Ministry in the Morning Meeting.
THE following letter from our esteemed brother, Dr. A. T. SCHOFIELD, London, (whose long experience in what are known as “Exclusive'' and "Open" meetings, gives weight to his words), must be taken as suggestive. In this, as in oral ministry, "let the other judge" (1 Cor. 15. 29) --HyP.
To the Editor of THE WITNESS.
Suggestion 1.—In your discussions on ministry at the Lord's Supper, is it possible that its Divine place, as instituted by our Lord Himself, may have been unaccountably overlooked?
And if the Saviour's own commands are obeyed, will it not solve the question now being raised in the Scriptural manner and in the twofold way that is wished, namely, the promotion of spiritual ministry and the checking of that which is unspiritual and unprofitable?
It is quite clear that the purport of the gathering in the Upper Room was to eat the Passover, according to Christ's own words. His own purpose included the institution of the Christian Passover as well, which we know as the Lord's Supper.
Without going into proofs (which are abundantly forthcoming) that Judas went out before the Lord's Supper, though after the Jewish Passover, it is quite clear that the washing of the feet (John 13) was instituted immediately before the breaking of bread by Christ. It is also quite clear, it was given as an example both as to time and place for us to follow. This none may dispute.
In God's mercy, those for whom I write are not slaves to the letter, but clearly understand that no literal washing of feet is here enjoined, but the washing of water by the Word, and this not of our own feet, but those of others. This is clearly—
A Special Ministry of the Word
for the distinct purpose that at the Supper, our feet may be cleansed. Here then, is the Divine order, and the place for the ministry of the Word.
The few whom I know who obey our Lord's command in this, find the greatest blessing to their own souls flowing from it. The fact of definite ministry of the Word (for half an hour or so) being given before the Supper by some ministering brother (a pastor or teacher) has a twofold effect of a most blessed character.
First, the quiet ministry has a spiritual cleansing and uplifting power on those who hear. Not only are the feet washed, but "the flesh" is checked, and there is far less danger of unspiritual ministry following.
Secondly, the fact of souls having been refreshed by the Word, there is less need felt for subsequent ministry, and the meeting is more devoted to praise and worship.
The objection advanced by some, that the disciples came together "to break bread" and not for ministry, though unintended as such, is surely a grave reflection on the wisdom of our Lord Himself, who, although the disciples were assembled for this purpose, definitely preceded it by this washing of feet, or ministry. So far from making the Supper a secondary thing or of minor importance, we shall find the wisdom of God is greater than our own and that when done in faith and obedience, the result is to raise the whole tone of worship.
Of course, the obedience involves a larger supply of ministering brothers than exists. Once, however, the principle is seen to be Divine, the supply will come, and pastors and teachers everywhere will seek that as few gatherings as possible shall be deprived of this ministry on the Lord's day morning.
In practice, it is found that meeting at eleven and using the first three-quarters of an hour in definite ministry (more or less of the special character indicated by the Lord and by the occasion of the Lord's Supper), and the next equal length of time in the breaking of the bread and worship is the best. Yours in Christ,
ALFRED T. SCHOFIELD.
“The Witness” Dec. 1917
To the Editor of THE WITNESS.
Suggestion 2.—The letter in your December issue expresses the glowing conviction of many as to—
THE SCRIPTURAL ORDER OF MINISTRY
at the Lord's Supper. The contention from John 13, that suitable and edifying ministry should precede the celebration of the Lord's Supper seems to be indisputable, but this should not preclude ministry after the feast if time permit, according to the Lord's example as in John 14. The wisdom of such an arrangement is evident when one reflects that perhaps the larger proportion of those present have been looking forward to the Lord's Day as a day of quiet and rest after a week of toil and strain, and who owing to the exigencies of domestic and business duties have had little time for meditation as well as for heart preparation before observing the feast. Hence the need of helpful and uplifting ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit, the power also by which alone we can worship.
