Berean Studies / Ber06 - Brotherly Kindness (Brotherly Love)
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1. What is the ‘new commandment’ given by Christ to his disciples?
2. What is brotherly love?
3. Who are our ‘brethren’?
4. Why is the manifestation of brotherly kindness so necessary ?
R3434 col. 2 ¶2, 3
R3434 [col. 2 ¶2, 3]:
It was with the full appreciation of the fact that the Church would need comfort rather than chiding and reproof that our Lord said, "If I go not away the Comforter [the holy Spirit] cannot come." The ransom must be paid, must be presented in the "Most Holy," to the heavenly Father, before his blessing could be bestowed. That blessing would yield the comfort of the begetting of the Spirit and the comfort of the exceeding great and precious promises to those who had accepted Jesus,--and to those who would believe on him through their word. True, our Lord spoke of the holy Spirit as reproving--but not as reproving the Church; he said, "He shall reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of a coming judgment." The nearest suggestion to reproof in respect to the holy Spirit's dealing with the Church is that given by the Apostle, when he says, "Grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." And again he says, "Quench not the Spirit."--Eph. 4:30; I Thess. 5:19.
The grand provision made for the comfort of the Lord's people clearly indicates a necessity for such comfort; nor is this necessity difficult to find. The Lord's people are beset on every hand with adverse conditions--the world, the flesh, the adversary--seeking to intimidate or discourage or entrap the new creature, so as to hinder its development in grace, knowledge and love, and ultimately to hinder it from the attainment of the perfection and glory to follow, which God has promised to the faithful only. What we need, in order to make us sons and daughters of consolation in the Church, is a larger measure of love and sympathy in our hearts. In proportion as sympathy and love come in, they will crowd out the spirit of strife and contention and judging and fault-finding; even as they crowded out at first the spirit of the flesh, --anger, malice, hatred, strife, vain-glory.
5. Is it important that we observe the spirit as well as the form of our Lord's command?
6. Why do the Lord’s ‘brethren’ need no ‘outward passwords, grips or badges’?
7. How is our love for God measured by our love for ‘the brethren’?
1Jo 4:8; R2649 col. 1 ¶3, 4; F467 ¶3; F600 ¶2
1 John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love .
R2649 [col. 1 ¶3, 4]:
Altho the first evidence of the possession of "the love of God" is a love for God, nevertheless the Scriptures distinctly point out to us that an additional requirement is specified, viz., love for the brethren--for those who have the spirit of God, especially, but in a general way at least a sympathetic love for all mankind. Thus the Apostle says, "If we love one another, [it is an evidence that] God dwelleth in us, and [that] his love is perfected in us." (1 John 4:12.) The same Apostle emphasizes this same point, saying, "Whosoever hath this world's goods [interests, affairs], and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" (1 John 3:17.) The intimation is that such a lack of love and sympathy, and such a restraint of assistance from a brother in need, would imply that the love of God either did not at all dwell in such an one, or that it was but slightly developed--far from being perfected.
Nor does this love merely exercise itself toward the brethren in matters of temporal necessities; rather, it affects all the affairs of life, leading the one who enjoys it to "walk in love," "forbearing one another in love." (Eph. 5:2; 4:2.) And even were it necessary to speak an unpalatable truth, the spirit of the Lord, "the love of God," will dictate the speaking of the truth in love, which the Apostle assures us is essential to our growth in Christ.--Eph. 4:15.
