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

J. N. Darby.

<08003E> 344


As to the three propositions by which Mr. Newton assumes the position of guarding the truth, and the faith of the saints (insinuating at the same time that others have departed from it, or placed it in jeopardy), as far as they are exact, they merely contain a truth which nobody ever doubted, nor called in question, nor even put in jeopardy, unless it were Mr. N. himself; namely, that all the saints will be finally in the resurrection likeness of the Lord Jesus the last Adam. But, beyond this general truth founded on the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, held much more clearly and exactly than it is stated here, all, I say, beyond it, in these propositions, like all human articles, and specially the statements so constantly rashly hazarded by the author, is unscriptural and incorrect.

As to the first proposition, if the author simply means that, in the counsels of God, all the redeemed will partake of Christ's likeness in resurrection in an unearthly state, it is quite true. But if he means, in the very vague expression "resurrection as known in Christ," that there could be no resurrection but to an incorruptible state like Christ in glory, then he is quite wrong. Of this Lazarus is the proof. At his grave Christ stated that He was the resurrection and the life, and yet Lazarus was raised to an earthly life. Again, if the expression unearthly life means anything, and therefore if it be taken as an absolute proposition, the author is quite wrong. Unearthly life is an unscriptural and an almost unintelligible expression. The first man was of the earth earthy, and we are earthy like him; but unearthly life is not a scriptural thought. The second Man is the Lord from heaven, and we shall bear His image in resurrection. If the proposition means that resurrection bodies are not to be corruptible bodies, I suppose the faith of the saints is not likely to be in much danger as to this. If it means more, the case of Lazarus proves it false.

Next, that regeneration is in virtue of union with Him in death and resurrection - this, I should think, while it sounds like guarding important truths, is just nonsense. Are we in union with Christ in death and resurrection before we are regenerate? If not, regeneration cannot be in virtue of it. That, Christ having died and risen again for all the redeemed family, they are viewed in the counsels of God as dead and risen again in Him, and, when regenerate, being really in Him, we are personally viewed spiritually as so dead and risen in Him, is true. But being regenerate in virtue of union has no sense at all.* As to the third proposition, it calls for no particular remark. It is a confused statement of a plain truth. If it be meant in general the power of His life in resurrection, so that they will be ultimately conformed to His image, it is an undoubted truth: but, as to knowledge and present fact, it is quite clear that it did not in knowledge in the Old Testament saints, save in a very obscure way, though there are glimpses of it then; and, in fact, it clearly will not be in possession of the saints on earth during the millennium. On the whole, these three propositions, or articles, aim at a common elementary truth, held, I suppose, by every saint, namely, that all the redeemed will be conformed in resurrection to the image of the Second Adam: but it states it in such a way as in some respects to make nonsense or error of it.

{*See note at the end.}

345 We have, further, in reasoning on a plain common truth - that the life of all the redeemed is life communicated from Christ and the same life, reasoning as if some saints denied it and the author were maintaining and contending for the truth-this extraordinary statement (page 14): "I cannot however see why there should be difficulty in receiving this; that He who was the Word of Life, created the new man in every saint, and endowed it with life," etc. Now, while the truth reasoned on is one believed, I apprehend, without any difficulty at all by all saints, I would ask, What does it become in the hands of the author? or what does he mean by creating the new man and endowing it with life? Is there a lifeless new man created like Adam's body from the dust and then endowed with life? or what is the doctrine meant to be conveyed here? for the words are plain enough.

My reply to this second letter will be comparatively short, because I shall merely take up what is needful on important points, and not enter into an endless controversy on details. And, first, as to the main subject of controversy in the first number, the author in this second letter gives up the whole point. All he has drawn from Matthiae is fully admitted, but is nothing to the purpose.

346 The remark, "the subjunctive aorist could not be rendered as though it were the present - and this is all I contend for," etc., is a curious one enough. The question is whether it can be rendered by the present, which is what Matthiae (English translation) says it is in English. The subjunctive aorist is rendered as though it were the subjunctive aorist, but in English by the present, which is what the author objected to. He has translated many examples given by that grammarian to shew that the aorist is a completed action. This is admitted and is not the point in discussion. We are all agreed on that, as I shewed in my former reply in answer to Mr. Tregelles's letter. The question is, Does the Greek aorist, as Matthiae states, describe a transient action completed, or a continuous acting so that the Greek for "until I make" (Heb. 1:13) should describe and characterise a period? That is the question. Because Psalm 110:1 was quoted as characteristic of the present period - nothing so much so as that which it spoke of - in order to connect the actings spoken of in the Revelation with that period (that is, with the present dispensation). My reply was, that there were no actings characterising a period spoken of in the passage, but Christ called up to sit until Jehovah should have done* a certain act. And that the act which the psalm spoke of was not characteristic of a period at all, but one isolated or transient act of authority at the close, spoken of as completed no doubt, but not characterising a period.

{*My words were (p. 15), "He is expecting till something be done and again (p. 16), "till the next thing is done," etc. This shews plainly that I treated it as a completed action.}

Now at the close of his second letter, the author, admitting the principle of Matthiae, states, "I have no objection, therefore, if it be deemed advisable, to express the idea of rapidity in the translation of the passage, and to say, 'until I shall, as in a moment, have set thy foes a footstool for thy feet.'" Now that settles the whole question: because in that case it cannot characterise a dispensation or a period. It is in vain to say, "I have not said that all this dispensation is employed in setting the footstool." No, but the author has said that the verse (which speaks of no other actings whatever but setting the footstool) speaks of the actings of Jehovah's throne for Christ, and that no characteristic of the present period is so essentially distinctive as this; so that this acting (that is, setting the footstool) characterises the period. Now he is obliged to admit that it is not so. He translates, "until I shall, as in a moment, have set," etc. Now if Christ sits at Jehovah's right hand until Jehovah shall have done something as in a moment, it is clear that sudden act in a moment does not characterise all the present period during which He is waiting till it be done.

347 The meaning and bearing of the whole verse on the question is given up; for it is admitted that there is no acting spoken of in the verse but what is done as in a moment. But this is the grand basis of argument* on which the author builds, and by which he explains and characterises both the dispensation and the book of Revelation itself with which he is occupied.

{*This is the author's way of stating the verse: "Jehovah said unto Him, Sit thou at my right hand until I shall have set thy foes a footstool for thy feet." This is his comment on it: "It describes the Lord Jesus as seated for a season on the throne of Jehovah, waiting - and speaks of the power of the throne as acting on His- behalf - Jehovah's throne acting for Christ. There is no characteristic of the present period so essentially distinctive as this. As soon as this verse ceases to apply … our dispensation ends and the new age begins." Now, Christ's waiting is stated in these words: "Sit thou at my right hand until," etc. Now, reader, take the verse and see in what words it "speaks," in the remainder of it, of the power of the throne as acting for Christ. Is there anything at all else but setting foes for a footstool? What is it then that is characteristic of the present period?

Now compare the new translation: "Sit thou at my right hand until I shall, as in a moment, have set thy foes a footstool for thy feet." Is the acting here characteristic of the dispensation; or of a momentary act of authority, which places the enemies under Christ's feet at the close?}

And, be it remarked that, the question is not whether Jehovah acts for Christ on the throne: nobody doubts he does; but whether Psalm 110:1 speaks of actings characteristic of the period. And this is the whole matter, because thereon the author uses the verse to define the time of Christ's quitting the throne, and to prove that the contents of the Revelation precede His quitting it - the actings there corresponding to those of Psalm 110. But the subsequent observations of the author put beyond all doubt that the "setting" is the prolonged acting which characterised the dispensation, if the dispensation be not all employed in it; because, in guarding against the idea that the aorist always supposes rapidity, and stating that it directs our attention to the termination of an action, the whole being summed up in its completion, it is quite certain that all this applies to the Greek in Hebrews 1:13. That is, he is discussing whether the word "set" may or may not be applied to a lengthened period, though referring to the termination of it - in a word, to setting characterising the period, as "keep," in John 17, though viewed in its termination.

