUS."
"Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world i" John xiv.
The manifestation nf Christ to tho soul is glory revealed. Between the resurrection of the Lord Jesus aud the completion of the Written Word, ho graciously gave many special manifestations of himself, some of which were—
To the weeping Mary lingering at the tomb, to turn her sorrow into joy, and send her to comfort others. John xx.
To the penitent Simon. Over this interview the veil is drawn; but it was doubtless to restore him. Luke xxiv. 34.
To the eleven, (locked indoors from fear of the Jews,) and said, "Peace he unto you. ... Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord." John xx.
Again, for the sake of poor, weak Thomas.
To the disciples gone a-fishing, to recal them to the walk of faith. John xxi.
To the apostles in Galilee, to commission them to preach to all nations, baptize, and teach. Matt, xxviii.
To encourage his lowly ones to wait in Jerusalem, assuring them that they should be endowed witli power from on high to fulfil the commission they had received. Acts i.
To the first martyr, falling asleep. Acts vii.
To the imprisoned preacher, cast down and sorrowful. "The night following, the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul, for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou also bear witness at Rome." The apostle to the Gentiles was probably mourning that he had left his proper sphere of duty, and had persisted in going up to Jerusalem.
To the last remaining apostle, rejected of the world, lingering in the solitude of a desert isle. Rev. i.
If tho heart be true to the Lord, and the believer walk in faith and obedience, he who is with us always delights still to spiritually manifest himself, and will do so until he conio in person to take his Bride to the heavenly mansions. "I will never leave thee, nor forsake the*."' Even so. "My Beloved is mine and I am his."
Christ is now manifested to the soul—
1. By the Holy Spirit through the Written Word :—"He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you." At the time Christ spoke not a book of the New Testament was written. This is a blessed promise, for us as well as the apostles. Oh, that we may value it more.
2. We may expect a spiritual manifestation of Christ in proportion to our love of, and obedience to tho Word: "If a man love me he will keep my words, and my Pather will love him, and we will como unto him, aud make our abode with him." John xiv.
3. In the breaking of bread—"And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and
they knew him And they returned to Jerusalem...and
told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in the breaking of bread." Luko xxiv.
4. By the spiritually minded in all meetings held in Christ's name—" Where two or three are gathered together in my name thero am I iu the midst of them." Matt, xviii.
5. The Church now is like the disciples in their little vessel on the troubled sea of Galilee j it is night, but the "night is far spent, the day is at hand," that is to say, "The Lord is at hand." When he is seen, he will be gladly received into the ship, and immediately—calm, day, and home.
COMMENTARY ON THE 008FEL BY
(Written exp.vssly for this publication.)
Ver. 24, 2'>.—"And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. And they ;!-,'■<• d him and said, why baptizeth thou then, if thou be iwt that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet." How sorely puzzled were these Pharisee Priests and Levites by the simple testimony and ministry of John! Prophets told specifically of " the Chiist," aud "Elias," and also spoke of "a prophet" without giving a name, as iu Dcut: xviii. 1.3,—this latter evidently, as ire see, pointing to the Messiah. But guided only by their carnal judgment, these enquirers seem to have concluded that one might be neither the Christ nor his forerunner. They appear, however, readily to have understood that an order of purification was to be introduced by the expected messenger from God— and they no doubt thought baptism would purify them, provided only the administrator were duly authenticated. Hence their desire to know John's standing. "If you cannot show your mission in the prophetic word, why baptisest ihou"! In Matthew's gospel we arc told that "Many of the Pharisees and Sadducees came to his baptism," but "hesaid unto them, 0 generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance;" we think that this proves they expected to fiud a virtue in baptism itself—instead of seeing it to be, as it was, but a bii/ii of repentance. In consequence of this error, John said, -first give some evidence of repentance before you take the sign of it.
