Summary of the meetings in London, February, 1847.

J. N. Darby.

<20008E> 178


The following account of the meeting which took place in Rawstorne Street, in February, 1847, is evidently not written for brethren dwelling in London, unless they choose to have a record of what took place, as the matter contained in it passed in their presence, and there is no need to recall it to them. It is an account which was actually sent elsewhere, where there was need of it. I give it as it really was, my account of what passed. For my own sake I have however shewn it to many present, so as to make sure that there should not be any material inaccuracy. I am aware that many will object to its being published now. They must allow me to act on my own judgment as to that. Many saw no need in, and blamed me for, many things of the urgency of which they are now convinced. What was necessary for the brethren in London may be necessary for brethren elsewhere. What was said publicly there, can with equal reason be presented to other consciences. The affectation which pretends to more charity than others possess does anything but commend itself to my conscience or judgment. I avow frankly to those who pretend to it, I do not give credit to their pretensions, nor does the pretension do credit to them. Many would wish the question to be confined to principles and doctrines. Though these are becoming daily plainer, I do not agree with them, and this is my reason. I am perfectly satisfied that the persons here in question, over whom I deeply sorrow, are direct instruments of Satan; that their work is the work of a seducing spirit, to which many may, and several have, given heed. I repeat, of a seducing spirit, of a devil. They are subverting and undermining the truth of God, being unsound on the Person of Christ, on the sufferings of Christ, on justification, on the position and calling of the church, and as to its hope. I know this both by what has been published, by what I have heard myself, and by what others have heard. Every kind of extravagant statement* calculated to unsettle the soul as to all truth - preached up as deep knowledge, and the whole structure of truth diligently and assiduously undermined. Many souls may be puzzled by this. It may be and is denied, if detected after being taught; all the subtlety and craft of Satan may be in play, and is, to disseminate and at the same time to conceal it. It is the character of heresy to be brought in privily. Every one the least acquainted with the facts of the case knows it is so here. And in general such cases are accompanied by attractive or imposing natural qualities, some of the instruments may be even Christians walking in the flesh. Such was the case in Irvingism. It is not the gift of every one to detect such subtleties, and to be uninfluenced by natural qualities which attract. But God is faithful not to permit His feeblest children to be tempted above that they are able, but will with the temptation give a way to escape, that they may be able to bear it. He gives proofs of Satan's power, obvious to every soul which does not choose delusion and a lie. Satan is the father of lies, and when he speaketh a lie he speaketh of his own. God has not permitted it to be otherwise here. I repeat distinctly (and I have additional evidence since I said it before), I do not know one who has embraced systematically this system, that has not fallen into open and systematic untruth; some of them persons, I gladly add, as incapable of it as any of us, as to their habits as men. But if Satan be using them in the flesh, what can be expected? Why, that the simplest and most unpractised would commit themselves the most. And so it has been.

{*Thus it has been taught that it will be as much a matter of sorrow to Christ to give up the kingdom to God the Father (1 Cor. 15), as to have come down into this world of sin. None have a conception, if they have not themselves seen or heard them, of the extraordinary and outrageous statements put forth, shewing Christ to be sacrificed to a notion, to the credit of a system. The difficulty is, that while carefully propagated, Mr. Newton not having put his name, on their being shewn to be frightful they are denied. This has been the case with the notes on the sufferings of Christ, when Mr. N. has been applied to in private. I leave every righteous mind to judge of the unprincipled iniquity of such a system. In the Lord's mercy he has been forced to publish in his own name. Notes of Mr. Newton's Lectures, carefully drawn up, are circulated with the strictest injunctions not to shew them to others than those to whom they are confided. This was the case with regard to the paper on the sufferings of Christ, since published by Mr. H., than which, for those who can judge of its bearing, it is hard to conceive anything more diabolically wicked. Mr. N. has since published a tract on the sufferings of Christ, pretended by some of his followers to have no reference to Mr. H.'s publication, though the first sentence proves such a statement false. In this of course, such passages as those in the secret notes, which must rouse the sorrow, indignation, and disgust of every one not yet blinded by Satan, are avoided. But the second tract, from its deliberate and careful character, seeking to gloss over the statements of the first, proves, I judge, a great deal more than the first; either a deliberate purpose of subverting the whole foundation of the eternal truth of the gospel, or a total and complete absence of all spiritual knowledge of the very kernel or essence of that truth. I say more than the former, because carefully written to justify and guard his views, referring to what had passed as to the former without a word to withdraw or condemn what ought to revolt the heart of every saint as to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. It is easy to say he will not answer: he will answer to God if he will not to man. I shall take notice of it further on, and I entreat the reader to weigh what I have said in this note. I have well weighed it before printing it.}

