Open Brethrenism.

1882 64 Dear Brother, — I received your note this morning, it being sent after me during absence from home. I am sorry to be obliged to return the stamps you enclosed, having to decline the paper you require me to send you. For however those whom you call "exclusives" may have failed, and however this may be for us, their failure does not in the slightest degree amend the sad position of those with whom you have associated yourself, and whom you justly call "open brethren." If I had to choose between the two, "exclusiveness as it is" and "openness" or "inclusiveness" as you understand it, I by far prefer the former. Satan wants God's people to walk either with a narrow heart in a narrow path, which is sectarianism, or with a broad (that is, a large) heart in a broad way, which is latitudinarianism. Now if I had to choose between these two evils, I should prefer the former; for bad as sectarianism is, it is at least based upon some portion of divine truth. But latitudinarianism is indifference to all divine truth, whilst owning it outwardly; and this is the worst of all.

No man on earth ever walked in such a narrow path as the Lord Jesus Christ; and none had such a large heart as He. May He give us grace to walk with a large heart in a narrow path.

If we truly love His all-glorious and all-beauteous person, we cannot be indifferent to His glory and honour. There is no such thing as neutrality in divine things. It is true that the Lord says, "He that is not against us is for us" — this against sectarianism. But you and those with you appear to have forgotten that the Lord said also, "He that is not with Me is against Me," to guard against latitudinarianism.

Those who formerly were called "Bethesda" or neutrals, who now call themselves by the self-commending but in fact self-condemning name, "Open Brethren," are exactly in the position of a son whose brother has written an impiously dishonouring paper against their common parent. But instead of remonstrance with his wicked brother and refusing him fellowship after admonition had proved fruitless, he goes on shaking hands as if all were right under pretence of the duty of brotherly love. I should think that such an one would justly be looked at as taking part with the disgraceful child and sharing the sin of dishonour done to their parent (2 John 11).

Put Christ in the first place, and the nice Christians in the second, and you will be all right. But you and those with you do the opposite, and therefore are all wrong. Diotrephes is bad enough, but Open Brethrenism immensely worse.

Pardon my frankness. I wish not to write unkindly to you; but neither — nor — was crucified for me, but Christ Jesus: to Him alone is my allegiance due. Whilst desiring to speak the truth in love, I am equally desirous of loving my dear brethren for the truth's sake. Faithfully yours in Him. J. v. P.