||Chosen no: R-693 a, from: 1884 Year.
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THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH
sister writes us from New Hampshire that she cannot see why we speak
of THE CHURCH (Episcopal) as we do of the other denominations. She
says that they also object to "the sects." She
wonders why we refer to THE CHURCH (Episcopal) creed as "shackles," and assures us that they have only the "Apostles' creed," and that she finds every item of it in our teachings. She feels
indignant, too, that in a recent article we referred to THE CHURCH
(Episcopal) as having been founded by Henry VIII, which idea, she
says, was long since abandoned by well-informed people as being an
sister is mistaken, the fact remains, so long as history remains, and
cannot be "exploded." It has, however, been very generally
"dropped," because those who might refer to it, find
that their own claims to being "the Church" are best
supported by acknowledging the claims of "the Church of
sister shows that her interest in the truth and her perplexity on the
Church question are real, throughout the entire communication,
saying in conclusion: "I wish your papers could be in the hands
of every reading Christian, and that they would read them." And
again, "You have come out and are living as you think you
have been called to live, and yet whom have you among you? Some very
nearly as bad as Judas, who deny the Lord that bought them,
and this state of things is even worse than the first [sectarian
condition] it seems to me, and your Church is no better than others
in its mixture of good and bad. Can you not see reason for my
answer these suggestions through the TOWER, because it is quite
possible that others are similarly troubled and perplexed, and the
subject is a weighty one.
objection to the Episcopal Church is the same as to all the systems
which to-day claim to be THE CHURCH. All Christians will concede as a fact that there is but ONE Church of
Christ. He and his Apostles established only one, hence it must
be admitted that of all the organizations calling themselves the
Church of Christ, not more than one can possibly be claiming
truly. If this be so, it follows that all except that one are
deceived themselves, and deceiving the world by claiming to be The
Church, when they are not.
Going back to the days of
the Apostles, we find congregations at various [R693 : page 8] cities, but all members of the one Church of Christ, whose names
were "WRITTEN IN HEAVEN." Soon after the death of the
Apostles various factions sprang up headed by those who wished to be
greatest. This spirit was noticed even during the days of
Paul, some saying, "I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of
Cephas, and I of Christ," but this was promptly rebuked. (1
Cor. 1:12,13.) Finally the Bishop of Rome came to be
recognized by the other bishops as a superior in authority; and under
the claim that Peter had been the first bishop of Rome, and that his
apostolic succession gave his right, etc., to every successor,
authority and power was claimed and exercised over all then
recognized as "orthodox," though there were large
parties of the Church which dissented both from this authority, and
from many of the doctrines then termed "orthodox."
Papal system came more and more into temporal favor with the Empire
of Rome, and under that favor it grew and by its power it crushed out
all formal opposition, and for a time seemed about to restore the
original idea of ONE CHURCH. But there were in Papacy honest minds,
beclouded by her great success, which only needed some good reason to
induce them to leave her fold. This occasion came, about the time
Papacy's greatest corruption--manifested in the sale of
"indulgences," etc. Then some of the bolder of the more
enlightened ones ventured to protest against her doctrines and
practices and the "REFORMATION MOVEMENT" set in, which has
to some extent continued ever since, thank God. And though the work
has been slow, those who are to-day in the work of reformation, are
much closer to the doctrines, practices, and manners of the Apostles.
in mind that it was while Papish ideas and doctrines
were still firmly fastened on men's minds, that their consciences
rebelled against some of the corruptions and brought about a partial
Reformation. Hence the reformers had in general the same ideas and
doctrines as the Mother, and each claimed that there was but
ONE Church and that THEIRS was that one; that Papacy was the
corruption of the true, and that in rejecting the corruption, they
[the Reformers] became the original. It is for this reason and on
these grounds that most of the older denominations claim that their
beginning was in the APOSTLES' DAYS; that Jesus and the Apostles
founded their Church [Episcopalean, Presbyterian, or Lutheran
as the case may be], that it was corrupted for a time in Papacy, but
was brought to light again in the days of the Reformation.
see, then, that the ideas above expressed by this sister that the
Episcopal Church is THE Church, etc., is the same claim made
by other sister systems with equal force, for all such claims are
false. The Apostles neither established the Church of England, nor
the Church of Scotland, nor that of Germany. They all, as well as
that of Rome are human fabrications; each contains good
and bad doctrines and forms of godliness; each claims to be THE
CHURCH, yet each in some respects opposes the true Church
whose names are written in heaven, and the true doctrines of
Scripture, putting a human doctrine and system instead of the true.
