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p380 Dearest R Evans, - I was just thinking of writing to you, without any particular motive but that it was so long since I had, when I got your letter upon my arrival here in Zürich. As regards the text, Hebrews 9:12, it has occupied all interpreters, and my own mind, in reading scripture. The whole matter is that S - has trusted the English, or overlooked the commonest possible use of διά. "This is he that came by [ διά ] water and blood." Whatever characterises, or is as circumstances surrounding, is expressed by διά; so Romans 2:27, where the sense is unmistakable. So chapter 4:11, πιστευόντων δι᾽ ἀκροβυστίας; so chapter 14:20, διὰ προσκόμματος ἐσθίοντι; 2 Corinthians 2:4, διὰ πολλῶν δακρύων ; so that γενέσθαι διά is used in the classics for the active verb. Romans 8:25, δι᾽ ὑπομονῆς ἀπεκδεχόμεθα ; Hebrews 12:1, di jj uJpomonh'" trevcwmen .
Further, it was not in virtue of the blood of bulls and goats that the high priest entered in; indeed, what was to hinder his dying himself was the cloud of incense. If it had been alleged that the bullock was for the church and the goat for Israel (not that I should pronounce this), my mind would have been otiose in hearing it; but when he says "both" in that sacrifice, he makes Christ distinct from the sacrifice. In the consecration, Aaron is sanctified alone, without blood, and then his sons with him, with blood, and their garments with him (not "them"), because without him they had no reality of existence. But that on which - rests all his system is wholly without foundation; it is a mistake as to the use of διά. When it is said that God brought Him from the dead, it is ἐκ, not διά. (Heb. 13:20.) The whole fabric of doctrine is therefore contradicted by an intelligent apprehension of the text of scripture.
The appeal to Psalm 110 is extraordinary; not only the whole psalm is based on setting Christ at God's right hand, but the whole reasoning of the apostle on it in Hebrews 6, 7; and, indeed, the gist of the whole Epistle is to prove that it is in heaven and not on earth. "Such an high priest became us," who is "made higher than the heavens" in "the power of an endless life." He is consecrated εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, and He must be a man to be so. (See chap. 6:20.) Had He even entered into the holy place during His life as priest He would have done so without blood; but He entered in ἐφάπαξ, "once for all, having obtained eternal redemption for us." The whole of this doctrine, therefore, is unfounded. I dread pursuing figures with an unsanctified spirit; they are most instructive when we have solid truth as the base, but the mind may run into all ideas by them.
The word "associates Himself" with sinners is in itself too vague to rest upon; where it comes in the pamphlet it is a contradiction; either it is substitution - and then it is not "both" - or Christ is distinct and presents Himself distinct as a sinner. I do not know what identity with each other means: is it substitution, or is Christ for Himself apart, as other sinners (each for himself) are, though united in the need of the sacrifice? Where was the need of Christ's offering for Himself? Was it the sin of others? Then it is substitution, or taking their place - or some entrance of His own into the place of guilt, not for others, but with - so that the sacrifice for Him, since He was sinless, was an untruth. I find much that is vague and uncertain. In the burnt-offering (p. 15) the animal's blood was shed, and shed for atonement. Again, "here, too, the Lord Jesus associates His people with Himself" - how "too"? His being associated with sinners as such is not associating His people with Himself; it is the opposite. All this is very unsolid ground, but hardly needs to be taken up and made a crime of.
I find on page 17 the same uncertain sound, but on a more serious point. "The same sacrifice serves for all, and brings them near to the same God, in the same place of acceptance." Now, that Christ is, as man, in the presence and favour of God, after being abandoned for others, is blessedly true; but if the same sacrifice serves for all, that is, Christ and His people, and brings them near, it makes Him afar off Himself, and needing to be brought near; all this is worse than loose. So, that the incense is the prayers of the saints I judge not sustainable, where Christ offers it: in Revelation 5 we find the thought, but not with Christ the offerer. I do not know what "we as priests, may sprinkle the blood" means, that is, I do not believe it has any true sense, or that - could give it any. But I do not doubt that many a poor saint enjoys the urging to priestly character in truth, and slips over the evil without noticing anything particular; only there is danger of imbibing with it. But they are bee-like; suck the honey from every flower. He has committed himself, by self-confidence, to a series of blunders, founded on ignorance of the use of διά, or inattention to it.
The talking of Christ's identifying Himself with Himself (for He is the victim), as if He was so associated with sinners that a victim was necessary for Him, and yet He was the victim for Himself as sinless enough to be so, is utter confusion. This is the theory of page 15. It may seem very profound, but it is far away from the simplicity of scripture. That He was made sin for us we believe; but was He made sin for Himself? (unless He be taken simply as the representative, or substitute of His people, which, though it may be held innocently, is itself rather forcing expressions). . . . That Christ was a priest down here, I reject as fundamentally false, save as He, as High Priest, represented the people on the great day of atonement.
As regards the Notes on Leviticus, they were made by Miss T. from lectures at Plymouth, and though I do not doubt the substance in them, I must decline wholly being responsible for the expressions: even when one looks over such, if attention be not drawn to them, particular expressions are overlooked. Nor would I, when the purport is scriptural, make a man an offender for a word.
The part that pressed our own acting as priests in close union with Christ, is the part that has probably attracted pious persons who have not noticed the evil part, taking for granted that it was what is generally held. You have no idea how few are theologians, even in their faith.
I was very glad indeed to hear of the general blessing from God's gracious goodness. We have had a meeting in Guernsey, common to French and English, and the Lord's approbation and blessing was very sensibly felt. Of England I know nothing very recent; I think the brethren have an increased feeling that they must be devoted, and expectation of the coming of the Lord.
In France we cannot complain. There is a new and interesting field in the Charente, and in the Ardèche a good many conversions; in some places a want of energy, but in general the work maintains its ground and progresses; here and there one would be glad to see more energy in the work, though this does not apply to all, and God has raised up some new labourers. I sent dear - some account I think of what has been going on in France; outside brethren, much evil, but a reaction of a very distinct character. The Lord willing, I purpose leaving in October for Canada, I suppose by Halifax and Boston.
The letter of - to G. distinctly affirms the point in which he is wrong, and I have no hesitation in saying is founded on bad Greek. The English may be pleaded, but I am satisfied the translators never entered into the doctrine. The notion of Christ's being a priest for ever, as he states it, is I think the most absurd idea I ever heard of; contradicting the whole doctrine of scripture and of Hebrews on the subject. He could not γενηθῆναι ἀρχιερέα [chap. 5:5], was a priest without being a man without anybody to be priest for even, without blood; there is no end to the contradictions; He could not be consecrated, it was only when He was τελειωθείς that He was saluted of God according to Psalm 110. (See Heb. 5:6.) The insisting on the word "art" is inconceivable; it is in italics even in the English Bible, Old [Psa. 110:4] and New Testament, while in the new it is applied to the time of His being perfected, after His crying and tears. It is to be remembered that contrast is more found in Hebrews than comparison. But I close this; it is not my object to make a treatise, but you will understand why I thought that with explanation when needed it might have died de sa belle mort. . . .
Ever affectionately yours.
Zürich, August 12th, 1864.