V. W. J. H. Lawrence
The Apostle Paul in 2 Thess. 2:3, warns the Saints of a definite defection which he terms the "Apostasy" or "Falling Away," He shows that before the Man of Sin is revealed, there will come a very decided falling away from the truth as it is held in faith and love by the people of God.
In like manner, John, in his epistle indicates not only the coming of Antichrist, but tells us that even now there are many antichrists who deny the Father and the Son (1 John 2:18), We are therefore fully warned, and the people of God should be on their guard as to any teaching that might manifest itself, seeing that they have had every indication of the return of their Lord and Master, In spite of all and every warning, we have not been on the alert, we have not done as the prophet of old, watched on the watchtower, "Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he sees . . . Watchman, what of the night? . . . : The watchman said, The morning comes, and also the night; if ye will inquire, inquire ye; return, come" (Isa. 21:5-6, 11-12), There has been no watchman on his tower, and the warnings have gone unheeded. As a result, the enemy has invaded the very citadel of our faith, he has broken down our walls, and he has robbed us of our treasures, Has this occasioned alarm and distress? Alas, we have to say "No," The enemy is not only tolerated, but encouraged, and the truth very lightly surrendered, Nothing could be more solemn.
We must, however, leave the type and figure and come to the stern realities of the position as it is to-day. That position is characterised (among those who support and are in communion with Mr. James Taylor) by four definite features, each characteristic of an evil system. 1, False Doctrine; 2, Pride; 3, Persecution; 4, Dissimulation. Though we have no desire to wound the feelings of any, it is essential to face the facts of the situation. We have simply to consider the history of what has transpired of late among the people we refer to, and to deal with the facts as they present themselves to-day, So much has been said and written regarding the false doctrine that the briefest summary will suffice,
1.—False Doctrine. The form this has taken is that of a definite effort to set aside any real revelation of God, For if that revelation be real, it must have reference to what God is in Himself, This Mr. T. denies, As a result he is obliged to reject entirely from his system the kindred truths of the Divine and Eternal Fatherhood of God, and the Divine and Eternal Sonship of our Lord Jesus Christ, Furthermore, as destroying the absolute certainty of faith in the revealed Mind of God, Mr, T, denies the Eternal Word (Logos), for the Eternal Word is the living Hypostasis of the Eternal Mind, In Him (the Logos) every Divine thought and counsel have centred from all eternity. Mr, Taylor is utterly unable to put forward any substantial doctrine to replace what he has thus arbitrarily set aside. He stresses the thought of "Inscrutability," and formulates a doctrine of the "Absolute," notions which are scarcely worthy of a niche in the Valhalla of human mythology, His ideas have no affinity with Divine revelation, but are a violation of it, and of necessity degrade the very conception of God in the soul of man. He would appear to have lost the truth of an Eternal Personal God, Furthermore, he presses his rationalistic principles into the truth of the Incarnation, rejecting the Hypostatic Union of the two natures (Divine and human) in the Person of our Lord, He also casts obloquy upon the idea of His Eternal Divine Consciousness, As is always the case with infidelity, Mr. T. acts in the most daring manner; no sort of discretion, holy or otherwise, is evidenced in his theories. (See "Names of Divine Persons," "Sonship of Christ," and Notes of various Conferences: Stow Hill Depot),
2.—Pride. When the Lord called out the few early Brethren, it was to a path of lowliness and humility, devotion and self-effacement. As J. N. Darby says, "What is important is not 'The Brethren,' but the truth they have . . . God could set them aside, and spread His truth by others—would, I believe, though full of gracious patience, if they be not faithful, Their place is to remain in obscurity and devotedness . . . Unworldliness, nonconformity to the world, self-denial, abnegation in love to others, is what is called for . . . Let them walk in love, in the truth, humble, lowly, unworldly, and also for Christ, as little (and content to be little) as when they began, and God will bless them, If not, their candlestick may go (and oh, what sorrow and confusion of face it would be after such grace!) as that of others . . . God has no need of us, but He has need of a people who walk in the truth, in love, and holiness," Mr, Darby's was a prophetic word. To-day, as "Brethren," our candlestick is gone, never to be restored. We can only humble ourselves in the dust as we recognise the share we have had in this sorrowful defection, The principle of apostasy is thus at work, not only in matters of doctrine among "Brethren," but it is evidenced also in the spirit of Laodicean pride and indifference, Apostasy in departing from the Spirit of Christ is as terrible as apostasy in connection with doctrine, There has come to pass a complete falling-away in the matter of our possession of the Spirit of Christ,
This pride has manifested itself in many and varied ways, We will refer to two only,
(1) The shameless and fantastic claim to new or recovered "light," as if Mr. T,'s teaching were truth and all else error, Thus he has claimed for it himself, that the Lord is calling attention by him to the real truth of His Sonship, whilst others claim for him that it is the present speaking of the Spirit.
