[from THE REFORMATION ADVOCATE MAGAZINE, September, 1875.]
These associations are made up of the men of the world, and all the sects:—"pious men of every name,"—faithful covenanters only protesting. It is contended that we need, not only all religious, but all moral (so-called) men, to aid in promoting moral reform—implying that a faithful church is not prepared for successful operation, in reforming men, without the co-operation of the sects and the world. We feel assured that there is a mistake here—a fatal one. Instead of the co-operation of the church with the sects and the world resulting in the true reformation of men, it corrupts the true church. "Evil communications corrupt good manners." "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed." So that we will have occasion to say, "How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed!" Lam. 4:1.
1. All experience shows, that if we associate with unbelievers—with infidels, and those of a different religion—that they can help us to do evil, and hinder us from doing good; but can never help us to do good, or to avoid evil.
2. If we associate with infidels and those of a different, a corrupt religion, we will do them much harm and no good—harden and confirm them in their infidelity, and establish them in their false religion; and they can do us no good, and much harm. "An evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit," but evil.
3. If we associate with such, we can help them to work unrighteousness; but they cannot help us to work righteousness. And we call help them tofellowship unrighteousness, and they can hinder us from having fellowship with righteousness; for while we fellowship the unrighteous, the righteous cannot fellowship us, for in so doing they too would be fellowshipping unrighteousness. Then, while we and the unrighteous co-operate or work together, we can work unrighteousness, but not righteousness; and we can fellowship unrighteousness, but not righteousness. In the very act of incorporating with unbelievers and those of a different religion, we separate from the true church; we unite with a corrupt, and separate from a scriptural fellowship.
4. If we associate with such, we can have communion with them in walking in darkness; but they cannot have communion with us in walking in the light. If the children of light and the children of darkness walk together, they must all walk in the darkness; not in the light. How can those who are "light in the Lord," Eph. 5:8, walk with those who are the "darkness of this world?" Eph. 6:12. When "the Father makes us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, he delivers us from the power of darkness, and translates us into the kingdom of his dear Son." Col. 1:13. We cannot at the same time be in the kingdom of darkness, and in the kingdom of light—we cannot at the same time walk with the children of light, and with the children of darkness.
5. If we and unbelievers and those of a corrupt religion cooperate or work together, we and they can have "concord," or unity of heart "with Belial," but not "with Christ." Or, in other words, we can help them to have concord with Belial; and they can hinder us from having concord with Christ: and thus they can aid us in promoting moral reform! All those who associate with unbelievers, an ungodly world, and corrupt carnal professors, place themselves in a situation in which they can have concord with Belial; but not with Christ: No. never, until Christ "grant unto them repentance, and the forgiveness of sins." It is certain that those that have concord with Belial cannot have concord with Christ; but all who incorporate with voluntary associations have concord with Belial; because these corrupt, Christless associations have concord with an ungodly world, and an ungodly world has concord with them. The concord is mutual and reciprocal. But the devils are the rulers of the darkness of this world; and unbelievers are the darkness of this world. Satan is the god of this world, he is the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience; he darkens, blinds, deceives, ensnares, captivates, and enslaves the world of the ungodly, and carnal professors, who are conformed to this world. The world, and professors who are conformed to the world, are alike the captives and servants of the devil. And yet these captives and servants of the devil would have us believe that they are great reformers! Why do they not include Belial among the reformers? seeing they have all concord with him, and that it is manifestly he that controls the whole alliance; and at the same time, so blinds and deceives them, as to make them believe they are reforming the world, while they are only helping Satan to make them his dupes, captives, and slaves.
6. If we incorporate with voluntary associations, we will have part with infidels; but not with believers. The Greek word meris, which is translated part,comes from the Greek verb meiro, which means divide—to divide an inheritance, and to have part with the heirs—to have a title to all their rights and immunities—it is to have a right to all that is contained in the "everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure," and to be saved from the curse of the broken law, or covenant of works. This is the believer’s part or inheritance. A God in Christ is the portion of the believer, but the portion or part of the infidel, or unbeliever, and of all those who incorporate with him, is the curse of the law, and the wrath of Almighty God—is to be "punished with everlasting destruction from his presence, and from the glory of his power."
7. Those uniting with voluntary associations, can have agreement with idols—idol-worship; but not with the "temple of God"—not with the true spiritual worship of God’s sanctuary. All voluntary associations agree with unsound—latitudinarian—doctrine, worship, discipline, and government; and strongly disagree with all sound doctrine, worship, discipline, and government. They agree with liberal or latitudinarian principles; and disagree with all distinctive principles in relation to doctrine, worship, discipline, or government. They all disagree with the covenants, toto coelo. They are all hostile to insisting on unity of principle, and uniformity of practice. Enforcing of sound principles and a scriptural practice would soon put an end to all voluntary associations. There can be no more complete and irreconcilable antagonisms than those of sound principles and the principles of voluntary associations, composed of an ungodly world, and the sects who are conformed to the world. As a general rule, these associations make all diversity of sentiment a matter of forbearance, except the sentiment of those who earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.
These associations can have fellowship with unrighteousness, but not with righteousness—strict conformity to both the letter and spirit of the law; they can have communion with darkness, but not with light; unless you allow every one to decide for himself what is light, and what is not: they can have concord with Belial, but not with Christ; unless you allow every one to lay his own construction on the import of the phrase—"concord with Christ:" they can have part with infidels, but not with believers; and agreement with idols, but not with the temple of God. Then, it is manifest that voluntary associations—Sabbath schools included—bear about the same relation to the church—Christ’s mystical body—that a harlot does to a faithful wife uncontaminated with pollution, and untainted with scandal. Then, when the so-called Covenanter forms this unholy alliance with these "institutions," he deserts his high and holy standpoint as a Covenanter, and takes a so-called member of Christ, (himself), and makes it a member of a harlot; and thus becomes one body with a harlot, and is no longer one spirit with the Lord. And in the formation of this union, the harlot is not assimilated to the Covenanter, but the Covenanter to the harlot. When the harlot and so-called Covenanter are made one flesh, the latter makes all the concessions; the former none of them. Indeed, it is making concessions on the part of the Covenanter, that makes him and the harlot one body. And when the Covenanter becomes one body with the harlot, he ceases to be one spirit with the Lord; and without repentance and reformation their doom will be the same.—A.