100 YEARS AGO - 1903
Who was sister Matthews
Sister Matthews was the mother-in-law to Edward Augustus Roberts, son of brother Roberts. Edward Roberts was baptized young, and married sister Mary Matthews, the daughter of the sister remembered below. As Edward Roberts became a prominent and wealthy doctor in London, he lost interest in the truth, and left it, desiring the riches offered by the world, and taking with him his sister wife. Edward informed brother Roberts of these plans shortly before his death. Sister Sarah Jane Roberts Ladson felt this news was partly responsible for the heart attack of her grieving father in San Francisco in 1898, and called it his "crowning sorrow".
This article shows the remarkable faith and strength of this sister through this terrible trial of first seeing her lovely daughter lead away by Edward, then to be followed by the rest of her children.
THE DEATH OF SISTER MATTHEWS, OF LONDON
The South London ecclesia has to mourn the loss of sister Matthews, who died on October 6th. Her death will be keenly felt, not only by the members of her family, but by the London brethren with whom she has been connected for close upon a quarter of a century. Our sister was the mother of sister Roberts' son's wife, and also of the sisters J. and A. Kirkland. The funeral took place on the following Saturday, at Norwood Cemetery, in the presence of a large number of brethren and sisters and friends.
At the Grave Side
The Scripture just read ( 1 Cor. 15:1-26 ) contains what we now so sorely need-comfort from God. Our sorrow is not for our sleeping sister; it is for ourselves. The comfort which God gives us is real and solid. Paul tells us that Christ has been raised and is alive, and he adds that “they that are Christ's”-those who have “fallen asleep” in him-shall be similarly raised and made alive at his coming. Glorious news is this-consolation that is substantial, given by God in His unfathomable kindness to enlighten and cheer our sad hearts when cast down, as they now are, in the presence of death. This is not the time nor the place to discuss the truth of Paul's utterances. Suffice it to say that we implicitly and gratefully accept all that he has said. Why should we not? Paul bore a good character-his honesty is unquestionable. It was morally impossible that he could have intentionally deceived in regard to the momentous and far-reaching fact of Christ's rising from the dead. Was he himself deceived? Nay, nay. He was too shrewd a man for that. Paul was a clever man-a man who could sift and weigh evidence. He figured as no fool in the trying presence of the literati of his day. He could hold his own in a court of law. Think of him, and his reasonable, lucid, and convincing statements, when before Ananias, Felix, Festus, and Agrippa. No, we are not foolish in believing Paul, nor in laying hold of the divine comfort of which he was the bearer. We repeat the comfort-They who are Christ's are to live again, and to live for evermore. With profound gratitude to the Great Author of this comfort, we lay hold of it and say, Sorrow not as those who have no hope. Who else but God could give such consolation as this? Not man. He, with skill and kindness, can do much for his fellows whilst they are on this side of the tomb, but when that is reached he becomes impotent-as helpless as the ground on which he treads. The Scriptures teem with references to God's comfort-to the joy that is ahead-about which He would have us speak on occasions such as the present: “I will give them eternal life”; “He shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body”; “He shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.” This is our hope-this was the hope of our dead sister-the hope of endless life coupled with perfect happiness in the Kingdom of God.
With these thoughts in mind, we turn our eyes toward this open grave-the quiet, silent resting-place of our sister, until the Lord shall come. We need not mourn for her-we may congratulate her. Her day of weakness and trouble is at an end. She has fallen asleep in Christ! “Asleep”-a beautiful, significant Bible figure. We lay to rest a good woman-a dear sister. Her husband, her children, her friends, both in and out of the truth, can bear hearty witness to this. It is nigh upon twenty-five years since she embraced the faith of Christ, and to it she has clung tenaciously. To her the truth grew sweeter as time rolled on. It was stimulating to hear her express her delight in the things of God. Her trials have been many, and her temptations great. She has successfully endured them all; she was faithful until death. To hold fast the truth in this evil world needs courage, effort, self-denial. Our sister in this respect was a pattern to all. Although she has gone, let her faithfulness live in our memory.
At the Sunday Morning Meeting
The loss of sister Matthews has brought us face to face with death in all its unspeakable sadness. It is not out of place to refer to this event at a meeting for the calling of Christ to remembrance. Is it not because we ourselves are subject to death that we have need to remember Christ! And does not this remembrance keep before us the explanation of death?-the heinousness of sin in the sight of God-emphasised in the death of His beloved Son?
The truth alone solves the otherwise impenetrable enigma of death. The truth alone holds out the hope of a day when death and all its terrors will have gone for ever. It is as the Lord of Life that our interest in Christ centres. In grief-stricken moments like the present, we are enabled to rightly apprehend the reality of death. Only in the proportion in which we act upon that apprehension are we really wise.
Looking back upon our sister's career, we are enabled to see how wise was her refusal of social position for the society of the brethren. Of what avail would the praise and friendship of the world have been to her in the day of Christ? This consideration had weight with our sister, and she chose the safe, if thorny, path of the truth. She made earnest use of what talents she had, and set herself to perform simple, kindly duties, and did so with untiring cheerfulness. She “did what she could.”
Above all, she never wavered from her steadfastness in the faith. She was not without difficulties and trials. We have seen her tears, and in them have read of the conflicts through which she passed-of the heart-breaking troubles in which she was involved. Her character is to-day her sole possession. All other possessions have faded away. At the resurrection this character will be her only offering to the Judge. We picture our sister standing before the Master, whom she has obeyed, confessed, and loved, and we think we hear him say, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” The performance of service to all, without regard to rank or station, was one of our sister's greatest adornments.
What would we not give to hear those words of Christ addressed to us? It is possible to hear them. If we always felt as we do in this hour of grief, we should have no difficulty in walking faithfully. But most of us so easily forget. There was one department of the truth's work in which our sister excelled. After the lecture you would find her speaking to the stranger, lending books, offering kindly words of encouragement, in fact, often transforming the doubtful listener into the earnest believer. Often do we hear her splendid example in this respect spoken of. Who is to fill her place?
Cheerfulness and large-heartedness were among her admirable qualities. She was no evil speaker. She made the best of an imperfect state of things. “A poor lecturer to-night” would be met by the kind retort, “Yes, but he did his best. What more could he do?” Her life has yielded its lesson to the ecclesia, and if her demise is the means of bringing certain loved ones into the fold, she will not have died in vain. To secure such a result she would have gladly laid down her life. Our remembrance of her faithful example and kindly service will always remain. Truly may we say of her, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.”
The Christadelphian 1903
Below is some fascinating - and humorous - history connected with Huntly and Dr. Thomas' childhood. The incident below occurred when Dr. Thomas was only seven years old. The information is recorded in the library in Huntly in a book there called "The history of the Missionar Kirk of Huntly" by the late Robert Troup, M.A. This church was originally an “Anti-Burgher” church, being a division of the “Secession” church which seceded from the Established Church in 1733. By the time that the father of Dr. Thomas took over the ministry, the church was a Congregational one. It is interesting that this area of Scotland should have such connections with the pioneers, for in addition to this association with Huntly, Aberdeen, only 39 miles away from Huntly, was the birthplace of Brother Robert Roberts.
“In the year 1811 the congregation called the Rev. Brother John Thomas to be their pastor. Mr. Thomas had been for some years minister of the Independent Church in Lothbury, London, and had resigned his charge there. How the congregation in Huntly heard of him, and who recommended him to them, is now unknown; but he came by invitation to Huntly, and, after preaching a short time, received, and accepted, a unanimous call to the pastorate. But his stay was short-little more than a year. I have been told by those who knew him well that he was a man of considerable ability, an excellent preacher, much appreciated by the congregation and acceptable to the general population, and that the young people especially admired and loved him. But difficulties arose, chiefly, I believe, domestic. Mrs. Thomas never liked Huntly. It was a great change to her to come from the metropolis of the empire to what she would regard as a poor, dirty village. And indeed it was by no means attractive in those days. The streets were unpaved and often deep with mud and manure, the houses almost all small and mean; the people uncultured, their speech scarcely intelligible to her, their manners in her eyes rude, their staple food unlike what she had been accustomed to-oatmeal cakes, oatmeal pottage or brose twice a day, kale or sowens the chief constituent of the third meal, wheaten bread a rare luxury, butcher meat never on the table except on Sunday and even then coming only as an accompaniment of the barley broth in which it was boiled, tea and coffee known only to a few… Had she been a wise, humble, and thoroughly Christian woman, she would have overlooked all these inconveniences and disagreeable surroundings, and done her best to encourage and help her husband in his work. How many wives of both home and foreign missionaries, and of poor pastors both in town and country, have endured much greater inconveniences, and suffered hardships for their husbands' sakes and for Christ's sake. But Mrs. Thomas appears to have had more cleverness than wisdom, and more desire for a better position than interest in the congregation. She was determined to get away. And she secured her purpose in a curious, but not very seemly manner. Mr. Thomas intimated that he was about to resign his charge. When this became known, a meeting was called to consider the matter, at which he was expected to be present. Afraid lest the meeting should persuade her husband to remain-for she knew they wished him to do so-Mrs. Thomas on the morning of the day of it removed all his clothes and kept them hid until the meeting was past. In his absence it broke up without doing anything, and Mrs. Thomas accomplished her object. Mr. Thomas could scarcely have remained with comfort after such an affair became known, nor his work been likely to prosper, and accordingly he soon left….”
“Meanwhile his son had received a medical education, taken the degree of M.D., and, obtaining an appointment as doctor of an emigrant ship, had preceded his father to America. His voyage was the turning point in his life. He had been brought up in the knowledge of the truth, but he had remained-like so many others-indifferent to it. A terrible experience in the last part of the voyage, when the ship struck on a sunken rock, and after getting off was for more than a week in imminent danger of foundering, and all hands had to work the pumps, made a deep impression on him. He saw himself in a new light, guilty before God and unprepared for death. He did not, however, there and then cast himself on the mercy of God in Christ, but resolved that, if ever he reached land in safety, he would earnestly search into the truth of the Gospel for himself. Nor did he, as so many do in such circumstances, forget his resolve when the danger was past. He faithfully carried it out. It was long before he reached what he considered to be firm footing. Indeed, after he became satisfied of the truth of the Gospel and accepted Christ as his Saviour, he passed through a good many phases of belief, too many to describe in detail. Suffice it to say that after several changes he formed a new sect, to which he gave the name of `Christadelphians', a Greek word meaning `brethren of Christ'. There are small communities of them both in this country and America. The leading views they hold are these-They deny the existence of a personal devil, and the natural or inherent immortality of the soul, but believe in conditional immortality, an immortality bestowed on the faithful of all ages, and to be received at the second advent of Christ. They expect his return to the earth to reign on the throne of David over the converted and restored tribes of Israel and over all nations. They hold that death is a state of entire unconsciousness, terminated by corporeal resurrection both of believers and unbelievers. Believers after judgment reign for ever with Christ over the nations, while unbelievers die the second death, i.e., are destroyed or annihilated."
A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
I have been requested to write a Christmas Article, and casting in my mind what sort of a subject I would choose, I hit upon the appropriate heading above, determining to treat it in something like the-style.
Doubtless a treatise on our relation to such a period of general hilarity would be a very desirable, and a very popular and a very profitable thing; but then inasmuch as that should be left to such massive and ponderous brethren as “George” , I leave it untouched and pass on to the disposal of my “text”.
First then comes the word “Merry”. What a pretty little word is “Merry”,
and what a cold, bleak, comfortless place would this world be without the pretty little idea it expresses. Who doesn't like to be merry? and what would be use of living except we were to be merry? “Merry”? What is it to be merry? Well, as this is Christmas, I don't want to be boring you with metaphysical definitions, but I'll presume that you know it and by experience too.
I'll presume also, to save disquisition, that you know that in this perverse and wicked world, there is a great deal of false mirth-mirth that is not mirth -mirth which resembles according to Solomon “the crackling of thorns under a pot”, and I must also beg leave to presume that you comprehend another thing-that mirth belongs to those who have the privilege of ranking amongst God's sons and daughters, that they only can be truly merry, and that they only have the right to be merry. Now don't misunderstand me. I haven't defined mirth to be sure, but you musn't think a certain thing. You musn't think that I think that what the world thinks to be mirth, is really mirth. Theirs is the mere semblance of it-a paltry hollow counterfeit, and not for a moment to be dignified with a place in our category of graces. Mirth is not the noisy manifestations of a brain steeped in wine. Mirth is not the senseless joking of the idler. It is not mere punning or talking nonsense. It is not “jesting or foolish talking”, not the uproarious laughter of the fool. All this would be out of place in those who have been called to such an exalted destiny, and might indeed forfeit our title to the prize we are fighting for.
Mirth is a far nobler thing than that. Mirth is-aye, but there I am again, drifting towards these metaphysical problems. I must turn the helm, and away we go, sailing towards
“Christmas.” That's a rather ponderous looking word. I don't know if I'll get so much squeezed out of it. However, let's see. There is the first half-Christ. What a dear, loving name that is. Which of your hearts doesn't bound to hear it? Who doesn't yearn fondly towards the great high priest who stands pleading for his frail and erring brethren, in heaven? Who doesn't love the gentle shepherd of Israel-the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief-he who bare our sins and carried our sorrows, and which of you doesn't long with all the ardency of the human mind for that good time when he shall return to his old haunts about Jerusalem and beautify the good old town with his presence? Who doesn't thrill with delight at the prospect of looking upon his blessed face, and aiding him in the noble work of avenging the accumulated wrongs of humanity? Verily, it is impossible to realize the magnitude of such a destiny. It is impossible to grasp the awful and imposing grandeur of what lies before us, and it will not be until we find ourselves by the side of our Lord and Master that we will have anything like a just conception of it. Then, blending our voices with those of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets we will shout, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches.”
Then as to “mass”-
the second part of the word. It will be a hard matter to make it say anything. It is so disagreeably suggestive of that monster system of iniquity and oppression-Romanism, that one doesn't like to meddle with it. One can't shut out the hideous vision of cowled priestism and ignorant superstition when he thinks of “mass”, and how to twist it to make it stand for something else I wot not. Add e-s to it, by the bye, the picture changes, and we have countless myriads swarming the earth, pursuing vanity. We have mortal man in every possible circumstance spending a brief and troubled existence in a pursuit of what fails to satisfy. We have the people labouring in the fire for very vanity, and we almost hear them exclaim, from the monarch who sits arrayed in purple down to the shivering wretch who hardly knows how to make his miserable tatters hold together-from the highest to the lowest, we hear one desolate wail, “All is vanity and vexation of spirit”. Nay, more, we see black iniquity holding aloft his hideous head, defying the very heavens; and virtue, pale and affrighted, hides herself in obscurity. A dark pall overspreads the scene, and we perceive the truth of prophetic writ, “Darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people”. That, however, is trying to write in a style I am quite unsuited for, I am going a little beyond my depth, soaring the least thing too high, waxing rather magniloquent, and I must come down to the ordinary level. I must reduce my conceptions to more comprehensible terms, and just say that human nature in aristocratic Edinburgh as well as in Central Africa is essentially wicked, so that at the present day, in spite of all the boasted enlightenment and civilization, there is more depravity and open unblushing iniquity than in former ages. Some may think this an extravagant statement-altogether an exaggeration, but remember this: “Man looketh on outward things, but God looketh on the heart”. Apply this to modern society, and the result won't be particularly flattering to “Christendom”.
There you are, Mr. Writer, running into dry disquisition again. You are forgetting it is Christmas, and that the reader is looking for something that will go down easily. Well, well, I'll try and amend, and considering I have already written much more than I intended, I must away as fast as possible to the next part of my text.
“New.” That's a pretty tolerable sort of word, and suggests one or two pleasant reflections. Beauty, freshness and vigour, and all sorts of agreeable things attend this choice little monosyllable. A new house, new furniture, a new suit and all the etceteras, are things by no means to be despised; and a new Year (applying the text logically for once) sometimes brings good things with it. It gives us additional scope for “walking worthy of the vocation whereto we have been called”, and, brethren and sisters, when the hour of death comes, we will appreciate this privilege. One word more about “new”. Let us remember all the years of our life yet to come that “We have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man . . . ” Let us not forget for a moment that we are not of this world, but that we are a peculiar people, a chosen generation, and must not conform to this world. If we do this we shall have no better reflection, and we shall meet our Master when He comes with all the more confidence.
Oh! I have omitted one of the heads of my “sermon” it would not do to overlook. “Happy.” This is a quality which can be affirmed of few-of none I might almost say, and it is a quality that all strive to possess. Defining it to be a quiet sense of satisfaction with yourself and every other body, it can only be possessed by one class. All no doubt experience a species of pleasurable feelings now and then, but they don't answer to the definition. Let philosophers say what they like, real happiness can only be found in a knowledge of God and His will and purposes, and a confident and implicit obedience thereto. All other modes of obtaining it are sure to fail. From man's peculiar constitution he cannot find peace of mind in any other way than the one indicated, and that attained, the things that otherwise fail then become additional sources of that happiness. All men are seeking happiness and they fail, and we know the reason. They take the wrong way, but if the people in the Hall with the cork-screw stair in Potter's Row don't enjoy it, let them examine themselves and their conduct and they will know the cause.
I could enlarge on “Year”, but I have said enough. I will therefore close, and wishing you all a “Happy New Year” in the best sense ..."
This was written by brother Roberts when he was 18 years old, while living in Edinburgh, Scotland
Dr. Thomas Murdered!
HORRIBLE IF TRUE
This was printed in the September edition of the 1864 Christadelphian:
Dr. Thomas, of New Jersey, U.S., is said to have been murdered by the Republicans of his neighborhood, on account of his Southern sympathies, his house sacked and burned, and his wife and daughter thrown upon the world. We earnestly hope that this dreadful report, which is said to have appeared in a Liverpool paper, may turn out as groundless as a previous one, four years ago. The truth will shortly be known.