26, 27. "John answered them, saying, I baptise with water; but there standeth one among you whom ye know not; He it is who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoes' latchet I am not worthy to unloose." In other words, It is of very little moment whether you are satisfied about me. Turn your eyes to the important One. The long promised Messiah is in your midst; let every other consideration wither in His presence; He alone is worthy. I am not deserving of so menial a task as that of unfastening his shoes. My Mission is as weak as water-baptism, compared with his, whose ministry will be sealed with the outpouring gift of the Holy Ghost.
THE "PLYMOUTH BRETHREN."
(Concluded from our last.) Coming into spiritual liborty in the way wc have shown, it was not long before tho question of baptism presontcd itself to "the Brethren." Unhappily, many whose consciences wcro exercised on this subject bowed to the dictum of one of their leaders whoso ministry in most things had been greatly Messed to them. Acting under tho guidance of this brother, our Lord's ordinanco of baptism was practically ignored. It was, in fact, impossible for "tho Brethren," as a body, to enjoin baptism tipon those whom thoy had already brought into fellowship. They had received Christians without raising any question as to whether they were baptised or not; and they could not now turn upon ono another after having wrought together in fellctcship life, and demand that those who had not passed through tho waters of death should now do so. It was contended also that baptism was unimportant—that Paul has left on record, " he was not sent to baptise," &c. It became, too, a favourite dogma that baptism ought not to be made a door of entrance to the Lord's Table. Moreover, tho loader we have alluded to (whose name and works generally are deservedly held in high honour) decided that any kind of baptism which satisfied a believer's conscience would do. These palliatives for the practical unfaithfulness of the association (" the Brethren ") have, of course, proved inefficient to still the consciences of the members. With very few exceptions, we believe, "the Brethren" individually, and simply as Christians, do that which their leaders thought it inconsistent to lay upon them. After walking for awhile in fellowship life, unbaptised, they soon find the plain teaching of scripture too strong for all sophistry, and voluntarily seek baptism. Obedience is tho highest kind of wisdom for sons and servants, in a question of this kind much knowledge is apt to prove R hindrance. "Knowledge pufFeth up." Indeed, it will often be found that the greutestdarkness on the subject of Christian baptism prevails in the minds of those who, on many doctrinal questions, manifest great spiritual intelligence. A child in grace, content to be but 'a child, will say, "My Saviour certainly commanded it, and therefore it cannot be wrong for me to obey;" and in that simple way cuts the knot which many wise (r) ones spend a lifetime in endeavouring to untie. I ndoed, the matter is one which has to be dealt with practically (according to Scripture) immediately a soul has received tho new birth through faith in tho Lord Jesus Christ. Such an one is not competent to grasp the question as one of doctrine, but bows to it instantly as a command. As such, it is expressly given inthis, Son of God, and it would not bo competent for even apostolic authority to set it aside; much less should any inferential arguments be permitted to call in question either the ordinance itself, or its proper place as clearly given by "the Lord."
We do not profess to be giving a history of "the Brethren." Our object is simply to point out wherein they havo acted faithfully, and have been blessed; and, for warning and profit, to note in what respects they are manifestly wrong. Through ignoring baptism, "the Brethren" were driven to invent some means of testing those who seek fellowship with them. The scripture order of procedure is (let the reader search and see) declaration of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, water baptism, fellowship. That is to say, a believer who had submitted to baptism is entitled to come into fellowship with assembled be lievers without further question. "Tho Brethren" are not satisfied with that divine rule. They say, "Wo do not consider baptism effectual to keep out all we wish to keep out." This is it. They are not content with bare evidence of the new birth, and of faithfulness to the Lord's first requirement; thoy demand an amount of Christian progress—in knowledge, at least. They, therefore, discard the Lord's ordinance of baptism, and appoint visitors ; or, rather, sumo among them take that office. Persons are received into fellowship on the recommendation of two or three known as such. In London, the visitors report the result of their investigations to a central synod, which again communicates the names of candidates to the several gatherings, in all of which they are read over as proposed on the following Lord's day.
We but glance at this matter. It is so wholly wanting in faith, and contrasts so unfavourably with much which is bright and valuable among "tho Brethren," that we gladly avoid further details.
