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1. Luton. A true and solemn sense of the Lord being in the midst of those who are gathered together unto His name, is indispensable for profit and blessing, and effectually excludes unholy intrusions. Where this is lacking, unbelieving contrivances easily come in; where it is really known as the place of holiness as well as marvelous privilege, each member of the body of Christ is kept in his proper place and measure. Such will be solemnly exercised before the Lord, lest anything should be done unsuited to His presence, or dishonoring to His name.
When anyone is overtaken in a fault, those who are spiritual should endeavor to restore. All are not spiritual, and therefore not qualified for this important work. The spiritual will set about it prayerfully and self-judged; and having taken the beam out of their own eye, will see clearly to take the mote out of the eye of another. (Read Gal. 6:11Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (Galatians 6:1).)
2. "C. J. H.," Honiton. Your letter is to hand. We heartily thank you for your earnest desires and prayers on our behalf. May you be kept in the circle of divine, unchanging love!
3. Auchanblae. The paper is scarcely written with sufficient care for publication. Thanks for your most kind and encouraging letter. May the Lord's peace and blessing be with you!
4. "H. C. S." New Testament "prophets" were gifts from Christ in ascension for the edification of the body, the church, or assembly. (Eph. 4:10-1210He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Ephesians 4:10‑12).) The apostles and prophets were the foundation-stones of the assembly, so that we are said to be "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets." (Eph. 2:2020And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; (Ephesians 2:20).) As the canon of scripture was not then complete, revelations were made to them to communicate to others; but after the assembly was really set up, and the mind of God fully given in scripture, we read no more of "prophets" exercising their gifts. Before this, when anything was revealed to another that sitteth by, the person speaking was to hold his peace. (1 Cor. 14:29, 3029Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 30If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. (1 Corinthians 14:29‑30).) In a general sense, a person who prophesieth is one who speaks to edification, exhortation and comfort. The prophets being limited to two or three speaking at a meeting, seems to imply that more would not be for edification.
5. " J. B.," Whitby. Your question is a deeply interesting one. Is it not this? Do believers now gathered to Christ, as at the beginning, constitute a sect? Now, in one sense, it may be impossible to avoid the appearance of a sect, or to hinder others from regarding it as a sect. The Jews spake of the church of God as a sect. (Acts 28:2222But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against. (Acts 28:22).) There were different Jewish sects (Acts 26:55Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. (Acts 26:5)); and there were different sects or schools of philosophers. Therefore the natural man could see no difference. They regarded the church of God as a sect.
Now the church is split up into so many sects, in direct opposition to the word of God, it surely becomes every Christian who has spiritual discernment to take a low place in confession and humiliation, owning the common ruin. But suppose the Spirit of God gathers, say twelve, believers in one town to the name and person of the Lord Jesus, the Head of His body, the church, as at the beginning; and there are, say, one hundred more Christians in the same town grieving the Spirit by belonging to different sects. If the twelve pre״ tend to be the church of God, this would be false, as each of the hundred and twelve are members of the one body of Christ, though only twelve seek to express that unity, however feebly. The difference is this, the twelve are only members of the body of Christ. The hundred are members of the one body, but are also members of some body of men, or sect. The twelve are no more a sect than the whole church of God was at the beginning. The point to be clear upon is this, that all believers are baptized by one Spirit into one body; but if any deny this by forming divisions, our path is clear in Rom. 16:1717Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. (Romans 16:17). We must practice the truth of God to know its power.
6. " P." Bath. It is a proof of unhealthiness of soul when an undue prominence is given to any particular part of the truth, especially when it concerns points neither vital nor fundamental, nor even practically connected with God's assembly. We judge that it is only when we are happy in the Lord we are able to consider and express ourselves as we ought concerning "the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." You must excuse our entering further into the details of your letter, as controversy is not the object of this magazine.
With regard to " walking up to the light," while conscience is to be respected, it has often been truly said, that "a Christian should never go beyond his faith, or act below his conscience;" yet scripture does not speak of christian walk as "up to the light," but "in the light, as he is in the light," which is a very different idea.
Several replies stand over for our next issue if the Lord will.