God Present in the Assembly
There are several points connected with our position, as gathered together in the name of Jesus, which is on my heart to communicate with you. I take this mode of doing so, as affording you better opportunity individually to examine, and maturely to weigh, what is communicated, than you would be likely to have in a free conversation where all were present. I should be very thankful for this latter, should the Lord incline your hearts to it, when you have examined and weighed in His presence the matters I have to put before you.
One word at the outset in acknowledgment of Gods mercy to us as gathered in the name of Jesus. I can but bow my head and worship in remembrance of the many seasons of real refreshing and unfeigned joy He has given us together in His presence. The recollection of these seasons, while it bows the heart before God, renders each one with whom such mercies have been enjoyed unspeakably dear. The bond of the Spirit is a real bond; and it is in the confidence which He inspires in my brethrens love, that I would as your brother, and as your servant for Christs sake, express without reserve what seems to me of deep importance to our continued happiness and associated profit, as well as to what is of far greater moment, the glory of Him in whose Name we are gathered.
When in July last we were led of the Lord, to substitute open meetings, which had been sustained till then, I anticipated all which has since ensued. I may say that the result has not disappointed me in the least. There are lessons as to the practical guidance of the Holy Spirit which can only be learned practically. Much that may now, by the Lords blessing, commend itself to your spiritual understanding, and to your consciences, would then have been quite unintelligible, from your unaquaintance with the kind of meetings to which such truth applies. It is often said that experience is the best teacher. This may perhaps be questioned, and rightly so; but there can be no question that experience makes us conscious of wants which divine teaching alone supplies. You will believe me, that it is no joy to me in itself to find my brethren mutually dissatisfied with the part taken by each other in the meetings. But if this state of things should be overruled, as I trust it may be, to the opening all our hearts to lessons from Gods Word, which we could not otherwise so well have learned this at least will be matter for thankfulness and joy.
The doctrine of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the body, the church, and as the sure consequence His presence in the assemblies of the saints, has for a good many years now appeared to my own soul, one of the most momentous truths by which the present period is distinguished. The virtual or actual denial of it constitutes one of the most serious features of the apostasy which has taken place. The sense of this does not abate with me, but rather deepens as time rolls on.
I do freely confess to you, that with the full acknowledgment that there are beloved children of God in all the denominations around, and with every desire to keep my heart open to them all, I could no more have fellowship with any body of professing Christians who substitute clerisy in any of its forms for the sovereign guidance of the Holy Spirit, than as an Israelite I could have had fellowship with the setting up of a golden calf in the place of the living God. That this has been done, and that throughout Christendom, and that for this, along with other sins, judgment is impending over Christendom, one can but sorrowfully own, and take the shame of it before God, as having all had to do with it, and as being one body in Christ with numbers who to this day
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