Mr. R. P. Smith's "Farewell."

1874 205 My Dear —

I have read Mr. Pearsall Smith's address, delivered at the "Farewell Meeting" in Liverpool, as reported in "The Christian" of September 24th, and now say a few words on it as you request.

It is but right, I think, to give the importance that is due to this last lecture, as it contains his own review of his course in England, and states his own judgment upon the work and its results, which he earnestly commends "to the intelligence of the ministers of Great Britain."

In common with many others, I have not been uninterested, as you know, in the main objects proposed by Mr. S., namely, "increased holiness of life" in our daily walk, and more "entire consecration and personal devotedness" to the service of the Lord. In neither of these objects is he peculiar, and he only expresses a common want which, thank God, is felt by thousands of Christians who have been waking up to the discovery of declension in themselves, and of their sad departure from Christ's glory in the church of God, as such.

The ways and means by which he proposes to reach these objects, and which he recommends so confidently to others, are the things really in question — and by many, more than questioned. Let me add, that as a system (for it is one), I at one time hoped Mr. S. would have judged it as a whole and broken it up, as fundamentally opposed to scripture; but his farewell address leads me to fear he will only take his vessel into dock to be repaired, with possibly the removal of some avowedly rotten timber, and then relaunched. This I deeply regret for his own sake, and the sake of others in this country, who have had their curiosity excited, or in many cases really got a something which they had not before. As regards his doctrines, Mr. S. says, "I have been thrown in the way of men now, of high culture and of deep piety, and have been benefited thereby. I shall before God, with prayer, reconsider and rewrite what I have already sent out: if I am wrong, retract; if I am right, stand to it" — which is all very well as far as it goes; but I doubt whether Mr. S. will in this way get into his real and true place before God.

Mr. Smith knows that some of his own friends have openly declared they cannot give away his publications as they now stand, because of wrong doctrine; and surely this is matter for conscience in confession before God. May the Lord preserve him from being a judge in his own matters, for he says," if I am wrong, retract; and if I am right, stand to it." "To the word and to the testimony."

Another thing I would ask for him in brotherly love, namely, that he may not be allowed to reconsider, with a view of rewriting what he has already sent out; for this would be a great snare, and will in fact be only bringing out the old ship with new copper-bottom to conceal her defects, and new sails to make a finer show than before.

And now a few words on the "Farewell Address" at Liverpool, which does not show me any advancement, either as to growth in holiness, or personal consecration to God of which he and they speak; but on the contrary sanctions an acceptance of conscious sin and known existing evil. Would you expect to hear Mr. S., who is the teacher and example of this higher life "of increasing holiness and personal consecration," publicly say, "no one has been unsettled from his ecclesiastical surroundings; to churchmen the prayer-book, they say, is a new book to them; and the baptists confess they never understood their own standards before?" Where Christ becomes better known, this is the case with the Bible.

Again, where persons have been exercised upon the evil with which they are connected as Christians, Mr. S. tells us, "I have said to those inclined to change, you could not do a worse thing than to leave your church." "Don't discuss," he says, "but search the scriptures with the honest purpose, to gain a scriptural experience before God. This rest [what rest?] may be attained by all denominations of true Christians; your dogmas may remain unchanged but must be illuminated. [Is there no such thing as truth?] The churchman and dissenter alike need to walk more and more in the light of God and in the company of God," etc.

What is meant, and more important still, what is the value of this "scriptural experience before God," and "this rest," which are compatible with a person abiding in existing evil, and all the various forms of ecclesiastical corruption in these last and perilous times? Is there such a thing as "the church of the living God"? and is there no responsibility for today in the words, "every man's work shall be made manifest, for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is;" and further, as to the man himself, "if any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy, for the temple of God is holy which temple ye are"? What kind of "scriptural experience before God," and what kind of a rest which may be attained by all denominations of true Christians, may this be, which Mr. S. has discovered for himself, and to which he leads his followers? Is this the way of holiness and personal consecration by which one may "walk more and more in the light of God and in the company of God," and by which "God's word becomes of greater virtue to the soul"?

Whose voice are we to follow — his, who tells "I have said to those inclined to change, You could not do a worse thing than leave your church" — or the voice of Paul to the Corinthians, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty;" and again the voice from heaven in the Apocalypse, saying, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues?' It is with sorrow' one is compelled to add that seldom, if ever, have there been such loud professions and calls to holiness of life and personal consecration (connected, too, with an expected "baptism of the Holy Ghost," and a "pathway of power") as have been made by Mr. Smith and his followers, and yet only seen to collapse at the very moment when an opportunity for their definite and distinct application against ecclesiastical evil and corruption occurred.