In early days, "the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved." In these times, "the Brethren" undertake to do this! It is very solemn, very sad! And this rebuke applies to nearly all denominations. Happily, the Lord is again working in His own way. There are now many little bands of Christians who assemble themselves together in all but primitive simplicity. Baptism before fellowship is not pressed as it should bo; but wo bjlicvo this simple act of faithfulness will, ere long, very generally prevail. Wo anticipate that the Lord, at His coming, will behold the Church upon earth mainly in similar attitude to that which it had at the beginning, only in much weakness—His people in little companies, and despised by the world. Many, doubtless, may be found in the conditions which they obtained in tho Churches of "Sardis" and "Laodicea," (Rev. iii.) ; but the generality, wo trust, will have the characteristics of "Philadelphia."
There is one other subject respecting which "the Brethren" are faulty. Altogether slighting the ordinance of baptism, and making "it, by their traditions, of little or no effect, they, ou the other hand, give undue prominence to the institution of tho Lord's Supper. Thoy make fellowship to consist, almost ex
clusively, of "breaking of broad." Then, they havo a theory that they only possess tho Lord's Table—that, in London, "the Table " is one, and that each of their gatherings (exclusive, be it understood, of those who were excommunicated) have, or are ('r) a corner of the Table ! So that, unless a Christian be received into ISrethrenism, ho or she has no place at the Lord's Table! And, of course, it follows that if one leaves this little community, he or she is said to have withdrawn from Tub Lord's Table!! We are stating simple fact, incredible as it must appear to many. Alas! how far from the truth can dear saints drift away when once they let go their hold upon "It is written." When other Christians meet to break broad and partake of the cup of blessing, they certainly do show forth the Lord's death. We doubt very mach whether the most bigoted among "the Brethren" would deny that. What, then, becomes of the exclusive Table P Any pretension to such is very silly, as well as sad. The tendency of all this is, of necessity, towards narrow-mindedness and degeneracy. "The Brethren " groan under a spirit of worldly-mindedness,—not in any very gross form, but it is growing upon them And they lack that Christ-like simplicity and devotodness which be- longed to them when they were little in their own eyes. As belonging to "a body" this is beyond remedy; but as members of " The Iiody," the Church, "the Brethren" have only to quit the mistaken position they hold, abandon their traditions, and gather as Christians, without any human organisation. Let them bo content to be faithful few, and little ones, and follow the Lamb whithersoever he leadeth. The eye of faith must be fixed upon Christ, not upon human leaders. When will Christians learn that lesson? But notwithstanding all—the members of this community, whose failures, as such, we dare not screen (call them Brethren, or Plymouth Brethren, or what you will), are individually very dear, loving, and lovable Christians, generally well taught in "the Word," and very sincere. They love tho Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, and joyfully wait for His appearing. The Lord bless them, and lead them, and keep them, with all His doar saints everywhere, in patience until He comes, for His own glorious name's sake.
As respects Ministry, the way in which it is recognised and exercised among "the Brethren" is in entire accordance with Scripture. Such as have gift, labour without fee or reward. Bright, shining lights there are in their midst, unknown to the world, and but littlo owned by Christians beyond the limited circle of their own denomination. But tho Lord owns and honours them, for they honour him. Their influence has been and is felt far and wide, however little they may be known by name. We believe it would not be too much to say that most of the advanced truths of Scripture, now generally expounded by spiritual evangelists and teachers, havo been unfolded afresh in these last days by the Holy Spirit, chiefly through the instrumentality of those who have ministered among " tho Brethren."
But it has been apart from Brethrenism that these faithful servants of the Lord have been so greatly used. It is their writings which have been so much blessed. These are in most cases published under initials only, and are (almost without exception) free from sectarian bias. Many a preacher whose name is celebrated, and many thousands of Christians who aro in some degree enjoying spiritual liberty and rejoicing in the hope of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, aro indebted to the writings of these faithful ones, who, though a little cramped perhaps, when dealing with their own party, have discarded all narrowness when expounding tho word of God, and have sought to embrace in their large-heartod love all who love tho Saviour. Caroloss of name and fame, thoy have kept themselves in obscurity, and have dono all to the Lord, content to await from his gracious lips the much-prized words—" Well done, good and faithful servant!"
