The Principles Involved.

J. N. Darby.

<20005E> (See also files 20003E, 20004E, 20006E)


An important general principle yet remains. In page 12 of the "Reasons," we find the following: "It is well known that we have always refused to acknowledge that the scripture recognises the whole body of assembled saints, as invested with authority and capacity to examine witnesses and debate* their verdict. This the church does, we believe, through those of its members capacitated by God for such service. It is in the sense just defined, that we have always denied that the congregated church is a deliberative assembly. Thus we have always maintained a testimony against the principles of the dissenters. If therefore from the period of our first gathering together in this place until now, we have steadily and invariably acted on this principle, can it be expected that we should depart from it in this matter?" It is evident this is of all importance.

{*The force of this word "debate" will be considered farther on.}

And first, let me recall the fact, already noticed, that these four persons (who are quietly telling us what they did from the beginning) were not there in the beginning. Mr. S. was not converted till years after; and Mr. B. and Mr. D. joined years after; Mr. C-w earlier, but a considerable time after, and he, for a very long time certainly, did not "addict himself to the ministry." That is quite a new thing. So that "we" may pass with those who know nothing of Plymouth; but with me, who was there before the beginning and at it and after it, their putting themselves in such a place bears a very strange aspect. And there is another thing somewhat strange.

138 These four were the persons charged, not indeed with the particular points of untruth - but they were involved in all that which was connected with them, led to them, and followed them, and as to which these two charges of honesty were merely collateral. If the reader is not sure of this, I beg him to refer to page 1 of the "Reasons": "The main bulk of the charges affect us as much as they do him"; nay, as to the whole case, they say more, "We are, and we wish to be, closely identified with our brother in his present position." They spoke too of the accusations, personal and others, as being made against them all, in their first letter to the four brethren who invited them to the London meeting, which was held in April last; alleging these accusations as a ground for not coming up and joining in it. And the fact is, at the time in which in these "Reasons" they profess to have been inquiring - that is, as we have seen, while the brethren were down at Plymouth to do so - these four appeared before them as associated with Mr. N. If I am not misinformed, he did not and would not appear without them. This inquiry included the charges of untruth. Is it not a little singular that persons, as to the bulk of the things charged, implicated as much as Mr. N. - and, as to all of them, then associated and now closely identified with him - should be the persons who were solemnly to investigate these very charges, so as to bind the church of God that it could not even debate its verdict? And let the reader note who it was that asked them. They state, and Mr. N. confirms it in letters already given, that he did. Everybody knows, that with the exception certain particular untruths, they were involved as accessories in the charges; nay, as to the letter on which one of the charges was made, one of them, Mr. C-w, had got it written to himself, and got it printed (having been at the April meeting too, of which it gave an account); and Mr. D. declared that he got Mr. Newton to put the addition complained of in the charge as to the other printed letter; and that they had gone down to Mr. R-e's, and had it added while the letter was in the press.

139 Are not these strange persons to pronounce a verdict on the case, which the church cannot even debate? Would any worldly man recognize such a proceeding? What would an upright worldly man say of those engaged in it? All I can say is, I sorrow to the heart's core for some of them: I trust as a Christian for all. Where was Mr. H.? Where were R-e, S-s, R.H., or other brethren needless to name, who had certainly as much competency as some of them, and even addicted themselves to the ministry?

But now as to the principle. I deny unqualifiedly that such was the method from the beginning; and I was conversant with it a long time before even Mr. Newton himself; who, though there indeed in the vacation and taking part, remained a fellow of Exeter College, Oxford a considerable time - I cannot be precise as to how long. It is quite true that verdicts were not always, nay, very seldom debated, never debated that I know of. There was most happy confidence in those labouring; and, the Spirit of God working in them and the body happily, their judgment commended itself habitually to the consciences of all; and the cases of discipline were simple. But such a thought never was entertained (I cannot answer for Mr. N.) as imposing a verdict on the body, which it could not debate.

And here I would indeed remark, that Mr. Newton avowed to me, both alone, and as it has been recalled since to me, in the presence of Mr. Edward W-d of Kendal, that his principles were entirely changed as to those very points of ministry, rule, and government.* How then can those who now adopt his present ones have had those of the body from the beginning? But the fact is, the labouring brethren did habitually inquire, for to them the cases were constantly brought; and they used to meet on Friday; and all this seems very blameless and desirable. But they always communicated the result of their inquiries to the body, and their convictions, or the conclusion they came to; but as to imposing it as an undebatable verdict, it is wholly false.

