God’s Principles of Unity
John R Caldwell
THE tendency of all sects has always been to consolidate themselves on the principle of confederation. Each sect as it extended sought the amalgamation with it of all who adopted the same views or principles. Then arose the necessity for a constitution and rules, and a definite membership. These might be largely, or not at all, Scriptural; but compliance with such rules became the bond of union, and thus, practically, the way is barred in each community or sect against further knowledge of many truths. Outside of all such we have been led, in order to be where one authority only is owned, that of the Lord Jesus Christ; where one final standard is appealed to—viz., the Word of God; and where there is liberty for the Spirit of God to minister by those whom He has qualified and set in the body for the edification of the whole. . . . Whatever be our relationships as_ individuals with the children of God in the various denominations or sects of Christendom (and these must never be ignored), relationships with the sects as such we can have none. The truth that demanded separation at first, demands that the separation be maintained; otherwise the sacrifice of the truth must follow. . . The results of all attempts
To Form a Unity of Assemblies have been so sad and dishonouring to the Lord, that many have naturally recoiled to the other extreme, and the consequence is that attempts at united action and fellowship among assemblies, which are perfectly right and Scriptural, are opposed and suspected of being a beginning to drift back into organized sectarianism.
If unity be made an object instead of Christ, then the end must be disaster. Some have made it the object, and have taken (he exclusive position, and God has blown upon it. Others have made it an object, and have in their zeal for union of all Christians consented to sacrifice their testimony as to distinctive truth, thus purchasing the wider fellowship at the expense of unfaithfulness to that which God has taught them. Thus, whether it be the rallying cry of the “unity of the body “or” fellowship with all saints” (both truths of the highest importance if rightly understood) it is equally making unity an object, and the result is disaster to the truth. Properly, unity is a result, not an object.
In building the wall of Jerusalem, each man with his family built opposite his own house, and built upon the old foundation (Neh. 3). Thus acting, there was no need to be concerned about unity. When the building advanced far enough, each portion would meet with and join on to the next. Thus in time, unity was the result.
That saints are all redeemed by the same precious blood, and all indwelt by one Spirit, and all members of one body, are precious truths. But these do not suffice to secure practical unity or practical fellowship.
The Object Must Be Christ Alone,
the exaltation of His Name, as the Name that claims the allegiance of every heart, the subjection of every will; the exaltation of His Word as the only statute-book whereby His will is made known ; the unhindered liberty for His Spirit to unfold its treasures and put each individual in possession of the mind of Christ. Those who were of one heart to make David king were able to keep rank (1 Chron. 12. 38). There was no wavering purpose, no double heart; therefore, unity was the result.
It mattered not that few at first identified themselves with the cause of the rejected king; the host increased in numbers and in fervour, and in effectual unity, for David was its centre and its object. Let Christ be our Centre and our Object, and subjection to Him in all things our rule, and unity will surely be the manifest result.
Lot each assembly exalt Him and build upon the old foundation, and according to the Divine pattern and plan, and then, like the walls of Jerusalem, there will come in time to be a joining together of all that are so acting out the will of God. Fellowship between assemblies will be the natural outcome of individual and united subjection to the will and Word of the Lord.
The Word that separates from one assembly will separate from all, not because all are confederate, but because all acknowledge the one authority. The Word that introduces to one, will introduce to all, not because one is bound by the action of another, but because each is acting in obedience to the same Word and w