The Evils of Exclusivism
H. Winfield Graham
The Local Assembly
Old Paths and New Ways
By ANDREW STENHOUSE, Chile.
IN early apostolic times the primitive Christian assemblies, gathered in simplicity to the name of the Lord Jesus, were a model for all future times; and the instructions given to them are instructions for us to-day. The care and guidance of these assemblies was the responsibility of elders or overseers raised up in the midst of them by the Holy Ghost (Acts 20. 17, 28); these elders being men distinguished by moral and spiritual qualifications (1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1). Normally there was a plurality of elders in each local assembly (Acts 14. 23; Phil. 1.1), and it is evident that each assembly was autonomous, being responsible to the Lord alone (Rev. 1. 13).
When Christians, in the early part of last century, separated themselves from the various ecclesiastical organizations of Christendom, it was because they perceived them to be sectarian in character and unauthorized by Scripture; and it was not their thought to form a new denomination or religious body of any sort. At that time Mr. J. N. Darby wrote: “If man set up to imitate the administration of the body, it will be popery or dissent at once.” These words were surely prophetic, for it was not long till the concept of autonomous assemblies, responsible to the Lord alone, was abandoned by Mr. Darby and his followers, and a number of assemblies were banded together to form a party or circle having definite recognized limits and a unified governing oversight. The control was exercised by a group of ‘leading brethren’ in London, and the decisions of this governing body were binding on all assemblies belonging to the party. Assemblies which did not accept these decisions were cut off from the fellowship.
The fundamental error of Exclusivism was the recognition of a body corporate composed of assemblies. The only body recognized by Scripture is the body of Christ, and that does not contemplate a human government or administration. But the formation of a party, or “circle of fellowship”, called for a central government, and this was provided by the London group of leading brethren. The idea of such a group of self-appointed leaders, controlling and legislating for a large number of assemblies or “meetings” is quite foreign to Scripture. It is the same principle that produced the Roman Catholic hierarchy and the papal supremacy, and where it is admitted, we need not be surprised to see one man eventually taking the reigns of government. This has characterised the London party from the beginning, and the leadership of men like J. N. Darby, F. E. Raven, and J. Taylor seems to be essential to the system.
But the principle of autocratic government is contrary to Scripture and is condemned by the words of our Lord: “It shall not be so among you” (Matt. 20. 25, 26). Spiritual men would not set themselves up to legislate for their fellow-believers, but in carnal men the lust for power is ever present. Diotrephes is the prototype of all such. He loved to have the pre-eminence, and he was prepared to act ruthlessly towards all who might interfere with his ambitions, including the apostle John. Not content with this, he cast out of the assembly such as did not submit to his dictatorship (3 John 9, 10). This is the the true picture of Exclusivism as it is practised in the London party to-day, under the leadership of J. Taylor, Jr. Love for the Saviour, submission to the Word of God, godliness of life, all count for nothing if the decrees of one man or a group of men are not accepted or submitted to: all who dare to disagree are excluded from the fellowship.
It has long been known that the London party of “exclusives” has been quite unsound on the subject of baptism. What is not generally realized or recognized is that this unsoundness extends necessarily to the question of conversion and regeneration. The teaching of Scripture as to baptism is simple and clear enough if we have no theories to defend. Mr. Darby was doubtless influenced in regard to this subject by his previous theological training. As a clergyman he had practised infant sprinkling, and knew all the arguments to defend it, but none of these is convincing to the simple believer who asks for the authority of Scripture. Both the doctrine and the examples of the New Testament make plain enough that baptism (by immersion) is the privilege and obligation only of such as have experienced conversion and wish to declare their death and burial with Christ and their desire to walk in newness of life (Romans 6).
