Observations on a tract, entitled "Plymouthism in view of the Word of God."

J. N. Darby.

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When the tract which forms the subject of these few pages was published, I did not think it worth answering.

In the country where it was first brought before Christians, the subject of which it treats had been amply discussed in other pamphlets; and Christians were sufficiently supplied with arms to enable them to defend themselves against the errors which it contains. Its intrinsic character was not such as would invite a serious person to answer it.

But in other countries the enemy has taken advantage of the fact of this article having remained unanswered. It has been reprinted in France, and circulated in places where Christians have had scarcely any opportunity for information on the points of which it treats. Triumph is easy where there is but one party engaged in the combat. Besides, one finds by experience that charity should hardly suppose that the mass of the faithful will judge what is presented, as unanswered, to their consideration; and above all if he who presents it has a just claim to their respect. Happily the faithful are for the most part occupied with other things than questions; but when once questions are laid before them, it is well that they should listen to what there is to be said on the part of those who have been attacked.

I will justify what I have said as to the insignificancy of the pamphlet of which I speak, by shewing that, whilst written (according to what those who are well informed say) by an elder of the new Evangelical Church at Geneva,* it gives evidence of such ignorance of the word as ought, it seems to me, to have induced its author to remain silent, as being the most suitable course, if at least he desires the respect which one would suppose due to a person invested with the title of Elder.

{* Since the printing of the first edition of this short treatise one of the elders of the Evangelical Church at Geneva has acknowledged himself the author of the article which is refuted in these pages.}

My answer will be a very short one. I do not wish to weary either my reader or myself.

Setting aside all the extravagancies and personal accusations of the author of this tract, I will quote the exposition which he gives (p. 6) of the system which he condemns. He makes out that we say:

272 "Men having failed to meet the intentions of God, by transgressing, or rather by perverting, the laws and ordinances which He had given them for their security, therefore God suppressed the economy which had failed, in order to substitute another for it. There was consequently sin in wishing to re-establish what God had suppressed."

It is not thus that I should present my thought, for God is far from suppressing an economy as soon as man has failed to fulfil his duty under this economy. God uses long forbearance. He employs all sorts of means to recall man to his duty, until, as it is expressed in the word, there is no remedy. This is what He has shewn even with regard to those who did not enjoy a covenant, announcing to Abraham that his seed should go down into Egypt; and God adds that it should not yet possess the promised land, because the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full (Gen. 15:13-16).

The author will forgive my speaking openly; but really he does not know what he says. If God has suppressed anything, would it not be sin to wish to set it up again? The consequence he condemns, in what he imputes to the brethren, is perfectly just, and it would be an utter want of respect towards God to deny it.

The author will say, This is not what I deny; I deny that anything has been suppressed. It is not the consequence that I deny, but the fact itself whence it is deduced. God has suppressed nothing. The proposition therefore is true and incontestable. It is the fact alone on which it is founded that is disputed.

Let us remember, reader, that we are speaking of dispensations, of an order of things established by God, according to which He governs men who are in a relationship with Himself.

Has not God suppressed the order of things called Judaism?

Are we under the Jewish dispensation? Is it not true that God has substituted the Christian dispensation for the Jewish economy, or the dispensation of the law? Every one knows that. And he who would now pretend to re-establish the Jewish dispensation would be guilty of sin. The author has not really understood what he disputes; he gives a wrong expression to my thought. But still, if even my thought were what he makes it out to be, to oppose it as he does would only be folly.

273 Men having come short of God's intentions, God has suppressed or set aside a fallen dispensation, and has substituted another for it. It would be sin to wish to re-establish what God has suppressed, unless we are permitted to become Jews again. But it will be said, It is impossible to suppose that the author could mean to say that the Jewish dispensation has not been set aside and that another has been substituted for it.

And, indeed, reader, no one could have supposed it; but it is what one may read in this tract written by an elder (ordained to "hold fast the faithful word as he has been taught," "to exhort by sound doctrine," and "to preserve the assembly from false doctrines").

This is what he says: "In Leviticus 26:14-16 we read, 'But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; and if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: I also will do this unto you,' etc. Then follows the exposition of the judgments reserved for those who shall have rejected the statutes and the covenants, but not a word of the withdrawal of the statutes or covenants which had been Satanized. Isaiah says (chap. 31:2), 'He will bring evil and will not call back his words.' In Psalm 111 we read, 'He will ever be mindful of his covenant.' 'All his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever.' The holy scriptures are full of threatenings against those who shall pervert or transgress the law; but nothing leaves room for the supposition that, on account of the transgressions, a new law is to be substituted for the first."