348 Indeed, all the author's statements here are wrong still. The aorist has nothing to do with rapidity,* or want of rapidity. The thing spoken of may have been prolonged and have had no movement implied in it (as "keep" in John 17:11, or the different word used in Luke 4:10). But, as Green observes in the first paragraph of the very rule cited by the author, "in the aorist the idea of duration is excluded." Now this is the point, because it cannot be used to characterise a period in that case. But the truth is, this part of the argument arose from the attempt to bring in the New Testament [nay, even the Lord], as demonstrating that the author had rightly used the text, whereas it proved the contrary. But the interpretation really rests on the force of the words, which speak of one act (completed, as all agree) which closes, and not of an acting which can characterise, a period. And this latter is what the author had attached to it.

{*Matthiae says nothing about rapidity. He uses the words 'instantaneous' and 'transient,' as he elsewhere says "a single point of time complete in itself." The author speaks of rapidity, of even the dispensation itself being always treated as a span, of occupying a space of time inconceivably short. The answer is, Duration, short or long, is not the subject of the tense; nor does the acting spoken of in the verse characterise the period spoken of.}

There is another material point - the unity of the church. Now on this point I have still to repeat that the statement of the author does not remove the difficulty. The author says, speaking of the dependence of the churches on one another as members of one body (page 60), "I have taught it as distinctly as if I had written pages on the subject, where I say that the catholic unity of the body would have been marred and lost, the moment one church had forfeited its place, and had its candlestick removed." "The very thought of the seven candlesticks standing together, and forming one catholic body," etc. We have then here the author's idea of unity. It is a union of churches. And so really of churches, that, if one church had forfeited its place, the catholic unity of the body would have been marred and lost. It was clearly then a body made up of churches. One church gone, catholic unity was gone. Is that the unity of the body of Christ spoken of in Corinthians, Ephesians, and elsewhere? It is perfectly clear now, if it was not before, what the author's views of unity are - independent churches united together. Now this does not in the least degree, nor in principle, present the unity of the body by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. I admit that the author has gone farther in this tract than before in his statement of the unity of the body; but he has distinctly made catholic unity dependent on the churches, and the churches members of the body; and he declares its unity lost the moment one church had forfeited its place. I have admitted that the author has said more as to the unity of the body* - difficult to reconcile with what is said in the same page, it is true, but there it is. I say difficult to reconcile, because the author states first "the unities** as given in Ephesians 4 are unchangeable and unaffected, save as to development, by the failure of the gathered body"; and, secondly, that the catholic unity is lost the moment one church had forfeited its place. But if this contradiction is to be solved, and the author has any definite idea of the unity of the church, it is to be found in page 56. There the author, commenting on my objection to his making the Gentile churches constitute the church in the way he did, and having asked, "Is it St. Paul's statement of the church," answers, "I should think not, because St. Paul speaks of the invisible unity of the church in heaven. I have been speaking of the visible unity of the churches on the earth." So,*** in page 60 this unity of the churches is the catholic unity of the body. In page 22 of the "Thoughts on the Apocalypse" the author is speaking of the saints at Pentecost being builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit, and the church constituted as a visible body on the earth. Jerusalem (page 23) had rejected the testimony of the church. In page 14 we read, "but the church being a body chosen out of the nations, and separated to God"; and then these churches (page 24) constituted the one church of the living God. Here we learn churches were members and constituted the catholic unity of the body. Now "St. Paul speaks of the invisible**** unity of the church in heaven" (and note here that his statements in general are spoken of). Well then, his statements do not apply to the unity of the church on earth as one body in Christ. I can only say now, any such unity of the church is - not silently, but openly, deliberately, and avowedly - dropped into churches. Paul speaks of the invisible unity of the church in heaven; his statements, consequently, are not of the church upon earth. The unity of that was a union and a uniformity of independent churches. And now what is the value of the unities of Ephesians 4, if Paul speaks of invisible unity in the heavens? No doubt that is unchangeable. Or what is the real meaning of the beginning of that paragraph in page 60, if we take into account the positive statement of page 56? What is the one body on earth indwelt in by one Spirit, if Paul speaks of the invisible unity of the church in heaven?

{* See page 60.}

{** If this contradiction be sought to be avoided by saying these are unities in heaven, firstly, I would beg the reader to see if they do not apply to earth too in Ephesians 4; and, secondly, the unity on earth is thereby given up. And what comes of the previous phrase, "on earth we are all one body indwelt in by one Spirit"? Thirdly, he quotes this same Ephesians 4 for the dependence of churches one on another as members of one body, as he does for the unchangeable unities. The truth is, this page is inextricable confusion.}

{***There is then no unity of the church, as the body of Christ, on earth; for invisible unity in heaven, which is Paul's subject, is contrasted with the unity of the churches on earth, which is the author's. But is unity of the church on earth never spoken of as the body of Christ in Scripture?}

{****There is considerable difficulty in citing what the author has said, from the way in which he contradicts himself: so that if you cite from one place, he can prove it is not so by citing the contrary from elsewhere. Here, for example, he states positively that Paul speaks of the invisible unity of the church in heaven. Were I to say that this was his view, he can quote page 22, where he has said it was constituted as a visible body on earth, and referred to Paul's statement of the saints being builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. But then this, we find after all, was not the unity of the body, but metropolitan unity, and the unity on earth is, as stated in the text, that of churches.}

350 And now let me ask a question, Was I really right or wrong in saying that Paul's statements in his epistles were passed over altogether?

351 If Paul speaks of the invisible unity of the church in heaven, and the author of the visible unity of the churches on earth, was not that passing his statements over, and passing them over altogether? I repeat the charge, with the addition that the reason given for his having done so by the author in his second letter is incorrect and unfounded. Paul does not speak merely of invisible unity in heaven. The quotation, in the note of page 22 of the "Thoughts," had nothing to do with the matter. The author is there stating the heavenly standing of the church at Jerusalem, as a particular church like the Gentile churches afterwards, and answering an assumed or supposed statement that the standing of the pentecostal church was not heavenly. Now that had nothing whatever to say to the point I was discussing, which was the union of the church with Christ, and its unity as His body. Now he had passed over all Paul's statements on the point in his epistles. I was not discussing the heavenly character of the church at Jerusalem, nor speaking of Paul's statements as to that, for I know not where he had made any.* The best proof that can be that the author has passed them all over is, that he declares now that his statements were not Paul's, because he was treating a different subject - Paul, unity in heaven; he, visible unity on earth. I have said his reason was incorrect and unfounded. Let us examine this. Does Paul speak of invisible unity in heaven? Were the members of the body in whom the several gifts manifested themselves - the body not one member but many - spoken of in the Corinthians, in heaven, or on earth? The "so also is Christ" - was that in heaven? The joints of supply by which the whole body fitly joined together and compacted makes increase of the body - the gifts till we all come in the unity of the faith (there is one body, but to every one of us is given grace, etc.) - was all this in heaven?** The author has not now passed over - he has totally set aside - the statement of Paul on the subject.

{*And the author really speaks in the quotation merely of individual standing: "They had been quickened," etc.}

{**See also Romans 12.}

I should have a great deal to remark on the paragraph (page 5 of the letter) which follows, but it would require a treatise on the operation of the Spirit connected with the work and exaltation of Christ, and the eternal counsels of God - a subject too important to do justice to here. I would only beg the reader carefully to compare Ephesians 4, based as it is on the whole of what precedes in the epistles, with what is said about "what God did in exalting Christ and the church in Him, and what His servants did in constituting the church on earth," and to see how far the statements of the chapter accord with the contrast here instituted between God exalting Christ and the church in Him, and what His servants did in constituting the church on earth.

352 I suspect that the examination of this passage will do more than most else to throw light on the real question; but, as it is only insinuated, I must leave its ambiguity to the discernment of others, though I do not doubt myself its meaning. Those who may not apprehend it I can only urge to examine whether the allegation of the author (that "St. Paul speaks of the invisible unity of the church in heaven") is borne out by 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4.

