What is the Church? What is its Ministry? What is its Destiny?
What is the Church?
The first distinct intimation of the church we find in scripture is Matthew 16:18. Peter having confessed, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God and Jesus having owned this as the revelation of the Father to him, He further said, “And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter [a stone]; and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Christ the Son of God, revealed of the Father, was the Rock, on which the church was to be built. Peter should be a stone in that then future building. That this is the clear meaning many other scriptures prove. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 3:11.) “Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner.” (Eph. 2:20.)
Is it not also quite clear that the church was then a future then? “I will build my church” — Jesus did not say, “I have built” or “I am building;” but “I will build.”
The next reference to the church is in Matthew 18:17. This also is evidently future; otherwise surely whilst the Lord was with His disciples, the case of an offending brother would have been laid before Himself. “And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”
There are no other scriptures whatever that speak of the church until we come to the church’s birthday — Pentecost.
We may have to point out many types of the church, as the body and bride of Christ, in the Old Testament, but these could not be understood until it pleased God to reveal the joint body by the apostles and prophets of the New Testament. (Eph. 3.) No doubt my reader would like to ask many questions as we go through the scriptures on this deeply interesting subject: I will anticipate those questions.
What then is the meaning, of the word ekkleesia which we translate church?
By carefully examining every place in scripture where this word occurs, its plain meaning is “assembly.” I will point out one or two instances in which it is even so translated, and cannot mean anything else. Turn to Acts 19:32, 39, 41. In each of these verses, the word translated “assembly” is ekkleesia, and evidently means, a gathering of people together.
In verse 37, “neither robbers of churches.” This word “churches” evidently means heathen temples, or buildings. Is it the same word?
Oh no, this is quite another word altogether. There is no authority in scripture for calling a building a church. We should therefore never do so.
You said Pentecost was the church’s birthday. Is this clear in scripture?
This is a point of such importance that nothing could be made more clear in scripture. The disciples were to remain in Jerusalem, until they were baptized with the Holy Ghost. (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:5.) It was on the day of Pentecost: “They were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind . . . and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2 gives a full account of the first day of the church of God. It was the first announcement of the gospel of the crucified and risen Christ ascended up to God’s right hand. And God used this day’s preaching in the conversion of three thousand souls. These were all added: “and they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine, and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common,” &c. What a wondrous new thing this was, the like of which had never taken place before. “And the Lord added to the church [or assembly] daily, such as should be saved.” All this was entirely of God. The Holy Ghost came down from heaven. The Lord added together. Thus this assembly on the very first day of its existence, was God’s assembly. It could not be thus baptized by the Holy Ghost until the Holy Ghost was given; and He could not be given until Jesus was glorified. (John 7:39.) And Jesus could not as our Substitute and representative be glorified until He had glorified God on the cross; then the Father must straightway glorify Him, by raising Him not only from the dead but by receiving Him to glory. When all this was done, the church was built. We shall see shortly in the Epistles, how the church is linked with the glory of God.
But were none saved, then, before Christ arose from the dead, and the Holy Ghost was thus sent down? And if they did not belong to the church of God, what were they then?
Certainly, all who believed the promise of God were saved, or justified by faith, but they were and remained, saved individuals; saved Jews, or saved Gentiles. But now “There is neither Jew nor Greek . . . for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28.)
Then if Pentecost was the first day of the church, and it was formed by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, what is the subsequent history of the Acts of the Apostles?
The Acts are really the acts of the Holy Ghost, how He acted in gathering the predestined church out of the world. He used a variety of instruments; but you will find, as you read the history of this wondrous assembly that wherever the Holy Ghost acted, it was to form the one assembly of God. Power, the power of God, not of man, is seen everywhere. In chapter 3 there is a man who could say, “Silver and gold have I none;” but such was the power displayed in the name of Jesus, that all Jerusalem is stirred to its centre. And though all combined against the holy One of God, yet none could deny the power of God.
The church was the display of the power of God. Let us listen to the voice of prayer, at the church’s first prayer meeting recorded in the Acts: . . . “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, by stretching forth thy hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child [or servant] Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And the multitudes of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:24-33.)
What a scene this was! one assembly, one heart, one purpose, the glory of Jesus! The Holy Ghost present. Surely it makes one sigh to compare this with the present state of Christendom. How could this assembly withstand the hatred and opposition of the whole world? God was with them — the divine person of the Holy Ghost.
It is of all importance to notice this in the history of the assembly of God in the Acts. The Holy Ghost is always present to guide the assembly — this fact is the foundation of the church’s constitution as seen on earth.
Peter said to Ananias, “Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?” Stephen said, “Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost.” The Spirit said unto Peter, “Behold three men seek thee, arise therefore, and get thee down and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.” (Acts 10:19.) And after the conversion of the Gentiles, and the pouring out of the gift of the Holy Ghost on them, Peter says, “And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting.” In chapter 11 the believing Gentile were baptized by the Holy Ghost into the assembly of God at Antioch. In chapter 13 the Holy Ghost takes the same place of divine guidance in the assembly at Antioch. “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” “So they being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed.” When a question of great moment had to be settled by the assembly at Jerusalem, the presence of the Holy Ghost was again distinctly recognized — “for it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us.” &c. (Acts 15:28.) Even the apostles were guided by this divine person, “Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia, and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.”
Thus we see the assembly of God, throughout its history in the Acts, under the sovereign guidance of the Holy Ghost. Sad failure as to this was distinctly foretold. (Chap. 20:28-30.) Yea, the apostle himself failed. (Chap. 21:4.) But the failure of man does not alter the truth of God. Christ is glorified; the Holy Ghost is sent down; and He remains with the church. Oh, how has Christendom utterly failed to own the divine presence and guidance of the Holy Ghost! I beg of you, my reader, to compare your own condition and associations with the Acts as to this. The church, or assembly, of God is one, as gathered together by the Lord. Sects or divisions are not of God, but carnal and of man.
