INSTEAD, however, of maintaining our separation, the present popular trend of many who profess to have fled from the ruins around us, is to return to them by becoming affiliated with the religious systems. This is done, too, under the very plea of promoting Christian unity. The truth is that such a course only militates against true unity, and if persisted in, leads to discord and confusion. God’s will for us in this as in all else can only be fulfilled as we adhere to His Word. We cannot deviate in the slightest degree from scriptural separation without forming associations which jeopardise scriptural unity. This becomes apparent to the unbiased mind which takes into account the mixture of good and evil to be found in denominational circles. That there are in such circles numerous Christians who genuinely love the Lord Jesus and who manifest a zeal for His glory which puts to shame many who profess greater light, cannot be denied. Many of these preach the glorious gospel and their sincere aim is to win souls for Christ. Nothing could be further from our desire than to disparage such Christian service, because it is outside our sphere of activity. We should heartily thank God for all who evidence a devotion to the Lord and a passion for the souls of men, whatever their ecclesiastical connections may be, and as occasion presents itself we ought to manifest to them our love in Christ. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).
Nevertheless sectarianism is a work of the flesh (Gal. 5:20). The whole denominational system, with its Infant Sprinkling, Confirmation, human Ordination, clerical caste and garb, man-given titles, mixed communion, ritual of Jewish and pagan origin, organised feasting and jollification for the purpose of raising funds, fleshly pomp and various other modern innovations, and worldly prestige, is a God-dishonouring denial of New Testament teaching. The moment we yield to the popular clamour, “Down with the barriers of separation,” we become in a lesser or greater degree associated with all of this. Can the divine unity which we have been considering in these papers be expressed upon such ground? It is impossible. Experience teaches, that while we may be prepared to compromise principles of truth under the plea of unity, those with whom we make common cause will not, generally speaking, yield a jot or tittle of their human tradition and erroneous teaching out of respect for our consciences. The sacrifice must be all on one side. Unity upon this basis may have pleasing social aspects, but it seriously lacks the characteristics of the unity envisaged in such passages as Ps. 133 and Eph. 4:3, and cannot therefore scripturally be termed “the unity of the Spirit.”
This, however, is not all that fellowship with the sects involves. Scripture foretells that as the End approaches, Christendom will be swept by a mighty apostasy. “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thess. 2:3). We today witness the development of this great “falling away” from the historic Christian faith, and we believe the world stage is being prepared for the revelation of Satan’s masterpiece, the superman here foretold, and for the final struggle predicted in the second Psalm. This apostasy is manifested in three vast movements which yearly grow in strength and momentum—Communism, Romanism and Modernism. Of the first of these we do not now wish to speak, since it has completely thrown off the mask of religious profession and stands exposed before the world as a wicked, ruthless, anti-God system. Being such, Communism is rightly dreaded and condemned by every organisation bearing the Christian name, though some religious leaders seem to favour it, strange as this may appear. It is not so, however, with Romanism and Modernism. They profess the worship of God and the honour of His Word, though in reality they deny both. The first worships at the altar of superstition, the second adores the human intellect. The former preaches tradition; the latter, infidelity. One is the modern Pharisee; the other, the modern Sadducee. The sinister influence of these two movements is world-wide, and every sect in Christendom is honeycombed by the teaching either of one or the other, or both. Are those who today use their gift to break down the wall of separation, thereby undermining the plain ministry of godly men in the past, blind to the peril of bringing God’s people into association with such sects? Is there not the danger that brethren who fraternise with those outside assemblies may unwittingly find themselves upon the platform with men of Romish or Modernistic leanings? Anyhow, what kind of unity is it when churches of true believers join hands with organisations whose theological colleges are hot-beds of infidelity and some of whose well paid clergy are the “ministers of Satan transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:15)?
THE ROMEWARD DRIFT
It is to be regretted that few, comparatively speaking, appreciate the extent to which the leaven of these two “isms” has permeated the teaching and life of the so-called churches of today. If this were better understood, perhaps some who gather to the Lord’s Name would be more reluctant to lend them support by their presence. First we shall consider the tremendous drift Romeward now manifested in so many Protestant circles. It is common knowledge, of course, that when the Reformers seceded they brought with them many of Rome’s fallacies. Some of these have already been named in this paper. They are an essential part of the entire gamut of the denominations. What we wish to show, however, is that in these last days papist errors which evangelical stalwarts of the past rightly denounced as emanating from the pit, are infiltrating Protestantism, and that many influential leaders in the larger denominations now favour re-union with the Papacy.