One can scarcely imagine such ignorance. The unconditional promises made to Abraham, the covenant of God made with him, the conditional covenant of Sinai, the law in its moral substance, the statutes and ordinances set up for a time amongst the Jews, and the immutable word of God, as well as the words of Jesus, all that, it is true, is jumbled together in this article, as may be seen by comparing what I have just quoted from it with what is said afterwards. But I do not wish to weary my reader by shewing all the confusion that reigns there. I shall confine myself to the main points of the author's assertion: "Not a word about the withdrawal of statutes or of the covenants": "Nothing leaves room for the supposition that on account of the transgressions a new law must be substituted for the first."

274 For my part, I did not think that there was any one, bearing the name of Christian, or any child learning his catechism, who could be ignorant that a new covenant was of necessity to be substituted for the old covenant of Sinai.

I shall now confront the teaching of the tract which I have just quoted, in comparison with the declarations of the word of God.

"But now hath he [Christ] obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the Mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant, etc." (Heb. 8:6-10). "In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away," Heb. 8:13.

Do you see? A person desires, as being an elder, to teach and hold fast the faithful word, and tells us that there is not a word about the withdrawal of the covenant made with the Jews.

The attentive reader may perceive that in the chapter of the book quoted by the tract, the Spirit of God says nothing about the covenant of Sinai, and returns in its promises to those made without condition to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. (Lev. 25:42; compare also Isa. 6:38.) But it would be useless to enter into such distinctions, in replying to a tract which, in presence of the positive declarations of the New Testament, can hold such language as this one does.

Note that, according to the Epistle to the Hebrews, there is a first, or old covenant, and that there is also a second; that the first was ready to be abolished, and this was because Israel had not continued in the covenant that God had made with them; and that on every point the Epistle to the Hebrews expressly affirms what the tract denies, attributing it to the system which it calls Plymouthism.

275 The author seems to take pleasure in using all the words which could shew that he stands in open contradiction to the word of God about everything.

He not only tells us that a new covenant cannot take place, but that a new law cannot be substituted for the first.

Here is what the word says: "For, the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law." "For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof," Heb. 7:12, 18.

The same principle is laid down in chapter 10. "He taketh away the first that he may establish the second" (v. 9).

But the author is not contented with saying directly contrary to the word through ignorance of its contents; he must twist it by omitting, through a prepossession which causes him to mistake the bearing of it, the most essential words of the passage in Matthew 5:18, which he quotes, "For, He says, 'Verily, I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass till all be fulfilled.'"

Then the author adds:

"Either we are much mistaken, or this really includes the universality of the economies, of the institutions and ordinances of Jehovah as far as they are contained in His word. As to ourselves we do not know of any others."

All this has a defect, and a defect of the most essential kind. The author has omitted the words "from the law." The Lord Jesus said, "Till heaven and earth pass one jot or tittle shall in nowise pass from the law till all be fulfilled." Then, after this omission, the author insists on its being a question of all the dispensations in this passage.

The truth is, he does not know what is the matter in question. No one doubts but that the law and prophets will be fulfilled some day. This is not the question. The point is to know whether the dispensation under which the law subsisted in its integrity as a rule of the government of God, and under which the prophets exercised their ministry, has not been replaced by another.

If the prophets foretold that there would be a new dispensation and a new covenant, does the setting aside of the old one under which they prophesied, and the setting up of the new one that they foretold, invalidate their word? On the contrary, this event fulfils it. But its fulfilment is in the abolition of the preceding dispensation and in the setting up of a new one.

276 If the law brought nothing to perfection, if there has been the introduction of a better hope founded on better promises, and if God has introduced this better hope (the figures for the present time and the whole system founded on them being suppressed to make room for that which was better), does this weaken the force of those figures? On the contrary, they are accomplished in the reality that was foreshadowed; but the system established on the use of them is abolished.

If the law, looked at even in its moral and eternal power, curses him who infringes it, and if Christ has borne this curse, does this striking proof of the authority of the law weaken it? Clearly not. Nothing gives such a testimony to it. Does it therefore continue to be the principle according to which our relationships with God exist? Certainly not. We should be lost if it were so. We are no longer under law but under grace; Rom. 6:14-15. "It [the law] was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made," Gal. 3:19.

