J. N. Darby.
I send the following thoughts to the Present Testimony, rather to lay the subject seriously before your readers, than to teach upon it. Not that I have not in the main - while willing to have any thought corrected - a clear and decided judgment on that of which it speaks. But the subject is new to many: and all I wish at present is to direct their thoughts to it, that they may weigh it before the Lord. Hence I have added a signature, that the responsibility may rest with the individual who sends the paper.
The exhortations in the Epistle to the Ephesians have a large scope and a higher aim than those of most of the epistles, though nothing can surpass the importance of details of godly practice in their place; that in walking according to them God may be glorified, the Spirit ungrieved and the heart free to receive and enjoy all His communications from the word. These exhortations are founded on, and refer to - as indeed in every epistle - the doctrine which forms the subject of the first part of the epistle. But there is an exceptional subject in this epistle: the unity which flows from the full revelation of God, the necessary centre of all; and more especially from the exaltation of Christ, in whom, according to the mystery, all things are to be headed up; and the presence of the Holy Ghost on earth uniting the saints to Christ, the Head of the body on high, and assembling men by His power to the confession of His name upon the earth.
I have called this an exceptional subject, because it is not the first and proper doctrine of the epistle, but is introduced as an extraordinary revelation of an especial state and relationship into which the saints are brought. The primary relationships spoken of are individual ones with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: we are chosen in Christ to be holy and without blame before God in love, and predestinated to the adoption of children. The exhortations founded on this doctrine begin with verse 17 of chapter 4, and are first and mainly referred to the name of God, passing into the relationship of children in the first verse of chapter 5. It is natural they should; because, while special affections are drawn out by the name of Father, the character of God Himself is that after which we are to be formed. Definite relationships are entered on in chapter 5:22; and there again the relationship of the church with Christ is introduced.
It is not to be passed over that, whatever the corporate blessings of the church (and they are very great and eminent) the individual relationship of the saint holds the first place, and that the action of the members of the body as such is for the perfecting of the saints individually. Indeed, seeing the place that God must have, and the unutterable obligation and relationship in which we stand to Him - we may add, the very place Christ Himself has with God as man - this could not be otherwise, whatever peculiar privileges the counsel of God gave to us in union with Christ.
327 Thus, in the first chapter of Ephesians, we find saints presented in relationship to the names and nature of God as revealed in that He bears toward Christ, as denoting our proper calling, and what characterizes us as saints - our relationship to that which is above us. And then, all things being centred up in and gathered into one under Christ, we become joint-heirs, so as to have the glorious place due to God's children towards that which is below us. It is only at the close of the chapter, where he speaks of the power exercised towards those that believe, that he introduces (after the exaltation of Christ Himself raised from the dead) the union of saints with Him, their identification with Him as objects of the operation of the same power by which He was raised and exalted. They are not merely morally and gloriously like Him; they are raised up together with Him, His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.
The general purpose of God had been stated in verse 10 of the chapter. This especial part of it, the union of the body with the head, and the unity of the body itself, and the forming of a dwelling-place of God on the earth by the Holy Ghost, with its various consequences and aspects, and the obligations that flow from this great fact, are unfolded from verse 22 of chapter 1 to the end of verse 16 of chapter 4. The whole of the second and third chapters, and the fourth down to the end of verse 16, may be considered as a kind of parenthesis, in which the doctrine of the church is richly developed with the exhortations which flow from it; not separated of course from the doctrine of the whole epistle, but forming a special body of teaching within it. We are not viewed as the fruit of Christ's redemption individually before God, but as the associates of Christ's position in union with Him. It is at the same time remarkable, how, through the vastness of the place and counsel of God, these truths are interwoven.
328 It is the name, in reference to which we are individually children, which forms the groundwork of the prayer in this part of the epistle, which generally treats of the church; and it is the name of God with whom we are individually in relationship, because it is in grace, which lays the foundation for the union of the church with Christ, because of that divine power which has raised Christ, and us with Christ, from the dead, to form one new body in a heavenly condition before Him - a condition in which no middle walls of partition could arise; for what barriers of ordinances to exclude shall be found in heaven?
