To Mr P
Then, the question of reception is often badly stated. We are not a body by voluntary association, but in the measure that we can be, we come together as members of the body of Christ, a gathering of His own, the work of the Holy Spirit. We do not receive persons amongst us to take the supper with us; Christ must have received them: we recognise them, being responsible to guard the holiness of the Lord’s table and the truth of God. To recognise them, it is a matter of confidence, and it depends on the witness that we have of their lives. It is not a matter of deliberation as to whether to receive them or not, once their Christianity has been established, not excluding holiness and truth, for the Spirit who leads the children of God is the Spirit of Truth and the Holy Spirit. They have a right, in this case, to the table. Discipline still remains.
In dubious cases, it is good to desire that the conscience of the whole assembly be clear about it; but if the person is a Christian, and is known as such, or known well enough that by the testimony of a serious person who can guarantee the Christianity of the person who wishes to take the supper, in my opinion nothing else is needed. Only it is good to name the person before the assembly, and in any case to mention it to several responsible members of the meeting if there is not a better opportunity of speaking about it. It is a matter of sufficient testimony, since it is a matter of maintaining a spirit of confidence amongst all. If the one who introduces a soul is a young or shallow Christian, it would be better that his testimony was supported by a few Christians with more discernment. We should rejoice to see new souls coming, but at the same time we need to see that the truth and holiness is safeguarded.
Letter originally written in French, translated by Sosthenes, 2013
Click here for original – If you have any comments on the translation, feel free to let me know.