J. N. Darby.
(To the Editor of the Bible Treasury)
Allow me to send you some extracts from a pamphlet recently published in Holland by Dr. Capadose, a man well known in Holland and elsewhere, as a Christian (converted from Judaism, I suppose, nine and thirty years ago), and valued and respected in the religious world since. It is not for clearness of views, as to the Church, nor an exact interpretation of scripture, that I send it: I should think, from some expressions, he is not what I should account clear on these heads. I send it as a sign of what is going on in the world; and to all a solemn warning as to where we are. It is earnest, serious, with feeling ardently genuine, and contains principles of the deepest importance; and if some prophetical points, or apprehensions of the unity of the body, be not clearly seized, and that the circumstances of the reformed church, so-called, in Holland, have led Dr. Capadose's mind to the conclusion he has arrived at more by conscience as to the evil than by attraction of the good, it is only so much the more a witness, that in all circumstances where the Spirit of God is acting, the sense of the times we are in presses on the spirit. The conclusion Dr. Capadose has arrived at has been the conviction of the writer of this these nine and thirty years, and is participated in by a vast number of your readers. I give these extracts as additional testimony from an upright and right-feeling soul of the state things are come to. For indeed what was a matter of principle forty years ago is now verifying before our eyes. The doctrines of the Church, of the rapture of the saints, are a relief and source of consolation and joy in the midst of the evil. May Dr. C. find this too!
The principles of his pamphlet, however sorrowful the occasion, are as true as they are urgent. The public ministry of the reformed body in Holland is almost universally infidel, and, since the publication of Mr. Renan's Life of Jesus, this infidelity has become bold and pretentious. This is what seems to have urged Dr. C. to the step he has taken. The inscription of the pamphlet is Isaiah 52:11-12, which I give in the English translation: "Depart ye, depart ye; go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bare the vessels of the Lord. For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward." I now give the preface: it shews the spirit of the work.
359 "I hope the few pages which follow here will be read and weighed with the same seriousness as that with which the writer has penned them. They have not, however small in compass, to thank a fugitive passing emotion for their origin. No! already for more than a year, my heart has been urged by the feeling of an urgent need to communicate openly and make known the results at which I have arrived with the deepest conviction, what a ripe and continually repeated searching out has taught me of the painful state of the church of our fatherland, and what the holy calling of Christian professors within this requires. I must give testimony. And not only do I feel myself compelled to this for myself, but I must recommend to and press on others with all insistence, the holy way of earnest search. I am conscious, moreover, of having in these pages respected the conscience of brethren who think otherwise, though not without fraternal exhortation. Let each search his heart and follow what is enjoined him by the Spirit of God, but distinguish there also well what God's Spirit wills. The state of mere appearances (that is, of lies) must cease where people desire to follow the truth in everything. It is happy for myself that I know and love upright brethren in all churches who are attached to the same principles of life and faith; and, trusting to remain to the end, in the strength of Jesus the Lord and Saviour, His witness, and to be able to persevere as a living member of Christ's Church, I here declare openly and officially, that I cannot belong to any church communion so called."
Dr. C. states that he cannot really call it separation, for the simple reason that he no longer recognizes any Netherland reformed church as such remaining among them. He goes over the ground of former evil and trying states of the church: but that never was there an open combating on a widespread scale, by teachers of the church, of the Christian faith within the Church itself, not only before the reading public, but from the pulpit itself, and baptism and the Lord's supper administered and profaned (and that unhindered) by persons who are not Christians. "This is," he adds in a note, "unhinderedly allowed, while people strongly deny to Christians, but who are not ordained, competency to do it. I myself," he says, "approve for order's sake, that the administration of the sacraments in the normal state of the Church, by unordained men, should not be permitted, but judge that the ordained modern teacher, who wants what is the fundamental principle of a Christian, is far away less competent for it than the believing brother, who wants the fundamental ecclesiastical principle of ordination for it." I thought it well thus far to shew what Dr. Capadose's principles are, not to misrepresent his mind.
360 I now add what is more important. He says, "If people will give the Dutch reformed body the name of church, they must call her the church of confusion, not a Christian church, and thus no reformed church"; and that he must leave what thus steals the name. If others hope for restoration, for his part in no case can he cherish any hope of her restoration. Many efforts earlier in the work, and more definitely some four and twenty years on a broad scale, and shewing sympathy with the reformed congregations in his country, might, perhaps, have led to restoration; but, if not absolutely opposed, certainly were not supported or furthered even by well-minded ministers." They have let the opportunity be lost, and now, through this much-to-be-lamented want of zeal, the canker of infidelity has penetrated continually deeper and deeper, and we are come to the beginning of that apostasy of which Paul speaks (2 Thess. 2), that definite apostasy from Christ, which must precede the revelation of Antichrist. And this apostasy, already long prepared beforehand, is nothing but the consistent development of the unresisted, if not fostered, progress of infidel science in the Church … Yet the epoch of apostasy is there, and will continually spread more and more, as well in every worldly government which by its institutions more and more excludes God, as in all churches wherein the true Christ, the God-man, will be more and more denied by the deifying of man. Do we not forget the reproving saying of our Lord: 'Ye can understand the face of the sky, but can ye not discern the signs of the times'?" He notices the breaking out of it in Roman Catholic and Protestant countries at the same time, and presses the fact of the growing canker of infidelity, and the near approach of the dissolution of the different churches.
361 "The Church of Christ, the Church of the crucified One, that and that alone has the promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; but also the holy calling to bear the cross after the crucified One." "The voice of the Lord calling in the signs of the times makes us hear a higher claim. The question is not of a choice between church and church, but between Christ and Antichrist." … "The Lord Jesus calls all who believe in Him in truth to unite themselves together round Him, as He in its own time will bring together all His elect out of all tongues, peoples, nations, and races. So He calls now His believing ones out of reformed, out of dissenting, out of Lutheran, out of Roman, and other churches, to attach themselves to Him; and to go away from places where Belials are to be found, by the side of Christ. The great and mighty combat begins, if we can call a fireproof combat. Let the Lord's word be a light in everything, a light to our path, and that word calls to us. Do not bear the same yoke with the unbeliever," etc.
What I have transcribed will give, I think, a just idea of this earnest appeal. Though there may be a mistaken application of some passages as to the apostasy and trial, I heartily feel that the apostasy in principle is begun, so that on this point the appeal is just, and I am not afraid of a mistake in interpretation which does not affect the substance of it.
Dr. Capadose adds extended reasoning on the particular proofs of what he insists on in the Netherland reformed church so-called, urges at length that believers should not be arrested by temporal difficulties in presence of the faithfulness of the Lord, and adds a kind of second part where he insists that, if the clergy have not the courage to leave the system, they should at least absolutely separate (in every religious service of every kind, schools, and all Christian service) from those who deny Christ. The details of these parts I do not give. It is the solemn warning (one of the multiplied signs of the times, the proof of the principles which, by the operation of the Spirit of God, are at work in men's minds), which, I thought, might be alike in the best sense interesting and profitable to your readers.
Liverpool, June 22nd, 1866.