Brethren Archive Exploring the history of some of those known as "Plymouth Brethren", and a few other things.

circa 1907

Is Not the Lord Among Us?

by A.H. Burton




Comments:
Tom said ...
Fascinating pamphlet; obviously written at a time when AHB was undergoing deep exercises about his thoughts on Church fellowship. I'm estimating the date by assuming the T.. W.. reference is to Tunbridge Wells,

Some extracts;

When I look back to the early days, and think of the simplicity in which those whose hearts were so clearly moved by the Lord, were gathered together to His name to remember Him according to His own desire, receiving with open hearts all who were
His, just because they were His and sought Him— receiving them because they were already members of His body and members one of another; when I think of the power and freshness of those early meetings, the blessing which resulted to souls, saints and
sinners, and compare with what now exists around us, I confess the question presses itself upon my heart: "Have we drifted away (perhaps unintentionally and unwittingly) from the reality, and only now retain the semblance ?"

Has there not been much biting with the teeth at the same time that the cry of " Peace" went forth? Has there not been war against those who would not pander to unrighteous and unscriptural disciplines and cutting off of individuals and assemblies ? Have not hundreds and thousands of godly saints been cut off on the plea of keeping " the unity of the Spirit"?

Ah, but we have done the right things in our disciplines, even though we have done them in the wrong way," it has often been said. Now, for my part, I feel sure that often we have done very wrong things in our disciplines, but even supposing they had been right, will God allow us to do right things in a wrong way with impunity ? Will He tolerate any amount of fleshly actings under the plea that we are faithful to Him ?

I believe we have been all wrong in the whole system of divisions. We have gone beyond Scripture. The whole method of procedure has been a mistaken one, though I fully admit with the best of intentions.

When a trouble arises in a certain assembly and a decision is arrived at, often at the expense of driving out a large number of godly people, a manifesto is sent out to all points of the compass, accompanied by a threat of excommunication of all those who do not agree. Every assembly in all corners of the earth is thus put to the test, and wholesale division and cutting off ensues. Now, where is the Scripture for "divisions" such as we, unfortunately, understand the word ?

I believe we have no right to refuse the Lord's Supper to any Christian who cannot be clearly shown to have forfeited that privilege either through his own sin in practice and doctrine, or wilful association with those who refuse to judge such evil.

But "must we not recognise assembly discipline ?" Certainly, as a general principle we must. If an assembly, in the fear of the Lord, has been obliged to proceed to the solemn and painful discipline of putting away from amongst them a wicked person or rejecting a heretic, then all other assemblies recognise that action when called upon to do so in a legitimate manner. But, then, that is scriptural discipline; it is discipline based on the Word, and not merely according to the caprice of an individual
or the bias of a party.

But we have often exceeded our God-given powers, and forced the acceptance of decisions that we had no scriptural authority to make, and that on pain of cutting off assemblies who did not agree. So much is this the case that many have come to regard such an expression as the authority of the assembly as quite scriptural, forgetting that Scripture really speaks of the assembly being subject to Christ (Eph. v. 24)—a very different matter. Hence some calmly tell us that whatever an assembly does must be bowed to, quite regardless of whether their action be a righteous one or have any scriptural foundation!

...........

Would be interesting to know at what point AHB did actually leave the Brethren and who he fellowshiped with after this. Then also to be able to ask his comment on sentences like this one, "but all would not cast me down were I confident that we were walking truly in the path which He would have us, that our position were well pleasing to Him." As he like many others before and after clearly changed their mind about principles they once held stringently to.
Saturday, Mar 4, 2017 : 16:37



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