The Medical Missionary, vol. 17

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The Medical Missionary, Vol. 17

1908

January 8, 1908

“Religious Liberty—IV. As Related to the Church Itself. (Continued.)” The Medical Missionary, 17, 2, pp. 39-42.

ATJ

BY ALONZO T. JONES

(Continued.)

THUS by plain facts of remarkable experiences under God it is demonstrated that above all officialdom of priesthood, council and senate of any church, the right of individuality in religion, in faith, and in teaching stands supreme. By, this unquestionable Scripture account, it is demonstrated that no church assembly or council or senate has any authority or any right to command or call in question any man of even the church’s own membership concerning what he shall teach or preach. 1 MEDM January 8, 1908, page 39.1

By the inspired record in this case, it is demonstrated that— MEDM January 8, 1908, page 39.2

1. Just as certainly as in the case of Nebuchadnezzar and the three Hebrews it is divinely shown that no monarch can ever of right command anything pertaining to religion; MEDM January 8, 1908, page 40.1

2. Just as certainly as in the case of the law and government of Media and Persia, it is divinely shown that no government can ever of right make any law touching religion; Just as certainly as in the case of the church of Israel against Christ it is divinely shown that no church officialdom can ever of right use the civil power to make effective her will or to further her aims; MEDM January 8, 1908, page 40.2

3. Just so certainly in this case of the church of Israel against the apostles and disciples of the Lord, it is also divinely shown that no church, no council, senate or other collection or association of officials or others, can ever of right command any member even of her own communion in anything pertaining to what he shall believe or not believe, or what he shall teach or not teach. MEDM January 8, 1908, page 40.3

The four cases presented in the Scriptures are perfectly parallel: in every case the power that attempted domination in religion was directly opposed and exposed by the God of Heaven, and was thus divinely shown to be absolutely in the wrong; and in each case the right of individuality in religion was divinely demonstrated to be eternally right. MEDM January 8, 1908, page 40.4

In each of the four cases a distinct principle is involved and illustrated: in the fourth no whit less than in each of the preceding three. As certainly as Nebuchadnezzar was wrong in commanding worship; as certainly as the law of Media and Persia was wrong in prohibiting worship; as certainly as the church of Israel was wrong in using the civil power to execute her will against the Lord Jesus; so certainly that same church was wrong in prohibiting any member of the church from teaching or preaching the truth which he knew from the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God. MEDM January 8, 1908, page 40.5

And as in the case of Nebuchadnezzar the principle is that no monarch may ever of right do as that monarch did; as in the case of the law of the Medes and Persians the principle is that no law may ever of right be similar to that law; as in the case of the church organization using the civil power against Christ, the principle is that no church and no church order or organization or officialdom may ever of right use the civil power in any way whatever; just so in the case of the church of Israel against the apostles, the principle is that no church, and no church order, or organization or officialdom may ever of right do in any way similar to what in its officialdom that church did. MEDM January 8, 1908, page 40.6

No, Gamaliel’s counsel to that church-senate that day was right then and is right forever; and it is divine instruction to every church assembly, council, and senate, forever: “Let them alone.” If the preaching or the work be only of man or of human origin it will come to naught of itself. And if it be of God you cannot overthrow it whatever you do: and in that case, in whatever you do to overthrow it you will be found to be only fighting against God. This thing is in the realm of God. It is subject to his jurisdiction alone. Leave it there, and trust him and serve him for yourselves; and let others alone to do the same themselves. MEDM January 8, 1908, page 40.7

This is also plain enough in the plain truth itself. For, the Holy Spirit is given to each individual to guide him “into all truth.” The truth of God is infinite and eternal. Therefore it will always be true that there is still an infinity and eternity of truth into which the Christian is to be guided. In the nature of things it is impossible for any other than the infinite and eternal Spirit to guide any one into or in the truth of God. Therefore every soul must be infinitely and eternally free to be guided by the infinite and eternal Spirit into this infinity and eternity of truth. MEDM January 8, 1908, page 40.8

To say anything else than this is only to limit the truth of God, and limit the mind’s advancement in the knowledge of truth and of God, and is to put an effectual estoppel upon all possibility of progress. Imagine the condition of mankind and the world today, if the principle espoused by that church of Israel had been recognized and her com- mands obeyed by the apostles and disciples of the Lord! But the crowning iniquity of saying anything else than this, is that it recognizes, sanctions, and establishes a mere. human tribunal in the place of the eternal Spirit, and clothes a clique of sinful men with the prerogative of that infinite and eternal Spirit, as the guide into and in all truth. MEDM January 8, 1908, page 40.9

