c. 1920, Turtletown, Tennessee
The cause of the great apostasy and the dark age of the world explained. The cause of denominational division shown. Also a plan for the union of all Christians, many new ideas and thoughts and several poems by Elder R. G. Spurling.
Being divinely called, as we trust, and looking to God for the guidance of the Holy Spirit who should guide us into all truth and whom Jesus said He would give to them that ask Him, we claim the promises. I have prayed, studied and preached on the doctrines which I do here set forth in the following pages by songs and short lectures, all pointing to a needed reformation among God’s people. But before the reader can feel the need of a reformation from the laws of men to the laws of Christ he should have the laws of God put in his heart and written in his mind. We realize that we cannot reach the millions of noble, pious and loving hearted Christians who are in bondage in the various denominations of the earth, and have never known that they were not keeping God’s law. So we come before the world in this way that we may reach as many as possible. We also kindly ask the reader not to be offended for we must talk plainly. If you find something you don’t believe go to the Testament and if it gives it the lie do not have it. Do not be prejudiced but let the love of God fill your heart.
We call your attention to the fact that Israel was carried into Babylon as a punishment for forsaking God’s law, and it was many years before the temple was rebuilt and God’s law reestablished. Thus we see in Rev. 17:18 that God’s people or church would be captive in another Babylon of which the Jewish captivity was only a figure. This spiritual Babylon first appears as a woman which symbolizes a church. Her costly attire is a figure of God’s blessings. Secondly, she is called a harlot or whore which is a symbol of a fallen church as all Bible readers may know. Read Ezek. 16. Thirdly, she is called the mystery which signifies subscribing to something not understood and also shows that she is the same mystery of iniquity spoken of by Paul in 2 Thes. 2:1-7. Fourth, she is the mother of harlots or the cause of many false systems which fill our land today. Says one, Are you going to unchristianize all the churches? By no means. Look at Rev. 18:4. It says, “Come out of her, my people.” I ask you, Where are God’s people today? You say in the churches or denominations. If you say the church has never apostasized and has always been separate from this Babylon I will assure you that God’s people are not in them for they are in Babylon.
If the church has organically fallen, when and how did it fall? If we fail to find the cause of the fall we cannot reform it. To get the truth, we must examine and see what the church was founded on. We hear Christ saying, “Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Here we have the figure of the house on a rock which can’t fall while on the rock, but take the rock from under it and it will fall. So we must know what the rock is, upon which the church was built. Christ asked His disciples who He was and Peter said He was the Christ. How did Peter know? Christ said His Father had revealed it to Him, then it was revealed by the Holy Spirit. Then upon this rock—the fact revealed from heaven that Jesus is the Christ, by the Holy Ghost. Thus we see what the Church was built upon.
The apostle says if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His. If the Holy Spirit is the Rock and great Leader of the Church upon what law was it established? Since we see that the priesthood was changed and a new covenant made Paul says there was also a change of the law. The written law, the letter, killeth but the Spirit giveth life. He also speaks of the law of the Spirit of life. Rom. 8:2. Again we read, “I will put my law into their hearts.” Therefore, we see the Christian law is not an outward law. Thus the two tables of stone on which the ten commandments were written were a figure of God’s writing the new law in our hearts and minds. Hear the blessed Redeemer saying, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples.” Here He makes love the great discerning law. Therefore, we see that love is the law upon which the Church was based, written by the Holy Ghost. Read once more, “He that loveth another has fulfilled the law of Christ.”
We not turn to the churches. Are they led by the Spirit or by men? Are they standing on God’s law of love or on some article of faith or creed? Do they make laws to suit themselves? If they do these things they are fallen off the rock for there is but one law-giver. Neither Paul nor Peter nor John assumed the right to make a single law. Even when Paul was asked a question concerning which he had no commandment he would not give any commandment but would give his judgment.
Christ did not leave anything undone. Remember when Moses was organizing the Jewish church and had spoken every precept, he sprinkled both the books and the people with the blood. So Christ spoke all the law, precepts and government of His Church. To add anything is a step in apostasy. Oh, be careful for time is too short to build with wood, hay and stubble is a serious mistake. We must have gold, silver and precious stone or the Spirit, law and government of Christ. I now call upon all the churches to know if you can show me the law of love as a discerning law, that is, do they know and fellowship each other by the law of love? Do they do unto others as they would have them do unto them? Has every member equal rights and privileges to read and understand and practice God’s Word as they see it?
Don’t do as I did. I thought repentance, faith and baptism was God’s law but I find it only brings us to where we ought to keep God’s law, and woe to the man that does not keep it. But some one will say, “You said that every one should be led by the Spirit. now suppose someone would claim that the Spirit led them to steal or curse or fight or have more wives than one as do the Mormons? We answer the question first by saying all these things are violations of the New Testament and cannot be upheld by the Church. Mormons will say Paul said, “Bishops and deacons should be the husband of one wife,” and that implies that others might have more. But stop, you can’t make that hold good. A widow cannot become a church charge unless she has been the wife of one husband, having washed the saints’ feet, also brought up children and followed every good work. Paul said the wife of one husband. you have the same right to say that women had more husbands than one and of course women did not practice polygamy. While on this subject I want to say some adulterous hearted men who would walk after the flesh in its ungodly lust will say look at Abraham and Jacob and David who had more than one wife. Why did God suffer it? He suffered it because He had made such an extravagant promise to Abraham to greatly multiply his seed as the sand of the sea—without number. This helped them to multiply but Paul says the law has changed since then. Heb. 7:12.