This Romanising process may be said to date from about the year 1833, when the Oxford, or Tractarian, Movement was launched. Its object was to establish papal doctrine and practice in the Church of England. One of its greatest advocates was John Henry Newman. As a boy of 15 years he professed conversion, the reality of which he ever afterwards said was “more certain than that he had hands or feet.” Later he became a clergyman of the Establishment, and is remembered as the author of “Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom.” For many years his outlook was pro-Roman. Eventually in 1845, he seceded from the Church of England and a week later entered the Roman fold. In the following year he was ordained as a priest, and in 1879, at the age of 78 years, attained the rank of Cardinal, the highest dignity, save one, which the Hierarchy can confer. That one who in early life professed to be a simple follower of the lowly Saviour should die in the purple of a Roman Cardinal, illustrates how far one may drift from one’s original mooring, once the heart apostatises from God. In many ways Newman was a remarkable character. He possessed a charming personality, was a brilliant writer and controversialist, and lived a life of great physical austerity. The result was that through his influence some hundreds of clergymen also made their submission to Rome, and a channel was opened whereby a tide of papal error began to flood the Church of England. From then until the present the leaders in that system have, as Dr. Handley Moule has said, “avowed a theology and cultivated a ritual distinguished only by vanishing lives from that of the Roman Church.” In so doing, they have introduced detestable idolatries and abominable practices which are a scandal to the name of Protestantism. As Mr. Poole-Connor has said, practices which would have “shocked her loyal sons in the eighteen-thirties are now admitted without the lifting of an eyebrow.” Let any who doubt this read “Guilty Clergy,” by Mr. P. W. Petter. In recent years there has been an outcry demanding the freedom of the Church of England from Parliamentary control. Were this granted, re-union with Rome would swiftly follow. Not so long ago fifty clergymen signed a manifesto to the effect that “the only remedy for our present chaos is re-union with the Holy Roman See,” and at a meeting in Caxton Hall in 1936 it was reported that 1,016 Church of England clergymen had signed a statement accepting the decrees of the Council of Trent, while 2,000 other ministers were in sympathy with their aims. Only last year the Archbishop of Canterbury "told a press Conference that he hoped for better relations with the Roman Catholic Church.”
The mischief, however, has not ended there. As might be expected, the leavening process has spread to other denominations. “A silent revolution,” writes Mr. I. Siviter, M.A., "is now going on. A leading Nonconformist minister is clandestinely ordained ‘Priest.’ High mass is offered up in the places where the Gospel of God’s grace has resounded for years. Principles for which godly men went to the stake... are openly betrayed by those professing to be their successors... It is profoundly disturbing to find Methodist ministers ‘selling the pass’ and forging again the fetters from which a glorious Reformation delivered us.” Yet this is what is taking place. Mr. W. C. Peck, a Methodist clergyman some time ago wrote a book, “The Value of the Sacraments,” in which he advocates Transubstantiation, the Mass, and Adoration of the Sacrament. How shocking all this is! Yet one might give many more examples of the Romeward trend. Some years ago the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland agreed without comment to include prayers for the dead as a vital article of her creed. At the Easter season, 1955, the minister of John Knox’s kirk in Edinburgh pleaded for closer "inter-communion between the different branches of the Church, the Church of Rome not excluded (our italics).” Think of it! It was enough to make John Knox, as the saying is, turn in his grave. Alas! in many parts of Scotland ritualistic practices are becoming increasingly common.
We cannot close this paper without a reference to the World Council of Churches. It was formally instituted in Amsterdam in 1948. Its second Plenary Congress was held in Evanston, 111., U.S.A., in 1954. This great movement aims at the re-union of Christendom. What it stands for is almost a complete reversal of the traditional Protestant attitude towards Roman Catholicism. Its leaders “deeply lament the absence of the great Church of Rome” from its councils; yet the Episcopalian, Presbyterian and Methodist bodies subscribe to the tenets of the W.C.C. and sent their delegates to Amsterdam and Evanston.