In 1 Corinthians 14, where we have the gifts bestowed on the Church by her ascended Head, seen in operation in the Assembly, we see that ministry is enjoined, preceded by "prayer praise, and thanksgiving,” which appears to be the divine order for worship and ministry (see vv. 14, 15, 16, 19). With regard to—
THOSE WHO SHOULD MINISTER,
it is clear from Acts 15. 32, that such should have a measure of both gift and grace. It would appear that Judas and Silas spent a weekend with the Church at Antioch, and being prophets or teachers, they availed themselves of the opportunity of ministering the Word with much acceptance to that Assembly. It is also not without significance, that it is specially mentioned that they only ministered, and which is in keeping with the instructions given by the great apostle of the Gentiles to the Church at Corinth, that not more than two, or at the most three, should do so (1 Cor. 14. 27, 29).
A PRACTICAL SUGGESTION.
When the Morning Meeting is begun by a concise, definite prayer for the Holy Sprit's guidance from first to last, in preference to opening the meeting by a hymn, it is invariably proved to be to the edification of all. Doubtless, one reason why this meeting is usually begun by a hymn is owing to late comers, but such an arrangement savours of opportunism rather than the Spirit's leading and is frequently the cause of disorder and lack of that spiritual harmony which is ever present when the Assembly is controlled by the Holy Spirit.
C. P. WATSON.
A SUBJECT OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE.
Suggestion 3—The question as to the right to minister at the Lord’s Day Morning Meeting, as well as the general character of that meeting, is one of the utmost importance. No meeting can be a greater blessing to God's people, or more to His glory, if its true nature is realized. In this connection, there are three points I should like to emphasize:
I. The Character of the Meeting.
It is of all importance, first of all, to have some insight into the truth of God’s Assembly. Matthew 18. 20 reminds us that the Lord is in the midst. That fact necessarily determines the whole character and conduct of the meeting. Next, the first Epistle to the Corinthians, which deals with our coming together, dwells again and again upon the Lordship of Christ. The Assembly is where He exercises rule and directs everything. In four consecutive verses in chapter 1, we have our Lord Jesus Christ mentioned (vv. 7-l0; see also v. 2; also chap. 5. 4). It is the LORD'S Table (chap. 10. 21) and the LORD'S Supper (chap. 11. 20, 23, 26). The Epistle is full of the thought of Christ as Lord, and everything is under His direction. If then our meetings are to be profitable, we must give Him His place, and allow Him to direct. Moreover, chapter 12 connects not only the Lord Jesus Christ, but God and the Holy Spirit with the exercise of gift in the Assembly. If we realized this, I should we not be very slow to take part, and would it not make us very dependent upon the Lord for guidance?
II. The Object of our Gathering.
The express and primary object of our coming together is to remember the Lord. Ministry is but an adjunct. It is easy to see that the Lord's Supper is the centre of the Corinthian epistle.
All leads up to it and flows from it. And the reason of this is not far to seek. It gives the Lord the pre-eminent place, with this most important result, that we announce the Lord's death till He come. This is surely the greatest act of our lives. All God's thoughts centre in, and all our blessing is based upon that death. It is the supreme event in time, and eternity. It is of unspeakable value. Let this be uppermost in the minds of those who assemble, let the love of Christ, of which that death speaks, fill our hearts, and an unprofitable meeting becomes impossible. But for this, two things are absolutely essential. Faith that recognizes the Lord in the midst, and that can wait upon Him for direction, and the realization that we are there first of all to remember Him. “My soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from Him.''
III. The Place of Ministry and who should Exercise it.
It will be observed that in the Epistle to the Corinthians, there is a specific order from chapter 10 onwards. Baptism and the Lord's Table chapter 10; the Lord's Supper, chapter 11; the exercise of gift in the Assembly, chapters 12 and 14; and lastly, the Gospel, chapter 15. There is surely design in this, and again the Supper holds the central place, as being the most important. Now, unless this order is recognized, we do not think the fullest blessing can be realized. And it will be observed that the exercise of gift, more properly takes its place after the Supper than before it.
