Footsteps of the Flock (Part 8)

Author, expositor, preacher and missionary John Matthias Davies (1895-1990), whose collected writings span nearly 1,500 pages, was mightily used of God to bring blessing to those who heard him and those who still read his works. His exceptional gift for effective and powerful exposition of the Word of God was never more clearly seen than in his “Footsteps of the Flock” book, chapter 8 of which is reproduced below. This is the last chapter of the book.

Footsteps of the Flock

Part 8

The Separated Priest – or “The Believer’s Worship”

Our God deserves and desires the worship of His people. “They that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth, and the Father seeketh such to worship Him,” not only individually and privately, but also collectively. To this end He has constituted us a holy priesthood (1 Pet 2:5).

In the New Testament we read of the church (local) or assembly coming together to “one place” for varied purposes. Of these gatherings of the early church, the one for the “breaking of bread” or the remembering of the Lord was most prominent and important. They met for this purpose every first day of the week. On these occasions they “sang Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs”, thus praising the Lord unitedly. The Scriptures were read and expounded, and one and another would, as led of the Spirit – for there was no human control – audibly give thanks, this voicing not only his own sentiments, but the adoration and worship of the whole gathered company.

There may be no scripture to speak of this gathering as “the worship meeting”, yet there is no occasion when the saints meet together when worship should be so spontaneous as then. As the heart muses upon the sufferings of Christ the “fire burns” and the tongue becomes the pen of a ready writer. Hence we shall consider the separated worship of the believer in its relation to the “Lord’s Table”.

When the Lord gave the priestly family the privilege of eating the peace-offerings it was with two very important injunctions. They were to be eaten in a clean place; and only the clean should eat them (Lev 10:14, Num 18:11). The same principles applies today – only those cleansed from their sins by the blood and from their ways by the Word should partake of the Supper. And they should see to it that the place where they do so is clean from moral evil or doctrinal error.

FIRSTLY, Separation from heathen worship (1 Cor 10:16-22, 2 Cor 6:14-18)

Those who formed the church at Corinth had been saved out of heathen idolatry. From 1 Cor 6:9-11 we gather that the lives of some of them had been anything but commendable, until the gospel of the grace of God reached them. Although their lives had been changed so that the Apostle could say “Ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God”, yet to separate entirely from their past was difficult. Some of them had for years lived in fear of demons, in dread of the black hand of the devil. In their unconverted state they had been afraid lest they should incur the anger of their “heathen deities” and had offered sacrifices to pacify the anger of their gods. When the gospel came to them they embraced it but some of them desired only to give the Lord Jesus Christ a place in their temples alongside the gods they had previously worshipped. Others had a clearer apprehension of the truth of the gospel, and desired to worship the Lord only, but in the heathen temple. Thus they thought they would evade the anger of the “gods”. At these temples there were heathen festivals, heathen orgies and some of the Christians seemed to continue to go to them, thus partaking of the “table of demons” and the “table of the Lord”. Upon this unequal yoke the Apostle speaks plainly; “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons.” Such a path of compromise was an impossible one. Hence he continues in his second epistle beseeching them to be “enlarged”, enlarged in their apprehension of the unique glory of Christ, in their apprehension of the protecting power of God and in the distinctive character of their new found faith. They were straitened in themselves. The truth had not liberated them from their old customs and fears as it should have, hence the double emphasis:

“Be ye also enlarged.”
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.”

These injunctions are followed by a five-fold appeal in the form of five questions, intended to indelibly impress upon them the truth of the Saviour’s words, “Ye are not of the world even as I am not of the world.”

1. “What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?”

Righteousness and unrighteousness are diametrically opposed principles. Fellowship means holding something together with another, but righteousness and unrighteousness hold nothing in common. Righteousness is the underlying principle in the government of the Kingdom of God, while unrighteousness is the basic principle of government in the realm of the kingdom of darkness.

2. “What communion hath light with darkness?”

They are diametrically opposed elements. Communion means common interests resulting from communion in life. These two elements cannot be minced, they are antagonistic the one to the other.

Darkness hides, light reveals. In darkness things are covered, in the light things are manifest. In Genesis Ch 1 we are told that the Lord separated the light from the darkness, and He saw that it was good. Such separation is “good” still!

3. “What concord hath Christ with Belial?”

