Christ the Center: Or, Why Christians Should Meet in His Name Alone, Part 3

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Such is the solemn yet blessed place of all, in these days, who have been led to own the real presence of the Holy Ghost in the assembly. The Lord’s words have indeed been found to be sweeter than man’s. O, that all God’s dear children, in every denomination, knew the blessedness of unfeigned subjection of heart to the sovereign guidance of the Holy Ghost. Where there is this, not in mere form but in reality, He does testify of Christ in such a manner, that no human wisdom can even imitate. Often the hymns by one, the prayers by others, and the reading of the Word, as led by the Holy Ghost, so manifest the divine guidance, and give such a sense of the presence of God, as can only be enjoyed where the Spirit of God is thus owned. I can not then go where He is not owned whom the Father hath sent to guide us and guard us, and abide with us unto the end. It is no matter what may be substituted— whether the Pope, or the Emperor, or the Bishop, or the Conference, or the minister— God is right, and man is wrong. It is not a question of opinion, but of owning or displacing the Holy Ghost as the sovereign guide and ruler of the assembly. I have found the reality of His very presence; and for this I must be separate from every community— Greek, Romish or Protestant, all alike— where He is not thus owned.
Third. I now state the third reason why Christians should meet in the name of Christ alone— the unity of the church; or more correctly, the unity of the one body. I am not aware that there is such a passage of Scripture as one Church, but there is “one body” (Eph. 4:44There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; (Ephesians 4:4)). The word translated church simply means assembly. It is so used to describe a crowd of heathen in Acts 19:32, 3932Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together. (Acts 19:32)
39But if ye inquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly. (Acts 19:39)
. The church of God is the assembly of God; comprising every saved person in every place. So the assembly in a particular place would embrace all saved people there. But those, only, who are gathered to the Lord’s name are the representation of the church or assembly. What will characterize those so gathered is their recognition of Christ as the Head of the body the church guiding and guarding, by the Spirit, each one in all things, as in the assemblies of God in the days of the apostles. Therefore no company so gathered or not, can properly be called the assembly of God, unless all Christians in that place are in that way gathered.
Take the following illustration: suppose the president sends out a commander to the army in the Phillippines, and that for a time the army puts itself entirely under his command. It could then be properly called the army of the United States. But if that army were to set aside the commander, and appoint another of its own, or if the army should divide into separate parts, each division appointing its own commander, each soldier might be still an American soldier, but could that divided army be correctly called the regular army of the United States? Having set aside the authority of the president’s appointed commander, Would not every division be in a state of mutiny? And would it not be disloyalty to join the ranks of any such mutinous division?
Now apply this to the church or assembly of God. For a time the authority of the Holy Ghost, sent down from heaven, was owned, just as the American army for a time owned the authority of the president’s appointee. Then the sovereign authority of the Spirit of God was set aside, and the authority of the Pope of Rome was put in the place of God the Holy Ghost. Can the church of Rome, then, be called the true church of God? Impossible! She has mutinied against God’s commander, the Holy Ghost. To join her ranks is disloyalty to Christ. But if I must declare the whole counsel of God, am I not compelled to adopt the same conclusion respecting every division of the professing church?
Take the Greek church: Has it not set aside the command of the Holy Ghost? And though it put so high a person as the emperor of all the Russians in the place of the Holy Ghost, Yet would it not be mutiny to join its ranks? Take again what is called the church of England. Are we not compelled to acknowledge that the sovereign command of the blessed Spirit is entirely set aside? As in Russia, so in England, the head of the world’s government is made the head of the church; and instead of the Holy Ghost being allowed to divide, severally, as He will, a prime minister, whatever his principles may be, can appoint a minister over a given town or village, and according to this system no other person ought dare to name the name of Christ in that so-called parish. Only in this mail I have a letter from a Christian lady in such a town. A young woman had just been to request her to see her dying husband. She went, and put Jesus before the dying man. He appeared very thankful, and wished to see her again. She left him three gospel tracts: as she came out the vicar met her, and in the most authoritative manner, bid her only attend to the bodily wants of the dying man; that his soul’s affairs were his (the vicar’s) business alone. When he left he took all the three tracts with him. O, when I think of the eternal interests of that poor man dying this day, his young, weeping, anxious wife by his side, and then think of the delusion that I know that vicar will put before him, my heart turns sick at the fearful results in thousands of such instances, all springing from the solemn fact that the church of England disowns the sovereign guidance of the Spirit of God.
(Continued and to be Continued).