Is that clearly revealed in the word of God?
Nothing can be more so; read 1 Corinthians 1:10-13; 3:1-5: “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions [or sects], are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” Oh let us own the exceeding wickedness of sectarianism; and let us return unto our God with confession and humiliation. How fearfully has Christendom departed from that beautiful scene when “the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul!” One object — the glory of Christ; and all filled with the Holy Ghost. Compare this, say, with a so-called Liberation meeting!! But enough — can God approve of this wicked strife?
What do the Epistles teach as to the church?
They address the children of God now, as the one assembly of God: “Unto the church [or assembly] of God which is at Corinth,” &c. “Unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father,” &c. This wondrous assembly we find was chosen of God in Christ before the foundation of the world, and blest of God with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved: in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” All this is more fully unfolded, the eye being fixed on Christ, in Ephesians 1. There we see Him raised from among the dead, and placed as the risen man, “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things, to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”
But had He not always this glory? Doubtless He had in His own eternal Godhead. As the eternal Son He had glory with the Father before the world began. But now as man, the second Adam — the man who died for our sins, according to the scriptures — the Substitute forsaken of God on the cross — having glorified God there, having finished the work given Him to do; God has given Him, as man, this highest place above all things. The universe under His feet. But all this “to usward who believe;” all this as head of the church, His body.
We have seen the person of the Holy Ghost in the Acts, in His own divine sovereignty, as the foundation of all church constitution on earth, we now look up and see the Lord of glory, the head of the church, far above all, in heaven.
Surely, then, the most worthy of mankind alone can form the church of God?
If you read Ephesians 2 you will be amazed to find the opposite of this to be the case. “And you who were dead in trespasses and sins” — “children of wrath, even as others.” These are the very persons whom God hath quickened together with Christ; and hath given to them the wondrous place of oneness with Him, in all that exalted glory. This is altogether of God — God’s new creation. Yes, the assembly of God is God’s new creation. And the once rejected Jesus, now Lord of all glory, “He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence.” (Col. 1:18.) Mark, He is head of the body, not the different bodies, not the different regiments of Christendom, nor religious bodies of the so-called church. No all this is not in scripture, not of God; it is entirely of man, or Satan, who never ceases to deface the assembly of God, the one body of Christ. Do not help him a bit in this work.
This wondrous display of richest grace is far beyond all human thought. Just think of these words, if you have the discernment of the Spirit, “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 Christ.” (1 Cor. 12:12.) Is not this wondrous? Just as all the members of the human body are joined to the head, and form one man, or one body; so also all who believe are joined to Christ, raised from the dead far above all, and form the one Christ!
But do you say that all who are saved now on earth, form the one body, of Christ, and every case of true conversion to God — is it possible that all the saved belong to this one body? What, we all?
Let scripture speak: “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. 12:13.) This is the church of God as found in scripture. And this is the church of God, because it is entirely of God. Read the next verses, 14-27. “God hath set the members every one in the body, as it hath pleased him.” “That there should be no schism in the body.” “God hath tempered the body together.” “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”
Let us with all lowliness of mind own all this. “There is one body and one Spirit,” “one Lord,” one faith, one baptism: “one God and Father of all.” Carefully study the context of these words, Ephesians 4:1-6. The effect is marvellous when the soul gets hold of this great fact (long lost, but true), that there is one body, even as there is one Lord and one God; and that in scripture two or more bodies cannot be found. And above all that, this one body is of God; God’s workmanship. Then it is found, that all sectarianism is direct opposition to God.
I grant this is a tremendous discovery; that so much that we have been proud of, is sin and rebellion against God. But evidently it is so. In deep humiliation let us own it. The one assembly of God is also presented in scripture as the bride of Christ, the wife of the Lamb. Grace beyond all human thought. Here we find the outflow of the affections of Christ as man. And though this mystery of divine love was kept hid until revealed to the apostles and prophets of the church, fully stated in Ephesians 3, yet many were the precious figures of this that went before.
So early as in paradise, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” God in His own love would give Adam an object on which his love might be placed. And thus, in this figure of Him that was to come, God sets forth His own eternal purpose; to build the church, the one body, the bride; that the Man up there in the glory shall not be alone but shall have an object in which the infinite love of His own heart shall have its eternal delight. And was not the way in which God formed the woman most significant? Adam was laid in deep sleep — type of the depths of death to which Jesus must descend to redeem His bride. Of that dead rib, in figure, the living woman was built. It was to that awakened or risen Adam, the woman, one with himself, was presented. “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.” There were many beautiful creatures in paradise; but only one made meet for the affections of Adam. God only built one Eve, God only builds one bride for Christ.
Oh what a thought, what a fact, that “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of the word; that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” “Christ is the head of the church.” “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” (Eph. 5.)
It is blessed to gaze on Christ, the object of the believer’s love, but that is not the thought here. The assembly of God, the bride of Christ, is the object of His love, of His delight. Have you passed from death unto life? then you form part of that one body, one assembly of God, bride of Christ, object of His love. Think; object of the love of Christ!