Thus each of these human systems, assists in perpetuating the schism,
increasing the confusion, and adding to the "perplexity" of
earnest truth seekers.
mistake was started and is kept up, by assuming that the "Church
of Rome" was THE true Church before she became so openly
corrupt, prior to the "Reformation." On the contrary, the
"Church of Rome," as a system, was wrong from its
commencement--contrary to the doctrines of Jesus and the Apostles. It
was the "Mystery of Iniquity" from the first, and had in
it, those errors which developed into the more ungodliness as time
and opportunity permitted. The system was wrong; names written on
earth attached to fixed written creeds prepared by men and endorsed
by councils, are poor and improper substitutes for names written in
heaven and the Word of God unlimited by man.
fact that there are true Christians in all these denominations, and
that there should be but ONE Church, and that in some sense all these
really belong to one Church, though separated from each other
by sectarian names, forms and rules, has long been recognized by
thinking Christians. The question which they find it impossible to
solve is, How to accomplish the union.
reach this result "Union Meetings" and "Union Church"
buildings have been attempted in small places, but sectish pride and
vainglory has always sooner or later hindered and led to disruption.
To accomplish the same result, The Evangelical Alliance was formed,
which while claiming to have unified the sects holding sound
faith, is really a TRUCE between the leading Protestant sects by
which they agree not to war upon nor against each other, but to unite
in opposing any views which conflict with their main points of
agreement, and thus to establish a certain fixed unchangeable
line of doctrines, good and bad, true and false, outside of which,
all is branded "heretic," and inside which all is branded
"orthodox." [R694 : page 8]
is the same result sought and obtained by Papacy at the inception of
its organization, though brought about in a different manner. The
several sects, while each is permitted to manage its own affairs, are
organized or bound into one system and stamped "Orthodoxy;"
but in (Rev. 13:14) it is called the very "image"
of Papacy. This is a union on a false basis and hence is as far from
the ONE CHURCH of Jesus and the apostles, as Papacy was in the days
of her supremacy.
union will succeed, and be productive of good, and favorable to
growth in grace and knowledge, except it be accomplished in the
proper manner and on a solid foundation: and the sooner this is
realized the better for the saints and the worse for the great
worldly tare-full systems which call themselves THE CHURCH of Christ,
deceive the world and almost deceive the very elect.
union, is not a bondage but a mingling of hearts and minds. To
accomplish this organization, this union is the work of the Spirit of
God. Where it rules there will be true fellowship with the Father and
the Son and with all possessing it. The agency or means by which this
union is accomplished is the truth--the Word of God.
of the inseparable union between God's Word and His Spirit, it is
called "The Spirit of truth" and the only way to possess
the full harmony and union of the spirit is by possessing a knowledge
of the truth, hence Jesus prayed: "Sanctify them through thy
truth, Thy word is truth." (John 17:17.)
leads us to inquire, Is it not because of lack of knowledge of the
truth through neglect of the Word of God, and the abundance of error,
consequent to giving heed to the traditions of the ancients and to
the various theories framed after and like unto those established by
the mother of harlots, that Christians to-day find it impossible to
unite head and heart as well as hands in the common cause?
This being conceded, it
becomes the duty of the hour for every saint to not only cast
entirely aside every human yoke of bondage, and stand free indeed,
(Gal. 5:1,) but to assist other saints to the same
blessed liberty. When thus liberated from sectarian bondage, the
spirit of truth will be able to lead into all truth: and such
only are able to follow. Would not the union of heart at once
bind all these "free" ones? And would not the union of head
under the "guide" of the Spirit of truth, soon be perfect?
And would not union of labor be a natural accompaniment? We answer,
yes! So surely as we comply with the conditions, we shall have the
result follow, as promised by the Lord:-- "That they all may be
one," and then the result of this will be also as he expressed
it, "That the world may believe." (John
then it is seen that all the present systems are improperly named
"Churches," improperly organized, improperly bound
together, and have improperly built upon the decisions of fallible
and mistaken men, and are thus hindered from growth in grace and
knowledge, and that these systems are not recognized by God at all,
and never alluded to in His Word except to condemn them, then, duty
is plain. "Come out of her my people," will not be
disregarded by those anxiously seeking guidance, and cannot be
disregarded without loss in knowledge as well as in favor of
God. His sheep hear his voice and follow Him, and He leads them to
trouble which seems to beset many is this, They have become so
accustomed to a fixed doctrinal fence of narrow limits on every side,
that to place them in the green pastures of truth with its wide range
of liberty, bounded only by the great fence of God's Word, alarms
them, and they fear lest they should get lost with such liberty. They
have heard that infidels roam in a large field without any fence
whatever, and fear lest they should be getting into that field. Some have written to us saying that they see the error of and
hindrance from union with systems misnamed THE CHURCH of Christ, and
desire to come into the liberty, grace and knowledge of a larger
place, but are at a loss to know what to join when they
withdraw from present membership.
how the adversary would blind us to keep us from light and liberty!
