J N Darby – French Letter No. 148 – God humbles the Brethren


J N Darby
John Nelson Darby48

Plymouth – 13th February 1846

To Mr B R

Beloved Brother

It should not be thought that God is shown to be against the brethren. Much the contrary. What is true is that there have been very great tests. But I have never been so convinced that God loves the brethren and that He desires to keep them. What is true is that the enemy had sought to turn all their principles upside down and to test them by a touchstone, in a way which the flesh would not know how to escape; but this has been shown well, in humbling us it is profoundly true, that our principles were of fine gold. God has recognised them in humbling those who professed them all. But division has only happened in two places and, in the second, it has only occurred last week; undoubtedly in my view, however the brothers work, I do not doubt, to make a party elsewhere. But I think that God laid His hand on the work of the opposers, and that they will hardly be able to do any more, because [the matter] is known now. God was over this, in spite of all the tricks which they used. Perhaps our patience will be exercised, and it will be for our good. But God has shown His goodness to us in a way which, for me, I have never seen the like. Never have we had meetings so happy, or in such a spirit of service, however poor we are. I think I can say (while being sure that what was already sown will still be reaped here) that the plague is stayed.

God has already answered, I dare not to say to faithfulness, but at least to the desire to be faithful.

This is what I think of the affairs here. If there had been more spirituality, the thing would have been – or would have been able to be – cured outright. God has acted according to the state of the church and in this, it seems to me, much more solidly in individual consciences. I have left the thing, I believe, according to the mind of God; and I am happy about it.

[See 148A}

I do not know how to say anything, dear brother, about the Jewish resurrection, but, whatever it may be, it is here in John 11; my thought, besides, is basically yours. I think that the action of Christ as the resurrection and the life[1] answers to its position. Being on earth, He quickened Lazarus with life, which left him on the earth. Now He is only present spiritually. When He returns, He will raise those who have believed, even though they may be dead (literally), and those who live and believe on Him will not die (literally). This is the only complete sense of the passage. I do not know why one would not apply this to the resurrection of the faithful. I do not doubt at all that the Jews were mistaken in verse 36 about the tears of Jesus. The Lord had on His heart the feeling of the power of death on these poor creatures.

The passage in 2 Peter 1: 10 has never more arrested me, because the Greek word βέβαιοςbabaios – has not only the sense of making firm, but the conviction a truth of which is affirmed, as for example, in verse 19: “We have the prophetic word made surer”, a perfectly similar case. The word – no more than election (at least if you want, as God has expressed Himself in the word – would be made no firmer, but the term means that it was confirmed, known by the transfiguration. For the consciousness (the intimate or inward feeling) of our election is affirmed to us, if we walk according to God, that is certain. The Holy Spirit, God, has His liberty in our hearts and is maintained there.

As to Hebrews 12: 22, 23, the use of the word “and” (have you noticed it?) tends to make the interpretation of the passage thus: “and to myriads of angels, the universal gathering; and …”. The use of the word myriad is known in the case of angels, as in Revelation 5: 11; on the other hand, the universal gathering is used for the assembly of Israel. The use of this word in other classics is too well known for one to have needed to speak of it. It seems to me that the thought of the myriads of angels suggests to the apostle this beautiful assembly, all solemn and joyous. I have thought for a long time, without seeking to impose my idea on others, that “the assembly of the firstborn who are registered in heaven” forms the church properly speaking, and that “the spirits of just men made perfect” are the saints of the Old Testament in a special way. The absence of the article must not be forgotten in this passage, which gives a characteristic and not objective force to the phrase, so: “to a mount Zion”, in contrast with “a mountain which could not be touched”.

I hope that our dear brother R does not lack anything. Greet all the brethren very affectionately.

Yours very affectionately


Really, I am very happy and blessed in my work; we are more than ever, but I am busy all the time. I am obliged sometimes to defer my replies to letters which demand careful study.


Letter originally written in French, translated by Sosthenes, 2013

Click here for original – If you have any comments on the translation, feel free to let me know.

[1] John 11: 25

Author: Sosthenes

Once the ruler of the synagogue at Corinth Then a co-writer of a letter by Paul - just a brother - no longer an official Now a blogger seeking to serve the Lord by posting some words that the Lord has given His Church.

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