"I do wish you could have a talk with our young minister,” said a Presbyterian lady to a well-known servant of Christ. “I am sure he is most sincere, but I fear he has a strong leaning to Rome.” The pity is that there are thousands like him. The whole modern trend of liberal Protestantism is Romeward.
BUT Satan is a relentless foe and although defeated on the Galilean lake, he has manifested his ceaseless, malignant enmity to Christ and to His saints all down the ages even to this present moment. The storm on Gennesaret has been acted and reacted in the spiritual realm a thousand times with unremitted fury and today the tempest is as fierce as ever. Now the Blessed Lord still has His desires, His intense desires, and before He left the scene of His rejection, sorrow and shame, to take His seat at the right hand of the greatness in the heavens, He expressed these desires. He has also caused a record of them to be written which is to hold good until He returns to take His ransomed people home. What an unspeakable honour that He should desire anything from us! but so it is, and this comes as a challenge to every child of God.”
Let us begin with an initial challenge and desire, as He says, “FOLLOW THOU ME.” Well, it is very easy to sing “Where He leads me I will follow,” when we are part of a great congregation moved by emotion; but what about it when we are in the calm solemnity of His presence alone? To “follow the Christ, the King” means leaving the world with all its attractions, its allurements and its honours. This must be so, for the world has made up its mind very definitely that it has no room for Christ and has already put Him outside by way of a felon’s cross. The pride, pleasures, popularity and politics of this present evil age can therefore have no charm for us, if we have become followers of the despised Man of Sorrows. We can no longer regard or covet the smile of that which only speaks in blasphemy the precious Name that is music to our ears; nor do we fear its frown, for we have become eternally attached to the Blessed One for whom it has no room. No, the Lord is not to be found in the world. His holy footsteps in this scene led only to the cross and there the world crucified Him and parted company with Him for ever. The cross! this becomes to you too the very thing that crucifies the world to you and you to the world.
But "if any man will come after Me” he must be prepared to sever all natural ties that would hinder his following Jesus. “If any man come to Me and hate not his father and mother and wife and children and brethren and sisters, yea, his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26). What tragic histories have been written through loved ones in the flesh imposing their wishes, and by so doing, blotting out the desires of the Lord! What hearts have been torn and mangled in the struggle between love to those dear to us and love for the Lord! But Christ must be supreme and alone in our soul’s affections if we would follow Him. There can be no compromise—like Isaac and Samuel of old, we must be weaned from all that is of nature if we are to be wholly for Him.
Finally, following the Lord means that we must deny self. “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself" (Matt. 16:24)—not self denial, not a “forsaking of all that he hath" (Luke 14:33)—but denial of self; there is a mighty difference in these two things. This is the crisis, the crucial position and condition in following “the Christ, the King.” Self, with all its exacting demands must be abased and abandoned in following the Lord. You cannot at once be a follower and a leader, and the great Captain of our salvation says, “Follow Me”; thus our stubborn wills must be lost and our arrogant pride broken down, so that it may be “No more I, but Christ.” Following Christ will take us into rejection, reproach and loneliness, but the expressed desire of the Master to every one of His disciples is, “Follow Me.” The storm clouds will gather thick and fast and the waters become dark and forboding as the challenge comes to you—to me.
Further, the Lord has expressed another desire for all who listen to His voice—“Do this for a remembrance of Me.” Two thousand years ago this world got tired of His holy presence, so with foul hearts and blood-stained hands they gave Him, as they thought, a final exodus by way of Golgotha’s hill of ignominy and shame. What a delusion! Two thousand years ago He became throne-seated at the right hand of the greatness in the heavens, but only until:—
(1) He comes to claim every ransomed saint for Himself;
(2) His foes become the footstool of His once-pierced feet. Meantime, He is absent from this scene; but e’er man thrust Him out, He left us this expressed desire, that until He comes again we should “Remember Him.” It was on the darkest night of the world’s history; the foul hand of the traitor had received the sop, Satan had entered into him and taken complete control and Judas went out into the night. The eleven disciples, disturbed and distracted, remained with the Lord—but He was not distracted— holy calm and peace filled His soul. He knew that soon, very soon, He was to depart from them, but before His departure, He would inaugurate that which would provide a perpetual bond of love between their souls and Himself. So from off the paschal table He took a loaf and broke it, saying—“This is My body”— and also a cup adding, “This is My blood”; these precious emblems were to be the continual reminder of Himself all through the dark night of His absence, right until the morning dawns when they shall again gaze upon Him in person. History records how the early disciples observed this last request right from the very beginning, as they met together in simplicity on the first day of the week to break bread in fond memory of Himself.