No Hobart or God.—In the present dispensation, there is no Temple on earth. Persons foolishly talk about going to the House of God and the Sanctuary. It is quite a delusion. Buildings called churches are opened with a ceremony called consecration; but it is all in defiance of the spirit or letter of Scripture. See Acts xvii. 24. The true worshipper must, even now, know his place in the heavenlies—" within the veil;" there only in spirit can the believer worship. See Heb. x. 19—22,
Wo consider sanctification to be isolation from evil. Jesus was ever sanctified—set apart to holiness. Devotedness and self-sacrifice seem also tol>o implied in some applications of the word. The Lord said, "For their sakes I sanctify myself," &c. (John xvii. 19.) But separation from all that is opposed to the mind of God is the chief thought pressed upon us in Scripture. Thus it was with our blessed Saviour.' Ho was separate from evil, isolated from it. A short time before his hour of agony, He said, "The prince of this world cometh and hath nothing- in me." Satan could lay hold of nothing in him to fasten sin upon. The Lord Jesuswas undoubtedly sanctified, i.e., in the condition of sanctity, even when "Ho bare our sins in his own body on the tree." For though our sins were, most incomprehensibly to us, yet actually, in his body, they could never commingle with his pure self.
Now, Ho is our sanctification. "Ho is of God niado unto us sanctification," as well as wisdom,; righteousness, and redemption. He is also our pat- ■ tern as to sanctification. Our calling is to bo like him. Our standing and acceptability before God are that we aro identified with him. (Of course we arc speaking only of those who believe in him unto salvation.) We are "Accepted in the beloved ;" "As lie is so are we in this present world." This is in respect to the now life which ho has given to us; the new nature which sinueth not. "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, for nis (God's, seed remaineth in him, and ho cannot sin because ho is born of God." .But then, as to experience, (being not j-et actually delivered from the old carnal nature, but in a "body of sin,") the believer is liable to commit sin. The new nature, however, never consents. It shrinks from and detests evil; such sin as a true Christian may be overtaken by, is committed in the power of the Old Adam nature. Through faith in Jesus Christ, the beliover is sanctified, i.e., set apart to holiness. He is not only forgiven and justified—a new lifo is also given to him which is a holy lifo, a sanctified life, identical with the life of Christ, isolated from evil. But as sin came very near to Jesus when on the accursed tree, being in his body (most mysteriously so, beyond our comprehension); so also sin comes, so to speak, oven nearer (perhaps) to tho new nature in us, because of the carnality of our minds and permitted desires.
This brings us to the second order of thought which Scripture furnishes respecting sanctification : viz., tho prayerful desire of Faul expressed in 1 Thess. v. 23; "The very God of peace sanctify you whoJy; and (or, that) your whole spirit, and soul, and body bo preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Now this, we think, is not, as is generally understood, progressive sanctification, or the completion of the work of sanctification. Surely it is more a renewal of that consciousness of sanctification and practico in sanctity which belong to us, and is akin to Eph. v. 25, 26, 27. "Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it; that ho might sanctify and
cloanse it with washing of water by the word, that it should be holy and without blemish." The Lord first sanctifies (or sets apart to holiness"; the Church; then, because of earthly defilements, he brings in the washing- or purifying iniluence of "the word;" thus renewing, a* it were, its standing in sanctification, its x'parateness from evil, its holiness. While it is so with the Chinch, it is so also with the individual believer.
