F. W. Grant.
Another question must now be considered, which unites itself to that which we have been just considering. We shall find that "independency" is one of the most successful means of evasion of scriptural discipline that could perhaps be imagined, — one of the most successful snares by which the children of God can be seduced into resistance to the will of God, while to themselves they seem to be standing only for the principles of the Word, against "confederacy," for purity, and unsectarian maintenance of the Body of Christ. We must therefore look seriously and with sufficient care into the matter: first, at what independency really is, and then at the fruits which make manifest the tree.
In its simplest and boldest form independency appears as the denial of any scriptural authority for any "circle of fellowship" outside of the individual gathering, wherever it may be; and this denial is made in the interests, as they imagine, of unsectarian recognition of the one Church only, which is the body of Christ. The formation and maintenance of any such circle is, they maintain, sectarian, and the adoption by such a circle of a common discipline is sectarianism full-blown. It constitutes the whole a "party," which may take the name of Christ, as some at Corinth did, and only be perhaps on that account to be the more avoided, as making that precious Name an instrument of division.
The charge is not, it may be, that of denying the Name of Christ, but it approaches it so nearly as to make it of the most serious consequence. Those who hold to a circle of fellowship and yet refuse the adoption of a sectarian name, with what is implied in this, can neither afford to give up their claim of gathering simply to the Name of Christ, nor accept the truth of what is charged against them. Let us examine then what is meant by these assertions, neither shaken from our convictions by their boldness, nor refusing to bring all these to the test of Scripture, as often as may be needful That which is true will only gain in its hold on us by every fresh examination, and the only danger is in this being lightly and not thoroughly carried out. We should be thankful for any suggestions that awaken fresh inquiry.
Now what is a "circle of fellowship"? That all such is not forbidden must be believed by the objector himself, if he have but "two or three" gathered with himself in any local assembly. For this, I suppose, is not the whole "assembly of God" there, but something indefinitely less than this. Yet, here there must be a within and without, a being, in some sense, of us or not of us, — a something which is saved from being a party, not by having no walls or door, but by its having no arbitrary, no merely human, terms of admission. If it have no terms, then it is a mere rabble of lawless men, and as such to be refused by every Christian.
If you say, "No, it is Scripture to which we are subject," that brings in at once the implication that it is Scripture as you see it, not as your fellow-Christians see it; and you take your place as before the Lord, to be judged of Him in regard to this. Your being a separate somewhat, a "circle of fellowship," does not constitute you a party: you own Christians everywhere, as members of the body of Christ, and receive them wherever a scriptural hindrance to their reception does not exist, and you speak of being gathered simply to Christ's Name, without an idea that you are making the Name of Christ a badge, or sign, or instrument, of division.
Well, then, in this place, at least, there exists a gathering of Christians that I can recognize, — I suppose, ought to recognize, — apart from the whole body of Christians in the place. I say, "ought," because I have duties in regard to the assembling of ourselves together; and here alone I find those with whom I can assemble, no unscriptural condition being imposed on me. Were there another assembly in the same place and of the same character, then I should have to ask why they were not together: for the sin of schism is a grave one in Scripture, and I should have of necessity to refuse this.
If, then, in this place, I repeat, there is a gathering that I can own, and must, — suppose, now, I went elsewhere and lived — found perhaps there also one that I had equally to own as gathered to Christ's Name alone, would it be right for me in the new place to refuse to own as a separate company, those in that from which I came, whom, when I was there, I had to own, and whom, if I were now there, I should have to own? Is it possible that my going from New York to Boston should make that wrong for me at Boston which at New York would be quite right, and if I went back there, would be right again? If so, that is independency in earnest; or else it is the most curious shifting of right and wrong that one can conceive of; morality shifting every few miles of the road, whichever way I travel. And yet, if not, we are connected in principle, to a "circle of fellowship"!
The recognition of each other by such gatherings throughout the world is, therefore, right; and everything opposed to it is false and wrong. Nay, it is impossible to maintain practically, if principles are of any value to us. For, were I taking the journey spoken of, must I not inquire for those who are of one mind with us in Boston? and would those in Boston expect anything else of me? To refuse a circle of fellowship may be held as a theory: the facts will always be discordant with the theory. The theory itself cannot be truthfully accepted by any one who has given it any sober reflection; except it mean independency of the grossest and narrowest kind; that is, associating where one will, and recognizing obligations nowhere but where I will. And this would be indeed the most perfect sectarianism that could well exist.
