J. N. Darby.
The worship that involves priesthood, though true, is not of the highest kind. It is worshipping God as such, and not the Father. The former is treated of in Hebrews, where priesthood is found, and looks for mercy and grace to help from a throne of grace. We draw near, having boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus; but it is drawing nigh, more than properly worship. No doubt we worship and adore there, and cannot but do so; but drawing nigh is what characterises the Epistle to the Hebrews. Can a man draw nigh to God? Israel could not. We can in the holiest, and find mercy and grace to help in time of need.
What I said as to not needing a priest was this, that Christ does not now exercise His priesthood for our sins who go into the holiest. That priesthood in the Hebrews is not for our sins (chap. 2:17 is now finished and over), because we have no more conscience of sins, in that by one offering He has perfected us for ever. It is in respect of grace to help us in time of need. He is as Priest between us and God, in that we are looked at as feeble creatures on earth, and He appears for us in the presence of God on high. In the doctrine of Hebrews we are never in Christ, or united to Him. The word even for worshippers in the Hebrews is not the same as in John 4. It alludes to service among the Jews only, as only a shadow of good things to come, not the image. July, 1877.
I know well how few know deliverance; but it is a great thing to know that I, a poor worm, should be before God and the Father in the same acceptance and favour that Christ is, loved even as He is loved. But it is the greatness of infinite love. Then it is not generally preached with intelligence; next, it is experimental; and, above all, we must be in earnest to have it. Who is willing to be dead to what nature and flesh would desire? Yet that is the only way of deliverance. People will tell you it is our standing in Christ. I admit it as Colossians 3, and as faith owns in Romans 6 and Galatians 2; but who is willing to be in the standing? It is standing, or else we are in the hopeless effort of Romans 7, or an honest monks' labour, which I have tried; and even if we have experimentally learned, as it must be learned, who is carrying out 2 Corinthians 4, so as to have the conscience living in it by an ungrieved spirit? But if experimentally taught, it is of the greatest use to souls; and the joy of being blameless in Christ before God is exceeding great, and one that is eternal and divine in its source and nature - a wonderful thing; "for he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." The world is a terrible snare and a subtle one, and greatly hinders this deliverance. A soul enjoying deliverance has its object elsewhere. (See Rom. 8) Then we must remember, "the soul of the diligent shall be made fat." I press, when souls are in earnest, "My grace is sufficient for thee, and my strength is made perfect in weakness." For we learn we are without strength for deliverance, and walk in the sense of it if we can be used in service; but His grace is sufficient. Knowing we are nothing is the place of blessing, for then God is everything; and the place of strength, for then Christ can put forth His strength. In this 2 Corinthians 12 is a most instructive chapter. Strength for service may be found, in what is within alone between us and God, [and] may be found, in the third heavens; but strength in it is found in Christ, when we are kept in the abiding consciousness that we can do nothing. We all know it. If we have not a permanent thorn in the flesh, we must at any rate return to the camp at Gilgal. Dublin, May 28th., 1880.