愛的使徒戚伯門 ─ (Robert C. Chapman (1803-1902) )

十九世紀,是教會靈性復興的高峰,因著這個復興,帶進了普世的宣教運動。在這段期間,神在英國興起了許多屬靈人,在屬靈生命方面為主作見證。其中影響普世教會最大的有四位,就是信心使徒慕勒、宣教使徒戴德生、真理的使徒達秘及愛的使徒戚伯門。戚伯門與慕勒和達秘一同被公認為「弟兄們中之領袖」。正如,主耶穌所愛的門徒約翰一樣,他在世服事主的時間最長,一共整整七十年,他離世時是整整一百歲。戚伯門弟兄,在近代神的僕人中是一位比較奇特的。主要是他並沒有特別的恩賜,和巨大的工作。但因他豐盛的生命,以致他的生和服事,彰顯了屬天的愛,影響了世界各地信徒,也帶進了全地教會的合一。從他的略傳中,我們可以看到他服事的兩個主要根基:一是,他是一位生活在不斷與主交通中,且住在愛堛漯顳{。如同伯大尼的馬利亞一樣。二,戚弟兄,堅持在愛中服事的原則,並且將它付諸實行。所以,他被稱為愛的使徒,是名符其實。他愛心的見證傳遍了各地,一封從國外郵寄來的信,地址寫著「英國,愛之大學,戚伯門收」,郵局就會遞送到。這位愛的使徒,他一生的見證,主要有下列四點:

一、愛弟兄的生活:戚伯門出身富有家庭,後來成為英王欽定法庭的律師。當他二十幾歲出來服事主時,他憑信心服事,按照使徒命令「獻身於接待」信徒。他在班斯泰埠最貧窮的地區,找到一所房子,一方面方便與窮人朝夕相處,另一方面,開始接待不同宗派的基督徒、宣教士和其他傳道人。

二、住在主愛堛漸肮﹛G他的生活以與主交通和祈禱為中心。他每天早上三點半前起床,凌晨四點走到十二哩外的依爾發康比早餐。然後回來清潔鞋子叫醒客人。從早晨直到中午,不論在戶外或室內,大部的時間都用在禱告,讀經或默想。這段時間,大概有七個小時與神有很好的交通,無疑這是他屬靈能力的秘訣。每星期六,他是不接見任何人,經常禁食,把自己完全安息下來,才來面對主日所有的責任。他經常把這一天花在工作室內,做木工,與主交通。

三、殷勤探訪的生活:他每天殷勤地在鎮內窄小街道中上去下來探訪,並在濟貧院主持聚會,或者向院內的人傳講關於神的事。他和他的助手們不僅顧念信主的人,也幫助許多窮苦人們,曾有一段時期,在他們的新樓巷開設了施粥所,藉此行了非常的事。

四、聯合眾肢體及眾教會的服事:十九世紀的英國弟兄運動,不但恢復了聖經全面真理,使今天的教會得以建立在聖經全面真理上,也恢復了新約聖徒身體的事奉 (人人皆祭司的認識) ,及普世教會在基督埵足陘@身體的真理。戚伯門不但在他的教會中實行教會全體事奉,讓教會中所有的弟兄姊妹,在聖靈帶領之下都參與有份。另外,他也竭力聯絡各宗派的宣教士和傳道人,使他們在主埵麥p絡和交通,以便帶進基督身體的合一。

從他的安息聚會中,我們可以看到,他在眾教會所做代禱和愛心服事的結果。以下摘錄片段,以茲分享。

一位最近居留在新樓巷『安息之家』的男士寫道:「戚伯門先生是按照使徒的命令而『獻身於款待』,他招待不同宗派的基督徒,特別是宣教師和其他基督的工人們,沒有人能比他更熱情地說:『願所有誠心愛我們主耶穌基督的人都蒙恩惠。』」

自從他走在高街尋找簡單的住宿之處以來,班斯泰埠經有很大的改變,市鎮已經擴大,也比較有名聲,福音也比較傳佈。無可置疑的他七十年的職事,使地屬靈的光景有了進展,甚至在西班牙和愛爾蘭,有許多他工作和祈禱所結的果子;在那些地方的工人們和人民存感激的心思念著他。因他曾向他們顯示自己是他們的弟兄。同時在世界各地有許多教會和無計數的個人,其中有些從未見過他的面,他們因著他智慧而有愛心的勸告,引領他們經過許多艱難的時期而將頌讚歸於神。