A simple illustration may be helpful to a true understanding of Scripture teaching. Suppose one of the golden vessel* belonging to God's ancient sanctuaiy to have been abused or used for some vile purpose, such as tho display of human pomp and pride at Belsha/zar's feast. Tho quality of the vessel is unaltered. It is of Pure Gold. But it has been handled by a vile sinner ; therefore it may have to be purged in some divine way before restoration to its sanctified uses. Its intrinsic fitness has never been changed. First and last it was a pure vessel made unto sanctification. So with the blood-washed sinner. Hois henceforth a vessel formed (Hob. x. 10). unto sanctification: lie is sanctified. Satan comes in and misuses tho believer; but his standing in purity and sanctification is unalterable. Purging may bo needful, more or less frequently, according as. he is walking circumspectly or otherwise; and the process will be proportionately painful. To be restored to sanetifiid uses is the believer's need. Hence the praver, "Tho very God of peace sanctify you whollv," &c."
If any of our readers have other thoughts on this theme, we invito them to search and see whether the}7 can find any Scripture to bear them out. In that case let us hear from them. We are quite open to conviction.
THE CITY OF CONFUSION,
(Isaiah xxiv. 10.)
A FAITHFUL W 011D FOR CHRISTIANS.
(Continued from our last.)
0. Tui; Written" Word.—Surely enough has been said to induce the reader to 'Search the Scriptures' like the noble Koreans (Acts xxii. 10—12), to see whether these things arc so. This searching must, however, be accompanied by prayer to God and faith in the Holy Ghost, as the one who io to 'lead us into all truth.' May we ask you, dear reader,—Is it a practice with you to pray to God in faith for enlightenment upon his Word? When you meet with difficulties in reading the Scriptures, do you take those very difficulties to the throne of grace, and pray the Lord to teach you .' 'If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of Got!, that giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not: and it shall lie given him.' (James i. 5.)
7. Restoration Of Israel.—We just add a few words on this subject, Christians have in thought and teaching confused the Jetoith Dispensation with the present Gentile Dispensation. For eighteen hundred years have believers (in unholy alliance with mere professors) tried to blend those utterly opposite things, Lam and Grace. The Jewish Dispensation, which brought in the Law, was completely set aside (not abolished) when Israel refused to receive the testimony of the Apostles, after the ascension of Christ. When the Church—a trorM-rejecteH Body, following its world-rejected Head—has been gathered home to heavenly glory, the Jews will be restored, under tho immediate reign of Israel's long-promised Messiah. The passage already quoted from Romans xi., and many other scriptures, clearly prove this. A remnant of the earthly Israel will be found faithful in and after the day of the great tribulation. These will be restored to the Promised Lund, and through Israel will all the nations of the earth be blessed. 'His people shall be willing in the day of His power.'
One most important result of discerning the marked separation of, and contrast between the Jewish and Christian dispensations is, deliverance from the bondage of tho law. 'Ye are not under the Law, but under Grace.' (Rom. vi. 14.) This is surely emphatic enough for all who own ' the Word' as rule and guide. But as long as Christians listen to preachers who uphold the anti-scriptural blendingof Judaism with Christianity, they will be kept in comparative darkness, sorrow, and doubt. What else can result from disregard of tho plain teachings of the Word of God? Alas, how many thousands of souls are kept under the bondage and terror of the Law, instead of rejoicing in 'the liberty of the Sons of God '—the liberty 'with which Christ has made them free.' Of course it should he evident to all who love the Lord Jesus Christ, that the liberty he has given is not licence to sin. It was sin which killed the Lord of life and glory ! and it ought, therefore, to bo intensely hateful to every believer. Rom. vi. fully settles the question as to how we arc delivered from Law ; we pray you to consider this Scripture prayerfully.
8. The Ministry.—Wo must now submit to the test of 'What saith the Scripture ?' another most important subject. It is that of Ministry. In the Christian economy, according to Scripture, there is no division into classes. Clergy and Laity are distinctions unknown in the New Testament. In Israel there was a distinct tribe set apart as priests. But, as already shown, we have no part in that dispensation. The Ministry given by our Lord Jesus Christ is "expressly enumerated in Eph. iv.— viz. 'Apostles, Prophets, Evaugolists, Pastors, and Teachers.' These are distinctly stated to bo gifti from Himself to his body, the Church. Apostles and Prophets (who had power to ordain and foretell things to come, by direct revelation from the Lord,) ceased as soon as the mind of God had been fully made known. Wo have now the Written Word instead.
