Are You a Member - And of
As long as the solemn question of the soul's eternal
salvation is left in dark uncertainty, there will be little, if
any, freedom of spirit to think of that which interests Christ
or concerns His glory, apart from the bare matter of the sinner's
peace and safety. On the other hand, when one who professes to
have the knowledge of this great salvation gives evidence in walk
and ways of cold indifference to those interests, it manifests
either a very shallow work in the soul or no real work at all.
For be sure of this, that the work of the Spirit in a soul is
as great a reality as the work of Christ for that soul; and that,
in whomsoever He (the Spirit) dwells, His activity will always
tend to the glory of Christ. "He shall glorify Me,"
said the blessed Lord, "for He shall receive of Mine, and
shall show it unto you" (John 16:14).
In case this should fall into the hands of a troubled
soul, it may be well to add here, for his comfort, that peace
does not depend upon our being satisfied with the work of the
Spirit in us, but upon God's satisfaction in the work of Christ
for us, and as this rests eternally the same, the ground of our
peace is unchanging too. "Christ also hath once suffered
for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God"
(1 Peter 3:18). But it is for those who have already been brought
to the knowledge of salvation that this little book is intended,
though it is the earnest prayer of the writer that its pages may
graciously be used of God to the exercise and blessing of every
reader who loves our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.
How I should like, before we proceed further, to
fill your heart (if it is not already full) with the warm and
heavenly rays which shine forth from that little sentence in John
13:1, "Having loved His own which were in the world, He
loved them unto the end!" "His own!" What a precious thought!
His, not only by creator-right and redemption-titles, but His
by gift from the Father, "Thine they were, and Thou gavest
them Me" (John 17:6). And so precious is this thought to
His own heart, that seven times over in that remarkable outbreathing
of His soul to the Father (John 17), He makes mention of it. Is
this not enough to fill your heart, dear reader? 'Tis true you
are left for a little while in this cold, dark world, but you
are "loved" by Him, and loved through everything,
right on "to the end." Never dream, I pray you, of
asking Him to increase His love toward you. He never could love
you more, and He never will love you less. Blessed be His Name,
His love is like Himself--infinite and eternal.
"Love that no tongue can teach,
Love that no thought can reach;
No love like His.
God is its blessed source,
Death ne'er can stop its course,
Nothing can stay its force,
Matchless it is."
Now, I need not say that you are not the only one
in this poor world loved by Christ and saved by His precious blood.
There are other joint-heirs, "many sons," that have
God's eternal glory as their bright destiny; and I am desirous
of saying a few simple words to you about your path in connection
with these, your fellow-Christians--"His own"--left
with you in the world. But I would first say,
BE RIGHT WITH GOD IN SECRET,
and would earnestly press upon you the deep importance
of personal piety, and wholehearted devotedness to Christ, apart
from the question of any other saint on earth. May the Holy Spirit
of God make this plain to you. Depend upon it -- to be right with
God in your closet is of equal importance to being right with
Him in public, among your fellow-Christians. Take a simple illustration.
Will not a good servant see to the proper condition of the glasses,
etc., before he puts them in their places on the master's table?
and will not the soldier look well that his accoutrements are
in a bright and worthy state before he steps into rank among his
comrades? Mark, I am not going to say a word against right order,
but rather to urge its importance. Yet, I do see the necessity
of pressing upon you a prior thing. What would any master care
for the most exact order of laying a table, if the knives and
forks, etc., were in a dirty and unsatisfactory state, and the
servant himself in disgraceful untidiness? Or what captain be
satisfied with the punctuality and regularity of his men, if their
rifles were dirty and their bayonets rusty? Of course, a servant
who cared for the approval of His master would neglect none of
Now pause here for a moment, and let me ask myself
and you a practical question: Is there anything in your heart
which you are well aware would not have a place there for an instant
if your blessed Lord and Master had it all His own way with you?