Let us compare two texts of Scripture. Solomon said, “I have not withheld myself from anything my heart desired.” Christ said, “Deny thyself and take up thy cross and follow me.” Thus we see the Jewish church was the fleshly Israel and walked after the flesh but the gospel church is after the Spirit and must crucify the flesh with the lust and affections thereof, and will if they are led by the Spirit and not by the flesh. John tells us to try the spirits whether they be of God. Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus is the Christ is of God or, in other words, every spirit that is of a Christlike, self-denying, brother-loving spirit is of God. Yes, bless God, I feel that I have the Spirit of God while I pen these precious words. I am glad that we as a church have no other leader but God’s Spirit; no other law but that which Jesus gave; no other rule of faith but the New Testament.
When I left the Missionary Baptist church, the church I once loved so dearly, I looked back at her creeds but I must go, not for crime, for my life was that which would honor my calling, but I must go for preaching without authority of their church. It was then I first knew they had not God’s law and government.
I have said many times that love is the law on which Christ built the church. To make this clear to your mind I will use a figure like that of building and operating a railroad. Spiritually speaking this world is a wilderness full of reptiles and so sickly that all of its inhabitants die. And there was also a fair and happy land, almost in sight, where no serpents every marked the elision plain, where no death bells ring, no funeral nor sad good-bye, but so deep were the chasms and so huge were the bluffs that they never could reach that healthful shore. There was a great King in that good land who loved those poor dying people in this wilderness so He sent His Son to make a railroad to carry these poor dying people to that better country where no sin nor death could ever mar their happiness. He first started His civil engineer to survey out and locate the best route. This was John the Baptist who located the route by repentance and faith. He met the King’s Son at the Jordan, who made known Himself and received all necessary preparations for making said railroad.
He began to select men suitable to help make this road. Then he began to blow down the bluffs of Judaism and filled the valleys of idolatry and to bridge the rivers of infidelity. When this was done hear Him saying, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” The foundation is ready, the great underlying principle of the road is next, the rails the great law of love that reaches all the way to heaven. Yes, and upon it every wheel that rolls heavenward must roll. As we behold the mighty Christ laying down these golden rails as He thunders again the first and second commandment of God with double force, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God will all thy soul, mind and strength.” The second is like unto it, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Upon these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. These are the golden rails that reach all the way to heaven and on which every wheel must roll.
Next comes the great drive wheels, the law of liberty and equality. Hear Him saying, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” The commandment of God has been so abused that no sect of earth is willing to let their brother read, believe and practice for themselves. Read it like we see it and do as our doctrine says or we will exclude you from our church. Here is where the side track is set in. But see the mighty Christ as all things were ready for His glorious church. The engine on the track ready to roll but just then old grim death steps up and says, This land and all its inhabitants are mine. Your Father gave it to me to reign over and unless you can pay for it not one that has lived or will live shall escape my eternal vengeance. The Kings Son turns to His chosen ones and says, Will you help Me to pay the debt, will you take up your cross and follow Me? That is, walk in this world as I have walked denying yourself the lusts and pleasures of the this world and not you only, but all that will may help Me redeem the world and share in the glory that shall be revealed? Oh, poor Christians, y you helping Christ redeem the world? Are you drinking of the cup that He drank of? Are you baptized with the baptism that He was baptized with? Are you filling the measure of the affliction of Christ which is behind? We see Christ in the garden sending a message to His Father asking Him if it were His will for Him to pay the debt. He assured Him to pay the debt and redeem the world and all should be His. Hear Him saying, You shall not take My life as you take the lives of these poor people. MY life will I give for the life of the world. I lay My life down and I take it again. So He paid the debt and after His resurrection, He came to His chosen ones and told them to wait for the Guide which is the Holy Ghost came from heaven with the fire that makes the power and so the steam was raised in the heavenly engine. The porters cried, “All aboard” and three thousand boarded the train the first day. On and on went the heavenly engine until Satan saw that the world would be saved if he could not wreck the train and get the heavenly engine off of those golden rails. One day in absence of the Guide, there being several engineers, firemen and porters (officers of the church) Satan tells them that other fire will run this engine as well as the fire from heaven, and that other rails would be lighter and easier managed than the golden rails, so they hewed out wooden rails (men-made creeds); they took out the golden link of God’s law and set in the wooden rails. Then they tried to roll ahead, but alas, their new track was narrow gauged. So on to the wooden rails goes the heavenly engine and a great crash followed. For 1500 years this golden link has been lost and denominations have been on men-made creeds. This occurred about the year 325 A.D.
Now standing on the verge of the twentieth century looking back through the history of the various churches or sects back past the great reformers such as Luther, Wesley, Campbell, Calvin, Wyckliffe and Huss back to popery’s bloody history to the apostolic church as she stood on God’s blessed law and ruled by His government only through persecution with blood-stained garments.
Through blood and through strife
They hazarded their life
They were hunted and killed
Over mountain and hill.
Through prisons and fires,
And beasts from the lyres,
Though much trouble they saw,
They clung to God’s law.