180 Now the simplest can understand that falsehood, deliberate falsehood, is not of God. In my judgment, where the matter is brought forward and at work, where the doctrine of Satan is at work, it would be sin and unfaithfulness to withhold the proofs that it is of Satan. It is true this will not be done when it is not called for by the service of God. It only occupies the mind with evil. If some prefer acquiescence in Satan's work to delivering God's people from it, and call that charity, I do not. I have had no scruple in printing for the saints this account. What has been said publicly, before some hundreds, those who have said it are answerable for, morally before all. What grace required to be communicated in London, for the deliverance of saints, is available for the deliverance of others elsewhere. I have omitted the notes of two speeches, one my own, because they did not refer to facts, but merely discussed principles which are not my object here.

I shall add at the close, some remarks* on two other points, to one of which I have already alluded, for which the present publication furnishes the occasion. We shall find in the examination there entered into, another characteristic mark of Satan, namely, borrowing recognised and blessed truths and using them, perverted in their application or as the means of introducing something, beyond which is not suspected, to subvert foundation truth. I have only to add, as a principle of scripture, if it be a work of the enemy, "Cursed be the man that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully."

{*These having, though merely hasty notes, for as to me at least promptitude was more important than what was elaborate, extended farther than I thought, I print them as distinct parts.}

181 Mr. D-n, after prayer had been made, opened it by stating in general that it was for satisfying the minds of brethren who might desire it as to what had passed and that the statements made might not rest on the testimony of Mr. Darby, but that they might have the facts from the mouths of those concerned in them - that brethren had kindly come and would answer any questions.

A brother, named M-ws said, as questions might be put, he begged to ask these brethren who had come, what scripture they founded their separation on, and that they would give the particular text. After some delay, no person rising, Mr. Darby rose and said, that as that concerned him as much as the brethren present from a distance, being a principle not a fact, he would answer it, and with very simple passages. "Cease to do evil." "Come out from among them and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you" - passages that once were thought weighty. He was surprised that it was needful to quote scriptures among brethren now, to prove that it was right to separate from evil.

T.S-s, R.S-s, and Francis L-n, cited different facts to shew that the principles were subverted. Mr. S-s having declared that every honest person in the assembly (at Plymouth) knew that the principles were changed, Mr. A-e took him up and asked whether he meant to say that all who did not admit the principles were changed, were dishonest people. Mr. S-s explained. Mr. F.L-n said, that every one knew quite well that they were, that those outside the gathering all knew it, and reproached them openly with having given up the principles they professed; and he said boldly, that every honest man in the assembly knew very well they were changed. Mr. S-s confirmed his previous statement.

Mr. H. said he had come up because he felt that in avoiding confederacy they were in danger of injuring brotherly confidence, and that he was glad to meet the brethren and cultivate this; and that he felt bound to give brethren, at any time, one or many, his reasons for leaving Ebrington Street. That he felt it was humbling to himself to do so, as he had been decidedly helping on the evil, and had to accuse himself of want of spiritual discernment, in not seeing that growing up which had caused the trouble; that Mr. W.H.D-n had warned him four years before of clericalism, and he had repudiated the charge. There was an esoteric teaching, as well as a public one, of which he was quite unaware; that it had required the whole weight of the party system to fall on his own head, before he was aroused from the delusion into which he had fallen, for he was quite satisfied they were blinded by delusive power; that he had very much rather any one he cared for was in the Establishment than in Ebrington Street; that the system which was carried on there was the ruin of the public morals of the saints (he did not speak of their private conduct); that there was the pretence really of impeccability and infallibility; that what they held was the truth; that every effort to have any humiliation or fasting had been rejected because nothing was wrong. Mr. H. then entered into a statement of facts, shewing what had led to his relinquishing the ministry there, and subsequently, when there was no remedy, communion itself. He declared that he was surprised and shocked at the statements in the "Reasons"; that they had destroyed his moral respect for those who had signed them. How could four persons pretend to speak of the principles they had acted on from the beginning, when as to S., he had been converted six or seven years after they began, and Messrs. D. and B. joined also many years after their meeting? As to some of them being persons recognized as guides in the assembly, it was monstrous, he must say unblushing impertinence, etc.

