Thursday, November 30, 2006

J.N. Darby on Psalm 22:22

by John Nelson Darby

Psalm 22:22

Note, if we remark what the force of this verse is, we shall see what the character of our praise, in worship especially ought to be; for what, sice Christ leads it, must His sense be of the nature and completeness of this deliverance before God, and His new position?

Note, Christ does not declare God's name as known to the great congregation, nor call them brethren- it is the same God He praises, no doubt- nor does He say "in the midst of the congregation." In truth, His praise of Him "in the great congregation" etc. sets His rather alone, though as publishing His name, leading them to praise Him. So also He pays His vows "before those that fear" God. It is evidently more Jewish for the deliverances than the revelation of the Name, founded on verse 24, which refers to the act but not to the Name which He revealed when delivered. See Psalm 145, and then John 17, where Psalm 22 is fully brought out.

Verse 22 gives thus in Jewish sort "Thy name," but as Christians we have more. This was on resurrection, "My God and your God." But then He had more for His disciples which He had been afresh, or as a new thing, revealing to them all His life- the Father; now this was fully declared in John 17. Not only did He own Jehovah as His God and walk accordingly, but being One, the Father was seen in Him. This is quite a new thing by virtue of the divine union of the Persons, and yet He is not ashamed to call them brethren. Therefore He says too: "My Father and your Father." This was not merely Jewish, see John 4, where this begins to be openned out. Therefore this time is not mentioned in the Epistle to the Hebrews, nor introduced in force- but God, being of all the children, as such, by faith. But then this address to them in the name of brethren introduces them into the place of children as in John 1, "to them gave He authority to become the sons of God," because He was to praise for redemption in the midst of the congregation. The difference of the relationship to the Jews of Christ in the flesh, being concealed and smothered, is the root error of Irvingism. It is the devil's abuse of His relationship in the flesh to them, as of His mother linked with them on earth, though holy. This rejected One "Who is my mother?" is of His Father (heavenly), and so the children, and not knowing the earth save as subject, and therefore knowing Christ after the flesh, knowing Him no more, and therefore kaine ktisis (a new creation). All their good and special knowledge is just what Christ has set aside, and they even held that unholily and it is evil; just as in Galatians, the Jewish ceremonies to a Gentile, united to Christ in resurrection, was the same thing as going back again to His own idols- quod nota- have their natural headships, not God's family and the like. Verse 22 however, being in resurrection necessarilly involves sonship, for He therein was declared Son of God with power, and it is only after the resurrection He says "Go tell my brethren" but thence it is addressed to be the means of calling Kol- Israel (the whole of Israel) that they that feared should praise.

NOTES AND COMMENTS, p.86-87

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Patristic Page

The Patristic Page

Why not join me in reading the Early Church Fathers? Darby thought they were 'a bin of trash.' Decide for yourself!

Friday, November 17, 2006

J.N. Darby on the Melchisedek Priesthood of Christ

by J.N. Darby

The blessing of Abram, by Melchisedec, runs thus - "Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth, and blessed be the Most High God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thine hand.


It is familiar to every reader, that the apostle uses Melchisedec as the type of Christ, according to the word of the oath: "Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."


We would say a few words on this Melchisedec priesthood of Christ, its extent and blessing. And first, it is not that which Christ the Lord now exercises. Not that He is not a priest after that order - we know fully that He is, by the epistle to the Hebrews, and from Psalm 110, and that He is not of any other. But the exercise of His priesthood is according to the typical character of Aaron's on the day of atonement, as the same epistle shews. The whole of the present order of things answers to the day of atonement - is typified by it. The High Priest is gone within the veil, with the blood of the sacrifice - even of Himself - His own blood. So there, as yet, He is, whom the heavens must receive till the time of the restoration of all things, which God hath promised by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. This, then, is the time during which the Lord, though a priest after the order of Melchisedec, after the power of an endless life, made with an oath for ever (eis to dienekes*), in perpetuity, a continuous, not a successional priesthood; yet exercises it practically for us according to the type, though not according to the order of Aaron, as within the veil, on the great day of atonement.

Accordingly the apostle, after declaring the order of His priesthood, enters upon and dwells exclusively in detail upon the Aaronic priesthood, as characteristic of that which the Lord Christ now exercises. He shews that He exercises it, anti-typically, within the veil, the priesthood being, in its exercise, now one entirely of a heavenly character. He is gone within, not the typical veil, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. The blood is not of bulls and goats, with which the patterns of things in the heavens were purified, but His own blood - those better sacrifices by which the heavenly things themselves could be purified. The very glory with which Jesus is said to be crowned is spoken of in the words in which the consecration garments of Aaron, and his sons after him, are described in Exodus. (Compare Heb. 2: 7 and Ex. 28: 2, in LXX, where the words are literally "for honour and glory.") The whole of chapters 8 and 9 shew the present exercise of the Lord Christ's priesthood to be after the Aaronical pattern, though He be in no sort after the Aaronical order. It is the very reasoning and subject of the epistle; and in chapter 9 the analogy is entered into in detail, so as to enable us to apply the details of the priestly services of the Levitical order to our present condition; as, however imperfectly, is commonly known in the Christian church.


