An appeal to the conscience of those who take the title of "Elders of the Evangelical Church at Geneva"; and a reply to one of them.

J. N. Darby.

<04008F> 307

Is it not true, sir, that this time it is not merely one of the elders of the Evangelical Church at Geneva (for it appears that I was not mistaken as to the author of "Plymouthism," etc.) who has laboured to bring forth these "Remarks addressed to my Brethren in Christ, on the subject of Mr. Darby's last tract"? At least here is my reason for thinking so: I have not, it is true, much acquaintance with him who enjoys this imposing position and has invested himself with a title to which he seems to hold greatly; but it is well known that it is not a person who has lived in obscurity like myself and many others, happy, as I esteem it, amongst the poor of this world. He has lived in public, been deputed by churches and societies to represent them in other countries; in a word, he has taken his place in the annals of the evangelical world. Well, as I suppose, at least, he has always been found upright, straightforward, sincere, incapable of those subtleties, of those roundabout ways, those cunning devices which, when employed in a publication, fix the attention of intelligent men upon the author, rather than upon the arguments directed against his opponent, which bring under notice him who employs them, rather than him against whom they are employed.

I do not wrong you, when I suppose that you have always enjoyed the reputation which I here give you. How then could I attribute to yourself alone the little tract which bears, not your name, it is true, but in its place your ecclesiastical capacity, and which is evidently so far from that integrity and simplicity of heart which are the true glory of the Christian, and even of the man of the world? Must I believe that the system of which you are one of the heads is responsible for the change in the character of the individual, a change which ought so much to be deplored; and that your tract is in fact the expression of the general sentiments, the fruit of the thoughts and actions of the body of elders to which you belong? or should I rather say, do you see what the flesh is even in a Christian? This honourable Christian could not resign himself to being looked upon as beaten. He has associated with himself one who, aiding him in his work, has employed subtlety and insincerity, which the responsible author has not had sufficient penetration to discern or sufficient courage to reject. To confess one has been in the wrong if one is convinced of it, or even if one is not, to remain silent if one does not know what to say, this dishonours no one. But it grieves an upright mind to see the ingenuousness of an honourable person changed into the cunning of an ecclesiastic.

308 It is for you, sir, to explain how this has happened, and for me to give proofs of it, however painful the task may be.

Here are your words, sir: "Mr. Darby, not being able to answer it, entirely alters it (that is, the form of your arguments) by the suppression and addition of words. Here are the two versions in comparison with each other. The text of my tract is, 'The holy scriptures are full of threatenings against those who may pervert or transgress the law; but there is nothing to give room for the thought that, on account of transgressions, a new law must be substituted for the first.' In page 10 of his tract* Mr. Darby words this proposition thus: 'The author says, not only that a new covenant cannot be made, but that a new law cannot be substituted for the first.' The underlined passages point out the alterations." This is it, sir, is it not?

{* Page 10, first edition: page 9 of the second.}

Here is my answer. I have quoted textually, without alteration, addition, or supervision, word for word, what you have said on the subject of the discussion. (See pp. 7, 8 of my tract.) This you know full well, sir. I have done more; by giving it separately, I have pointed out the part which I desired to answer, as being the substance of your assertion. Besides which, the text of your tract gives more than what you say. You have not put your two versions in comparison one with the other; you have omitted and concealed the half of what you said in your first tract, the half of that which is the subject of my remarks. You have not acted uprightly in only giving a part. By omitting the half of what you had said, you have given to my version the appearance of having added to your thoughts, and of having perverted the form of your argument; because the first part of what I say refers to that which you have omitted from the rest of your tract which I quoted. You have acted without straightforwardness, sir, in doing so, or else some one has thus acted in your name. You have succeeded in attaching a character of dishonesty to your title of elder, if you have saved your name from it. I have no regret that this should be the case. I attribute what I deplore to your position, rather than to your nature.

309 You underline "on account of transgressions," as if, because it is not found in the first part of my answer, I had omitted an important clause, which modifies your statements. You know full well that, after having spoken of the change of covenant, I even devoted several pages to the consideration of this point. You cannot, sir, deny anything of that of which I accuse you. I pity you, sir, for having entered on this subject, and for having friends who have made you act thus, and have attached to a name which I believe to have been irreproachable such a mode of acting. Having exactly reproduced your words, it was in my province to explain their bearing in my own, and this is what I did. I have nothing to alter in them: it is you, sir, who have misconstrued my argument, by concealing the half of what you had said on the subject which I treat of in my pamphlet.

Here are the details. Before commenting on your words, I drew attention to the part which I wished to answer, by saying, "I shall, in the main, confine myself to the author's assertion." Nothing could be clearer or more straightforward. Here is this part: "Not a word of the withdrawal of the statutes or of the covenant." "Nothing leaves room for the supposition that a new law must be substituted for the first on account of transgressions." Thus the phrases in your tract on which I comment, are very clearly pointed out. How have you acted, or rather how have you been made to act? You say, "Here are the two versions in comparison one with the other. The text of my tract is, The holy scriptures are full of threatenings against those who may pervert or transgress the law; but nothing gives room for thinking that, on account of transgression, a new law must be substituted for the first."

Then you complain of my having said "Not only a new covenant could not be made," etc. In fact there is nothing in your version to which these words of my pamphlet apply. But why? Is there any addition of words on my part, by which I misconstrue your doctrines? It is not a question of words, for I give my explanation of your thoughts. I express it. I have added nothing. No, sir, the fact is that while pretending to present these two versions in comparison one with the other, you have yourself left out the half of that on which I comment. These are the words of your pamphlet, "Not a word of the withdrawal of statutes or covenants." Is this ingenuous, sir?

310 Then you say, "In page 10 of his tract, Mr. Darby renders this proposition thus." This time, it is I who underline, sir. Well, you have deceived your reader. It is not this proposition that I rendered. The text of your tract gives that which you have not quoted here; and that portion of the words now in question, on which I specially comment, is not to be found in what you have quoted of them. You have not given the two versions honestly as they exist in comparison one with the other. You have omitted a passage which I particularly pointed out as the subject of my comments. Why did you omit "not a word of the withdrawal of statutes or covenants," and then underline the words "not only" and "covenant could not be made," as if there was nothing to which these words referred? This is not, sir, the proposition which you indicate as being "that proposition," as you affirm, that I rendered. I called attention to the withdrawal of the covenant, which I desired to treat of as being at the bottom of the author's assertion, and the portion you designate, by underlining it, as if it were a misconstruction of your statement, plainly and precisely relates to what you have omitted and which I had quoted and pointed out. You have not, I repeat, placed the two versions in comparison one with the other. The proposition which you have given, as being the one which I rendered, is only the half of it; and the principal thing which you point out in my version as being inexact, relates to the part which you have omitted. And if the part which you have suppressed were found there, everybody would see that what I said was perfectly correct. Is the expression "this proposition" truthful? I leave you the task of appropriating the accusation which my question implies, to whomsoever it may belong.

