Examination of a few passages of Scripture, the force of which has been questioned in the discussion on the new churches; with remarks on certain principles alleged in support of their establishment.

J. N. Darby.

Geneva, 1850.

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The publication of these pages has been somewhat delayed, although the manuscript was ready some months ago. The author had always hoped to take it himself to Geneva and superintend the printing of it; but beside the impossibility of realizing this intention at the time, sickness and other circumstances came in, and the publication was thus again adjourned.

If this tract is now printed, it is because the author considers that what helps to understand the passages of the word is never out of season, and he presents but little else in these remarks.

The reader may perhaps perceive that the pamphlet entitled "The Seven Proceedings of Mr. Darby," was, in part, the occasion of the publication of this one. But I must warn him that he will find no answer to the attacks which fill the pages of "The Seven Proceedings." I do not answer them, because, first, It is meet the Christian should bear with insults; secondly, Those who take the trouble to read my pamphlets, can easily judge of what is said in them,* and I cannot take into account the judgment of those who do not read them; thirdly, It seemed to me that attacks of this kind do not deserve an answer. Nevertheless, I have examined each accusation, in writing my answer, in order to make all clear to myself, and I have found nothing to alter, except a few things corrected farther on. And finally, I felt that a personal debate can be profitable neither to the Church of God, nor to any one else. It is true that there are a few facts wanting to explain the history of this matter; but I think people will be thankful that I do not revert to them. If there be some humiliation for some brethren, which might be removed by speaking of them, I doubt whether they would be gainers by it, before God. A complete silence will therefore be found with regard to all these things. Farther on, I shall give my authority for one single fact. But there are a few scriptural questions at the end of the pamphlet in question, which call for some explanations that I will give here. I avail myself of this opportunity to acknowledge two or three things in "Scriptural Views" which need to be either corrected or explained; and at the same time I repeat the expression of my convictions as to the main point of the question. First, I think it would have been more exact, chronologically, to say "son of Zerubbabel."** This latter name is prominent in the Book of Nehemiah, as that of a descendant of David and heir of his claim to the throne of Israel; and I had not paid attention to the dates which lead to the thought that he was dead. The argument loses none of its force by this alteration, even if it were the grandson of Zerubbabel. The force of the reasoning depends on this, that it is the heir of the rights of the family of David.

{*One must not suppose that all the passages in italics, in the tract entitled "The Seven Proceedings," and given as the expression of the views it condemns, are quotations from what was really said. There are some on elders, which are so; but several are merely the form which is attributed to the views one wishes to refute. This is so true that "The Seven Proceedings" reproduces a passage textually taken from the pamphlet of the same author "Are Elders to be established?" as being the assertion of Mr. Foulquier.}

{**"Scriptural views," p. 26.}

229 Then it is denied that what is called the Evangelical Church at Geneva is a national church. In the passage blamed, the word "national" is used with respect to all free churches in general. At bottom, I find no moral difference as to the Evangelical Church of Geneva; but I here take note of the protest made in its favour, reserving my own convictions as to the moral value of the difference, and I ought to have made the exception in my pamphlet Circumstances also have prevented those who left the national system in France from choosing the form they would have desired. The movement has taken the form I had predicted in my pamphlet, so that it would be needful also to have made an exception for the new French system. There is nothing else, as far as I am aware of, which I have to correct. I give a passage of the letter which authorized my saying that the author of "Are Elders to be established?" issued the Guillaumet paper to answer that of Foulquier, so that one may not think that I asserted these things inconsiderately. The letter is from the author to Mr. Foulquier. Here is the passage:

230 "I have scarcely had time to copy a few passages of it [of the Guillaumet manuscript]. I was just occupied with refuting these passages in the revised text that I was preparing of the notes read in the conference at my house, when your tract was handed over to me. As soon as I met with the sad declaration 'If even,' etc., I laid aside my first paper, and at once began writing a refutation of your tract."

I fully maintain all I said of the clergy, of elders, of Romanism, and in general all, except what I have just corrected, but without any desire of wounding any one. I will explain the passage which might produce that effect. I never said, nor thought for an instant (and I need hardly mention it), that the elders named at Geneva were impostors; but I said, "Who only deceive those who follow them." This is what I meant - that they impose their authority as elders, without being true elders according to God; that the pretension to be an elder, because one has been chosen and named, is a false pretension, which only deceives those who follow the persons who pretend to be elders. I confess I look upon this pretension to be an elder as false. Those persons, doubtless very good brethren and men, are no more elders for having been named as they have been, than any one you please of the inhabitants of Geneva; and it is very proper this should be understood. One cannot assume official authority in the Church at one's own will, or by a mutual understanding so to do. If the expression I used means more than that, I withdraw it. I have no desire to employ even the appearance of insult. The old clergy had the excuse of hereditary prejudice; the new have nothing but false pretensions. Such is my conviction; but, while expressing it in the clearest and strongest way (and that is what I wish to do), I desire also to avoid all that might wound; and if the expression may have wounded the susceptibility of any one, I withdraw it, asking him with all my heart to forgive me.

But you, my brethren, who have agreed with others who follow you to give yourselves this title, you will not avoid the discussion of the validity of that which you have assumed. We ask you for the proofs of your special authority, for the vouchers. Who is it that named you? Who is it that authorized you to take that title? Who discerned your qualifications?

Whence comes the authority you pretend to in the house of God? How would you exercise it towards any one who might dispute it? When such men as Paul, Timothy (if it was so in his case), and Titus had with apostolical authority established elders in the churches, if the authority of these elders were disputed, it was disputing the apostolical authority that had placed them there. But as regards you, who made you elders? Except it be with revolutionists, authority flows from authority. Thus it was in the Church. Christ named apostles. The apostles named elders. Who is it that named you? Who is it that communicated to you your authority? You know, and you cannot deny, that the apostles and their special delegates established elders at the beginning. You ask for proof "that this was forbidden to any others." Is it thus that one can assume authority? If the right of naming public functionaries was exercised by the king in a state of which he was the sovereign, could each one name as he chose, over a small portion of the citizens, because there was nothing in the laws declaring that none else had a right to make them? Who would listen to such nonsense? Well! it is much more serious and much worse to do so in the things of God. One would not dare to say or to do such things in human society. Alas! one dares everything in the Church of God.

231 Have you a real authority from God over His flock, an authority which you can use over the whole flock? If not, you are the heads of a sect. You are not the elders of the flock of God; but you only bear this title as from those who would have you. It is absolutely and exclusively the will of man that is the source of your authority, and without that will you neither pretend to exercise it, nor to possess it: the moment it is not accepted, it is powerless. For, abandoning it, one only abandons what one has created oneself. It is said that I am seeking for apostolical succession; it is not so at all. I seek for the existence of the authority which conferred upon you your own. Where is it? You tell me the institution subsists. Where? In the word, you tell me. Doubtless, there were elders then; but as for you, say what you please, you are not an institution. Who is it that placed you in the position to which you pretend? That is the question. Tongues we find in the word, and miracles, and we find apostles also. Do those things now subsist because we find their existence at that time recorded in the word? As a fact, the institution of elders does not subsist; this one cannot deny. They act on a revolutionary principle in the Church of God in creating authorities, however perfect the model they would copy in establishing them. I said they wished to have a clergy: where ministry is limited, where authorities, officially recognized, are found, there is a clergy, because ministry becomes a separate caste. According to the word, the members of the body of Christ act according to the energy which is communicated to them from above, each in its place, subject to the discipline prescribed by the word, and to the rules given there; and they exercise their ministry in the whole body, according as God has dealt to each. In a clerical sect, ministry is limited to those who are officially recognized in its bosom. By courtesy those who are elsewhere in a similar position may be received; but those persons officially recognized in the sect itself form the recognized ministry of that sect. Take the different systems, National, Independent, Baptist, Wesleyan, the Free Church of the Canton de Vaud; the principle is recognized in them. Take the constitution of what calls itself the "Evangelical Church at Geneva," there also the thing exists, as clearly as possible. It "recognizes the necessity of a special ministry, as an institution of God and a permanent want of the Church; consequently, it has elders and deacons." Such is its ministry. Do these elders and deacons form the ministry of another body of Christians? Clearly not. The thing is still more limited when it is said, "A distinct part of them [the elders] are the ministers of the word, who, prepared by holy studies, are more specially called to teaching and preaching." What difference is there between this and the clergy elsewhere? It is a separate caste. That this will subsist long practically, is what I do not believe, because the principle of a clergy is according to the heart of man, and one will never communicate to these laymen elders' authority over souls, which one cannot give them as from God. This is the principle I oppose. I think indeed, and I repeat it, that it is to deny the authority of Christ over His own house.

232 There are three other important principles which I wish to point out to the reader before considering the passages I have to examine: principles which are in question in the formation of the different new churches. First, as to discipline at Geneva, I beg every sincere Christian to examine the printed constitution. I do not pretend to judge assurances given verbally in the midst of their assemblies; but I have before me their public profession of principles, and it is without controversy that discipline is either brotherly reproof, or, in extreme cases, the absolute authority of the presbytery, plain and open absolutism. The Church has no part in it, except submission. There is no discipline exercised for the purifying of the conscience of the Church, as Paul could say, "Ye have approved yourselves clear in this matter," 2 Cor. 7:11. It is true that they do not add "and not otherwise." So that, according to the principle on which they chose their elders, leaving aside Paul and Titus, all the brethren may exercise discipline without looking to the elders and presbytery named in the rules, and take no account of them, without the least infraction of the rules. The absence of the "not otherwise" leaves the door open to every possible mode of acting, and the article preserves all its force and value … the institution subsists. Unless it be on this principle, discipline is either simply brotherly reproof or the absolute authority of the clergy. According to the word, pastors, elders, may enlighten the conscience of the brethren, counsel them, exercise a scriptural influence that the body may walk according to God; but according to the word it is the conscience of the Church which is brought into activity, it is the Church that removes from its midst the wicked person. The constitution of Geneva settles the matter quite differently, and the very explanations, which overthrow the article of the constitution, are themselves also contrary to the word. The elders pronounce after having informed the Church. The conscience of the Church has nothing to do with it.

