A Letter About Fellowship
From our Archive
The following letter was written almost 50 years ago and is included here for two reasons.
Firstly, it shows that those who signed it (in the knowledge that they had the general and hearty approval of the brethren with whom they were associated) believed that the eternal Sonship of Christ forms a fundamental part of the "doctrine of Christ" (2 John 9).
Secondly, it shows what their attitude was to fellowship with those who, while professing themselves to be clear of fundamental departure from the doctrine of Christ, do not separate themselves from all association with those who do not bring the doctrine of Christ.
The resumption of fellowship referred to in the 3rd paragraph and the first part of the 4th paragraph took place because brethren had confidence in one another that these and the other "principles of truth as given to us in Scripture" would be carefully maintained. It was not fellowship based on the setting aside of such principles. May we in our day be faithful to the Son of God, as they were in theirs.
Bradford, 5th November 1948.
To the Saints gathered to the Lord's Name at "The Hall," 29 Chester Street, Bradford, and those elsewhere in fellowship with them.
Dear Brethren in the Lord,
It has for long been a deep sorrow to the brethren with whom we have the privilege of Christian fellowship, that we walk apart from dear brethren, who love the same Lord as ourselves, and who seek to carry out the same principles of truth as given to us in Scripture.
The imminence of the Lord's return, the sad, broken Laodicean condition of things, obtaining in that which professes the name of the Lord, the unrest and trouble among the nations, "men's hearts failing them because of fear," showing clearly we are in the last days, all combine to intensify our desire that unhappy divisions among the Lord's people should cease, and that many walking apart hitherto might find themselves in happy fellowship.
We have in mind the so-called "Ramsgate" trouble, which took place in 1882, 66 years ago. More than two-thirds of a century has elapsed since then. Not one is alive to-day who took a prominent part then. Then there is the so-called "Greenwich" division, which took place in 1890, 58 years ago, and again, none who took a prominent part then is alive today.
We greatly rejoice that these brethren have found it in their hearts to walk together, but is this enough? Your so-called "Glanton" brethren yearn for fellowship with you. Their separation from the so-called "London" brethren dates from 1908, 40 years ago, when again, not one who took a leading part at that time, is alive today.
May we be so exercised before the Lord in brokenness of spirit, and joined in earnest supplication and prayer that the shame of these divisions may be judged and confessed, and that we may be found in happy fellowship for the glory of God and our mutual comfort and joy.
We should not, on our part, be free to extend fellowship to those who deny the eternal Sonship of our blessed Lord, nor His true, real, holy manhood, altogether pleasing to God, possessed as our Lord was of a human spirit, a human soul, a human body, and united to Godhead a mystery beyond our understanding, which our Lord affirms in His own words, that "no man knoweth the Son but the Father" (Matt. 11.27).
Nor should we be free to extend fellowship to any who deny the present possession of eternal life, God's gift to all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, nor to those professing to be clear of these and other fundamental departures from the doctrine of Christ (2 John 10) yet do not separate themselves (2 Tim. 2.22) from all association therewith.
We have only a little while before us till we hear the summoning shout of the Lord, when in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, all sects, denominations and divisions shall be no more, and the prayer of our Lord will be gloriously fulfilled, "That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me" (John 17.21).
With warm love in our Lord, and praying that we may receive a gracious response to this approach.
Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ,
A.J. Pollock (Edinburgh)
Jas. McBroom (Brighouse)
F.B. Hole (Sutton, Surrey)
F. Ashwell (Bramley, Leeds)
J.J. Anning (Leeds)
G.E. Mawson (Grange-over-Sands, Lancs)
Robert M. Coutts (Aberdeen)
Thos. J. Shepherd (Manchester) J
H. Rugg (Stockton)
A. Clayton (Pate do Alfres Net.do Pio Brazil)
F. Rawnsley (Bradford)
G. Darrah (Stockport)
W. Sutherland (Bradford)
T.H. Wilson (Belgian Congo)
David Ross (Edinburgh)
Fred. J. Fennell (Leeds)
S.W. Miller (Chelmsford)
A. Redpath (Wooler, Northd)
Arthur F. Pollock (Norwich)
T. D. Bell (Barmoor)
Howard Smith (Stockport)
D. Anderson (Findochty)
Wilfred H. Ayres (Weston- super-Mare)
W.B. Ashley (Leeds)
Ernest C. Fenton (Worksop, Notts)
John B Duff (St. Monance)
Alfred G. Taylor (Sutton, Surrey)
Joseph A. Butler (Parkgate, Yorks)
Ernest G Ashley (Heaton Moor)
Wm. L. Couper (Glasgow)
Anthony Dockerty (Newcastle- on-Tyne)
Samuel Harrison (Bradford)
P.S. We sign this letter on our individual responsibility, but in doing so we know that we have the general and hearty approval of the brethren with whom we are associated. The opportunity to sign this letter was taken when brethren from various assemblies were met together at a conference held at Bradford, 1st to 5th. November. From many indications we are encouraged to believe that the hand of the Lord is manifest in this matter we have put our hands to. May He give a gracious issue and answer to our prayers.