Having thus placed the author's assertion about the withdrawal of the covenant in its true light, I will add a few passages which clearly prove that, historically, God threatened the Jews to set them aside - looked at as placed under the dispensation of the law - and that He did set them aside in consequence of their sins. Jehovah never forsakes the unconditional covenant which He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and He often recalls it in grace. Read Deuteronomy 4:23-31; chap. 8:19-20; chap. 28:63-68; chap. 29:28; chap. 30:17-18. All these passages shew plainly that judgment has fallen upon Israel by reason of their sins. By this judgment the relationships formed between God and Israel under the law, these relationships, the existence of which depended expressly on the people's obedience (Exod. 19:5), have been entirely interrupted and even terminated. The first covenant, that of Sinai, has been suppressed - abolished, as the Epistle to the Hebrews says, in order to give place to another.

The word declares the same thing with regard to the kingly power, which was the means God in His goodness used to maintain His relationships with Israel. The relationships of Israel with God by its means were broken through the iniquity of the kings; 1 Chron. 28:7. The kingdom was set up conditionally. Compare 2 Chronicles 7:17-22, where we see that the whole nation has to undergo the consequences of unfaithfulness. We see (2 Kings 23:26-27) that the judgment of Israel was in fact brought on by the iniquity of king Manasseh. And Israel has become Lo-ammi (that is to say, the relationships between God and Israel have been entirely broken off), and that, as the prophets had so often said and repeated to the Israelites, on account of their iniquity. And I would call your attention to this, the covenant and dispensation have been set aside. God used perfect patience; but when even His Son, who could have restored all things, was rejected by the Jews, there was no longer any way for maintaining them in blessing on the old footing. The vineyard was taken from this people and entrusted to others.

277 Perhaps I shall be told, We fully admit this; but it was the husbandmen who were punished: the dispensation was not suppressed; the law was not altered.

Without repeating passages, which have been already quoted on this subject, I shall confine myself to the statements, that if you say that we are still under law, you do not know what the gospel is: if you say that we are under the same dispensation, you are ignorant of what Christianity is. The Jewish dispensation is not the Christian dispensation, and Christianity is in nowise the Levitical system. This system is suppressed. It is suppressed because of the sins of those who ought to have conformed to it.

We admit that this has happened to the Jews (people may perhaps say, giving up those assertions the absurdity of which might be evident to a child), but it will not be true of the Gentile.

I reply again: The word of God tells us the contrary. The apostle says (Rom. 11:22), "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off" That is, the apostle applies to us what has been fulfilled with regard to the Jews. Notice also that this is on account of sin.

The principles of the tract are therefore entirely anti-scriptural.

In order to be convinced of it, one has only to compare the assertions contained in page 10 of the tract, with the quotations I have given from the Epistle to the Hebrews (quotations in which the apostle expressly contradicts what the author of the tract affirms).

278 Besides, the author advances a principle which it is important to take up: -

"The duration of the dispensation depends therefore neither on the faithfulness or on the unfaithfulness of Christians, but it abides independently of them, maintained by the powerful and unchangeable will of the Lord and visibly recorded in the word."

That God makes everything to serve towards the infallible accomplishment of His will is true; but to make use of this truth in order to deny the consequences of the responsibility of man placed under God's government on the earth, is anything but sound doctrine.

The Christian dispensation will doubtless "fill up the period allotted to it." That is not the point. The question is to know whether God will not put an end to this dispensation on account of the sins and the rebellion of those who ought to have glorified Him according to the principles of the dispensation and the privileges which are granted in it. Now, the revelation of God is positive with respect to this. The second appearing of the Lord, to which the author alludes, has for its object the execution of judgment on the apostasy, which has ripened into open revolt against Himself. The kings of the earth will make war against the Lamb. No one will be permitted to buy or sell unless they take the mark of the beast. This terrible day will not come without the consummation of the apostasy and the revelation of the man of sin whom the Lord will destroy by His appearing. This day will come as a thief in the night. Jehovah will even plead against all flesh. But the most terrible part of this terrible day, from which the Lord will return having His garments dyed with blood, will be the judgment of the apostates and rebels.