233 There are two more points which I wish to treat briefly, as being general principles of importance, which may exercise the heart on the occasion of the formation of these new churches.

The first point with which I shall occupy my reader, is that of the idea of union on the principle of mutual concession with respect to the divers views which are found among Christians, and of conciliation by these means. This principle has a great repute and a very fair appearance; but it is profoundly evil and presumptuous. It supposes that the truth is at our disposal. Philippians 3 teaches quite a different principle: there is no idea of concession nor of any arrangement in expressing the truth so as to reconcile different views. It is said, "Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded." It is not, Let us lower down the truth to the measure of him who has not come up to it; it is not two persons ignoring which of the two has the truth, or content to suppose the possibility of error in giving up more or less what they hold, in order to express themselves so as to be agreed: all that is an infringement upon the authority of the truth on us. "And if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you." There is no question here of concessions, but of the revelation from God to enlighten him who is not perfect in the truth. "Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing." There is no question here of concessions, but of walking together in the things we possess, with regard to which, because recognized as being the truth of God, there is no giving up anything, all being subject to it. In that case, there is no concession, either on one side or on the other, for all possess the same truth, having already attained to it in a measure, and they walk together minding the same thing. The remedy for the diversity of mind which may remain is not to make concessions (how deal thus with the truth?) but the revelation from God in favour of him who is ignorant, as we are all of us on divers points.

234 But I shall be told, On that footing, one will never come to an agreement. Where will you find in the word such a thing as coming to an agreement? To come to an agreement is not the unity of the Church of God. The truth is not to be modified, and we are not called to force our imperfect views on anyone. I must have faith, and one must have the same faith, to walk together; but in the things received as the truth of God by faith, I can make no concession; I may bear with ignorance, but I cannot arrange the truth to please another. You will tell me, In that case, how walk together? Why lay down grounds of unity which require either unity of views, or so evil a thing as concession on such or such a truth? As to the things on which we possess the truth, and with regard to which we have faith, we have the same mind, we walk in them together. If I acquire some knowledge more, I bear with the ignorance of my brother, until God reveals the thing to him. Our unity is in Christ Himself. If unity depends on concessions, it is only a sect founded on human opinions, because the principle of the absolute authority of the truth is lost. They will tell me, that true Christians will never yield on fundamental points. I was going to say "I understand"; but it is not so. There are many who are agreed in spite of the errors which affect the foundations; I know that others would not; but this does not prevent the fact that the principle of concessions is in nowise authorized in the word, denies the authority of the truth on us, and pretends to be able to dispose of it for the sake of peace.* The word supposes the bearing with ignorance, but never concessions, because it does not suppose that men could make a rule different from itself, in order to come to an agreement. I receive a man "weak in the faith"; but I do not yield anything to him as to the truth, even on such a point as eating herbs; I might perhaps deny essential truths by so doing. Such a case may happen, where to observe days might lead to doubt of the Christianity of him who does it. (See Galatians 4:9-11.) There might be another case where I could only say, On this very point, "let every man be fully persuaded," Rom. 14:5-6, etc. Sometimes the whole of Christianity depends upon something which can be borne with in other points of view; Gal. 2:1-4. I repeat, there is no trace in the word of a system which suppresses a part of the truth so as to have a common confession, but the contrary. There was the perfect truth, and God revealed what was wanting, when it was otherwise. They were of one mind and they walked together, and there was no need of concessions. One did not pretend to such things as required them; that is, the Bible does not suppose what one has the pretension to do. It is to mutilate the truth that it may be adopted by many. The word, therefore, and especially Philippians 3, condemns this arrangement of mutilated truth, with a view to get them to be adopted by everyone; for this is to dishonour God and His truth. These are means for forming a sect, composed of those who are agreed on the points laid down as grounds of union. It is never the unity of the Church of God; it will be an orthodox sect, if they are agreed on fundamental points, yet always a sect, even if it should take in a greater part of a nation, because it is a body formed on the agreement to which men have come on certain truths; but it is not the unity of the Church of God. In a confession of faith there is no question of bearing with individuals who are ignorant on certain points, nor of acknowledging together that one is lacking as to the knowledge thereof, nor of enlightening those who are so; but of declaring the truth one possesses, that others may, by agreeing with that declaration, join themselves to such as have adopted it as a ground of union. That all may adopt it, the profession of the truth must be reduced to the measure of ignorance of all those who come in, if they are sincere in that profession; but that is not bearing with others, but persons, as I have said, who dispose of the truth of God by a human compromise. Is that the unity of the Spirit?

{* Here is the thing better expressed than I could do it myself:

"There is something which is more compromised among us than the truth; it is its value and its claims. We are less far from finding the same dogmas in the scriptures, than from giving them the same authority over us; and we may be allowed to affirm that the questions on which Christians are divided would soon be settled, if they drew near to the Bible with the intention of taking seriously all the truths it proclaims. Alas! while we read, the devil murmurs in our ear, All that is not equally pressing, equally obligatory; we are commanded to bear with the weak; Paul made himself all things to all; he consented to offer sacrifice and to circumcise Timothy: on the other hand, edification goes before dogma; the principal dogma itself goes before the secondary dogmas, etc. One voluntarily opens the ear to a language which appears plausible and prudent; which appears not to attack a single truth, but which is only the more calculated to render them all powerless. From afar, one bows before each truth, but if it comes near to us, if it requires us to act, to sacrifice anything, at once the present truth is ranked among the truths that are out of season." Archives, Sept. 22, 1849.}

236 And, again, pay attention to this. If I know the truth and make a concession so as to unite myself to others in a common profession, my concession is just simply yielding the truth to him who will not have it. If I, with others, make concessions because we only have opinions and are ignorant of the truth, or have no certainty as to it, what a monstrous pretension to lay down, in that state of ignorance, a rule to be imposed on others as a ground of the unity of the Church, under penalty of not forming part of it! I may be told, But, instead of this, you impose your views, as being sure of the truth. Not at all; because I believe in a unity which already exists, the unity of the body of Christ, of which every Christian forms part; whereas you establish union on views on which you have come to an agreement. You will tell me, You are indifferent then as to the truth. No; but you have used improper means to guard it, by imposing the profession of a part of the truth as a basis of unity. Some Christians in Paris, already in the truth, as I suppose - these brethren in Paris are gathered on the ground of the unity of the body of Christ. By the power of the Holy Ghost and by discipline the body is guardian of the truth as of holiness. If any one upholds error and we have been unable to make him give up that error, he is not received or he is excluded. It is a duty towards Christ, Head of the Church, and towards His sheep dear to His heart. If it be only ignorance, one bears with it, and one seeks to enlighten. That discipline may be exercised with the divine wisdom which the word supplies, and in the manner as well as in the measure, for which it gives us the necessary instructions. What I complain of is, that men have substituted another unity for the unity of the body of Christ, and thus a truth which is not secondary is compromised, and the true unity is rendered impossible. We shall see presently the proofs of this.

237 See under what conditions I may take part in the union at Geneva. I must accept their system of elders, the popular choice of authorities in the Church of God by majorities, not to repeat what I have said on discipline and on the clergy. These are conditions which must precede. If I believe these things to be contrary to the word, I must force my conscience or withdraw. In France, one must accept a system of delegates, synods, church-inspection, a synodal committee, voting by majority which binds the churches, a proportional majority in certain cases. Suppose I believe that the principle which requires of us to decide in the things of God by majorities, is an utterly carnal principle (necessary in human things, but an abomination in the Church, since the Spirit must reign there, and two spiritual men may be right in face of a whole crowd), here am I, if I do not accept a principle which to my mind denies the authority of the Holy Ghost, excluded from the unity of what is called the Church of France. It is impossible for anyone who believes in the Church and its unity, and who believes that the Holy Ghost has any authority in the Church of God, to accept such a system. And I pray the reader to I observe here, how closely practice is connected with doctrine, and how those who are ignorant of a doctrine may act with great sincerity in establishing a common walk for Christians, without suspecting that they interfere with dogmas of the highest importance. There is no doctrine of greater importance, after the eternal foundations of truth have been laid, than the unity of the Church and the presence and authority of the Holy Ghost in the Church; it is a vital doctrine for these times - the importance of which can scarcely be exaggerated. Now it is evident that a system of delegation, majority of votes, a synodal committee, with regulations for not re-electing immediately all the members of the latter, is a complete denial of the authority of the Holy Ghost. It is founded on human rights and arranged to meet the fear of human jealousies. If I believe in the unity of the body of Christ and the authority of the Holy Ghost, can I join that which binds me to such a system? Again, is it according to the word, or is it a human principle, that churches have rights in virtue of the number of their members? "Member of a church" is not a scriptural idea: a Christian is a member of the body of Christ. The doctrine of the Church, of the unity of the body of Christ, is wanting; and men have replaced it by a system of agreement in fundamental views and of synodal authority. And far are they in practice from having the idea of laying down a basis which would take in all Christians, that if the principle of the profession of the faith is not accepted, the best Christian must remain outside (Archives, Sept. 8.) And this profession of the faith must be exactly according to the creed inserted in the constitution, for all the churches must adhere to that one.*

{*All the Evangelical Churches of France, composed of members who have made a profession, individual and explicit, of the faith, etc., unite themselves together. Article 4. Each church, in order to form a part of the union, must … secondly, adhere to the profession of the faith given in Article 2 (Sept. 8).}

238 Here is the defence of this system: "Every one who was desirous of making for that union every sacrifice that can be reconciled with conscience and faithfulness. Here the concessions were genuine, for the question was not to reconcile that which is irreconcilable, the yea and nay on fundamental and distinctive doctrines of Christianity; but to reconcile different views on secondary questions of application and of ecclesiastical government - questions with regard to which the most upright mind and the most scrupulous conscience can consent to submit."

