Scripture Queries and Answers: The Lord's Table

Acts 20:7  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 11
A.—The principle is sound; but in the growing confusion care is due to the Lord that it be rightly applied so as not to cover ungodliness in either way by evil communications which corrupt good manners and defile even when personal appearance seems right. There are vast numbers, besides Papists, who now countenance idolatry in their so-called worship. There are very many, both Nationalists and Dissenters, who sanction or are indifferent to the skepticism of the Higher Critics. It would be wicked to make either of these free of the Lord's Table. They are enemies of the truth, and to allow their fellowship is a sin. Their belonging to some ecclesiastical system where such things notoriously flourish, to which they are attached, is a necessary ground to refuse them as long as they persevere in an evil association. Otherwise it is to blow hot and cold, and to adopt in what represents the church of God the laxity of the world which knows not God. In the case of relatives, friends, or the like, peculiar caution is due, lest in amiable feeling we should compromise Christ. In early days we had neither the idolatrous evil nor the skeptical one as we have now. The shadows of the coming apostasy are around us. Let us increasingly watch unto prayer and in jealousy for Christ's glory, and in true love to Christians.
Let me here warn those who would cleave to the Lord's name to beware of the recent tracts of W. S. and W. L. P. as special pleading and compromise, the latter too in a tone not quite becoming the most mature and honored if such he were. It is diligently kept hidden, if known, that the two perhaps most intelligent of the Ten were thorough partisans of B. W. N., and seceded from Bethesda, not only because the Newtonian advocates were got rid of privately, but because of the seven meetings in which his evil doctrines were condemned (very much through pressure from without, as of R. Ch. and others), even G. M. joining pointedly. It is well-known too that another whose place was high among them strongly sympathized with N.'s errors. And the fact is that the seceding two tried to establish a Newtonian meeting in Bristol and had B.W.N. to aid them in it. When this failed, they sought readmission to Bethesda, and were received on their saying that they ought not to have seceded!! That this was all sought by Bethesda from themselves I know from letters written at the time in answer to strict inquiry, by Messrs. G. M. and J. Meredith severally on one side, and by the seceders or at least R. A. on the other.
Many years have elapsed; but I am sorry to say now as then that the Letter of the Ten made it a day for the faithful and true to renounce Bethesda and all that tolerate its abjuring the prime duty of God's assembly; that the seven meetings were fairer in word than in deed and truth; and that their proceedings both in getting rid of the Newtonians by a private door instead of a public judgment, and in receiving back the guilty pair who sought in vain to exploit a Newtonian meeting with its leader flaunted before all eyes, proved their indifference to a false Christ, their jealousy only for their own honor. I was one then of the not few who regretted that J.N.D. so hastily gave credit to the sincerity of Bethesda and its leaders. But God is faithful, and overruled. Yet who was not shocked at the rude and self-righteous repulse his too confiding spirit received? And what are we to think of G. M. and wife, years after all the denunciations and without any further self-judgment on B. W. N.'s part, daring without a blush to travel from Bristol to Tunbridge Wells to hear N.'s reading or sitting lecture, and to declare the value he set on N.'s writings?
Far from me to despise any one's little measure of knowledge; but how can one avoid indignation at such a tissue of unfaithfulness to Christ, without piling the agony? No, dear brethren, unless there be, on the part of the intelligent at least, a real clearance from such evils, our painful duty is to stand aloof and separate to Christ, however abused and disliked for His name we may still be. Those who never went through the deep grief and shame are hardly the persons to judge wisely or to speak with weight.