Thus three centuries passed while the one Church of God was building on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone, but in the fourth century we behold the beast that was and is not and yet is ascending into his political ecclesiasticism, that is, state and church united, compelling God’s people to worship idols.
This same power or beast was in Nebuchadnezzar’s reign in Babylon while God’s people were in captivity under him. Down, down the history of time four centuries or more we call for God’s church again. No answer comes, but from proud Rome comes the answer, saying she is the church which the gates of hell shall not prevail against. Sick with her foul breath and blood-stained hands we call to the valley of Piedmont, then we ascend the Alps again, call for God’s Church and only an imaginary answer comes. At this many go over to ride on the beast and share in the Babylonian captivity, under Rome or some one of her daughters. Oh, that through all these years God’s people had known what Jesus meant when He said, “Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
If Christ built a church, when did He finish the building? Not yet, I assure you, or He would come and receive it. Like the temple of old it was not built in a day or a year. So is the heavenly Jerusalem, the bride, every saint is a stone in the temple of God. Rev. 3:12. Thank God that you and I may be a part of God’s church. Built by Christ—yes, here on earth is God’s quarry and every stone that does not spoil in dressing in the quarry (visible church) will, when perfected through suffering like Jesus was, fit perfectly in the church triumphant—the temple of God. So the church is being built. Persecutions may hinder some.
It may build fast or it may built slow,
But, glory to God,Christ will build it I know.
When complete in Him without wrinkle or spot,
the trials all past and troubles forgot,
When the fires are all built and the fagots applied,
When the last saint on earth for Jesus has died.
All crowned with glory by Jesus’ side,
Not earth-worn pilgrims, but Jesus’ bride.
Against her hell’s gate shall never prevail,
Nor the powers of darkness ever assail.
But where, oh, where is the visible church that once kept God’s law and government? is it Rome or is it one of the many Protestant churches? They may all answer yes, or at least a branch of the church, and no doubt all will claim that their doctrines and articles of faith are in harmony with the Bible, but all cannot be in harmony with God’s Word. They may believe they are, but we know that no uninspired man or men can make an infallible creed. We admit some truth in all, but will some truth justify the false? Nay, a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. Then the leaven of false doctrine is in the entire group of sects. If one is excusable for false doctrine, all are, and if one is rejected, then all are unless their creed is infallible.
Oh, what a confusion reigns in the various sects of earth today. It could not have been worse on the top of the tower of Babel when God came down and confounded the language of the people. It seems that our tower of Babylon is built and our spiritual language confounded. Above all this din of strife and confusion I hear Christ praying in John 17:21, that they may all be one. Would He have thus prayed for unity and given a law that would bring discord? Nay, never. But, says some, there is no division of God’s people, but our reason says not so. Christ said the world might believe but there is not the unity which Christ wanted by any means but a confusion that He does not want. Therefore we are driven to the wall and stand aghast and cry, “Where is the lost link of the golden chain of God’s law? Oh, where did the Church sidetrack? Oh, where did they leave the golden rail and set in the wooden rails of creedism? Where did the builders fail to build with gold, silver and precious stones and commence building with wood, hay and stubble?” Some will ask, Did not one of the reformers, Luther, Wesley or Campbell find the lost link? No, they did not try to reform from creeds to God’s law but tried to reform the creeds to a purer standard of faith like thousands today who fail to see that God’s law wasn’t a creed system. Then if we fail to find the disease we cannot give the remedy, so we will show the difference in God’s law and the creeds of today in the following poem:
The Lord of life from glory came,
To make our minds and hearts the same;
His gospel, law and government
Unto His children He has sent.
No more the Gentile and the Jew,
But one new man made of the two;
The lines of strife no more to lay,
But walk in love from day to day.
The law of love He did command,
That by it we should understand,
And by it all His children know,
For out of it no strife can grow.
Alas, where is this law today,
From which the Church has gone astray?
The law of Christ they have denied,
By human laws they are supplied.
Will Christians close their eyes and ears
Against the light that now appears,
Yet still to bow to human laws,
Which God will burn like useless straws?
O, brethren, for the sake of Christ,
Leave off these laws that gender strife,
Be by His Spirit ever lead,
He is the church’s only Head.
O, yes, it is the great law of love on which Christ founded His Church. Hear Him saying, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” John 13:34, 35. This great law of love stands out in God’s Word with preeminence over all other laws as the law by which to know and fellowship each other. “He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” He shows that we should believe on Jesus Christ and love one another as He gave us commandments. In 1 John 4:7, 8 He shows the absolute certainty of the religion of a man who loves his brother. Verses 20, 21 forever settle the fact that love is the infallible rule to know a man’s religion. St. Paul says though I have the gift of tongues, even to speak the language of angels, and have not charity, it is a failure. Neither is the gift of prophecy or knowledge or faith without charity sufficient to know God’s people. God’s Word puts it beyond all dispute as to the apostolic church being established on the law of love. Therefore fellowshipping each other by the law of love is the lost link. If this be so, we do not doubt it in the least. When and how did the church leave the law of love and take up the law of faith as a discerning law by which to fellowship each other? We find that about the year 325 A.D. when Constantine was emperor there arose a man by the name of Arius who differed in doctrine from the majority of the church or the preachers of the church, so Constantine ordered a council of 380 elders to convene at Constantinople. This council condemned Arius’ doctrine as unsound. Arius thought back before God made the world or anything else that He made Christ the first and noblest creature He ever made. The others claimed that Christ was ever with God and not made by him at all. Constantine caused them to make the Nicaean creed by which Arius was condemned as a heretic, and expelled him and his followers from their fellowship and communion regardless of their love for God and one another. One party became the Catholic church and the other the Arian church, each following their creed instead of God’s law. This change gave birth to creeds and every creed has made a sect or denomination. Oh, how glad we are that we have found the lost link. The next step Pope Sylvester was made head of the church, and the next thing, church and state were united. Thus the church and pope ruled the nations. Here came up the beast on which the woman sat, the mystery, Babylon the great. The mother of harlots, an abomination to the earth. Rev. 17:5. This corresponds with Paul’s mystery of iniquity or man of sin. See him exalted as God to be head of the Church instead of Christ, girded with the sword and crowned as king, universal over all nations.