This was printed the following month:
The Reported Murder of Dr. Thomas .-We are happy to inform our readers that the sanguinary report published last month, turns out to be unfounded as regards our highly valued brother, Dr. Brother John Thomas,, of West Hoboken, New Jersey. U. S. The victim is a Dr. Thomas, of Platte City, Missouri, who actively sympathized with the rebels during the progress of hostilities in the neighborhood, and is said to have been shot by the infuriate Union soldiery. The account is as follows:-
“The St. Joseph Herald , of July 10th, gives some fearful descriptions of the sacking of Platte City by the Union troops. Not over half the houses were left standing. The town was a nest-hole of treason-not over half-a-dozen Union families residing there. Desolation and destruction have swept over it, and if the report brought us be true the work has been thoroughly performed. The 2nd Colorado, 15th Kansas, &c., under Colonel Ford, soon put Thornton's force to flight, and once in possession of the town, a sad scene of destruction and pillage commenced, such as we hope never again to witness Houses were burnt and pillaged, and the heavens for miles around were lighted with flames. The fine residence of Dr. Thomas, living at the edge of the town, was a smoldered heap of ashes as we passed in the morning, and it was reported that the Doctor had been taken out and shot. He was an old man, bore a good character, but it was reported that he had visited a sick guerilla; and hence his fate.”
This was seen by a recently interested reader of the Doctor's writings, who, only knowing the Doctor as “of the United States,” without knowing his precise locality, supposed it must relate to the author of Elpis Israel . He circulated his impression, and in this way, the horrible rumor originated. It is now with feelings of grateful relief, and inexpressible satisfaction, which we doubt not our readers will fully share, that we make known its unfoundedness.- Editor . 1864 Christadelphian
Dr. Thomas' response to the scare:
Brother Thomas, upon seeing the printed announcement of his death, wrote Brother Robert Roberts, and suggested: “…In the future, it would be well not to herald my death until hearing from me direct. Not mixing myself up with politicians, I am not likely to die by their hand. Some pious Methodist or Presbyterian would be more likely to put me out of the way…” My Days & My Ways pg. 117
There is love and laughter and joy and hope and music
where there are grimy hands and small houses.
They are things of the human heart,
and do not depend upon picturesque surroundings and external culture.
Who is John Smith?
Socialism is the multitude at work in the endeavour to make the world what it ought to be,
but the multitude does not know what the world ought to be, and in the clash of discordant wills,
it has not the power to bring it to what it ought to be even if it knew.-John Smith
“Rights and No Rights”
"Just forty years ago Robert Blatchford, then a man of about 42 years of age, wrote his very attractive, very popular, and very fallacious book, Merrie England , which attained a circulation of something like a million or more copies; and the fruits of which are with us to-day in the shape of socialist and anti-socialist agitations, strikes, etc.
Robert Blatchford propounded an extraordinary doctrine of “Rights,” which Brother Robert Roberts (under the nom de plume of “John Smith” of Oldham-who was Mr. Blatchford's own creation) controverted from the points of view of the Bible and of common sense, in a book called England's Ruin .
Mr. Blatchford laid it down that the manual workers were “slaves”; that no rich man had a “right” to his wealth; that the true principle (which he expected Smith “as a sensible and honest man to admit,” was this: namely, “That a man has a `right' to that which he has produced by the unaided exercise of his own faculties; but that he has not a `right' to that which is not produced by his own unaided faculties.” The land, he said, had been “plundered from the Church,” and in this connection he gave some very unpleasant pedigrees of some of “our noble families.” Even those who bought land had no “right” to it because they bought it “with money which they themselves had never earned.” In this connection he instructed poor “John Smith” as follows:- “Land, you will observe, is the gift of Nature. It is not made by man. Now if a man has a right to nothing but that which he has himself made, no man has a right to the land, for no man made it.” Yet on the very next page (p. 61, edn. 1895: 3d) he is angry because, as he says:- “When we suggest that the land of England should be restored to the English people from whom it was stolen, these land robbers have the impudence to raise the cry of `plunder'.”
This was too much for “John Smith,” who in letter No. 7: “Rights and no Rights” ( England's Ruin took the form of a series of 27 “letters” from “John Smith” to Mr. Blatchford) in effect said, “Really, Robert, you ought not to talk nonsense. A `right' (of possession) is the recognised condition of the law of God and man. You did not, by `the unaided exercise of your own faculties,' `produce' your own life, and skill and strength. Therefore, on your own showing , you have no `right' to the products thereof.” “You rightly remind me that the land was `not made by man,' and that `no man has a right to the land.' And yet in the same place you talk about its being `plundered from the Church,' and `suggest that the land of England should be restored to the English people from whom it was stolen.'” “When I read my Bible I find it written, `The land shall not be sold for ever, FOR THE LAND IS MINE' ( Lev. 25:23 ). Mr. Blatchford, I can understand that; but your language `sounds very much like what is called clap-trap'.” And thus and so spake “sensible and honest” “John Smith.” “Yet no man remembered that same poor man” ( Ecc. 9:13-18 ). - The Christadelphian 1935
"This question was suddenly asked me, in a most unexpected place:-viz., miles away, in the heart of the Queensland bush, far from open country, seated at dinner with six or eight others round a table in a shanty, in the midst of surrounding wood. The question was asked with all eyes fixed on me. I replied “What John Smith?”-to which the response was, a shout of laughter, followed by a statement that the company in that thinly-settled neighbourhood had received from England the first number of an anonymous work, entitled, “ England's Ruin ; or John Smith's answer to Mr. Blatchford's plea for Socialism, as contained in the widely circulated work, Merry England ,” and that the said first number was accompanied by the expression of the opinion that the author was the editor of the Christadelphian . They had read the pamphlet, and they were sure the opinion was correct.
This was a severe ordeal for a man with a secret, especially a man who could not claim to fall back upon Sir Walter Scott's technical right, under similar circumstances, to a plea of “Not guilty.” I could not lie, and therefore I was in a hapless corner. My very attempt to appear ignorant was evidence of guilt: I said if they would keep the matter to themselves, I would tell them. There was an object in secrecy, which I would explain.
Some 12 months ago, there appeared an impassioned plea on behalf of the wrongs of working men. It was entitled Merry England . It was in the form of a series of letters to an imaginary John Smith as representing the working classes, in the same way that John Bull represents England. The book sold in thousands upon thousands, and created a great impression. It was sent to me to read. I read it. It struck me as affording a great opportunity of showing not only the hopeless nature of Socialism as a scheme of human government, but the complete adaptation of the gospel of the kingdom to all the woes of man. It was while I was beginning to get better of my recent illness that I set myself to the writing of it, which helped to divert my mind from the sorrows of the hour. I wrote an answer, letter by letter, as from the said John Smith (being in truth an ingredient of the great impersonal individual addressed by Mr. Blatchford).
But I thought it would have little chance of a public circulation if its authorship were known, and therefore I approached a London publisher through a third party, and the publication took place in penny numbers. Many thousands have been sold, but on nothing of the scale of Mr. Blatchford's book. The Bible flavour has been unfavourable to popularity. The sale has now practically stopped, except in Australia.
There is a portrait on the cover. This was the printer's agent's idea. He thought it would take away the nakedness of a penny pamphlet. But whose portrait? I suggested Mr. Blatchford's portrait, but that gentleman did not consent. So the printer's agent pressed for mine. But as this would have been inconsistent with anonymity, and as I could not be the party to a fiction, it was finally agreed that the picture should be a genuine picture, disguised by having sister Roberts' face photographed on to mine. Thus “the twain” are one, recognisable as neither.
The publication has been no profit to me, but the reverse. The financial advantage has been all absorbed, and more, by the printer. But I have a stock of the pamphlets, the disposal of which would at least make good some of my loss. There are six of them, and each a penny. The whole set will be sent to any one for eightpence, post free, or the separate Nos. may be had separately. They are on supply at the office."
Brother Robert Roberts
The Christadelphian 1896
A Heartwarming Story of Faith
Brother Joe Banta of Austin, Texas has roots in Christadelphia from the pioneer days. Brother John Oatman of Illinois was taught by Dr. Thomas, and then traveled to Texas. Once in Texas, he could not sit still until as many in Texas heard the Truth as possible. By horseback, he taught many all over Texas - accounts found in Dr. Thomas' Herald, show his wide and well worn trail. One who became enlightened was a John Banta. Today, Joe Banta, his great grandson, still loves the truth passed to him by his father. His father, brother Oscar Banta died when brother Joe was only 9, and his sister, Jaxene (now sister Jaxene Burkett) only 6. Young Joe was in the audience during a debate between his father and a Mr. O'Dowd in Houston, Texas, when Brother Oscar suffered a heart attack. The following letter was found in his coat pocket a week later by his bereaved, and then at once, comforted sister wife Billie....
Meet me, Beloved
DO NOT OPEN TILL I AM "GONE."
In other words, don't open as long as I live.
Beloved: I believe I will go before you into the "land of forgetfulness", therefore I wish to speak "though absent."
Make your "calling and election sure" and meet me in the "Kingdom of God and of Christ" (if so be I attain to such). Lay aside "every weight that besets, and run with patience the race" without grieving for me.
Beloved, you must read more. Read the writings of Dr. Thomas, and Brother Robert Roberts daily along with the Holy Oracles. Be patient in all things and give yourself wholly to the TRUTH.
Remember one thing too, "pray without ceasing." Never let a day pass without making your troubles and wishes known to God several times; for He careth for you.
Let the world speak foolish things, but you, "guard your tongue" speaking only after you have weighed your words to see how they are going to sound. "Be slow to speak, instant in prayer." Take all your troubles to Him in prayer, and not to the arm of flesh.
Be patient in tribulation, knowing that it is sent for your good later. When trouble comes bear it alone. Cease from WRATH. "The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God."
Remain pure in doctrine, reading after the writers mentioned above. Be sure to pour over Elpis Israel - Ways of Providence - Visible Hand of God - Seasons of Comfort, etc.
Engage in no silly talks, and above all, refrain from speaking evil of any who bear the name of Christ no matter how they behave. Speak to them alone, and give them good things to read. BE KIND. PRAY FOR HELP.
Before making any decisions on matters of Spirit, or temporal matters, pray fervently for guidance. Follow the Scriptures. Let no human ties influence you, no matter how much you suffer for it.
Instill "fear" into your children, and all children you speak to, for "The fear of the Lord is the BEGINNING of wisdom." Do not think you are being cruel for "in all things consider the end thereof."
Read the writings of Paul, Peter, James and the Acts over and over all your remaining time. Pray for purity, and when you have asked, seek in the Bible. You will obtain help if you help yourself.
Troubles and calamities will increase more and more as the end nears. Brethren will become weaker and cooler. This is foretold, but Beloved examine yourself and live for Him who died for you. Pray Always.
"Sow in Tears" for you will, after many days, "Reap in Joy" and will obtain joy and gladness "for sorrow and sighing shall flee away" when we are reunited in one family, through God's mercy, in the Kingdom.
REMEMBER THE BIG FOUR: READ, PRAY, MEDITATE, PATIENCE.
MEET ME BELOVED,
The Houston Chronicle
RELIGIOUS DEBATER DIES AS HE WISHED--
J. O. Banta, 34-year-old stillman at an oil refinery, died Thursday night as he wanted to die -
while defending the doctrines of the Christadelphian Ecclesia, of which there are only 24 members in Houston.
During a debate with Evangelist John O'Dowd at the Oddfellows Hall, 420 Drennan, Banta fell dead while O'Dowd was speaking.
O'Dowd accompanied him in an ambulance to St. Joseph's Infirmary, but the man had died instantly.
Justice Tom Maes returned an inquest verdict of death from a heart attack.
Banta's death ended a friendly argument of long standing between the two churchmen.
In fact, they had debated once before on another question.
Banta, who is an arranging brother for the Christadelphian Ecclesia, was taking notes when stricken.
The last legible thing he wrote was "Divine Creed - creed - I believe."
His wife and son, Joe, 9, were in the audience when Banta died.
Mr. Banta lived at 7138 Avenue E and is survived by his wife, a son and daughter,
Joe and Jaxene, 6, and his sister, Mrs. H. R. Johnson. He worked at the Shell Refinery.
The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Boulevard Funeral Home, with burial in Forest Park Cemetery.
The Houston Chronicle, April 1937
Death of Dr. Thomas
It was a sad day for me when Dr. Thomas ceased from the land of the living.
I felt as the sun had been blotted out from the sky...(Letters to the Elect)
...After lunch, we (brother Roberts and brother Bosher) retired to our state room and broke bread together.
Our communion was real and refreshing.
Praying and reading together on the tossing billows,
we felt at one with the great purpose of God,
and drank deeply from the cup of edification.
Yet, anon, the cup of sorrow came to our lips.
Alone amongst many hundreds in the ship who knew not God and
cared for none of His ways :
but on the trackless ocean in the midst of the storm, with but a step between us and death;
Christ not revealed; Dr. Thomas dead,
the burden of the truth resting in some measure on our shoulders,
who had heard no voice and received no vision,
we felt for a moment overwhelmed, yet, seeking our comforts,
we found them near and strong.
"Weeping endureth for a night, but joy cometh in the morning"....
while traveling to America to bury Dr. Thomas
Little did we imagine when we said
to the Doctor eleven months ago,
that it was to be the last time, and that we were so soon to be called
to exercise the high trust he had contingently reposed to us.
Now it was come, we could see the greatness of the Providence
that had thrown us so close to so great a man-
great- not so much for what he was in himself,
(but) as for the work he had been the instrument of
reviving on the earth at this most interesting time.
He had recovered the truth of God from the rubbish of the ages.
Brother Robert Roberts
ALEXANDER G. BELL'S BRUSH WITH THE TRUTH
Below is an interesting account of the early history of the Truth in
Britain, pieced together from Dr. Thomas' 1852-53 Herald. The account
concerns his first few visits to Edinburgh, Scotland, and the response he
gained from the listeners. Through these early visits, assistance came
in producing the first printing of Elpis Israel.
Brother Thomas tells us of his arrival in Edinburgh, Scotland:
“On the evening of our arrival in the city, we attended, by invitation,
a soiree given by the friends at South Bridge Hall. We found a very
respectable company assembled to partake of the good things provided for
the inner and outer man. It was here we became acquainted with some whom
we hope to call our friends "till the Lord comes ;" when, we trust, as
the result of their obedience to the faith originally delivered to the
saints by the Spirit of God, and of a patient continuance in well-doing,
we shall rejoice together in his presence. The evening, or soiree, was
harmonious and interesting. Pieces, called “sacred,”
were well sung ; and speeches, humorous and instructive, delivered with agreeable effect upon the hearers.
Mr. Alexander Melville Bell, Professor of Elocution, and a
very successful practitioner in the art of teaching the tongue of the
stammerer to speak with ease, convulsed us all with mirth, by his
imitative illustration of the pseudo-sublime and real-ridiculous
exhibited by speakers, who, fuller of them-selves than their subject,
repeat the speeches they have conned by rote. From this, it will be seen,
that the evening was not devoted to the subject of religion exclusively.
The topics were various, and the company, likewise, persons of other
sects, and of no sect partaking in the proceedings as well as those of
the South Bridge congregation, who got up the meeting. Mr. Bell, whom we
have the pleasure of calling our friend, (for he proved himself such both
in word and deed,) belongs to the Baptist church in Edinburgh, presided
over by the Rev. Mr. Watson ; and our humble self, to no human
ecclesiastical organization whatever. We were unexpectedly invited to
address the audience, which we could not very well avoid to do. What we
said, or what was our text even, we do not now remember. Suffice it to
say, it was our opening speech in Edinburgh and advanced us a "wee bit"
in the good graces of them that heard us. The Lord's day following was
( `52 Herald pg. 108)
Alexander M. Bell was a professor at the Edinburgh from 1843-65, and
engaged in the education of deaf-mutes in Washington, D.C. The University
of Edinburgh had it's entrance directly across from the South Bridge
hall, and could possibly have been how he had learned of the lectures.
He and his wife were apparently very interested in the truth, and helped
in the efforts of Dr. Thomas' lectures.
“Come," said one, "and take a quiet cup of tea with us on Saturday
evening." We hesitated, being desirous to have the last night [ of his
first visit] in the week to ourselves, at least. "There'll only be two or
three whom you have met before. You can just take it as easy as you
please--talk or not, as it suits yourself." This seemed very fair, so we
agreed to go.”
1852 Herald pg. 110
The invitation was from A.M. Bell. He and his wife appear very
captivated by Dr. Thomas and his teachings, that they organized several
classes. During one, Mr. Bell introduced Dr. Thomas to his pastor, Mr.
Watson, and the doctrines of the truth were laid before him to consider.
Mr. & Mrs. Bell were so very impressed with the Doctors work in the
Truth, that they were on the committee to help get the first Edition of
Elpis Israel published:
“..A very considerable and respectable company of the odds and ends of
Edinburgh society assembled on the occasion to express their gratitude
and good will towards us for our work of faith and labor of love in their
behalf; and to bid us "God speed" in our future enterprises connected
with the interpretation and defense of " the Testimony of God." The
business of the evening was very well and orderly conducted under the
auspices of Alexander Melville Bell, Esq., who presided as chairman of
the soiree. Speeches were made appropriate to the occasion, and in the
intervals the audience was charmed into the blandest disposition by the
sweet strains of instrumental and vocal music furnished con amore for the
evening. It was "a quiet tea party" on a large scale, at which music,
refreshments, speeches, and the questioning of our humble self for the
resolution of doubts and difficulties, were the entertainment of the
friends. There was a little bit of display, however, which as far as my
feelings were concerned, would have been more satisfactory in the breach
than the observance. It was the unexpected presentation to me of an purse
of six sovereigns, with a complimentary speech by the chairman. A man
cannot travel in Britain without money, and as I was " running to and
fro" for the benefit of the public, and not of myself, l had no
hesitation in accepting it; but then, I had rather it had been given in a
more private and business-like way. All who are acquainted with me know
that I do not labor for gold and silver, or present reward. I can neither
live nor get along without it any mole than other people; not having
discovered the art of paying printers, steam companies, and domestic
necessities with air and ether, however pure and abundant the supply.