It is manifest, then, that the type of Melchisedec here presented to us, as indicative of the priesthood of Christ, in its exercise leads us to further results and wider exhibition than that in which He now so graciously, and blessedly for us, secures the life, and blessing, and salvation of His people in heavenly places; Himself far above all heavens, at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having by Himself purged our sins. The priesthood of Christ is clearly after the order of Melchisedec, and solely so; its exercise now is as clearly after the type of the order of Aaron solely; and that as exhibited on the great day of atonement within the veil. Not but that there is a great deal revealed now as to Aaronic types, which could not be seen in the type itself, which was a shadow, not the very image, the veil is now rent behind Him, and we are enabled to follow Him within, and see where He is set down, to our comfort and everlasting joy. But there is a glory besides, not yet fulfilled; a glory of its own character, a glory properly Christ's, and taught us in this type of Melchisedec, the exercise of which we find yet to come; and all that develops Christ's glory is precious to the saints. It is the Lord's glory, the glory of the Son of the Father, His own glory, too, as well as the Lord's glory. On this I would speak a little.


The priesthood of Melchisedec is, then, that royal dominion of priesthood in which, as representing the Most High God, and speaking also for man to Him in returns of praise, Christ blesses from Him (as now in His possession) heaven and the uttermost parts of the earth, through and in the seed of God. We find even in the case of Nebuchadnezzar (the first great type of earthly and Gentile dominion but opening out its corruption), his greatness reached unto heaven, and his dominion to the end of the earth; and this is put in such a strong light, that, as far as earth goes, the Adamic dominion is (Daniel 2: 38) in a remarkable manner attributed to him. He may have been guilty, and the first exhibition of Gentile apostate dominion; still this characteristic of universal dominion is attached to him. He was the man (in whatever pride of character he filled it) set in power. The mystery of his non-acknowledgment of God in it was to be brought out in him; and the seven times of a beast's heart in this selfish and proud dominion. It was the man of the earth, not the Lord from heaven acting as man in the power of righteousness; the king of Babylon, not the Son of David, not the Lord from heaven ruling in Jerusalem as witnessing the true God. But it was a dominion given, and typically exhibiting this dominion over the earth, though to illustrate its abuse in man's hand (hence the seed of God, even brought into captivity, not blessed as in power or deliverers); a dominion given in connection with that age (aion), in which administrative power was put into the hand of man, in the commission to kill whoever killed, which was given to Noah. The other characteristic of the evil and apostasy of it was the setting up a false god - an image. But the result was that God was owned by the king "the Most High God": God is acknowledged in this character. The seven times' punishment comes, till he knows that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will. Thus much for all short of dominion in heaven (though his greatness reaches to that), all earthly dominion.


But there is another portion of the divine inheritance corrupted and debased, the scene of power, however, and blessing. His greatness reached to the heavens; but what do the revelations of God shew us to be in the heavenlies?" The saints of the Most High (that is, of the heavenlies - Heb. elionin)* shall take the kingdom." But we find that we are wrestling with principalities and powers, with spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies (Eph. 6: 12); that is, power apostate from God, holding the earth; exceeding great power, and spiritual wickedness, principalities and powers, holding the heavenlies: the earth, and the heavenlies alike, possessed by evil in present power. We find the saints of the heavenlies (Daniel 7: 18) taking the kingdom, and the people of the saints of the high places or heavenlies given the kingdom, and dominion, and greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven (v. 27). In this it is that God has His title, as may be seen in Daniel, of Most High (the second word Most High in verse 25 being different in the original from the first given above), that Most High whom Nebuchadnezzar was obliged and made willing to acknowledge. Thus the earthlies and heavenlies will, as regards government in association with God, be set in blessing under the name of the Most High.

