"The Approved."

1 Cor. xi. 19.

1883 235 How any intelligent soul could miss the apostle's meaning would be strange, if one did not know that a time of crisis overthrows the balance of many a mind. Bat it is a wrong when men mistake their measure because others flatter them, and give out inconsiderate sayings likely to sway the ignorant and confiding to God's dishonour.

Now "heresy" is not self-will, and is not the root but rather the fruit of "schism." The exact rendering of the passage is: "For first, when ye come together in assembly, i.e., as such, I hear that schisms exist among you; and I partly believe it. For there must even be heresies, i.e., parties, among you, that the approved may be made manifest among you. The splits already within, the schisms, indicated to the apostle's eye that heresies also, or parties without, would surely follow, which the Lord would turn to his glory, by manifesting the approved who would cleave to Him and set their faces against this party work. How different this from mischievous men going about and teaching that separations of this kind are wholesome, and would do the saints great good! How sad that they were allowed to act on it unrebuked abroad and at home.

The word "Self-will" (authadeia) does not occur in the N. T., and but once in the Septuagint. The adjective is found in Titus i. 7, and 2 Peter ii. 10, self-pleasing literally rather than self-loving (philautos, 2 Tim. iii. 2), a headstrong perverse man, who is not selfish only but never so pleased with himself as when he snubs others. One has known such folk, and more among high than low who might fear to gratify their taste. The thing, self-will, alas! is common.

Had it been said that anomia, lawlessness, is the root of both schism and heresy, it would have been true, but certainly a rather safe and shallow remark, seeing that every one that does or practises sin practises also lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

Now "heresy" in Scripture is not heterodoxy as in later ecclesiastical use, but the aggravated result of schism, when the party-spirited within try to form a faction or sect without. Hence "heresies," sects, or schools of opinion, follow "divisions" or disputes in Gal. 5:20; as they follow "schisms" in 1 Cor. xi. 19. Yet the reversal of this to my knowledge has of late gravely influenced godly but misdirected souls; and no wonder, when one of our most respected and aged brethren published, both in a separate tract and in an accredited periodical, the astounding statement — "HERESIES (the cause of the said divisions or sects)" with all the emphasis of capitals and italics. Every saint ought to know that this is not only to misrepresent but to invert the truth. Nevertheless some who assume to teach changed sides through this egregious error! Of course this and much more that was no better could have had no such effect, had it not fallen on ears which wished for a plea of Scripture at a time when others in the same ranks did not pretend to have any to go upon, yea avowed that they did not want Scripture! "Spiritual instincts" were enough, and theirs were all right! At least one of them who left his sweetness for this thorny affray ventured on another citation — "these be they who separate themselves," Jude 19, with the mistaken comment that "it is separation from the assembly that is meant." Now the simple reading of this short epistle proves, if a Christian knew not a word of Greek, that these sensual or natural men, "not having the Spirit," (which his amiable mind hesitates about, yet applies "in the abstract to the brethren in question,) did their mischief by coming in, not by going out. Their separating themselves was by making a coterie of high pretension within, and in no way by quitting the assembly to form a faction; whereas the "heretic" in Titus iii. 10, having gone out, was just to be left alone (the true force of "reject") after a first or second admonition. For in general we cannot put out one who is gone out, the unscriptural device of "declaring out" those who did not go nor wish to go out being reserved for a later and more degenerate and wilful day.

But one of the strangest vagaries in the way of interpreting Scripture, to which the divisionism of 1879 — 1881 gave rise is the statement not only that "heresy" is self-will, but that the apostle says, "Let a man approve himself! and so let him eat." Not so; this is only what a man says, through the blinding spirit of party, perverting the mind of the Holy Ghost. The Authorised Version renders it "prove," "try" and "examine," which he says it is not, as also "discern," "like," "approve" or "allow." Now the word really means to "put to the proof" (mentally or physically), and hence in a contextual meaning of a few cases, from "prove" to "approve." But there has never been to my knowledge, in the whole history of God's church, a brother so wanting in spiritual tact as to understand the word here save as "prove" or "examine."

One can see the propriety of the word probably advancing through the process to its result in such cases as Rom. ii. 18, or xiv. 22; but to infer thence the lawfulness of so rendering the word in an instance like 1 Cor. xi. 28 is distressingly erroneous. "Let a man approve himself" Never does the Spirit so exhort a believer. Self-judgment is as right as self-approval is shockingly false; and I humbly think that the party for whom our brother wrote need no incentives from man, no perversion of God's word, to help them in a high opinion of their state. "When 'heresy' or self-will is working, and 'schisms' are apparent as the result, we have to 'approve' ourselves as regards our moral and spiritual condition, and so take our place at the table of the Lord, where the most prominent point is, not our rights and privileges or those of others, but the claims of Christ, as Lord of the assembly, and Head of the body." I have cited this notable sentence literatim as it stands, that men of spiritual judgment, yea, that the writer himself, may have the patent proof before all eyes, how completely our brother has failed to purchase to himself a good degree in the faith that is in Christ. "Much boldness" in assertion we all see, and more inaccuracy than ever, since what he ventured to call his "fresh baptism with the Holy Ghost." Let me assure him and our friends that "heresy" is not self-will, that "schisms" are rather the precursor and cause than the result, that we have to "prove" (not "approve") ourselves, that we should do well to beware of confounding the table of the Lord with that of a party, and that it is wholly unscriptural to speak of Christ as Lord "of the assembly." Even in Eph. 5:29 it should be "Christ," not "the Lord" as in the vulgar text and Authorised Version.

The aim of all this confusion is obviously to affix the stigma of "heresy," under the erroneous notion of "self-will," on all who do not like themselves "bow" (this is the proper thing and fashionable word) to the Park Street decision as a true assembly judgment. When will these good people learn that only the decision of the gathered saints in London has any such character? This is and has been the avowed principle of brethren hitherto. To speak of the Park Street judgment therefore of itself reveals its independent or party character. And it was avowedly of Park Street only; but for the information of others it was allowed on the notice paper. It was not a proposal submitted for the common decision of all the saints, which, alone in London, as everywhere else in such cases, has the authority of an assembly judgment. It was an independent act and position, the sequel of the independent Declaration in August, 1879, which was the parent not only of Guildford Hall in all its varying phases since that date, but of the entire movement of the party which bears on its brow the brand of distinct and self-condemned independency.