{*It has been stated to me that Mr. S. declared that, had the principles on these points been what they were at first, he would not have stayed. I have referred in the "Narrative" to an intelligent member of Ebrington Street, who declared that ten years ago Mr. N. urged on him the principles which now I am urging, and Mr. N. resisting; but that he never received them, but joined Ebrington Street as a sect, and stayed in it as such.}

140 I remember two cases of discipline. In one, a brother rose, and said he thought there had not been proper inquiry, and that there was a feeling against the person. The brother who communicated the case said, he thought the brother who rose could hardly be acquainted with the facts and say so. The latter at once felt himself alone in the meeting (as indeed, the case was a dreadful one, and most patiently investigated), and he sat down at once. In another case, a godly grave brother said, there was a want of clear information on one part of the case, or a deficiency of it, which could be supplied, and the case was suspended and nothing done. I repeat, the imposition of a verdict was never thought of. General acquiescence was true in fact; and it is happy when it is so. Indeed, most cases are known and simple, and have only to be communicated to the body, and there can be no question with any, if they believe the testimony of those who have taken it up. At Plymouth, those who laboured had confidence in the Lord, and in the body, and acted towards it with confidence, and hence the body had confidence in them. That this may have been abused by Mr. N. to the assumption of unscriptural authority, when he had driven away the counterpoise of others, is very likely, and, to my mind, an undoubted fact.

Further, I recognize that guides, elders if you please in principle, can inform and clear up the consciences of a body of Christians. No doubt, if by reason of use they have their senses exercised to discern good and evil, and are deeply acquainted with God's ways in the scriptures and with the human heart, it is just their service in such case, and, I believe, God's order; and saints will be always thankful for it, as far as I have seen. One may have spiritual discernment to suggest what all may have spirituality enough to see is right when suggested, but never would themselves have thought of. An engineer makes a road of which every waggoner understands as well as he the goodness when it is made, though he could not have made it. But it is by no means necessarily a teacher that does this. I know brethren who never teach, whose spiritual judgment I would far rather have than that of any teachers I know. It used to be the effort, I well remember, to insist strongly against the absorption of all gift into the teacher and teaching, as may be seen in the "Christian Witness" - a book Mr. N. justly designated for his purposes the most mischievous book that ever was written. But to impose a verdict which cannot be debated is the most monstrous thing that ever was heard of. It is pure unmasked popery - the clergy dictating to the conscience of the church, which can only register and give their weight to its decrees. Is the conscience of the church to be disposed of thus by others, be they ever so wise? A thing may be urged on the church, insisted on; let it be that rebuke be given; but it is always to bring the conscience of the church up to the right level. This Paul did with Corinth, where, note, elders never appear at all; but he never acts for them without it. "You have proved yourselves clear in this matter." This is the principle the apostle goes on. No doubt he could guide and rebuke them too, and tell them that he had judged the case already; but to impose a verdict on their consciences* they could not debate, not an apostle even attempts. How could that be proving themselves clear? It is monstrous. No one who reads scripture can question, however weak we may be now, that there were guides, leaders, who watched for souls as accountable to do it, men of reputation, and at that time appointed elders. But it is a very different thing to govern, or rule, or guide the church, which is scriptural, and to govern instead of and for the church, which is popish (and this is the claim these principles very distinctly set up), and then call the scriptural principles democracy. And even so the apostle declares he was as a nursing mother with the saints. And the government of the church is not a setting of points right, but of souls right, and therefore nothing is done unless the conscience of the church is carried into the act. It is evident that the apostle did bring the whole church round to separate from evil which he had already judged himself. Had he not done it, the Corinthians would not have been set right at all, they would have remained associated with the incestuous person. Had their consciences not heeded his appeal, he might in the exercise of apostolic authority have used severer means, and come with a rod. But he is anxious to shew, that whom they forgave he forgave; and if he forgave, it was for their sakes, so that they might act together, and Satan get no advantage over them by dividing them from him about a point of discipline.**

