Review of a "Reply" by D. L. Higgins.

Jas. McBroom, 36 Glebe Rd., Kilmarnock. Ayrshire.

Lack of spiritual sensibilities makes room for strife when we ought to be weeping. War at any time is a sore evil but civil war is infinitely worse; instead of uniting against the common enemy brethren are found opposing each other; surely this is to our common shame. It is inconceivable that strife should enter the higher angelic intelligencies concerning the Person of our Lord, yet those for whom He passed them by, are losing themselves in this very thing.

The "Reply" by Mr. D. L. Higgins to "An Open Letter" by Mr. A. J. Pollock, on the truth of our Lord's Sonship, is surely another proof of the darkness into which he has fallen. If Mr. Coates has fallen into confusion Mr. Higgins is guilty of both confusion and sophistry; the outcome in each case of attempting to go beyond what has been revealed.

Mr. H. begins by saying there are many who have derived food for their souls … in C. A. C.'s "Remarks." He does not mention the large numbers that are distressed, but going on hoping for something to happen that may bring relief. This may help to hold the followers together but it is not the mark of a pastor. It is questionable if ever a person stood more definitely condemned by a text of Scripture than the writer when he quotes the words, "If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch" (p. 7).

In his "Reply" Mr. H. singles out two points from "An Open Letter," first, an illustration used by the writer, second, a question concerning eternal life. The attempt is made to divert attention from the main error by creating side issues. In both cases it breaks down and we are forced to conclude that in his second point, at least, he has either adopted an unjust line of argument or that he is unable to deal with the subject in hand.

Assuming he is right (which I do not admit) in what he says about the illustration used by Mr. P., what of the many attempts to illustrate this holy theme by those of the "New Light," some of which are irreverent, and others both ignorant and profane. The King, Queen, and Prince of Wales have all been used, but think of a leader attempting to show that our blessed Lord could not be Son till in Manhood by saying that Kitchener of Khartoum was always "Kitchener," but was not of "Khartoum" till he had done a certain work, the reward for which was a peerage. Then again, we have the statement by another that if you apply the names "Father" and "Son" to two Persons in the Trinity you exclude the Holy Spirit.

Worst of all is the circulation by two leaders of an old Sermon in which Divine Persons are said to have made our Salvation a matter of arbitrary agreement. The terms, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are said to be terms of economy. "One of the Divine Persons," it is said, "agreed to demand infinite satisfaction for sin … and to be the Father of the human nature of Jesus Christ," etc. This shameless and degrading state of things is passed over, while false and unsupported charges are fastened upon others, and many cut off because they cannot accept the "new light." In circulating this moral poison among the flock of Christ, have these leaders considered that an agreement reached always supposes the possibility of a different result? Think of this when applying the word agreement to Godhead about Redemption. If Redemption is by agreement so also is the lake of fire. What a slight upon Godhead is all this!

The first point taken up by Mr. H. is an illustration used by Mr. P. I quote from the words he cites: "If, however, the King were to send the Prince of Wales on a mission, it would be offensive to say that the Prince of Wales 'condescended' to be sent. How much more should we be careful to guard against anything that savours of irreverence." To these words Mr. H. replies, "Is not the analogy he seeks to draw itself irreverent? The Person of the Holy Spirit, or that of our blessed Lord, viewed as in the circumstances of pure Deity, standing as they did in relation to other Persons in the Godhead in absolute equality, could not reverently be compared with the relation of the Prince of Wales to the King. However dignified his eldest son may be, he is yet a subject in the kingdom, and in no wise on an equality with the King, who is supreme; and if sent on a mission it would be his simple duty to fulfil it. Were he jointly reigning in equal majesty with the King, it would certainly be condescension on his part to take a subservient place, in which case some analogy might be recognised. But there is no thought of this in the illustration A. J. P. has selected to convict C. A. C. of irreverence, of which he himself is unconsciously guilty."