They are diametrically opposed persons. Concord means that there is agreement in sound and voice with one another. The Scriptures reveal to us that Satan’s desire is to imitate the work of God in every way he possibly can. In the Revelation the dragon possesses the face of a lamb but its voice is still the voice of the dragon. Satan may change his outward form, but he will never be able to change his inward character. He may transform himself into an “angel of light”, but his message will be “another gospel” which is no gospel, but a message intended to deceive men to their eternal ruin.

4. “What part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”

They are diametrically opposed faiths. The infidel here is not merely the infidel of Ingersol’s type, but it refers to that subtle form of infidelity prevalent in the East, the denial of the personal God. The infidelity which says “God is everything and everything is God.” It has appeared during recent years in the West under the name of “Christian Science”. The true believer on the other hand believes in a personal God. Thus the two faiths can have nothing in common. To “have part” means to share in a common object. There must be the common object of faith if we are to have fellowship with one another.

5. “What agreement hath the temple of God with idols?”

They are diametrically opposed systems. To be in agreement means holding a common sentiment. There were no idols in the Tabernacle in the wilderness, or in the Temple later erected in Jerusalem. Idolatry is the system of worship invented by the “god of this age”. It is departure from the path of faith in the unseen God, to walking by sight. Unbelief must have some visible object either in the form of the idols of heathenism or in the pictures and statues of an apostate Christendom. Idols have eyes, but they see not, they have ears but they hear not, but the “Temple of God” is a living organism. To the church at Corinth He says “Ye are the Temple of God.” Life and death can have no fellowship. A living man and a lifeless idol have nothing in common.

After thus showing them the unique and distinctive character of Christianity, the apostle appeals to them again in words which cannot be misunderstood. “Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a father unto you and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” To any among them who would still fear to separate from their old associations, the last promise would be a great encouragement. To realise that the Lord God Almighty was to be their Father would mean complete deliverance from the fear of the black hand of the past.

Solemn it is that so many true believers today seem to have no exercise as to being thus unequally yoked. They take communion alongside those who have never even professed to have received the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ. They, who are called in the Scripture “Light in the Lord” mingle in church fellowship with those who are still in “darkness”. While they belong to Christ, they seem to be satisfied to be fellow-members with those who belong to Belial, children of wrath! Having had a personal dealing with God themselves regarding their sins, they continue to have part with those who have never had such. To anyone who may read these pages who is still yoked in such an unscriptural fellowship the word is “Come out”; “Be ye separate”. To disobey will mean to suffer loss at the judgment seat of Christ; to obey will mean His favour now and reward then.

SECONDLY, Separation from Judaistic worship (Heb 13:13)

“Let us go forth unto Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.”

Judaism in its original form, being a God-given form of worship and ritual, was on a different plane entirely from heathenism. From the “Acts” and the Epistle to the “Hebrews” we gather that it was difficult for those converted from Judaism to separate themselves from the old ritual. It seems to have taken some time for even Paul to turn his back on all the outward forms of Judaism, judging from the vow he made, and shaving his head, and insisting on being at Jerusalem at the time of the feast. Many clung tenaciously to the Temple and to the priesthood. They had ever been accustomed to the altar and the mediatorial ministry of the High Priest in his priestly robes, and it was no easy matter to forsake it all. But in this verse God calls the whole of the Judaistic ritual “the camp”, that which God had forsaken and abandoned, and that which was soon to be done away with. The reference in this portion is to the event recorded in Exod 33:7. Because of Israel’s idolatry Moses moved the tent of meeting outside the camp. For God had said He could not dwell in the midst of them. The Lord only returned into the camp after the “Tabernacle” had been erected and a Mercy-seat provided, and atoning blood had been sprinkled. Until then all who sought the Lord had to go out to the tent outside the camp.

Christianity is not only distinct from heathenism, but it is entirely distinct from Judaism also. Had Paul not taught this, he would not have suffered at the hands of the Roman Government, for Judaism seems to have been protected by the State. The fact that the two are distinctly different the one from the other needs to be well remembered in these days, when the professing church is going back to Judaism, and when its worship is getting Judaistic in character. To return to Judaism is to build up what God has destroyed, and to deny the whole teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews and other portions of the New Testament.

There are five cardinal points of difference between Christianity and Judaism, which we do well to note briefly:

(a) Under the old economy there was a SPECIAL PLACE, whereas in the new there is none.