"I will spue thee out of my mouth" were the words of the Lord (who walked through the midst of the seven golden candlesticks), as regards Laodicea. "Be zealous therefore and repent" marked the moral estimate of Him whose eyes were as a flame of fire; but says Mr. Smith, "you could not do a worse thing than leave your church"; and "no one has been unsettled from his ecclesiastical surroundings." If principles are to be judged, and the truth of their character by the results produced, what can be said of the competency of Mr. S. to hold the balances of holiness in the one hand, or of sin in the other in the church of God? No, I repeat my desire that he may not occupy himself in the reconsideration of his tracts, with a view of rewriting them and reprinting them, with a patch here and there, but judge himself to be unfit for any such work, while there remains a prior and grave matter to be searched out and confessed between his soul and God in secret.

In my judgment he does violence to the sanctuary of God upon the questions of holiness and sin — to say nothing of the whole scope of Christianity — and comes out with an unsanctified balance, and weighs clean and unclean to the saints with false weights and measures. If he has done this unwittingly and ignorantly, as I fully believe, yet is he on this account unfit and unable to detect the wrong, much less to put the truth of God right; and this is why I trust he may be kept from the use of his pen at present, lest he should only give proof of this to his own sorrow and shame, and the regret of those who are anxiously and prayerfully waiting on the Lord on his behalf.

This entire repudiation of conscience or responsibility to relative evil before God leads to the fact (which is evident enough in his system, and in this "Farewell lecture") that he only contemplates the individual in what is but his own personal purity.

The object becomes self, and is reduced to one's own self: consisting in the expurgation of sin, and bad tempers, and cares; and "a re-adjustment of body, soul, and spirit to Christ," accompanied by "an inward realization of purified affections," etc.

"There is," he says, "to be found in Christ a uniform victory over sin, not variable, but unbroken, cloudless, shadowless," and he then asks, "What is sin?" His final answer to this query is, that "the scriptural standard is not faultless, but blameless;" and then by an illustration of a little girl spilling the ink on her mother's dress, and "much pleased with the result," he reduces God's standard to mere consciousness, and this little girl's "conception" of not having done a wrong thing! "So all that is beyond our conception," he says, "is met and cleansed every moment by the blood of Christ, and in our Christ we have resource for uniform victory over sin." If so, why were sins of ignorance to be atoned for? He also speaks of "the commencement of a long life of sanctification," and that "there must be complete consecration to God, and complete trust in His promises" — which is all a turning back to Judaism, and reducing Christians to an inward realization of a lower purity. "Thus has come a harmony into my existence," he says, "a re-adjustment of the whole nature, spirit, soul, and body to Christ, that must be the wonderful reality of the words, 'Christ formed in you,' 'Christ in you,' 'the being filled with the Spirit,' the 'not I, but Christ liveth in me,' and 'the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God.'" (See "Holiness through Faith," p. 19.)

All this reasoning, and from these precious scriptures too, shows how much the system consists of making everything of self as the object down upon this earth, instead of the Christian's portion and state with the ascended Son of man in heaven at the right hand of God in glory. He borrows from Christ, it is true (as the scriptures just quoted prove), what is necessary to produce all these effects; but it is to re-adjust the Adam nature in order to get an inward state and realization of purified affections, etc.

In result, it separates Christ from us, as the one and only object for the soul, and makes the state of the soul an object to itself instead; and then necessarily and naturally modifies the standard of holiness, so as to bring it down to one's reach; and of sin, so as to escape its condemnation. Otherwise, why take such an example as the little child and the ink-bottle, and its want of conception to excuse its misconduct as to the mother's dress, instead of "If we walk in the light, as he (God) is in the light, we have fellowship one with another"? Take another instance of dropping the standard of holiness and sin to suit a present state and condition on earth — "If we could see into everything future in our life, we could never take another step; but God progressively shows it to us." This is applied by Mr. Smith to the church too — "may the church walk in Christ, not in self, not faultless, but blameless before God." What confusion is here!

If the state of a believer in Christ were looked at as accepted and complete in Christ, why make this distinction between "faultless" and "blameless?" For surely looked at as in Him, which is our true and changeless standing and state, we are both "unblameable in holiness and unrebukable in love." If we have for our souls another state and experience for this present life, then it is plain the perfect example and faultless, yea, sinless, nature of Christ will not do for us as the proper object of faith and hope any more than the absolute holiness of God.

Nevertheless, if this be beyond us now in everyday experience and in positive conformity, as it certainly is, and must be till His coming, it is not beyond that mighty power of God to effect which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, etc., as Head of the new creation of God. Do you think that these variations, and this sliding scale of holy and unholy, clean and unclean, faultless and blameless, etc., would be necessary, if the new creation with Christ the Second Adam were the one object before the soul? Are we, or are we not, on the other side of the cross, and by means of it, through death to the old man and our resurrection with the new, united to Christ in life and righteousness and glory? We are not in the flesh, nor of the world, even as He was not of the world. Is there merely a re-adjustment of our nature, body, soul, and spirit to Christ? or is it true that "if any man be in Christ, lie is a new creature; old things are passed away and all things are become new, and all things are of God"?

