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A Historical Sketch of the Brethren Movement An Account of its Inception, Progress, Principles and Failures and its Lessons for Present Day Believers von Ironside, H. A. (eBook)

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A Historical Sketch of the Brethren Movement

The preparation of these papers, both in their original form as a series of articles in a periodical no longer published, Serving and Waiting , and in re-editing and adding more and later material for book publication, has been to me a definite labor of love. That the movement some of whose history I have endeavored to trace out has been, and still is, a very definite work of the Spirit of God, though like all other testimonies committed to man, seriously marred by the failing human element, is my sincere conviction. I have been importuned by many persons to put these papers in permanent form, but for a number of years have refrained from doing this for I was not clear as to whether the doing so would be for the glory of God and the blessing of souls or not. But after much exercise of heart, considerable prayer for guidance, and consultation with leading men among the assemblies of brethren who have encouraged me to accede to this request, I have gone over the original papers, endeavored to correct any inaccuracies, and added much additional material. The question has been raised as to whether the story of the divisions among the brethren is profitable, and some have suggested it would be kinder to eliminate this part of the story and tell only the other side. This does not seem to me to be right. Common honesty I feel would compel one to set forth the whole truth, so far as possible, in connection with the movement, hoping that the portion relating to strife and dissension might prove to be salutary reading for the brethren themselves, and give warning and instruction to other Christian groups that they may avoid the rocks which proved so disastrous to what was evidently a marked work of God. I do not pretend to infallibility in discussing the many questions involved. I have had to depend on much ephemeral pamphlet literature. Many of the booklets contradicted one another and it has been difficult to ferret out the exact facts. But after conferring with many older brethren, numbers of whom are now with Christ, I believe I have been enabled to give a fair and straightforward account of what is here recorded. During the past twelve years I have been pastor of the Moody Memorial Church of Chicago, an independent church standing very largely for the very truths which the brethren love and from which Dwight L. Moody profited so definitely. This has, in measure, cut me off from that full communion with assemblies of brethren which I enjoyed for years, but has in no sense lessened my love and respect for them. H. A. Ironside, Chicago, Ill., August, 1941 CrossReach Publications


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    Sprache: Englisch
    ISBN: 6610000134359
    Verlag: CrossReach Publications
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A Historical Sketch of the Brethren Movement

Chapter Two


A fter the publication of Mr. Darby's pamphlet on the Nature and Unity of the Church of God, to which reference was made in the preceding chapter, inquiries began to reach him from Christians in many parts regarding the practical outworking of what he there set forth. The result was the establishment within the next few years of a number of similar gatherings to the one already under way in Dublin. There was no attempt at first to enforce uniformity of procedure in these meetings, and if I may be allowed to record here my profound conviction as to the chief cause of the apparent failure of the testimony of the Brethren and their eventual breakup into many different groups, I should say that it was through their failing to maintain the principle that unity is not necessarily uniformity. If the Brethren had been content to allow the Spirit of God to have His own way in each place, and had not made the attempt to enforce common methods of procedure and church order upon the assemblies as they did some years afterwards, they might have still presented a marvelous testimony to the unity of the Spirit. That this was Mr. Darby's original thought, the following quotations from the pamphlet in question will make plain:

In the first place, it is not a formal union of the outward professing bodies that is desirable; indeed it is surprising that reflecting Protestants should desire it: far from doing good, I conceive it would be impossible that such a body could be at all recognized as the church of God. It would be a counterpart to Romish unity; we should have the life of the church and the power of the Word lost, and the unity of spiritual life utterly excluded. Whatever plans may be in the order of Providence, we can only act upon the principles of grace; and true unity is the unity of the Spirit, and it must be wrought by the operation of the Spirit...If the view that we have taken of the state of the church be correct, we may adjudge that he is an enemy to the work of the Spirit of God who seeks the interests of any particular denomination; and that those who believe in "the power and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ" ought carefully to keep from such a spirit; for it is drawing back the church to a state occasioned by ignorance and non-subjection to the Word, and making a duty of its worst and most anti-Christian results. This is a most subtle and prevailing mental disease, "he followeth not us"; even when men are really Christians...

Accordingly, the outward symbol and instrument of unity is the partaking of the Lord's Supper, "for we being many are one body, for we are all partakers of that one bread." And what does St. Paul declare to be the true intent and testimony of that rite? That whensoever we eat of that bread and drink of that cup, we "do show the Lord's death till he come." Here then are found the character and life of the church-that into which it is called-that in which the truth of its existence subsists, and in which alone is true unity.

Am I desiring believers to correct the churches? I am beseeching them to correct themselves by living up, in some measure, to the hope of their calling. I beseech them to show their faith in the death of the Lord Jesus, and their boast in the glorious assurance which they have obtained by it, by conformity to it-to shew their faith in his coming, and practically to look for it, by a life suitable to desires fixed upon it. Let them testify against the secularity and blindness of the church; but let them be consistent in their own conduct. "Let their moderation be known unto all men." While the spirit of the world prevails, spiritual union cannot subsist. Few believers are at all aware how the spirit which gradually opened the door to the dominion of apostasy, still sheds its wasting and baneful influence in the professing church...

But there is a practical p

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