This is evident not only from his book "Inscrutability," but also from the claims advanced by his supporters in the several gatherings. The claim is therefore a dogmatic one, viz., that Mr, T. denies the Divine and Eternal Sonship of our Lord Jesus Christ by the Spirit of God, That claim we hold to be wickedness, and we believe that the whole thing is the work of a seducing spirit, Nothing proves this conclusion of our's more than the frightful judicial blindness that now exists among those who have accepted his teaching.
(2) They boast in numbers and wealth, We need not enlarge upon the modern conferences with their thousands, their lavish display of wealth, their use of worldly ideas and ways, and the large sums of money which pass into the hands of the leading teaching brethren. Mammon is undoubtedly largely responsible for the present condition of things,
3.—Persecution. The most amazing feature of this essentially Christless religious system which as been built up in recent years among these ''Brethren,”—is its power and its claim to persecute the children of God. Nothing stamps more definitely as the work of Satan. Christianity contains within it no principle of persecution, and where such a principle works it is evidence of the most terrible falling-away. We may ask "How has this been made possible?" We can only answer by the building-up of an elaborate and carefully-planned system. A body of men has been at work on this system for years and today it is well-nigh perfect. From its head downwards, through an intricate order of metropolitan, district and local leaders, all in touch with one another and the head, it is sought to maintain Mr. T.'s position and doctrine at all costs, Bereft of righteousness, honesty and the Spirit of Christ, this evil system maintains its unholy sway over the consciences of the saints. No one is free from its machinations, and no man's private life is safe. It is as cryptic in its working as the Jesuit of old. Indeed, in the degree of its knowledge, and in its dread secret power, it falls little short of of the so-called "Society of Jesus." We have seen men fear and tremble at the idea of being found in opposition to the system that they know well enough holds them in its iron grip. It is a system of darkness, and its persecuting spirit is too well-known to need any comment here, As regards persecution, the system has wrought a monumental work (perhaps never equalled outside the Church of Rome), in its conduct towards Miss A. M. S—, of F—, and all that has
transpired as a consequence, to say nothing of the iniquity evidenced in connection with Bath and elsewhere, following upon the publication of the writer's book, "The Divine Sonship."
Even more serious than the public aspect, is the serious persecution of the soul, binding consciences, and interfering with a man's liberty to worship God according to truth, which is the underlying principle of the new hymn book, and the reason for the determined burning and destruction of books and papers maintaining the truth of the Divine and Eternal Sonship of our Lord. To say the least, it is the grossest insult to intelligence, and the astounding feature is that there are those who put up with it.
4.—Dissimulation. In face of the foregoing, something had to be done to lull souls into a sense of false peace and security. Hence it became necessary to dissimulate in regard to the teaching of false doctrine, and also to conceal the active persecuting spirit. As to both, the writer could never seek clearer evidence than the effect on the mind and conscience of Mr. E. C—, of
the W— P— gathering, after coming under the influence of a body of London leaders. Nothing could exceed the sophistical arguments and deep subtlety of these men. Similarly, reports of personal difficulties and old-standing animosities have been spread far and wide in order to hide from the mass the solemn fact that there are men who are prepared to sacrifice everything in order to be apart from Mr. T.'s false doctrine, and to judge once and for all the system of wickedness which maintains that doctrine, even to the extent of the summary excommunication of those who cannot bow to it, and yield their consciences to its cruel bondage and tyranny.
It is a picture—not a miniature one at that—of the anti-christian system soon to be ushered in, and the call surely to every faithful heart is to refuse the teaching, and to judge the system, and be prepared to suffer the utmost rejection and reproach rather than be found unfaithful in the day of Christ. The dark night of apostasy is gathering fast, and the day of grace with its opportunity of suffering for Christ fast drawing to a close. Let us therefore in the light of the glory of our soon-coming Lord, covet an increased fidelity to Himself.