The author says, "faith will be changed into sight, and hope into reality"; but he does not know what he is talking about. When will that take place? We shall go to meet our Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. But the dispensation on the earth will be ended by the apostasy which will give birth to antichrist, and by judgment, that is, it will be suppressed on account of sin. According to the threat (Rom. 11) already quoted, the Gentiles not having continued in the goodness of God, the system will be put an end to by a cutting off. The passages of which I have just given a summary, are they not clear and categorical? (See Matt. 13; Rev. 19; 2 Thess. 2; 1 Thess. 5; the end of Rev. 13 and Isaiah 66.) Moreover, time would fail me to quote passages which prove that this dispensation will be put an end to by the judgment executed against those who, having been placed under its influence, shall have been found in the apostasy and the rebellion. The whole of the Apocalypse is only a revelation of that which concerns this great truth. The glory mentioned in this book is not the re-establishment of what has failed. That which has failed is judged and an entirely different glory set up.

279 On all these points the tract is utterly opposed to the word of God; and in contending against the truth, the author has shewn to what a degree the system which he maintains is opposed to truth, to the positive testimony of the word.

In the details in which a simple mind might find more difficulty. As to the re-establishment of certain means of blessing which belong to a dispensation, while this dispensation has not yet been cut off, the author is scarcely more fortunate than in what concerns the economy itself. All that is said (page 9) with reference to the Jews has nearly as little foundation. The author says that the ark only was wanting: he is mistaken. He says that the ark was a symbol of the Lord's presence: it was no such thing. The presence of the Lord was, without a figure, in the temple built by Solomon. Jehovah was seated between the cherubim; the ark served as His footstool. The whole of this remarkable object was His throne. The presence of Jehovah was manifested by a visible appearing of glory, which Israel beheld when it filled the temple. This was wanting in the temple after the captivity. The ark also was wanting, and the blood of atonement could not be put upon the mercy-seat. The Urim and Thummim, by which the high priest received the answers of Jehovah, were also wanting. The kingly power of the house of David was wanting. Israel was under Gentile dominion. Now it is not a question of knowing whether, in His patience, God bore with this condition of things and blessed Israel in spite of the absence of those means of blessing; nor of knowing whether in mercy He sent His Son, in whose Person all the blessings and means of blessing were united. No one doubts it.

What the author had to shew is, that it was possible for man again to set up that which had been lost through his failure. He will not dare to deny, that the ark, the Urim and Thummim, the manifestation of God's glory in the temple, the possession of the kingly power by the house of David, were lost through the iniquity of the Jews; and that the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar was in consequence of the sins of the Jews. Well! was it possible for men to re-establish what depended thus on the power, authority, and grace of God? No; they could not do it. The ark was not again made; the Urim and Thummim were not re-established; the presence of the glory was not restored to the temple. The author may be bold enough to assert that the Mosaic economy was continued in its fulness, although all that was most precious, and even the presence of Jehovah, were lost; but what thoughtful reader will believe him? The Lord tells us of the generation with which He had to do, that the devil would find in it a house swept, garnished, and empty. Was it in its fulness without an ark, without the glorious presence of God, without the Urim and Thummim; that is to say, without the divine communications of the high priest with God as an oracle? without a king, the people being subjected by the Gentiles? The ordinances were not abolished, but the means of blessing had in a great measure disappeared. The Lord's body was the true temple. In order not to offend them, He submitted to what was required.

280 Neither must it be supposed, that what the author puts between inverted commas is a quotation from some writing of the brethren; they are only the author's own words. He tells us that we must resist the devil, and that Plymouthism says, Yield him the victory; but the conclusion which he deduces from this accusation is most remarkable: "Therefore the ordinances and offices which the Lord in His great wisdom had given to the assemblies by the apostles," … "exist therefore in their integrity."

I seek in vain the motive of this "therefore." Even in going three preceding pages back the difficulty is not removed.

It can hardly be anything else but that the ark was not rebuilt; that the communications of the high priest with God, by the mysterious means that Moses had appointed, no longer existed; that the sovereignty established by God had been set aside, and was not restored to the throne; it can hardly have been anything but these main facts which prove that, in the Church also, everything exists as at the beginning. The kingly office, so eminently important in Israel, did not exist in its integrity when Christ was rejected and crucified. On what then is this "therefore" founded?