The baptism of unconverted persons, whether young or old, has no scriptural significance or value, and can only serve the purpose of giving to such a false ground of confidence, as is the case with Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, and others. These consider themselves to be ‘christened’ or christianized, and are thereafter offended if treated as lost sinners and needing conversion. The fact is that a baptized unbeliever is an unbeliever still, and nothing is effected for God until repentance and faith are produced by the preaching of the gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit. In the London party, however, as in some other denominations, the baptized children of believers are scarcely viewed as needing conversion or regeneration, and they certainly are not made to feel their lost condition. The result is that many of them simply become adherents of the “meetings” without having had any vital contact with Christ for salvation. They simply (to use the language of the sect) “take up their privileges”; which means that they begin to break bread and to act as in the fellowship of the party. The consequences of this, as can readily be imagined, are most disastrous.
Bad as the situation has been, it has been greatly aggravated of late by the decrees of the present party leader, J. Taylor, Jr. These include the requirement that members of the party do not eat with non-party members, not even with members of their own families. The heartbreaking results of this unchristian and inhuman procedure have been published to the world and have produced indignation in all right-thinking persons. But what is the result as far as young children are concerned? The desire of the parents is naturally that these be brought into the fellowship as soon as possible, and this is done without any regard for the eternal consequences that may ensue for their offspring. For these are immediately placed in a false position, and in course of time may be imbued with all the false concepts of the party, to the utter ruin of their souls.
The defective thinking of Exclusive Brethren with regard to the vital matter of their children’s salvation results from the teaching of a theory to the effect that the children of believers, when baptized, are brought into a sphere of blessing or privilege. They no longer belong to the world, or the outside place; the faith of the parents being sufficient to ensure their salvation. Such a theory is destructive of the doctrine of grace, for God looks favourably upon all men and will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. He could not look more favourably upon children whose parents have submitted them to a rite for which Scripture offers neither precedent nor instruction.
Related to this mode of thinking is the general attitude of the London party toward the whole question of evangelism. It is well known that they are not an evangelistic body, nor are they characterised by missionary effort in foreign lands. This too is the result of a peculiar theory of their own, according to which the Great Commission was not intended to be carried out in the present dispen-sation. Christ’s words to His disciples were: “Go ye … . and make disciples of all nations …. and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the age.” But these brethren, strangely enough, take these words to mean: Wait until the present dispensation is ended, and then let the Jewish remnant go out to evangelize after the Church is gone! No more preposterous theory was ever foisted on the people of God, and the purpose of the devil has been well served by it.
The principle of exclusivism, that is to say, the exclusivism which leads these people to maintain separation from fellow-believers (and fellow-believers more godly than themselves) is defended by a series of theories and special interpretations of Scripture. “Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate” (2 Cor. 6. 17) has often been applied to this kind of separation, though it is plain to the honest reader of Scripture that the antecedent of the pronoun “them” is the word “unbelievers” in verse 14. 1Cor. 5 is also plain enough in its teaching. Immoral persons, and such as are described in verse 11, are to be put away from the assembly, and we are to have no fellowship with them; but to apply the instructions of this chapter to godly Christians would be both dishonest and unrighteous. 2 Timothy 2 is another passage which is wrongly interpreted for the purpose of supporting exclusivist practices. The apostle is exhorting to “shun profane and vain babblings” such as those of Hymenaeus and Philetus (vv. 16-18). If a man purges himself from such things (the meaning of the word is to purge out from within), he will be a vessel unto honour, sanctified and meet for the Master’s use (v. 21). But the verse has been made to mean that a believer, by separating form fellow-believers whom he considers unworthy, will thus become a vessel unto honour irrespective of his personal condition.
One of the greatest evils of the exclusivist system is that it engenders in its adepts a complex of Pharisaical superiority, causing them to despise and even show abhorrence for all who are unwilling to accept their dogmas and practices. This “holier-than-thou” attitude is the more ludicrous today, when it is evident to the world that many of the party members, including some of their leaders, have by their conduct brought discredit on the gospel and the name of the Lord. It becomes all sober-minded Christians today to depart from the iniquity that is being practised under the pretext of departing from iniquity.
(To be followed, D.V., by “A Sinister Movement.”)
