A glance at various ecclesiastical principles and examination of the foundations on which the institutions of the church on earth are sought to be based.

In reply to various writings.
J. N. Darby.

First Part: Present State of Opinion on the Subject of Ministry
Second Part: Refutation of Some Errors Contained in the "Examination of the Darbyite Views on Sacred Ministry"
Chapter 1: On the Compatibility of Gifts and Local Charges
Chapter 2: On the Ruin of the Church
Section 1: The "Examination" Outdoes Popery In the Inviolability Which It Attributes To the Clergy
Section 2: Our Duty To Judge the Principles of the "Examination"
Section 3: False Ideas As To a Pretended Dismemberment of the Apostolate
Section 4: Observations In Detail
Section 5: Glance at the National Presbyterian Church as at Present Established
Section 6: The Pretended Progress of the Church
Section 7: View of the Church
Section 8: Proofs In Support
Section 9: Observations on the Apostleship of Paul
Third Part: On the Free Churches. Introduction
Chapter 1: On the Scotch Movement and that of the Free Church on the Continent
Chapter 2: On the Constitution of the Free Church of the Canton de Vaud
Section 1: The Clergy, the Foundation of Unity in the Free Church
Section 2: Absence of the Holy Spirit from the Organization of the Free Church
Section 3: The Doctrine of a Free Church
Fourth Part: On the Subject of Human Order and Evangelical Liberty
Chapter 1: Ecclesiastical Radicalism
Chapter 2: Dualism
Chapter 3: The Gospel Code
Chapter 4: On the Administration of the Church

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Whoever prays much for the Church will feel little disposition to let his desires evaporate pen in hand. Nevertheless, these prayers will give to him who perseveres in them a spiritual impulse, by virtue of which (far from letting himself be hindered by things which might have the appearance of meeting the need of souls, but which in reality would serve only to seduce and lead them aside) he will be constrained to manifest, as far as in him lies, the true character of that which, while clothing itself with this specious garb, might draw souls far away from the truth and from the Lord's blessing.

The controversy on the subject of the views put forth for some years past, as to the Church and the presence in it of the Holy Ghost, has assumed an entirely new phase. We no longer hear people say much of Korah, or hold similar language - language which a spiritual activity, that does not enter into the framework of that which exists, has always to endure. It is now agreed that it is a question of serious principles. Events, and the imperious wants of the children of God, have brought all who reflect, no matter how little, to recognize as solemn and, so to speak, prophetic warnings - warnings which God has verified by the sequel - what had at first been taken for enmity against that which exists, and for a desire to upset an order and an authority which people loved to consider the assured channels of blessing.

Far more than this, the principles put forth as to ministry are recognized as being of all importance and essential to the existence as well as to the well-being of the Church. I do not mean that, on that account, those who have put them forth are the more loved; nor, by the fact of persons being obliged at last to recognize it, is a disagreeable truth the more loved for that. We find moreover, that when such truth cannot be denied, it is suddenly discovered that all the world knew it already, and that the one who has insisted on it has done nothing but exaggerate and thus spoil it. It little matters, if, by the goodness of God, the truth makes its way. The grace of Him who has given it to us will do the rest; and if this does not fall to the lot of those who have blamed the testimony rendered to this truth, I hope it will at least do so on behalf of him who has borne the burden of it.

2 I desire to take matters up at the point at which they are actually found, and that as briefly as possible.



The universal priesthood of the children of God, a truth so precious - what do I say? - a relationship with their God and Father essential to their happiness and to that of the Church itself - this priesthood is now admitted without contestation; but, in exchange, it is sought to carry on the combat with more success on another ground. We will follow our adversaries to the field which they have themselves chosen, namely, the question of ministry: that of the sufficiency of the word and the Spirit to lead Christians in every respect; finally, that of a formal organization, the great idol of the day, what is called a Free Church.

What had been refused to the testimony of the word is yielded to the force of circumstances. Wherever there is a little light, the clergy are absolutely unable to maintain themselves in the position they took pleasure in keeping. Spiritual activity is too great; eyes are too much opened to abuses; the position in which the clergy themselves find themselves is too false. By the goodness of God the attention of Christians is too much awakened as to these questions. But the exterior evil is more threatening than even this movement of minds in the midst of the flocks; and the ecclesiastical functionaries feel that they must leave it an undisputed field, or that still worse would come to them. They feel, besides, that what constituted their support is becoming a clog to them, and that they are obliged to leave in freer hands the work which they would like to direct, and which nevertheless they dare not undertake.

Read what is said in "The Archives of Christendom," vol. 14, p. 74, "This immense privilege [that of priesthood], to which the mercy of God has exalted poor sinners, imposes sacred duties on all Christians, confers on them also all the spiritual rights which the Church is in possession of I say all: government, the preaching of the word, the administration of the sacraments, the power to remit or retain sins." "If this be objected to," adds the author of this article, "the protestant dogma on this point is not known."

3 There is certainly great confusion in this; but the establishment of such a principle is of the greatest importance. The author, it is true, makes a restriction - a restriction which he presents not at all as flowing from divine right, but purely from human right. It is that for good order. The Church entrusts* these rights to men whom she sets up, to a Clergy.

{* The presence of the authority of the Holy Spirit, and, in consequence also, the authority of the gifts He confers, are ignored by our opponents. Priesthood does not confer the right of preaching; it is the gift which imposes this duty on the one who has received it. If, for example, a spiritual capacity for preaching is met with, the Church can neither confer nor take it away. Neither gifts, nor the right to preach, are the portion of all; and it is very wrong to consider the right of preaching as a right of man. It is a duty which flows from a gift, an obligation toward God. Woe to him who does it not, if God has conferred the gift on him. The Church cannot entrust him with that for which God has already made him responsible, nor take it from him; neither can it relieve him from the responsibility which is attached to it. On the other hand, the Church cannot entrust to him that which God has not given him. If he has the talent, the Lord calls him to traffic with this talent; if he has it not, no institution can fit him to do so.}

"Such is, in particular," continues this same article, "the evangelistic ministry. The minister receives his gifts from God only; his office from men. It is not a character which distinguishes him from other Christians, which makes of him and his colleagues a separate order, a caste, a clergy, according to the proudly pretentious word of the catholic hierarchy, which thus calls itself alone the heritage of the Lord, while it sees in the rest of the Church only the laos [the people], the laity."

Besides this, the article we are citing complains, because the author of the "Examination of the Darbyite Views on the Sacred Ministry" believes he finds in scripture a hierarchical government for each flock, concentrated in the person of the pastor alone, however right it may be, that he should "endeavour to utilize the religious elements he meets with among the faithful." And he fears this monarch soon becoming a pope, "without reckoning that here again universal priesthood is found pitiably banished in the cloudy region of abstractions."

Here is the language of "The Reformation." "For our part, we readily acknowledge the services which Plymouthism has rendered to the gospel … Everything in Plymouthism may be reduced to two points, the idea of the action of the Holy Spirit, and the idea of the authority of the scriptures … Plymouthism wishes to substitute for human organization the action of the Holy Spirit … We also have long thought that, on the ground of conformity to primitive usages, there can be no successful defence of present usages. We must take our stand boldly on that of evangelical liberty and of human order." That is, boldly saying that we must arrange the things of God according as we think proper.

4 The same journal adds, "Perhaps Plymouthism owes its existence not so much to such views on scripture and the Spirit, as to an anticlerical tendency to which these views have served as a scaffolding, as materials, and as weapons. If this be so, we might find ourselves not so far severed as might appear. It is thus that we find ourselves entirely agreed as to the principal point of the controversy on the subject of ministry: that is to say, as to sacerdotal notions of every sort - apostolical succession, the efficacy of ordination, the conferring of an indelible character, the distinction between laity and ecclesiastics, the inherent capacity of the one or the inherent incapacity of the other to exhort, to teach, and to administer baptism or the Lord's supper. Upon all these points we pass condemnation, because nothing of all that is found in the New Testament, but especially because it is contrary to its spirit and tends to alter it gravely. It is yet needful to extirpate from our thoughts the preconceived notion of a distinction between ecclesiastics and laymen."

Let us listen to M. Henri Martin, in his pamphlet on "The resignation of the Vaudois clergy."

"The whole Church," says he, "is the clergy. There is, in the New Testament, no other high priest than Jesus Christ. Every Christian is nevertheless a priest, as sharing the priesthood of the Lord … If all are priests and offerers of sacrifice, there are in the Church no laity in the vulgar sense of the word, and all are the laity in the sense of being the people that God has acquired for Himself."