May I respectfully ask my brethren to give this practical effect in their Lord's Day Morning Meetings and see if it does not lead to a better result. Let the Lord have the first place, and ministry the second, and not only will the Lord be more glorified, but His saints will be more edified. The Supper brings us into His presence, and into remembrance of all that reveals His love, His sorrow, His suffering, His death. If we are in the enjoyment of this, we must be edified, and ministry under such an influence can hardly fail to be profitable.
One word as to who has the right to minister, or indeed, to take any part. The truth is surely that there is no right in the matter at all. No one has any inherent right, even if he be a prophet, except as under the Lord's direction. That, and that alone, gives the right. Where we fail most of all is in our lack of waiting upon Him. The flesh cannot brook pauses and silences, and so it rushes in to fill up a gap. But silence may be as truly edifying and as full of worship as any speech.
If only we come together with the Lord before us to wait upon Him to guide by His Spirit, and would put things in their divine order, instead of having to mourn over unprofitable meetings, we should have times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, and God's heart would be refreshed also.
Following on the suggestive letters by (1) Dr. A. T. SCHOFIELD, (2) C. P. WATSON, (3) RUSSELL ELLIOTT, we give six more. The number of replies indicates the consideration which is being given to this subject in many parts. Two further suggestions by ALEX. STEWART, Glasgow. and L. W. G. ALAXANDER, Edinburgh, with the Editor's summary, will close the subject.
GOD'S PROVISION FOR MINISTRY.
Suggestion 4.—Regarding God's provision for His Church in appointing gifted men "apt to teach'' for the comfort, exhortation, rebuke, and instruction of "His own,” I would like to point out that God took elaborate pains in providing for Israel in the Tabernacle worship. Every one who took any part in the services had his appointed place and work. The dignity of publicly acting for God amongst His people was carefully safeguarded, so that those who were physically or morally unfit, were not permitted to serve, although members of the exclusive family of the Aaronic priesthood, which was undoubtedly a figure of a deep spiritual truth. (see Lev. 21 and 22, and Heb. 9. 9). Where there was any attempt to disregard these instructions, we may assume that those who were responsible for the proper conduct of the Tabernacle services would take action.
From this, we may safely conclude that God is no less careful in His appointments for the Church of this age, in which "now (at the present time) unto the principalities and powers in Heavenly places might be known the manifold wisdom of God" (Eph. 3. 10).
Alas! have we not dimmed, through our self-will and disobedience, the glory belonging to God's great handiwork, and presented a spectacle of weakness instead of wisdom in the public gatherings of the saints? There is of course, very much in which we can and do rejoice, for God in His mercy has not forsaken us, and where we find godly order and humble submission to the Head, and the manifestation of—
A MINISTRY OF UNCTION AND PROFIT,
we do most gladly render thanks to our gracious God. But we cannot close our eyes to the painful fact that the saints are suffering much annoyance and are unnecessarily tried through the precious moments being squandered by unprofitable and unsuitable talk, or they are famished through lack of spiritual food properly prepared and ably administered. We cannot expect to keep and hold the young manhood and womanhood in our Assemblies if we neglect this most important matter of proper ministry of the Word, and much less shall we attract thoughtful Christians who are exercised as to their ecclesiastical position, and who are thirsting for a ministry that shall satisfy their hearts' deep longing.
THE PRIESTLY CHARACTER.
Suggestion 5.—What is most needed, as far as I judge in moving amongst the Assemblies, is the development of the priestly character on Lord's day morning and week nights also. There is too much manward tendency. How few can get up and give God a note of praise of their own. They readily stand and chant some other one's words or phrases.
EXERCISE BEFORE MINISTRY.