Come, children of the Lord of light.
Leave off your Babylonish strife.
Her merchandise no longer buy.
Nor heed the Babylonish cry.
The creeds of men her towers have built.
The blood of saints they sure have spilt.
The guilt the various sects shall share.
If now this voice you fail to hear.
This mystery is the man of sin,
In the Apostles’ day it did begin,
To diminish each other’s faith,
With days and years it kept apace.
Until the days of Constantine,
It then the church and state combined.
Dominion to the state did give,
And caused that horned beast to live.
Against its powers reformers strove.
Which caused them in strange lands to rove.
Though many of them their blood have shed.
Its lasso rests upon our head.
Like the souls of the saints under the altar we cry, How long, oh, Lord, holy and true, dost thou suffer this mystery of iniquity to sit in the temple of God (place of worship)? Surely the time of His destruction is at hand for Paul says the Lord will consume him with the spirit of His mouth and destroy him with the brightness of His coming. Is not the Lord sending forth the spirit of His mouth or the Word of God accompanied with an outpouring of the Holy Ghost as never before since the apostolic days? Surely the brightness of the Son or righteousness is appearing in the spiritual skies. Surely the stars have been falling from the heavens. here stars mean ministers of the gospel. It is true they have not fallen during the dark age of 1500 years, but many are fading from before the light of latter rain or the evening light. Oh that I could speak in thunder tones I would proclaim to every saint on earth and urge them to shake off the bonds of false doctrines of men as imposed on them by the tradition of their elders who make void the law of God as Christ told the Jews. It is impossible to set up a creed for a man to preach and the Holy Ghost guide into all truth. Where can you lean an ox that is tied to a stake? It is impossible to teach the doctrines and commandments of men and not insult the Holy Ghost.
It is no wonder the once powerful Methodist Church has lost so much power with God and man. Her twenty-nine articles are enough to drive the Spirit filled saints from her fold. Why are they not drawn from the Bible? Whether they be truth or error it differs not. If every article were as pure as gold it would break God’s law as Moses broke the table of God’s law.
For centuries we have been under creeds or doctrines and instead of unit a makes division; instead of peace they make strife; instead of unity they bring discord; instead of love they bring hatred. The infernal regions never won a greater victory than when Satan gets a band of pious saints assembled together and some “smart elek” with self assumed infallibility gets up and says he won’t ordain any man to preach unless he can teach their doctrine as they have set it up, and then they shout like Israel shouted when they saw Aaron’s golden calf, thinking God is pleased with it. So on goes all the creed systems, the blind leading the blind and falling into the ditch of the apostasy. Dear, Brethren, go with me to Mt. Sinai, see it’s top covered with a cloud of God’s glory. Feel the earth tremble. Hear the eternal Jehovah proclaiming even a beast to touch the mount was put to death. Hear the great “I Am” hurling His sacred law with such mighty appeals that Moses said, “I exceedingly fear and quake.” Oh how sacred, how reverential was the scene, but stop for a moment, go with me to Mt. Sion to which Paul said, “We are come to another mount that we dare not touch.” Heb. 12:18-25. Oh, how much more sacred is she, but, alas, how many self important preachers take hold of the church and say, This is the way it must go, but like Sinai they die almost instantly (spiritually). Dear brethren, hands off of Sion, the heavenly, who dare violate the bride? Hands off now and forever! Do not fill the cup of fornication. Oh, my brother, shall we cling to creeds? For every egg hatches a sect, and every sect is a daughter of the mother of harlots and false systems. As I gaze on their fences my heart cries out:
Behold on Zion’s wall
I see A number very great,
Arrayed like princes on their chair,
In garments long and fine.
I wonder as upon this band,
I cast my wandering eyes.
Each in their different churches stand,
And ask not other nigh.
I wonder as along their lines,
Their fences I behold,
Which seems to stop their love,
From reaching all the fold.
I wonder as upon their walls,
Their mother’s name I see;
It almost makes my soul to shrink,
Her name is mystery.
Behold in God’s own Word
The law of love is found,
Which if applied instead of creeds
These fences would go down.
Though dark has been the day.
With clouds as black as night;
Still yet we hear the prophet say,
The evening shall be light.
The apostle Paul has said
That many would fall away;
The man of sin would be revealed
Before that awful day.
For Daniel, Paul and John
In prophecy doth agree,
It surely won’t be long,
Till all these facts we’ll see.
The merchants and her priests,
Shall weep and mourn for her,
When she lies smouldering in the dust,
Their hearts will quickly fear.