The "Examination of the Darbyite views,"* by a minister of Neufchatel, also acknowledges that spiritual gifts are allotted to all the faithful without exception; and the author, speaking of what he calls the Darbyite system as to ministry, agrees** "that the greater part of the blows by which it is, in general, thought possible to vanquish this enemy, in reality do not touch it"; that instead of "rejecting ministry," it "on the contrary pretends to re-establish the only true, the only scriptural one" … that "received with charity, this adversary will certainly be changed into a friend who will contribute to awaken in the bosom of the Church the consciousness of several important truths." And the author cites this one among others: "that true Christian ministry, the ministry of spirit and of life … cannot be conferred by a mere human consecration, but must rest upon a call and a living gift of the Spirit." Moreover, he declares that he gives his "full assent to all that the system of Mr. Darby contains really true and salutary to the Church in the present day," and he recognizes "the necessity of raising ministry to, and maintaining it at, the height of these eternal truths."***

{*"Examination of the Darbyite views on Holy Ministry by passages of Scripture," by a minister of the Word of God. Neufchatel (Switzerland), 1846.}

{**"Examination," page 18.}

{***"Examination," pages 1921.}

5 Here are testimonies drawn from pamphlets and journalistic articles written with the intention of condemning the system brought of late under the notice of Christians testimonies which perfectly justify what I have advanced, namely: that the battlefield is entirely changed. By the avowal of our adversaries,** the great principles which have been put forth are eternal truths. The most decided among them agree with me on the principal point. If the Reformers recognized these eternal truths, so much the better for them and for us. I have given the preceding extracts with a view to establish that these truths are recognized. There is no longer any possibility of drawing back from this recognition.

{**In saying "adversaries," I mean to refer only to views and the position taken with regard to them. I am not the adversary of the persons who have taken this position. The author of an "Examination of the Darbyite Views," a pamphlet written in a gentle and amiable spirit, is, to my knowledge, a brother who would not like to be an adversary of the children of God. He has, in general, represented my views with uprightness, with sincerity, and ordinarily with justness. Nevertheless, in the point which constitutes the thesis of the pamphlet, he has made me say precisely the contrary of what I have really said. Preoccupied with his subject (I only attribute this mistake to preoccupation), he has made me, from the distinction established between gifts and local charges, conclude their incompatibility - a conclusion contrary to what I have written, of which he would have done well to take a little more account. The examination which, on this occasion, I have made of my previous publications, has convinced me of the justness of what I said, and has shewn me that God has given me grace to keep, with much more exactness than this brother, within the limits of truth on the subject in question, a subject on which I agree with him. The controversy bears upon the points which he has avoided; among others, that as to whether the Church's fall has not altered the position of the children of God. A system which prefers the Church of Neufchatel to the apostolic times exposes itself to be received with some distrust.}

6 We shall see, nevertheless, that it is quite possible to seek to render null the force of this concession, made under the constraint of facts, rather than dictated by faith.

I shall begin by rectifying some errors into which the author of the "Examination" has fallen, and to which I have alluded in the last note.





The author of the "Examination" says (p. 21), "The entire doctrine of Mr. Darby on ministry rests, as we have seen, on the separation he establishes between the ministry of gifts, and charges. Charges, which appear to be characterized, according to him, by the absence of any special gift, by election through human intervention and employment for secular uses, are the diaconate and episcopate, or the office of elder."

Next, after having quoted from the epistles various passages containing lists of gifts, the author adds (p. 24), "Mr. Darby cites especially, with confidence, four lists or enumerations of the ministries of the Spirit … lists which do not contain the denominations of elder or deacon, and which prove thus the decided separation established by the primitive Church between ministry and charges."

"This is assuredly the decisive point. If we find, as Mr. Darby contends, in the apostolic Church, on the one hand, gifts exercised in free ministrations for the edification of the Church; on the other, charges, the result of a human election for an external administration, and this, as two series without points of contact, the case is decided in favour of Mr. Darby. If, on the contrary, we can demonstrate, that these two series are two currents proceeding originally from the same source, and which, after having separated for a moment, tended more and more, from the apostolic times, to re-approach one another and to be lost in one single stream, the future instrument of the fruitfulness of the Church; then we are on the road towards justifying the present institution, which is, in its principle, nothing else than the fusion of the divine gift and the human charge in one and the same ministry."

7 This, then, is the point to which the author has directed all his arguments. He affirms that I contend that gifts and charges are "two series with no points of contact." Let us see how far my writings bear this out.

I take the liberty of citing a passage from my pamphlet entitled, "On the Presence and Action of the Holy Ghost in the Church" (p. 35), where I say: "That the bishop may be engaged in feeding the flock, I do not deny. But, from the fact that such a gift is useful in the episcopal office, it does not follow that all who possessed it were in this office, and still less that the office was the same thing as the gift. I may engage my clerk to write well and be a good accountant, and he must know these things in order to be clerk, but it does not follow that every scribe and keeper of accounts should be a clerk. This office supposes a confidence which extends to many other things, to the management of money and goods, to dealing with customers, etc. Thus, a man may be a pastor and lack many things necessary to a bishop, and never have been invested with this office. A man may lack the power of rule, discernment needed in order to watch over souls, gravity to have influence over light spirits in the details of life,* personal acquaintance with souls, and, at the same time, be capable of feeding the flock with great success, without being clothed with the office of a bishop. This gift, namely, of pastorship, may, among other qualities, fit him for the office of a bishop; but an office which one is invested with, is not a gift given by Christ ascended up on high.

{*These expressions shew how the author of the "Examination" has misunderstood my thought, when he ascribes to me assigning to local charges as their object "employment for temporal uses." While presenting in good faith the general ideas I have put forth on ministry, he has, in treating the point in question, fallen into a preoccupation which has completely hidden from him all I have said, so that, in seeking to oppose me, he maintains what I have myself maintained in the writings from which he has gathered the exposition of my views. I beg all persons who honestly wish to know what I think, to read what I have written.}

8 "Bishops, and not a bishop, for there were always several, were local officers, who only acted in the midst of the particular church in which they were found. A bishop was not a gift, nor a joint in the body according to the measure of the gift of Christ; but a local office, for which the possession of pastoral capacity was suitable among many other things. Pastorship is never presented as an office established by men, although bishops, who were, according to God, established by men, with a special object of watching over souls locally, may have possessed this gift and used it in their locality. These things are linked on one side, as the authority conferred on the apostles by Christ was linked with what had been given to them. For apostleship, although directly from God, was also an office, and that, we may say, from Christ as man, acting with authority in the government of the Church; and authoritative charges flowed from thence.

"The bishop may be called to pastoral care and teaching also, as qualities of his office. I do not doubt, historically speaking, that as man has continually more and more eclipsed the action of the Spirit of God in the Church, the gift became gradually lost in the office; but that makes no change in the word, and we live in times in which we must come either to the word or to Popery," pp. 40, 41, 42.

How the author of the "Examination," after having read the pages I have just recalled to notice, can have been able to affirm that all my system depends on the incompatibility* of gifts and offices, as on the incompatibility of two series without points of contact, is to me a puzzle. I even have said that, historically, gift was gradually lost in office. And when, in speaking of these two series, the author compares them to two streams which, from the times of the apostles, tended more and more to approach one another and to merge in one river, it might be said his ideas were borrowed from mine. Whether this brings him nearer the justification of the present institution, is another question. However this may be, in the very pages of my pamphlet quoted above, I treat the particular point on which the author of the "Examination" insists. And how, having carefully** read these pages, he could present my views in such a manner, I know not. What is certain is, that the point which he views as decisive, cannot be so, since, with regard to the pastorate and episcopate, far from destroying what I have advanced, he only repeats it, attributing to me and combating as though it were my system, precisely the opposite of what I have said, and presenting triumphantly to upset me precisely what I had myself established. Such blows can take no effect; besides, how can one answer a writing, which, while I have affirmed positively that gifts and offices are connected on one side, seeks to shew that I make of these two things "two series with no points of contact," and presents this mistake into which he has fallen, as the foundation of my system?

{*Expression to which the author several times reverts.}

{**For he has recognized the force of a critical observation which is to be found in them as to a Greek phrase.}

9 Let me be permitted to make another quotation from my "Remarks on the condition of the Church"; and it will be seen to what a degree the way in which, on this "decisive point," the author of the "Examination" presents my views, is devoid of foundation.