Another thought is in respect to the mutual love, sympathy and interest which should prevail amongst all the members of this "one body" of the Lord. As the Lord's Spirit comes more and more to rule in our hearts it will cause us to rejoice in every occasion to do good unto all men as we have opportunity, but especially unto the household of faith. As our sympathies grow and go out toward the whole world of mankind, they must grow especially toward the Lord, and, consequently, especially also toward those whom he recognizes, who have his Spirit, and who are seeking to walk in his footsteps. The Apostle indicates that the measure of our love for the Lord will be indicated by our love for the brethren, the fellow-members of his body. If our love is to be such as will endure all things and bear all things in respect to others, how much more will this be true as respects these fellow-members of the same body, so closely united to us through our Head! No wonder the Apostle John declares that one of the prominent evidences of our having passed from death unto life is that we love the brethren. (1 John 3:14) Indeed, we remember that in speaking of our filling up the measure of the afflictions of Christ, the Apostle Paul adds, "for his body's sake, which is the Church." Col. 1:24
The inspired Word declares that "the [natural] heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jer. 17:9) --not the organ called the heart, but that which the heart represents in Scripture, viz., the natural affections. The New Creature gets a new heart, a new will, a new standard of affection, in which God and his righteousness and truth and plan and will are first; and in which all other things occupy a place of honor and love in proportion to their harmony with the Lord and his righteousness. To those possessing this new heart all the members of the New Creation are necessarily first and closest: hence, as the Apostle says, love of the brethren is one of the best tests of relationship to the Lord as New Creatures. But this, as already shown, must not interfere with a just recognition of obligations to others.
8. Can we fellowship all ‘the brethren’ alike?
Jude 21, 22; R3233 col. 2 ¶1- 3; R3034 col. 1 ¶3, 4; R3219 col. 2 ¶2
Jude 21,22 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference:
R3233 [col. 2 ¶1-3]:
In a word there are two planes of friendship--a natural plane, on which men of like natural qualities would be drawn together; and a spiritual plane, on which those unlike in natural qualities, but alike in spiritual hopes, aims and ambitions, are drawn still more closely together by the new tie, the new love, which binds not their flesh but their hearts in Christian love and unity.
These New Creatures in Christ Jesus know each other not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. In each other's spirits or new minds there are the noblest sentiments, the highest aspirations, that which is good, true, noble, pure-- whatever may be their weaknesses according to the flesh. They love each other from the new standpoint of intention, will, harmony with God, and their friendship for one another grows increasingly as they perceive each other's energy in fighting the good fight of faith against the evil influences of the world, the flesh and the Adversary. Nor tongue nor pen can properly express the love, the friendship, which subsists between these New Creatures in Christ Jesus, to whom old things have passed away and all things have become new.
This does not signify, however, that a parent must have exactly the same love for other children as for his own;--he has a greater responsibility for his own, and should realize it. Nor does it imply that even the saints will all be loved to the same degree. Our Lord, we are told, specially loved some of his disciples. By and by, when perfection shall have replaced imperfection, all "brethren" will be perfect and all neighbors will be brethren beloved. Until then, however, we must love all, but "making a difference"--according to natural obligations and spiritual development.--Jude 22.
R3034 [col. 1 ¶3, 4]:
But now we come to another point. Our love for the brethren cannot be exactly of the same measure and exactly of the same intensity or fervency toward all. There is something which guages or regulates it. What is it? It is that we love God and the glorious principles of righteousness, which are represented in his character; and we love our Lord Jesus from the same standpoint, as being the very exemplifications of all that is good, noble, true, just, generous, loving; and our love for the brethren must, of necessity, be in proportion as we find the brethren to be copies of our Lord. We do not mean copies in the flesh, but viewed from the Lord's standpoint; copies in spirit, copies in heart, copies in motive, copies in intention, copies in loving zeal for righteousness, truth, etc. Thus, as we grow in the love of God and in the love of Christ and in the love of the principles which they represent, we grow also in love toward all men and toward the brethren, but particularly toward those who are growing most in likeness to the Lord. This is not partiality; this is not doing to others different from what we should wish them to do to us. This is following the Lord Jesus' example; for we find that amongst his apostles, even, all of whom were chosen, there were three specially beloved; and of those three one is specially noted as "that disciple whom Jesus loved." He was specially loved, because he was specially lovable; and so with us and the brethren. We should love them all warmly, fervently, but of necessity with varying degrees of fervor, and the fervor should increase with each in proportion as we note his growth in heart-likeness to our Lord.