The Lord still gives Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers; but he nevor calls upon his people to give themselves such, nor to appoint or ordain them. Xeither does he set them to ordain one another. Men are foolish and unfaithful enough to accept ordinations and appointments from their fellows, and are unbelieving and perversa enough to go to colleges for wisdom instead of going to God as ho has expressly instructed them to do; but unless they have gifts from Christ they can neither evangelize, shepherdize, nor teach. 'My speech and my preaching (says Paul) was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of tho Spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Howbeit wo speak wisdom among them that are perfect; yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of tho princes of this world, that come to nought, but wo speak tho wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto,our glory.' (1 Cor. ii. 4—7.) 'Now wo have received not tho spirit of the -world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also wo speak, not in the words which man's wisdom toacheth, but which the Holy Ghost t*jacheth; comparing spiritual tilings with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not tho things of tho Spirit of God; for they arc foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.' (1 Cor. ii. 12— 14.) 'Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you s'-emeth to bo wiso in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, Ho tuketh tho wise in their own craftiness. And again, tho Lord knowuth the thoughts of the wise that they arc vain. Therefore let no man glory in men.' (I Cor. iii. 18—21.)
All this is plain enough, if Christians will bo taught of God. Tho entire institution of Clergy is a most grievous mistake. Ministry is thus set before us in scripture:—
An Evangelist is a person gifted to preach the Gospel of Salvation, and it is evident he should exercise his calling whenever and wherever ho can get unconverted persons to hear him. He is appointed by tho Lord, and to him only is ho answerable. Ho should never accept from man either an appointment or a stipend; by so doing ho bocomes the servant of man. Yet if he bo given wholly to tho work of the Lord, those who have profited by his ministry are to take care to supply his temporal wants—' The Lord has ordained that they who preach the Gospel should live of tho Gospel.' All the Scriptures which speak of pecuniary aid in connection with Christian Ministry, apply to thoso who devote their lives to preaching the Gospel. It is. for Evangelists, who travel far and wide, to proclaim tho glad tidings of Salvation, for whom the Lord provides by laying their needs upon believers. But for thoso who preach the Go.spel near home, if they can follow their ordinary avocations, labouring with their hands, as did Paul, it is far happier to do so. In any caso let them never ask help of unbelievers.
Pastors or Elders aro given by tho Lord to care for the Sheep and tho Lambs of 11 is flock. They wore, in tho first days of the Church, ordained by Apostolic power. This power of ordaining was sometimes delegated to others, as Timothy and Titus; but this delegated power was convoyed by special gift, and was laid upon thorn for temporary purposes only. No power of ordaining is possessed now, for wo nowhero read that it was to be perpetuated. If any pretend to it, we ask—Whence is it obtained:
The Teacher's office is evidenced by tho name. His labouvs are exercised in the assembly of believers. Noither the Pastor nor tho Teacher should accept payment. "Tho Elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of tho sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of tho glory that shall be revealed. 'Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking tho oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not fur filthy lucre, hut of a ready mind ; neither as being Lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.' (1 Pet. v. 1—3.)
This question of Ministry will, perhaps, be better understood by Christians who may not hitherto have given attention to the subject—by looking at the true construction of a Church.
In tho highest senso of tho term, there is but one church, tho body of Christ, which will be revealed in tho glory. But upon earth tho one church should be represented by assemblies, or churches of believers. In such assemblies tho unconverted have no place as worshippers, nor can thoy have part in any matters for which Christians should assemble themselves together. They may, however, sit by as hearers. Tho basis upon which believers should como together is the word of tho Lord in Matt, xviii. 20—' Where two or threo aro gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." In this we have not only a promise of tho Lord's presence, but an assurance that irrespective of time and placo the Head of the Church is present where two or threo believers are gathered in his name. Of course faith only can realise tho blessing of it. Christians generally do not gather in the name of Jesus simply, but in the names of sects—Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists, Independents, and so forth. What are called congregations are notoriously mixed assemblies of believers and unbelievers. Tho assurance of the Lord's presence is evidently not for such. His presence as Head of tho Church is not owned, and of courso is not reckoned upon, (oxcept,of course, in respect of the worship of God, who is everywhere present.) Yet wo gladly acknowledge that the power of the name of Jesus is owned in such assemblies, and tho Gospel of his salvation is preached. But this is no recognition of the very presence of the Head of the Church. On the contrary, man is exalted, to headship ; all worship, teaching, &c, being under the rulo and guidaneo of a clergyman, who is in many cases appointed by secular authority, or at best elected by tho congregation, in any case by some mere human arrangement.