{*I shall here give an extract of a letter of Mr. N.'s, intended for the perusal of others, and read publicly in a gathering of saints. "It may however be well to inform you of the outline of circumstances that followed on Mr. Darby's personal accusations of me. When I heard of their having been publicly made in the meeting at Ebrington Street, I felt that it was open to the brethren watching over the saints to interfere, if they pleased, in their church capacity. If there was a case of discipline against me, it was quite open to them, after investigation, to bring it before the church, and require that I should be withdrawn from or excommunicated." The nicest casuist could not draw a line between this and the daily conduct of the popish priesthood in Ireland.}

{**It may be said this is what failed of being done at Plymouth. I have noticed this farther on.}

142 And now as to the dissenters' principle. I do not doubt many dear conscientious saints, from whom we might learn much, are amongst them. But the principle here alluded to, I believe should be utterly and entirely rejected, for the same reason that I reject that here proposed, namely, that the presence of the Spirit in the body is not owned by it. Among the dissenters they vote, and though there may be happy unanimity, and the Lord guide them, as I doubt not He often may, yet they do vote on the questions, and a majority determines the matter. Now it is quite evident a minority may be the most spiritual. In the case of Corinth all, as far as appears in public, were gone wrong, and allowed, and were puffed up about, evil. A majority, judging as such, cannot be said to have the Holy Ghost guiding them, because they are a majority.* This is quite manifest. It is a mere human principle, such as the world is obliged to act on, because it has no other way of getting out of its difficulties. But the church of God has. It has the presence and guidance of the Holy Ghost. The dissenting principle (for I doubt not in practice they are often guided by the Spirit according to the grace of the gospel), their principle, I say, denied this presence and guidance; they acted on another. The brethren believed this guidance of God could be reckoned upon. Hence they denied the necessity of the other human extreme - the popish one of a clergy settling the matter among themselves, and announcing it publicly, and the church having nothing to do but add its weight by its acts to a decision pronounced by the authority of others, which they were bound to receive implicitly, and as a conclusion arrived at for them, which could not be debated.

{*It is worthy of note that this is the ground taken in the "Reasons." These are their words, page 7: "And the fact that the great majority of those then in communion were fully satisfied, that the judgment their brethren had formed was a sound one; and have from that hour to this regarded our brother Newton with unaltered affection and confidence is, it appears to us, a public and sufficient expression of the judgment of the church on this question." The truth is, even unanimity is not in itself a proof of the mind of God's Spirit. At Corinth they were, till roused by the testimony of that Spirit by the apostle, unanimous in letting the incestuous person go on. Nor would two or three evidently carnal persons rightly hinder the body in acting in any given case. were it so, two or three undetected accomplices in sin might hinder the bounden judgment of the church of God in the case of murder or incest. The apostle declares, having in readiness to avenge all disobedience when your "obedience is accomplished": that is, when the full work of the spirit had had its way, he would treat the others still resisting as disobedient to the Spirit, negativing the doctrine of unanimity as well as of a majority, on which those who sign the "Reasons" profess here to have acted. The truth is, the body must answer to God for following the guidance of the Spirit in these cases. Those who do, God will justify. If the body do not, God will not sanction their act. We have not the apostle's power, it is true, but we have the promise of God by His Spirit to help and certainly guide us if we wait upon Him. God must be ultimately the judge.

In the case before us they had the most slender ground to go upon. All those who originally laboured at Plymouth decline to break bread at Ebrington Street; and some 150 or 200 left, unable to endure the state of things any longer. Four persons, who came amongst them comparatively recently, declare that they, being supported by a "great majority," have in their own act a public and sufficient judgment of the church of God. I press the question of principle on these plain facts on brethren's consciences. It might seem inconsistent to base the judgment of the church on a majority; and yet maintain the principles of popery. But the fact is so, and very simple. They assert as a doctrine, that the elders in their church capacity are to debate the verdict, and that the church cannot. But as a fact, though in doing this, and by the means they used for it, they drove away all the original labourers still at Plymouth, and some 200 others; they did keep the majority, of whom many were thoroughly imbued with their principles or under their influence, and some did not know what to do; and then they as a fact claim the acquiescence of this majority as the judgment of the church. There is no consistency in evil. They seek much to distract the minds of brethren from their subversion of principle; but time will open the eyes of those whose eye is single towards God.}