And if this be so, what shall we say of those who, after having come to a knowledge of the truth, and after having tasted and appreciated its goodness, fall away into sin?--of those who cease to walk after the spirit, and begin to walk after the flesh? Can our love for them burn with the same fervency as before? By no means; it should not do so. As the Apostle says in our text, we should make a difference. In doing so we are following the example of our Heavenly Father; for we have just noted that only by walking after the spirit can any of us keep ourselves in the love of God. Only by following the same course, therefore, should any be able to keep himself in the love of the brethren. Any deflection should bring corresponding loss of brotherly love and fellowship.
R3219 [col. 2 ¶2]:
Knowledge is to be highly esteemed in the Church, and to be regarded as an evidence of progress, of growth; for non e can grow strong in the Lord and in the power of his might--in grace--unless he grows also in knowledge . We properly esteem most highly those whose love for the Lord and for his truth are evidenced by zeal in the study of his Word, and whose favor with God is evidenced by their being guided more and more into the deep things of God. Nevertheless, as in the earthly family we love and care for the babes and immature, so also in the household of faith the little ones and the dwarfs are to be cared for and loved and helped that they may grow strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.
9. Should we always expect to have our manifestations of brotherly kindness received in the same spirit?
10. How are the comfort and peace of the Church dependent upon the manifestation of this grace?
11. How should brotherly love exercise itself in seeking opportunities for service?
12. How should brotherly love manifest itself ‘in honor preferring one another’?
13. How should we ‘consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works’?
14. How will brotherly love exercise itself in ‘laying down our lives for the brethren’?
15. How should we manifest brotherly kindness toward the weaker brethren?
16. How will brotherly love sympathize with the more demonstrative brethren?
All thus marked by the holy Spirit as prospective members of the New Creation are assured by the Lord, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." "I have chosen you [out of the world], and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain." "If ye were of the world the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." (John 15:16,19; 17:16) Although these marks of sanctification may, to some extent, be discerned by the world, we are not, therefore, to expect that they will bring the world's admiration or approval; but, rather, that they will consider these evidences of the holy Spirit upon the New Creatures as evidences of weakness and effeminacy. The world appreciates and approves what it would designate a robust and strenuous life--not righteous over-much. Our Lord explains to us why the world would not approve his followers; namely, because the darkness hateth the light--because the standard of his Royal Priesthood for thought and word and action would be higher than the standard of mankind in general, and would, therefore, seem to more or less condemn their course. The world desires rather to be approved, to be flattered; and whatever in any degree casts reflection upon it is to that extent avoided, if not opposed. This disapproval of the worldly-wise of Christendom constitutes a part of the testing of the Royal Priesthood; and if their consecration be not a most hearty one they will so miss the fellowship of the world and so crave its approval that they will fail to carry out in the proper spirit the sacrificing of earthly interests which they have undertaken--fail to be priests; hence, fail to be of the New Creation. However, on account of their good intentions, the Lord may bring them through the fiery trials, for the destruction of the flesh which they had not the zeal to sacrifice: thus they may be counted worthy of a share in the blessings and rewards of the Great Company that shall come up out of great tribulation to serve before the throne, in which the little flock will sit with the Lord.
