The "Record."

[04 1863 204] Dear Mr. Editor,

In noticing, through the medium of your work, the articles of the Record on the "Plymouth Brethren" as they are now reprinted and sent forth in a more permanent form, it is my intention to confine myself mainly to remarking on the untenable doctrinal positions assumed by the Editor in this controversy. I had not seen all the papers, in their more fugitive character, in the newspaper, which accounts for the lateness of this attempt to reply.

The importance, as to truth, of the issues at stake can hardly be over-estimated: which is my only ground for taking up my pen.

I shall pass over in silence all that takes the shape of mere attack; since whether deserved or understood on the part of those against whom it is directed, it may be left to the judgment of the Lord, and thus in due time find its own place. But the truth or error contained in these extraordinary articles is of permanent and universal importance; and I confess that their perusal has deepened in my mind the sense of that importance, and at the same time has produced a more sorrowful impression with regard to those whose sentiments they are supposed to represent than I was prepared to entertain before.

In the outset, I may be allowed to say, it is in itself a fact of ominous import that a Protestant and an Evangelical should abandon the Scriptures as the standard of appeal, in a controversy in which Scripture doctrines are avowedly in question, and which the writer himself affirms to be of the most fundamental kind. But in these articles there is the deliberate transfer of the question of truth or error, in fundamental doctrines, from the Scriptures, to creeds and formularies and the endless tomes of orthodox divines. Opinions in these forms, and even truth itself, may be more or less accurately stated, and as such may challenge from me as a Christian man a modified assent: but this is not the question. It is, by what authority is truth or error regarding doctrines of Scripture to be settled? Is it by the writings of men or by the word of God? It is not enough (for the mind that has ever felt the question, "What is truth?" of sufficient importance to rouse it to thought and enquire) to be curtly told, in the words of the Editor of the Record, "The question has been argued long ago, and long ago conclusively settled;" and then to be rudely challenged "to take up the works of any systematic divine, or any one of the hundreds of works on justification by faith and to answer that." And then as if this shock were not enough, to be told that when I have done that my respondent will "cut me out as much work as will last me my lifetime at least." Now I do not want a lifetime-work of this thriftless kind. I am an old man, and to me especially "vita brevis est, ars est longa." I want a shorter and surer answer to my question. I have read systematic divinity to some extent, and I have no desire to finish life in attempting to thread its mazes, or to reconcile its contradictions. The Bishop of Ossory's book "on the Nature and Effects of Faith," which the Editor of the Record thinks there is none like, may be a very good book; and some people think the same of Bishop Warburton's* book "on the Divine Legation of Moses." But before I am entitled to a proof from Scripture that the sanctions of the law of Moses are limited to this world, and that its rewards and punishments are bounded by this life, am I to be driven to the hard necessity "to handle the arguments of that work, and print my reply to it?" And then, as a recompense for my pains, this Editor forsooth "will promise me to do his duty faithfully as a reviewer, and say whether I have succeeded or failed in my effort?" — And what then?

[* I may be allowed to remind the Editor that this prelate's name has furnished a title to a certain style of controversial writing.]

Is this seriousness? or is it trifling the most arrant and indefensible trifling with truth and souls? I will not ask him, in his own language, if it is a specimen of "his dishonest tactics," or say anything about his deluded followers. What has been demanded of him is, the truth and testimony of Scripture upon the most definitely asserted and fundamental character of Christ's work, and of a believer's position before God through that work; and this, in the manner already adverted to, he was refused. Let no one be deceived. This determination to avoid the ground of Scripture is not accidental. Much less is it a proof of confidence, on the part of the Editor of the Record, that its testimony is so abundantly in favour of his doctrine that there is no need of proof. It may be assumed as an axiom that no professedly Christian controversialist ever foregoes the authority of Scripture, or even its seeming authority, so long as there is a single text that can be quoted against his opponent and in favour of himself. It is right that it should be so. The importance of the truth and allegiance to it demands that it should be so. The sanction of Scripture throws too much weight into the scale of him who has it, ever to allow that it should be lightly given up; not to say that it is of the worst possible moral effect to accustom people to acquiesce in anything short of it. Even Rome herself, little as she may feel bound by the authority of Scripture, never fails to press into her service in her missives every text of Scripture that, either in sense or sound, seems to make for her cause.

In the next place the Editor of the Record has done his utmost to prevent a calm and godly consideration of the doctrines he has denounced by attempting to prejudice the question at issue, after the example of Rome, by attributing to those against whom he is writing every kind of doctrine and absurdity which they abhor. For example, he says, in page 11 of his pamphlet, "J. N. D.'s doctrine of justification is bald and bare Socinianism." I shall attempt no refutation of this unjust, unfounded calumny, beyond placing before my reader what that doctrine is in a quotation from the very paper which the Editor says he has so laboriously studied, and from which he has at such pains brought together his extracts in order not to misrepresent Mr. Darby's sentiments. "Two systems are in presence. One [the Record's] is that we are all under law — Christians and all men; that the fulfilment of the law alone is righteousness: that in vain is propitiation made that we may be forgiven. That is not the means of being justified. In order to this Christ has kept the law in our stead, and then died for our sins; but that His death is the means of pardon, but not of justification."

"The other [Mr. Darby's] is that we believers are not under law, but under grace — that Christ, while perfect under law in His own Person, did not keep it to make good our defects under it, or give us legal righteousness or justification by it — that He died for our sins and thus put them away; but that we are viewed as also being dead with Him, and no longer in the flesh at all, to which the law applied, but stand as risen in the presence of God, in the position in which He stands with all the value of His work upon us, and accepted in His person, according to His acceptance now that He is risen. That this is measured by His having perfectly glorified God in His work, and hence is glorified in and with God in heaven; and that this is our title to be in heaven and glory in due time with Him — conformed to His image — the first-born among many brethren."