在他的安息聚會時,有許多人來參加在班斯泰埠舉行的喪禮,國內都有基督徒來。浸信會友、循道會友、公理會友和聖公會友與弟兄們混雜著,在那位曾以言語及榜樣教導他們說,『所有重生者,在基督堻ㄛO弟兄姊妹』者的墓地。雖然在敬拜和教會的治理上,他的信仰和實行從沒有分寸的轉離聖經。他們知道他曾熱愛著他們,並且真誠地為著在神的子民中缺少合一觀點而憂傷,他們感到他們喪失了一位真正是弟兄的。――本文摘自「提比哩亞」出版社

 

 

Introduction
Robert Chapman is not well known. He did not author any monumental books. When he began to minister friends said he would never make a good preacher. Chapman was not a world-wide evangelist. He lead no great mission to foreign lands; rather he labored for 70 years in a small town in a remote corner of England. Yet he became a living legend. As a young man, Winston Churchill was taken to visit him. Charles Spurgeon called him: "the saintliest man I ever knew." Robert Cleaver Chapman is important because of the life he lived. He said: "My business is to love others and not to seek that others shall love me." When they said he would never make a great preacher, Chapman replied: "There are many who preach Christ, but not so many who live Christ; my great aim will be to live Christ." John Nelson Darby said of Robert Chapman: "He lives what I teach." On another occasion Darby said: "We talk of the heavenlies, but Robert Chapman lives in them." A biographer wrote: "What then made Chapman so beloved and effective in his time? Quite simply, his utter devotion to Christ and his determination to live Christ." (Peterson, p. 15) Let us look at his life.
Birth and Background
Robert C. Chapman was born on January 4, 1803, the 6th of 10 children born to Thomas & Ann Chapman. He was born in Helsingor, Denmark, where his father ran a prosperous import-export business. It seems that the family practiced nothing beyond the usual religious observances. As a boy he displayed the virtues of enthusiasm and diligence in his pursuits. His mother said of him "Robert always has a passion, whether literature or the flute, and whatever he takes up, he pursues diligently." Chapman also displayed linguistic abilities in English, Danish & French, languages spoken in the home; he became proficient in German and Italian. After his conversion he studied Hebrew and Greek so he could study the Scriptures in the original languages. To pursue missionary work he studied Spanish and Portugese until he attained fluency.
During Robert’s childhood the Napoleonic wars between France, Denmark etc. and Britain adversely affected the Chapman business in Denmark. The Chapman family returned to Yorkshire, NE England. There Robert Chapman completed his formal education.
Robert Chapman left home at age 15 to begin a 5-year legal apprenticeship in London. While in London, Robert probably stayed with relatives. He lead an active social life in the large city. Meanwhile there were signs of spiritual awakening - at age 16, he began to read the Bible. Later Chapman described his condition at that time as: "Sick was I of the world, hating it as vexation of spirit, while yet I was unable and unwilling to cast it out." (Peterson, p. 21)
After his 5-year apprenticeship, Chapman became an attorney. Three years later, at the age of 23, he inherited a small fortune and set up his own law practice, which began to prosper. His future looked bright. However, a few years earlier an event happened which was to change the course of Chapman’s life.
Salvation
When Chapman was 20 years old he was brought to salvation by James Harington Evans. Evans had been an ordained minister in the Anglican Church, but resigned due to his Scriptural views. He began to preach at the John Street Chapel, a congregation not affiliated with any denomination.
A lawyer invited Robert Chapman the John Street Chapel. Evans preached justification by faith based on the redemption of Jesus Christ. Robert Chapman accepted Christ. Once saved Chapman studied his Bible with renewed interest. Following the pattern he read, Chapman desired to be baptized immediately. Evans advised him to wait, saying : "You will wait a while and consider the matter." "No" said Chapman, "I will make haste, and delay not, to keep His commandments" (Pickering p. 69). Chapman insisted on following the Lord’s charge as soon as possible. Evans agreed; Robert Chapman was baptized a few days after accepting Christ.
Testifying and Bearing Fruit
The new believer began to witness to friends and family. Later he wrote: "I became on offence to those I forsook, even those of my own flesh and blood" (Peterson, p. 26) Not all took his testimony as a ’savor of death’; to some it was a ‘savor unto life’. One cousin and her husband were drawn on hearing Robert’s experience. Chapman’s cousin, Susan had married a wealthy lawyer, Thomas Pugsley and lived in Devon, SW England. The couple traveled to London to hear more; they studied the Bible with Robert. The Pugsley’s accepted Christ. Chapman also began to visit and preach among the poor who lived in the neighborhood.