“And sitting down they watched Him there.”—Matt. 27:36
HERE we have another of those often quoted but misunderstood and misapplied texts. Doubtless most of our readers have heard this verse read and commented on, especially when gathered together around the Table of the Lord. Not once, as far as memory serves, has the writer ever heard the text given what we believe to be its true interpretation. It is usually applied to the throng that gathered around the cross of Jesus, and to the utter unconcern and cold indifference, with which the rabble mob sat down to watch the Saviour in His dying agonies.
They had made attempts again and again to get rid of Him. Once they took up stones to stone Him; at another they took Him to the brow of the hill to cast Him down headlong, etc; but every attack on His life thus far had miscarried. Now at last they have Him nailed on the cross, their wicked purposes and plans are finally realized. Their cruel callousness is foretold in the prophetic words we read in Psa. 69:20—-“I looked for some to take pity but there was none, and for comforters but I found none.”
Nowhere, however, do we read of the crowds that gathered around the cross “sitting down,” as a careful reading of the context will reveal. If we go back a few verses in the chapter we will get the proper connection of verse 36. At verse 26 Pilate delivered Jesus to the Romans to be crucified, and in the verses that follow we see Jesus in the custody of the soldiers who are to carry out the sentence of crucifixion. Our Lord must have been from four to six hours that night in Pilate’s Judgment Hall while awaiting the hour fixed for the execution. During that time the soldiers subjected Him to every indignity their wicked hearts could devise. They blindfolded Him, buffeted Him, smote Him on the face, plucked the hairs from His cheeks, aimed at Him their filthy spittle, making sport of Him, like a ferocious wild beast toying with its victim before pouncing on it for the kill.
From verse 27 to verse 36 the pronoun “they” occurs about 16 times and each occurrence refers to the soldiers. They stripped Him, they put the crown of thorns on His head; then they put His own raiment on Him, and led Him out to Calvary where they crucified Him—“AND SITTING DOWN THEY WATCHED HIM THERE.”
Any good Concordance will show that the word “watched” here in verse 36 is the same word as is used in verse 54; it means “guarded”. Thus we see clearly that it was the Roman soldiers, who did the actual work of crucifixion, who sat down—not the crowds around the cross, as is usually supposed.
Perhaps it might be interesting to point out that the attitude of heartlessness and indifference on the part of these soldiers underwent a remarkable change. In verse 54 we read that “when the Centurion... saw the earthquake and those things that were done he feared greatly saying “truly this was the Son of God.” Nearly all are agreed that the Centurion thus confessing Jesus to be the Son of God was saved right there and then. See 1 John 5:1. The earthquake, the rending rocks, the opening of the graves, the three hours of darkness, all witnessed that He was indeed the Son of God. As another has said, “He hangs a bruised flower, drooping on His cross; the sun above is dark and the earth beneath shudders with pain. What have we in this funeral grief of worlds but a fit honour paid to the sad majesty of his Divine innocence.” Now verse 54 also informs us that “the Centurion AND THEY THAT WERE WITH HIM WATCHING JESUS,” i.e. the soldiers who carried out the crucifixion, ALL JOINED IN CONFESSING JESUS TO BE THE SON OF GOD. If, therefore, we accept it that the Centurion was saved, we must also believe the same in regard to the soldiers. These men, hardened though they were, must have been touched by all that took place at that time. They had heard Jesus pray, while they were nailing him to the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” They had seen His tender solicitude and concern for His mother as recorded in John 19. They had listened to the cry of the penitent thief and to Christ’s amazing answer of comfort and assurance. They must have been impressed greatly by the darkness that settled down at midday, lasting until the ninth hour. Then again they must also have heard those last four cries from the cross, coming one after another in quick succession in (possibly) the following order: “I thirst,” "Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani,”
“It is finished,” and “Father into Thy hands I commend my Spirit.” Never before had they witnessed anything like what they heard and saw that day. With softened hearts and subdued spirits they too acknowledged Jesus to be the Son of God. Is it possible, that we shall meet in yonder glory the very men who nailed the Son of God on the cross? If this be so, what a triumph of the mercy and grace of God!
