John Nelson Darby

W. G. Turner
First published June 1944
Second Impression February 1951

C. A. Hammond, 11 Little Britain, London EC1.

Contents
Preface
Mainly Introductory
Ancestry, School, University
In Labours Abundant
A Curate and Two Archbishops
Character and Principles
Friends and Associates
As Author
Some Pen Portraits and Appraisals
The Last Phase
The Afterglow

Preface

Several years ago the present writer essayed a Sketch of the Life and Labours of John Nelson Darby which was heartily commended by Mr. William Kelly the Editor of Darby's Synopsis and Collected Writings. It was quickly exhausted and a further volume — John Nelson Darby, A Biography, from the same pen immediately found a wide sale in English-speaking lands, being also translated into German and Chinese.

Owing to enemy action this is now out of print, and fuller access to reliable sources of information having also become available to the writer, this almost entirely new volume is sent forth in hope that the lamp of testimony lit by the labours of this great servant of GOD in the nineteenth century may be re-trimmed to His glory in the spiritual prosperity of His people.

Chapter 1

Mainly Introductory

There are comparatively few among the millions directly or indirectly influenced spiritually by the life and labours of John Nelson Darby who have any clear perception of this man whom Professor Francis Newman described in Phases of Faith as "a most remarkable man, who rapidly gained an immense sway over me."

One Oxford man indeed styled him "the Tertullian of these last days" from the many controversies in which he was engaged during his long lifetime.

Tertullian, who was the younger contemporary of Ireneaus Bishop of Lyons in the latter part of the second century, was a noted controversialist; and the Dictionary of National Biography ascribes his character to Darby almost as though it was what chiefly characterised him. This is a mistake, for although his many polemical writings may give a superficial appearance to this, yet controversy was not his forte. True he was often involved in it, first with a bishop, then with an archbishop, and frequently with such brethren as are aptly and wittily depicted in the Preface to the Authorised Version in its address to King James as "self-conceited brethren who run their own ways, and give liking unto nothing but what is framed by themselves, and hammered on their anvil."

Since it is only a truism that every movement in the history of mankind has had a personal leader, and that when the hour strikes the man appears, so it was when what an American writer called A Divine Movement began in the first quarter of the last century. This movement commonly designated "Brethren," frequently miscalled "Plymouth Brethren," found a living, forceful, personal leader to voice, lead and extend it as far as a man could, in the subject of this volume. For over half a century of active unwearied service he diligently taught and practised the truth that, whatever the prevailing ecclesiastical disorders, there still remains the duty and privilege for every member of CHRIST's body strenuously to maintain the unity of the SPIRIT in the bond of peace (Eph. 4: 3).

His conception of this "body," the Church, noble and sublime, differs widely from that advocated by many in high ecclesiastical positions, yet cannot fail to appeal to the spiritual mind. He says, "The Church . . . a lowly, heavenly body . . . has no position on earth at all, as it was in the beginning — suffering as its Head did, unknown and well known — an unearthly witness of heavenly things on earth."

The social and religious conditions prevailing in English-speaking Christendom during the Georgian period present a very gloomy picture unrelieved save by the gleam of the Evangelical revival. In the year 1800, however, two most remarkable men of the nineteenth century were born who, it is admitted by all conversant with the so-called religious world, left indelible marks upon the face of Christendom. One of these was EDWARD BOUVERIE PUSEY, the other JOHN NELSON DARBY. They both became clergymen of the Established Church, and lived lives of unworldly piety; each striving, although in wholly different ways, to realise a great ideal (the visible unity of the Church of GOD, an ideal still unrealised, but yet confessedly a great ideal). It is noteworthy that both ended their labours within a few months of each other, Darby dying in the April of 1882, and Pusey in the September of that same year.

A writer of this period speaks of the clergy as "careless of dispensing the bread of life to their flocks, preaching at best but a carnal and soul-benumbing morality, and trafficking in the souls of men by receiving money for discharging the pastoral office in parishes where they did not so much as look on the faces of the people more than once a year"; and of a typical clergyman, further remarks, "He really had no very lofty aims, no theological enthusiasm. If I were closely questioned, I should be obliged to confess that he felt no serious alarms about the souls of his parishioners, and would have thought it a mere loss of time to talk in a doctrinal and awakening manner to old 'Feyther Taft,' or even to Chad Cranage the blacksmith. If he had been in the habit of speaking theoretically, he would perhaps have said that the only healthy form religion could take in such minds was that of certain dim but strong emotions, suffusing themselves as a hallowing influence over the family affections and neighbourly duties. He thought the custom of baptism more important than its doctrine, and that the religious benefits the peasant drew from the church where his father worshipped and the sacred piece of turf where he lay buried, were but slightly dependent on a clear understanding of the Liturgy or the sermon. Clearly, the Rector was not what is called in these days an 'earnest' man: he was fonder of Church history than of divinity, and had much more insight into men's characters than interest in their opinions; he was neither laborious, nor obviously self-denying, nor very copious in almsgiving, and his theology, you perceive, was lax." Another Oxford clerical writer of repute observes: "The churches and worship bore in general too conclusive testimony to a frozen indifference."

Amongst the Dissenting communities, too, there existed at that time a cold exclusiveness almost amounting to Pharisaism; their hope lay in political reform. The whole professing Church, wise and foolish virgins alike, apparently slumbered and slept. The Reform Bill, however, had a manifest and powerful effect; churchmen could not fail to see that their house was in danger. Then what became known as the Anglo-Catholic school within the borders of the Establishment began to realise the necessity of resting their claims against Radical encroachment on Apostolic succession, saving ordinances, and imposing forms, to which Dissent had no pretension, and in fact repudiated.

And as at Creation when darkness was upon the face of the deep, the SPIRIT of GOD moved upon the face of the waters, so now the hearts of believers in the various denominations were stirred up to study the Scriptures, and, as ever, in so doing found light pouring into their minds, upon which some sought to act.

Others, alas! like Dr. Pusey, instead of being humbled by Scriptural light, obscured it by forms and human imaginings, imported mainly from traditions in the writings of the early fathers, thereby sowing baneful seeds of error, which have since become so abundantly fruitful in the Established Church and her daughters. Disgusted with the sloth and apathy of normal Christendom, these did not so much search the Scriptures, as insist on the need of an interpreter for them. They ignored (though unintentionally) the Divine Instructor, Whose special mission it is to reveal and explain the things of CHRIST to His people. So, practically substituting for the present energy of the HOLY SPIRIT the confusions of the so-called "Fathers," it is little wonder they rapidly strayed more and more from the truth to masses, confessionals, crucifixes, purgatory, and in some instances, to holy water stoups and extreme unction, until, as Charles Kingsley observes, "all the appliances of religion to deliver a man out of the hands of a merciful GOD" were speedily requisitioned. Yet their main object of visible unity, based on the principles of catholic corruption after the Apostles had departed, and on mediaeval development was, in their own eyes, but very partially realised, and even yet to the outsider (although more than a century has elapsed since the famous Assize sermon of Keble which marked the outward commencement of the Oxford movement) still appears chimerical.

Thousands of earnest, and some pious, souls were however enslaved within the bonds of a legal tyranny more irksome and insufferable than that of Judaism. Some leaders may have been sincere, but mistaken sincerity only proves too well the subtlety of the enemy of souls, and the folly of leaning to one's own understanding in the things of GOD. Dr. Pusey and his friends sought to establish a restoration of united Christendom, ignoring the palpable fact of its departure from GOD and His Word and SPIRIT, and its ruin doctrinally, ecclesiastically and morally. Dr. Pusey lived a self-denying life, and suffered much at the hands of his bishop too; and his firm stand for the inspiration and infallibility of the word of GOD is particularly marked in his "Daniel" and "Minor Prophets."

John Nelson Darby, even before Dr. Pusey came prominently into notice as a leading Tractarian, had been attracted strongly by the same system of religious ideas as Keble, Newman, Pusey and others of that school. He says: "I know the system. I knew it and walked in it years before Dr. Newman, as I learn from his book, thought on the subject; and when Dr. Pusey was not heard of I fasted in Lent so as to be weak in body at the end of it; ate no meat on weekdays — nothing till evening on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, then a little bread or nothing; observed strictly the weekly fasts too. I went to my clergyman always if I wished to take the Sacrament, that he might judge of the matter. I held Apostolic Succession fully, and the channels of grace to be there only. I held thus Luther and Calvin and their followers to be outside. I was not their judge, but I left them to the uncovenanted mercies of GOD. I searched with earnest diligence into the evidences of Apostolic Succession in England, and just saved their validity for myself and my conscience. The union of Church and State I held to be Babylonish, that the Church ought to govern itself, and that she was in bondage, but was the Church."

Chapter 2

Ancestry, School, University

JOHN NELSON DARBY was born at Westminster, in his father's London house, on November 18th, 1800. He was the youngest son of John Darby, of Markley, Sussex, and of Leap Castle, King's County, Ireland. His mother was of the Vaughan family, well known in Wales, whilst on his father's side he was of Norman extraction, the family records going back before the Reformation. His uncle, Admiral Sir Henry Darby who commanded the Bellerophon in the Battle of the Nile, was a friend of Lord Nelson, and he, to the great delight of the parents, consented to be one of the sponsors at the christening of his friend's little nephew. Hence the second Christian name given in compliment to England's naval hero. His mother's death when he was only five years old, made a deep and lasting impression upon young Darby. And the tender memory which he cherished in his heart of her would sometimes find expression on unexpected occasions. When he was fifty years of age we find him writing of her thus: "I have long, I suppose, looked at the portrait of my mother, who watched over my tender years with that care which only a mother knows how to bestow. I can just form some imperfect thought of her looks, for I was early bereft of her; but her eye fixed upon me that tender love which had me for its heart's object — which could win when I could know little else — which had my confidence before I knew what confidence was — by which I learnt to love, because I felt I was loved, was the object of that love which had its joy in serving me — which I took for granted must be; for I had never known aught else. All that which I had learnt, but which was treasured in my heart and formed part of my nature, was linked with the features which hung before my gaze. That was my mother's picture. It recalled her, no longer sensibly present, to my heart."

He received his early education at Westminster School; the years however spent by him at the famous school were very uneventful and gave no promise of the future lying before the lad. All that could be learned from one of the masters, several years later, was that there certainly had been a lad named Darby in the school at the time mentioned, but that was really all he could say. So far as memory served there was nothing special about him, and as to what became of him after leaving the school, the master had no idea. Indeed he had never heard his name from that day to the time of this enquiry. This, too, when J. N. Darby's name was familiar in almost every quarter of the globe.

In 1815 the family went to reside in the ancestral castle in Ireland, and to young Darby it was his first visit to that country. He then at the age of fifteen matriculated at Trinity College, Dublin, and in this entirely congenial atmosphere his whole nature seemed at once to expand. He now made rapid strides, becoming Classical Gold Medallist on the shorter time of a Fellow-Commoner for his degree in his nineteenth year. These four happy years were followed by three during which he studied for the Bar, and in 1822 he was called to the Irish Chancery Bar, but did not practise; and it is here the secret of his after career begins to reveal itself.

Ever since his eighteenth year he had been greatly exercised about spiritual matters, and being now converted to GOD, conscientious objections arose in his mind as to following a legal profession, however fair the prospects it offered.

After a year, he, to his father's great annoyance, altogether abandoned the idea of practising as a barrister, and this decision came as a very great disappointment to many who had watched with interest the opening of a very promising career. None perhaps was more disappointed than his brother-in-law, the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland (then Sergeant Pennefather), who hoped not only for his rise to the highest honours in the profession, but that his penetrating and generalising genius would have done much to reduce the legal chaos to order.

To understand this renunciation of an assured position by a young man, brilliant, gifted, talented, well connected, in a circle possessing great influence in the profession which he had entered and already made his mark, by being "called" when only a youth, it will be necessary to revert to a period of seven years in his life which he rarely mentioned. On one occasion, however, in conversation upon deep spiritual experiences with his friend, Mr. William Kelly, he remarked that for seven years he had once practically lived in the 88th Psalm, his only ray of light being in the opening words, "O LORD GOD of my salvation." To only a select few of GOD'S servants is it given to pass through severe exercise of this character. But the depth and reality of this initial experience undoubtedly gave tone and stability to his life-long witness. Moses at the back of the desert for forty years; Paul in Arabia for three years; and Richard Baxter in Puritan England for seven years, all witness to the fact that He Who chooses and calls for special service, trains His servants specially for their life-work. That of Moses and Paul will be familiar to the reader, but that of Richard Baxter not equally so. Yet in the great work wrought by GOD, through the author of The Saints' Everlasting Rest in the godless town of Kidderminster, which is a simple matter of history, the preparation of the vessel was both searching and severe.

So curiously reminiscent of Darby's inner conflict from 1818 to 1825 is the account given in Ladell's Life of Richard Baxter (pp. 148/9, Edition 1925), that it is profitable to compare them.

"To one so naturally acute and critical, and with a mentality that accepted very little without question, faith was no easy matter. Baxter was, as so very few are able to be, strictly honest with himself; and neither expediency nor the persuasions of others, could make him blind to the perplexities, or indifferent to the numerous problems that Christianity presented. He bravely faced them all, and wrestled with them, until his exacting reasoning powers were satisfied, or at least no longer hostile. It is not surprising, then, to find him often in great perplexity . . . he records in more than one of his works, the time when he was almost overwhelmed by unbelief. For seven years, he says, it continued: years that must have been to him a time of great suffering. . . . 'When faith revived then none of the parts or concernments of religion seemed small, then man seemed nothing, and the world a shadow, and GOD was all . . . but yet,' said he, 'it is my daily prayer, that GOD would increase my faith.'"

In the case of Darby the ray of light that had been, as he said, his only glimmer of spiritual hope during the "dark night" of the seven years, ushered him at last into the full blaze of day as he was brought into the knowledge of peace with GOD, and so became filled with the joy of GOD's salvation. He heard the call, he saw the Hand that beckoned, and unlike the rich, well-placed young man in the Gospel story who made "the great refusal" and went away very sorrowful, John Nelson Darby, also a rich, well-placed young man, made the great renunciation as with a light heart he now set off "to follow on to know the LORD," and to follow Him at any cost.

Cheerfully abandoning the legal profession as we have already mentioned, and now desiring to find a sphere of lifework wherein to serve GOD, he applied for, and was admitted to Deacon's Orders in the Irish Church in 1825 by Archbishop Magee without further delay.

He had still some way to go on the Christian course, and many lessons yet to learn, but like Abraham's servant, he, looking back in after days, might well have said, "I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my MASTER'S brethren" (Gen. 24: 27).

Chapter 3

In Labours Abundant

Darby was given a title for Orders from the large, straggling parish of Celery in the mountains of County Wicklow of which he became curate. Here he found just that congenial sphere of labour and scope for his energies which he desired. Living contentedly in a peasant's cottage on the bog, he threw himself heartily into all the varied duties of his office. Earnest and diligent in his ministrations, strict in churchmanship and conduct, he speedily won a place in the hearts of the poor by his sympathy and considerateness. In the enjoyment of his work he spent his patrimony in schools and charity, and during the year of his diaconate he exercised a generally beneficial influence over the whole locality. He was no mere hireling or official, but an indefatigable labourer in the service of GOD. Every evening almost he was to be found teaching the peasantry in the cabins scattered amid the bogs in the remote outskirts of the wild country parish he served, seldom returning to his own humble lodging before midnight.

He would no doubt have settled here quite contentedly amongst the wild Wicklow mountain peasantry but for "the Divinity which shapes our ends, rough hew them as we may." GOD was fashioning a vessel for a wider, almost world-wide, sphere of usefulness. This, however, would only be clearly seen in His own good time and way, and another fifteen months were to elapse before that way was opened.