Here is an answer taken from the same journal (Aug. 25): "Yes; they have made of the Church, and of sound doctrine, secondary truths. Our secondary truths are always those which demand our acting and our sacrifices." I leave aside sound doctrine as not being in question here. It is agreed that the Church is not a secondary truth.

Here again is a way of testing the thing. "We will tell you the only way to get yourself expelled: Pass on from theory to application. The worldly churches bear with theory, but are very sensitive as to practice. The world knows very well how to distinguish between what threatens it and what serves it. Make orthodox discourses, but do not touch upon any point of discipline." I have these two points here: the Church is not a secondary truth, and to bring that to the test you must come to practice, to application. Now the unity of all those who are members of Christ, and that by the baptism of the Holy Ghost, is the scriptural doctrine of the Church. Orthodox thoughts will easily be admitted on this point; but touch upon discipline, ask that Mr. Ponson be recognized as member of this union of churches; he cannot be. He is recognized to be a brother. There is nothing to reproach him with, it would appear, whether with regard to his doctrine or his conduct; but the whole synod, without exception, has accepted fundamental grounds, laid down by the Circular of March 31, which have excluded him.* So that it is not enough to be a Christian, known to be such in doctrine and practice; one must besides be a member - not of Christ but of a church - adhere to the constitution voted in Paris, to the principle of voting and deciding by a majority, and to a crowd of other principles. If I cannot accept all that (things which render impossible the unity of the body of Christ), I am excluded from the system. A nationalist is made to say, The Bible condemns a sectarian spirit; it commands us to manifest before all the union of brethren, and to bear with the weak; but it is useful to maintain for the present the divided state … "Sacred interests would be compromised if we were too obedient." Do not these words apply to the synod? Those sacred interests here mentioned are the principles of the Circular of March 4. Outside these, no union. However fine these words may sound, concession and reconciliation, it is a fatal and presumptuous principle. If I accept the unity of the Church of God, I do not need that principle, the weak of the faith are of the Church, and I bear with their weakness; the Bible is my measure; a perfect measure, capable of rendering the man of God "perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." Unity of views, however desirable, is not necessary to that unity. The body of Christ is one, and whatever be the degree of progress, the Christian is of the body. As a profession of faith, we do not want anything less perfect than the Bible, because we possess the unity which is according to God, without seeking to make one according to man. There are those who, having no idea of the Church of God, will only have the Bible to be enabled only to profess that which reason accepts. Others, to put a barrier to that licentiousness, make professions of faith, to gather people according to those ideas. What is wanting is the unity of the Church of God, which possesses the whole truth, which is the "pillar and the ground of the truth," as the Bible is its perfect rule.

{*"In point of fact, those Christians only were called to the synod who accept the fundamental grounds Laid down by the Consultative Committee, in their Circular of March 31." Archives, Sept. 8.}

240 The last principle I would point out, to which I have already alluded, and which has been largely insisted on for some years past, and which has recently been put forward in a particular way, is this: That which is not prohibited is allowed; or else one must find the words "not otherwise" joined to what is said in the Bible; if not, we may do the thing quite differently. Now the Bible, as far as I know, never says this. Certainly we do not find it in the New Testament, so that it is evident that all that is written therein furnishes no rule of conduct whatever; because, if when there is a walk traced out in the Bible one may act otherwise unless one finds the phrase "not otherwise" it is evident that there is in it no obligatory direction (that is, that the biblical directions and walk are nothing as authority). You cannot find a more iniquitous principle. People felt themselves without any authority in the word for a certain mode of acting; they spoke of a commandment; but after all, they felt that all that was alleged could not serve as a foundation to what they were building. Sometimes they will say that the word has not force of law. Sometimes they will not have a Gospel-code; and finally they do things as they please, alleging that the word has not said "not otherwise." Let the Christian understand fully what this walk is, in order to brand it with all his spiritual might. This is what forms the basis of the whole Romish system. The word does suffice for our direction. If we find things done in a certain way, an authority committed to certain persons, we are quite as free to do it in another way, and to exercise the authority although it has not been committed to us, because it is not said "not otherwise." For instance, here is what we are told with regard to the elders named at Geneva. They cannot deny that the apostle and his delegates did establish the elders. What are we to do now that the one or the others are no longer here? "We challenge our brethren to quote one single text where the Holy Ghost commands clearly to establish elders through the ministry of the apostles or their delegates, and not otherwise." We do indeed find some which clearly say that it was the apostle or his delegates, and the latter with the apostolical authority. We have even proved that, in biblical history, the thing is not done otherwise; and that, when the opportunity presented itself for doing so in Crete, the apostle followed the order which is pointed out; he did not commit this task to the Church, but he left Titus to do this as well as some other things which required apostolical authority. That is to say, the biblical mode of acting is very clearly marked out: we cannot mistake the principle that directed it; and now people stand up to tell us that they will do it quite otherwise, and in a way in which the apostle did not think fit to do it, because it is not said "and not otherwise." What could not be done with such a principle? Where is the prohibition to carry the sacrament in procession? Where do we find that which forbids confessing sins to a priest? for it is said, "Confess your faults one to another," and it is not added "and not otherwise." If the Church is to remove the wicked person from its midst, why could it not be done by act of authority on the part of the clergy, since it is not said "and not otherwise"? Why not have acolytes, sub-deacons, patriarchs, archdeacons, popes? Let us remember that, in point of fact, in the case which gave rise to the discussion of this horrid principle, it is a question of a pretension of an immense scope, namely, the authority to name the officers in the house of God, and even over all the brethren; for if it is not this, they are not elders established by the Holy Ghost over the flock of God. And I would say by the way (for I wish to confine myself to general principles), this horrid principle is the only basis of the whole building of the new system at Geneva; for it is as clear as daylight, that, if the word really authorized what they have done, they would not have had recourse to this argument, that it was not forbidden to do otherwise.

241 They have judged their own cause. They have had the pretension to confer authority in the Church of God on certain persons, and they have been told: You have not that authority; you have had the pretension to create elders and you cannot - they are not really elders. If you have that authority, shew it. In answer, they shew the authority in the hands of Paul, of Timothy, of Titus. We reply to them: But you are neither Paul, nor Timothy, nor Titus. Then comes the fatal principle: But it is not said "and not otherwise!"

242 Such then is the foundation of the authority which is exercised in that which is called the Evangelical Church at Geneva.

After all, to say that a direction given to a superior authority to know how one ought to conduct oneself in the sphere of his action confers on everyone to arrogate to himself that authority, even as a matter of obedience, would be too absurd a pretext to be put forward; and they feel it in spite of themselves, if it were not a question of justifying, when the thing is done, what is required by the principle we are now discussing, viz., that the absence of this "not otherwise" leaves everything free - a principle which sweeps away all that is said in the word, because we may do quite otherwise, without there being an infraction of the rule that is found in it and of the mode of action which is followed in it.

I come now to the discussion of a few passages of scripture.

There is a case of small importance, but I shall notice it, since it is a question of the word. The application of Isaiah 63:14, and of Nehemiah 11:20, is perfectly right. It has been alleged that the Spirit was given after the captivity in a more excellent way, inasmuch as it was to abide. I answer: The prophet on the contrary encourages the Jews by telling them that just as the Spirit was with them when they came out of Egypt, God having vouchsafed it to them at that time, the Spirit remained and was abiding still in spite of the captivity; and I quote passages which prove that the Holy Spirit was given at the beginning, and that even after the captivity Nehemiah reminds them of this gift as being one of their special privileges. These were very appropriate quotations to shew that the words of Haggai mean that what had been given when they came out of Egypt was not lost, but still remained with them. That is evidently the sense of the passage, and it shews that the Spirit was also with them at the beginning. This is precisely what it was important to shew. I have perhaps been mistaken in thinking that everyone could lay hold of the force of the passage without an unfolding of it. We must remember that the prophet himself alludes to the time of their coming out of Egypt. "According to the word that I covenanted with you, when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not," Hag. 2:5. Is it not evident that it is a question of possessing the same privilege as at the beginning without having lost it by the captivity, as the latter might have given rise to the thought that it was? I quote passages which prove that the presence of the Holy Spirit was one of their privileges when they came out of Egypt.

