Answer to a "Letter to the Brethren and Sisters who meet for communion in Ebrington Street."

J. N. Darby.

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I confess I have been greatly relieved by the publication of the letter. I did dread it. My heart and head are alike weary of controversy, and I know sufficiently well one's liability, in the rapidity of reply, to express one's feelings when we ought not, and to give a handle for a controversialist to lay hold of, that I felt a dread of being plunged anew into a labyrinth of reasoning. The appearance of the letter has relieved me. I have been surprised, after all I heard of the spirit of the tract, that so little could be laid hold of: and as to the argument (save a mistaken reference to Gesenius, which I will notice in its place) it is absolutely untouched. My reply, then, will be happily very short. There is only one really important subject which induces me to take notice of the letter, but I shall just use the occasion which this affords to notice rapidly the objections made, without of course re-arguing the subject. The attentive reader will see that the sixty-three pages of the letter leave the substance of my statements in the "Examination" where they were.

As to the expressions complained of, I should regret, of course, and I blame myself for, anything that was merely personal, however we may be liable to it in controversy. Speaking of things as they are, though it may give pain, cannot be objected to in the same way. Thus, "travelling by an intellectual road" may be considered personal. I can only say as to it, that it was pointed out to me by a brother during the correction for the press, and I went to have it taken out, but it was too late, as it had all been struck off. I can only express my regret now, that it is there, and that my attention was not drawn to it in time. I will add here, that in getting help in correcting the press, or preparing the MS for it, I have taken out any expression supposed to be objectionable by those who read it over. As to "sophisms," I really think the complaint (though I am sorry it gives pain) an unreasonable one. I think there are sophisms in the book. I write to examine the book, and shew where I think it wrong. If I meet what is really a sophism, what can I call it but a sophism?*

{*Though, after all, the "Examination" does not state the author to be "guilty of sophisms" as a general charge at all. After shewing the fallacy of a certain train of reasoning, I have said (p. 7), "This is a very common sophism, to involve," etc. The author had put a dilemma as containing the only two cases possible, and proceeded to reason on it to his own and his reader's satisfaction; whereas the allegation of his opponent is that there is a third case: And, having explained this, I have said, this is a common sophism.}

322 As to "teaching doctrines which have 'the very worst moral effect on the saints,'" I state (page 6), I believe the identification of the church and the kingdom to be of the very worst moral effect to the saint. This is no general charge of teaching doctrines, as the author has stated it. I have stated my conviction that a given principle or doctrine has this effect. I think so still. Every saint must weigh this before the Lord; that is, whether this given principle is, or is not, evil, as I believe it. They will judge also whether the reasonings of Mr. N. do so identify them. But saying that a given specific principle has a bad effect cannot be charged as personal. Nor is it in the smallest way equivalent to a charge of "teaching doctrines."

As to "altering received translations," the fact cannot be denied. It is the constant habitual practice of the author. That which is objected to is the statement that the object is not avowed. Again I have stated this in a given case (page 13). "There is another, and yet more important object in this translation, which is not avowed either." It is the statement of a specific fact in the book. Indeed, though the fact itself is unquestionable, I cannot even find* the expression "altering received translations." I have reasoned, and I think very justly, on a given case of what is undoubtedly a common practice of the author. As to "silently confounding things that differ," it is again a statement of a fact made into a general charge. I have stated (page 10) that the author silently converts "make" into "formed" and "prepared." And so he does, and very unwarrantably in my judgment. The only expression else which may be fairly judged objectionable is "eke out." My argument is perfectly just. But, as the word is more than a statement of the fact, I do not defend it; though I really do not see anything very malicious in it. However I do not justify it.

{*It may of course have escaped me. Mr. N. gives no references in all this.}

323 I am sorry to have detained my reader on these points. I owed it to the Lord, and to others, and, in two of the expressions, to the author of the "Thoughts," to clear them up, or express my regret that they remained. I did what I could to get rid of one, the other escaped me. But now to the matter. The author charges me with having misrepresented him. Here there is no mistake as to the broad generality of his accusations. I pass them over entirely, every one will judge of their justice, save to say that I rise up from the perusal of his answer with the full conviction that I have not misrepresented him at all.

His statements here have unequivocally confirmed the judgment I had formed of his statements in the "Thoughts."

Silence respecting the truth in question is not denied,* though it is implied (page 5) that there is evidence that it was remembered. Positive statements as to the author's views will be found in the course of the "Examination." I confine myself here to the statements in the "Letter."

{*See page 4.}

We read (page 5), "There is perhaps no distinction more important to be preserved in our thoughts, than that between the heavenly relation of Christ to the church as a whole, and His relation to it as a gathered and ordered body upon earth." Now, if this latter phrase means anything, it means the relation of which the author does intend to treat in his remarks on the Apocalypse; and this is contrasted with "the heavenly relation of Christ to the church as a whole." Now, it is perfectly certain, that, by "the church as a whole," as "seated in heavenly places in Him risen," Mr. N. means all the saints from the commencement of the world to the end of time. Be this system true or false, no one can question that this is his meaning of "the church as a whole." He distinguishes elsewhere the "parts" of this, the church of the firstborn, and the like (the 'Israel of God' being an equivalent for the whole body). This whole he recognises as seated in heavenly places in Him risen. Of course the individual members of this body on earth, during the present dispensation, could not be excluded from this common portion.