Suggestion 6.—If ministry before the breaking of bread, instead of being directed to the remedying of a supposed neglect on the part of gathered saints, be directed to a presentation of the Lord Himself in some view of His unfathomable sorrow and suffering (with deep exercise of soul on the speaker's part, lest he be mistaken and be only a hinderer of the Lord's people, and so rob the Lord of His portion from them), this will surely discourage the unspiritual ministry which has so often caused sorrow of heart to the Lord's people; and will as surely call forth praise and worship according to His desire and design in the institution of the Lord 's Supper.
J. W. ASHBY.
Suggestion 7.—The Church meeting at Central Hall, Wimbledon, has lately had two Bible readings for brethren only, to consider the means of securing the utmost profit at the Sunday Morning Meeting. The first reading was entitled "The Lord's Supper'', the second, "The Guidance of the Holy Spirit in Worship and Ministry.''
As these meetings were exceedingly helpful and are bearing the desired fruit, I think it will be well to remind other churches of this opportunity of frank discussion. We dealt with the subject of the state of heart which was essential for blessing, it being pointed out that no brother could expect to be guided in utterance at the Lord’s Supper unless he was also guided by the Holy Spirit in his daily life. We pointed out that worship and ministry were—
THE OVERFLOW OF A FULL HEART.
The unsuitability of some hymns for worship was admitted, and it was pointed out that the ease with which a hymn call be given out should not make a brother careless about seeking to announce a hymn only under the leading of the Holy Spirit.
We thought that no brother should come to what professes to be a meeting under the control of the Holy Spirit with a resolve to take part in a certain way. It was remarked that if addresses specially prepared for the occasion were allowed, it was not only a denial of the Holy Spirit's guidance but that if several brethren came to the Supper thus prepared to speak, it would lead to competition among them as to who should manage to get on his feet first. Thus, we would be taken away from waiting only upon God.
I am delighted to see the remark about opening the meeting with prayer instead of with a hymn. If we were more guided by the Holy Spirit, I believe this would take place more often. Late-comers should not prevent this being done. The late-comer is likely to take part less profitably than the one who feels that reverence to the Lord demands his attendance several minutes before the hour has come.
J. T. CHURCHILL.
THE ORDER OF THE SUPPER.
Suggestion 8.—Ministry preceding the Lord's Supper as a preparation to its celebration according to John 13, is Scriptural, but it should be brief, say, a ministry of "five words'' (1 Cor. 14. 19), or very suitable Scriptures read may suffice to aid worship, otherwise the thanksgiving before "the feast'' has to be abandoned, and the Lord is denied His portion and is disappointed, as in the case of the nine lepers (Luke 17. I 7, 18).
John 13 having been suitably brought to our notice, do we not see in the chapters that follow, the beautiful order our Lord observed concerning the supper?
1. John 13.—Preparation (feet-washing) and Institution of the Feast.
2. John 14. 15, 16.—Ministry after the Supper.
3. John 17.—Intercession for all Saints.
The question as to who should minister is settled by 1 Corinthians 14. 29: ''Let your prophets”, etc. Whilst the gift of the prophet concerning any further revelation of the Word of God has ceased, the prophet's gift in knowing the mind of the Lord in the Scriptures has not ceased. Moses was a prophet, and he learned the mind of the Lord, as he heard a voice speaking to him from off the Mercy Seat (Num. 7. 89). And if there is a true waiting upon God, He will give the message in harmony with the special truth that has been before the meeting, and all will be refreshed and edified.
J. W. JORDAN.
PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES.
Suggestion 9.—Of all the various appointments ordained of God, as Scripture gives us record, none has the place and value in—
THE DIVINE APPRECIATION
that the Lord's Table holds and for all it memorializes. The Father looks on it with infinite complacency and claims first place for it by the Lord's people. Alas, that the due measure of appreciation has in practice been sadly lacking!
Professedly, Assemblies gather unto a remembrance of the Lord and in accord with Acts 20. 7, but take any of our meetings and judge how far in practice this obtains. Virtually in most of these meetings, the table has been given a secondary and inferior place.