But we have more definite statements on the subject. In the day of the full glory of the Lamb, there shall be one Lord, and His name One; the God of the whole earth shall He be called. In that day shall Jerusalem be called the throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it. And the Son of man appearing in His glory, King of the Jews, even Jesus of Nazareth, shall be on the throne, and not on the cross; and not in Hebrew, nor in Greek and Latin only; but in every language of power which despised Him, shall men join in owning the inscription of the Lord of glory, even Jesus of Nazareth, "This is the King of the Jews," when the earthly kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ is come. This is not, indeed, the limit of His glory, though it be much to have destroyed them that destroyed the earth, and fill it with blessing, the mountain of the Lord's house being established in the top of the mountains, with especial blessing to the seed of God, under His righteous reign. All power is given to Him in heaven; and thus we find the blessing identified with the Person and heavenly presence of Jesus. Accordingly we find in the promise, the purpose of His will in the Ephesians, that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, "He should gather together in one all things in Christ; both which are in heaven and which are upon the earth." Now the mystery which belongs to us is not merely that we should have the sure mercies of David by virtue of His resurrection. This will be made sure to the Jews (Acts 13: 32-34), in the day when He shall see them, even the believing remnant, and He shall sit upon the throne of David His father, and reign over the house of Jacob for ever, all nations serving Him, and the nation and kingdom which will not serve Jerusalem shall perish, yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. But Jerusalem shall be called the city of the Lord; the Zion of the Holy One of Israel shall be an eternal excellency; its sun no more go down, but the Gentiles come to the brightness of its rising. This will be the portion of the despised ones, in all whose affliction He has been afflicted, over whose apostasy and rejection of Himself He could but weep. Those tears are not shed in vain, but mark a reaping in joy, when the joy shall be as the joy in harvest and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.


But we have a yet better portion, not blessings, great as they are, secured in His resurrection, but to be raised together with Him, and to sit with Him in heavenly places. "He hath blessed us in heavenly places"; and the very purpose of that epistle to the Ephesians is to shew that, made sons with Him, we are to be with Him in heavenly places, the body of Him, the Head to the Church over all things. We have not merely the fruits, but the working towards ourselves of that exceeding great power, which was wrought in Him, when "God raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places." (See Eph. 1: 19; Eph. 2: 7.) But we look at this only in government now in connection with the throne of Melchisedec.


Thus when He gathers together in one all things in Christ we find, under the blessing of His throne, the Jews in the earthlies the centre of blessing, and all nations blessed in them through Him (see Acts 3: 25), and the saints in the heavenlies, sitting there as raised with Christ, and having overcome through grace, sitting down in His throne, as He overcame and sat down in His Father's throne; and thus witnesses together of the universal dominion of Him, to whom all power is given in heaven and on earth, at once Son of God and Son of man; Lord over all, as well as God over all, blessed for evermore. But there is another character (for what of blessing does He not fill?) which we find the Lord here shewing forth. He is a Priest upon His throne (Zech. 6); and here we have the real full exercise of the Melchisedec priesthood. And now see how all the things referred to are brought together in it. We speak of Christ as Priest after the order of Melchisedec, in the day of His power on His throne. He had sat on His Father's till His foes were made His footstool, but now - gathering all things in heaven and on earth into one - He sits on His own throne.


That dreadful evil had come in, that Satan, sitting in heavenly places, had made the poor inhabitants of earth worship demons, gods many and lords many. And earthly power was associated with false worship and apostasy, as we see typified in the great image set up by Nebuchadnezzar, in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Hence misery, also persecution and degradation of the children of God. The corrupter and murderer being in heavenly places, corruption was the portion of his subjects, death of those who were not so exempt. Now that which was specifically opposed to this was this title of the Most High God; so Nebuchadnezzar is bound down to confess the Most High God. And this name we find in the passage we are considering: "Blessed be Abram of the Most High God." Now this remarkably concurs with what we find connected with the call of Abram: "Your fathers," says Joshua (chap. 24), "served other gods beyond the flood." The call of Abraham, therefore, was not the judgment upon unrighteousness against God alone known and owned, but the call and witness of the Most High God. When the perverseness of man made gods many, and lords many, He was then the Most High God. We have seen, further, the heavenlies and the earthlies are united in one, in Christ; whose is all power in heaven and earth; and here, accordingly, Abraham is blessed of the Most High God, Possessor of heaven and earth; and as the title of the Most High God is given here, and witnessed in the priesthood of Melchisedec, who was priest of the Most High God, so also shall the blessing run in this full and unhindered channel, Possessor of heaven and earth. O what blessing in that day when there shall not be principalities and powers in heavenly places to taint the very source of blessing in powers above: no scene of deceived corruption below to make evil what God had made good; nor spirit of rebellion to bring the curse of opposition to God, the God of blessing, upon the wearied corrupters of their own mercy; but one whose it is, Possessor of heaven and earth, when the Lord shall hear the heavens, and the heavens shall hear the earth standing in the priesthood, and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and the corn and the oil shall hear Jezreel. O what blessing when the Most High takes (ever His in title) possession of heaven and earth, and our High Priest is His High Priest.