182 Capt. W. then rose and said, that we surely had enough of this, and that he avowed he rose to change the whole character of the meeting.* He admitted the evil, but said Mr. Darby ought to have driven it out.

{*The discussion on the principles and the reply is omitted.}

Mr. Darby replied to the principles, and said that Capt. W.'s statements shewed he was ignorant of the facts, and proceeded to reason on these two points.

Sir. A.C. said, he was not surprised at Mr. Darby's saying he did not trust the brethren, for there had been the greatest want of energy as to the evil. He was quite certain that the power of Satan had stupefied them. He spoke as one who was conscious of having been under this stupefaction, and was yet hardly delivered from it; that, as to the "Reasons" given for not coming to Rawstorne Street, the statement there given was so entirely false, so utterly untrue, that not only he would not break bread with those who signed them, but he could not, much as he loved some of them, as an honest man, as a Christian man, sit down in the same room with them: he could no more own them in the church than the fornicators and adulterers of whom the word spoke. Next, as to the paper which has been called a verdict of acquittal, Mr. T. had recognized that it was no verdict of acquittal, and could not be taken as one. Mr. T. said indeed, that it was so inaccurately worded. The fact was, it was most carefully worded not to be one, and the question left carefully open for investigation by the body. The truth was, they were not in a position to give any. Mr. Newton had refused to make any communication whatever, until they had engaged not to meddle in the affairs of Plymouth. They had been bound by himself to pronounce no decision, but merely inform themselves. They saw Mr. Newton, and his friends twice, and Mr. Darby once, and he felt now they had been quite wrong in not communicating Mr. N.'s defence to Mr. Darby, that he might have given his answer, but they merely questioned each as well as Mr. H. He had originally gone down with reluctance. Lord C. had said to him, when urging going down - Were they to let Darby go on breaking up the meeting? That they must go and put a stop to his proceedings. Such a statement was very uncomfortable to go down with, on an inquiry as to the merits; however he went.

183 After a lapse of time, he had assembled the ten from a distance, as the time was consuming in desultory visits, and they were doing nothing in common. Mr. N. and his four friends proposed they should meet them, and confer on the state of things - which he had positively refused, and Mr. N. and his friends with him appeared to answer together any questions they had to put. Mr. H. they saw apart. When he objected to the conference proposed, they were not allowed to meet in Ebrington Street, and they had some difficulty in knowing where to meet, but at last did at Lord C.'s. When Mr. R. proposed to say in Ebrington Street they were satisfied, he said, if he did, he should rise and say he was not. That the brethren having separated, and many being gone, and as stated in the document, every kind of report being rife as to the charges - that Mr. Newton had two wives, and he knew not what, and much excitement prevailing, he felt it a matter of kindness (he now saw how unwise he was) to relieve Mr. Newton as to this. As to the charges, of the things charged there was no kind of doubt; they could not be called in question by any: the matter was added to the letter, and the account in the C-w letter on the testimony of all present was not a true account of the April meeting. It omitted the most essential part. But he had been persuaded by the statements of Mr. Newton, that he had no evil intention in these misstatements. On the suggestion of R. the word 'entirely' was put in, and he drew up, and had the letter printed, the four having added their signatures as concurring. However the act was wholly his. Three days afterwards he would not have signed it as to intention. As to this alone there was any expression whatever, and, though he was not here to accuse Mr. N., he must say that in those three days from what came to his knowledge, and certainly now, he would not say so. It was however suppressed, and he felt humbled at ever having done it. But he had most carefully left open the investigation by the body, and called upon them subsequently too to carry it on, pressed it on Mr. Newton himself, who declared that he never would suffer it; that if he, Sir A.C., gathered them, none of Mr. N.'s friends would go, and it should be a party meeting. He had done what he could not now do, and, he believed, ought not then to have done, to relieve Mr. Newton from the reports of every kind afloat; but verdict on the case there was none, nor meant to be, nor allowed to be, even by Mr. Newton himself. As regarded what Capt. W. had said, both as to the course Mr. Darby had pursued, and the means which might have been employed, it shewed his entire ignorance of the facts, because besides the efforts made by Mr. Darby for many months the means were impossible to be employed, as the intervention of others was positively refused, and the body of the saints not allowed to assemble.