I leave the Editor to point out, in this statement of the question, and in its subsequent arguing out from Scripture, "the bald and bare Socinianism" it contains, or to retire ashamed from a contest which demands such dishonest tactics. Meanwhile I requote from him a passage from Hooker which he has adduced in opposition to the doctrine he condemns. Speaking of the believer's position as accepted in the beloved, Hooker says, "Shall I say [he is] more perfectly righteous than if he had fulfilled the whole law? I must take heed what I say; but the Apostle saith, 'God made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.' Such are we in the sight of God the Father, as is the very Son of God Himself." Here is nothing about Christ's law-keeping as the ground of our righteousness; neither is there the thought that the believer is under the law himself; much less the impious (if it were not the ignorant) declaration, that the Lord's obedience unto death was restricted to law-keeping, and that it could only be estimated by the standard of the law. What Hooker implies is, that through redemption the believer is more perfectly righteous than if he had fulfilled the whole law. But how is this? If the Scripture is allowed to speak, on the simplest possible grounds; consequently Hooker thinks it enough to quote the passage in proof of his position — "God made Him to be sin for us [not that He kept the law for us], that we might be made the righteousness of God [not through His law-keeping for us, but] in Him." And his conclusion is just. "Such are we in the sight of God the Father, as is the very Son of God Himself." It is the exact expression of Scripture (1 John 4:17) "As He is, kathos ekeinos esti [not as He was], so are we in this world." The ground of our righteousness is that Christ was made sin for us; the position into which we are brought by this is that we are made the righteousness of God in Him. The full result before God of this is, that "as He is, so are we in this world;" or in Hooker's language, such are we in the sight of God the Father, as in the very Son of God Himself. I need not descend from this to say that, if the believer is "more perfectly righteous than if he had kept the whole law himself," there is an end of law as the measure of his righteousness, whether kept by Christ, or by himself, to this end. And the absurdity of his being still under the law is, that in order to this, Christ Himself must be brought (though in heaven) again under the law. For "as He is, so are we in this world." The difficulty of allowing this, and its perfect compatibility with entire obedience to the will of Christ, lies not in the doctrine as thus stated by Hooker and the Scripture, but in that system which the Editor of the Record undertakes to defend, and which has neither Scripture nor consistency to commend it.

Though I have quoted this passage from Hooker, as the Editor's authority to prove what it expressly denies, it is not my intention to pursue the question as it is presented in the works of systematic divines, and in the formularies of the Church of England, and in the various symbols of the Reformed Churches. I have not sufficient acquaintance with them for that, even if it were desirable; and I have not sufficient respect for them as authorities to induce me to enter on a more accurate study of them. There is no difficulty in believing that conflicting and inconsistent statements may be easily extracted from so heterogeneous a mass, since the Church of England has been described as having a Calvinistic creed, a Popish liturgy, and an Armenian clergy.

The Editor of the Record in page 6 of his pamphlet excuses himself from the necessity of presenting any farther testimony from Scripture on the plea that Mr. Darby has dealt unfairly with what he had already adduced. These are his words: "J. N. D. complains again and again, that we have quoted no Scripture. We will give our readers a sample of the way in which he deals with so much of Scripture as we did interweave with our argument." He then complains that the passage in his pamphlet, here alluded to, was quoted by Mr. Darby with certain omissions, which the Editor has indicated by blanks.

Now in this passage, brief as it is, the writer has been guilty of a double sophism. In the first place he assumes in his premises the question at issue; and in the next place presents that which does not follow as his conclusion. I will explain: for this is no logomachy. The writer says, "The essence of the glorious Gospel lies in this that the Lord Jesus not only bore our penalty, but did our work:" i.e., according to his argument He kept the law for us. But this is just the point which was demanded to be proved. This is the first sophism (there is no question about the Lord Jesus having borne our penalty). But in the passages of Scripture which he says he interwove in his argument, there is no ground for his conclusion, viz., "that this whole work ['his obedience unto death' comes in in the passages of Scripture I shall quote] is called in the Scriptures and proclaimed in the Gospel as the righteousness of God." The first of the texts, which the Editor says were omitted, is Galatians 3:13. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. For it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." Here, at any rate, there is nothing about Christ's keeping the law instead of us, but bearing its curse; and redemption from the curse of the law, as regarded those who were under it, is expressly declared to be by His being made a curse for them. The result to the Gentiles is added in the next verse: "that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ." It is plain that when the apostle says, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law," he is speaking of Jews, in distinction from Gentiles, who are brought in by name in the next verse; nor do I feel disposed, at the Editor's pleasure, to sacrifice the consistency of the apostle's argument. In sum, then, redemption, whether for Jew or Gentile, is expressly declared to be by Christ's death — by the cross — by His hanging on a tree. But neither is it said that "this is God's righteousness," as the Editor has affirmed; though, as Scripture abundantly shows, it is the ground of it. (See especially Rom. 3:26.) This first "proof-text," then, of the Editor's does not "flatly contradict [but affirms] what Mr. Darby is teaching." — The second text is Phil. 2:8: "Being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Here again there is nothing about law-keeping, but Christ's obedience unto death. But the law does not demand the death of one who perfectly fulfils its requisitions; so that something infinitely higher than vicarious law-keeping is in question. But neither does this Scripture proclaim it as the righteousness of God, nor flatly contradict what Mr. Darby is teaching. — The last passage is Isaiah 42:21: "He will magnify the law and make it honourable." Here there is no difficulty; and certainly no contradiction to Mr. Darby's teaching, as the following passage from his letter, which the Editor is reviewing, will abundantly show: "I hold the maintenance of the law, in its true and highest character, to be of the deepest importance, and necessary to a right and full apprehension of divine teaching. It is the abstract perfection of a creature, loving God with all our heart, and our neighbour as ourselves; and this Christ most truly did in all He did. All the moral claims and teachings of the law and prophets, as the Lord declares, hang upon it." But in this last "proof-text" of the Editor's there is no contradiction to Mr. Darby's teaching, as we have seen; nor is there in it the declaration that it is "the righteousness of God," which was to be proved. And herein is the Editor's second sophism. He says "We beg to call the reader's strict attention to the way in which Mr. Darby quotes this passage" — i.e., of his pamphlet. I have profited by his call: and what is the result? Why that, having filled up all his blanks by the omitted Scriptures, the position is more adverse to the Editor than when by Mr. Darby they were left blanks. The Editor might have guessed, what is now so evident, that they were so left because Mr. Darby was more anxious to seize upon the real point in question, and so not to be diverted from his argument, than to do as I have done, formally point out the fallacies of the passage from which he was quoting.