Perfecting
Having led him to Christ, Evans spent considerable time with Robert Chapman. Later Evans said concerning Chapman "He is one of my stars. I hold him to be one of the first men of the age. He has no ebbs or flows. ... he is ... ready for anything- everything - it matters not what." In his pursuit of Christ, Chapman displayed both stability (‘no ebbs or flows’) and eagerness (‘ready for anything’). Evans encouraged the young believer to speak for the Lord.
'My Great Aim'
After his first efforts to minister, some friends remarked that Robert would never make a good preacher. Chapman’s reply was to characterize his life. He said: "There are many who preach Christ, but not so many who live Christ; my great aim will be to live Christ (Phil. 1:21)" If Romans 1:17, ‘The just shall live by faith’ is Luther’s verse, then this Scripture - Philippians 1:21, ‘...for to me to live is Christ’ is Robert Chapman’s verse.
Work in Devon, England
Chapman’s relative, Susan and her husband, Thomas observed Chapman’s gospel labor among the poor in London. On returning to Devon, they began a similar work at the workhouses for the poor. Their service grew and soon Thomas Pugsley gave up his profession to serve the Lord in the area. The following year the Pugsleys met an enthusiastic young German believer named George Mueller whom they invited to preach.
In the Summer of 1831, the Pugsley’s invited Robert Chapman to vacation with them and help with the evangelistic work. Chapman preached at the cottage meetings and found the labor exhilarating.
After his visit Chapman received an invitation to become pastor of Ebenezer Chapel - a congregation of "Particular Baptists"in Barnstaple, Devon. He felt this was the Lord’s leading and accepted if he could preach whatever he found in the Bible. In April 1832, Chapman left his successful law practice in London, gave away his personal fortune (keeping only enough to purchase a house) and moved to Barnstaple. Chapman ministered according to the Scriptures and was not confined to denominational practices . This lead the congregation away from its Baptist principles. The local Baptist "Book of Remembrance" records that Chapman’s "settlement eventually introduced a new order of things which separated the church from the [Baptist] Association and the [Baptist] body at large." (Rowdon, p. 145) Soon the Barnstaple congregation was associated with the growing number of "assemblies" - gatherings of believers who forsook all designations to meet as brothers gathered in the Lord’s name.
In that same year, August 1832 in the nearby city of Bristol, George Mueller began to meet with six others "at Bethesda Chapel, Mr Mueller, Mr Craik, one other brother, and four sisters (only seven in all) sat down together, uniting in church fellowship, without any rules, desiring to act only as the Lord should be pleased to give light through His Word." (Pickering p. 70).
In 1832 Barnstaple was a small, bustling market town of several thousand people. With a seaport on the Bristol channel it was an active center of trade in agricultural products. The town boasted a hospital, prison, newspaper, 2 or 3 hotels and a multitude of bars. Although there were people of considerable wealth, a great number lived in poverty. Alcohol was a great evil; there were eighty licenced houses "pubs" which could open 24/7- 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Other beer houses were even more numerous. It was the kind of town described by Charles Dickens.
Hospitality House
Robert Chapman wanted a home that could be a place of rest and encouragement for discouraged and tired Christian workers. For this purpose Chapman bought a row-house at #6 New Buildings Street. Chapman lived at that address for the next 70 years (he never married). Many Christian workers stayed there for short or long periods, while Chapman ministered to their spiritual and physical needs. He cleaned and shined their shoes nightly, shared a Bible verse each morning and ministered at meals. He conducted this as a work of faith - depending on the Lord for funds to cover the expenses of the Lord’s servants who took hospitality there. Later the adjoining house, #8 was purchased for additional hospitality.
Evangelism
Chapman visited from door to door, contacted individuals on the street, preached the gospel in the open air at the town square and in the surrounding villages. On occasion he teamed up with Thomas Pugsley & Robert Gribble (an effective evangelist).
The Lord’s Table
Chapman brought in the weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper. All believers were encouraged to participate. They denied the clergy - laity system and practiced the priesthood of all believers. Among the early brethren, the Lord’s Table meeting was the focal point of their church-life.