As to the second expression which you underline, I see nothing in it which has been altered, and nothing to alter. You said, "There is nothing to give room for the thought that a new law must be substituted for the first." I gave as the substance of the assertion in your tract that "a new law could not be substituted for the first." You quote Matthew 5:18, a passage which declares that "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle [from the law] shall in nowise pass till all be fulfilled"; and you apply it most explicitly to the universality of the dispensations, of the institutions, and ordinances of Jehovah, so far as they are contained in the word. This is nonsense; but this is not my fault. You have mutilated the passage quoted in its principal point, as everyone can ascertain by comparing your quotation with the passage in the Bible, where it is said, "one tittle shall in nowise pass … from the law." But if a single jot or tittle shall not pass from the universality of dispensations, I am perfectly right in saying a new law cannot be substituted for the first. What is the difference, in the main, as to the author's assertion (if the word of God be recognized as an absolute authority) between "there is nothing to give room for the supposition that a new law must be substituted for the first," and "a new law cannot be substituted for the first"? always remembering that the author thinks to uphold his assertion by the declaration of our Lord in Matthew, "One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass." Explain to us, sir, what the alteration is.

311 I have not had the advantage of the teaching of the elders of the Evangelical Church at Geneva, and the distinction is too nice for me. You have said that nothing in the word of God gives room for the thought that a new law must be substituted for the first, that heaven and earth shall pass away before the least tittle of it passes away, and I make out that you say that a new law cannot be substituted for the first. This is the form which I have given to your thought. Have the goodness to enlighten me, sir; for up to the present moment I cannot understand in what I have altered it.

But I full well understand the alteration which you have made when you say that I was rendering a certain proposition when there was another one still, and when you say that the text of your tract contained something, as though that were all, whereas it contained other things also, and it was precisely those that were in question, and which you concealed by omitting them. This distinction, which you point out as an alteration which perverts your thought, is too nice for the perception of those who are not elders.

But do not let us dispute about words, sir. I surrender to you all that you ask with regard to the use of your own expressions. I will put my own entirely aside. I will no longer regard it as sufficient to quote you textually, and then to give a form to your thoughts in my own words; we will take yours as the only just expression of your own doctrine.

This is what you say:

"There is nothing to give room for the thought that on account of transgressions a new law has been substituted for the first." This is exactly it, even to the underlining, is it not? What do you think of it? Is this sound doctrine, or have you indeed talked nonsense? Does not the word give room for the thought that a new law must be substituted for the first? What do you say about it? Pardon me if I use the Socratic form in my argument, and question you a little. You have the whole body of elders, the presbytery, to aid you in your answer. One of the elders will surely not refuse to give account of his doctrine. You will understand, sir, now that, reading in the word "For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before," and "For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change of the law," "He taketh away the first that he may establish the second," and not enjoying the teaching of the Evangelical Church at Geneva, we, simple Christians (idiotai as they were formerly called) find it difficult to understand how there is nothing to give room for the thought that a new law should be substituted for the first. But you will say to me, You misconstrue my thought, you have omitted "on account of transgressions." But it is not so, sir; this phrase, in my idiotism, shuts me up in still further difficulties. We, who have only the Bible, without the teaching of your elders, have read, "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," Heb. 8:8-9. And again, Romans 11:22, etc. We do not understand how it is not on account of transgressions that a new law must be substituted for the first, and how there is not a word of the withdrawal of the statutes and covenants, at least of the covenant, for it is necessary to distinguish between them. We have seen that it was upon those who fell that God exercised His severity. Now this severity was the cutting off of the unbelieving, the covenant of Sinai being abolished, as we have just seen. Is not this plain, sir? The law was changed, a new one is substituted on account of transgressions; the covenant has been withdrawn because Israel did not continue in it. We have been led to think that the words "because they continued not" fully indicated a transgression, and that it was on account of this that God substituted one covenant for another, and that this is the reason why God regarded them not. I venture to remind you that it is a question of the covenant of Sinai, where the law was given, and blessing under condition of obedience, and that it is also a question of the more excellent covenant.

313 I exhort you to read Hebrews 7 and 8 before again entering upon this subject; because the point is to explain these passages to us; they are an authority for us. But I must return again to detail.

You have underlined these words "on account of transgressions" as if I had omitted this subject in my answer, because it is not found in the phrase which you have quoted from my tract. Have I really omitted this question in my tract? Have I really neglected this thought which you have put forth? You well know that it is not the case.

I devoted pages 12-15 to the discussion of this point. In them I profess, after treating the question as to the fact of the withdrawal of the covenant, to demonstrate plainly that God threatened to set aside the Jews viewed as abiding under the dispensation of the law, and that He set them aside in consequence of their sins, and I end the paragraph thus: "The first covenant, that of Sinai, has, says the Epistle to the Hebrews, been suppressed and abolished, in order to give place to another." I have expressly treated of these two questions. Has the covenant been withdrawn? Was it withdrawn on account of transgressions? I have suppressed nothing, sir: you have deceived your readers, you could not deceive mine.

I have clearly shewn that a new covenant has been substituted for that of the law, and this on account of transgressions, by quoting on this last point Deuteronomy 4:23, 31; chap. 8:19-20; chap. 28:63 to the end; chap. 29:28; chap. 30:17-18; Exodus 19, for the condition of obedience; 1 Chronicles 28:7; 2 Chronicles 7:17 to the end; 2 Kings 23:26-27; adding allusions to Hosea 1 and to the parable of the husbandmen, in order to shew that the vineyard was taken away from this people on account of their conduct. Then I discussed the question whether the parable of the husbandmen did not identify itself with the suppression of the dispensation and the change of the law. I also quoted Galatians 3:19; Romans 11:22; that is, I fully discussed all that you had said, even proposing, as a particular subject, that which you pretend that I suppressed so as to pervert what you said. But again, sir, the expression which you now give of your thought is not straightforward; what you say of it is not true.

314 You pretend that you wished to shew that God does not change His laws on account of sins during the course of a dispensation. But, sir, this is not what you sought to shew in your first pamphlet. You spoke of the withdrawal of statutes or of covenants which had been Satanized. Now to speak of the withdrawal of a covenant, during the course of a dispensation, would be pure nonsense. Your thought is very plain and evident. The covenant being withdrawn, the dispensation is naturally at an end. If your friends have made you ashamed of your mistake, you would have done better to confess it. The covenant of Sinai and the dispensation connected with it exist and fall together. It is only deluding oneself as to the meaning of words thus to distinguish between the two.

In using Matthew 5:18 you assert that the truth contained in it comprehends, not only a dispensation, but the universality of dispensations. You affirm that it is an exposition of the judgments reserved for those who have rejected the statutes and covenants, in contrast with the withdrawal of the covenant itself, a withdrawal about which you say there is not a word in Matthew; adding, "He hath remembered his covenant for ever." It is not true that the meaning of your proposition is, that God does not change His laws on account of sins during the course of a dispensation. The dispensation ceases when the covenant is withdrawn. Tell me, sir, was not the hand of Joab with you in all this? And yet you have put your own to it. No one can mistake it; but the mixture of inconsistencies and subtleties has a curious effect.