That I may not be obliged to return to the subject again, I notice another extraordinary passage at page 43 of this pamphlet. The Editor says, "It is by no mystic, no hidden, light that the Spirit leads and guides [most true]: it is by the plain letter of the law; it is by the Holy Scripture, which contains all things needful for life and salvation." If there is any sense at all in this latter clause (for "the plain letter of the law" is but a part of Scripture, and is included in it), it is the presentation of two distinct and opposite propositions, and then assuming them to be identical. By this means "the plain letter of the law" and "Holy Scripture" are made to be terms coincident. It is one of the commonest fallacies in reasoning; but I do not follow out the consequences, and I notice it here only to show how little dependence is to be placed on the unexamined Scriptures of the Editor, and the arguments he uses.

It is not my business to defend Mr. Darby, but to examine how the Editor of the Record meets, and attempts to refute, the Scriptures and the arguments which Mr. Darby adduces. The Editor may not know him: but those who do, will think him the last man to be suspected of evading the force of Scripture, when it is brought before him, or of reasoning on it in an inconsequent manner. Whatever else the "Brethren" are accustomed to — and they are accustomed to abuse and misrepresentation of every kind — they are not yet accustomed to the neglect of Scripture, nor to the inaccurate quotation of Scripture; nor, I trust, to refuse to bow to the authority of Scripture when it is presented.

At page 13 of his pamphlet, the Editor makes a great parade about the different senses in which the particular term "law" is used in Scripture, and concludes by saying, "Now all this, which is familiar enough to most careful students of the New Testament, Mr. Darby altogether loses sight of." In such an assertion, this writer must have calculated largely on the ignorance, or prejudice, or credulity of his readers. The knowledge which he ascribes to "careful students of the New Testament," is that which may be possessed by every child that reads it with an ordinary degree of attention. But his object in introducing it is simply mystification. And this mystification is applied (at page 45) with a view to neutralize the whole of the apostle's reasoning on the subject of the law in the Epistle to the Galatians. I grant that it is an awkward epistle for a man holding such views as the Editor. But does he expect one who has the least respect for the word of God, and who believes in its inspiration, will accept such a summary as he has given of this epistle? His "careful students," bewildered by his vapouring about the different senses of the word "law," perhaps may; but no believer, who has any just appreciation of the word of God, will. This is his abstract: "He [i.e., the apostle] there showed that he that has Christ has all that he needs — he finds obedience in Him, righteousness in Him. Surely shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength. The apostle further shows that anything added to Christ is a denial of Christ's sufficiency; that you cannot have both the shadow and the substance; that circumcision is nothing in Christ; that in Him we are complete, and have but to hold fast by Him." This passage, which is eked out by a quotation from Isaiah, presents absolutely all that the Editor of the Record professes to see in this wonderful epistle, which so elaborately refutes all that in this matter the Record is teaching. One would have thought there was no great difficulty in determining the meaning of the term "law" in such passages as the following: "As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse." "That no man is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident." "The law is not of faith." "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law." "The covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law which was four hundred and thirty years after cannot disannul." "If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain," with many others equally clear that might have been quoted from this very epistle. It is most striking and instructive to observe how, at every point in the Editor's argument, there is the same careful, absolute avoidance of the words of Scripture. But I commend my readers to the study of the epistle itself. I have known more than one Church of England person brought into the liberty of the Gospel by its perusal when everything else had failed.

In the order of the pamphlet we come next to a series of quotations from Mr. Darby's writings, at the close of which the Editor says, "We have chosen at some trouble to ourselves [he had not to go far to collect his passages] to let Mr. Darby speak for himself." I have read these quotations, both here and in their connections, and disjointed and fragmentary as they necessarily are, as exhibited in pages 14 to 18 in this pamphlet — giving, for the most part, but heads of arguments, which, in their place, are carefully argued out from Scripture, I still think them the redeeming feature in the Editor's work, and incomparably more fitted to help earnest and anxious souls than anything else in this controversy which he has written. I therefore cordially thank him for having done this unwitting service to the truth. These quotations will go forth with his book, and souls that are exercised about subjection to the divine word, will find in them, fragmentary as they are, that which will meet a want and a craving within, which, if it does not lead to the study of the tractates from which they are selected, will, in the mercy of the Lord, lead to a study of the Scriptures, of which they will be felt to be the faint though faithful echo.