In the call of Rebecca also we have a striking illustration of the bride of Christ. Isaac must first be offered up, and received in figure from the dead; Sarah, the Jewish economy, be set aside. Then the father Abraham, sends Eliezer from Canaan to the far country to fetch a bride for Isaac, the risen son from the dead, in figure. Jewels first are given to Rebecca, and raiment, then she gladly leaves all to go to meet the bridegroom whom not having seen she loves. Then the meeting. And then is she the possessed object of Isaac’s love. Again there is one bride. Just so when God had actually received His beloved Son from the dead; offered up for us, and could not be spared; then received to the heavenly Canaan; then God the Father sent the Holy Ghost, to this far country, to fetch a bride for Christ. Jewels first, the righteousness of God established by the death of the cross; and then raiment — Christ raised from the dead our righteousness; and all given to, and put upon the believer: and then farewell; separation from all below. And, like Eliezer, the Holy Ghost leads the bride along to meet the heavenly Bridegroom. The church of the scriptures is found waiting and looking for Christ, the second time unto salvation. And, oh, the meeting! As Isaac lifted up his eyes, so the loving eyes of Jesus are looking for us, His bride. And we shall soon, like Rebecca, lift up our eyes. We shall see Him as He is and be like Him. This joyful theme I leave until we arrive at the third part of our subject — the destiny of the church.
One more interesting figure in the Old Testament — Ruth. God is pleased by these His own figures, to give us understanding of this great reality, the church, the bride of Christ. Here is one who by nature was a stranger to the covenant and promise; death also was written upon her house. A Moabitess, and her own husband dead. Most touchingly does her history illustrate the grace of Christ in bringing a soul to Himself. She is brought by Naomi in bitterness of soul to the fields of Boaz. My reader may remember the bitterness of those days in which he was led by the Spirit to Christ. But oh, how welcome in the fields of Boaz! Is she thirsty? let her drink. Is she hungry? let her eat. Does she glean? let fall handfuls on purpose for her. Such is the grace of our precious Jesus. Are you but a gleaner lately bowed in bitterness at the sense of your own lost condition? Ah, how welcome to Christ! Are you thirsty? welcome to the water of life. Are you hungry? welcome to the bread of life. Has He not let handfuls fall on your path on purpose? But far more than this was to follow, “My daughter shall I not seek rest for thee?” And now she is identified with Boaz in the figure of death — she lay at his feet; and what the other kinsman could not do, Boaz did. He redeemed her to be his bride. And all the elders bare witness. Once the object of the gleaning kindness of Boaz, now the object of his bridal love. A welcome stranger, now the most honoured place on earth, the loved bride of Boaz, and the mother of David.
Has not God thus dealt with us? He would not have us be merely welcome gleaners in the fields of Christ; but one with Him, bride of the Lamb. There was but one Ruth; there is but one church, one body, one bride.
May I ask, then, have all Christians to leave the different churches of men; such as Romanism, Anglicanism, Wesleyanism, &c., and to form one church, and so make one body, one assembly?
Many have thought so, but it is a most unscriptural mistake. As we have already seen, the church of God is not a thing of man’s making. It is wholly of God. Eve did not make herself. it is remarkable that at Corinth, where there was most failure and division, in that very epistle we learn that all believers are baptized into one body. Let this great truth be only received in faith that all believers now are baptized into one body; and that this is of God; and the effect is sure to be that instead of fleshly boast shall be deeply ashamed of sectarianism. And the believer who receives this truth can no longer belong to a sect, cost what it may. Only let the word of God have its authority, then how can I deliberately do that which is in direct opposition to God?
In the Acts of the Holy Ghost then, we have the history, how God set up the church in the beginning of its days. Then in the Epistles we have the wondrous revelation what the church is.
Before we look at its ministry. There are two things found in scripture I desire to call your attention to — the Lord’s supper is one of them. 1 Corinthians 10:16, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread.” Is not this the perfect communion of the one body of Christ — each believer introduced into the same fellowship of divine blessing? And does not this separate us from the world? “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table and of the table of devils.”
This communion is further explained, as received from the Lord by Paul, in chapter 11. What impress me in this distinct full explanation of remembering Jesus, and showing forth His death until He comes is this; that it is the act of the whole one assembly of God. There is neither a priest with his mass, nor a minister with his sacrament. Either the one or the other would entirely set aside the very act of communion. The Romish priest, the ritualist, with all his imitations of Rome, or the presiding minister at his sacrament; all this is not in scripture, and we must admit that it is all of human origin. Not one bit of scripture can I find for a shred of it. Oh what sad human interference; yea, what assumption for any man thus to act without the word of the Lord!
The second thing I would notice is this — Does the scripture foretell the failure of the Church of God on earth in outward testimony? There are sad and abundant proofs that failure did set in even during the lives of the apostles. (See 1 Cor. 11:18-21.) Shameful evils, divisions, and drunkenness, and the Lord’s hand in judgments, because they had not humbled themselves. In Titus, unruly vain talkers, &c., are found and rebuked. Terrible failures in 2 Peter 2, and in Jude, are spoken of. But this is not all; the Spirit accurately describes the fearful apostasy of the last days of this church-time or period. (2 Tim. 3.) “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” Read the description of these days. We may say those days unto the end of the chapter.
It may be asked, If God set up the one assembly of God, one church, one body, then is not the Church of Rome that one church, and ought we not all to belong to her?
If the church of Rome is the church of God as found in the scriptures, then undoubtedly we ought to belong to her. But is this the case? I am not aware of one single particular in which the church of Rome is the same, or like the church of God as found in scripture. At a future time, if the Lord will, I may compare the church of God with the church of Rome. Professing Christendom, as was foretold by the Lord, has become a great tree, and evil men lodge in its branches. It has become the great house of 2 Timothy 2.
If this is so, what instructions has the child of God for his path in these last days? Is he to remain in fellowship with all this evil, or is he to separate himself from the evil?
Hear the answer of God: “The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold, and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge [or separate] himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use,” &c. (2 Tim. 2:19-21.) And again, “From such turn away.” (Chap. 3:1-5.) The path of the obedient christian need not be more plain. Hatred and persecution it must bring (ver. 12), all have found it who have obeyed these divine instructions for our days.
