Articles probably by J. N. Darby.

The Folly of trusting to Egypt for help - Isa. 31:1-3.
The Fold and the Flock - John 10:1-30.
Remarks on Failure - Galatians
Concerning the Near Appearing or Presence of False Prophets - 1 John 4:1-6.
The Worthiness of the Lamb - Revelation 5.
"The house of the Lord" Fragment

Explanation about the source of the text.

Present Testimony:

This magazine was edited by G. V. Wigram who was a lifelong intimate friend of Darby. In Wigram's magazine most of the articles are written anonymously; only a few have initials (save for poetry and in the latter volumes of the "new series" where more initials appear.) The initials "J.N.D." appear only once in vol. 1 (poetry), once in vol. 5, a few times in vol. 13 and twice in New Series vol. 2. Nevertheless a search in the Darby CD proved that about 130 articles in the "Present Testimony" are also in the Collected Writings of J. N. Darby. There might be other volumes by Darby in "Present Testimony" though not having his initials.

Now there is one remarkable observation: There are 11 articles in "Present Testimony" which are signed simply with "D.". I was not able to identify this "D" save in five cases where it is always J. N. Darby.* There is no other brother who is likely to be "D."** Therefore it is assumed that these other 6 articles of "D" were also written by J. N. Darby. Nevertheless I have added at the end of these articles that the authorship of Darby is not certain. M. Arhelger.

*The five cases are:
1) Present Testimony, vol. 1, page 239 - 249 which is in Collected Writings 5, page 215-224.
2) Present Testimony, vol. 1, page 451 - 454 which is in Collected Writings 5, page 252-255.
3) Present Testimony, vol. 2, page 196 - 235 which is from J. N. Darby's "Synopsis of the Books of the Bible" (Numbers).
4) and 5) Present Testimony, vol. 14, page 224 - 226 which contains two songs written by Darby.

It is interesting that an Article of Darby in "The Prospect" 2, 97-100 is also simply signed with "D." The same is true of an article in the "Christian Witness" 1 (1834), page 313-320.

**William Henry Dorman had his own magazine ("Girdle of Truth") which was issued since 1856 and which probably contained most of his own articles. (Similarly there are only very few articles of W. Kelly in the "Present Testimony" because Kelly had his own magazine "The Prospect" and later the "Bible Treasury") Dorman has signed an article with "WHD" (and not with "D.") in Present Testimony, vol. 4, page 417. J. G. Deck was a hymn-writer and is unlikely to be the author of the "D." articles. Sir Edward Denny normally signed his articles in "Present Testimony"; Denny had a peculiar style of writing which does not reflect the "D." articles.

The Folly of trusting to Egypt for help

Isaiah 31:1-3.

"Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord." Isaiah 31:1-3.

The importance of Israel's history to the church of God, arises from its peculiar character as a nation, in contrast with the other nations of the world by which it was surrounded, and from which its special glory and privilege was to be separate and distinct.

Israel, as a people, was God's elect nation, of whom He says, "This people have I formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise." And, again, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." Hence their obedience or failures come to be most instructive to God's people now, because they exhibit the effect of God's principles, either in subjection to them, with all its happy issues; or in departure from them, with all its calamitous results.

This, it will be admitted, is true of their history generally; while, in one special part of it, the Scripture expressly teaches, that "they were types of us." - "All these things happened to them for ensamples (Greek: "tupoi" types); and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."

This is the point of importance in Israel's history, that they were a people in connection with God. Their conduct had its main importance in this respect. It had its bearing on their own national welfare, or the reverse; but it had a much higher importance in relation to God, as it exhibited His character and principles before the nations around. "Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord."

The nations of the world were the witnesses of the power and policy of man, and they exhibited the ways and principles of man; but Israel should have been a witness before the nations of that truth. "Happy art thou, Ο Israel; who is like unto thee, O people, saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and the sword of thy excellency, and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee."

It is on this ground that Israel and "Egypt" are found, in their national character, so frequently presented in contrast in the Old Testament, just as the church and the world are set in constant opposition in the New. The principles of God had their place in the one, and the principles of man were, working in the other, which necessarily placed them in opposition.

But Israel had another character besides that which was stamped on them by their connection with God. They were men, and they had, naturally, all the feelings and propensities of men. Hence, whenever their faith failed, and they were left to their own unrestrained action, they invariably displayed nothing but human tendencies, and sought for help in the natural resources of men.

It required the knowledge of God, and the recognition of the special relations he sustained towards them, and an active trust in His power and protection - in a word, faith in Him as God, and their God - to enable Israel to walk on God's principles, and to act in character before the nations. In like manner, now, it requires faith on the part of the church of God, in all God's blessed relations toward it, and the sense of His presence, in order to walk with Him, and to exhibit a heavenly character before the world. "They that know Thy name will put their trust in Thee"! And what wonders of love and grace are wrapped up in the knowledge of that name! "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

But saints are men, as well as Israel of old, and in that character have been schooled and trained in the world, as Israel was trained in Egypt, and in either case the effect is seen, for the certain result of acting on the principles of the world, is to lose the principles of God. The world is a definite sphere, where the principles of man, under the influence of Satan, "the god of this world," are paramount and in action; while the church is the only sphere in which the principles of God are working. "Egypt" had its wisdom, and policy, and power; but Egypt could be only the oppressor or the corrupter of the people of God. Indeed, there is nothing more affecting in Israel's history, than their constant hankering after Egypt, after all that they had suffered there, and after all that God had done to deliver them from it. It only yields, in infatuation, to that which has been manifested in the history of the church, in its turning from the grace and presence of a divine Comforter and Guide, to the miserable shifts and appliances of "this present evil world."

The earliest mention of Egypt, except in Gen. 10, in the division of nations, is as the place whence Abram, the child of faith, sought help from the famine which pressed upon him, when a sojourner in "the land of promise." And, indeed, it was the land of earthly plenty. The comforts of this life were there in abundance; but we learn, in Abram's sojourn there, what a price must be paid by the believer for its "cattle, and silver, and gold," and for the favour of its prince! The faith of the patriarch and his altar belonged not to Egypt, but to the land of Canaan, which he had now left behind. Egypt was the land of plenty. It was well watered, and the fruitfulness of its river was proverbial. But it did not drink of the "rain of heaven;" nor did it enjoy the fertilising dews from above. It is coupled with Lot's portion in the plain of Jordan; of which it is said, "it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as thou comest unto Zoar." Still its river bore only "the fatness of the earth;" and in this respect it is contrasted with Israel's portion, as chosen by the Lord. "The land whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot as a garden of herbs: but the land whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven."

Accordingly, in after times, when their moral corruption was hastening on the sorrows of the Babylonish captivity, the Lord, by His prophet Jeremiah, expostulates with them thus: - "The children of Noph and Tahapanes have broken the crown of thy head. Hast thou not procured this unto thyself in that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God when He led thee by the way? And now what hast thou to do with Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? Or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?" Israel (had they known how to value it) had their own, "fountain of living waters;" and ought never to have been indebted to the streams of Egypt, or the nations around them.

As to Egypt, Joseph's history may indeed cast a halo of glory over it; - as even the world itself will be changed in its character when the humbled One comes to take His power;* still its real character is to be found only in the hard and bitter bondage of Israel. For how often is that word repeated in the books of Moses, "Remember ye were bondmen in Egypt!" And their redemption is thus characterised in Deuteronomy 4:20, "The Lord hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto Him a people of inheritance as it is this day."

* So, in God's prophetic purposes, there is another destination for Egypt, when Israel under Messiah becomes the head of the Gentiles, and "they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord to Jerusalem." This is presented in Isa. 19 "And the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt; every one that maketh mention thereof shall be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the Lord of hosts, which he hath determined against it" (ver. 17). "In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord, in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord" (ver. 19). "And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation" (ver. 20). "In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land; whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt, my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance" (ver. 24, 25). The whole chapter is one of the deepest interest in connection with the millennial glory and blessing of the earth.

It required the plagues of Egypt, and the blood of the Passover, to put God's captive people and their oppressors, into their true relative position towards each other. And accordingly, God's relation to Israel, in redemption, is thus expressed, "I am the Lord thy God that brought thee out of Egypt;" while the confession that was connected with the offering of "the basket of first fruits" was designed to be the constant memorial of this. "Thou shalt speak and say before the Lord thy God, A Syrian ready to perish, was my father; and he went down to Egypt to sojourn there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous; and the Egyptians evil entreated, us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage; and when we cried unto the Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked upon our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression; and the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs and with wonders; and He hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land that floweth with milk and honey." (Deut. 26.)