By H. WINFIELD GRAHAM (Continued)
TWO alternatives are suggested for the woman who does not wish to comply with these instructions. If she is not willing to wear a covering then let her be shorn. But since it would be shameful for a woman to have short hair, this alternative is eliminated and she must wear a head-covering (v. 6). She must have the two signs or none.
Human judgment and natural instinct would give some indication of these things (vv. 13, 14) but of course we have the clear Word of God. Then the apostle silences all cavilling by declaring that the universal practice of the apostles and of the churches of God lent no favour whatsoever to any other procedure (v. 16).
At times it is asked how long should the hair be. It should be clearly and unmistakably long. If one has to look twice to know then it is of no value as an insignia or public declaration.
The question suggests itself as to when this order is to be observed. It is not only in meetings of the church, but wheresoever there is audible prayer, or the reading and ministry qf the Word, as in Gospel meetings and Sunday Schools. Philip’s four daughters would obey these instructions when exercising their gift of prophecy, and this would not be in public gatherings. Agabus would observe them when he prophesied in Philip’s house (Acts 21. 9-11). We believe that Priscilla and Aquila would observe them when expounding the way of God to Apollos (Acts 18. 26). A Christian engaged in the spread of the Gospel and who finds an opportunity of reading the Scriptures and praying in the home would observe them. Some godly sisters cover the head while at family worship or when praying with their children. On quite a number of occasions we have been in homes where the sister who laid the table hung a head-scarf on her chair to use when thanks was being given for the food. We have seen a sister caught unprepared, place her handkerchief on her head or hold a book over it. These sisters did so willingly, from personal conviction; and the writer, while not dogmatic on the point, shares their conviction that it should be so. On occasions one has enquired as to their reasons for so doing and has been told that even in such circumstances they feel that they should recognize the leadership of the man. Perhaps a guiding rule would be that where the man uncovers his head the woman should cover hers.
By Wm. GIBSON
I WILL add one final practical word about 1 Cor. 11. You remember the Lord Jesus on one occasion saying, “If thou bring thy gift to the altar and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought,” etc. Here is a principle concerning worship and forgiveness. If I know my brother has something against me, before I go to remember the Lord, and to worship Him, let me put this matter right; for unless I do, it will affect me. It will affect my brother too, and hinder the worship of the whole company.
Now, the following three chapters: 12, 13 and 14 are linked together in a very beautiful way. In chapter 12 the Apostle tells us of the various spiritual gifts in operation in the assembly. He makes known the relationship of gift to gift, and by using the illustration of a human body, shows how the several parts of the body work together in unison and harmony for the general health and wellbeing of the whole. So it is in the local church. By the proper exercise and function of these gifts the general health of the whole will be assured. In chapter 14 we have the instruction on the proper exercise and use of the gifts in the assembly. In chapter 13, the middle of the three, we are told that whatever gift I possess, whether seemingly important or not, unless it is exercised in love it profits nothing.
So let us have a brief look at one or two things in these chapters. Chapter 12 commences: “Now concerning spirituals, brethren.” The word “gifts” is not in the original. The point I want to make is this: the gifts mentioned here are not said to be given by the Spirit. The risen Lord, the Head of the body, is the Giver of the gifts. Says Ephesians 4: “When He ascended on high He gave gifts unto men.” If you read this chapter carefully in the Revised Version, you will see that the Spirit is not the giver of the gifts, but the One through whom they are manifested, and in whose power they should be exercised. Let us ever bear in mind that mere natural ability has no place in the church of God. In the first three chapters of this epistle a clean sweep is made of man’s wisdom, eloquence, and ability, and if man is to exercise any gift amongst the saints, it must only be the gift given to Him by the risen Head, and exercised in the power of the Spirit. The very idea of men qualifying men for the work of edifying the church of God is utterly foreign to Scripture. In Christendom this is the regular thing. Men attend college or university, and once they reach a standard set by men they are ordained by men for ministry amongst the saints. This is and has been the established practice for many generations in the sects around. But what is disturbing is that this idea is being put forth in some assemblies.