"As to what concerns the difference which exists between the elder and the pastor, I say that pastorship was a gift of the Holy Spirit, which the office of elder was not. This office was established by men in the Church, according to God no doubt; but it was a governmental institution, and not a gift from on high, although certain gifts and qualities were necessary to the one who was named elder. I have said that the gift of feeding the flock of God in one way or other was necessary or suitable to him, because it appears, by the Epistle to Timothy, that the elders who laboured in the word and doctrine are distinguished from other elders."

I am sorry to be obliged to reproduce these extracts from my own writings, but the subject, at bottom, connects itself with that which acts powerfully on the walk of Christians; and it is important it should at least be understood what is the real question.

In sum, here is what I have said, and what the author of the "Examination" has made me say.

10 I have said: gifts and offices are connected on one side. He has made me say that there is no point of contact between them.

I have said that in certain cases gifts were necessary to office - he makes me say that there is incompatibility between the two.

I say that gifts have been gradually lost in office - he says the same. Where then is the difference between us? Here it is. He considers it as a good thing that we are deprived of apostles and prophets; more: he affirms the Church to be in a better state than in the time of the apostles. I say, on the contrary, that the Church has lost much, that it is in a fallen state. The author of the "Examination" announces, from the outset, that he will leave aside this question. He apparently has not seen that here is the essential point. As to the points he touches on, we have seen he does not refute them; but that, however, is what he assumed to do.



Among the points which the author of the "Examination" has left aside, I will mention the ruin of the Church; next, the doctrine of the return of Christ; finally, that which relates to the conflict with the Catholic hierarchy. It may be very convenient not to be occupied with it; but how form a sound judgment as to ministry and the Church in relation to it, if we put aside the question of the ruin of the Church?

I have insisted that ministry is a divine thing, an institution of God, all the energy of which comes from on high; that man having been unfaithful, the Church, in whose midst ministry was exercised, is in ruin, and that the external order which is connected with ministry has fallen with her. It is attempted to answer me by putting aside the subject of the ruin of the Church. That is nevertheless the very root of the question.

We insist on the fact that the house has been ruined, its ordinances perverted, its order and all its arrangements forsaken or destroyed; that human ordinances, a human order, have been substituted for them; and, what merits all the attention of faith, we insist that the Lord, the Master of the house, is coming soon in His power and glory to judge all this state of things. And here we have a disciple who, when this Master is rousing the attention of His own to the real state of things, when He is directing it to the house which He had been the one to build at the beginning, and to the judgment He intends to execute on account of the unfaithfulness which has suffered His house to fall to ruin, here, I say, is a disciple who, though he is responsible, is not occupied with these things. The one who holds this language is a member of a system; he gives out this system as the house, and those who act in it as servants of the Master.

11 No, no, nothing of the kind! The house is in ruin, and you are bad imitators acting from your own leading, and wrongly.

How avoid the question of the ruin of the Church? How judge of the state of the Church without entering upon the question of its ruin, the question of the abandonment of the principles on which God established it, and the position in which He had placed it?

It is not possible. It is even so impossible, that while desirous of avoiding this question, the author of the "Examination," treats it in his fashion; for he constructs a system entirely opposed to the fact of the ruin of the Church. According to him, there has always been a real progress; the suppression of the apostles was a benefit, their presence hindering the development of the Church (pp. 77, 78); blossoms fell, in order that excellent fruits should be produced.*

{*Thus, what the author would call the church of Neufchatel is like a young man at the flower of his age, compared with the apostolic state, which was only the infancy and childhood of the Church of God.}

Thus, far from seeing the Church in ruin, the author of the "Examination" finds it in a state of youth … of which faith, hope, and love form the imperishable crown."* Far from finding in clerical ministry a human institution substituted for the ministry of the Spirit, he surpasses even Popery, in the judgment of the "Archives," in the position he gives to the Protestant clergy.

{*"Examination" page 75.}

We are then led, in following the author of the "Examination," to consider the question of the ruin of the Church, not directly and in itself, but to take cognizance of the system which is set against it, and to judge, according to the scriptures, of the foundations on which it is endeavoured to base it.



It is more convenient than safe to put aside the question of the Catholic hierarchism, when one is oneself accused of acting according to the same principles; and, even according to the "Archives of Christianity," the system of the author rests on those principles. In a very laudatory notice of the "Examination," the "Archives of Christianity,"* after having given assent to what is said by the author on "universal priesthood," expresses itself in these terms: "But, as often happens, it seems to us that he (the author of the "Examination") recalls with one hand what he has yielded with the other, and shews himself in some respects inconsistent with the great and beautiful principles he has just laid down. Thus, taking his stand on a passage of Paul (2 Tim. 2:2), of which he evidently exaggerates the bearing, he claims for the evangelical ministry, neither more nor less than the character of apostolical succession, and that, if we have rightly understood him, in a sense with which the bishops of Rome and of Canterbury ought to shew themselves equally very well satisfied. Now this principle, which, forgetting that the Spirit of God blows where it lists, traces for Him, through all the ages of the Church, one only channel (often a very impure one), in which He must ever flow; this principle, the creator of an aristocracy whose erring ways are known, a flagrant denial of the privileges of the Church of Jesus Christ, which we have just been proving; this principle, which has recently produced the fruit of Puseyism, contains in germ the whole Catholic establishment, which, for that very reason, claims for itself the exclusive title of Christian Church … It has already produced in the ideas of the author a strange, though very logical, result. I speak of a veritable divine right which he claims, not only for the spiritual gifts of the ministry, but for the office. He supposes the case in which the ministry, 'wandering from the right way, instead of transmitting the sound apostolic doctrine, makes itself the instrument of a pernicious and poisonous doctrine, and from being a means becomes a hindrance … .' What is then to be done? 'Then reappears in all its dignity that ministry, that imperishable priesthood of all the faithful, of which mention is so often made in the Holy Scriptures.' And what is the right and the power of this priesthood? To withdraw from an unfaithful ministry the office which has been entrusted to it? 'No, it is to God alone that it belongs to overturn that which He alone has set up!' The priesthood of all the faithful will be able, ought, to render testimony to the truth, but, at the same time, to suffer this scourge to rest upon the whole Church, to suffer this pernicious and poisonous doctrine to flow in great waves into souls, 'and then wait for the right hand of the Lord to act in power.' ("Examination," pp. 82, 83.)

{*No. of 26th April, 1846.}

13 "For there would be needed, in order to renew this ministry, 'a divine act, a creative act, similar to that by which it was in the first instance founded.' Behold, then, a christian church crushed under the weight of a divine and always inviolable right, without authority to exercise any discipline upon an unfaithful ministry, although she is invested with an imperishable priesthood. But Catholicism has not gone so far; it has suspended priests, bishops, popes. Besides, have you well considered? This divine right of the office, you recognize it even in your hypothesis of an unworthy ministry! This 'instrument of a pernicious and poisonous doctrine,' it is God who has set it up! Therefore, it remains inviolable! It is exactly the principle on which an Alexander Borgia could be, by his office, as infallible a pontiff as if he had been a saint, and I am not unaware that something of this superstitious regard for a lying title has been perpetuated even in the bosom of Protestantism."

"Finally, there is another consequence of these views which we should be unwilling to admit. The author, resting on a more than doubtful interpretation of some passages of scripture, believes he finds there a monarchical government for each flock, concentrated in the person of the pastor alone though he ought to endeavour to utilize the religious elements which he meets with among the faithful. Monarchy, absolute monarchy! … I greatly fear it would soon be a mere pope. The poor heart of man and experience are at hand, let them be interrogated! I need no other proof, without reckoning that here again universal priesthood is found pitiably banished in 'the cloudy regions abstractions.'"

Such is the language of an article which does its best to praise the "Examination."



The author of the "Examination," acknowledging as "eternal truths" the principles I have put forth; the connection between gifts and offices in apostolic times having already been clearly established in my previous writings; the "Archives" having taken care to give warning that, in his ecclesiastical principle, the author of the "Examination" went farther than Catholicism itself; the application of this principle to justify the present institution being founded on a more than doubtful interpretation of some passages of scripture; universal priesthood being again, in the judgment of the "Archives," pitiably banished in the cloudy regions of abstraction, I might think myself absolved, as far as concerns the theses of the "Examination," from the fatigues of controversy. But, as these views are used as a support in the endeavour to embarrass the path of faith, it is good that the sheep of Jesus should not be seduced; and, in order to spare them the dangers of a wrong path, charity demands that these things should be carefully passed under judgment.