Shall I be as one calling unto a deaf man or one that waveth a signal to the blind? Oh, my brethren, can you not see and do you not know the awful state of the churches? Who can imagine for a moment that all this discord, confusion and strife is the will of God? It is a slanderous falsehood to say that Christ gave a law that caused confusion, malice and strife. Do you not know that they are the cunning works of men and have proved destructive to all the true elements of religion, love, liberty, equality, being led of the Spirit and sanctification? Without those you have a dead mass of confusion. Even now when a man departs from iniquity he becomes an object of persecution. The spirit of persecution is awakened and aroused from its slumber when we begin to draw the line between the law of Christ and the laws of men, between holiness and sin, between a gluttonous and a self-denying ministry; when we begin to hew down the walls of prejudice and cut asunder the line of separation, to shake off the bonds of men-made creeds and laws, come into the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace unto the faith that sweetly works by love unto the charity which is the bond of perfectness. As we return from our captivity in Babylon to rebuild the temple of God, to crown it with the chief corner stone of Christ and His law, they will persecute us, they will mock and say that we are a band of cranks and are fanatic, and say al manner of evil against us falsely for Christ’s sake. Not because they love God or holiness or the church but because they love honor, money, division, a great name and greeting in the markets, chief seats in the council, conferences and associations, but some will persecute us because of their honest zeal, believing they are right. But I trust the Lord will give all my brethren spirit and light to see the truth and enough love for God to accept it, at any cost. Moses like, Christ like, Paul like, Luther like, in fact, like every one who would do God’s holy will and not the will of man.
A land of gospel light have we,
How thankful then ought we to be:
What profit is that light to us,
If now that light we fail to see?
How shall we that light discern,
Which only in Thy Spirit burns?
O, Lord, each heart from darkness free,
That it may borrow light of Thee.
Send forth Thy law in every heart,
The law of God to us impart,
Like Thee, dear Father, and Thy Son
May we Thy children join in one.
May now Thy holy law of love,
Which cometh only from above,
In strongest ties our heards unite,
That we may walk in gospel light.
Well, what about church identity, apostolic succession and ministerial authority? All such claims are a failure. Apostolic succession was alright as long as God’s law was obeyed, but when the church began to make laws and depart from God’s law succession became a delusion. When man began to ordain men to preach certain doctrines and not upon Testament authority and qualifications, apostolic authority came to naught. We need not question anything about succession or apostolic lines of ministry since God’s law and government has been forsaken for 1500 years. As Israel returned to their land, unto God’s law, from Babylon, so let us return to God’s law.
From Zion’s walls I now look forth,
I look east and west and then look north;
A clamor from the church I hear,
That makes my heart to quake with fear.
And, oh, the clamor seems to be,
Discard your faith and join with me:
These offers Rome has ever made,
And tried to force with her crusade.
Her martyr’s blood she feign would hide,
And wrap in her apostolic pride;
Our creeds of course you must embrace,
For our succession we can trace.
What is your succession worth
Since to all creeds you have given birth?
Creeds have division surely wrought,
And persecutions sadly brought.
The law of love by Christ was given,
To guide the church from earth to heaven;
It almost makes my heart to bleed
To see a change for human creed.
- Methodist Elder:
- Our world is burdened down now with denominations. It looks like you people might find some church among so many that would suit you.
- R. G. Spurling:
- Oh, indeed, if we had no other motive than to suit a selfish notion, we would never have organized.
- What more could you want than an article of faith that teaches just what you believe?
- Would a church be any nearer God’s law because it taught what you or I believed? It is God’s law and government we want to restore—the law of Christ. We want to honor God and not man. We do not want to be a Luther or a Calvin or a Wesley, but we want a more God honoring reformation.
- You said that the church had departed from God’s law 1500 years ago. We demand the proof.
- We will now quote from Archard’s History, pages 110 and 175. He says during the greater part of three centuries the churches remained about as they were established and were independent of each other, neither were they joined together by association, confederacy or any other bond but that of charity. On page 22 he says the Christian societies instituted in the cities of the Roman empire were united only by the ties of faith and charity. Independence and equality formed the basis of their internal constitution. We have shown when and where they adopted a creed system instead of God’s law.
End of Dialogue
We see Buck’s History on Nicene creeds, made by Constantine with his council of 389 elders of the church, who assumed the awful responsibility of making a creed that was to rend asunder the church as never before, which it did, being the first creed ever made by uninspired men to separate Christians from each other on account of their belief. This was not God’s law, but a law made by men, which resulted in almost an instant departure from God’s law, but a law made by men, which resulted in almost an instant departure from God’s law and raised a spirit of malice, strife and persecutions. Thus the blessed record of God’s holy church was blackened by Christians persecuting each other. See Buck’s History on Persecution.
O, God, how horror stricken I pen these lines against the awful and hideous mistake of God’s church. With tears and sighs I write while it seems that ten thousand martyred saints cry from the flames where they were burned to death and the prison where they were starved and from the sword and snow covered rocks where many of them were frozen to death. As I appeal for God’s law and against creeds it seems as if they would touch my pen and say “Amen.”