Let us honestly face that question, and be very jealous lest there
be a single selfish reserve in our hearts from Him. A Christian
who cherishes such a reserve is virtually saying, "Lord,
I can trust Thee with my safety, but cannot trust Thee with my
happiness." Oh, let us consider Him more, dear reader!
"He sold all that He had," and gave His
precious lifeblood too, for the joy of making us "His own;"
and having done and suffered all this for us, He now gives everything
to us, and makes a feast for His own heart in doing it. What a
Giver! What a Lover! Blessed, thrice-blessed Saviour! Help me
to praise Him, and let us exalt His Name together.
Well, the more you become at home with Him, to
use a familiar expression, the more you will joyfully anticipate
being with Him at home, and the greater heavenly glow and fervor
will your testimony have until you get there. No amount of effort
will bring about this state; but in keeping His company, and beholding
Him in glory, where He now is, you will be "changed into
the same image from glory to glory," and thus reflect His
moral beauty here below. The more practically we become like Him,
the louder our lives speak for Him. Whenever you find that your
appetite for secret communion with Him is diminishing, you may
be pretty sure that one or more of the "little foxes that
spoil the vines" are finding an undisturbed lodging place
in your heart. Therefore, search diligently, and spare them not,
or else bid farewell to your joy and spiritual prosperity. But
go at once to Him, and say, with full surrender of your own will,
"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my
thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me (Margin,
‘way of pain or grief’), and lead me in the way everlasting"
Ever may it be--
"Our only grief to give Him pain,
Our joy to serve and follow Him."
What a delight it is to one that loves the Lord
to have the consciousness in his soul that he is ministering pleasure
to the heart of Christ! It is then that the brightest offer the
world can make you but crumbles into dust and ashes at your feet.
STEPS RIGHTLY DIRECTED, A FALSE WAY DETECTED
It is well at the commencement of your Christian
career to be fully alive to the fact that it is the Word of God
which must be the touchstone for everything in your path, whether
personally or relatively. Look at Psalm 119:104, "Through
Thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false
way;" and again, verse 128, "Therefore I esteem all
Thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every
false way." Notice how decidedly the Holy Spirit speaks
through the Psalmist. It is either a right way according to the
Word, or it is a false way to be hated. Man naturally loves to
tone things down to keep his conscience quiet. God in creation
"divided the light from the darkness," and morally
He does so still. Man would blend them together in a kind of dim
twilight; but beware of these subtle compromises, and like David,
say, "I hate vain thoughts: but Thy law do I love"
Now do not let this apply only to the question
of your salvation and personal state, but to that also which I
now desire briefly to dwell upon; viz.,
YOUR GROUND OF FELLOWSHIP WITH OTHER
CHRISTIANS; OR, IN OTHER WORDS, YOUR CHURCH POSITION
One of the first things, I believe, which the renewed
heart craves for is fellowship with God's people. He finds himself
no longer at home in the world and naturally seeks "his
own company." But amidst all the names and divisions of
disordered Christendom, a newborn soul may well enquire, "Where
shall I turn to be right?" My answer is, "To God,
and to the Word of His grace" (Acts 20:32). Whoever is
wrong, God and His Word are right. Get that well grounded in your
soul, and "cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils"
A few years ago, two Christians, hitherto strangers
to each other, were traveling together in a passenger train when,
after some conversation about the Lord and His interests, one
of them leaned forward and said, "May I ask what denomination
you belong to?" "Well, that is a common enough question,"
replied the other, "but will you first say what you think
is to guide me in my path as a Christian?"
He agreed at once that it was the Word of God alone
that could with certainty direct him. "Then, if you will
allow me," said his fellow-traveler, "I will answer
your question by proposing another; viz., What denomination
does the Word of God put me into?" After some silent
deliberation he said, "Why, none at all." "Then
I can't belong to one at all," replied the other. "For
if I did (based on your own answer), I should clearly be in a
position where the Word of God had not placed me. "
"But," replied the first speaker,
"does not the Word of God exhort us not to forsake the assembling
of ourselves together, and so much the more, as we see the day
approaching?" (Heb. 10:25).
