J. N. Darby.
It seems to me that in the four tracts — "The Righteousness of God," "A Letter on the Righteousness of God, in answer to the 'Record,'" "The Law," and "Brethren and their Reviewers" — I have gone sufficiently fully into the question which has been raised as to legal righteousness to make it unnecessary to pursue the subject farther at present. Controversy may instruct but it seldom feeds the soul. It is my comfort to know that in my controversial tracts the great truths of grace have been pretty largely brought out, so that there may be edification as well as conviction. I am more than ever convinced that the question which now occupies us involves the true character of Christianity. Is our connection with Christ association or union with Him risen, consequent on accomplished redemption, or one under law, and Christ living on the earth the One with whom we are united? But as the pamphlet comprising the articles in the "Record" has been published and circulated, and professes to give a fair account of the views set forth in my tracts, and that in my own words, I am obliged to say that its statements, in most essential points, are entirely false; I can hardly avoid saying deliberately false. I could, of course, suppose that the writer had overlooked statements I had made. But statements the opposite of what the "Record" declares to be my doctrine are found on the same page with quotations the "Record" has made from my letter, so that they could hardly have escaped the writer.
I shall here merely give the statements of the "Record" and my statements, and every one will judge how far the "Record" is exact. Its honesty I leave to the reader's own appreciation:
Record, in reply to my Letter.
J.N.D. holds, then, and teaches that when Adam was created he was put under no law. p. 14.
J.N.D.'s Letter, on which the "Record" comments, p. 23.
Adam had a law, that is plain; a simple test of obedience before the knowledge of good and evil. Moses gave from God a law when man had the knowledge of good and evil, and suited to that state. Both these suppose the express authority of God. They both impose a rule under a penalty.
92 Record, p. 41.
The "Record" in stating the leading points of alleged evil in my theology, says,
The fourth step required before the Darby theology can find a resting-place for the sole of its foot, is, that the Lord Jesus Christ did not keep the law. The very utterance of the words we hold to be profanity.
He (Christ) kept the law surely; He was born under it. p. 17.
And being born under law, He could not but be perfect under it — in His person and walk. That is above all enquiry. It is received by the simplicity of faith as truth. p. 18.
Now I will commence by stating that I hold the maintenance of the law, in its true and highest character, to be of the deepest importance, and necessary to a right and full apprehension of divine teaching. It is the abstract perfection of a creature, loving God with all our heart, and our neighbour as ourselves; and this Christ most surely did in all He did. p. 22.
Did not God, then, magnify the law, and make it honourable? Undoubtedly. I have already said it was the perfect law of the creature abstractedly; and Christ came under the law, and God glorified His law thus; and it was most right and just. p. 35.
The merely coming down to die would not have failed in putting away sin, but in glorifying God as a living man. p. 37.
The same doctrine is repeated elsewhere, as in p. 21 of my letter, but this may suffice.
Record, p. 43.
Mr. Darby says a thousand times that grace is contrasted with righteousness; and that, just because it is of grace, it cannot also be of righteousness.
Mr. Darby would have grace without righteousness; the apostle would have grace reigning through righteousness.
Grace reigned, but reigned through righteousness, Jew or Gentile, when the matter was looked into, being all alike. p. 40.
As Christ is righteousness to us, and we are the righteousness of God in Him, we are accepted, according to God's character, righteously in Him. His infinite value, including therein His work, is our title before God. p. 41.
Are we not saved, then, made righteous, by one man's obedience? Surely, as contrasted with Adam's disobedience; but not by the works of law of one man. p. 35.
I add from my original tract: "The Righteousness of God:"
93 "We need, and have a perfect righteousness apart from our life, though in Him who is our life. Christ is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. No soul can or ought to have solid settled peace in any other way. The whole perfection of Christ is that in which, without any diminution of its value, we are accepted. The delight of God in His obedience is that in which we are received. What we have done as children of Adam, He took on the cross in grace, and entirely put away; and what He did is our acceptance with God. It is needed for us, for otherwise we have no righteousness."
From this page the "Record" quotes, as from others which I have cited, from my letter. The statement is one in which I am insisting on imputed righteousness as contrasted with inherent, which would be life in us.
Again in the same tract: "Now I believe, and bless God for the truth, that Christ is our righteousness, and that by His obedience we are made righteous. It is the settled peace of my soul."
Record, p. 7.
J. N. D. denies that the Homily contains our doctrine, and maintains that it affirms his own.
The Homilies of the Establishment teach that Christ fulfilled the law for us in His life.
Were I answering the statements of the collected articles of the "Record" I should have many things to complain of as unfair, and as suppressions of my statements. I only give cases of positive false statements, by which any one may judge whether what the "Record" says is to be trusted. I have only to request, as I did before, that anyone who pretends to judge my doctrine may learn it from my own publications. The points are serious and important, and I felt it well sincere souls should know the truth, and what they and I have to deal with. The main subject — Is our righteousness effected by Christ's keeping the law? — has been amply discussed. Of the attacks on "Brethren" I of course take no notice. I gladly add that Bethesda openly disclaims having anything to say to "Brethren," as much as Mr. Newton; I understand it professes to be an open communion Baptist church.