MIDDLETOWN, N.Y., August 9, 1905.
ELDER W. W. POLK – Dear Brother In The Lord: – Yours of the 4th inst. just received. You call my attention to Matthew xviii. 8-14. My understanding is that we cannot use these verses alone and grasp the subject; verses 6, 7 and 15 are inseparably connected with verses 8-14. Verse 6 tells us who are offended (little ones), and of the judgment of God upon the offender. Verse 7 tells us who the offender is (the “world,” or man of the world). Verse 8 calls the man of the world, whether king, governor, magistrate or private citizen, “thy hand,” “thy foot.” Verse 9 teaches the same thing when the “eye” in figure is used. Jesus never used an imperfect figure, therefore the hand, foot and eye cannot refer to members of the body of Christ, because if cut off or plucked out restoration could never be made; all the skill of earthly physicians can never restore the hand or foot of a man if it be cut off, or the eye if it be plucked out. The body of Christ would not be perfect if any member should be cut off, or an eye plucked out. Wherefore if thy support or strength, “hand or foot,” offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee. “If ye were of the world, the world would love its own.” “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” Verse 10 presents a different aspect entirely, viz: that the apostles themselves should take heed that they despise not one of the little ones who believe in Jesus. The apostles were not to be lords over God’s heritage, but were to be kind and gentle as a nurse in the care of children; they were to instruct the children rather than “provoke them to wrath.” Verse 10 also teaches the standing of the “little ones “with the Father of Jesus Christ; they are his, “bought with a price.” Verse 11 teaches us what the work of the Son of man was and is: to seek and “to save that which was lost.” Verse 12 presents the love of God to the redeemed, and the tender care and watchfulness of the great Shepherd, and also the tenderness and long-suffering that we should have one toward another. If a little one should go astray we should not seek that one with the intention to wound or kill him, but to save him or restore him to the fold; if he cannot walk for lack of strength, if he cannot return of himself, we should use all our strength (ability) to bring him back. “He which converteth the sinner [a stray little one] from the error of his way shall save a Soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” Extreme measures should never be resorted to, unless after all of our tenderness, long-suffering and labor, the offender still lives in open transgression and rebellion against the church, then such an one should be turned over “to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” Such an one until repentance is given him should be unto us “as an heathen man and a publican.” Verse 13 speaks of the experience of rejoicing when the wanderer or wayward one is found and restored (not killed) to the fold. Surely there is more reason to rejoice over the return of this one sheep than over the ninety and nine which went not astray. “Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” Verse 14 shows clearly that it is not the will of God that one of these little ones should perish, therefore it should not be our desire; should our desire be in that direction, it will never change God’s will, or word, or purpose: that not one of these little ones shall perish. Though they may go far astray they shall not perish, neither can any man pluck them out of the Father’s hand. Verse 15 shows that personal offence may come from a brother as well as from the world, and when such is the case the rule is here given how to deal with that brother, not to cut him off and cast him from thee, as in the other case, but go to him alone and tell him his fault between thee and him, and if possible gain thy brother. In this case we are to use all possible labor, tenderness and long-suffering before telling it to the church.
The lesson taught in these verses belonged to each apostle separately, and to them as a body; it also belongs to each of God’s ministers, to each private member, to each separate branch of the church, and to the great body of Christ, the church, to-day.
Now, brother Polk, I have given you freely such as I have, and leave it with you to judge whether it is according to the word of God or not. May the Lord bless, guide and keep you.
I am your brother in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, I hope,
H. C. KER.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 78., No. 22.
NOVEMBER 15, 1905.