Still, almost as soon as ever they had reached the wilderness (the place of earthly destitution, and of heavenly supply), Egypt assumes another character in their eyes than the land of their oppression, and the place of God's judgment. "The children of Israel said unto them [Moses and Aaron] would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh-pots, and when we did eat bread to the full." And they were not ashamed to say, "it was well with us in Egypt!" The reason of all this is obvious and instructive. To walk with God in a wilderness requires faith, and that spirit of dependence which nothing but faith can give. But to be satisfied with the supplies of Egypt is a thing which is perfectly understood by sense. Thus, whenever the necessities of their condition demanded the exercise of faith - and faith was not there, they, "in their hearts, turned back again into Egypt." And on one occasion, they said, "were it not better for us to return into Egypt? And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt." Nor was this all: their religion was corrupted by Egypt. The worship of "the calf" was Egyptian idolatry; though. Israel knew that the Lord had said, "I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment; I am the Lord." But, alas! Israel had learned to commit fornication in Egypt; and they practised the lesson in the wilderness, and ever after. For when the Lord presents before them their course, in the days of Ezekiel, in the parable of the two lewd women, He says, "they committed whoredoms in Egypt; they committed whoredoms in their youth." The infidelities of Judah and Israel were multiplied in their after history; but it was only a fruit of their not having left their whoredoms brought from Egypt."* On their entrance to the land under the leadership of Joshua, this is noticed though in grace, by the Lord. After the people were circumcised anew, "the Lord said unto Joshua, this day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day." And nothing but the power of circumcision can keep the heart of the saint separate from the world now; for if the flesh be allowed, the world at once has an open door.

* The father of the man that blasphemed the name of the Lord in the camp of Israel was an Egyptian (Lev. 24). Hagar also, Abram's bondmaid, was an Egyptian.

But, in another form, Egypt still was Israel's snare, after their settlement in the land. Outward weakness was the designed characteristic of Israel's polity by Jehovah; that the people might know that "they got not the land in possession by their own sword; neither did their own arm (at any time) save them; but Thy right hand and Thine arm, and the light of Thy countenance, because Thou hadst a favour toward them." And the song should have been ever heard in their midst, "Thou art my King, O God; command deliverances for Jacob. Through Thee will we push down our enemies; through Thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us. For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save Him. But Thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us. In God we boast all the day long, and praise Thy name for ever."

It was for this intent that they were forbidden to multiply horses, and that three times a year their coasts were to be left entirely unguarded; while all their males were brought together in solemn assembly, to Jerusalem, before the Lord. But Egypt was celebrated for its horses and chariots; and this is noticed in the Lord's prohibition to the king, "he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to the end that he should multiply horses; forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you ye shall henceforth return no more that way." Their redemption from Egypt and all its power should have been final; nor should any thing have tempted them to return. But, in the reign of Solomon, we find that horses were one chief article of commerce with Egypt. In 1 Kings, 10:28-29, it is recorded that Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt: - "And a chariot came up and went out of Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for an hundred and fifty." While in the days of Isaiah, the Lord complains, amongst other tokens of departure from himself, that" their land also is full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots." But in the following chapter of the book of Kings, there is opened a still further effect of Solomon's affinity with Egypt. This wisest of men was corrupted by it. "King Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh. For it came to pass when Solomon was old that his wives turned away his heart after other gods." How near is the neighbourhood, and how subtle the connection of "the flesh," the world, and the devil! And how instructive is the lesson, that as to Israel, the first enemy that invaded their land after the death of Solomon was Shishak king of Egypt! "It came to pass in the fifth year of King Rehoboam that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem; and he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house: he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of silver and gold which Solomon had made." What force do these historical notices give to that statute of the kingdom (already partly quoted) "he shall not multiply wives to himself that his heart turn not away; neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold!" And how full is the illustration of a part of the passage which is the subject of the present comment, "Yet he also is wise and will bring evil, and will not call back his words!"

There may be the silver and the gold, and the "tapestry, and carved work, and fine linen of Egypt" - but it is Egypt still! There may be its wisdom, and policy, and power; its horses and chariots - but still the word of the Lord remains in all its force, "Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses and trust in chariots because they are many; and on horsemen because they are very strong; … now the Egyptians are men and not God; and their horses flesh and not spirit." And as a ground of trust to Israel, Egypt's character is most accurately given by a heathen man. "Now behold thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it; so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust on him." And this judgment is entirely confirmed by the Lord, through Ezekiel, who says, "And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the Lord, because they have been a staff of reed, to the house of Israel. When they took hold of thee by the hand, thou didst break and rend all their shoulder: and when they leaned upon thee, thou brakest, and madest all their loins to be at a stand." Nor should this instructive warning to Israel be allowed to lapse while the saint has this significant note of divine wisdom concerning the world through which he is passing, that it is "the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified!" Heaven-bestowed names and titles are more unchanging, and more significant, than our careless hearts are wont to conceive. But finally, as to Egypt, when God speaks of it in all its glory, he speaks of it only as "the tabernacles of Ham"!" He smote all the first-born of Egypt: the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham!" And it may be said, that the example of Moses gives the only proper action of faith towards it. "By faith Moses forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath, of the king." He esteemed "the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward."

All this recorded testimony to Israel about Egypt gives especial pungency to the denunciation of the prophet; -

"Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and slay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord! Yet he also is wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words: but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the help of them that work iniquity. Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down and they all shall fail together" (Isaiah, 31:1-3).

The special and instructive contrasts here, are "Men" and "God" and "flesh" and "spirit." Man with his horses, and chariots, and horsemen presenting an array of strength, resistless in the estimation of the natural mind; but "when the lord shall stretch out his hand both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together." How deep is this infatuation of a people whose privilege and strength is thus presented to the eye of faith, that they should look to Egypt or horses and chariots as their strength!

"There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them. Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew. Happy art thou, Ο Israel: who is like unto thee, Ο people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places." (Deuteronomy, 33:26-29).

This was Israel's folly, to turn from God and his Spirit to trust in Egypt and in an arm of flesh, because they walked as men. But what is this to the church's folly that is associated with her head in heaven, and is blessed with the ever-abiding presence of the Holy Ghost on earth; and has God for her, and the infinite treasures of his grace as her resource; and Eternal glory before her; when she is found turning to seek the world's friendship, and practically trusts in the flesh and in carnal wisdom for her guidance and help! The Lord teach our hearts more the force of that word, "If ye then be risen with Christ!" And lead us to beware of following the course of "Demas," of whom the apostle says," Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world." "If God be for us who can be against us." There is nothing more certain than this, that every degree of confidence that is reposed in man by a saint or in himself, is so much of his trust withdrawn from "the living God." "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God." But faith alone can use those weapons; and when faith fails, there is always the practical turning to the world and its strength and wisdom for help. This only is the right position of our souls, "to have the sentence of death in ourselves; that we should not trust in ourselves; but in God that raiseth the dead." And again let it be said; "if God be for us who can be against us!" "There is no king saved by the multitude of a host; a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. A horse is a vain thing for safety; neither shall he deliver any by his great strength … our soul waiteth for the Lord; he is our help and our shield."

(Present Testimony 2 (1850), p. 300 - 309. The authorship of Darby is not completely certain.)

The Fold and the Flock

John 10:1-30.

The force and beauty of this chapter are often missed, through failing to notice the circumstances in our Lord's ministry, which impart to it its special character.

Much has been often advanced in illustration of the office of our Lord as "the Good Shepherd," and it may be with a measure of truth; but the parable before us which presents him in this character, applies itself to the condition of Israel, before God, as brought to light by the ministry of the blessed Son of God, in grace, amongst that people.

It is of Israel especially that the Lord says, "Ye, my flock, the flock of my pasture are men; and I am your God." Hence any application of the terms, "entering in by the door into the sheepfold," or "climbing up some other way," to a sinner's coming to Christ, or, which is more common, to any supposed entrance into the church is, to say the least, a misapprehension and a misapplication of a most important and instructive passage.

If, then, Israel be God's flock, Jerusalem, or, at any rate, that system of ordinances which separated Israel from the surrounding nations, and of which Jerusalem was the centre, was the fold. The fold into which Christ is here proving His right and title to enter; and in connection with which He presents, by way of parable, the effects of His personal ministry as the true, but disallowed, Shepherd of Israel.

"This parable spake Jesus unto them; but they understood not what things they were which He spake unto them." The glass which so accurately reflected their condition and circumstances was held up to them, but they were too much blinded by their prejudices to discern in it God's moral judgment of their state, and of their own responsibility.

In seeking then to understand this parable, which it is said the Jews understood not, it should be remembered that there was a twofold effect resulting from our Lord's ministry; namely, the attaching to Himself, in grace, those who, as taught of God, received His claims; and also the testing of the moral condition of those who rejected His mission; which, indeed, were the great mass of the nation. For if God's manifestation of Himself in grace does not convert the heart, it nevertheless puts the consciences of men in the light; and thus leaves them under the responsibility of rejecting the light, and hating the light, because their deeds are evil.