Meanwhile the year of his diaconate swiftly passed, filled with busy service; then Darby went up to the city to receive the priest's orders at the hands of the Archbishop which should qualify him for the performance of all the duties of the clerical office.

His restless enquiring mind had, however, from the day of his ordination been disturbed as to the position of an Established Church, but in the enthusiastic discharge of his duties, and the special activities in connection with the Home Mission of that day, these disturbing thoughts had been partially stifled.

Like John Wesley, much of John Darby's travelling in the wild remote outlying parts of his extensive parish was done on horseback, and this played a great part in what diverted the whole course of his after life. It was an accident happening to him on one of these journeys which precipitated the crisis. His horse shied violently, and in swerving aside flung its rider with great violence against a door-post causing severe bodily injuries. These necessitated his going away to Dublin for surgical treatment. Here he was detained for some time, and now, during the long period of convalescence, the disturbing thoughts as to the Established Church and his own clerical position returned with unabated force and urgency. The period of enforced leisure while unable to leave the house, afforded an opportunity to examine them more thoroughly.

This is what he says about it: "During my solitude, conflicting thoughts increased; but much exercise of soul had the effect of causing the scriptures to gain complete ascendancy over me. I had always owned them to be the Word of GOD . . . the careful reading of the Acts afforded me a practical picture of the early church; which made me feel deeply the contrast with its actual present state; though still, as ever beloved by GOD."

By and by, as convalescence proceeded, he was able to move about on crutches, and made acquaintance with several like-minded young men of whom more will be said later.

Darby spent the remaining months of convalescence at the house of his brother-in-law where his sister nursed him back to health. By this time he had inwardly broken with the Established Church but had joined no other. The Bishop of Cashel good-humouredly rallied him on leaving the Irish Church by enquiring, "Well, John, you have left us; what church have you joined?"

"None whatever," replied Darby; "I have nothing to do with the Dissenters, and am as yet my own church."

His friend, the Rev. James Kelly of Stillogan, sent to enquire, "Why did you leave the Church of England?"

To him Mr. Darby sent a friendly but firm reply. This is what he said: "I find no such thing as a National Church in Scripture. Is the Church of England — was it ever — GOD's assembly in England? I say then that her constitution is worldly, because she contemplates by her constitution — it is her boast — the population, not the saints. The man who would say that the Church of England is a gathering of saints must be a very odd man, or a very bold one. All the parishioners are bound to attend, by her principles. It was not the details of the sacramental and priestly system which drove me from the Establishment, deadly as they are in their nature. It was that I was looking for the body of CHRIST (which was not there, but perhaps in all the parish not one converted person); and collaterally, because I believed in a divinely-appointed ministry. If Paul had come, he could not have preached (he had never been ordained); if a wicked ordained man, he had his title and must be recognised as a minister; the truest minister of Christ unordained could not. It was a system contrary to what I found in Scripture."

But this is somewhat anticipating. There was soon to be a collision with his own diocesan, who was also the Archbishop. What led to this and really forced the issue we shall explain later.

As to the labours abundant, Robert Louis Stevenson in his Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes, relates a characteristic incident. When in doubt as to the road in a somewhat remote Catholic French Department, Stevenson casually came across a Protestant farmer of whom he made enquiries as to the way to his destination. In the conversation which followed, he asked the farmer how a colony of Protestants happened to be settled in the midst of a Catholic Department. The explanation given was that an English Pastor named Darby had visited the district some years before and taught them; and now their neighbours called them Derbists on account of their following his teaching. True to type the farmer, one gathers from the narrative, tried to convert Stevenson.

The mere enumeration of the countries and towns visited by Darby justify the title of this chapter, for if any man, save the Apostle Paul and John Wesley, unweariedly travelled in the cause of CHRIST from youth to age it was the subject of this sketch. "I went to Cambridge and Oxford .. . visited Switzerland more than once . . . remained a considerable time at Lausanne where GOD worked in conversions, and gathered a number of the children of GOD out of the world. . . ." These are but a bare mention of places visited by him in a letter, but a glance at his itineraries as noted in three volumes of his letters and casual references in other writings give an astonishing record of his journeyings. To mention but a few, we note some half-dozen visits to United States and Canada, when New York, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Boston, Philadelphia and Massachusetts were visited in the States; and Montreal, Ottawa, Guelph, Minto, Hamilton, London—Ontario, Toronto, Montpelier, Quebec, and also some outlying parts of Canada where Indian brethren resided were also visited. These visits were fully occupied with preaching and teaching.

We find accounts, too, of visits to the West Indies. Demerara is also mentioned, and most of the foregoing were made when he was over fifty years of age. As he grew older his zeal in CHRIST's service did not abate. In early mid life the Continent seems to have possessed a real fascination for Darby in Christian service, and Switzerland looms very largely in that period, visits being repeatedly made to Zurich, Geneva, Vevey, Canton de Vaud, Neuchatel and French Swiss villages. Germany also, where his elder brother laboured for some years in the ministry of the word, is well represented by Elberfeld, Frankfurt and other towns. Indeed, here a marvellous work resulted from his labours. France, where as an octogenarian he still visited, and where his last Continental journey was made in 1880, is represented in the list by Paris, towns and villages on the Pyrenees, Nismes, St. Hippolyte du Fort, etc.; Holland, by Rotterdam, whence on a journey to London he notes a very stormy passage delaying his arrival for some twelve hours or more. It was not such easy, luxurious, punctual travelling in Victorian days for those whose calling led them to "do business in deep waters," as in our own day. Italy also was visited by him, Florence being one of the cities where he ministered the word. In the British Isles the record of his travels would fill pages of this small volume. To name a few representative places London, Oxford, Cambridge, at both of which latter University cities he contacted men who afterwards were widely known either for their worldly advancement or for their unworldly disregard of wealth, titles and fame in the world for the sake of the Name. Bristol, where he preached in 1832 at Bethesda and Gideon Chapels with much joy, only fearing (what in the light of events sixteen years after reads strangely now) the narrowness, which he felt might hamper the work of Geo. Muller and Henry Craik in that city. He says:

"The LORD sent us a blessing, and disposed the hearts of the saints much towards us at Bristol, and many also to hear. We preached in both chapels. The LORD is doing a very marked work there, in which I hope our dear brothers Muller and Craik may be abundantly blessed, but I should wish a little more principle of largeness of communion. I dread narrowness of heart more than anything for the church of CHRIST, especially now."

Plymouth, of course, had many visits from J. N. Darby during the first dozen years of Providence Chapel there; Guernsey too, where his lifelong henchman W. Kelly afterwards resided, and Hull, Hereford, Liverpool, Glasgow and Keswick afford the barest sketch of towns visited by this indefatigable labourer "in word and doctrine"; while his own native Isle was practically covered in his zeal for CHRIST and love of the Irish people. Dublin, Limerick, Mayo, Clare, Kilkenny, Athlone, Clonmel are but names selected at random. These abundant labours occupied fifty years of strenuous days and months. He enjoyed his work, and the enjoyment increased as strength began to fail, his last happy visit to the Continent, as we have remarked, being when over 80 years of age. He also visited Spain once or twice, but here his unfamiliarity with the language, which he himself confesses in one of his letters, somewhat handicapped him.

As this is not a panegyric of Darby we "paint warts and all" as Oliver Cromwell is reported to have ordered in the portrait of himself, since no one is quite perfect not even the reader of this biographical sketch of "a truly great man." The following incidents are a sample of the "warts," which are part of the portrait of this truly great man of GOD in the labours abundant with which this chapter deals.

A London surgeon told the writer a story of a Bible Reading which Darby was giving in the States. A number of ministers were present paying great attention to him. One of them, Rev. Dr. G. F. Pentecost broke in with a question as the meeting proceeded. Darby replied briefly, but his questioner not quite grasping the relevance of the reply, asked him to kindly repeat it. This he did, but Pentecost remarking that he still could not clearly see the point, asked for a third and more detailed explanation. Arrested by this in the full flow of a most interesting argument, Darby rather spoiled things by very tartly retorting, "I am here to supply exposition not brains," or words to that effect.

It is interesting, too, to know that while in Chicago on one occasion Mr. Darby was invited by D. L. Moody to give a series of Bible readings in Farwell Hall. These were attended by many lovers of the Word of GOD, but unfortunately suddenly came to an abrupt end as the two clashed over the question of the freedom of the will. Mr. Darby held to what Mr. Moody considered extreme Calvinism on this point, affirming that so perverted was man's will he could not "will" even to be saved, and he based his contention largely on the texts "Which were born not . . . of the will of the flesh . . . but of GOD"; and "It is not of him that willeth . . but of GOD that sheweth mercy." Mr. Moody insisted that man as a responsible person was appealed to by GOD to turn to Him and would be condemned if he did not. "Ye will not come to me that ye might have life," said JESUS to those who refused His message. "Whosoever will" is the great gospel invitation. The controversy became so heated one day that Mr. Darby suddenly closed his Bible and refused to go on, thus losing one of the great opportunities of his life, as it will seem to many.

Separating from Mr. Moody, Darby did not hesitate to condemn Mr. Moody's work in his characteristic way. In his letters he warned his followers against it as likely to bring a great increase of worldliness into the Church. It is a striking instance of how prejudice can blind and mislead an otherwise great man. Were he alive to-day how surprised he would be to see the work begun by the great warmhearted evangelist a veritable bulwark against both worldliness and apostasy. Mr. Moody ever confessed his indebtedness to the writings of the Brethren for much help in the understanding of the Word, but it was C. H. Mackintosh and Charles Stanley who had the greatest influence. The writings of the former he always highly commended. Still no unprejudiced mind can deny that there has been a drift at Northfield since those days.*

{*"No amount of gratitude to Mr. Moody," wrote an Evangelical paper of the time, "can blind us to the fact that in extending his patronage to the Higher Criticism he has gone right in the teeth of Christian conviction." When George [Adam Smith] was invited to go there, he at first declined, saying he feared his views would not be in harmony with those taught at Northfield. "Never mind," said Moody; "come and say what you like." (Life of George Adam Smith, by his wife. p. 120 et seq.)}

Another American leader whom Mr. Darby met was Dr. Daniel Steele, the great Methodist divine, and advocate of Wesleyan perfectionism. He was at first greatly delighted with Mr. Darby's downright earnestness of purpose and vast knowledge of the Word and attended many of his readings in Boston. But he could not accept the doctrines of grace and considered Mr. Darby's teaching on the two natures and the believer's eternal security utterly false.

One day when Mr. Darby was expounding 1 John 1: 7 showing that the subject dwelt on there is "where you walk, not how," Dr. Steele interrupted with the question, "But, Brother Darby, suppose a real Christian turned his back on the light, what then?" "Then," replied Mr. Darby, "the light would shine upon his back!"

Mr. Darby, however, had the greatest patience with the poor, unlettered, simple believers, and at Bible Readings was frequently known to help an uneducated brother out with his questions, and to go patiently over the same ground again and again until the difficulty was cleared up. Occasionally, but rarely, his stock of patience ran out with those of another class whom he thought were inclined to temporize with the truth under consideration.

The life of every thinker and teacher in whose nature any marked strain of mysticism appears refuses to be exhaustively treated under the forms of strict chronology. This is specially applicable in the case of Darby, who was so intent on the actual business of living that what has been preserved of his long and varied career is entirely due to the care of others. He objected to being photographed and apparently had no time nor inclination to keep a diary. Words uttered on his deathbed to a physician, "CHRIST is my object in life," describe his whole course. Like the Apostle of the Gentiles, Darby could say, with half a century of public life to confirm it, "To me to live is CHRIST," and so to the end, but this did not save him from troubles. He and his work were consistently misunderstood as was to be expected in a Christendom which prizes all those worldly honours that he counted as being valueless. Yet his unrivalled gifts of exposition could not be denied, and of these he was not unconscious.

Chapter 4

A Curate and Two Archbishops

The Oxford man who dubbed Darby the Tertullian of the nineteenth century may possibly have had in mind his trenchant criticisms of two Archbishops, Magee and Whately, the one on Erastianism, and the other on Sabellianism. The former was in connection with a Pastoral Letter which Darby considered as an order to virtually turn the clergy into a religious police in Ireland, purely to curry favour with the English Government of the day. The latter was a few years later in connection with the Irish Education measures of 1832 upon which Darby felt very deeply and expressed himself very strongly, likening it to "the unholy marriage between Infidelity and Popery, whose banns have been first published in this unhappy country" apparently by Dr. Whately himself.

In these controversies Darby's legal training and theological acumen came into play as the careful reader will duly note. Archbishop Magee had issued a Pastoral Letter which brought to a standstill the Home Mission work into which Darby, then the Curate of Calary, had thrown himself heartily and with great success. This Pastoral Letter now required all converts from Roman Catholicism to take an oath of allegiance to King George. These converts were just the persons who least needed a guarantee of their loyalty, and on enquiring Romanists it had the most repellent effect, for it seemed to them a question between the Pope and the King, and not of CHRIST at all. Mr. Darby could not stand this, and vigorously protested against it. But Erastianism prevailed, and the qualms and increasingly serious doubts which had perturbed him before, now clamoured for a decision. He would not disobey his diocesan, but he believed it a dishonour to CHRIST's ministry and Church to create a religious police for currying favour with the Government. Little thought or cared the Archbishop what would be the ultimate consequence of forcing a mere country curate out of the clerical ranks by his time-serving Pastoral charge. But big doors swing on small hinges and great results from apparently small causes.

One result from the Archbishop's letter was that much which had been simmering in this country curate's mind was now brought to boiling point. Newman in the Apologia says that nine years prior to his secession, he had similar thoughts as to the Established Church to those which now terminated Darby's clerical career. "I could not get myself to see anything else than what I had so long fearfully suspected, from as far back as 1836 — a mere national institution. As if my eyes were suddenly opened, so I saw it — spontaneously, apart from any definite act of reason or any argument; and so I have seen it ever since."

Darby, who had already, as we have noticed, for conscience sake relinquished one lucrative profession, felt he must now abandon another of influence and dignity, as being, to him at least, untenable because unscriptural, and derogatory to the glory of CHRIST. His famous pamphlet on The Nature and Unity of the Church of Christ, afterwards issued later in the first volume of the Christian Witness dates from this time. The one-time curate of Plymstock in Devon was the first Editor of the Christian Witness, and so heartily was he in agreement with Darby that no less than fourteen lengthy articles from the latter's pen appear in the first number, including the one on The Nature and Unity of the Church of Christ. It is interesting to note that before Darby published this pamphlet he had copies of it printed, and sent privately to the Archbishop himself, and to all the clergy of the diocese.

His churchmanship had received a severe shock, but for a time he continued in his mountain curacy, also occasionally visiting other parts of the country to preach, or speak at meetings of the various religious Societies.

The Editor of the Christian Witness in a preface reveals how deeply he too was interested. He says: "We believe, with sorrow and humiliation, that the Church of GOD has fallen far short of the glory and joy which belonged to it, as the chaste virgin espoused to CHRIST. To use the words of Archbishop Leighton on a different subject: 'O! quam profunda est et tenebrosa miseriae abyssus in quam plorabili suo lapsu demersa est (Ecclesia Dei) cum veri sui boni non solum possessione, sed et cognitione excideret et nec quodnam illud sit, nec quae sit redeundi via, quaque gradum revocet perspectum habeat.' We therefore desire, in all humbleness of mind, to receive every light which the SPIRIT of GOD may afford us, whether as to the position we are in, or the means of extrication from it, and to be faithful to that light."