But then all that can be spoken of the one body can be equally predicated of Abel, Abraham, David, the millennial saints, as much as of those now on earth.* It has nothing peculiarly to do with any present unity of the body.

{*I do not suppose any one will deny what I here state. Indeed it is impossible to do so if the writings and teaching of the author have been really examined. But if any one for convenience desire a short synoptical statement of it, he will find it in the sixth part of "A Christian Manual," by W. Morris, p. 19.}

324 But, as regards what the author calls "His relation to it [the church] as a gathered and ordered body on the earth," this, as the subsequent expressions of page 5 demonstrate, is found in Christ s relation to the churches. Christ's relation to the church as a gathered body on the earth, in this dispensation, is His relation to the churches; and that is all. All unity of the body by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven is set aside in this letter more unequivocally than ever. The author does not deny the unchangeable and eternal blessedness of all saints, from the beginning to the end of time, in heavenly places in Christ risen. But he does make His relation to the church as a body gathered on earth His relation to the churches.

His excellent relation to such a body (that is, to the church as a body chosen out of the nations, separated to God) is His relation to the churches. And hence, where he insists on having spoken of union with Him in glory, it is not "its," the church's union, but "their," the churches' union. He does not treat of His relation to the church in heaven, but He treats of the churches in the earth.* (page 7). And is there then no church on the earth? - a church, one as a body down here, in virtue of the presence of the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven? I repeat, therefore, that every statement I made, and, which is much more important, the real meaning of the author, is fully and unequivocally confirmed and established beyond all question, to any intelligent Christian, by the statement of the letter. The churches belonging to the sanctuary as their proper sphere: but the unity of a body in earth, by the presence of the Holy Ghost acting by joints and bands according to the measure of every part, from the Head Christ, is entirely set aside. He assumes the doctrine of the Ephesians as to the whole church; and he treats the doctrine of the churches as His relation to the gathered body on the earth. I repeat, No intelligent saint can mistake the unequivocal setting aside of the unity of the church upon earth, sitting in its Head in heavenly places. I repeat - what I have said in the "Examination" - the author is simply setting up the system of independent churches, and setting aside the unity of the body on earth in this dispensation. My expressions may be laid hold of; but there can be no mistake as to the author's meaning.

{*The italics are the author's.}

325 And he has practically taken his position in this letter on this principle. "I value the relation in which I stand to you as one of your teachers." That the author has been teaching in Ebrington Street, no one, of course, questions. Nor do I now enquire the least as to the value or otherwise of his teaching. But he stands in relation to them as one of their teachers, i.e., a teacher is not a joint in the body according to Ephesians 4 or 1 Corinthians 14, but a relationship to a particular set of saints. I am not here calling in question the existence of teachers in the church of God. I recognise them fully. But I find them in scripture in relationship to the body, one by the presence of the Holy Ghost on earth, and not to be a relationship with any given body of located saints, though they may happen to be located with them. I know that dissenters thus act on the principle of a given body having its members, and having their teacher or teachers. But in Scripture I find the teachers in the body of Christ, and members of the body of Christ. It is not my business now to discuss this with dissenting brethren; I am only getting at the fact.

Now as to Psalm 110.* First, as to the translation. If the English reader consult Sir C. Brenton's translation of the Septuagint, he will find that he has translated the Greek, "until I set." If he consult his English Bible he will find it so translated also in every case. So that I have other authorities to prove that what was given by the Lord, and Peter, and Paul was what is given in the English Psalter. The author is merely raising another question on Greek translation, as before in Hebrew, to prove his Hebrew change correct. He changes the translation from the Greek to justify his change of the translation from the Hebrew, and then sanctions this with divine authority. It is given in the New Testament according to the Septuagint translation: and this is rendered by very competent translators, both in the Septuagint and in the New Testament, just as it is in the English Psalter.**

{*I would just correct an immaterial mistake in passing. In saying "Lyra Davidis," I meant Fry's "Lyra Dandis," not Bythner, where the translation would not be found.}

{**And here I must add that Sir C. Brenton and the English translators are perfectly justified. This is the statement of Matthiae (English edition, Kenrich, London, 1837, 501, p. 842), "The aorist in all the moods except the indicative and the participle, is usually expressed in Latin and English by the present." I had examined this before, only not so fully, and did not feel it necessary to enter into this additional critical matter. Matthiae adds, "But … the aorist designates an action transient and considered independently in its completion, but the present a continued and frequently repeated action," etc. This remark will be found of every importance on the question of the use sought to be made of the text - that is, as to what the Greek aorist for "I make" (Heb. 1:13) or the Hebrew for this in Psalm 110:1, means. Because, assuming the remark of Matthiae just, we have revealed authority thus for using the act of setting as a "transient action, considered independently in its completion," and not as "present, continued, and frequently repeated action." Because the inspired New Testament has adopted the Septuagint translation, where the tense used precludes a continuous action, and confines the setting to a transient action, considered independently in its completion. Now, this is the question between the author and myself He says that this verse describes the Lord Jesus as seated … waiting, Jehovah's throne acting for Christ. "There is no characteristic of the present period so essentially distinctive as this." In a word, it is a continuous action characterising a period. But the tense, sanctioned by the use of the Lord and His apostles, precludes this idea. It sanctions that on which I insist - transient action, considered independently in its completion. It is the author, not I, whose question is with the New Testament. He is wrong as to the Greek, as well as in the sense attributed in his reasonings on the Hebrew.}