But we are to recognize the whole body of Christ! Surely, but not their unscriptural associations. In the interests of the body of Christ I refuse denominations; but in the same interests I am bound to accept the circle of unsectarian fellowship. The gracious words which, providing for a day of failure and confusion, sanction the two or three gathered to the Lord's blessed Name, sanction such gatherings in every place, and therefore a circle of such gatherings. It would be as sectarian to refuse identification with these as to take our place with the various denominations. Nay, it would be more so. Nor would it save us from this, to say we were acting for the good of the whole Church of God, when from Scripture itself the disproof is so easy.
Now, another step.
To accept these is to accept their discipline. For the Lord's sanction of the gathering is the express sanction of their discipline. Of course, I do not mean by that that they can add to Scripture, or invent a character of discipline that is not found there; nor yet that He could sanction what might be a mistaken judgment. He is the Holy and the True, the Lord and Master of His people always: and that is quite enough to say as to all this. But authority for discipline these "two or three" have: and woe to him who resists its rightful exercise: "If he hear not the Church, let him be to thee as a heathen man and a publican" is said of just such feeble gatherings as these.
It is plain that precisely the same thing is to be said for the discipline as for the gathering itself: if it is to be respected at A where it is exercised, it is just as much to be respected at B or C. If it be the decision of a local matter, then the Lord has plainly put it into the hands of those who are in circumstances to judge of it aright, though protest and appeal are surely to be listened to, and they are bound to satisfy consciences where honestly exercised about it.
As to a question of truth, as such it affects all consciences; it can be put before all: no local gathering has authority in any such matter; it would be making a creed to be subscribed. The truth as to Christ is a deeper and more vital matter, for we are gathered to His Name. Where truth of this kind is subverted the gathering exists no more, except as an instrument in the enemy's hand, and is to be refused, with all who take part with it.
If on the other hand, the question be of facts, then those who have them are bound (if these affect more than the local gathering) to make them known to their brethren; and here a circular letter may rightly have its place, not to establish a rule or principle of action, but as a witness: which of course is open to question, as all facts are, if there be contrary evidence, or that given be insufficient. No circular has authority in itself: it is purely a question of facts and of the credibility of the testimony.
With these limitations, which are the results of the frailty and fallibility which are common to us all, we have necessarily to own a circle of fellowship and the discipline connected with it, if we would be free from the charge of real independency.
And real independency is not of God, but always and everywhere acts against Him. It is to make the members of the same body say to each other, "we have no need of you," and to deny the unity of the Spirit which should pervade the body. The more we lament and refuse the sectarianism which exists, the more we are compelled, and shall rejoice to own the body of Christ wherever possible. And this circle of fellowship, while it is not the "body," furnishes us with the means of owning this in a truthful and holy way, so far as the state of ruin in which the Church exists permits it to be done. With love to all Christ's own, — with an open door for the reception of all according to the conditions of truth and holiness, — such a circle is not sectarian, but a protest against it, while the meeting that refuses connection with it is sectarian in fullest reality.
And that is what is meant by the "ground" of the one body. It is as different as possible from any claim to be the one body, and does not in the least imply any sectarian conditions of intelligence in order to communion. The maintenance of a common discipline is in no wise sectarian, but part (an an essential part) of that communion itself: absolutely necessary if the holiness of God be the same thing wherever it is found, and not a thing for the "two or three" anywhere to trifle with as they list.
Independency, in setting aside the practical unity of the Church of God, sets aside a main guard of holiness itself. It makes this no object of common care; it does not seek common exercise about it. It releases from the sense of responsibility as to the house of God: it is my own house I am to keep clean after my own fashion. And this real laxity as to the people of God at large (but which is so consoling to an unexercised conscience, that it is the great charm undoubtedly to multitudes today) naturally has the effect of lowering one's estimate of holiness altogether, and so prevents my own house being kept really clean.