The author states, pages 16-19, that differences in dispensation cannot be the occasion of official difference. Such differences cannot depend on a dispensational peculiarity for which the saints themselves are in nowise answerable.* "You will," says the author (page 17), "ever remember that dispensational differences here do, of themselves, make no difference even in official dignity in the world to come."

{*Further on I will touch on the total exclusion of God's sovereignty here.}

In the "Thoughts on the Apocalypse" we read (page 335) "There may perhaps be somewhat of a similar distinction between the new Jerusalem, and the rest of the inhabiters of the new earth. But whatever distinctions of this kind there may be, they must be considered as purely official." It is hardly necessary to remark that the distinction between the new Jerusalem and the other inhabiters of the new earth was dispensational.

The author seems to insist however alike everywhere, that this cannot take place in heaven. But there was a passage in Scripture which, in the plain English Bible, presented a great difficulty in the way of this assertion. It is stated at the close of Hebrews 11 that God has reserved "some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." This the author attempts to get rid of, not exactly by a new translation, but by inverting the plain order of the words, and adding a passage one third as long as the whole verse, which entirely alters the sense; saying that it is an ellipse (which means in English that it has been left out in the sense). But the reader must remark that the insertion entirely changes the sense, and makes an inversion of the words absolutely necessary. It is in fact entirely unwarranted. The sense is perfect, as anyone may see, without what is added. There is no need of inversion, and there is no parenthesis. The English translation is the plain translation of the Greek, and concurred in by such other modern translations as I have access to.

353 Further, every statement of the author is wrong. There is no need of any cognate word. The Greek in Hebrews 11:40, "some better thing," is as plain Greek as can well be, and the added word, problemma, is neither wanted nor suited, and would indeed change the sense. Further, there is no such Greek word, that I can find, as problemma. Blemma there is, but it means "a look," and in the plural "eyes," or "a countenance," or "aspect": what problemma therefore might have meant, had it been Greek, I do not pretend to say.

Next, we are told that the Greek translated "for us" in Hebrews 11:40, is not "for us." Does the author mean that preposition peri does not mean "for" in English, in the sense in which it is used here? If so, it is as unwarrantable an assertion as he could well have made. I beg the reader to take his English Bible and consult the following passages: Luke 22:32; Ephesians 6:18; Luke 4:38; John 16:26; chap. 17:9, 20; 1 Peter 5:7; Philemon 10; Galatians 1:4; Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Hebrews 5:3; Romans 8:3; Hebrews 13:11; 1 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 10:18, 26. In all these cases peri is the Greek word for "for." Those who know Greek have only to consult a lexicon, where the sense is regularly given. It is used in the sense of "for" with persons, and with things. See also Matthiae, section 589, where he states that peri and huper are often interchanged. (Compare Eph. 6:18-19.) * In Wahl this very passage of Hebrews 11 is given as an instance, and the full sense of it stated just as it is given in English. The Greek reader will find in more than one of the passages, as John 17:20-21, the construction as here: peri, touton, hina.

{*This is not the place to discuss any nice shade of difference between huper and peri used in this sense. The fact that peri means "for" as the object of prayer, kind intentions, being interested in, acting in various ways for, sacrifice for, is beyond all controversy. It is unintelligible how the author can hazard the statements he does.}

354 The author is wrong moreover as to aneu and koris. They are used in a general way one for the other. As far as they are distinguished aneu is more than koris. And koris does not forbid the thought of any line of separation being drawn as to personal glory or distinct dignity.

Thus Plato says, Without (koris) fire nothing would become visible, nothing could be touched without (aneu) something firm, nor firm without (aneu) earth.

So both are used in the sense of "except," as may be seen in any good dictionary. Next,* as far as there is any difference, aneu is stronger than koris: aneu signifying entire privation of (Compare 1 Peter 3:1), having nothing to say to, to the exclusion of; koris merely separated from. [Examples from classical authors are aneu kentroio, there was no spurring at all; aneu theon,** without the gods; aneu emethen, "without me" (hence, "without reference to"). Hence it means "far away." On the other hand, keitai koris ho nekros - the dead lies apart, separate. Koris oikeo, I dwell in another place, or apart. So koris athanaton, away from the immortals.] Aneu in its derivation means privation or non-existence; koris, incontestably, separation merely.

{*If we take the usual reading we shall find them used one for another by comparing Philippians 2:14, "without (koris) murmurings," and 1 Peter 4:9, aneu. If we put a comma before aneu in Peter it would be a proof of its stronger use: "Let there be no murmurings."}

{**Compare Matthew 10:29.}

And now as to the particular case. The reader would have only to turn the passages where "without" (koris) is used into negatives, and he would soon find the absurdity of the rule. But I shall not give him the trouble. I shall give him two proofs of its incorrectness: firstly, when the nature of the thing shews what is stated about koris to be impossible; and, secondly, when the nature of the thing admits it, but when its use shews the statement to be quite wrong.

First, "without thy mind," Philemon 14. Here there was no question of line of separation not being drawn. It is just simply he would not act apart from him. Hebrews 7:20, "not without an oath." The nature of the thing allows no question of identity of glory. So Hebrews 9:7, 18, 22, "not without blood."

355 But when the nature of the thing does admit the question to be raised whether there is a difference of personal dignity or official difference, koris used with a negative most certainly does not exclude it.

Thus, John 15:5, "Without me ye can do nothing." Is there no difference of dignity, or official glory, or power, in Christ and His disciples? Romans 10:14: "How shall they hear without a preacher?" Does this (their not hearing without a preacher) prove that no line of separation can be drawn between the preacher and hearer, perhaps even an unconverted hearer?

Again, 1 Corinthians 11:11: "The man is not without the woman in the Lord." Nothing can be stronger than this. Because the apostle had been proving the official superiority of the man over the woman, and then asserts that, still, one was not without the other in the Lord. It is an example directly contradictory of the statement of the author.

Having thus disposed of all the criticisms, we may the more easily consider the text itself (Heb. 11:40), as to the supposition that there must be something joined with the comparative, than which it is better. This is not even necessary: the Greek for "better" is used absolutely, "better things" (Heb. 6:9), "better thing" (Heb. 11:40). But here there is no need for it to be so used, because God has provided some better thing for us (that is, than for them). The sentence is plain, as plain can be, "God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect," Heb. 11:40. If anyone prefer "foreseeing" to "providing," it makes no difference whatever as to the point in hand. If God foresees a better thing as to us, it is clear He has provided it for us. The only question is, Is there such better thing? Now the plain construing of the Greek (take it indeed first or last, parenthesis or not) is, "God having provided (or foreseen) some better thing for us." But the position of the words makes it impossible to introduce the sentence added to the Scripture, in order to make out the point. Because if it be a parenthesis, it is clearly complete, and the words he would introduce with a "than" are introduced in the passage with hina (Greek) for quite a different purpose. In his version they are a mere unwarranted addition to the Scriptures. Nor could problemma in any sense be added without changing the plain sense of the word. The thing foreseen or provided is 'something better.' It is impossible, if the object of the apostle had been to say that God had in His counsels some better thing for us, to have said it more simply: and I scarcely see how he should have said it otherwise with the same perfectness of expression (as doubtless the Spirit's word must be perfect). He did not allow them to receive the promises because He had in His mind, He foresaw, something better for us. And yet the word "because," which I have here used, mars the accuracy; the genitive absolute is much more in place. It was an actual condition of the case rather than a cause. And I have no doubt that "for us" and "without us" so connect the phrase as to make the last phrase dependent on what is said to be a parenthesis.* We have seen (page 354) in an analogous case, John 17:20-21, the same connection of kreitton and hina.**