In the New Testament it is clear to the most casual observer that the early believers had no special place. The house of the mother of John Mark at Jerusalem, or of Gaius at Corinth, sufficed. It still remains a fact that the only holy place in the New Testament is wherever two or three gather together in His name. Judaism was a national religion; Christianity is international. The Jew had to worship at Jerusalem at the Temple, the place where Jehovah chose to place His name. It was there that he was to bring his tithes and offerings. The temple was a most wonderful building and it cost a great sum to build it. But there is no such a holy place today. Great gorgeous buildings built after the fashion of the temple are a return to Judaism, they deny the pilgrim character of the church and the simplicity which is in Christ.

Concerning the church at Corinth we are told that they came together to “one place” but nothing is said of the character of the building or house possibly in which they met, but much is made of the spiritual condition of those who gathered there.

While the Old Testament made much of the place, the New makes much of the Person around whom His people are to gather.

(b) There was also a SPECIAL CEREMONY connected with their worship which was absolutely indispensable; but in the worship of the New Testament one is struck with the absolute absence of anything like ceremonies.

The only two ordinances observed then and to be observed today are “baptism”and the “Lord’s Supper”. There was no ritual connected with the observance of either. Simplicity characterised and was meant to characterise both. They “broke bread from house to house” and Philip baptised in some water on the roadside. How different from that which prevails in Christendom today. How the church has departed from the pattern laid down in the Word of God. How she has multiplied the ceremonies, and how ceremoniously are the ordinances carried out, instead of in simplicity.

(c) There was the SPECIAL PRIESTLY CLASS without whom the worship of Jehovah could not be carried out.

These were specially set apart and were easily recognisable among the thousands of Israel by the dress they wore. One of Jeroboam’s sins was that he made priests of the common people whereas the law demanded that no one but the family of Aaron could officiate in that capacity. There is nothing akin to this in the New Testament. Yet Rome and her daughters make priests of men who are not even Jews, far less of the tribe of Levi. “If Christ were on earth He could not be a priest, for it is evident that He sprang out of Judah.” An earthly priesthood today is a denial of the High Priesthood of Christ, and of the priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:5-9).

The priestcraft of Rome and the clerisy of Protestantism claim exclusive rights to administer the ordinances and perform the ministry of the church, but without any warrant in the New Testament for so doing. To the church there are given the gifts of “pastors, evangelists, and teachers”, but theirs is no office to which they are ordained by man, but a work for which they have been fitted by the Lord Himself. The term “office” is not used in the New Testament concerning the exercise of these gifts. In the King James Authorised Version it is so rendered, but it is the rendering of the translators and not the original.

The New Testament makes much of the “work” of the evangelist etc., but nothing of his office. If it was the purpose of God that the ordinances and ministry of the church should only be performed by a special class set apart for that by the church, then we might expect to find a pattern for it in the Acts and precepts for it in the Epistles. But on examination it is the opposite we find.

Concerning Baptism.

It is recorded in the 8th chapter of Acts that Philip baptised the Eunuch. Philip was not one of the Apostles. His name first appears among the seven chosen to care for the widows at Jerusalem. Afterwards he was called an “evangelist”.

After Saul had seen the Lord on the Damascus Road we are told that Ananias baptised him. Who Ananias was we are not told, other than a devout man, a disciple of the Lord Jesus. If a specially set-apart person was necessary for baptising then surely the baptism of Paul would have been made an example in the matter. That in this, as in all else, Paul was an example for all who would afterwards believe, we are fully persuaded, but the example cuts at the foundation of clerical presumption.

Concerning the Lord’s Supper.

In the portions speaking of this important feast, there is not a single sentence which gives foundation for the idea of “administering it”, or of the necessity of some special man being present before it can be observed. On the contrary we read “the bread we break” and “the cup we drink”. The error of clerisy or the doctrine of Nicolaitanes denies these simple ways of God in the church, and arrogate to a few the prerogative – self assumed – of administering it, but we do not read of anyone else ever doing it. Yet how many true believers think it wrong to break bread in remembrance of the Lord without some “ordained” man.