Can you not see that you, if really a consecrated child of God, have
already joined the true Church? You joined it when you made full
consecration to the Lord. It was then that your name was "written
in heaven" in the "book of life." You were then a
member of the true Church, the true ecclesia, the body of
Christ, of which Jesus is the only Head, the true flock of which
Jesus is the great Chief Shepherd. Can you not realize this? Is this
not as plain and clear as God's word can make it?
you to join an institution of men, whose members' names are written
on earth and which are named after their heads and founders, was a
snare and delusion by which the adversary has robbed you of the use
of the liberty wherewith Christ made you free, and as a consequence
has kept from you, much of the grace and knowledge which, as the
Lord's freeman and the King's son, were yours by right, both to use
yourself and to dispense to others.
we have no space fenced off into which we invite you but into the
great field of truth marked and bounded and perfectly and
harmoniously squared only by the word of God. If we can be of
assistance in pointing out to you any of the boundary lines, or
calling your attention to the bountiful provision for your rest,
encouragement and comfort within those boundaries, it shall be
our pleasure as well as duty as under-shepherds and servants of the
flock. Why cannot all come with us into this liberty and this
untrammeled enjoyment of all that our gracious and bountiful Father
has provided? There is nothing to hinder except sectarian pride,
begotten of the adversary and opposed to the Spirit of Christ.
Some are held back from
liberty and obedience to the Lord's call, "Come out of her,"
by a system of false reasoning. They reason thus, Surely the great
bulk of the nominal church cannot be in error. I am at least safe while in the company of so great a majority. This is another delusion
of the adversary. It was used in the days of Noah, Elijah and Jesus,
as well as in the days of the (partial) Reformation. The great size
and influence of Babylon misleads and causes many to forget that,
though "All men shall be saved [from the Adamic penalty] and
come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4),
and though "a great company" shall reach spiritual
conditions (Rev. 7:9), yet only a "little flock"
of "overcomers" will be accounted worthy to share the
"divine nature" by becoming the bride of Christ, joint-heir
with him to the kingdom.
Do not forget that it was
to give us this opportunity of overcoming, that God has
permitted this great Babylon, anti-Christ system, to gain such
influence in the world. The overcoming of the beast and his image is
specially mentioned as among the needful qualifications to a share in
the Millennial reign. (Rev. 20:4). Let us not deceive
ourselves. God will never call those overcomers, nor reward
them as such, who, in spite of his light and truth, "are all
their lifetime subject to bondage," even though he shall
eventually "deliver" them, by the complete overthrow of
Babylon as a great millstone cast into the depths of the sea. (Heb.
2:15and Rev. 18:21). Now is the time to
overcome. Now is the time when your influence will tell most on the
side of truth. Soon the Elect Church, the Bride, the Lamb's wife,
will be complete, so if you are a candidate and are running for that
prize, "take heed that no man take thy crown." (Rev.
reply to the suggestion that our Church is corrupt and full of
false doctrines, even denying that the Lord bought us, we can
only remind you that such are not "OF THIS WAY." If
they ever were of us, they "have gone out from us." The
true Church, as God recognizes it, does not include any but the
redeemed; and if any such put off the "wedding garment"
of Christ's imputed righteousness, such are cast forth into darkness.
That some whose names
were once "written in heaven" as members of the Church of
Christ can lose membership in OUR Church--the Church of Christ, and
have their names "blotted out," is evident from the
following, as well as other Scriptures, viz.: Rev. 3:5 and 11,
Heb. 6:6, and 10:29-31. Thus it is clear
that the true Church is kept pure by the great Head of the Church
himself blotting out the names of any who may fall away and count the
blood of the covenant wherewith they were sanctified a common thing.
a proof that the Church now, as at first, is kept pure by the Lord,
and that those referred to by this correspondent are not of us, we refer you to a similar departure from the faith recorded in 1
John 2:19. "They went out from us, but they were not of
us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued
with us: but they went out that they might be made manifest, that
they were not all of us."