I now return to the church of God as found in the scriptures.
What is its Ministry?
I just remind my reader that in looking carefully at the history of the church in the Acts, we found one all-important fact as to Ministry — the divine presence of the person of the Holy Ghost. Bearing that fact well in mind I ask your attention to the three chapters on ministry, that God has been pleased to give us, with other scriptures. (1 Cor. 12, 13, 14.) Will you read these chapters, before we proceed? Observe this is the very subject. Chapter 12 contains the great principles of the christian ministry; chapter 13 the spirit in which that ministry should be exercised; and chapter 14 those ministries in exercise. The Spirit of God will not lower or degrade the person of Jesus — a most important test in these days. And again, no one can truly maintain the Lordship of Jesus but by the Holy Ghost. Great care is then taken to show that the various gifts of ministry are not held by one man! There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit; different ministries, but the same Lord; diversities of operations, but it is the same God that worketh all in all. And then, after enumerating different gifts the divine sovereignty and guidance of the holy Ghost is maintained. “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” Thus we have the constitution of the church as to ministry — Jesus, Lord on high; the Holy Ghost using the gifts as He will on earth. It may be said, Some of those gifts are no longer manifested now. True; He divideth severally as He will, then and now.
This then is the principle of ministry as set up of God, the ministry that is of God. “And God hath set some in the church; first, apostles; secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers,” &c., &c. I do not however find such a thought, that God set up one man to be the minister or priest of the assembly.
Now that is important, as we wish to learn all that scripture brings as before us on this subject.
Then we have the lace that love, charity, has in christian ministry. (Chap. 13.) May it have its place in every line of this paper!
The principle then before us is plainly this, that the Holy Ghost is in the church, using the different gifts severally as He will. All of God, but on earth the order of the Holy Ghost. There was confusion: alas, what will man not spoil? (See chap. 14:26.) But still the same order of God by the Holy Ghost is enforced. God did not say, My order has failed, now set one man to be the minister. No; but, “Let the prophets speak, two or three, and let the others judge. If anything be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the other hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted,” &c. And these are the commandments of the Lord. (Ver. 37.)
Now this is God’s only order of ministry, and He is not the author of confusion; compare this with Ephesians 4:7-16. Here the ascended Christ, far above all heavens, “gave some apostles, and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” And these were to continue. These are the gifts of Christ, and the Holy Ghost divideth severally to every man as He will. Do not forget the personal presence of the Holy Ghost.
But do we not read in the Acts that Paul and Barnabas ordained elders in every city? (Acts 14:23.) And that Titus was to do the same; was in fact delegated to do so. (Titus 1:5.)
I have read all this, but I have never read of Paul, Barnabas, or Titus, ordaining a pastor, or an evangelist, or a teacher. These are the gifts of the ascended Christ. And even when the apostles were here, we have not the slightest hint of the ordination of any of these. The only thing at all like it was when Paul and Barnabas themselves, who had long been most eminent gifts of Christ, were commended to a special evangelical tour, separated and sent by the Holy Ghost. (Acts 13:2.)
But do you mean that there is no authority in the scriptures for the ordination of a pastor over a church?
Most certainly. There is not such a thought in scripture. It is entirely human invention. Elders, or bishops, were ordained. For an elder and a bishop is the same thing, that is clear from Titus 1:5-7. The same person is an elder in verse 5 and bishop in verse 7.
Eldership was an office; pastors, and teachers, evangelists, are gifts. I speak of scripture — I know nothing else. Again, in scripture an elder is never the same as teacher, pastor, or evangelist. The elders of the church at Ephesus were bishops (episkopos), and as such, overseers, and were to feed the church of God.
But does not the word “feed” imply that they were teachers?
This word poimaino, translated feed, is used by the Spirit eleven times in the New Testament: Matthew 2:6; Luke 17:7; John 21:16; Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 9:7; 1 Peter 5:2; Jude 12; Revelation 2:27; 7:17; 12:5; 19:15. A careful examination of these and their contexts will show that it is not the imparting of spiritual food so much, if at all, that is meant, but shepherding, more in the sense of ruling.
Elders, then, were brethren gifted with wisdom to shepherd or rule the church of God. An elder thus gifted and qualified to rule, must rule well his own house. And one thing they were needed for, was to stop the mouths of vain talkers. This being the sense of the word, then in Jude 12 “feeding themselves” would rather be ruling themselves — democracy. One of the dark signs of the last day. The very opposite of knowing or discerning them that labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you. In short, the “unruly” are to be rebuked.
And might not the same person be an elder and also a teacher?
Certainly, just as the same person may be a draper and a grocer. But that does not prove, that a grocer is a draper? Peter was both elder and teacher. (1 Peter 5:1.) Thus whilst qualified persons were ordained or appointed to shepherd or rule the assembly in every city by the apostles or their delegates (and it is true that such persons might or might not be also gifted of Christ to evangelize or teach) yet in scripture we never find the shadow of an interference either to ordain or to hinder any such gifts of the ascended Christ; as teachers, evangelists, pastors, &c.
Is there such an instance to be found?
Not one. To do so, two things must be interfered with; the administration of the Lord in glory, and the presence of the Holy Ghost in the assembly.
Well, this is very solemn; are you quite sure there is no scripture authority for the modern ordination of a priest, clergyman, or minister?
Not a single text.
Does not Acts 6 give such authority?
No, not the least. These men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, were simply appointed to serve tables, or take care of the poor. Not a thought of ordaining them as modern pastors over churches. As with the elders, these servants of the assembly might be also gifted of Christ to preach the word. Some were so, but these were never ordained to preach; not such a thought. The thing is monstrous; if we see a teacher, pastor or evangelist gifted of Christ, empowered by the Holy Ghost to preach and teach Christ, for the church or any man to ordain or appoint such a person, would be to set aside as insufficient the act of Christ. Surely to recognize, becomes the whole church of God. For recognition of Christ’s gifts to His church is obedience to Him. And not to recognize a gift of Christ is disobedience to Christ.