17. How should brotherly kindness deal with the self-seeking ?
18. How will brotherly kindness deal with brethren who lack self- control?
19. How should brotherly kindness seek to avoid ‘busy- bodying’?
1Ti 5:13; 1Pe 4:15; F583 to 586
1 Tim. 5:13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not .
1 Peter 4:15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.
F583 through F586--Conscientious Meddling
"Busybodying in other men's matters" is severely reproved by the Apostle, as wholly inconsistent with the new minds of the New Creation. (1 Tim. 5:13; 1 Pet. 4:15) A busybody is one who busies himself in the affairs of others, with which he has properly nothing whatever to do. Even the "children of this world" are wise enough in their generation to discern that in the brief span of present life a person of reasonably sound mind has quite sufficient to occupy him in attending to his own business properly; and that if he should give sufficient attention to the business of others to be thoroughly competent to advise them and meddle in their concerns he would surely be neglecting to some extent his own affairs. Much more should the New Creatures begotten of the Lord to the spirit of a sound mind, realize this truth, and additionally realize that they have still less time than the world for meddling in the affairs of others, their time being not their own, because of their full consecration of time, talent, influence, all to the Lord and his service.
Such, even if lacking a naturally sound mind on this subject, will be constrained in the right direction by the injunctions of the Scriptures, and by the realization that the time is short for the fulfilment of their covenanted sacrifice. They should also realize that the Golden Rule, required of the New Creation, prohibits everything akin to busybodying. Assuredly they would not appreciate having others meddle in their business, and should be equally careful to do to others as they would be done by. The Apostle realized, nevertheless, that the reverse of this is the general worldly spirit, and, hence, admonishes the saints to study, to practice, to learn, along this line. His words are, "Study to be quiet, and to do your own business." 1 Thess. 4:11
This natural disposition to be careful about the affairs of others, and to lend a hand in correcting them, and in picking motes out of a brother's eye, to the neglect of the beam in one's own eye, as the Lord illustrated the matter (Matt. 7:3-5), sometimes attacks the New Creature in a peculiar form. He fancies that it is his "duty" to advise, to pick, to investigate, to chide, to reprove. As he turns the matter over in his mind he convinces himself that not to do so would be sin; and thus he becomes what we might designate a conscientious busybody, or meddler--one whose meddlesomeness is made doubly strong and aggressive by a misinformed and misdirected conscience. These, often sincere and good people, veritable New Creatures, are hindered by this flaw in all that they attempt to do in the Lord's service. Each should take himself in hand, and learn to apply the rules of justice and love already pointed out. He should educate his conscience to discriminate between brotherly duty and busybodying; and so far as our observation goes the majority of the Lord's people, as well as of the world, would find themselves doing a great deal less chiding, rebuking, faultfinding and picking, after coming to appreciate the rules of justice and of love, as combined in the Golden Rule and applied to the affairs of life and their intercourse with others.
It is safe to inquire respecting any matter suggesting itself along these lines--Is it any of my business? In our intercourse with the world we will generally find upon careful examination that it is not our business to chide or reprove or rebuke them. We have been called of the Lord, and have turned aside from the course of the world to follow in the narrow path; that is our business. We should desire the world to let us alone, that we may follow the Lord; and correspondingly, we should let the world's concerns alone, addressing ourselves and our Gospel message to him that "hath an ear to hear." The world, not having been called of the Lord, and not having come into the "narrow way," has a right to choose respecting its own way, and has a right to expect that we will not interfere, as we do not wish to be interfered with. This will not hinder the fact that our light will be shining, and thus we will indirectly be exercising a continued influence upon the world, even though we do not reprove or otherwise meddle in the affairs of others. Where the matter is one of business, in which we are financially concerned, it, of course, will not be meddling with other people's business, but minding our own business, to give proper attention to such a matter. Neither is it meddling for the parent to have a knowledge and direction in respect to all the transpiring interests of the family and home. Yet even here the personal rights of each member of the family should be considered and conserved. The husband and father of the family being recognized as its head and chief in authority, should use that authority in loving moderation and wise consideration. The individuality of the wife, her tastes and preferences, should have his consideration, and as his representative she should be qualified with full power and authority in her own special domain as his helpmate and home keeper; and in his absence she should represent his authority fully in respect to all the affairs of the family. The children also, according to age, should be given a reasonable degree of privacy and individuality in their affairs, the parent merely exercising his authority and supervision in such connections as would minister to the order and comfort of the home, and to the proper development of its members in matters mental, moral and physical. Children should be early taught not to pick at each other, nor to meddle with each other's belongings, but to respect each other's rights and to do kindly and generously each to the other according to the Golden Rule.