"Yes, it does. But a Christian need not belong
to a denomination to obey that word; for the Lord Jesus said,
'Where two or three are gathered together unto My Name, there
am I in the midst of them'" (Matt. 18:20).
Now, dear reader, if you look at 2 John 6, you
will find that he exhorts the elect lady, and those with her,
thus: "And this is love, that we walk after His commandments.
This is the commandment, that, as ye have heard from the beginning,
ye should walk in it."
Now John had seen the Lord in His wondrous life;
had seen Him die upon the cross; was a witness of His resurrection;
beheld Him taken up into heaven; and was present when on the day
of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came down from an ascended Christ
to baptize believers into one body, and thus form the Church.
He had lived long enough to see evil come into the circle of the
professing church; but what is the remedy? Is it, "Begin
afresh with a new and purer sect of a more improved constitution?"
Listen to his reply by the Holy Spirit: "This is the commandment,
that, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it"
(2 John 6). So that the Spirit of God makes it plain that He suffers
no innovation of man's to trespass upon the sacred principles
of God's Word for the guidance of His people, whatever their exercises
may be, or whatever the date of their history.
Now apply this principle today, and you must find
yourself in one of two positions -- either on God's ground of
gathering the disciples at the beginning, or on some ground that
man, in his fancied wisdom of mistaken zeal, has set up since
THE ONE BODY AND ITS MEMBERS
In Acts 2:42, it is said of the early disciples
that, "they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine
and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."
After the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, an entirely new revelation
was made to the Church through this once champion persecutor of
the saints; namely, that every believer on earth was united to
Christ by the Holy Spirit (see Acts 9:4; 1 Cor. 6:17; 1 Cor. 12:12-27);
that "as the body is one, and hath many members, and all
the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also
is (the) Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one
body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free;
and have been all made to drink into one Spirit" (1 Cor.
12:12, 13). Then, in Ephesians 4:3, 4, we not only get the same
fact plainly stated -- "there is one body," but we
are exhorted to "endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit
in the bond of peace;" that is, we are to maintain practically
what the Holy Spirit has formed spiritually.
There are two classes of Christians in the world.
One practically says, "Man has formed many bodies, and I
being a member of one of these (the best according to my opinion),
desire to serve its interests in every possible way I can."
The other says, "God has formed one body and made me a member
of it, and now I desire by His grace to serve the interests of
the Head of that body, according to the principles laid down in
His Word who formed it."
Now, dear reader, to which of these classes do
you belong? Alas! how many a precious saint of God is represented
by the first!
Do you not often hear a Christian talk about "joining"
this or that body? Surely such an one forgets (if ever he knew)
that the only body which God in His Word recognizes is the "one
body" of which Christ Himself is the Head, and of which
every true believer is a living member. If saved, therefore (to
use a common expression), you are already a "joined member."
"He that is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit" (1
Cor. 6:17). And, in 1 Corinthians 6:18, using the figure of the
human body, the apostle says, "God hath set the members
every one of them in the body as it hath pleased Him."
What sad confusion then to talk of joining some
other body. Why not be content with the place God has given you
in the "body of Christ," and seek through grace to
fulfill the responsibilities of such a place?
Now, the Holy Spirit certainly never baptized believers
into a "sect" or denomination. Look at 1 Corinthians
1:12, 13, and chapter 3:3, and you will see that He meets on the
very threshold, so to speak, the incoming of sectarian spirit
in Corinth with a most withering stroke of condemnation. "Are
ye not carnal, and walk as men? for while one saith, I am of Paul;
and another, I of Apollos; are ye not carnal?"
But you may enquire, "If it is wrong to stand
upon or uphold a sectarian position, is there any definite way
laid down in God's word of expressing the truth of the one body?"