281 However here is the object of all this. Since the word speaks of elders, we must make some. But the word spoke of the ark, of the Urim and Thummim, of a king: nevertheless men were not able to make them. The word mentions tongues: why not speak in them now? of miracles: why not do some? And not only that; it speaks of apostles: why not establish some? This is certainly an office.

These gentlemen cannot do it. The word is not the only thing necessary; but in certain cases there must be authority, in every case power, and this is what they do not possess. They pretend to be quite able to do without it. If you ordain elders, ordain apostles also, or be such yourselves. If the spirit of anarchy is rife, they will be more useful still than your elders; they will even be necessary, for it appears, from what the apostle says in Acts 20, that they were the only effectual barriers against the evil. But you cannot. You pretend to appoint elders, and, in order to do so, you abandon the word of God. According to what we read in the word, they were established when that was done officially, as you pretend to do it, by the apostles or by their delegates. In this, you cannot follow the word. The tract is a useful example of the result of such an attempt. I say this seriously. I believe that God warrants it. He who has been established as an elder to maintain sound doctrine declares to us that a covenant could not be withdrawn and replaced by another.

As to the author's reply to the first objection which he supposes, I say that in taking the Lord's supper, I establish nothing. You admit, "We establish brethren to govern the assembly." Who has given you the authority to establish brethren for this? To the second objection the author makes no reply, except a quibble on knowing and recognizing.* I answer, I can know and acknowledge all those who labour according to God in the midst of His flock. Shew me your authority for establishing them. That is the question. Here are the passages which teach me to know and recognize those who give themselves to the work, by obedience to them on account of this work: 1 Corinthians 16:15-16; Philippians 2:29; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:7, 17. Now shew me the passages by which you prove your authority to appoint and establish them, as I point out to you those which lead me to esteem and obey them. An exhortation to obey is quite a different thing from the authority to appoint.

{* The "re," difference between "connoitre" and "reconnoitre."}

282 To know or to recognize thus practically is quite a different thing from an official appointing. I acknowledge my father, and it is my duty to obey him. Can I appoint or establish him?

In the third place it is asked, If we cannot apply the Epistles to Timothy and Titus to ourselves, how can we apply the other epistles to ourselves? Allow me to tell you, it is by not pretending to be the equals of Timothy and Titus, and by taking your place amongst the number of the simple disciples to whom the other epistles are addressed.

Besides, I am far from saying or thinking that we cannot use these three epistles. I merely say this, that you ought not to pretend to attribute to yourselves the authority which was especially given into the hands of these two disciples on the part of the apostle himself.

I add that what is wanting is, not instructions, as the author makes out we say, but authority. But here also the author is forced to avoid (not to say that he sets aside) what the word says. We have, says the author, the office and the persons.

As to the persons, to say that we have them is to proclaim the complete capacity of the persons known to the author. We may here notice that which under our present circumstances renders the moral acknowledgment so superior to the appointing. I can acknowledge all that exists without going farther than that which exists; and I can acknowledge what is existing even when the qualifications are imperfectly developed; whereas, in order to appoint, one must find that which corresponds perfectly with the apostolical description, as the author pretends to have done.

The author continues: "It is now only a question as to the method by which the assembly is to appoint persons to the office."

Ah! so this is the only question! It is first of all a question of knowing whether it be the assembly whose duty it is to appoint them, by whatever way it may be. "The word is silent," says the author, "with regard to elders." Doubtless it is silent as to the method by which the assembly was to establish them, for it makes it perfectly plain that the assembly ought not to establish them at all. It is not silent as to the method of their appointment. It speaks plainly, yes, very plainly, of their being established by others than the assembly, namely, by the apostle and by those whom he sent. We must be very prejudiced not to perceive that this phrase conceals the truth by an abuse of words. It is just as if I were to say, in a country where the crown is hereditary, that, as the constitution is silent as to the mode of electing a sovereign, the people may choose a king as they think fit. Only the case that occupies us is much more serious, because it is a question of the word of God.

283 However, it is not without importance to notice that, even by the confession of our opponents themselves, they are obliged to act beyond the authority of the word of God, which does not uphold their conduct in any way. They justify themselves by saying that the word of God orders them to do the thing. I reply, On the contrary, it orders persons to do it, the character of whom excludes you from all participation in such an act.