Nowhere is this admonition against busy bodying more important to be remembered than in the Church. Brethren should speedily learn, from the Word as well as from precept and example of the elders, that it is not the divine intention that they should meddle in each other's business nor discuss each other; but that here, as elsewhere, the divine rule applies, "Speak evil of no man." Busy bodying--thinking and talking about the private affairs of others, with which we have no direct concern--leads to evil speaking and backbiting, and engenders anger, malice, hatred, strife, and various works of the flesh and of the devil, as the Apostle points out. (Col. 3:5-10) Thus it often is that little seeds of slander are planted and that great roots of bitterness develop, whereby many are defiled. All who have the new mind surely recognize the banefulness of this evil, and all of them should be models in their homes and neighborhoods. The worldly mind can realize that murder and robbery are wrong, but it requires a higher conception of justice to appreciate the spirit of the divine Law--that slander is an assassination of character, and that stealing a neighbor's good name under any pretext is robbery. The worldly minded grasp this matter to some extent, and their sentiments are represented in the poet's words: "He who steals my purse steals trash;...but he who filches my good name steals that which not enriches him, but leaves me poor indeed."
20. How should brotherly love control the tongue?
21. How should brotherly love treat a slanderous report against an elder or other brethren?
22. How should the Church exercise brotherly kindness toward those who ‘walk disorderly’?
23. How should the elders exercise brotherly love in reproving the ‘unruly’?
24. How may we avoid judging one another as individuals ?
25. How should brotherly kindness be exercised toward brethren who have doctrinal ‘hobbies’?
26. What is the relation between brotherly kindness and ‘the unity of the faith’?
27. How should brotherly kindness deal with serious offenders in the Church?
28. By what rules are ‘false brethren’ to be judged?
29. What should be our attitude toward ‘siftings’ among the brethren?
30. What should be the attitude of all ‘true sacrificers’ toward each other and toward those who have left ‘the Holy’?
31. How does brotherly kindness apply ‘the Golden Rule’?
32. How should brotherly love exercise itself toward the special servants of the Church?
33. How should we exercise brotherly love toward our brethren still ‘in Babylon’?
34. How should brotherly kindness consider ‘social obligations’?
35. What course will brotherly love dictate in the matter of ‘borrowing and lending’?
36. How should brotherly love regard visiting, ‘borrowing a neighbor’s time ‘?
37. What is the relation between brotherly love and communism?
D474 to 481
D473 [¶3] through D481--Communism as a Remedy
Communism proposes a social system in which there will be community of goods; in which all property shall be owned in common and operated in the general interest, and all profits from all labor be devoted to the general welfare--"to each according to his needs." The tendency of Communism was illustrated in the French Commune. Its definition by Rev. Joseph Cook, is-- "Communism means the abolition of inheritance, the abolition of the family, the abolition of nationalities, the abolition of religion, the abolition of property."
Some features of Communism we could commend (see Socialism), but as a whole it is quite impracticable. Such an arrangement would probably do very well for heaven, where all are perfect, pure and good, and where love reigns; but a moment's reflection should prove to any man of judgment and experience that in the present condition of men's hearts such a scheme is thoroughly impracticable. The tendency would be to make drones of all. We would soon have a competition as to who could do the least and the worst work; and society would soon lapse into barbarism and immorality, tending to the rapid extinction of the race.
