II THES. 3:6,7,8 & 14,15.

Baptisttown, N.J.
March 25, 1870.

ELDER G. BEEBE: - Please give your views through the SIGNS on II Thes.3:6,7,8 & 14,15, and oblige,

H.Sutton.

REPLY. “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us; for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you.”

The very imperative manner of the apostle in this case is well calculated to impress our minds with the importance of the charge enjoined. In many passages in his epistles the apostle exhorts, and entreats, and sometimes with tears. But in this he commands; rising to the eminence of his apostolic vocation, with all the authority of one invested with power to hold the keys of the kingdom of heaven, he commands in the name and authority of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we remember that whatsoever the apostles have bound on earth is bound in heaven, and whatsoever they have loosed on earth is loosed in heaven, we must perceive the necessity of attending to the traditions, or instruction, which we have received from them, as the twelve judges which sit upon the twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. By the immediate inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they are qualified and empowered to define, expound, and decide for us every precept of the law of Christ, and to establish every ordinance and define every institution which Christ has enacted and enjoined upon his church; and from their decisions there is no appeal; in all cases their judgment is final and conclusive. Much discussion is now going on in the Romish anti-christ in regard to the professed infallibility of the Pope, who claims to be a successor of one of the apostles. But the apostles can have no successors; they are still upon their thrones of judgment, and will continue there to preside until the end of the world. “And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Matt. 19:28. When and wherever the Son of man presides, in the regeneration, or gospel organization of his kingdom, there also will be found his apostles occupying their thrones of judgment; for lo he is with them, and they are with him, until the end of the world. We know the apostles are not present in their fleshly bodies, neither is Jesus present in his flesh; for though we have known him after the flesh, yet henceforth we know him no more in the flesh; but Jesus is present in spirit, and so are all his holy apostles present now with us in spirit, if we are the church of Christ. Wherever they are not present, there can be no gospel church. Neither Christ, nor his apostles have any successors. They preside over a spiritual, not an earthly kingdom. This command therefore of the apostle is as absolute and as valid now to all the subjects of our heavenly King, as it could be if Christ and his apostles were present with us in the flesh. “What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:62,63.

Having noticed the imperative command, we should observe that it was given to those whom the apostle recognized as brethren. Children of the same spiritual parentage. Born of God, and joint heirs with our Lord Jesus Christ. “Now we command you, brethren.” Not merely as brethren, in common with the whole spiritual fraternity of the house of God, but officially, as his enthroned apostles, princes in judgment, in the church of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom they are invested with apostolic power to rule in judgment, with the assurance that all their rulings, teachings, traditions and decisions, are ratified in heaven, and given by the infallible inspiration of the Holy Ghost. In the full conviction that this and every other command enjoined upon the church of God, has come from God himself, and that God has spoken them by and through his holy apostles, even as he spake to the fathers by the prophets, we will proceed to examine this particular command. It is, “That ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly.” The order of the church of God is laid down by the apostles, as contained in the law of Christ. To walk disorderly as brethren, is explained to be any departure from the traditions of the inspired apostles. The primitive saints had received the traditions; that is, the teachings and instructions of the apostles, at the beginning, when they that gladly received the word were baptized, and continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship. Their doctrine was their traditions, the terms meaning the same; and none could retain the apostles’ fellowship who did not continue steadfastly in their doctrine. If even Paul, or an angel from heaven, should preach to the saints any other doctrine than that which they had received from them, and which is fully set forth in the New Testament, let him or them be accursed. It is grossly disorderly then for any brother or sister in the church of Christ to depart from the doctrine of the apostles, or to walk after the rudiments and traditions of men; and the disorder is so great, and its effects are so pernicious, that every orderly christian is in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by all the authority that name signifies, commanded to withdraw from every brother that walks disorderly. We may also determine what is, and what is not disorderly, by the example of the apostles. For he says, “Yourselves know how that ye ought to follow us.” That is, they know they ought to follow the apostles; for, says he, “We behaved not ourselves disorderly among you.” As the apostles, and as Paul, Silvanus and Timotheus, who jointly wrote this epistle, had been with them in the church of Thessalonica, and had exemplified in their whole deportment before them the order of the gospel, and had in no instance transgressed or departed from that order, the saints knew full well that they also ought to walk in the same circumspect manner.

The saints ought to adhere to and follow the apostles not only because they were orderly, but also because they were and are especially authorized and commanded to teach them to observe all things whatsoever Christ had commanded them. In the rule laid down for the saints, Paul says, “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.” Phil. 3:17.

