The Table of the Lord

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 8
I look for two things especially, as constituting distinctively the table of the Lord: first, the unity of the body of Christ—we are one body as partakers of one bread; and, secondly, that it should be a holy table. Both are denied in —. I do not mean that there are not individuals who believe in the unity of the body, and who are holy persons and desire holiness: I do not the least doubt it, but I speak of the principle for which they are responsible there. First, the fact that brethren, known to all, who came from elsewhere, were not allowed to meddle with the affair here, because they were not of the place, is a direct denial of the unity of the body of Christ. It is not a question of deference for those habitually here, but of principle. From the outset their interference was rejected on this ground. The unity of the body of Christ is therefore denied, and any gift or wisdom, which other brethren. who do not reside here possess, cannot be exercised freely in the body. The gathering then is a sectarian party everywhere, or an independent church, and the true unity of the body of Christ is denied there.
It is useless to say that all saints are admitted to communion. So they would be in any other independent church in the kingdom. The real unity of the body as a whole is denied.
Secondly, the judgment of evil is positively refused to the Church in defiance of direct plain Scripture. “Do ye not judge them that are within?” “If he neglect to hear the church.” “Put out from among yourselves that wicked person.” And here comes out another principle: the teacher and his authority is set above the written Word. The Word says, Judge. The teacher says, You must not judge; and the fact is, no judgment takes place. Perhaps, if the rulers bring a member before the body, the body may be suffered to excommunicate him. They have, that is, an executive and not a deliberative capacity. That is, when the rulers have deliberated and resolved, (for I suppose there is to be some deliberation) the body is to execute; but the exercise of conscience, or spiritual judgment by the Holy Ghost working in the body, is not for them at all. This is what in principle has taken place. If those who have assumed the place of rulers commit even a crime, there is no remedy but to leave it to the Lord. None in any way. The body cannot judge; and if brethren, ever so gifted, come from elsewhere, they cannot be allowed to interfere, for they are strangers. There is an absolutely irresponsible body of rulers who have assumed the place to themselves, (for who placed them there?) who can sin as they think fit till God is pleased to interfere. Such a gathering, besides being sectarian, is really an independent church, which has no power to judge evil, with irresponsible rulers, who have assumed this place and cannot be judged by anybody for anything they do. Do you really think that irresponsibility as to evil for all who can assume the place of rulers is the principle of the Church of God, being neither remediable within, nor others allowed to interfere? “I speak as unto wise men; judge ye what I say.” You will find, and it is worthy of note, that, in the Corinthians, where directions are given as to these things, they are addressed to all saints, and no rulers or elders are mentioned in the matter.
Hence, further, I fear nothing of the charge of a “second table.” There are many tables, where dear saints too go conscientiously; but they do not rightly own (in terms they would admit as much as the unity of the body. Now I doubt that in any of them the friendly and gracious intervention of known brethren to help them through a trying case, would have been rejected as it has been in the gathering here; and certainly none would hold that there was no remedy at all for evil in their rulers but to leave it to the Lord. But I do not judge, we do not judge, they are what we seek for at the Lord's table, and I do not go there, and you do not go there. I act then as I acted years ago, believing that where two or three are gathered together in Christ's name, there He is. I do not speak of a “second table” more than I should say a fifth or sixth, if I began to break bread where there were four or five dissenting bodies already established in a place.
I admit that it is a very serious thing to quit any body of Christians, but it is equally serious to remain when the table is based on principles which make it not the Lord's in truth. And the insisting on the doctrine of unity to prevent the judging of evil, and that by the conscience of the saints, and assuming it into the hands of the rulers, is one of the worst forms of evil, if not the very worst, which exists. Unity is insisted on by Rome, and on that account evil within is not allowed to be judged by the consciences of the saints. The representatives and rulers have that in their hands, though they may and do associate to themselves the body in doing it.
It may be alleged that young saints are unfit to judge such things. I believe there are many things a young saint would, in these days, judge better than many an old one. But that is not the question. Individuals are not called on to judge as such. The objection brings out a further point—the denial of the Holy Ghost acting in the body, so as to guide it in a common act. And this is the real root of the whole matter.