The name of the Father, in which we are brought into nearness of communion and relationship, gives its character to the prayer of chapter 3 (compare John 17:26). But under the name of Father of our Lord Jesus Christ every family in heaven and earth comes, and we are heirs of all. And the apostle seeks our blessing according to the riches of glory individually of Him who possesses all. In order to the present enjoyment of this, Christ, who fills all things, must dwell in our hearts by faith, through the strengthening of the Spirit in the inner man (compare - as regards hope, which is the form in which it is enjoyed in Colossians; for they were not holding the Head firm - Col. 1:27); and this is what the apostle seeks here. All things depend on the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and form the sphere of His glory. With the name Jehovah, Israel alone, of all the families of the earth, was in relationship. It alone was thus known by God; Amos 3:2.
On this name every family in heaven and earth depends; but then, according to the whole wide extent of His glory, in which He has given us a place, and as Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, He strengthens us by His Spirit, so that Christ should dwell in our hearts by faith, and that as rooted and grounded in love. This is the power of realization, that we may comprehend the extent of glory in the sphere of creation on the one hand, and have the intimate knowledge of Christ's love in us, which passes knowledge, on the other; so as to be filled to all the fulness of God, whether in the display of His glory, or the blessedness of His nature. Now it is the exercise in us of power which surpasses all our thoughts, which produces the great result and binds all together for His glory in the church by Christ Jesus. It is power in us which fills us to all the fulness of God; but this power necessarily binds us together in a nearer and closer sphere - the church of God; and hence, while setting us to look out to the whole sphere of His glory in Christ, and binding us in the intimity of knowledge to the love of Christ Himself, the Spirit brings us to God's glory in the church. Indeed, it could not be otherwise; because, Christ the Head of the body, fills all things; and the body, as associated with the Head, is placed in connection with the whole scene; and He dwells in us, so as to give the power of going out unto it all as His, under the Father; and to know His love, too, by His dwelling in us.
329 Hence the previous part of the chapter, and the admission of the Gentiles as one of the families, leads to this prayer. Now the church has a double aspect and character, both of which are presented to us in this epistle. It is looked at also in two ways; as indeed is the case in every dealing of God with man and this lower creation, with this peculiar difference, that the church is the nearest and most immediate object of His thoughts nest to Christ, forms no part of the ages and dispensations of this world, and has no existence but by the full display of God, as He is the true light now shining, and of man to God, according to His glorious counsels in the Person of Christ in glory on high, and the consequent presence of God on the earth in the Person of the Holy Ghost dwelling in men, and in the habitation God has formed for Himself here below amongst men.
Notwithstanding this difference, however, the same great general principle is in play as to the church, as in the case of other dispensations of God; because, though not of the world, and the object of God's counsels before the world was, the church is displayed, and has her place and service in time in the world.
Now the double aspect of all the objects of God's dealings here below is the display of God's power and perfect wisdom in results, and the placing of the realization of it in man's hands under man's responsibility, before God's bringing it about by power according to His own mind. The very creation has been subjected to this principle: there will be a new heaven and new earth, where righteousness will dwell according to the thoughts and counsels of God; whereas that which now is groans under the bondage of corruption which sin has brought in.
I do not go farther than the earth, though my subject partly leads there, because the higher part of creation above is the proof of God's preserving care and grace; as we, of His restoring power by redemption and reconciliation.
330 But, as to this earth, everything trusted to man and for which he has been responsible will be accomplished finally according to the mind and purpose of God. Man himself failed in Adam, and will be perfect and glorified in the second Adam. Man was entrusted with the law: it will hereafter be written in his heart, and he will be made to walk in God's statutes. David's royalty failed; it will be perfected in Christ. Man, entrusted with sovereign power, failed in ruling over all: but Christ will reign over the whole earth in equity and truth, and glorify Jehovah. The very promises were presented in Christ, and man would have none of them. They will all be shewn to be Yea and Amen in Him. The church and the individual saint ought to glorify the Lord; they too have failed. But Christ will be glorified in His saints, and admired in all them that believed, and the church itself be fully glorified with Him.
