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A Pure Church Restored.
Of the primitive church in its normal state, at the time when it was the ideal for all future ages, it is declared that “of the rest durst no man join himself to them” (Acts 5:13). "They were all filled with the Holy Ghost. . . . And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul. . . . And great grace was upon them all.” Acts 4:31-33. This was declared of the visible body of believers. They presented to the world a clean, separate, distinct church, or people. They were pure from sin and sinners. The spirit of discernment in the apostles, and the mighty power and glory of God that rested upon them, made it impossible for hypocrites and sinners to profess among them. “Of the rest durst no man join himself to them."
But step by step the church drifted from this high plane and soon the great apostasy came. Then the priests "put no difference between the holy and profane," "showed no difference between the unclean and the clean" (Ezek. 22: 26). Thus a mixed condition came in. Especially has this been true during the Protestant era-saints and sinners, true believers and hypocrites, the humble and the proud, all classes and kinds have been yoked up together, and all labeled “Christians.”
But, dear reader, better days have come. The prophet foretold a time when the people of God would “return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not” (Mal. 3:18). We are living in that time. We have returned to the primitive plane, and by the Word and Spirit of God we are able to discern between the righteous and the wicked.
Sectarians cry, “You can't have a pure church; there must be mixture." Here is God's answer to them: “If thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth.” Jer. 15:19. God does not approve of a mixture of saints and "sinners in the congregation of the righteous” (Psa. 1:5). “So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more." Joel 3:17. This is the church. The Lord calls it “my holy mountain.” Under the metaphor of Jerusalem, the redeemed church in the evening time “shall be holy”—so much so that “no strangers [sinners] shall pass through her any
May God raise up many thousand witnesses to go forth with the righteous indignation of Josiah and the thunderbolts of heaven's truth, and take away the high places of pride and idolatry, and abolish the abomination of sectism out of the hearts of the people. Amen.
Christ is today gathering his church out of all the sects back to Zion. They return on the highway of holiness; namely, he sanctifies and cleanses them from all sin and traditions, and thus prepares his church, so she may be presented to himself “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing," a holy church without blemish. True holiness adorned the church in primitive days. Had she but retained this glorious truth and experience, this globe today would be girdled with a belt of light and salvation. But instead, an apostasy came. The light of truth was soon extinguished by dark clouds of superstition and of false doctrines. Holiness is really the mainspring of all gospel truth. To retrograde from it would be to throw open the doors to every species of false doctrine and error.
It was in this manner that the way was paved for the great apostasy. At a very early date true holiness was lost sight of, and was hid from the general masses of the people. Had it ever been retained by the church, there would never have been an apostasy. Mark you! By retrograding from true holiness the church went into apostasy, and was defiled. By returning to the true standard of holiness the church is brought out of the apostasy, and cleansed. The fire of holiness and truth restores a pure church. The result is, “The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” As the judgments of truth are executed and the fire of holiness accompanies the same, sinners and hypocrites are surprised and made afraid to profess among us. None can dwell in this devouring fire, only those who walk righteously. “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous." Psa. 1:5. “But who may abide the day of his coming! and who shall
stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years. And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts. For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." Mal. 3:2-6. “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him." Verse 17.
While Mal. 3:2, 3 was fulfilled when Christ came in his personal advent to this world, yet the same work he then effected, he is now effecting in this evening time; namely, purifying