But does not Acts 13 afford some authority for ordaining a minister or pastor over a church? Is it not often quoted for that purpose?
Read the whole passage: now is there such a thought in it as ordaining a clergyman or minister over a church, or parish? These dear devoted men were already fully recognized teachers — Barnabas and Saul. And these were appointed by the Holy Ghost to a special work, or journey; and as such solemnly commended by the church at Antioch. It is very strange that so many take this matter for granted, without ever searching the word of God.
Is there no other scripture that seems to favour the practice of ordaining one person, to be the minister over a church?
There cannot be one. It is impossible for God to contradict Himself, and if we own the constitution of the church which is of God; that is, the Lordship of Jesus and guidance of the Holy Ghost, as we have seen, and the distributing severally as He will; those gifted to speak to the edification of the assembly, to speak two or three, the rest to judge, &c.; the moment you introduce the clergyman, or a minister, having the Reverend pre-eminence over the assembly, you immediately set aside both the presence of the Holy Ghost and the godly liberty of the gifts of Christ to speak two or three. In fact it is utterly impossible for God’s order, according to His word, and man’s order set up since, to stand together. One man cannot have the pre-eminence, and the Holy Ghost be free to use whom He will.
Well, all this is amazing; but do the upholders of the clerical or episcopal system really know that it has no authority in the word of God?
Strange to say, they do; and the best and latest writer on episcopacy fully admits that it is nowhere found in scripture.
Then where is it found?
In tradition; the traditional history. Some say it must have begun just at the close of apostolic times; some, later.
But if there be no evidence of it in apostolic times, then what of apostolic episcopal succession?
All vanishes. How can there be a succession of what did not begin?
But some say it began before the death of the Apostle John, in Asia Minor; and that he must have approved of it.
But does the scripture say this system of one man having the pre-eminence over the assembly, began in the days of John? that is the question.
It does, it does. John wrote an inspired epistle, on account of this, and on the very subject. We shall therefore soon see whether he approved or not of the first person that assumed the position taken by the clergyman or minister over a church. (3 John.) Truly John approves of the well-beloved Gaius, found walking in the truth. He has no greater joy than that the children of God should walk in the truth. He says, “Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren.” These brethren were such as went forth for Christ’s name sake, taking nothing of the Gentiles, and they had borne witness of the charity of Gaius before the assembly or church. Now if you bear in mind the truth, and the constitution of the church, the sovereign guidance of the Holy Ghost in sending those brethren, gifts of Christ, in His name, in keeping with the truth as to this, Gaius had gladly received the visit of these ministering brethren, in the charity inculcated, as to this Very thing in 1 Corinthians 13. Walking in the truth, he owned the order of God. And John says, “We therefore ought to receive such that we might be fellow-helpers to the truth.” Oh, how sweet is this fellowship in the ministry of the truth! “Let the prophets speak two or three” had long been the command of Christ, and so we ought to receive these dear gifted brethren who come in the name of Christ, and have fellowship in the truth. This was christian ministry as instituted of God: “We therefore ought to receive such.”
Now we have another character, and John says, “I wrote unto the assembly: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them receiveth us not.” Now study these words; here is a man who takes the place of pre-eminence over the church, or assembly. But to do this, he must resist the Holy Ghost; he must refuse liberty of ministry, yes, even if it be the aged and beloved Apostle John, and brethren with him. The very first development of clericalism proves, unanswerably, that it must resist and set aside the order of God. Did the inspired John approve of this first appearance of clericalism? He says, “Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us, with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the assembly.” Thank God we have the strongest possible disapproval of clericalism in these inspired words. And I ask, Do not these words faithfully describe the proud spirit of clerical pretensions to this very day?
It is too true; but surely you would not say that every ordained minister over a church has the spirit of Diotrephes, the first to assume this place?
Far from it; many a dear humble servant of the Lord groans in that false position. But what we learn from this scripture is, that every one that takes this position of ministerial pre-eminence is in direct opposition to the mind and word of God. Diotrephes could not maintain that position and receive the brethren, neither can any clergyman or minister maintain his position and receive the brethren as the gifts of Christ, to be used by the holy Ghost in the church.
But are not clergymen and ministers receiving eminent evangelists? and is not God using these in conversions?
That is so, and God is using them in proportion as they lay aside the sectarian and clerical position. Nay, is not the Lord even by all this rebuking clerical assumption? A noticeable fact must here be named: God has been pleased to restore to the church the knowledge of His own order of church constitution and ministry — the personal presence of the Holy Ghost, and the liberty of christian ministry, to serve alone the Lord Christ. And though like the remnant in the days of Nehemiah, this feeble remnant whom the Lord has been pleased thus to bless, are conscious of much failure, yet God has been pleased to be with them. And this feeble remnant have proved the all sufficiency of God; and to this feeble and unworthy little flock God has restored the full gospel of His grace. And what is the result, at this present moment? The whole mass of the clergy of every sect under the sun are arrayed in determined hostility. Pamphlet, and book, and tract, teems from the press! full of gross misrepresentation. Yes, and nothing more common than for the clergy to be preaching the very truth God has restored by these weak dependent brethren, whilst they denounce with prating words, like Diotrephes, the brethren whom they cannot receive, and maintain their clerical position. The third epistle of John exactly describes the whole struggle of to-day. On the one side, there are a few like Gaius, who have learnt to obey the commands of Christ as to ministry; on the other hand, there is the whole body of the clergy determined to resist the order of God’s word and maintain that human order of ministry begun by Diotrephes: in many cases, doubtless, ignorantly. The word of God calls one of these principles good; the other He calls evil. Surely it must be good to obey God, and no less certain is it evil to follow man.