So with the church. It will be presented perfect, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, as the bride of Christ by Him to Himself; as God did Eve to Adam. But it is set in the world as responsible to display by the Holy Ghost His character and glory now. There must be this difference, which I have already alluded to, that the church knows its own perfectness already in its Head, to whom it is already united by the Spirit; whereas Adam was the first man, and the Jew evidently never had Christ in the promised kingdom. It knows the perfect love of God, which has been revealed in all its fulness, and is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. It has the knowledge of its present union with Christ, and knows of the character of its existing relationship with Him, as His body and bride. Israel could not know, as a present thing, the reign of Christ in any sense. Love being perfectly revealed, the work of redemption accomplished, and our union with Christ a present truth, this difference must necessarily exist, though the great full result is yet to come, and we have the treasure in earthen vessels.
But, having noticed this, I turn now to the distinctive characters in which the church is set before us in the Ephesians. No doubt responsibility attaches to us as to both; but the failure of man is displayed more particularly in one, as being the proper sphere of his responsibility; while, though he may fail as to the other, its proper nature is in itself unalterable. The two characters of the church of which I speak, are found in the close of chapter 1, and of chapter 2 of the epistle - the body united to the Head on high by divine power; and the building on the earth, the habitation of God through the Spirit. The body as united to the Head cannot fail, nor can any form part of it but true members of Christ. But it implies unity on earth amongst those who are there: and here there may be failure, that is, in maintaining the manifestation of unity on the earth as a witness. But the body itself cannot and never will fail. God has given Christ to be Head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who filleth all in all. That, of course, is necessarily made good. It would otherwise be as if something should fail of Christ's fulness.
331 But the aspect of the church presented to us at the end of the second chapter is a different one. It is viewed as formed on earth. Jews and Gentiles are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Now of course the thought of God, and the proper work according to God as far as He has wrought, is to put right stones in this building. The house is a real thing; but there is no such statement as in the end of chapter 1, where the essence of the truth was a glorious Head and living members of a living Head: God had given Christ to be Head over the body. Here the divine point was God in the Spirit dwelling in a house. He is Himself joined to nobody. It is a mere dwelling-place which is formed, and in which He is found. The fact is stated; the principle on which it is formed, namely, Jews and Gentiles both received and built on the apostles and prophets of Christianity, Jesus Christ Himself being the cornerstone; but who did it is not said, and, though naturally it is supposed to be real, the qualities of the stones are not in question; but the principles on which they are received, and the object - the dwelling of God there - not in Israel.
Now I see no reason to doubt, that at first the body and the house were the same, but not necessarily so. If, of the three thousand added in the day of Pentecost one had been the victim of his imagination, or a hypocrite, he clearly would not have been a member of Christ's body, save in a mere nominal way; but the Holy Ghost would have dwelt just as really in the house formed, as if all had been true saints. When Simon Magus was received, when false brethren came in unawares, they were no members of Christ; their baptism did not in any way constitute them such. It is not its office in any way. But the Holy Ghost did not cease to dwell in the house of which they formed a part. It is not, be it so, the theory of God. But we are on earth, and the result there is mixed up with the responsibility of man. No one can be a member of Christ unawares; because that is in its nature a living, real, divinely-wrought thing; whereas the formation of the assembly or house on the earth, in which the Holy Ghost dwells, is partly the work of man, though God may operate therein. The theory was living stones built upon the Living Stone, a spiritual house. The practice soon diverged from this; but the Holy Ghost did not for that reason forsake the house.
332 This fact, I suppose, can hardly be denied, that is, the presence of the Holy Ghost where false brethren and unconverted persons already formed part of the public assembly of Christians, where the Holy Ghost dwelt. This indeed was so truly the case, that in Hebrews 6 an unconverted person is supposed to have come under His influence, and to have been made a partaker of Him. So we find in 1 Corinthians 10, the apostle suggests that many who partook of baptism and the Lord's supper God might judge and reject. That which the house is responsible for, for which it is placed in the world, is to be the pillar and ground of the truth: that is, to maintain and hold it up in its public profession before the world. A true member of Christ may be in error, without ceasing to be a member of Christ; but the house, as such, is called to be the public professor of the truth. The church does not teach. The teacher does that. The church is taught. But it professes the truth. The providence of God will preserve this till the great apostasy in the main; but it is connected with the responsibility of man, so that all has to be judged.