This was pre-eminently true of our Lord's ministry; but in every dispensation it holds good, and, "wisdom is justified of all her children."

Of John the Baptist's ministry it is said, "all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him."

The light of God, in whatever vessel it shines, is recognised and rejoiced in where the heart and conscience are in exercise before Him; and it puts under responsibility those by whom it is rejected.

A little consideration of this will throw light upon the present chapter.

John the Baptist was intermediate between "the law and the prophets," and the coming of our Lord; and his mission was to disclose the moral condition of the people, and by the baptism of repentance to prepare them for the speedy advent of their expected Messiah. But, more than this; he was also set to preach a remnant in Israel, or a separation from the mass of the people, of those who received his testimony. Hence a distinct baptism was attached to his ministry, as the formal seal of that separation which was to be administered to all who obeyed his word. This was a circumstance which marked him off from all preceding prophets, who, whatever might be the force of their ministry, had no commission to effect an outward and formal separation of those who received their testimony. A moral separation there must, of course, always have been between those that feared the Lord, and those that rejected His word. But the ministry of John marks an epoch in the dealings of the Lord with the nation. Hence the language of Matt. 3:7-12, "When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance [a baptism which separated by the confession of sins to the hope of coming mercy and salvation]: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost [a baptism which separates to God by the power and presence of God; making those who receive it the vessels of his power and presence], and with fire [a baptism of judgment which Christ when He returns will assuredly bring upon those who have rejected His claims as witnessed by the Holy Ghost]: Whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

Now, it is exactly at this point that in the Gospel of Matthew, our Lord's ministry is said to commence. He associates Himself with this remnant in Israel, separated by John's baptism; and He Himself is baptized with John's baptism. Not, indeed, as if He needed repentance, as the reason He gives for submitting to it sufficiently shows. "He said, Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." It was as fulfilling all righteousness that Jesus was baptized. But in thus owning this ordinance of God in the hand of John, our Lord at the same time associates Himself with this movement of God's Spirit on the hearts of a remnant in Israel, and fulfilled the gracious words of the sixteenth Psalm; "Thou art my Lord; my goodness extendeth not to thee; but to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent in whom is all my delight."

Stooping thus low in love and grace, and in self-emptying obedience, he is in a position to declare God's name to his brethren. For the Apostle applies the first words of this Psalm to Christ, in connection with the declaration (Heb. 2:11), that "both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren. Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the Church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in Him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."

But being what He was, as Son of God, as well as the humbled Son of man, He is found receiving this remnant, who were the sheep, whom He "calls by name and leads them out;" or "the poor of the flock," - "of the flock of slaughter" - of the eleventh of Zechariah; where Christ is prophetically presented as the Shepherd of God's appointment to Israel; on which this chapter in part, and His personal ministry as detailed in Matthew, especially, forms a striking comment.

The first thing, then, which the Lord marks is, that He had entered by the door into the sheepfold, thus proving his authority from the owner of the flock, to take charge of the sheep, in opposition to any surreptitious entrance, which of itself convicts of a sinister design. As He says, "He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But He that entereth in by the door the same is the Shepherd of the sheep."

Christ is here, then, Jehovah's divinely sanctioned Shepherd of Israel, who were the "people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand;" - for He had submitted to every requisition of the owner of the flock: - but at this time, alas! proved to be "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." For the mass of the nation, and especially the rulers of the people, blinded by a false estimate of their condition before God, and entrenched in religious ordinances, knew not the person of Him who came in grace to meet their need; nor heeded the divinely-sanctioned claims of Him who, "when He saw the multitudes, was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd." "Their own shepherds pity them not!" Hence, having stated, as another mark of His proved title to be the Shepherd of the sheep that, "to Him the porter openeth," and the "sheep hear His voice," He adds, "He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when He putteth forth his own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him; for they now His voice." And here we may be reminded of the beautiful keeping of the figure; and be referred to the customs of oriental countries as verifying this description of the Shepherd's preceding His flock, when leading them from the fold to their pasture, or when conducting them from pasture to pasture. But it is not the correspondence of a description with physical facts or with a known usage that is here in question. It is the application of this peculiar action of the shepherd, by way of parable, to show, as in a glass, what was then taking place under the action of our Lord's ministry, as necessarily modified by the moral condition of Israel, which was being tested and proved by His presence amongst them.

In a word, it expresses the moral effect of our Lord's ministry, when received in grace, as in the example of the poor blind man in the preceding chapter, and also the effect of the disallowance of His claims on the part of the leaders and the mass of the nation.

In the one case, it was the Lord "calling his own sheep by name, and leading them out" - for the result of their attachment, in grace, to him was their being virtually, if not actually, excommunicated like "the blind man" referred to, and thus outside (led outside by the Good Shepherd) of all Israel's ordinances, and clean apart from every ground of connection with God, but that · which was found in the person of Christ. While, on the other hand, it was virtually the Lord's saying, as in the prophet, "I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land - but, lo, I will deliver the men every one into his neighbour's hand, and into the hand of his king; and they shall smite the land, and out of their hand I will not deliver them." And again, "Then said I, I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another."

Thus, through the rejection of the claims of our Lord to be the Shepherd of Jehovah's flock, the fold is deserted by Him who alone could lead into green pastures, or give security to the sheep. But leading outside the fold His own sheep, He in effect says to them, "I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock." And how blessed to be under the care of such a Shepherd! though it be outside all man's religion, and apart from the whole array of Israel's divinely appointed ordinances. For it was in the maintenance of these, in opposition to a living faith, as the grounds of connection with God, that the claims of this blessed Shepherd were disallowed.

One might turn with deepest interest to the descriptions of the thirty-fourth of Ezekiel, in illustration of Israel's happiness, when, in a future day, the Lord will set aside, in power, the claims of every false shepherd that has neglected or preyed upon the flock, and will Himself take charge of His beautiful flock. As He says, "For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment." Or it might be thought an omission not to refer to the twenty-third Psalm, as an illustration of the present experience of a believer under the exercise of Christ's shepherd-care. And surely nothing can exceed the beauty and comfort of that Psalm, nor the richness of the portion of the soul which can say, "Jehovah is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth, me beside the still waters." The certainty that want will never be the condition of the soul that reposes in such a Shepherd as Jehovah, and is owned of Him, may, in its largest, widest, application, be affirmed; and that quietness and refreshment are the natural blessings to the soul that flow from being under his hand. But this is not all that our souls require; alas! as it is not all in the natural application of the figure. The silly sheep may stray from the rich and quiet pastures, and need the Shepherd's care to follow it in its wanderings, and restore it again to where the flock abides, under His gentle eye. Hence the touching expressions, "He restoreth my soul; He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake." This is a different exercise of the Shepherd's care from that of making to lie down in green pastures and leading beside still waters. It is recovery, in gracious love, when these have been departed from; and it affords the most affecting acquaintance with the grace of the heart of the Lord. When thus restored, the soul may add, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me: thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."

Nothing so strengthens the confidence of the soul in the Lord as the experience of the exercise of his gentle restoring grace. It so introduces the heart to the interior resources of God's goodness, and so establishes it in his unfailing mercy, that confidence in all imaginable trials, and an assurance of receiving nothing but good at his hand, are the natural result. The darkest paths of difficulty and of danger - "The valley of death's shade" may be tracked in perfect security now, because the soul has been shown the only proper spring of confidence. "thou art with me: Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me." And more than this - the sense of surrounding enemies can now be used not as an occasion of dread, but as only giving character to the efficiency of that goodness which prepares a table before us, in the presence of enemies. "Thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over." This is not the result of an increase of outward good, nor the mere effusion of thankfulness at the contemplation of the increase of corn and wine - this may not exist - but it is the renewing of holy joy from the experience of what God is; and the overrunning-cup is the sense of the heart's portion in the presence of a God of infinite goodness. The conclusion, therefore, from such an association with God, and such experience of what God is in goodness and love, is, "Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." All this, and much more than this, readily presents itself to the mind, while contemplating this lovely Psalm; but the chapter before us is not so much intended to teach generally the shepherd-care of Christ, as to disclose the present principles of his action resulting from Israel's rejection of His claims. For it is in Israel, and amongst an earthly people, that His proper shepherd-character will be displayed. As a proof (see Isaiah 40:10-11), "Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." And (Psalm 78:70-72) "He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds: from following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance. So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands." Hence, when he has given the remnant, whom His personal ministry was now separating to Himself, the necessary authority and guidance to leave the fold, which was His having called them by name (the mark of individual dealing in grace), and having Himself gone out before them, He takes an entirely new place and position.