Baptism
Chapman stressed the importance of believer’s baptism. However, he did not make baptism a requirement for church membership nor for participation in the Lord’s Supper (in contrast to the Particular Baptists). He taught what he saw as the biblical view on this matter with patience. He said later: "We waited in patience for fulness of unity of judgment ... What we now enjoy here of mutual love and the Spirit’s unity would never have been our portion had any other course been taken."
Hymns
Robert Chapman felt that not enough hymns lead one through the cross of Christ to God Himself. He set out to develop a new collection of such hymns. By 1837 he had written enough to publish a new hymn-book. Our Hymn book has only one: #297 (see below)
Denominations
Chapman was opposed to denominational distinctions. All believers in denominations were "Christian brethren" to him. In Choice Sayings, a compilation of Robert Chapman’s quotes, we read: "The titles given to the Church in Scripture bespeak heavenly unity, such as the body, the vine, the temple of God, a holy nation, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood. Such words set forth the Church of God as a witness for Him in the world; but the names which have been invented by men are names of sects, and declare our shame."
Increase & Fruit
Attracted by Chapman’s emphasis on the Bible and the example of his Christian life, new people began meeting at Ebenezer Chapel. William Bowden, aged 20 was saved through Chapman. Another young brother, George Beer, also about 20 was an uneducated man having been apprenticed to a farmer as a boy. Chapman encouraged both brothers to participate in the open air preaching. Bowden and Beer worked together, preaching the gospel and evangelizing the surrounding villages. When Anthony Norris Groves returned from India to seek more workers for the gospel. Chapman encouraged Bowden & Beer, together with their wives to join Groves’ labor. They settled in the Godavari Delta of India and began a strong Christian work.
Relinquishing the Hall
In 1838 a group of Particular Baptists, who had left Ebenezer Chapel, demanded that Chapman’s group vacate the building because they were not using it in accordance with the original intention of the Particular Baptists. Robert Chapman examined the original trust document and found that no provisions were being violated. The opposing group persisted in their demand. Although Chapman was a trained lawyer, he did not stand on his legal rights, but sought to live Christ. After prayer and fellowship, Chapman’s group handed over the title deed, giving up their building - their legal claim- to the group of dissidents. Chapman saw this action as equivalent to giving up one’s coat to someone who demands it.
About 1840 a site became available for an assembly hall. The lot was purchased and construction of Bear Street Chapel (later called Grosvenor St. Chapel) was completed by 1842. It could seat 450 people. In 1851 300 people attended Lord’s Day morning, plus 100 children in the Sunday School. The Lord’s table meeting in the evening was attended by 150. By 1870, Chapman preached regularly to 700 people every Lord’s day. Since Barnstaple was a small town, a gathering of that size represents a significant percentage of the population. At the end of Chapman’s life there were eighty assemblies in the towns and villages surrounding Barnstaple.
Missions to Spain, Portugal & Ireland
Although Robert Chapman labored for the Lord in a small town in rural England, his view of the Lord’s interest extended far beyond the borders of England.
Travels to Spain & Portugal
Both countries were strongholds of corrupt Roman Catholicism. Evangelicals were persecuted. Chapman was burdened for these countries and studied their languages until he was fluent. He took several walking trips through these countries carrying smuggled Bibles and engaging individuals in conversation with a view to the gospel. Later he lead several families to migrate from England to Spain for the gospel and returned to strengthen and encourage them.
Long Walk in Ireland
1848 Chapman, then age 45, took three months to walk through Ireland visiting the assemblies and preaching the gospel.
Robert Chapman's Coworkers
Elizabeth ("Bessie") Paget
Miss Bessie Paget met with believers meeting outside the established Church of England. She had a profound influence on Anthony Norris Groves and George Mueller, as well as Robert Chapman. In the 1820's Elizabeth Paget raised up a church in the village of Poltimore. By the 1830's she moved to Barnstaple, residing at #9 New Buildings St. There she opened her home and lead the Sunday School work. Bessie also set up a soup kitchen for the poor at her home. Bessie Paget was Chapman’s constant helper until she passed away in 1863 aged 80. In life sister Paget and Robert Chapman were co-laborers in the Lord’s service; in death they shared the same funeral plot and gravestone.
