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upon true ground, "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God;" it is, under the guardian hand, and care of the Holy Ghost, the indwelling Spirit, “the habitation of God by the Spirit.”
And let me say, we shall find the benefit, the necessity, in these last times, of standing for the whole truth, the full truth. Let us not be deterred by the charge of presumption. We are either that, or nothing. Our choice is between God's foundation and man's expediency.
I will resume, by adding, in reference to what I said just above, that, if gathered upon true ground, though not the Church, yet are we upon the ground of the Church, and therefore in a position to act upon the principles and to receive the full blessing of the Church. to Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Alas! one has to reassert every principle which we once held.
Further, I remark, I fear it is the thought and lan. guage of many now, that it is impossible to carry out the unity of the Church now. To which I reply simply, Is it the truth? Because if it is so, it is simply unbelief to talk of its being impossible to carry it out. It is saying, the Lord is not able to help us to carry out the truth. Let us look at it in its undisguised form. But I say, this is the very ark for us, that must be carried through, though it be through fire and water. I would suggest. What promise or prospect is there of security from evil and delusion apart from the unity of the body? I see (Ephes, iv. 4). “ there is one body, and one spirit.” I believe from that passage taken in connection with ver. 3, and from other passages, that God has been pleased to connect the Spirit with the Body here on earth. And we cannot have the fullest power and guidance of the Spirit apart from the Body. This may seem delicate ground: it is so; we ought to feel it; yet it is nevertheless true. And let me say such will be the working of evil in these last days, that we shall find we have nothing to spare to meet it. " Except those days were shortened for the elect's sake, no flesh should be saved," true of Israel's remnant literally hereafter, has distinctly, I believe, its moral application for us now.
But to talk about not carrying it out now; how beautifully does the language of the Israel-remnant contrast with this in the time of their trouble, which with regard to personal suffering in one sense, will be infinitely more trying than ours. * God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the heart of the sea. Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake at the swelling thereof" (Ps. xlvi.). “They shall glorify God in the fires, even the name of the Lord God of Israel.” Yea, instead of being discouraged, " they shall ”
“ lift their voice, and shall sing for the majesty of the Lord, they shall cry aloud from the sea."
I simply add, in conclusion, that to give up the unity of the Church, is, in plain terms, in consonance with what has been said before, to give up the field to the devil.
Now then the question arises, why when evil comes into a body, and is not judged, will not be judged, why do we separate from all, why do we refuse fellowship to any? For this reason—that the Spirit is grieved in the Body, yea, is sent away,he is no longer the Animator, the RULER. For when evil is tolerated, there He cannot dwell. “In many things we all offend,” whether individually, or collectively. But our infirmities, and sins in that way are one thing, and the deliberate refusal to judge, and put away our evils is quite a different thing. Tender truly is that Spirit, so that even corrupt communication (Paul tells us in Ephes.) grieves “that holy Spirit of God, whereby we are sealed;" but as to the other, wilful evil, truly it is of the character spoken of in (Heb. x.); it is “ doing despite unto the Spirit of grace.' If then, I say, the body refuse His guardianship, if it
, reject Him thus, what follows?
Why it is no longer His fellowship, the unity of the Spirit.
To the question, then,“Why do you separate from all ?” I answer, Because we have no security about any. They are no longer under the care of the guardianship, the hand of the Spirit, that other Guardian--they have re
fused it. We cannot own whom He does not,--those who do not own Him.
I will not dwell upon the truth, that surely the wolf will catch and scatter those who are thus defencelesson the truth that a little leaven leavens the whole lumpthis shews there is no security. I confine myself to the present thought---but I add, that where the Spirit is not the animating guiding One, it is the solemn fact that Satan does get that place. He becomes the animator.
This, I think, is decidedly shewn in Babylon, i. e. the professing Church. That is how it ends. "Babylon the great,” says the word, “is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” That from which God goes out, Satan enters. John xiii. 27. . may be very instructive as compared with verse 2. See also 1 Sam. xvi. 14; xviii. 9, 10.
This may perhaps be slow, and imperceptible save to the really spiritual eye. But this, I think, should make the saint the more careful of meddling with it; for such a beginning yet leads surely onward, and blinds to its own progress.