To answer this, we must look a little at what Scripture says of
THE LORD'S TABLE
If you turn to 1 Corinthians 10:16, you will find
that just as twelve loaves on the table of showbread expressed
what Israel was; viz., twelve tribes (Lev. 24:5, 6), so the one
loaf of the Lord's supper is the symbol to express the truth of
what the Church on earth is; viz., one body. "We being many
are one bread (or loaf) and one body: for we are all partakers
of that one bread (or loaf)" (v. 17). So that in partaking
of the one loaf, the divinely taught Christian owns his union
with all true believers on the face of the whole earth, whatever
their ignorance, weakness, or Christ-dishonouring divisions may
be. But while he does this, he can only have fellowship with those
who are seeking to walk in obedience to the Word, and in separation
from manifested evil. The Holy Spirit of God would certainly never
seek to maintain outward unity at the expense of inward holiness.*
(Read 1 Cor. 5:6, 7, 8, 13).
*The fellowship in the Church of England is much
broader than Scripture owns, because every moral living baptized
and confirmed parishioner is admitted to the Lord's Supper, whether
he is converted or not; while, on the other hand, that owned in
all the dissenting bodies is much too narrow, because in them
only those are recognized as "members" who hold the
views of this or that particular sect or denomination.
If Scripture therefore is to be your guide, you
must be on a ground wide enough to include every member of the
body of Christ, whose walk and ways are according to holiness
and truth, and narrow enough to exclude all that Scriptural discipline
would shut out.
I would just add here, that while the tenth chapter
of this epistle speaks of the Lord's table, the eleventh speaks
more particularly of
THE LORD'S SUPPER
Here our divine affections are called forth in
remembrance of the blessed worthy One Himself, and whilst doing
this together, we "show His death until He come."
Then we shall no longer need such symbols, but see Him face to
face. But is it not sad to think of the cold-hearted neglect of
this blessed privilege by many of those whose redemption cost
Him His precious blood? So you think it is nothing to His heart
that those whom He loves so tenderly should manifest such disregard
for what may be called His farewell wish, expressed, as it was,
on the night of His betrayal, and re-expressed from His place
of exaltation in glory? "As often as ye eat this bread,
and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till He come"
(1 Cor. 11:26). And we find, in Acts 20:7, that the disciples,
in loving response to this their Lord and Master's wish, came
together "on the first day of the week to break bread."
Yet in our day, some consider the first Sunday
in the month sufficiently frequent, others once a quarter, and
many even allow a still longer time to elapse without granting
Him this special desire of His heart. Now which of us would not
freely acknowledge that it was deplorable ingratitude on the part
of Pharaoh's butler, when, after Joseph had turned his sadness
into joy, it was said, "Yet did not the chief butler remember
Joseph, but forgot him" (Gen. 40:23). And this too, after
Joseph's touching appeal, in which he said, "When it shall
be well with thee, think on me." But still, Joseph only
ministered joy to his fellow-prisoner for three days, and even
this cost him no more than the mere utterance of a few short sentences;
while for us, the spotless Son of God has purchased eternal blessings
and joys that know no end, at such a cost as only He, who can
fathom the depths of Calvary's bitterness and woe, can rightly
Now what shall be said of him (with whom it is
well indeed) who, without a single merit or the slightest cost,
receives these infinite and blood-bought blessings at His hand,
and the words of eternal life from His lips, and yet can hear
Him say, "This do in remembrance of Me," without
the least apparent response of heart to it? What must the angels
who look on (1 Cor. 11:10) think of such unexampled ingratitude?
Nay, let us ask ourselves, What must the blessed One Himself think
Not long ago we were told that a few Christians
in a country village were often kept for more than a year from
the privilege of eating the Lord's supper together, just because
a certain preacher could not go over to "administer it to
them." This was truly a grievous mistake; for there is
no such thing even hinted at in Scripture as any man (not even
an apostle) being set apart for such a thing. "The disciples
came together to break bread."