William Hake
George Mueller had a close companion in his labor- Henry Craik. The Lord also provided a yoke-fellow for Robert Chapman. William Hake was 7 years older than Chapman and had a large family. Chapman was single. However, as Chapman wrote, "Our hearts were presently knit together in the fellowship of the Spirit ... Each found in the other a lover of the Scriptures, and bent upon obedience to the Lord without reserve." Hake had a quick temper "but God’s grace is all sufficing to subdue what it forgives." For many years the Hake family resided in Exeter (40 miles away in S Devon.) In the 1840's Hake moved to Bideford, only 10 miles from Barnstaple. When Bessie Paget died, the Hakes moved into #9 New Buildings St. They added a large dining room on the rear which became the regular location of a Thursday evening District meeting. Because of the large number, believers from various districts met by rotation for Bible study and fellowship.
Hake and Chapman systematically visited the homes of Barnstaple, beginning at the southern edge and working their way to the north side, distributing gospel tracts and visiting homes. William Hake continued his visitation ministry until he was 95. The towns-people referred to the two elderly brothers as "the patriarchs". They must have presented a striking scene - two white-haired brothers: William Hake, tall and slim; Robert Chapman, shorter and stocky, visiting the homes from door to door to share the gospel and minister Christ!
William Hake died peacefully in 1890 at the age of 95. Robert Chapman was greatly grieved by his coworkers death. He wrote: "Though so sorely bereaved, I am strengthened and guided to carry on the service in which I once had my beloved yoke-fellow to bear burdens with me. ‘The night is far spent, the day is at hand." He edited a volume of Hake’s letters and writings entitled: Seventy Years of Pilgrimage.
Robert Gribble
Robert Gribble was born into a poor family and received a minimal education. He supported his family through a drapery (cloth) business. He was awakened spiritually about 1815 and began settling up Sunday Schools in villages around Barnstaple. After one year about 300 children were attending. Parents asked Gribble to speak to adults on Sunday evenings. His ability increased and several house churches or cottage meetings were raised up through his preaching. Robert Gribble’s strategy of gospel labor was to stay in a village for a period of time, preaching the gospel and raising up the new believers, typically 20 to 100 and then moved on. John Nelson Darby remarked to Wigram concerning Gribble: "How is it Wigram, that although you and I preach the gospel more clearly than many, we see so few results, yet they tell us, that in N. Devon, this Mr. Gribble in his meetings, only repeats a few Gospel texts and makes a few simple remarks, and souls are saved and assemblies formed." (Rowdon, p. 252-3)
Relationship with Hudson Taylor
In 1852 when 20-year old James Hudson Taylor was burdened for China, he eagerly sought the advice of Robert Chapman. Later Chapman encouraged him to start the China Inland Mission and became one of its first "referees"- supporters and advisors. Hudson Taylor visited Chapman several times in Barnstaple. One invitation reads : "My dear brother Taylor. Consider our claim on you. We desire to fellowship with you in your work. Oh! Come and speak to us your brethren here. Say when you can come. " (Peterson, p. 159)
To a sister about to visit China Chapman wrote: "I cannot but rejoice with you in your resolve to see fellow-laborers in China. They all, with dear Brother Hudson Taylor, have been ever in my heart at the throne of grace." He interceded daily for that work in China until the end of his life.
George Mueller
One writer says: Chapman "was one of George Mueller’s oldest and most intimate friends. More than once, in critical periods of this work [among orphans], Mr. Mueller sought and obtained his valuable counsel." (Peterson, p. 163) George Mueller’s published diary masks the identity of individuals. However, it is likely that Chapman is Brother ‘C----n’ who spent more than 2 months at Bristol in late 1835 (Rowdon p. 146)
Dealing with Division
Differences existed in the practices and views of various Brethren assemblies. Assemblies in Barnstaple & Bristol (where George Mueller ministered) had a recognized eldership Assemblies in which Darby was influential did not have a formally identified leadership. John N. Darby believed that God had rejected organized denominations and began asserting that Christians should separate themselves from such organizations. Chapman, Groves, Craik, Mueller and quite a few other leaders did not share Darby’s separatist views.