Mr. Darby's timely trenchant protestations in the Irish Education Measure controversy in 1832, which was the occasion of his clash with the other Archbishop mentioned, Dr. Whately, now seem curiously like those of Dr. Clifford in the education controversies over sixty years later. Lengthy letters formed a great part of the method employed by Dr. Clifford, and what Dr. Parker in his last public letter most felicitously expressed as to these, would equally apply to J. N. Darby's written about a similar matter. "Letters like Dr. Clifford's are not casually shaken out of a man's coat-sleeve. They are full of knowledge, argument and experience and must, by sheer cogency of reasoning, have carried conviction to all open minds."

This may equally be affirmed of the following indited by Darby in 1832:

"SIR, I address you thus formally in a public document in which it is my object, not to express any personal feelings, but to investigate principles. Your language (as reported) has given me occasion to address you on the subject on which I write: a matter which I confess has occasioned some astonishment to my mind, though other principles than astonishment bring it into action. The character of the public meeting held in this city on the subject of the anti-scriptural system of education needs no comment at present. You were present at that meeting and spoke; but it is not my object to discuss the character of your speech. The unholy marriage between Infidelity and Popery, the devil's apostate counterpart of the union between the bride, the LAMB'S wife, and the great Head of the Church — whose banns have been first published in this unhappy country, if not adequately exposed (as I think none can feel its evil sufficiently), has yet given occasion to so loud an expression of principle as, I trust, will, under GOD, give stability to those who might otherwise have been entangled, and maintain the public expression of the right, here at least, before GOD, when all principle and allegiance towards Him have been so atrociously invaded. But you were following in your opposition in the rear of those to whom you owed canonical obedience. It was at least, sir, an unfriendly way of doing it.

"But not to leave seriousness, considering the path which the Archbishop has trodden, it was well you were behind him. Authority and circumstances hide much from the world, and I must feel that it is the assumed orthodoxy of official situation, which could alone blind the clergy of this country to the principles of the Archbishop by whom they are governed. Such principles known, I should be sorry indeed to follow, and the fullness of an episcopal robe does but ill conceal — even though one be behind it — the false principles which may be set before its face. The circumstances of the case are these: a scheme is set on foot whose professed object is to exclude the Scriptures from the school instruction of the children of this country, and this not for the purpose of meeting the poor people or consulting their feelings. It had required, Mr. Stanley states, the energetic exertion of the priests to prevent the people from embracing the proffered boon of instruction in the Word of GOD, the book of GOD Himself; not then to meet the prejudices of the people, but in acquiescence, we learn from the same authority, with the principles of the Roman Catholic religion. The Scriptures are the witness, not only of the holiness of GOD, but of His love, of His prerogative love in CHRIST. The Archbishop has set himself forward as the main effectuator, as under the circumstances he certainly is, of a scheme which is professedly to meet the priests, in accordance with their principles, in excluding from the schools this witness of GOD's love in CHRIST; for their introduction Mr. Stanley himself states to be the vital defect of the previous system.

"But the clergy are more deeply concerned in this, and the laity too, than as far as I can see, they are aware. The only discerning spring of Christian activity, synergism in GOD's love (for Christianity is the activity of GOD's love), is the knowledge and love of CHRIST. The perception of His person is the great centre and spring of all vital theology. To see this is the material of faith. 'He that seeth the SON and believeth on Him hath everlasting life.' Not to see this leaves a person in the darkness of this world.

"The Archbishop of Dublin is a Sabellian. Of the painful situation in which this may place the clergy it is not for me to judge. What the laity will feel in thinking of their association with him, on the general superintendence of the establishment, they must consider for themselves. But Sabellianism may be considered some questionable opinion or difference. But you must know, sir, that it strikes at the root of all vital as well as orthodox Christianity, by neutralising the distinction between the FATHER and the SON. The FATHER'S sending the SON — the SON's obedience to the FATHER — the whole scheme of mediatorial Christianity — that is, Christianity itself becomes lost in this form of infidelity. A Trinity in character, but not a Trinity of persons, in the essential force of that word, may ease the proud mind of man of that which is beyond its natural powers, but takes away, at the same time, the whole basis on which a sinner can rest by faith. Men may be guilty of Tritheism, and Sabellians may avoid this. But they also undermine the faith in another way.

 . . . .

"I care not, sir, for the term Sabellianism; but when the personality of the SON of GOD is avowedly attacked, I cannot be surprised that the person who does so should be the instrument of establishing the first open public act of infidelity — avowedly rejecting the Scriptures, to meet the principles of the Roman Catholic religion. It may not be unprofitable to see the suitableness of the agent to such a work. With what satisfaction anyone can follow in the rear, or own canonical obedience to such a one, I must leave to their own consciences and their fidelity to CHRIST to determine. Certainly the fate of the Archbishop has been unfortunate. Famous, if fame is to be trusted, for being opposed to the union of Church and State, he has with painful singularity united himself to it in its first public act of professed infidelity, to be the solitary agent of any consequence in carrying the blighting influence of their infidelity into general and diffusive operation.

"Dr. Whately may be amiable, affable in manner, and efficient in business; but truth is truth, and principle is principle, and talents (however great or over-estimated) and the most candid kindness of manner are but snares to the unwary. Satan is not foolish enough to make mischief disagreeable. These things appear to me, sir, not only heretical, and (as I should call it) infidel, on the most vital principle of Christianity, but, considering the circumstances in which the author of them is placed, sad want of principle. But when I consider that one who has sworn that the essential point of popish instruction and worship is a 'blasphemous fable and a dangerous deceit,' as Dr. Whately has, should be the principal agent for securing the instruction of the majority of the children of this country in it, and their actual attendance on it, I cannot be surprised, sir. There never was a stronger instance of the principle, that, where the truth of the gospel did not exist, the grace or principle of it could not be found. I confess, sir, more heartless unprincipledness I never heard of. Nor, slight as Dr. Whately's tie may be to standards which have elevated him to the place from which he throws them down, will the refuge this may be afford him much shelter. The results of such instruction as he is putting the children under I shall state in his own words. They are from a note to the same article. There is some ignorance on the subject shown in it, but it is immaterial to the present point.

"'The correctness of a formal and deliberate confession of faith is not always of itself a sufficient safeguard against error, in the habitual impression of the mind. The Romanists flatter themselves that they are safe from idolatry, because they distinctly acknowledge the truth, that GOD only is to be served (namely, with latria), though they allow adoration (hyperdulia and dulia) to the Virgin and their saints, to images, and to relics. To which it has been justly replied, that, supposing this distinction correct in itself, it would be in practice nugatory, since the mass of the people must soon, as experience proves, lose sight of it entirely in their habitual devotions.'

"It must be a happy office to one who has a heart and a conscience to secure to the mass of the people instruction which must plunge them into idolatries, however people may flatter themselves. But I must not pursue this part of the subject, or I should say a great deal more than is needful; and the general principles of the subject are already before people's minds.

 . . . . .

"I have very briefly brought the subject forward, stating little of my own views or feelings, not because I have them not, but because I rather desired the facts should be presented for consciences of others. GOD may bring good out of evil. But these sorts of circumstances are just the trials of the faithfulness of GOD'S children. Let it be known only that, though GOD may be in a distinct position, there is, according to Dr. Whately, no distinction in the person of the FATHER and the SON. What may be the duty of the clergy in such a case I leave to themselves: of that of a Christian I can have no doubts.

"O GOD, to what a pass is Thy Church come, when those who govern and should feed it are found, even where the truth seems specially professed, deniers of that upon which Thy whole glory rests, even the person and therefore the mission of Thy SON, who loved it and gave Himself for it! O LORD, regard Thy people, and give them faithfulness and wisdom to do that which becometh Thy saints for the glory of Thy Name, and acknowledgment of Thy love through JESUS, Thy sent One, come in the flesh that, according to that which is given them, all men should honour the SON even as they honour the FATHER by one SPIRIT. Amen.

"I am, Sir, faithfully yours,

"J.N.D."

Some twenty-five years later, a heterodox teacher with whom Darby also dealt very faithfully, remarked, "J.N.D. writes with a pen in one hand and a thunderbolt in the other." But it was only fundamental error which roused his deepest grief and indignation, his patience with honest blunderers being proverbial.

Chapter 5

Character and Principles

("This is true greatness, to serve unnoticed and work unseen." — J.N.D.)

Among the friends mentioned in a previous chapter whom he had made in Dublin on the occasion of his earlier visit there in 1827, were some young men who, like himself, had been seriously exercised about their ecclesiastical associations. Much of their difficulty arose from the very rigid denominationalism which then prevailed among Churchmen and Dissenters. Since those days times have considerably changed in this respect, looser conditions today however are as unscriptural as the old sectarianism of yesterday, and scarcely a change for the better. Laodiceanism largely characterises the present age.

So when the ecclesiastically disillusioned young curate of Calary arrived in Dublin in the winter of 1827-28 he found at least four of these friends prepared to take, what then was, a very bold step indeed. Through a close and prayerful study of the New Testament they found themselves unable to find an expression in any practical form of the church of GOD either in the national Establishment or in any of the Dissenting Societies. These latter could only be entered by pronouncing their peculiar "Shibboleth," and certainly by their constitution never for a moment contemplated the large yet holy nature of CHRIST'S body on earth.

Their bold step was to meet on the LORD'S day morning to "break bread" as in the early days of Christianity, when "upon the first day of the week the disciples came together to break bread" (Acts 20: 7).

Not very startling to-day, perhaps, when the influence of Darby's teaching has been widely felt in Christendom; but then, it was revolutionary, and something "not done" in orthodox religious circles.

It is not by any means certain that these five brethren — Mr. J. G. Bellett, Dr. Cronin, Mr. Hutchinson, Mr. Brooke and Mr. Darby — who met thus for mutual fellowship in the breaking of bread at Fitzwilliam Square, in Mr. Hutchinson's house, had already completely severed their connection with the various bodies to which they had belonged, but it is very clear that they were getting free from the grave-clothes of merely human systems of religion, and were well on the high road towards that liberty of worship and service which the SPIRIT of the LORD alone can make effectual in the soul. The consideration of the truth found in Matthew 18: 20; Romans 12; Ephesians 4: 3, 4, appears to have been largely instrumental in influencing their course of conduct at this time.

As any one of these five would afterwards have expressed it, and all substantially did so, they had discovered that intelligently to worship the FATHER in SPIRIT and truth, and direct responsibility to serve the LORD, while awaiting His return, compose the proper sphere of the believer's aspirations here on earth (John 4: 23, 24; Col. 3: 23, 24).

What our LORD said to the believing Jews (John 8: 31, 32) seems to have had special application in the case of Darby. "If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." He became a disciple indeed, and, to a greater degree than many, rejoiced in the freedom which truth confers.

After resigning his curacy, Mr. Darby made it abundantly evident that he had neither resigned the holy ministry of GOD'S Word nor the practical cure of souls; but like a famous John of the previous century had rather taken the whole world for his parish. In many striking respects his after-career resembles that of John Wesley, although their respective attitudes to the Church of England differed very widely. John Wesley could never conscientiously bring himself to separate from the Establishment; John Darby on the other hand, could not conscientiously bring himself to remain within her pale. In missionary zeal, earnestness, devotedness and thoroughgoing evangelism there was, however, much resemblance between these two giants. In Mr. Darby's case there was, along with the most enthusiastic and ardent evangelism, clear definite teaching as to the Church of GOD, the Body of CHRIST, the Coming of the LORD, prophecy, dispensational truth, the Word of GOD, the operations of the SPIRIT, with the calling and privileges of the Church. In the early days of his ministry; at Powerscourt Castle; and subsequently, in various centres of England, great attention and interest was aroused by this teaching. Sixty or seventy of the most devoted clergymen and some Dissenting ministers attended the meetings and enjoyed the truth together at one time, until they became alarmed as to whereunto this would grow. Then the inevitable reaction followed; clericalism was in jeopardy!

Mr. Groves writes to him in 1836, when Mr. Darby had been insisting that separation from evil was the Divine principle of unity, "I know it is said (dear Lady Powerscourt told me so) that as long as any terms were kept with the Church of England, by mixing up in any measure in their ministrations when there was nothing to offend your conscience, they bore your testimony most patiently, but after your entire rejection of them, they pursued you with undeviating resentment, and this was brought to prove that the then position was wrong, and the present right!"

Despite immense learning, his humility was very striking; his scholarship was never intruded into his ministry. A quaint old divine once remarked that "CHRIST still hung crucified under Hebrew, Greek and Latin." This was not so in Mr. Darby's case however; for few ever heard an allusion to the Hebrew or to the Greek in his addresses. So much so that expectant strangers wondered and said, "What is this the great Mr. Darby?" A common instance of his greatness of character and humbleness of mind occurred at a reading-meeting, where a brother advanced a peculiar theory professedly based upon a quotation from J.N.D's writings. After a pause of a moment Mr. Darby, with imperturbable gravity replied, "Then J.N.D's writings are entirely at fault, for it is obvious that this theory is quite unscriptural, and therefore unsound." Needless to say the good brother had misread and misquoted; had in fact read his own ideas into the book, which is not difficult.

His patience with honest ignorance, his ready tact, his manliness of character, and hearty sympathy, endeared him to many, especially amongst the poorer classes.

Another trait of Mr. Darby's character, often completely overlooked and quite unsuspected save by the recipient was his wonderful generosity. Mr. J. C. Philpot, the great strict Baptist leader who knew Darby in early days, and Mr. Kelly, his henchman for nearly half a century, were both astonished by this. It sprang from Darby's diligence in applying practical scriptures to himself, equally with insisting upon those usually considered more ecclesiastical. He was not a professional philanthropist, but a believer in justification by faith, and justification by the works which follow therefrom. His kindly thoughtfulness for his poorer brethren, both in temporal and spiritual need, was most marked. He possessed to a wonderful degree the faculty of remembering the names and faces of those who had once come under his notice, frequently surprising people thereby. A poor man, who had been unable to make a livelihood in England but anticipated better things in America, was hindered from emigrating through lack of funds. When Darby heard of it, after making due enquiry, he presented the astonished brother with a cheque for fifteen pounds to pay his expenses. Just then the poor man's circumstances improved, and he decided to stay in England. On his returning the cheque, Mr. Darby remarked, "So you are not going now; never mind, if you should want it, come to me again."

Neatby, in his History of the Plymouth Brethren, says, "If he (Darby) was ruthless in his ecclesiastical conflicts, he had at other times a singularly kindly and sympathetic nature. In the act of addressing a meeting he would roll up his greatcoat as a pillow for a sleeping child whose uncomfortable attitude had struck him. I have heard that, on one of his numerous voyages, he might have been seen pacing the deck all night with a restless child in his arms, in order to afford the worn-out mother an opportunity of rest; and I doubt whether many children were more tenderly nursed that night. The incident is the more interesting for the fact that Darby never married. Was it the breaking forth of this tenderness, deep-hidden in his lonely heart, that bound men to him in so pathetic a fidelity of devotion?" No wonder that they loved him. His tender thoughtfulness and consideration for children was markedly displayed during one of his many visits to the United States. A poor brother whose children kept tame rabbits, was extremely anxious to entertain the great man to dinner. The long-wished-for opportunity arrived. Mr. Darby, with the usual Christian courtesy and tact, declined an influential brother's invitation to dine, but proceeded to the poorer man's house. The household were all on the tiptoe of expectation and pleasurable excitement with the sole exception of one downcast little fellow, whose tame rabbit had been requisitioned as the principal dish for the honoured guest's refection. Whilst the dinner was in process of serving, Mr. Darby noticed the little lad's downcast demeanour, enquired the reason; and the little fellow (contrary to previous instructions) blurted out the whole truth, with the result that J.N.D. expressed his sympathy with him in a practical manner.