In order to shew the progress of the Church, the author of the "Examination" constructs a history of ministry of which the result is precisely, as the "Archives" remark, "to find for each flock a monarchical government, concentrated in the person of the pastor alone," etc., and it is precisely this historical result, which is still, according to the judgment of the "Archives," founded on "a more than doubtful interpretation of some scripture passages." And, in fact, all this pretended history is full of inexactitudes. True as it is that there exists a point of contact between gifts and offices, and that, historically, gifts have become lost in offices, equally untrue is it to present, as does the "Examination," this absorption of gifts by offices as a dismemberment of the apostolate effected by the apostles themselves, and as a progress of the Church.

The "Examination"* marks out a first phase of ministry, a phase specially apostolic. On account of the external growth of the Church, "the apostles soon feel the necessity of relieving themselves of a part of their functions … of the least important, the distribution of alms. Hence the institution of deacons . … This help does not seem to have long sufficed. The continual growth of the Church, above all, its propagation outside Jerusalem, and the duty … of carrying out their special mission and the proper duty of their office, oblige the apostles to abandon by degrees the pastoral position which they had taken … in relation to the church of Jerusalem, and to take the apostolic position to which they are called in relation to the entire Church. The void thus formed (at Jerusalem) is filled up by a new office that of elder, or bishop, the institution of which is not recounted to us … The office of elder was naturally superior to that of deacon: its later origin indicates this to us; for it is only in proportion as the apostolate retires, if I may venture so to speak, from a lower to a higher place, into the sphere of action which is proper to it, that offices successively arise.

{*Page 43, etc.}

15 This false principle of the dismemberment of the apostolate, a principle which serves also as the basis of the system of the "Espérance," has no foundation in the word of God. Quite the contrary; it is in contradiction with the origin and the very nature of ministry. This principle, which makes the apostles the source of ministry, in the place of Christ, Head of the body, is as abominable as can be. It is on Christ immediately that each ministry depended in its function. There was a diversity of gifts, but one Spirit; diversity of administrations, but one Lord; (1 Cor. 13:4, etc.) Christ is the "head of the body" (Eph. 4:15-16); and it is from Him that "the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edification of itself in love." It is Christ ascended on high, who gave pastors, just as He gave apostles, grace being given to each according to the measure of the gift of Christ. "He gave some apostles, some," etc. (Eph. 4:11). To one is given, by the Spirit, the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge, by the same Spirit; etc … but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every one severally as he will," 1 Cor. 12. The apostles might be the means by which the Holy Spirit was received; but the communication of the Spirit by their means was not a dismemberment of the apostolate. The apostles would have had no right to carry out such a dismemberment. They were bound to keep themselves in the position of servants, according to the talents which had been imparted to them. And this is what they did. Far from dismembering the apostolate, it is precisely because they would not abandon, for another work, that of apostleship, that, according to the will of God, they confided a work, which was being carried on without order to persons specially marked out for it.

16 Nothing is more unfounded than to assert that the apostles relieve themselves of a part of their functions, to form, of that part of it which they put aside, the office of deacon. Was it the apostles who, by partiality, preferred the Hebrew widows? And what confusion of ideas to say that the gift of wisdom, formed into an office, became the diaconate!* Besides, it is entirely false to suppose that a word (as here that of wisdom), which has a general meaning, and which also designates a gift, always signifies this gift. Nothing of the kind is true.

{*"Examination," page 44.}



Many other assertions of the author are no less devoid of proof.

When he says,* that Jesus "had left to His apostles no positive direction as to the constitution of the Church" he seems to attribute to Christ on earth the office of founding and organizing the Church. This is to confound entirely the work of Christ while He was on earth, and the constitution of the Church. The Church only began after the departure of Jesus, and the author himself acknowledges this truth, when he says:** that Pentecost gave birth to the Church.

{*"Examination," page 41.}

{**"Examination," page 42.}

He says, in speaking of the apostles:* "It is they who go from house to house, breaking bread." It was neither the apostles, nor any one else, in my opinion. Those who broke bread were those of whom it is said that all those who believed were together in one place, and had all things in common, sold their possessions, distributed them, and continued with one accord in the temple. The expression kat oikon signifies, not from house to house, but at home in contrast with the temple. They broke bread in private houses and not in the temple.

{*"Examination," page 43.}

17 When he says that the apostles abandon "by degrees the pastoral position," in order to take, relatively to the entire Church, an apostolical position, he affirms a thing of which scripture says not one word. Scripture says rather the contrary. It was agreed, as Galatians 2:9 teaches us, that Paul and Barnabas should go to the Gentiles, and that Peter, James, and John should go to the Jews. Here, then, the "Examination" rests its system on an invented fact.

When, moreover, he establishes two categories of gifts: namely, gifts arranged into office, and "in some degree mediatized" (that is to say, gifts which, no longer depending immediately on the Lord from whom they proceed, and to be exercised under His immediate authority, are placed under the authority of an office conferred by men and exercised mediately); and "other gifts which appear to have always preserved their independence, as those of prophecy, of tongues, of contemplative knowledge, the exercise of which does not seem ever to have been put in regular order by an external consecration";* when, we say, the "Examination" establishes, as one of the proofs of the development of the Church, and puts in distinction with and almost in opposition to each other "a regular ministry of offices," and "irregular ministries," gifts not arranged into office  order;** when it adds,*** that ["]the posterior origin of an office (that of elders), indicates that it was naturally superior to an office of more ancient institution," the "Examination" does but multiply assertions entirely devoid of foundation and of proofs. Was the apostleship, the most ancient of offices, naturally inferior to the others? Besides, apostleship was an office before it was a gift; what then is a gift brought into the regular order of office? The gift of tongues dates from Pentecost itself. Miracles, healings, prophesyings, all sorts of gifts, which have no connection with offices, are found in the Church from the beginning. The whole system of the "Examination" is nothing but a system.

{*"Examination," page 39.}

{**"Examination," page 47.}

{***"Examination," page 45.}

When, in speaking of the church in Corinth,* the "Examination" takes the liberty of affirming that there was "a marked distinction between free ministries, to which the edification of the Church is entrusted, and the offices of elders and bishops, the place of which would perhaps have been encroached upon by the gifts, if the apostleship had not come to occupy it, and to fulfil for the moment its functions," whence did he draw this? There may perhaps have been more gifts in one church than in another; but who says that, in the epistle to the Corinthians, Paul fulfils for the moment the duties of elder or deacon? Can pastors and elders of the Canton of Neufchatel say, with Paul, in this epistle, "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord?"

{*"Examination," page 51.}

18 Moreover, the manner in which the ministry of Paul, "as of one born out of due time," began, overturns the whole system of the "Examination." Nor does the author say anything at all about it. He speaks indeed of his consecration; but that is quite a different question. The fact is, that Paul, who was an apostle, "not of men, nor by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead" (Gal. 1:1), could not possibly figure in any development of "human order." And it is on this that Paul insists absolutely in the epistle to the Galatians. And it is worth remarking, that after that this apostleship, which is neither of men nor by man, is shewn us in activity; the other apostles disappear entirely from the biblical history of the Acts.



These last are but observations concerning details. Let us come to facts - that is to say, to what concerns the National Presbyterian Church as at present established. However ingenious theories may appear on paper, what have the two orders of things, I am about to present, in common?

The one, that an apostle, who is neither of men nor by man, chooses men, some of whom were already prophets, and the others distinguished for piety, and, as to the latter, confers a gift on them by the imposition of hands.

The other, that in a certain geographical circumscription there is found established, as a sort of monarchical government, a pastor, who may even not be converted (as happens in the immense majority of cases), but who is established according to a system limited to a nation, and established over an unconverted flock or still worse, pretends to feed those who are really the sheep of the Lord; who (what an apostle made no pretence to, for it is to put oneself above God, instead of being His servant) pretends to have the right to refuse and to reject those whom the Lord Himself might send for the blessing of His true sheep, and who, perhaps, raises the police against them.* And do not say that I have not the right to suppose this pastor established according to a human order, to be unconverted.

{*This is, in fact, just what has happened, since the publication of his work, in the neighbourhood of the author of the "Examination," on the part of those who co-operated in drawing it up. I am assured that the author does not approve of this conduct.}

19 I have this right, and justly so, since the "Examination" will have it that the national institution is of God; still more since it will have it that, even in the case in which the pastor, established according to this system, might propagate "mischievous and poisonous doctrine," the thing should be left to God, and the poor sheep to the care of the wolf. I am bound to enquire whence the right which makes this pastor a monarch derives its source. It is not derived from God, assuredly; for it is not God who has chosen him. It is either a Council of State, or, save an appeal to the Minister of Public Worship, a Consistory composed of the principal taxpayers, or a king, or a patron who has purchased this right for money. This is what is said by pious ministers, who thereby shew the judgment they pass on systems they themselves have long defended, accusing of schism and radicalism, those who, their hearts broken by such a state of things, had judged it their duty to abandon it. The force of circumstances has constrained them to acknowledge as an institution not only human, but injurious to the rights of Christ,* that which the "Examination" still defends and maintains as being an institution of Christ; and, as defenders of the slighted rights of Christ over His Church, the ministers of whom we speak have stood forward to vindicate them against the same institution whose cause the "Examination" endeavours to plead.