I WAS lonely and sad. Everything about me seemed dark and desolate, and my soul, cast down, had forgotten the admonition: “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.”
Suddenly, out of the deep silence and solitariness of that sad evening, came the sounds of sweetest melody. It was a street organ played by a young boy. I went out to give him a little money.
What an intelligent face was his, and at the same time those large dark eyes, which he turned upon me, what a story of need and sorrow they told! He is hungry, I said to myself, and placing bread and meat on a plate, I added a booklet which was lying on the table. I handed it all to him without any courage to say a word.
Yet he deeply interested me, and as I watched him eating, from behind the window where I sat, repeatedly my heart went up to God in prayer, that the booklet might be used for his salvation. After eating, which was quickly done, he took up the booklet, read its title, "How to Become a Christian,” and put it carefully away in his pocket.
Years passed, and war broke out with its tale of sorrows and distresses. My little organ-grinder passed out of my mind.
Recently I went to visit a hospital where the wounded were cared for. The surgeon was making his rounds. Silent and sad he stood by one of the wounded, holding his wrist, and counting his pulse, which was growing weaker and weaker. I stopped to look at the patient. He was a very young man; his eyes were closed and the seal of death was on his face. At the same moment the chaplain also came, and leaning over the dying man, seemed anxious to know if he still breathed.
All at once the young man opened his eyes and asked, “Am I going to die?”
The chaplain, looking sad, made no answer.
“Oh, don’t be afraid to tell me. I am ready.”
"I cannot say, my young friend,” said the chaplain, “but do you know the Saviour of sinners? Do you love Jesus?”
“Yes, yes, I have just seen Him. I am not wandering. I must tell you all before I go.”
“Have you a mother? Can I do anything for you?”
“Yes, sir, but she is not here. I am going to be with her soon; she is in heaven.” And as he said these words, what a lovely expression played through his dying eyes.
“But,” he added, “I have a young sister. Poor child, she will be very lonely now. But I have committed her to the Lord and He will not forsake her. I would like to send her a few things,” and so saying, he made a special effort and drew from under his pillow a purse in which were a few gold pieces, then a Bible, a photograph, and a booklet quite worn, its cover soiled with blood.
“This little book,” he said, “brought me salvation, also to my dear mother. As a little boy I was a poor organ-grinder—and I tried to care for my sick mother and little sister—we were very wretched then, when a good lady gave me this little book—Oh, how glad my mother was when I read it to her! Until then no one had ever given us anything to show us the way to heaven. None had ever talked to us about that precious Saviour, who died upon the cross to redeem us—Dear lady, we prayed for her every day— How I did long to see her again—!”
I drew nearer and nearer to catch every word from the lips of the dying man, for I had recognized in him the little organ-grinder who had once cheered my depressed spirit. After a little, in weak tones he was saying, “What a beautiful dream it was! I had come to the gates of heaven and went in—Everything was so lovely; but I wanted to see my Saviour, then my mother. She seemed— there—near Him. Then I thought of that good lady of the booklet, and I wanted to see her, but she had not got there yet—”
I could no longer restrain myself, and sobbed aloud. It roused the dying man, and looking at me, a flash of recognition lit up his face. Astonished, but unable to move, he said slowly, “I thank Thee, Lord; I know Thou hearest prayer.”
Brethren, sisters, Christian friends, scatter the seed. “Be instant in season, out of season.” “Sow beside all waters.” "After many days” it will return. Sooner or later you shall see it bear fruit, and joy unspeakable will be yours.