Declining to eat any of the little fellow's pet, as soon as the meal was over he took him to where there was a large tank of water, and producing some mechanical toy ducks from his pocket, the great man played with the little boy for an hour or so; thus conferring all the honour of his company upon a little child in the hope of partially consoling him for the loss of his pet. He, Who is the LORD and MASTER of us all, has told us that humility is the truest greatness.

We will now give what lets out a little of his character, nearly in Mr. Darby's own words, extracted from a pamphlet printed and published in Glasgow, on The Sabbath: is the Law dead or am I?

"I love the poor, and have no distrust of them, living by far the most of my time amongst them, and gladly. When first I began such a life, I as to nature felt a certain satisfaction in the intercourse of educated persons: it was natural. If I find a person spiritually minded and full of CHRIST, from habit as well as principle I had rather have him than the most elevated or the most educated. The rest is all alike to me. The latter are apt to spare and screen themselves to get on in Society: they want a fence round them. I would rather in general have a poor man's judgment of right and wrong than another's; only they are, from being thrown more together and the importance of character, apt to be a little hard on each other as to conduct, and jealous of favours conferred, but often very kind and considerate one towards another. After all we (believers) are 'all one in CHRIST JESUS' and the Word of GOD is to guide and lead us withal. Surely, while every Christian will readily give honour where honour is due, GOD loves and cares for the poor. What sympathy can one have with the sentiment that, because the spirit of radicalism is to be feared, we must suit GOD's authority, if it be such to man's wishes?

"This is morally very low ground. If in Parliament the proposition was made to shut up the London parks on Sunday (that is the foot-gates, leaving the carriage-gates perhaps open for the sick), I should have moved as an amendment (did I meddle with such things) to shut the carriage-gates, and open the foot ones; the rich could go out every day, and if sick could drive elsewhere. That a poor man, the one day he has with his family, should be able to breathe, is a delight. I rejoice to see the affections of a father cultivated in kindness to his children, and both happy together; and if the LORD's Day gives him the opportunity, the LORD's Day is a true blessing. The poor, everyone labouring during the week, should insist on the Sabbath (so-called): it is essentially his own day. For the same reason, if my vote decided it (and happily for me I have none, and would not have or use one), not a train should run on LORD's Day. As to excursions, they are a thorough curse to all engaged in them. I cannot help: I leave them there.

"But as to Sunday trains, I do not believe they are for sole reasons to meet cases of necessity and mercy, as men speak; they are to make money. If it be alleged that the requirements of Society oblige it, what are requirements of Society but haste to be rich, and an imperious claiming of the right to have one's own way? One understands very well that, railroads monopolising the roads, there is a kind of supposed obligation to meet the case of those who could have travelled at any rate; but if obliged, they can hire something to go. No, it is facility and cheapness they want; it is money and will. They are as free to travel as they were before. I have nothing to do with these things, and never intend to have to do with them. The world goes its own way, and I am not of it. The allegations of Christians about it I have to answer: and I do not accept them, or the accommodating Christianity to what is termed progress. The Christian has to form his own ways, and not expect to mend the world. There is no moral gain in its progress. We have telegraph and railway, very convenient no doubt; but are children more obedient, men happier, servants more faithful and devoted, homes and families more cherished? Is there more trust and genial confidence among men, more honesty in business, more kindly feeling between master and man, employer and employed? Let everyone answer in his own heart. You have more facilities for money-making, but more anxiety and restlessness in making it; more luxury and show, but not more affection and peace."

His advice was frequently sought on various matters and freely given. Two letters to a friend on the subject of the use of musical instruments in Christian worship clearly express his personal conviction as to this. A century ago organs in churches were chiefly confined to Roman Catholic and Anglican churches; Dissenters were almost all definitely opposed to their use. Of this Spurgeon's great Tabernacle at Newington supplies an outstanding instance; and the Scots in their Highland parishes would have none of it. The Carthusian Order of Catholic Monks too, has always rigidly barred the use of organs, one of the Order once remarking to the writer that the human voice was the proper instrument for the service of praise. One has heard too, this very ancient monastic order, which boasts it has never had to be reformed on account of its strict conformity to St. Bruno's original Rule, referred to as the "Plymouth Brethren" of the Roman Catholic body, on account of its objection to the use of instrumental music in worship.

"MY DEAR BROTHER,

"The ordinary rule of scripture is that, in the calling wherein a man is called, he should therein abide with GOD. The Blessed LORD was a carpenter till called to His own further service; and Paul was a tent-maker, and at times supplied his own wants.

"In a certain sense all things are lawful for me; there are many where the motive is everything. Christianity does not change the order of the world, even where sin has given rise to it. I could not systematically sell gin; if gin was of use, I could give it to the sick unless it were a stumbling-block to others.

"The disciples were taken out from the world to represent GOD in it, walking in His ways, deriving their life and all their ways from Him, to live as CHRIST did. The world is an immense system built up by Satan around fallen man to keep him insensible to his ruin (Gen. 4: 20-22). The LORD does not pray that we should be taken out of the world, but kept from the evil.

"Your friend is solemnised by the voluntary. Is he content to be unfit for worship till he hears the organ? This is a poor plea, and putting nature instead of grace, which has even boldness to enter into the holiest. This lowers and falsifies the whole nature of our relationship with GOD and judaizes it.

"As to conversion, whenever CHRIST is presented, souls can be converted; yet this is not worship but preaching. Christians becoming more and more worldly is no reason for our going with it but the contrary. No doubt people are attracted; but so they are to gin-palaces: the Puseyite recommends it in church on that ground. So they are (attracted) largely to Popery. GOD may rise above all mistakes in grace; but it is one of the strongest marks that worldly attraction has taken the place of grace and CHRIST. Did you ever find CHRIST or Paul have music or a band to draw people? It lowers the whole character of Christianity.

"The earthly promises to the Jews do not directly apply to us, but in general GOD's faithfulness and loving care, as 'I will never leave thee nor forsake thee,' is used in the New Testament as well as the Old. And this latter is written for us, for our instruction on whom the ends of the world are come, that we through belief and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 1 Peter is, after redemption stated, a treatise on these ways of GOD now, using the Old Testament for it. The Old Testament cannot give us an accomplished redemption nor glory into which CHRIST was not yet entered; but it is 'able to make us wise unto salvation through faith which is in CHRIST JESUS.' You have to discern what are earthly Jewish promises. It is important to do so; but what is in GOD, faithfulness, grace, love, condescending care of us, is always true. We get it perhaps more clearly applied in the New. Thus, 'Seek ye first . . . and all these things shall be added unto you.' I should be sorry to reduce Christianity to mere Jewish promises, but what is in GOD is always true. 2 Thess. 2 shows, that when people would not receive the love of the truth that they may be saved, they are (when CHRIST rises up) given over to darkness.

"I think the way of stating the gospel you speak of wholly wrong — only GOD bears with many a mistake where CHRIST is truly preached. But the statement is quite unscriptural and no true gospel at all. Yet it might reach a man's conscience with the feeling He was not willing to give them up.

"What I said as to the transfiguration was that those three were going to be pillars (see Gal. 2); and that it was to cheer and strengthen their faith. The tendency of having a companion with less faith is to weaken our own; still faith may overcome this.

"Yours affectionately, in CHRIST,

"J. N. Darby."

"MY DEAR BROTHER,

"I am very thankful your conscience has been exercised about the music. I can sympathise with you; for, as far as ear goes, music had the greatest power over me though never taught to play. But the ground of those who wish you to keep it up is all wrong and not true. It is not for CHRIST they wish you to keep the harmonium; and that decides the case. I am not a Jew, nor can I (do so) in the New Jerusalem where all will be for GOD'S glory, though not in the highest way (for the FATHER does not come in there). I could suppose a person earning his bread by music, though I think it a very dangerous way, as Peter did by fishing; which is no excuse for a person spending his time fishing to amuse himself. All these pleas of gifts of GOD are bringing in nature, when it is fallen, into the worship and service of the new man and the LORD, and spoiling it. (I have known hunting justified by the hounds having scent!) No instrument can equal in effect (so Haydn said) the human voice.

"Besides, as I said, it is not true; it is merely keeping the pleasure of fallen nature; not a thing evil in itself, but a connecting sensuous pleasure with spiritual life. It is not the thing to begin with a ruined soul but we have to live by GOD's word. Harps and organs down here began in Cain's city when he had gone out from the presence of the LORD.

"In point of fact artistic musicians as a general rule are not a moral class. The imagination is at work, not the conscience nor the heart. Judaism did take up nature, to see if they could have a religion of it; which proved it could not be but ended in the rejection of JEHOVAH and His anointed. We are dead and risen with CHRIST and belong to another world. Hence I cannot seek my enjoyment in what belongs to the old, though I may recognise GOD'S work in it; but I do not seek it as a world I belong to now. It is not a legal prohibition, but the heart elsewhere. If I could put a poor sick father to sleep with music, I would play the most beautiful I could find. But it only spoils any worship as bringing in the pleasure of sense into what ought to be the power of the SPIRIT of GOD. They cannot go really together, save as water may take away the taste of wine.

"It is a wholly false principle that natural gifts are a reason for using them. I may have amazing strength or speed in running; I knock a man down with one, and win a prize with another. Music may be a more refined thing; but the principle is the same.

"This point I believe to be now of all importance. Christians have lost peace and moral influence by bringing in nature and the world as harmless. All things are lawful to me. But, as I said, you cannot mix flesh and SPIRIT. We need all our energies under grace to walk in the latter, 'always bearing about in the body the dying of JESUS, that the life also of JESUS may be manifested in our mortal bodies.' Let CHRIST be all, and the eye is single and the 'whole body is full of light.' The converse is, if our eye be evil because it shuts out CHRIST, our affections are not set on things above where CHRIST sits at GOD'S right-hand. This is the point for us: happy affections there, and steadfastly, not being distracted.

"Your affectionate brother in CHRIST,

"J. N. DARBY."

To another labouring brother he writes:

"DEAR —, I rejoice that you are helped and happy in your work — I trust very constantly dependent too. That is the secret of a work wrought with GOD, and that, though it may seem quiet, lasts, and lays the ground for progress. I can only write a line now, though, thank GOD, much better.

"It is not that there are not deep things in the Word of GOD, but if we search it with His grace and spirit it is always plain for us on the top; then we have it from Him. The cream is on the surface, not that we do not search and study, but that when we get it from GOD it is plain and on the surface. Till then we must wait till He teaches us. The passage you refer to is quite general. You must expect in a great house all sorts of vessels, precious and vile. Christendom has become such, and hence we must expect such. False doctrine, when it characterises a man, is a vessel to dishonour; sound and exalted doctrine accompanied with unholiness, makes a man a vessel to dishonour; he who builds up sacramental corruptions, as Puseyites, Romanists, Greeks, are — at any rate as teachers — vessels to dishonour. I give these merely as examples; but it is left to spiritual discernment, according to the Word, to judge what is, and then to purge oneself from them. . . .

"The LORD keep you humble and near Himself."

From a letter to a young married couple the following extract may be of service to others in similar case.

"But, here or there, it is where GOD would have us, that is our place, and where we may expect a blessing and the consciousness of His presence. He may and does keep us, in His patient and perfect goodness, everywhere, but it is in the way of His will that His presence is revealed to us, so that we walk in the light of His countenance. He kept Abraham in Egypt, but he had no altar from Bethel back to Bethel.

"I trust fully that you are both in that way, I do not think it an evil that a young married couple should go through the rough of life a little together at the beginning; it binds their hearts together. Surely there is a far higher and better bond, but as to circumstances the comfort each is to the other, and the sustaining help each is to the other, bind their hearts together; for life down here is made up of small things. If it were only when a husband comes home cold and tired, finding ease and a welcome and comfort, as far as may be, and the like, there is the continuous sense of one caring for the other, and that is a great point. They are thrown on one another, and where affection is, this cultivates it, and I believe this is of all importance; and then what accompanies it, entire confidence one in another.

"But this is all maintained, dear brother, by CHRIST being all to each, for self is thus set aside, and the grace of CHRIST working in the heart overcomes all difficulties, and, while CHRIST is the motive which rises over all, makes the other the object of affectionate and considerate service. But for our own sakes too He is everything, light to the soul, but the blessed expression and communicator of the love of GOD; and for this there must be real diligence. All that is around us, and even real duties are constantly soliciting us away from Him, and tending to weaken us spiritually."

Chapter 6

Friends and Associates

Of friends, in the usual sense of the term, John Nelson Darby had few. His ardent devotion to our LORD, and firm renunciation of much that most men crave after, very effectively hedged his pathway of service from deflection through lesser loyalties. He was a lonely man in many respects, and at times felt conscious of this though never regretting what led to it. As an old man of seventy-nine he gave expression to this in writing Echo of Songs in the Night:
"O! dwell with me; let no distracting thought
Intrude to hide from me that heavenly light:
Be Thou my strength! Let not what Thou hast brought
Be chased by idle nature's poor delight."

And when Darby said: "CHRIST has been the only object of my life. It has been CHRIST to me to live," his character, conduct and conversation certified it as not a mere platitude but simple truth.

When travelling in Italy on one occasion, being then an old man, he reached a very uncomfortable inn where he was to stay for the night. Weary and worn, he leaned his head on his hands, and was heard to say softly:
"JESUS, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee."
Yet he found friends without seeking them, people who were attracted by his decision of character and indifference to worldly advantages of birth, fortune and position. One of them was the Rev. J. C. Philpot, M.A., an Anglican clergyman, one time Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford, who was himself a remarkable man and one who had a somewhat adventurous ecclesiastical career. He met Darby when the latter was staying at his brother-in-law's house in Ireland, Philpot being at the time resident tutor there. He was deeply interested in Darby's spiritual exercise when passing through what mystics term "the dark night" of the soul, to which reference has been made in an earlier chapter. This kind of distress Philpot, who had become a Hyper-Calvinist, could appreciate; but quite failed to understand Darby's subsequent joyous sense of complete deliverance, peace with GOD, and assurance of eternal salvation. In 1849 Mr. Philpot became sole editor of the magazine of the Gadsby branch of the Hyper-Calvinistic school of Strict Baptists, The Gospel Standard. It was to this paper he contributed his impression of his old friend. "Darby," he wrote, "was generous to the wasting of his substance, and possessed of more than martyr courage." Their paths had, however, long widely diverged, Darby having forsaken Anglicanism for a simpler Scriptural path of worship, fellowship and service, of which more anon; while Philpot having discarded Infant Baptism as unscriptural (or at most inferential so far as Scripture teaches), had become Pastor of a Strict Baptist Chapel, where for many years he exercised a great ministry.

During his visits to Oxford in 1830/1, Mr. Darby made contact with two men who were destined to play an important part in his future career. One of these, a Fellow of Exeter College, was Mr. B. W. Newton, a man already recognised as one of learning, piety and ability. The other was Mr. G. V. Wigram of Queen's College. The former was to become many years later Darby's chief opponent ecclesiastically, the latter to become a most intimate friend and collaborator for nearly fifty years.

Mr. Newton is described as a man of grave, sober manners, tall and dignified in bearing, polished and scholarly who unconsciously (at least at first) wielded considerable influence over a certain class, especially over people of leisure. The learned textual critic Dr. Tregelles was very greatly drawn to him and warmly supported his views on certain subjects of speculative theology upon which Newton later embarked.

Mr. Newton was one of the earlier labourers at Providence Chapel, Plymouth, and his ability, piety, learning and energy largely contributed to the gathering of a congregation in 1840 of 800 persons, which in the next five years reached a total of over 1,200, all of whom were "in fellowship," "communicants," or as the usual phrase was, were "breaking bread" there.