326 Mr. Tregelles's justification is on a curious basis. He translated it as the English translation till the question was raised, because he was giving "verbal construing, not combined translation." "It does not exclude the full exposition of the words." No, but what we want first is verbal construing. We will reason on the exposition afterwards. The author has changed the translation; of course with some object. That object is to be ascertained from his reasonings, for he has not stated it. Now, that object gives a force to it, as a combined translation, which I have no doubt is wholly wrong. The question is really one of exposition. For, as I have said, in English "till I pay," "till I have paid," "till I shall have paid" may be interchanged in common use. But if the sense was not changed, why change the translation? If the sense be meant to be changed, I am justified in taking the translation, as given by the author, as meaning what he gives as its meaning in his reasonings upon it: and this is what I have done.

327 The question is, Does the verse speak of the acting of Jehovah's throne for Christ during, and so as to be characteristic of, a period? This is what is contended for, and which I deny. Let the reader here remember the last note, and he will see that the Septuagint, and the New Testament alluded to by the author, preclude this idea by the very form of the Greek verb. I do not think - I never said, and I never thought - that setting meant "in process of being placed." My statements are perfectly correct, "He was to sit till this particular act was done" (page 12).* Is that merely till it was in process of being placed? It is the exact proper meaning of the verb, and especially in the form it is in - a meaning which the interpretation of the author entirely overthrows.

{*This is repeated even more than once.}

I may here take up the statement of Mr. Tregelles at the close.* His argument and critical research, which for the most part may be, I dare say, very just (I shall examine it for my own profit independently of this question) is applied to this supposition. "The supposition is brought forward, apparently, that the exposition of these words may be, or must be, "until I shall be setting," or "am setting," and not until "I have set," or "shall have set."["] Against this meaning he directs all his reasonings and criticisms. But then this supposition is all wrong. I had stated the contrary. "He is expecting till something be done." "He was to sit till this particular act was done." Hence all the reasonings of Mr. Tregelles come to nothing as to the argument.

{*I had almost forgotten to acknowledge, that, from stopping before a quotation, as if it had been the end of a phrase, I have given as general an observation which applies only to the passage quoted after it in Gesenius: however, as I referred to the passage accurately, my mistake was easily detected. Here too I would add that Gesenius, in two words, settled for me the question as to Hebrew, which Mr. T. deals with so elaborately. I do not agree with a few things in Mr. T.'s remarks, as being a sound judgment, in the meaning of texts, what he calls combined translation; but I shall always be glad to get his help in Hebrew.}

The only point that would bear is found in certain quotations in page 61, which would tend to shew that the Hebrew word in question might, in certain cases, be used for continuous action. Now, I do not agree with his remarks, specially on "parata," which clearly does not in this case mean continuous action. When the Hebrew word in Psalm 110:1 is used for "setting in array," it is not used for the continuous action of arraying the army; but for the fact of its being put in that position before a city, etc. But I have no need to reason this point now, because the translation sanctioned by inspiration gives it the force of a transient complete action. All the rest of his argument falls with his supposition.

328 The truth is, it is the author that uses it as meaning a process of being placed, though he may consider that process as completed. The first verse of the Psalm, he holds, describes Christ seated and speaks of Jehovah's acting. Now that acting is the process of placing, bringing his enemies together. He exchanges this, page 15, for "collocation." But it is perfectly clear that all his statements speak of a continuous process during a period. I insisted on its being an authoritative act of collocation. The author says it means a completed action; I had said till a particular act was done: so that this was not the question, but whether setting meant a process of preparing or forming which characterised a period or a particular act of authority at a given time. The author made it the former; I asserted it to be the latter. The additional Greek he refers to clearly shews he was wrong. His notion about the action was wrong; and his collected translation, which furnished the ground for it, was worse and more ambiguous that that of Sir C. Brenton and the English translators, which is justified by the remarks of the best grammarians.

The difference is just this, "until I make, or set, thy foes a footstool for thy feet," and "until I shall have made" would both convey that Christ was to sit there till the act was done. But the latter gives, or gives room for, the idea of a continuous process going on of making or setting: for "until I shall have made" certainly tends to convey the idea of a process going on making; "until I make," an interval which elapses till the act of making takes place. Hence the new translation is the worse one of the two, because, while both suppose the thing done, the new conveys an idea which is not in the Hebrew, and which the Greek divinely recognised translation will not bear - an idea which the author has taken up and followed out in his reasonings. To proceed, the author asks, Why then, may I not say that the throne of Jehovah is, throughout this dispensation, acting for Christ, with the view of finally setting His enemies a footstool for His feet? I do not here enquire whether the author may or may not say so; but it is not what he has said. What he has said is, that the first verse of Psalm 110, which speaks of setting Christ's enemies for His footstool, speaks of Jehovah's throne acting for Christ through this dispensation: that is, clearly, that His acting is setting the footstool. For, if the verse speaks of acting, no other acting is spoken of but that. We have in page 21 and the note, a long reasoning that Psalm 110 necessarily implies this continuous acting: "otherwise we must say that, for the last eighteen hundred years, the providence of God had ceased to control Satan," etc.; and then the last clause is applied to congregating the enemies as a footstool. It is all very well now to talk of what it implies, and say "otherwise" so and so. In the "Thoughts" we are told that the first verse spoke of this acting of the throne, and that hence this verse was distinctively characteristic of this dispensation. Now Psalm 110 does no such things. It speaks of a definite "transient action," and not of a continuous one. There is, moreover (I refer to the third division in page 26), nothing about congregating enemies either, any more than forming or preparing the footstool. There is just simply setting or putting His enemies for His footstool.