He now says, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture" (John 10:9). This is no mere reiteration of the previous parable, which it is said the Jews did not understand; but it is the unfolding of the true position in which He now stood to all who were taught of God to acknowledge His claims. He does not present Himself as the door into a fold; but as the door of salvation. "By me if any man enter in he shall be saved!" "And he shall go in and out and find pasture." It is the acknowledgment of His personal claims, in faith; and the result is, not security in a fold, but salvation and liberty, and sustenance. Neither does He now address Himself as before, to His own sheep within the fold, in order to lead them out; but it is, "If any man enter in he shall be saved," etc., which took up the outcasts of Israel and opened the door of grace to all.

It is indeed a tacit indication, that another principle of God's dealing must be known, and another position taken by those who were owned of Him.

It is not now enclosing in a fold of ordinances in separation from those without; but it is salvation through the Shepherd who gives the life for the sheep, and security and pasturage in following Him. It is the presence of the Shepherd, and not the walls of a fold, that we must seek.

It is not, as is generally known, when speaking of the gathering of the Gentiles, as the other sheep who were not of the Jewish fold, the gathering them to a fold: - for the word is changed, and it is, "There shall be one flock and one shepherd."

"The Good Shepherd," and the "True Vine," present the Lord in contrast with all that existed in Israel's vine of ordinances, and every pretender to the care of the flock as having a right to them before He came. United to Him as the True Vine, they become fruitful branches; and as the Good Shepherd, He not only gives His life for the sheep, but He gives eternal life and eternal security to those whom He thus owns as His flock.

The difference between the door into the fold, by which Christ entered, and Himself as the door of the sheep should be noticed, in order to have the line of instruction clear before the mind. In the one case, it was the appointed way of Christ's entrance amongst the Jews as the Shepherd of Israel, and living Messiah, in His earthly ministrations to that ancient flock of God; and in the other, it was the place which He took in grace as the rejected One of the nation - the door of salvation to all who entered by Him. Not the door into any fold of exclusive ordinances, as in Israel, which He was now leaving Himself, and thus leading out His own sheep; but the door of entrance to salvation, to liberty and sustenance; and where security would be found alone in being near and following the Good Shepherd.

Nothing can be more touching or instructive than the contrast presented between the conduct and feelings of the "hireling," and Himself as "the Good Shepherd." With Christ there is no fleeing like the hireling when danger appears, but in love and self-devotion to His sheep meeting all the danger, saying to the enemy, "If ye seek me, let these go their way."

"The Good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep" - Israel as His sheep - those lost sheep of the house of Israel - and for the "other sheep" also which are not of Israel's fold - which are gathered and brought by His death from amongst the Gentiles, that thus there should be "one flock, one shepherd" ({Greek} mia poimne eis poimen). But this is spoken of as consequent upon His death - for, indeed, whether of Jew or Gentile there could be no association with God or enjoyment of salvation apart from his death.

The reciprocation of the knowledge subsisting between the Good Shepherd and His sheep is also marked. He knows His sheep and they know Him; even as the Father knew Him, and He knew the Father. It is not a mere abstract statement of a reciprocation of knowledge, but an illustration of the character of that knowledge. He, the blessed Son, who had given His life and was in heaven, ere this gathering of His other sheep took place, or even the remnant of Israel was gathered by virtue of His death, knew His own, even as the Father knew Him, when He was upon earth. Nothing can be more precious to the soul than such a principle as this! And how simply, yet how wonderfully, is the link of connection between Christ and His sheep presented, and their eternal security declared! "My sheep hear my voice - and I know them - and they follow me - and I give unto them eternal life!" But this is not all. He adds, "They shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father who gave them me is greater than all; none is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one." What a link of connection is this! The poor sheep, precious to Christ as the Father's gift to Him! What a ground also of security! The sheep not only have eternal life from Christ, but they are in His hand! Nay more, the thought of their security must be knit up with the eternal power of God - for the sheep are in the Father's hand! And then the contrasted points brought together of the lowly Shepherd stooping to enter by the door into the fold - and the statement, "I and my Father are one!" Nothing can be more touching, nothing more precious or wonderful! The grace is infinite, the love knows no bounds, and the power by which all is secured is the Almighty power of the Eternal God! The depth of instruction in the chapter is but just touched upon in this brief paper, but it may guide the meditations of some to the chapter itself, there to find the infinitude of divine love thus brought home to us as the portion of the sheep of Christ.

(Present Testimony 8 (1856), p. 429 - 439. The authorship of Darby is not completely certain.)

Remarks on Failure


The title of this paper was given by the Editor: G. V. Wigram.

The leading subject of the Epistle to the Galatians, as is manifest, is the correction by God's Spirit, of the first form of error by which the doctrine of Christ began to be corrupted; and, it may be observed, there is a severity of expression in its terms of reprobation, both of the propagators of the error, and of the error itself, that has no parallel in any other of the Apostolic Epistles. This fact, bearing in mind that error in doctrine rather than evil in practice is the subject of the Spirit's censure - is very strikingly in contrast with our ordinary thoughts; and most especially opposed to the latitudinarian sentiments of the present day.

The principle of this is plain. Nature can take its measure of human conduct; but Faith only can estimate the importance of the truth of God. And perhaps there is nothing that more strikingly displays the low spiritual condition of the church, and its utter incompetency to judge of things according to the mind of God, than that laxity of feeling which prevails with regard to doctrine, in comparison with the moral walk.

It could never be imagined that God had placed the two in opposition - for, indeed, the doctrine of the gospel is "the doctrine according to godliness;" - but the tendency of the natural mind, as to their relative importance, is always to reverse the judgment of the word of God. The spiritual mind, however, which makes God and not self its centre, will at once discern that the sinking of the foundation is incomparably more fraught with danger than a fracture in the edifice; and the corruption of the truth, which creates and sanctifies the church, is infinitely more fatal than a lapse in the walk, which is but the external witness of the power of the truth within. The church may be recovered while the truth of Christ remains; but if Christ be gone, nothing but hopeless corruption must ensue.

This is plainly the ground on which that unparalleled severity of rebuke, which pervades this Epistle rests. For example; he says, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that we have preached unto you, LET HIM BE ACCURSED. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, LET HIM BE ACCURSED."

Here, in the outset, the Apostle, by the Spirit, enters his solemn protest, not against others only, but against himself, if he should ever swerve from the purity of that gospel he had preached. If man or angel, or himself, should ever become a perverter of the grace which he was empowered of Christ especially to proclaim, he invokes upon either a solemn curse; and thus raises a barrier against the possibility of his own, or others, turning back from the full position of grace and acceptance before God, into which the wondrous work of Christ introduces a sinner!

No authority must for a moment be allowed to cast a shadow over the full grace of the gospel; or question the divine truth of that declaration, "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature, (or a new creation), old things are passed away; behold all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ." A man may be warned how he builds upon this foundation; - and the word of the Spirit is express, "Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity" - but, other foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." "Let God be true, but every man a liar." This is "the shield of faith;" and is the merited rebuke of the least perversion of the "true grace of God, wherein we stand."

Unquestionably the church is the place of holiness - "the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are" - but it is so, practically, only as it answers to the description," the pillar and ground of the truth" - the wondrous vessel of that which the Apostle thus denominates. For he directly adds, "without controversy great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up to glory."

This is "the truth" of which the church of the living God is to be the pillar and ground. It is both formative of its character and is the basis of its walk: - "He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked."

Laxity of walk, or worldly principles and habits, may be corrected by bringing in the light to manifest the darkness - for we are to "walk in the light as he is in the light" - but when the truth is corrupted, the light becomes darkness, and the very instrument by which God is pleased to work is destroyed.

But our moral sense is outraged by flagrant conduct. Self is touched, in our associations, at least, when it is a question of walk. But it is only the spiritual sense that rightly estimates the danger of an inroad on the truth; and it requires the sensitiveness of the spirit to turn us from seeking our own, and "not the things that are Jesus Christ's."

Still, nothing is more important, than to heed the moral association of things in the mind of God. For example, in Philippians, 3:19, those "who mind earthly things" are in the position of "the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame!" This is God's moral connection of things; and the true contrast of this, is to have "our conversation in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ."

So again, in a matter of more ordinary note, in 1 Tim. 6:9. "They that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish, and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." This is God's moral association, and what in his mind is knit up with the commonest of all desires - the desire to be rich! And his path of escape is this, "Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content."

Also in Romans 16:17-18. "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." There is no middle course between serving the Lord Jesus Christ and one's own belly! And once more, in Cor. 15:32; "If the dead rise not - let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die;" just as in the corresponding truth our Lord associates the expression, "My Lord delayeth his coming" with the servant's beginning to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken.