I shall first point out the inconsistency of the arguments and the groundless assertions, then the subtleties, and lastly, the doctrine of the word. But before doing so, allow me to make a remark to you, which it is possible that you may not understand, although you be an elder. That which is very deep for the spirit of man often conceals something which is very simple in the eyes of God. You complain, as though it were a wrong way of acting, of my having accused you of advancing doctrines which are antinomian in their tendency. Well, I repeat this accusation, sir; and I add that in your present tract you have greatly aggravated that which you had previously advanced. I do not in the least accuse you of sinning deliberately, of saying, "Shall we sin that grace may abound?" I do not say this, because I do not believe it. I am convinced that you do not understand the full force of what you say. If you wish to know my whole thought, I do not even believe you to be the author of this part of your last pamphlet. To be sure, I may be mistaken in this respect; but, in this motley ill-joined piece of workmanship which your tract presents, this portion of it does not give me the impression of having been written by you. I do not doubt your first pamphlet being entirely your own; and it seems to me you might have devoted yourself to a work which would have done you greater credit. But I am far from accusing you of being the sole author of the second, and I shall not lay on you the burden of all that it contains of a bad and dishonourable character. If I have seen more sensible pamphlets than the first, I have certainly seen more honourable, simple, and straightforward ones than the second. Let us now look at the inconsistencies and groundless assertions.

315 You say, It is here necessary to transcribe certain passages from "Plymouthism," etc., in which, as far as one can understand it, Mr. Darby's system is formally expressed. Would you not have done better to transcribe what Mr. Darby said? Perhaps some reader may suppose that the "Plymouthism" is Mr. Darby's; but I beg him clearly to understand that my opponent pretends to quote his own tract as the expression of my principles. "He [Mr. Darby] teaches," says one of the elders, "what he calls the 'apostasy of the dispensations,' that is to say, that when men have failed as to the institutions of God, by transgressing or perverting the laws which He gives them for their security, the dispensation is, by the fact of men's sins, corrupted and ruined. Mr. Darby asserts that God rejects it in order to substitute another or some other thing for it; and that consequently it is sin to wish to re-establish in its primitive condition that which God has definitively abolished. From this principle it follows that the Church having, according to Mr. Darby, apostatized, the Christian dispensation or new covenant is rejected of God, together with its institutions and all that which concerns the formation of churches."

There are two things here: some teaching of Mr. Darby's, and a consequence deduced from it by the elder. Let us examine the teaching first of all. Where has Mr. Darby taught that? Would it not have been well if you had quoted some passages which would shew it? Doubtless, you have none. What could you do? Your sentence is, however, cleverly put together. It seems to me that your Joab has been here. The sentence leads the reader to believe that I teach just the contrary of that which, in truth, I have taught on the question which we are treating, but you do not say so. "When men failed, etc., the dispensation is, by the fact of men's sins, corrupted and ruined. Mr. Darby asserts that God rejects it in order to substitute another for it." "Rejects it"! When, sir? You give it to be understood that I teach that, when men have failed, the dispensation is ruined, and that when it is ruined God rejects it, and that thereupon it is sin to re-establish that which God has definitively abolished. What does this thereupon mean? You will not deny that if God has abolished anything definitively, there is sin in wishing to re-establish it. In that case your sentence has no sense in it; it has no force if it be not connected with "when man has failed," consequently making out that, in that case, I say, as soon as man has failed, God substitutes another economy. It is perfectly true that you have not said so; but in that case, what did you mean to say? God has certainly substituted the Christian for the Jewish dispensation. It would be mere folly to deny it. "He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second." You cannot deny that men have failed. To deny it would be to justify the transgression of the law, and the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus by the Jews. You would not dare to do so. But, again, if you deny that the vineyard has been taken from these husbandmen, because of their failure; that the covenant has been changed, because they did not continue in it; you contradict the express and positive teaching of the word of God - you did so in your first pamphlet. I will not impute it to you any longer, since you say that you meant to say that God does not change His laws during the course of a dispensation.

316 Thus, of that which you impute to me, I am right in saying that one dispensation is substituted for another which is definitively abolished: that it is abolished because men have failed, have broken the covenant, and not continued in it. Further, there has been failure, both with the Jews and also with Christians. On this we are agreed, and you did not give an exposition of Mr. Darby's system to shew that you agreed with him.

But, in fact, there is yet another thing in the formula, which you give to his system: it is found in the word "when." It is when man has failed, that these things happen. This is the thought which you blame. Is it not so, sir? If not, what you say is only a pure mystification. Now there is this difficulty, namely, that in the pamphlet to which you reply I have said precisely the contrary.

317 In your first pamphlet you openly said of my doctrine what you now state covertly; in the first you made out that I say, that as soon as men had failed, God suppressed the dispensation that had failed. I answered you, that it is far from God to act so; that He is longsuffering; that He employs all sorts of means to recall man to his duty, until there is no longer any remedy. You now repeat this accusation in terms which have no value whatever, if they have not the same meaning, but you do not say so. You present it as a necessary consequence of my system, and you say, "From this principle it follows, that the Church having, according to Mr. Darby, apostatized, the Christian dispensation, or new covenant, is rejected of God with its institutions." You attach this doctrine to my system, as though it were a necessary consequence. Now it is not a necessary consequence of the principles which have been laid down, that it is rejected, unless the dispensation also be rejected as soon as man's failure occurs. You have admitted this, that I acknowledge "that the dispensation of the New Testament will doubtless fulfil the period allotted to it." In that case, I clearly teach that it is not yet rejected.

Moreover, the consequence which you deduce from what you call my principles is no consequence at all, unless the dispensation be rejected as soon as corruption and ruin come in; for the dispensation is not rejected, as an accomplished fact, because of corruption having come in, if it be not rejected when the corruption is come in. Now, I had expressly denied this doctrine. I said, on the contrary, that God was longsuffering, until there was no longer a remedy.

I will recapitulate what I have stated. I have said that the system which God had established has been corrupted, but that God is longsuffering, and uses every means for recalling men to their duty, until there is no longer a remedy, before suppressing the system which has been corrupted, but that, at last, when there is no longer any remedy, He does suppress it and establishes another. You say that, from this principle it follows, that this corruption having come in, the system is rejected with all its institutions. Every one can judge, whether the consequence that you deduce from my principles is a just one. Both my words and principles are in direct opposition to what you make out that I say. But I am wrong to argue, sir. I had begun, I had finished half of the preceding argument, clearly seeing the subtlety of this effort which is made to represent my words falsely. I had fully seen that you spoke of "transcribing here certain passages from 'Plymouthism,'" and I said to myself, Here is surely the elder! He jumps at his own thoughts. Then, as I told you, I saw the subtlety of the transformation which the accusation had undergone. But, sir, I have just been looking at what you pretend to transcribe. My reader will pardon me if, having placed confidence in your integrity, I have therefore wearied him by seeking to unveil the subtleties of your argument. But what shall I say, sir? This confidence has ceased. You complain of my having said that your doctrine has an antinomian tendency. I go yet farther, I accuse you of notorious dishonesty.

318 You say, "It is necessary to transcribe here certain passages from 'Plymouthism,' etc., in which, as far as one can understand it, Mr. Darby's system is formally expressed. He teaches what he calls 'the apostasy of the dispensation,' that is to say, that when men failed, as regards the institutions of God, by transgressing or perverting the laws which He gives them for their security, the dispensation is, by the fact of men's sins, corrupted and ruined. Mr. Darby asserts that God rejects it in order to substitute another, or some other thing for it, and that, consequently, it is sin to wish to re-establish in its primitive condition that which God has definitively abolished." Then you deduce the consequence of which I have already spoken.