Thus we have total exclusion of all other gods but one, the only One; the world or heaven above knowing none but One; no creature above or on the earth taken to be a god but the Most High God, known as the Possessor of heaven and earth. What rest in that! what rest and security! while Satan has the power, while those hold the possession subject to his power, sorrow, discord, and death are the sad and unwelcome companions of man's voyage; he is seduced to every folly, he is but as the convict in the ship - its guidance and its power are in other hands. Now the Most High is Possessor, and where shall be the tempter then? Not in heaven: the Most High possesses that; not on earth: the Most High reaches in His possession to that; and the very ends of the earth shall feel the blessing of His pervading comprehensive blessedness. But this Melchisedec, though priest of the Most High God, had other characters. He was King of righteousness (comp. Isaiah 32); for where righteousness is, there is blessing. He was king of Salem, which is king of Peace; for the fruit of righteousness is peace; the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever. The Melchisedec priesthood is the security of the blessings of these from the Most High God; the union of heaven and earth under Him, and the mutual blessing of both known in Him, and the common recognition of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth.


But we have also to look at the object of this blessing - Abram. Now, naturally, Abram is the father of the natural seed - "I know that ye are Abraham's seed," saith the Lord to the Jews. Here then he stood the father of Israel (and in them of the blessing of many nations), blessed from the fulness of the Most High God, by the King of Peace and of righteousness; the representative of the natural seed of Israel, blessed from on high, in the earthlies, with all the fulness of blessings from God Most High, possessor, etc. But Abraham stood, however, as we know, also as representative of the seed which inherit the heavenlies - Christ and ourselves. "If ye are Christ's, ye are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise"; "and they that are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." And thus (though by subsequent development, for it was hidden as yet) he stood as the representative of the heavenly seed also, and the blessing of the Most High found its actual scope, as He was possessor of the heavens, those who were in Jesus, having their place there, as well as of the earth, all being gathered together in one in Him. Thus, in the title of God - in the priest himself - in the object of the blessing, we find the great character of universality according to the mystery of His will (His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself), "that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, He should gather together in one, all things in Christ": the Jews, being the objects and channels of earthly blessing; and we, sitting in heavenly blessings, priests with Him, ministers of all blessings, and kings withal.


In the character of the priesthood, as exercised in the passage before us, we see the plain distinction from the Aaronical priesthood. That priesthood was a priesthood of intercession - "He ever liveth to make intercession for us," the saints of God, in our weakness: here is the constant object of His sure and never-failing care and intercession. He has appeared in the presence of God for us; and, I will add, the people of God (I mean the Jews), though under the cloud of His rejection, still waiting till the great High Priest shall come forth, the witness of the acceptance of the blood of the atonement, carried within the veil; and remaining a people blinded indeed, but sustained outwardly as the people of God, by virtue of that service of intercession, till He shall come forth and bless them in the name of the Lord. We know that He has sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; we can see through the rent veil into the holiest of all, and see our Jesus there; and still, though longing and waiting for the time of His appearing, are content, because we know that Jesus is glorified, and His glory sure, waiting only till His enemies be made His footstool, and that the long-suffering of God is salvation, that He delays because He is yet waiting to be gracious and calling sinners, and that He will surely come - He will not tarry.


But the priestly act of Melchisedec was blessing, not intercession; blessing from the Most High God. Here, then, is the exercise of the priesthood in its Melchisedec character - the King of righteousness and peace blessing the seed of God's acceptance, a blessed refreshing thought; evil removed, and blessing flowing out through the great High Priest, the Priest of the Most High God, Possessor of heaven and earth, unhindered. How do our hearts long for that day, the coming forth of Him our souls long for yet know, the universal blessing from the Most High God of heaven and earth. What a word shall be pronounced in that day! how shall heaven and earth ring with the welcome witness of the blessing of the heavenly; the earthly seed be unfettered in its praise; the bondage of corruption gone from the creature, whose rejoicing, though God was ever good and shewed His goodness in it, was restrained till the heirs of the inheritance of God, joint-heirs with Jesus, were manifested to be sons of God. For, lest a cloud should rest on the brow of the heirs of God's inheritance - the church of the firstborn, the creation in bondage through them must wait for their manifestation for its happiness - must be dependent on their deliverance for its joy, as suffering through their fault. For neither is the blessing of Abraham thus widely spread, the only thing; but honour redounds and praise on high: "Blessed be the Most High God, who hath delivered thine enemies into thine hand." This blessing is after the full destruction of the enemies of the people of God, after the victory over the gathered kings and great ones of the earth, "the hosts of the high ones also [that are] on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth"; for there is one Most High, who is possessor of both, and one King Melchisedec, King of Salem, where praise waits for the God of all the earth. Thus is the echo above and below in that centre of both - one in Him; one with the Father, the Most High God; and who Himself took on Him Abraham's seed, now come forth in His kingly glory to bless us from God Most High, and God from us - the Man of blessing, the Blessing Man, the Lord Most High.