But, though it is indispensable as a means of operating, a public
presentation of gold to a laborer in the gospel has an unseemly
appearance. It leeks as though he had been laboring for that as his
reward; a semblance, which, although it might not be observed by others, the
practice being familiar, was perceived by myself, and made the acceptance
of it, under the circumstances, more painful than agreeable”.. About
11 P. M. the soiree was brought to a close by the chairman proposing a
vote of thanks to me, for the instruction and edification they had
received in the interesting lectures they had heard ; and at the same
time suggesting that a committee of gentlemen be formed, whose business
it should be to get subscribers for the publication of the book [Elpis
Israel] I had promised to write at the request of many of the citizens of
Glasgow, setting forth the great and important truths they had listened
to with so much delight. The proposal for a committee was adopted, and
fourteen of the audience were named, who agreed to serve” (The Herald
1852, pg. 164)
The Chairman suggesting that a committee of gentlemen should be formed
was Alexander Melville Bell.
By the Doctor's second visit, the committee formed from his previous
visit had succeeded in increasing the subscription for Elpis Israel from
a dozen to one hundred and fifty. On his return third visit to Edinburgh,
the Doctor says:
“After the publication of Elpis Israel I made a third visit to Edinburgh,
accompanied by my daughter. We were very kindly received and hospitably
entertained by Mr. A.M. Bell, of Charlotte Square, Mr. Symonds, and
others. This time I addressed the public in the School of Arts Lecture
Room, on the things of the kingdom and name of Jesus Christ. Among the
audience was a Baptist preacher who had diligently attended all my
lectures, and had also read Elpis Israel. After he had heard me through,
he called to see me at Mr. Bell's. I listened patiently to his story for
about two hours. His parents were Episcopalians, and his bias
consequently, when young, was in favor of that sect.”
(The Herald 1853 page 81)
Mr. & Mrs. Bell did not part with their own Baptist religion, though
brother Thomas and his writings must have found a place of respect in the
Bell home, because though their son, Alexander Graham Bell was only one
at the time of this meeting in 1848, twenty three years later, Eliza
Bell wrote her son Alexander upon hearing of the death Dr. Thomas in
1871, and at the close of her letter she says: “… A letter also from
Grandma. All well so far as we could make out the writing. Dr. Thomas,
the author of Elpis Israel is dead. Mr. Foster proposes to get up
another reading in Brantford for Papa…”
(Taken from a Brantford Newspaper)
From this it appears that Alexander Graham Bell knew of Dr. Thomas and his work,
though only a baby when he was in his company. Unlike his parents, Alexander G. Bell
grew to be an agnostic. Alexander M. Bell and his family continued to live in Edinburgh,
Scotland, raising their three sons, until 1871, when they lost two them TB. Taking
his surviving son and wife, Dr. Bell moved his wife and son, Alexander Graham Bell,
Alexander G. Bell's Brush with Truth: Conclusion.
"Catch the fire!"
Better far, to break granite on the roadside for a crust of bread,
than garble God's Truth to please one's friends... -Brother John Thomas
Brethren, Last week we had the pleasure of witnessing the father (and mother) of Alexander G. Bell as they riveted their attention on Dr. Thomas as he skillfully presented the truth leaving them somewhat spellbound. Never before had this family (as well as many others) seen the Scriptures laid out so logically and thoroughly. We focused on A. M. Bell's response to the truth last week, and now, lets see how captain James W. Symonds, and Mary, the parents of Eliza Bell, was even more receptive than her husband, A. M. Bell. Captain Symonds, apparently studied the Truth for five years, corresponding frequently with Dr. Thomas, before abandoning it to return to the traditions of the church. Captain Symonds was one whom Doctor Thomas was particularly close to, and considered him a personal friend, and therefore very hopeful that he would learn the Truth in it's entirety. Sadly, it was not to be.
To understand the problem Captain Symonds had with the Truth, we must first realize the situation during this stage of the Truth's development; in many places, the truth was only accepted partially. Therefore, when Elpis Israel came out, many were disappointed to find there was still more of their old beliefs that they had to part with than what they thought, (i.e. non - immortality of the soul, etc.) This created three classes of hearers:
1.Those that turned back to the comfortable traditions of the churches
2.Those that attempted to fuse the teachings together, customizing religion to their personal wants
3.Those who wanted to know the Truth no matter where the Scriptural evidence led them, and no matter what personal loss might be suffered.
May we always be in this class!!
Attached is the correspondence between Dr. Thomas and Captain Symonds, arranged so that questions and answers alternate. (Let us know if you would like these in the original format). Though these letters are lengthy, we guarantee, equal and exceeding their length will be your excitement when you see how valiantly the Truth is contended for. Brethren, let us all catch this fire - rekindle our first love - for the things so precious before us! - B&K
The evidence of the fire and zeal Dr. Thomas' letter stirred up in brethren, who cheered as they witnessed the truth so valiantly contended for:
The Cheers heard from an infant ecclesia:
"...it is refreshing, at this distance of time, to call to mind the pleasurable thrill of excitement which their (the two letters) appearance caused in the little community so recently banded together...O how their hearts burned within them as they perused this able defense of the position they had just assumed! If any lingering doubt had remained in any mind as to the perfect propriety of the solemn step which had been taken, it was thoroughly dispelled by the Doctor's trenchant vindication...The remarkable article was read and reread, intensely appreciated, and approvingly commented upon at numerous deeply interested fire side gatherings...confirming the faith of all, and stimulating everyone to 'hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end..."
"There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from
The writer of this letter in BLACK) was J.W. Symonds, father of Eliza Bell
( Eliza Bell is mother of Alexander G. Bell.)
Brother Thomas's response is in BLUE
DEAR BROTHER THOMAS,-What has tended greatly to deaden the interest felt in the Herald's exposition of the kingdom and age to come in Edinburgh, is, in my opinion, the position you have taken up in the aspect to the ground of a sinner's justification; the faith by which a sinner may be justified, etc. After much examination and mature reflection, I find myself unable to coincide with those views of the matter which you have expressed in the earlier sections of part second of Elpis Israel. Not being able to discuss this matter, I will content myself with noting down such brief reasons as occur to me at the present moment, for not adopting your views.
The Things of the Kingdom.
The Lord Jesus, in his preaching's, commonly, if not constantly, proposed himself-the man, the individual-as a guide, a protector, a leader, and a Saviour. In short, and irrespective of what he would do in future-as the object of faith. ' Come unto me all ye who are weary.' ' Ye will not come unto me.' ' I will draw all men unto me.' 'Believe in me.' Thus he showed that faith was a personal thing. In order to elicit this faith, it was necessary for sinners to know who Jesus was, and what was his character, his authority, and power. Now, this was what the apostles did. ' What we have seen, heard, and handled, we declare unto you, that you may have fellowship with us.' Philip truly practiced the things concerning the ' Kingdom of God ;' but did he preach ALL the things'? The answer must be, No. For primitive Christians of some years' standing had something to learn : (so Paul tells the Ephesians, Corinthians, Hebrews, Galatians, etc,) To my apprehension, the things which concern and regulate the conduct of men and women who have been called out of darkness into God's marvelous light-during their probation, etc.-are as much a part of the things of the kingdom,' as those winch concern the future destiny of Israel, of Christ, or his saints, or of the political and dominant aspect of that kingdom.
Sin and its Consequences.
That men are sinners, by nature and practice, is pretty generally admitted as an article of faith by all the sects of anti-Christendom. This admission brings the conclusion that they are therefore all under sentence of death; for ' the wages of sin is death.' Sin reigning in them, they are the slaves of sin, because they obey him. This obedience to sin is in
consequence of the strong impulses of the flesh, unsubdued and unrestrained by the truth, understood and assuredly believed. Thus the understanding of sinners is darkened, and blindness pervades their hearts; and the consequence is that they are alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them. ' Sinner,' then, is a term indicative of one who is a transgressor of the law of God ; who refuses to submit to His commands, is ignorant of His truth, alienated from His life, and therefore under condemnation of death.
The Necessity for Faith
But one may be an enlightened sinner. Such a person is one who knows what is right, and still the wrong pursues. He acknowledges that thus and so is the truth., which enjoins such and such obedience ; but he abstains from becoming the subject of it. He invents a refuge in which to hide himself from a literal conformity to the Word, vainly flattering
his conscience, that if he abstain from immorality, profess friendship to God and His people, assent to a theory of truth in sincerity of mind, God will not be over-particular in the literal construction of His Word. Such a one forgets-if, indeed, he ever knew it-that ' God has magnified His Word above all His name.' He will therefore more readily pardon any offence than a slight upon, or want of conformity to, His Word. Men think God is such a one as themselves-that He thinks as little of His Word as they do of theirs. But no mistake is more fatal than this; for ` without faith it is impossible to please God'; and 'without holiness no man shall see the Lord'; and there is no holiness attainable except by faith, and through the faith in the obedience which it requires.
The Ground of a 'Sinner's Justification.
But God and men are at variance on that point. Practically, these creatures of His power think He ought to account them holy upon principles approbated by the thinking of the flesh. Philoprogenitiveness [ love of offspring] attaches them to their offspring, as it does all other animals to theirs. Hence they will believe in no heavenly state hereafter which makes no provision for them. They think sincerity of mind in the belief of error ought to be accepted as an equivalent for the belief of the truth; judging thus because their feelings are so shocked at the idea of the few that will be saved by the obedience of faith. In all generations have God and His creatures been at issue on this point. He says, ' Believe and do the truth ;' they say, ' Sincerely believe, and do what you think is true; and though it may not really be so, you shall be saved.' Thus, God predicates salvation,
justification, holiness, etc., on 'the obedience of faith:' while men inculcate sincerity of opinion- as the panacea of their souls.
Saint and Sinner
This diversity between God and man is the source of that distinction that obtains in the world between true religion and superstition - saint and sinner. A saint is one who believes and does the truth -with the docility and readiness of an obedient child. He is therefore styled a saint; that is, a separated or holy person. He is separated from sinners
in the obedience of the truth, which unites him to. the name of the Holy, through which he is sanctified. The saints are God's representatives in this evil world, who, having acknowledged God - or rather, being acknowledged by Him - arc the pillar and support of His truth in His controversy with sinners. God has given them the Scriptures to wield in combat as the two-edged sword of their present warfare against ' reasonings
and every high thing that exalts. itself against the knowledge of God' therein revealed.
The Mission of the Saints.
The odds is, therefore, the saints against all the world, which they overcome by their faith, preparatory to its subjection by the sword of judgment, which they lay hold of as a substitute for the Spirit's sword, when the time comes for them to possess the kingdom under the whole heaven for evermore. Into their hands God has committed His Word, in the absence of His Son, commanding that they ''contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.' They are to be lovingly intolerant of all principles nullifying the faith ; for this faith is for the justification of sinners ; and if they be unfaithful to their trust, how shall men attain to the life of God ? If, the saints make void the Word of God by tradition, what scope is there for the transition of sinners from death to life ? Can the blind lead the blind and escape the ditch ? When sinners undertake to teach sinners the way of salvation, we arc reminded of one with a beam in his eye fumbling over his brother's to remove a mote.
Antipathy to the Divine Order.
But confessedly ignorant though they be of Moses and the prophets, sinners generally are vastly wise in their own conceit. Though knowing little, or perhaps nothing, of the scriptures, which can alone make wise unto salvation, they turn with contempt from everything incongruous to the thinking of sinful flesh. Sophistry is the '"logic ' of the carnal mind; which is always ready with an apology for coming short of the divine law.
It is willing to impose upon itself a burdensome ritual, and the necessity of doing some great thing, to recommend itself to the favour of the Most High - it will even be immersed and believe the gospel; but no, it will run the risk of eternal reprobation before it will adopt the divine order exhibited in the wholesome words of the Lord Jesus - believe the gospel and be baptized.
Romanism and Protestantism alike Opposed to the true Faith.
Romanism is the mystery of iniquity - the .sophistry of sin; and Protestantism in all its forms is that same, sophistry attenuated to the rarest subtleties. Though antagonistic systems, yet are they essentially one and the indivisible in antagonism to the principles of the oracles of God. They are opposed to each other on 'the ground of a sinner's justification;' but they agree against God in repudiating ' the faith by which the sinner may be justified.' When Luther appeared, ' the ground of a sinner's justification' was the great question of debate between him and his brother Catholics. These contended for justification by works-such works as papists approve; while he advocated justification by faith without works. Paul taught justification by faith, so that there seemed to be an
agreement between him and Luther. The agreement, however, was only in appearance, for the subject matter of justifying faith was known only to Paul. Luther was as ignorant of it as the papists, and they who glory in his leadership and name. He was neither a believer in the Gospel of the Kingdom, nor had he ever been baptized; his idea of justification was therefore restricted to faith in what our sky-kingdom friend at Bethany styles ' Sacred History'-the history of ' the man, Jesus, the individual, as a guide, a protector, a leader, and a Saviour.' He took no account of his message. Like modern Protestants, he would probably have rejected this, while professing faith in the messenger not knowing that justification from all past sins is predicated on a love-working faith in both.
What is meant by Faith in Jesus Christ ?
My idea of ' faith' in Jesus Christ is, then, such, that my faith cannot be altered in character by any increase in my knowledge of what Jesus will hereafter do. Having chosen him for my ' portion for ever,' my choice remains unaltered, although his riches were proved to be even greater than they are. The knowledge of his future glory on earth certainly gives me additional motives for faithfulness. The language of faith is after
this manner : ' Though the fields shall yield no meat, and the flock be cut off from the fold, yet will I rejoice in God.' ' Though all men forsake me, though death stare me in the face-yea, though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.'
Yes, as our correspondent says, `faith is a personal thing;' but he errs in avowing only a part of the truth. Paul shows that it is something more. He says, `it is the substance [or full assurance] of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen;' and when we inquire what baptized Samaritans believed before their immersion, Luke replies, ' The
things of the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus the Christ.' Our correspondent says Philip did not preach all the things of the kingdom. What did he omit? Certainly nothing that made the doctrine of the kingdom good news or gospel. If he left out anything, he certainly did not omit the kingdom itself; for the gospel preached in Jesus' name was
the kingdom's gospel-omit the kingdom, and the gospel is no more.
Secessions from the Churches.
You will be aware, of course, that secessions have taken place from some of the churches, owing, I believe, to differences on this point, and in some cases, to the unwillingness of the church to hear the expositions of those who had received your views. I hope it may be to their advantage, but I fear not.
Edinburgh Five Years Ago (in 1848, his first visit)
When I went to Edinburgh, I found the city asleep, dreaming over justification by faith in sacred history ; and with all its wisdom, no further advanced in divine knowledge than when John Knox fulminated his anathemas against papistry from his domicile in the High Street. If there were any believed in the kingdom and throne of David restored, being the
Kingdom of God promised to Jesus and the saints, of which the gospel treats, I have yet to learn it. There were doubtless some who believed in the restoration of the Jews, the personal return of Jesus, a millennium, etc.; but no one regarded them as essential. They might be believed or not without periling a justification by faith ; for it was not perceived,
that to deny the restoration of the twelve tribes, or the personal return of Jesus in power and great glory, was to deny the Kingdom of God-it was not seen, that no restoration or return, there could be no kingdom.
The Faith that Justifies
It therefore startled many minds in their dream to show that the gospel was concerning this kingdom, and that justification was predicated on believing that gospel in the name of Jesus as its king. Several who heard me had been immersed in ignorance of the nature, place, attributes, and circumstances of that kingdom; and therefore had believed something also for gospel than the kingdom's gospel. This proved, and their supposed
justification was shown to be null and void: for being destitute of the `full assurance of things hoped for' their immersion was not obedience to the faith which Paul preached. 'Nevertheless, they seem zealous to establish their own righteousness. They argue that their faith is as good without the kingdom as with it. They 'knew what Jesus was, and what was his character, his authority, and power.' But the devils believed this, and trembled ; they were not therefore justified. . . .
The Israelitish. Hope
True, Jesus said, ' Come unto me;' ' Believe in me'; ` This is the work of God, that ye should believe on him whom He hath sent'; and so forth. But this was not spoken .to ignorant, misbelieving, or unbelieving gentiles. It was spoken to Israelites, in whose ears Moses and the prophets were read every Sabbath-day, and whose hope ' was the promise
made of God to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: to which hope their twelve tribes, constantly serving God day and night, hope to attain. This hope, was the nation's hope, and had been planted in the national mind incradicably by the sure word of the prophets-it was the hope of national felicity and glory under a son of David reigning for ever in Zion and Jerusalem. The hope, was the kingdom restored again to Israel, and
proclaimed by Jesus, the royal prophet to Israel, as approaching, when he. preached ' the gospel of the Kingdom of God.' In announcing this, however, he also .advanced his own personal claims to the throne of that kingdom as that Son of David who was to reign over the house of Jacob for ever. Thousands of Israel who believed the gospel of the kingdom, did not believe that its majesty was nigh, nor that Jesus was the king who was to bear it; therefore, said he, ' Ye will not come unto me that ye may have life.'