There are those who say that unless a brother has been to some college or Bible school, he should not take part in public ministry. Now, what is the cause of it? Well, in my judgment it is twofold. First, it is the modern trend. Education and training are uppermost in the minds of people to-day. But the second reason, and the more important and fundamental one, is that in some quarters all the brethren in the assembly have been allowed to get on their feet and publicly minister the gospel or words to the saints, over the past thirty to forty years. A spirit of “Jack is as good as his master,” has grown up in the assemblies. The spirit of meekness and willingness to listen to God and the counsel of wise and godly elders is not as manifest as it used to be. And let me say this, and I say it with a sad heart, wise and godly elders are at a premium in some assemblies to-day. But the worst feature of all surely is that we have seemingly forgotten the existence of 1 Corinthians chapters 12, 13 and 14. It is obvious from the reading of these chapters that the operation of any gift in the assembly should be at the direction of the living Head, Christ (not a single member of any body moves but at the direction of the head), and that the operation of that gift should be in the manifestation and power of the Holy Spirit. In the early days of the assemblies the open platform was the order and only gifted men moved amongst the saints in this sphere. But by-and-by other men obviously not gifted began to exercise this ministry, and many an assembly meeting, many a conference, was ruined through men seeking prominence, and in the energy of the flesh going forward to minister the Word. To combat this some have descended (and I use this word carefully) to the fixing of speakers for all meetings. Now, I say they have descended to this and what has been the result? Well, brethren responsible for filling assembly platforms also seem in some cases to have forgotten there are such things as spiritual gifts. Anyone who is willing to speak can speak. It is not a question of ability in some circles to-day but of willingness. How often the saints have been bored, listening to a brother preaching the gospel who should never have been on the platform! and if the saints are bored, what about the sinners? I have heard more than one brother say he would not bring visitors to the gospel meetings, because of the poor quality of the preachers. The same thing happens in ministry, and I want you to see how the first expediency has come back upon those who advocate it like a boomerang, for it is because of the poor quality of speakers that we resort to another expediency, and say, ‘Let us send them to college, let us educate them, let them go to the Bible schools, and then we will get good speakers’; and the last error is surely worse than the first. Brethren, these things ought not to be. In connection with the tabernacle of old it was said, “To every man his work”, and if the risen Head gives the gift of evangelism to a brother in the assembly, what matter if he preaches twenty times a year! If he is the man with the gift, he is the man who should preach. I am persuaded we shall get results if we recognise the God-given gifts, and the same thing applies to ministry. I hope you will bear the exhortation.
I am aware that in this I leave a lot of questions unanswered, but that is up to you to put right. Now, just before we pass on I want you to notice an expression that occurs in verse 12: “So also the Christ.” Here every member of the body is seen in the whole in the New Man, and the name of the New Man God has brought into being, which is composed of every believer, is “The Christ”. I want to suggest to you that this name is seen in contrast with that of the old man, Adam. Notice an expression that occurs in Genesis 5. 2: “He called their name Adam.” Adam was the first man and the federal head of the human race. Eve is described as “the mother of all living,” and God gave them the joint name of “Adam”, for here Adam’s generations are in view, and the whole of posterity is seen here in the name of “Adam”. This is the old man and that is why we get the expression, “As in Adam all die,” for we are all of Adam. At the cross the old man was judged and set aside, and God brought a new man into existence on the day of Pentecost, “The Christ.” as the Apostle tells us here in chapter 12; and “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” There are two great families in the world to-day, the family of the Man who died on the cross, and the family of the man who put Him there.
(To be continued).
By ANDREW BORLAND, M.A.
IS it not then, undeniably evident that there has been an appreciable decline in the personal piety of those who go to make up the personnel of our assemblies of to-day? Effects, moreover, have always causes, and perhaps it is more important to enquire into the causes than to descant upon the effects. These causes may be many, but some strike us more forcibly than others. Let four be mentioned.