143 The brethren denied the necessity of this alternative. They affirmed that the presence of the Spirit of God was in the church, and that He would guide them in the faithful love of Christ to a right mind; that it might require, especially in the present state of things, patience, humble waiting upon God in the sense of weakness, a working out as in the absence of apostolic power, with fear and trembling; but they believed that it could be because GOD worked in them to will and to do. They did not deny in the least that there were those among them, who through greater spiritual wisdom and maturity could help and guide them in this - it would have been quarrelling with their own mercies; nor would they refuse the help and godly assistance of any brother of spiritual attainments and wisdom from elsewhere - it would have been resisting the unity of the Spirit and body, and God's authority in the church, and the common comfort of the saints, the increase of God by what every joint supplied. They might not see clearly all at once, and they would have to wait in any given case; but they believed in the faithfulness of the Lord to guide them. Their being obliged to wait might shew them the failure of their own state of conscience in spiritual power and do them good. Now the principle of these Plymouth leaders denies all this. It declares positively and openly here, that this is the alternative, either the dissenting principle of debating, voting, and majorities, or a verdict imposed by the clergy without any debate at all. That is, they entirely deny the guidance of the body by the Holy Ghost - His practical presence there - the very point as to this, which the brethren were called out of God to bear witness to, alike against the dissenting and popish principles.

144 It is vain for them to say that they do not deny it. We have, not the honest confession of it in terms, it is true, but we have the thing itself, and in their own statement. The guides pass the verdict; the body are to register it without a debate. The judgment of their consciences is in the hands of a self-appointed clergy. I can well suppose this reply to the plain and evident truth as to the state of the case: "We do not deny the presence of the Spirit in the body. But, God having put this office into the hands of those who have addicted themselves to the ministry, the proof of the Spirit being in the body is their submission* to the judgment of those whom God has placed over them. And thus the verdict is the verdict of the body by the Spirit." This is what is claimed (page 12), "This the church does: it debates its verdict, we believe, through those of its members capacitated by God for such service." Now this is exactly popery. The verdict there is alleged to be the verdict of the church, and the body are called upon ["required"] to act, and do act, as a body upon it. But it is arrived at by the clergy. It is in vain to say that it is presented, on these new principles, to the body when arrived at, which the Roman clergy do not. Even admitting this, the body cannot debate it. In this particular case, in tea-meetings in private,** they were allowed to question Mr. Newton. And this is called in to screen the flagrancy of the principle. The exclusive nature of the meetings is too barefaced to call it the action of the church. Were it so, the principle is wholly abandoned. The church question and examine Mr. Newton; and suppose someone had said, "Well, now we should like to hear the other side too; let us call Mr. Darby, Mr. H., and Mr. R-e, and Mr. S-s." "Oh no," is the answer, "the church cannot hear witnesses, and debate its verdict." Would not any honest man in the world be ashamed to be associated with such a transaction? Would not any spiritual one have revolted against calling such a thing the acting of the church of God, as an insult against God Himself? I have been obliged to notice this, because otherwise it would have been alleged that it was brought before the saints in the right way. Now, either they were forced to hear one side only, and there was liberty only for that, or they would hear witnesses; and this is what is refused them. Besides, after all, they must not debate their verdict. They must take what is given them. For, supposing that they are dissatisfied with the verdict stated, what can they do? Debate it before they make it theirs? No, this is positively refused. Examine witnesses? No, this is denied them. What then? Submit, or leave.** The answer will be, "But God is with His church; and He will guide the leaders into a right judgment, and they will only propose clear evident cases." That is, the clergy are not only to be guides but infallible guides, for they have come to the conclusion, which is to be taken to be by the leading of God Himself. If the verdict be undebateable, it certainly ought to be infallible.