329 I say then that the author did interpret Psalm 110, which speaks of setting enemies for a footstool, as the actings of Jehovah's throne, during and characteristic of this dispensation: none was so decidedly so. And if Christ's enemies were set for His footstool by the continuous actings of God's throne for Him, God was putting down the foes of Christ during the dispensation. But, further, I have not "assumed" that the author has said so; but that he has not, and complained of him for not doing it, because there was no sense in explaining "setting for a footstool" as the actings of God's throne all through the dispensation, unless it was the acting of the throne as so setting them (this being the only acting of the verse), and that then the statement amounted to putting down these foes. For if setting foes for a footstool signifies the continuous actings of power, it does mean putting them down.

The fact is, the author attributed a meaning to the verse positively which it certainly has not. Now he says it implies it, otherwise God ceased to control, but that it states certain final actings of this kind during a period described in the Revelation. He was wrong. The verse does not state it. It states, or implies, nothing about it. It is not its subject. And, moreover, it speaks of no continuous actions at the close, during a period elsewhere described. The Greek tense used in the divine interpretation of it is not used for continuous actions, but for "an action transient, and considered independently in its completion." And this is all-important to the author's scheme; because it has then nothing to do with the progress of earthly events as he states it.

330 Next, I have not inserted the word "under"; I have used "putting them under His feet* for Him to subdue," as an equivalent to making them His footstool. And it seems to me perfectly unobjectionable. As to the analogy of Psalm 8, the only purpose for which I have cited it is the universal extent given in the New Testament to the word 'all' in that psalm, as explaining the universality attributed to it also, in quoting from Psalm 110: as may be seen in the passage quoted by the author in the note to page 19.

{*Tischendorf and Lachmann, following many of the best MSS, read (Matt. 22), "put thine enemies under thy feet," in place of "thy footstool." Griesbach gives it as a doubtful reading. So that we have very strong authority for saying the Lord Himself used it as equivalent.}

As to the quotation from page 11 of my tract in page 20, the language is not drawn from Psalm 8, and the sentiment does not belong to verse 2 of Psalm 110. And it is so far from being true that I have not distinguished between verses 1 and 2, that I have argued at length (page 30 - the passage the author has just been commenting on), that there must be a considerable interval, such that all that regards the church will have happened between the two; so that the heavenly part of Christ's actings is omitted in the psalm. And this last is in italics, to shew the importance of the events which happen in the interval. And I still judge that "the authority of His power giving them up to be trampled upon by Christ" is not verse 2, but verse I. For this simple reason, that verse 2 speaks of sending the rod of Christ's power out of Zion; verse I speaks of His (God's) setting them for Christ's footstool (that is, of His power giving them up to be trampled on). Further, the question is not whether Jehovah has been acting to bring about Christ's glory; no Christian doubts it.

The question is, What does Psalm 110 mean? Because a particular interpretation of it is used to maintain a system. As to an appreciable interval between the cessation of Jehovah's throne acting for Christ, and Christ acting for Himself, that is not exactly the question. It should be added, for Himself on earth. Because He may be said to be acting for Himself in coming to receive the church; even supposing that be after His assumption of the kingdom: a point I do not contest here. The system to which the author is opposed is, that there may be an interval between Christ's rising from His Father's throne, and His acting on earth in the destruction of Antichrist; in which interval some have supposed the church caught up, and other things. They have never spoken of an interval between Jehovah's acting, and Christ's acting in heavenly places. Now the author is obliged to admit many important events between Christ's rising up, and Antichrist's judgment by His appearing; as will be more fully seen in the succeeding numbers of the "Examination." The church goes up, the harvest takes place, in one place Babylon* is said to be destroyed.

{*In another it is differently represented.}

331 And now mark the principle on which the author bases his assertion. "The scriptures always put these two events (the assumption of power by Christ and His epiphany) in close juxta-position;* and when any two events are thus put in close connection, and the scripture makes no mention of any event transpiring on the earth between, it is a sign that no doctrine or dispensational arrangement can be founded on that interval." It is easy to make rules, of course, which "if true," prove one's case. But apply this rule in two events constantly put into juxta-position, found in the same verse, in the Old Testament prophets, the first and second comings of Christ - so put, that Christ stops in the middle of a verse to apply the half. And there was silence too as to events transpiring on earth. Was there nothing came between the two? All Christianity came in - that mystery which was kept silent from ages and generations. The rule is composed for the occasion, without an attempt at proof, and is an unfounded assertion. Further, the facts used to illustrate it are wrong. The taking the church, it is said, is after His (Christ's) epiphany. Now, the scripture positively states the contrary. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we shall appear with Him. And therefore the taking of the church cannot be after His epiphany - epiphany being used here for appearing. Besides, Antichrist is destroyed by the epiphany of His presence. And the author himself owns that the taking of the church, or harvest, takes place before this.