{*See the "Constitution of the Free Church of the Canton de Vaud." Fuller mention will be made of it hereafter.}

Think, Christians, think of such a system, in presence of the love of Christ for His Church!

Another question presents itself. According to the "Examination,"* the present ministerial order, a fusion of divine gifts and human office, concentrates the guidance of the flock in one office, that of elders, and this office in one man. It adds, "This ministry of one man ought to seek to reinforce and multiply itself through the gifts which the Spirit of God grants to the members of the flock, whether by associating these gifts with himself officiously, as the present office of elders offers him the means of doing, or by encouraging and directing these gifts in their private exercise."

{*Page 80.}

20 What is, at bottom, this liberality, thus generosity? Nothing but, without perhaps the consciousness of it, the usurpation of the place of Christ in the exercise of His sovereignty over His Church.

Let us even suppose, to give the "Examination" the greatest possible advantage as to its ground - let us suppose these concentrating ministers to be in every place converted and truly elders, here is our question: - Who is it that has given them the right to accept or refuse the gifts which are exercised freely? What passage of scripture can afford any presumption that Christ has conferred such a right upon them?

We go farther still and concede still more. Let us suppose for an instant that these ministers, each of whom is one man, invested with one office, which concentrates in itself the guidance of the flock, and which is the fusion of a gift and an office, were in a true position: are not the evangelists, teachers, pastors, prophets, who are not "mediatized," the servants of Christ responsible to Christ, and to Christ alone? Are they perchance responsible to those who hold office? Nothing approaching to such a thought is found in the word. Has Christ the right to give such ministries? And, if He gives them, to whom are they responsible?

Alas! in the system which is sought to be sustained, but which the word of God does not sustain, it is a question, in fact, neither of the Church of God, nor of ministry in the Church of God.

That which is in question is a geographical district, under the dominion of such and such a sovereign, or in the territory of such and such a state. This district is a parish. All the inhabitants are made Christians of; in certain countries* civil rights even are attached to this qualification of being a member of the established church. According to the system, all spiritual movement outside this arrangement is prohibited. At a determined age, persons take the sacrament for the first time; and there are countries where it is only after the accomplishment of this act, that custom permits young people to go and drink and dance. When, by sacrament first taking, they have become completely Christians, they may then go. But for this parish a minister is necessary. And if it is in this manner that Christians are made, it is not astonishing that ministers are made at the university.

{*This is the case in the country in which the author of the "Examination" lives.}

21 And let not people cry out that these are only abuses. No, this is the system According to the system, in fact, according to the principle described in the "Examination," and according to that which exists as a fact in the national churches, one must recognize a Socinian minister, or, if you will, an unconverted minister, as well as a pious minister. He has the same rights in the church; and the minister of Christ, whom the national establishment may have placed in either the same parish or a neighbouring one, is bound to recognize him and to leave the sheep of Jesus in the hands of such a man.

And the Bible is quoted to justify this institution! And it is quoted, because it shews us that there were over churches elders, and, as is also said, angels! Separation is complained of. Separation from what? From a system which, according to the new light of a part of the clergy themselves, denies the rights of Christ over His Church, compels the sheep of Jesus to remain in poisonous pastures, and places the Church, bound hand and foot, in the hands of men. And why not separate from it? Is it the Church of Christ? I think not; it is not what I have found in the word. And if it is not the Church of Christ, why then be of it? Truly pious ministers will answer, "We do not ask you to acknowledge unconverted ministers." In that case, why do they acknowledge them themselves? And how do they think that we can acknowledge, in their person, a system which they condemn as to others?

To say that the principle of the existing ministry is only the fusion of gift and office, while, in the greater number of cases, there are, on the part of those who are invested with it, neither gifts, nor even conversion, is only to deceive oneself about words in a very serious matter. That which is practised in the national institution in order to prepare and to make ministers, is not, as is pretended, what Paul commends to Timothy, when he says, "The things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also," 2 Tim. 2:2. No. To instruct young men at a university with a view to ordain them afterwards, be they or be they not gifted or converted, is not to commit certain truths to faithful men; it is to instruct and train for a profession young men whose faithfulness has not yet been able to be proved, and who have not one of the qualities requisite for an elder. In certain cases there was a union of gifts and offices. That which is now in vogue is a vast system which has no reference to either the one or the other.

22 No, the inhabitants of a geographical district do not form the Church of Christ. No, a ministry which joins together and confounds in one mass and with the same rights the converted and the unconverted, unbelievers and believers, gifted and ungifted, is not the true ministry, but a confusion established by man.

It is in vain for the author of the "Examination" to connect and fuse together gifts and offices. I defy him to bring forward, in the biblical history of ministry, anything similar to the system in which he acts and which he maintains. And if the body of Christ is one, how can these geographical districts be that body? That in one particular town the children of God should all unite together and form a body, can be understood; the Bible has made me understand it: but that in the constitution of the Church there should be any thing like nationalism, any thing like nationality in the matter of the Church, is what is not found in the word of God.

No, the word of God does not speak to us of the fusion of gifts and offices; it does not at all justify the system of the "Examination." It shews us, outside all human order, the extraordinary call of Paul, a call which the "Examination" leaves entirely aside. It is to Paul that had been committed the revelation of a mystery hidden from ages and from generations (Col. 1:26), a revelation, observe, precisely of this truth of the Church of God, one body, united to Christ on high; and Paul particularly insists that the ministry which was intrusted to him has no relation with that which went before.



In his preoccupation relative to the progress of the Church, or more especially the progress of ministry in the Church, the author of the "Examination" discovers three epochs, three periods in the history of christian ministry.* He takes as a starting point pure apostolic ministry: as his second period simultaneous ministry of gifts exercised freely, and of offices.

{*Examination," pages 64, 65.}

"But soon," adds the "Examination," "the extraordinary abundance of gifts diminishes, and the time arrives, when to the flowers of the early season more durable fruits are to succeed … The apostleship comes to an end … The office of elder is appointed of God as a provision in each flock for the maintenance of order and discipline … This third phase … may be called the epoch of episcopal or presbyterian ministry."

Apostleship and gifts, flowers of the early season, give place to more durable fruits. Is it possible to fall into such an illusion? Are we to put among the number of these durable fruits the encroachment of popery, the universal worship of the Virgin, and the torturing of those rare and precious witnesses of the Lord, who came at long intervals, during many ages, to be put to death by those whom the "Examination" calls durable fruits, in comparison with the spring flowers of gifts and apostleship?

Is Protestant rationalism one of these durable fruits? Does the author think that his church of Neufchatel has lasted from the time of Jesus?

Has all sense of the affection of Christ for His Church and all memory disappeared at the same time?

This presbyterian phase, how long did it last in the primitive Church? Not even a century. And even, if we are to refer to the opinions of men, this phase, which the "Examination" considers as the third, has the anteriority in the eyes of many others, who consider the apostolic or episcopal phase the primitive one.

Just see to what degree the idea of the progress of the Church has misled the "Examination."

Making mention of 1 Corinthians 13, where Paul shews us that our present knowledge is far from being comparable to that which we shall have when we see face to face, the author is carried away so far as to  say:* "St. Paul then evidently distinguishes in this chapter three states of the Church; that of infancy, during which God grants it these extraordinary gifts, like the flowers with which a father adorns the cradle of his newborn child; the age of youth, which embraces all the earthly pilgrimage of the Church since the termination of the apostolic age, and of which faith, hope, and love form the imperishable crown; finally, the full age or the heavenly state into which love alone enters and dwells without changing its nature, because then God is all in all, and God is love."

{*"Examination." page 76.}

24 "The cessation of the apostleship should itself, however strange this may appear, be looked at as progress … The apostles were for the Church, in its state of infancy, tutors and guardians. But, when the divine child had begun to grow, when the hour of its coming of age, of free and spontaneous development, had sounded for it, as God had given apostles in His grace, He also withdrew them in His grace."*

{*"Examination." page 77.}

It is sufficient to read the chapter in question, to assure oneself that Paul makes no mention in it of the state of the Church, but of the nature of the knowledge we possess. This is so certain that the author of the "Examination" himself has felt that he was misinterpreting this passage, and has sought to answer the objections which he foresees.