Where, however, a circle of fellowship is in fact maintained, along with and spite of the protest against it, or where there is not the maintenance of a common discipline — where perhaps as the natural fruit of independency also, the unholy principle is contended for that an assembly cannot be judged for that which would compel the judgment of an individual, there, as is natural to expect, any local discipline almost can be evaded by a little dexterity. If the gathering at B will not receive you from A, it will from C, and C will receive you from A. No one is safe anywhere from the violation of a discipline which he himself recognizes as a scriptural one. Any particular person, if he be not too prominent, becomes lost to the eye amid the maze of bewildering differences. He who has conscience, and would fain be clear, has soon to resign himself to a general hope that what looks so like confusion will in the end conserve the interests of holiness; or in despair, to wash his hands of what he cannot avoid.
Yet it is an ensnaring system; for in this way pessimism and optimism both can find apology for it, and go on with it. One gets free of an amazing amount of trouble; and while not seeming to have given up all ecclesiastical ties, as many have, yet be practically as free as they for the gospel and from the wearying responsibility of being one brother's keeper. Why should we be, when we only get our trouble for our pains, find a narrow path instead of the broad, open one, which is so pleasant to all of us, and for this have only to shut our eyes at the proper time, and ignore what seems we cannot help.
And in fact the countless small breaches of independency make less show than the terrible rents which we are exposed to otherwise. Why not let this sad-faced Merarite go, with his pins and cords of the tabernacle always getting into entanglement, and be content with Kohath and with Gershom?
Still if the Tabernacle of the Lord is to be set up in the wilderness, how shall we do without the pins and cords?
In result it will be found that it is the truth of God which suffers, and tends to pass away and be lost. What wonder when we begin with choosing what we will have of it, and what we will discard? Fellowship becomes a thing of most uncertain quality: and what wonder, if obedience to the Word have anything to do with fellowship? Worship is largely displaced in behalf of service: for we have lost the necessary pins and cords. We may go on with the help of what truth we can still borrow and find room for; but the truth tends somehow continually to slip away from us; and in the jangle of many utterances, it is ever getting to be of less account.
One's voice may be little heard in a day like this; but I would do what I can to press upon the people of the Lord first of all their Master's claim. I press that this independency, little as one may imagine it, little as many may care to entertain it even as a question, means ultimately shipwreck to the truth of Christ, because it means independency of Him. One may find in it plenty of associates, for it makes little demands upon one and gives the kind of liberty which is so coveted today. The authority of Christ is not in it. It may support itself by the help of other names — names in repute as Christians too — and be in honor. It cannot have the commendation which Philadelphia, spite of its "little power," finds from her gracious Lord: —
"Thou hast kept my word, and not denied my name."
"One body" or Independency?
The foregoing is a reprint from "A Divine Movement and our Path with God Today," by F. W. Grant, published by Loizeaux Brothers. It includes ten items, of which this is one. It was written for today, this day of departure from the truth.
Since it was written, many have been received into fellowship who are perhaps not grounded in the truth of the one Body of Christ, and in these days of speed, have not as much time as our beloved brother; therefore it is to be highly commended in this day, and the whole ten items studiously assimilated.
When our Lord was on earth, Satan did his utmost to have Him killed, or have Him under his power. Failing this, he attacks His Body, the Church, which is composed of all believers. There is but one way to withstand his attacks, and that is by obedience to the word. "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God," was His object. To us He says, "If a man love Me he will keep My Word."
The truth of the one Body and the relationship of the members to one another, are the outstanding features of Paul's epistles, as such passages as Rom. 12:5 clearly set forth:
"So we being many, are one Body in Christ, and every one members one of another."
Many have recognized this, and have walked in the truth of the statement many years, and were division impending, of such, this truth should be emphasized, but this is not the case at this time. There are, however, those who, in their walk, deny the truth of our being members one of another, and the responsibility of each member, or gathering of members to maintain this unity in a practical walk. This is what is known as independency. In John's first Epistle we read:
"If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another."
This at once excludes a great many lovable Christians, for two cannot walk together unless agreed.
Like Israel, the Church is a unit in the Lord's sight, but of how much closer relationship with Himself, as His Body, and Bride of the Lamb! If we fail to grasp this relationship, or lose sight of its dignity, failure will just as surely follow. If, too, our gathering together be not unto His Name, and all it implies, so, too, we shall drop back into disobedience, sectarianism, schism, worldliness and independency; this latter being in direct opposition to the glorious truth of the one Body of Christ.
We turn now to the history of Israel which God has graciously preserved for us, as we learn from 1 Cor. 10:11, namely: —
Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."