{*It would have been well to have cited some passage for this, for I am not aware of any. In Daniel 7 there is nothing about His appearing, where the assumption of the kingdom is spoken of. In Luke 19, the other passage chiefly referred to here by the author, the nobleman goes to receive a kingdom, and return. But this is a general statement of what has taken eighteen hundred years.}

332 And if His rising up is the end of the dispensation, and beginning of the new age (see page 11 of "Thoughts"), how comes it that the church is taken up "after this epiphany and at the end of the age"? The end of the age must in that case be after the epiphany. But the end of the age is His rising up from the throne. The rising up therefore is after the epiphany. The author may perhaps here allege he has changed all that here. There is an end of the age in the throne by Christ's rising up; and a visible ending it by the harvest; and an ending it in power by His coming to destroy Antichrist (Christ, for the first time, applying His new power to the nations). This is the author's present statement. It is not found in the "Thoughts." But then this gives a most appreciable interval, and facts between the rising up, or assumption of power by Christ, and His coming to earth in the judgment of Antichrist - nothing less than the whole harvest, by which the dispensation ends itself on earth, and therefore is an event on earth, to say nothing of heaven. So that there is an appreciable interval, by an event mentioned in Scripture as occurring on the earth between His rising up, or assuming power on the cessation of Jehovah's throne acting for Christ (when the dispensation had changed above, and that the new day had commenced there), and Christ acting for Himself, or Christ for the first time applying His new power to the nations,* namely the harvest, the dispensation ending itself on earth, gathering out every tare, and His saints caught up to meet Him.

{*This, note, was the power He had received, power over the nations. "The power received before the Ancient of days." "The sovereignty of the world." "The power of earth." This was therefore its first exercise.}

Surely this last is an important doctrine or dispensational arrangement. We have only to compare pages 22 and 25, and we shall see the statements of page 22 subverted, and in the very point on which the author has opposed the views of others, the intermediate rapture of the church. The "Thoughts" spoke of no interval. The statement of page 11 allows of none. Now in page 22 it is not appreciable. In page 25 it ends in heaven, on earth, and by Christ's acting in His new power for the first time on the nations, and becomes appreciable by that which the views of others said it was appreciable - the rapture of the church. The length of the interval may be discussed afterwards. The principle of interpretation and the statements made are abandoned.* It may fairly then be questioned whether other events may not come in too. In one place the author states the destruction of Babylon by Christ.** Others may see other events which he does not. The age is ended above when it is not ended below, according to the author.

{*If it be alleged that receiving the church is the exercise of the power Christ has assumed, I answer, Receiving the bride is not the exercise of Christ's power over the nations. And, secondly, He does not appear to receive the church It is positively revealed that when He appears, we appear with Him.}

{**See page 298 of the "Thoughts," where this is positively stated. It is quite true that this is stated entirely oppositely elsewhere.}

333 I am far from agreeing with this arrangement of these events. I do not at all admit that Christ visibly concludes the age when He receives the saints, for the reason already mentioned, that when He appears, we appear with Him (chap. 3), that this His epiphany destroys Antichrist (2 Thess. 2), and that He comes at the close of the three years and a half of tribulation as lightning, and then His sign is seen in heaven, and that ends the age. But the distinction and interval between the rising up of Christ from the throne, and His destroying Antichrist on earth, is distinctly admitted. It is to be supposed that something happens. It is admitted the church is caught up.

I will not here reason on Appendix A, as being a subject too long to enter on in such a reply, I only say a word on its principle. "The apostles are always regarded and always addressed as persons standing in acknowledged acceptance before God through the name of Jesus." First, acknowledged acceptance, and acceptance known to themselves, must be distinguished. Such an idea of acceptance as we have in the Beloved never crossed their minds. That God acknowledged them I do not doubt. But so He does constantly the preserved Jewish remnant in the prophets. There is no statement of being accepted through Jesus* during the time of His presence with them, for the simple reason that the work was not yet done. And they had asked nothing yet in His name. The Jewish remnant at the end may not know present acceptance by the joy and witness of the Holy Ghost. No more did the disciples Further, it is not true that they were always addressed as accepted; for the sermon on the mount does not so address them.** This I have examined elsewhere. I do not say that they and the Jewish remnant will be on the same footing exactly. The presence of Jesus must make an evident and important difference But so it did between the disciples and the church, in another way Nor do I say that the precepts of the sermon on the mount are not for us. But I say, on the grounds briefly stated above, that the statements of the author are entirely unfounded Further, if Peter, James, and John, represent "the saved Christian people of the millennial earth," they do not represent the church, for they are in quite a different condition from the church; as what is earthly is different from what is heavenly. And, if in their place of momentary privilege on the mount they represented them, the natural conclusion would be that they represented them in their place of faithfulness before the glory.