There is one quotation so peculiar — not from its inaccuracy — that I must beg my reader's attention for a moment to it. In quoting it, the Editor says, in brackets, "the capitals are Mr. Darby's;" and so, in truth, I must confess they are. Here they are: "I AM NOT IN THE FLESH." But this is only a passage of Scripture with a change of pronoun. Did the Editor never read the words in Rom. 8:8, "But YE ARE NOT IN THE FLESH?" And just before, "They that ARE IN THE FLESH cannot please God?" And the converse of this, "WHEN YE WERE IN THE FLESH?" But what does this mean, that a Christian writer should be so blinded by his unscriptural system, as to hold up a passage of Scripture when printed in capitals as a statement of error? But it tells a tale. It shows that in his system the Editor has no place either for the consistency of the law or the liberty of grace.

I very earnestly commend to all Christians these works, the titles of which I give below.* They belong to no sect. They are the just inheritance of every Christian of every name. Truth disdains a sectarian garb; though the Editor of the Record has attempted to brand these Scriptural expositions of a Scripture doctrine with an opprobrious name, instead of answering them, as he was bound to do, from the word of God.

It is difficult to repress a feeling of indignation when the professed teachers of others so act as to compel the application of the words of the Lord, "Ye have taken away the key of knowledge; ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering ye hindered."

I reserve for a future communication the consideration of the remaining points in this pamphlet. In the meantime, and at all times, may God give His people "the meekness of wisdom," and a supreme regard for His holy word!

Yours faithfully, Presbus.

[* "The Righteousness of God," "A Letter on the Righteousness of God" "The Pauline Doctrine of the Righteousness of Faith" all by J. N. D.]

The "Record." No. 2.

[04 1863 219]

Dear Mr. Editor,

It is one of the infelicities of controversy that those who are engaged in it are too often more intent on establishing their own views and making their adversaries appear absurd, than they are in endeavouring clearly to understand what they oppose, that, at least, misrepresentation may not come in to widen the necessary grounds of dissension. Were it otherwise, half the irksomeness of controversy would be taken away, and all cause for the acerbity with which it is so often conducted. In the end, truth would be incomparably a gainer, and the grounds of difference between Christians would be restricted to that which is due to the maintenance of truth and opposition to error.

Of one thing I am assured, that if the Record reviewer had taken half the pains to understand the doctrines of "J. N. D." and the "Brethren," which he has to misrepresent, and make out a case against, them, his labours might have been immensely abridged. His articles would not have appeared so triumphant, but his contempt and horror might have been directed against something more real, if not more worthy of it, than the phantoms of imagination he has conjured up for his reprobation.

His assertions concerning what his opponents hold as well as what they deny are so many, and so false, on the very face of the documents that were before him, that for the truth's sake I will try to clear the ground, by a statement of what is and what is not the subject of difference in this controversy. But in doing this I accept the declaration of the Reviewer that the difference is fundamental; and emphatically repeat, "It is fundamental."

With those then against whom the Record has thought fit to take up arms, there is no question whether Christ's living obedience on earth was perfect or not; nor whether as "made of a woman and made under the law," he perfectly kept the law or not. The question, on this point, is whether, as the Record asserts, his perfect obedience as "God manifest in flesh" [for he was that] was restricted to the keeping of the law, and measured by it, without the possibility of any higher feeling or act than the law demanded. As to this it is asserted by the Record (p. 41), I know not whether with great rashness or impiety, that, "In the heart of Jesus there was nothing but the law of His God. It was empty of all besides — no vestige of anything but the glorious law of the glorious God!" The ground of this assertion — what is it? "There was nothing in the ark saving the two tables of stone." Was there ever advanced so slender (not to say so false) a ground for so enormous a conclusion? and that concerning Him who, though perfect man, was nevertheless God; and of whom it is said, "In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily?" Men, and Christians, alas! in the heat of controversy, say all sorts of rash things about the person of Christ (and Christ must hear them!); but I affirm that no Christian that knows who Christ is, and has been washed from his sins in the blood of Him whom he worships as his "Saviour-God," would dare deliberately to make so rash and impious an assertion. It is no question, I repeat, whether, as made under the law, the law of God was in His heart; but, bearing in mind who He was, and what relations He sustained toward God and man (for if there are two natures there is but one person), whether what was expressed on the two tables of stone was all that was in the heart of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ? I ask, had he no thought of mercy towards sinners, of which the law speaks not one word? Had He no thought of "giving his life a ransom for many?" A thing which the law, in its very nature, could neither demand nor take cognizance of. Is it an expression of law when Christ says to His disciples, "With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer?" It will not do for the Record to go off in declamation about the law being "the righteous pillar on which the throne of the Eternal rests," and a great deal more, for which the Scripture gives him no warrant. It was the law written on the two tables — the divine code of requirement — and nothing else, which was in the ark. It is this which forms the premises of this monstrous conclusion. I ask the readers of the Record to consider whether the Lord Jesus had not other thoughts in His heart than this writer will allow Him to have, when He said "therefore doth my Father love me because I lay down my life, that I might take it again:" and "this commandment have I received of my Father." Here is obedience and here is a commandment, which will in vain be looked for in the law; and which shows the falseness of the assertion of this writer that, not only had Christ nothing in His heart but the law, but that there is no possible obedience that is not gauged by the law. Why even Paul himself had infinitely higher things in his heart than mere law-keeping, when he said, "I could wish myself accursed from Christ, for my brethren my kinsmen according to the flesh:" — emulating Moses in his love for Israel, who said, "Oh this people have sinned a great sin . . . . yet now if thou wilt forgive their sin — and if not blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book." And alas! for that Christian who has not higher thoughts in his heart than law-keeping, when he reads, "Be ye imitators of God as children beloved: and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us and given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God of a sweet smelling savour." And again "Hereby perceive we love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."