It might be well to say here that, according to
God's words, all true believers are now priests (Rev. 1:6; 1 Peter
2:5, 9), and as such they have the privilege of entering the holiest
with boldness, bringing their praises to the Father and to the
Son with glad and worshipping hearts.
How sadly has human interference set aside the
simplicity of divine order, robbing the Lord of His glory, His
people of their blessing, and dragging the highest heavenly privileges
of Christianity down to the earthly level of Judaism. May the
Lord deliver His own from such a state of things so contrary to
But, returning to our subject, let us never forget
that the Lord's supper must be received in the spirit of self-judgment
(See 1 Cor. 11:28-31). Having judged ourselves and spared nothing
about us that is unworthy of Him, we come together, with grateful
and undistracted hearts, to think of all the worthiness that is
in Him who went down into death for us. What a soul-absorbing
privilege it would ever be if our practical state were no hindrance
to the Holy Spirit leading us into the true enjoyment of such
a heavenly feast! May the frequency of it never rob us of the
freshness of it. But there is another feature of
THE HOLY SPIRIT'S PRESENCE ON EARTH,
which it is important to be clear about. The Lord
Jesus promised that the Comforter, even the Spirit of Truth, when
He came, should not only be in them (individually) but with them
(corporately) (John 14:16, 17). And without going into the matter
now, it is evident from such Scriptures as 1 Corinthians 14, that
in the beginning of the Church's history His presence was owned,
and His guidance and operation looked for, both in public meetings
and with individuals.
Alas, how much human arrangements have set aside
the Word of God in this matter, robbing His people, and quenching
His Spirit! And so widespread in Christendom has this evil become
that, look where you will, from St. Peter's in Rome down to the
smallest dissenting chapel, you can see it. Instead of believers,
when assembled together for worship or edification, depending
on the Lord alone for the guidance of His Spirit, why, even a
prayer-meeting can scarcely be held without the appointment of
someone to "conduct" it. This one or that, whether
led of the Spirit or not, is called upon to "engage in prayer,"
while the "prayer-leader" is supposed to "open"
the meeting and "close" it, whatever his state of
soul may be. What is all this but man usurping the place of the
Holy Spirit, the sad fruit of unbelief as to His personal presence?
Some believers even go so far as to pray for Him to be sent, or
to Him to come, and this notwithstanding the plain word of the
Lord: "He shall give you another Comforter, that He may
abide with you forever" (John 14:16). It should,
however, be borne in mind that there is a wide difference between
a meeting for preaching the gospel to the unsaved (when the individual
servant, according to his measure of gift, is solely responsible
to deliver His Master's message), and a company of God's redeemed
people, coming together for worship or edification.
YOUR POSITION TESTED
Now, with these simple facts before us, suppose
that Peter, James, and John, with a few others of the early disciples,
should have lived until the present day, say in one of our towns,
and that they were still meeting in the simplicity of divine order
as at the beginning; i.e., gathered together unto the Name of
the Lord Jesus (compare Matt. 18:20 with John 20:19), remembering
Him in the breaking of bread on the first day of the week, and
waiting for His coming again (examine Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:23-26);
maintaining scriptural discipline (see 1 Cor. 5:9-13; 1 Tim. 5:20;
2 Thess. 3:6, 14, 15; 1 Thess. 5:14; 2 Tim. 4:2; Titus 2:15; Gal.
6:1); endeavouring to maintain the truth in practice that "there
is one body" (Eph. 4:3, 4); and recognizing the presence
and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst to guide by
the Holy Spirit whom He will and as He will, whether in worship
or ministry, thereby ignoring, of course, all human rules and
every vestige of what is merely man's usurped authority. Now calmly
pause for a moment, and ask yourself the question just referred
to: "To what denomination would they belong?"
It will surely not take much spiritual discernment to answer that
question with a very decided negative; and, "of course,"
you will say, "none at all."