{*That is, as a distinctive known principle. If taken otherwise, it is true of all. For the preserved of Israel in the latter day are certainly so accepted, nor can any one be in a different manner.}

{**Some have excepted to the expression "ground of entry," used in the place referred to. Had I said ground of acceptance, or means of salvation, there would be reason. But there is really none. If need be, I am prepared to explain it.}

334 The writer, in page 35, seems entirely to forget that there will be those owning Christ risen, through the ministry of the two witnesses, who yet will have only glory down here in the millennium

The question is, not whether gospel precepts belong to them, but warnings and prophecies found in the gospel.

As to the extracted passages, a few words will suffice.

1. The Lord Jesus has never identified the church and the kingdom. The writer has made the body gathered out by God a kingdom, then identified this with the churches, and so with tares, and field, and all. So that the church, in the spiritual sense of it, is identified, as to Christ's relation to such a body, with the kingdom itself. The author has stated much more than a concurrent course. Nor even so would it be just. For the kingdom does not close when the course of the church is closed. Nor is indeed the oft repeated statement that Christendom is the kingdom a well founded one. The kingdom takes that aspect under given circumstances. The field was the world.

335 As to coming in the power of the kingdom. Christ is clearly not exercising the power of the kingdom when He receives the church. He is Bridegroom. The virgins are gone out to meet Him, and do not await His coming to the place He is to arrive at. Judgment and responsibility are connected with His return, having received the kingdom; the joy of the bride, and the blessing of the wise virgins, with going out to meet Him on the way. It is this part the author quite leaves out And I say, the scripture is express that Christ has not appeared in the power of the kingdom till the church appears with Him. She had gone out to meet Him. The kingdom which Christ had received was over peoples, nations, etc., as Son of man. The first act of this power, the author says very justly, is on Antichrist.

Moreover, the author has not yet proved the identity of the harvest of Revelation 14 and Matthew 13. I do not believe it to be the same thing as a whole at all. And when it is said "seen crowned," seen by whom? Not down here on earth: crowned He may be in heaven before He receives the church; though I see no scriptural connection of date between the facts: but that is not the question. Luke 19 says nothing of His receiving His church, but of judging His servants, and their receiving their reward on His taking possession of the kingdom, shewing that He had only received the grant before. The bridal reception of the church is a distinct thing from this, as Revelation 19 plainly shews. But I exceed my limits.

2. The answer to this is, No one could have such an impression, for I have cited word for word the author's translation and am reasoning on it in the passage quoted. He has given "form" and "prepare" as the sense or meaning of the word.

3. If what follows in the "Examination" be read, the objection will be evident That is said to be distinctly characteristic of the dispensation, none of which has taken place during the first eighteen hundred years.

336 4. The first part I have already answered; as to the latter part, the verses are not confused, but distinguished. I state that ruling in the midst of enemies is the subject of the Psalm, when Jehovah has placed them under His feet. Now this is exactly the precise distinction between verses 1, 2, etc. Jehovah sets Christ's enemies for His footstool, or places them under His feet. And then the Psalm goes on with His ruling in the midst of His enemies. It is perfectly clear and distinct.

5. My answer to this note is very simple. It is precisely the sense the author has attributed to setting which makes the absurdity. I use "make" because the English translation uses it. But the author, while he uses set, does not use it in the meaning of the Greek. He has declared that it means, or that verse I of the Psalm where it is used speaks of, Jehovah's actings all through this dispensation. And I am justified in saying God's actings in the power of His throne are effectual actings. The absurdity does result. I do not agree with the sense the author gives to setting, but I have reasoned on it; for the sense he gives is, not putting or placing, but, the acting of Jehovah's throne all through the dispensation. I am glad he owns the absurdity which results from such a use of it. I only ask page 11 of the "Thoughts" to be read to see if he does not use it so.

6. I have no difficulty at all in the phrases, nor need my reader. Telling someone to sit on a seat till I act, does not state my actings at all. It does speak, if he so sit, of someone expecting till another does a certain act.

7. This has been disposed of, only it is not "setting for His feet," but "for His footstool": and I suppose that means something put under a person's feet.

8. I accept the author's justification of himself. He makes setting the enemies for a footstool preparing the footstool - "the preparation of the footstool." The footstool are those enemies, and he has confounded "preparing" and "putting." I still think his statement most objectionable; but I attach, of course, no meaning to it which he disclaims.

337 9. He has never said there was anything in Hebrew or Greek about forming or preparing; but he has always used the words in this meaning, which is not their meaning at all.

10. I should have made no difficulty had the author stated it as he now proposes; though I suspect a good deal would have to be cleared up when the force of the statement was enquired into.*

{*Note, occupying till I come, or keeping a charge till the appearing of Christ, clearly does not suppose the person on earth till then. Timothy, to whom the last words are addressed, is a proof of it. It does suppose that the appearing will be the judicial manifestation of the results of such conduct. This I believe will be at His appearing.}

11. We get here (after a statement of certain principles and questions, which it is said would sweep away Matthew 24, Revelation, and Acts 3) a warning. Now persons who read Scripture for themselves, and lean on the Lord, are not frightened by this kind of warnings. They may frighten and prejudice simple minds, fearful - justly fearful - of departing from the way of truth. We will examine for such the value of the author's statements and warnings.