Here is the passage taken from "Plymouthism," p. 6. "At first, if our memory is good, he taught the apostasy of the dispensation, namely, as far as the meaning of the proposition can be exactly understood, that, men having failed as regards 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 dispensation which had failed in order to substitute another or something else for it, and that, consequently, it was sin to wish to re-establish what God had suppressed." Is this what you call transcribing, sir? You have basely deceived your reader! I have even allowed myself to be deceived by it. The impossibility of imagining such an act led me to reason as I did. You have altered the whole bearing of the sentence. One version says, "The dispensation is corrupted and ruined." The other says, "Therefore God suppressed the dispensation which had failed." You knew perfectly well what you were about, because you introduced the rejection of the dispensation as an accomplished act, as being a necessary consequence of my principle, and you add "God rejects it," in general terms, and "God has definitively abolished it," in order to open the way for the consequence, which, without openly saying so, you wish to deduce from it.

319 But I still admit too much as to integrity. The sentence beginning "From this principle it follows" is one of those which you, sir, have transcribed from the tract called "Plymouthism," etc. Here it is, just as it stands in your first pamphlet: "The Church having apostatized, or, according to the new form of the proposition, the Church having allowed Satan to take possession of the institutions which God had given it, Christians ought henceforward to abandon them to him." - Plymouthism, p. 7. Do you, I repeat it, sir, call that transcribing passages?

I am a poor sinner, and have no other hope but the grace of my God; but I desire, in controversy, to have to do with straightforward persons, and you will pardon me if I cease - it grieves me to say it - having any more controversy with you. I must repeat what I said before perceiving this,* that I do not impute to yourself all that I find in your pamphlet; but it is not for me to unravel what is yours, and what belongs to him or them with whom you are associated. I leave you the task of doing it, and also the intimacy which such a task requires. I shall continue my observations on the subject, at the same time warning my readers against the subtleties which are found in your pamphlet. But, henceforth, sir, you are secure from all attacks or remarks on my part. I leave you to your own reflections and the reputation which you have won for the functions of elder.

{* It must be observed, that the passages which I reproduce in the text as having been altered are not placed in inverted commas. The author says, "It is necessary to transcribe here the passages from 'Plymouthism,' in which Mr. Darby's system is formally expressed." He immediately, in effect, gives the passages from "Plymouthism," in which he had presented, in his way, Mr. Darby's system, introducing most important alterations in it in order to facilitate his arguments. But he avoids the use of inverted commas. And why so? He was conscious of these important alterations: he did not wish to present these passages to the reader's eye as being quotations. He did not wish, by the use of inverted commas, to draw the reader's attention to them as if such were their character. But, in fact, they are passages in which he pretends to give the former expression of Mr. Darby's system, and he expressly says, "It is necessary to transcribe here." I leave to my reader the task of appreciating all this. It was needful for me to notice this absence of inverted commas, because it might have been said he does not pretend that it is a quotation. But, in that case, what does "transcribe here" mean? I feel assured my reader will sympathize with me in the pain which I feel at being forced to have to do with such a way of acting.}

320 I here beg my reader to remark, that the object of the arguments in the second pamphlet, is to bring forward the institutions, as being laws, established by God in an abstract way, and to deduce from this as a consequence, that, since a law once given always remains the same, institutions and laws cannot be corrupted. Men may fail as regards them, but the institutions exist. Here is the reason for "fail as regards the institutions of God." What could not be denied with regard to men has been changed into "fail as regards the institutions of God." This is why, instead of "by perverting the laws and ordinances which He had given them," we simply find "by perverting the laws which He gives them." For no one can deny that men have perverted the ordinances. This is why, when I said "the ordinances were not abolished," they made out that I said "the ordinances of the law existed after the captivity of Israel"; and this becomes, a little farther on, "He does not change His laws, not considering them corrupted and ruined," and then, "if, therefore, the ordinances of the law were maintained after the captivity," etc.

Now it is clear that the laws themselves cannot be corrupted; and if one considers the institutions in an abstract manner, that is to say, the law that institutes them, they are what they are according to that law, and that comes to the same thing; it is a law. But the word "institutions" and above all the word "dispensation" have another meaning. It is a question of an established thing entrusted to man. The royal power in David's hands was an institution of God; the intention, rule, and thought of God have not changed. The institution, speaking abstractedly, is not abolished, for Christ will be King of the Jews. But was not the institution, the ordinance, in point of fact corrupted in the hands of men? Was not the royal power corrupted in the hands of Manasseh, ruined in the hands of Zedekiah? The institution of the Lord's supper, if we take the gospels as an immutable rule, is always the same as to its character, but was it not corrupted when the mass was made out of it? The truth is that the word "institution" has a double signification: the rule which institutes, and the thing which is instituted. Now the rule does not change; in this respect the word is equivalent to a law; but if one takes the thing instituted, as it exists in the hands of men, it may be deeply corrupted: this cannot be the case with a law, because law is essentially what it is. It may be disobeyed. It cannot be corrupted; but a thing instituted may depart from the rule according to which it was established. It may be corrupted and yet not be abolished; it may have ceased to exist, and yet not have been abolished by God. It may finally be abolished by the power which created it. Moreover, a dispensation may be brought to an end by the authority of God, and another introduced in its stead. The condition may be one of corruption, and the patience of God may bear with this condition as long as He can act on consciences in spite of the corruption. When He puts an end to a dispensation on account of the corruption that exists, His purposes are accomplished just the same, although it be on account of corruption that He does so [put an end to it].

321 All this has occurred with regard to the Jewish dispensation, and the Christian dispensation is threatened with the same doom. Now it is a sophism, and a sophism having the most antinomian tendency possible, to say that, because the law that founds the institution or the dispensation cannot be other than it is, therefore the thing that is founded cannot be corrupted. Nothing can abrogate the authority of that which has been said on the part of God; but if man has entirely failed with regard to it, and if thus a thing which required the power of God to establish it fails in the hands of men (the kingly power among the Jews, for example), the pretension to re-establish it is a false pretension, derogatory at the same time both to the judgment which removes the ruined thing, and to the authority of God which alone can establish it. Now, I said in the most distinct manner, that the dispensation is not yet brought to an end, and that it will continue to the end of the period ordained by God, until Christ leaves His Father's throne.

That therefore is not the question; and be sure of it that, if the dispensation were closed, this discussion would not take place. The only question is this: If, on account of the iniquity of man, God has in truth set aside institutions which His authority alone had or could establish, can man, without His authority and power, set them up anew, when it is a question of things which depend either on His authority or on His power? Is it meet for the Church to disown the judgment of God, and without His authority to rebuild what has been destroyed, even though the dispensation still exist?

322 Thus the kingly power, the Urim and Thummim, and the visible presence of the glory, finally prophecy itself, were wanting to the Jews after their return from the captivity. Did the Jews pretend to be able to re-establish them? We well know that they did not. Nevertheless, the dispensation was not definitively abolished.

And now it will be understood to what I apply the word "antinomianism"; it is when, on account of the authority of a law or an institution, regarded as a rule established by God, one seeks to destroy the consequences of man's responsibility, when man has failed in the obedience due to the law, or corrupted an institution which was entrusted to him. The kingly power amongst the Jews, the Lord's supper amongst Christians, are institutions of God; but they are things entrusted to man; both have been corrupted: the one has been abolished among the Jews; the other has not been abolished amongst Christians. He who would have pretended to set up again the kingly power among the Jews would have fought against God; he who purges the Supper from the corruptions which man has introduced uses it with blessing.