Here is the reasoning of the apostle: "We know in part … when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." There is a partial knowledge which belongs to the Church here below. This knowledge will be perfect above.

The "Examination" says, on the contrary, that knowledge itself disappears entirely, to make way for faith, hope, and love, an imperishable crown which serves as an intermediate term between gifts, or the state of infancy, and heaven. Thus, for the author, the loss of knowledge, of apostleship, of prophecy, is in reality progress. For him, again, it is not when that which is perfect is come, that knowledge is done away; it is during the entire period between the apostles and the return of Christ.

It is impossible not to see that he is entirely mistaken. What a thought! The Church superior now to the state in which it was in the times of the apostles! Does the author see that around him? That the Canton of Neufchatel enjoys many of the blessings of Providence, that its clergy even contain in their midst pious men, I have neither any interest in contesting, nor desire to do so; but to say that the state of this church, the great mass of which lies, on the author's confession, in the darkness of nature, is superior to the apostolic state, is what, I am sure, even the "Class"* would be ashamed of And do you know, reader, what is the foundation for saying this? On this, that there is more faith, hope, and love: and that the spring flowers of apostles, prophets, gifts, and knowledge have given place to love, faith, and hope, which now exist and which have, in fact, existed since we have had the apparent misfortune, but real blessing, of losing these ephemeral gifts of infancy.

{*The company or corporate bodies of Pastors.}

25 "If people wish to prove a fall of the Church," says the "Examination,"* "let them point out the cessation of faith, love, and hope; but let them beware of adducing in proof a fact such as that of the cessation of gifts."

{*"Examination," page 75}

The author is mistaken in thinking that it is in the loss of gifts that I find the ruin of the Church. In some respects this loss may be a symptom, a mark of this ruin. The ruin is another thing. I shall beware of seeking to establish the cessation of faith, love, and hope. To say that these things have ceased, would be to say that there is no longer a Christian in the world. Let him who is contented on that account to deny the ruin of the Church, be contented! But I will answer in a more explicit manner.

As concerning love, we see in Acts 2 and 4 what the Holy Ghost produced. "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine, and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers … And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people." "And great grace was upon them all Neither was there any among them that lacked: as many as were possessors of lands or houses, sold them," etc.

Here are the flowers (we were in the habit of calling them fruits) which, alas, were too quickly lost; and we should have trouble to find them in the church which the "Examination" boasts of as being an advance on the apostolic state of things. Can the author of the "Examination," with his hand on his heart, say that there is real progress since the times of the apostles - that love has not ceased? Ceased! No, it will never cease. But where will the author shew me anything to compare with what we read of in the Acts? If it is answered, that this did not last, then it is acknowledged that the fruits of the Spirit in love have not lasted.

26 There are things yet far more precise. In the epistle to the Philippians, the epistle in which the author says we have the proof of the progress and development of the Church, because in it the apostle addresses himself to the bishops and deacons - here is what Paul says as to the state of Christians, when referring to Timothy: "For I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's." Were faith, hope, and love progressing?

In the second epistle to Timothy, which the author also quotes in proof of his system, we see the heart of the apostle broken because of the state of the Church. He is, as it were, astonished that a Christian should not be ashamed of him, and, on account of this, prays for a special blessing on his house; 2 Tim. 1:16. Compare this epistle with that which we have quoted from the Acts, and see what was the state of the Church as to faith, love, and hope. The author may endeavour to make us think that the existence of his parochial monarchy compensates us for it; but how sad to see a brother undertake such a task.

One thing, perfectly certain, is that, in writing to Timothy, the apostle did not look for a progressive development of good. He had the foreknowledge of just the contrary. "This know also," says he, "that in the last days perilous times shall come," 2 Tim. 3:1. God had been preparing the heart of His imprisoned servant by making him feel the miseries of the Church. "At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge," 2 Tim. 4:16. Where were then faith, hope, and love? Let this touching and last appeal of the apostle, who was ready to be offered (chap. 4:6), serve as an answer.

Perhaps Paul elsewhere renders a different testimony to the real progress of the Church, through the means of his departure? What does he say to those elders who, according to the system, ought to have replaced him, and even more? "I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them," Acts 20:29-30.

27 Does Peter give a different testimony? No. For him, what fills up the picture of the last times are mockers and false teachers, who will privily bring in damnable heresies; 2 Peter 2:1.

And were these last times slow in arriving? No. John, the last of the apostles, John, who, perhaps, gives us to see "angels," but at the same time the Church in decay, and ready at the end to be spued out of the Lord's mouth, this John makes us know that in his time these things were not delayed. "Little children, it is the last time; and as ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists, WHEREBY we know that it is the last time," 1 John 2:18. Why whereby, if there had been real progress other than in evil?

However amiable and sincere he may be, I pity the man who, in presence of such testimonies, can believe in a real progress of the Church in good through the absence of the apostles. I pity still more a body of pastors who, comparing themselves with the apostolic work and condition, can put themselves forward as the proof of a true progress.

The revelation which, according to the divine knowledge, is given us, of the period of this real progress only confirms the prophetic previsions and touching lamentations of the hearts of the apostles. Paul says to the Thessalonians, "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition … For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming," 2 Thess. 2:3-8. And the Apocalypse, which, according to the "Examination" itself, "closes so admirably the New Testament," shews us that the Church ends by being spued out of the mouth of the Lord, having already, in its first phase, left its first love. And when the things which are (the seven golden candlesticks, the seven churches, the state of the Church) have come to an end, the apostle speaks of the future, of "the things which shall be hereafter," when the Church is no longer seen on the earth, and it is the progress of an apostate world towards its ruin and final judgment. The salt is removed from the earth, and all becomes corrupt. Little matters it. For the "Examination" it is real progress due to the disappearance, to the withdrawal of the apostles and of the care which they had over the Church.

28 The "Examination" speaks, it is true, of the precautions which Paul takes, before leaving this world, for the future of the Church. In fact, conscious by divine revelation that they were about to depart, the apostles, whose hearts were devoted to the welfare of the Church of Christ, exhort and conjure those who remained to watch, because evil was about to enter. Nothing more natural. But these elders, in whom people wish to see the successors and in some sort the heirs of the apostolate, already existed at the same time as the apostles. Paul died more than thirty years, and John more than sixty, after the Lord's departure. There were then elders existing at the same time as the apostles, during a period of thirty or even sixty years. The elders therefore were neither the successors of, nor still less the substitutes for, the apostles, at the time of the departure of the latter. And that which, in his thesis of the progress of the Church, the author of the "Examination" had to shew, is that the elders were to walk better without the apostles than with their help; for, says the "Examination," "the continuation of an authority such as the apostolic would have had a disproportionate weight in the scale of the destinies of the Church, and hindered its development, instead of forwarding it."

After the elders had exercised superintendence and wrought energetically for nearly half a century, that the apostles press upon them that they should be faithful, and that they should watch with so much the more care when they themselves should be no longer present, is easily understood. And it is this which Paul says, in general, to the Philippians: "not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you." Paul exhorts the elders as he exhorts the Church, for he addresses himself to all. But, in fact, have these exhortations had as their result the establishment of the safety of the Church upon the faithfulness of its leaders? Let ecclesiastical history - and this history is that of the clergy - let ecclesiastical history answer the question. It is this history which has led infidels to say that the annals of the Church were those of hell.

29 To speak of durable fruits, as proof of the progress of the Church and of the gain it has found through the cessation of apostleship, to speak of a "shining covering" which vanishes while "the solid groundwork, the real and permanent elements of the life of the Church, remain and are developed,"* is what none but a member of the clergy would have dreamt of. That the system of the clergy has been developed, on that point there is no doubt; that the blessing of the Church has been the result, is what history does not testify.

{*"Examination," page 75.}

If the cessation of apostleship is a progress, why does the apostle say (Eph. 4) that the Lord has given some apostles, some, etc., until we all come in the unity of the faith, that we be no more children? That, in His grace and faithfulness, God has taken care that, spite of the unfaithfulness of man, there should be enough for those who rely on Him, is true. Blessed be His name for it! But this is not the question. The author affirms that what God had given (so that we should all come, in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ) was an "obstacle," a hindrance to this end being attained, and that this obstacle needed to be removed to enable us to arrive at it. The apostle says that it was given to lead us there; - the author says it was removed with this object. Let faith in the word, the history of the Church, and the spiritual man, decide the question.