Now it is this Divine moral association of things, that accounts for the severity of expression, noticed, as pervading this epistle, whose object is to correct the very mildest - in our thought - and most universal form of error by which the grace of the gospel is perverted. For what is so common in the forms of Christianity around us, as the grafting of the law and Judaism on the gospel. But, it is this, which in this epistle calls forth the stern rebuke, "Behold, I Paul, say unto you that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing … . Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace." "But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: and that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage; to whom we gave place by subjection no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you." "Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you." "When Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation." "O foolish Galatians who hath bewitched you that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth crucified? This only would I learn of you, received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? are ye so foolish, having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Ye did run well: who did hinder you, that ye should not obey the truth And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. I would they were even cut off, which trouble you!"

Now though there was manifest corruption and worldliness in the church of Corinth, and they were "carnal and walked as men," yet is their evil not rebuked in any degree with the sternness that pervades this epistle. It is true he says, "your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump;" - a universal principle, applied in Galatians to doctrine, as here to practice. And again in 2 Cor. 12:20-21. "I fear lest when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall not be found unto you such as ye would: lest there be debatings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults; and lest when I come again my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness, and fornication, and lasciviousness which they have committed." In visiting those who had so sinned, he says, "I will not spare." But he does not once say, "I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain" - "I stand in doubt of you" - "Ye are fallen from grace" - "I would they were even cut off who trouble you" - "Christ shall profit you nothing" - "Christ is become of no effect unto you."

Alas! it is forgotten, that, if the church is to be the epistle of Christ, it is Christ known and valued, and all things else esteemed as dung and dross, in comparison, that can alone make her that epistle. "We have this treasure in earthen vessels." And in vain is the cleanliness of the vessel and its external polish regarded, if the treasure which is alone of value be extracted!

Christ crucified and risen, and we risen in him, is the church's morality. "Let us hold fast grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear."

Whenever grace is questioned, and a legal standing sought, there is introduced the wholesale principle of the corruption of the church's morals - "walking in the light, as he is in the light:" and "walking as he walked." For in the first place, conscience will stop at the lowest point at which it can be satisfied; and in the next place, the law deals with the flesh of man, in which grace teaches us "there dwells no good thing." But grace leads to holiness, through a new nature, which is born of God, and the subduing of the flesh. Never therefore is holiness, in its true character, so much in danger as when it is sought to be established apart from grace - which in its grossest form, is the Puseyism of the present day. And often the assumption of an ascetic sanctity, where the gospel prevails, sinks into moral debasement, that shocks even the natural conscience.

In the opening of the epistle - "Paul, an Apostle not of man neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father who raised him from the dead" - we get a principle that characterises indeed, but extends much farther than the apostleship of Paul, and teaches us that nothing which is "of man" as its source, or "by man" as its authority, can be acknowledged in the Church of God. It must be, "by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead." Hence he says, "I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." Neither man's ordinances, nor man's authority, nor man's obedience, can reach up to Him whom God hath "set at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which, is to come; and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all." The grace of the gospel is a thing altogether beyond man's power, and independent of man's authority; and is thus wonderfully expressed by the Apostle, - "I, through the law, am dead to the law" - I have been killed by it outright - "that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me!" And this is the Christ, and this is the grace, that is to be guarded against all that is "of man" and "by man"! For, whatever is "of man" or "by man," necessarily subverts this grace, which flows alone from its divine fountain - "Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead." Can any thing for a moment that is "of man" be borne with, by the heart that has learned this truth, "the son of God hath loved me and given himself for me?" or that which is so akin to it in Heb. 1. "Who being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on High." It is on this ground, that the Apostle says, in 2 Cor. 5:16, "Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh; yea, though we had known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more." And, as already quoted, it follows, "Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new. And all things are of God."

Now, in Colossians the warning is, "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men after the rudiments of the world and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete in him." What madness to attempt a supplement from man and his philosophy to the fulness of Him "in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily!" But here it is by the introduction of the law and circumcision. "Tell me ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law." And "Behold I, Paul, say unto you, if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify to every man that is circumcised that he is a debtor to do the whole law." Whatever man, in his wretched blindness may attempt, the two things - grace and law - cannot before God stand together. In grace "all things are of God" but the law, addresses itself to man: it requires something of man, which he, in his ignorance of his own condition, attempts to meet: although "by the law is the knowledge of sin." "And as many as are OF the works of the law are under a curse." If law is his principle, then he is only under a curse. "For it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."

The adding of "circumcision," which was the point at which this severely reprobated error touched the Galatians, was not in the least intended as an ostensible setting aside of the gospel, by the substitution of the law. But though they were deceived, the principle can receive no quarter. It may be only the addition of circumcision; but there is a principle involved in it which subverts the whole standing of grace - "If ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. Ye are fallen from grace!"

And yet this is the most natural condition into which the heart sinks that does not see - or has perhaps lost the perception of - the brightness of grace: and this on the most simple ground. For Judaism was God's own institution - his earthly institution - for maintaining intercourse with himself, on a lower ground than that of the veil being taken away. Judaism was the religion of a people at a distance from God; who, however near their priest might come, which their necessity required, had a veil between themselves and God. And whenever the heart practically loses its sense of that nearness to God to which his grace has introduced us through the eternally precious work of Christ, we naturally lapse into Judaism. Not that there may be a formal adoption of it as a system, but there is a natural adaptation in it to the heart that feels it right to be occupied about the things of God, but is not in the brightness of intercourse with God himself.

Hence the Apostle says, "When we were children we were in bondage under the elements of the world, but when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying "Abba, Father." This was their place: this their altered position, through accomplished redemption, to be in communication and intercourse with God, as children with a father. And he therefore asks, "Now, after ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, where-unto ye desire again to be in bondage?" It was the sweeping away of the whole position into which the redemption of the Son of God had brought them, to assume again the place of distance that belonged to those who were kept under the law shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

"Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain." This was Judaism, no doubt; but then Judaism, it is but little imagined, was itself composed of "the rudiments (or elements) of the world." "The first covenant had ordinances of divine service and a worldly sanctuary;" and the whole of the Jewish institution was arranged after the rudiments of the world. God had a righteous claim upon the people in the midst of this, but their religious institutions were arranged to meet their natural feelings as men. There was the beauty of the tabernacle and the costliness of the temple: - the gold and silver and precious stones; the silver trumpets on their feast days, and the magnificent garments of their priests, all which are now maintained by royalty and are to be found in palaces and courts, while their festive periods of commemoration are still found in the anniversaries of the world.

And it is this which gives it such a hold on our nature, and accounts for the universality of its prevalence, in conjunction with the profession of Christianity. It puts God at a distance, while it occupies the mind with religion, and sanctions the principles and elements of the world. "The way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest while as the first tabernacle was yet standing." God's presence could not then be reached. The veil was untaken away; and all that could be said of this array of services was, that they were carnal ordinances imposed on them until the time of reformation. And hence the severity of that word," After that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements to which ye desire again to be in bondage?" "If ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why as though living in the world are ye subject to ordinances?" The cross leaves no place for the elements of the world! "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Death and resurrection, in Christ, alike leave Judaism and Gentilism amongst the "rudiments of the world;" while they introduce into the blessed knowledge and presence of God, and leave nothing to be rejoiced in, or to be desired, but "the hope of the glory of God."

Many other things in this epistle are worthy of note, but my object is not to give an exposition. In verse 15, 16, of chapter 1, "When it pleased God who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen: immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood," we get the whole principle of the Apostle's course and ministry. And this it was that also led him to say, "of those who seemed to be somewhat, whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person." His only object and concern, was, "that the truth of the gospel might continue with them." And if the course of Peter even is opposed to this, he meets an uncourtly and open rebuke; and his, and Barnabas's dissimulation is as plainly censured, as when he says to his own converts, "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth!"

It is this which fired him at the attempt to remove them "from the grace of Christ, into another gospel," and makes him say "I would they were even cut off who trouble you;" and at the close of the epistle to expose the hollowness of the wretched teaching of those principles, the destructiveness of which he had through the epistle so solemnly denounced - "as many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they, themselves, who are circumcised, keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh." - "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature" - a new creation! If the cross brings inside the veil, - which it does, it at the same time, puts outside the world. God's "new creation" can combine with none of the elements of the old. The blood of the sin-offering, which brought the High-Priest within the veil, left the victim to be burnt outside the camp. "Jesus, that he might sanctify the people, suffered without the gate." The very thing which brings nigh to God, is that which entirely separates from the world!