{*That is, a better thing for us, that they without us.}

{**Apparently this should read 'the same connection of peri and hina.'}

356 But if the English and other translations are right,* we have, by the practical confession of the author in his labour to get rid of it, a positive declaration of Scripture in the teeth of his system. And he has jeoparded all on this; because, if the English translation be right, all that he has denounced as "going far to destroy all sense of personal responsibility," and "touching the value of the work of Christ,"** in a word as subverting Christianity itself, is stated in the words of Scripture.*** Not that I in the least accept his statement of the doctrine he opposes; or his suggestion of what others hold, stated by insinuation, in opposing it as evil - far from it: the greatest part of it is a totally unfounded charge. But I take it as it is stated in the tract (pages 19-21). I thank him for recalling this verse which otherwise might easily have passed from my mind. Besides, if dispensational differences produced no result in the time of glory, why does the Lord say, "because thou hast seen, thou hast believed: blessed are they who have not seen, yet have believed"? Those who see and believe are on another dispensational footing than those who have not seen and believed. And it was not the condition of Thomas merely; for he clearly entered into church privileges. It is a general principle, based on the circumstances which occurred through his temporary unbelief - indicative, I have no doubt, of the difference in the kingdom consequent on faith, before Christ's return and after.****

{*I may add that there is no variation in any English translation (I quote from Bagster's Hexapla), that of Rheims also giving, as is well known, the Vulgate.}

{**See page 19. The reader will do well to pay attention to this passage, because it would certainly "go far" to destroy all title of sovereignty in God. For this reason; that a dispensational peculiarity does depend exclusively on that sovereignty; and this is objected to as producing any difference in result, because it "is something altogether independent of ourselves." I do not doubt God acts by His Spirit in forming for glory according to His purpose; but compare the statement of pages 18, 19, of this second letter, with Matthew 20:21, 23, or the parallel passage, as to the principle advanced. If the blood of Christ necessarily gave the same glory to all, that would be as true for the same dispensation as for different ones, and all must be exactly the same in present glory. But this is not pretended. Hence the value of Christ's blood is not in question at all. If any alleged there would be a difference in justification, or acceptance (perfect, full acceptance, or favour with God), then indeed the blood would be in question. Or, if it were supposed that Abraham, etc., were not with the saints in glory in the heavenly kingdom, this would subvert the truth too. But, while partaking of the glory of God, and likeness to Christ's glorious body, is true of all the redeemed, and while the value of the precious blood of Christ is not touched for any by those whom the author opposes, but estimated, as far as any one dare say so, in all its fulness and all its bearings, though doubtless infinitely below its true and immeasurable preciousness - while, I say, this is untouched by those whom the author and his followers accuse of it, the sovereignty of God the Father, and the connection of the Spirit's work with glory, is seriously affected by the author's teaching.}

{***The question which may perhaps be raised on this text is not at all on its translation, for which there is no sort of pretence, but, whether the "better thing" provided be not down here in the present advantages of the church dispensationally. I prefer mentioning what may be a reasonable doubt in Scripture (for the force of Scripture is a sacred thing) to maintaining an argument successfully by merely disproving the author's reasoning. And therefore, though his reasoning supposes that the verse in its present shape overthrows all his system, as it most surely and entirely does, if it extend beyond present dispensational blessings, which there is very strong ground to believe it does, still I feel I am more we to the sacredness of God's word in saying that there may be some doubt whether it does extend beyond present dispensational difference. As to the author's translation I do not judge it, when examined, worthy of another thought.}

{****So "that we might be to the praise of His glory who first trusted in Christ," literally, "who are pre-trusters"; though this passage could only rightly apply to the saints of this dispensation, on account of its being the perfect tense.}

357 The reader may think that saying this is giving up the difference between Abraham and the Old Testament saints and the church. I have nothing to give up. I believe Abraham had divine life in the fullest and truest sense of the word, and that none could possibly have been saved without it. That he was saved by the blood of the Lamb, as indeed none can be saved without it. That he will partake of the resurrection just as much, and as truly, as we shall. That he will be in the glory of the kingdom, and eternally blessed with Christ, and that we shall sit down there together. Of all this (to which, I doubt not, much detail could be added) I have never had a moment's doubt since I believed through grace. That through grace he is worthy of a far higher place than myself I have no need to say. Further, all the brethren I am aware of believe so too.*

{*The only point which could even give occasion to the allegations of error which have been made is the supposition that there may be in some respect a different form, or circumstance, of glory in the kingdom - what has been called by the author "official." This he believes there may be in the new earth. This, which may be more doubtful because Scripture says so very little about it, still, I am not disposed to dispute; because there are passages which seem to say so, though, for reasons analogous to many of the author's, I feel it much more doubtful on account of Christ's being then (as man) subject as the head of the new family. But how, if he admits official differences in what is eternal, which I doubt (though I do not dispute, nor occupy the saints with, from the rarity of positive scripture testimony as to it) - how, I say, if he admits it in what is eternal, can he charge his brethren as he does because they think a similar official difference possible merely in the kingdom of glory? Though I do not know, after all, any that have any very fixed thought about it. I charge the author with nothing at all here. I suspect that he, and all of us, are sufficiently ignorant, to hinder us, if we are wise, affirming anything very dogmatically about the matter, though it may be a very interesting subject of enquiry. As to the pretension of holding the truth, and guarding the truth, it is a pretension which must be left to those who make and those who believe in it.

Another point occurs to me which may have given rise to this charge: namely, saying that an Old Testament saint could not say, as a then present thing, I am united to a glorified Man in heaven, because there was none there. This I still believe, and that it is important for the saints to remember it.}

358 There is another point it may be well to touch upon. That the mission of Jesus to Israel was God's last dealing with the old, with the special exception I have stated. I think so still, because God has said so; and this dealing was in vain. After He had sent prophets, and they had stoned some and killed some, God said, I have yet one Son: it may be they will reverence My Son when they see Him. But when they saw Him, they said, This is the heir: come let us kill Him; and the inheritance shall be ours. And they caught Him, and killed Him, and cast Him out of the vineyard. And so Jesus, acting prophetically, found a fig-tree, and sought fruit thereon, and found none, and said, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And therefore He said, "Then have I laboured in vain, and spent my strength for nought and in vain (that is, if Israel were God's servant in whom He was to be glorified); yet is my work with the Lord and my judgment with my God," Isaiah 49. I believe that the author has not known how to distinguish responsibility and the purposes of God. I believe that Christ came seeking fruit on Israel and found none - that He was presented to their responsibility. He piped to them and they would not dance.

359 But the reasoning of the author proceeds from his not seeing that, had He been received, it would have proved there was good in man - that man was not in an absolutely lost state, just as his keeping the law would. Whereas his rejecting Christ proved, not only that man's flesh would not keep the law, but that even the goodness of God, and sending Messiah, and sending His Son, and light in the world, and love in the world, their king in the world, yea, God, Himself in power and goodness in the world, would not lead the flesh to repentance. And until this trial was put to it, and (specially as regards the Jews) coming according to promise and prophecy, man was not, in the dealings of God with him, pronounced absolutely and finally bad. "If I had not come and spoken unto them they had not had sin; but now they have no cloke for their sin. If I had not done amongst them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now they have both seen and hated both me and my Father." God never purposed to save by the old man, any more than He expected the law to be kept by the old man. But He did present His Son to man in his former state, and viewed as Israel after the flesh, to shew the hopelessly sinful state of it: and, till He had done this, He did not pronounce upon it as the subject of nothing at all but judgment.*

{*The author states, page 26, that God is always "dealing with the old in the sense of acting on it, with the view of gathering into other and more blessed condition." I should say that God was never doing so. The old can have no lot but death: believers count it so, and do not look for God to act on it. Up to the death of Jesus He was putting man and Israel in the old state to the test to prove its hopeless badness; but He never dealt with the old as acting on it with the view of gathering. For God knew that man in the flesh was hopelessly bad. It was always "anew," John 3:3, from its very outset and origin, a new thing to which blessing could attach; though this was not fully brought out till Christ came, nor even till His resurrection.}

360 Now the testimony starts from this ground that all are entirely lost, the world is convicted of sin, because they have not believed in Christ. There was this difference that Christ was leading on in His own Person to something else, which the law, save in a negative way, did not (though, in that way, it did too; as the prophets by the Spirit of God most surely did, so that all that Christ did was as much stated then as by the Lord Himself); insomuch that, save as to the glory and presence of His Person which presented the thing itself, the difference of the people's condition was not so great in principle. The author, seeing that Christ was leading on, as He surely was, to another thing, supposes He could not have been presented also as a test to the old to prove yet further the absolute need of the new. But in this he is quite wrong.

