J. N. Darby.
I have read the little tract, and it has made me clearer as to the ground these people are upon, and a curious experience I once had. Mr. V. was on the common ground of "low Christianity," which leaves people open to this. "I have given up," he says, "the expectation of being overcome with waywardness and sin." No wonder Mr. R.P.S. had hold of him if this was his state. I treated this as a non-Christian state fifty years ago. I may have been inconsistent with deliverance, but I do not see what more they have than what I got near fifty years ago, save that it is on false ground, on which it is impossible to make real progress; or, at any rate, their state, progress and all, is what I should utterly deprecate.
It is not what frightens Mr. V. which frightens me, that is, the fact of communion not interrupted, or immediate consciousness of it, if it were. That is to me the normal Christian state (only not talking of it); and it may be a means of awakening your mind to something it has not yet got. But I am more convinced than ever, since I read Mr. V.'s tract, of its positively lowering tendency — I mean of leading to a sorrowfully lower style and standard of Christianity than what scripture presents to us (what scripture calls beholding with unveiled face the glory of the Lord). I hold the difference clearly in my spirit. It may bring down Christ to give a quiet trusting spirit down here; but it never takes the man to Christ up there, so as to exercise the soul in conformity to Him there. It is a Christianity of grace for the earth, to make man as man rest here; not to make him sit up there, and have his conversation in heaven. It may be a peaceful, but it is a human, Christianity.
No one can read the tract of Mr. V. without seeing it is all about Mr. V., not about Christ. Look at page 13, and see how entirely it is a state down here, and a Christ for down here, that he is occupied with. Now Christ is for us down here, and most gracious and precious it is; but it is not a Christ on high to whom our affections are drawn up, and our holiness judged by our fellowship with that. I suppose Mr. V. never had been set free; of course, as to that, it is deliverance to him; but in making this an object which occupies us, it keeps the soul down here, perhaps undisturbed by positive evil, but not rising up to Christ; and, as the energy of the system declines, a constantly lowering standard; but at best it is a Christ known for what we want down here. Promises are realized, not Christ and promises for us down here.
225 I cannot but think Mr. V. never really knew God's love. And what always strikes me is, the fuss they make about what I take to be the normal state of a Christian, varying in degree of fulness, but always the truth of his condition — unbounded confidence in unbounded love, and love known in Christ, and enjoyed for its own sake. Look at the promises referred to by Mr. R.P.S. in page 4: to what do they refer? realizing Christ, and spiritual conformity to Him in glory? Not a word. They refer solely to life down here. When I turn to John 15, where alone what is spiritual comes in, I find a teaching totally foreign to Mr. S.'s. His is entering by an act of faith into this trust and confidence, believing a promise. What is in John? "As my Father hath loved me, so have I loved you, continue [abide] ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, as I have kept my Father's commandments, and have abode in his love." Then, "These things I have spoken unto you that my joy might abide in you, and your joy might be full." If I take the context, I do not find a trace of what Mr. R.P.S. teaches. It is far and wide from it. Consequently I do not find in St. Paul exactly the kind of quietness and constant triumph that Mr. V. speaks of and expects. I read, "I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling"; "without were fightings, within were fears. Nevertheless God that comforteth those that are cast down," etc. He repented of writing an inspired letter.
I admit victory is ours, and in nothing to be terrified by our adversaries. I recognize peacefulness of heart in entire confidence is the Christian's path down here; but I do not think a Christian can seek Christ up there, nor in connection with His interests and His service here, without experiencing a deeper knowledge of self, and the subtleties of self and the flesh, and distress through the craft of Satan, and the mischief he does, than Mr. R.P.S.'s system knows anything of. I read of thorns in the flesh, messengers of Satan to buffet; I read of, "If need be ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations." I read of "great anguish of heart" — this I admit in service; but you cannot separate the state of soul from service. It is peace in life, not the sentence of death in ourselves. And I hardly think rivers of water flowing forth means speaking of ourselves, or one's own joy, though it may sometimes in the first overflowing of it be natural and right. But to turn grace into this channel, I am sure, lowers Christianity.
226 I have no disposition to give up what I have got and get assuredly in Christ for what I find here — assuredly not. I think I know what they have got better than they do; but it is their state, not what is in Christ, which is before them. I could say more than this, but I prefer resting it simply on scriptural ground. I recognize the joy of finding true liberty in grace, as I did in my tract. Very likely Mr. V. has found it. It may be that you have not, so that it has a charm for you; but I am satisfied it is a system which lowers the whole character and tone of faith, and tends to keep the soul from all that is most precious in the revelation of God.
I know I am a poor workman, but I would not have the system on which they work for any consideration. It is too much a Christianity for oneself, and not oneself in and for Christ. The whole platform is a different one; but I must not go any farther.
Yours truly in the Lord, J.N.D.