The following from the pen of the late Dr. Griffith Thomas is illuminating on this point:-

No single reference to a “special priesthood” can be found in the 27 books of the New Testament. Let us take 7 of these representative distinctive parts of the New Testament:

1. Instructions of our Lord to His disciples and apostles in the Gospels. Not a word regarding such a priesthood.
2. First book of general church history – the Acts. No hint of such a priesthood.
3. First detailed picture of one apostolic church in the Epistles to the Corinthians, but not a sign of any such priesthood.
4. There are two great doctrinal Epistles for Gentile Christians, Romans and Ephesians, but no instructions as to such a priesthood.
5. There is a great doctrinal Epistle to Jewish Christians, Hebrews, but nothing in it except our Lord’s priesthood.
6. There are three Epistles of Pastoral and ecclesiastical instructions, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, but still not a word of a special priesthood.
7. There are the mature writings of John, James and Peter, the great Apostles of the circumcision, but no trace whatever of this priesthood.

All the writers with one possible exception – Luke – were steeped in sacerdotal ideas, language and associations from childhood. They often used sacrificial language to describe certain elements and aspects of the gospel, especially Paul in Romans 15:16, but not one of them uses the word “heirus” – the word for a sacrificing priest to denote the Christian minister or gospel preacher from the layman – so-called. Bishop Westcott said it was the nearest approach to verbal inspiration he knew of. Bishop Lightfoot comments on it as the eloquent silence of the Apostolic writings. The Kingdom of Christ has no sacerdotal system.

Dr Thomas himself says it is the unmistakable control of the Holy Spirit in the composition of the New Testament.

Concerning Ministry

Who should preach the gospel and teach the Scriptures? We have seen that no special class was necessary either for baptism or the Lord’s Supper, but is not the ministry of the church to be entirely in the hands of a few who have been through the seminaries and had the hands of ordination laid upon them? To this as all other questions the answer must be “What saith the Scripture?”

In the church at Antioch we are told that there were “certain prophets and teachers.” Each of these would therefore seek to exercise the gift that the Head of the church had given to them, each ministered according to the grace received.

In the church at Ephesus (Acts 20) there were “elders” who had by the Holy Spirit been made or fitted to be “bishops” or “overseers”. These were exhorted by the Apostle to “feed” or shepherd the flock. They were exhorted to do the work of the “pastor”. The work was not in the hands of one, but as in the other churches of the New Testament, there was a plurality of elders, who were also overseers, and pastors. This is very different from what obtains today.

After the persecution culminating in the stoning of Stephen it is recorded that the Christians went everywhere “preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). They went “evangelising the glad tidings” and that without any human ordination. Theirs was the ordination of the “pierced hand”. That all believers should thus evangelise is emphasised by the apostle in his letter to the Church at Philippi, when he says “holding forth the word of life”. How important it is that each believer should realise his or her responsibility in this the King’s business. To make the preaching of the gospel the exclusive privilege of a few, who are only expected to preach it in special places and on specified occasions is disobedience to the command “Go ye therefore into the highways and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.”

In the epistle to the Ephesians we read of that “which every joint supplieth.” The body, which is the church, is fitted together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in its measure of each one part (Eph 4:16). The body is to increase through the supply that comes through each member.

This is again spoken of in Col 2:19. The Apostle is speaking of some who were not holding fast the Head, that is, they were not giving the Lord His place of preeminence. When He is acknowledged as Head then we must recognise that He ministers nourishment to it and knits it together through the “joints and bands”, thereby the body increases with the increase of God.

When each member of the body is performing its intended function, then the body is in health. Each member has some function to perform and is responsible to the Lord to fufil that responsibility. The gifts have been divided to “every man severally as He will” (1 Cor 12:11). “The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” (1 Cor 12:7). Others are to derive profit from the gift possessed. Each one is to profit from the other. Clerisy does away with this. It makes one man the Pastor, evangelist and teacher. It puts one man into the position where he lords over God’s heritage. This is the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes. In Rev 2:6 we read of the deeds of the Nicolaitanes. But in Rev 2:15 we read of their doctrine. Their deeds had given birth to a doctrine, instead of allowing “the doctrine” to control their deeds. We are prone to try and support a wrong system by a verse of Scripture, whereas it would be better if we would test our practices by all Scripture. When the theory and practice of a specified and salaried ministry is examined in the light of the truth of God it is found unwarranted, unsupported and condemned.

(d) There was also a SPECIAL RELIGIOUS CALENDAR of holy days and months and years, under the old economy.

A casual reading of the Old Testament will reveal this, but when we turn to the New Testament the observance of “days, months and years” is severely censured. “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days, which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ” (Col 2:16-17). “How turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months and times and years” (Gal 2:9-10). When the Galatian Christians walked thus, the Apostle became afraid lest he had bestowed labour in vain upon them. He stood in doubt of them wondering if they had ever apprehended the grace of God in the gospel of Christ.