But this limitation of all obedience to statutory enactments is the utter confounding of all divine, and I will add, of all human relations, from which obedience springs, on other principles than that of subjection to law. Nothing can be more faulty as reasoning, and nothing more fatal and contrary to Scripture as doctrine, than this confounding obedience, whether of Christ or the believer, which takes its spring and character from the relationships involved, with subjection to a code of definite requirements. If we take the blessed Lord Himself, His whole life was one continued act of obedience to His Father's will. Even when going to death, as already quoted, he said "this commandment have I received of my Father." But it is demonstrable that there is no such thing as one who had perfectly obeyed the law (and this Christ did) being required by the law still to die under its curse. But Christ did this: and did it in obedience also. "He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." This, as regards Christ, is that "higher law" (which this critic in scorn asks may be written for him) to which in infinite love and grace He was subject. As regards believers, the Lord Jesus says, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." The Apostle John, commenting on this, in his Epistle, says, "A new commandment I write unto you; which thing is true in Him and in you; because the darkness is past and the true light now shineth:" i.e., its force is founded on the relationship in which the Christian stands to Christ, and vice versa. This then is the "higher law" of the Christian, written by the Holy Ghost in the Scriptures, of which this writer appears so profoundly ignorant.

I ask him if there is nothing different in the obedience a wife owes to her husband, a child to its parent, and even a servant to his master, from that which a subject owes to his king or government? In a general sense, law has to do with each, that its sanctions may not be violated. But I ask if the special obedience of each is not regulated by the relationship in which each is placed? Will it be affirmed that a wife's love and obedience are regulated by Act of Parliament, instead of inhering in the very relationship in which she stands to her husband? Or that a child's obedience is ordered by a code, instead of springing from filial affection, subject to parental authority? If this would be absurd, much more absurd is it, and impossible, that the obedience which results from the relationship of the children of God to God as their Father, and to Christ as their living Head, should be regulated by law, as law. It would be a denial of Christianity, and of the position in which believers are set by grace. But Scripture is plain, and says, "If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." And further, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh." And again, "As many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God." And still further, "Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." This, then, is that "higher law" which the Record demands may be put in writing, that we may read it and "test it." Let the Record ponder it and "test it" as it may.

But I advance, and assert that it is no question with Mr. Darby and the "Brethren" (as objected against them by the Record) whether, "As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one many shall be made righteous." And I must say that it is the grossest falsehood to say that they deny it, in the face of its assertion again and again in the very pages that are pretended to be reviewed. What is denial is, first, that this obedience was restricted to law-keeping, whether personally or vicariously, as already shown. Next, it is denied that this obedience was limited to the life of Christ, because Scripture says, "He was obedient unto death," and His death was an essential part of His obedience. Further, it is denied that His living obedience, whether measured by the law or not, apart from His death, is the ground of a sinner's righteousness, as the Record affirms. The question lies in the nature and extent of the Lord's obedience; and whether it is to be separated into active and passive, and made distributively; the one, the ground of righteousness, and the other of pardon; separating pardon and justification (which Scripture never does), and placing them on totally different grounds.

In like manner, it is no question whether all that perfectness, in which Christ glorified the Father on earth, in living obedience and devotedness, is in the most precious sense for us; or whether or not the believer has part and interest in it all. What is denied is, that a sinner can have any part in this perfectness, or association with it, except through participation, by faith in the death of Christ. Then his participation is through union with Christ risen, in life, eternal life, as the Scripture says: "God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." But this is on the ground of accomplished redemption, and as being risen with Christ. The apostle says, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." Otherwise, Christ in living obedience and perfectness abode alone; as He says, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit." When the ground of a sinner's righteousness is stated in Scripture, it is not the living obedience of Christ that is taken up at all, much less is it taken up apart from His death. It says, "He who knew no sin was made sin for us [this was in death], that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." This is confirmed by the passage in Peter (1 Peter 2:24), "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree." I do not know whether I ought to stop even to notice the attempt that has been made to disturb the force of this passage by criticism, and adduced by one of the allies of the Record. That, "bare our sins in his own body up to the tree," is contrary to Greek usage, and contrary to the usage of Scripture, is abundantly shown in an article on the passage in Vol. xi., p. 278, of the Present Testimony, which my reader may consult. It seems to me of very little importance whether, as Mr. Cox says, Dr. Brown first presented this criticism apart from the doctrine now in question — having stumbled upon it, I suppose, in learned ignorance — or whether it was originated by the Quarterly Journal of Prophecy, to sustain its dreadful doctrine of Christ's life of unatoning penal sufferings, and which the Record makes the ground of a sinner's righteousness.

Further, in apposition to the declaration of the Record, that Mr. Darby denies that we have anything whatever to do with law, I assert it is a fundamental truth with him and with the "Brethren," that "the righteousness of the law," to dikaioma tou nomou, is to be "fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit." And it is so because Scripture declares that "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and death." And this again, Scripture says, is because, "What the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law," etc. And, I add, this righteousness is to be fulfilled in us, in a walk, "Who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." I note this because these critics, with marvellous accuracy, tell us that the expression is not "by us," but "in us," which means that Christ, who is in us, fulfilled the law, and it is reckoned to us as if we had done so; cutting off even the necessity of a believer's regarding the righteousness of the law in his walk. Now, if this is the Record's doctrine, the "Brethren" are at issue with it on the score of its practical Antinomianism. But is the believer put under law, that its righteousness may be fulfilled in him? No. It is fulfilled by his not walking "after the flesh, but after the Spirit." It is fulfilled by virtue of that "higher law" which the Record thinks fit to scorn. Still it stands in Scripture, "He that loveth another hath fulfilled the law." "Love is the fulfilling of the law."