Would that against all these attempts of the enemy to subvert the grace of the gospel, we had the faith to say, "From henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear in my body the marks (Greek stigmata) of the Lord Jesus!" But alas! where is now the sensibility of heart to Christ, which causes the blush to mantle on the cheek, and the soul to be filled with indignation, at any attempted admixture of law and grace, which is but the subversion of the gospel. Where is to be found the exhibition of that word - "the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up?"

Alas! in a day when faith is low, large scope is left for the reasonings of the natural mind; and often the surest resting-places of the soul are treated as points of debate. What is divinely taught is firmly held; but even the truth of God, gathered by human deduction, never rises to the point of faith. The ground of so many questionings amongst God's children, is, that there is so little faith. Faith settles the soul in the truth, and keeps it in the presence of God. And the reason why known truth is so feebly held, is, that there is so little faith, and consequently so little of God. The certainty of faith seems like dogmatism to the man of reason; and appears like the claim to a special revelation to the Christian whose habit is to gather his conclusions by a rational process, instead of by the teaching of the Holy Ghost. We allow a license to the "lusts of the mind," which we should not dare to do in the "lusts of the flesh:" But it is not the actions only, but every thought that should be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

(Present Testimony 1 (1849), p. 375-386. The authorship of Darby is not completely certain.)

Concerning the Near Appearing or Presence of False Prophets

1 John 4:1-6.

This little treatise is addressed to those who not only know Jesus to be a Saviour, but who know Him as their Lord, to whom their allegiance and obedience is due. Happy those who look wholly to His good pleasure as their Lord. They ought also to know that this is a time when allegiance to Him will be put to the test. It will be quite a different proof than heretofore, because Satan will deceive with far more deceivableness than heretofore. The deception will begin with unbelief in the Lordship of Jesus, and by insubjection to it; and in speaking therefore of the world and not of heavenly things, but perhaps often commending what is earthily religious, and thus enhancing the deceit. One can hardly believe that it is not already the case, and they are not in themselves so apparent, as not to require that the spirit by which they speak should not be tried by you, that you be not misled. We are desired to try the spirits, to bring them to proof by the works of the prophets who speak by these spirits. 1st. They must be proved by their works, and their works are not holding Jesus to be come in the flesh, and therefore immediate Lord over all men; and, 2ndly, speaking of the world. These are two very simple things, so there is no need that simple men should be deceived; it is the want of knowing Jesus as Lord that may lead even the elect into danger. Obedience to Jesus as Lord will disown what He disowns - will make a good confession of the hope. He has left, and will worship according to the power of that Spirit, that is of Him and the Father. We must not suppose, that having the spirit of antichrist is to make those, who by this spirit, speak of the world and its hopes, like men possessed so as to act violently and madly; they would in this case be quickly suspected or disregarded; but these require to be tested in the knowledge of God and of Christ, because they soberly lead from God and His obedience. Persons would gain no credit, and that their master knows, if they were to proclaim principles that would shock mankind. In order to persuade men, they must propose some advantage, something that does honour to mankind and not dishonour, and no one is taught in the honour and reward of obedience to Christ. A condition that would need forgiveness of God they would repudiate. They will say that man in his own honour and dignity, and educated therein, has a true nobility; that death is no judgment of God; and if they acknowledge a continuance of existence after death (not a restoration of the dead to life by the power of God), it is to their own honour, and the extension of the self-importance with which they have dignified themselves. With a future life, however, they trouble themselves but little. The mark given in addition to the denial of Christ come in the flesh is, that they speak of the world, and the world heareth them. What is now more common than these two marks? God warns us now against these. Against the world He has already warned us. The world perisheth, and the works thereof; and the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life are of the world, and not of the Father. The world will be judged and the works thereof, but of this those that scoff are willingly ignorant. They have known it, or at least have heard the testimony and rejected it. No one can get rid of the judgments that God has appointed by His word. Disbelief does not alter the truth of any thing. What is, is; and what shall be, shall be. Man does not make any thing untrue by his disbelief. So nothing that is false can be made true because I am deceived by it, even if it were to my ruin; nor do my convictions make any thing true, nor bind God in His judgments, or else my judgment would bind God. Men deceived by themselves are easily deceived by others who prophesy according to the blindness of the people; and who is so foolish as to think, that a man thinking he sees, or that he has a true mental apprehension of a thing will make it certain? God is never moved from His throne, and He will be justified in the day when all things will be judged; and if my affections are with God, I say, "Let God be true, though all be liars." Now God has revealed the resurrection of all men, and they will stand just as they now are to be tried in their present capacity of conscience, by His presence and not by their own thoughts; and their judgment will be final and righteously so, for God has not failed to make known His goodness by His word. A true prophet believes that Jesus Christ has appeared in the flesh, and will come to blessing or judgment. Such a one therefore speaks of things to come; he speaks of the peace made by blood, and that God has loved, receives men for the sake of His Son whom He has given.

Now false prophets are in this Scripture prophesied of; they prophesy false things, and the reverse of God's judgment of the world. They will speak of the capacities of it and its greatness; of the perfectibility of man, and of the world's institutions becoming his noble condition, and the world heareth them. How quickly are the ears of man caught by the false evangelist, or these inspired pretenders! How Christ's coming to judgment, and as Lord over the world would be scorned, though the price was paid for his deliverance from Satan in body and soul, as well as that for other men!

It is quite true, that at present some men have not gone as far as others in the denial of the Lordship of Jesus, but their words and position are in a strange contradiction one to the other. Religion is not yet always rejected by those who listen to the false prophets, but few would listen, did any do more than accidentally speak of it. Man was so formed of God, that some acknowledgment of Him is natural, and necessary to him as a right condition of his existence. Wholly to reject is to denaturalise himself; but they do not acknowledge a Lordship in Jesus, and the world heareth them. Politics, as we daily know them, are an unbelief of the Lord as Lord. Man as man, sufficient to himself, is the ground of their doctrine; and as the Egyptian said of his river, "The river is mine own, I have made it for myself." It is a simple character to try them by, and it seems a sweeping judgment; but God judgeth all things in truth, and giveth a simple rule to judge by, and all that is not in Christ will be found not of Him. A false prophet is one not confessing Jesus, and their word is about the world independently of God, and the world gives them heed; these are they that speak by the spirit of antichrist. The apostle says many false prophets are gone out into the world. If any man knows the true extent of the call that God has made by the apostle, and by those who follow the truth he delivers, he listeneth not to such at all.

Now the spirits and prophets that speak by them are prophesied of; and because they do the reverse of what true prophets do, they are false prophets, and they are spoken of as to appear in these latter times, when all things are hastening to the time of God's interference in the world by His judgments against the rebellious; and the spirit is called the spirit of antichrist, because it is set against the Lordship of Jesus over the world, and will fully exist in antichrist when he is manifested. Those that are of God overcome the seduction and turn away, because they have a spirit in them that is greater than the spirit that is in the false prophets. But let us not conceal from ourselves how plain the distinction is made by the Word of God between one spirit and the other. Nor let us think less of the grace of God to man in Christ, or to ourselves who believe, for Christ is made of God to us, "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption"; we are possessors of Christ, and own the Lord of whose glory we are partakers, but separate by a clear undeniable separateness from all the false prophets speak of. "Come out and be ye separate, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord God Almighty." Doing good to all men, and loving one another for God and for our hope's sake, and our works will be owned of Him when He shall come, and they shall be judged for all "the hard speeches they have spoken against Him."

It is unbelief in us to have any thing to say to any of these matters. We return as the dog to his vomit when we do so. We must not be deceived by words of honour and of noble sentiments. When men do well to themselves, men will speak well of them, as is said in Psalm 49. Your rule is, "Whom the Lord commendeth;" but for us they are condemned, though we confess ourselves always sinners saved by grace. The Lord cometh to judgment.

But if the spirit of anti-Christ is at work, the same will produce a false prophet far above the rest. How wise is the arch-enemy! Will he let the world see this all at once? None were ever wicked at once. No man ever gained his fellow-men by proposing a thing as evil, but as good; but you have here, in the description of the false prophets and their works, the sure marks of the beginning; and they lead surely to the end. Those we speak of speak of the world, and the world heareth them. Men, again, now perhaps dispute about religion, and about this or that being the right one. God says, "True religion, and undefiled before God and the Father, is to keep yourself unspotted from the world;" and His commandments are to believe on the Son of God, and to love one another in this faith. Now, beloved, everything is slipping from its place. Everything that is not founded on Christ and His word, and to the exclusion of everything else, will soon be in the enemy's camp. Take with you a single eye, and your whole body shall be full of light; otherwise you will slip away into the dominion of evil, and at last of Satan. Do not be deceived by the name of religion. The weak, the crucified One, is the power of God unto salvation. It is a matter of faith and of holding fast. Disbelieve the false prophets. Believe God, and the devil will flee from thee, and thyself be left to the rejoicing of hope, and to you belong rest (with those that have from the first declared the salvation of God) when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels, and you, perfected by trial, because you hold fast; they who have troubled you, righteously receiving tribulation, and punished with everlasting destruction from that presence which is become yours in joy for evermore. Let us now be fain to pluck out of destruction those in whom we discover that God yet keeps a conscience to the Lord alive in their breasts.

