A Letter on "The Praise of Men"

Auguste Rochat, from the French. (The attribution to J. N. Darby appears to be mistaken. It has been returned to the original form; the English had been revised in later publication.)

Canton de Vaud. The following admirable letter, by the Rev. A. Rochat, of Rolle, in the Canton de Vaud, the well-known author of some excellent works in theology, appeared lately in the Archives de Christianisme. The decease of that lamented minister, mentioned by us in our April number, removes all difficulty respecting its being made public. It was forwarded to that journal after M. Rochat's death, by M. Bonnet, the reformed pastor of Frankfort, to whom it was addressed; and who thought and with reason, that its publication might be useful. It tells its own history.
Evangelical Christendom Volume 1, 1847.

Rolle, May 22, 1844.
My dear Friend and Brother in Jesus Christ,
It gives me much pleasure to see your translation of Leighton. I reserve the pleasure of reading it, or rather of hearing it read to me, for moments wherein the Lord says to us, as He did to his apostles, "Come ye yourselves apart and rest a while." (Mark 6:31.) But I cannot refrain from telling you, my dear friend, that the pleasure which the appearance of your work gave me, has been somewhat abated by the far too favourable opinion which you have expressed respecting me in your preface. Before I had read a word of your translation, I made a present of a copy to a very dear and sincere friend, who brought me word that you had spoken in praise of my piety in your preface. The passage produced the same effect on my friend that it did on me when I afterwards saw it. I hope, therefore, you will not take in ill-part what I am about to say to you on the subject, and which is the fruit of a tolerably long experience.

Pride is the greatest of all the evils that beset us. Of all our enemies, it is that which dies the slowest and hardest. Even the children of the world are able to discern this. Madame De Stael said, on her death-bed, "Do you know what is the last to die in man? It is self-love." God hates pride above all things, because it gives to man the place which belongs to Him, who alone is exalted over all. Pride intercepts communion with God, and draws down His chastisements. For God resists the proud. He will destroy the house of the proud; and we are told that there is a day appointed, when the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of man laid low.

I am sure then, you will feel, my dear friend and brother, that one man cannot do a greater injury to another than by praising him, and feeding his pride. "He that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a snare for his feet," and, a flattering mouth worketh ruin. Be assured, moreover, that we are far too short-sighted to be able to judge of the degree of our brethren's piety. We are not able to weigh it aright without the balance of the sanctuary, and that is in the hands of Him who searches the heart. Judge nothing, then, before the time, until the Lord come, and makes manifest the counsels of the heart, and renders to every man his praise. Till then let us judge of our brethren, whether for good or for evil, with becoming moderation; and remember that the surest and best judgment is what we form of ourselves when we esteem others better than ourselves.

If I were to ask you how you know that I am "one of the most advanced in the Christian career," and "an eminent servant of God," you would no doubt be at a loss to reply. You would perhaps cite my published works. But do you not know, my dear friend and brother, you, who can preach an edifying sermon as well as I can, that the eyes see farther than the feet go; and that unhappily we are not always, nor in all things, what our sermons are; that we carry "this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us"?

I will not tell you the opinion I have of my self, for in so doing I should, probably, all the while be seeking my own glory, and while seeking my own glory appear humble, which I am not. I had rather tell you what our Master thinks of me. He that searches the heart, and speaks the truth, who is the Amen, the faithful Witness, has often spoken to me in my inmost soul, and I thank Him for it. But, believe me, He has never yet told me I am "an eminent Christian" and "advanced in the ways of godliness." On the contrary, he tells me very plainly, that if I knew my own place, I should find that it is of the chief of sinners and the least of saints. His judgment surely, my dear friend, I should take rather than yours. The most eminent Christian is probably one of whom no one ever heard speak, some poor labourer or servant, whose whole happiness is Christ, and who does all for His eye, and His alone. The first shall be last.

Let us be persuaded, my dear friend, to praise the Lord alone. He only is worthy of being praised, revered, and adored. His goodness is never sufficiently celebrated. The song of the blessed (Rev. 7 [5]) praises none but Him, who redeemed them with His blood. It contains not a word of praise for any one of their own number; not a word that classes them into eminent and not eminent. All distinctions are lost in the common title of the redeemed, which is the happiness and glory of their whole body. Let us strive to bring our hearts into unison with that song, in which we hope that our feeble voice will one day mingle — this will be our happiness even here below — and contribute to God's glory, which is wronged by the mutual praise that Christians too often bestow on each other. We cannot have two mouths, one for God's praise, and one for man's. May we then do now what the seraphim do above, who with two wings cover their face, as a token of their confusion before the holy presence of the Lord; with two their feet, as if to hide their steps from themselves and from others; and with the remaining two fly to execute their Lord's will; while they cry one to another, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory."

Excuse these few words of exhortation, which I am sure will, sooner or later, become useful to you by becoming a part of your own experience. Remember me in your prayers, as I pray that the blessing of the Lord may rest on you and your labours. If ever you print a second edition, as I hope you will, strike out, if you please, the two passages to which I have drawn your attention, and call me simply a brother, and a minister in the Lord. This is honour enough, and needs no addition.
Your Friend and Brother,
A. Rochat,
Minister of the Gospel.

now a record of mistakes!
This letter was copied from a tract from Bible Truth Publishers, and may still be available from them. Thanks to their publication, (and possibly others) its words are still in existence, it is nowhere found in Darby's Collected Writings, Letters, or his writings in the public prints.

Later found under the title: "A Weighty Word on the 'Praise of Men.'" in 'Words of Faith' 3 (1884), p. 130-133. ("Written May 22nd., 1847 by J.N.D.)"
Also found published in "Our Record", editor: Donald Ross, Vol 1. pp. 19-21, 1888, unattributed but with J.N.Darby pencilled beneath it.