Wo refrain from touching upon Pew Rents, Salaries, Livings, Lordships, &c. The whole system is thoroughly »»scriptural. All is summed up in that word.
[The development of this subject, viz., deliverance from the 1 City of Confusion,' we purposo continuing from month to month.]
subject of Sanctilicution is noticed in our presont number.— Ed.]
J. P. Birmingham, orders some copies, and says, "ricrise explain Hi'b. vi. 1, .">, G."—[Wo hope to comply in our nest number. --En.]
A 'L. says, "I h.tvo read your little paper from its commencement with interest ; and am particularly pleased with the article entitled The Plymouth Brethren. By this movenent the holiest, deepest truths of Scripture have been perverted and made formative of a sect. Alas! what is man? To suppose Paul when he by the Holy Ghost wrote his epistles had in his mind the forming of Plymouth Brethrenism is manifestly absurd. And yet to this his epistles are twisted. God has certainly como in with a breach, but who as yet has learned the lesson Ho would fain teach ': "—[We believe the lesson is, th.it henceforth earnest and true-heaited Christians should be content with very small fellowships, in which the titticities of divine love are kept in exercise—where brethren and sisters really love one another and prove it one to another iu deed as well as in word. Above all wo must walk in th* consciousness of the deep humiliation which has come over the Church. We deserve to bo a despised people. Just as the world'a Churches are arrogating to themselves more and more of pomp and self-sufficiency, must tho Church of God manifest humility and self-abasement : and this not only because wo are so taught in "tho Word," but inconsequence of our manifest failures as a chosen people. Indeed we have nothing to boast of but tho love of (lod through Jesus Christ our Lord. Our hopo ami expectancy must be the perfect deliverance which ho will bring at his coming. We must really bo "turned from idols to serve the living and true God, and wait for his son from Heaven."Ed.]
W. L., Camden Town, takes us to task for saying "The word of God declares that the soul is saved through faith alone,'' and asks us to point out tho passage. Wo refer at oncu to Rom. x. 9, 10; Acts xvi. 31; 1 John v. 13. We merely cite these passages. Our difficulty is not in finding Scripture evidence, but out of the abundance where to choose from; we are amazed that any Christian (i.e. a believer) can havo any difficulty about it.
E., Islington, writes—" I have known dear Christians who havo sought to gather believers in faithfulness to the Lord in Bmall fellowships, stigmatised 'robbers of churches'! This is grievously harsh and ungenerous."—[It is more; it is untrue. E. will see from our article in this number on •' Separate Fellowships included in Local Churches" that tho ground taken by those of whom ho complains is quito un-Scripturol—that there is no such thing in Scripture as "our church" from which to rob. "One is your Master, even Christ, and all yo are brethren." Let us seek grace to approve ourselves to him, and to "feed his sheep," wherever we may find them.
Received.—" Lay-preaching," &c. Too late.
To Correspondents.—We invito enquiries tending to the elucidation of scriptural truth. Controversial questions should be avoided entirely, if possible.
Letters for the Editor to bo addressed to 335, Strand, W.C.
fif^* To facilitate the obtaining of Precious Trv rn, packets will be sent post free to any part of the United Kingdom, by remitting, in advance, as follows :— Two copies for 2d., Five for yd., Ton for 5d. Cash in advar.ee.
rpo OUK READKltM.—We ask brethren and sisters in the Lord to ordri X a few numbers monthly, and take some pains to lend them about. II done to the Lord in faith, you will thus be di-pensers of much Dieting.