THIS remarkable phrase, found in 1 Corinthians 11:10, reveals a function of the local assembly vitally important to God, but not always realised by His people thus gathered. Not only is the assembly a dwelling place of God by the Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 6:16) and the depository and vessel of the Truth (1 Tim. 3:15), from which goes forth the Glad Tidings, embracing the whole counsel of God, to needy mankind, but it is also intended by God to be the means whereby He instructs the vast concourse of heavenly intelligences in His own wisdom and ways. The phrase is expanded to much greater dimensions in Eph. 3:10, which would include the whole unseen hierarchy of heaven, and even the rulers of darkness and spiritual hosts of wickedness (Eph. 6:12). The Scriptures have much to say of this superior spiritual creation, as being active in their sphere, as we are in ours. They are represented as an ordered, numbered company (Matt. 26:53), and as sent forth to minister to the wellbeing of the saints on earth (Heb. 1:14). Their powers extend to the control of the forces of nature (Rev. 7:1), the ability to appear in human form (Gen. 19:1; Judg. 6:11) and the execution of Divine judgment upon men (2 Ki. 19:35). They move and appear in the very presence of God Himself (Matt.'18:10), yet withal have an imperfect knowledge and understanding of Him (Mk. 13: 32). Despite their close association with, and interest in, the incarnation of God the Son, His life, death, burial, resurrection, and glory (Lk. 2. 13:14; Matt. 4:11; Matt. 28:2; Acts 1. 9-11), the angels failed to appreciate fully the significance of it all. The eternal purposes of God for the Son, based upon His sufferings and displayed in the subsequent glories, surpass their understanding, and are the constant subjects of their enquiry (1 Pet. 1:12). We find therefore that God is pleased to instruct these ardent heavenly students of theology in His wisdom and ways by object lessons and symbols. The object is the local assembly, instrument of Divine Grace and Truth that it is, and the symbols are the details of the New Testament pattern for code and conduct within that assembly. If the assembly is accurately and adequately to demonstrate what is in the mind and heart of God, its activities must essentially be according to, His will, ordered by God, and no other.
From the beginning of God’s dealings with men, the display on earth of Divine truths has been by object, lesson and symbol. From Adam’s “coat of skins” to the “fine linen of saints” in Rev. 19; from Abel’s lamb, through the intricate system of Levitical sacrifices, to the “Lamb as it had been slain”, of Rev. 5; from the full and beautiful typology of the Tabernacle as God’s dwelling place, and later the Temple (Heb. 9:23), to the Holy City of Rev. 21, this has been God’s way of teaching His people. While the Lord from Heaven has stepped into time to give substance to the shadow, God continues by the same method to teach spiritual intelligences in Heavenly places spiritual and Divine truths. It would seem that the more simple, humble and seemingly insignificant the symbols are, the greater and more profound the truths they illustrate.
Thus as we gather together "in assembly” on the first day of the week under the presidency of the Spirit of God, by the simple corporate act of breaking and eating a loaf, and drinking from a cup, we proclaim to the unseen angelic spectators the wondrous fact that the Lord has been here and has died for man His creature’s sin (1 Cor. 11:26). As beneficiaries of mercy and grace we proclaim the fact of an Event in time that has become the fulcrum and foundation of Eternal things. How this thought alone, even apart from the preciousness of the presence of the Lord Himself in the midst, the consciousness of being “within the Holiest of all...” and the solemn sanctity of the occasion, should utterly expel from our minds all unholy thoughts, and from our conduct all levity and looseness.
From 1 Corinthians 12 we learn that the local assembly is to be a demonstration of a unity of life, yet composed of many members. This unity is practically expressed by the attitude, one member toward another, of a felt sense of dependance one upon another, each esteeming the other better than himself; all giving an illustration of the mystic Body of Christ, obeying and deriving its life and energy from the risen and glorified Head. As with a physical body, the members are to show co-ordination of thought and movement, with interests, aspirations and hopes mutually shared and enjoyed. Like any healthy body it should be characterised by harmony and vigour. Alas, how often one finds within a local assembly evidences of envy, jealousy, and positive dislike, between one member and another. Instead of all “speaking the same thing,” and “being of one mind,” moving only under the controlling influence of the Head, we see contention, controversy and self-will. Such unhappy conditions mar the illustration that God has given the multitudes of Heaven to observe, as teaching great truths concerning His beloved Son. Can saints in such as assembly, calmly and complacently continue to hinder God’s purposes and ruin the lessons He would teach? There must often be perplexity and amazement in angelic minds as they look upon the Lord’s people today. This consideration alone ought to occasion much heart searching and prayer. Are any of us without sin in this connection?