But further, as to sanctification. It is no question with Mr. Darby and the "Brethren" whether sanctification has two aspects in Scripture — absolute and practical; "progressive," if people like the term better. It may, perhaps, suit the Editor of the Record to overlook this: a prejudice is raised by it against his adversaries. But it does not subserve the interests of truth that a writer, while apparently combating what he deems an error in his opponents, should quietly state some distinction in his argument, which at once reduces him to their position. But what does this note mean? (p. 25.) "Our readers of course know, that we distinguish between sanctification as God views it, in which Christ is our sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30), and we are complete in him; and sanctification as it is actually and progressively wrought in us by the Holy Ghost, but which latter is denied by the Darby theology." But this is the doctrine of the "Darby theology," only it presents the absolute sanctification of the believer's person; "sanctified by God the Father," in a much fuller and more Scriptural way; and it carries practical sanctification much further than the "Record theology" can allow. This is the limit of the practical sanctification of the "Darby theology," "The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." What is the limit of the Record's? But I am remarking only on the accuracy of this theologian, I leave others to reflect on his honesty. At any rate, I think now that the ground at least is clear as to what, as regards the truth of God, is at issue between the "Brethren" and the Record, and I am not concerned about anything else.

I had marked the following passages for animadversion in these extraordinary articles, as showing the desperate positions to which the Record is driven in its zeal for orthodoxy. Since, however, I began this letter, a tractate by Mr. Darby, published in Canada,* has come into my hands, in which most of the points are fully taken up, so that I shall introduce them with the briefest possible notice.

[* It has been reprinted in this country, and is entitled, "Brethren and their Reviewers."]

In page 20 the Record says, "This lawless is to me a graceless gospel;" and then says (p. 23), "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." I know this is a quotation from Scripture; but I ask what kind of gospel is it? Is it the gospel in which the organ of the "Evangelicals" is landed, in its inconsiderate haste and zeal, in attacking the doctrine of the "Brethren?" In the same page there is this passage from the work of Mr. Mackintosh: "The believer is justified, not by works, but by faith; he stands, not in law, but in grace; and he waits, not for judgment, but for glory." As an answer to this, the Record quotes Heb. 9:28. He so quotes it as to present the destiny of men as sinners — i.e., death and judgment, as if it were the only prospect of believers, with which it is expressly contrasted. The passage begins with the adverb of comparison — "As it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment;" but it is broken off by him from its corresponding, "so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." It is the most perfect declaration of the believer's deliverance from death, through the death of Christ for his sins, at His first coming, and from "judgment," by His second coming, "without sin unto salvation;" that is, to receive us to Himself. "That," as Mr. Darby says, "we must all appear, or rather be manifested, before the judgment-seat of Christ, and receive the things done in the body — that every one must give an account of himself to God, is as plainly stated in the Scripture as possible; nor would any wise Christian seek to enfeeble its force." But, I add, this is utterly distinct from the "judgment" spoken of in the passage above; and John 5:24 declares that the believer will not come into judgment, in this sense, at all. These are the words: "He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment (eis krisin ouk erchetai), but is passed from death unto life." Who can be thankful enough that we have not to learn what the gospel is from the Record, or even from the clearest statements of it that can be made by men? I confess that these discussions have made me feel more than ever the priceless value of the word of God.

At page 24 we come upon this extraordinary statement, "According to this Darby doctrine, . . . . we are under quite a different principle from law, under quite a different head from the first Adam." I should think it is true, and that the man who denies it denies, not the "Darby doctrine," but Christianity. Scripture says, "Ye are not under law, but under grace." And it further says, "The first man is of the earth earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven." And it adds, "As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly." Nothing can be plainer than Scripture testimony that "we are under quite a different principle from law; and under quite a different head from the first Adam;" and it is this which makes it so serious a matter for the Record. It may abuse the "Brethren," and be scatheless; but it cannot despise God's testimony of grace and salvation, and remain unharmed. I pass by its confounding "the whole law of God," "the law of liberty," and "Christ's commandments." It is not inaccuracy that led to this. That we are all subject to. It is simple ignorance of Christianity, as well as utter carelessness of Scripture.

In page 38 I read the following: "Darbyism has its strength, or rather its weakness, in a denial of the law of God, as playing any important part at all in the salvation of men." Well, and what part does it play in the salvation of men? I suppose the first requisite in "the salvation of men" is that, by some means or other, they should obtain life: unless the Record thinks it is "Darbyism" to say they are "dead in trespasses and sins." Now, Scripture is explicit enough as to this when it says, "If there had been a law which could have given life [this was man's exigency], verily righteousness should have been by the law." I suppose, too, they wanted righteousness also. But, then, it is said, "If righteousness come by the law, Christ is dead in vain." But further, Scripture says, "By the law is the knowledge of sin." The law worketh wrath. "As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse." "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law [not, according to the Record doctrine, by having kept the law for us, because we had not kept it — and still binding it on us to keep it, though He kept it for us, but by], being made a curse for us [and that, not according to the doctrine of the Quarterly Journal of Prophecy, by His sin-bearing life, but in His atoning death], as it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." Yes, my fellow-Christians, let us hold fast the truth, that "now once in the end of the world [or the consummation of the ages] hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