Now I say that the Church has failed in faithfulness. Corruption has come in; many things have been lost; the Church is responsible for it. There are things which it can still enjoy, and there are others which it cannot re-establish. It is admitted that tongues, miracles, inspired prophecy, apostles, gifts of healing, and many other things perhaps, are lost to the Church. The institution of elders had been corrupted in the hands of men; looking at it from my opponents' point of view, it had been transformed into the seat of the deepest corruption which has ever existed, and of the most awful tyranny of which the world has ever borne the yoke. By mixing ministry with it, it has become the clergy, hierarchy. Now, not in order to establish the rule of the institution on paper, but in order to invest persons with the possession of this authority which should rest in the institution, there must be some source for this authority, some persons who, according to the institution of God, according to the rule which subsists in the word, are authorized to establish them. For example, there were none at Geneva; they established some. Do I pretend that the law, the rule of the institution, no longer exists? Just the contrary. I take the rule of the institution, a rule given in the New Testament, and I find that, according to this rule there was a source of authority, on which the whole force of the institution depended. This source is wanting now. It is then said to me, The rule, the law, is there. I know full well that it is there; that is why I reject your so-called elders, because they are set up in open opposition to the rule given by the word.

323 I am told that we are agreed as to the fact that certain things have been lost among the Jews; and others in the Christian dispensation. Well: the existence of the law of an institution does not therefore imply the existence of the institution* nor the possibility of its re-establishment. It is added "But the objection does not touch the churches; they never had the least pretension to create apostles; the word does not command them to do so." Now, first of all, Matthias was made an apostle; and, secondly, the word does not command the Church to make elders either.

{* In a note to "Qu'est ce qu'on a reconnu?" it says that the word here rendered (p. 29) "instituteur" ought to be "institution."}

Throughout the New Testament it is proved that there were apostles. The word proves that there were elders; but it also proves that the churches had not the power to make them, for the institution is expressly based on apostolic authority, and instead of commanding the churches to appoint any, the apostle sent Titus to establish them; a clear evidence that he did not commit this task to the churches. Such is the immutable rule of the institution, the law which cannot be corrupted, which, thanks be to God, does not change, and which you have violated - you that pretend on your own authority so to act the apostle, and the deputies of the apostles, as to invite Christians who hardly dared to do so to arrogate this right to themselves, in order to spare yourselves an act which, if directly done in your own names, would have rendered apparent your incapacity and want of power to do. Now in order to strengthen us against the irrefragable proofs that the thing is positively contrary to the rule of the institution we are told "It was therefore needful that the apostles should give institutions to the Church, which might go on after them and without them. It appears to us that, had they not done this, they would have failed in their mission." Happily you are not in God's place to judge them, although it would seem you think yourselves competent to do so.

324 Allow me to tell you that the Church, which went on badly enough with them, has gone on very badly without them, and that the institutions which they gave to the Church have not gone on without them, unless you call the horrors of papacy the progress of the apostolical institutions.

The endeavour is made to persuade us, in the face of the Church's history, that the apostles necessarily gave institutions which should go on without them. Is it possible to imagine such arguments as these? Poor apostles! According to what the elders of the Evangelical Church at Geneva say, they thoroughly failed in their mission. At least they had not the pretensions of these gentlemen!

The apostle foresees, with tears, the invasion of the enemy, when the special power with which the Lord had endowed him should be withdrawn. He foretells that there would be an apostasy; and if I am to believe Mons. Gaussen (I do not know if he is one of the elders), that which calls itself the Church will be spued out of Christ's mouth. I do not know whether at that time the institutions will have gone on without the apostle, although they may have been re-established in all their vigour by the Evangelical Church at Geneva.

Hence, therefore, the use of the word law is only a wretched sophism, because a man in whom an institution is realized is not a law; and not only is a law necessary to establish a man in that position with the authority of God, but also the authority for doing so must be vested somewhere, otherwise it is not with the authority of God, unless it be a divine mission which is legitimate itself by its own power, as that of the prophet; but there is no occasion for a nomination.

No; by wearying the patience of God with his sin, man can "not" reduce Him to the incapacity of using His laws. The execution of the just judgment of God is not want of power. When I said "He can no longer make use of them," it is only the expression of the feeling contained in the words "until there was no longer a remedy." Sin has reached such a point that God can no longer bear with it. Is this want of power? No, it is holiness. Such an argument is really not worthy of an answer. Can God use fallen Adam, such as he is, for the kingdom of His glory? Is it imputing to God a want of power to say that it is impossible? Does the apostle accuse God of powerlessness, when He says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and that God has introduced something better in the Second Adam?

325 Corruption is not a law of God. Man, under the law of innocence, was an institution of God; corruption has come in; the institution is marred, corrupted, ruined; it has not been immediately abolished by God, but it has not been re-established: God has introduced something better. Can there be anything plainer or more evident? Well, that is the law of man, one may say, of every creature placed under his responsibility, without being sustained by direct power from God. God was pleased to shew this under every form, without law, under law, under promises, in the priesthood, in the kingly power, in the presentation of His Son to the husbandmen. The institutions were according to God; man has always failed in them, and, save that they are to be made good in Christ, the institutions, as ordained of God, have been set aside one after the other. The weakness of man, of the creature, has been proved. I do not believe that the elders of Geneva form any exception.

But to say that "the dispensations are not responsible for the whole of men's actings with regard to them" is to say, if the phrase has any meaning at all, that even when men have failed, to whatever degree it may be, with regard to the institutions under which God has placed them, their sin will be no reason for God to put an end to the dispensation which receives its form from those institutions. And I say that such a system is iniquitous, antinomian, and unscriptural.

There is another idea which I wish to take up, weary though I be of this controversy. "The written word now designates them [the elders] by making known to the churches the brethren who are fit for these offices." First, it was not to the churches that the apostle made them known, but to those who were employed by him to establish these brethren in the bosom of the churches which were not competent to do it. But this is not all.

326 If the word pointed them out then, there was no need of Timothy or Titus. And if it be the word that designates them, in this case all those who have these qualifications are designated by the word. Every man who is blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach, not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous, one that "ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity"; all persons who have these qualities are designated; and, the word having designated them, there is no election, there is no nomination, that is to say, designation. The system of choosing of elders falls by this very fact. All those who are such are nominated with the same authority as if an apostle had set them apart. Now, if this be the case, the thing is done, and the brethren whom you call Plymouthists, who accept them without choosing them, are nearer the truth.

If the apostle had appointed elders, would it have been the Church's place to choose them afterwards, to nominate them, or do whatever it might be, except to obey? Clearly not. If the word designates them, establishes them with the same authority that the apostles did, you have nothing to do, except that the apostles did something that the word does not do, and which you pretend to do with apostolic sagacity and authority. Paul, Barnabas, and Titus did something besides pointing out the desirable qualifications. They never designated the elders to the churches in an abstract manner by qualifications. Such a designation has never been addressed to a church.