I turn from these awful scenes to the fair land of America and ask, Shall this fair land ever drink the blood of God’s holy people, at the hand of some human creed? God only knows what the law of men will do when substituted instead of God’s law. O, God, will it take a sunbeam from heaven to cause Thy pour creed-bound children to see they are serving the laws of men and not the law of God? Oh, brethren, I appeal to your conscience. Can you read your Bible and be honest and submit to your laws and be led by them instead of God’s law and Spirit? Oh, my brethren, can you teach for doctrine the commandments of men? Shall the Holy Spirit choose your field of labor, or shall a man say where you shall labor? Shall God say by His Spirit, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, while your elder says not so? You must go and exhort because you are not learned. Then you are disheartened and souls are lost. Who is guilty? Oh God, what shall we do?
Shake off the bonds of human laws,
Which God will burn like useless straws.
What has been the greatest hindrance to the cause of Christ? You say infidelity. I admit it is but who is the cause of so much unbelief or infidelity? Was it Tom Payne, Voltaire or Bob Ingersoll? No, no, but few ever read their books. Then what has caused the great trouble wherever Christ is preached? It is because every church or denomination’s internal laws are contrary to Christ’s law. See the little preacher in the stand riding some hobby, branding all others as heretics or devils. So he wounds someone or more and breaks the unity of the Spirit and brings division instead of unity, hatred instead of love. Thus the world stands in unbelief for Christ and that we all be one, that the world may believe. This division caused infidelity. If you want to see a church scattered, just pull the string of church doctrines and you can destroy more good than the greatest revivalist can do. Oh, preachers, do not scatter the flock and make infidelity. Do not make the people to abhor their offerings as did the sons of Eli. 1 Sam. 2:17. Don’t ask more than God has provided. Do not be a hireling, do not look after pay instead of the flock. To this end we submit the following poem:
Go work in my vineyard today,
The Master is calling for you;
Why ask your poor brethren for pay?
The Master will give you your due.
The clusters are falling today,
That should have been gathered by you,
But when this old harvest is past,
What use has the Master for you?
The wolves have now entered the flock,
The hirelings are hasting to flee;
Before the great raid can be stopped,
I fear much destruction we’ll see.
The flock now is starving for food,
The fleece you’re longing to shear;
But they that are perished and gone,
Your labors can never restore.
The people their offerings abhor,
Because of the yearning for coin;
Remember the sons of Eli,
And fear lest their fate should be thine.
Oh, Lord, do Thou pity Thy poor,
And into Thy vineyard now send,
Men like Peter and Paul,
Unbought by the wages of men.
Oh, Gehazi, is it a time to receive money, to receive garments, vineyards, sheep and offerings. 2 Kings 5:2-26. Where is the meek and humble bride of Christ whose adorning is of the inward man of the heart and not of the putting on of gold and costly apparel, and not like she appears in the following poem:
I saw the heavenly bride so fair;
With lovely eyes and face,
Not decked with earthly jewels rare,
But full of truth and grace.
The Bridegroom held her by the hand,
As they walked side by side,
But worldly Jack came stepping up
Upon the other side.
I saw the rings upon his hand,
His collars, cuffs and ties;
And when he took her by the hand,
My soul was much surprised.
Lovesick, angry and jealous, too,
The Bridegroom turned aside,
And actually gave to worldly Jack
His loving little bride.
In all the fashions up-to-date,
He decked her all so fine’
And then he whispered through his teeth,
“This lovely girl is mine.”
Just then a holy man of God
Came running up the way,
Unto the erring bride he said,
You sure have gone astray.
She blushed and turned to see the one
That once walked by her side,
Instead of him it was worldly Jack
Had claimed her for his bride.
any of the preachers and leaders of the various denominations will shake their gray heads and wave their palsied hands and cry heresy and latitudinarianism, and many other names that their mother Rome used to call the reformers of the sixteenth century. But fear none of these name or hard and uncharitable sayings, but know that you are led by the Spirit of the loving God for the days of our captivity is at an end. We have seen enough to know that creeds are a failure. Let us turn to the infallible law of God. Some one will say there is no use to undertake to reform and build up a church at this late age of the world. Suppose when the Jews were in Babylon that they had refused to go to their own land and rebuild the temple of God. If they had not left Babylon, Christ could not have been born in Bethlehem, neither could He have taught in the temple. If our fathers had refused to make a reformation in the days of Luther we might have been in the clutches of Rome today. The old proverb says it is never too late to do good; I will obey God soon or late and you should do the same. Now we are looking for Christ to come again, and woe unto us if we are found in Babylon. Others will say it will not to have no creed or article of faith, it is too liberal. This brings up another question. Does every Christian have a right to read the Bible? If they do then it is true they have a right to believe as they understand it. To teach them if they do not practice as they believe, it is a hypocrisy and a sin, so read and practice as you think will please God best. But someone will say, If all are free to be free and equal we will just have no outward church as the kingdom of God cometh not with observation. Neither shall we say, Lo here nor Lo there, for behold the kingdom is within you. To those who hold that there is no visible church from these Scriptures we offer the following explanation:
First. The kingdom was there already. If you want to know what that kingdom was and how it was in them, read Rom. 14:17, which shows the kingdom spoken of is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. Also, in Matt. 16:18 the church is yet to be built, so then we see this kingdom is set up in the hearts of His people. So every child of God has the kingdom of heaven in them while the church is a union of three or more persons. Matt. 18:16, 17. The ecclesia or church has only a slight difference from the word kingdom, which may be seen in the following. Israel or the Jews were God’s people while in Egypt but were not called His church until they received His government in the wilderness and agreed to keep it, forming a covenant, and Christ says the law and the prophets were until John. Since John the kingdom of heaven is preached and all men presseth into it by justification. Therefore, we see the kingdom of heaven began at John, but in Acts 16:5, we see the churches were established. Also in Acts 2:4 we might claim the church was built or organized. We are grieved to see such unreasonable and extravagant conclusion.