There were different views about relationships among assemblies. Many assemblies, including most of those from the original Dublin group believed that unity required a strong interdependence. Chapman, Mueller and others held that no assembly or group of assemblies should dictate the actions of any other. Each assembly was responsible to Christ alone and could interact freely with any believer or group that was sound on major doctrines.
The origin of the split in the Plymouth assembly also lies in a clash of personalities and views (eg concerning prophetic matters) between Darby and Benjamin Newton (the leader in Plymouth).
Brief Chronology of Events
Darby did not agree with the situation of the Plymouth assembly under Newton’s leadership. In 1845 Darby announced his intention to start a second assembly in Plymouth. Chapman urged Darby not to proceed with his plan. Darby refused Chapman’s advice saying: "I will go out and whoever will may follow me." Darby began a separate gathering late in 1845. Now there was division in Plymouth.
In early 1846 Chapman sent a circular letter to the assemblies calling for a day of prayer, confession and repentance over the divisions occurring among the brethren. However, many of the assemblies rejected the call and criticized Chapman for his proposal.
Later Darby became aware of 10-year old writings of Newton which could be interpreted as questioning the sinless humanity of Christ. When the offending statements and their logical implications were brought to Newton’s attention, he recognized his errors and withdrew them publically and in writing. Darby and his colleagues however, believed that Newton’s reversal was not genuine and influenced most of the assemblies in South Devon to exclude the Newton assembly from their fellowship. Darby had won. Newton left Plymouth at the end of 1847.
By April 1848 this controversy had engulfed Bethesda Chapel in Bristol, where George Mueller served. A family from the Newton assembly in Plymouth moved to Bristol. When they asserted that they did not hold Newton’s errors, they were accepted into fellowship in Bristol.
George Mueller and the other elders at Bethesda wrote explaining their reasons for accepting those from Plymouth. However, Darby and his supporters rejected this explanation. At Darby’s urging, many assemblies throughout Britain excluded Bethesda (and any assembly or individuals who supported their stand) from their fellowship. Thus began the "Exclusive brethren". The brethren assemblies were divided between the "Open" (including Mueller and Chapman’s gatherings in N. Devon) and "Exclusive" (lead by Darby).
A meeting of twelve influential leaders among the brethren was convened at Bath. During this meeting Chapman, challenging Darby, said "You should have waited longer before separating" (referring to Darby’s formation of a separate assembly in Plymouth in 1845). "I waited six months" Darby replied. "But if it had been at Barnstaple, we should have waited six years" Chapman responded.
Following the division, Darby’s followers criticized Chapman for being deficient in some basic doctrines. Darby, however, defended Chapman: "You leave that man alone; he lives what I teach." On another occasion Darby testified concerning Robert Chapman: "We talk of the heavenlies, but Robert Chapman lives in them."
The divisions among the brethren grieved Chapman. He referred to the "exclusive brethren" as "brethren dearly beloved and longed for (Phil. 4:1)". They were "brethren whose consciences lead them to refuse my fellowship and deprive me of theirs."
Later a leader in Barnstaple was accused of teaching an unscriptural doctrine similar to that of Newton. Chapman’s written reply emphasizes the believer’s responsibility to judge himself rather than other brothers. Chapman wrote:
"Oh, that we, yea all saints, might be moved each one to prove himself before God ... Our answer to your enquiry is, first, that if anyone seeks our fellowship here after having listened to such teaching, whether he come from one party or the other (we hold both parties alike dear to us as our fellow-members in Christ our Head), such an one must be judged according to the Word of God and the rule of Christ. Cases differing should not be confounded. If anyone brings an evil doctrine ... his welfare and his healing would be sought by brethren here ... but to fellowship he would not be received ... Then as to the particular case you mentioned, we have exercised godly jealousy and find that the evil doctrine is not held by the brother you name ... May we and all saints cease to grieve the Spirit of God ... Shall we not then have the joy of seeing the self-judged flowing together from all quarters."
 
