Discipline in the House of God.

1876 47 The real object in every act in the long run will transpire, however concealed or disguised it may be at first. Hence the more important the act, the more conspicuously will the object come out as the course of the act proceeds. The object of Balaam is more and more evident, and Jehu's is disclosed at last, while the object of every faithful servant must eventually be owned.

The object of discipline is to free the church from leaven. "Not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you."

To clear of leaven is the end and object of discipline. This can be effected in one of two ways; either by pastoral service, or when this is unavailing, by putting away from among ourselves the wicked person.

In the latter case, as has been said, the assembly must feel that it is guilty of the sin; and hence to clear themselves they put away from among themselves that wicked person. If they do not feel that they are guilty of the evil for which they excommunicate, they are merely a criminal jury, giving a verdict against the guilty person, and there is really no clearing at all.

Hence conviction of the guilt of any one is not produced by any overstrained interpretation and strong statement of probabilities, but by the irresistible persuasiveness of clear positive testimony — simply manifestation of the evil, as with Judas; and as light which works conviction by expelling darkness.

I must not go beyond what I see and know, nor can I charge myself with more than is manifested, for if I cannot charge myself and all the assembly with it, I ought not to excommunicate.

It is also essential as ensuring the Lord's support that the elder or bishop, who is prominent in his care of the church of God in the place, be "not a novice," lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the snare of the devil; and again, that his own house and all believers be so well ordered and ruled that he has given proof of his ability to care for the church of God, for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God? Again, he should feel to the assembly as the father of a large family, and after making every effort to restore the erring one, he leads the rest of the family, in deep sorrow of heart and feeling the family slur, to refuse to eat with the wicked one; but if he have any ill-feeling or vindictiveness towards any, he actually produces in the assembly a worse state of things than that which he attempts to correct, for where there is a root of bitterness springing up many are defiled, and where envy and strife are, there is confusion and every evil work. A father would take care how he would corrupt his family.

If I see an evil, and feel I am not the one to act prominently in it, I can at least pray to God to raise up an instrument according to His own mind, lest in my unholy zeal like Uzzah I perpetrate a great grievance.

Finally, the church of God is a nursery and not an inquisition, and if I am a true leader I warn the unruly, I do not subject them because of their unruliness to church or family censure; I comfort the feeble-minded and I support the weak: otherwise I should deserve the censure in Ezekiel. "The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up the broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost, but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them." J. B. Stoney.