I said that "the New Testament dispensation will, without any doubt, accomplish the period assigned to it." We are agreed that the period is not accomplished. As a deduction, it is said "Consequently the New Testament and the institutions which concern the formation, government, and service of the churches exist in full force." Why so? The period of the Jewish dispensation was not fulfilled before the coming of the Saviour. Were all the institutions of God in full force? The kingly power, prophecy, Urim and Thummim, the presence of God in the temple, the ark with the mercy-seat, on which was put the blood which maintained the relationship of God with Israel, was all that in full force? But I shall be told, The things were found in scripture. Granted; but what does that prove, except that your reasoning from beginning to end is only a miserable sophism, which seeks to destroy the responsibility of man, and the consequences which flow from the fact of his having failed as to it. These things of which I have just spoken were lost, lost on account of the sins of men, although the end of the dispensation had not yet come. Man could not set them up again. The fact that they were to be found in the scriptures was only the humiliating proof that the Jews had lost them through their sins.

327 I almost forgot what is said on the following words of my pamphlet: "In order not to offend them, He submitted to what they required." My opponents shew much holy indignation against such doctrines. They say "In fact, that Jesus submitted to the law, because the Jews required it of Him, is rationalistic doctrine." I was about to answer that I had said nothing about the law "submitting to the law" is not to be found in my pamphlet, and that it is not the subject treated of in the part whence my words are quoted! But alas! on closer examination one finds that this is but another instance of false quotation. "He submitted to all that was required of Him" is placed between inverted commas; but in my pamphlet there is only "He submitted to that which was required of Him" a very essential difference, because it is a question of a particular point, and not of the law; whereas, if it is said He submitted to "all" that was required of Him, that word "all" may be looked upon as including the law and all else besides. If the trouble is taken to read my pamphlet, "Observations on the Tract entitled 'Plymouthism,'" it will be seen, that it is not at all a question of the obligation of the law, but of this particular point, that there was no longer either ark, or Urim and Thummim; that the presence of God was no longer in the temple; that the temple was empty, and that "the body of the Lord was the true temple." In order not to offend them He submitted to that which was required of Him, that is to say, regarding respect for the temple as if God were there. If one has ever so little knowledge of the word, one must know to what this alludes. They demanded the tribute-money for the expenses of the temple; and the Lord, while He testified that He and His disciples, as being the children of the great King, were not really bound to pay, answers Peter, "Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee," Matt. 17:27. He displays Himself as disposing of creation according to His good pleasure, and thus shews that His body is the true temple, although He, the Son, deigns to associate His disciples with Himself as children of the great King. Whilst manifesting His divine glory He submitted, in order not to offend them, to what was required of Him. But what a task it is to contend with opponents who are so ignorant that they discover rationalism in the Lord's own words, not knowing, perhaps, that He pronounced them! Moreover, as I have said, the point was not submission to the law, nor submission to all that was required of Him, but of the condition of the temple, deprived of the presence of Jehovah, whilst the body of Jesus was the true temple of God.

328 Again, they pretend that I say that the Christian dispensation or new covenant is rejected. This is not the place for discussing the extent of the new covenant, nor its relations to the Christian dispensation; but I do not believe that the new covenant is set aside, because the Jews will be brought in again by means of this covenant, when the Church is in heaven. If the covenant were set aside, the dispensation founded on it would necessarily fall at the same time; but God, by taking up the Church to heaven and by rejecting the order of things which has existed in connection with it on the earth, can deal with Israel on the ground of the covenant founded on the blood of Christ. The Church, properly speaking, the body of Christ, is not a dispensation, it does not belong to the earth; but there is an order of things connected with it during its sojourning here below - an order of things whose existence is linked with the Church's responsibility. The dispensation of the new covenant is, properly speaking, the millennium on the earth, as it is easy to be convinced of by reading the prophecy of Jeremiah who speaks of it. But, the blood of the covenant having been shed, Christians enjoy the practical and spiritual effect of what has been done (and this even in a more excellent way than that in which the Jews will enjoy it in the age to come), although the Jews as a nation have refused to avail themselves of it.

But if, according to the general language of the Christian world, we call the present order of things a dispensation or economy, it has not yet been rejected, as I have already very plainly said. It does not follow from this that Christians have not lost some things which they cannot again re-establish, nor that they are not guilty, and already, in the main, guilty of that which, in spite of the longsuffering of God, will bring down judgment and cause Christ to spue the whole system from His mouth.

329 Let us now see how the question is presented through the use of the word "law," to the exclusion of "covenant and institutions." It is said, "God punishes the sinner, but He does not abrogate His laws on account of sins." And who imagines such a thing, if it is a question of abrogating the authority of the law? But God certainly has set the whole covenant of the law aside, and the whole system from beginning to end, viewed as being the principle of God's relationship with man on the earth. No one would dare deny it, not even an unbelieving Jew, who suffers the consequence of it. He expects something better - the coming of the Messiah. To pretend that the change has not taken place is folly, it is the denial of Christianity: to present the thing as if it meant that God abrogates His laws because man has sinned is a wretched quibble, worthy of the cause it is employed to uphold.

Then it is said that, since I acknowledge that the New Testament dispensation is not yet at an end, and that the new covenant consequently still continues, "it is a strict duty of obedience for the churches, to return to what it teaches, no doubt according to the measure of what is possible." Certainly, as far as regards my walk in the position in which God has placed me; but the question is quite different here. This is it: Am I placed by God in a position which authorizes me to establish elders? and where ought I to establish them? In every town? This is truly what Titus had to do. And you, the Evangelical Church at Geneva, you do not pretend to do so outside of Geneva. You are not therefore in the position to which these instructions are addressed. This is what I deny - your authority. Your teaching here is, however, very harmless. Obedience, according to the measure of what is possible, you say, is a duty; and you affirm that it is possible to fulfil it. Be assured that Mr. Darby does not at all deny that it is possible to fulfil duty, that is, according to the measure of what is possible. On the contrary, he is struck with the wisdom of your remarks. There is only one thing you have forgotten here, namely, that the word possible is a relative word, and that it answers to the power of him who acts. It is your power that I question. One may have the pretension to appoint elders; this is certainly according to the measure of what is possible. But the question is this: When you have appointed them, can it be said, "The Church of God," "over which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers"? If you cannot say that, what is your appointing worth? What I doubt is your power to do it.

330 You say you do not pretend to re-establish that which may have been lost through your fault; but time was when you had no elders, and now you have some. But this is not all: there is the deplorable indifference to a loss which ought to awaken the conscience of every true Christian. You say, "But it is not a question of knowing whether God withdrew blessings from Israel on account of their sins; that which it is important to ascertain is, whether the Mosaic dispensation continued until the coming of Christ." And, again, "No doubt God, in consequence of the idolatry and sin of Israel, withdrew His glory, as well as the ark, the Urim and Thummim." Although He had withdrawn all these, you say, nevertheless, "If, therefore, the ordinances of the law were maintained after the captivity; if Israel were called to serve God by their means … ." But is it possible to treat such a subject with such levity? No doubt, God bore with Israel; but He had from the time of Isaiah made the heart of this people fat. The glory with which all the ordinances were connected had been withdrawn; the ark, over which was the mercy-seat, by means of which Israel as a people were reconciled; the Urim and Thummim, by which the high priest knew the will of God when he presented himself before Him - all these had been withdrawn. And you dare to say that it is not a question of that? Is it not a question of knowing whether the glory, that is to say the presence of God, was gone from this people? This was perhaps neither an ordinance nor a law, but did it not change anything? Is it not important to ascertain whether that glory was there or not? But was not the act of putting the blood on the mercy-seat an ordinance, the most important ordinance of all? Was that maintained? The temple was empty - deprived of the presence of God. If the pretension to maintain that ordinance had existed, it would, in fact, have been like the appointment of elders, for God was not there. But with my opponents, it is not a question of that. What it is important to ascertain is that the dispensation is not at an end. And when the high priest enquired of God by Urim and Thummim, was not this an ordinance of the law? Was it maintained after the captivity? The word in Ezra and Nehemiah proves that these mysterious signs were wanting.

