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p377 [Brother Hill] MY DEAR BROTHER, - I have just received your letter in the south of France, in the midst of a conference, but am anxious to reply a few words. I have not Mr. S - 's book, so that I cannot examine it closely; I looked it over when our brother - sent it to me; I thought the passage he referred to to be regretted. Other things in the tract seemed to me to be almost of more importance, though not apparent. But I am a little jealous of making every mistake a matter of public discipline by a kind of judgment of a council; sometimes we give importance to what would have none. It is a different matter when evil teaching or doctrine is introduced into a meeting of which I am a part. My impression was that the tract would have died a natural death. I make a difference between a person not rightly dividing the word of truth, and positively teaching on the part of the enemy what dishonours the Person of Christ, or saps any fundamental truth. Few are capable of not overstepping the bounds of sound doctrine, even in opposing positive error. Our beloved brother exposed himself to attacks by expressions. He was sound in his positive truth, but in attacking error wrote so as to commit himself, and the enemy, of course profited by it. I never for a moment would give him up, though the first to warn him, because I was satisfied he was sound in doctrine, though he had stumbled into regrettable mistakes. I declared, did he hold what he was accused of, I could not for a moment be in communion with him; but he did not… This is for me the question with - . I am perfectly satisfied he is wrong in his views - his letter proves it, his tract I have not here (I will try and have it sent me). But I remember the time when the believing Christ to have been a priest upon earth was considered the test of orthodoxy against the Socinians. …

If it was answered that bearing sin imparted defilement, the words would have to be explained, or it would be slippery ground. I do not believe that "this he did once" (Heb. 7:27) refers to His offering for sins in any sense for Himself. But if a person took it only in the sense of representation for His people, I think it a mistake, but there is no thought of his dishonouring Christ. I should examine the book before I said anything more. It seemed, as I read it, a book of very particular opinions and views, where there was confidence in a man's own thoughts. I dread this, it always leads to notions and errors. I should dread and examine very closely the notion of Christ's ear, &c., being touched with blood. If it was meant merely that the perfectness of the obedience marked by His death was realised in every act of His life, I might not agree - fear such tendencies - but no harm might be meant.

I do not think Christ was a priest on earth, save as representing Aaron on the great day of atonement on the cross - and I suspect this infects all his views. Aaron was anointed with oil, without blood, alone first. But error in interpretation is another thing from deliberately teaching a system dishonouring to Christ, and I dread excessively for brethren the dissecting of doctrine relative to Christ and His offering. The great traits are vital; pretending to accuracy destroys reverence and leads to infidelity. Mr. -, I fear, through confidence in his own studies, has run into this; the worst of consequences would be the brethren following him into it, even to oppose him. … What I dread is any number of brethren committing all to what many may be incapable of entering into.

I have found the tract and read it through; absorbed by one subject, it abounds, in my judgment, in blunders. That brethren have repudiated it for themselves is all very well; I repudiate the statement myself; and his letter adds to the confusion. But I still think it calls for no public action. When needed, the blunders may be shewn. But that is better for all than a fuss about it. He makes priesthood depend on union, which is a mistake. He confounds worship with priesthood, or rather, effaces worship by it - a very serious mistake. He talks of the Father hiding His face, which is a mischievous confusion; but all this is ignorance on points to which his attention probably has not been called. You will be surprised, perhaps, when I say that the whole is, to me, ignorance of self and unsuspected self-righteousness. He little thinks so, if I am, indeed, right. He has meddled with what was beyond his measure; but I doubt he meant to dishonour Christ, and, though I reject the interpretation in the matter accused, I do not apprehend he meant otherwise than that Christ offered for Himself once, and as bearing our sins and identified with us; I do not think this scriptural. … This is connected with the grave mistake of making Christ a priest, with blood, during His life. The for ever in his letter is a curious blunder. But then I make a total difference between the blunders of a man and a work of Satan undermining Christ in Himself. … He thought he saw far into the matter, and it is evident to me that he is mistaken.