Yet as plain as all this is in the simple manifestness of the truth of it, it is deplorably true that from the close of the apostolic period unto this hour, there has not been, and there is not now, a single church “organization” or denomination in the world that has not espoused the identical principle, taken the same position, and done the like thing, as did that Jewish church in the case of the apostles. And today there is not a denomination in the world, even to the very latest one that has risen, in which there is in any way recognized the right and the freedom of each individual member of the denomination to be led of the Spirit of God into truth and to the teaching and preaching of truth that the denominational officialdom does not know or chooses not to countenance. And when any member is so led and does teach and preach the truth that he knows by the Spirit and Word of God, immediately the denominational officialdom is awake, and its machinery in motion, and in the very spirit, and in the very way, of the officialdom and machinery of the Jewish church, he is forbidden to teach or preach any more in that name. And if, as did the apostles, he disregards such action and command, and ceases not to teach and to preach Jesus in the truth and the way that he knows, then he, as were the apostles, is persecuted and driven out. MEDM January 8, 1908, page 41.1

And this is precisely and alone the cause of there being more than three hundred and sixty-five or more denominations in the world. MEDM January 8, 1908, page 41.2

But is there never to be any end to this wicked thing? Will the time ever come, or must it never come, when there will be among Christians the recognition of the fundamental Christian principle of the right of individuality and liberty in faith and in guidance into divine truth? Will the time ever come, or must it never come, when there will be a company of Christians in the world who will recognize that the Holy Spirit is the Guide into all truth, that will recognize the right and the liberty of that Spirit to guide, that will recognize the right and the liberty of each Christian to be guided into all truth by that Spirit of truth, and that will recognize the liberty of each Christian to hold, to teach and to preach any and all truth into which by the Spirit of truth he may be guided? MEDM January 8, 1908, page 41.3

Isn’t it time that such a thing should be? Isn’t it time that the Christian principle should be recognized, that such a condition should prevail among Christians? Even the world has learned the principle that the monarch and the autocrat must recognize the full and perfect right of individuality and liberty in religion. Even the world has learned that the law must recognize the full and perfect right of individuality and liberty in religion. Even the world has learned that the church must not control the civil power to cause her will to prevail, but must recognize the full and perfect right in the field of persuasion, and therefore must recognize the free and perfect right of individuality and liberty. And now must it be that the Church herself will never learn that she must recognize the free and perfect right of individuality and liberty in faith, in the Spirit, and in the truth? Isn’t it high time that the Christian church was learning to recognize in its perfect genuineness the fundamental principle of her own origin and very existence? And if it must be so that no denomination will ever learn or recognize this fundamental principle of her own origin and existence, then is it not doubly high time that individual Christians shall everywhere recognize and practise constantly this fundamental principle of their own origin and existence as Christians, as well as the fundamental principle of the origin and existence of the Christian church? MEDM January 8, 1908, page 41.4

And so it shall, be and will be. The God of individuality and of liberty will not allow that the divine principle and right of individuality and liberty in faith and in truth which He has wrought so wonderfully and so constantly through all these ages to make plain and to maintain, shall be forever beaten back and pressed down, unrecognized and misrepresented by the Christian church and by Christian people. No; this splendid truth, this truth is the fundamental and the crowning truth in and to the very existence of the Christian church and of Christianity itself—this divine truth will yet win and hold forever its own divine place before the world and in the church: for those who espouse this divine and fundamental truth of the Christian religion and church, will themselves be now and forever, as in the beginning they were, the true Christian church in the world, and will compose that “glorious Church” which Christ, who gave himself for the Church, will “sanctify and cleanse with the washing of water by the word.” in order that at his glorious appearing “He might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without blemish.” MEDM January 8, 1908, page 41.5

For upon this whole story of the church of Israel against the apostles, there stands out with transcendent meaning a truth that is worthy of the most solemn consideration by every Christian: this truth is,— MEDM January 8, 1908, page 42.1

That which until that time had been the true church, called and preserved by the Lord, then and there ceased to be the true church at all; and that which this church despised, and forbade, and persecuted, and cast out, became itself the true church. MEDM January 8, 1908, page 42.2

And so it is forever. MEDM January 8, 1908, page 42.3