There is one point more which I feel called upon to explain - earthly things connected with regeneration - which he has afterward cited as if I had said, regeneration was "not necessarily a heavenly thing," "not necessarily more than an earthly thing." What I have said* is merely what has been taught and explained of old - that regeneration is stated to be necessary for the enjoyment of the earthly promises by the Jews in the millennium; which are, I think, contrasted with the heavenly things which are the portion of the church in glory. I have actually referred, moreover, to the vague sense of heavenly, as meaning coming down from heaven, as an exceptional use, and which is not I believe a scriptural use of it, though I have admitted it in my tract, as I know of no one that ever doubted it. And instead of holding that they would not be endowed with heavenly life in the sense of Divine life coming down from heaven, it was a positive assertion that they must. "The Jews," I had said, and the author quotes it, "taking earthly things of God, must be regenerate." And where did anyone ever think regenerate life came from, except from God, and in that, I still think, vague sense, heavenly from above?

{*This part of the author's argument is based on his unscriptural use of the word 'heavenly.' I use it in the sense of condition in which a thing is enjoyed, which is its scriptural use if we except the divine Person of Christ; the author, in that of the source from which it flows. I have said, "that the Divine life came from above I do not doubt," and "unless we use it in the vague sense, that everything from above is heavenly." Most certainly in John 3, the Lord does not use heavenly in the author's sense. The author says, that the Lord so speaks to Nicodemus, because regeneration takes place on earth (p. 9). This I do not believe; while, in the sense of Divine life from above, I have positively stated that it was from above, and I have distinguished this from a heavenly condition. Nor, though I have no objection to it in this sense, is "heavenly life" a scriptural expression; and I am accustomed to follow Scripture, nor am I disposed to be driven from it, by the accusations of men. I have not the least doubt that Divine life comes from above, comes from God, and from the Son, and by the power of the Spirit; but I do not think Scripture calls it heavenly, and I still prefer Scripture to the author's statements. I believe Scripture uses "heavenly" habitually in another way, and I prefer using it so still. I believe the Scripture use of terms perfect and accurate; and I think in swerving from them, we are in danger of obscuring and confounding the truth, as I judge the author has done. The author has departed from Scripture phraseology here, and I have not. At least, I have searched both my memory and a concordance, for the terms he uses, and I cannot find them. But I freely say here I do not believe he intends any error by the expression. I admit further that men may object to human expressions to avoid the truth meant under them. But I have stated over and over again, that I believe Divine life comes from above, from God. And the author must well know that this belief is that of all the brethren.}

361 There are other points, discussed in the letter, treated of in the "Examination"; and I do not go over them again here. A great part of the letter I can only consider as violent calumnies against brethren, in the shape of inferences which none of the brethren, sought to be involved in them, believe; and I must decline answering them.*

{*A note has been referred to by Mr. N. as disclaiming charging me with anything I repudiate. But it only "keeps the promise to the eye." He merely allows me to repudiate "any statement made by others." So that if I repudiate it, "others" remain implicated by these false inferences, and Mr. N. will press all his inferences on me, let me repudiate it or no.}

But not only is scriptural language departed from, but, while professing to instruct all his brethren, and to be the guardian of "the truth," the author has fallen really into the grossest errors - errors to which I do not attach any great importance, because I trust they are mere confusion, and would therefore be scarcely worth noticing if they were not accompanied with the exorbitant pretension to set everybody else right.

362 He has really confounded the possession of the divine nature, by which Christ could take the incommunicable name of God, with the life in us which flows from this fulness. Whatever union we may have with Christ - yea, though it may be said that we dwell in God and God in us, yet essential life can be attributed in its very nature to God only. That this was, by the mystery of the incarnation, in the man Jesus, every saint owns. But to talk of this being heavenly life, in the sense in which we possess it, is the grossest confusion, and would be frightful if it were not mere confusion. And here I will ask, Does the writer really believe, or does he wish to make others believe, that any of his brethren doubt, if we are so to speak, about the heavenly, much more than mere heavenly, life of the Son of God? A man is no Christian at all that does not believe in the nature and Person of Christ. But does the author mean to confound this divine Person with the life in us derived from Him? Could it be said of anyone but of him "the Son of man who is in heaven"? For this "who is" (John 3:13) is really, if taken as a title, the incommunicable name, I AM. It never was, nor could be, said of any man but of Him who, if He was man, was the true God and eternal life. We have life, but we are not eternal life; nor have we it properly, nor essentially, in ourselves. God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in the Son. He that hath the Son hath life, he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

All this is confounded. In the second paragraph of page 6 it is said, speaking of No. 2 of the "Examination," the author says, "that it was properly heavenly is never said in Scripture." But to what does "it" refer in this passage in Mr. N.'s letter? To Christ spoken of as "who is"? Does it in No. 2 of the "Examination"? Not at all. I am there speaking of the life of the saints. I have said "nor is it ever said that they were quickened with heavenly life." And, if it be said, But were not they quickened with the life that was in Christ? No doubt they were. But to confound the derived life in them with what Christ was in His Person, so that it was said of Him "the Son of man who is (the 'Being One') in heaven," is the greatest confusion possible. Could it be said of them "the 'Being One' in heaven"? Nay, could it be said, He hath given unto them to have life in themselves? And to argue about the Person of Christ, when I was arguing about the life of the saints, is deplorable confusion. Further, we have, in the quotations of the author himself, the plainest proof that he is entirely wrong as to the saints in his use of heavenly and earthly. He holds now that there was the same life essentially in all of them. With this I fully agree. It was true then of John the baptist. Why, then, if it is necessarily to be called heavenly because it came down from heaven as in the Person of Christ, does John contrast himself with Christ, and say, "He that cometh from above is above all"; "He that is* of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: - he that cometh from heaven is above all"? The truth is, the Lord and John the baptist do not speak of a life come down from heaven, but of a Person come down from heaven.** The author speaks of this essential life becoming (page 7) "connected for a while with humanity," etc. But was it derived life as in us that did so? Was it not the Word incarnate, the Son of God who came down from heaven, in whom was life, that did so - He who had thus life in Himself? Where does Scripture speak of life coming down from heaven unto us? That eternal life which was with the Father was manifested to us in the Person of Jesus. But He was eternal life. I repeat, we are not, though we have, eternal life.

{*I have supposed it possible, on reading over this, that, to make good the point, this may be denied to be applicable to John the Baptist; but this I leave to every saint to judge of. I may add to the question in the text, Why does the author say, speaking of the millennium, "The inhabitants of Jerusalem and of Immanuel's land will be strictly in an earthly condition"? I believe so; it is the right use of earthly. So the saints above are said to be "heavenly persons." Yet those in a strictly earthly condition are regenerate.}

{**See John 3:13, 31. It is, perhaps, this confusion which has made the author attribute omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence, using these very words, to the saints hereafter.}

363 It could not be said of us, "who are in heaven"; Jesus being a divine Person, it could be said of Him, "the Son of man who is in heaven." It can be said of us (as united to Him, because we are united to Him for a heavenly condition in glory), "He hath made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ." This cannot be said of the millennial saints. For, though they undoubtedly have life from Christ, though they have it from the risen Man, so that I doubt not they will be changed into likeness to Him, and, though their forgiveness and their blessings are enjoyed through the blood of the Lamb, yet they do not sit together in heavenly places. They are in earthly places and earthly glory. In the state, of which so little is said, the contrast of heaven and earth is not thus maintained in the family of God: but it is in the millennial state. Nor let it be supposed that it is a mere inference that Christ and the saints are thus confounded, because life is communicated. After speaking of Him as having this "heavenly life" in humiliation, the author proceeds - "the circumstances may vary infinitely, but it is the same life. Before the world was, He was the word of life, He was the same in humiliation, He is the same now in glory. When on earth He could say, 'the Son of man who is in heaven.'"