But, to bring the question somewhat nearer home,
if you were living in that very town yourself, would not you like
to have the apostles' fellowship? I am sure you would. Well, then,
in order to get it, you must first leave every kind of sectarian
ground set up by man since the beginning of the Church's history
upon earth, and accept, with its consequences, the "apostles'
doctrine." Then, having got upon their ground of "fellowship,"
you would have the privilege of expressing it with them in the
"breaking of bread." "The cup of blessing which we bless,
is it not the fellowship of the blood of Christ? The bread which
we break, is it not the fellowship of the body of Christ?"
(1 Cor. 10:16). But you may say, perhaps, that the apostles are
not living on the earth now. Well but, thank God, their doctrine
is--"the Word which liveth and abideth forever;"
and that puts me in this day on the same ground of fellowship
that they were upon in that day; i.e., if I submit to be guided
and governed by it.
This may perhaps fall into the hands of some older
Christian, who says, "Well, I see that the ground I have
been upon has no warrant in Scripture; but I am not capable of
putting the thing right." Probably not; but your responsibility
is to put yourself right. "If a man therefore purge himself
from these" (vessels to dishonour), "he shall be
a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use,
and prepared unto every good work.
Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, love,
peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart"
(2 Tim. 2:19-22). To Jeremiah of old, who stood valiantly for
God amidst a sinful and rebellious people, it was said, "If
thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as My
mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them"
"But," reasons another, "ought
I not to stay in the place and among the people where my soul
was converted?" Well, I think you will see at once that
such a principle could not possibly apply to every Christian.
Some are converted amid the gross darkness of Romanism: would
you have them stay there? Saul of Tarsus on the roadside amongst
the haters of Christ?
One is saved on the battlefield; and only tonight
I heard of a young man brought to God while tempest-tossed and
well-nigh driven to despair in the Bay of Biscay. In all such
cases, God is sovereign ("the wind bloweth where it listeth");
He can convert a soul anywhere, and by any means. But from the
moment he is converted, he is no longer his own, nor has he a
right to choose his own path, or do his own will; he must henceforth
consult the wishes of another--even his own precious Lord and
Master, and seek His all-sufficient grace and power to carry those
A man may enlist as a soldier in the common dram-shop,
in the public market, or wherever the recruiting sergeant can
prevail upon him to join the colors, but, as you are aware, from
that day he is no longer his own master but must prepare himself
to obey the wishes of His Majesty. Now what would you think of
a recruit who insisted upon staying where he was enlisted, or
even with the recruiting staff? Such a course might possibly suit
him, but he must now yield to other and higher authority.
There may be another who says, "Nearly all
my Christian friends are in such a sect; and, besides, is it not
right to go where you can get the most good?"
Well, I have no doubt that Jonathan might have
reasoned thus when, in David's days, he chose rather to think
of his own good with his own relations in Saul's court than of
following one who so dearly loved him in a pathway of suffering,
loneliness and rejection. But had poor, lamented Jonathan consulted
David's interests instead of his own, had he devotedly cleaved
to him, hated and hunted though David was, he would probably never
have fallen, as he did, on the mountains of Gilboa. Ah, dear fellow-believer,
depend upon it, neither the opinion of your friends, nor your
own judgment of what is most for your good, can guide you in these
matters! The truth of God alone can direct you in a Christ-honouring
path, and the God of truth alone can sustain you in it. The Scripture
which makes you wise unto salvation furnishes you unto all good
works; i.e., with all needful instruction for your path (2 Tim.
3:15-17). And since this is so, you ought to be as sure of one
as of the other. There can surely be no shadow of uncertainty
to faith when God has spoken His mind; but how sad that so many,
even of His own professed people, should glibly speak of "essentials"
and "non-essentials" in the things of God, which
usually means that whatever concerns their own safety and blessing
is essential, and all the rest, no matter how closely connected
with the glory of the blessed Son of God, is to be treated with
comparative indifference as non-essential! Oh, what miserable
selfishness does this manifest! What a different state of things
characterized the dear apostle! The earnest desire of his heart
was that Christ should be "magnified in his body, whether
by life or by death;" his one motto was--"To me to
live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil. 1:20, 21).