The first will be hard to confute: the horizon of life has been narrowed by the materialism that is characteristic of the age in which we live. The computation of wealth in terms of the products of mechanical industrialism has set up a false standard of judgment among Christians, and has inculcated a spirit of commercial rivalry that is detrimental to the growth of robust spirituality. The struggle for a living, in many cases for a better living, has left the majority of us supine and nerveless. Energies have been expended unduly in the pursuit of worldly position to the exclusion of the development of true life. Such a state of affairs is not confined to one section of the Christian community; it is prevalent in all. Not only the manual labourer, selling his craftmanship to the best of his ability, but the commercial and the professional man, utilising his talent for his temporal advancement, has contributed to the state of affairs generally. Never was there such a body of finely equipped young people in our assemblies. Never have education authorities put such possibilities before the rising generations. Never has the mental training of our schools and universities given our young folks such capacity for a critical appreciation of the demands made upon all who profess faith in Christ. Yet what is the prevailing experience in the assemblies? Is it not this, that, excluding noteworthy exceptions, many of our professional young men are content to make their education an end in itself, without considering that it ought to be used as a means to the edification of the saints with whom they meet. Their talents they have perverted and their outlook in life has been reduced to a materialistic one. The present need is a clarion call to our younger brethren to walk in the old paths, in the good ways.
Secondly, there has been a misplaced emphasis in the teaching of Christian doctrine. The preaching of justification by faith has been an admirable feature of the ministry of the gospel in our assemblies. But we dare not forget that justification and sanctification are inseparably linked together in the teaching of the New Testament. Sanctification means reckoning ourselves dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God. It means abiding in Christ as the secret and source of spiritual advancement. It means conscious application to the Scriptures as the means whereby growth in divine ways is maintained. If justification by faith does not produce a desire for sanctified living, there has been either a faulty presentation of the gospel or a faulty apprehension of its demands. Mere intellectual assent to a doctrine does not produce the ethical effect inseparable from the acceptance of the terms on which God approaches man. Godly living is demanded on the part of those who profess to have received divine life. If the truth of sanctification were more consistently taught, there would not be the present decline in the practice of personal piety.
Thirdly, it seems quite evident that a superficial knowledge of the letter of the Scriptures is being substituted for real objective and devotional reading for one’s own benefit. The Bible is not merely a text-book for supplying material for the instruction or entertainment of others. It is not simply a source of information for the confuting of evil doctrine or the disclosure of error in the beliefs of others. It is primarily a revelation from God for the daily regulation of personal conduct. It must be read with that end in view chiefly. The true secrets of the Bible are closed to all but those who come to learn from its pages the holy art of living to please God. None are truly initiated to its mysteries who do not love its precepts and obey them. Perhaps the multiplication of opportunities for public service has militated against the spirit of recollectiveness (as the Puritans used to call meditation), and destroyed the habit of reading deeply by meditating long. The giddy rush of modern times has almost killed the art of being thoughtfully quiet, and, consequently, has interfered with the personal piety of many a Christian.
Fourthly, private devotions are being displaced by attendance at meetings. That there are meetings of so many different kinds is cause for thankfulness. They cannot but have a temporary effect for good in some way or another. But the question is, Does the type of ministry tend to deepen our experience of God, or does it simply satisfy our craving for head-knowledge of Bible truths? Does it send us to our knees, to our Bibles, to our faces before God in desire for richer experiences of His grace and closer communion with Himself? If it does not do so, then our meetings have simply the negative effect of preventing us from evil ways, and not the positive one of making us thirst after God. While it is admirable to cultivate the fellowship with the saints which the Scriptures enjoin, it must not be forgotten that a Christian’s first duty is to maintain a proper relationship Godward. His communion must be intensified with God before it can be properly realised among his brethren. Otherwise, coming together has merely a social value and not a spiritual worth. Personal piety is bound to deteriorate in proportion as we esteem social fellowship of more value than private devotions before God.
