<< previous (1:301) next (1:303) >>

p505 [H M Hooke] DEAR BROTHER, - I was comforted by -'s account of Quebec, for I had in vain sought some news of you, and I thought all had gone but - . I had no doubt Mr. - had entirely abandoned the path he was in before he left Quebec. … He had been frightened into neutral ground. Mr. D.'s attack was a mere occasion of and excuse for taking the step. If it had been a serious inquiry as to that doctrine* for its own sake, he would have written to me for an answer or explanation. But he never did anything of the kind, nor did Mr. D. nor Mr. H., till I wrote to them. … As far as I learn, - takes a different ground from what he did before leaving; then Mr. D. had proved his point that I was wrong. Now I am not wrong, but it has given occasion to the unlearned to say what is wrong. If this were all, St. Paul's writings, St. Peter tells us, did as much. I say this not to discuss the doctrine. The truth is the subject has been blessed more than any recently to brethren in England. I hear so from all quarters. …

{*["The Sufferings of Christ."]}

But the truth is it was never the doctrine which was really in question here or in England, though some might be troubled by those who pressed it. It was an excuse for loose principles and the world; nobody who weighed it in England doubted it, because Mr. D. professedly broke with me because my doctrine approached Mr. N.'s, to pass over to associate with those who were more or less in them, or linked up with Mr. N.'s doctrines themselves. This would not stand investigation a moment. … The real question was, the unwillingness to abide by principles which are (I am fully persuaded, as of the truth of God) essential to the existence of the Church - that false doctrine and evil practice should be excluded - that we should "purify ourselves from these." The Church should be the pillar and ground of the truth. No argument, no pamphlet of any of them was ever directed to any other end than that evil should be allowed in the church. We should allow of evil. This went so far in England that one gathering published a signed paper, that if fornication was allowed in the meeting we ought still to own it, and a multitude were published to insist that no meeting could be leavened by any evil in it, but only those individuals who personally imbibed the evil.

In the meeting at E., on loose principles, Mr. N. himself was invited, and annihilationism and the non-immortality of the soul openly preached, and the walls placarded about it by persons belonging to that meeting, so that some not with us left it. 1 Corinthians 5:7 says, "Purge out therefore the old leaven that ye may be a new lump." They ceased to be a new lump at all if they did not; and therefore in the Second Epistle it says, "Ye have proved yourselves clear in this matter." If they had sanctioned it, they were all involved in it though they had not done it. Just as if a person brought false doctrine, he who received him into his house and bid him God speed, partook of his evil deeds. If I can own as a gathering according to God a meeting which refuses to break with evil doctrine, how can the church be the pillar and ground of the truth? I know well they make all sorts of excuses, and speak of A infecting B, and B C, &c. This adds the evil of denying the unity of the body and making independent churches, which they have all driven at. We are all one, and if I accept a gathering which receives blasphemers, I identify myself with the gathering in principle. If you receive a person because he is in communion at Toronto, you accept the communion of Toronto, and are one with them; if you reject all owning of another gathering, you are independents; you put your seal on the body as such, not merely on the person who comes.

The secret of all is the world, and avoiding the holy discipline of the church of God, and to this end denying the unity of the body and making independent churches. As I said, in every case it is pleading for the allowance of evil in the church of God - that false doctrine is no matter. Thus, in America, all the neutrals have gone freely in communion with those who deny the immortality of soul; whereas scripture says, applying to the very times we have to deal with, "If a man purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, fit for the master's use." I never knew the case it did not bring in worldliness or insincerity: perhaps it has been often the effect of worldliness as much as its cause. Having seen so much of all this matter, though I have never published anything on it, I could not help feeling for you and writing these few lines. I believe your part is to remain quite quiet and firm, continuing peacefully on the ground on which you have walked. There is a restless activity in those who are on false ground, which to a spiritual mind betrays where they are. Quiet firmness in a right path I believe God will bless, though faith may be tried for a while. … My object in writing was more that you might feel you were not forgotten in your trial than anything else - not to raise or discuss questions; but as far as I am concerned to say - walk on peacefully on the ground on which you are, and the Lord will be with you and give you peace.

Our Guelph meeting is just over. Many felt it was the happiest we had ever had. We had a good number from the States, who have been getting on lately in the truth, some uncommonly nice brethren, who had drunk it in in the most interesting way, and enjoyed the reading here especially. It was very quiet, steady reading of scripture, and communion and fellowship in spirit. My christian love to the saints with you.

Your affectionate brother in Christ.

Toronto, 1867.