All own that these passages are given to the church. The question is, Are they about the church? Now, reader, what do you think is Mr. N.'s opinion about the Revelation? Why, that, during the whole period* of its prophetic part, Christianity and Christians, and I suppose therefore the church, will be withdrawn from the sphere it speaks of. The sphere of their earthly service will be closed, and another testimony will be raised up. Is that Christianity in its proper condition? He may not think the saints are caught up. But he does not himself think that the prophetic period of the Revelation applies to Christianity in its proper condition. Does it belong in any real sense to the church dispensation when Christianity will be gone out of the sphere it speaks of?

{*There may be cited, as an exception to this, the description at the beginning of chapter 17. Of course, chapter 19 to the end is out of question in this entirely. The scene of the dragon in heaven introducing this period, in chapter 12, is also an exception. These two passages serve as introductions to the period mainly spoken of. It may be well to add, to avoid all cavil, that, though the author places the sixth seal at the very close of Antichrist's reign, immediately preceding the manifestation of the Lord in glory, so that some of the preceding seals must be during his reign, he does not actually state when they are. But the observation in the text applies to the whole body of the book.}

338 It is better not to give way to indignation, righteous or unrighteous: so I leave the warning, and turn to Acts 3. The apostle Peter, speaking to unconverted Jews, says, "Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed." Now, this address happened in the period of the church dispensation, and, in that sense, belonged to it. But, in the church dispensation spiritually and morally and really, are unconverted Jews the seed of Abraham in whom all the kindreds of the earth are to be blessed? Whom does Paul call the seed of Abraham in whom the nations are to be blessed? "He saith not to seeds as of many, but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ."

Again, the apostle adds, "Unto you first, God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities." Compare Romans 11, where you will find the elect remnant to be the church work and all Israel is to be saved, in turning them from ungodliness, when the Deliverer comes out of Zion. Well, then, the expression is not mine; but I see nothing but what is really intelligence of God's mind in saying that Peter was not doing church work. I do not insist on the expression; but to know how to discern what Peter was there doing from proper church work, I believe to be spiritual intelligence, and not to see the difference, to be want of discernment.

As to Matthew 24 it would be useless to discuss it here. It has been discussed, and I suppose will be discussed. I have noticed it in the "Examination." As to Revelation then, the author of the "Thoughts" sweeps it away too. As to Acts 3, it is about the nation; and I suppose the nation is not the church, nor known in the church.

12. As to quoting from another chapter; I have surely used all the means to gather up Mr N.'s statements on the same point, so as not to mistake his meaning. They are very likely from another chapter. What then? Mr. N. was not describing the blessings of the church; but he was describing the characteristics of the period he calls the church dispensation - "of the period in which they (the saints) live." And he confessedly alludes to nothing belonging to the church, as characteristic of it. That is what I complain of; and it is not denied.

339 Further, he does not say that "the session of Christ upon the throne of Jehovah" is the most important characteristic of the period in which the saints live - of the church dispensation. He says, Jehovah's acting for Him while He is there, is. That is, secret providential government is the most important characteristic of the present period.

13, 14, 15, 16. The author's statement (page 11 of the "Thoughts") was that our dispensation ends, and the new age begins, as soon as Psalm 110 ceased to apply, when Christ rose up from the Father's throne. Now, it is only a dawn which ends night but is not day. There is thus an interval or period - a period, blessed be God, of the day star given to us. But in chapter 15 it is confessed that this age belongs to "this world." Now, if it does, it clearly cannot have finished while Antichrist reigns, because the new age will be the age of Messiah or the Son of man. While Antichrist reigns, it will not be that age. The power He may use to introduce it is not the age introduced. If this age belongs to this world - means a state of things and course of the world down here, as it most surely does - it cannot begin in heaven; though the power that introduces it may be set up there. An age, as here used, is a course of events down here on earth, characterised by a certain principle. Now, till Antichrist is destroyed, the world goes on on the old evil principle, and not on the new. If God had been pleased to have a thousand years go on in preparing the power in heaven, which introduced the age, the age would have continued till the power was exercised. Now, "the first act" of this new power on the nations is destroying Antichrist. And, indeed, all about the harvest and Christendom elsewhere is the mere imagination of the author. The attempt to make three beginnings of the age, and three endings, one in heaven, one on earth, and another in Antichrist, is merely seeking to get rid of a plain contradiction flowing from the plain statement in the "Thoughts." An age which is an earthly thing, as the author does not deny, does not end three times over, once in heaven, and twice on earth. Christianity's continuing is another question.

340 That the church remains to the harvest, I suppose nobody ever denied. But those who admit that the church so remains do not believe the author's geographical scheme about that harvest, nor that tares cease to be tares because they are ripe and fit for burning. And how carefully the author leaves out that the tares are gathered first in bundles ! His whole scheme is unproved. Nor can I conceive anything more absurd than this harvest of Christendom, all finished by the appearing of Christ, before He appears like lightning. It is said, "then shall they see": and it is said, "when he shall appear, then shall ye also appear." It is very easy to talk about the power of the new age. Scripture does not speak so. How is the order of the old age overthrown moral, and outward, when Antichrist is ruling in his glory? I say that the harvest belongs to the old age, because the word of God says so. It is the end of it - a period in which several things are done. It is not the end of the new age, I suppose. The harvest, moreover, is reaped on earth. It is, therefore, the end of that age on earth. And I suppose the new is not begun on earth, when the Scripture speaks of the end of the old. All this reasoning of the author about the age ending in heaven, and "power of the new age," is a vain effort against the plain word of Scripture - "The harvest is the end of the age."