But there is yet another objection which is sometimes
raised against leaving a human for a divine ground of association
and fellowship; viz., the failures and inconsistencies of those
who professedly occupy this ground.
Most sorrowfully, though frankly, do I own that
those who, through grace, have clearly seen the place to be of
God, and sought to occupy it, have very painfully and disgracefully
failed; while some, no doubt, who professedly took the ground
never saw what they were doing, nor had any depth of godly exercise
about it; so that when their faithfulness to the principles which
professedly separated them were put to the test, they either in
practice denied those very principles or else forsook them altogether.
This, however, no more proves the position wrong
than the failure of His Majesty's Ministers in the House of Commons
proves that it is not the true House of Parliament, or Uzziah's
failure in the temple, or, still worse, that of king Ahaz, proves
that it was not God's center of gathering for all the thousands
of Israel (2 Chron. 26:16-20; 2 Kings 16:10-17); while, on the
other hand, the most spotless morality in those assembled by Jeroboam
at Dan or Bethel, the most ardent zeal, the most unexampled self-denial,
coupled with the greatest popularity and the voice of the majority
(ten tribes against two), could not possibly make those altars
the right centers, or justify Jereboam in setting them up.
God has ever claimed the right to fix a gathering
center for His people, and to settle the order of priestly service
and worship; and surely this is not less true of the Church than
of Israel. But let it be well remembered that He never regarded
mere correct outward order as sufficient to satisfy Him (see Isaiah
1:11-17). In the future history of His ancient people there will
be, according to prophecy, a great regathering to God's center--
Jerusalem. But what a sifting will they have to pass through ere
their state is suited to the holiness of Jehovah! And they will
be sifted too by what is false among themselves.
What a solemn thought for us, since a similar state
of things in Church history has been foretold by the apostle Paul
in Acts 20:30: "Also of your own selves shall men arise,
speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them."
But, as already noticed, the apostle at once carries them to the
resting place of the faith of His chosen in all ages; viz., "God,
and the Word of His grace." Whatever sifting may come,
blessed be His Name, we shall ever find in Him and in His Word
all that we need until the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven,
and with His "shout" bring about, "in the twinkling
of an eye," that great gathering around Himself spoken
of in 2 Thessalonians 2: 1.
"Then all that grieves shall pass away,
And saints shall see a glorious day."
Not a division among them, nor a stain upon them!
Till then "everyone that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself,
even as He is pure" (1 John 3:3).
"Watching and ready may we be,
As those that wait their Lord to see." Amen.
Earnestly do I entreat you, dear reader, in view
of that day when His eyes shall surely meet yours in glory, to
test your church position as well as the ground of your peace
and safety by the Lord's own question to some in the days of His
flesh; viz., "Is it from heaven, or of men?" (Luke
20:4). Does it bear the unmistakeable stamp of divine and scriptural
authority? or is it merely endorsed by the hand of human expediency
or mere religious opinion? Never, never rest until you can say,
without a doubt, "I am, through grace, in a position where
my gracious Lord would have me, because I am where the Word of
God has placed me;" and then with purpose of heart and
fervour of spirit seek to adorn it by a holy, separate, and devoted
walk, and so when He comes you will not only be ready to "go
in to the marriage" through faith in Him, but get His approving
"well done" for faithfulness to Him. Difficulties
you may have, will have, but if in the path that pleases Him,
you may with all confidence count upon His sympathy and succour;
and even though the misunderstandings of your fellow- Christians
add bitterness to your cup, yet the sense of His smile
will more than recompense you. "Them that honour Me I will
honour, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed"
(1 Sam. 2:30). "If any man serve Me, him will My Father
honour" (John 12:26).
May such "honour" be yours, dear reader,
now and "till He come." -- G. Cutting (available
in tract form from Grace & Truth, Danville, Ill.)