243 As to Acts 20, it is clear that it was the elders of Ephesus that the apostle was addressing. He had sent, calling them to come to Miletus, to avoid the loss of time which a visit to the whole church would have occasioned him (v. 16). Ephesus was a city where the apostle had dwelt for a long time, exercising a most blessed and powerful ministry, so that all Asia (the province) had heard the word, and thus this church had intercourse with all the Christians of the country. He calls the elders to Miletus, and addresses them in the touching discourse that we find in verses 18 to 35. Now it is evident that in sending for them he had on his heart not only those elders, but all the Christians of the place, and even of the whole province. He begins by shewing it. "Ye know," he says, "from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you." It is clear enough already that "ye" does not mean the elders only; but it is in the midst of them all, of those of whom the elders were the representatives. See verse 25. The thing will appear still more evident from this passage; "And now, behold, I know that ye all among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more." "Ye all," does not designate the elders only. "Wherefore, I take you to record this day," this may apply better to the elders, but as representatives of all. "For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God "not to the elders only. "Take heed therefore unto yourselves and to all the flock." Here the elders are particularly distinguished from the flock, "over the which," it is stated, the Holy Ghost made them "overseers," to feed the Church of God.* "For I know that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you." Was he then only thinking of the elders? Clearly not. It was the flock that was in danger; he thought of the sheep which the wolves would seek to devour. Not only some were to come from outside; but from among themselves, from the flock, should "men arise, speaking perverse things." "By the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one, night and day, with tears" - not only the elders. All this care, during these three years, was not bestowed on the elders only. Neither was it the elders only that he commended to God, such as should receive "an inheritance among all them which are sanctified." We see then that although the "ye" or "you" applies naturally to all the Christians of Ephesus, and even of the whole country, Paul addressed the elders who represented them.* And thus it always happens in such cases; that is, one addresses oneself to delegates or to representatives, to magistrates, who come forward as if they were the persons they represent, although one may also address to them some special words, just as the apostle points out the elders personally. He distinguishes them nevertheless from the flock, in this last case (v. 28). The expression which speaks of the elders taking "heed," applies evidently to care about others besides themselves.

{*This expression, as well as others, shews that a Church could be called the Church, because it was that practically in the place.}

{**I add here that paraggelia signifies, among other things, a "commission," and it is evidently in this sense that Paul uses it; 1 Tim. 1:5.}

244 As to the bondage of Satan, I shall also say a few words. The word "Satan" often frightens persons, but the diligent reader of the Bible will not have failed to perceive that the word of God continually speaks of his influence, and attributes all evil to him, not to cover the lusts which open the door to him, but to shew the true source of that evil. All those who make a profession of Christianity, and who deny "the power thereof," are called by the apostle children of the devil. And as to the evil which has been wrought, where the word was sown, it is especially called his work "an enemy hath done this." The apostle calls its instruments the apostles of Satan, as the tares are the seed of the wicked one. Now this evil has been principally done by a judaizing doctrine, and all those who undergo the influence of that doctrine undergo the influence of the enemy. The apostle calls this continually a bondage, as in Galatians 2:4; ch. 4:9; ch. 5:1; so that the idea of bondage, and of bondage under Satan, in reference to Christians deceived by the enemy, is quite a scriptural idea. Moreover, Romans 6:16 fully warrants the use of the expression with respect to all that in which we obey the enemy, and with respect to all error and darkness in which we live, though we are Christians. I do not quote 2 Timothy 2:26, because it can be applied to the unconverted. Let the reader remember that if he obeys Satan, he is in bondage to him. Doubtless this cannot be, in an absolute way, the state of a child of God, but (the flesh being always evil) he will be a slave wherever the flesh is at work, whether in doctrine or in practice. When a whole system, founded on the bases pointed out in the Epistle to the Galatians, rules over children of God, as it often happens (for instance, the papal system), it is, according to the Epistle to the Galatians, a bondage; and in that case, one is certainly the slave of Satan, who rules there.

245 I now come to the priesthood, centre of unity to Israel, and to the change which took place at the time of the establishment of royalty. That a remarkable change then took place cannot be questioned. Ichabod had been written upon Israel, and every ordinary relationship with God had been broken, for the ark of the covenant had been taken. Hannah (in the song in which she celebrates, before this disaster, the goodness of God toward herself) had proclaimed that He would give power to His king, and would exalt the horn of His anointed.

The kingly rule is established, but, at first, not such as was according to the will of God, but, in truth, by the great sin of the people, who, in making a king, rejected God who was their King. And from that time the ark was never restored to its place in the tabernacle, but David removed it to the Mount Zion; and having established all the order of the house of God, upon a new footing, he had to leave to his successor (Solomon) the execution of all that which he had received by inspiration, as well as the instalment of the priests in the temple. The order established by David was communicated to him by revelation, just as much as that of the tabernacle had been to Moses. Everything was arranged afresh, although there were elements common to both. It was, then, the epoch of a great change, when grace, acting by means of David, placed the blessing of the people upon a new footing at a time when all had been lost. The prophet comes in between the two states referred to, it is true, as a sort of mediator, in the person of Samuel; but we will leave this for the present. His office was the sovereign means, employed by God, to maintain His relationship with the people, when it was unfaithful and fallen into decay. That I have rightly estimated this standing of the kingly authority of David, is proved by the close of Psalm 78 where it is said: -

"When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel: so that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men; and delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy's hand. He gave his people over also unto the sword; and was wroth with his inheritance. The fire consumed their young men; and their maidens were not given to marriage. Their priests fell by the sword; and their widows made no lamentation. Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine. And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts: he put them to a perpetual reproach. Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph and chose not the tribe of Ephraim; but chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which he loved. And he built his sanctuary like high palaces, like the earth which he hath established for ever. He chose David also his servant and took him from the sheepfolds: from following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance. So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands."

246 Here we see the sovereign grace and election of God, who raises up David as an instrument to lift up the people, when God had forsaken His tabernacle, and delivered up His people to the sword. This passage is very important, as portraying the true royalty willed by God; but how subject now is the priesthood!

But before giving power to His king, and lifting up the horn of His anointed - of whom the true Anointed was to be the descendant, and who bore, indeed, prophetically, his name of "Beloved" (David, see Ezekiel) - before the existence of that kingly authority, what was the link between God and the people? What, I say, was the link when there was no king? For some link there must have been. He who is ever so little acquainted with the ways of God in the Old Testament will at once answer, "It was the high priest." For after Moses (who was king in Jeshurun), who else could be the link? The only person who could have been so was Joshua; but in the very times of Joshua it was the high priest rather who was so. Let us cite the passages which speak of this. Take Numbers 27:15-23. There we see Joshua, who was to command, placed before Eleazar and the congregation; and when a portion of the honour of Moses has been conferred upon him, in order that the people might obey him, he must needs remain before Eleazar the priest who enquired of the Lord by Urim and Thummim. At his word (the word of Eleazar) was to be the coming in, and at his word was to be the going out, of him (Joshua), and of the children of Israel with him, and of all the congregation. Indeed, if God was King in the midst of His people, His high priest, who drew near to Him, was, of necessity, the centre of unity. It was he (the high priest), who bore the names of the twelve tribes upon his breast before the Lord, and their judgment, continually, having the Urim and Thummim, sole true centre of unity. On the other hand, when even it was Joshua who directed them, who communicated to them the will of the Lord, it was, nevertheless, always at the word of Eleazar that they were to come in; and at the word of Eleazar, that they were to go out. That Israel was unfaithful to this, in the times of the judges, is true; but what was the consequence thereof?

247 God adds a sad history at the end of this book (but it is a history of facts which happened about the commencement of this period, for Phinehas was high priest) in order to give us an idea of the state of things within the country (for almost all the book is occupied with what passed between the people and their enemies); and therein we see that, in their affliction, it was the priesthood which was their resource and common centre; Judges 18:26-28. It is the same in the division of the land, as also in all else (Numbers 14:17; Joshua 14:1), Eleazar is always placed at the head. This had never been the case in the time of Moses. And I ask any attentive reader of the Bible whether such was the place of the high priest in the times of the kings. I am aware it may be replied: "He always bore the breastplate with the names of the tribes." Be it so, but it is forgotten that God had already abandoned the people upon that footing; that the ark had been delivered up to the Philistines, and that the king chosen of God, inspired by God, saviour to His people through grace, had taken possession of it, and resettled all upon a new footing, as type and representative of the Anointed of the Lord, of Christ the King of Israel, of the King who should establish the kingdom of God and govern all as such. From that time all hangs upon the conduct of the king. When the kingly office failed, the priesthood could preserve nought. Now the character of Christ in Israel, at that time, will be that of King, and, consequently, it is under that same character that His type and precursor has appeared. Although He be a priest, yet it is as Melchisedek (a priest upon His throne), and not as Aaron, entering into the holy place, that He will act in that day. Aaron is the type of that which He is now; and, therefore, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, in the very act of shewing that Christ is personally after the order of Melchisedek, the apostle, as soon as he speaks of His present services, uses the type of Aaron. On the other hand, when the temple is dedicated, the priests cannot abide there by reason of the glory, and it is Solomon - a remarkable type of a kingly priest who acts. He blesses Israel, and blesses the Lord, as Melchisedek had done when Abraham was returning from the conquest of the kings. David the deliverer, and Solomon established in glory, types of the Lord Jesus, the anointed King in Israel, necessarily take the prominent place, and all hangs on them. For instance, when Solomon sins, ten tribes are rent from his family and from the temple. The fate of the people hangs upon the conduct of the king as leader of the people; 2 Chron. 7:17-20. The history of the kings, from Rehoboam to Zedekiah, shews us that it was thus; and as to the fact, it was the sin of Manasseh brought at length that entire ruin on the people and the house of God; 2 Kings 21:11-14.