The choice of those who served tables has nothing to do here. The apostles would not meddle with money matters. Paul refused to take with him the money destined for the poor, unless there were some persons with him for this object, chosen by the Church, whereas on the contrary he, Paul, and Barnabas chose elders for the churches.

But here the author evidently feels his difficulty. He says (p. 20), "Each assembly may follow the form which the Holy Ghost may suggest to it." And (p. 21) "There is a way already pointed out by the word of God, for those who desire to conform to it."

He says it is not a question of constituting the Church, but of forming assemblies such as those which existed at Ephesus. What is the difference? For what the apostles constituted are but assemblies.

I shall leave unanswered all the foolish accusations which have been a thousand times repeated, that brethren do not preach the gospel. They are words worthy to be compared to those that a parrot learns, which knows only those, and even then does not know what it is saying.

The author says that it results from the general form in which Paul gave his orders to Timothy and Titus for the formation of assemblies, that his thought was that these orders would be executed everywhere. The author seems determined to shew in all that he says his negligence with regard to the word. There exists no given order either to Timothy or Titus for the formation of churches. Timothy was in an assembly already formed and remained there, and the assemblies to which Titus was sent were of necessity assemblies already formed. As for the subject which now occupies us, it is a question about the orders given to Timothy and Titus, about the conduct they were to maintain in the assemblies - a fact which proves that the apostle did not consider the authority of Timothy and Titus in the matter of elders as belonging to the churches. Had that concerned the churches, the instructions relative to these things would have been given to them.

284 The author acknowledges that "Paul ordered Titus to ordain elders." Why Titus, if, as the author pretends the churches were capable of doing it?

In fact it seems to me that by this tract the author has given us proofs of the worth of his appointing of elders.

The most important thing, perhaps, to be pointed out is the doctrine expressed in page 11, that "the duration of the dispensation depends neither on the faithfulness nor on the unfaithfulness of Christians." Not only is this proposition anti-scriptural, it is also thoroughly antinomian. It affirms that the government of God is exercised quite independently of man's responsibility. According to this doctrine, the sins of men have no connection with the judgment of God, nor God's judgment on earth with their sins. I confess I would not entrust the care of my child to one professing and maintaining such doctrine.

There is one point more which it is important to make plain.

Without being able to recall to my mind all such cases, there is not a single one that I know of in which the corruption of an institution is a reason for abandoning it: so little does the author understand what the question is. What I say is, that neither he nor his friends have the right to take upon themselves and to accomplish that which depends on the power of God and the exercise of Christ's authority in His house; and this is what they pretend to do and to impose on others.

Then I say that (when the sins of men have corrupted and ruined what God has established, so that in spite of His great patience He can no longer use it for making Himself known) He does not re-establish that which has been ruined, but He introduces something better. If the position in which the author and those who go along with him have placed themselves hinders their seeing a truth so plainly demonstrated in the word, I am sorry for them. There is nothing clearer for any one who has not blinded himself.

285 Before the cutting off takes place, it is important to bring the faithful to understand that the principles of the apostasy, which is to break out publicly, already work and manifest themselves, that this apostasy is there in principle, in order that they may not go along with that which will result in it, nor with those who adopt principles which deprive them of the power and discernment necessary to avoid this snare, and to resist it according to the testimony of God.

Perhaps the author will complain of my severity. I do not doubt his being a brother worthy of respect. If this is his feeling, he has to thank the principles and the men who have placed him in a position which has led him to write such a pamphlet - a brother, who, however worthy he may be, can tell us, that there is neither withdrawal of a covenant, or its being replaced by another, nor a changing the law! He will do well to think of the effect that may be produced regarding the truth of the course which he proposes to us, by the fact of his being able to present to us that office with which he is endowed - as consisting in this - presiding in the assembly, holding out the faithful word, as he has been taught, exhorting by sound doctrine, convincing gainsayers, watching over the assembly and preserving it from false doctrines; and that, being called to do this, it is he himself who then comes to us and says what I have just been pointing out, and, further, tells us, that the duration of the dispensation depends neither on the faithfulness nor on the unfaithfulness of Christians, thus destroying man's responsibility and the scope of the judgments of God.

I have nothing at all against him. I can even thank him for having shewn us what an elder of that which is called the Evangelical Church at Geneva is, and the worth of the appointment which has been made of such, by giving us a description of what it ought to be, in a tract which answers in such a way to the description.