But some fancy that Communism is taught in the Bible and that consequently it must be the true remedy--God's remedy. With many this is the strongest argument in its favor. The supposition that it was instituted by our Lord and the Apostles, and that it should have continued to be the rule and practice of Christians since, is very common. We therefore present below an article on this phase of the subject from our own magazine:
"They Had All Things in Common"
"And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people." Acts 2:44-47
Such was the spontaneous sentiment of the early Church: selfishness gave place to love and general interest. Blessed experience! And without doubt a similar sentiment, more or less clearly defined, comes to the hearts of all who are truly converted. When first we got a realizing sense of God's love and salvation, when we gave ourselves completely to the Lord and realized his gifts to us, which pertain not only to the life that now is, but also to that which is to come--we felt an exuberance of joy, which found in every fellow-pilgrim toward the heavenly Canaan a brother or a sister in whom we trusted as related to the Lord and having his spirit; and we were disposed to deal with them all as we would with the Lord, and to share with them our all, as we would share all with our Redeemer. And in many instances it was by a rude shock that we were awakened to the fact that neither we nor others are perfect in the flesh; and that no matter how much of the Master's spirit his people now possess, they "have this treasure in earthen vessels" of human frailty and defection.
Then we learned, not only that the weaknesses of the flesh of other men had to be taken into account, but that our own weaknesses of the flesh needed constant guarding. We found that whilst all had shared Adam's fall, all had not fallen alike, or in exactly the same particulars. All have fallen from God's likeness and spirit of love, to Satan's likeness and spirit of selfishness; and as love has diversities of operations, so has selfishness. Consequently, selfishness working in one has wrought a desire for ease, sloth, indolence; in another it produced energy, labor for the pleasures of this life, self-gratification, etc.
Among those actively selfish some take selfgratification in amassing a fortune, and having it said, He is wealthy; others gratify their selfishness by seeking honor of men; others in dress, others in travel, others in debauchery and the lowest and meanest forms of selfishness.
Each one begotten to the new life in Christ, with its new spirit of love, finds a conflict begun, fightings with in and without; for the new spirit wars with whatever form of selfishness or depravity formerly had control of us. The "new mind of Christ," whose principles are justice and love, asserts itself; and reminds the will that it has assented to and convenanted to this change. The desires of the flesh (the selfish desires, whatever their bent), aided by the outside influence of friends, argue and discuss the question, urging that no radical measures must be taken--that such a course would be foolish, insane, impossible. The flesh insists that the old course cannot be changed, but will agree to slight modifications, and to do nothing so extreme as before.
The vast majority of God's people seem to agree to this partnership, which is really still the reign of selfishness. But others insist that the spirit or mind of Christ shall have the control. The battle which ensues is a hard one (Gal. 5:16, 17); but the new will should conquer, and self with its own selfishness, or depraved desires, be reckoned dead. Col. 2:20; 3:3; Rom. 6:2-8
But does this end the battle forever? No—
"Ne'er think the victory won,
Nor once at ease sit down;
Thine arduous task will not be done
Till thou hast gained thy crown."
Ah, yes, we must renew the battle daily, and help divine implore and receive, that we may finish our course with joy. We must not only conquer self, but, as the Apostle did, we must keep our bodies under. (1 Cor. 9:27) And this, our experience, that we must be constantly on the alert against the spirit of selfishness, and to support and promote in ourselves the spirit of love, is the experience of all who likewise have "put on Christ" and taken his will to be theirs. Hence the propriety of the Apostle's remark, "Henceforth know we no man [in Christ] after the flesh." We know those in Christ according to their new spirit, and not according to their fallen flesh. And if we see them fail sometimes, or always to some degree, and yet see evidences that the new mind is wrestling for the mastery, we are properly disposed to sympathize with them rather than to berate them for little failures; "remembering ourselves, lest we also be tempted [of our old selfish nature in violation of some of the requirements of the perfect law of love]."
Under "the present distress," therefore, while each has all that he can do to keep his own body under and the spirit of love in control, sound judgment, as well as experience and the Bible, tells us that we would best not complicate matters by attempting communistic schemes; but each make as straight paths as possible for his own feet, that that which is lame in our fallen flesh be not turned entirely out of the way, but that it be healed.