But you allow elders were ordained, if pastors, teachers or evangelists never were?
Yes, just so.
Then why does not the assembly ordain them now?
Simply because the assembly did not do so then; but the apostles or those they delegated to do so. We nowhere read that the church ordained elders. How plain would be our path it we really were subject to the word of God! Never were human pretensions found more utterly wanting, when weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, than the claims of the ordained ministry when thus tested by the word of God. And equally so as to this, whether we apply the word to Romanism, or Protestantism — what utter departure from the order of God!
Not only so, but men have the audacity to ridicule God’s order, nay, to call it confusion and discord; and to pride themselves with this humanly ordained ministry as if it were the church itself; and to talk of it just as though it could be traced in succession from the apostles; when not only did the apostles not practise it, but the very last of them, the beloved John, we have heard denouncing it in the strongest possible terms.
But if the episcopal establishment has no authority in the word of God for the ordination of their clergy, and it is clear they have not the least, then where do they get their authority from?
Clearly not from God; but from the world — from the State — indeed it is the world. And to call it the church is to use words calculated to deceive. It is the world divided into parishes, over which a clergyman is ordained. Is this the church of God? Compare it with the church of God as found in the scriptures; and compare its ministry with the sovereign guidance of the Holy Ghost. I ask, is there any safety in such a system of the world, unfairly called the church? Oh, is there any wonder that its members are going so fast to Rome, having never known the presence of the Holy Ghost? and never allowed Christ to give, and the Spirit to use, His gifts, as He will? But having adopted the Diotrephes ministry, as handed down from Rome, there is no remedy, there is no hope, but to withdraw yourselves from that form of godliness without the power.
The clerical order has been, from its first development, the greatest lever of Satan for evil in Christendom. Oh, my brethren in Christ, come out of her. Let us return to the Lord. It is yet true that wherever two or three are gathered together in His name, there He is present. We can testify to the truth of this promise. We have been now, some of us, gathered together in His blessed name some thirty, some forty, and some, more years; and, blessed be the name of the Lord, we have found His presence more than all the ordained ministry in the world. He is enough, the mind and heart to fill. Ebenezer, Hallelujah. Oh how we long that you should share the deep joy of His presence with us. We assure you one hour in His dear presence makes more than up for all the misrepresentations heaped upon us.
If you return to the truth of the scriptures no doubt you will suffer persecution, but no pen can tell the blessedness, and deliverance, and deep enjoyment, of communion with Christ that is the portion of every child of God gathered together truly to Christ, in His precious name.
Do you think it is a light matter to refuse the gifts of Christ and the guidance of the Spirit in the assembly; and to set up in its place an ordained man — be that man who he may? Can you thus grieve and quench the Spirit, and not suffer in soul? Impossible.
Oh, fellow Christians, awake, awake, to these solemn truths. Search the scriptures. Will you? Will you obey them? Do you own their authority? God give you decision and purpose of heart. I write to you thus in the love of Christ. I long for your deliverance, and am not ignorant or Satan’s devices to keep you where you are. I write strongly, but there is power in truth to the children of God.
Just think, if all the believers in your town were gathered together in the name of the Lord Jesus, truly owning Him as Lord, and all filled with the Holy Ghost, all of one mind and soul, each having one object — the glory of Christ — no clerical hindrance to the gifts of Christ, the Spirit using all the gifts in divine power, sectarianism not received — abhorred; tell me now, what would be the effect on the world of all this? The gifts are so rejected and disallowed, that we can form no idea how many are laid aside now. I heard of one minister in Ireland saying lately, he had found forty evangelists in what he called his church! All these had been dormant. Oh, can you conceive anything so dreadful, so hindering, as this ordained ministry received from Rome?
One question more, Is it not said that Timothy was ordained the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians?
Certainly not in scripture, but in a note which has been added to the end of 2 Timothy. It is impossible that this could be true. It would not only have entirely set aside the order of God; but when the apostles sent for the elders (Acts 20), there is not the slightest allusion to such a person as the bishop of Ephesus; and there must have been, had such been the case.
Well, but he might have been after this time?
Then he could not have been the first, for the elders are called bishops as we have seen. It was evidently another name for the office of elder. We must conclude then, the more we search the scriptures, the more evident it becomes that the whole pretensions of episcopacy have no foundation in the word of God.
Only once more. Is it not true, that the episcopacy is found in the most early church history?
It is. And what does this prove? That the most early. So-called church history, is the history of that ecclesiastical system which so soon entirely set aside the order of ministry we find in scripture. The one is of God, and found in His word; the other of man, and found in his history. Which shall we follow?
Many of these remarks apply to the episcopacy, falsely called the church — whether of Rome, or England. But what of all the various bodies of Dissenters?
I am not aware that any of them has returned to the scriptural order and constitution of the assembly of God and its ministry. — Is the presence of the Holy Ghost, dividing to every man severally as He will, owned in any denomination?
Well, but the church elects its own pastor or minister. Is this anywhere found in scripture?
Nowhere. The ministers are Christ’s gifts to the assembly; and is the assembly to elect whether they shall have a gift from Christ? The glory of Christ and the heavenly dignity of the christian ministry is lost in such a carnal system. I do not mean the painful scenes that occur at such elections — rejections and splits — but merely to the principle of daring to call in question the prerogative of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Ghost; failure there is everywhere, but man’s failure does not alter God’s principles. It is, too, in vain to try to find the order of God, as found in scripture, in Wesleyan organization. Do we find a conference in scripture daring to dictate where the gifts of Christ shall be placed? God may be working by one of His servants in such a town, the conference says, No you must obey us, not God, you must leave that town and go to such a place. Can you show me anything like this in the word? Impossible. Not oven an apostle ever dare so set aside the administration of Christ.