But we remark in interpretation most definitely, in connection with all we have said, that it is blessing and refreshment after, and consequent upon, the destruction of all the enemies of those who are represented by Abraham, bringing down and destroying those who destroy the earth by the Lord's power, Himself the servant to refresh. All victory is but in some sort weariness, for victory, if a time of joy, is a time of weariness: if we had none to meet after it, it would be the sorrowful consciousness of destruction, needed, perhaps, for deliverance, but destruction still, God's strange work. But it is not so with the delivered there, nor with us, but in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which the Lord shall lay upon him, it shall be with tabrets and harps, joy of deliverance. And who shall be there to refresh? Even that One who cometh forth to bless. He brings forth bread and wine, the bread of Salem where the King dwelt, but now the servant of the victors, to give the joy of deliverance, and the refreshing of love; the wine of the kingdom drunk new, great deliverance to their parched lips, that they may open in refreshment, and praise, and speak, and think of Him, how great soever, who brought it forth, their Melchisedec making them to sit down to meat, and as he that taketh the yoke from off the neck; the servant of that blessing always, though beyond controversy the less is blessed of the greater.


Thus then we have in this little sentence the accomplished character of the Most High God, over, and as to, all things in heaven and earth, the one true God, known in blessing, universal blessing, and the unity of all things in Christ; the centre of all this blessing, the benediction priesthood of Melchisedec, the blessing by Him of the redeemed of God. This consequent upon the victory of these, over all their confederate enemies, and the deliverance of every captive; and they all made partakers of the food and wine of the kingdom, brought forth for their joy, and His own rest and delight, by the King of Salem, of righteousness and peace, ministering blessing from the Most High to them, offering it up for them to the Most High. The victory over, the refreshment, as the joy of it from the blessed source, the blessing from His own mouth, the blessing from the Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, proved so in His redeemed, to whom He gives the joy and inheritance, the habitation of both.


May the blessing of Melchisedec, of Christ, the Lord, the King, dwell on our spirits; may we see it in spirit, and may it, in type, be our joyful portion now that He is the servant of intercession for us. He is Head, the witness, and the leader of all our praise, in the ages of the fulness of blessing (even when God shall be all in all), as now in the poor congregation of His saints. How imperfectly all the joy of this could be declared, our own enjoyment of it must most surely tell. May the Spirit of our God teach a more skilful tune to those who may take the lesson into their hands, because the chord struck unskilfully has awakened the thoughts of praise in their hearts; and after all, our dying notes here are but poor witnesses to that new song which we shall sing in abiding notes of praise. And may the sweetness of the instrument itself strike some heart as yet untuned. To hear or know how sweet is the melody of heaven, of Jesus' praise, they and we have yet to learn, in the hope and glory of the blessing which rests not only on His head, but is in His heart toward the redeemed of God in full creation, for we are called to inherit a blessing. We have a better portion than reigning - our calling to be with Him: still His reign will be the source of sweet and rich blessings to a delivered earth; Rev. 11: 15.

Key words: Hebrews, typology, Millennium, Dispensationalism, New Covenant, type, dispensation

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

J.N. Darby and the Jews

John Nelson Darby believed that God's promise to Abraham was unconditional and that one day the Jewis people would be converted and restored to the land of promise in connection with the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom. When Jewish people were converted he rejoiced.

However:

- Darby did not give money to the Zionist movement.

- Darby did not encourage the Jews to build a temple in Jerusalem.

- Darby did not publish magazines all about events in the Middle East.

- Darby did not start special prayer meetings focused on the Jews.

- Darby did not think that converting Jews had a special priority over and above preaching the Gospel to all.

- Darby had no sentimental fondness for the Jewish people.

- Darby did not display the Star of David anywhere.

- Darby did not encourage converted Jews to call themselves 'Messianic Jews' or to set up 'Messianic Synagogues.'

- Darby did not think converted Jews had some special insight into the Word of God.

- Darby did not listen to 'Messianic music'.

- Darby did not do Jewish dancing in the assembly.

- Darby did not expect a revival among the Jews before the rapture.

- Darby did not refer to our Lord as Yeshua, Y'shua, Yahshua or any variation of this name.

- Darby did not refer to the apostle Paul as Sh'aul.