Some think Christians ought not to be united in any bond of fellowship while others are not satisfied with the law and government of Christ and the Holy spirit but must have a great many more laws and governments. So between the two extremes there is a wise and reasonable middle ground of truth which unprejudiced and honest Spirit led Christians can surely find in the words and acts of the Savior and His followers under the leadership of the Holy Ghost.
Dear reader, ask the Lord to help you to know the truth and to obey it. If we have right to anything in the world, it is to read God’s Word. He has promised to give His Spirit to His people and what we want is perfect love to God and each other and perfect liberty. As Archard says in his history, Liberty of the soul is the breath and element of that religion inculcated in the New Testament and has been and will be preserved only by those who descend from all governments devised by human policy. Archard’s History, page 52. Liberty is what God’s people want and must have it at any cost or hypocrisy will son invade the church. We want no other standard but the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ. It has always been Satan’s plan to put God’s people in bondage, of which the Egyptian bondage was a figure.
When Israel out of bondage came,
To worship God was Moses’ claim;
They borrowed jewels rich with gold,
But the reason why has not been told.
And soon the sea God’s people crossed,
And not a single man was lost;
God’s people now from bondage free,
Baptized in the cloud and in the sea.
And now to Sinai they are bound,
To station on that holy ground,
They on that mount God’s glory saw,
Where Moses went to get the law.
Now Moses is gone they thought at last,
So Aaron makes a golden calf,
So when he hears the people shout,
It’s just the thing he thought, no doubt.
So when the calf old Moses sees
He knew that God was sore displeased;
And in his rage the law he broke,
That God with His own fingers wrote.
(Applied to us)
God’s Church from creeds must now be freed,
That caused so many hearts to bleed;
But jewels some have brought at last,
To make another golden calf.
A chain of doctrine now appears,
That’s cursed the sects for many years;
Be truth or false just which it may,
It drives God’s Spirit power away.
But when their churches first begun,
By the Holy Spirit they were run;
But when their creeds each church had took,
The Holy Spirit them forsook.
Now they are cold and dark and dead,
With wounds and bruises from foot to head;
They wish that God would health restore,
And heal their putrefying sores.
Now in this fix they’re found at last,
Each clinging to her golden calf;
Their love and peace and joy are gone,
In vain they tune their formal song.
Many preachers preach about love and dwell on charity and think it no more than the natural element of religion, but fail to see it to be the law of the new covenant by which to infallibly know each other as members of God’s church, and is the law by which God will judge the world. This law will try the life of every man. It exposes the idolatry of the world. God has put in the heart of every person the power to love something, therefore, whatsoever we love best is what we worship. It is an idol if it is not God. Oh, the idolatry that is in the world today! So judgment has begun at the house of God (Church of God). We need not fear judgment if we love God above all things, but know that God’s law stands by your heart to judge all men’s lives. Oh, love God’s eternal law. The lost link is seen as the law of unity. We here give agreement or basis of union as it stood in 1895.
First. The New Testament is the only infallible rule of faith and practice, so we reject all other articles of faith and men-made creeds, and for the basis of our union we accept the law of love instead of faith, faith in Christ being the only faith required in the gospel and love being the commandment of Christ, by which we should know each other as His disciples.
We further agree that the New Testament contains all things necessary for salvation and church government. So all dealings must be on gospel principles. Baptism, the Lord’s supper and feet-washing, as taught in the Scriptures and that each member shall have equal rights and privileges to read, believe and practice for themselves in all matters of religion that may not prove contrary to the law of love or the true spirit of Christianity. We invite to union and fellowship all persons who avow faith in Christ and love to God and His people and a willingness to live a Christian life so as not to dishonor the cause of Christ, and we exclude only for known violations of God’s Word or commands.
Whereas each member shall give an account to God for themselves and a christianized conscience is the basis of purity we do reject all conscience binding creeds as being contrary to Scripture, also to religion and love, and are in open rebellion against the constitution of our nation. Against such we do protest.
Dearly beloved brethren of the Church or any who may be admonished by this epistle, beware of political disputes for these do not belong to the church, but to the world. The church is a creature of the law, that is, under the law and should be submissive to the powers of the law. All Christians who are eligible to vote have a right to vote, remembering to do unto others as they have them do unto them. Obey all laws who do not violate your conscience or is not sinful to obey. Do not aspire to office. No man that goeth to war entangleth himself with the things of the world that he may please him that has chosen him to be a soldier, but if you should be chosen as an officer let God rule in your heart and office with all meekness and honesty, showing thyself a pure Christian in all things.
Soon after I came into this world of sorrow the cold hand of death took hold of my tiny frame and soon life seemed to be entirely gone. The scenes of that hour appears in the following poem, from the narrative related by my parents and friends:
It was back before my memory’s day,
Before I’d even learned to play,
There on my infant dying bed,
Which mother for her child did spread.
