To Mr. R. P. Smith on "Consecration, Etc."

Dear Brother In Christ,

1874 271 A friend at B-d has forwarded me the note you wrote him, in which you say (upon my letter, in the Bible Treasury of January), "I hope you cannot endorse p. 207, col. 1, where consecration and trust are spoken of as turning back to Judaism." A bare extract like this, on such an important subject as consecration and trust misleads, and would be as shocking to me as it can be to you, for nothing is further from my thoughts, and I venture to add from the letter as such. It is due to yourself and the truth in question to connect this bare extract with what precedes and follows it in that column. For myself, I am content on its re-perusal, to leave it without alteration to the candid consideration of all. The letter does treat a kind of consecration, which you put in connection with other things, such as trust in mere promises, a momentary cleansing by blood, and a re-adjustment of nature, and calls this "a turning back to Judaism, and reducing Christians to an inward realization of a lower purity." The letter puts in contrast with this a believer's present position as united to Christ, the second Adam, in life and righteousness, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.

As regards "scriptural holiness," and our separation to God, I suppose christian circumcision to be "the putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ;" and further, as to the world, we are unsettled and crucified to it, by nothing less than the death of Christ.

Carried thus outside the flesh and the world by death and resurrection, "our life is hid with Christ in God; and we set our affections on things above, not on things on the earth," and are settled with the Son of man in heaven. A holiness and a consecration which unsettle nobody from their worldly or ecclesiastical surroundings surely go in the face of this Colossian epistle, which says, "wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why as though living in the world are ye subject to ordinances?" etc. Is it not a solemn thing to say to those who are inclined to come out, "The worst thing you can do is to leave your church?" What must a person do who follows this advice, but accept for a basis the earth and its national establishments, "after the commandments and doctrines of men," and so give up the distinguishing ground of real Christianity, "not holding the Head from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, increaseth with the increase of God." If "scriptural holiness" be a separation from the flesh by the circumcision of Christ, and likewise from the world and its rudiments by the death and resurrection of Christ, how can that be called holiness which unsettles nobody in their ecclesiastical and political surroundings? Will you take this query into the secret of your own soul with God, and judge it according to the light of His word, in the power of the Holy Ghost?

There was, and will be, a consecration and trust in promises, with other things which characterise Judaism, as they are enumerated in the opening verses of Romans ix., but they have a millennium for their display in permanent blessing upon earth. The position in which Paul then stood was one with the ascended Lord, outside all these privileges and covenants which pertained to his "brethren according to the flesh." He was identified with a rejected Christ in his pathway on the earth, and united to the glorified Son of man in the heavens by death and resurrection, under the anointing of the Holy Ghost." "A man in Christ" has died to all besides, and must be unsettled practically as to himself and all his surroundings below, if he would be in correspondence and communion with Christ as the Head of the new creation of God. "He which stablisheth us with you in Christ and hath anointed us is God, who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." Moreover, as touching "the promises of God, they are all made yea, and in him amen, unto the glory of God by us." They are made sure to us as a present portion in Christ, and are ours in the title of heirs and joint-heirs with Christ!

Having said this much upon our true christian circumcision, and the unction and anointing of the Holy Ghost which we have received of the Father, and which abideth in us, allow me to make an extract or two from "The Higher Life," simply to show another consecration and trust taught by the author which is something worse than a turning back to Judaism. As to "political surroundings" Mr. Boardman asks, "Is there anything in the office of our civil police, if discharged honestly, prayerfully, boldly, to grieve the Spirit of God, or cause the frown of the most High? No more is there in being a soldier or sailor." (See p. 60.) Again, "Havelock's enlistment was as hearty under the banner of the tribe of Judah as under the lion of Britain." His biographer says "of his second conversion," that "the scriptures opened to him in yet greater fulness, and his consecration to his Master's service assumed yet greater intelligence and force." (Page 62.) As to "holiness and consecration" Mr. B. further writes, "It would be useless for Satan to ply us Protestants with the peculiarities urged on Romanists; we could not be driven into petticoats, dignified as robes," etc. Satan "plies us with notions more Protestant, but not one whit less fictitious and deceptive. Would you be a whole-souled disciple of Christ? He says of your person, You will have to conform all your personal habits to a rigid rule first of all. You must put on the strait-jacket of propriety tight-laced. It would ill-become one wholly consecrated to God to wear ornaments or elegancies. Gold and jewellery and costly array must be wholly eschewed." (Page 122.) Again, "the truth is, we are never really entirely the Lord's freemen until we are free from the trammels of all these trivial questions, and at full liberty to follow the Lord in whatever dress, or position, or business, or company, or circumstances, the providence of God, and our own judgment of proprieties, and our own ability and taste, may dictate or require." (Page 125.) Solemnly, and as followers of Christ, we may well question this range of "consecration" and of "scriptural holiness," whether it be yours which unsettles nobody, or Mr. Boardman's which settles people down in their "gold and jewellery and costly array," and if disturbed in their conscience told to attribute their disquietude to Satan's deceptions upon Protestants! I must ask you in conclusion, Can this kind of teaching be brought into the light of the New Testament, except to be condemned, much less tested by the example and ways of Christ and His disciples, or the formative power and baptism of the Holy Ghost? Is this kind of consecration and holiness what is meant by, "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our body?" or is it not "a turning back to Judaism" or something worse, and "reducing Christians to an inward realization of a lower purity?"

I will not reply to these questions myself, but in brotherly love, and in confidence in the Lord, leave the answers for you to make to Him whom you are seeking to serve, so that you may be able more skilfully to guide the many souls who look to you into the true way of holiness and personal consecration.

Yours affectionately in Him, J. E. Batten.