This then is the present state of things, or one we shall see presently accomplished; but there will be a great FALSE prophet. The power he will receive of Satan will be very great: his business will be to commend him to whom Satan will give his power and throne and great authority, by the permission of God; and the great false prophet will commend him to mankind by signs and wonders, and miracles, and fire from heaven, to cause men to obey him whom Satan has set up, as the glory and boast of man.

It is one fashion of the unbelief of the present day to deny the existence of Satan, the adversary. There can be no greater cause of any falling into his toils, because when miracles and wonders are now done they will be ascribed to God, and thus they will give credit to Satan and be deceived. But Scripture (and a sad woeful sign of the power of Satan is it when the Scripture is kept from the hands of the people) is express on the subject, that as miracles were performed at the beginning of Christianity, that the miracles at the close of the dispensation will be from the Evil One, and not from God. Such then will have no eyes to discover the deceit, but wonder and worship. This false prophet will without doubt find his representatives, who by the same deceit will commend the same lie to those that are subject to them and not to God; and indeed, all those whose names are not written in the book of life through faith of the Son of God. And it is a sure word, that Christianity falls not into forget-fulness or into the ignorance of heathenism again, but is apostate from God in the fulness of human intelligence and in hatred of Christ.

The false prophet will receive his doom with the great king and power who is yet to be manifested, as we learn from the Apocalypse, Rev. 19:20, and other places of Scripture in the New and Old Testament. If you will compare this with Rev. 13:10, the description of his working miracles to deceive is the same as in Rev. 19:20. The false prophet in Rev. 13:10, has the character of a worldly power; this he apparently loses, before he is finally destroyed. It is not said that the prophets mentioned in the text at the head of this tract do any miracles - their task is more ordinary: their character is, that they do not confess the coming of Christ as man, and they say, "Who is Lord over us?" - and they speak of the world, and may be, its religion too. But the time comes; the world, through hearing of them, is ripe in the deceivableness of unrighteousness to fall into the last snare of the enemy; and the great false prophet, and those who are connected with him, will bring men into the last measure of deception and rebellion against the Lord. The time is not afar off. The signs of the last times abound on every side. It is written, that in the last times false prophets shall come on the earth, and speak by the spirit of anti-Christ. And this is written to warn and quicken you who confess the Lord, that you be not also deceived.

(Present Testimony 2 (1850), p. 40 - 46. The authorship of Darby is not completely certain.)

The Worthiness of the Lamb

Revelation 5.

"And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the living-ones and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, worthy is the lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." - Rev. 5:11-12.

Rich and blessed as are the associations in the mind of every saint of God connected with Christ's title of "the Lamb" it may be questioned whether that which stamps it, in the mind of Heaven, with its peculiar significance, has, so fully as it ought, its place and bearing in the soul. The emphatic exclamation of the Baptist, "Behold the Lamb of God!" indicates the grace and beauty and lowly virtues of Him who bears this name, and marks His title to the adoring worship of our hearts. But this title, as borne by the same blessed One, on high, unfolded in the book of Revelation, brings us associated with other glories and other scenes than those that, it is likely, met the holy musings of John, when he gazed on the blessed Jesus walking by the banks of Jordan, and said, "Behold the Lamb of God"

This title, familiar as it is to our hearts, is almost exclusively connected with the book of Revelation; and is unquestionably designed to indicate the special character in which the bearer of it is there presented. The observance of this may present no unuseful key to the understanding of that wondrous book, which may be "called the book of the rights of the Lamb." for, certainly, it may be affirmed, that the whole of the details and principles of the prophetic part of it are knit up with this title; while, on its first occurrence in the book, we see heaven, earth, and all redeemed creation, roused by it in joy to accord to Him who bears it, this seven-fold ascription of praise: "saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." He alone is declared worthy to receive the whole tribute of the universe and to become the centre of its universal praise.

There is, doubtless, a marked difference in the presentation of "the Lamb slain" in this book, and in his presentation by the same title in John 1:29, 36, the only other place in scripture in which as a title it occurs.*

*Nowhere else, indeed, is the exact expression; for in John 1:29, 36, it is "ho amnos" but in the Revelation throughout, it is "to arnion" Acts 8:32, and 1 Peter 1:19, are comparisons, expressive of a blessed moral truth, but not applied by way of title.{Original remark}

In the expressions of John, "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world!" we see the person of the Lord Jesus, as God's Lamb, presented to the aye of faith, as the substantiation of all that had been prefigured in the way of atonement. He is here pointed out as the full and perfect provision of God for man's need as a sinner, and the only basis on which the mercy of a holy God can restore the guilt-stricken and polluted to his presence. This, there can be no doubt, was the immediate bearing of John's pointing to Jesus, as "the Lamb of God." But in the breadth of the terms, "that taketh away the sin of the world" it seems as if the Spirit would lead us on beyond the speciality of individual redemption, to the ultimate purpose of the manifestation of the Son of God - in the destruction of the works of the devil - to that point in the counsels of God, in which the blessed stream of redemption reaches its limit; and creation, brought back from subjection "to vanity," is again made capable of receiving and reflecting back the rays of its Creator's goodness and glory, rejoicing in "the glorious liberty of the sons of God."

The Lamb slain in sacrifice, from Abel downward, had declared on the part of the righteous holiness of God, that "Without shedding of blood is no remission;" and on the part of the love of God, the spotlessness of the victim and its being as a burnt offering "A sweet savour unto the Lord," declared as fully His delight in the perfectness of Jesus - that "Lamb without blemish and without spot" - and of His satisfaction in His wondrous, perfected, atoning work. "Christ hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling savour." "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." But in the Revelation, the "Lamb slain" is not presented so much as God's provision of love to meet a sinner's need, or as the perfect Doer of His Father's will, as He is shown, by His rejection and suffering on earth, to have gained a title in heaven to universal homage, and to be the holder of universal power. In the revelations of God to His church, things in reference to Jesus have passed beyond the limit of grace and atonement now; and we are called to contemplate what are the righteous claims of this suffering and rejected victim, as recognised on high. It is true that the heart of a saint knows Him still as "the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." The cross abides still in all its wondrous mystery of love, as the attractive point of mercy to meet a sinner's heart. "Pentecost," as the pledge and seal of the resurrection and ascension-glory of the church's Head, tells, by the presence of the abiding "Comforter," of present union, and of coming glory as the portion of the church. But beyond what the gospels reveal of incarnation and suffering; and the epistles unfold of grace untold, flowing down as the church's present portion, from her head in glory, and presenting the brightness of her hope in being "for ever with the Lord," - we have, in this book, the lifting up of a curtain, and showing things beyond the Spirit's direct testimony in the church. First, Jesus is shown in the position of rebuke and chastening, through the hour of the church's decadence, as His witness in the world, until rejection comes of that which was wholly unworthy of His care. And then, in the prophetic part, it is not so much the Spirit down here testifying of Christ, as seen on high, in close connection with "the Lamb," who is in the midst of the throne; and as the spirit of prophecy telling indeed of the progress of things here on earth; but that not so much in regard to the events themselves, as in connection with heavenly counsels, which result in the vindication of the claims of "the Lamb." The progress of evil is noticed; but it is noticed only as giving occasion to the introduction of the hand of power by which "the mystery of God" is finished. The opening of the seals, and the sounding of the trumpets, and the pouring out of the vials - whatever may be their effects on earth - have for their one central object, either the declaration or the enforcing by the hand of Divine Power, of the claims of the Lamb. It is, in a word, the blessed accomplishment, in power, of that word in Philippians, "He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is lord, to the glory of God the Father." Though there is this difference in the aspect in which this result of the Lord's humiliation and death are presented - here it is the reward of Christ's perfect obedience to the Father's will. In the revelation it is the vindication, on the part of God, of the claims of Him, who, as to man, had been but a suffering victim - "led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearers, so He opened not His mouth." Therefore, necessarily, judgment, in this vindication, falls on the world that had inflicted His injuries, and still resists His claims. The most cursory study of the book of Revelation must teach us that its object is not so much to unfold the character and fruits of redemption in relation to those who are its happy subjects, as to present the rights and claims of Him by whom redemption was, in "the travail of His soul," accomplished - His right, through redemption, to "inherit all things." And therefore it is, throughout, that Christ, as "the Lamb," in the midst of the throne, and the actings of the throne itself, are in connection with the earth and creation, rather than directly with the church.