184 Mr. McA. said that what was to his mind most clear was the direct power and work of Satan already referred to. He had never felt such terror in all his life from any thing moral or physical as when, in communion with God, he had his eye opened to see the work and power of Satan, on the brink of which he was standing. He had been rather disposed to agree with Mr. Newton, till, on going down to Plymouth, he found very decidedly that a party, and not the interests of the church of God at all, were Mr. Newton's object. As to what Capt. W. said, he must say it proved him entirely unacquainted with the facts of the case. He had spoken of Mr. Darby's finding evil, and after a while separating; he forgot that he had gone on many months seeking to rouse the conscience of individuals and the body, and, he judged, had shewn great patience. (Capt. W. rose, and said, Very great patience.) That as to the pamphlets published, he, however painful they might be, was very thankful for them: they had been the means of bringing the matter out into the light, and every one of the brethren had reason to be very thankful for them. In conclusion, he urged the saints to have nothing whatever to say to it, as a distinct delusive work of the enemy which they could not tamper with in any way, without the utmost danger to themselves. As far as his connection with the facts went, he confirmed the declaration of others as to the entire untruthfulness of the "Reasons"; but he had left very early in the matter, being convinced of the evil, and had only refrained from urging Mr. Darby to go on and act because he thought he was going fast enough.

185 Mr. N-r said he also had to speak and warn others against tampering with this matter, as a work of Satan. He had done so, he had fallen in a considerable measure into it, he had tampered with it, read the "Thoughts on the Apocalypse," and been led by them; and he was now perfectly conscious of the delusion of Satan which had been upon his soul. It was Popery; the real pretension to infallibility; the same means used. If any one knew what was published of "Priests, women and families," it was just that. Many knew what a spiritual director was. Now that was precisely what went on. No books were allowed to be read, but the approved ones and the like. No one could know the system that went on at Plymouth, but one who had been there, and gone through it; and hence he felt too how Capt. W.'s statements shewed his entire want of information as to facts.

Mr. A-le having asked a question of Sir A. C., and it being now ten o'clock, the meeting was closed, and the questions might be answered to-morrow.

The next day, after the brethren had met, and, as there were brethren from elsewhere, had had tea together in the room, A-le said he was quite satisfied, and had no further question to put, and at first the meeting took the form of worship and service. A sister (Miss C.), through Mr. D-n, said she had not found it convenient to come the preceding evening, and therefore begged Sir A. C. to state, whether there had been an investigation.

186 Sir A. C. went, in a desultory way, over some of the ground he had gone over the preceding evening, and said, as to the charges made, there was no question whatever of the truth of them: that was not in question. What had been said applied only to intention.