The Gospel Preached to Gentiles
But the Gentiles wore indifferent case. Paul says that they had 'NO HOPE' and were 'atheists'-alhcoi-'in the world.' They had no interest or desire for God's Israelish kingdom, and knew nothing about the `glory, honour, and immortality ' to be obtained in obtaining it. Jesus never preached to them at all; nor did the apostle ever address them as
he did the Jews, who had hope towards God. The ' work of God' for Gentiles is that they believe the gospel of the kingdom, and on him whom He hath sent, and will send to sit on its throne to reign over all nations with a rod of iron, in power and great glory. Israelites, uncontaminated by Gentilism, in ancient and modern times, believe in the kingdom, but
deny that Jesus is its Lord and Christ; while the most pious of orthodox Gentiles 'evangelicals,' as they style themselves-confess with their mouth that Jesus Christ is Son of God, but at the same time hold in pious contempt 'THE THINGS OF THE KINGDOM' we have expressed. And this is not all. They are not only infidels in regard to the Kingdom of God, as set forth in the Scriptures of His prophets, but they despise, reject, and ridicule things concerning his name. Jesus offers BELEIVERS IN THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM `repentance, remission of sins, and eternal life' in his
name; and commands them to be baptized into the name of the Holy, that by baptismal union to that name, they may receive those necessary prerequisites to possession of the kingdom…
There were immersed people in Edinburgh, unacquainted with ' THE HOPE OF ISRAEL' before I called attention to it. They were pious, their faith simply historical, which the Bethanian [Campbellite] philosophy teaches is the best kind of faith! They differed from him, however, in this, that when they heard and read, they examined in a Berean. spirit, and acknowledged that the things presented were the truth. But even these were not all
agreed. Some admitted that the kingdom we set forth, with its attributes, or things hereunto belonging, were the gospel hope-the one hope of the calling; others, that the things were true, but, no part of the gospel, which they regarded as the death, burial, and resurrection, of Jesus for remission of sins to those who believed this. Practically, however, both classes agree that they both assume that they were justified by faith before
or in their immersion-(they are not agreed in the prepositions)-although that faith did not embrace ' the hypo&tasis [or full assurance] of things hoped for.' I say they assume their justification-inferring, as I do, that being honest men, they would not put off re immersion, if they did not think they were justified by their lame faith about the time they were immersed. Those who admit, that ' the things of the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus the Christ' are the subject-matter of the gospel; and that when they were immersed they know not the kingdom, and but little of the name as they ought; and believing that it is a love-working faith in the gospel that justifies the sinner-they are certainly at fault, and very inconsistent, in delaying their union to the name of the Holy Ones by a second immersion. It is the kind of faith a man has that characterizes his immersion. If he have such a faith as Paul defines, then one immersion is enough, and ought never to be repeated on any pretence; but if he have a lame faith - or a `vain faith' rather - an immersion, no matter how oft it is repeated, is not `the obedience of faith,' as preached and ministered by Paul. `According to your faith be it unto you.' This is a rule given by Jesus. If, therefore, our faith be a belief of truth made void by human tradition, it is vain, and we get no good thing as the result. If we believe what is not promised, and cannot, will not exist, we shall get nothing, no matter how pious we may feel, or on what good terms we may be with our own selves ; but if our faith embrace the unadulterated truth-'the things hoped for and unseen '-which God hath promised; justification unto life will then ` be unto' the immersed who have been subjected to an acquisition of
such a faith.
Faith and Knowledge
They are, indeed, consistent in rejecting re-immersion who, admitting the truth of ' the things,' yet say, it is of no consequence whether you believe them or not. They have compressed their faith into a nutshell, although in the Scriptures the truth is found pervading the whole Bible. With them this has no significance; for being minute philosophers, their anxiety is to discover how little knowledge is absolutely necessary for
getting into heaven with the skin of their teeth! But in this they are not wise. The character of a man's faith is altered by the quantity and quality of his knowledge. If a man be acquainted only with what is past, his knowledge is small in quantity and not of the right quality for justification by faith. His faith is a historical character - mere sacred history-and devoid of doctrine. Such a faith is not justifying. If another be acquainted with the past, understand the mystery or doctrine of its incidents and be familiar with what God has promised concerning His kingdom and the age to come, the quantity and quality of his knowledge is altered, and the character of his faith is relatively changed. It
is justifying, The eyes of his understanding are opened, and, like Abraham, he can see afar off. We may choose Christ, but he may not choose us. Our election turns not upon our choice, but upon his. He chooses us through a belief of the truth, the unadulterated truth; men choose him by believing what suits them, and rejecting the rest. Such may choose Jesus as their ' portion for ever' but they will assuredly have no portion in his joy.
Head versus Heart
All who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity, ought to keep together, and bear with each other's inequalities of intellectual power. Christianity is an affair more of the heart than the head. It seeks to engage 'the affections, and so win souls to Christ. ' This is the 'condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.' 'Ye will not come to me.' Paul says: They who had been aliens to God, hating Him, were reconciled by the death of Christ. God seeks men's affections-men who will 'worship him in spirit and in truth.' 'We love Him, because He first loved us.'
Heart versus Head
It is a mistake to say that ' Christianity Is an affair more, of the heart, than of the head.' Paul was sent to the Gentiles ' to open their blind eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God.' This was an affair of the head, without which the heart could not be touched. God has ordered His servants to be sealed in the forehead, which is the seat of intellect. They who are not sealed there do not belong to Him. A pious heart, without due intelligence, is an unrenewed heart, and always ready to apologize for disobedience and ignorance, which, Paul says, ' alienates from the life of God.' The heart of ignorance, however pious in feeling, is never right with God; because
it is not ' turned from darkness to light,' and consequently not to Him in whom is no darkness at all. When the forehead is sealed, the heart responds, and the man's faith works by love to the fulfilling of the truth.
Promises versus Deeds
.How did God manifest this love? Was it by His promises ? Nay, but by His deeds. 'God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should "not perish, but have everlasting life.' 'He who hath the Son, hath this life.' Therefore, in what has been done, lies apparently the ' converting' power, and in what is to be done, the strengthening and sustaining power.
One King and One Kingdom.
Jesus, the Son of man,' a wanderer, with not. a place to lay his head; and Jesus, the Son of man, seated on the throne of his glory, with all nations gathered before him, are one and the same thing. Even so, to my apprehension, the Kingdom of God, in. its planting, in its forming, in its probation: and the Kingdom of God, when it is manifested in its political dominion and glory, are one and the same dominion. As the 'things' connected with Jesus in humiliation, differ from the things concerning him when on the throne of his glory, so do the things concerning the kingdom, in its separate aspects, differ. The 'stone' laid in Zion-the tried, sure foundation stone-and the same stone, when it has .become a great mountain and filled the whole earth, are one and the same ' kingdom.' It
seems to me only a question of development, like the grain of mustard seed compared to the future tree. The ' stone' is, and has been long in preparation.
The Divine Order
The order is-FIRST, understand the word of the kingdom and name; THEN, believe it; NEXT, obey it in baptism. "Who can improve this arrangement? Nay, who has any right to alter it? Or who but one whose heart it is not subdued by the truth, dare dispute against it? People of this class would have it thus: FIRST, believe on Jesus; NEXT, be immersed; AFTERWARDS, understand, perhaps, the Word of the kingdom. Seek, say they in effect, righteousness, or remission of sins, first: and then the Kingdom of God . But Jesus himself reverses this dictum, and exhorts us to ' SEEK FIRST the Kingdom of God ,' because no man can be the subject of ' His righteousness,' or justification, who has not found the kingdom: the righteousness being for those who believe what He has
promised concerning it. This is the Herald's ' defect'-the head and front of its offending. It is too adherent to the letter, and therefore spirit, of the Bible, to suit the vain philosophy of a skeptical and Laodicean generation. But this we consider as an excellency which will be duly appreciated by all who prefer honesty of purpose and the .simplicity of truth, to the double-minded latitudinarianism of the age. "We go for
out friends, but also for the truth before them all.”
Such are the ideas which I have obtained from the Scriptures, You will see, therefore, how it is that I am not a subscriber to the Herald . You will be aware of the cessation of the Gospel Banner. It lingered on some months after A. Campbell denounced it. This denunciation was its death blow. We are now (many of us) without a. periodical, as the
matter in Harbinger is not to the taste of all. . I would like a periodical that would take up a middle position between you and A. C. For both have excellencies, and , as I conceive, defects also.
The ' Herald' not Appreciated
From the foregoing letter of my highly esteemed friend, it appears, that if the Herald is to be popular in Edinburgh, it must assume more compromising ground in regard to a sinner's justification. Suppose it did, WOULD THAT ALTER THE FACT? If the Herald accommodated the truth to the taste of its editor's personal friends, WOULD THAT CONVERT THEIR BELIEF IN SACKED HISTORY INTO JUSTIFYING FAITH ?
It might make them more comfortable when they happened to read it; it would disturb
their consciences less; BUT IT WOULD NOT ALTER THE IMMUTABLE FIAT OF HEAVEN.
No ! when the Heralds subscription list is reduced to such a few that its existence can only be perpetuated by heralding forth a system in accordance with ' the thinking of the flesh,' its editor will lay down his pen, and write no more - Better far break granite on the roadside for a crust of bread; than to garble God's truth lo please one's friends, or to propitiate the foe. The Herald takes its stand on 'the wholesome words of The Lord Jesus;' in their letter, spirit, and order, that ` he who believes the Gospel and is baptized shall be saved; and, he that Believes NOT shall be condemned. Mark .xvi. 15, 16). When the Samaritans and others believed that gospel, Luke says `they believed the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ.' Believing these things, he adds, `they were baptized, both men and women.' Hence, the words of Jesus,
historically defined by Luke, read thus: ' He that believes the things of the Kingdom of God, and of my name as Jesus the Christ, and is baptized, SHALL BE SAVED ; and he that believes them not SHALL BE CONDEMNED.' This is my position - who is general enough to turn it?
Scotland, March 1853
The long lost poem - found
Brother and Sister Roberts got married in Edinburgh, Scotland on his 20th birthday; April 8, 1859.
He tells us in his autobiography of the curious poem that was read at the wedding...
“The marriage took place in Edinburgh, in the house of the bride's father (24, Brunswick Street), in the presence of a company of about twenty friends... He also read an original poem in the style of Sir Walter Scott, in which the parties to the marriage were made to figure somewhat heroically and prophetically. A verse or two inserted here might have been interesting, but they are not accessible. It is thirty-two years ago (1890). Time makes wonderful havoc of human things. Each new generation treasures its own toys and mementoes. Old Time looks on imperturbably with a smile of compassion. The mighty wheel goes round, and, alas! for the perishing things. The universal rot takes all at last. Some things cannot be taken. Happy those who have these in possession….”
- Brother Robert Roberts, My Days and My Ways pg. 46
Farewell to Jane
Our dearest Jane, ere thy farewell is spoken,
For other homes and other friends away,
Our hearts would speak one loving parting token
To thee today.
From all the happy years we've passed together,
No memories come of sorrow or regret
Which was not blessed to one or other-
No, never yet.
But pleasant hours, with smiles, and eyes love-lighted,
Day after day our souls grew closer twined,
Till now we are for evermore united
In heart and mind.
Thou hast the deepest love of all that love thee-
Their brightest hopes, their prayers, and joyous tears;
God's guardian angel shall keep watch above thee,
To bless thy years.
And as ye tell life's ever-changing story,
By noble deeds, by great thoughts, day by day,
Bright on thy brows a chaplet of His glory
Shall rest alway.
Though lie between us miles of field or foam,
We shall remember with fraternal pride
How thou didst leave us for thy southern home,
Our sister bride.
Soft summer woos thee yonder with her smile;
Obey the order of thy fate's control,
So flowers of bliss shall blossom out the while
Within thy soul.
That ye may dare whatever must be done,
Though hard the task, among the acts of life,
Remember this high honour thou hast won-
A Christian wife!
Thou shalt be armed against all coming ill,
Thou shalt be strong to do thy woman's part,
Because of that which evermore doth fill
Thy gentle heart.
Farewell! God gift thee with His richest dower;
His tender love light wheresoe'er you dwell;
This, dearest Jane, for thee we humbly crave-
A fellow-traveler said,
“Oh, if the English people could have one day of bright Australian sunshine,
I should be glad for them to know what it is I miss.”
"Ah, well, the sunshine is coming to all those who hold on their confidence to the end.
The brighter and the sweeter will the sunshine be
because of the fogs and mists which precede it,"
- replied brother Henry Sulley
Who Was Benjamin Wilson?
Writer of the Emphatic Diaglott - one of the founders of the Church of God of Abrahamic Faith
Benjamin Wilson was born in Halifax, England in 1817, leaving school at an early age to become a journalist and printer. His family were members of the Baptist church there, until the 1840's, when the family joined the Campbellites movement, forming a Campbellite Church in Halifax. In 1843, Benjamin Wilson began corresponding with Dr. Thomas in the Herald of the Future Age, and the two developed a strong relationship through the study of the Truth, indicated by the respect and admiration reflected in the correspondence between the two in the Herald. In 1844, at the age of 27, Benjamin and his brother John emigrated to Geneva, Illinois, establishing a Campbellite church there, but gradually left the teachings of Alexander Campbell, encouraged by the writings of Dr. Thomas. Wilson was baptized in 1851, five years before actually meeting Dr. Thomas face to face. It is currently believed he was baptized by the Doctor - this misconception comes from William Wilson (nephew), who mistakenly wrote in 1906, fifty years after the event: " If I mistake not, he (Dr. Thomas) baptized my father and Uncle Benjamin."
In less than three years after arriving in Geneva, Benjamin Wilson became the owner and publisher of a local newspaper, printed on a wooden press. In 1855, he began the publication of the Gospel Banner and Bible Advocate, a periodical which appeared monthly. Twenty years after Benjamin Wilson's arrival in Geneva, he published The Empathic Diaglott, which is considered a work of scholarship. Joseph Wilson, brother of Benjamin Wilson, apprenticed his son, William in the printing shop of Benjamin. William recalls years later: "I can now in my mind's eye see Uncle Benjamin sitting at his desk, making a literal word-for-word translation of the New Testament. I remember seeing the Greek type arrive from England. Many readers of the Diaglott may not be aware that my uncle not only translated the Diaglott, but took charge of the mechanical work as well. He electrotyped the entire book himself. He printed the first edition of the book from these plates on a hand press. I used to ink the plates by a soft roller while he worked the press..." About 1865, Benjamin Wilson gave over the printing and sale of the Diaglott to a New York publishing firm, S. R. Wells and Co. They printed from the original plates up until the 1890's. The copyright was sold to the Watch Tower Society (Jehovah Witnesses), supposedly by Benjamin Wilson's nephew, and was in their possession until recently, when it was purchased by The Church of God of Abrahamic Faith.
In 1868 Benjamin Wilson's 21 year old son died leaving him devastated. The last volume of The Banner came out the following year after 15 years of publication, when he sold the press to a nephew, Thomas Wilson, and went out of business. The Gospel Banner was merged by the nephew into the Herald of the Coming Kingdom and Bible Instructor, edited and published by Thomas Wilson, and was eventually renamed The Restitution in 1871.
Dr. Thomas and Benjamin Wilson parted ways in 1864 over the doctrine of Immortal Emergence, Wilson, siding with George Dowie against Dr. Thomas. After separating, Benjamin Wilson and Joseph Marsh founded the group now called The Church of God of Abrahamic Faith.
It appears the names Christadelphian and Church of God of Abrahamic Faith were chosen for each group about the same time.
COGAF is now divided into two groups. The smaller group is more conservative, in line with the original group,
differing mainly on Immortal Emergence and open fellowship.
This is the web site of the larger splinter group, more liberal, and more in line with the original teachings of the Dowieites.
William Norrie, the side kick of George Dowie, lamented in 1905 over the fate of the Dowieites, when he wrote:
"...The leavening process [from Edinburgh] went on for years, till ultimately the whole mass became so permeated, that, in 1894, it was agreed to receive persons whose pre-baptismal knowledge did not include the things of the kingdom and the name - only two persons dissenting, Eight years later, (with two dozen dissenters) the Gospel of the Kingdom was discarded as pre-baptismal faith, and the communion made free to all baptized persons holding the common faith of Christendom!' How the mighty are fallen!" William Norrie
The Faith and Strength of Sister Jane Roberts
When My Heart is Overwhelmed Lead Me to the Rock That is Higher Than I
The year 1864 proved to be a milestone for brother and sister Roberts -- as well as the brotherhood. Earlier that year the young family had moved to Birmingham, and the Ambassador began publishing in June of the same year. This also proved to be one of the most trying -- and consequently the most faith-building -- years for sister Roberts.
Sisters of all ages can be encouraged by her example of amazing strength and faith.
When brother and sister Roberts moved to Birmingham from Huddersfield, they arrived in the dead of winter with no income. Leaving most household possessions behind, they now had very few comforts of home. This would be especially distressing since they had a son (Edward) just under 1 year old. He was a very special baby, because he was the first of three children born to the Roberts family to survive this long. Keeping him healthy would be a very high priority to the young couple.
Sister Barbara Jardine, the older sister of brother Roberts, was separated from her husband and living with brother & sister Roberts. At this time, due to illness, she was an invalid with four young children -- the youngest being about the age of young Edward. She moved to Birmingham with them from Huddersfield wrapped and carried in blankets, in need of financial, spiritual and physical care. To add to the stress, brother Roberts and brother Thomas were estranged, (this estrangement lasted eleven months) with no apparent solution on the horizon. This was particularly hard on sister Roberts because it was due to their inability to see the need of separating from George Dowie, a longtime family friend to the Norrie family (sister Jane's family) who had performed the marriage of brother and sister Roberts only five years earlier.
George Dowie was teaching and allowing false doctrine in the brotherhood, but had not yet made it openly manifest. While brother Thomas knew it, brother Roberts was not yet conclusively convinced of it. Brother and sister Roberts loved both George Dowie and brother Thomas, and therefore felt caught in the middle.
Sister Roberts needed a break from the stress, so brother Roberts urged her (with baby Edward) to go visit her parents in Edinburgh for a few months, hoping in the meanwhile to find work.
While in Edinburgh, sister Jane discovered that there were two meetings there -- one which supported George Dowie, and one that did not. Her whole family had joined with George Dowie, with the exception of her mother. She soon learned the teachings of George Dowie were indeed off. She found herself going to meeting with her mother, as the rest of the family went to another meeting. But sister Roberts found comfort and encouragement in her mother's care, and no doubt her mother found the same in sister Jane. Sadly, shortly after her visit, sister Jane's mother became very ill, and died from a stomach tumor. Upon arriving home, her loving husband, having recovered financially, attempted to cheer his sad companion with a lovely new home in the middle of a beautiful field. The home was light and cheerful, and furnished with furniture... and lots of house guests. Brother Roberts' parents had moved in to join his sister and her children. It was after this stay that they both became obedient to the faith -- which tells us of the God manifestation found in this home -- even under stress.
