J. N. Darby.
It may be well to state directly from Scripture what the new lump is, as it is now so much spoken of. Such a thing as leaving an assembly to be a new lump is not thought of in Scripture. I may have to leave an assembly on other grounds; but it is not what is spoken of here. The assembly of God is looked at in its true nature as an unleavened body; thus we are called upon to keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. And as leaven had got in, they were called on to purge out the old leaven, that they might be a new lump as they were unleavened. The discipline applied to all, the putting out all leaven, that the assembly, as a whole, might be a new lump. Thus, there is no such thing as leaving to be a new lump. The only new lump contemplated, is the whole assembly purified by putting out leaven - the passage is as clear as possible. The great body of the saints is everywhere to be a new lump.
But, as I have referred to the currency of these questions, it is well to notice another element in operation, more moral, and wider in realisation. The discussions at London Bridge had given rise to the most widespread distrust of various brethren; the feeling being - I am in communion with B., as I am of them, and thus in communion with positive evil; and getting away from evil governed the heart, and wide distress existed. Now, here, I fully recognise, was real trial; he who names the name of Christ was to depart from iniquity; yet these brethren were corporately connected with unfaithfulness. I do not identify a person bearing the name of Christ, and individually walking badly, and ecclesiastical connections with those who do. Actual right is right, and wrong wrong; still, it is very unsatisfactory to the heart and conscience to be in full confessed communion with evil; and as the evil thing judged was allowed to exist by those immediately concerned, their consciences were not at their ease. Many thought of leaving brethren. I had been in the deepest degree exercised by the very question; I agreed with them as to their judgment of the evil. But I did not think desertion was the remedy; it did not remedy the evil - satisfied, perhaps, the individual conscience, but left the saints to their fate. I not only felt the evil was not remedied, but could not be, humanly speaking. But there was another difficulty: the door was closed against the interference of those who might have sought to apply one. Still, I felt the Lord had not given up His people, and it was not my place to flee as an hireling. I was accounted an unfaithful person by those disposed to leave; but, while I sympathise with those disposed to leave, as having personally done with evil, I do not think it was the path of faith. I trusted God for His testimony; I do not find it has been in vain.
46 There was a third principle of extra excellence which prevailed, under the popular name of Cluffism, which professed this superiority, and does, where it still holds its ground. It took a very high ground, carrying up to the third heaven, and making the Christ who is there, as communicated in all He is there to us, to be divine righteousness, though I always found it filled people with themselves. But the truth is, its origin was a filthy, carnal mysticism, not unfolded to all, but was such, that one of its adepts admitted it could not be propounded in a mixed company, where females were present. I know this was professed to be given up, but I doubt, from what I have heard, that it is thoroughly. But it is certain that from out of this resulted a pretension of a special remnant, brethren (so called) being Laodicean. This was based, too, on theories, and all sorts of theories, as to Philadelphia. The theories I believe to be all delusion. First, the four last churches all go on to the end, and what is found is a general estimate of the church by Christ, and of its result, with a promise to him who overcame, in the circumstances in which the church was. It is a mistake to think that the churches passed, by a kind of natural sequence, from one into the other.
But having taken up the proposed remedies for a low state of things - my reader may have noticed three - the first, some "silly women" plan of a new lump, clean contrary to the whole sense of the passage; secondly, conscience justly at work, but faith failing as to trusting Christ's faithfulness in taking care of His, and His testimony; and, thirdly, Cluffism, full of pretension and want of self-knowledge (though I fully admit several dear people got among them, misled by its promises of more spirituality, which suited itself more to their cravings). Still, two of the principal adepts of the system at Edinburgh, and a third at Cork, were put out for immoral conduct. Of that I think worse than I did, for, though wild, I thought it honest, which I do not now, as a system. But having briefly reviewed these, I add the new lump, as given in Scripture, as the great point for believers - that is, the application of the divine principles of truth and holiness, and devotedness in testimony to the whole body of testimony-bearers; for that is the very force of the new lump. It might seem premature to speak of the company of testimony-bearers, but I do not believe it. I believe there are details to be carried out of God, but He does very much of it by the faithful testimony-bearing; but what He looks for now, is, not occupation with evil, but the springing up of testimony in grace - plants of the Lord's planting by clear shining after rain.