- Darby did not celebrate the Jewish feasts and did not see them as a way to evangelize the Jews.

Darby did, however, believe that the Antichrist would be a Jew, that the Jews would fall into ever deeper apostasy as the end approached and that many doctrinal errors could be traced to Judaizing.

Key words: J.N. Darby, Jews, Israel, Messianic Judaism, Christian Zionism, Zionist, Dispensationalism, Premillennialism, Premillennial, Hebrew Roots

Friday, November 10, 2006

J.N. Darby defends Infant Baptism

(views expressed here do not necessarilly reflect my own)

A letter of John Nelson Darby


Dear Mrs. Walter, - I should never, and never have, as you know, pressed any to baptise their children, or introduced the subject. Indeed, while fully recognising it as a christian ordinance, I am disposed to think that it is in scripture, for our present condition, purposely left in the background. While eternal life and union with Christ are fixed and sure in Him, the ordering of all on earth till Christ comes, and even then, is provisional; not that we have not duties in the state of things we are in; duties belong to that: but the ordering of things passes. We have a kingdom that cannot be moved, eternal life, membership of Christ; but this in actual full possession is to come, and what we have now, even of divine ordinances, is passing. But I repeat, our duties are now. I shall only therefore present to you what scripture affords me on the subject, for if ever I hesitated, and, like others, I was exercised about it, I have NO doubt as to infant baptism of the children of a Christian. But I have a full feeling that Christ did not send me to baptise; I leave to others activities on either side. The twelve were sent to baptise, but as to ecclesiastical matters, we are under Paul.


This for such questions is an all-important remark, because the commission to the Gentiles (on which you and all Baptists rest) was given up by the leading apostles into his hands. But in general he, and he only, taught what the Church was, and it is on that ground we are. Further remark, the commission to the twelve was not from heaven, nor consequently immediately connecting with heaven, but from Galilee, and a commission to bring the nations into connection with an accepted remnant of Jews on earth - not to bring Jew and Gentile into the body in an ascended Christ, which was Paul's commission especially, preaching withal reconciliation from heaven to every creature under it. His original commission is remarkable in this respect. A heavenly Christ was revealed to him - "delivering [separating] thee from the people and from the Gentiles, to whom now I send thee." He belonged neither to Jew nor Gentile in his service, but to heaven. Hence he in baptism knows nothing but baptising to death to all man is, and at the utmost resurrection with Christ into a new state of things. With Peter it is: you have crucified Christ, God has raised and exalted Him. Hence they were to repent and be baptised for the remission of sins, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Nor does he even go to our death with Christ, or our resurrection with Him. Nay, in Acts 3 he proposes to the Jews to repent, and Jesus would be sent back, and the people would be blessed by the times of refreshing of which the prophets had spoken.


You will say: This is a long story on what is simple; but it is on the mission of the twelve you found your doctrine. That was only to disciple Gentile nations and baptise them. Of the carrying out of this we have no account in scripture: the nearest to it is in Mark, the last verse. But we have an enlarged account of Paul's taking their place; and it is remarkable that Roman Catholics and Puseyites all rest on the commission to the twelve, not on that to Paul. But where in Mark baptism is spoken of it is upon wholly another ground: "he that believeth and is baptised, shall be saved." It was the gospel to a lost world, to every creature, and if a man believed and was baptised, he was saved. It concerns a heathen or a Jew confessing Christ, who before did not, and what is called joining Christians, and as "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness" so "with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Here it had a saving force founded on faith, but that is not the question now. No one can in this sense say a man is saved by baptism, but that is the only use of it in Mark. The Campbellites have this view of it as an ordinance, but with grievous errors, and false in itself, as man's act and not as becoming a Christian. Further remark, that the hundred and twenty first formed into the Church by the coming of the Holy Ghost, or, at any rate, the twelve, were never baptised. I know it is said they had John's baptism, and no doubt rightly, some certainly, and all with little doubt; but that was the opposite of christian baptism. It was to receive Christ; christian baptism is to His death - to a rejected Christ as such at God's right hand; and one baptised with John baptism had to be baptised again, as in Acts 19.


The command was to baptise, not to be baptised, and this makes all the difference. It is not an act of obedience, in this the scripture is quite clear. Acts 8. (verse 37 is not genuine*), he says, "what doth hinder me to be baptised?" it was a privilege to be obtained; but the words do not allow the idea of obedience, but exclude it. So Acts 10, 47, "can any man forbid water?" - a privilege, no idea of obedience, but an admission into the christian estate consequent on the proof that God would have him: and indeed it would be cruel to make it a matter of obedience, as no man can fulfil it; another must do it for him. The admission to a privilege cannot be a matter of obedience, though obedience gives privileges as such. But the real point is, the passages prove that it was the act of the baptiser, not of the baptised. And this changes its whole nature. It is said, Where are children commanded to receive baptism? of course they are not, nor believers. Ordinances are never the subject of commands. They are ordained and rightly used, but never obedience in him who profits by them; it would deny the very nature of Christianity, and destroy the blessing for him who partakes of it.