There is another passage in which the house is spoken of (Heb. 3), which I ought not to pass over: "Whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end." This speaks of the house as the ultimate result, "the end." Of course, if any one abandoned this hope in Christ, he had no part in the matter. This was the danger of the Hebrews. I do not think, if the object of the epistle be understood, the passage offers much difficulty. In result the house at first, not necessarily absolutely but in fact, was composed of living members of Christ. In the end it will be, according to God's own purpose and heart, the tabernacle of God. Meanwhile, like every dealing of God, it has been left under the responsibility of man. The result, without its ceasing to be the house as to its place and responsibility, has been what it always has where the creature is in question.
333 I think, in Ephesians 4 (and therefore, it was I dwelt on what preceded), we have in connection with this, three characters of unity to which the Spirit draws our attention. The exhortation of the special part to which I have alluded, in which the church is treated of (chaps. 1:22 to 4:16), refers to the fact of the dwelling of the Holy Ghost in the church looked at as formed on earth, her activity and energy of gifts; the body is referred to chapter 4:7-16, but in its individual members. Christ is viewed as the Giver; and gift and blessing is spoken of, not responsibility; nor is even the working consequently of the Spirit present on earth but of Christ the Head in heaven. The work is complete in power in the Person of Christ; and in virtue of that He confers gifts for the perfecting of the saints first of all, and to the edifying of the body. There is an effectual working in the measure of every part according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
But it is somewhat different in verses 1-6. There responsibility and duty are spoken of, an endeavour through grace, and that in connection with the Spirit of God, whose presence gives power to and characterizes our unity here below. The exhortation, as all exhortations must do, applies individually. God had brought them into His presence in peace, and dwelt among them; and Jew and Gentile were bound to have towards each other, for very different reasons, yea, every saint one toward another, that bearing which the presence of God would surely produce. The unity was by the Spirit, not in flesh (there the enmity had been), and they were to strive to maintain practically, in the bond of peace, the unity in which they stood in Christ; but the apostle then proceeds to refer to various characters or aspects of unity, the force of which I do not think has been generally seen, and which connects itself with the general subject of which I treat.
There is, says the apostle, one body and one Spirit, as we are called in one hope of our calling. There I find what is essential and of vital reality in the church of God - the body of Christ necessarily as such composed of living members, whatever responsibility those who pretend to be of it may be under; but here the apostle speaks of the unity in its true nature: one Spirit, which is the bond and power of this unity, and the one conscious hope which belongs to those who are called into this blessed place. That is the substance and reality of unity.
334 The next enlarges in its sphere of application, but loses in its essential character - one Lord, one faith, one baptism. This is profession upon earth, connected with the title of Christ to Lordship over them. He is Lord. It is not union with Him which is in heaven. The Holy Ghost unites us to the Head there; and we hope to enjoy fully what we enter into in spirit. Our calling is above. But faith here is the truth of the doctrine we profess. It is not even personal living faith here, for he could not then say one faith. One faith is the one thing believed, in the truth of which we own the Lord; and in baptism a person is publicly admitted into association with those owning the Lord and holding this faith, who form the house publicly upon earth. All this of course is on earth. There will be no faith in heaven. It is the unity of the owning of Christ's title. There is but one Lord, the holding the truth with which the announcement of Him is connected, and in the announcement of which that Lordship is maintained, and public outward association with the professors of it where that Lordship is owned. Simon Magus believed and was baptized; he was never of the body of Christ. It is a unity which regards professed Christianity on the earth.
The next unity is one God and Father of all. That is, we have God, the Lord, and the Spirit, as in 1 Corinthians 12. This last is necessarily a larger unity still, based on a more widely claiming name, a name to which a wider sphere belongs. The Spirit is connected with the body, for by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body. The Lord is owned by faith, and men are associated with the public profession of His name by baptism; but with the unity of God everything that is is connected, or there is something that exists independent of Him, and His unity is denied; or else creatures are not creatures but have independent existence of themselves. This to us now is simple; but when men owned "gods many and lords many," it was not so. To us there is but one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ. Hence the Thessalonians are said to be in God the Father. This one God is above all, and through all. It is far from Pantheism: that a heathen could imagine. He is one God above all; yet He is present throughout - He is through all. Whatever length and breadth and depth and height there may be, above all He is; and one God fills it all gloriously. But this is not all. He who fills all things dwells in the believer, He is "in you" or "us all" - He brings us most blessedly into this immediate association with Himself.