There fearless of the doom of death,
I yielded up my infant breath;
My mother saw my awful doom,
And for to weep she left the room.
She sat her down to weep and cry,
Because she’d seen her infant die;
But father lingered near the place,
To gaze upon my pale white face.
Then moved his hand with mournful sighs,
And closed his little namesake’s eyes;
But God who all His purpose knew,
Had something good that I might do.
His gospel truths for to unfold,
Returned to me my little soul;
Oh! may I all His truths proclaim,
In honor to His glorious name.
But years and years have rolled along,
And father and mother both are gone;
But on that glorious sunny plain,
I hope we all shall meet again.
The next trouble I met in the way of progress, when I should have been in school the war of “the sixties” was on hand. Three of my brothers were driven into the war. Although my father was too old to be a soldier, he was driven from home and preaching and exposed to all kinds of weather which weakened his once strong and manly frame. I found in my early life that it was necessary to support my parents even if I did not complete an education. Having professed religion very early in life I escaped many sinful ways that many young people are subject to, and being strongly moved upon to preach the gospel and feeling my great lack of a complete education, through much timidity I obeyed my calling and was fast stepping out into the field f success when the same unseen hand obstructed my pathway. Having felt it my duty to read my Bible in search of the truth, I soon found myself, so to speak, trying to run a broad gauge engine on a narrow gauge railway. There being jealousy already among the ministry I failed to accept all of their creed or at least, I did as many do. They demanded my license which I readily gave up, hoping that I could preach what I saw the Bible to teach instead of what some other man believed, that is, the commandments of men. I preached when impressed to do so and I was again called into account for disobeying their rules. Now I must forever quit preaching or leave my church, so I left them, choosing to obey God rather than man. Here it seemed to me that my little boat must forever sink as I was turned out of what I once thought was Christ’s only true church. What shall I do? What can I do? Oh, God, are the days of murdering Christians not over yet? Am I a companion of John Huss at the stake amid the flames of persecutions? Am I sold for nothing and shall no one be redeemed from creeds? This was truly spiritual murder. Oh, Jesus, is it Your law that has separated me from Thy people? Oh, Thou only Law-giver, is this the faultless covenant that took the place of that with which Thou didst find fault? Oh, Jesus, why didst Thou pray that we all might be one, hast Thou given a law that will separate Thy children? Am I mistaken? Where is God’s Church? Where is His law? Where is Thy government? Oh, God, give me light, give me knowledge, give me the spirit of understanding and let me see the truth. There is something wrong and badly wrong. Where is the lost link in the golden chain of God’s law?
Now to the New Testament, how strange it reads. Can it be that I was prejudiced and could not see what now is so plain to me? I soon began to tell the people about God’s law. The Lord was with me and gathered hundreds of people to hear about the new way, and so on we went until we were able to establish ourselves on God’s law and government, and now we lay it before the world. We submit these pages to the world to hear its criticisms for there will be many fault-finding critics, but it must come before broad, loving and wise hearted men and women, where reason has always found a place.
How I came to reach these moments
Is to me a great surprise,
And while I tell my little story,
Tears of grief doth fill my eyes;
Before the days I can remember
Death took me in its cold dark grasp,
With closed eyes and folded members,
Behind death’s curtain I did pass.
Like Moses in his ark of rushes,
God did not suffer me to stay,
But raised me up to fill His purpose
And show His saints the gospel way;
Like Israel in Egyptian bondage
Under Pharaoh’s cruel hand,
God has heard our cries and groanings
In those churches made by man.
Though I’ve had to flee to Egypt
And return at God’s command,
God is bringing out His people
With a strong and mighty hand;
With the shining cloud before us
We will cross the parted sea,
And though Pharaoh tries to follow,
He’ll get drowned in the sea.
They now see the cloud between us,
That to us now shines so bright;
But to them it is all darkness,
It is no wonder that they fight.
While at Marah’s bitter waters,
Or upon the thirsty plain;
Many hearts turn back to Egypt,
To their church of wealth and fame.
But if you should reach Mt. Sion,
And of God’s holy law partake;
You will no more long for Egypt,
Nor the laws that men can make.
We have some like good old Caleb,
And we’ve some like Joshua;
Who once brought the fruits of Canaan
And thus proved up what they say.
I fear there is like old Achan,
Who so loved the wedge of gold,
And for a goodly garment,
Have their precious blessings sold;
They may cause defeat at Ai,
And make the Church of God ashamed;
But we’ll search the camp and cleanse it,
Then victory will come again.
And when we reach those mighty cities,
All walled in like Jericho;
Then we’ll give to God the glory,
And the gospel trumpet blow;
Shout until the walls come tumbling
And the victory is complete;
Then we’ll give to God the glory,
When we bow at Jesus’ feet.
And now my song is nearly ended,
And I trust you all have seen
That the places of our bondage,
Is in sects of men-made creeds;
In the book of Revelation
We read of Babylon the great,
Come out of her, He says,
My people, For her sins are very great.
O God, inspire every one—
Who may read this little book,
For union now to pray and look,
And to adopt God’s blessed law,
And cease to build with wood and straw;
Oh, may some wise and noble one
Complete the work we have begun,
Oh, may it catch on every pen,
And trace the isles from end to end,
And turn each foe into a friend,
And into one God’s children blend.
So farewell, peace be to all who may read this little book.