The witness and testimony of the Holy Ghost is certainly to Christ where He is, and as He is — and He is likewise in us, the assurance from God the Father of our sonship; yea, further, that "as Christ is, so are we in this world." Why should we lower the standard of the new creation to any present state, if it serves God to work for His own glory by no one less than the Son of man as He is? He has begun to create and will conform us to the image of the heavenly man at His right hand in glory; and practically "he that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he Christ is pure."

I am sorry for those who accept any other pattern than Christ as our rule of life while here below, and who would make a difference between faultless and blameless to get at an ideal purity another way. Was not Christ both faultless and blameless when on this earth? and is it not falsifying the standard in heaven where God is working for His own glory, as well as below where the Holy Ghost is working for Christ's glory, to accept any other pattern than what our blessed Jesus was and is?

There are of course other statements upon which I will not remark. Still I repeat, where separation from evil, even from the corruptions of ecclesiastical evil, around us is refused, and yet holiness of life and personal consecration to God is pressed, I cannot put these opposite things together without, as I have said, a compromise of the balance and weights and measures of the sanctuary of God; and this we ought instantly to judge. His standpoint is wrong.

In conclusion, I would observe as to the system of Mr. Smith, that it is mainly occupation with the flesh, with sin in oneself and what it produces; though accompanied it. may be with what he calls a uniform victory over sin and the world through faith. Some such difference of ministry is stated by John the Baptist when speaking of himself in contrast with Christ; "he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth. He that cometh from heaven is above all, and what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth." As a consequence, there is but little use made of John's Epistles except one verse — "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son, cleanseth us from all sin" — and this, as you know, is misused by him. The new nature, and "that eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested to us," of which John speaks, and which is in fact the apostle's subject, has but a small place with Mr. Smith or his system. "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit [practise] sin, because his seed abideth in him, and he cannot sin because he is begotten of God," is a truth which, as you will easily understand, cannot well be worked up in his theory. So likewise "whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world," is seldom or never used, for the same reason; whereas the latter part of this verse is of constant occurrence, and "this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." In short, the partial use of such fundamental scriptures as these, and indeed, John's Epistle, at large, as well as the misuse of others not only in John but in the Romans, etc., guide exactly to the defects, not to use any stronger and more exact word, of all such systems as this of Mr. Smith, and shows where they all break down by making one's own state and experience here the object, instead of Christ.

It is not the new creation with the Second Adam at its head, and God in sovereign power by the Holy Ghost quickening the dead in trespasses and sins, raising them up together with Christ, and making them sit together in heavenly places in Christ, which flows forth fresh and full from his soul as one who is there in the full glow of what satisfies the Father's love to give to His Son. On the contrary, this when referred to is merely called a standing, and, let me say, coldly declared to be a "judicial" standing! Why this, except it be that his system is so exclusively moral and human — so wrongly subjective as to be all but confined to the state and experience of a person either with or without a temper, and the absence of daily cares; having at the best a uniform victory over sin, except as to what is not known of evil in the flesh, through want of perception or conception, like the little girl? Such effects of faith and this holiness, coupled with an inward purity and a progressive sanctification, are Mr. Smith's objects, instead of "beholding the glory of the Lord, and our being changed (morally) into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord."

He has not got into the true position of a Christian as united to Christ at the Father's right hand, the Second Adam, and Head of the new creation of God; or one with the church as a member of the body of Christ on the earth, where the Holy Ghost is come down from the Father and the Son "to gather together in one" the members of Christ, and to work in the church, "dividing to every man severally as he will."

Not being consciously in a true position with Christ in heaven by the anointing of the Holy Ghost, he speaks and urges lower things which have not to do with forming "our citizenship in heaven" by the things which are at God's right hand, but with objects which may serve to make a man happy and contented on earth through a uniform victory over a certain kind of sin, and an absence of care, etc. Is this mode of life and its experiences what Paul meant when he said, "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me"? Mr. Smith contents himself with these proofs of his own daily victory, and with confident assurances of it to others, for their encouragement; but all this must fall infinitely short of the measure of Christ, and what He has overcome to reach His present place in glory, and to give us communion with Himself there by the indwelling of the Spirit. In the end all such experiences must he unsatisfying and powerless to himself and others; because he makes his own conscious enjoyment the measure of his communion, instead of Christ and His fulness, and what the Father has given Him, that He might see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied. We are sharers with Him in all this through His own most precious love, in a present fellowship and joy (imperfect in nothing save its measure in us as down here) by the power of the Holy Ghost, whom we have of God, and who dwells in us — a blessed portion! May this form our life and ways below, while we wait for Him.

Yours faithfully in Him, J. E. Batten.