The Old Testament

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J. N. Darby.

(Notes and Comments Vol. 2.)

The fullest moral teaching of the Old Testament has a peculiar character natural to the character of the then relationship to God, but in that goes most pure and deep, indeed I think has it more fully and deeply than the New - it is that of responsibility, but going to entire integrity and purity of heart. In the New Testament we get far more grace and fruits of love, no doubt the other is supposed or laid as a subjective ground, and out of which divine fruit is to grow, as Christ who was in nature and person holy - was the winning display of love and grace among men; the Holy One came down, He was holy, He lived in grace (of course not ceasing to be holy, I need not say) so holy that He could be in love without stint in the midst of all, and thus go down to the vilest. But the Old Testament looking from Adam upward was to enquire how man could draw near, not the display of God to man in man; I think in the Sermon on the Mount, with the exception of merciful which God showed Himself - and the opposite is hard selfishness and cruelty - it will be found that Old Testament principles in this are pursued to their full inward power, only, I think, with more calmness as became Christ, not so much in requirement and exercise of heart, as in the Psalms, as a model and perfect expression of what it is in its blessedness. The government of God with the Christian applies itself fully to this subjective state, and it is (as it was perfectly so in Christ) that subjective condition in which, as in unhindered communion with God, the other flows forth from Him whom I know in love; see, for example, Colossians 3:12-14. This is the natural consequence of the distinction of position - the Old Testament was the new life of a sinner with whom the question was "How shall I come to God?"; the Christian is come to God, and is of God then in the world.

Of Cyprian's treatise on unity I have not much to say. It is all declamation, and that is all. Whether Novatian was wrong is a question on which historical facts must be known and judged by Scripture. But Cyprian tells us nothing. There is a good lot of false doctrine as far as it goes, and the visible Church is all episcopal unity - the ark and no safety out of it; that is all, so he says. But there is nothing grave and serious in it; he had his idea, and quotes Scripture and Old Testament as the fathers do.