<< previous (1:136) next (1:138) >>

p249 Dear G V Wigram, - I do not think coming forth from the bosom of the Father scriptural. The reason seems to me evident, because the expression is used to express a present apprehension of His love and favour which depends on His being in that place. To come forth from it would be at best the thought of memory, and this is evidently much stronger; it is the present being in, and in the enjoyment of, what the phrase expresses. He came forth from the Father and into the world, and left the world and went to the Father, but never, I think, is it said from His bosom. But it is evidently to express an idea like Abraham's bosom in another order of ideas, not a physical fact; and man, in expressing the love and joy He left for us, may have used it in a certain sense harmlessly, namely, with right affections, though not quite accurately seizing the force of the expression in John 1:18. I may have done so myself, for aught I know. Coming forth from the Father is the point de d├ępart, not the intimacy of affection and position. Hence we have the only-begotten Son, He who concentrates in His own Person all the affection of Him in whose bosom He is.

As regards ὁ ὤν ("who is"), it is, I doubt not, somewhat emphatic, but too much must not be ruled on it. The participle is used with article, or it is left out, in many cases without much difference of sense; τοῖς ἁγίοις ἐν Ἐφέσῳ or τοῖς ἁγίοις τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Ἐφέσῳ is pretty much the same: ὁ ὤν by itself is the name, I am; still I think as ὤν is not necessary, the subsistence and existence of Christ in this position, its being a part of that existence and subsistence, is intimated, as it might be supposed He had left it; for ὁ εἰς τὸν κόλπον could be very well said, and I do not believe the Holy Ghost has put the ὤν there for nothing. But it is more its being constant and essential than its being divine that is intimated, though to be essential and constant it must be divine. I do not think it is a question of doctrine, but the force of the expression is lost if we speak of coming forth from - namely, leaving it in a certain sense. Christ's being in the bosom of the Father is of so much the more importance, that He declares the Father's character as He thus knows Him. The importance of this is increased by 1 John 4:12. …

Seraphim* are never used that I know of but in Isaiah 6, unless the serpents in the desert, or perhaps the general use of saraph. I do not exactly know the moral import of the expression. I suppose they are symbolical beings, expressive of the consuming power of God's holiness as the cherubim of judicial power, at least in their relation to others. I could not say that there were specific beings called seraphim anywhere. There may be those who are near to God specially in this character.

{*Queries, "Are there seraphim in heaven, so far as you see?" Also, "Would you maintain as against an infidel, that there was no death in creation before man's fall, or only none among men?"}

As regards death in creation before man's fall, I must remark that probably the question only refers to death in this earth's state as it is since Adam's creation. Since man's creation, I am quite satisfied that death never took place till his fall. "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." Now here the apostle is occupied with sin's effect upon man; still he states that death entered by sin. Hence I conclude that death was not in the creation of which man was the head until his fall. But of what may have happened between the creation of the heavens and the earth (bara) and the forming the present world out of chaos, scripture says nothing, but leaves us to gather rather that the state of the world, the tohu bohu ["without form and void"], was the ruin of some previous state; for I hardly think that the state in which God would create it, and make all the sons of God shout for joy. Hence if geologists find Megalotheria, and Plesiosauri as many as they please, they do not touch the statements of scripture one way or another, for scripture makes none as to it: only into the creation connected with man, death entered by man's sin. That scripture states, though it does not touch on its consequences for beasts; but Genesis 1:30 confirms, for it gives the green grass to the beasts of the earth. I know not whether - is aware of the discoveries of geologists and the use made by infidels of it on the point in question. Scripture decides as to the present state of the world in which man is found, and says nothing as to what preceded it.

I am at Nismes, after going round many places in the mountains; the blessing has been real and the work extended; we had a useful conference of three weeks, with more detailed study of the scripture. More than one new labourer has been raised up, still the field has been so extended that still they are few. … There is need of feeding and building up, but in general encouragement.

At - they have been harassed by the ardent Baptist party. … But if I had needed anything to convince me that it is all wrong, this would have sufficed. Such a display I have rarely witnessed, or evidence of a fleshly work. It was deplorable. I have, however, declined controversy, and sought only to calm and claim liberty of conscience. But while desiring and wishing before God and men this liberty for Baptists, and feeling that God can allow in the midst of abuses that this point should be brought on the conscience and before the church, as a means of proving its state, the examination of the point this has occasioned has more than ever convinced me that the whole Baptist principle is a mistake from beginning to end, and nothing more than conscientious want of light. … I trust now, save with a very few, all are disposed to leave people free in conscience. … And all having been in the main left to God, He has, and I am fully assured will, set His good hand to the work. So little were those who baptised infants disposed to contest or enter on the subject, that some who were carried away in the torrent, complain of them for not speaking to them and teaching them on it. I am very glad they did not, and occupied them rather with Christ, for half the evil (though not all) is being occupied with ordinances, whatever side may be taken. It was a sore trial to - and those who cared for the work, but a useful exercise. It partially hindered the world from listening to the gospel naturally enough, but one must expect the enemy to use all such means, and the Lord will accomplish His work and gather His own. Peace be with the brethren and yourself also.

Affectionately yours in the Lord.

Nismes, June 2nd, 1856.

[51137E]