Almost from the first however he was observed to court isolation, and to hold aloof from other ministering brethren. He would hold Bible readings, to which he would not allow other labouring brethren to be present, saying that, "it was bad for the taught to hear the authority of the teacher called in question."

It soon became evident that he and Darby were hopelessly at variance, both on prophetic teaching and in regard to the nature, calling and order of the Church of GOD. His views on Christian ministry completely changed, and after his entire separation from those commonly known as "Brethren," Newton became the Pastor of an independent congregation in London holding his particular views of prophecy and church order. He lived to be ninety-three years of age, and it is said as years passed had a "patriarchal bearing with the calm of heaven on his brow, and the law of kindness on his lips."

Till the great rupture took place an American writer says: "He remained at Plymouth with the avowed intention of making that place (Providence Chapel) a centre and model for other assemblies, and by printing press and public meetings he sought to oppose what many believed to be the special work of the HOLY SPIRIT in recovering precious truth long lost through the Church's declension and partial apostasy."*

{*Dr. H. A. Ironside, A Historical Sketch of the Brethren Movement.}

But let Darby speak here: "I sorrowed over this unhappy trait of isolation, and love of acting alone, and having followers for himself. I had no suspicion of any purpose of any kind, and bore with it as a failing, of which we all had some. I should not so have acted without my brethren. I should have rejoiced to have my views corrected by them when I needed it, and learn theirs; but there it was and there I left it. . . . Mr. Newton, speaking of ministry and points connected with it told me that his principles were changed. I replied that mine were not; that I felt I had received them from the LORD'S teaching, and with His grace should hold them fast to the end."

At a later date he advanced a peculiar heterodoxy which seemed the fruit of his prophetic speculation in making CHRIST have the experience of an unconverted Israelite, in order to sympathise with a future Jewish remnant in that state.* It is singular that it was in resisting the error of Edward Irving, Newton himself fell into a modified and subtle Irvingism.

{*The History of the Brethren, pp. 152-3, N. Noel. A Historical Sketch of the Brethren Movement, pp. 54-55, H. A. Ironside.}

The other man to whom reference has been made at Darby's visits to Oxford in the early thirties, Mr. G. V. Wigram of Queen's College, became as we have noticed a life-long friend of his. Though never great as a writer or a speaker, in both of which his friend Darby excelled, Wigram was characterised by a singular spirituality and devotedness of life; by decision where CHRIST was concerned and love for His flock. These qualities together with his moral power gave him justly a very high place in the esteem of J. N. Darby, and indeed of many others who knew him. His chief published works were The Englishman's Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance to the Old Testament, and a cognate one to the Greek New Testament. He was a wealthy man, and expended fifty thousand pounds upon the production of these volumes which took ten years to be completed by a band of the ripest scholars in the United Kingdom. Yet so truly humble-minded was he that this great sum of money expended by him was referred to by him as only money passing through his hand, reckoning himself simply GOD's steward in the matter. Another rather unusual work of his was The Present Testimony, a learned periodical edited by him, in which critical papers on the Divine Names in the Psalms appeared and their appropriate designations. These Papers and Letters were afterwards published in three volumes. In later life he travelled to the West Indies and New Zealand where his kindly gracious pastoral work was greatly valued. The friendship formed with Darby nearly fifty years earlier was only interrupted when his home call came in 1879.

An even earlier friend of Darby's was Mr. J. G. Bellett who made the acquaintance of Darby at Trinity College, Dublin. They were both strong classical scholars and both intended to become lawyers and indeed were called to the Bar in Dublin where Bellett practised for a short time. In spiritual things, while Darby as we have seen eventually took Holy Orders, Bellett devoted his leisure to Christian work as a layman. Their close friendship remained for forty years, and in his last letter Mr. Bellett writes to Darby: "I may never see you again my dearest brother; but I must tell you, as from a dying bed, how deeply from my heart's soul, I bless the LORD that He ever revealed to me the truth. I came to know you, not as slightly before, but in an apprehension that instinctively bound me to you; and this, now for forty years, has never abated. . . . I have loved you as I suppose in a certain sense I have loved none other; and now, after so long a time, we are found together in the dear fellowship of the same confession. The LORD be with you, dearest brother, while you assert and adorn the doctrine."

One who was even earlier than John Nelson Darby in learning Christian liberty, ecclesiastical and ministerial, but only in the germ and much simplicity, was Edward Cronin (afterwards the last Canterbury M.D.). By birth a Roman Catholic, he early came under the rough and ready discipline of his Bishop. It was in Cork that this Roman shepherd finding Cronin reading a Protestant copy of the Scriptures actually knocked him down on the spot, and thus served to open the door for escape. He proceeded to Dublin as a medical student, and here learnt from his study of the Bible that Christendom was very anomalous, and very sturdily refused to join himself to any sect. He was allowed to take the Communion in the LORD'S Name by the Independents for a while, but later was excluded because he declined to become "a member" of their Church like the rest. GOD gave him soon afterwards to take the simple Christian stand. His memory is revered by many to this day. After a long life of devotion and fidelity to the LORD and His people, he passed away in 1882 to be with Him Whom he had devotedly loved and served. His end was more than peace, for constantly upon his lips was the Name of the LORD, and almost his latest utterance was the well-known verse:
"Glory, honour, praise and, power
Be unto the LAMB for ever
JESUS CHRIST is my Redeemer!
Hallelujah! Praise ye the LORD."

Another with whom John Nelson Darby came for a while into association was Mr. George Muller of Bristol. At one time we find Mr. Muller writing of "two Swiss brethren who have learned the way of truth more perfectly through our brother John Darby"; and during the winter of 1843-44 there occurs in his correspondence the following: "There is one brother among us, who through dear John Darby learned the way of GOD more perfectly in Switzerland"; showing thereby the fellowship in and appreciation of Mr. Darby's labours felt by Mr. Muller at that period. Would that it might have so continued. But alas history repeats itself in the ecclesiastical sphere as surely as in the secular; hence, before many months passed we find, if we may be allowed so to say, Paul again withstanding Peter because he was to be blamed. In apostolic times it was pretty evident who was at fault, and if CHRIST Himself and His honour had been equally paramount in His servants' lives, this sad spectacle would not have been exhibited either at Antioch in the first, or Bristol in the nineteenth century.

Mr. Darby last saw Mr. Muller in July 1849, and they never met again on earth.

It has been well remarked that both were men of GOD in their respective spheres. For to charge Mr. Darby with selfish ambition and the spirit of Diotrephes is as sinful and absurd as to question Mr. Muller's love for CHRIST and desire to glorify GOD. What in the retrospect clearly stands out is that Darby had CHRIST before him, and Muller, Christians. Also it is well to remember that "the best of men are only men at the best," and national characteristics complicate matters often. Darby was an Irishman, and Muller a Prussian, and both typically so. Their differences were as sad as those that separated John Wesley and George Whitefield a century earlier, but were fraught with even more disastrous consequences the repercussions of which are still felt on the Continent, and all over the English-speaking world.

The greatest of Darby's friends in every way was the late Mr. William Kelly of Blackheath, London. They first made acquaintance in Plymouth in a bookseller's shop in Whimple Street, and though Kelly was twenty years the junior his reputation as a thoroughgoing Christian brother and writer had already been remarked by Darby. So, as Kelly himself when referring to their meeting says, "very frank and cordial was his (Darby's) greeting." They were singularly like-minded, truly taught of GOD in the same school. They had their differences, but not in doctrine, or fundamentals, for everything that was best in John Nelson Darby's teaching and practice found its ablest exponent and advocate in William Kelly.

Spurgeon in Lectures on Commenting and Commentaries (of the College Series) referred to him as "an eminent Divine of the Brethren School"; is "sorry to see such a mind as Mr. Kelly's so narrowed to party bounds"; feels it "a pity that a man of such excellence should allow a very superior mind to be so warped"; and finally, says, "Kelly, a man for the universe, has narrowed his mind by Darbyism."

As hinted above, Mr. Kelly did not, however, blindly follow his eminent friend, or approve all his ecclesiastical actions, yet some of Darby's last words on his death bed, taken down by those who did not approve of Kelly's refusal to acquiesce blindly in an ecclesiastical decision, were: "I should particularly object to any attack being made on William Kelly." As to Kelly himself, who survived his friend by a quarter of a century, his constant advice to enquiring Christians was, "Read Darby!" so highly did he value his writings. Which of the two was the greater it is not possible to say, for both were spiritual giants, good soldiers of JESUS CHRIST each of whom might have truly said, what neither did say, and yet some even do venture to say:
"My all is on the altar."

They lived lives of sacrificial service, surrendering all for the sake of Him Whose bondmen they were proud to be. We have already noted the renunciations made by Darby in early days, and may close this chapter by relating how his dearest friend Kelly, having taken highest classical honours at the University, when approached by one with an offer of a post in which he "would make his name in the world," turned it down with the characteristic enquiry, "which world?"
"O GOD to us may grace be given,
To follow in their train."

Chapter 7

As Author

John Nelson Darby was a singularly voluminous author, whose works are well worth reading, and yet little likely to be read. He was a man of lofty, lovely character, of simple consistent unostentatious adherence to truth, who cheerfully endured the countless troubles such a man is bound to meet in a world like this. Scandal had no charge to make against him, esteem and love of intimate friends could not say enough in praise of the unworldly devoted life much of which from his twenty-fifth year was lived in quite unsought publicity.

His life covered the momentous period when the foundation of religious life in England seemed shaken by the birth of Tractarianism, the sapping and mining of Higher Criticism, the propagation of Evolutionary theories, and the waves of Revivalism, Irish and American.

Darby was no detached observer of any or all of these movements as will appear in the course of explicating the religious questions and controversies in which he was more immediately involved.

Foremost amongst his works is his Translation of the Holy Scriptures (an entirely free and independent rendering of the whole original text, using all known helps), into German and French, and of the Greek into English. The Revisers used his New Testament, and were astonished at an amount of painstaking research exceeding that of most, if not of all, as two of the best in the company wrote to the late Mr. William Kelly, who had himself revised Darby's Synopsis of the Bible, and edited his other writings, some thirty to forty volumes in English, French, German, Dutch and Italian.

In the translation of the Scriptures the literary was made to give place to the literal, and hence it is characterised by a certain abruptness of style. This, however, is more than compensated for by the invaluable notes with which it is furnished, and which in the judgment of competent critics betoken true scientific scholarship.

From his twenty-eighth year, till his death at the advanced age of eighty-two, he produced in quick succession works of marked spirituality covering literally the widest field of Scriptural enquiry. He laid bare both Irvingism and Puseyism; the scepticism of Professor Francis Newman and the subtlety of the Cardinal his brother. He exposed Mr. B. W. Newton's Thoughts on the Apocalypse, as well as his more subtle errors as to CHRIST. He refuted the "perfectionism" of John Wesley, to the delight of the Swiss Free Churchmen, who were, however, not so pleased with his criticism of the spurious Free Churchism and its eldership of Dr. J. H. Merle D'Aubigne. He was as unsparing on Popish error in several works of much research as he was in helping the Free Church of Scotland against the rationalism of the late Mr. W. Robertson Smith. Then, again, the fearful errors as to sin and its penalty which are abroad, and have been spreading so rapidly — such as annihilationism, non-eternity of punishment, and the various vagaries of eschatological scepticism and infidelity — were fully refuted by Mr. Darby. Dr. J. Milner, Archbishop Whateley, Bishop Colenso, as also the writers of Essays and Reviews, were carefully examined, their sophistries exposed and arguments refuted by this fearless, well-instructed, independent student of Holy Scripture.

His expository works are of the highest value, the Synopsis of the Books of the Bible, in five volumes, being a case in point. This was recommended by Bishop Ellicott to theological students of his diocese. Where is there any single work of any author affording such help to the study of Scripture? Yet several others are comparatively of only inferior worth, Evangelical, Practical, Doctrinal, Ecclesiastical, Prophetic, Miscellaneous, etc. His Critical Volume is a fund of thought for the student. All are able and scholarly, though some from the nature of the case are profound while others are of quite simple character. They are alike stamped with devotion to CHRIST and faith in GOD's Word, and surely never was an author more indifferent to literary distinction. He recommended "thinking in Scripture."

But Mr. Darby's expression no doubt was difficult to the uninitiated, and many published pieces are but mere notes of readings or lectures taken by others.

His paper on the Progress of Democratic Power, and its Effect on the Moral State of England made a deep impression on some in high political circles, one of whom Sir T. D. Acland (perhaps Mr. Gladstone's most intimate friend from Oxford days until death) described it as the most wonderful forecast and just appraisal he ever read of what is come and coming. Yet Acland did not see the paper until years after Darby had written it.

At the time when the Hampden Judgment was creating intense controversy among churchmen of all schools of thought, a relative by marriage of Darby, the pious and learned Dr. O'Brien, Bishop of Ossory, joined in the fray and, though an Evangelical, wrote a strong defence of Baptismal Regeneration. This drew from Mr. Darby a vigorous reply in which he proved that the argument on the formularies as well as Scripture was simply and grossly a begging of the question.

One tiny volume of Spiritual Songs is all that stands to his credit in versification. But the twenty-six matchless pieces, a metrical life of our LORD, a sonnet, some hymns and spiritual songs are a revelation of a devotion, deep, true and tender; the breaking of an alabaster box of choice spiritual perfumes; the outpouring of heartfelt piety in chaste and beautiful expression, which while it enchains the Christian heart constrains it to join its delightsome melody. While comparisons are proverbially odious, yet the same haunting strains and celestial fragrance which cling around the compositions of some of the mediaevalists: Bernard of Cluny, Bernard of Clairvaux, Abelard, Andrew of Crete (to mention but a selection at random) are here. But here there is no cloying sweetness, no mists of superstition, but a clear spiritual atmosphere where no breath of earth-born clouds intrudes.

This Collection will afford rich enjoyment and blessing to every spiritual mind; but the hymns being the free utterance of what the heart learned with GOD, are without that careful finish that would have been given to mere composition. This, however, increases their reality, and hence their attractiveness, for all who will appreciate their intrinsic excellence.

It is interesting to note that they cover fifty years of a life lived in active service in many lands, by one who was often the unwilling storm-centre of ecclesiastical strife, knowing fully what "scenes of strife and desert life" actually meant; one who voluntarily sacrificed the ordinary comforts of domestic life, and disbursed a fortune in the service of the LORD, all with scant recognition from many who benefited by his self-abnegating piety.

In 1832 he bursts into song with:
"What powerful, mighty Voice, so near
Calls me from earth apart —
Reaches with tones so still, so clear,
From th' unseen world my heart?

"LORD, let me wait for Thee alone:
My life be only this —
To serve thee here on earth unknown;

Then share Thy heavenly bliss.

"O rest ineffable divine,
The rest of GOD above:
Where Thou for ever shalt be mine
My joy, eternal LOVE!"

Three years later during the intervals of a prolonged and severe attack of gout in the eye, while confined to his bed in a dark room he dictated what is probably his most popular hymn. Its jubilant strain of worship, inspiring and exultant, in no way reveals the distressing malady from which Darby was then suffering, but it clearly indicates the habitude of his spirit. It is entitled "The Endless Song."
"Hark! Ten thousand voices, crying
'Lamb of God' with one accord:
Thousand thousand saints replying —
Wake, at once, the echoing chord!
*         *         *
"Grateful incense this ascending,
Ever to the FATHER's throne;
Every knee to JESUS bending,
All the mind in heaven is one."

