Thursday, January 12, 2017

Christian Unity - Elder James Oliphant

"Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brother and to dwell together in unity." (Psalm 133:1)

The church suffers more from strife and confusion over matters which should be made matters of forbearance than from the opposition of outward foes. "If you bite and devour one another. Take heed that you be not consumed one of another." (Galatians 5:15) It is an honor to leave off strife (Proverbs 20:3) Where there is no talebearer strife ceases. (Proverbs 26:20) And where we are not troubled with a contentious spirit, we will not devour one another.

When we pursue a brother with a controversy beyond reason, we weaken the cause we seek to uphold. "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the Children of God." (Matthew 5:9) I have not been a good hand to make peace in many times of confusion. It is hard to influence men when they are angry. If all of us could obey the word, "Let not the sun go down upon the wrath," (Ephesians 4:26) it would be well. But our anger is often ready to arise and slow to abate.

How to deal with an angry brother is an important question. The cold hammer shapes the hot iron. "A soft answer turneth away wrath." (Proverbs 15:1) When we entertain an angry spirit we cannot help to allay strife. "Wherefore laying aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy, and envies and evil speakings." (I Peter 2:1) When these things are laid aside strife will cease. The Lord's people at times are troubled with these hateful things. Malice is settled hate for another. If we could only have a gentle loving spirit ourselves. Read the last three verses of the fifth chapter of Matthew. It tells what we ought to do and what we must do if we are followers of God as dear children. Religious differences often breed bitterness, malice, hate, and hand it all down to the next generation. When we have controversy with one we are liable to require our friends to drop off fellowship with Him too. We ought to love the Lord's people though they have faults. We ought to avoid bitterness over differences on the subject of religion. Can we not bear to differ? It is a deep in mysterious subject and we may expect to differ, but when we differ, we may look up the faults of which we know or of which we have heard and soon we may think we are being sorely persecuted or imagine we are.

I do not feel competent to publish a religious paper. But I would try not to suffer it to sow discord among brother. And I would not if I always felt as I have for a while. Strife in our papers is distressing to me and has been for years. It is hard for me to be a peacemaker. I may be drawn into it if I come near it. Bunyan says, "It is hard to snuff the candle without getting burned or black." We ought to love one another. Cannot I love one for whom Christ died? Jesus made excuses for those who nailed him to the cross. Surely we ought to imitate his example in some little degree. I read of the persecution of the Lollards and of the Waldenses and of others and I felt that I had escaped persecution. A little persecution might do us good, drive us together, and bind us together, and help us to sympathize with each other.

We need peace in all our boarders. We need humility and more prayer and more forbearance. We certainly have reasons to be humble and forgiving one to another. Soon our stay below will end. Our brother R.W. Thompson feels age and shows it in his step and look. He has given us a peaceable paper, one which has mixed kindness and firmness. I am sure the readers of the monitor want to avoid strife in the future. I wish our dear brother and sisters to remember me. I feel the chilly wind that comes to us as we approach age. Soon the joyful news will come, child your father calls come home. I have tried to be firm and kind. If we are to separate from those who hold their we should not be angry but be patient as always.

Primitive Monitor - May 1917

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