331 All that gave any value to the priesthood of Aaron, the presence of Jehovah to whom he drew near; the ark, which was the throne of God, and the sprinkling of the blood (on the great day of atonement) by which propitiation was made; the Urim and Thummim by which the high priest received the answer of God for the people, and directed all their affairs - all this was gone. But it is not a question of these! the point is to know whether the priesthood of Aaron was abolished after the captivity.

The case is not the same; for if the priesthood no longer existed according to God's order, Israel could not have re-established one; and that is what you pretend to do with regard to elders. Moreover, your remarks throw great light on your thoughts. If you can maintain the form and the official importance of your position without the presence of God, without any of those things which give it force, until the end of the dispensation, you will be satisfied. That the priesthood of Aaron be without the glory in the temple, without the true mercy-seat and without means of atonement, without Urim and Thummim, or the knowledge of God's thoughts, is all the same, according to you; it has its official place: this is what it is important to shew. Remember, gentlemen, that it was this which brought in the ruin of Israel. The tree was dry, the house was empty: what had God to do then? But you come off nearly as badly about the beginning of a dispensation as you do about its end.

You say, "The apostles did not institute a central power in the Church." This is perfectly true, and the reason of it is very simple: they were themselves that power. And when the twelve at Jerusalem ceased to be such, Paul was it. He established elders in every city, he sent Titus to act, because he was invested with central power in the Church assembled from among the Gentiles, invested with this power by Christ Himself. Then, after all, you are in the beaten path from which the Spirit of God is bringing out Christians. The thing becomes clear enough. There is nothing like searching into truth. You long for independent churches. This is the whole secret of the matter. You say, "They, on the contrary, constituted churches independent one of the other." This is your whole affair. You cannot deny that the apostles and Paul, in the sphere which God assigned him, exercised a power over all the churches (that is to say, a central power); you cannot deny that the Church was one, that the gifts were members of the one body, and were exercised in the unity of this body manifested on the earth. The churches, whilst exercising their discipline each in its own locality, exercised it in the name of the universal Church, and there it was valid. Gifts were placed in the Church, not in the churches. The whole body was but one. But that which you uphold is shewn to be only the fancy to have independent churches. He who has drunk old wine does not immediately desire new, "for he says, the old is better." The unity of the body is set aside.

332 You say, Governmental authority resides in the scriptures. A singular seat of executive power! Laws are found there; but governmental authority is not a law, although it may act according to law.

Who replaces the apostles? According to you, all the faithful in each locality replace this central power, which certainly did exist, and to which those who were of God listened. But in vain do I seek for some proof that such authority was entrusted to all. You do not and cannot say now that Christian assemblies have the right to choose them, and that it is their duty to do so, but you do not quote any passage.

"They rightly believe that, in so acting, they do a work pleasing to the Lord." This is all you have to say. And then you proclaim, "We have just seen that the churches have the necessary authority for designating their elders and their deacons." But you must feel the ground slipping from under your feet, and that the whole building is ready to crumble. You wish to prop it up. You say, "The apostles made use of the form of election, they chose Matthias." Is this a proof that we can choose apostles? You overthrow all your arguments by this example, for were this example worth anything it would rightly authorize you to choose apostles; but things did not happen thus. The qualifications were plainly pointed out. It must be men who had followed the Lord from the baptism of John; then they set two before the Lord (estesan duo) who answered, as one must believe, to those conditions. But they did not dare to choose between the two, and they drew lots. You have altered the sense of the word by saying, "They chose Matthias," and "This presentation was then confirmed." They say, "Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, that he may take part of this ministry and apostleship." How dare any one thus alter the word? But all is well, so long as one can maintain one's position.

333 Deacons were elected: we have spoken of them elsewhere. It was a temporal matter, with which the apostles refused to burden themselves; just as Paul, in another case, wishing to remain free from all reproach, refused to take the brethren's money, unless some one from amongst themselves were chosen to take charge of it with him. But what has this to do with the overseers of the Church, who are the servants of God? The deacons were servants of the Church, as Phoebe, servant of the church at Cenchrea. They chose deputies at Antioch. You must be much at a loss for quotations, if you are obliged to quote this passage. These were occasional deputies in order to put a stop to a tumult in the Church, and this has not the slightest connection with the permanent authorities established over the Church, and there is not a word said of their nomination. They decided that Paul and Barnabas, who had argued in vain against the judaizing Christians, should go up, and others with them, to Jerusalem. How were they appointed? There is a perfect silence on this point. I think it very probable that they were chosen by general consent, since they were their deputies. There is not a word which says that they were appointed by lot.

Then you say that the end of 2 Corinthians 8 "shews us also brethren, who laboured for the glory of the Lord, and who were deputies of the Church, being elected and chosen by them." This is a singular paraphrase. How embarrassing when one attempts to prove a thing which does not exist! They laboured for the glory of the Lord. Now, I ask you, for what work were they chosen by the churches? You will tell me, We do not say. Well, neither does the word. And what then do you wish to teach by introducing it? The word is very simple, is it not? It is a pity that you are not so. Doubtless, this cannot be, with the system which you have adopted rightly, as it appears, but without the word. The word says that one at least of these excellent brethren was chosen by the churches for the administration of the money sent to Jerusalem, the apostle having refused to take charge of it unless there was one with him, so as to avoid the possibility of a single reproach. And what has all this to do with the choice of the regular authorities of the Church, with reference to whom we have passages which you have not quoted at all?

334 Why, without multiplying questions, did you not draw attention to Acts 14? It is spoken there of the nomination of elders, and this is not the case in any of the passages which you have quoted. Why not mention the passage in the Epistle to Titus, where the apostle clearly speaks of this? Would it not have been more natural, when it is a question of elders, to quote passages which speak of them, than to multiply quotations from passages which do not speak of them? You dared not do it. These passages say exactly the contrary of what you wish to persuade us. There were churches in Asia Minor: the apostles chose for them. There were churches in Crete: Paul sent Titus to establish some in them.

You tell us that ecclesiastical history leaves no doubt on this point. I do not allow that ecclesiastical history is any authority, but whatever the value of its testimony may be, it very plainly contradicts what you say.

