History of Preaching in New Brunswick - Introduction

 INTRODUCTION

Some who pick up this book may not be familiar with the groups of Christians this history is about, those who gather together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, wanting no other name but Christians.

The history of assemblies, Christians who claim Matthew 18:20, Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them, as their reason for meeting only in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, follows.

It is believed that there have always been small groups of Christians gathering in His name. These groups were small and scattered, and little or no records were kept so very little is known of them. People, wanting to give us a name, use Plymouth Brethren, but it was not in Plymouth that this work was revived, but in Dublin, Ireland.

There was a very definite action of the Holy Spirit working among Christians in different parts of the British Isles about the same time (1820's). Some of the men involved in the beginning were Edward Cronin, J. G. Bellett, Anthony Norris Groves, John Parnell (later Lord Congleton), George Mueller, Henry Craik, William Stokes, Robert Chapman and John Nelson Darby.

When these men received the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour, as the only way to Heaven, they questioned, after studying the Scriptures, if denominationalism was of God. They learned from the Scriptures that the Church was built on Christ Himself, of which He was the cornerstone and each Christian, upon salvation, became a living stone placed in the Building by the Holy Spirit. The Church, (really people, not a building) is spoken about in the Bible as the Body of Christ of which Jesus Christ is the glorified Head.

They learned that membership in denominations could not be found in the Bible, but only local churches made up of born again believers gathered together as in Acts 2:42, "who continued steadfastly in the apostles? doctrine, and fellowship and in breaking bread and in prayers". They were one in Christ with no membership, no cards to sign, no earthly leaders or central authority, but using only the Word of God as a guide. They didn?t see one man ministry as scriptural but found that the local church was to be governed by a plurality of elders. They also saw that the Scriptures taught the priesthood of all believers and that the Holy Spirit could use whom He would, for the edification of all the Christians.

These were Godly young men in their early twenties with some of them in universities studying Law, Medicine, Dentistry, etc., and when as each, on their own, studied the Scriptures, they all came to the same conclusion as to how the local church should gather. The local church or assembly of Christians gathering in a certain place, is part of the Universal church, which includes every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Dublin, they started to gather in threes and fours, to remember the Lord in a simple way by breaking the bread, and drinking the cup and carrying on together as they learned from the Bible. At the same time, the Holy Spirit was working and directing Christians in India, New York, British Guiana and in Plymouth, Bristol and London in England, and other places. In time, some of these groups became aware of each other and were surprised that the Holy Spirit was working in other areas as He had done in their own.

So this was the beginnings of the groups reported here, which now reach around the world. In the 1870's, a number of evangelists from the British Isles, mostly from Scotland, travelled to North America to preach the Gospel. One of the first was Donald Munro, who was

followed shortly by James Campbell and John Smith as well as Donald Ross.

It was in the 1880's that John Grimason, John Martin and John Knox McEwen came to the Maritimes. As people were saved through the preaching of the Gospel, Canadians T. D. W. Muir and William Falconer and others went out with the Gospel among their own people. As they preached the Gospel, others were saved and among those were George Simpson, Robert Milnes and Ansley Goodwin. They preached the Gospel in the province of New Brunswick and later on, preachers from Ireland came to the Maritimes such as Isaac McMullen, John and Robert McCracken, Reg Jordan, Lennon McIlwaine and Andy Aiken.

Many were saved and baptized and assemblies or local churches were formed.

For further information on the history referred to here, see "A Historical Sketch of the Brethren Movement" by H. A. Ironside or "My People, The History of Those Christians Sometimes Called Plymouth Brethren" by Robert Bayliss.