Therefore it behooves us to read the Old Testament thoroughly with the New. It is not our purpose to draw admonition at this time except from the opening and closing portions.
After the trial and proven failure of man under various testings, God at last chose Abram out of idolatry for another new beginning; he is the stock from whom the nation developed. At the completion of 400 years' bondage in Egypt, Moses was raised up by God as their deliverer. Upon the death of Moses, Joshua took them over the Jordan into the land flowing with milk and honey. His death occurred about 1425 B.C., and their troubles now begin, for we read: —
"There arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which He had done for Israel." Judges 2:10.
Their history after this is but one of failures and departures, with some partial recoveries, until they were carried away captive by their enemies, as God had forewarned them, if disobedient.
The Church, at the beginning (Acts 2), in all its purity, was of "one accord, one heart, and of one soul." They sold their goods and possessions, and had every thing in common, being baptized into one Body as we read in 1 Cor. 12: —
"For 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."
This truth was soon lost, and the Church, married to the world (Pergamos), sank towards its level. "Another generation" had arisen, its unity ignored, and instead of selling possessions, hoarded them — they became rich, and independent, and like Israel, were taken into captivity by the world.
We now come to the closing scenes of the history of Israel, and see again exactly the same conditions in the Church. God withdrew His throne, their name is "Lo-Ammi" — not my people, they are in captivity for disobedience. However, a small remnant of Jews return to Jerusalem, faithfulness being their characteristic. The unequal yoke is severed, the altar set up, the temple rebuilt, and the Passover kept.
In Ezra 9, however, we read of some who had "not separated themselves from the people of the land." Ezra, when he heard it, "rent his garment, plucked off the hair of his head and beard, and sat down astonied." He called for all that "trembled at the Word of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away, and sat astonied until the evening sacrifice." Prayer, confession and restoration followed.
At this point Nehemiah comes on the scene. He had heard that the remnant "are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem (God's beloved City) is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven. . . . We have dealt very corruptly against Thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which Thou commandest Thy servant Moses. Remember, I beseech Thee, the Word that Thou commandest Thy servant Moses, saying If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations . . . . but if ye turn unto Me, and keep My commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set My Name there."
He then views the broken-down wall and amidst much opposition, laughter and ridicule, from their enemies, and at last discouragement from his own brethren, the rebuilding of the wall is completed.
How all this speaks to our hearts at this time, as we see the correlation with our day! The wall which protected the unity of the One Body at Pentecost was soon down, but the Lord raised up special gifts a century ago to build, for a remnant in the closing days, as He raised up Nehemiah for the last recorded days of the Jews.
Is it not remarkable that of this remnant there were those (the nobles) of whom it is recorded (Neh. 5: ): "Ye exact usury, every one of his brother . . . ought not ye to walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies . . Restore I pray you to them even this day . . ."
And today is there not a hoarding of possessions instead of "selling" which was coupled with the one accord. May we be surprised if the opposite to Unity happens (Gen. 13:6). We weep as we look back 1900 years ago, and a century ago. Has the Lord the Pre-eminence? Do business relationships hinder? Has the world and its ever increasing attractions and pleasures any claim upon us? Now is the time to confess our unfaithfulness, for the one lesson we are to learn of the Jewish remnant is Nehemiah's faithfulness amidst departure and ruin of the last days.
"Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die; for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast and repent."
We think of Abraham and of Lot. If any of Lot's character are in the remnant, separation is necessary. (Gen. 13:6.)
Nehemiah "was doing a great work." Some; would like to forget this wall-building, as interfering with their ideas of independency, but if we remember that a whole book is devoted to this great work, we surely see what God's thoughts are regarding the wall; let us not lightly esteem it. But what is its importance? Why is a wall necessary? Well, a wall is of little use but to protect and to exclude. We read of walls, hedges and fences from the beginning to the close of Israel's history, and the Lord Himself spoke of the "Hedged Vineyard" (Israel). He also prayed that His own may be sanctified (set apart) through the Truth, The Word.
It is true the wall was built in Old Testament times, but it has a deep significance to us, for: —
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."