And here let me observe, the great danger one has of letting natural feelings and thoughts come in to lead him to any such compromise or meddling. It is, I judge, the enemy's plan, when resistance has been successfully offered, to soften by kindness. Look at the prophet at Bethel. Jeroboam, when the testimony had been given with power, next says (1 Kings xiü. 7.) "Come home, and refresh thyself, and I will give thee a reward." What a change! What apparent kindness! But his thought, I judge, simply was to soften the prophet's testimony, to screen his own conscience, to persuade himself that it would not be so bad after all as the prophet had said, -in short, to bribe God in the person of his prophet. Such very likely too was the motive of the old prophet, to bolster himself up in a false position (compare 2 Chron. xi. 13, 16.)
d I would remark, in conjunction with this reference, his dwell. ing at Bethel, I think, would be instructive. He dwelt where the altar was the fixed proof of Israel's sin. He could not thereaway
I may add, by way of analogy, that I think we find the same principle shewn in Israel; for when Achan sinned (Josh. vii. 1), “the Lord said, Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed," etc; “neither will I be with
you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you.” They are all called “ačcursed” in the 12th verse. For unity is always God's truth, and responsibility consequent upon unity. So also (Josh. xxii. 31). And I will add, I suppose Joshua, with Acts v., will give us the important thought, that the more entirely God is at work himself, the more thoroughly will he have holiness amongst his people, the “ fellow-labourers.”
Let me suggest, in accordance with what has been now said, that it is a serious thing to acknowledge, and accredit any assembly as in real fellowship, where there is not thus full liberty for the Spirit and His rule. It may be getting to ourselves a point of weakness, “ opening our side to the countries.
One word I would say as to the seven churches: I have heard it said there was evil there, and there was no command to separate. I observe any one who has had to contend much with evil has probably before this had to shew that a negative argument often is no argument. For instance, there is a positive direction (1 Cor. v. 1113). But one may say I find evil spoken of (Phil. iii. 18, 19), but there is no command to put them
And so forth. But I would say, the Lord says at Ephesus, where there was no positive evil, but the whole thing decaying, love departing (Rev. ii. 4) where read “ I have against thee, that thou hast left thy first love," instead of - Nevertheless I have somewhat,” the Lord says, Except thou repent, I will remove thy candlestick” I say, if, fore, we would judge, have had much real zeal respecting the abomination. It is no use testifying against Sodom, if one voluntarily chooses their lot there. " This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge." They could quickly per. ceive that. The Lord would not, we would judge, employ this one therefore to give his testimony against the altar there. Very instructive too, perhaps, that the one is called “a man of God," whilst the other is called "an old prophet;" the latter denoting the mere official character, the other perhaps the tone of soul that accompanied his work.
faith had perceived that the candlestick was removed (which however, probably, the general declension of the Church_together would prevent), would it have staid there? I judge not. Surely it is the living God we have to do with. Though of course only in great wisdom and carefulness could such a thing have been done. It is not, let me further remark, the Lord's way to force things upon us.
He gives enough for the willing mind to see and act upon. So constantly, when on earth, He commanded them not to make Him known.
I now commend these thoughts to the consideration of brethren. It may be, such like truths are being brought before us just in time; for abounding evil will surely characterize “ the day approaching” (1 John ii. 18); but there is light present and in prospect to cheer us through (Jude 24).
The Basket.” THE CHURCH is not merely the congregation of the redeemed. There was and will be redemption of none, save by the Spirit, through the blood of the Lamb. But while my soul as an individual thankfully owns such a communion with all the redeemed—it owns a peculiarity of communion with those who are partakers of this grace, according to the peculiarity of the Church-Bride and Body of Christ Jesus. The Church is the body to and by which alone the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is opened: and (Bride of the Lamb) to her how dear and honored should the person of the Lord and the personal presence of the Holy Ghost the Comforter be! In ruins all around us may be; but if we understand what communion of saints means, surely not only must the works of God by the Son and by the Spirit be dear to us; but we know ourselves as parts of this body connected with the revelation of that name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and these are dear and to be honored.
As gathered amid ruins, we have, in the obedience of faith, to beware of in any wise compromising this name, -being ourselves witnesses of the unfailing faithfulness of of God amid all the declension of man,