J. N. Darby.
The ministry of John Nelson Darby is, by the Lord's mercy, so well known as to render comment unnecessary; it only remains to explain the circumstances under which the present writings are published.
His executors have found, amongst his papers, a number of note books, in his own handwriting, containing many comments, notes and meditations on various subjects of divine teaching, explanatory and otherwise edifying, and have decided to set them forth for the benefit of the Church of God at large, and in the interests of the truth.
It was Mr. Darby's habit to jot down, in such books, thoughts on Scripture and scriptural subjects as they occurred to him, not in any regular order, nor in view of publication; thus, the germ of thoughts, amplified elsewhere by him, will sometimes be found in the following pages, together with fresh and deeply interesting matter, such as might be expected to issue from the private study of one so richly taught in the Word.
These writings were not revised by the author with a view to publication, they were made solely for his own use; and are now put forth with the earnest hope that the Lord's people may derive much blessing and instruction from their diligent perusal.
"I know thy works: behold I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name," Rev. 3:8.
Such is the Lord's approval of those who, in the midst of perilous times, seek to keep themselves pure, and to continue in the things which they have learned and been assured of.
Bath, December, 1883.
It has been the gracious wisdom of God to bring great principles - such as love, righteousness, and others - into evidence, by facts. This makes it simple to the poor, and keeps intellectual power in its place, and this is all right, and divinely right. - Milwaukee, April, 1865.
I have been very profoundly moved in seeing, on reading over old tracts (some quite forgotten), for the desired publication, all the principles, on which the fate of the world and the church now turns, brought out thirty to thirty-nine years ago. God was in it in a way I did not know, though I felt it personally to be God's truth. But, what a solemn thing! but then it has made me feel the responsibility of bringing it all out, systematically, before the professing church; before it only came out occasionally as particular truths pressed. But the main point is the truth itself then coming out; what progress in disruption has been made since! - October 18th, 1865.
What a sorrowful thing it would be (must we say "would be"?) to our hearts, to say "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course," - and that end in "the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine," etc. - and "they shall turn away their ears from the truth!" Was that the end, here below, of fighting the good fight of faith? What a world we live in! With this Paul identifies finishing his course; in another world it is different, but this is sorrow. So Christ however, Isaiah 49:4, "I have laboured in vain." - 1867.
It is surely a wonderfully blessed thing to be like the blessed Lord, but I think latterly I have felt the blessing of it to be more in the full capacity to dwell on Himself, unhindered, which it will give, than in the fact of being like Himself. - 1868.
2 There is nothing so petty as the human heart, but nothing on which God, by His grace, can compose such lovely, and transcendent music, because man is the subject of redemption through Christ.
The more I go on the more I see how we are in a wholly new position; but, oh! how poorly we are in it.
I follow with sympathy, with an associated heart, all the path of Jesus by the Holy Ghost, in meek, holy, devotedness to God. I ought to follow actually, even to laying down my life for the brethren. Having Him as my life I can feel with Him, however infinitely more perfect He may be. I may present my body a living sacrifice; my heart goes with Him, however poorly I follow; even in Gethsemane I ought to watch with Him. But when dealt with by God, and I speak only of the burnt offering, when the fire of the altar tested all fully (which is not merely offering Himself, but what met Him, to test the perfectness of the offering), then I only look on and adore. I bow my head and adore.
Christianity depends in its work on what it brings, not on what it finds; our side, and relationship to God by it, wholly on what we find, not on what we bring. In a word, it is grace, not man, though he be formed and led by it. Thank God it is.
Ah! it is not all the truth that we are far from God, but when God is come into the world we hated Him. Thank God it is a new creation, and we love Him, and He loved us.
Self likes to be served, and thinks itself great. Love serves, and is great.
3 No public prayer will do without private, but God always answers private.
There is no familiarity like familiarity with perfect goodness, and that is our position, by grace, with God.
See how, in the Cross, the whole question of good and evil was brought to an issue in every way.
First, it was the complete display of man's enmity against God, - the contemptuous rejection, alas! of God come in love, for His love He had "hatred"; and in every detail, disciples, priests, Pilate, all bring out the evil that is in man. Then Satan's power is fully manifested, and that over men in their passions, and, in one sense, in death, at least in the sorrow of Christ's soul.
Next, I get the perfect man as nowhere else; perfect love to the Father, perfect, absolute, obedience, and that in the very place of sin, and the cup it had filled. And this in human weakness, Satan's power (though above both, by looking to God), and the forsaking of God.
And then God Himself, in perfect righteousness against sin, and sovereign, perfect, infinite love to the sinner - His majesty and truth, both made good.
Such is the Cross! In the history of Eternity it stands alone. Man in God's glory is its blessed result.
The creation of angels is not recorded historically, but that of this visible universe; then they, already created as a separate body of beings, show their interest in the works of God - "the morning stars sing together, and all the sons of God shout for joy."
When Christ is born, first the Jewish aspect is announced to the shepherds, and then a multitude celebrating it - their public delight in God's ways, and, with unjealous delight in them, declare that God's good pleasure is in man. It is the heavenly aspect of it - they see God's mind in it - not the conscience part or man's evil. They chant glory to God, for His love is here, peace on this ruined earth - the place of their service - and en anthropois eudokia.
When Christ enters on His ministry, they are His servants in the wilderness, and in Gethsemane. The gospel revelation, which does not have them for its object, they desire to look into. The sufferings of Christ, and the glories that follow, bring a more solemn apprehension to their minds; it is not simple joy like creation, or incarnation and its natural fruits; over every sinner that repents they rejoice, it is joy to them. In the church they learn, as in heavenly places, the manifold wisdom of God; they had seen the glory of God's revelation on earth; they are to us, in love, ministering spirits; they praise in a circle outside the redeemed, in the Apocalypse; yet in our state we are but isaggeloi (Luke 20:36), united to Christ, and all the saints His redeemed.