364 First, I ask, was this merely by the possession of a heavenly life? or was it not because He was in His own Person the Son of God, the Word of Life? But to continue: "infinitely important results would flow from the admission that the life possessed and communicated by the Lord Jesus while yet in the flesh, was not heavenly." Now, I believe it to be only confusion; but there is the most complete confusion between the Person of the Son of God, the divine Being and existence, and the life communicated to the saints which flows from it. What I had written as to life in the saints is referred to it as to the same thing; and, after speaking of the divine Word, the author goes on to speak of the life possessed and communicated by the Lord Jesus, and quotes the passages which refer to the coming down to earth of the Person of the Son of God (who being a divine Person was therefore still in heaven), as speaking of a heavenly life come down. Thus, "but did Jesus think that the life which was in Him, and which He communicated to others, was not heavenly? Did He not Himself say, "the Son of man which is in heaven? And do not these words almost verbally contradict the assertion, that it* [the life] is never said in Scripture to be properly heavenly … Were they [angels] ignorant of the existence of a life on earth which they had known in the excellence of its own uncreated glory above? … Were they ignorant that this life had, through the Son, been communicated to persons chosen from among sinful men? And did they not think of those to whom it was thus communicated, as endowed with that which never could find its home in any dwelling-place beneath the heavens? No, they knew the nature of essential life. They knew whence it came, and whither it tended." No intelligent Christian but must see that there is the most complete confusion between the person of the Word and the life communicated to the saints. Have we essential life? I believe it mere confusion, but ill-placed with such pretension to set all the world right, and involving very serious errors if followed out; and, as I have said, I suppose the source of the monstrous statements in the "Thoughts on the Apocalypse." Christianity becomes really a sort of Buddhism.

{*I was speaking of "their being quickened with heavenly life," that is, of the saints, when I say 'it.'}

365 The scripture never confounds these things. It can speak of Christ dependent, living by the Father, but it speaks of Himself, as sent, and as coming. "As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father" (and here we can refer in the word 'by' to a common principle), "so he that eateth me shall live by me." But then He is sent, and in that quite distinct. So "as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself." Here the expression comes down very far; it speaks of giving to have, but still to have life in Himself. "I came forth from the Father, I leave the world and go to my Father." It is not heavenly life come. And when eternal life, as such, is spoken of as here, "That eternal life which was with the Father," then all that is said is "was manifested," not communicated. When, on the other hand, eternal life is spoken of, as being given to us, it is carefully added, "and that life is in the Son. He that hath the Son hath life." Christ had life in Himself, yea, "in him was life." If it be said, "He lived by the Father," yet it is not said He hath life because He hath the Father. He was in union with the Father. He and the Father were one. But, as I have already remarked, union with the Person of the Son of God is not scriptural.

"Our life is hid with Christ in God; and when Christ who is our life shall appear," etc. Here Christ is spoken of as being our life. So we are said to "dwell in him, and he in us" - the strongest expressions, these, that can be. But this is just what makes the difference with Christ, and shews the life is not essential in us. He is our life. He dwells in us. If the author merely meant that it was essentially holy in its nature and the like, it would be all well. But it is not essential life in us; that is the prerogative of a divine Person. I can say "Christ is our life," but I could not say, the Father was Christ's life: it would take away at once from what He was in His nature and being.

366 It may be well to remark, that when the author speaks (page 49) of "the great hypothesis of the system," to which certain remarks are said to belong, it would have been well to have produced some proof of the existence of the hypothesis, or of any hypothesis. I can only say that what he has stated about it, is, as far as I am concerned, totally and entirely without foundation. I never have said nor taught, nor thought, nor known any one that taught or thought, that one or other of these points did not involve death and resurrection. I have always taught the contrary. For in Matthew the Lord says "On this rock I will build my church." Now I was arguing that death* and resurrection is absolutely necessary to building the church. That is, I am arguing, in the passage the author is considering, directly the contrary of what the author is pleased to state to be my hypothesis. As to John I have never had any hypothesis about it, but the exact contrary of what the author states; and for one simple reason - there is no room for any. The Lord states there that, except they ate His flesh and drank His blood, they had no life in them. So that it was impossible to suppose that it did not involve His death and resurrection too, unless death too has to have dominion over Him. The chapter I judge to be very simple. Christ comes down from heaven the bread of life; His life is given up, His flesh and blood must be eaten and drunk; and, thirdly, He intimates that He must ascend up where He was before. We have His descent; His death; and (which, of course, implies His resurrection) His return into heaven. I can only say, therefore, that the whole statement is the pure invention of the author.

{*My words (amongst others) are these (p. 45): "It is a serious thing to make the death of Christ necessary only to the ordering of the church, and not to its founding and existence." It is the author (p. 52, letter 2) who, though he admits, seems at the same time to be unwilling so to state it. So in page 42 of "Examination" - "Without His death and the presence of the Holy Ghost, this could not be," and all that follows there. Indeed the reader has only to pay attention to the passage cited at the head of the note I am here examining, to see that I am arguing precisely against what the author says is my hypothesis - at least as regards Matthew.}

367 Here the author has not even the slender excuse for these groundless charges of confounding the presenting things to man's responsibility, and the establishing of them by God. Because building God's church is not presenting anything to man's responsibility; and I was actually arguing against the possibility of its being without the death and resurrection of Christ.

The author (page 13) makes me say that Israel can possess the earthly blessings without the cross. I have never held nor said so. They could not, as the apostle reasons in Acts 13, without His resurrection also. Besides the absolute moral need of sinful men, in a special manner He died for the nation. But the reader will judge how far such a charge can be a just one when he refers to the following passage in the same paragraph in the preceding page: "If man had not been in the state he really was, totally and fundamentally corrupt, so that atonement was absolutely necessary, there was power, living power, in Him … to restore all." So that I have stated in the paragraph commented on by the author the exact opposite of what he chooses to infer I hold. I have definitely asserted in the passage the impossibility of what he says I am teaching.

The sentence, moreover, that immediately follows what he quotes and comments on, is this, "that God forgave from Adam's sin downward in respect of the cross is plain, and stated in Romans 3:25." I shall make no further comment on the author's assertion, that I hold redemption by the blood is not necessary for some. This is the passage on which he grounds his charge: "The Lord had spoken in John 3 of earthly things, when speaking of regeneration. For the Jews taking earthly things of God must be regenerate. And with this He contrasts the heavenly things, and, when He mentions these, states to Nicodemus that the Son of man must be lifted up." And so He does. The statement is an accurate representation of what is in the chapter. That I do not speak of life, when I speak of earthly things, is evident from the passage itself; for I have stated that "the Jews taking earthly things must be regenerate." Regeneration, therefore, is positively distinguished from earthly things in the passage, and declared to be necessary to the Jew when he takes these earthly things; and the heavenly things are contrasted with this (i.e., the earthly state of the Jews) - their "strictly earthly condition," to use the author's words. I was not then speaking of life, either in speaking of earthly or heavenly things, for the best of all reasons, that (though the author chooses to do so, and, in order to justify it, confounds the Person of the living Word with life in us) the Scripture does not; and, being used to draw my thoughts from Scripture, when I use them, I do not, nor am I bound to assume that others will, depart from Scripture. And, though the cross will be the foundation of Israel's blessings as of every other, they will be regenerated indeed, but not having been associated in suffering faith with Christ crucified, with the rejected Messiah, they will, in the kingdom, have only earthly things; whereas those that have suffered with Him will be glorified together, will reign with Him - at least, if we are to believe the plain testimony of Scripture. And I apprehend that this makes a good deal of difference in glory, and that depending on dispensation, call it official or what you like. The saints who do not suffer with Christ will never reign* with Christ. The writer may treat this with indifference. Of this the spiritual reader will judge. Have these millennial saints what the author calls "essential life"? And is there no difference in glory? I speak still of the kingdom.

{*I do not speak of reigning here in the sense of eternal blessedness, but of the kingdom.}

368 One point remains on which charges repeated here have been most widely circulated: that I and other brethren hold that there is a difference in essential life as to saints before and after Christ's resurrection.

The author has enlarged upon it as full of deadly consequences. But I shall only cite two or three passages, as it is requisite that I should be precise here.