{*I say submission, not accordance, because if they cannot call it in question, it is idle to call it accordance. Paul leads the body to act, however decided he was, by divine light. "Do not ye judge them that are within?" And again note, that there is no question of elders in 1 Corinthians at all. Paul addresses himself to the body. I doubt not he did it of God, to guard this very point, and shew the conscience of the body, the state of that conscience, to be the very point, the real matter in question. And here a very grave question arises: - Is not every one in Ebrington Street answerable for whatever evil has been there which is not put away? I clearly judge they are. I pressed this on them in speaking to them before I left.}

{**I beg a particular comparison here of the above extract from p. 12 of the "Reasons," with the following, from p. 10: - "The church here therefore has not only itself searched into and judged of this matter, but," etc. And, "It has been gone into before the Lord, and by His church, both that portion of it meeting in Ebrington Street," etc. They declare positively the church has itself searched into it, when the leaders have announced their verdict. It is bound up in what it cannot question. Private meetings were held (public are refused), in which certain things were read for, and answers given by the accused party: but inquiry, or other testimony, is positively, on principle, refused. And then the church is declared to have itself searched. What were Mr. R. and Lord C. but witnesses on one side, if they were anything? Again, p. 5: - "It soon became evident … that it would be absolutely necessary to inform the saints of all we knew and thought on the subject." Now, this is given in (what is presented as the judgment of the guides on a full investigation, though it was really no such thing) a letter of Mr. S., countersigned by the three others, set up as a definite verdict of acquittal by the guides, to be received by the body. Any one can see it was no such thing; but it is now given as such.}

{***In fact, many at these tea-meetings were so satisfied of false statements or evil principles, that not one took place but led to the secession of some half-dozen persons; the most, taking all that was told them for truth, or quieted in some way, stayed where they were.}

146 Is debate* to be desired then? It is just this alternative which is denied. The conscience of the church must be satisfied, for it to act for God and before God. If it is not, the conscience of the body is not clear. It may be gracious to do some act not yet done. It may be right, at the suggestion of some, nay, one godly brother, to prosecute the inquiry farther by the persons who originally inquired, as I have seen done at Plymouth. God is in the assembly without having any debate at all.** The Holy Ghost may there suggest some step not yet thought of, the neglect of which would destroy the weight of the judgment, even if a right one. It is specially when speaking of discipline, and looking to the Lord for producing the unity of mind of two or three, that the Lord says, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

{*The word debate is just used as alarming a quiet godly conscientious mind - innocent in the hands of the leaders where it is assumed to be a godly spiritual weighing of the matter, and implying a discussion in the case of the assembly; but, guides or assembly, the godly weighing together before God what is His will where our conscience is concerned, is debate neither in one nor the other.}

{**As a fact, it may be well to notice, that there was a good deal of debate, on subjects involving a mixture of discipline and principle, recorded in the Acts of the Apostles - debate which Paul (for so God ordered it for larger purposes of His wisdom and grace) himself could not terminate.}

The result was not produced when I was down at Plymouth. Assuming that the evil existed, the conscience of the body was not brought to judge it. This may have been from two causes - want of spiritual power in me in acting on the consciences of the saints, or a denial of the principles on which their consciences could act. Now I do not pretend there was no want of spiritual power in me; I do not doubt there was. But while I concealed for months (till the saints demanded an account from me) the personal charges against Mr. Newton, I brought before the whole body, and pressed on their conscience, what involved the principles and the godly action of the whole body, and which was avowedly required. They would not stir. My having done so was said to be a dissenting principle. I judged therefore, that the principles of the gathering were gone and denied; and I left without saying a word of Mr. N.'s personal evil* (and this is now unworthily, I think, turned by some to my reproach). Sir A.C. has confirmed, in the plainest manner, the fact that they were denied. Others bore testimony of it then to me, whatever silence they may keep now. Lord C. fully admits it now; and it is at last put beyond all controversy by the printed avowal of the leaders themselves.

{*I stated generally there was evil and unrighteousness unconfessed and unjudged. This, while including Mr. N. without naming him, was by no means confined to him; nor was it, as to him, confined to charges of untruth.}

147 Those who have been where I have been lately may have seen, in a very trying case, a body of brethren, without any debate (and yet, when it was felt necessary that every conscience should have full exercise for itself) act in full patience and grace, and defer to the feelings of a very small minority who desired an act* which (though the judgment of all the rest might have proved greater strength in the Spirit, if it had carried all with it, yet) was rightly deferred to as that feeling existed, and will never be regretted, I believe, by one. Under the circumstances God's guidance was in it, and entire and happy unanimity preserved. They have seen, on a subsequent evening (when, as I undoubtedly judge,** Satan made a seemingly overpowering effort to upset all they were doing, and hinder, by distracting and speaking them down, their acting on what they had been led to), that the same brethren, after listening to all those who came thus to interrupt them from other places (proving they rejected none), could adhere, as led and guided of God, with firmness to that which they had been led to by Him; and could prove, when thus put to the severest test, with little or nothing really to help them from without, that God's blessed presence in their weakness could give patience and grace, and deference to the weakest within, and resist the noisiest and most clamorous*** from without: nor was there the slightest idea of rejecting the help, and assistance, and spiritual wisdom, of those whose experience and faithfulness they trusted in, but the glad acceptance of it; as such as bore more or less that character acted just in setting the matter before their conscience. I allude (that there may be no mistake) more particularly, though not exclusively, to Mr. D-n here, who, though now at Reading, had laboured for years among them, and was now in London, brought up by another in reference to this.****