If Matthew 18. 20 is really apprehended, as it is professedly acknowledged, then the Lord is there, but is shown a very scant deference by being kept in the great majority of cases, to the end of the meeting, to await compliance with His own and only command, ''DO THIS.'' In a great number of cases, the ''breaking of bread'' is deferred to almost any hour, just sufficient to get it over with some decency before dismissal of the Assembly.
THE PLACE OF MINISTRY.
No directions for ministry are found in connection with the Lord's command, neither did such occur till they went out, and the only directions given us by apostolic authority, place the matter in its proper order: the table first (1 Cor. 11); ministry second (I Cor. 12 and 14). Can we improve on God's order? A commendable concern for the spiritual uplifting of the worshipper in order to a profitable and fitting apprehension of the exercise and service of the table is used to justify pre-table ministry. But ought that to be needful? Should anything that savours of unpreparedness be brought in? Such exercises as mostly obtain are to ''one another'' (Eph. 5. 19), inclusive of dissertation of Scripture. Meantime, the Lord waits. The table itself is the thanksgiving Eucharistesas, and even Eulogesas, a still more significant epithet. If that were given its due place, the inspiration of the worshipper would be much more likely to ensue as being in the way of God's order, and so being pleasing to Him, and would thereby be to the profitable energizing and edification of the Assembly. As it obtains now, prayers, thanksgivings, and songs are multiplied even to repetition. Furthermore, much of such ministry is detached, vapid, and unsubstantial, and sometimes foreign to the purpose of the gathering, and alas! too often serves to distract the mind and heart from the Person of the Lord Himself.
THE SPHERE OF MINISTRY.
A larger supply of ministering brothers has been suggested as a remedy, but ministers are God-given, not made. If the principle be Divine, the needful and qualified ministry will be raised up if the Holy Spirit is ungrieved. Moreover, in an Assembly is the true place for teaching, but with the existing state of things, what is the gain if the time needful for teaching is frittered away beforehand? After the breaking of the bread, there is seldom more than a quarter of an hour at most available, though the exhortation of the apostle (1 Cor. 14. 29) is for the prophets to prophesy by two or, at the most, by three. What room is there for edification? The answer to the default generally is that there is the weeknight teaching, but apart from the fact that this is by human appointment, a very small portion of the Assembly is able to be present, and so suffer loss. In addition, many Assemblies have no fixed meeting for ministry of the Word.
ONLOOKERS AND MINISTRY.
Finally, we have, or should have, concern for those indicated in 1 Corinthians 14. 23, 24. There are wayfarers I have both known and heard of, who exercised in heart as to the systems they may be found in, and anxious to know what is the divine way, have come in to observe. And have in some cases been repelled by puerilities they have witnessed.
H. W. DAVIDSON.
In the first of these letters by Dr. A. T. SCHOFIELD, the aim was to awaken interest and make practical suggestions. In order to ventilate this important matter, we have inserted suggestive letters from several active brethren in different parts—each of which has contained at least one point well worth considering. In concluding the vigorous and weighty words of two men, tried and true, are worthy of careful and prayerful consideration. A succinct summary by the Editor gives the reader a focusable grasp of the whole.
THE WELFARE OF ASSEMBLIES.
Suggestion 10.—There is no subject of greater importance for the welfare of the Assemblies with which we are associated than the subject of ministry. As the years go by, the evidences are increasing on every side, that the greatest weakness in connection with what has been termed "the brethren movement” has been the utter lack of provision for a regular and an efficient ministry. Clearly the subject is too great to be dealt with within the compass of your correspondence column, and urgently calls for conference amongst elder brethren. The matter which has been raised regarding ministry at the morning meeting is only a small part of the wider subject. That the morning meetings as usually conducted amongst us are times of---
where spiritual power and a spirit of worship are present, many know from experience, but where these are lacking, it is difficult to exaggerate the utter barrenness of these meetings. It is generally believed that this form of meeting has unqualified Scriptural sanction, and that the slightest divergence from the stereotyped form is unscriptural.