Capt. H. said, As to the facts then you, in point of fact, found him guilty, only expressing your opinion at the time as to motives. Sir A. C. said Yes. At the end of the meeting he explained, lest this should be mistaken, that he had at the time meant to go as far as he could in clearing Mr. Newton. Mr. McA. rose and said, that as to the charges made, he confirmed, of his own knowledge, that as to the C-w letter. Mr. N-r confirmed too the truth of them. As regarded the two first-named charges, he confirmed the statement, that they had never been made as such. The words were, as stated (he was present at the meeting), that the first thing that made Mr. D. uncomfortable was the said MS. Sir A.C. said he was aware this had been stated at the time, as Mr. N. now said; but they had told Mr. N. of it, and he declared he had good information that they were made as charges. As to the charges being true, they could not be called in question. Mr. H. stated the same. Someone suggested that supposing, as appeared, the facts were true as stated by Mr. Darby, there might have been no intention to mislead by them. Mr. H. said, he did not understand this kind of reasoning: we must take care in making excuses, not to shake the very foundations of right and wrong, and accustom one's self to deceit; that for his part he did not understand the argument of want of intention. Mr. Newton had been told that his account was not just, and alleged it was not his intention to mislead by it. But if so, after he had been informed as he had been by himself, that his account was not true (for the fact was, the statement which arrested the attention of the meeting in April, and gave occasion to discussion and his own objection, was left out), Mr. N. would, when so informed, have ceased to circulate it; whereas he went on and continued circulating the paper himself, so that he could not acquit him of the intention. If an officer of the army, or an attorney, had done what Mr. N. had done, he would have been turned out, or struck off the rolls. It was not well to accustom the soul to these things.

Mr. E. S-r rose and said, he thought sufficient had passed on these points; he felt cavilling at words a very unwholesome thing, when the broad facts were plain to every one, and he felt very strongly that we must take care and not undo and destroy in the souls of the saints the plain uprightness of truth and integrity, and accustom them to special pleading to excuse evil when the plain facts are there.

187 Sir A. C. then spoke as to the desirable path for the saints, that it was not a restless path of hostility and human effort, but waiting upon God, which would be the resource against this work of Satan.

Mr. McA. concurred in this, but he still called on the saints to remember that, though their minds there were all cleared up, and, in a measure, unanimous on the subject, the conflict was not over: Satan would pursue the work still, and was doing so assiduously; that it was by secret, underhand means, circulation of letters secretly, papers of notes and the like, not communicated to those who could judge of them; that he urged the utmost decision, and that saints should have nothing to say to this underhand work: while peaceful and waiting upon God, to be as decided as possible to have nothing to say to it, and in unqualified and decided opposition to it whenever it came before them.

Sir A.C. then declared that the statement that he had broken bread in testimony that the charges were unfounded, was entirely untrue: it was quite the contrary. Mr. N-r rose also and said, that as to him too it was entirely untrue; that on the contrary he had resolved not to break bread any more there and had said so, but left before the Sunday came. Sir A.C. on a question being put, on the meetings closing as to the four having made any investigation, said in reply (but it did not come before the meeting), that there was no need to give any testimony to it, as they had contradicted it in the "Reasons" themselves and said that they acted on their own knowledge, having as much on the subject as Mr. Darby. The meeting was then closed.

There was one at Tottenham at which it farther came out that Mr. N. had told Mr. D-k, when he went down to Plymouth, in the midst of these affairs, and would not see Mr. Darby, that he (Mr. N.) had six or seven names ready to leave and begin on a new foundation entirely; and that Mr. N. had told Mr. D-k that he (Mr. D-k) should act on the principles, but that he need not avow them; the exact date of this last did not appear that I know.

188 The following has been omitted, by mistake, in its place.

Mr. Henry Y. said, that he had (before Mr. Darby's arrival) been to Mr. H. to press that the principles were subverted, and, the day Mr. Darby arrived, to Mr. Newton. He had urged the fact of the keeping away of brethren. Mr. Newton declared that he had pretty well succeeded in producing unanimity of teaching in agreement with himself in Ebrington Street, and he did not wish to see it disturbed, and expressed his determination to carry on this system. Mr. Y. read an extract from a letter of Mr. Darby to Mr. Newton, fourteen years ago, warning against the danger to which brethren were exposed, and saying that what has happened would, or else they would become a testimony to help on the evil estate of the church, if they ever fell into the course which in fact had been pursued, and urging vigilance that Satan might not bring it in unawares. Mr. A.P. confirmed, in a few words, the fact of the determination taken by Mr. N. to carry through the exclusive sectarian system.

Sir A.C. said in closing, that the tract, "What Investigation has there been at Plymouth?" was the true account of the matter.