Here are the words of Clement, or rather of the whole Church at Rome, in whose name he writes. There were divisions at Corinth, on the subject of elders. The Church had set aside certain elders, as claiming the right to do so according to the principles which I contest. In his Epistle, 1 Corinthians 4:2, "The apostles evangelized us on behalf of our Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus the Christ did so on behalf of God. The Christ was sent on behalf of God, and the apostles on behalf of Christ. The two things occurred regularly therefore according to the will of God. Having therefore preached through divers places, in the country, and in the towns, they established their firstfruits to be overseers and deacons among those who should believe, having, by the Holy Spirit, found them worthy. And there is nothing new in this." Then he quotes the choice of Aaron by the direct testimony of God in what happened to his rod. "And our apostles knew, by our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be disputations with regard to the name of the episcopacy. Therefore, having received a perfect foreknowledge of this, they established those of whom we have previously spoken and then gave a legal* order of succession, how that, when they fell asleep, other approved persons might receive their ministry. Those therefore, who were established by them, or afterwards by other eminent (renowned) men, the whole Church approving them … these we esteem wrongfully deprived of their ministry." Here we have the question expressly treated by one who was a companion of the apostle, who acted in the matter, who was a successor of the apostle, as far as anyone could be such, and one who is, in every way, the highest possible authority on such a subject. What he says to be the history of the matter is confirmed by the whole Church of Rome, and he declares that the apostle had foreseen the difficulty, and that, when the Corinthians were pretending to exercise the very authority claimed by the Evangelical Church at Geneva. He declares that the apostle had established elders and a form of succession; then that other men of repute had established them, the whole Church being satisfied with it. It is impossible to have anything clearer or more positive, in ecclesiastical history, to contradict the assertion of my opponents.

{*I translate as well as I can epinome, a word the force of which is disputed. The known use of it is, the act of pasturing, going over a pasturage; but epinomos, signifies legal, a legal form, and I think that the substantive ought to be thus understood. There are some who pretend it was the succession itself which was indicated; thus Le Clerc. I translate the same as Usher, Fell, Cotelerius, and others.}

335 I examine Mosheim.* He tells me that it is scarcely to be doubted, if one considers the prudence and moderation shewn by the apostles in appointing an apostle, and then the seven, that the elders of the primitive Church at Jerusalem were elected by suffrages of the faithful. Then he says that when an elder was needed, the body of elders recommended one or two persons to the assembly; and in a note he says that Titus 1:5 proves nothing against it: Titus might have consulted, and doubtless did in reality consult, the wishes of the people. This may be so. It is, however, quite another thing from a history which, as you wish to persuade us, leaves no doubt that they acted by way of election. And Mosheim is so far from thinking of an election, that he makes use of what he believes to have occurred in order to justify what he calls the right of presentation, as not being repugnant to the practice of the primitive Church, adding that a similar right was always acknowledged as belonging to the bishops and the collective body of elders, and he alleges it to the end that he may shew that popular election is thoroughly bad. He says, nevertheless, that the people might refuse those presented.

{*Ecclesiastical History.}

336 Neander says that one may conclude, from the choice of deacons and deputies, that the Church chose other functionaries also, but that, where the apostles had not confidence in the churches, they gave the important office of elder to those who were fitted for it. Then he quotes Clement, to shew that it might be the custom for the elders to present a successor in case of death. Where the consent of the Church was not a mere form, this might be very useful. The fact is, if one takes history, the only thing which cannot be doubted is that one must be an episcopalian. The reader who is desirous of studying this subject may consult Cyprian's letter, 67 or 68, where he seeks to attach the utmost importance to the part which the people took in the election of a bishop, in order to make use of it against the authority of the Pope, against whose acts he was striving. As to the priests, it appears from letter 40, that he ordained them himself alone, and that he then informed the people of it, but this was in a time of persecution. In other letters he excuses himself for so doing, on account of that, saying that the testimony of the people was no longer necessary when God had given His, inasmuch as he whom he had ordained had confessed the Lord at the peril of his life, but that, when he had entered on his episcopate, he had imposed upon himself as a rule never to do anything without the consent of the clergy and people. So that what you say of history is entirely contradicted by the data with which the old authors furnish us. At any rate, as regards authority, this has only ecclesiastical authority.

It is a question of commencing the existence of a body of elders. The word and history positively declare that it was the apostles who appointed these, and subsequently eminent men. Clement of Alexandria says that when John returned from Ephesus, he, being invited, went through the neighbourhood inhabited by Gentiles, establishing bishops (say elders), constituting churches, and placing among the clergy every one of those who were indicated by the Holy Spirit (Eusebius 3:23, quoting Clement of Alexandria, "Who is the rich man that shall be saved?"). That elders were elected by the faithful is certainly what ecclesiastical history does not state. The idea of presentation (the testimony of the people being received, or, at least, the thing being done in their presence) is what is best established.

337 Consequently Cyprian makes all the faithful responsible as to this, and tells them that they ought to separate from a bad bishop little by little; this was the cause of a struggle between the two. For a time the people chose them, at least in Italy; blood was shed, and one may say, that there was a civil war. And mark this, it was on the subject of bishops. I know of no testimony which states the election of elders. Certain is it that we have some who relate their appointment differently. The earliest authorities attribute it to the apostles (Clement of Alexandria), or to the apostles and eminent men, all the people consenting to it (Clement of Rome). In the fourth century the people often chose their own bishops, and candidates often canvassed for the office; there were conflicts between the bishops and the people, as in the case of Martin of Tours; or there were factions, as at Rome, in the case of Symmachus. Between these two epochs, the forms differed according to circumstances, but the episcopacy was established.

I have already said too much about it. I do not at all pretend to possess that kind of learning, but a very little general knowledge suffices to shew that this assertion, with regard to ecclesiastical history, is worth no more than all the others. I believe I have summed up, in an impartial manner, the testimony of ecclesiastical history on the most contested point of all ecclesiastical historical questions. If the learned reader desires to know all the opinions on this subject, he will find them collected in "Bingham's Ecclesiastical Antiquities," book 4, chap. 2, with the indication of the books which treat on the subject. This book has been translated into Latin for the benefit of those who do not understand English.

When I am asked where God said that He could not make use of the new covenant to make Himself known to us; the question does not deserve an answer, because my opponents believe, as I do, that God will put an end to the present order of things by the coming of the Son of man in judgment, and that another dispensation will be substituted for it. No one has said that God cannot make use of the new covenant, no one thinks so. But I have yet to learn, why the subsisting of the new covenant obliges me to admit that the Holy Spirit has established the elders of the Evangelical Church at Geneva overseers over the Church of God. This is a pretension of a pretty high nature. They wish to make us believe that, if one of the elders of this body is not acknowledged in his office, the new covenant is done away with! In matter of argument, this is modesty as well as good sense. Moreover, what I have said is, not that God cannot make use of anything, be it what it may, on account of sin, but that when man has corrupted what God has set up, so that, despite His great patience, He cannot make use of it, He does not restore what has been ruined, but He introduces something better. The whole word bears witness to the accuracy of this remark from Genesis to the Apocalypse. That which is important to all is that the sin, the evil which will bring down judgment, has already come in: God may still have patience, but the judgment of this evil, which has existed for a long time, does not tarry; and with my whole might, I again beseech the children of God, my brethren, to abjure principles which deprive them of the power and discernment necessary to avoid the trap spread by the enemy, and to assist him according to the testimony of God.

338 You three times exclaim against my "very awful threats," "the threats of Mr. Darby," and "his prophetical and threatening language." I do not threaten any one; but the pretensions of the elders, or of any adversaries of the truth, will not hinder me from exhorting men, as far as the grace of God enables me, to wait for the Lord, who is going to overturn all that which is established, and to shun all that might obscure the perception of His coming glory, or the hope of His manifestation. People speak of believing in Christ as the only condition for partaking of the promise. Be it so! But ought one to weaken, by this doctrine, the authority and obligation of the word in everything? It is legitimate to add, "if we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." May my brethren learn to keep the word of His patience, whilst listening to the sweet promise, "Behold, I come quickly!"