We are also told by Paul that their history was written for our admonition. Do we refuse it? If so, let us tear down our walls of 2 Cor. 6:14-18, 2 Tim. 2:19-22, and others, without any protest. To say it is legal is shortsightedness, if not blindness. It is the "whole armour" of our day. To tear it down is to admit the enemy. It is to give up the faithful fight. It is to let go, rather than "hold fast." It is to encourage the enemy rather than "resist" him. "Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." Let us honor the Inspired Writer of ALL Scripture, for "to obey is better than sacrifice."
How shall we apply this wall to ourselves? We notice first, a returned remnant. Second, the last days. Third, a wall rebuilt. We, too, are a returned remnant, (to divine principles); We, too, are in the last days. We, too, need the wall of Exclusion. If necessary for an earthly nation, how much more for the Body of Christ! But the wall built a century ago is being torn down today, the wells filled with earth, landmarks destroyed and the old paths forsaken. History is repeating itself. In Joshua 24:31 we read: —
"Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that He had done for Israel."
This generation, like Israel, knows little of the exercises of our Elders, the Lord's special gifts for this specific time of the last days when "every man is doing that which is right in his own eyes," as in the days of Judges. With the increase of knowledge, when "many are running to and fro" (Dan. 4), we know the end is near.
With ourselves, overnight almost we hear of new affiliations throughout the country, Sandballet and Gesham have been met. The truth of the one Body is a back number; the pendulum is swinging "to and fro" with the velocity of the airplane which has superseded the God-given way of travel. It has gone over from the exclusive wall to open independence, diametrically in opposition to the truth we have maintained these hundred years, the truth of the one body. "The believer shall not make haste."
The elders even that outlived "Joshua" have gone Home, another generation is here. Let us note, too, that Moses, the first leader, was 40 years in solitude at the backside of the desert with God ere he could be used of Him as a leader. What a first lesson for our young men!
If we would know what the truth of the one body involves, we read 1 Cor. 12: where we are referred to our own body, where surely there is perfect harmony and oneness. Do we desire food? Both hands at once procure it. Do we need to walk. Both feet carry us; head and members one, for "The Head cannot say to the feet I have no need of you," nor one foot to the other. 1 Cor. 12:12; Rom. 12:5. "Every one members one of another."
What then is independency? Scripture's answer is: — "Therefore is the name of it called Babel." What does it mean? "confusion." Gen. 11:9. Webster's definition is: —
"Freedom from support or governance by others: a competency: self reliance. One who supports measures or men independently of any organized party."
To apply this, it means that instead of acknowledging ONE Body, every member is doing that which is right in his own eyes: — "confusion." Once let this principle be a centre of gathering, all scriptural unity vanishes. To gather merely as believers, or even as a family, is to fall far below the Scriptural teaching and dignity as the Body of Christ, to whom we are subject. Eph. 5:24. And to one another. Eph. 5:21; 1 Peter 5:5. And this with Eph. 4:1-2 is the only preventative and power against division.
To go down stream requires no exertion, in fact, dead fish can do that, but to hold fast, to retain the wall, to keep the old paths, to remember our guides, to preserve their landmarks marking the treacherous pitfalls of these last days requires much faithfulness and watching. "The Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith." "The spirits are to be tried whether they be of God." "Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge." Nehemiah had trouble within: — "Of your own selves shall men arise speaking perverse things"; but how good to read in Neh. 8: —
"And all the people gathered themselves together as one man . . . . so they read in the Book of the Law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading."
Also in the last chapter: —
"Now it came to pass when they heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude."
Are we ready to read, understand and obey the Word of God, and separate, rather than affiliate with unscriptural independency? The Jews gathered as one man — and separated from the mixed multitude.
Read 1 Thess. 5:21; 2 Tim. 1:13; 2 Tim. 2:20-22; Heb. 2:1; Heb. 4:14; Heb. 10:23; Jude 3; Rev. 2:25; Rev. 3:2-3; Rev. 3:8, and get the "sense" and see if they have any bearing on the WALL, to exclude so dishonoring a denial of the glorious, inspiring, and dignifying truth of the One Body, emphasized so much in Paul's Epistles.
If any desire these principles of independency, there are gatherings willing to receive them, but the ungrounded should not be carried away by fair speeches.