248 The examination of the character of Christ, as Melchisedek, puts the change which took place as to the priesthood in so clear a light, that it is impossible that a Christian instructed in the word should mistake, or say that the sacrificial preeminence of the family of Aaron held the same place in the ways of God subsequent to the establishment of royalty, as it did before. Moreover, we have seen, in detail, proofs to the contrary. In like manner, Solomon sends back Abiathar to his own house, and when David, without troubling himself about the priesthood, places the ark in Zion - an all-important change, he places the priests in Gibeon before the altar; and there were none before the ark (see 1 Chron. 16:37, to the end of the chapter). We find also (2 Sam. 6:17-18) this character of Melchisedek shewing itself in measure in David. If we closely examine the change, we shall see how vast was its import. The expression (1 Sam. 2:35), "he shall stand, (or shall walk) before his anointed," has already revealed this. The ark taken captive, where is the glory? Ichabod being the state of Israel in such sort that the priesthood was a nullity as to its original exercise (for without the ark there was no day of atonement for Israel), God interposes in an extraordinary manner by means of prophecy, which was a sovereign means on His part, and announces to the afflicted and downcast people, in the person and by the mouth of Hannah, that there was a new means of blessing; that He "the Lord maketh poor and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord's, and he hath set the world upon them. He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed," 1 Sam. 2:7-10.

249 Here, in the presence of the priesthood, and on the eve of the capture of the ark, a new character, that of "the anointed," is introduced. The anointing had before been distinctively attached to the priesthood. The high priest had been the anointed. Now it is another who is distinctively "the anointed," it is the king; and this connects itself with the character in which the Christ was to appear. The king being thus distinctively the anointed, the high priest, who had been so previously, walks before Him. He (the priest) is still in office, but he is no longer the centre of the system. The king, type of Christ, has taken his place.

Let us examine this in another point of view. It is certain that God, in His determinate counsel, designed to glorify His Son, even in the kingly power as regards Israel and the world. But on the other hand, the people ought to have remained before God by the means of the high priest, without a king being needed for the maintenance of its order. The Lord was their King. Consequently God permitted the sin of the people to ripen, ere He established His anointed. Now the priesthood, as we have seen, and as all the Levitical system testifies, was the centre of all the relationships of the people with God - the link of the chain which was near the throne of the Lord. The Lord was Himself King in Israel; but Israel needed to see a king, to be like the other nations. The notion that the sin was simply in desiring a king like the other nations, and that the thing was not evil because it was foreknown of God, cannot be admitted for a moment: "And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them," 1 Sam. 8:7.

250 At the same time, God presents before the people what will be the consequences; but the people say, "Nay, but a king shall reign over us": "Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations," 1 Sam. 8:5; compare with chap. 12:12.

Now, already, before this request, the high priest had, if one may so say, disappeared. Samuel offered sacrifices here and there; but at length God established His king, His anointed, as we have seen, and in such a position (for he was the type of Christ), that it is said by the Holy Spirit, "Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king," 1 Chron. 29:23.

We see here the anointed of the Lord seated upon the throne of the Lord. The high priest walks before him. This it is which will take place when the kingdom shall be established. Without the least doubt Christ will be the head and centre of it. The question here is not of the high priest, type of the heavenly priesthood (a thought which properly applies only to the tabernacle, as we see in the Epistle to the Hebrews, where the apostle speaks only of the tabernacle), but of the position of the high priest in the presence of the king. Christ must have that place of king. David and Solomon are the types of this - in suffering, in victory, and in glory - sitting upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel; 1 Chron. 28:5. Now, previously, the Lord Himself had been their King, and the high priest abode before Him. The people rejected God that He should not reign over them. Their iniquity gave occasion for the accomplishment of His designs in grace, even as it befalls us. But before this act of the people, the high priesthood itself had failed, and all the order to which it pertains was dissolved. The ark was taken, and consequently the relations of God with the people broken, so far as that depended upon their faithfulness. That order, such as it had been, was not restored. The tabernacle never received the ark. The king became the anointed; and he it is who arranges as to the ark, and the high priest must walk before him. Now, to say, in the face of changes of such a kind as this, that external splendour placed the high priest in a more glorious position, deserves no reply. It was worth while developing these things by reason of their intrinsic value.

251 These remarks will already have enabled us to understand what was the royal authority truly willed of God, and what was the royal authority which was chosen by man: but we will cite some passages to make it perfectly obvious.

First, I do not see exactly that royalty was in failure during the reign of Saul. The king fell by the hands of the Philistines, but Saul was no more an unbeliever at the close than at the commencement. Sin came to its maturity in him; his heart hardened itself: alas! this is the history of man. But Saul never stood by faith; and the royal authority was not in worse plight at the close than at the commencement. He was disobedient, and God withdrew His favour from him as an individual; but I see not in what the royal authority, as such, failed. It is true, indeed, that the judgment which we have to form upon this, in measure, depends upon the principal question, viz., that of the character of the royal authority of Saul, and to what point we can call it the royal authority willed of God. This we will now examine.

Samuel sees so distinctively the will of the people in this matter, that he says (in substance in the terms of which I have made use), "Now, therefore, behold the king whom ye have chosen," 1 Sam. 12:13. This royal authority, was it that which was willed of God? The Spirit of God by Moses had anticipated the occasion in which the people of God would ask for a king, and had given rules to be observed when the occasion occurred; but the will of God is not found there; Deut. 17:14-29, etc.

It is clear that nothing can happen without the will of God. But it is certain that the establishment of Saul was not, morally, according to the divine will. Several passages in the book of Samuel furnish unanswerable proofs of this. "The thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. Now therefore hearken unto their voice; howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them," 1 Sam. 8:6-7, 9.

Then Samuel recounts the oppressions which they must needs endure at the hand of the king, and adds, "And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day," 1 Sam. 8:18. But "ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the Lord your God was your king," 1 Sam. 12:12.

252 We see here passages which shew, with the most entire evidence (unless the Lord willed that the people should reject Himself; unless, which is impossible, He willed a great sin, see 1 Sam. 12:17, 19), that it is not possible that God willed the royalty of Saul. There is a collateral proof that this was not the royalty willed of God, viz., in that the entire responsibility of maintaining its relationship with God is left to the people. (See end of chap. 12.) But the people having shewn that they could not do without that intermediate power - could not walk with God in direct relationship, and God having also manifested the evil, the door opens for the accomplishment of His counsels in Christ: for there was a royalty which had its place in the counsels of God - even that of Christ - whose forerunner and type the Lord Himself raises up, without the will or thought of the people finding any entrance whatsoever. We have already seen the manner in which God (in Psalm 78) passes from His judgment upon Shiloh, by the way He had abandoned the tabernacle for ever, to His own choice, viz., to David and to the place of His throne in the midst of His people the place chosen for His abode. Compare Psalm 132:17, where it is written, "There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed."

Such was the royalty willed of God. "The Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people," 1 Sam. 13:14. And again, "Fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse, the Bethlehemite, for I have provided me a king among his sons," chap. 16:1. Having anointed him, it is David who is the true chief and leader of Israel, even during the reign of Saul. The Lord also said to him, speaking of Solomon, "I will not take my mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee," 1 Chron. 17:13. And in Psalm 89, where the bounties of God concentrate upon David, type of the true Well-beloved: -

"Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy one, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people. I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him: with whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him."

253 And in 2 Samuel 7 (of which we have cited one verse) we find all the blessing of the people connected with the house of David. Moreover, his relation with Christ considered, this could not be otherwise. I would quote Hosea 13:11, but its application to Saul may be questioned. I have quoted passages in direct proof that the existence of the royal authority of Saul was by an act of sin; and that it was not what God willed to maintain as that which He had established according to His will; and that the royal authority of David was established by the very act and by the will of God during the very existence of the other. But, in fact, the manner in which the word expresses itself, as to the relationship between the royalty of David and that of Christ, the allusions of the prophets to Christ under this very name, the manner in which the Psalms speak, the history of David, its analogy with that of Christ, the bearing of all that is said, and the very history, all these things are (for him who takes notice of the ways of God) what manifest the divine thought as to His counsels in Christ; and they are evidence far more powerful than isolated texts in proof that the royalty of David was that willed by God, and that the royal authority of Saul (fruit of the will of the people, who in desiring him rejected God) was not so; although, in a certain sense, all things are according to His sovereign will. It is, consequently, in the royalty of David that the failure of this means of relationship with God is in question, and not in that which took place with the sin of the people, who, in establishing it, rejected God. When we speak of failure, we take for granted there was a state in which God had established man (or, indeed, angels) in blessing; but in blessing lost through the failure, so far as the responsibility of him who was placed in it goes, the sovereign grace of God alone remaining, and capable of re-establishing it according to His counsels of peace. And this proves, in an unquestionable manner, that God never re-establishes, in its primitive state, a thing entrusted to men and placed under responsibility; because, as to that which regards man, all these things are but figures of some part of the glory of Christ, who alone can uphold them. Thus Adam himself was the pattern of Him that was to come; and the blessings of an earthly paradise must needs be replaced in Christ by far better mercies, but could not be so out of Him. So the priesthood, the royal authority, and every other form of blessing whatsoever, can only be realized in Christ. Nevertheless, God places man in positions which correspond to all these blessings, and man has always failed therein. The patience of God has been great (so it is expressed as to the royal authority), "till there was no remedy," 2 Chron. 36:16. Then man is judged in the failed thing, and it is in Christ alone that the thing is established - in Him who alone maintains, and is able to maintain, all the glory of God and the blessing of man in these things. "And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons," Isa. 22:24.

254 As to the question of "Lo-ammi "I cannot complain that people do not receive the application without examination. There is nothing in my thoughts as to the Church which refers to this particularly.