Two years later, when a large number of Christians left the Swiss Free Church, after a course of lectures given by Mr. Darby on the Book of Exodus, he wrote the well-known hymn:
"Rise my soul! Thy GOD directs thee;
Stranger hands no more impede:
Pass thou on; His hand protects thee
Strength that has the captive freed.
*        *        *
"In the desert, GOD will teach thee
What the GOD that thou hast found;
Patient, gracious, powerful, holy —
All His grace shall there abound!
*        *        *
"Though thy way be long and dreary,
Eagle strength He'll still renew:
Garments fresh and foot unweary
Tell how GOD hath brought thee through!"

When in the year 1845 Mr. Darby returned from Switzerland, he found himself literally the storm-centre of a most serious ecclesiastical conflict in which he took a great and active share. But here is a significant thing; at the centre of his own life he must have been in the enjoyment of perfect tranquility, for it was then that two of his most nobly conceived pieces of verse were issued as a leaflet for the cheer and comfort of the saints. They are entitled "The Saints' Rest" and "Unchanging Love."
"Rest of the saints above,
Jerusalem of GOD!
Who in thy palaces of love,
Thy golden streets have trod

To me thy joy to tell?
Those courts secure from ill,
Where GOD Himself vouchsafes to dwell,
And every bosom fill!

Who shall to me that joy
Of saint-thronged courts declare —
Tell of that constant, sweet employ,
My spirit longs to share?
*        *        *
There, only, to adore
My soul its strength may find —
Its life, its joy for evermore,
By sight nor sense defined.

GOD and the LAMB shall there
The light and temple be;
And radiant hosts, for ever, share
The unveiled mystery!"

The companion song is of exquisite spiritual beauty, and one of the sweetest things that he ever penned. He was on a journey; and, as an outside passenger on the coach, while trying to recall a familiar hymn by his friend J. G. Deck (himself a most prolific hymn writer) commencing "O Lord Thy love's unbounded," the thought of the unchanging love of CHRIST, so filled his mind, that there and then he jotted down some eight verses of which we give the concluding three:
"Still, sweet 'tis to discover,
If clouds have dimmed my sight,
When passed, ETERNAL LOVER,
Towards me, as e'er, Thou'rt bright.

Oh guard my soul, then, JESUS,
Abiding still with Thee;
And if I wander, teach me
Soon back to Thee to flee;

That all Thy gracious favour
May to my soul be known,
And, versed in this Thy goodness,
My hopes Thyself shalt crown!"

It was in the year 1867 that Mr. Darby, then travelling in Canada, was taken with a severe illness, and became so much worse that the friends with whom he was staying besought him to let them bring medical aid as they feared he was dying. After a while feeling better he, although extremely weak, got up and poured out his soul in the poem which was published as The Man of Sorrows.

This is really a metrical life of our LORD from the manger-cradle to His coming again for His own; but the whole of the two hundred lines are charged with such a reverent affection to the Divine Object of the author's devotion as cannot fail to thrill the heart of the Christian reader.

The briefest excerpt will illustrate this:
"Thou soughtest for compassion —
Some heart Thy grief to know,
To watch Thine hour of passion —
For comforters in woe:

No eye was found to pity —
No heart to bear Thy woe;
But shame, and scorn, and spitting —
None cared Thy Name to know.

The pride of careless greatness
Could wash its hands of Thee:
Priests that should plead for weakness,
Must Thine accusers be!

Man's boasting love disowns Thee;
Thine own Thy danger flee;
A Judas only owns Thee —
That Thou may'st captive be.

O LORD! Thy wondrous story
My inmost soul doth move;
I ponder o'er Thy glory, —
Thy lonely path of love!"

Mr. Darby immediately after finishing these beautiful lines had a severe relapse, and was again compelled to take to his bed for a considerable period.

One curious fact in connection with Mr. Darby's hymn-writing is that many of the finest and most deeply spiritual of them were produced during seasons of very great strain and stress. As we have already noticed, The Saints' Rest was published during a period of tremendous ecclesiastical unrest and discord, and strangely enough his most exquisite lyrical composition, "We praise Thee glorious Lord!" was written when, as an old weary veteran in 1881, he had again become the unwilling storm-centre of ecclesiastical partisanship, and was written as a cheer for a sick friend; its last stanza expresses what then more than ever was the attitude of J. N. Darby's heart: —
"JESUS, we wait for Thee!
With Thee to have our part:
What can full joy and blessing be,
But being where Thou art!"

Not many months later, in the November of the same year, we find him writing to another friend about a new hymn, which accompanied the letter: "I send you a hymn, suggested by one you like: but that brought you down to being 'often weary.' This goes up to where there is no weariness."
"I'm waiting for Thee, LORD;
Thyself then to see, LORD!
I'm waiting for Thee,
At Thy coming again:


With Thee evermore, LORD,
Our hearts will adore, LORD:
Our sorrow'll be o'er,
At Thy coming again."

To many who view John Nelson Darby as a teacher who has raised up a school of his own, committed to a view of the Church's calling and character which, whether considered a restoration or an innovation, is certainly revolutionary in its character and results, the foregoing extracts, breathing as they do the simple ardent devotion of his inner life, may appear somewhat strange. But the career of Mr. Darby is full of strange and strongly marked contrasts. The tender devotion of a St. Bernard of Clairvaux, linked with the fiery dominant personality of a St. Dominic in his zeal for truth and hatred of heresy; the mystic engrossed in the heavenlies, and yet so truly the ecclesiastic, that as one remarked in a strain of pleasantry, "He always had his surplice in his pocket"; a leader of matchless sagacity, yet with an impetuous impulsiveness that was occasionally a source of embarrassment to other leading brethren, his life resembles a landscape with its towering rocks and solitudes; its verdant meads and meandering streams; its rushing torrents and calm lakes; each of which in turn stand out upon the canvas as the arresting feature of the picture. As a man, as a Christian, and as a scholar he was and is held in the highest respect by all who knew him, save indeed those who permit themselves to be blinded by prejudice or invincible party feeling. His unchallenged consistency, sincerity and unwearied service to the faith to which his soul was yielded in his early years commands the reverence and admiration of those who recognised in him a spiritual guide. But there is always need for caution lest this admiration of a Christian leader's intellect and spiritual qualities should be allowed to pass (unconsciously perhaps at first) into an unwarranted and dangerous deference to his authority, or even into a passive acquiescence in all his teachings, as though it were impossible for such a man to err in any point of faith or practice.

As Writer — Theologian — Poet, Darby, with some forty volumes of prose and one of exquisite verse, left a legacy of sound doctrinal literature, in which the devout scholar and simple believer alike, may find edification, exhortation and encouragement.

His conception of the Church, noble and sublime, differs widely from that advocated by many in high ecclesiastical positions, but cannot fail to appeal to the spiritual mind. He says, "The Church . . . a lowly heavenly body . . . has no portion on earth at all, as it was at the beginning — suffering as its Head did, unknown and well known — an unearthly witness of heavenly things on earth."

Chapter 8

Some Pen Portraits and Appraisals

1830 (1)

Professor F. W. Newman (brother of Cardinal Newman) who had won an unusually high double First Class at Oxford, became resident tutor at Sergeant Pennefather's, Mr. Darby's brother-in-law. Here he saw a good deal of Darby who was then staying there invalided. This is what he says of him:

"After taking my degree, I became a Fellow of Balliol College; and next year I accepted an invitation to Ireland, and there became private tutor for fifteen months in the house of one now deceased, whose name I would gladly mention for honour and affection — but I withhold my pen. While he paid me munificently for my services, he behaved towards me as a father, or indeed as an elder brother, and instantly made me feel as a member of his family. His great talents, high professional standing, nobleness of heart and unfeigned piety, would have made him a most valuable counsellor to me; but he was too gentle, too unassuming, too modest; he looked to be taught by his juniors, and sat at the feet of one whom I proceed to describe. This was a young relative of his, a most remarkable man, who rapidly gained an immense sway over me. I shall henceforth call him 'The Irish Clergyman.' His bodily presence was indeed 'weak.' A fallen cheek, a bloodshot eye, crippled limbs resting on crutches, a seldom shaved beard, a shabby suit of clothes, and a generally neglected person, drew at first pity, with wonder to see such a figure in a drawing room. It was currently reported that a person in Limerick offered him a halfpenny, mistaking him for a beggar; and if not true, the story was yet well invented.

"This young man had taken high honours at Dublin University, and had studied for the Bar, where, under the auspices of his eminent kinsman, he had excellent prospects; but his conscience would not allow him to take a brief, lest he should be selling his talents to defeat justice. With keen logical powers, he had warm sympathy, solid judgment of character, thoughtful tenderness, and total self-abandonment. He before long took holy orders, and became an indefatigable curate in the mountains of Wicklow. Every evening he sallied forth to teach in the cabins, and, roving far and wide over mountains and amid bogs, was seldom home before midnight. By such exertions his strength was undermined; and he so suffered in his limbs that, not lameness only, but yet more serious results were feared. He did not fast on purpose [he did fast often on purpose, for neither display nor influence], but his long walks through wild country and amongst indigent people inflicted on him much severe privation; moreover, as he ate whatever food offered itself (food unpalatable and often indigestible to him), his whole frame might have vied in emaciation with a monk of La Trappe.

"Such a phenomenon intensely excited the poor Romanists who looked on him as a genuine 'saint' of the ancient breed. The stamp of Heaven seemed to them clear, in a frame so wasted by austerity, so superior to worldly pomp, and so partaking in all their indigence. That a dozen such men would have done more to convert all Ireland to Protestantism, than the whole apparatus of the Church Establishment, was ere long my conviction; though I was at first offended by his personal affectation of a careless exterior [never was a greater mistake: it was his unworldly principle and practice]; but I soon understood that in no other way could he gain equal access to the lowest orders, and that he was moved, not by asceticism nor by ostentation, but by a self-abandonment fruitful of consequences. He had practically given up all reading but the Bible, and no small part of his movement soon took the form of dissuasion from all other voluntary study. In fact, I had myself more and more concentrated my religious reading on this one Book; still I could not help feeling the value of a cultivated mind. Against this my new eccentric friend (having himself enjoyed no mean advantages of cultivation) directed his keenest attacks.

"I remember once saying to him, 'To desire to be rich is absurd; but if I were a father of children, I should wish to be rich enough to secure them a good education.' He replied, 'If I had children, I would as soon see them break stones on the road as do anything else, if I could only secure to them the Gospel and the grace of God.' I was unable to say Amen; but I admired his unflinching consistency. For now, as always, all he said was based on texts aptly quoted and logically enforced. He made me more and more ashamed of political economy and moral philosophy and all science, all of which ought to be counted dross for the excellency of the knowledge of CHRIST JESUS our LORD. For the first time in my life, I saw a man earnestly turning into reality the principles which others professed with their lips only.

"Never before had I seen a man so resolved that no word of the New Testament should be a dead letter to him. I once said, 'But do you really think that no part of the New Testament may have been temporary in its object? For instance, what should we have lost if St. Paul had never written, "The cloke that I left at Troas bring with thee and the books, but especially the parchments?"' He answered with the greatest promptitude, 'I should have lost something; for it was exactly that verse which alone saved me from selling my little library. No! every word, depend upon it, is from the SPIRIT and is for eternal service!' In spite of the strong revulsion which I felt against some of the peculiarities of this remarkable man, I for the first time in my life found myself under the dominion of a superior. When I remember how even those bowed down before him who had been in the place of parents — accomplished and experienced minds — I cease to wonder in the retrospect that he riveted me in such a bondage."

1840 (2)

Professor Herzog of Lausanne, who on Darby's visit to Switzerland in the spring of 1840 met and heard him; gave his impression of the man and his visit thus:

"He came, preceded by the double reputation of an able pastor and of a teacher profoundly acquainted with the Bible. People spoke in glowing terms of the devotion of a man who, from love to CHRIST and for souls, had renounced almost the whole of his fine fortune; and who displayed in his whole conduct a simplicity and frugality that recalled the primitive times of the Church. It was also said in his favour that, sacrificing the delights of family life, he spent his life in journeying from place to place to gain souls for the kingdom of GOD.

"Notwithstanding that Mr. Darby seeks less to convert souls than to unite under his direction souls already converted, we gladly acknowledge that he deserved to a great extent the compliments that were paid him. There certainly is to be found in him a combination of fine and great qualities. His conversion, we have no reason whatever to doubt, was real and sincere. He is capable of much devotion to the LORD'S cause, and he has given striking proofs of it. He is a man of indefatigable activity, and at the same time of great originality and independence of mind."

Then somewhat annoyed by the great movements which resulted from Mr. Darby's visit when a large number of believers left the Swiss Free Church, and were gathered on more simple and Scriptural ground, Professor Herzog qualified the, to him, too adulatory appraisal by caustically adding, "If he had taken a different turn, he might have rendered eminent services to the Church."

1877 (3)

From the Editor of the Southern Review:

"If he had been an ambitious man, anxious to build up a great and prosperous society, with a view to illustrate his own name, rather than the glory of CHRIST, he might have compromised with Mr. Newton, and thereby saved the society from the schism which followed. But if he had done so, he would have been justly contemptible in the eyes of the true Christian. If, after withdrawing from other denominations because they were untrue to CHRIST's Name and Word, he had sanctioned fellowship with him or his allies, in spite of the outrageous dishonour put upon the LORD CHRIST, he would have been among the most inconsistent of men, the most patent of hypocrites. But such was not the character of John N. Darby. On the contrary, finding it impossible to expel Mr. Newton, with his 'blasphemous heresy,' from the society at Ebrington Street, Plymouth, he withdrew himself therefrom, and went on with his missionary labours for the blessing and salvation of souls. Dr. Reid complains, 'Not content with this (his own withdrawal), he called upon Brethren everywhere to withdraw from all fellowship with Mr. Newton.' He did right. He was a hero and not a hypocrite; he was a champion of CHRIST, and not a coward. Many of those called 'Brethren,' of course, followed the example and call of Mr. Darby; for they were not all apostates. Hence, when the true CHRIST was cast out of the camp at Plymouth, the faithful remnant went forth to seek Him. They refused to worship with the assembly, or to hold communion with the unfaithful brethren, who had set up the false CHRIST of Mr. Newton. This was the head and front of Mr. Darby's offending. If his whole life has been of a piece with this (and we have no reason to doubt it has been), then may we safely pronounce him a saint of the highest and purest stamp. He faced heresy in the very society originally formed by himself, even when outwardly most prosperous and flourishing; and, in spite of the obloquy, scorn, and contempt of the brethren once most dear to him, he continued, even as he had begun, to esteem the reproach of CHRIST greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. The world may pour contempt on such a man; sectarians may dip their pens in wormwood and gall for his destruction; and the eulogists of hypocrites and liars may denounce him as a fiend incarnate; but, in our very heart of hearts, we honour and reverence him as a true soldier of the Cross."

1900 (4)

From Mr. William Kelly (Editor of The Prospect, The Bible Treasury and of Mr. Darby's Synopsis and Collected Writings). "I go back to my first intercourse with him in the summer of 1845 at Plymouth. For though I had been for years in communion before this, it had not been my lot to see him for whom above all others I had conceived, because of his love and testimony to CHRIST, profound respect and warm affection. I was then living in the Channel Islands, in one of which I began to break bread with three sisters in CHRIST, before ever looking a 'brother' in the face. It was in J. B. Rowe's shop, Whimple Street, that we met, and very cordial and frank was his greeting. Painful disclosures had already been made of an effort to undermine from within, and to set up, under His Name, Who had taught us liberty of ministry and the unity of the SPIRIT, a state of things contrary to His Word.

