•  4 min. read  •  grade level: 7
1. Human mentality may show itself in mental clearness- about, the word of God; but this is not enough without consideration of God's moral ways of dealing it to souls. I might be clearer in perception than anyone else; have intense decision in conduct, as being thus more clear-sighted as to texts; but if I drive others against both time and their measure of knowledge, I am not led by the Spirit, and what the good? The inquiry ends; a decision is come to; perhaps those most in blame are sheltered, but their consciences not plowed up, and humble souls (not otherwise affected then) are shocked at the whole procedure. They wanted time for prayer and humiliation, without which they could not act under responsibility and to the Lord.
2. Awful as it is, I have known persons looked up to, constitute themselves pleaders against others and judges in cases, and the judgment, ostensibly by the assembly, given against one that was innocent, and who was excommunicated for that which the pleader and judge had himself committed; and the same sort of thing is oftener still the case in domestic regulations of the assembly. Lord, what is man when left to himself? What are we when we play with thy, name, and at making, maintaining, and governing in (so-called) churches?
3. Actings in the assembly should be, from first to last, from motives, and in an energy and to an end, that can bear the scrutiny of God's eye as identified with Himself and Christ. And it is easy to be deceived herein. Frequently unity of judgment, or the consent of all or of the majority, is insisted on or sought after. But this oft misleads. 1st, it is based on the principle vox populi vox Dei (the voice of the people is as the voice of God). If this be counted as authority from God, it would be an error; for fleshly concurrence of human minds, in pride acting upon worldly principles, would produce it. 2nd, it leaves out the important question of whether the matter so decided upon really is God's very mind for us or not.
4. In rebuke or putting away, I do not get rest or feel I see the whole case until three things are clear. 1st, the root sin; 2nd, the occasion; 3rd, the overt display of sin. 1st, David knew how to climb, using God, from the sheepfold to the throne; but knew not aright God's relative position to himself; 2nd, at rest on the throne, not going out to war when the kings go out, he saw, in his idleness, Bathsheba; 3rd, though on God's throne he defiled himself and dishonored God by adultery, corruption, and murder. Thus he learned David's self, and afterward God. (Psa. 32) So in Solomon's case, in Job's, in Peter's. This is important, because, until the root sin is judged, there is no real healing; and the overt sin is very unlike the root sin; not it at all, generally.
5. The love of ruling has been the ruin of the nominal church, not only in the bishops of old, whom Constantine set aside and supplanted, but in the bishops after Constantine; in the governments at the time of the Reformation, in all the Protestantism and Nonconformity, from willful Diotrephes downwards. Had they but known what the assembly of God was and is, it could not have been so.
In some cases, and where the majority were willing to sanction it, some deficit or some sin has been known to one or another; but nothing has been done. And why not? On the plea, " I told it to So-and-so, and he did not see with me, or could do nothing." I answer, " Try what you can do, and then tell it to the assembly. Despise not your responsibility and God in it."
6. I have known cases in which one or two have unconsciously assumed to rule, by telling one that had sinned that " he had better not come to the table!' Where is the authority and power of the assembly? A private opinion of one or two individuals is not the action of the one holy assembly, led by God and the written Word. It falsifies everything, and is the assumption of power. It is evil, too, for it generally hides the sin which God's word would have either cured or set aside. And what means suspended communion? It is either a refusal to have faith and act upon it according to the Word, or else to bear the shame of incompetency, through sin, to find out God's mind about the matter in question, and ourselves and the assembly.
Again, what is the leaving of the table of one's own accord, or allowing others so to leave it? It is self-will, love of one's own way, and the expression of blindness as to the true character of the table.
P.S.-Whatever you do in any matters of the assembly of God, do it as having the heart and mind of Christ, as well as being one spirit with Him.