Is there not need, therefore, in these days for us to do as Jeremiah advised the people of his day to do, to stand still and ask for the old paths, and, in the matter of personal piety, walk in the good way that godly saints have trod, and by so doing build up that character which is the product of intimate contact with the realities of the divine Presence? We cannot afford to drift. Our spiritual wellbeing is at stake. May God enable us to seek back to the old paths that are good!
By FRANK KNOX, Belfast.
Read Acts 10. 38: “Who went about doing good”.
IN Psalm 92. 1 we read, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord”, and in 1 Timothy 2. 3, it is a “good” thing to pray. Surely it is a good thing to give thanks, and a good thing to pray, for there is always plenty to pray for.
“Doing good” is a mark of genuine Christianity. Of course, one may go about doing good and only be a dead professor, but how can one be a real Christian without doing good in some way or other? In this short paper I am going to suggest three reasons why all of us who belong to the Lord should go about “doing good” to the best of our ability.
The first reason is that our Lord left us an example (1 Peter 2. 21). Now we cannot do all He did, but thank God we can do some of the things He did, and if we have a real affection for Christ, we will be at it. We do not need to be preachers or teachers or wealthy or gifted, nor do we need to be well versed in our Bibles, nor again do we need great gift or talent. If we have these things, then we are responsible to God to use them, but they are not essential to “doing good”. The old, the infirm, the invalid can pray and praise and speak a little to visitors, but while these things are real good, they do not cost one very much, and Christianity that does not cost much, is not worth much.
An Irish preacher referring to Ezekiel’s river, once said that when he got into the river up to his knees, that would make him pray, but when he got into it up to the loins, that would touch the bottom of his pockets, and make him pay (Ezekiel 47. 4). Our Lord visited the sick, He fed the hungry, He helped the lame, He commended some, He wept with the sorrowing. He carefully commended His mother to John in His agony on the Cross. I wonder how the Christian reader treats his or her mother. She may not be all that is desirable. She may not even be saved, but if she is your mother, be good to her. You may not have her long, and a kindness to her in her life is better than flowers in her death.
The second reason is that the need is great. But let us not despair or sink underneath our sense of the great need, as that won’t accomplish anything. Let us rather embrace the opportunity, and thanking God for the desire and any little ability that we have, ‘let us do with our might what our hands find to do’. Don’t say, ‘I can’t’, and don’t give up—it does not take a good Christian to do either of these things. We never really know what or how much we can do until we try. Yes, the need is great amongst both saints and sinners. Now, let me ask my good reader, when did you help a saint, or when did you speak to sinners about their souls? I never remember a time in my life when saints were so careless about sinners, or when sinners were so hard, but let the failures of others be an opportunity for you to succeed where they failed. Now think, while I am writing these lines and while you, my Christian friend, are reading them, souls are dropping into hell. How could it be otherwise, if 10,000 people die every hour, and there be few on the narrow way and many on the broad way? Don’t put this paper down until you definitely decide to get something done. I know of nothing that will make you happy like making someone else happy. Try it to-day. To-morrow may be too late. In the 1914-18 war, when the Germans were pressing hard upon Paris, a French general called (signalled) Marshall Foche and said, “We cannot hold the line”. Foche wired back, “If you cannot hold the line, advance”. God send us men like that.
The third reason is that we have not long to do it, even at the longest. James says, “For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4. 14). It is surely a sad sight for our Lord to look at Christians doing nothing for Him who died to save them from a life of sin, an ungodly world, and hell for eternity. Remember, good reader, that means for ever and ever, whether it be the Throne of God or the Lake of Fire, Rev. 20. 10. “We shall soon be missed, for our seat will be empty”, therefore “let us be up and doing”.