In what appears to us to be an overwhelming situation, sister Roberts grew in faith and strength, exhibiting true God manifestation. Below is the advice for all daughters of Sarah from a true mother in Israel who rose to the needs of others, and put her needs aside, to the development of her faith and the molding of her character .
“To those who know by happy experience the blessedness of union and fellowship in the truth, nothing need be said. Their joint labors will show the sweet advantage of being of one accord, and of one mind: fellow helpers into the kingdom of God, and heirs together of the grace of life; growing up into Christ, who is the head-being rooted and grounded in the love of him. To such the truth is a never-failing source of interest…. She may also in many ways be called upon to forego much that she might legitimately claim as her right and privilege. Her husband's faithfulness to the truth, may decide him on courses that will deprive himself in many respects, and in this he expects, and is entitled to realize, that his wife as a daughter of the same Father will be able to join him. It will be well for her, and for her husband, if this is the case. She may bring deprivations and bitterness in some directions, but let her remember for whose sake she is called upon thus to suffer, not forgetting his promise and abundant reward in the future, if the cross is willingly borne now. Even if she thinks her husband extreme in his actions, and find sometimes that his readiness to serve, and liberality in the truth, deprives her of the opportunities she might wish of showing spontaneity in the same direction, let her be comforted with the thought that in his labors and service and sacrifice for the truth, she is a sharer and co-laborer if she readily and unmurmuringly bear the share of disadvantage such service may bring to her, and that in the end she will share the reward of faithful stewardship which her husband seeks to earn by his devotion now……It is very necessary that a sister-wife should cultivate the power of self-sustenance in the truth. When she has attained this, she will find herself in the possession of a powerful protection against the disappointments incident to a husband's absence from home, or his occupation when at home to her apparent neglect. It will enable her to bear up with cheerful countenance and hopeful heart, when her immediate surroundings are not such as to inspire that frame of mind. It will be a great help to herself and an aid to her husband, and often supply the first links in the chain that will lead to profitable and happy re-union at the end of a day's toil, on both sides.”
Sister Jane Roberts, The Virtuous Woman
Brother Aleck Mowatt - the shy brother
"Ye who are older, wiser men, help those who feebly climb..."
In Aberdeen, Scotland a particular man sat enthralled during the lectures of Dr. Thomas during his tours through Britain in 1848-49.
This man was James Mowatt, Sr. who was, during a later visit, baptized by Dr. Thomas and became the backbone of that meeting.
Brother Mowatt had several children; Christina, Isabella, Thomas, James, Jr. and Aleck, who was the oldest. Brother Roberts would have known all of these children very well, since he apparently enjoyed frequent Bible studies in the Mowatt home, and thereby built very strong relationships with them, considering them his family. Sister Isabella Mowatt married brother Roberts' brother, brother Arthur Roberts, shortly after baptism.
But, how wonderful must have been the day when brother Roberts witnessed the baptism of not only his childhood friend, Aleck, but also his own brother in the flesh, John, who he was so very close to, on the very same day.
Young brother Aleck had quite an influence on brother Roberts, which was always for good, since they were so close in age and with very similar interests.
We find that while brother Roberts was a druggist apprentice (My Days and My Ways, page 13) Aleck suggested they take mutual improvement classes together, in which they both learned shorthand skills which prepared them for their future as newspaper reporters. They also took speech classes so that they both might overcome their shyness, and to help prepare them for giving exhortations and lectures.
We know brother Roberts overcame his shyness - but what about brother Aleck?
As brother Roberts' brother, John, moved to Canada, his close friend and brother, Aleck, moved to Edinburgh to accept a job as reporter there.
But this sad separation of brother Roberts and brother Aleck was short. They were reunited when a letter from Aleck arrived, telling brother Roberts of a reporting position available on the same paper in which he worked for. Accepting this position, brother Roberts soon moved to Edinburgh and joined his friend. (It was here brother Roberts also met his future wife in sister Jane Norrie.)
Here, we see brother Roberts addressing the crowded business meeting -- but not brother Aleck. It became apparent that there were a few brethren who felt too shy to exhort, preside, and give classes.
One of these brethren was our brother Aleck, who still suffered from shyness.
A complaint was lodged against these "silent brethren" in Edinburgh, and a special meeting was called. The meeting was held in October of 1857, and was intended to take these “silent brethren” to task, for the apparent unfairness.
One of the silent brethren, as they had been labeled, could not attend due to being out of town, so he asked brother Aleck, his fellow silent brother, if he could read a poem he had prepared for the meeting. Brother Aleck did, and here is an abbreviated version:
Dear Brethren and sisters:
“While you tonight sit socially, thus drinking of your tea,
Connected with that same event, this thought occurred to me:
Now here is opportunity for silent tongues to speak,
And vindicate their policy observed from week to week.
Suppose I write a paper in defense of caste and cause,
And give full explanation of our silence, and the cause
Which govern and control the same, “twas thus I reasoned,
And the thought grew big within me, till full matured and seasoned.
This now I do, if you'll permit and further my intention…..
Firstly, I'd speak of quality. In spite of cares and pains,
Some will have better, some have worse, and some superior brains…
Ye who are older, wiser men, help those who feebly climb,
And a blessing will return to you in some yet future time.
There is one thing - not much, `tis true, but better to be known,
That the fluent feel, and that they've been told; but not to them alone
Does it belong. Long as we've sat within this ancient hall,
'Tis just tonight we tell you - how well we love you all…..”
The clever action of this young brother on behalf of the others with the same shyness, drew applause from the appeased brethren
- and shy Aleck could once again find his seat at the back of the hall.
Sadly, brother Aleck left the truth several years later, though we don't know for certain the reason. But we do know of a brother who had a heavy heart at the loss of his childhood friend and brother. The lesson though is clear. We are all different parts of the body, with different talents and abilities. Let us be ever so careful that we never underestimate the value of the service of others when their abilities may be different than our own, causing discouragement to them. Their strengths may not be our strengths, and their weaknesses may not be ours.
1 Cor 12:14-18
For the body is not one member, but many.
If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
THE COMING STRUGGLE
"...But God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. "Gen. 50:20
When Elpis Israel was first published, it fell into the hands of a man in Edinburgh by the name of David Pae.
Though he rejected the Hope it offered, he was very fascinated with the logical interpretation of prophecy in the third section.
Being a talented writer, he wrote a synopsis of the third part, and printed it anonymously under the title:
The Coming Struggle
among the nations of the Earth
This understandably disturbed the Doctor,
especially because he did not copy it very accurately! Also, a well known Journal praised the book, but criticized Elpis Israel from which it was taken!
Pae sold quickly 173,000 copies of The Coming Struggle, the huge success and sudden fame even surprised Pae himself.
Dr. Thomas addressed this strange event in the 1853 Herald on pages 149-151 when he says:
"Seventy three thousand sterling six pence must have afforded him a wonderful profit on the copy of Elpis Israel, out of which he fabricated his pages..." With humor, he adds: .."I should have no particular objection to inheriting a dividend...
but hitherto the case has strictly fulfilled the saying, that
'One sows and another reaps...' "
Dr. Thomas reprinted The Coming Struggle in the Herald on pages 193 - 206, correcting the errors inserted by Pae.
But, it did not end there.
The overnight success demanded explanations to these strange new views!
So, again, Pae turned to the Doctor's work with pen in hand, now frantic at the lie he had to keep perpetuating. He published more of the Doctors work, changing what he did not agree with, but this time leaving out any reference to Dr. Thomas...
" The Coming Rest For the Nations of The Earth"
by the Author of The Coming Struggle
was soon published, and then another...
Dr. Thomas eventually learned who the 'Author' was when the now famous Mr. Pae visited America, and the reproducing of the material ended.
Stung, at first, at this glaring case of plagiarism, Doctor Thomas found ultimately, that the evil turned into something good. In The Coming Struggle, Pae mentioned on page 5: "Dr. Thomas of America was the first to find the key; and they who have read his book will at once be able to understand the following description of the period mentioned..."
This, along with the raving reviews and phenomenal sales (which ended up being 100,000), was just enough to tip off true seekers of Truth. Therefore, The Coming Struggle served as wonderful advertisement for Elpis Israel.
However, it was regretful that the pamphlets following The Coming Struggle
did not give any information concerning Elpis Israel or Dr. Thomas at all,
leaving some readers in their ignorance.
On page 259 we read with satisfaction a letter entitled : ENCOURAGING
My Dear Friend...
"...The peddling bookmakers in Scotland are not altogether unmindful of their time of harvest, having eagerly seized upon the present opportunity to vend their wares of false doctrine; whilst others, burning with indignation at the successful issue of their competitors, have vented their spleen in vulgar abuse, emitting such trash as is contained in a recent pamphlet entitled: "A Quietus for the Coming Struggle," with a demonstrated answer to the question, "Is either Beast of Rev. 13 the Papacy?" - whose anonymous author is evidently writhing under the painful fact that the pamphlet entitled " The coming Struggle" has reached the sale of 92,000 copies. The multitude of correspondence which I continue to have from the readers of Elpis Israel and The Herald, affords ample evidence that a large number of persons have, by your onerous labors, been stimulated to anxious enquiry into the things concerning the kingdom of our Lord; and doubtless many, who would otherwise have remained in utter ignorance, have thus been enriched with the knowledge of the way to eternal life. Under these circumstances, you have abundant reason to rejoice that your work has thus far met with Divine approbation..." Aug. 17, 1853.
Though David Pae greatly benefited monetarily from Dr. Thomas' work,
and lived to be a successful writer in his own right, thought wealthy in this world's goods,
he died a poor man - one without the true riches he had come so very close to grasping. - B&K
The Tudor Controversy
In 1860 the tip of a huge iceberg emerged in Britain, revealing controversial undercurrents that had been brewing since 1848 - 49 when brother Thomas left.
The Tudor Heresy involved both Newark and Nottingham, where William Tudor appeared to be the leader of a new heresy, however, history later proved him to be but the one that espoused and exposed it (as we will see later). There were some who were not baptized after coming to a knowledge of the Truth - the actual fact was, many Campbellites (and some from other sects) had joined fellowship with the brethren, and did not feel it necessary to be immersed (re-immersed, in their thinking) declaring it a right to believe as they wished on many fundamental doctrines. This developed into full blown heresy. The ones that were unbaptized proceeded to exercise their “right” by teaching both privately and publicly the doctrines they preferred to retain from the apostasy they had left - bringing leaven into the fold. In Tudor's case, it was repudiating the restoration and exaltation of Israel as a nation as being an element of the Gospel - claiming no “Hope of Israel”.
Tragically, there are still pockets in the brotherhood who still teach this in Britain.
Instead of attempting to offer evidence to prove Dr. Thomas (and the Scriptures) wrong, they set out to destroy brother Thomas' credibility - and that of any who supported or read his writings - a common tactic used when there is no evidence to support a claim. Isn't this something we are seeing today, as the pioneer works are packed away in exchange for more modern works? Looking back at the historical roots of this thinking, and the consequences of this rejection of sound and clear Biblical expositions of brother Thomas and brother Roberts - lets do our part in preventing history repeating itself.
This heresy caused division in Nottingham, and was the beginning of a much larger division looming on the horizon, which we will go into next week, God willing.
1848 -The Year of Revolutions
and how it affected two men
(George Dowie History)
The year 1848 is known as the year of revolutions. In particularly, the religious fabric in society was drastically shifting, and had been for a while.
"Free communion" churches - much like the "non denominational" churches today, were replacing many old churches and their creeds, as the "spirit of inquiry" swept Britain and America, causing many to study their Bibles for themselves,
testing the words of the clergy.
Two men in particular were affected by the new religious climate
- Dr. John Thomas and George Dowie.
Dr. John Thomas, during his journey across the ocean while emigrating from Britain to America, had a terrifying experience in which he came very close to death. He determined that if he survived the ordeal, he would never be uncertain about his relationship with God again, and vowed to search for the Truth if his life was spared. His life being spared, he kept his word. He joined with the Campbellites, hoping that this would provide some answers or direction. Given the platform to teach, and asked to write in their magazines, he became a well respected Bible student among the Campbellites both in America and in Britain. But, after years of study, comparing the Greek and Hebrew (they had no concordances) he began to unravel the golden threads of truth - and they were not the things taught by Campbellite leaders. Confronting them with the discrepancies found between scripture and their teachings, they did not want to investigate the proof, but became angry. The motive of the Doctor was to find the Truth, however, it soon became apparent that this was not the motive of the Campbellite leaders who then opposed him.
In Britain, there was a young man named George Dowie. He was a born leader. He loved to orchestrate and assemble people to perform musical entertainment for the crowds. Leading people was his forte.
When Dr. Thomas came to Britain in 1848-49, he set out to show the Campbellites that had been mislead - that the path they were on had no hope. Wanting to re-educate them in the Scriptures, he began to show them the only path to light. He did not consider what he would do if they all agreed with him, or what he would do with them if they left their church. His only motive was show them what the scriptures really taught.
Having visited many towns with success, he then came to Edinburgh, Scotland, where George Dowie was. The crowd was a mixture of Campbellites and Baptists. Most were very receptive to his lectures, and like many others, they wanted to hear more. Elpis Israel was born to meet the demand. But soon, the Doctor had to leave Britain and return home to America to his wife and the brethren there.
What Dr. Thomas did not realize was, he left behind many pockets of people who had left their churches, waiting for further guidance....
I lead no one of my own will,
nor do I wish to lead anyone.
The height of my ambition is
to persuade men to be lead by the Truth.
- Brother John Thomas
(This series is drastically condensed, since this controversy spanned almost 20 years)
Dr. Thomas described 1848 as one of political upheaval, which he saw as the necessary precursor of Christ's coming, that prompted him to come to England, "believing he could irradiate the light of the prophetic word upon the political tragedies of the time, and by so doing, be of use to those who desire to know the truth… to see if a door of utterance might be opened to him in England."
Brother Thomas returned to America where his family and the infant brotherhood needed him. Though in correspondence with many in Britain, he could not perceive the wolves working among the flock ... nor could the flock perceive them - because these wolves were very subtle - proclaiming themselves to be brothers who believed just as they did.
Shortly after brother Thomas left Britain, it became evident in Edinburgh that there was a group of Bible students separated from the churches with no one to lead or direct them. John Bowles, a free communion church pastor being an opportunist, saw the vulnerable group, and organized them into a church. Soon, they released themselves from his grip, and again, they were left without instruction.
George Dowie was also an opportunist, who had a passion for instructing people, and saw the opportunity to do as John Bowles had done, and since he was already a Bible student within the group and their leader in song, it was an easy task: they already loved and trusted him.
He therefore set out to become their self proclaimed leader, and organized the group in Edinburgh.
His motive, however, was much different than that of Dr. Thomas - he loved to lead:
"I hope my influence will increase!"- George Dowie
Dr. Thomas' motive continued to be that truth should prevail:
"I lead no one of my own will, nor do I wish to lead anyone.
The height of my ambition is to persuade men to be lead by the Truth." - Dr. John Thomas
Just months after the meeting was established in Edinburgh in 1853, a sorrie was held by them to honor one who was loved and respected,
showing appreciation for his writings and work, his magazine was still recommend to the infant ecclesia. His name was....
Rev. Glen Montclieff - a pastor from the apostasy
....a clear indication of what was yet to come.
Sister Roberts recalled in the Christadelphian many years after the fact, that some in Edinburgh burned Elpis Israel upon receiving it, revealing their true feelings for the teachings of Dr. Thomas. It would became more and more apparent that these still had sympathies with the apostasy - though within the fold.
There were MANY pockets of people that had separated from their churches with no further instruction - not JUST those in Edinburgh.
The reins had been gathered by Dr. Thomas' lectures, and then left dangling, with no direction. Having no plan for this situation makes it very apparent that Dr. Thomas was not in search of a following.
George Dowie saw the big picture of opportunity, and grasped the reins in a very skillful way. He determined who was in agreement with him, and they began to list the names and places in Britain where these other pockets were - creating a map with dots marking the locations of stranded brethren - this was easy, since Dr. Thomas reported them in the Herald. Dowie wrote letters to them giving instruction and encouragement, giving an appearance of leadership, and he and those in agreement with him began visiting these brethren. When these men saw them reading the works of Dr. Thomas, they gently rebuked them, replacing Dr. Thomas' works with Dowie's own works, stating "we are not followers of a man"! He allowed them to keep many doctrines of their past apostate churches, thereby keeping everyone happy, and enlarging his popularity - and his following. (This was seen in the William Tudor Heresy several weeks ago). They also organized a Fraternal gathering yearly in Edinburgh, where all brethren should come or send a representative to discuss problems or concerns within the British brotherhood - it was by this he was able to detect who still respected Dr. Thomas' work. We find within the records of these meetings that almost every year a suggestion was made to either invite Brother Thomas or to consult him, and every single time those closely connected with Dowie subtly derailed the suggestions until they were dropped. By this tactic, Brother Thomas was kept away as long as possible, which came to be about 12 years - giving them ample time to spread their leaven. Dowie began his own magazine, which gave further appearance of leadership.
By the early 1860's,
the majority of the brotherhood in Britain was firmly in the palm of George Dowie.
The Grim Facts
“Marmalade, singing, and praying,” I told brother Tait some years ago at his house, seemed to me to be the chief delight of that tribe;
what might be termed ecclesiastical socialism..." a brother from Edinburgh;
The Christadelphian 1867
By the early 1860's, George Dowie had became confident in his leadership, encouraging his brethren to love each other and overlook each other's shortcomings - in many cases this meant their false doctrine. Coming together for spectacular productions of song, socials and tea parties, the need to prove all things scripturally became unimportant - and very out of place. Dowie became more open with his teachings, now receiving little resistance. Before this time, he would not admit anything openly - and did not put anything into writing. But now, many had put away their copies of Elpis Israel, (Eureka Vol I had now been published also) and by doing so, the sound teachings of brother Thomas which had attracted them to the Truth had now become very fuzzy in their memories, and the subtle changes were hard to detect because of their lack of familiarity. The Truth that had been rediscovered and unearthed - tragically was being buried again.