In page 40 this critic says, "We believe that the following proposition could be easily demonstrated — that of all that was typical under the law of Moses we have the complete substance under Christ's gospel, and that all that was not typical in the law of Moses we have now precisely as it was first given;" i.e., the law with its imperative demand and its curse too, I suppose, notwithstanding Christ's having perfectly kept it in life, and having died under its curse. He has not put his "quod erat demonstrandum" to the proposition; so I content myself by objecting to it the Scripture which says, "All the prophets and the law prophesied until John." (Some change at any rate was impending when Christ came.) And "The law was our school-master unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." But after faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. "Tell me," says the Apostle, "ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?" (Gal. 4:21.) And let my reader pursue his argument to its close in these memorable words: "Christ is become of no effect unto you; whosoever of you are justified by the law, ye are fallen from grace." Perhaps my opponent may retort, "Wherefore then serveth the law?" I reply, "It was added because of transgressions TILL the seed should come to whom the promise was made." "Moreover the law entered [or came in by stealth] (padiselthen) that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." Scripture does not confound "the offence" and "sin" in this passage; nor does it confound "sin" with "transgression" in the important argument of the Apostle in the previous verses of the same chapter. (Rom. 5:13, 14.) Nor does it ever say, "Sin is the transgression of the law." This critic confounds these distinctions and makes "law" the measure of sin, on the supposed authority of the above passage, in which "law" is not found at all, nor "transgression" either. It is simply he hamartia estin he anomia.

The next point I notice (pp. 36, 37) is the Record's estimate of the importance of a "public written creed," which he is extremely troubled that the "Brethren" have not. He is very eloquent in his appeals to his readers about it, and shows them the fearful alternative of being without it. He says the alternative is blank infidelity, in one direction; and I know not what exactly in the other. He then tries to frighten the "Brethren" into a creed by a fearful description of the aurora borealis. You may imagine how they feel when he has told them of its fitful gleams, and "changing colours," "ghastly green, the deadly hue of death, and fierce red glare of destruction, and wrath to the uttermost;"* and then closes by the solemn declaration, "So is Mr. Darby's creed!" But why so! Because, poor gentleman! he is reduced to such an extremity that when you ask him what he believes, he answers, "the Bible!"

[*I am ashamed to write this last clause, which is a solemn declaration of Scripture, lest I should partake of the profanity of such a use of it.]

Of course the Record has found the good of a "public written Creed" in the maintenance of orthodoxy and in the driving away of all error from the limits of its own communion. I suppose it must have acted like a talisman, attracting all hearts and harmonizing all sentiments, within the pale of the Establishment at least. There is the Creed — written, public, acknowledged, and, as to its clergy, subscribed. But what of the consenting belief of the various parties in the Establishment. Do the evangelicals, who are accused of believing too little, agree with the Puseyites, who they think believe too much? Is the Record in a position to provoke a scrutiny? Does it not humiliatingly feel how much it needs to be like one of its own "invertebrates," in order to keep its position at all? It is evident enough, to the slightest observation, that the evangelicals are becoming more and more manifestly in a false position. The Record, as their organ, may deplore the incoming (in spite of its "public, written creed") of the tide of infidelity and popery into the Establishment; and so do I. But I am not bound, as the Record is, to defend at all costs, as the only proper ordering of God's Church, the system that allows of this deadly evil. May I not say, in its own language, that "its whole system is out of joint. It has no backbone, but goes goggling about like a mollusk?" The simile is his own.

Our critic next presents his strictures, or professes to do so, on the "Brethren's" notion on church government and discipline. With this he combines the question of gifts and ministry. I think he has now ventured on dangerous ground; but he has determined that his review of the "Brethren" shall be like the Earl of Strafford's — "Thorough." My reply, however, will not be long. Mr. Darby, in his Canada publication, has taken up the distinctive character of the Church, and has given the Scripture testimony on the subject. In the next place, the Record has affixed at the head of the present article a work of Mr. Darby's, entitled, "On Ministry: its Nature, Source, Power, and Responsibility," and another by the same author, entitled, "Christian Liberty of Preaching and Teaching the Lord Jesus Christ." Of the first of these works he says nothing at all: therefore I have nothing to answer. The second he dismisses with a few sentences of badinage, and this, of course, I can neither answer nor imitate. Observing, however, the date of 1834 on the former work, he is moved to say, "It is an old story." "We do not profess to understand it." The reason is plain. It is taken from an OLDER STORY, with which he is little acquainted, and which he understands as little. It seems a little too bad that he should thus sail off, after the bluster of the immediately-preceding sentence: "If they do not like our representation of their doctrines, let them come out, as we have done," etc. I certainly thought the "Brethren" had "come out" with some sufficiency on these topics at least, and that they had not been very backward on most others. I suspect their "coming out" has been in a manner that is little to the Record's satisfaction. They are men of one book. But whether the subject be doctrine or discipline, the nature of the Church, gifts, ministry, the Record (whatever it may have done in former days) most sedulously avoids an appeal to Scripture. It is an authority it dares not encounter.

This is not, however, the close of the subject. Mr. Mackintosh, in a work the title of which is also at the head of this article, has stated what he judges he has learned from Scripture on the subject of gifts and ministry. To these statements the Reviewer presents his reply — not from Scripture, but by giving a sketch (without naming it) of a university course, of examination for orders, and of episcopal ordination. In a word, he confronts statements drawn from the New Testament on the gifts which Christ, as the Head of His Church, ascended up on high to receive, and to give for its edification, with his own ecclesiastical system. He does not deny that the gifts of Christ are essential to ministry. But, then, he says (p. 50), "CHRIST gives the gift of iron ore, the gift of skill and strength, and out of these gifts we know not what can be brought." This, I fancy, my readers will think is "coming out." The statement of Scripture is, "When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men . . . . And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." Our Reviewer replies, "He gave the gift of iron ore," too — and the skill to melt it, I suppose, and the strength to forge it, and the outcome of a "steam-engine or a needle!"

