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2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
'...consider the type of man he was when we first meet him: consider his ambitions, his education, his preeminent position in his own nation, and his dazzling prospects of ever-increasing power and prestige.
He had every possible advantage that a proud and ambitious Jew could desire (and freeborn Roman citizenship on top of all that).
How the Pharisees to whom he belonged loved the preeminence, and the fawning of the awed and worshipful multitude of the common people, and to be called, "Rabbi, Rabbi!"
31 Then had the ecclesias rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the holy spirit, were multiplied.
A Royal Association of Believers
No organization, not even an apostolic one, can work well, that is, scripturally, which is not composed of elements more zealous for the advancement of the truth, and the promotion of the glory of its divine Author, than of their own notions and exaltation.
The first necessary thing is, that the members shall have become as little children, having their old Adam subdued by faith, and Christ substituted in his place by the same principle. Without this disposition, which is "peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy," no organization could work harmoniously and efficaciously, though framed and administered by the apostles themselves.
Even a bad organization with good materials would work better than a good one with a self-willed, heady, factious, and self-glorifying people. The members must all respect the apostolic teaching if they would have an organization that would be scriptural and satisfactory to all good men.
This teaching says, "By love serve one another." "Be not desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another." "Submit yourselves one to another in the fear of God." "Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel." "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." "Let your moderation be known unto all men."
"Put on, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a complaint against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which (peace) also ye are called in one body; and be thankful." "Be at peace among yourselves." "Be all of one mind, having compassion one of another: love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous." "Let love be without dissimulation. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another."
And the great teacher, even Christ, who, though the Lord of all, humbled himself, and became the servant of the least, enstamps this doctrine with the seal of his authority, saying, "He that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."
A people imbued with such doctrine as this would make almost any organization work well; and indeed would get along peaceably together without any written constitution at all; because peace, and righteousness, and the law of the spirit of life, would be written in their hearts and minds. A people so disposed is the great want of our age-a people who not only believe the gospel of the kingdom, but manifest the fruit of it in their walk and conversation, to wit, "righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit."
It is the extreme scarcity of such that makes it almost impossible to plant heritages in the land with administrations even remotely approximating to the apostolic. An association of believers is better without an eldership, than to have one made up of persons destitute of the qualifications indicated in Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus. All who have obeyed the gospel are not "blameless," "watchful," "decorous," "given to hospitality," "apt to teach," "of a well regulated mind"-δωφζονα-"judicious rulers of their own house," and of good external report.
These qualifications are as necessary as faith and obedience to the gospel; and in order that their aptness to teach may be beneficially exercised, it is necessary that "the word of Christ dwell in them richly in all wisdom." Persons thus qualified would preside over an association of believers with great advantage for all to concerned. These were the sort of persons the apostles exhort us to obey; but before we can do what they require in the premises, the right persons must be manifested.
They do not exhort us to obey the incarnations of accident, or of majorities, or of party feeling; but only such as the Holy Spirit makes overseers-"able men, such as fear God; men of truth, hating covetousness." They should be wise, not in their own conceits; this the apostle forbids: but wise in the estimation of those that be wise, and disposed to avail themselves of their services. The greatest amount of the knowledge of divine things possessed in these days is but little at best.
How very minute, then, that which is little compared with this! and how little ability is there to use this small amount aright! A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. It puffs up, and "lifts up with pride," or inordinate self-esteem. It is expedient, therefore, that a newly-formed ecclesiastical association should enter upon such an arrangement as would give expression probationally to the principles set forth; that being taught by experience they may be the better able to judge of measures and of the fitness of individuals to carry them into effect with permanence.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Jan 1854