The Claim to Have the Lord in the Midst — An Extract from a letter by Charles A. Coates

The thought is widespread that if people break bread with a certain company of saints, they are gathered to the Lord’s name and that this particular company is so characterised and therefore has the Lord’s presence in the midst as distinct from all other saints and companies. But I understand being gathered to His name as true only of those who are in coming together commanded by the Lord and His interests. That many amongst “Brethren” do meet together as thus attracted and commanded by His name I am certain, but I could not say all do. The moment a great and inestimable spiritual privilege is assumed to attach to a particular body and people without regard to their individual spiritual state and condition, there is sure to be ecclesiastical pretension. Privilege is first assumed, and then authority. Instead of lowly exercise and true dependence upon God, that we may be individually kept in the blessed sense and attraction of all that is in the name of the Lord, it is assumed that we are so, when every mora evidence indicates the contrary. It is quite common for people to say that they have been gathered to the Lord’s name for many years because they have been breaking bread with “Brethren” during that time. It is the privilege of each one of us to be so commanded by the Lord and his interests, that when we come together it is to His name. If two thus come together they have His presence. It is a great and unspeakable spiritual reality. I desire for myself and my brethren that it should be so, and that we should prove it by the support and joy derived from that blessed presence. It is a great thing to have before one a living system centred in a living Person who has power to subdue all things to Himself, and who is at the service of such as we are.

Words of Grace and Comfort (1929)

Volume 5, p. 220

(also in Letters p. 381)

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