Still they are Christ's gifts; for He gives alike the strength of him that "smootheth with the hammer, and that smiteth the anvil;" the gift of Paul an apostle, and of "Tubal Cain, the artificer in brass and iron." But now comes the issues of the matter. These gifts of Christ, when duly wrought and polished, and "examined thoroughly by competent men, set apart for the doing of that very work and finally, under all responsibilities, ordained to the work by men who themselves have been trained . . . . we listen to his word as to one who speaks with authority." "To this height, he says, the Plymouthists, guided by J. N. D. and C. H. M. have not attained." Not yet, I reply, through the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. But what is this height? Why, like the Record, to see equally in the late Archbishop of Canterbury and the present Dr. Pusey, Christ's gift to His Church. To own as "speaking with authority," the writers of the Oxford Tracts, and the authors of the Essays and Reviews; to validate the orders, as Christ's ministers, of the quondam members of the "Sterling Club;" and to acknowledge as a chief pastor in the Church of Christ, Bishop Colenso! The "Brethren" "have not attained this height." Nor have they learned in one breath to say, "In the end, our ministers, of whatever grade, are in simple reality the appointment of the Holy Ghost," and yet be obliged to admit that they may be sent as plagues; so that "God for our sins and infirmities permits them for our punishment." I do not rejoice in iniquity. God forbid. But this "turning of things upside down!" this iniquity in the place of righteousness! "How long?"

A word or two on the Record's allies and I have done. Dr. Carson, the Record says, has written "a slashing little pamphlet," which is strongly recommended. Perhaps by this time the Editor may have learned, that weapons in the hands of unskilful combatants sometimes wound friends as well as foes. Dr. C. may also have learned the homely proverb, that "It is dangerous to play with edge-tools;" at any rate, he has "slashed" too unskilfully for his own reputation, and has cut too rudely for his clerical friends. In his zeal to brand with heresy an expression of Mr. Mackintosh, he has left his mark on one of the most prominent formularies of the Church of England, charging with "Valentinianism" an identical expression in what is called "The Apostles' Creed." The unfounded and unrighteous nature of the attack on Mr. Mackintosh, commenced by the Quarterly Journal of Prophecy, and seconded by Dr. Carson, Mr. Darby has fully shown, as well as the worth or worthlessness of Dr. C.'s pamphlet.

In Mr. Cox's pamphlet, there is nothing to require an independent consideration. In his doctrine he agrees with the Record and Quarterly Journal of Prophecy, and is the humble admirer of Mr. B. W. Newton. Like the Record, he relies mainly on the testimony of divines, and quotes from those of the last three centuries. In the presence of the Scriptures these may stand aside. I am tempted, however, to quote a brief passage from one of them, given by Mr. Cox, that my reader may learn how men talk about the Lord Jesus Christ, when they leave the divine word and trust their own thoughts as a guide:

"From his birth, all that great ordnance of God's curses was charged with wrath, and bent against him, in order discharged, and let off upon him." "The curse seized upon him when he was made flesh, and began to break out upon him, in the spots of human infirmities, making him all over like sinful flesh." Mr. Cox appears to have had some misgiving about this traversing of Scripture on the most solemn point of its revelations. He adds, "While writing thus, Goodwin earnestly contended for the Godhead, glory, and perfectly sinless humanity of the Lord Jesus." Perhaps he did. It shows the school in which Mr. Cox has studied.

Mr. Synge also is introduced, in this controversy, by the Record; for what purpose it is hard to say; for this gentleman takes especial care to purge himself from what he deems the false doctrine of the Record on the one side, Quarterly Journal of Prophecy on the other, and that of Mr. Molyneux also, with whose statement this controversy commenced. Mr. Synge says, "Before entering upon the discussion of opposite theories, I wish to guard against two notions, which are sometimes entertained about Christ's fulfilment of the law: first, we sometimes hear of Christ's obedience to the law spoken of as if it gave a title to life in heaven. For my own part I cannot believe this, for I see no connection between Christ's obedience to the law ordained for man on earth, and the obtaining a title for the same man to a place in heaven. On what principle could an earthly law give any such title? Again, the other notion I would guard against is that of supposing that Christ bore the curse or penalty of sin during His life, previous to His entering the garden of Gethsemane." His doctrine about Christ and His work is incomparably better than his associates; and he differs more widely in his views of the law from the Record than he does from Mr. Darby. But as he gives them as theories, I have no temptation, nor disposition, to disturb them. Further study of the Scriptures may modify his views. However, as assailants of "the Brethren," all are patted on the back by the Record, and the due meed of praise is given to each. Dr. Carson is complimented with having written "a lively little pamphlet:" which the Record "again commends to the reader." Mr. Synge is encouraged as "one of our country clergy." But the compliment is almost spoiled by the awkward confession, "We had almost forgotten to notice the little tractate named at the head of this article." Mr. Cox "deserves honourable mention and has done yeoman's service." Because, I suppose, he has been armed only with a pike, as a halberdier; while the reviewer claims for himself the honour of an ancient knight, accoutred, and lance in hand, to ride down the ranks of his foes. Alas! in the encounter, he has not taken the only weapon to which they are vulnerable — "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

I have done. I trust I have "set down naught in malice." The importance of the truths at issue, and of endeavouring in a day like this to maintain a true witness for Christ, I have no wish to disguise. If this mercy be accorded to the "Brethren," it is worth while to have borne ten thousand times the abuse that has been heaped upon them in consequence. And if for the slender part I have borne in this controversy I am with Mr. Darby put under the ban of these Christian Reviewers, I shall rejoice. I have left it to his pen to present the tide of Scripture testimony that sweeps away their feeble opposition, and have contented myself with indicating the falseness of the grounds they have assumed in that opposition.

I now retire to more quiet studies, and perhaps more fitting.

Yours faithfully, Presbus.