{*Griesbach rejects it, and it is cancelled or rejected by Grotius, Mill, Wetstein, Pearce, Tittman, Knapp, Lachmann, Tischendorf, and others; it is not found in the Vatican MS., nor in the ancient Syriac.}


Another important principle destroyed by the Baptist system is the existence of a divinely instituted place in which blessing is, independently of the question of personal conversion, and to which responsibility is attached according to the blessing: as the olive tree in Romans, whose branches are broken off and grafted in again or replaced by others who are broken off afterwards, branches where the root and fatness of the olive tree is, yet they come to nothing; so Hebrews 6, 10. So 1 Corinthians 10, where the sacraments, so-called, are shewn to be the ground of this in Christendom, and so the house in 1 Corinthians 3, where wood, hay and stubble are built in with false doctrines, but it is God's building. And in 1 Peter 4: 17 judgment was to begin at the house of God, alluding to Ezekiel. So we see it as a principle in Romans 3: "What advantage then hath the Jew? . . . much every way." But he was condemned, not converted. So the wicked servant who ate and drank with the drunken: was "that servant" the same as the faithful one and Christ his Lord?


Another principle used by Baptists is that it is a formal testimony to what a person has already. This is quite unscriptural. We are baptised to death - not because we have died - rise therein, if I bring in resurrection: it saves us, says Peter - is not used as a witness of being saved. "Arise and be baptised (says Ananias) and wash away thy sins," not in confession that thy sins are washed away. Thus the whole system of Baptists I find to be unscriptural. It is not obedience: that the Baptist brethren now admit: it is not testimony to what we have. The apostles were not baptised, but the twelve were sent to baptise the Gentiles, being themselves received by Christ. Paul was not sent to do it at all, though he was formally sent, from and by a heavenly Christ, to the Gentiles by a new commission, the leaders of the twelve giving theirs up and going to the circumcision.


What is it then? A formal admission into the place of privilege. Water cannot be refused to Cornelius: nothing hindered the treasurer of Candace from being baptised. 1 Corinthians 10 clearly shews that it is the admission into public outward association with God, as when Israel crossed the Red Sea, as the Lord's supper is a sign and expression of food and drink in the desert. It is not a sign even of life - not of being baptised into Christ's body, nor of being made children. In Paul's teaching it is death; in Peter or Ananias, saving, washing away sins, as a sign, a passing from the state of sinful man into the place where God's privileges were, specially the presence of the Holy Ghost, who is among the saints in God's house as Satan is in the world. Paul in Titus 3 recognises the same truth.


The question then is, are children entitled to be received? are believers? Believers, clearly, if they have not yet been; if they have, they cannot be again. But supposing they have not, they are clearly received by baptism; and, in an ordinary way, at the beginning, those in received the Holy Ghost, as said in Acts 2, and may be seen in Acts 8. Can children, or are they to be left out where Satan rules? Scripture, I believe, gives a Christian parent a title to bring them to Christ, but this can only be now scripturally by death as baptism figures it, for "that which is born of the flesh is flesh." If baptism be the reception of children where the Holy Ghost is, and where they can be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and taught to obey, which till they are Christians as to position they cannot be, the question is, Is a christian parent obliged to leave his child outside with the devil, or allowed to bring him in where the Holy Ghost and the care of God's house is? Scripture tells one that children of a christian parent are holy, have a right to be admitted, are not as children of a Jew who had married a Gentile unclean, that is, unfit to be admitted among God's people, but holy. I know it is said the husband was so too. It is not true where the sense is looked to, The Jewish husband was profaned not profane, could not be profaned if he had been: it is what is holy that is profaned, nothing else can be. Now it is grace, and the unbeliever is "sanctified," not holy; the child is "holy". The Lord Himself has said, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven." It is said, Why not give them the Lord's supper? Because that is the sign of the unity of the body, and it is the baptism of the Holy Ghost that forms that. Baptists always reason instead of going to scripture. I have no difficulty with Baptists who think they have never been baptised; of course they ought to be. They have never been regularly admitted among Christians on earth; they may be of the body (as Cornelius) by the baptism of the Holy Ghost, but they have never been formally admitted to the house on earth, the place where the Holy Ghost dwells.