When leaving the Church, the last apostle might have said (adds the "Examination"), it is expedient for you that I go away.* Not only did he not say so, but, on the contrary, Paul said: "Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you," Phil. 1:24. And he says this in that epistle to the Philippians cited by the author** to shew that the apostle represented the elders and deacons as an advance before which he himself was to disappear. And when Paul must needs depart, he conjures Timothy to watch and to continue faithful, because everything would go wrong after his departure.

{*"Examination," page 53.}

{**"Examination," page 53.}

30 Let it not be thought that I exaggerate the bearing of the views of the "Examination." We have seen it: he says expressly that it was in His grace God withdrew apostleship, the continuation of which would have weighed with a disproportionate weight in the scale of the destinies of the Church, and have hindered its development.

That (the foundation once laid) God should have seen fit to leave the Church to its responsibility, can be understood; but it is. entirely false to say that the apostles did no more than lay the foundation, and to present them as an obstacle to the development of the Church; while they themselves, more than any others, laboured in the Church for its development, for its government, and sought to keep it in safety against the wiles of the enemy.

As to the question of knowing whether the Church has been faithful to the responsibility which devolved on her - and this would be the true question to resolve in order to establish the progress or the failure of the Church - the author refuses to treat it. Here is again a fragment of that which he gives us instead!* -

{*"Examination," page 78.}

"The Church (after the apostolate) had nothing more to receive … From a child it had become a young man. The Lord opened to it a long and glorious career, that of external independence, in order to realize the internal and voluntary dependence which is the only true dependence. For that, apostleship, necessary as a beginning, would no longer have been of any use would on the contrary have been a restraint."

In fact, apostleship would have been an excessive restraint upon the Church in the career it has followed. When such thoughts are cherished thoughts contradicted for the conscience and heart by all the history of the Church, there is good reason for setting aside the truth which closes the entire word: "Surely I come quickly; Amen. Even so come, Lord Jesus." A long career was not in the thoughts of those who insisted on the personal coming of Jesus, as putting an end to their tribulations, nor of those who, after the Lord Himself, insisted among the brethren that they should constantly wait for the coming of Jesus, nor in the mind of Him who made it a sin to think, "My lord delayeth his coming." And (without dwelling longer on this truth, infinitely precious and important though it be) we will ask why, if the cessation of apostleship was necessary, in order to "realize internal and voluntary dependence," the absence of the monarch of a parish would not be equally a benefit? For the dependence is to be internal and voluntary. And when you say internal dependence, you do not mean in the interior of the Church, for the apostles were there no less than the elders. And if it is a question of individuals and of their internal dependence, the elders would not be less hurtful to it than the apostles. If the care of the one was useful, the care of the others would have been still more useful. What is perfectly certain, is that there were neither parishes nor monarchs; and what is still more so, is that at that time the Church was not made up of a mass of unconverted people circumscribed in given geographical limits.*

{*In the country in which the system defended by the author of the "Examination" reigns, the non-ratification of the baptismal vow, conformably to a non-scriptural catechism, entails the 1088 of civil rights. And the ecclesiastical chiefs do not fear to employ the civil authority to enforce on the inhabitants the rights of their system. [Since this was written, there has been a revolution, and this changed.]}



The most serious evil that there is in all these reasonings, by the help of which it is sought to discredit the views put forth on the ruin of the Church, is that the relationships and very existence of the Church are thereby denied.

This denial of the Church, Messrs. Rochat and Olivier have formally made in their writings. Wolf has acted in the same manner; it is, moreover, what I meet with in private every day.

The idea of the Church has no existence in the mind of the greater part of those who oppose my views. Others have such an idea of it as makes them take the fruits of the sin of man for those of the grace of God.

If it were felt that there is a Church, the bride of Christ, a holy body formed down here on earth by the presence of the Holy Spirit, the reasonings by which it is sought to deny the ruin of the Church would be, for the greater part, impossible; and it would not even be attempted to deny the ruin in the midst of which we find ourselves.

I will explain myself as to what I mean by the Church. The Church is a body subsisting in unity here below, formed by the power of God by the gathering together of His children in union with Christ who is its Head; a body which derives its existence and its unity from the work and the presence of the Holy Spirit come down from heaven, consequently on the ascension of Jesus the Son of God, and of His sitting at the right hand of the Father after having accomplished redemption.

32 This Church, united by the Spirit, as the body to the Head, to this Jesus seated at the Father's right hand, will, no doubt, be manifested in its totality, when Christ shall be manifested in His glory; but, meanwhile, as being formed by the presence of the Holy Ghost come down from heaven, it is essentially looked at, in the word of God, as subsisting in its unity on the earth. It is the habitation of God by the Spirit, essentially heavenly in its relationships, but having an earthly pilgrimage, as to the scene in which it is actually found and in which it ought to manifest the nature of the glory of Christ, as His epistle of commendation to the world, for it represents Him and is in His place. It is the bride of the Lamb, in its privileges and calling. It is presented as a chaste virgin to Christ for the day of the marriage of the Lamb. Evidently this last thought will have its accomplishment in resurrection; but, what characterizes the Church, as being quickened according to the power which has raised Christ from among the dead and set Him at the right hand of God, is the realization and manifestation of the glory of its Head by the power of the Holy Ghost, before Jesus its Head is revealed in Person.

Those who compose the Church have other relationships besides. They are children of Abraham. They are the house of God over which Christ is head as Son. But these last characters do not detract from what we have been saying; still less do they annul it.

At the beginning, the truth of the Church, powerfully set forth by the apostle Paul, was as the centre of the spiritual movement; and those who were not perfect, still attached themselves to this centre, though at a greater distance. The Church is, rather, the circle nearest to the only true centre, Christ Himself. It was His body, His bride. This truth, lost now for the generality of Christians, (and it is a ground of shame), has become a means of separation, like the tabernacle of Moses, set up outside the unfaithful camp (Ex. 33); because, if, according to the principle of the unity of the body taught by the apostle, one acts outside the world, most Christians are unwilling to follow, and, while keeping up worldliness, they cannot do so. How, indeed, could they gather outside of that which they are keeping up?

33 This lack of faith has a sorrowful consequence. Relationships with God are taken up, belonging, it is true, to those of which the Church is composed, but inferior to those of the Church itself, and they are taken in order to form with them a system which is put in opposition to the most precious of all the relationships of the Church with God. People insist that the children of God are Abraham's children, which is true; but they wish to place them at this level, in order to deny the position of the bride of Christ. They will have it that they are branches grafted in, in place of the Jews, so as to reduce them to the level of the blessing and principles of the Old Testament, and this, in order to avoid the responsibility of the position in which God has set us, and, thereby, the necessity of a confession of our fall. They allow, in a general sense, that we are the house of God, which is true; a house in which there are vessels to dishonour: and they make use of this truth to justify a state of things which has left outside everything that can belong to the affections and the heart of a bride.

Let Christians give heed to it!

Hence, the postponement of the return of Christ to epochs which are connected with the judgment He will execute on an unfaithful house and a rebellious world. Hence also, the loss of the desire for His coming, a desire peculiar to the bride and inspired by the Spirit who dwells in and animates her.

The proofs of the existence of such a Church are beyond all contradiction, and, although I have already produced them elsewhere, it is good, even if it were but for one soul, to recall some of them, so that they may act on the conscience.



1 Corinthians 12 is positive on this subject.

"By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body" (v. 13), one body in which the gifts are exercised; the exercise of these gifts, as well as the baptism itself of the Spirit, demonstrates that it is a question of 4 body on the earth.

"God hath set some in the church; first, apostles; secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers, after that, miracles; then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues," 1 Cor. 12:28. He had set them neither in such and such a church, nor in the Church gathered to heaven.

34 The epistle to the Ephesians, almost entirely, treats this subject. Christ is the Head of His body which is the Church; chap. 1:22-23. There is one body and one Spirit; chap. 4:4. This body grows by the ministry of that which every joint supplies: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers; chap. 4:16, 11. It is very certain that it is on earth that this takes place.

Paul wrote to Timothy, that he might know how to behave himself in the "house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth," 1 Tim. 3:14-15. There was then a Church, which was one, the pillar and ground of the truth, a body manifested in unity upon the earth, a bride who desired the coming of her Bridegroom in order to the accomplishment of her blessing; who, meanwhile, sought to glorify her Bridegroom, and who, by the power of the Spirit who was in her, manifested the glory in which her Head was, at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens. And if Jesus, her Bridegroom, was in heaven, invisible to the natural sight, she it was who was visible on earth for the manifestation of Christ's glory; and she was on earth Christ's epistle of commendation, known and read of all men; 2 Cor. 3.

