J. N. Darby.
(Notes and Comments Vol. 2.)
It has been the profoundest joy to me that the truth giving the scope and true character of Christianity, and the special truths which compose it, learned from Scripture because it was there and was the truth about man, and the truth as to God and His ways, learned for its own sake in grace, has met every part of the system, infidel and erroneous, which has sprung up in these last days. How it shows, and makes one feel it was divine teaching! May one be kept simply there. 1878.
If I open the Old Testament anywhere - the Gospels, the Epistles - what different atmospheres I find myself in at once. In the old - ways - dealings - government - man, though man and the world governed by God - piety no doubt, but piety in that scene; and even in the Gospels and Epistles the difference is quite as great - in certain respects, more important. In the Epistles (so the Acts) one active to gather - souls devoted to Christ, valuing Him and His work above all - power shown more than in Christ on earth, as He promised - it is gathering, then caring power. I get back, though now in the power of the Holy Ghost and grace in a saving, gathering way, to man, and it soon fails. But in the Gospels I find a Centre where my mind reposes, which is Itself, always Itself, and nothing like It - moves through a discordant scene, attracting to Itself through grace (what no Apostle did or could do) and shining in Its own perfection, unaltered and unalterable in all circumstances. It is the thing about which all service is occupied, as its point of departure, and to which all under divine influence is attracted, for it is God. I was struck with this on the wide Atlantic, my head weary with long storms, on turning to my title - that blessed Book.
It is a blessed thought that Christ will Himself introduce us into the Father's house - into heaven. What an entrance will that be, when He leads us in, the fruit of the travail of His own soul - His own - and glorified according to His worth - and all His heavenly company there! And we await that day.
2 As witnesses of what God is to a sinner, it is evident the Christian should be at peace, and in the consciousness of grace, as well as righteous in his ways, for thus he is, to sinners, an evidence of what God is to sinners, for he was one himself; and he is witness of the efficacy and enjoyment of that grace.
As the Pharisees opposed the intrinsic righteousness of Christ, and the Sadducees the doctrine of His resurrection, so the principle of Pharisaism became anew the great source of public trouble in the Church, and sought to add to, and to legalise the truth which it could not deny, so that Christianity should cease to be grace.
Had the saints of apostolic times waited for the fulfilment of various events, before the coming of the Lord, they must have waited for the dispersion of the Jews, and a whole series of events, of long duration, connected with that dispersion, as well as their bringing back again. It would have come in as an historical event, in a series, not as a living expectation; but they were the Church - not Jews - and the Lord was precious to them.
Promises, precious promises there are for the wilderness way, and indeed the glory at the end, but properly for the way. But without promises we know God in redemption - rejoice in what He is, through what He has done, "We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have received the reconciliation."
This is perfect blessedness, not what He has given, but what He is; this was the ground of the Syro-Phoenician woman - He would have had to deny Himself. We get not at promises, but at God Himself, and that by what is manifested and wrought in Christ. Promises are things given to us, but this is the Giver - this runs all through Christianity in its nature.
Christ is perfect enough to be always good; and as absolutely and infinitely perfect, is always absolutely and infinitely good.
3 I think the fact, that we have no Psalms in the New Testament, but a direction to sing them, is very significative of the presence of the Holy Ghost. The Church sings its own - has its own joys, and its own relationships.
Note that the angels, not sang, but shouted for joy at the Creation; then at the birth of Jesus, not then man; and in Revelation 5 the saints praise, the angels celebrating the Lamb outside.
I have noticed incidentally, but not sufficiently, that the sealing is connected with the Gospel of our salvation; this makes what has perplexed many pretty clear. It is when the Gospel of simple salvation is received that we are sealed - so indeed with Cornelius; Acts 10.
I apprehend that practically, the sealing of the Spirit connects itself, in Ephesians 1, with the calling, i.e., stamps us and marks us out, and consciously so, for it; while, as earnest, it is connected with the inheritance. The anointing would connect itself with verses 17, 18.