335 If Christ is Head over all things to the church, God, who is above all and through all, dwells in each individual who composes it, and brings him into the universe with personal divine blessing - filled with Him who fills all. This brings us divinely back to realities, filling us with God Himself, in the widest though more outward and general sphere of His glory; yet even here we could not be separated from direct divine blessing. Lordship over might be over professed subjects; but God could not pervade all things without being in us in the proper way of divine blessing, because of our living relationship to Him - wondrous grace and blessing! Through all things He is, but He who is so is in us. Here then we have three distinct unities, the first of which gives us the real unity of the body; the second, professed subjection, as the apostle speaks, to the gospel of Christ (how wide is this gone now! How dreadful the state of those who thus own His Lordship!); the third, that of all things and God.
This leads me to another question and passage, 2 Timothy 2:15 to the end. Hymenaeus and Philetus had erred, overthrowing the faith of some. The whole passage refers to professed truth (see 15, 16, 17, 18, and 23 to the end), Satan subverting the soul by vain questions and false doctrine, the individual might or might not be a believer in heart, a member of Christ. It is not the question here. The answer to this unsettlement by error is, that the foundation of God remains sure - the Lord knows them that are His. That is immutable and immovable by evil. Then comes the responsibility of man. This has a double character: first, the individual's conduct, as to which conscience decides very simply; second, his conduct as belonging to what is described under the similitude of a great house where there might seem more complication.
The first principle stated in the passage is very simple, absolute, and of universal application. It is a great comfort that it is so, and that this precept is of absolute unavoidable obligation. God's secret is with Himself, whatever the confusion and the error that is rife - He knows them that are His. That I must leave with Himself. I may rejoice, by the fruits produced to know that any one is a child of God; but it is of God to know absolutely who are His
336 But responsibility is my part, I name the name of the Lord. It is the profession of holy power; I must depart from iniquity wherever I find it. Whatever the leaving it involves, I must cease all iniquity - depart from it. If it be bound up with an ocean of good, I am not master but slave in my responsibility of conscience; I must depart from iniquity. That is a settled thing, a divine exigence which nothing can meet but acting on it. It is owning and abiding with God Himself in my conduct. Nothing can be so good, or doing so much good, as doing His Will.
"To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." Is any given thing iniquity? Is it wrong according to the light Christ has given me? I depart from it. I am told, "But you will lose opportunities of usefulness, of serving the Lord, of doing good; and you must leave other Christians. With whom will you go?" I answer, I know nothing of all this. That thing is wrong: I must depart from it; I dare not do otherwise. "But you will find wrong in everything." Not for me - for a Christian - to sanction. He may fail in doing right, but not deliberately accept any doing wrong, however small, if he fears God. I name the name of the Lord; I cannot abide in what is not right. It is destroying all responsibility, and denying God's authority over me to allege any motives for not departing from evil. None could have a better excuse than Saul when he lost the kingdom. There was one simple thing in the whole matter - he did not obey. "He that will serve me, let him follow me" - a weighty word of the Lord's.
But the confusion which evil has brought into the church, and the enormous system of evil which bears its name, may create difficulties in many a sincere soul, when what bears the name of the church of God is the seat of the power of the enemy. To this the apostle turns. "But in a great house," continues he, after speaking of these mischievous teachers, and the general principles which secured and directed the heart of the faithful. "In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and earth, and some to honour and some to dishonour." The professing church - what bore the name of Christ in the world - would become like a great house, where one finds vessels of every kind, and for all uses. What was to be done - leave the Christian profession - become unbaptized? That was impossible. There was no going out of the great house. Whatever state it was in, Christ was the Master of the house. We cannot be heathens, or Mahommedans, or strangers to Christian profession. What, I repeat, was to be done? Remain with those that dishonoured Christ because they also were in the great house? Not so. "If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel to honour, sanctified and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work." What defiled the house was worse, as such, than heathenism or the darkest ignorance.