Of the early believers we are told that they “came together on the first day of the week to break bread.” The Christians at Corinth are exhorted in regard to giving that “every one should lay by him in store as God had prospered him” on the first day of the week. This is spoken of in the Revelation as “the Lord’s Day” but is nowhere referred to as a “sabbath”or a “holy day”, but as the Lord enables him the believer should spend its hours for the Lord. It is sad to see Christians spending Lord’s Days in pleasure or in business, when they should seek to meet with His people and be active in the work of the gospel.

When the apostle was communicating to the church the revelation he had received regarding the Lord’s Supper he used the words “As oft as ye do this.” Not even a special day mentioned, far less any special times of day. To hanker after special times and seasons is a sign of Galatian Christianity. It is a Judaised form of Christianity, mixing law with grace, Sinai with Calvary.

(e) In the worship of the Temple much was made also of SPECIAL MUSIC. There was a choir, and we read of the chief singers, as well as special instruments of music.

All this, however, is connected with the worship of an earthly people, as Israel was. In the New Testament little reference is made to singing. After the instituting of the “supper” we read that they sang a hymn. In the Epistle to the Colossians we are exhorted to “admonish one another in Psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col 3:16). In writing to the church at Corinth regarding the gifts, the apostle says, “I will sing with the Spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also” (1 Cor 14:15). But the gift of song is nowhere spoken of as a gift of the Spirit, nor is there any warrant for introducing “special singing” into the gatherings of the Lord’s people. Everything should be done decently and in order. The hymns given out should be sung properly and well. Poor singing is a hindrance and could in most cases be remedied if there was a little exercise of heart about it. But choirs and solos entertain rather than edify, and “all things should be done unto edifying.” The first and last references to musical instruments in the Word of God are ominous. They are first mentioned in connection with Cain’s descendants and last referred to in connection with the destruction of Babylon in Revelation Ch 18.

From the Judaism of their day with its Temple, its priests in their priestly robes, its ceremonies, and its special days and seasons with its wonderful music to please the flesh, the early believers were exhorted to separate. They were commanded to leave it, for the word “let” in Hebrews 13:13 is in the imperative. (“Let us go forth therefore unto him outside the camp”), and they were reminded that the one they sought was not in the camp, but outside. Years before He had said “Your house is left to you desolate,” and who can fully know the desolation of the place where the Lord is not to be found. Christendom today has returned to Judaism, but the Lord is outside, and if we are to know His fellowship, we must needs “go forth” to Him, bearing His reproach.

THIRDLY, Separation from Babylonish Worship (Rev 18:4)

“And I heard another voice from heaven saying, Come out of her My people, that ye be not partaker of her sins, and that ye receive not her plagues.” Scripture has much to say concerning Babylon, both the historical and the mystical Babylon. The one is the type of the other, the mystical is the antitype of the historical. A brief consideration of the historical will aid to a proper apprehension of the true character of the mystical. The mystical or ecclesiastical Babylon is called “The Mother of Harlots and abominations of the earth” and John sees her drunk with the blood of saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus (Rev 17:5-6). The “Mother” is Rome, and the “harlots”, her daughters, are the many Protestant denominations, the sects and systems of men, who will eventually return to their mother, as the “High Church of England” and others are already doing. The only way to avoid her sins and evade her plagues is to have nothing to do with her or her daughters. Contact means contamination. To fraternise with Babylon or her daughter is to lay oneself open to the charge of being of the same character. Virtuous women and harlots can have no fellowship. The worldliness, evil living and evil doctrine that is so prevalent in the sects is branded as harlotry. With it the people of God are to have no fellowship. From it they are to separate.

The origin of the historical Babylon is recorded in Genesis 11. Nimrod was its first King (Gen 10:9-10). He was a mighty hunter before the Lord, evidently meaning that he hunted the souls of men, persecuting any who would not acknowledge his supremacy and kingship, just what will take place ion the last days when the image of the beast will be set up and men commanded to bow down to it.