{*Or rather act on the suggestion of a brother from another gathering, after the consciences of two or three who felt difficulty were satisfied, and the same act was proposed as an act of grace and as giving scriptural weight to their dealings.}

{**Six brethren, from different and some very distant places, friends of Mr. Newton, or of his principles, came and kept the brethren till near twelve o'clock at night, with the avowed desire and object of hindering their acting on what they had patiently resolved on previously, but had waited ten days, hoping another appeal might have effect, if coming from the whole gathering. Only one of these six had been at any previous meeting. [There was besides present, at that meeting, one brother from Plymouth, but now of the gathering, who objected. One who is of Moravian principles, though judging the evil at Plymouth, thought the mode wrong from the beginning. See Part I.] Now I do not believe these six had the least concerted among themselves their appearance that evening. Nobody suspected it. It was a hand behind moved the springs: first, the enemy, I believe, to destroy; but, behind that, I believe, God, to approve and vindicate the cardinal principle - that the church must judge evil if it comes before it, or that it ceases to be the church before Him, must prove itself clear - and to shew Himself with them in it however weak. This God has done in mercy in the midst of our weakness: a far more important thing than any individual case.}

{***I do not speak of all as clamorous. As to several, there was nothing to object to in manner.}

{****Mr. W., though there, from circumstances, took comparatively no active part in it.}

148 I have now, in three parts, recorded briefly the facts and correspondence which took place. I have shewn that the "Reasons" and "Defence," which were sent up as proving an acquittal of the charges, so as to preclude farther inquiry, do not touch at all, nor treat of, the body of those in the "Narrative," which were in question here:* the transactions at Plymouth, which they allege as conclusive, not having reference to the greater part of them. I have given, as to those which were investigated at Plymouth, an answer to the defence set up - a thing I could never do before, as it was never printed; and the rather, as the certificate of acquittal given by Mr. R., in his own name and that of Messrs. R-s, M-s, and M., is professedly based entirely on this "Defence," and desires its publication, that others may be satisfied by it, as "affording," they say, "the reasons of our arriving at the conclusion above stated."

{*I press this point, because it is the tact of those who labour to discredit the saints in London to make it appear, first, that Mr. N. was cited to London. He was not. He was in London. Even then the brethren took no step. He proposed to satisfy brethren. They said, when it was communicated to them by Dr. C., "If we let this pass, it will be as if he was ready to clear himself, and we would not hear him"; and they thereupon took it up. Secondly, the "Reasons" seek to make it appear that the saints in London applied themselves to the charges in question at Plymouth in 1845: as to which Mr. N.'s friends think they can allege a previous examination. This is wholly without foundation - an unworthy attempt. The brethren referred to the whole case, "considering before the Lord the unhappy circumstances that have arisen among us." Mr. Newton brought it in his answer to the two charges at Plymouth; no one at London did.}

149 You have thus the grounds on which they came to it; and you can judge how far the "Defence" is of any force as to these, the two charges therein treated of.* The acquittal by these brethren in letters given in the "Reasons," is merely their estimate of the validity of this "Defence," which you have. As to the other charges in the "Narrative," besides these two, no answer is attempted to be given whatever.

{*I say two, because it is only the two last which were really charges. Making the existence of the Appendix a charge is ridiculous; and, in fact, it does exist.}

I have taken up, lastly, the great principle of church discipline now avowed in a tangible shape. A vast body of facts as to the general course at Plymouth are not entered on here. It would have been repeating the "Narrative." But you have an account, as far as was called for by the "Reasons," of what related to the alleged investigation and acquittal both by the church of God and the brethren from afar, and these are the other grounds alleged to preclude inquiry. It will still be remembered that these relate only to the two charges made and inquired into at Plymouth, and two alleged charges which I do not admit to be charges at all, and not to any others. I may, in so long a document, drawn up in two or three days, have omitted some point, but I do not think I have any material one. I must leave, to those who read this, the judgment which it becomes them to give upon a document such as the "Reasons," when they have read this examination of it.