This answers another question you put - the converted and unconverted being baptised together. If it is admission into the house they are all admitted together, cannot be on any different principle. If it be obedience, then indeed there is; but scripture is in the teeth of this: to separate them would be to deny the principle on which any are baptised at all.


I respect the conscience of a Baptist; I repeat, if he think he never has been baptised he ought to be, but it is as clear to me as the day that his principles are totally unscriptural.


Nothing can be clearer then, that in the New Testament it is never treated as obedience. If it were, we were saved by our own obedience, have our sins washed away by our own obedience; for this is what is said of baptism. I understand quite well that a heathen coming to baptism does administratively receive the remission of his sins: every one is baptised to it. I understand too that one who has been as a heathen and converted coming to the faith - to such it is practically a first confession of Christ and that they are very happy - but obedience of a believer to an ordinance is all wrong from beginning to end; as to the Lord's supper as well as baptism. If a man think it is - I do not blame him for doing it, but it is wholly unintelligent. If a friend was to say, keep this in remembrance of me, and I said, I will do what you bid me, my friend would have no thanks to give me. The gift was not valued. You see it is a wide subject, but the great principle is that the children of a christian parent are holy; and so far from children being unfit subjects, "of such is the kingdom of heaven" - not Christ's, note, on earth.


The truth Baptists have to learn is that there is a place, a system established by God, where the blessings are found - the olive-tree fatness - without the question of conversion being settled, in which heathen, Mohammedans, and now for a time Jews are not, but in which these last will hereafter again be, though not on our footing. I know it is said you are bringing us back to Judaism. I answer, in this respect the apostle does in 1 Corinthians 10 and Romans 11: and baptism does not refer to the body with which they had nothing to do, nor to giving life (which, if they had, was not brought to light, and they had it only in the state of servants), but the dwelling-place of God, which they were then, which Christendom is now, and according to which, or as which, it will be judged - a very weighty consideration. All is so in confusion that this house is hard to own, but that does not alter the truth of scripture.


A word as to the place of parents; God has given them children; but "that which is born of the flesh is flesh." But the love of God is trusted, and the grace of Christ who receives such, and also the word believed that blessing is there where God has placed it. They cannot leave their children without in Satan's world; they bring them to be received as holy, as regards God's ways and dealings. The Church cannot receive them but through death, but receives them in Christ's name as if receiving Him, as He says, and the name of Jesus is called upon them through this image of His death too; and while received into God's congregation where the Holy Ghost is, and where all should be a pattern to them, they are given back to the parents in grace with Jesus' name on them to bring them up for Him, not for the world, "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." I receive them then because they are holy relatively, because Christ received them, and "of such is the kingdom of heaven," and I can receive them in no other scriptural way - with the sign of Christ's death and of His love.

I have no objection to any one reading this letter, but . . . it is not the time to occupy the church with ordinances.

Ever sincerely yours in the Lord.

Elberfeld, November 4th, 1869.

key words: Paedobaptism, Baptist, church, ecclesiology, ordinances, Dispensationalism, kingdom of heaven, House of God, Christendom, dispensational, Exclusive Brethren, Plymouth Brethren

Friday, November 03, 2006

J.N. Darby on Women

by John Nelson Darby

I do not accept a woman’s going out to evangelise. I never saw a woman meddle in teaching and church matters, but she brought mischief upon herself and everyone else. If she sits down with a company before her to teach them, she has got out of her place altogether. We read of Tryphena and Tryphosa, who laboured in the Lord, and the beloved Persis too- each in her own place of service. You find all honour done to women in the Gospels; but the Lord never sent a woman out to preach; neither did a man ever go and anoint Christ for burial. The woman’s prophesying was not preaching. There came inspired teaching to which they gace utterance. I believe it was in an extraordinary way, as Phillip's daughters. Women can by used, as Mary magdalene was sent by Christ to His disciples. If Christ sent a woman to carry a message, the best she could do would be to go and carry it, it is but a message. Suppose it was written down and was special instruction, the teaching then was in the message, not in Mary Magdalene's place. Scripture says, "I suffer not a woman to teach." She was not to teach at all. She can lead on those who have been converted without setting up to be a teacher. Teaching is expounding to people put under you to recieve certain doctrines.

The apostle is not speaking of wearing the sign of subjection at all times, but I believe it owuld be very comely. "For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels," v.10. She is therein a spectacle with all present to the angels, and angels ought not to see disorder among Christians. The whole subject is modesty, and order, and comeliness, and things in their right place. Therefore the woman ought to have power on her head on account of the angels, that is, the sign of subjection to her husband. Angels should learn something in the church.

Taken from Notes of Readings in 1 Corinthians in Collected Writings, vol.26, p.255