The rejection of Judah, at the time of the taking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, and, consequently, the cessation of the application of the title "Ammi" to the whole people, has been the universal conviction of those Christians who have studied these subjects; and this for very simple reasons. One may be astonished that any one should call it in question, but I will briefly here present some of the proofs. To give them in full and in order, it would be needful to transcribe the greater part of the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Before producing some of these, it is well to recall the fact, that Israel is always the people of God; and if the affections of the heart and of the faith of a Daniel and a Nehemiah have called them so, nothing is proved thereby. Israel cannot cease to be the people of God. "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance," and it is of Israel that this is said. God never ceases to consider Israel as His people; but He has ceased to govern them as His people, and to have His throne in the midst of them upon the earth. Paul insists in Romans 11 upon this point after their rejection of Christ "I say, then, Hath God cast away his people God forbid" (v. 1).

So that Israel may now be called the people of God, and ought to be so, as beloved for the fathers' sakes, respect being had to the election. Hence this is not the question. If Zacharias (Luke 1) says He has visited and redeemed His people, this is still less difficult to understand, because he speaks of the coming of Jesus, who was, in truth, to establish the people in the enjoyment of all its privileges as the people of God. This, then, proves nothing; for, if this proves that "Lo-ammi" was not applicable, because Israel remain the people of God, it is evident that they never will be "Lo-ammi," because they are always the people of God.

255 It might be said, perhaps, "But this is because Judah always remained the people of God." One could hardly venture to say so after the death of Jesus. But the fact is, that the apostle takes no notice of the distinction between Judah and the ten tribes. He speaks of all Israel, and shews that they are beloved for the fathers' sakes - that God has not cast off the people whom He had foreknown. Now this, evidently, does not apply only to Judah, but to all Israel, as the apostle expresses himself; and the distinction which he draws is between all Israel and the election according to grace. This will suffice for the moment; we shall see positive proofs of it farther on. Here I seek only to shew that the recognition of the people, as a people, applies to all Israel, and that it is entirely to misapprehend the force of the passages, and to mistake as to the whole question, to suppose that the faithfulness of God to His predeterminate counsel, and the precious faith of them that are His in that unchangeable faithfulness, according to which the title of His people is given to Israel, touches the question of the judgment of "Lo-ammi." It is to confound the counsels of God with His government. In all times, Israel is His people, according to His counsels, and the thoughts of His love. This does not prevent their being called "Lo-ammi" (not my people) as to the government of God. Consequently, the fact that Israel has been called "His people" at any given epoch leaves the question entirely unanswered of "When was the sentence of 'Lo-ammi' pronounced?" Only we have made a step in our research after truth, to wit, in that we have found that this concerns the government of God. For "Lo-ammi" certainly applies, as to the government of God, to all Israel, and to the ten tribes, at one epoch or another. And as to the sovereign love and the counsels of God, Israel as a whole are always His people. The question then is of His government, and we can now ask, "When is it that God, in His government of the people of Israel, executes upon that people the sentence of 'Lo-ammi'?" I am about to shew my reader that it was at the time of the captivity of Babylon.

It is certain that the ten tribes bore the name of Israel after their separation from the other two, and that they are presented in general as having the right to the title, the other two being rather an appendage to the family of David whom God would not utterly forsake. Yet the fate of the whole people hung upon that family, on account of the Messiah, who was to be of it, and of the temple, which was at Jerusalem. The perusal of the Book of Kings will shew that the ten tribes held the place I refer to; the Book of Chronicles shews the importance of the family of David. The last chapter of 2 Chronicles shews us that the God of Israel was thoughtful of His house and of His people, until there was no remedy. Lastly, 2 Kings 23 shews us that the sin of Manasseh was the cause of the Lord's saying, "I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem, which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there."

256 As Jeremiah had said - "Then said the Lord unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight and let them go forth. And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the Lord; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity. And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the Lord: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy. And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem. For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest? Thou hast forsaken me, saith the Lord, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting."

Compare 2 Kings 21:13; Jeremiah 14:7. Thus we learn that in the captivity of Babylon (for that event is the subject of these passages) the Lord rejected Judah as He had rejected Israel. He drove that people from before His face and destroyed Jerusalem, being weary of repenting.

Now, Hosea handles the case of Israel and of Judah, and his prophecy bears date of the reign of the various kings of both countries who reigned in his time. The ten tribes are principally the objects, inasmuch as they formed the main body of the people, and as their dispersion was nearer at hand; but the judgment of Judah is also proclaimed, and the prophet, at times, speaks of the whole together under the titles of "the children of Israel," and "my people": especially in chapter 4, as being the priesthood of God, while at the same time he speaks of the priests separately. The general application here of the expression "children of Israel" is explained clearly by its use in chapter 3:5. The judgment on Judah is announced in chapter 5:5, and 10-15; chap. 6:4-11; that of the house of the Lord, chapter 8:1; that of Judah, again, verse 14; of Ephraim, Judah, and all Jacob, chap. 10:11; of Judah and Jacob, chap. 12:2. The sum of these passages shews plainly enough the object of the prophecy of Hosea; it applies to the whole of the land and of the people, to Judah as well as to Israel; but the ten tribes are chiefly in view. The expression, the mother, includes both, and the restoration of the whole people is announced, chapter 2, when God will again become their husband. The point which is not treated by Hosea is the family of David, if not in chapter 3:4-5, in which the subject is the people as a whole, under the title of "children of Israel," and their history in a few striking words up to the time of their millennial restoration.

257 The expression "Lo-ammi" necessarily applies to all the people, and, consequently, could not be announced ere the captivity of Babylon, although great progress may have been made towards its fulfilment by the captivity of the ten tribes. The conduct of the king had, from the days of David and Solomon, been the question with God, in His dealings with His people, who were finally rejected on account of the sin of Manasseh. The impiety of Solomon had already been the cause of the separation of ten tribes from the throne of his family, and then the peculiar iniquity of these ten tribes had finally caused them to be delivered over into the hands of the Gentiles. Still, the house of God, the family of David, the priesthood of Aaron, the ark of the covenant, continued surrounded by two tribes and some other Israelites, in such sort that one could not say absolutely that there is no longer a people. Yet the arm of the Lord was already lifted up to smite Judah. One has only to consult Isaiah (who prophesied at the same time as Hosea), the declarations of the first four chapters, and the magnificent and touching appeal of chapter 5 of his prophecy, to see what was the judgment which God had formed upon the state of Judah.

258 In the midst of these circumstances, Hosea announces, first of all, the judgment of the house of Jehu. Then, under the (symbolical) name of "Loruhamah," he announces that the Lord will entirely remove the house of Israel, that is to say, the ten tribes. But He will yet have mercy upon Judah, and will deliver it, even as He did in the case of Sennacherib, successor of him who led captive Israel. Then He declares by another (symbolical) name given to another child, that at length He will pronounce the sentence of "Lo-ammi"; for, said He, you are not My people. Having announced this judgment in an absolute manner, by a prophetic act, after the judgment executed upon Israel, by means of which it was already entirely cut off, and having declared at the time of this cutting off that Judah should be spared, the evidence is of the clearest kind, that it would be by the judgment executed upon Judah that this sentence would take effect. This is by so much the more evident in that "Lo-ammi," by the import of the term, applies to the whole people, which was the object of the prophecy of Hosea. Immediately afterwards, the prophet, publishing the mercies of God, declares, first, that the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the seashore, and that then the children of Israel - here expressly distinguished the one from the other in order to establish their reunion in one - shall be gathered together, and shall appoint to themselves a leader, etc. We thus see clearly that the answer and the deliverance embrace Judah as well as Israel, both of whom were included in "Lo-ammi," although the judgment pronounced for the latter could not take effect until Judah also should be rejected, and thus there should no longer be a people before God. That God in the meanwhile preserved a little remnant, which He brought back in order to present Christ to it, is evident. The question which we have to solve is this - Did God, as to His government, put in force this sentence of "Lo-ammi" at the time of the captivity of Babylon? for that sentence must needs at some time be put in force.

Now let us bear in mind, that the question, as to this expression, is one of the relationship of God with His people, already broken as to the ten tribes (whatsoever may have been the patience of God, and the messages which He sent to them) by the separation of Jeroboam. For the golden calves did not maintain the relationship of Israel with God. Now, Jerusalem was the place which He had chosen, the temple the place where He had placed His name. The ark of the covenant of the God of the whole earth was there. The family of David, a family chosen for the maintenance of His relationship with His people, the Urim and the Thummim, means of receiving (by the intervention of the priesthood) light and direction from God, were there. Now, not only had Judah sinned, but the family of David, upon the conduct of which all depended, had failed in fidelity. There was no remedy (2 Chron. 36:16), and God must reject Judah as He had rejected Israel.

259 But in this case the act is more solemn, because the house of God, the throne of God (dwelling) between the cherubim, the royal authority, which was of God, which "sat on the throne of the Lord" (1 Chron. 29:23), His Urim and His Thummim, were in question. But how preserve them there in order to sanction the iniquity which existed? That would have been still worse, and God executes the judgment which He had pronounced upon His people. The house of God is destroyed, the family of David is led into captivity, and the times of the Gentiles commence. The sceptre of the world is placed in the hands of the Gentiles by the authority of the God of the heavens, an event of immense import, which exists even at this time, and which necessarily prevents the establishment of the earthly people of God, considered in the light of the government of God, because the reign of the Messiah cannot consist with such empire in the hands of the Gentiles. Now it is as clear as possible that the epoch of the restoration and blessing of Israel, when they will no longer be "Lo-ammi," will be that of the reign of the Messiah. For the time being the people of God is a heavenly people, subject to the powers which be, a people which has nothing to seek in the world but the glory of Him who has saved it in order to introduce it into the heavens.