"..In the days when Dowieism was in the ascendant, it [the Truth] had none [a chance to flourish] for it was then made a merit not to preach the gospel. It was denied there was any right to do it, or any duty in the matter. Concerts and literary lectures were the order of the day. The truth of God was kept in the background. The community which professed to be a pillar of the truth, was a mound that covered it in ruins.."
- brother Robert Roberts - The Christadelphian 1867
However, not all in Edinburgh were content with a Marmalade Religion. With false doctrine becoming openly taught in Edinburgh now, brothers Ellis, Tait, Steel and Smith, and a handful of others, separated from the meeting (which was called Surgeon Square), and formed a new one in the Calton Rooms.
Dr. Thomas visits in 1862
There were several brethren who were in correspondence with Dr. Thomas who sounded the alarm, writing him and asking him to please come.
In May of 1862 brother Thomas finally arrived in England, his first stop was a little house on Albion Street in Huddersfield, where bother & sister Roberts lived. This was the first time 24 year old Robert Roberts met Dr. Thomas face to face.
The Civil War was in full swing when brother Thomas had left America. His personal experience of being in Virginia during the Civil War, witnessing hunger, devastation and death first hand, had been a sobering experience for brother Thomas. No doubt he experienced a similar sense of tragedy upon visiting the brethren in Britain, ravaged by wolves, with many spiritual casualties due to the Laodicean spirit encouraged. After visiting many brethren, he returned to the house in Huddersfield. The Civil War caused the publication of the Herald to be suspended, leaving the brotherhood without a doctrinally sound magazine. Brother Roberts had just published Twelve Lectures (now called Christendom Astray), which revealed to brother Thomas the amazing understanding and passion for the Truth this young brother obviously had - together with the ability to expound it. Brother Thomas proceeded to advise brother Roberts to move to Birmingham and begin a magazine - creating stability for the staggering remnant left of the brotherhood. Naturally, many objected, but brother Thomas encouraged him:
"Do what is right; be valiant for the Truth; teach it without compromise, and all lovers of the Truth will approve you.
For all others you need not care a rush-"
- Brother John Thomas
(The following was the attachment)
Brother Roberts tells us: “…There are two meetings in Edinburgh, both professing allegiance to the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ; but yet differing in many important respects. One is faithful to these “things” in their doctrinal elaboration, and the other is not. One is zealous for the truth in preference to all other mental hobbies or occupations; the other is not, but dilutes the truth with a great deal of respectable carnalism. The one (which we shall call the Christadelphian meeting) hungers and thirsts after the promises and righteousness of God; the other (which may be termed the Laodicean) does not, but considers itself well off in its artistic and social acquirements….”
“The Laodicean believes in the infernal monster of pagan orthodoxy,-the God-thwarting and man-damning devil of historic Old Mother renown, and actually goes beyond the Old Mother in locating this Supreme Impersonation of Evil in the very presence of the Deity, whence it is the mission of the sacrificial Jesus to expel him;
the Christadelphian does not.
The Laodicean, in some of its members, has some doubts whether human nature is entirely and essentially ephemeral, and whether there is not such a thing as an indwelling ghost that survives the dissolution of the body;
the Christadelphian has no such doubts.
The Laodicean preaches for gospel that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” in the sense that God is ready to manifest it when the moral situation among men is ripe for it;
the Christadelphian does not, but proclaims the “things” concerning the kingdom (to be established at the expiry of the “set time” of Gentile domination,) as found in the scriptures of the prophets ( Acts 28:23 ; 26:22 ; 24:14 ; 17:2 ; 10:43 ; 3:21-24 ; Rom. 1:2 ; 16:26 ; 1 Peter 1:10-12 ; 2 Peter 1:19 ; 3:2 ; 2 Tim. 3:15 ) from which Paul expounded the gospel to be preached to the Gentiles.
The Laodicean teaches the burning up and crystallization of the globe at the end of the millenium;
the Christadelphian believes the earth will endure for ever as the inheritance of Jesus and the saints.
The Laodicean teaches that the servants of Christ will not be judged, but will instantly spring into incorruptible being at his coming;
the Christadelphians, on the other hand, believe that all the professed saints will appear before Christ in their natural bodies when he comes to receive in body according to what they have done, whether good or bad.
The Laodicean believes in the coming descent of a gigantic material structure of precious stones as the inheritance of the saints; while the Christadelphian recognises in the “Holy City New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven” the apocalyptic symbol of the saints in their corporate manifestation.
The Laodicean reads the book of Revelations literally, reducing it to absurdity; while the Christadelphian accepts it as a signification (an indication by sign) of events contemplated in the purpose of God towards the nations of the earth.
The Laodiceans deny the year significance of the day-periods of Daniel, and wrest the visions of Daniel from their application to the historic events of the past, and construct fanciful theories out of them which reduce the whole affair to contemptible proportions and insignificance;
the Christadelphian does not this, but accepts those visions as the disclosures of the divine purpose for the enlightenment and encouragement of the wise of all time.
The Laodiceans mix with human politics and advocate identity with the world in moral and social relations;
while the Christadelphians repudiate the citizenship of the present, acknowledging no citizenship but that which is incipiently located in the heavens in the person of the Christ, and which will be fully manifested at his coming in his kingdom.
These differences may not hold good in every individual constituent of the two meetings; but as regards the leading men,-the spirits from which the communities respectively take their color, they actually and actively do exist.
The Christadelphian is the section whom these and other spiritual incompatibilities drove into secession some years ago-represented by such men as bros. Ellis, Tait, Steel, and Smith;
the Laodicean is the peace-loving and music-cultivating philharmonics left behind under the virtual leadership of G. Dowie. The latter in some respects has an advantage over the former. There is more of what may be strictly called “talent” among the Laodiceans, and a higher development of the social relations under the influence of G. Dowie of whom it must be admitted that his personal qualities are in the highest degree endearing to the merely affectional nature; but the respective standing of the two parties, as gauged by the word is unmistakeable.”
(We might add to this list the allowance of the doctrines: Praying for the dead, holy spirit gifts and Israel's exaltation.)
The Move to Birmingham and The Work
Brother and Sister Roberts moved to Birmingham in January of 1864. The job he thought he had waiting, evaporated, therefore hardship struck the young family very hard the first few months following the move. The small band of brethren who welcomed them, placed them into a small rent house, and brother Roberts set out to find work, and began strengthening the small ecclesia there. Brother and sister Roberts met with 15-20 brethren in the Ann Street Schoolroom on Sundays, and he gave public lectures every Sunday evening to audiences of 50 - 75 interested strangers, as well as personal time with the brethren.
By June of the same year, the first issue of The Ambassador was published, after brother Roberts work provided sufficient income to make its publication possible. Understanding the background to the situation in England makes clear why he chose certain topics for the magazine. His purpose was to re-educate the community in the first principles of the truth that they had forgotten or perhaps had not clearly understood before. In a series brother Roberts entitled "The things concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ" he stated his purpose: " We therefore propose systematically to expound the elements of truth as comprised in this important phrase". This was met with an expected snub from Dowie. Brother Roberts tells us in his autobiography: "I was formally charged with presumption in undertaking to 'systematically expound' Bible truth. What right had I to 'systematically expound' anything?" Opposition also came from other quarters, which he expected, but he determined to set his eyes forward and do the work he came to do.
He, and Brother Shuttleworth and others also visited brethren, exhorting and lecturing and encouraging. Sadly, they could see the damage done by the false teachings. One meeting in Mumbles, which is a good representative of the situation, had been baptized with their former apostate doctrines intact, and became angered when it became apparent what Dowie had done, and wrote the meeting in Edinburgh:
"...we are compelled, in consequence of our determination to adhere to the truth, and our duty to the brotherhood, most solemnly and positively to disavow and repudiate all connectional fellowship with the so-called 'Baptized Believers of the Kingdom of God.' We at the same time express our supreme regret, that a meeting claiming to be a church of God, should be bound together by such an elastic bond, which can be expanded to such dimensions as to admit and recognize the fellowship of those who willingly nullify one of the most important first principles... " [In this case, the doctrine was immortality of the soul].
Brother Roberts Re-establishes the British Brotherhood
In 1864, brother Roberts created our first Hymn Book, called the Golden Harp
, and the beginnings of a Statement of Faith began to emerge shortly thereafter, though the doctrines to be rejected did not appear until the early 1870's. The Ambassador's
name was changed in 1869 to The Christadelphian
which, in 1864 had become the name for the brotherhood during the Civil War, necessary for conscientious objection. He later established our Sunday Schools.
Dowie and his followers were disfellowshiped, having never taken on the name "Christadelphian". However, Dowie cropped up again in the 1870's when he joined with Protestant mainstream tradition. He became part of a theological group which produced a monthly magazine called The Rainbow, of which he became an agent. Dowie, through The Rainbow became engaged in controversy with The Christadelphian on the topic of the inherence of immortality, one doctrine he could not let go. In the 1880's he became involved with the Ashcroft controversy which plagued the brotherhood, on the false teaching of Partial Inspiration. He joined hands with Benjamin Wilson of America with a common dislike for brother Thomas and Roberts.
William Norrie, which was one of his most staunch supporters, lamented in 1905 over the fate of the Dowieites, when he wrote:
"...The leavening process [from Edinburgh] went on for years, till ultimately the whole mass became so permeated, that, in 1894, it was agreed to receive persons whose pre-baptismal knowledge did not include the things of the kingdom and the name - only two persons dissenting, Eight years later, (with two dozen dissenters) the Gospel of the Kingdom was discarded as pre-baptismal faith, and the communion made free to all baptized persons holding the common faith of Christendom!'
How the mighty are fallen!" William Norrie
The fate of the Dowieites makes us aware of where we would be if brother Roberts had not stepped in, bringing unity of sound doctrine and order to the brotherhood whose reins had been in the hands of a spiritual apostate.
Today the influences of Dowieism still exists amongst us.
The Endeavor magazine, currently in publication, has the Dowieite leaven,
and some of the false doctrines and loose fellowship practices started by Dowie still plague the brotherhood.
OUR WARNING IS CLEAR - IT ALL BEGAN WITH THE CRY:
"Don't be followers of a man,"
as Elpis Israel and the Herald were slipped from Bible student's hands...
Take heed, lest we fall into the same path.
Do what is right; be valiant for the Truth;
teach it without compromise,
and all lovers of the Truth will approve you.
For all others you need not care a rush-
Brother John Thomas
THE POWERFUL LESSONS IN THE LIFE OF
THE DECLARATION/ THE BOOK UNSEALED CHARTS/ INDEX RERUM/
DEATH OF BROTHER ROBERTS
R.C. Bingley was born in 1838, and spent his early years in London, England. We are not told when or how he came to a knowledge of the Truth, or where he was baptized. We know that he moved to Chicago, Ill., probably due to the fact that his wife was from this area.
He first appeared in Christadelphian records in 1863, when he attended the Semi Annual Conference in Geneva, Illinois, which was orchestrated by Benjamin Wilson. It was during this time Benjamin Wilson became antagonistic against brother Thomas - and the Truth - and it appears Bingley did not get by unscathed by the rebellious influence. In 1867-68, R.C. Bingley and his wife made an extended visit to England, staying in Stourbridge, near Birmingham, due to work, but apparently considered Birmingham their home away from home. It was also during these years that some of Edward Turney's family lived in Stourbridge - making it the silent - but potent - seedbed of clean flesh teachings. Though R.C. Bingley did not teach these doctrines, his last (1895) work called the Index Rerum reflected the effect of this early influence.
Who Wrote the `Anonymous' Work Called:
It was a joint production
Brother Roberts found brother Bingley very friendly and helpful as he assisted in the Christadelphian Office during his visit to Birmingham in 1867, even contributing an article to the magazine in response to the uprising of the Dowieite apostate teachings concerning the devil. This year was a very significant year in regards to the Dowieite controversy, and required many concerned brethren to visit the many ailing ecclesias in Britain to re-establish the principles of truth in which they had been mislead, or possibly failed to ever learn. Brother Bingley helped in this effort, visiting many meetings giving exhortations and lectures. It was also during this time that George Dowie came out with a 'Declaration' of what he wrongly perceived to be Bible Truth. (Christadelphian vol 4 pg. 5). To counter this dangerous document, it appears that the suggestion was made of producing a pamphlet which set forth the teachings of the Truth in purity, with the proofs printed along side the propositions, to save the student from having to look them up. The pamphlet was to be produced solely by brother Bingley, and was pre-advertised as such by The Christadelphian with anticipation of the promised work. However, it seems that after brother Bingley gathered some of the material, he lost his enthusiasm for the project altogether, and handed the project over to brother Roberts, leaving a very large amount of the layout and writing undone. Finding a heavy amount of work dropped unfinished in his lap, brother Roberts threw himself into it, as he was so well known for doing, both seeing the value of such a work - and also feeling obligated to the brotherhood, having already advertised it as forthcoming.
Brother Roberts proceeded to plan the distribution of the subjects; wrote all of the propositions; arranged all the passages that Bingley had left out, and the footnotes which brother Bingley had industriously collected, and gave structure and character to the work - this work became our 'Declaration'. Brother Roberts then tells us of the dilemma he suddenly faced: “When it was finished, I found myself in a peculiar position. I had advertised it as my friend's work and it was not his work. I did not think there was any difficulty about this, since a simple statement that it was a joint production would put the matter right.”
Brother Roberts then proposed to brother Bingley that this statement should be made - being the truth of the matter - that the pamphlet was by Bingley and revised by brother Roberts. “But, lo, my innocent suggestion was the application of a lighted match to gunpowder. I felt covered with shame; for the question of authorship in any honorary sense was nothing to me one way or other. I was simply aiming at truth and the service of the truth, and felt utterly humiliated to have to enter upon a contest in which I had to defend myself from a charge of seeking to rob another of his proper honor. If the pamphlet had not been actually in print, and ordered in hundreds by expectant readers, I would have retired from the dispute, and left each man to take his own way. As the matter stood, it had to be argued and settled. A conference of friends was brought to bear, and it was ultimately decided that the dilemma should be composed by issuing the pamphlet anonymously. A line in The Ambassador, stating in the fewest possible words that the pamphlet had been revised by me, put me right with regard to previous advertisements. Since then (twenty-seven years ago) the Declaration has circulated in thousands and thousands of copies, and remains to this day the most largely circulating publication connected with the truth.”( -My Days and My Ways 209-211) The work is still printed anonymously to this day. The lesson is very clear for all lovers of the truth.
" Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:
Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul."
Brother and sister Bingley left Birmingham in September of 1867, and never appeared in the Christadelphian again as visiting that country. In February the following year, he delivered a course of lectures in Kankaee, Ill., then, following the unexpected death of his young child, the family moved to Chicago.
Apparently still angry with brother Roberts, R.C. Bingley threw his support into another magazine called The Marturion, (produced in Canada) becoming an agent for them in 1868. He remained their agent until December 1869, apparently discontinuing support once he realized the disastrous course it was on. Early hints of this course surfaced in `69, but became openly manifest by 1870. Dr. Thomas spoke strongly against the magazine in the `69 Christadelphian, when it's liberal and erroneous contents were brought to his attention during his “Farewell Tour” in the States. This appears to be the first signal of the magazine's demise.
During this '69 visit to Chicago, Dr. Thomas stayed with bro. Bingley, who prepared charts for Dr. Thomas' lectures regarding the prophetic times of Daniel and John. The charts, described as "The seven-sealed scroll of the Apocalypse" and the "Seven times of the kingdom of men”, were afterwards printed and published by R. C. Bingley, and sold to the brotherhood. They eventually became part (and remain as part) of Dr. Thomas' publication, "The Book Unsealed" first published in 1870.
In the year 1883 it is reported to The Christadelphian that brother Bingley was not "in harmony" with brethren for many years. This was confirmed again just two years later, when he joined hands with Robert Ashcroft in his false teaching regarding "partial inspiration" (believing that the Bible was not wholly inspired).
In 1895 R. C. Bingley published what is known as the Index Rerum, which is a reference guide of proofs on topics intended for use when discussing the Truth with the stranger. This is still published in some parts, but has never been supported by the Christadelphian, and for very good reason:
EMBRACES CLEAN FLESH HERESY
: "....The article in question looks back in the direction of the old Renunciationist heresy of about sixty years ago, of which the doctrine of “clean flesh” was a prominent feature. See the late Edward Turney's Christadelphian Lamp , the late R. C. Bingley's Index Rerum , p. 34, and the late John Bell's Shield , in which he affirmed that the Lord Jesus Christ was “ undefiled in every sense .” We know that it is alleged that this last statement is said to have been corrected or modified by the deceased. If anyone will give us chapter and verse for this, we will very gladly print and publish it. (We cannot find that the information was ever provided -BK). For the classical Christadelphian teaching on the flesh, see the sections “ The Carnal Mind ” ( Elpis Israel , part I, ch. 3., and “ The Constitution of Sin , ” ch. 4.). And as against Renunciationism and its “clean flesh” doctrine, see The Slain Lamb, The Blood of Christ , and The Atonement . " 1931
The 1968 Christadelphian confirmed the union:
"It may be wondered why the office of The Christadelphian has never supplied the booklet Index Rerum: a Ready Reference on Biblical Subjects . First published in the nineteenth century, it was reprinted in 1963 by brethren not in the Central Fellowship.The main reason is the doctrinal unsoundness of certain passages. While their significance may not be obvious to all readers, they contain the ideas that Israel might have obtained the blessings of the Kingdom apart from the death of Christ, and that Jesus was born of a nature free from the uncleanness derived from Adam. These ideas were the subject of controversy when the pamphlet first appeared, and indeed relate to other past controversies concerning the Atonement. They would imply that the promised “rest” could have been obtained without the sacrifice of Christ-either because human nature was itself capable of earning eternal life by keeping the law, or because the sacrifices under Mosaic law were efficacious for life. They are linked with the ideas that Christ was not in the original purpose of God, and that Christ was of a nature in some way different from that of the rest of humanity..." The Christadelphian, 1968 (See attachment for compete article, and other details).