17. The question is, Do the seventy weeks as a period form part of the new age or the old? I suppose the new age does not come in (and here all is on earth) till transgression is finished, and God's wrath and indignation on His people are over. Now this does not close but with the close of Antichrist. He shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished. Is God's indignation the new age? Jerusalem is desolate till that determined be poured on the desolator - desolate by God's judgment. Is that the new age?

18. Christ's actings against the nations are out of Zion: but He has not His throne there while Antichrist has, I suppose. Antichrist is destroyed by Christ's appearing from heaven, not from His throne in Jerusalem. That appearing closes the trouble and the age, and commences the new on earth, because thereon God's power, Christ's power, is set up there, though it have not yet accomplished all. The author is wrong in all his statements in this part of his remarks, unless the admitted fact that the church is here till harvest.

341 19. I reject entirely the statement, that Christ's kingdom means professing Christians. The Jews who reject Him are dealt with in His kingdom. The field is the world. Nor do I the least admit that gathering out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them that do iniquity, means judging professors. Christendom is not the kingdom of heaven. The apostle's comment on Psalm 110 is, "He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet." Whatever is called enemy is to be put down, and comes into Psalm 110 - death even. And I have again to repeat, that it is not by a rod going out of Zion that the Antichristian enemies are destroyed, but by the Lord coming like lightning, His sign being seen in heaven - by His appearing - by the brightness or epiphany of His coming. I have not overlooked the distinction, but I am thoroughly convinced that it is all entirely wrong. Zechariah 12 does not speak of Antichrist, nor do I believe there is anywhere any proof of Antichrist's besieging Jerusalem.

20. Of course the resurrection of imperial power is a figure, so that the note is all beside the mark. The head wounded, or slain to death, and healed, and the beast, of whom it is said "is not" and shall ascend, give the form of resurrection in Satan's power to the beast whom he sets on his throne. But, of course, resurrection of power, is not resurrection such as God gives life in. Only it is curious enough the author (page 287 of the "Thoughts") says, "some have thought from this passage that Antichrist will be a person restored to life from the invisible world, but about this I would express no opinion."

As to the author's proofs that the Assyrian and Antichrist are one. I have no quarrel with anyone for such an opinion; I think it a mistake for many reasons; but his proofs are null. The comparison of Daniel 9 and Isaiah 10 shews that a consummation is decreed of God: Antichrist and the Assyrian may be found in this decreed time, but that is the very utmost to be deduced from it. That I believe at any rate to be the case. But the Assyrian, as such, deals with Jerusalem owned of God; Antichrist with it disowned in the times of the Gentiles (though the Assyrian power may have been, and I believe will have been, on the scene before it is owned) - I should apprehend as "king of the north." On all this, however, I am ready for all enquiry, and glad to hear anyone. The comparison of Isaiah 14:4-25, proves absolutely nothing.

342 I had nearly forgotten, in consequence of its being in a note, what is contained in that at the foot of page 9. I have only to repeat, on reviewing the author's statements, my conviction of the substantial justice and importance of what I have said. My conviction of the import and bearing of pages 14, 15 of the "Thoughts" is not weakened at all after reading his letter, and re-reading them. "Giving," or "having given," does not in the smallest degree affect the question to my mind. What the author makes of the church, as a body chosen out of the nations and separated to God, is a kingdom. He has misstated the force of the passage; but for this I refer to the "Examination." It is of "this kingdom" he is speaking, when he talks of "having given life to qualify it for agency." I have used giving life in the abstract. It is quite immaterial when I ask, Is that the idea I am to have of the church? That is what the author says he has made it. Scripture indeed says no such thing at all, of which I beg the reader to take notice. But is this the idea I am to have of the church? It is the idea the author gives of it. In the subsequent paragraph of page 15, of the "Thoughts," the excellent relation to such a body is spoken of as accomplished in Christ's relation to the churches. Maintaining the church in its right relation to God is spoken of. What Christ has made it is declared a kingdom, etc., to God and His Father. And this His (Christ's) excellent relation to such a body is found in His relation to the churches. As to the words, the truth is, it is not life-giving union which is spoken of as accomplished in relation to the churches, nor which is the subject of discussion in the pages commented, on but Christ's excellent relation to such a body; and "as we have seen" plainly shews this, because this topic had been fully and clearly set forth two pages before (page 34), and "His excellent relation to such a body" is the topic actually in hand at the close of page 35, and again two or three lines lower down in this same page (36). If there had not been the words "as we have seen," the author might with some show of reason have fallen into the mistake: but "as we have seen" plainly refers to the preceding discussion, all of which turns on the one leading idea of Christ's relation to the body. All I have brought life-giving union in for, is to shew that, even when the author speaks of this, it does not make him rise higher than a kingdom, the churches, and a governed body. And such is the fact here. He has given that which is a kingdom, life to qualify it for agency. This is what all is reduced to here. "Union with Him in glory" may be introduced; but there is no thought of the body of Christ - the present union of the body, as one body, with Him. Even when owning union with Him the thought of Christ's body is shut out. The church is a kingdom.