"Mr. Darby was then bringing out in numbers the perhaps most valuable critique he ever wrote, in exposure of Mr. B. W. Newton's Thoughts on the Apocalypse; wherein the main object was to oppose, slyly but with set purpose, every truth which was distinctive of the movement, and all-important in our convictions of GOD's truth and glory in CHRIST. Nor was the revolutionary effort confined to the retrograde party in Plymouth. Mr. Chas. Hargrove, an Irish ex-rector; Mr. J. Parnell (was he yet Lord Congleton?), with others, had committed themselves on various grounds to the reaction. Mr. Darby had replied to them all, with an earnest trenchant ability which earned the dislike and resentment of such as love compromise rather than truth. Though grieved to the heart at schism, which must if unjudged lead to what the Apostle calls 'heresy' or sect, it was clear to me which cared for CHRIST, and which did not rise above self or their friends.

"To established and non-established, it was just what many leaders of Christendom were desiring; for like the chief priests of old, they doubted whereunto this would grow. As no mean one among them wrote, they began to breathe freely when the Newtonian rent came. But a little matter of a private kind will interest you and your readers, as it gave me (some twenty years or so his junior) a practical lesson. When dining with Mr. Darby, he by the way said, 'I should like to tell you how I live. To-day I have more than usual on your account. But it is my habit to have a small hot joint on Saturday, cold on LORD's Day, cold on Monday, on Tuesday, on Wednesday, and on Thursday. On Friday I am not sorry to have a bit of chop or steak; then the round begins again.' I too, like Mr. Darby, had been ascetic as a young Christian, and had been reduced, by general indifference to outward life, so low that the physician prescribed as essential what had been discarded in self-denial. How uncommon to find a mind endowed with the rarest power of generalisation, able to come down like the Apostle, and impress on a young disciple, eating, drinking, or whatever is done, to do all unto GOD'S glory! At that time Mr. Darby had not a whit of asceticism, but liberty and his heart bent on pleasing the LORD as to necessary food. To me, however small it might seem to some, it was a hint of daily value, and through me to others; for many a saint, when 'cleansed from leprosy,' forgets or neglects, in Levitical phrase, to shave off all his hair, and to wash his clothes, though he may duly bathe. So natural is it, as one of that class said, to retain and give to the LORD his 'gentlemanship ' — a gift abhorrent in His eyes; for it is worldly to the core.

"Mr. Harris, Mr. Newton, Mr. H. Soltau, and many more I of course saw, and found full of kindness, even then when party spirit was doing its deadly work. For in brighter days did not Edward Irving call it a 'swamp of love,' when his own mind was carried away by pretensions to miraculous power, and to a ritual beyond the Ritualists?

"But such is the power of spirituality and devotedness, that Mr. Darby was the only one there to whom I felt free to tell confidentially the sad tale of an ex-clergyman's sin, and to join with me in prayer respecting it. As the evil had come to my knowledge unsought and far away, it devolved on me in faith and love to seek him out, and lay what none, perhaps, suspected upon his soul before GOD. As he had already withdrawn from communion, one could leave all else with Him. No doubt he is long departed, and as no one is alive to guess the one meant, I venture thus to speak.

"It was at a much earlier date (1831, I think) that F. W. Newman invited Mr. Darby to Oxford: a season memorable in a public way for his refutation of Dr. E. Burton's denial of the doctrines of grace, beyond doubt held by the Reformers, and asserted not only by Bucer, P. Martyr, and Bishop Jewell, but in Articles IX-XVIII of the Church of England. With a smile he said to me, 'That is the only pamphlet by which I made any money.' The same visit of his acted more privately (not on Mr. W. E. Gladstone, who saw and heard him then) but on G. V. Wigram, Sir L. C. L. Brenton, B. W. Newton and W. Jarrett, as well as others too halting in faith to make a decided stand and endure the consequences. It was characteristic of those young men that, when once at a conversazione some one remarked, 'May the LORD give me a living in the beautiful country' (and he had more than his desire in a Scotch bishopric), Mr. Wigram immediately exclaimed, 'May He give me to follow and serve Him at all cost!' He too had his heart's desire. The Rev. Sir Chas. Brenton hardly quite appreciated J.N.D., if one may judge by his rather severe saying, 'I never knew a man in whom the two Adams were so strong.' Sir Charles was rather legal, and suffered from it; so much so that J.N.D. called a few, not long before the former died, for special prayer on his behalf, and not in vain.

"It was, if I err not, before 1830 that, filled with the sense of the Christian's union with Christ, J.N.D. visited London, and laid it before one regarded as among the most mature of the Evangelical clergy. But his own indifference to worldly appearances seemed to render that precious but little understood truth a dead letter to this divine, who confounded it with the new birth, as ill-taught saints commonly do. His tone was pompous and self complacent. He evidently regarded his visitor as a poor curate airing as a wonder what all knew. But the well appointed carriage from Westminster, with coachman and footman, came to take Mr. Darby to his father's house, and happened to catch the clergyman's eye, when his manner changed to servility. This disgusted my friend, who could make allowance for ignorance, but was pained by a worldly spirit in a Christian, especially in a Christian minister. He well enough knew that the clergyman was of humble extraction: but this was nothing in his eyes if there had been spiritual feeling. Nor did the clergyman grow in grace any more than truth, when he became a Bishop, and a metropolitan one. There was a worm at the root of his theology; for he betrayed unsoundness as to Divine inspiration, both before his elevation to the episcopal throne, and after it. Such men cannot be expected to have ears to hear.

"I was unable to attend the conference at Liverpool in the forties, but was present at that which was held in London in 1845. Only on the afternoon of the third day did J.N.D. rise to speak, and this, after a well-known friend had alluded to his silence in singular terms. Mr. D. explained that he had not spoken because so many brothers had a great deal to say. It was a most impressive discourse; for after many, and not leaders only, had spoken with considerable power and unction, he gave a terse summary, which set their main points in the best position, and then brought in a flood of fresh light from Scripture on the whole theme. During the same Conference a noble personage, who resented D.'s exposure of a foolish and injurious tract by himself, gave way to vehement spleen. But J.N.D. answered not a word. Another, who was no less unreasonably offended, came into the hall while Mr. R. M. Beverley was telling us what had helped him to what he regarded as the chief truth he had long wanted. The old brother (very deaf) entered, and went as near the speaker as he could, and heard him read a page of his own book, affirming the very doctrine of the SPIRIT'S presence and working, which he himself was abandoning, and for which Mr. Darby had censured him. This incident made no small impression on me of a living God's ways.

"Considerate and kind as J.N.D. was to F. W. Newman, before Newman's active mind rebelled against 'the doctrine of CHRIST,' he had no real sympathy with the character either of him or of his brother the Cardinal. Men, and not GOD, governed them both, though in a different way. The younger of the two had been much the most distinguished throughout his academic career. The elder became a master of style in English writing, but a mere slave of tradition. Mr. Darby cared supremely for CHRIST and the truth to the glory of GOD the FATHER. Both brothers began as Evangelicals; but they diverged, as time went on, and were quite estranged, till the one became a Papist, and the other an infidel; then they 'renewed happy intercourse.' Anything like this was sorrow and shame to Mr. Darby, who could not respect, even as a man, him who wrote and justified No. 90 of the Oxford Tracts; for from beginning to end it is a barefaced and Jesuitical plea, to construe in a Romanist sense the Protestant Thirty-nine Articles. More shocking still that Pusey and Keble, etc., should endorse its deceit. Also what could J.N.D. feel but grief and indignation at the blasphemer, who at length could compare J. Fletcher's as a life more perfect than that of JESUS, the SON of GOD? It is my judgment, that if Professor H. Rogers, in his Eclipse of Faith, crushed Phases of Faith on its own ground, much more did Mr. Darby, on a Christian basis, in his Irrationalism of Infidelity; just as he also laid bare the dishonesty of J. H. Newman's Apologia pro Vita Sua. Even their logic was anything but immaculate.

"Mr. Darby was deliberate and prayerful in weighing a scripture; but he wrote rapidly, as thoughts arose in his spirit, and often with scarcely a word changed. He delighted in a concatenated sentence, sometimes with parenthesis within parenthesis, to express the truth fully, and with guards against misconception. An early riser and indefatigable worker, he yet had not time to express his mind as briefly and clearly as he could wish. 'You write to be read and understood,' he once said playfully to me; 'I only think on paper.' This made his writings, to the uninitiated, anything but pleasant reading, and to a hasty glance almost unintelligible; so that many, even among highly educated believers, turned away, because of their inability to penetrate sentences so involved. No one could be more indifferent to literary fame; he judged it beneath CHRIST and therefore the Christian. He was but a miner, as he said; he left it to others to melt the ore, and circulate the coin, which many did in unsuspected quarters, sometimes men who had no good to say of him, if one may not think to conceal the source of what they borrowed. To himself CHRIST was the centre of all, and the continual object before him, even in controversy; nor is anything more striking, even in his hottest polemics, than his assertion of positive truth to edification. He was never content to expose an adversary, where not only his unfaltering logic, but instant and powerful grasp of the moral side, and above all of the bearing of CHRIST on the question, made him the most redoubtable of doctors. Yet the same man ever delighted in preaching the glad tidings to the poor, and only paid too much honour to those whom he considered evangelists more distinctively than himself. Indeed, I remember one, who could scarcely be said to be more so than he was, happening (to his own discomposure) to preach in his presence at one of the Conferences in the past (Portsmouth); and for months after, this dear, simple-minded servant of the LORD, kept telling brethren in private, and not there only, 'Ah, I wish that I could appeal to the people as So-and-so does!'

"That he exercised large and deep influence could not but be; but he sought it not, and was plain-spoken to his nearest friends. To one whom he valued as a devoted man, he said, Come, —, not so much of the gentleman.' Another, dear to him from an early day and an admirable pastor, a good teacher and preacher, had got married to a worldly minded lady (his second wife), though an Evangelical of the Evangelicals. This brother (an ex-clergyman) grieved him by running down the simple few gathered to the LORD'S Name in the village where he lived. The complainant was no longer the labourer he had once been among the poor, but was as a half-squire and half-parson drawing back to a long-abandoned social intercourse with county folk. 'Ah! — ,' said Mr. Darby, 'it is not the brethren but the wife.' That this was true made it the less palatable; and the wife did not fail to make it a rupture never healed. Nor was it only such cases that gave him pain. A lady I knew, when he paid a visit to Guernsey, invited a company to meet him in private, but exclusively of those who were in a good position. Had it been an Anglican Christian, or one with the Denominations, he would have made allowance and expected nothing else; but he was vexed that one in fellowship should be so far from the word and will of the LORD as to fail in giving an opportunity to lowly saints, rich in faith, who would have enjoyed it exceedingly. When asked to give thanks, he begged me to do so, meaning it as a quiet sign that he was displeased.

"It was my privilege, being actively engaged, to hear him very seldom, and this at great meetings in which he ordinarily took a large part; but I remember once hearing him preach (on Romans 5: 20, 21) to a small company of the very poor; and to a more powerful and earnest discourse I never listened, though in the plainest terms, exactly suited to his audience. The singing was execrable; and he did his best to lead them, for his voice was sweet, and his ear good; but the barbarous noise of the others prevailed, with which he bore in a patience truly edifying, going on with his message quite unmoved.

"Yet he was anything but self-confident. Being asked once to preach in the open air, he begged the younger man to take it; for said he, 'I shrink from that line of work, being afraid of sticking in the midst, from not knowing what to say.' He ungrudgingly delighted in the bold preacher with a heart full of the love of souls. He overlooked many faults, where he credited anyone with devotedness (sometimes at their own valuation). An intense admirer of his used to say that in this respect, and others too, 'he was the most gullible man in England.' This of course was extreme exaggeration; nevertheless, it occurred often enough to embarrass his fellow-labourers. I remember once in Bath remonstrating with him because of his apparently unbroken confidence in a brother who was behaving very ill to his own mother and sister, whom he drove out of the meeting as a veritable 'Diotrephes,' to gratify his mad and unbelieving father. Mr. Darby soliloquised as we walked along, 'Strange thing, that my pets should turn out scamps.' I fear that so it evidently was with this person; for not long after he furnished the most defamatory scandal ever written, printed and circulated, against his blindly generous benefactor.

"The upshot of this case is instructive. The railer, who of course vanished, not only from fellowship but to another land, had great kindness shown him by a Christian man there, an Irish gentlemen. Having occasion afterwards to visit Ireland, he enquired if any of his friends knew of one, Mr. Darby. Oh yes, to be sure! everyone knows of Mr. Darby. 'Well,' said he, 'I received — and his large family for a long time, during which he was habitually abusing Darby. But I found him out to be worthless; so I came to the conclusion that the object of his abuse must be a very good man.' It smacks rather Hibernian; but it was a sound instinct, and true in fact.

"The same readiness to believe the best, even of untoward souls, showed itself not seldom when persons drew on his purse, or, what was of more moment, sought fellowship through his mediation. Not a few even now will recollect an excessively turbulent man, who espoused the cause of one who had to be put out of fellowship; and being himself no less guilty, he fell under the like sentence. This man never appeared till Mr. Darby returned to London from his long journeyings, but repaired to him forthwith on his arrival. Then followed the renewed appeal: 'How is it that — is still outside?' Thereon a dead silence ensued, easily understood; for every one would have gratified Mr. Darby, had it been possible. At last a brother (now deceased), noted for his downrightness, said, 'Mr. Darby, we know —; but you do not.' Yet were some weak enough to call him a Pope who would have his way, and bore no contradiction.

"A similar case, only more disreputable, of one excommunicated for outrageous profanity, etc., occurred much later. Mr. Darby's heart somehow was touched, because he came to the meetings, and indeed forced himself to the front, and tried, while unrestored, to appropriate the LORD'S SUPPER. Yet our beloved friend looked leniently on what was very painful to most. He was as far as possible from the ogre which so many fancied, but inflexible against those who assailed CHRIST. So he himself used to say, 'I ought never to touch matters of discipline; for I believe the first person, brother or sister, that tells me about things. It is quite out of my line.' So much was this felt, that I used to pray the LORD that only a true account might first reach his ear. But every considerate Christian must be aware that the faithful were as slow to spread evil tidings to gain a point, as the light and party-spirited were quick to plead for those they favour, and especially with one so influential as J.N.D. Also, when one of his position and character took up a cause in this one-sided way, as might and did happen, all can conceive how difficult it was for others to convince, or for himself to revise. Do any blame me for giving these amiable drawbacks? I humbly think that even in a brief sketch it is hardly truthful to omit what has been here touched with a loving hand, and what he himself would have frankly owned. It is not for me to say one word of what is best left in the grave of CHRIST, where my own failures lie buried.

"No man more disliked cant, pretension, and every form of unreality. Thos. Carlyle loudly and bitterly talked his detestation of 'shams,' J.N.D. quietly lived it in doing the truth. He often took the liberty of an older Christian to speak frankly, among others to a brother whose love, as he thought, might bear it. But sometimes the wound however faithful only closed to break out another day. What were you about, —, hiding among your family connexions, and not once seeing the brethren around? ' On the other hand, reliable testimony is not wanting of his ready love in so lowly a way as to carry him where few would follow, especially where known. In early days, among the few at Plymouth a barber brother fell sick; and as no one else thought of his need, J.N.D. is said to have gone in his absence and served as well as he could in the little shop.

"Thoughtful for others he was indifferent as to comforts for himself, though he did not mind buying costly books, if he believed them of value for his work. Then he was habitually a hard worker, from early morn devoted to his own reading the Word and prayer; but even when most busily engaged, he as a rule reserved the afternoons for visiting the poor and the sick, his evenings for public prayer, fellowship or ministry. Indeed, whole days were frequently devoted to Scripture readings wherever he moved, at home or abroad. But his clothes were plain, and he wore them to shabbiness, though punctiliously clean in his person, which dressy people are not always. In Limerick once, kind friends took advantage of his sleep to replace the old with new, which he put on without a word, as the story went.