Angry men seek other angry men to justify their stand, creating a sieve which draw together many disgruntled people who no longer hold the Truth in common, but instead, their anger. This is a deadly course to take, as we see R.C Bingley took, as he aligned himself with others of like spirit.
" Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul."
"When pride cometh, then cometh shame"
R.C. Bingley and
THE DEATH OF BROTHER ROBERTS
Brother Roberts made what would prove to be his last effort to encourage and strengthen brethren, when he left Australia for San Francisco, California in September of 1898. This quiet and weary man would not speak openly of his own pains and sorrows to others, but was quick to lend an ear and offer a hand to others who needed a friend. In a letter written by his daughter, Sarah Jane Ladson, we find the reason behind the unusually heavy anxiety brother Roberts bore silently that September day:
"The crowning sorrow of his life, (what I have always thought hastened his end) - was the totally unexpected defection from The Faith of my brother.” She continues: “My father never met Edward after the said "revelation" of his true state of mind, which came after he left for Australia. (Though he wrote him. I should like to have seen that letter!) It stunned us all…” - Sarah Jane Ladson - May 1959
For a man who had lost 4 children to early death, this pain would be even greater - for Edward knew the truth, was baptized, and then left it. Just one year prior to this visit in San Francisco, Edward and his sister wife, Mary, along with the grandchildren brother Roberts loved, saw him off for his voyage to Australia, with no apparent troubles. The entry in brother Roberts' diary for that day, August 2nd, of 1897, says: "This was “the fateful day,” as Edward Augustus called it.." (Second Voyage to Australia) Though Edward was merely referring to just the immediate separation, little did they both realize it was much more; they never saw each other face to face again. Sometime during the following year, brother Roberts received a letter from Edward with the crushing news.
Arriving in San Francisco Wednesday, September 21, 1898, he was met at the wharf by brother Cheetham and R.C. Bingley. Seeing Bingley no doubt came as a surprise to him, and was a source of immediate anxiety, because he had been antagonistic to the truth and to brother Roberts for decades. He had not been in fellowship with Central for years, having either left it or being disfellowshiped for the false doctrines he held. He was now part of the Suffolk Street fellowship, following Robert Ashcroft's apostate teaching of 'Partial Inspiration' (believing that the Bible was not wholly inspired.) Brother Roberts no doubt realized this visit was destined to be an extremely stressful one from the welcoming he received at the wharf, though a brother attempted to write him to forewarn him. Brother Cheetham took him by the Post Office on the way to his hotel, and left him to rest until 6 P.M.
Brother Cheetham then picked him up, shared dinner, and the two went to the Cheetham's home. When they arrived, brother Cheetham was quite surprised to find a group of uninvited guests there waiting for them, and still more surprised to find more arrived afterwards. Brother Cheetham no doubt felt helpless in his own home, as some of the uninvited guests asked brother Roberts to speak. This was obviously a stressful evening, for these brethren knew his stand on the false doctrine they had embraced. R. C. Bingley and his wife soon became very aggressive in their attacks on brother Roberts, distressing him, as well as brother Cheetham and others. Several brethren attempted to stop R.C. Bingley, who would not hear them.
Brother Cheetham said: “Brother Roberts was no doubt upset a great deal by what had taken place. It was at brother Bingley's request that I invited brother Roberts up to my home. ” He continues: “In company with brother McCarl…(and others), I walked along the street. Brother Roberts requested to walk a few feet ahead of us, and did so until near the Hotel, when we bid him good night. Brother McCarl arranged with brother Roberts to come over the following afternoon and take brother Roberts along with him to Oakland, brother Roberts promising to speak at brother M. A. Clark's in the evening.”
The next day, brother Roberts wrote a letter telling of his experience with Bingley the night before::
San Francisco, September 22nd, 1898.
....I met brother Bingley last night at the house of brother Cheetham. The interview was not of a satisfactory order, but hope is not entirely absent. The embarrassments of the truth are very great in this age of divine silence and human contradictions. It is a work of difficulty to encourage the good while withstanding the encroachments of the evil. I suppose it is a training for the work that waits the accepted friends of Christ in the day of his appearing. I feel great pity for men who are doing the best they are capable of in the midst of the reigning confusion, even if the line they pursue may not be geometrically straight. We shall all stand in need of the divine patience and magnanimity at the last. I leave here tomorrow for Victoria by sea, and expect to be this way again in twelve or fifteen months, if nothing arise to prevent. Possibly the coming of the Lord may prevent. With all my heart I hope so. Do not you all say, “Amen?” My love to all the brethren with you,-Faithfully your brother, Robert Roberts .
The following evening, brother Cheetham tells us:
”Brother Roberts gave us one of the best lectures I ever heard him give, and was listened to very attentively by everyone. He was requested by brother Clark to give us a Delineation of the Truth from the beginning to the end.” “He bid goodnight to the rest of them after arriving at the ferry here, brother Roberts and I walking up to his hotel. He preferred the short walk before retiring. He spoke about his trip and hoped on his return here, everything being favorable, to stay a while with us. I bid him goodbye, not being sure of seeing him off on the steamer Queen for Victoria, B.C., the next morning. This was one block from his hotel. I wished to go right to the hotel with him, but he said, No, you have quite a way to go home yet, and it is late-"
Brother Cheetham had hurt his arm, which prevented him helping brother Roberts with his luggage, and therefore he did not plan to see him again; therefore, R.C. Bingley was to see brother Roberts off the next morning. Brother Cheetham had second thoughts, and decided to drop in at 8:30 to say goodbye, to find brother Roberts had died. It is believed he died of a heart attack, because he had heart trouble. He had taken medicine from a bottle in his bag which the doctors explained was prescribed to be for heart trouble.
We find the ending to be sad for both brother Roberts and brother Bingley: brother Roberts, who remarked in his last visit with the brethren of California, that he did not like fighting, but when there was something dear to him assailed from within and without, he was obliged to maintain a fighting attitude. And this he did to the end, for the thing most dear to him - the Truth. He also died with a broken heart with the thought of where his son would be at judgment.
The last we see of R. C. Bingley, he was vindicating himself with anger at the man who tried to help him see his destructive path. We hope, but do not know, if this changed before he died. He died out of fellowship in 1917, apparently separated from his wife ( she returned to fellowship, turning away from her erroneous thinking, and died two years before R. C. Bingley). It appears he had reflected on many things during his last years, as hinted at in this which was written by James Cheetham, the same who found brother Roberts, and reported his death:
San Francisco (Cal.).-Brother R. C. Bingley (San Francisco) died on March 8th in his 79th year. He was known to many of the older brethren of Dr. Thomas's and brother Roberts' time. He was out of fellowship with the Christadelphian body for a few years prior to his death. A few brethren and sisters were present at the funeral. He made the remark to me a few days before he died that The Christadelphian was the best paper published among the brethren, and that the Doctor was correct in what he said about Russia being King of the North, and was very much opposed to substitution views.- James Cheetham .
When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.
(Why is it important to know Christadelphian history?)
“History provides us with a frame of reference
that enables us to recognize dangers, both from within and externally,
and it provides guidance as to how to deal with those dangers when they arise...
Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.”
Diversity of opinion and conflict of advice are no new things. They are so inevitable in a world like ours, that any one having anything important in hand must train himself to form his own judgment, and act it out independently, with as much courtesy and consideration for other people's feelings as he can command, but still with a firmness not to be moved from its purpose by the contrary winds blowing on all sides. We have often been made to feel the need of this in the conduct of the Christadelphian. The most contrarious opinions have been expressed, and the most contradictory advice given. Where one has said the Christadelphian is too large, others have said “we could do with it twice the size.” Some express their satisfaction at the improved character of the magazine, while others give it as their opinion that it has deteriorated. Some, again, have complained of the absence of elementary matter, and the unsuitability of the Christadelphian , on that account, for putting into the hands of those who stand in need of “first principles,” while others, in a directly contrary strain, have said that too much prominence is given to first principles, and not enough attention given to nutcracking, or the elucidation of obscure and difficult passages. “Keep us plentifully supplied with Eastern news and tidings of what is going on in the Roman habitable,” say others; but their voice is, so to speak, drowned by the counter demands of those who say “Too much newspaper matter; do it up short. We can see the newspapers any day; we don't want old Joe.” Then another complaint is, “There is too much of the Dr.'s writing in; give us greater variety; we would like to hear the other brethren;” to which a counter refrain arises, “Other brethren's articles are all very well, but we want the real grit. Give us more of the Dr. and the Editor. In fact, we would not object if there was nothing else.” Yet, again, a cry is heard, “It is a mistake to publish the Dr.'s early writings; they are superseded by his later productions;” and while we are considering this, another voice, a little gruff, growls, “The Dr. lived too long. His early writings are the best. We can understand him in the Advocate, Elpis Israel , and the Herald . Give us plenty of this.” Then others complain that too much is said about the man-side of Christ, and not enough about God manifest in the flesh; that, in fact, the Editor does not go far enough in this subject; while another party sets up just a contrary lament, that in the prominence given to God in Christ, there has been “retrogression;” that his manhood is lost sight of, that there is too much mystification; and so on, and so on, and so on. Now, what can we say to all these things? In the first place, we say as little as possible; but just get along with our work, meeting the wishes of the critics where it is possible, but not swerving from the even line of the purpose we are pursuing-a purpose which will be justified in the judgment, if it is not seen at all times now…”
Brother Robert Roberts
The Christadelphian, 1973
“A Word to the Wise.”-
Such is the heading over the following letter in a newspaper containing an advt. of Christendom Astray:
-Mr. Editor, -If there ever was a time when scriptural enlightenment was a desideratum, it is the present time. We are doubtless nearing the end of the times of the Gentiles-at the very threshold of a new dispensation, when the little stone (Kingdom of God), is about to smite Nebuchadnezzar's image (Kingdom of men) on its ten-toed feet, (present, latter-day phase), Dan. 2:34, 35, 44, 45; involving a time of trouble such as the world has never experienced, and in comparison with which, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the plagues of Egypt, will pale into insignificance. The “fig-tree” signs of this consummation are highly portentous, and multiplying continually. These signs are to be seen in the Political Heavens (International political affairs, events, movements, etc.). They can only be recognized and appreciated in the light of prophecy, and the prophecies can only be understood and applied from a knowledge of first principles. Christendom Astray, a book advertised in the Courier, treats of all these interesting and necessary things. Several of the most intelligent gentlemen of Athens have read it and are highly pleased. Daniel understood by books the signs of his time (Dan. 9:2). Reader, you can do the same. -The “gentlemen of Athens” are not men of the city in Greece where Paul preached. This Athens is in Georgia, U.S.A.
But it is the same faith that Paul preached, and that is something in these days.
This was written by brother Roberts in response to a pamphlet circulated encouraging an "open door policy" on doctrinal differences,
at that time being the Partial Inspiration heresy.
While this is directed towards the controversy of that day, the answer given applies to all generations who desire "open doors".
"THE OPEN DOOR "
"An open door is a good thing if it offers admittance to the right place or to the right guest. It may be the reverse of a good thing in other circumstances. An Atlantic liner went down not long ago because a certain door was open that ought to have been closed... "
“Open the door” is the cry. It is a good cry on the face of it, and it is unpleasant to appear so ungracious as to seem opposed to such a good thing. An “open door” suggests hospitality and kindness; and no man of sense and goodness would desire to be identified with anything else. But there are times when the friends of God have to submit to a wrong appearance in the case. It is one of the hardships of their position in the present evil world that they have often to act as if they were unsociable, and illiberal and cantankerous, and even conceited. They are hampered by considerations of right and wrong that do not trouble the lovers of pleasure. They have accepted rules of action and a policy of life that are absolutely unintelligible to those who live for the present life merely, in whose eyes they are liable to appear morose and censorious cynics. In the very first century, they wrongly acquired the reputation of being man-haters, because they strove to obey the apostolic injunctions: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world;” “Come out from among them, and be ye separate;” and because the ordinary relations of life did not weigh with them when incompatible with their enthusiastic fealty to Christ and his Father.
He quotes scripture in defense of his policy, but it is with a want of discrimination which we may hope time will correct. He quotes from the parable of the tares: “Let both grow together until the harvest”-both the tares and the wheat. We cannot understand such a quotation unless our friend means to argue that we are not to obey the commandments which direct us-1, to treat a lawless brother after proper warning “as a heathen man” ( Matt. 18:17 ); 2, to avoid those who walk contrary to the apostolic doctrine ( Rom. 16:17 ); 3, to put away from among ourselves a wicked person ( 1 Cor. 5:13 ); 4, not to keep company with any man that is called a brother if he be a fornicator or a railer ( 1 Cor. 5:11 ); 5, to withdraw from every brother that walketh disorderly ( 2 Thess. 3:6 ); 6, to have no company with any man who refuses to submit to the apostolic writing as to the commandments of the Lord ( 2 Thess. 3:14 , 1 Cor. 14:37 , 38 ); 7, to withdraw from perverse disputers who consent not to the wholesome words of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness ( 1 Tim. 6:3-5 ); 8, to turn away from men having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof ( 2 Tim. 3:5 ); 9, to reject a man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition ( Titus 3:10 ); 10, and to receive not any who bring not the doctrine of Christ (2 Jno. 10 ).
It must be evident that there is something wrong in a construction of the parable of the tares that would have the effect of nullifying these reasonable commandments (reasonable because unanimous submission to the faith and practice of the gospel is the very basis of association in Christ). The parable and the commandments are not in collision at all. They refer to two different things. What the commandments refer to is self-evident. It is to the discipline of ecclesial life. What the parable refers to is the seed-sowing operations of the Son of Man in the house of Israel, as shown in Nazareth Revisited , page 138. In this operation it was needful that the tares should not be uprooted till the wheat was grown, otherwise the ripening development of the wheat would have been prevented. The development of the righteous requires that the wicked prosper contemporaneously with them for a time. But to contend that because the wicked are tolerated in the land of the living while the righteous are being trained, therefore we are not to obey the commands concerning those who become insubordinate to apostolic requirements in the community of the truth, is not to illustrate a “right division of the truth,” but to perpetrate a glaring instance of the reverse. Our friend's contention would justify all the absurdities we have heard contended for in our time. We have met those who say there ought to be no withdrawal for false doctrine; and we have met those who contend there ought to be no withdrawal for wrong behavior, because the Lord is judge. If our friend's use of the words, “Let both grow together until the harvest,” is a legitimate use, then both positions would be right. If so, there ought to be no separations from a professing body on any ground. Why, then, have our friends separated from the sects and denominations? To be consistent with their contention, we should all return to the churches.
The belief of the truth and submission to the commandments is “the true basis of apostolic fellowship.” On both heads, the sects and denominations are impossible communions for those who are subject to the Scriptures; and in so far as on either head, any body of people become uncertain or lax; they are in the same position. When they question or leave in doubt the authority of the Scriptures as the infallible work of inspiration, they unhinge that which is naturally, the beginning and foundation of all spiritual truth in our age. This is the mischief that has caused the disunion our open-door friend laments. It is not “the method or manner,” but the fact and effect of inspiration that is in question. This has been reiterated times without number; but our friends choose to ignore or evade the issue. Yet its reality is manifest in everything they write. Even this open-door friend cannot quote Paul's statement on inspiration without quoting it in the non-committal form that commended itself to semi-sceptical Revisers: “Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable, &c.” He says he never came across anyone claiming to be a brother who denied this yet; denied what? That every inspired scripture is profitable. That is not the question. The question is what is inspired scripture? this or that; all or part? Here is where we part-either because the question is answered wrongly, or because an answer is refused, on personal grounds, or because if rightly answered the questioner wants it not to matter as regards communion with those who cannot or will not so answer.
Then our friend objects to the phrases, “infallible” and “wholly-inspired,” on the ground that they are unscriptural expressions, and, therefore, presumably representative of unscriptural ideas; for what else can the remark mean, that “those who hold unscriptural ideas are obliged to go outside the lids of the Bible to get phrases to convey their meaning.” What is this but saying he does not believe the Bible to be wholly-inspired and infallible? If he said so plainly, he would only say what the more candid of them honestly believe. Some in their blindness deny there are such persons as partial inspirationists among the separated brethren. The editor of the Investigator, who is in fellowship with them, knows better, and candidly avowed the other day in conversation with the editor of the Christadelphian that there are partial inspirationists among them, and that the Bible is not loved among them as it ought to be. This we know to be a true testimony.
To talk as our open-door friend does of such an issue as “a squabble about a non-essential point of doctrine” is only to show that he has not estimated the scriptures aright yet, or the bearing of the controversy that has been raised. To stand up for the scriptures against those whose doctrine would undermine them, is not “wasting precious energy on fratricidal strife,” but employing it in the commendable work of “contending earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.” And this will not be to their dishonor in the day of final adjustment, but otherwise, if sincerely and humbly done. Those who take this course may be accused of causing the divisions. The accusation is only as true as Ahab's accusation against Elijah that he was the “troubler of Israel.” Ahab was the true troubler, for it was his course that caused the trouble by compelling Elijah to act his part. The responsibility of division rests with those who refuse to avow their faith in the complete inspiration of the Scriptures, or who while affirming it do so with a reservation which prevents them from avowing belief in its infallibility; or who believing and avowing both, hold on by those who deny both. There can be no open doors with faithful men to such ambiguities. The only open door they can have to do with is the open door of the narrow way that leadeth unto life.