IIIUSTIANS in the Neighbourhood of the Strand are Invited to the Scripture Rending Meeting at a35a, side-door, Monday, at Seven.
OUB COBEESPONDENTS AND OURSELVES.
J. L., Peckhnm,—informs us that "the origin of that which has grown into Plymouth Brethrenism dates at least from 1S21, and is consequently over 40 years old." Our correspondent also corrects us on several points, and gives much information about their doctrinal controversies, which would be important if we desired to give all the ramifications of the movements and agitations which have occurred among the Brethren. That was not our object. All wo wished, was to furnish Christians generally with a truthful account of what the Brethren really are. Wo sincerely thank J. L., however, for the clear statements contained in his very kind letter.
C. P., East Monkey,—has also written us a very able exposition of the grievances and ruptures which have occurred among the Brethren. These matters wo have purposely avoided, and cannot touch them now. We give, however, two or throe extracts from C. P.'s letter, which are pertinent to the line of things we desired to review.—" Fifteen years ago 1 took tho Btep I had long felt I must, or would come at last; I came out from (he Church of England so-called. I had shrunk from joining Dissenters, and for some reason equally shrunk from joining the Brethren; still, having taken the one step, the next seemed to me, at that time, inevitable; and I found myself worshipping with those called (by others) Plymouth Brethren. Still, I never did, and do not now, recognise any other than the "one body, one Spirit," and thus was I kept, by God's grace, from falling into the snaro laid by some of constituting themselves The body, tho one assembly of God. * * To my own mind, you exalt tho Plymouth Brethren, or rather dopreciato other Christians, by attributing to the former that they became clearly convinced that our Lord Jesus Christ had sent the Holy Ghost to guide his followers into all truth. It was just such an assumption which often 60t me against tho Brethren while in the Church of England, because while there I as fully acknowledged this truth as I may be supposed to do now. So I did the unity of the Body. * » * I have reason for saying you exalt tho Brethren beyond their due. As regards certain principles, I must thankfully own them, accept and act on them; and must therefore bo content to bo called (by others) a 'Plymouth.' No doubt tho fact of leaving Baptisn an open question did of necessity lead to confusion; many were afraid of insisting too much upon it lest
they should lose Mr D , who still clings to 'infant
sprinkling.'" [Your last lotter in our next.—Ed.]
W. II. II., Derby, writes as follows:—" Will you bo kind enough to send me 2C copies of Precious Truth? I enclose stamps. I like your paper much, and believe it will be made a blessing to the Lord's people. You will be glad to hear that I have been ablo to get nearly 30 regular subscribers, and live in hopes that this number will soon bo much increased. Kindly sand mo a few numbers (in accordanco with your noto in No. 3) to distribute gratis, and to send to friends at a distance. In this way I trust I could get many to take it up who do not know of its existenco yet. I am a lover of precious truth, and desire to see it scattered far and wide. About a fortnight ago a few Christians with myself commenced a meeting on Monday evenings for reading tho Scriptures. I hopo if the Lord will to let you know moro of this, and how we progress by and bye. I have tho privilege of gathering with a few Christians, in tho name of Jesus only, every week for breaking of bread. This is not on the Lord's Day; at present there are hindrances to our coming together on the first day of the week. Will you kindly give us a word on Sanctification—what is it? Many Christians think of it as perfection in the flesh—nbsoluto sinlessncss of life in this world. Are not all believers sanctified f Has the word only one or
several meanings r" [Wo thank W. II. H. very heartily
for his exertions in spreading tho knowledge of Precious Truth. May many other dear brethren and sisters bo led to do likewise; not for our advantage, for we have nothing to gain, but for the sake of the sheep and lambs of the ilock. We congratulate our correspondent upon the open door for searching the Scriptures and for fellowship in breaking of bread. May the Lord send abundant blessing upon these and all such manifestations of faithfulness. As requested, the
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NOTICE.—Employment is wanted for aCbri>tian man. a labourer, lie
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