We avoid human illustrations on such a subject. Assuming, however, that the Prince of Wales was sent by the King on official business he would go as the servant of the King. But if so, would it not be as a son taking a servant's place? Does not this cut at the root of the whole argument? However honoured the Prince might be in taking up the supposed mission, he stands in relation to the King in a much more intimate way. As a Son the Prince of Wales stands in the inner life of the King in an intimacy of life and affection far removed from all that is official as set forth in the terms "King" and "Prince of Wales." This relationship is in the blood and is inherent—with all its interests, joys and affections—in their very constitution. We hold with Mr. H. that the King's eldest son, however dignified, is yet a subject in the kingdom; but we affirm what he misses, namely, that both stood in a much more intimate relationship before these official titles applied.

The illustration breaks down for Divine Persons are eternal and so also are their relationships. The Son came forth—spoken of both as active and passive. We read that He came forth (John 16:28), and was sent forth (Gal. 4:4), but Scripture is definite that it was THE SON that was sent and came forth. Where are the moral sensibilities of the men who plainly own that Divine Persons stood in relationships of glory and affection before time began, and in the same breath deny, in spite of full N. Test. proof, that these relations were that of Father and Son. Surely to be consistent such a concession demands the acknowledgment of the whole truth, namely, that of Father and Son in eternity.

We affirm then, with the strongest possible emphasis, that in applying the word "Condescension" to Divine Persons as between each other in absolute Godhead, both C. A. C. and D. L. H. are wrong and the writer of "An Open Letter" is perfectly right in condemning it. This is apart altogether from C. A. C.'s contradiction of himself in saying one Divine Person could not be sent and another could. It is wrong because it is venturing beyond the place of the creature, and wrong because it contradicts Holy Scripture. What should be carefully noted is that Scripture shows on the one side that the Father sent the Son, and that the Son came forth from the Father and was here in perfect moral beauty and dependent obedience carrying out the will of God. It shows also on the other side that God, the Godhead, has come into service here in the full activity of grace on man's behalf. The Son cast out demons by the Spirit, the works of mercy that men saw the Son doing were done by the Father, The Godhead has come into service here in the Son (Matt. 12:28; John 14:10). By emphasising the former of these lines of truth to the exclusion of the other, these men have lost their balance and are leading others astray.

That this may be clear, consider the writer's use of the above illustration. Referring to the Prince of Wales he says:—"Were he jointly reigning in equal majesty with the King." Now this exactly describes our Lord both before and after He entered upon His service of grace. He ever is God over all and with the Father and Spirit ever ruling and reigning over all. Coming into a place of service He took something the Father and Spirit have not, but in doing so we dare not say He gave up anything. How then could there be condescension? Why dare to speak of condescension where GOD is eternally ONE? Is it not a proof of a tendency to Tritheism—three Gods?

In dealing with "An Open Letter," Mr. H.'s second point is concerning "Eternal Life" as spoken of in 1 John 1. He speaks of our Lord rightly as "the true God and eternal life," and goes on to show the bearing of this, "manward on the part of God, and Godward on the part of man. … In that blessed Man, God—the true God—was presented to men; and eternal life for men Godward was there too." Then he adds, "Both these great thoughts were set forth in that glorious Man."

Now note; as soon as Mr. H. thinks he has proved Mr. P. as confusing between these two great verities, he leaves the thought of God as revealed and comes to the unrevealed Being of God, so that he may fix on the writer of "An Open Letter" the charge of connecting eternal life with Essential Deity. In order to condemn another Mr. H. convicts himself of failing to distinguish between God as "presented to men," to use his own words, and the Essential Being of God which all admit has not come into Revelation. If the writer of "An Open Letter" is guilty of connecting eternal life with Essential Deity, then what D. L. H. says was presented to men is Essential Deity.

Is this honest? We make no charge, preferring to believe that the writer has lost himself; but if so, does it not prove his inability to deal with such a wonderful theme?

Thus it is that D. L. H. has exposed himself, and all he says about the past conflict over eternal life is a clear proof that he has failed to grasp the most precious distinction of all, viz., the distinction between what God is in Essential Being as outside of Revelation and what God is as revealed in the Person of the SON.

Being fundamentally wrong as to Christ on the part of God manward he is equally wrong with regard to eternal life, or, as he puts it, Christ on the part of man Godward. Connected with this is the most glaring perversion of Scripture. All respected teachers agree that the words, "that eternal life which was (along) with the Father" (1st John 1:2), refer to what was true before time began. To admit this would prove that the relations of Father and Son were eternal, hence it must be refused by the "new light" teachers. Scripture says "that eternal life which was with the Father." No, says D. L. H. "Such an One was 'with the Father'—but this was said of Him as here (emphasis his), not as in eternity."