Perhaps the greatest truth displayed by an assembly, and certainly the most precious to God, is the Headship of Christ, His dear Son—that God has “made Him to be Head over all things to the church, which is His Body” (Eph. 22, 23). So blessed and so precious is Christ, the Son, to God that He has set Him on the very throne of the universe, supreme over all, and Head of all created things, putting all, without one single exception, in subjection to Him. God would demonstrate this sublime fact by symbol in the local assembly, by the simple and seemingly insignificant practice of the men having their heads uncovered, and of the women having theirs covered. It is necessary here to notice that God requires the sisters’ heads to be covered, not just half covered. One has to look closely sometimes to ascertain whether a hat is being worn at all. While vanity is satisfied, the Word of God is disregarded and disobeyed. Three great universal Divine principles are stated in 1Cor. 11:3: “that the head of every man is Christ and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God,” and, “for this cause,” says verse 10, “ought the woman to have the sign of authority on her head because of the angels.” The covering by the woman of her head when in assembly, is an acknowledgement of Headship, and sets forth a principle that is of the utmost importance to God. Clearly it is in this that He seeks to instruct angels “that in all things He might have the pre-eminence.” Beloved, we dare not regard these matters lightly, though they may seem trivial to many. It is essential to God’s heavenly purposes that we as a church of God conform implicitly to "the pattern shown us.” We should be deeply conscious of the great privilege bestowed upon us of being the selected means whereby God is able to illustrate His wisdom and ways to the Heavenly multitude, which otherwise they might not fully comprehend.
A FRIEND of ours on board ship was exceedingly sick, and while in the agonies of the malady a worthy man sought to converse with him. No time could be less opportune, and the inappropriateness of the season reached its climax when just before a rush at the basin the soul-winner asked, “How long have you known the Lord?” Indignation was more likely to be roused than benefit to be bestowed. We are so glad to see zeal at all, that we can readily forgive its lack of discretion; but really, there is such a thing as common sense, and if good men are devoid of it they will do more harm than good. A youth of our acquaintance will be long before he forgives a dentist who set before him the plan of salvation when the poor lad badly wanted to have his tooth drawn at once. It is almost a sin to do a right thing at the wrong time.
A LADY missionary was complaining to a simple Hindu woman that it seemed no use teaching her anything. “You forget,” she said, “all I tell you. Your mind is just like a sieve: as fast as I pour water in, it runs out again.” The woman’s reply was this, "It is very true my mind is just like a sieve. I am very sorry I forget so much; but then you know, when you pour clean water into a sieve, though it all runs out again, yet it makes the sieve clean. I am sorry I have forgotten so much of what you told me last week, but what you did tell me made my mind clean, and I have come again to-day.”
Oh, lay all oars in the water, put forth all your power, and bend all your endeavours, to put away and part with all things, that you may gain and enjoy Christ. Try and search His Word, and strive to go a step above and beyond ordinary professors, and resolve to labour more and run faster than they do for salvation. Men’s midway, cold, and wise courses in godliness, and their neighbour-like cold and wise pace to heaven, will cause many a man to want his lodgings at night and lie in the fields. I recommend Christ and His love to your seeking, and yourself to the tender mercy and rich grace of our Lord.
TRULY the Lord God is great in great things, but very great in little things. A party stood on the Matterhorn admiring the sublimity of the scene, when a gentleman produced a pocket microscope, and having caught a fly, placed it under the glass. He reminded us that the legs of the household fly in Britain were naked, then called attention to the legs of this little fly, which were thickly covered with hair, thus showing that the same God who made the lofty Swiss mountains attended to the comforts of the tiniest of His creatures, even providing socks and mittens for the little fly whose home these mountains were. This God is our God. “He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things” (Acts 17:15).