Our Lord said, “The harvest is great (or plenteous), but the labourers are few” (Matt. 9. 37), and again in John 4. 35, “Lift up your eyes and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest”. Paul says, “Let us not sleep as do others” (1 Thess. 5. 6), and “Time is short” (1 Cor. 7. 29). Now, dear reader, if you are a Christian, just put your finger on your pulse. Every beat takes you nearer heaven, and if you are not saved, every beat is nearer hell. In Jude 23 we read of “Pulling them out of the fire” —snatching them back from the fire. An Irish preacher, whom I know, sometimes when he is praying at the beginning of a meeting, cries, “Lord, get in between the sinners and hell and keep them out of it.”
- “Let us do good to all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6. 10).
- “Go and do thou likewise” (Luke 10. 37).
- “Somebody said, ‘It couldn’t be done,’
- But one with a smile replied,
- ‘Maybe it couldn’t, but I wouldn’t be one
- That would say so, until I had tried’.
- So he started right in, with the trace of a grin
- On his face; if he worried he hid it,
- He started to sing, as he tackled the thing
- That couldn’t be done—and he did it.”
It is with deep regret that we intimate the falling on sleep of William Johnston, Evangelist, Belfast, N.I. After an illness lasting eighteen months, our beloved brother and servant of God passed to be with the Lord whom he loved, on Feb. 3, aged 60 years.
Saved when 17 years of age, under the preaching of the late David Walker, he was baptized and received into assembly fellowship in Kingsbridge Gospel Hall, Belfast.
From his conversion he took a real interest in the things of God. His Bible became his daily companion. He developed a deep concern about the service of God at home and abroad. Open-air work always found him ready to help, and he early showed signs of ability to preach the Gospel. Ever a true assembly man, his whole testimony in that connection is well summed up by the words of Acts 2. 42.
Our brother was highly respected by the saints of his home assembly, and in 1931 he was commended by them for the work of the Lord. Until his strength failed, it continued to be his joy to tell ‘the old, old story of Jesus and His love’ to sinners, and to instruct the saints in the right ways of the Lord. And God bessed his labours, for he had the pleasure of seeing a number saved and added to the assemblies in different parts of the land. Some of these are now engaged in full time Gospel work themselves. It will be remembered, too, that for a time our brother helped in the work of this magazine.
In disposition, quiet, reserved, and serious, William Johnston was one of the most sincere and conscientious of men. He was a brother beloved, a true yoke-fellow, and a man of God. His end was peaceful and triumphant. His last words, spoken in a breif period of consciousness, were ‘Crown Him’.
He will be much missed by his beloved wife, who cared for him tenderly to the end; by his partner in service, our esteemed brother, J. K. Duff; and by many aged and lonely saints who were often cheered by his visits. The large attendance of friends at his funeral manifested the high esteem in which he was held.
Prayer is requested for Mrs. Johnson.
- Lamp of our feet, whereby we trace
- Our path when wont to stray,
- Stream from the fount of heavenly grace,
- Brook by the travellers way.
- Bread of our souls, whereon we feed,
- True manna from on high;
- Our guide and chart, wherein we read
- Of realms beyond the sky.
- Word of the ever-living God,
- Will of His glorious Son,—
- Without Thee how could earth be trod,
- Or heaven’s race be won?
- Lord, grant that we aright may learn
- The wisdom it imparts,
- And to its heavenly teaching turn
- With simple, childlike hearts.
- Love proved on the cross of shame,
- Love worthy of God’s great Name;
- Love, eternally the same,
- Wins a heart like mine.
- Grace, knowing my every sin,
- Grace, dying to make me clean,
- Grace that ran to bring me in,
- Suits a heart like mine.
- Peace, still as the sea of glass,
- Peace knowing the judgment’s past,
- Peace that will for ever last,
- Calms a heart like mine.
- Joy, fruit of the Father’s kiss,
- Joy, foretaste of heavenly bliss,
- Joy, that springs from love like this,
- Fills a heart like mine.
- Lord, while in this world below,
- Still more of Thy love I’d know,
- From a heart like mine.
- So shall sweeter praises flow,