From the start Babylon was contrary to the mind and will of God. The Lord had intended that the race should multiply, replenish the earth and thus scatter abroad, but when on the plain of Shinar they set about to build the tower of Babel, their aim was centralisation, with the evident purpose of bringing everything under the control of Nimrod the King. Let us make us a name lest we be scattered abroad. In the parlance of today it means amalgamation. Later on when the Lord chose a place for His people to meet in, and erect a Temple, we find that it was built of “hewn stone”, but Nimrod’s tower was built of brick and bitumen. Bricks may be very easy to build with, but at best they ate only imitation stone. A brick building may be erected much more rapidly than a stone one, but be it remembered that in the Temple of God no bricks are to be found, all are living stones. There are no imitation Christians in the true church, no mere professors of religion. When the Lord adds to the church He only adds those who are saved (Acts 2:47). Yet how many there are who are professedly church members who have never been born again, and have never known the forgiveness of their sins through faith in the blood of Christ. They are only so many of Babylon’s bricks. To be associated with those who allow into fellowship those who have never been converted, and who take a name not given them by the Lord Himself, is to be associated with Babylon. Nimrod and his associates desired a name for themselves, so they said “Let us build us a city and a tower.” But this man-made unity incurred for them the displeasure of the Lord and resulted in the confusion of tongues, which has lasted till this day. These find their antitype today in the multifarious sects of Christendom, each with its own language or theory proclaimed from its many pulpits and many presses.

The after-history of Babylon was no improvement upon its commencement. A casual reading of the book of Daniel will reveal that it was a place of great human attainment and prowess, a place of palaces and feasts, but along  with the outward display went the inward corruption and awful profligacy. The handwriting on the wall pronounced its doom.

The ecclesiastical Babylon is not a whit behind the historical in outward show. She is arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with precious stones and pearls. Yet in her hand is a cup full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication (Rev 17:4). Outwardly very religious and very ceremonious, but inwardly full of dead men’s bones. Let every Christian read the handwriting on the wall and flee human systems.

To the people of God Babylon was a place of bondage. It was there that the image was built and all commanded to bow down to it. It was there the fiery furnace was heated seven times its usual heat and the young men cast into it. It was there Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. There the children of Israel hung up their harps on the willows, and answered the taunting of the Babylonians by saying “How can we sing the Lord’s song in Babylon.” When Nebuchadnezzar took Israel captive to Babylon, the names of the young men were changed, their diet was ordered to be changed, and they tried to change their worship. There was no liberty to worship or to pray, except as the Babylonian authorities decreed. Continued stay there resulted in the Jews inventing “fasts” of their own and forgetting the divinely appointed feasts (Zechariah Chs. 7-8). Self-appointed fasts in memory of great events and great men, but the feasts of the Lord forgotten and forsaken, even denied. Such is the effect of dwelling in Babylon. Little wonder that we read “Come out of her my people.” O that we might be Ezras and Nehemiahs, prepared to leave everything in order to seek to establish once again a testimony to the name of the Lord alone, even though it be in confessed weakness.

The doom of Babylon is uttered in no uncertain words by the evangelical prophet Isaiah (Ch 13:19). It was prophesied that it should be the habitation of every unclean and hateful bird. How literally these words have been fulfilled. The Arabian never pitches his tent there any more. Visitors to that land have tried to get their guides to do so, but in vain. Even in this, the historical is a fit picture of the ecclesiastical. In the words of the parable, every unclean bird is making its home in the branches of the professing church. Russellism, Spiritism and Modernism are all to be found there. How can a child of God pitch his tent in such a place? It is unsafe for himself and unsafe for his family. If he fails to heed the call of God to leave it, he may sooner or later accept its evil doctrine and see his family the willing captives of its unclean teachings.

The reader of these lines may be one who is still associated with the “sects” and “denominations” and may be asking the question, “If I leave my sect or denomination, what am I expected to come out to?” Surely not to another sect, or to form another, but to the Lord Himself. A divinely gathered company of believers will acknowledge no head but Christ, no centre of gathering but the Cross, and no name but the Name of the Lord Jesus, and they will seek to bear testimony in confessed weakness to the oneness of the body of Christ, disowning all denominational names and titles. They will seek to preach the gospel of the grace of God for the salvation of the lost, carry out His word by baptising only those who have believed, and by meeting simply as Christians to “break bread” in remembrance of the Lord on the first day of the week, and as occasion affords will gather for prayer, praise and ministry, thus exhorting and admonishing one another as long as it is called today.

May it be the reader’s privilege to meet in such simplicity “till the day dawn and the shadows flee away.”