(1) Sound judgment says that if the saints with divine help have a constant battle to keep selfishness subject to love, a promiscuous colony or community would certainly not succeed in ruling itself by a law utterly foreign to the spirit of the majority of its members. And it would be impossible to establish a communism of saints only, because we cannot read the hearts--only "the Lord knoweth them that are his." And if such a colony of saints could be gotten together, and if it should prosper with all things in common, all sorts of evil persons would seek to get their possessions or to share them; and if successfully excluded they would say all manner of evil against them; and so, if it held together at all, the enterprise would not be a real success.
Some saints, as well as many of the world, are so fallen into selfish indolence that nothing but necessity will help them to be, "not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." And many others are so selfishly ambitious that they need the buffetings of failure and adversity to mellow them and enable them to sympathize with others, or even to bring them to deal justly with others. For both these classes "community" would merely serve to hinder the learning of the proper and needed lessons.
Such communities, if left to the rule of the majority, would sink to the level of the majority; for the progressive, active minority, finding that nothing could be gained by energy and thrift over carelessness and sloth, would also grow careless and indolent. If governed by organizers of strong will, as Life Trustees and Managers, on a paternal principle, the result would be more favorable financially; but the masses, deprived of personal responsibility, would degenerate into mere tools and slaves of the Trustees.
To sound judgment it therefore appears that the method of individualism, with its liberty and responsibility, is the best one for the development of intelligent beings; even though it may work hardships many times to all, and sometimes to many.
Sound judgment can see that if the Millennial Kingdom were established on the earth, with the divine rulers then promised, backed by unerring wisdom and full power to use it, laying "judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet," and ruling not by consent of majorities, but by righteous judgment, as "with a rod of iron"-- then communism could succeed; probably it would be the very best condition, and if so it will be the method chosen by the King of kings. But for that we wait; and not having the power or the wisdom to use such theocratic power, the spirit of a sound mind simply bides the Lord's time, praying meanwhile, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." And after Christ's Kingdom shall have brought all the willing back to God and righteousness, and shall have destroyed all the unwilling, then, with Love the rule of earth as it is of heaven, we may suppose that men will share earth's mercies in common, as do the angels the bounties of heaven.
(2) Experience proves the failure of communistic methods in the present time. There have been several such communities; and the result has always been failure. The Oneida community of New York is one whose failure has long been recognized. Another, the Harmony Society of Pennsylvania, soon disappointed the hopes of its founders, for so much discord prevailed that it divided. The branch known as Economites located near Pittsburgh, Pa. It flourished for a while, after a fashion, but is now quite withered; and possession of its property is now being disputed in the Society and in the courts of law.
Other communistic societies are starting now, which will be far less successful than these because the times are different; independence is greater, respect and reverence are less, majorities will rule, and without superhuman leaders are sure to fail. Wise worldly leaders are looking out for themselves, while wise Christians are busy in other channels--obeying the Lord's command, "Go thou and preach the Gospel."
(3) The Bible does not teach Communism, but does teach loving, considerate Individualism, except in the sense of family communism--each family acting as a unit, of which the father is the head and the wife one with him, his fellow-heir of the grace of life, his partner in every joy and benefit as well as in every adversity and sorrow.
True, God permitted a communistic arrangement in the primitive Church, referred to at the beginning of this article; but this may have been for the purpose of illustrating to us the unwisdom of the method; and lest some, thinking of the scheme now, should conclude that the apostles did not command and organize communities, because they lacked the wisdom to devise and carry out such methods; for not a word can be quoted from our Lord or the apostles advocating the communistic principles; but much can be quoted to the contrary.