We see then, at the taking of Jerusalem, the judgment of God executed upon His people; the ark of the covenant taken; the house of God burnt; its royal authority taken from the family of David (and this until the coming of the true son of David); the Urim and the Thummim of the priesthood lost; the throne of God removed from off the earth; and sovereign authority placed in the hands of the Gentiles. In a word, all that which, as institutions, formed the link between God and the people is set aside (observe it, reader), and by a means which renders the re-establishment of the people impossible, because the sceptre and authority have been transferred by God to the hands of the Gentiles.

260 Under the old covenant, all was lost; under the new, under the Messiah, all is yet future for Israel. Christ manifested in flesh has not re-established the old covenant, and Israel have not been placed under the new. Christ was personally perfect under the old, and when He shed His blood - basis of the new covenant, the time was past for Israel as a nation. If the grace of God proposed to this people the return of Jesus (Acts 3) if they repented, the people in their blindness stopped the mouths of those who made the declaration. This truth, that it is under the new covenant and under the Messiah that Israel will be recognized as a people, is of all importance in order to judge in these matters. We shall see that the prophets who announce the judgment by Nebuchadnezzar pass directly from it to the coming of Christ. We shall see that, although God acted to bring matters to this point by divers acts of providence, Christ, when the blessing is established, is always in relationship with the people as a whole, and that the existence of two tribes without the ten cannot accord with the accomplishment of the promises in Christ. He may come from heaven to destroy the wicked one; but once united to Israel, it is to all Israel: so that there should have been the re-establishment in the promised blessing at the time of the return from Babylon is impossible, if in that view that event is considered as a continuation of Judah alone as the people of God.

We will now examine the passages which prove that which has just been stated. That the royal authority over all the earth was conferred on Nebuchadnezzar is most clearly stated in Daniel 2:37-38; and even that this should continue until the setting up of the kingdom of God (v. 38-44); which renders it impossible that Judah during that interval should be the people of God, recognized by Him, His government being that which we have to consider. Israel is always "Lo-ammi" during this period.

I need not say that the royal authority was not renewed in the family of David. We nowhere find that the ark of the covenant was made de novo; certainly it was not so by the command of God; and, surely they could not make the tables of the law having the writing of God, which rendered the ark the ark of the testimony. We have, further, the assurance that no manifestation of the glory of God, sign of His presence, took place at the time of the dedication of the second temple, as happened when the tabernacle was set up, and when the ark was introduced into the temple of Solomon, and they sounded with the trumpets. So that the testimony and the glory of the presence of God were wanting to the ark, if so be they made one. The absence of these two things made the existence of an ark the plain proof that all that which could have given importance to it was wanting. That there was neither Urim nor Thummim is a fact also admitted by the Jews, and proved by Nehemiah 7:65.

261 The absence of this mysterious token was a fact of the most serious kind, for it was thus that the high priest bore the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the Lord continually. That is to say, all that which symbolized the presence of God, and all the links established of old and which maintained the relation of the people with God, were wanting, while the people themselves were subjected to the Gentiles by reason of their sin. God might come in in grace; He might send messengers to the little offshoot of His people which found itself at Jerusalem; He might bear with the mutilated state of institutions, the exterior appearance of which was re-established; He might, further, send His Son: all this He did; but He never cancelled the decree of "Lo-ammi." He could not do so, save by Jesus and the new covenant, when the links of the first covenant were broken, and Israel subjected to the Gentiles. He presented Jesus - the people would not have Him. He presented Him in the faithfulness of His promise; and it is evident that it was not according to the old covenant, under which Israel had been in relationship with God as a people: all was lost according to that covenant. The new covenant could not be established with a people who rejected its Mediator in Jesus.

There remain three things for us to consider. That which the prophets said after the captivity, and that which they said before, as to the means which God would employ in order that Israel might be His people, and, then, the manner in which the New Testament presents this point. I put in the forefront the prophets after the captivity, because we find there all that the Spirit of God could say of the strongest kind to encourage the people on their return. If in examining these passages we find that the remnant which returned from the captivity is not in them called the people of God, we shall also understand that the other prophets and the New Testament confirm this testimony.

262 Let us examine Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Never once is the people returned from the captivity called by any one of these prophets the people of God: contrariwise, in the occasions in which one would have supposed this inevitable, the expression is not found, but they say, that they will be His people in the last days. But in these occasions it is Israel and Judah: proof manifest that they were not recognized by God then as His people. Never do these prophets say on behalf of God "My people." Their prophecies are full of remarkable revelations on the subject of times yet to come, as also with regard to the first coming of Jesus; and they connect the blessings which are to come with the encouragements which they give for the time present; but never at the time, nor in reference to the first coming of Jesus, are the people called the people of God. While Zechariah is very plain in declaring that it will be so in the latter days, never is it said that God should dwell in the temple then, but He promises to abide there in the days yet to come. But it is after the glory that the prophet is sent to the nations who have robbed Israel; then it is said, "I will dwell in the midst of thee." (Compare Zech. 2:810.)

It is said, "I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies; my house shall be built in it" (Zech. 1:16); but the promise of abiding there is reserved for another time, when the four carpenters shall have "frayed away," and "cast out the horns of the Gentiles, which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah to scatter it" (v. 21).

Again, in chapter 8 it is said, "I will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem" (v. 3); but, forthwith, we find the times yet to come in which God will cause His people to come from the east and from the west, and when He will be their God. For the time present, he says, "so again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah: fear ye not" (v. 15).

Precious encouragement! yet leaving the abiding of God and the title of "His people," as a hope for days to come, when (chap. 6:12), "behold the man whose name is the Branch shall grow up out of his place"; and (chap. 9:13) Ephraim and Judah shall be united as the bow and the arrow of the Lord.

263 The promises in Haggai are temporal, and the presence of the messenger of the covenant is promised for the house, but for a time yet to come, for it is when GOD shall have shaken all nations, the heavens and the earth - a declaration which Hebrews 12:26 makes us understand is not yet accomplished. The attentive reader of the Bible will not have failed to observe that God constantly addresses Himself to Judah, or to the whole nation as to His people, by the prophets who spake to them before the captivity. Stronger proof one can scarcely have, that God no longer recognized Judah as His people after the captivity of Babylon, while, at the same time, He was vouchsafing to them the promise that, together with Israel, they should be His people, when He should re-establish them by means of Christ under the new covenant. I will now examine what is the light which the prophets who announced the judgment executed upon Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar furnish, and what is the epoch at which they declare that Israel will anew be called the people of God. They are the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel. We have already seen that the Lord, weary of repenting, would reject Judah as He had rejected Israel, and that He would execute, without longer deferring (Ezek. 19:21-28), the judgment announced. We shall, then, now see at what epoch the prophets place the re-establishment of Judah in the enjoyment of the privilege of being the people of God.

Before clearing up this point, and examining at what moment the name of "my people" is given to Israel (I say to Israel because the two families are always united in this blessing), I will draw the attention of my reader to the solemn judgment which took place at the time of the taking of Jerusalem, which stamps its true character upon this, and gives the true force of the term "Lo-ammi," placed on the forehead of Judah, as well as of the whole nation, when it was led captive to Babylon, and on the import of the transfer of the throne to the midst of the Gentiles. The throne of God shews itself, and the cherubim of glory, with the wheels, the rings of which were so high that they were dreadful to the spirit of the prophet - these wheels which were as a wheel within a wheel; the cherubim running to and fro, according to the appearance of lightning, and the wheels in the rings were full of eyes round about. There was the likeness of a man sitting upon a throne. This was the vision of the glory of the Lord. Then he declares to the prophet the end: "An end, the end is come upon the four corners of the land. Now is the end come upon thee, and I will send mine anger upon thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense upon thee all thine abominations. And mine eye shall not spare thee, neither will I have pity: but I will recompense thy ways upon thee, and thine abominations shall be in the midst of thee: and ye shall know that I am the Lord," Ezek. 7:2-4.

264 Then, having set a mark upon those that sighed and cried by reason of all these abominations, He visits and smites the wicked according to the glory of His throne, beginning at His house. But a judgment yet more solemn, announced by the most significant action, awaited the rebellious city. The throne of glory, the cherubim which the prophet had seen at Chebar appeared anew at the side of the house of the Lord, whither the prophet had been carried. "Then the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the Lord's glory," Ezek. 10:4.

Wherefore this solemn visit of the Lord to His house full of imagery and corruption? Wherefore this unwonted glory? Alas! the reason was but too soon evident. Then the glory of the Lord departed from the threshold of the house and mounted up above the cherubim. The temple is void; the glory has departed from it! In vain the cherubim of gold stretched forth their wings over a forsaken mercy-seat, and over a broken law - He who, till within a while filled that throne of glory, had quitted it. Nebuchadnezzar might take possession of the temple as of a corpse. The God of heaven had entrusted him with a kingdom. The glory of the Lord had forsaken His throne upon the earth. "Then did the cherubims lift up their wings, and the wheels beside them; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above. And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city," Ezek. 11:22-23.

The Lord had quitted Jerusalem; the throne on earth was given to the Gentiles. Has the Lord returned to Jerusalem to hold His throne in subjection to that of a Persian or a Greek? We have seen that, whatever may have been His compassion for His people, His presence has not returned to fill with His glory the new building. If God is not there, what meaning in the title - "The people of God"? And when is it that this poor but ever loved people will find again their blessedness? When will "Lo-ammi" be for ever effaced from their forehead, to make way for that precious title "Ammi"? God had already accomplished His word: " And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab; and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down. And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies," 2 Kings 21:13-14. As it is said in Jeremiah 12:7, "I have forsaken mine house, I have left mine heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies." Already, at the moment of quitting Jerusalem, as He did before driving our first parents from Eden, He announced the deliverance and the blessing: "I will even gather you from the people and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel," Ezek. 11:17.

