A number are waiting anxiously to learn the result of the trial of several brethren by their fellow-members in the "Disciples" or "Christian Church." The report was crowded out last month but we lay it before you now, as follows:—
In my letter of June 1st, [See June TOWER] I made known the fact that a trouble had arisen in this section in the Disciples or Christian Church in respect to the promulgation of those precious truths which have been sealed and hid until the due time, now present, and as advocated by ZION'S WATCH TOWER, which we believe are in harmony with the word, plan and character of God, though out of harmony with the doctrines and theories of men. As the preachers mentioned, five in number, have come and gone, I feel it my duty as well as privilege to give you the result. I will venture only this criticism. They carried nothing with them of which they will ever boast and they left nothing behind them of which they will ever be proud. After the sermon on Saturday [R878 : page 8] night the Evangelist announced their mission in our midst. In our conversation he first tried to have us think of "that man Russell" as a fanatic, etc., but we have begun to see things in a different light. We conversed on various subjects, giving reasons for our faith, and for the rejection of former theories; he finally stated that no good could be accomplished by an argument, as we would reject his proof and call it figurative if it did not suit us. All arguments were cut short save that those five preachers met us in the church yard Sunday afternoon seemingly to entangle us in our speech by asking mixed and tangling questions, and demanding an answer, yes, or no. We all answered according to the questions and not with respect to their desire. Sunday morning he preached on "Christian Union our Plea," etc. Sunday night it was announced that the trouble existing in the church would be decided on the following night and that the decision would be final. On Monday night at 8 o'clock we had a sermon by the Evangelist from the text, "I shall be satisfied when I awake with Thy likeness." (Psa. 17:15.) He went on to show that death was not death, that is, man does not really die but only sleeps, referring to the cases of Lazarus, Jairus' daughter, etc., as proof, stating that we might call it figurative if we liked, but it was there. But he called no attention to their connection which might have shown that the language was figurative. After services the church was called to order and organized for business in the usual manner and the following resolutions were read and motioned to be adopted:—
"Inasmuch as certain views are held and advocated by those whom we have hitherto considered as one with us, which views we hold are speculative, unreasonable and unscriptural, and do but engender strife and produce no good result, and inasmuch as the Disciples of Christ have a right to Ephesus Church and premises, and do hereby forbid for the above reasons, the public expression and propagation of said opinions,—therefore, be it.
Resolved, by us the Committee selected, that those holding such views be required to cease from expressing themselves upon such views. And should they not agree to this, that they here make known their intention, and publicly withdraw themselves from the Disciples worshiping at Ephesus, giving their names, and the Secretary of this meeting will note them, and the clerk of this church will strike them from the church register. And if they do not comply, we withdraw and are no longer responsible. Be it further
Resolved, that we deplore this sad occurrence and love these brethren in spite of their erroneous opinions, but to save the church and preserve the harmony, peace and prosperity of her membership, we feel this our bounden duty. W. J. COCKE, Evangelist and Chairman.
I having asked and obtained permission to speak, said: While I have not even leaned against a college wall that I might, perchance, draw some of the moisture out of its brick, yet in my humble opinion the true meaning of these resolutions would be more plainly expressed in these, though fewer words, viz.: "Notwithstanding the Disciples regard the holy Scriptures of both testaments as their only creed, Be it
Resolved, That hereafter no person holding membership in the church at Ephesus, shall search those Scriptures in order to learn that he may teach to his fellow man, any truth which was not seen and advocated by Alexander Campbell in his day."
When you vote on the resolutions, think of their meaning: If you reject them we will stay with you; if you adopt them you will drive from your midst every Christian who has in his heart a proper reverence for the Word of God, and love for his fellow man. You will not drive us from the Word of God, nor from the Christian Church, but from your midst, into the pure, free air of heaven. In that pure air, on this free American soil, we will still search those Scriptures and speak of their truths.
We were ruled out of order. As none favoring our views were allowed to vote, they were adopted without a dissenting voice. Four of us complied by asking that our names be erased, stating that they were no longer responsible for our teaching, nor we for their actions; that we must obey God rather than man. There are more to follow when convenient, who are not silent. A true idea of the confusion and trouble can more fairly be stated in the words of our opponents. After they had proceeded to select the committee, etc., his attention being called to the fact, the president stated that in the confusion of the hour they had forgotten a most important part of the programme, viz., to engage in prayer. Further on the evangelist said: "I have never been in such a trouble before, and we pray God we never will be again; it has been forced on us and we have tried to settle it the best we could."
If you see anything in the above that would be of any interest, you can use it as you think proper. These things were not done in a corner, there being no less than 300 persons present, and we are under no obligations to keep them secret. Your brief outlines and advice were sufficient and of great service, though we could not get those preachers to attack it in any form, and we thank you for them.
This is not what might have been expected of the "Disciples," who claim to be the most unsectarian denomination, whose creed is "the Bible only." Other denominations making no claim to the Bible as the test of fellowship, would have tried their dissenting brethren by their creed and their regular church court, and would have cast them out without needing to violate justice, since all assenting to such creeds are subject to their conditions; indeed they should not attempt to stay in an organization with whose fundamental faith and regulations they are no longer in harmony.
However we see in this the tendency of this harvest truth—to separate. The tares are bound up and separated, while the true wheat stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free. Compare Matt. 13:30 and Isa. 28:21,22.
Thus the elect from the four winds of heaven are being "gathered together" into harmony, into the light, into the truth, "out of Babylon," but not "out of his [Christ's] kingdom." By coming out of Babylon in harmony with the command, they are but proving themselves overcomers of the "Beast and his image," etc., (Rev. 20:4) and thereby are confirming or making sure their calling and election to that kingdom and class. Others, on the contrary, being tested by the truth, are found to be its adversaries, and thus proved to be unworthy of the position to which all were called—unworthy of the kingdom. They are gathered out of it—separated from the class the Lord recognizes, and bound tightly by their own prejudices, in which condition they will be in the "fire" of trouble coming upon such in this "day of wrath" and "trouble."
Stand fast, dear brethren; maintain a good record as soldiers of the cross and followers of the Lamb. The Captain assures us that we shall conquer through death in his service; that the "crown of life" is laid up for overcomers. "Let no man take thy crown."—Rev. 3:11.