That God makes sure to this Church, seen in His eternal counsels of grace, an unfailing portion of glory in heaven, is certain. That, in consequence, the gates of Hades cannot prevail against that which Christ has founded on the confession of the Son of the living God, nothing again more certain. But to employ such precious truths to set aside the responsibility under which the Church is laid that she should be down here a witness to the glory of Jesus, is to use the certainty of grace to destroy the necessity of a life answering to it.

Christ asks that we may be one, so that the world may believe; John 17:21. That which Christ asks for, is a visible unity, a unity which witnesses to the nature, the love, and the holiness of Christ, and even to His power; and that, in order that the world which knows not Christ, neither can see Him, may learn, by the effects which it sees, what is the real source of grace which is hidden from it and beyond its reach.

But a world church, visible, and a spiritual church, invisible, there is what, on the one side as well as on the other, destroys completely the thought and counsel of God, not, assuredly, in their eternal accomplishment, but where God has always placed, in the first instance, that accomplishment, that is to say, in the responsibility of man. God has always first entrusted to man as responsible, that which He intends to accomplish later, according to the efficacy of His own power.

35 The world church is a denial of the nature, the love, the holiness, and the affections of Christ, as it is of the nature, the love, the holiness, and the affections of the bride, while it pretends to realize her unity. The invisible Church is null as a witness in this world, by the very fact of its invisibility. Rather would it serve as a witness of the powerlessness of the Spirit and the powerlessness of Christ Himself, to disengage His own from this world which has rejected Him, and to gather them in oneness by virtue of His Spirit, and as an evident demonstration of His glory - to gather them, as the faithful bride of His heart who belongs to Him alone.

The world church is founded on the compatibility of Christ and evil in the most intimate relations; it denies thus the character of Christ. The invisible Church, as such, is null in testimony. It is the denial of the power of Christ to gather His own, to gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad, and to manifest in them, thus gathered, His power and glory.

That the Church, alas! is invisible, is but too true. And if it is so, it is in a fallen condition, it is unfaithful to the glory of its Head, it has failed of the object of its establishment on the earth.

To own such a truth as this, to confess it as a fearful sin, a sin perhaps irremissible as to the integral re-establishment of God's system, to confess in this respect our sin and our iniquity, this is what places us in our true position on this point.

To justify such a state of things, to put it forward as regular and providential, as that which ought to be, is to shew hardness in sin; it is to lack the heart and affections which seek the glory of Christ, and which shew that we have the consciousness of our relationship with Him as His bride. How afflicting is this!

If the Church ought to have manifested on the earth the glory of Christ, it is very certain that a visible church, worldly and corrupted, does not do so; and that, just the contrary, by the very avowal of those who sustain it and plead its cause, it only hides those who are Christ's. It is not less evident that no more does an invisible church, by the very fact of being invisible, manifest on the earth the glory of Christ.

36 Let those then who seek to justify such a state of things say openly that the Church was never responsible, by its faithfulness upon earth, to manifest the glory of Christ; if not, let them own that we have fallen.

I appeal to the whole of the New Testament, to all the principles of the word of God, to the history of the Acts, to the testimony of the epistles, and to the consciences of saints, to judge whether the Church has maintained the testimony to the glory, the holiness, the love of her Bridegroom, and whether she has maintained it as a faithful bride, who ought to be occupied with it during the absence of her Bridegroom, who knows but her Bridegroom, who is watchful for His glory and continues faithful to Him, all the more because He is absent.



We have finished with the system of the "Examination" as to the progress of the Church.

We have had opportunity to remark, more than once, in passing, that the apostleship of Paul is entirely opposed to the system of a human ministry. Before finally bidding farewell to the "Examination" it remains for us to glance at the history it gives us of the apostleship of Paul.* This history exhibits a boldness which, truly, can only be found with the clergy.

{*"Examination," pages 34-36.}

Let us leave the "Examination" to speak.

"From his mother's womb St. Paul had been chosen to become a distinguished instrument as a preacher of the gospel. Nevertheless, when the decisive hour has arrived at which his ministry is to begin, how is he called to it?"

Here, the "Examination" cites Acts 13:14, and adds both in a note and in the text:

"How, in this passage, both the action of God and the action of man, far from excluding each other, admirably unite to produce, first, the ministry of an evangelist, and by and by the apostleship of St. Paul. St. Paul, though long ago an apostle in the plan of God, appears here at first only as a prophet and teacher; he becomes an evangelist by the imposition of hands … It is only by degrees that he acquires in the eyes of the Church that apostolical position and authority which, for a long time, he has possessed in the divine thought. Long before, both he and Barnabas have been called to this work by the Holy Spirit; nevertheless, it is by the intermediate agency of their colleagues that their definitive vocation is effected. They are certainly filled with a special gift for this ministry; nevertheless, this gift is not removed from, but submitted to the recognition of the Church and to the imposition of hands. It is men who send them away, and yet it is the Holy Ghost who sends them."

37 Thus, according to man's idea, it is by degrees that Paul acquires, in the eyes of the Church, this apostolic position and authority, which he has long possessed in the divine thought; it is by the intervention of their colleagues that the definitive calling of Paul and Barnabas is operated; their gift is submitted to the recognition of the Church and the imposition of hands; it is men who send them away; and the system of the "Examination" is considered as justified.

Let us now listen to the word of God, and to Paul himself, for Paul also has given us a history of his call to the ministry.

"Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father … But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: neither went I up to Jerusalem to those which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother … Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia … But of those who seemed to be somewhat, whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me … for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me … And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision," Gal. 1:1, 15-21; chap. 2:6-10.*

{*See, again, Romans 1:5, where Paul says he received apostleship by Jesus Christ, for obedience to the faith among all nations; and Acts 26:16-17, where Paul relates the commission he has received from the Lord Jesus: "For I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness, both of those things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee."}

38 Paul thus absolutely denies a commission from his colleagues, the apostles. As to the colleagues whom the "Examination" gives him, they do not even enter into his thoughts. And even if it were so, it would not be the less singular for teachers to call to the apostleship one of their colleagues, while there were apostles at Jerusalem. But we know that Paul takes care to deny it in principle.

Let us also remember that, according to the "Examination," the work of the apostle was not an apostolic work. He was only an evangelist. It is true that, in this same journey, the Holy Spirit calls him an apostle; Acts 14:4. Little matters it, the "Examination" affirms that, by the imposition of hands, he only became an evangelist. And nevertheless, according still to the "Examination," it is man who produces, in conjunction with God, his apostleship. When? The "Examination" does not say; it only says "soon" and "by degrees."

According to the "Examination," God effects the calling of Paul by the intervention of his colleagues. What does this mean? "The HOLY GHOST said, SEPARATE ME Barnabas and Saul," and those to whom He says it, commend them to the grace of God (such are the very words of Scripture, Acts 14:26) by the imposition of hands. And Paul is again a second time recommended by the brethren to the grace of God (Acts 15:40), when he undertakes a fresh journey.

Men, says the "Examination," send them away. From what may not a system be drawn? Martin translates: "laissèrent partir" ("let them depart"); the Lausanne version says: "ils les laissèrent aller" ("they let them go"). It is not a question of anything but of that feeling of affection and harmony which, while letting him go, accompanies with its holy desires the one who departs and perhaps goes with him a little way on his road, as a witness of the heart accompanying him. There is not the least idea of a mission being given.* The same expression is found in Acts 15:30 and 33. The brethren, sent to Antioch, take leave of those in Jerusalem; and after having passed some time at Antioch, take leave of the brethren there in peace, in order to return to the apostles at Jerusalem.

39 THE VOICE OF GOD calls prophets to separate Paul and Barnabas for the work, and these prophets recommend them to the grace of God. And the "Examination" sees in this man joining himself to God to authorize ministry! and, in order still to maintain the honour of man, Paul is represented as being, in his work, but an evangelist. And all apostolic commission is denied to him. Paul becomes by degrees an apostle in the eyes of the Church, according to that which he was in the thoughts of God.

{* Note to translation. The express word of scripture is, 'they therefore being sent forth by the Holy Ghost.'}

It is thus that the "Examination" gives the history. I trust that those who labour will become by degrees, in the eyes of those who blame them, what they are in the thoughts of God, and that "soon."