It is this daring tampering with Scripture that marks this whole controversy. When did eternal life begin to be? Does this not expose the folly? When did it begin to be with the Father? Mr. H. and his school tell us it was when one Person in the Godhead came into Manhood and became Son to Another. We appeal to men of spiritual exercise and sober judgment; here is a class of leaders claiming to be "the Testimony" and have a monopoly of the light, dealing with a point of doctrine which exposes their folly far and wide. They have not been able to clear themselves, and judging by their self-contradictions they are not consistent in their teaching, yet they are making untrue and dishonest charges against their brethren. These, they say, are not in the spiritual state to appreciate this further light; they have a film over their eyes, are opposers; and because they cannot accept the vagaries which are forced upon them the choicest of God's saints are stigmatised as Moabites and Ammonites.

D. L. H. takes us back to the conflict over eternal life in 1890 in order to show, most unjustly, that A. J. P. is contending for that which is a dishonour to God, but in doing so is found using words which exactly describe himself. It is sad to have to speak thus of an Elder, but is it true? Note the following:

F. E. R. wrote in 1890, "Next as to eternal life. It was God's purpose in Christ from eternity. It was in essence with the Father in eternity, in the Son (see footnote) but has now been manifested in the only begotten Son of God, who came here declaring the Father" (Lectures Vol. 22, p. 5; see also p. 42). Could words be found to expose more effectually D. L. H.'s perversion of 1 John 1:2, and that from the pen he refers us to. But they go further (and there is much more of the same) and prove beyond all doubt that the writer held tenaciously to the truth that eternal life came here in the Person of the eternal SON, so far as his writings are concerned.

There is another mischievous sophism in the allusion to "honoured servants of God, such as J. N. D. and others." It is true that these men contended against Unitarians and Sabellians, but that is another matter. The deniers of eternal Sonship held to our Lord's eternal Personality just as much as the "new light men" of to-day. If these jeopardised the Deity of our Lord, what of D. L. H. and his school in this day of Kenosis, Modernism, etc., etc.? D. L. H. takes ground here with those whom the early brethren believed to be jeopardising the eternal glory of our Lord. Alas! we have to mourn that the men of to-day are much worse, for although denying eternal Sonship the former class held to the eternity of the Logos, the eternal Word, which they rudely take away. Surely it is in line with all the rest here that the writer is found complaining because he is attacked as one of "those who read Scripture as it is written."

One word more. "J. N. D.", it is said, "deprecated in the strongest terms that his writings should be made a standard." This comes badly from men who have sought in every way to link that name with their heresy. It has been attempted, indeed, in an unrighteous way. Not being able to find support for these theories in his writings, it is insinuated that those who find the truth confirmed in his writings are making J. N. D. a standard by which Scripture is to be interpreted.

In conclusion we affirm that we are face to face with a system of ecclesiastical tyranny of the most arbitrary and intolerable form. They have revived an old heresy going far beyond its original propounders. What has made this revival infinitely worse and must brand its advocates with perpetual shame is the use of the weapon of the Ecclesiastic, namely, Excommunication; cutting off men of godly exercise and compelling others to accept the "new light" by the weapon of intimidation.

J. McBroom.

P.S. That the reader may see where these men are as to the word, "Only-Begotten," I subjoin the following note from the pen of J. N. D., when dealing with rank infidelity.

"As to relationship of the divine Persons, there is the same reducing everything to man's level in speaking of "begotten." It must signify a beginning of existence, since it does with man. Scripture warrants another use of it: "I will make him my first-born," is said of Solomon; and "Israel is my son, my first-born." "Only-begotten Son" is a term of relationship, not a low, carnal, human idea of begetting (the use of which, in respect to God, only proves the degradation of thought of him, who so uses it, when referred to Godhead)." Extract from THE IRRATIONALISM OF INFIDELITY, J. N. Darby (Being a Reply to 'Phases of Faith'—F. W. Newman). Collected Writings, Vol. 6, page 80.

Green & Co., Printers, Crown Street, Lowestoft.