337 Am I then to remain isolated in separating myself from these vessels to dishonour? Not so; I am to follow what becomes saints - righteousness, faith, charity, peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Nothing seems to be plainer. Vessels to dishonour, I must expect would be found in the house; I must separate from these. But there are those who call upon the Lord out of a pure heart. With those I am to associate, and follow after every Christian grace with them. If the house, once builded on the earth of choice and goodly stones (I am not aware that it is ever said that God positively built and formed it, I do not think it is), has become a great house in which vessels to dishonour are found, my path is clearly traced for me. The extent of the evil does not affect the principle, and other guiding ones may come in for other points of conduct. But this I have; I separate myself from the vessels to dishonour. I associate myself with those who call upon the Lord out of a pure heart.
It is not a question of local discipline, but of public and personal conduct. The responsibility of all in the house remains founded on the place to which they pretend, in which they have outwardly stood. This is clearly taught in Matthew 24, where the evil is viewed as a whole (v. 48). "But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming, and shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken, the Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites." Here the servant is treated as a servant, but as an evil one, as a hypocrite by the Lord. He considers himself so too. He says "My Lord" - he is so dealt with - the Lord of that servant. What a lesson for the professing church, and particularly for the hierarchical part of it! What makes this more remarkable is, that he is treated as the same servant, as to position, as the other who will be made ruler over all his Lord's goods. Nay, he is treated as the same servant changed in character, "But and if that evil servant, o kakos doulos ekeinos."
338 It is indeed a solemn thought for those who take the place of rulers in the church called of God. But my object at present is only to lay before the reader the view scripture gives of the church's responsibility, and the fact of the existence of that house in which vessels to dishonour are - how scripture looks at it. We cannot, with impunity, lose any part of scripture truth, and especially on points which commit us to grave points of action. We cannot begin the church over again: God is not beginning it. We cannot accept any evil in what is called by that name; less than elsewhere. That is a matter of absolute Christian responsibility.
The seven churches of the Apocalypse also clearly take up this responsibility of the church. We see, no doubt, local assemblies; but embracing, I doubt not, as is very commonly believed, an aspect of the whole professing body, or something characterising a general division of it by a distinct principle; but still the state of the professing church as such. The candlestick is threatened to be removed; and finally, nauseous to Christ, the Laodicean is spued out of His mouth. What bears the name of church is not only judged by Christ, instead of judging others, but every one that hath ears to hear is called upon to listen, and give heed to that judgment - to pay attention to it, as coming from the Spirit.
It has been alleged there is no going out. In a certain sense it is impossible; I have not the smallest thought of ceasing to be professing Christian. I name the name of Christ; am I, for that reason, held to continue in evil?
I add a few other passages, not cited or referred to in what precedes - all that I am aware of which refer to this subject - to facilitate to my reader his search into the truth of scripture on this subject: first, Hebrews 10:21; 1 Peter 4:17; and Matthew 16:18. The last I cite as connected with what I have said as to God's building. The word 'house' is not used, nor is the thought of a dwelling-place of the Spirit in this passage; so that I do not think it affects the question. I think myself, it may apply to both the true and external church; but especially, and finally, to what God secures as the living God, the true church.
339 The "priest over the house of God" is used in a general way, as an allusion intelligible to the Hebrews - the whole administration of the professing body, but exercised in favour and in behalf of those who drew nigh.
I apprehend, in 1 Peter 4:17, the professing house is referred to, alluding to Ezekiel; but in both these passages, and in all where ruin is not spoken of, the house, though viewed as outwardly subsisting in this world, is supposed to be a true one. Thus, when it is said to Timothy, "behave thyself in the house of God," it was his conduct in the professing church of God upon the earth, but assumed to be composed of disciples. That hypocrites, false brethren, might have got in, this altered nothing as to Timothy's conduct. He was to behave himself in it as the house of God, and maintain its order practically as such. What might come of the house through man's unfaithfulness is another and special question; what is seen in the passages I have just cited is the character, not the state, of the Christian body.