But do not these people pray to be guided by the Holy Ghost in appointing the ministers?
Yes, indeed, they do; and what must such prayer be to God? Asking God to guide them in acting in direct opposition to His word.
I ask, now, is there any wonder that the most spiritual in all these human systems, are leaving them; and are being gathered together, in the name of the Lord Jesus; a feeble despised remnant making no pretensions to be the church of God? But this they are; they are gathered together, as at the beginning, and owning nothing, but what they find in the word of God. Do you say, I own I see the truth of all this thus brought before me, and I admit how utterly wrong my position is, but I have been trained to it; I am in it? What can I do? There is my family, my needs; and all my friends would turn against me if I walked according to the word of God. I know all that, but Satan will try to magnify these difficulties. Is not God for us greater than all these difficulties? I feel for you; I pray for you; God will be with you in His own path. (See Psalm 119:59, 60.)
All are moving either to infidelity, entirely setting aside the authority of God’s word; to Rome, and dark superstition; or to the path of Christ as at the beginning. We now turn to our third inquiry:
What is the Church’s Destiny?
We must be most careful not to confound this with Israel’s future destiny, as foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament. No doubt every promise to Israel shall be strictly fulfilled, although they are for the present set aside, as we learn in Romans 11. I name this because of the common mistake of placing the church in the position of Israel.
All the promises to the church are heavenly, whilst the promises to Israel are earthly. The confounding these two destinies has led to the mistaken expectation that it is the church that is to be the means of the world’s conversion to Christ. The gathering or forming the church is a special work, occupying a special period of time, a parenthesis in Israel’s history: known unto our God is that moment, when the church will be complete. Then will be fulfilled that promise of Christ, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14.) This is in blessed keeping with the first type of the church, when paradise was prepared, and Adam was there, and God brought Eve unto the man. Has not our adorable Jesus, gone up on high to prepare a place that the desire of His heart may be fulfilled? as He says, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me.” (John 17:24.) What a destiny! with Him; where He is. The second Adam, the second Eve. We are assured by revelation from our dear Lord, that He will come Himself. He will not send His angels for us — this He will do for the elect Jews, for the earthly kingdom — but the Lord Himself shall come for us from heaven, whether we are alive and remain to that moment, or whether we are asleep. Yes, He who came down to Calvary’s cross will also come in the clouds for us. He died for us; He comes for us; oh, what love is this! No judgment for our sins; no, He has borne the utmost due to us, and now He is coming without sin unto salvation.
One more precious fact, “We know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2.) What a destiny! to be like Him. In the full image of the heavenly man in glory — holy, pure, incorruptible! We are now accepted in the Beloved; the whole value of His person and work reckoned to us; reckoned dead with Him, and risen in Him, one with Him. But actually, and everlastingly, to be like Him! Do not our souls long for this? and can we not say, “As for me I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness?” But, oh, most wondrous fact, is not this the language of Christ Himself? So really we are one with Him, that His own resurrection was but the first-fruits. And it will be when His body, the church, raised from the dust, or changed in a moment, and the millions of the redeemed meet Him in His own likeness; then shall He see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied; sweetly shall we share His joy. From eternity has He looked forward to that moment, now so near, when the bride shall be presented to Himself: and when it comes, do we not hear Him up there in the heavens saying “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone,” &c. “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” And again “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.” (Song of Songs 2, 4.) The Holy Ghost must use sweetest poetry to express the heart of Christ.
Such is the joy and love of that Man in the glory. Is it not wondrous that the glorified One should thus be waiting and longing for us? He has not only loved the church, and given Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, but there is yet the presentation so dear to His own heart, “that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing: but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5:27.) This is the sure destiny of the church of God; the certain result of His work on the cross. “In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy, and unblameable, and unreprovable in his sight.” (Col. 1:22.) “Who shall also confirm you unto the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus.” (1 Cor. 1:8.) “To the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” (1 Thess. 3:13.) Thus we learn the settled purpose of God to fulfil the desire of Christ. We shall see Him as He is: we shall be like Him. We shall be unblameable in holiness, in spotless purity. Then shall the heart of our eternal lover be satisfied. Oh, think of Him thus! Do not merely read these burning words of scripture, but in them see your Lord; He who will come quickly to call you away. Ah, this world’s cold wintry blast will be over and gone. No more groaning over inbred sin, no more conflict, no more sins and failure, no more sorrows; all, all gone. And if the church is thus the object fitted to be the delight of Christ through eternal days, as Eve was the object of the love of Adam, and one with himself, bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, ought not then Christ to be the one object of His church now? He is the same yesterday, to-day, and for over. The same love that we shall enjoy in that unsullied and eternal brightness, is the love wherewith He loves us now in this world’s night of darkness. Oh, let our hearts rest in His precious love. Oh, the riches of His grace, to give such vile worms a destiny so glorious. The new creation of God, pure and holy. Members of His body, of His bone, and of His flesh. I gaze on that risen Man in the glory, and can say, I shall be like Him. What can I desire more?
Does scripture unfold anything further as to the church’s destiny, after it is caught up to meet and be with the Lord as described in 1 Thessalonians 4? Where will the church be in that hour of temptation, coming on the earth? And in that time of tribulation such as never was, and never shall be after? and when Christendom or Babylon is destroyed? and during the millennial kingdom of Israel on earth? Through all this, what is the church’s destiny? Is it made known?