"Infinitely important results would flow from the admission that the life possessed and communicated by the Lord Jesus, while yet in the flesh, was not heavenly;* for if heavenly life could not be communicated by Him until after He was raised from the dead, it follows that every saint who fell asleep before His resurrection never possessed the heavenly life, and never will possess it; for I suppose no one will say that it can be communicated after death. Consequently, an essential difference as to the nature of the life possessed would exist (and this some have asserted) between those who died previously to the resurrection of Jesus and those who knew Him risen" (page 8). Again, "Will the author venture to say that it is not always essentially the same? Will he say that Abraham possessed a life different from that of Peter, when he believed in Jesus? … I have heard of such things; and if the author intends deliberately to support such a doctrine, he is bound, I think, now that the minds of so many have been exercised on the subject, to state his opinions distinctly and without reserve." It is to this that the author appends the note that he does not wish to charge me with the statements of others which I repudiate. If the author would allege that he charges his brethren with holding difference in glory and not difference in life, the answer is very short. In page 17 he says, "It may appear strange, perhaps, to some, that it should even be supposed that dispensational differences here would of themselves produce differences in glory; but it will not excite surprise when we remember that they who live in this our dispensation are supposed to have a life essentially different from that of the saints who died before the resurrection of Jesus." He then expatiates on the way people have defined this difference.

{*We have already seen that the whole train of thought here is unscriptural. The scripture never speaks of heavenly life.}

369 On the whole I have resolved not to answer here these charges, nor to state anything as to them. As regards a mass of other statements, in defamation of the brethren's teaching, I pass them by. As to these I make now a last appeal to Mr. N.'s conscience. He knows, as well as I do, what the facts are as to what has been taught respecting the life of the Old Testament saints. I ask then, What would a person who does not know the facts, and who reads the statements I have quoted, think? And what would a person who does know them? I put it here to his own conscience.

Lastly, if anyone doubts, after twenty years that I have been preaching, whether I teach the necessity of redemption through the blood for all and every redeemed soul, I could hardly expect to disabuse him by telling him the contrary twenty times over. In the end such assertions always recoil on the head of him who makes them. But I add, as it is a question in which Christ's glory is concerned, that, so far from any soul's appearing before God otherwise than by redemption through the blood, not only is every saved soul saved by it, and by it alone;* but, as in the first Adam, all this lower creation fell, either into guilt, or at least into the bondage of corruption, in its head, and the head of evil in the higher creation, the enemy, triumphed in that fall: so Christ therefore must have entered into this place of death by grace, and come under its consequences, to set up the glory of God in the very place where it was marred, or seemed for a moment to be so, and that infinitely more gloriously than ever, yea, perfectly gloriously, and in perfect stability; and thus in death He perfectly glorified Him, and had title to set up the lost creation in blessing in virtue of redemption, and be its Head as delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. Through death He rendered void, brought to nought and annulled, the power of him that had the power of death. This was the central place where all title and power was to be set up, though it was to be displayed and exercised in resurrection. But morally, and for God's glory, it was in death, and therein in redemption, it was set up - that wonderful mystery that is the basis of everything new in righteousness before God. So that, not only is no soul possibly saved without it, but the whole redemption blessing of creation depends on the death and blood of Christ as to His title, God's glory, and its cleansing from defilement if not from guilt. The creation could not be blessed without His death. And if we say His title depended on His being Creator - and Son - and, in the counsels of God on His being man, still, sin being come in, death was needed to make good the title, in the presence and for the glory of God, as His resurrection was the display of that power of life in which He triumphed and will for ever enjoy the glory.

{*This expression, of course, leaves the Spirit's work, in giving faith in it, in its place and full value.}

370 One remark remains as to the application of the term 'church.' We had all been in the habit of calling all the redeemed the church: nor, in a general human way, do I know any objection; because they will be ultimately the redeemed assembly of God; and 'church' means 'assembly.' Still, it is better to speak with Scripture than to use our own thoughts in such a matter. And it has been observed that there is no proof at all that 'church' is ever said of any but the saints from Pentecost to the Lord's coming again.

371 In commenting on this the writer says "that they have not belonged to the church, as dispensationally gathered and ordered on earth, I know"; and then, further on, says, "wherever then these two characteristics are found to attach, there I should bestow the name church; unless any part of scripture can be quoted which forbids." He then adds, that the burden of proof rests with those who object. Now this, in argument, is not the case. The burden of proof is always with him who affirms, and not with him who denies. But (not to insist on this) the statement of the author entirely surrenders the point. On such a question as whether we are to give anything a scriptural name and title, surely Scripture must guide us. Not so with the author. He would bestow the name because he thinks it right, and asks for a Scripture which forbids it. Can there be a plainer proof that he has no scripture which proves it? The quotation of one such could have settled the point. But he has none - nothing but his own reasoning - to which no one ought to confide on any scriptural subject. For, if he have even much reason for doing so, if there be many things entirely in common* between the Old Testament saints and the New Testament, as all believe, still the Holy Ghost has had some reason for not doing it; and that ought to govern us. I see myself the strongest possible reason why it should be so. The unity of one body on earth, by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, is connected with this exclusive application of the word 'church,' to the saints gathered from Pentecost to the Lord's coming. But my seeing a reason, I agree, is no proof The proof is that the Holy Ghost does not apply it to others; and therefore the author's bestowing it is presuming above Scripture, and the wisdom of the Spirit of God - of God Himself. I think the answer** to the author's argument is very simple; but I do not go further here. His remarks on angels seem to me unhappy. For though our exaltation above them through our union with the Lord Jesus Christ is plainly taught in Scripture, "we shall judge*** angels," yet the contrast is nowhere made that I know between angels and the church, but between angels and man. "Lord, what is man?" etc. Further, I know of no contrast between the ancient saints, and those of this time, even supposing there should be a difference of circumstances in glory. That they are children of God in the same resurrection glory is plain; not from a long process of reasoning to make them the church, but from the positive revelation of God (Luke 20:36****) not to cite others. But, while our union with Christ does give us peculiar exaltation even above angels, still the language of the writer seems to me rash, and to go beyond Scripture. Scripture never speaks of life in connection with angels. They are holy and blessed things (at least, the elect angels), who are God's messengers; and more than this, save that there are some peculiarly exalted, we know little. They are spirits, we are told, and some few other particulars are given. The author says, they have not life from the Son of God. Who told him that? That they have it not as we is quite true; because He has taken our nature, and we have been quickened together with Him; but where is it said, they have not life from Him? It seems to me to be intruding into things which we have not seen. By Him (Greek, in Him) all things exist, or subsist; and therefore the angels. Nay, it is said of all men (no doubt, man has a peculiar place) - "in him [God] we live, and move, and have our being." And I suppose that the Son will not be shut out here, of whom it is specially said "in" or "by him all things consist." And if the word 'union' be insisted on, I repeat that union with the Son of God is not a scriptural expression, nor a scriptural idea, though it may have been used innocently, as equivalent to such expressions as, "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit," and the like. The Father and the Son are one. We are one in them, and as them. But for union with the Son there is no scripture; it deifies us, which Scripture never does. Hence, though our place is indeed quite different from that of angels (and blessed be God, for His unspeakable gift!) yet to say they have not life from the Son of God, is going beyond scripture, and positively to affirm things of which Scripture is silent, save in that it says all things subsist in the Son.