Chapman's Attitude
Concerning Serving the Lord
"The servant of the Lord Jesus ... seeing that he is to be continually ministering to others, he must be receiving fresh supplies from the God of all grace through all channels. Meditation on the Word and prayer should occupy the chief part of his time. " (Peterson, p. 145)
Concerning the Believer’s Growth
"There are so many people who are satisfied with just knowing they are saved. Tell them not to be satisfied with this. I want them to study the word and grow in the knowledge of God. Tell them I want them to become intimate with the Lord Jesus Christ."
 
Concerning Different Understanding of Scriptural Matters -
The Example of the Rapture
Robert Chapman’s biographer writes: "Chapman, together with George Mueller and a small group of leaders among the Brethren, did not believe that the Scriptures told of a secret rapture of all believers before a period of great tribulation on earth. They believed that the church as a whole must go through the period of tribulation." (Peterson, p. 171)
William Hake, Chapman’s coworker, did not agree with Chapman’s views. When Hake referred to the Lord’s coming at any moment to rapture all the believers, Chapman replied "Well, brother Hake, I am ready, but it’s not in the Bible." It is worth noting that different understandings of the Scriptures did not hinder Hake and Chapman from cooperating in the Lord’s service.
One writer says that "Mr Chapman firmly held there would be a selection and that he ... so sought to walk in obedience to the whole revealed will of God that he might not shut himself out of the honor of being one of these, and that he failed to see from other Scriptures any promise held out to the whole of the people of God being removed from the earth at the Lord’s coming." (Peterson p. 171) Chapman believed in the partial rapture of the Lord’s people.
Other elders at Barnstaple held and taught other views concerning the rapture. Robert Chapman valued harmony among the believers in Barnstaple, above his own understanding of the Scriptures. This is seen in the following incident: "In 1896 93-year-old Chapman called a meeting of the elders. ‘I have called you together,’ he said, ‘to explain that I shall not create dissension by teaching the opposite view [concerning the rapture] in the Assembly." (Peterson p. 172)
Concerning Loving the Brothers
"On one occasion an excluded man became bitter and vowed never to speak a word to Chapman again. Later the two found themselves approaching one another on the street ... Chapman embraced him and said, ‘Dear brother, God loves you, Christ loves you, and I love you.’ This action broke the man’s animosity; he repented and was soon breaking bread at Bear St. Chapel." (Peterson p. 174)
Chapman’s Goal - to Please Christ
"My chief desire is to please Him. If I please my brethren, I am glad. If I fail, I am not disappointed." (Peterson, p. 189)

 

A Hymn by R. C. Chapman
"No condemnation!" precious word!
Consider it, my soul!
Thy sins were all on Jesus laid,
His stripes have made thee whole.
In God’s own presence now for us,
The Savior doth appear;
The saints, as jewels on His heart,
Jesus doth ever bear
"No condemnation!" O my soul,
‘Tis God that speaks the word;
Perfect in comeliness art thou
In Christ, the risen Lord.
Teach me, O God, to fix mine eyes
On Christ, the spotless Lamb,
So shall I love Thy precious will,
And glorify His name.

References:

Chief Men Among the Brethren, by Pickering, Henry, Pub. Loizeaux Brothers Inc., Neptune, NJ 1986 (1st printing 1918)

Robert Chapman, A Biography, Peterson, Robert L. Pub. Loizeaux Brothers Inc., Neptune, NJ 1995.
The Origins of the Brethren,. By Rowden, Harold H., Pickering and Inglis, London, 1967
Anthony Norris Groves, by Lang G. H. (2nd edition; London, The Paternoster Press, 1949)

 

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