Brethren Archive Exploring the history of some of those known as "Plymouth Brethren", and a few other things.

Divine Fellowship

by Alfred Mace

Tom said ...
Lots of interesting historical comments from P23 onwards;

It refers to Christians whose _fellowship
consists of an affiliated number of meetings in various
parts of the world, and formed into_ a corporation, with
practically no connection with other children of God. That,
dear reader, is the mighty “we” our brother referred to.
If you have ever been, within the radius of that circle, and
are no longer there, no matter how ignominiously, or
unrighteously, you have been _ expelled, you are viewed
' t d s unfit for recognition, in any proper Christian and trea e a _ u
sense, and are ‘ ‘no longer in fellowship. There are hundreds
't t tli truth of this
living who will sorrowfully bear wi ness o ' e
indictment ' it is one of the saddest spectacles that disgraces
the House of God today and the pity—the supreme pity
of it is—that this propaganda is carried out under the plea
that “God wills it.” The very constitution of such a
“fellowship” is sectarian to the core, and has been the cause
of heart-breaking grief among the people of God and of
deep dishonour to the One who died” to gather together
in one the children of God who were scattered abroad."
(John 11 : 52.)
Fellowship according to the divine idea is not one of
meetings but of “one with another”—saints with saints—
not meetings with meetings. The Holy Spirit has baptized
each believer into the unity of the body of Christ, “whether
he be Jew or Gentile, bond or free, and has made them all
to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12 : 13). Scripture knows
nothing of a unity of assemblies, but knows everything
of the unity of the members of Christ’s body. There are
not two spiritual corporations contemplated in the Word,
one being the living organism of that mystic body com-
posed of all believers, quickened, redeemed and sealed——
and another, the miniature imitation of it composed of an
affiliated circle of meetings, bound together by an eccles-
iastical cordon. The former is united to its Living Head
in glory and to all who are His below, and they united to
each other _in the eternal bond and power of the Spirit of
God; for we are not only members of His body, but also
members one of another (Eph. 5 : 30 ; Rom. 12 : 5). Mem-
bership of a meeting, or of a consolidated number of them,
is foreign both in language and -in fact to divine revelation.
There is no desire to make undue capital out of a mere
term, or to make a man “an offender for a word.” I-lad
a local gathering of saints been intended by the “we” no
special objection could have been taken; but that is pre-
cisely what was not meant. No ; it is not the “we” of a
few of the Lord’s people assembling together but the “we”
of a self-constituted corporation embracing those only
within its own special jurisdiction. This humanly con-
structed instrument lias expelled scores of meetings, with
multitudes of its former adherents over whom it had no
more administrative authority than Ephesus had over
Sardis, or Smyrna over Thyatira. Such is the force of
this ecclesiastical weapon that it has become possible to
excoinmunicate some of the saintliest of men, the devoted
servants of our Lord : Men, too, of unquestioned gift and
ability conspicuous for Christ-likeness and of uiitiring en-
ergy in His service. “No matter,” says this perverted use
of power “the principle of the unity of the body” must be
maintained and all must submit or be discarded and treat-
ed henceforth as unfit for Christian communion; in fact,
relegated to the place of the unclean and unbelievino‘
And this, Christian reader, claims to be “discipline in uié
House of God.”
This wholesale expulsion of saints and honored servants
of Christ is the necessary result of the “circle fellowship.”
Its fruit is consistent with its root; neither of which have
any foundation in Scripture. Each local assembly derives
all its blessings, and authority from the fact that “Where
two or three are gathered together in My name, there am
I in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18 : 20.) Any assembly pre-
suming to control, or adjudicate in the affairs of another,
is setting authority against authority, which can only end
in disaster, besides being an unwarrantable intrusion into
that realm where the Lord Jesus Christ alone is the Ad-
ministrator. “W'liere are you now ‘?” inquired a brother
of repute as he entered the apartment of the train in which
the writer was travelling : I replied “with the Lord’s people.”
This I knew would not satisfy my interrogator and again
the query was repeated. “No, but where are you ?”
My reply was to repeat the previous statement remind-
ing him that those he was “with” had cast out some whose
shoes neither of us were worthy to dust and naming one
such whose praise was in all the assemblies I The formula
adopted in the dismissal from this favored circle as “being
no longer in fellowship” or “put away-from amongst us”
are probably superseded by others of a more generous
tone such as “the want of aflinity," or “unable to walk
any longer with them.” But this is only dust thrown
' 't f th arlie
in the eyes to escape the onus and severi y o e e r,
but more honest formula ; the change is only in the label,
the prescription is the same, resulting in the _victim or
victims being “outside” no longer to be recognized as of
the family of God. Comparatively recently a letter was
' d from one (converted through the instrumentality receive _
of his correspondent) saying how grieved he had been to
. . . . . . 1. d f
pass him in the street without recognition. Tins {III o
treatment meted out to large numbers of the redeemed of
the Lord, whilst arousing feelings of indignation, and strong
resentment, should also bring the blush to the cheek,
and tear to the eye, and put us flat on our faces, before
God in humiliation, all round. After this somewhat lengthy
digression, we return with deepened confidence to the
Spirit’s assertion that “we have fellowship one with another ;”
this includes all the family of God ; it is a part of the three-
fold blessing set forth in the verse at the head of this article.
“In the light,” “Fellowship one with another,” and
“Cleansed from all sin.”
Friday, Apr 28, 2017 : 14:15

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