Satan has just completed one conquest; the thin end of the wedge is in, are we going to allow him to drive it home. "Let us stand therefore, having our loins girt about with the truth, and quench all the fiery darts of the Devil," even in the face of the prophetic declension of Rev. 2 and 3. Nehemiah had to build and fight. The task is not easy, but there is one who can put strength into the feeble knees, and into the hands that hang down. If a man love Me he will keep My word.
The Lord wants neither numbers or service first. To obey is better, He says. If we think to correct the recent dishonor done Him, by filling up the few gaps, it cannot be done in this way, for two wrongs do not make a right. Neither let us say the times have changed, for it is the truth we hold, and it should hold us. If we cannot get away from the "great house," we can at least hold fast that which we have, and we have never acknowledged independency — it has no scriptural holding power.
Only recently it was learned that the one responsible for the ten thousand appeals "to Brethren of every section and every name" came, some years ago, from the "open" meeting, and last year, visiting in Los Angeles, was received by the "Independent Open" meeting. We pass this on without comment (Rom. 14:4) except to say another's conscience should be respected.
To invite all of every section and every name, just as surely invites another division. (The writer witnessed this in England last year when the Scottish Churches reunited). The days of "one mind" passed 1800 years ago. We are in the "Last Days" of many minds, and whilst the One Body includes all believers, all are not walking in the light, though of themselves lovable people, of whom we do not write, but of principles.
There is a recent publication to be had from Loizeaux Brothers, by Mr. Hamilton Smith, a writer for "Scripture Truth." His concluding remark is:
"In the light of the foregoing statements we judge that any assembly that acts on the principle of independency has forfeited its title to be owned as walking in the light of the Church." It is entitled "Open Brethren, their origin, principles, and practice."
Our beloved Brother S. Ridout said: —
Let us make the precious truth of the One Body of Christ so real and practical that none dare say it is but a theory. Shall we, or shall we not, seek to act upon the principles of the Church of God? Who dare refuse? Who dare let expediency decide?"
In writing on this subject, Mr. Bloore concludes his remarks in the last July issue of Help and Food as follows:
"As we study these things which pertain to God's people as gathered together to Christ's Name, we can see how the local assembly has its place, and that all such are viewed as in a unity of fellowship, teaching, order, custom, and action. This should at once set aside any notion either of independency or division among the assemblies of God. (1 Thess. 2:14; 2 Thess. 1:4)."
Thus "A Unity of Fellowship" (or "A Circle of Fellowship") "at once set aside any notion either of independency or division." Therefore all those who maintain "independent" principles or cause "division" are to be set aside (and "avoided." Rom. 16:17), for both carry the same thought, both equally deny the truth of the one Body, and cannot therefore be in "a unity of fellowship" with those who for a century have denounced such unscriptural independent principles.
May we then keep to these old paths, and continue to walk in them. Where there is any real service for the Lord, He will see to its maintenance "as workers together with Him." To obey is better than sacrifice. Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." Christ's name surely Includes headship of the one Body.
Intercommunion is but independency "in earnest." It is the "mixed multitude" within the walls, which primarily, of course, were to exclude worldliness.
We write, not in a spirit of controversy, but with a measure of the deep solemnity of the subject, and for the sake of righteous and scriptural unity, rather than compromise. It is one thing for those in happy fellowship 40 years, holding the truth of the one Body, to dishonorably divide; it is quite another to unite with independency. Both are unscriptural.
What we need is a large heart in a narrow path; walking in His steps, following His example outside the camp, in suffering, persecution, contradiction, ridicule and reproach.
In closing, we ask: —
"Who hath bewitched you that ye should not obey the truth, ye did run well: who did hinder you? This persuasion cometh not of Him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump."
Beloved, "We ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip" (or we slip from them).
We deeply deplore division as positively unscriptural, and of the flesh, but must refuse to be linked up with independency.
P.S. — In a letter sent out March 15, 1928, calling for a conference in England, we read: —
"We believe there is a genuine desire to answer to the Lord's Word, 'Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown'; to maintain the great truths we have received from Scripture, through the teaching of faithful men, and to refuse to be drawn on to independent ground. During recent years, however, matters have arisen which indicate departure from what we have hitherto held and practised, and this is occasioning confusion, distress and disintegration.
"We feel the time has come when we must face and firmly refuse these departures from sound doctrine, principles, and practice, earnestly seeking that out of present exercises there may arise a clearer apprehension of the Lord's mind for His people in a day of ruin."