True, the Apostle Peter (and probably other apostles) knew of, and cooperated in, that first communistic arrangement, even if he did not teach the system. It has been inferred, too, that the death of Ananias and Sapphira was an indication that the giving of all the goods of the believers was compulsory; but not so: their sin was that of lying, as Peter declared in reviewing the case. While they had the land there was no harm in keeping it if they got it honestly; and even after they had sold it no harm was done: the wrong was in misrepresenting that the sum of money turned in was their all, when it was not their all. They were attempting to cheat the others by getting a share of their alls without giving their own all.
As a matter of fact, the Christian Community at Jerusalem was a failure. "There arose a murmuring"--"Because their widows were neglected in the daily ministrations." Although under the Apostolic inspection the Church was pure, free from "tares," and all had the treasure of the new spirit or "mind of Christ," yet evidently that treasure was only in warped and twisted earthen vessels which could not get along well together.
The apostles soon found that the management of the community would greatly interfere with their real work--the preaching of the gospel. So they abandoned those things to others. The Apostle Paul and others traveled from city to city preaching Christ and him crucified; but, so far as the record shows, they never mentioned communism and never organized a community; and yet St. Paul declares, "I have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God." This proves that Communism is no part of the gospel, nor of the counsel of God for this age.
On the contrary, the Apostle Paul exhorted and instructed the Church to do things which it would be wholly impossible to do as members of a communistic society--to each "provide for his own"; to "lay by on the first day of the week" money for the Lord's service, according as the Lord had prospered them; that servants should obey their masters, rendering the service with a double good will if the master were also a brother in Christ; and how masters should treat their servants, as those who must themselves give an account to the great Master, Christ. 1 Tim. 5:8; 6:1; 1 Cor. 16:2; Eph. 6:59
Our Lord Jesus not only did not establish a Community while he lived, but he never taught that such should be established. On the contrary, in his parables he taught that all have not the same number of pounds or talents given them, but each is a steward and should individually (not collectively, as a commune) manage his own affairs, and render his own account. (Matt. 25:14-28; Luke 19:12-24. See also James 4:13,15.) When dying, our Lord commended his mother to the care of his disciple John, and the record of John (19:27) is, "And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home." John, therefore, had a home, so had Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Had our Lord formed a Community he would doubtless have commended his mother to it instead of to John.
Moreover, the forming of a Commune of believers is opposed to the purpose and methods of the Gospel age. The object of this age is to witness Christ to the world, and thus to "take out a people for his name"; and to this end each believer is exhorted to be a burning and a shining light before men--the world in general--and not before and to each other merely. Hence, after permitting the first Christian Community to be established, to show that the failure to establish Communities generally was not an oversight, the Lord broke it up, and scattered the believers everywhere, to preach the gospel to every creature. We read--"And at that time there was a great persecution against the Church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles," and they went everywhere preaching the gospel. Acts 8:1,4; 11:19
It is still the work of God's people to shine as lights in the midst of the world, and not to shut themselves up in convents and cloisters or as communities. The promises of Paradise will not be realized by joining such communities. The desire to join such "confederacies" is but a part of the general spirit of our day, against which we are forewarned. (Isa. 8:12) "Trust in the Lord, and wait patiently for him." "Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things, and to stand before the Son of Man." Luke 21:36
38. Do those who have reached ‘the mark’ still have trials along the line of brotherly love?
39. Why is brotherly love ‘one of the final and most searching tests ‘ of the brethren and how may we prepare to meet it?
40. What should be ‘the main- spring back of brotherly kindness’?
41. What does the illustration of ‘the third- quarter mark’ signify?
42. Why is it important that we manifest brotherly love now ?
43. How may we become members of ‘the Mary class’?
44. How did Jesus show us a grand example of brotherly love and sympathy?
45. How can we fulfill Jesus’ command to ‘wash one another’s feet’?
46. How jealously should we guard and increase this grace of brotherly kindness?
47. How may we cultivate brotherly love?
48. What additional thoughts are found in Topical Index of ‘Heavenly Manna, ‘ under ‘Love One Another‘?