This form may be described as a succession of hymns and prayers and thanksgiving, leading up after the space of an hour or so to the partaking of bread and wine in remembrance of the Lord.
Some believe that there should be no ministry before the remembrance takes place, but that it is in order afterwards. Some believe that there may be ministry before the bread is broken, but that it must be of a certain nature. Others believe that there is wide scope for ministry before the breaking of the bread. Does not such diversity of opinion on the part of equally experienced brethren clearly prove that God has not legislated on the point? If there is a clear Word of God on the subject, that will settle the question for all, but where is it? Inferences there are, deductions there are; but no rule can be binding that rests on these, as few will agree in their inferences and deductions, as your correspondence column abundantly proves.
Does not every consideration of the subject lead to the conclusion that God has purposely refrained from forming—
HARD AND FAST RULES,
and is it not a dangerous proceeding to exalt our inferences to the status of laws? A very safe and true guide where God has not definitely legislated for our guidance is experience. Unquestionably, the Spirit of God witnesseth with our spirits, if we are in touch with God, as to the fitness of what takes place, and as to the measure in which it is well pleasing to Him.
There are Assemblies where a special meeting for ministry is held before the Lord's Supper, and this is found to be to profit. Such, the present writer believes is perfectly permissible, and for many considerations is to be commended.
In other Assemblies, considerable prominence is given to ministry at the morning meeting before the bread is broken, and such ministry when in the Spirit, invariably raises the Assembly to the throne of God in worship. All ministry that is of God, exalts Christ, hence, no God-given ministry can be out of place before the Supper.
In other Assemblies, again prominence is given to ministry only after the remembrance of the Lord is over, with evident edification as the result.
Who dares say that any of these arrangements are contrary to the mind of God when they result in His Name being glorified, in Christ being exalted, and in the saints being edified? On the contrary, is it not evident that God expects sanctified common sense to be in operation, so that each Assembly may proceed on the lines that experience indicates as most suitable in the circumstances? Let us have a holy dread of making laws where God has made none, and of leading the saints into bondage to our traditions when God calls them to liberty.
L. W. G. ALEXANDER.
THE IDEAL MORNING MEETING.
Suggestion 11.—When Christians come together in Assembly, the objects of their gathering are fitly expressed in certain well known words. They assemble and meet together "to render thanks (to God) for the great benefits that they have received at His hands, to set forth His most worthy praise, to hear His most holy Word, and to ask those things which are requisite and necessary as well for the body as the soul." There is here, however, an object, and that the main object, which is not expressed. Christians do not assemble only for the purposes set forth in the words which have been quoted. They come together to partake of the Lord's Supper, and in doing so, to show forth His death in anticipation of His Coming again. The Supper is not to be regarded as an adjunct to the other services. The partaking of it is the main object of the Christian Assembly.
When Christians meet together for the purposes which have been indicated, believing at the same time that the Holy Ghost is ever present in the Church, and trusting Him for guidance and for the power which is necessary to enable them to fulfil the ends for which they have assembled, it is evident that it does not fall to them to make rules for the conduct of the meeting. The rule which has been imposed upon them is: "Let all things be done unto edifying" (1 Cor. 14. 26).
But take the facts. Suppose the believers gathered together and waiting upon God, what of the spiritual state of those who compose the Assembly? Are all of them at worshipping point? And, if not, what would be suitable to meet that condition and to bring them up to that point? Think of the burdened and anxious persons present, think of those who in the quiet of the meeting are finding that instead of being full, they are empty, and of those to whom in that quietness, sin comes to remembrance. Here it is that the solicitude of those who care for the flock is called out, and that spiritual discernment has its place. It is evident that in such a state of matters, what the believers present require is that words of such a nature as to feed the hungry and bring the whole meeting into tune should be spoken. It is of no use merely to say that all, from the beginning, should be in a fit condition to worship. Nor is the remedy to scold them for not being in that condition. What is required is gracious ministry that will help them to fulfil the purpose for which they have come together.