The apostle, in the eight verse, claims that himself and his companions in the ministry, when with the church of the Thessalonians, had not only restricted themselves in their walk to the divine rule, but had denied themselves of rights and privileges which they were unquestionably entitled to as ministers of the gospel. They were entitled to a supply of temporal things, which they had a right to demand from the church on whom they were bestowing of their spiritual things. But being unwilling to be burdensome or chargeable to the church, they wrought with labor and travail night and day, to procure their subsistence; neither did they eat any man’s bread for naught. But they did not forego their privilege of being supported at the expense of the church, because they had no power, or authority to claim it as a right, but because they would rather deprive themselves of their unquestionable rights, than to be burdensome to their brethren; and in this sacrifice of their rights for the benefit of their brethren, set an example in which the saints should follow them. For they had heard that there were some among the brethren who walked disorderly, who worked not at all, but were busybodies. What a reproof this noble example of the apostle was to those drones who were willing to be supported by the church, by the toil and labor of others, instead of working according to their ability, to bear their share of the burdens, preferred to busy themselves in stirring up mischief and strife, as busybodies in other men’s matters.

The church of God has been afflicted more or less in every age by this class of disorderly walkers, which the apostle denominated busybodies. Vainly imagining themselves models of perfection, feeling no inconvenience from beams in their own eye, have their hands full of business in discovering motes in the eyes of others; while themselves trampling the laws of Christ under foot, and regardless of the authority of Christ in his church, wiser in their own conceit than seven men that can render a reason, by indefatigable application to other men’s matters, they can generally manage to keep more or less discord and confusion alive, in the churches where they hold their membership.

Practically, it is important to understand the instructions enjoined upon the brethren by the apostolic command in our test. Disorderly walking may be carried so far as to require expulsion from the fellowship of the church. If the eye, or hand or foot offend thee, pluck it out, or cut them off, and cast them from thee. But the apostle, in this case, is speaking of the manner in which a brother, when walking disorderly, is to be treated by his orderly and law-abiding brethren. By a brother, we understand one who, although in disorder, is still recognized by the church as a member; for we have no divine authority to extend fellowship to any as brethren who are not held as such in the church. However disorderly we as individuals may believe a brother {church member} to be, the apostle will not allow us to count him as an enemy, but to admonish him as a brother. The command to withdraw from him cannot then mean that we shall have no intercourse with him, for how then could we admonish him? But we withdraw from him, or his disorderly walk, by refusing to walk disorderly with him; by discountenancing his departures from the divine rule. If we count him as an enemy, we ourselves become disorderly. This we are not allowed to do. If we tell him he is a hypocrite, a rogue, or a disgrace to the cause, we are not admonishing him as a brother, and we make ourselves transgressors. No member has the right to be the accuser and the judge of a fellow member of the church. While all the members are commanded to admonish and labor in the spirit of meekness to reclaim those whom they believe to be in disorder, no member has a right to decide the case against that brother; but when the authorized preliminary steps have been duly taken in meekness and in the spirit of the gospel, if, they have failed to gain the brother, then tell it to the church. Submit the case to the superior judgment of the church, and then both the accused and the accuser are bound to abide by the decision of the church. There may be acts more disreputable in their nature, but we can conceive of no disorder more flagrant than for a member to disregard the solemn decisions of a gospel church. We have labored to show that a gospel church is an organized company of baptized believers, over whom Christ presides as King, and over whom the apostles preside in judgment; and is it not a fearful thing for any one to set his or her individual judgment above such a body?

“If any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.” To note, in this case, is to observe, notice, or mark him, as walking in disorder, and by no means walk with him in disorder, give him no cause to think you approve of his disregard for the divine rule expressed in the word, or epistle of the apostle. “Yet count him not as an enemy.” If we decide that all such brethren as we think are walking disorderly, are enemies to the cause of God and truth, we disqualify ourselves for that brotherly labor which we are commanded to bestow in our efforts to reclaim them. “But admonish him as a brother,” as our kindred in Christ, who, though he may be in disorder, we should still love, and labor to reclaim from his errors. “And of some have compassion, making a difference; and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garments spotted with the flesh.” Jude 23.

In our own personal experience in the church, for more than half a century, some of the most difficult cases which we have observed has been of those who have become self-willed, self conceited, wise in their own eyes, turbulent, and unwilling to be in subjection to the church. Ready to give judgment against others, and ready to rail against the church, if she, in her wisdom, does not endorse their decisions. Such are among the most hopeless cases; for it is seldom they can be reconciled to the order of the gospel; but generally, after having worried the church until forbearance ceases to be a virtue, they are delivered over to Satan; that they may learn not to blaspheme.

To appreciate and enjoy the privileges of the church of God, we all need to learn of him who is meek and lowly of heart. How often may we have occasion to enquire with the psalmist,

“Is there ambition in my heart,
Search, gracious God, and see;
Or do I act a haughty part?
Lord, I appeal to thee.

I charge my thoughts, be humble still,
And all my carriage mild;
Content, my Father, at thy will,
And quiet as a child.

The patient soul, the lowly mind,
Shall have a large reward;
Let saints in sorrow lie resigned,
And trust our faithful Lord.”

Middletown, N.Y.
April 15, 1870.
Elder Gilbert Beebe