Brother Robert Roberts
dealing with the Partial Inspiration Controversy
BROTHER HENRY SULLEY
A MAN WITH PASSION
Brother Henry Sulley was born at Brooklyn, Long Island, USA, January 30, 1845. He later relocated to England - the country of his parent's birth. He was baptized in Nottingham, England, in October of 1871 at the age of 26 years old. The passion this young man had for the truth is evident in his readiness to serve; just one month after his baptism he began giving addresses, and did so continuously until his health was in decline, almost 68 year later.
Brother Sulley being a young brother in the Nottingham meeting in the early 1870's gives us much to think about: Edward Turney was from this meeting, and in 1872-73 he was at the height of his notoriety just before apostatizing. Was young Henry Sulley brought into the truth by one of Turney's efforts? We cannot know for sure. We find that just 2 years after brother Sulley's baptism, Edward Turney suddenly spewed his clean flesh heresy upon the brotherhood. Almost overnight, a young brother named Henry who barely had his feet wet in ecclesial life, would have to discern what was right and what was wrong.
A MAN OF FAITH
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
Though brother Sulley was young, he was definitely not naive. He, along with 11 others, wrote the brethren at Nottingham requesting a special meeting immediately in order to discuss the drastic turning of Edward Turney, and to consider their recourse (see attached "Important Communication"). From this wise call to action, a new meeting was created, standing apart from the heresy taught by Turney. Determined to do what was right, to prove all things, and hold fast to that which was good, brother Sulley stood apart - regardless of the consequences... and it appeared that the consequences were great; his young wife separated from both sides, unable to decide her own position. Taking a month to study the issue thoroughly, she then reunited with the right side. She too had to test the spirits, and would not rely on the word or faith of another. Brother Sulley is therefore shown to have chosen a very wise woman to be his sister/wife; a valuable lesson to all true Daughters of Sarah - not to rely on the faith of others. It will be by our own faith that we will be judged, and not that of our husbands. (See Attachment, to see brother Sulley's studies regarding Christ's Atonement.)
A MAN WITH A MESSAGE
Soon, brother Sulley began participating in debates, and began to travel around Britain giving public lectures. Much like brother Roberts and Brother Shuttleworth, we see that brother Sulley rarely took a break from lecturing and teaching as long as he was physically capable. He traveled around Britain, America, Australia and New Zealand offering hope to the perishing world all of his life in the truth.
A MAN WITH VISION
"...Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of the Elohim of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways,
and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem. "
In 1878, a number of brethren began to inquire about the specifications of the temple seen by Ezekiel in the vision described in the last eight chapters of his book. Brother Sulley was an architect by profession; therefore his skill combined with the passion he had for the Truth made him the perfect brother to reconstruct the detailed specifications given in the prophetic vision. He took the task very seriously, and devoted nine years to the work, which first appeared in book form in 1887. Writing to brother Shuttleworth, he says: “Tell brother Roberts I am laboring day by day, almost, at the specification of the temple of the age to come… He will hear from me as soon as I have got the whole matter clear, or have come to a block in my investigation.”
Dr. Thomas had long before arrived at the same conclusion
".. I had the privilege of spending a night with brother Alexander, of Stow, on the outward journey, and through him a brief chat over a cup of tea with brother James Bell, of Galashields. These brethren, in common with many others in Scotland, hold the memory of Dr. Thomas in deep reverence and sound discernment. It is folly to do otherwise. The truth in his heaven-guided hands was delivered out of the superincumbent rubbish of tradition. God selected him to peer through the “face of the covering cast over all people and the vail that is spread over all nations,” and give us the net result in his analysis of the Bible. There does not appear even an important phase of the truth which Dr. Thomas did not traverse; and respecting which he did not in his concise and matchless way exhibit the light. Even as to the Ezekiel Temple, he was clear enough and said enough to show us the way, as illustrated in those beautiful extracts lately appearing in the Christadelphian. One feature in the case interested me much when reading those extracts. Dr. Thomas had long before, without my knowing it, arrived at the same conclusion to which I was forced, namely, that the kingly function must be dual-combining the priestly with the royal. Some are willing to admit that the saints will be priests-immortal priests-and offer in some way, and yet contend that it is an unnatural thing that they should offer blood. Nothing can be unnatural that God appoints as the occupation of his people. H. Sulley 1891
William Norrie, brother in the flesh to sister Jane (Norrie) Roberts,
was a Dowieite.
In 1866, brother Roberts confronted the Dowieites in several lengthy discussions, concerning their vigorous promotion of false doctrine. The Dowieite charter group, G. Dowie, Wm. Norrie, W. Laing, J. Cameron and W. Lawrie, were defensive and evasive,
and even forbade the recording of their talks.
Why would anyone do these things if the conviction held was a true, honest and noble one?
Crafty wolves are astute, and they're not honest.
A wolf wouldn't want to alarm sheep if he had hopes of luring them from mainstream Christadelphia.
Therefore, elastic words must used, cloaked in ambiguous language, so that the meaning can be stretched in different directions,
depending upon the need and the listener.
The Dowieites used this dishonest practice (and others) to hide their connection with the apostasy.
They gave the apostasy platform in their meetings, when Dr. Thomas and his teachings were kept away. They chose to print,
at their own expense, the tracts of Rev. G. Moncrieff, instead of Dr. Thomas or any other faithful brother.
They bemoaned that Dr. Thomas was too hard on the apostasy;
and now we know why - because they called the apostasy "brethren".
The Dowieites were eventually disfellowshipped, though they did not disband.
And they continued their dangerous practice of blending Truth with the apostasy, for decades - and beyond.
At the turn of the century, we find William Norrie lamenting the mushroomed result of their early kindly treatment of the apostasy:
"...The leavening process [from Edinburgh] went on for years, till ultimately the whole mass became so permeated, that, in 1894, it was agreed to receive persons whose pre-baptismal knowledge did not include the things of the kingdom and the name - only two persons dissenting, Eight years later, (with two dozen dissenters) the Gospel of the Kingdom was discarded as pre-baptismal faith, and the communion made free to all baptized persons holding the common faith of Christendom!'
How the mighty are fallen!"
What exactly was Wm. Norrie referring to?
In the year 1894, which Norrie points us to, a new fellowship was founded by many of his old Dowieite brethren.
"The Faith" fellowship was one of several "Immortality Conditionalist" groups, most of which were offshoots of the Truth.
Their magazine publishes their cause:
INTERNATIONAL AND INTERDENOMINATIONAL
a Witness to the Distinctive Principles of Conditional Immortality,
and the appearing and Kingdom of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
All Evangelical Christians are eligible for membership, such as make an Annual Offering,
and subscribe to the following pledge:
"I belive the Eternal Life to be the free gift of God through and in Christ; and I desire my character to be conformable to His example and teaching. All Evangelical Churches in sympathy with the principles of the Fellowship are eligible...."
One such member listed, was Rev. Wm. Moncrieff, the Reverend which G. Dowie and the Edinburgh meeting
hosted and protected, just after forming their meeting 40 years before ... one who was just too sweet to turn away...
How are the mighty fallen? William Norrie pleads.
These men were never mighty.
COMFORT MUST BE TRUE
Death was a frequent visitor to brother and Sister Roberts, who lost two children early in marriage - the first little girl in 1860, and the second in 1862. The sting of death was again felt when brother Robert's natural father (baptized only 2 years before) and also brother John Thomas both died in 1871. Sadly, death visited them again the following year in November of 1872 when Scarlet fever infected their home. The loss of John Thomas Roberts was an especially hard loss. His delightful companionship provided comfort and joy to a man made weary under hard daily trials. This little boy sat at his father's right hand at the dinner table, and loved to ask his father about the kingdom. The day of the funeral of precious four year old John, the Roberts family tragically discovered that they also lost three year old Ellen Thomas Roberts (named after sister Ellen Thomas) the same disease. Below is the report written by brother Roberts, and printed in the Christadelphian. This amazing example of strength and faith of a man who suffered from an unimaginable loss is an encouragement to us all who may struggle under trial in our own lives day to day. -BK
- Robert Roberts November 1872.
(The following was added hastily before going to press)
Sorrow upon sorrow! His sister, two years old, called after sister Thomas, has, since the above was in type, died of the same disease.
(Brother Roberts' sister, Barbara Roberts Jardine, died only a few months later from childbirth. - BK)
The atheist that reconsidered
In the depth of a Huddersfield's winter, a middle aged man named Josiah Rhodes headed for the door, gathering his hat and coat before facing the blustery, snowy walk to the Senior's School Room. Newlyweds Robert and Jane Roberts also walked to the Senior's schoolroom with their hearts palpitating with anxiety. They had advertised for a public lecture, but were unsure of the response in such an atheistic town - AND in the depth of a harsh winter. Sis Jane was optimistic- she expected the place would be half full of interested friends, considering the amount of publicity given. But the state of the walkway gave little promise. Only their footprints scarred the otherwise placid and smooth walkway. They took their seats at a table on the far side of the room, and waited, and no doubt prayed silently. The door opened, and a tall, slim man entered. Robert Roberts, being a newspaper reporter, was very familiar with this man - he was the “town atheist.” He also knew it was sometimes the practice of the atheists to attended Bible lectures in order to disrupt them with questions intending to stump or embarrass the lecturer. Bro Roberts tells us a little about Josiah Rhodes in his autobiography: “ His history was a very sad one…his life was like one long dull, wintry day. He was born in the workhouse, and struggled with difficulty all his life, with no education, but he possessed an active native interest in political and religious questions, (and) he worked himself into a fair degree of acquaintance with man and things, and exercised a distinct local influence in the town and neighborhood, through his ability as a public speaker and his uprightness of character.”
This was not the first contact Bro Roberts had with this atheist group. He lectured in the nearby town of Dewsbury, and discovered first hand that it was the “very nest of atheism.” This was where the followers of Charles Bradlaugh, the notorious atheist, congregated. They were known as “freethinkers” whose scorn of the Bible was repulsive to any God-fearing man.
The town baker found his seat, and waited for the Bible address to begin. As brother & sister Roberts sat for a short time longer, they were soon pleasantly surprised to see the door was pushed opened again, and again, until at last the room was half full. Sister Roberts got her half filled room after all.
Brother Roberts had announced in a footnote on the bills that questions would be answered at the close of each lecture. In response to this, the tall atheist, Josiah Rhodes, began posing questions. In hindsight, brother Roberts reflected on the way he dealt with Josiah Rhodes - he had the impression that the town atheist had come to ruin a lecture on Scripture, and later feared that he had answered his questions with abruptness. This was something that he learned from the experience - and we should also take heed of the lesson - people CAN change.
Regardless of Brother Roberts abruptness, Joaish's questions continued to come. He had difficulty finding any contradiction with the man he went to hear tonight. He found that this man made sense of the Bible. What brother Roberts didn't know was that the town atheist had begun to read the Bible, and had sincere questions. He was driven by one question he could not resolve in his own mind. “Can it be that we have no father?” On this cold and otherwise bleak night, Robert Roberts was talking to a truly humbled man.
Josiah Rhodes (conclusion)
Character being developed in TWO humbled men
Brother Roberts apparently didn't realize that he had a first principle student on his hands - and with very good reason. He and sister Roberts had just lost their newborn baby which came to them just after their 1 year anniversary. The pain of the loss caused them to want to leave Huddersfield, which had become a painful reminder to them of their recent loss. A job offer came during this lecture series, which would allow them to leave Huddersfield - and their pain - but the offer had to be accepted soon, or the opportunity would pass. The opportunity would mean traveling all over England and Scotland, and ultimately settling down in New York - where Dr. Thomas lived. This sounded very good to this sorrowing couple. The brethren in Halifax were disappointed to see their hard working couple leave them. But before doing so, brother Roberts arranged for the remaining lectures to be given much closer together, which allowed them to leave Huddersfield with Fowler and Wells in January of 1861. However, several months into the travel, sister Roberts discovered she was expecting again - and probably was when they originally left Huddersfield. Brother Roberts realized the unsettled life which traveling caused was not a good situation. When traveling near Huddersfield, he visited his old boss, and got his job back. He then visited the brethren in Halifax, to find out to his delight, that there were three students nearing baptism, which had come from the lecture series in December. One was Josiah Rhodes. This marked the beginning of the ecclesia in Huddersfield. It was in Josiah Rhodes' bakery that Dr. Thomas gave his first class and exhortation in this town, also being the first time brother and sister Roberts heard him address the brethren. What a powerful impression it would have made upon the people of this town to now hear brother Rhodes preside over a lecture about the Truth, having been well known for 20 years as the leading town atheist, when he opened his remarks saying that he had been privileged to discover a way of believing the Bible without doing violence to reason, and that they too might enjoy the same privilege. Brother Josiah Rhodes would later become the backbone of this meeting, and a true pillar in the Truth.
We find that two men were humbled by this valuable experience. Not only did Josiah Rhodes learn and grow in character but also Bro Roberts learned that people can change. During the next lecture series, which would form our valuable book, "Christendom Astray," he lost his second child. This time, he continued the lectures as planned and the reason is clear: The title of the lecture just following baby Lydia's death was appropriately called: The Only Hope
This amazing young couple had learned from this past experience, not to run from pain, realizing there was no comfort to be found in running - God is the only source of true comfort.. They were therefore determined to continue their work in Huddersfield, throwing themselves completely into the work of the Truth - which is the best cure for pain.. Lydia's death would have been a confirmation in their mind to continue in the work of ministering the truth to perishing men; to educate and invite them to partake of the only true Hope, and the only answer to all sorrow and suffering. They would not allow death to interfere with the offering of the only solution to it. Their perception and understanding of trial had become much clearer. Diligence and endurance are constant lessons and examples we find in the lives of faithful brethren throughout the ages.
Brother Roberts Defied Being a Product of His Environment
- and shows us that we can do the same -
Young brother Roberts was, to a certain extent, a product of his environment. He came into the truth at 14 years old and became part of a meeting which still had deacons and bishops, and which still toyed with the idea of whether or not they had the holy spirit. However, this confused state was found in many of the meetings at this infant stage of the brotherhood, which had just separated from Campbellism only five years before. Brother Roberts did not have anything to compare these things to and therefore these things would not yet seem strange to a young boy, himself looking for guidance. However, the meeting was still such a contrast to the Baptist church he had left that he found it different and refreshing. At 18, he then moved to Edinburgh, which concerning the truth, he would later realize was the most liberal area in Britain. Here, he caught his first faint glimpse of how the truth should be perceived and lived in the person of brother John Forman, one of the very few there who shared his affection for brother Thomas. But brother Forman fell asleep shortly after they met,
leaving an indelible impression on brother Roberts which never left him.
In brother Roberts' youth, he still was taken by the loving brethren in Edinburgh - led by George Dowie - who loved to sing and have socials, and encouraged all to live by the old adage of “live and let live.” Brother Roberts soon discovered that this extremely social atmosphere served as a distraction to - and a replacement of the Truth being taught and advocated in its purity - something we all should be on guard against. What was being taught (numerous false doctrines) was clearly contradictory to what Dr. Thomas wrote in Elpis Israel - and what was taught in scripture, but the brethren did not want to rock the lovely social boat. It had been encouraged both in Aberdeen and Edinburgh, not to judge others in their choices of walk - which in most cases meant CHOICES of doctrine. Though very disturbed by what he witnessed and heard, he did not know what he personally could do - especially because he was younger than almost all the brethren there. Brother Roberts therefore continued to read and study privately, thereby keeping his bearings clear - and his anchor sure - in the midst of trouble waters. It was not until he moved to Huddersfield at 19 years of age that his thoughts of how life in the truth should be were once again confirmed, through his relationship with brother Shuttleworth. Together, brother Roberts, sister Roberts, brother Shuttleworth, and others, successfully defied their environment, and became determined to move in the upward direction - regardless of the liberal environment they found themselves in in Britain.
Recognizing how deficient his understanding must have been at baptism due to the environment during his formative years in the truth, brother Roberts saw the need to be re-immersed. (Sister Roberts had been re-immersed several years prior, after leaving Edinburgh). We can safely assume both brother and sister Roberts were re-immersed in the Lockwood Baths in Huddersfield, since this was the facility used by the meeting there during this time. Brother Roberts and brother Shuttleworth began to work in this little area in England, to educate, exhort, encourage, and give public lectures. Brother Thomas, witnessing for himself the wealth of understanding and character of this young brother, at such a young age, encouraged him to reach beyond this little circle in England.
It was the following year, in 1864, he began the Christadelphian,
and compiled our first Hymn Book.
We find mention of brother Roberts re-immersion in the Messenger for June of 1863:
“During the past month, three brethren and a sister, viz.- Robert Roberts, Gilbert and Mrs. G. Oliver, and Isaac Clissit, finding their faith at the time of immersion had been incompetent, have taken a new start, with more correct knowledge, and (have) been (re) immersed in the name of the Lord Jesus. They request notice of this in the Messenger.”
Years later, in 1874, the re-immersion was mentioned in the Christadelphian in answer to a correspondent :
Not True -
The report that the Editor was “re-immersed on the judgment question, and again on God-manifestation, when Dr. Thomas was in this country,” is not true. The Editor has only once been re-immersed, and that was twelve years ago, on attaining to an understanding of the things concerning the name of Jesus, of which he was ignorant at his first immersion, when 16 years of age, (he listed his age incorrectly here - he was in fact only 14 years old in 1854. - BK) his faith at that time laying hold of the kingdom only. The Editor's faith in relation to the doctrine of judgment and God-manifestation was at his re-immersion what it is now. We take this opportunity of also stating that the reports of Dr. Thomas's re-immersions are equally unfounded. We can understand the object for which these false reports are circulated.
In 1888 brother Roberts answers a correspondent concerning the validity of baptism, which surely must have brought to mind re-immersion, and also the heresy which brought the need to light:
Enquirer .-There is such a thing as growth in knowledge after the obedience of the truth. The question of the validity of immersion where such growth has taken place must be left to individual conscience. The risk is the person's own, and must be left with them if they see no reason to doubt their position. No man can draw the exact line at which validity begins and ends. Where the whole truth is received, the brethren in fellowship are not compromised. It is different when the truth in some of its elements is opposed.