To this it may be added that it will be found profitable that the ministry should be such as not to obscure the great object of remembering the Lord in partaking of the Supper, but rather to lead on and up to that observance.
The Ideal of course, is that from the beginning, the gathered company should be like those of whom we read in 2 Chronicles 5: 13, who were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, who praised the Lord saying, "For He is God; for His mercy endureth for ever.” When this is attained, we may well believe that the glory of the Lord will fill the house.
SUMMARY OF SUGGESTIONS.
From the many suggestions received—the gist of which has been given—two things are evident—divergence as to minor points, unison as to the major purport of the Morning Meeting.
MATTERS OF JUDGMENT.
DIVERGENCE as to (1) the application of John 13; (2) the method of preparation of those who worship and those who minister; (3) the connection of meetings for ministry with the morning meeting; (4) the restrictive functions of guides over that which is admitted to be unprofitable ministry; (5) and other points concerning ways, methods, and usages. Each individual writer being able to say, like Paul, "I give my judgment" (1 Cor. 7. 25).
Some have imagined that in Suggestion 1, Dr. Schofield meant to give up the form of "gathering under the guidance of the Spirit," as practiced for wellnigh a century, and revert to a meeting with everything humanly controlled as practiced in most religious gatherings to-day.
What was suggested was the closer union of ministry and worship meetings. The two, whilst kept distinct, have been conjoined for many years in MERRION HALL, Dublin, so long associated with the saintly names of J. Denham Smith, F. C. Bland, and others; in BERESFORD CHAPEL, London, long the sphere of ministry of the honoured Wm. Lincoln; in PORTMAN ROOMS (now Carton Hall), London, where Dr. Schofield and other well-known brethren of to-day "serve and wait” as well as several places in Britain and abroad.
Yet, as wisely pointed out in Suggestion 11, "the Supper is not to be regarded as an adjunct to the other services. The partaking of it is the main object of the Christian Assembly.''
THE VITAL ISSUES.
UNISON as to (1) the importance and urgency of this question, and the lack of edifying ministry. The practical part of Suggestion 7 might well be repeated in many Assemblies, towns, or districts; (2) no lack in the Head to "give gifts unto the work of the ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ'' (Eph. 4. 12); (3) the realizing and owning—
THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST.
Were this done by all, most of the present-day difficulties, like the doubts of Thomas, would be transformed into adoring worship—"My Lord, and my God" (John 20. 28); (4) the increasing need, in days of supreme stress and spirit tension, for mind and heart preparation of brethren who minister the "good Word of God" (Heb. 6. 5), and of all to remind themselves of the "preparation" as well as the observance of the feast (Matt. 26. 17; Luke 23. 54); (5) the "unsurpassed blessedness" of what has proved itself to be a divine institution, the gathering in the Lord's Name; to show forth the Lord's death in view of the Lord's Coming again; "the Lord Himself,” centre and controller of all. Hallowed moments of "Heaven on Earth'' (Deut. 11. 21) have been experienced by myriads of His own in many lands as they, upon the first day of the week, sought to enter more fully into "the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow" (1 Peter 1. 11).
In meetings where self-confident brethren persist in ministry which is not to edification, special prayer for restraining grace should be made by the guides.
If continued, plain words should be used to the transgressor as to the object of ministry (1 Cor. 14. 3, 31), the qualifications (vv. 16, 25), and judgment (v. 29) as to its helpful or hurtful character. All should aim at the convincing testimony—"God is in you of a truth" (v. 25).
May these suggestions lead to the friendly intercourse of "guides," the arousing to activity of "able ministers of the Word,'' the heart preparation necessary for acceptable worship, so that He who alone is worthy, may be exalted and extolled, and the goal of ministry be attained—"PEACE in all the Churches of the Saints.'' HyP.
"The Witness" 1918