It is. After the close of its history on earth, and the outward testimony of the professing church is set aside, spued out of his mouth, the veil is thrown aside. Heaven is opened to our view. The redeemed are represented, by four-and-twenty elders. God rests — sat on the throne. The saints rest — they sit on thrones around the throne of God. When seraphim and cherubim, the four living ones, give glory to Him that sat on the throne, the redeemed reply with worship to God, as the Creator of all things. (Rev. 4.)
The Man in the glory has waited until His redeemed ones, gathered up at His coming are there with Him, then He will be known to be worthy to take the book of counsels and judgments out of the right hand of God — emblem of divine power. What a sight is that! look at it. The Man, the Lamb as it had been slain, worthy to go up to God — Himself God — and take from His right hand the book. The glorified Man thus becomes the executor of divine power and judgments. Up to this point, He sat on the Father’s throne; now He is seen in the centre of the throne — the first preparatory act, for subduing of all things to Himself. This calls out the new song of the redeemed; and the loud saying of the angelic myriads. The redeemed become deeply interested in the future circles of redemption — as the corrected translation of Revelation 5:9-10 — not “us,” but “them.” Wondrous chapter, revealing the association of the saints with Christ, during the period of woes, on this earth afterwards described. There they remain during the opening of the seals, the blast of the trumpets, the pouring out of the vials of God’s wrath on the earth, the sudden resurrection of the Roman Empire, the utter apostasy of Babylon the Great, the full ripened wickedness of Christendom, and its fearful overthrow and destruction. Then the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. (Rev. 19.) This glorious event having taking place, the Lord Jesus will come in judgment on the living nations. All that have been beheaded for the word of God during this time of dreadful infidel wickedness will now be raised from among the dead, and form part of the first resurrection, its full complement.
Then the millennium, the one thousand years of blessedness, begins. After which the judgment of the dead, and then the eternal state.
The church is found in intelligent worship, during all these events, from the beginning of the judgments or before, until the marriage of the Lamb. What a destiny! all clearly revealed in the word of God. But all heavenly, and of God. Nothing earthly or of man. This is very marked, even during the millennial reign. I invite close attention to this important fact very fully explained in Revelation 21:9 to 22:6.
“Come hither,” says one of the seven angels, “I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” And what did he show John? “That great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.” What a contrast this will be to what is now seen on earth! “Holy Jerusalem descending out of heaven” — what purity! “from God.” Do you, my reader, belong to this heavenly bride that will be from God, and “having the glory of God?” This language could not be applied to angel or archangel, principalities or powers: “Having the glory of God!” oh, wondrous grace! And her light like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. What a chance from this sinful state, to unclouded purity, in all its unsullied clearness! The wall, great and high, speaks of the perfect security of the bride during this time of reign, and putting all things under His feet.
The gates of the city — place of administration — show the wondrous part the church will have in the administration of the world to come; and this though in connection with the earthly people of restored Israel. Every precious stone is named to show forth the glory of this building of God: it is a perfect vast cube, heavenly perfection: also a perfect square. (Ver. 16.) Divinely perfect whether viewed in the heavens or from the earth. The city pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the street of the city pure gold, as it were transparent glass. Inherent, absolute, stainless, purity, and divine righteousness. Constituted the righteousness of God — and nothing without to defile. All transparent purity, within and without — thus shall we be the righteousness of God. What a destiny! No temple there. The Lord God and the Lamb shall be there. Still the Lamb — for ever the Lamb. All, all, we owe to the once bleeding Lamb. No need now of sun or moon, or creation-comforts: “For the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” What a home above, and all is as certain, nay, more certain, than that the morrow’s sun shall light the eastern hills. Every moment bringing us, yea, bringing the whole church of God, nearer this place prepared, this home above of peace and love.
Students of the book are aware that the eternal state is described in Revelation 21:1-8. Is the destiny of the bride revealed there? Her destiny in the eternal state!
Oh yes, when the first heaven and the first earth were passed away, and there was no more sea, she is described as the same holy city, new Jerusalem, entirely of God, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband — for ever the bride of the Lamb. What an eternity awaits us! Evil having been put down, all is happy subjection to God! There is now no wall, no gates. The administration is over, all is now eternal rest with God. The eternal destiny of the church is to be the tabernacle of God. Behold the tabernacle of God is with men. Such is a very brief outline of the destiny of the church of God, the bride of the Lamb. May our blessed Lord use these few thoughts to lead His children to search the scriptures in the presence of God; in whole-hearted dependence on the teaching of the Holy Ghost.
Thus we have found the church of the scriptures to be the church of God, composed of every believer born of God since God began the church at Pentecost. And that all believers are now baptized into the one body of Christ. And that to use the word church, as meaning any worldly system, as that of Rome, or England, is not only unscriptural, but calculated to deceive souls.
We have found that true christian ministry is direct from Christ, the ascended head of the church; that these gifts of Christ were never ordained, even by the apostles, and never should be ordained by men. To do so is to set aside the high privilege and administration of Christ. We have found no authority in the word of God for such a person as a clergyman or minister, over either a parish or a church.
We have found that the constitution of the church was, first, the personal presence of the Holy Ghost. Secondly, He using whom He will of the gifts in the assembly. And though all Christendom has set aside the church constitution as found in scripture, yet we find no reason why we should give up the Word of God to follow the traditions of men.
We have found, the first man who did refuse the order of God in the fellowship and ministry of his brethren, in order to establish his own clerical pre-eminence, was strongly condemned by the inspired apostle John. We have found that the dreams of men, as to the Church being an improver of this present evil world, to be all false. That the destiny of the Church is entirely heavenly; and that it will soon be taken away from this dark night of sin and sorrow. The home above is prepared; the Man in the glory is waiting the moment when He shall rise and call us up to the skies. As Isaac waited for his Rebecca, so waits our precious Lord. Soon we shall meet, to part no more. Forever with the Lord. C. S.