265 But one sees at once that it is not of the return from Babylon that the prophet speaks, for it is added, "And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh" (v. 19).

Now, we know with the most perfect certainty, that this did not take place at the return from Babylon, nor, certainly, since the first coming of Jesus. The prophet passes to the latest days, in order that the people may be blessed. Let us again turn to Jeremiah, who announced and saw the taking of Jerusalem, of which we speak. He declares in chapter 30 that God will bring back the captives of Israel and of Judah, and that they shall possess the land given to their fathers. David their king shall be raised up, "and their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them" (v. 21); and, adds the Lord, "Ye shall be my people, and I will be your God" (v. 22). In chapter 31:31 we have the new covenant. There is also the question of Israel and Judah in verse 27.

In chapter 32 Judah is again restored by an everlasting covenant; they shall no more draw back from God, they shall be His people, and the Lord will be their God. (See verses 38-40.) Again, in chapter 33:7, God will bring back again Israel and Judah. "In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David" (v. 15).

266 In Ezekiel 34 David shall be prince (v. 24). "They shall be my people, saith the Lord God" (v. 30). In chapter 36 we have the remarkable promise to which above all others the Lord Jesus made allusion in His conversation with Nicodemus, and which declares the necessity of that work in order that Israel may enjoy their privileges even in the land, and that they may be at the same time "Ammi," the people of God, and that God may be their God. We have also here the proof that this work (which shews that the people were not recognized as the people of God), is applicable to the people, such as they were at the return from Babylon, since the Lord so applies it, and that the promise of being the people of God cannot be fulfilled without this work of grace being made good; a work which was not made good in the days of the Lord, and which is not yet either, as to the restoration of the nation. In chapter 37 we see Judah and Israel reunited in a striking manner - the people of God "Ammi," and God their God - twice repeated and David king over them. They shall walk in the judgments and statutes of the Lord, David being their prince, in their own land for ever. Upon these points chapters 38 and 39 may also be consulted. These passages shew, in a way not to be disputed, that the epoch at which Israel should become "Ammi" (that is to say, should no longer be "Lo-ammi," for "Lo" is but a negation), was not to be realized until the last days, when Christ will be their king; that this was to have its accomplishment by that grace which will write the law in their hearts, when God gives them a new heart according to the new covenant, and all Israel will be there. Judah and the ten tribes will form but one nation which will never be divided nor driven from the land, over which Christ will reign for ever. And all this is said on the occasion of the captivity of Babylon, in which God rejected Judah as He had rejected Israel; as also that the promise of the return from the captivity which would cause "Ammi" to be named upon Israel should be when all these things therein recited should be accomplished; so that the period during which "Lo-ammi" is the name of Israel was to last from the captivity of Babylon until the return of the Lord.

Lastly, to remove all possibility of question, I add that the judgment of "Lo-ammi" was not executed before the captivity of Judah, for in Jeremiah 2 God still calls them His people. And to shew that this was not because the term "Lo-ammi" could not apply but to Israel, I quote verse 4, "Hear ye the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel." On the other hand, the New Testament shews us, that then also all Israel was thought of, and that God considered it as not His people, making an allusion to Hosea. We have seen the Lord shewing that the kingdom of God, under which the people would be the people of God, could not come but by the fulfilment of the promises of the new covenant. And the Apostle Paul says (Acts 26), "Unto which [promise] our twelve tribes instantly serving God day and night"; so also James, "To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad."

267 We have already seen that (Rom. 11) Paul only distinguishes between the election and Israel; the latter, in the last days, when a deliverer should come out of Zion. And the distinction was so lost at that time, that (in Acts 26) the expression of the twelve tribes is a neuter in the singular (to dodekaphulon). So, in citing the passage which speaks of "Lo-ammi," Paul applies it to the state of the Jews, before being called by the revelation of Jesus as Saviour, without distinguishing "Loruhamah" and "Lo-ammi." Peter is still more positive in his manner of expressing himself, and tells us in just so many words, that the term "Lo-ammi" applies to the state of the people before the revelation of Christ, while those who received Him quitted that position. I say "people," for it is without controversy that the expression "strangers scattered abroad" (parepidemois diasporas) belongs to Israel, while at the same time it restricts itself to such among them as believed. So that we have a direct revelation that the state of the people, after Babylon, was the state of "Lo-ammi." See 1 Peter 2:10.

I believed it might be useful to present this point clearly for brethren who are interested in it. It treats not of the question of the Church, save so far as all truths are linked together; but it treats of an epoch, singularly important, as to the government of God, because God ceased to dwell upon the throne of the earth between the cherubim, and entrusted sovereign power to a chief raised up among the Gentiles - a state of things which is to continue under one form or other until the judgment of the world.

268 The question of particular communications remains - an important subject, and which well deserves to be clearly explained.

I have spoken with precision enough on the two elements of the truth in power in man, namely, the Spirit of God and the word, to be well understood as to what my convictions are on the subject. See "A Glance at various Ecclesiastical Principles," at the beginning of this volume. I have only to say that the pretension to follow the Spirit without the Bible may lead us to take for the truth all kinds of imaginations; and if one takes the Bible without the Spirit, it is making the spirit of man to be equal with God, and even His judge. But the importance of the subject is such, that we shall say a few words on it. I believe in an immediate action on the soul. When I spoke of particular communications, the expression is explained and guarded by what is added, viz., that there are no new truths which are not in the Bible. I gave as instances Luther and Calvin, to shew clearly what I meant. Suppose that any one understands the truth as Luther and Calvin understood it; that he had even learnt other truths also, which they had not laid hold of (such as the coming of the Lord, the restoration of the Jews, and other truths), does it follow that he will have the energy of Calvin or Luther? Was that energy merely natural? Had not the Spirit of God anything to do with it? When God raises up extraordinary men, is there nothing else in them but the understanding of the Bible and the natural character? For my part, I do not think so. I believe in the action of the living God. I do not believe that the sole work of the Spirit is to make me understand the word. Are there any other truths then which might not be in the Bible? Certainly not, as I have already said. But the Holy Ghost worked in those men in a way in which He did not work in others who have discerned the same truths. He made them apprehend in a most special manner the force and bearing of certain truths by communications particular to their heart and mind. He made them understand the application of certain parts of the word to certain things that existed in the world. He rendered them capable of judging these things by the word, and gave them to apply that word to those things with a clearness and a force which others did not partake of. He placed before them the true state of Christendom in the light of the word, as He did not for others, producing thus an effect which was much more than a mere discerning of the sense of the passages. It may be that the flesh came and had its influence. They were not guarded as instruments of a new revelation, because there was already a perfect one; but I believe there was an immediate and special action of the Holy Ghost, who brought them to think on certain truths, who made the application of these to their souls, who gave them a sound and true judgment on certain things by means of the word, and gave to certain acts a greater importance in their eyes by the consequences and scope He shewed them to be there, and which others, not being in the same way under His teaching, would never have seen there. They were to convince others by the word that those things were not according to the truth, but the perception they had of their bearing had been given to them by the Holy Ghost, and that on account of the work they were doing. The evidence of all was in the word; but the Spirit of God acted directly in the mind of him whom He was employing to produce certain convictions, and to employ certain portions of the word according to the times and according to the work He was doing. In a word, there were particular communications, although there were no fresh truths which did not exist in the written word.

269 Such is my conviction, and my adversaries may rest assured that there must be other evidence than what has been said as yet to lead me to give up my conviction. Do they really attribute the energy and work of a Luther, a Calvin, and a Zwingle, merely to a clear discernment of the sense of the word and to their natural character? If it be so, I am not of their way of thinking. I believe in a positive action of the Spirit of my God. If they believe not in it, I have no wish to share their convictions. If they tell me, But it was a particular gift vouchsafed to these. This is treated in the passage of the tract on Ministry, where particular communications are spoken of. I believe in the energy and action of the Spirit of God, and I believe in the absolute authority of the word, sole and all-sufficient to rule and judge of everything. If they doubt with regard to one and to the other it is for them to answer for their unbelief.

I shall be told, But there will be abuses. I believe there will, but abuses which we shall always be able to judge by the word, if we maintain His authority, and if we use it by the Spirit. There will be fanatical abuses, even where at bottom there is sincerity, anyone may see it without having any piety. Even with true Christians there are rationalistic abuses, which undermine the happiness of the Church, and deprive it of energy and life. It is difficult to reconcile the energy of the Spirit and the soberness of spirituality according to the word. This is only to be found, as indeed every blessing, near to God. "Whether we be beside ourselves," says the apostle, "it is to God; or whether we be sober, it is for your cause."

270 But I will go farther, and take the case of ordinary Christians. Does not the Holy Ghost act upon the affections? Does He not reveal Christ immediately to the heart? Does He not lay duties upon the heart in a pressing way? Does He not produce thoughts in the soul? When Christ says, "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him"; is this only effected by causing one to discern the sense of the word? When the apostle says, "Be filled with the Spirit," does this only mean, Understand well the word? When he speaks of a Spirit of power, is it only understanding the word? For my part, I do not think so. I believe that power is something different from the knowledge of the word, although such knowledge is the light according to which this power acts; and I earnestly desire that those who make these objections may understand that I find their ideas false, and having their source in unbelief, in an unbelief most hurtful to the Church; and I can hardly conceive how one can deny or set aside the action of the Holy Ghost in power, unless it be because one has not had the experience of it. For my part, I feel enough that it fails me in many respects to acknowledge its reality. and feel the need of seeking it more and more, while deploring my want of faith.