"In middle life he trudged frequently on foot through a large part of France and Switzerland, sometimes refreshing himself on the way with acorns, at other times thankful to have an egg for his dinner, because as he said, no unpleasant visitors could get in there! In his own house or lodging, all was simplicity and self denial; yet if invited to dine or sup, he freely and thankfully partook of what was set before him.

"His largeness of heart, for one of strong convictions and of practical consistency, showed itself in many ways. After he left the Anglican Establishment he preached occasionally at the call of godly clergymen who urged it; but he only appeared for the discourse and was not present at the previous service. So in France afterwards he preached for pious ministers of the Reformed Church; nor did he refuse the black gown as an academical dress; but when they brought the bands, 'Oh no,' said he: 'I put on no more.' Again he did not spare, but warmly rebuked the zealots among half-fledged brothers, who were so ignorantly bitter as to apply what the Apostle said of heathen tables to those of the various Denominations. It was only fundamental error which roused his deepest grief and indignation. This then is my conviction, that a saint more true to CHRIST'S Name and Word I never knew or heard of. He used to say that three classes from their antecedents are apt to make bad brothers: clergymen, lawyers and officers. He himself was a brilliant exception, though a lawyer first and a clergyman afterward.

"A great man naturally, and as diligent a student as if he were not highly original, he was a really good man, which is much better. So for good reason, I believed before I saw him; so taking all in all I found him in peace and in war; and so, in the face of passing circumstances, I am assured he was to the end. Do I go too far if I add, may we be his imitators, even as he also was of CHRIST?"

In a recently issued volume,* the following interesting note occurs. One "of the cherished recollections of Dr. Campbell Morgan's boyhood is his meeting with John Nelson Darby, who had called on a visit to his father. He vividly recalls the almost reverential awe that lay upon him in the presence of that truly great man, and how the awe gave place and the reverence remained, when the visitor spoke kindly to him about his studies."

{*G. Campbell Morgan, The Man and His Ministry, by John Harries, p. 27.}

Chapter 9

The Last Phase

Incessant travelling with lack of many ordinary comforts at his advanced age, began to tell upon the apparently iron frame of the old warrior. Early in the year 1881 he mentions a bad fall sustained in Dundee on one of his visits to Scotland. This proved to have more serious consequences than he at first imagined, heart and lungs being sensibly weakened thereby. He was well past the eightieth milestone of a life pilgrimage where there had been no loitering nor turning aside for ease. Indeed as his journey progressed the speed seems to have been accelerated since we find him actively engaged in teaching, preaching and visiting assemblies on the Continent in 1880. But the "earthen vessel" was beginning to break, and he writes to a dear friend of that period: "I have not been ill, but knocked up and overworked. . . . I work morning and afternoon as far as I can, and in the evening let the strain go and indulge in the Word and feed on His love."

For a time it was impossible for him to rest at night lying down in bed, but sitting up and propped up he could sleep a little. "I was as low as I could well be, and the bad fall I had at Dundee shook me, I do not doubt, more than I thought. My heart and my lungs were a feeble spring to my body, but this like all the rest is in the LORD's hand. Last night I did not even sit up any part of the night."

In February 1882, while still very weak from a protracted illness, he wrote to a friend, "I am (through mercy) better: at my age shall never be well, till all sickness is over: but through mercy work half the day."

In early March he was taken to Sundridge House, Bournemouth, the house of Mr. H. A. Hammond one of his friends. Here for nearly two months he lingered in what Bunyan describes as Beulah Land. It is related that he was very cheerful and rejoiced in the LORD from day to day; that he spoke of and prayed for the Church and for "the unity of the testimony" continually. When his friend Dr. Christopher Wolston asked him whether he had any special thoughts in view of death, he replied,

"There are three things which I have dwelt much upon:
1. GOD is my FATHER, and I am His gift to His Son.
2. CHRIST is my righteousness.
3. CHRIST is my object in life, and my joy for eternity."

This was on March 9th, soon after his arrival, but on another occasion he remarked:

"I can say, though in great feebleness, I have lived for CHRIST. There is not a cloud between me and the FATHER."

Sober words uttered at a solemn time by one at last at leisure to review the course. Truly he could echo with deep understanding the swan song of the great Apostle, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the LORD, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing."

His last letter to the brethren is typical, and well worth deep consideration; here it is:

"MY BELOVED BRETHREN,

"After years of communion in weakness, I have only bodily strength to write a few lines, more of affection than of ought else. I bear witness to the love, not only in the LORD ever faithful, but in my beloved brethren in all patience towards me and how much more, then, from GOD, unfeignedly do I bear witness to it. Yet I can say, CHRIST has been my only object; thank GOD, my righteousness too.

"I am not aware of anything to recall; little now to add. Hold fast to CHRIST; count on abundant grace in Him to reproduce Him in the power of the FATHER'S love; and be watching and waiting for CHRIST. I have no more to add, but my unfeigned and thankful affection in Him.

"J. N. DARBY."

Said and taken down later:

"I do add, Let not John's ministry be forgotten in insisting on Paul's. One gives the dispensations in which the display is; the other that which is displayed.

"I should particularly object to any attack being made on William Kelly.

At length on April 29th, it was clear to those who watched by him that the end was near, and shortly after, the earthly life of this good soldier of JESUS CHRIST came to its close. He had served the will of GOD in his own generation, and now like a weary traveller fell on sleep, to be with the LORD he had served, and to await with Him and the blessed dead in Paradise that morning without clouds when
"Soul and body re-united,
Thenceforth nothing shall divide,
Wakened up in CHRIST'S own likeness,
Satisfied."

It was on the 2nd May, a gloriously fine spring day, that all that was mortal of John Nelson Darby was laid to rest in Bournemouth Cemetery. A very large company followed his body to the grave, estimated at a thousand. The effect of their approach to the grave has been described as striking. "Every voice was hushed; and nothing was heard but the tread of many feet, almost as regular as the measured tread at a military funeral."

The coffin of polished oak, had a brass plate on which was engraved:
John Nelson Darby
Born 18th Nov., 1800
Died in the LORD
29th April, 1882

It was placed on a bier, and by a specially thoughtful arrangement, as the distance to the grave was considerable, as many brethren as possible were enabled to have the privilege of acting as bearers. After a moment or two of complete silence the hymn, "Oh, happy morn," was sung containing the verse:
"The resurrection-morn will break,
And every sleeping saint awake
Brought forth in light again;
Oh, morn too bright for mortal eyes,
When all the ransomed saints shall rise,
And wing their way to yonder skies,
Called up with CHRIST to reign"

Just as the last note of this hymn died away, a lark rose from the green sward close by, and poured forth its joyous notes. To one, at least, it was in beautiful harmony with the scene. Then with Scripture readings, prayers and hymns the coffin was lowered into its resting place by loving hands of brethren. The service closed with the sung Doxology, so dear to all present,
"Glory, honour, praise and power
Be unto the LAMB for ever!
JESUS CHRIST is our Redeemer:
Hallelujah Praise ye the LORD."

So "devout men," "chief men among the brethren" laid his body to rest until the MORNING STAR appears and the shadows flee away. What a moment of rapture that will be, when the glorified MAN of SORROWS shall stand surrounded by the fruit of His soul's travail, the innumerable company of the redeemed at home in the FATHER'S house with their REDEEMING LORD. Of this John Nelson Darby himself sings in The Hope of Day:
"Yet it must be!
Thy love had not its rest,
Were Thy redeemed not with Thee
Fully blest."

So great a company were present from London at the burial that a special train had to be put on in the evening to convey them back.

To-day there stands in Bournemouth Cemetery over that grave (around which now so many other graves of brethren who shared like precious faith and hope are clustered) a memorial stone bearing unmistakable testimony to the departed leader and guide, with this inscription:
John Nelson Darby
"As Unknown And Well Known"
Departed to be with Christ
29 April 1882
Aged 81
2 Cor. 5: 21.
LORD let me wait for Thee alone,
My life be only this,
To serve Thee here on earth unknown
Then share Thy heavenly bliss.
J.N.D.

Of the subject of the present volume, we can truly affirm that if ever man in this or any other age did with his might what his hands found to do in the service of his MASTER, it was JOHN NELSON DARBY. Now he rests from his labours; but his works still follow him, and "the memory of the just is blessed."

Chapter 10

The Afterglow

That Mr. Darby should have been able to inspire such enthusiasm as he undoubtedly did throughout a long life in men of widely differing temperaments and ranks of Society, and that his influence should still remain a potent factor in the lives of "Brethren" all over the world, although over half a century has elapsed since his death, is in itself a striking tribute to his powerful personality.

As to the various controversies in which he was engaged, and which ran practically right through his career, it is well to remember the saying of Dr. Ganden: "If either truth or peace must be dispensed with, it is peace and not truth. Better to have truth without public peace, than peace without saving truth." The temper in which John Nelson Darby engaged in controversy is very instructive; it was alike humble and pious, both very rare qualifications of the controversialist. As he wrote to one on this subject, "If I am useful to any, and the LORD accepts it as service done to Him, I am content."

Not to secure a triumph in the ecclesiastical arena, but to help the saints and serve the LORD, was J. N. Darby's ambition when entering the lists with ardour and boldness in defence of the truth.

The lapse of time naturally has, and should have, an influence in softening the asperities of controversy, and particularly in qualifying our estimates of those who have been active in the struggle. It is however possible to allow this tendency to become too strong, and to forget that we are called to the same conflict; that we too must fight the good fight, and keep the faith whole and undefiled, until we finish the course.

This, however, does not warrant the misusing of extracts from his voluminous writings to justify on one hand some rooted prejudice of narrow mindedness, nor, on the other hand, the attempt to bolster up loose preferences as to Christian fellowship or service.

To study Darby will not make the Christian student a Darbyite, nor a so-called Plymouth Brother. It will help immensely to make him an instructed disciple, a man of GOD with a mind well furnished in divine truth. He will also discover that "old foes with new faces" in the theological arena have been met and faced by this good soldier of JESUS CHRIST. Indeed the intellectual reader will note that much "modern thought" is really the resuscitation of "ancient errors" long since exploded. This business of dealing in theological and ecclesiastical antiques is strongly supported by the Devil as generation after generation acclaims the old theories as "new light" or "modern thought."

In his preface to The Synopsis of the Books of the Bible, which the Bishop of Gloucester, Dr. C. J. Ellicott, Editor of his well-known Commentary, recommended to the theological students of his diocese, Darby says: "The reader . . . is not to expect a commentary, nor, on the other hand, to suppose that he has a book which he can read without referring continually to the word itself in the part treated of. The object of the book is to help a Christian, desirous of reading the word of GOD with profit, in seizing the scope and connection of that which it contains. Though a commentary may doubtless aid the reader in many passages in which GOD has given to the commentator to understand in the main the intention of the SPIRIT of GOD, or to furnish philological principles and information, which facilitate to another the discovery of that intention; yet if it pretend to give the contents of scripture, or if he who uses it seeks these in its remarks, such commentary can only mislead and impoverish the soul. A commentary, even if always right, can at most give what the commentator has himself learned from the passage. The fullest and wisest must be very far indeed from the living fulness of the divine word. The Synopsis has no pretension of the kind. Deeply convinced of the divine inspiration of the scriptures, given to us of GOD, and confirmed in this conviction by daily and growing discoveries of their fulness, depth, and perfectness; ever more sensible, through grace, of the admirable perfection of the parts, and the wonderful connection of the whole, the writer only hopes to help the reader in the study of them.

The scriptures have a living source, and living power has pervaded their composition: hence their infiniteness of bearing, and the impossibility of separating any one part from its connection with the whole, because one GOD is the living centre from which all flows; one CHRIST, the living centre round which all its truth circles, and to which it refers, though in various glory; and one SPIRIT, the divine sap which carries its power from its source in GOD to the minutest branches of the all-united truth, testifying of the glory, the grace, and the truth of Him whom GOD sets forth as the object and centre and head of all that is in connection with Himself, of Him who is, withal, GOD over all, blessed for evermore.

To give all this as a whole and perfectly would require the Giver Himself. Even in learning it, we know in part, and we prophesy in part. The more — beginning from the utmost leaves and branches of this revelation of the mind of GOD, by which we have been reached when far from Him — we have traced it up towards its centre, and thence looked down again towards its extent and diversity, the more we learn its infiniteness and our own feebleness of apprehension. We learn, blessed be GOD, this, that the love which is its source is found in unmingled perfectness and fullest display in those manifestations of it which have reached us even in our ruined state. The same perfect GOD of love is in it all. But the unfoldings of divine wisdom in the counsels in which GOD has displayed Himself remain ever to us a subject of research in which every new discovery, by increasing our spiritual intelligence, makes the infiniteness of the whole, and the way in which it surpasses all our thoughts, only more and more clear to us. But there are great leading principles and truths, the pointing out of which in the various books which compose the scriptures, may assist in the intelligence of the various parts of scripture. It is attempted to do this here. What the reader is to expect consequently in this Synopsis, is nothing more than an attempt to help him in studying scripture for himself. All that would turn him aside from this would be mischievous to him; what helps him in it may be useful. He cannot even profit much by the following pages otherwise than in using them as an accompaniment to the study of the text itself.

From what has been said it will easily be understood that the writer can readily feel the imperfection of what he has written. Often he would have liked to have introduced the developments which he has enjoyed, when unfolding particular passages in detail and applying them to the hearts and consciences of others; but this would have turned him aside from the object of the work. He trusts, however, that the right direction is given to the scriptural researches of the reader: grace alone can make those researches effectual.

He cannot close this short introduction to the book without expressing the effect which the discovery of the perfectness and divinely ordered connection of the scriptures produces in his mind as respects what is called Rationalism. Nothing is proved by the system so denominated but the total absence of all divine intelligence, a poverty associated with intellectual pretension, an absence of moral judgment, a pettiness of observation on what is external, with a blindness to divine and infinite fulness in the substance, which would be contemptible through its false pretensions, if it were not a subject of pity, because of those in whom these pretensions are found. None but GOD can deliver from the pride of human pretension. But the haughtiness which excludes GOD, because it is incompetent to discover Him, and then talks of His work, and meddles with His weapons, according to the measure of its own strength, can prove nothing but its own contemptible folly. Ignorance is generally confident, because it is ignorant; and such is the mind of man in dealing with the things of GOD. The writer must be forgiven for speaking plainly in these days on this point.
The pretensions of infidel reason infect even Christians.

He would add that it has not been his object to unfold the blessed fruits the word produces in the mind and ways of him who receives it, nor the feelings produced in his own mind in reading it, but to help the reader in the discovery of that which has produced them. May the LORD only make the word as divinely precious to him as it has been to the writer; to both ever still more so!"

The influence of Darby's life and teaching has been discovered in most unexpected quarters. The verger of perhaps the highest Anglican Church in London, where the clergy are sometimes referred to by other clergy as "spikes" because of their extreme Roman and Eastern proclivities, once remarked to the writer, "The Brethren. Ah, yes, my people are Brethren." An Evangelical clergyman present at an address in a Public Hall given by the writer on "The Bible" shook hands at the close saying, "You are one of the Brethren, I know; many of my friends too belong to them"; though the speaker had given no clue to any denominational affinity in his address.

Some words of Bishop Francis Paget in "Hallowing of Work" may serve to conclude this brief review of the long life of a truly great man. "A man's gifts may lack opportunity, his efforts may be misunderstood and resisted; but the spiritual power of a consecrated will needs no opportunity, and can enter where the doors are shut . . . in this strange and tangled business of human life, there is no energy that so steadily does its work as the mysterious, unconscious, silent, unobtrusive, imperturbable influence which comes from a man who has done with all self-seeking." Such a man was JOHN NELSON DARBY.