The fifth chapter, in which this worthiness of the Lamb is proclaimed, appears to give the entire outline of the prophetic part of the book. Nothing, as it seems, in accomplishment, can go beyond this. Heaven, earth, and all redeemed creation, in this anticipative song, recognise the full claims of Christ's mediatorial glory, as the "Lamb that was slain;" and, in accomplishment, we are brought by it down to the point, "When He shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power;" and when He shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father. "Every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."

In the challenge which brings the Lamb upon the scene, however symbolic the action, there seems to be but little difficulty in ascertaining the simple truth conveyed. The question - "Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?" is designed to present, in strong relief, and in contrast with the hopelessness that springs from all besides, the worthiness and the power of Christ to enter into, and declare the whole mystery of God concerning the course of evil in this world, and its final redemption from its power. And more than this, to show, on whose behalf it is, and on account of whose worthiness it is, that Creation shall be delivered from the thrall of Satan, and the tribute of its praise be restored to Him whose right it is.

"No man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon." The redemption of God's inheritance from the power of Satan, is no work for man. Neither is it in the creature's power to declare through what appliances of power and wisdom the whole craft and power of Satan should be set aside. But there is one and one only found, to accept this challenge; and thus is relieved the oppressive sorrow that hung upon the prophet's heart. "I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon; and one of the Elders saith unto me, Weep not; behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

"And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne, and of the four living ones, and in the midst of the Elders, stood a lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne." Here the mystery is solved. In redemption Christ has obtained a title to be the whole creation's lord, as well as the church's blessed Head. As the suffering, meek, and unresisting Victim, Heaven accords to Him the title to universal power and praise. Already - though hidden in the throne - He is manifested to the eye of faith, as being possessed of the perfection of power - "having seven horns" - and also of the controlling, all-pervading energy of God's universal Spirit - "having seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth." Here, therefore, there is One equal to solve this problem; unsolvable by all besides; and to accept a challenge that must be declined by all besides. For who can undertake to save the rights of the eternal God, and to bring back a sin-stained universe to His favour? And who can expel the power of evil by which the scattering and dissevering from God of His creation had been achieved? Before this can be, sin must be atoned, and death undone, and Satan bound. But all this power and worthiness is found in Him who was David's Son and David's Lord. "The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof." In death, this title of Redeemer has been sealed as the Lamb's; and in redemption-power will all God's glory, in connection with the creature, eventually stand. The tribute of the universe must be paid alone to Him, who to the death asserted the glory of God in a world of evil; and who, in the administration of the affluence of His power and glory, will turn every stream of creature-good back to the Creator's praise.

Happy is it for the saint, thus instructed in the mind of heaven, to rest in the love and grace of Him who is in the midst of the throne; and happier still, in seeking now to uphold the honour of His name, to count on His power alone, who has the "seven horns and the seven eyes." For how surely is His power and grace directed to sustain the heart that counts on His goodness in seeking in a world of evil to do His will. Soon that power, which now secretly sustains, controls, and overrules, amidst the confusion of Satan's power, will be openly displayed. And how is the heart's joy augmented by the thought, that then the worthiness of the Lamb will not be a secret carried feebly in the bosom of the saint, and contradicted and gainsaid on every hand besides; but evil being removed by the hand of Power, every eye shall gaze upon His beauty, and every heart shall own His claims, and every voice re-echo His worthy praise! And Oh how soon will this bright scene of glory burst upon our dim anticipations! "We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." "And He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly." But there is another side of the picture. Heaven's counsels about the Lamb, alas! are fraught alone with sorrow for great Babylon in her luxurious glory, and for the thoughtless dwellers on the earth! When power Divine shall be put forth to vindicate the claims of earth's rejected Victim, what but dismay and displacement can be the result to those who despise His name, and will at last be found in martial array to resist His claims. "These shall make war with the lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them; for He is King of kings, and Lord of lords!" But before this hour arrives what a picture of the world's dismay does the Lamb's opening of the sixth seal present! "And I beheld when He had opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the lamb; for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"

It would be too wide a field, to comment in succession on each instance in this book in which, in different aspects and varied connections, we are brought into contact with the Lamb. In tracing through, from the fifth chapter to the end, "the Lamb" is ever in the ascendancy.

The song of Heaven is, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain" (Rev. 5:6-13.) It is from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, that the men of this world seek to hide themselves in fear (Rev. 6:15-16). The palm-bearing multitude, before the throne, have "washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev. 7:9-14). It is the Lamb that feeds them and leads them (as a shepherd) "to living fountains of waters" (Rev. 7:17). It is the blood of the Lamb that answers all the accusations of Satan, as the accuser of the brethren day and night, on high (Rev. 12:10-11). It is in the book of life of the Lamb slain, that the names of the faithful are found written amidst the corruptions of the beast (Rev. 13:8). It is the Lamb, also, on Mount Zion with the sealed-ones, whose honour and privilege it is, to "follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth" (Rev. 14:1-4). Again, whoever worships the beast or his image, and receives his mark in his forehead or in his hand, will be tormented in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb (Rev. 14:9-10). It is the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb, that is sung with the "harps of God," by those who, in victory over the beast, stand on "the sea of glass" (Rev. 15:2-4). It is against the Lamb, that the beast and the ten kings make war; and the Lamb shall overcome them; for he is "King of kings, and Lord of lords" (Rev. 17:12-14). It is the marriage of the Lamb, that strikes the note of joy in heaven; and to be called to the marriage supper of the Lamb, is the mark of honour and blessing then (Rev. 19:7-9). And, after the seals are loosed, and the trumpets are blown, and the vials poured out, when Satan is bound and the clangour of earth's judgment is hushed, it is "the bride the Lamb's wife,'' that is the wondrously glorious spectacle on which the Apostle is called to gaze (Rev. 21:9). They are the twelve apostles of the Lamb, whose names are in the twelve foundations of the "holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God" (Rev. 21:14). Of this city the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple, and "the Lamb is the light thereof" (Rev. 21:22-23). There is to be no inhabitant in this glorious city "whose name is not written in the Lamb's book of life" (Rev. 21:27). And, onwards, "the river of the water of life" flows out of "the throne of God and the Lamb" (Rev. 22:1). And finally, there is to be no more curse, because the throne of God and of the Lamb are to be there (Rev. 22:3-4, 5).

These are but brief and desultory notices of the wondrous character and claims of Him who in heaven is seen as "the Lamb." A suffering victim here on earth, now hid for a season in heaven, but about to be brought forth in full investiture of heaven's glory; and in vindication of His claims, no place to be allowed for any that refuse to bow in homage to His name, "I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the living-ones, and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." The scattering and confusion, and sorrow, and death, that sin has brought into the universe of God, admit of no remedy but in redemption. And accordingly the Lamb's title to the glory and praise of restored creation is founded in this. "They sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof; for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood.'' This estimate of Heaven of the Lamb's worthiness and the preparations on high to enforce His claims, cast a dreadful shadow over the ease, and glory, and power, and security of the world! "Redemption" - alas! the world knows not the meaning of the word! And as to "the Lamb" its whole peace hangs only on the abeyance of His claims!

While the main subject of this book is the presentation and enforcement of the claims of Christ to universal homage, and to universal power, as the suffering Lamb, there is that which gleams forth, as it were incidentally in the vindication of His glory. Far away from the scene of conflict, and before the Lamb comes forth sitting on "the white horse," as "King of kings, and Lord of lords, in righteousness to judge and to make war," there is seen in the peaceful courts of heaven, "the marriage of the Lamb" and, it is added "his wife hath made herself ready!" For his glory cannot be asserted, and another not be with him in the scene. That "we may be glorified together" is the strange word of scripture! The joy must begin on high, before the glory is displayed below. From heaven the Lamb comes forth to redeem the inheritance, and to take possession of His glory; and "when Christ who is our life shall appear, we shall appear with Him in glory."

And how does this teach the heart of one who knows the espousal of the church to Christ, how little it has to do with all the busy aims of men; and how little reason it has to covet the world's wisdom, power, or glory, which are but the usurped rights of Christ; while another Lord and Prince is owned. It is not the earth in the power of redemption yet, and yielding its willing homage to the Lamb; but it is the world which made the Lamb a suffering Victim, and still retains its opposition to His claims.

(Present Testimony 2 (1850), p. 246 - 255. The authorship of Darby is not completely certain.)


How sweet it is to look to the end of our weary way - and what an end - "the house of the Lord"! and that "for ever"! Surely "goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." Can any thing be sweeter, goodness and mercy now, the house of the Lord hereafter? - D.

(Present Testimony 1 (1849), p. 460. The authorship of Darby is not completely certain.)