{*Nor am I here questioning that all will be hereafter.}

{**The kingdom, and heavenly glory too, was the subject of Abraham's faith; the church was not. It was kept secret. And so of John the Baptist. Only it may be reasoned here, that Abraham did look for a city which hath foundations, and thus saw the church in glory, even if not its union as bride. That I do not contest at all: nor have I clear light from God as to its full and exact force. Provided the real glory of the church itself be recognised, I enter into no contest whatever as to the Old Testament saints being in it. I do not admit that all who are saved by Christ's death are necessarily in Christ's glory in the kingdom; because it is written, If we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him. We suffer with Him that we may be glorified together. And, during the millennium, the saints on earth will certainly be saints in virtue of Christ's death; and as certainly they will not be in heavenly glory.}

***This is the passage nearest to such a contrast.}

**** Here however, though perhaps only in a particular respect, we are said to be "equal to the angels," Luke 20:36.}

373 I cannot doubt, on further reflection, that the second of the propositions in page 12 is deliberate error, and not confusion (an error held by many dear saints, but still a doctrine unsustained by Scripture, and which becomes important here, because it is pushed to its consequences of mischief) - I mean that union exists where there is no life at all - the confounding God seeing us in the eternal thoughts of His heart in Christ, and our union with Christ - indeed calling our being so seen of God union. Hence an unregenerate ungodly man (suppose a drunkard, or unclean person) is, if elect, united to Christ! in union with Him when he has no spiritual life at all, and receives that spiritual life, or, in the words of the author's proposition, is regenerate in virtue of union with Him! The note (page 7) on which I will by and by add a remark or two, besides abundance of oral teaching, fully confirms the statement that this is the author's view. Now, the word of God never speaks of union other than living union. "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit." Is that true of a drunkard, or an ungodly man, because he is elect? Clearly not.

Passages are quoted which speak of being crucified with Christ, buried with Him, and the like. The answer is simple. They are invariably, and exclusively, applied to living saints, who, having received life from Christ, can apply, as true of and to themselves, all that was true of Him who died and suffered these things effectually for them. To suppose anything else would make union without life. The question is not really whether there is life without union, but whether there is union without life. The author affirms that there is, and that we receive life in consequence of a union which existed without it. And see the figure by which he illustrates it. What a strange mysticism it involves! Christ and His members-union - is compared to a grain which is united to what is produced as a plant afterwards in some mysterious way within itself, and so produces that plant by dying and rising again. So that Christ really contained, though in a mysterious* way, all His members in Himself before He died and produced them out of Himself in due time. Does Scripture ever speak in this way? Is this the use it makes of the corn of wheat falling into the ground and dying?

{*This may be said figuratively in a peculiar way, as in Hebrews 7:10. But this is not union as the body with the head, which is the point here under consideration.}

374 In the Ephesians, which the author cites, the distinction of the elect dead in trespasses and sins, and those quickened together with Christ, and the application of the "quickened together" only to the living regenerate saint, to the believer, is as plain as possible. "What is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believed, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead." It is real, quickening, living, life-giving power; not union without life at all. So, "When we were dead in sins he hath quickened us together with Christ," etc. Were we in Christ dead in trespasses and sins?

I read, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature"; and "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." That they were written in the book of life of the Lamb slain, from the foundation of the world, I bless God in believing, and that thus God sees them in Christ, so that, when quickened, all that is true of Christ can be affirmed of them; but this does not state that there is union without living power exercised towards them. So in Galatians 2:20, "I am crucified with Christ" (for here again the authorised translation is more accurate than the author's; it is the perfect, not the aorist); "nevertheless, I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me." That is, it is Paul in living real union that can attribute to himself all that had been done in Christ, and that because really united to Him as the Head. So in Romans 6, it is applied to the baptism of the saints. They were baptised into His death and should walk in newness of life. Colossians 2:12 is as clear and plain as the rest - if possible still more so. "Buried with him in baptism, in whom also ye have been raised with him through faith of the operation of God who raised him from the dead; and you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he hath quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses." The scripture statements therefore (though the author's statements may catch an ear taught in the school of rigid and systematic high Calvinism) subvert entirely the article of the author, that we are regenerate in virtue of union. It is wholly unscriptural.

375 And here I will add that a new translation, much insisted on at the close of Romans 4, is, I judge, entirely wrong too. As substantially it resulted in the thing in the mind, I have never felt it necessary to controvert it; but, as we are on the point, I will do so here. As the efficient cause of our justification was the work of Christ, though we are only justified when we believe, the mind can rest on either, or rather on both together, with truth. But as a translation, and as doctrine, "raised again because of our justification," in the sense because we were justified, is quite wrong. The common translation is the true one - "raised again for our justification." Because the noun used has an active sense, as all others of that form in Greek, and others derived from the second person of the perfect passive, as all scholars know; and may be rendered in English "for our justifying." Were it because of our having been justified by Christ's resurrection, it would assuredly have been dia to dikaiothenai hemas, or dedikaiosthai if expressing its present continuing efficacy; but rather the former. And hence this form is used when we are actually justified by faith - dikatothentes oun ek pisteos.

I would make another remark here: we are never said to have been one with Christ in death. The hymn, "One* with Him on the cursed tree," I judge to be unscriptural: sung harmlessly, I do not doubt, because viewed as there by God, and therefore by faith, because He was there for us. But it is not doctrinally just. Scripture never states it. And, though I do not doubt both its author, and many who so speak, as sound in the doctrine of substitution as myself, yet we have to take care of statements of the kind, because they really do militate against the distinct force of substitution. Christ was alone to bear the wrath for His church. In conventional language we may say they were all there when He was; and we all understand it as a most precious blessed truth; and so, when I hear a Calvinist speak in this way, my heart can go along with him, my soul really leans on the same truth and work as his, though I may think his expressions inaccurate. But when this is used to state as a doctrine, that there is union before and without life, and that we were really one with Christ in His death; and to pretend that this is guarding and saving and suffering for the truth, when it is really totally unscriptural, it is going too far, and it is well to sift what it is worth.

{*This in some editions has been altered.}

376 The importance of it to the author is this, that he can thus set aside anything special as to the church in the present dispensation on the point of union: since it is not a living consequence of what is wrought by the living power of Christ, but as true before those united lived, or existed even by a natural life, as when they are regenerate. Hence the sitting in heavenly places in Christ has been said to be by faith merely; and its being so stated because of their Head being there, with whom they were now really and livingly one, so as to sit there in Him, has been treated as mysticism. Hence the desire of the author to affirm that "raised up together" is in Him as much as sitting together - a construction the author would find it difficult to prove, though, for my own part, as it is affirmed of those actually quickened, I am aware of no scriptural principle against which it militates. All I desire is that the attention of the saints may be drawn to the source of this statement, that regeneration is in virtue of union; namely, that there is union without life at all. Nor will I go further than to ask, how far such a tenet can be considered as the safeguard of "the truth," and a ground for denouncing as subverters of the truth those who do not hold it? The present living union of the saints as Christ's body being thus really set aside - regeneration being in virtue of union, which clearly therefore is not living union - the church becomes either all saints from the beginning to the end of time; or a sort of model or pattern frame-work formed by the labours of God's servants down here: and such passages as 1 Corinthians 12 either this or a local church. The whole doctrine of the epistle to the Ephesians is thus entirely lost, as the chapter in 1 Corinthians is merged into a local or pattern church or body down here; and the power of the doctrine of the church's union with the Head as a real living vitalised body united to Christ, and filled with the Holy Ghost, is wholly lost. I would much press upon the reader to examine Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12. He will soon be set clear in all this. Compare page 5 of "Second Letter." "If I confound between what God did in exalting Christ and the church in Him, and what His servants did in constituting the church on earth." Did not God constitute it as the living body of Christ by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven?

377 In recurring to the letter I find the following extraordinary statement, which may further open the bearing of the author's views, and how far he apprehends the work of God's Spirit, and its connection with that of Christ. "Its [unity in heaven] preciousness is to be valued … because it is the evidence of the grace given in Christ overcoming all differences that may have existed here, whether differences in the Spirit, or differences in the flesh, and bringing in everlasting oneness." Grace given in Christ overcoming differences in the Spirit! One is really led to doubt how one taught of God can use such language.

It may be well the reader should remark the extraordinary admission of the author in page 54. "Observe, I do not say that there was the same character of union as afterwards in resurrection." Now I do ask and appeal solemnly to the consciences of all the saints, what is the meaning of the indefatigable efforts to calumniate and denounce brethren long known in the church of God after this statement? Does not the author very well know, that they hold, and always held, that all saints received divine spiritual life from the Lord, and that they would not listen to any contrary doctrine? And what they have ever said which was in any way more than the author's statement here?