150 Charity demands that I should make this one remark. As regards the individuals (whatever may be demanded as to what I may call official relations), I repeat, I have no doubt that a proper, positive, work of Satan has been going on, with far deeper principles and power than anything that has come out in public evidence even as to sectarianism.* Under this, I doubt not, whoever the human instrument, conscious or unconscious, may be, those, whom I believe to be beloved children of God, have fallen, and I do not attribute to them as individuals as deliberate acts of sin what they have so done. This makes me more determined in the stand I make - I have no terms with what is going on - but more reluctant, and even to refuse to attribute to them as properly a matter of evil conscience what they have thus been led into.

{*I judge the sectarianism itself to have been merely a means resulting from the effort to get rid of every one who could have hindered the coming in of far deeper principles of evil in doctrine and walk, which were sought to be established.}

God, I believe, has directed you, beloved brethren, in London, in acting in clearing yourselves - in acting in the sphere in which you were responsible to Him. There you were bound in love to the saints to act to make a barrier. It may require much spiritual competency to discern between those who are ensnared and those who are guilty in this matter. Many even of the most active instruments have already been delivered. Others may be, and shine out again as dear children, and, I trust, servants of God. We have to wait, and, while decided and faithful in our sphere, not to step beyond it; not in anything to act beyond the light which God has given us for duty, passive or active. There we have to be firm and earnest if called on. I believe people will be blessed according to their decision, and insecure in proportion to their hesitation; though we may hope the help of our God as to such, if it be in humbleness of heart and uprightness.

Further, let us not suppose, if there be such a power of the enemy, that we can cope with it out of the path of duty, and adventuring ourselves under its influence, when God does not call us there. In His ways we have all security against it; it cannot touch us: out of them, we are sure to fall into the temptation as Peter did. Honesty of intention is no security here. I have seen this in Irvingism; I have seen it, I judge, in this case. I distrust the constant desire to get people to Plymouth. I have known scarce one who inquired beyond the first half-hour, or who inquired beyond one side, who had volunteered to do it; though God kept a few little ones brought there unwittingly. If the judgment I have formed of these "Reasons" is just, they must be wicked people, or blinded people. Now I do not believe as to several of them (I speak generally of those more or less active in it), that they are wicked people. I feel certain then that there is a direct influence of the enemy, and I warn solemnly the saints against it. I think I can discern in many cases how and why several have fallen under it. It might seem presumptuous in me to state it, and I refrain, though free to do it when charity calls for it, if permitted for their good. I am sure if I and you, reader, have been spared this, or perhaps worse, it is sovereign grace alone which has kept us; and, perhaps our carelessness has helped on the evil; but God is good and faithful. I am thankful for having the conviction I have stated above, because it enables me to maintain in my heart unhindered love towards several persons whom, otherwise, I really should not know what to think of, and to hope for others too. But it should evidently make one firmer as to the stand one makes, and one's determination in it. We have all to be thankful for being kept, for very abundant mercy in this matter, and to humble ourselves, and myself above all, for little power in being able to keep out the evil, or to deliver others from it. While men slept, the enemy came and sowed tares. Let us look to our God, and He will help us to the end of the sorrow, and restore the fellowship of many who are separated by it. I am sure my feeling is (well may I say it!) that He has been most good to us in it.

151 I have only to add (while repeating that I dare say inaccuracies of detail may be discovered, as would be to be expected in a narrative reaching over near a year and a half of anxious work) that, after the sifting given by recent circumstances, the "Reasons," the "Defence," and all the rest, I have nothing at all, that I know of, to retract. The only definite attempt to impugn has resulted in distinct confirmation. The "Reasons" would add serious - very serious - ground for additional charges; but these I refrain from making. I think them considerably the worst thing that has yet come out. The reader can, on several points, judge of the matter himself, when he has examined the answer to the "Reasons"; but there are many, if they spoke out, who could answer the detail far more fully than myself.