J N Darby – French Letter No. 160 – Consideration of the Church in Hebrews 3

JohnNelsonDarbyPau – 5th April 1857

To Mr B R

Beloved Brother,

Your letter of 8th March has reached me at last. On the subject of Hebrews 3: 1, I understand you perfectly, at least I think I do. There is some truth in what you say[1], but I doubt whether you have taken into consideration all the points of view which the word furnishes to us on this subject.

Firstly, it seems to me that there are some expressions even in the chapter itself which show that the apostle was thinking of persons who, at least as far as their profession went, had accepted Jesus as Lord, acknowledging Him as Messiah and putting their trust in Him. I say this because the apostle speaks of the beginning of their faith, and of what they were to hold firm to the end; also of the fact that we are His house, if at least we hold fast the beginning of our faith and the boast of hope firm to the end[2].

When he makes the comparison with Israel, it is with Israel redeemed, who had entered into the wilderness. See also: chapter 6: 9-10; 4: 14; 6: 18; 10: 22 and the verses following, then verse 34; 13: 8-9, and many other passages, which imply that the position of those whom he was addressing was that of Christians.

Now here, as it seems to me, are the important points of the epistle, which are peculiar to it, and must be taken into account. Christ died for the nation, to sanctify the people by His own blood. Thus all those who recognised Jesus as Messiah were supposed to be sanctified, and supposed at the same time to form part of the people still. On the other hand, being written shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem and the cessation of all relationship between God and the people, the epistle invites the Jews to go forth outside the camp (not forth from the world, but forth from the camp of Israel), and to acknowledge the Christ as rejected by Israel and ascended into heaven, outside of the people. But the fact that he thus invites them to go forth outside the camp, is a proof, is it not, that he is concerned with the remnant, as distinct from the mass, although this remnant had up till then been in relationship with the unbelieving mass and forming part of it?

It seems to me that the epistle to the Hebrews is fundamentally a development of the heavenly character of Christianity (not of the church, which properly speaking we find only in chapter 12), intended, on one hand, to prevent the believing Jews from slipping back again into the old order, and, on the other hand, to prepare the way for this exhortation, so terrible for a Jew, and only found right at the end: that is, to leave the Jewish system and camp. This exhortation is founded on the fact that Christ (according to the type of the perfect sacrifice for sin) had suffered outside the camp as far as the world is concerned, and that His blood had been carried into the sanctuary; that it was necessary to be in heaven, as regards His true position before God, and outside the earthly system down here.

But the fact that the church does not come into the reckoning, except where the whole scene of millennial glory is presented, gives rise to another peculiarity of this epistle: namely, that in the hopes it presents to us and in the prospect of rest and glory which it opens up to us, even while using expressions applicable to heavenly blessedness, it does not go beyond what can be applied to earthly rest. It leaves room for this application of its expressions: ”There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God”. Where?[3] This partly comes back to your way of viewing it. But then suppose in time to come an Israelite should use this epistle in view of that rest of the people of God – an Israelite still attached to his nation after the rapture of the church – he will have to understand that it was only a remnant; that there had been a heavenly hope in which he had no part; that in order to enjoy it definitively, they had had to go outside the camp of Israel, which he himself had not done. That is to say, he will have to be aware that although God has reserved a rest on earth for the remnant of His people (and thus for His people, Romans 9: 7, 27; 11: 26), there had been another rest into which those who had gone outside the camp had entered, which he himself had not done. Now even though it allows a glimpse of an earthly rest for the people, the objective of the epistle is to lay it on the believing Jews, as partakers of the heavenly calling, not to attach themselves to this earthly rest, but to look higher, that is, look to Jesus who has entered in as Forerunner within the veil. The remnant was still in relation with the people, it formed part of them – always a dangerous position, and more than dangerous at the moment when the epistle was written. It acknowledges the fact of what belongs to the people, but it is addressed to the believing part of it, so that this part should no longer form part of the people but should cling to what is its own – the hope that enters within the veil where Jesus has gone in. The sitting of Jesus at the right hand of God was the condemnation of the Jews (compare Acts 7, where He has not yet sat down), and the right to enter the heavenly sanctuary was assured to the sinner as his present and eternal portion.

It is nonetheless true that this position of Jesus is the foundation of all hope for the Jew in the last day, and the apostle leaves this hope subsisting. But it is the hope of the remnant, and he invites this remnant – [which was] at that time in the bosom of the nation – to come out from the midst of it, in virtue of its heavenly calling founded on the fact that Jesus is sitting within, in heaven.

The reasonings on the sacrifices confirm these views, it seems to me. Christ died for the nation, and thus each one of those who acknowledged Him was deemed to have part in Christian privileges without leaving the nation. But in this epistle, though taking this ground, the apostle, it seems to me, addresses those who had acknowledged Him, to invite them to separate themselves from the nation; showing that, whether as regards the sacrifices or as regards the priesthood, another system superior to the old was destined to replace it. I do not say that the replacement of the system is the setting aside of the nation, for Christ died for that nation; but that in fact (the great subject being the replacement of the system) the principle of the new system was a Christ crowned with glory and honour in heaven, and that only those who had attached themselves to Him by faith are found included in the category to which the apostle is speaking. Compare particularly chapter 6 already quoted. This requires patient attention to the contents of the epistle, not in order to profit by the rich resources that it includes, but to do justice to the work for the nation [of Israel], at the same time distinguishing it from the relation formed by faith with Him who, having accomplished this work, had ascended again into heaven. In a word, we must distinguish between what was valid for that nation and the relationship formed by faith. The work and the position are valid for the remnant in the last days, in order that it should enjoy earthly blessings; but the apostle is addressing those who were partakers of the gifts by faith. I do not know if I am making myself understood. I have written this letter in several instalments.

Except for a part of the Revelation, left incomplete last year, our translation[4] will be finished tomorrow, by God’s help, but we shall re-read it.

[1] According to a footnote in the original, Mr B R had stated that Heb 3: 1, and indeed all the epistle, was not addressed only to those of the Hebrews who had faith in Christ, but to the whole body of the people that was then in Judæa.

[2] Heb 3: 14 and 3: 6

[3] ie ‘The question is, Where [will this rest be found]?’

[4] the German translation of the New Testament


Note:  This letter was originally published in ‘Baskets of Fragments’

J N Darby – French Letter No. 159 – On Reconciliation


date unknown

To Mr B R

Beloved Brother

In response to your question about 2 Cor 5: 19, I believe that the beloved Saviour was “reconciling”, acting to this end during His life. He had been rejected. God knew that redemption by His blood was necessary for reconciliation; so that, as a result, He has been made sin so that He could commit the ministry of reconciliation to the apostles. And when it is said “God was in Christ, reconciling”, it is not a question of the necessary basis on which the thing could be effectuated (this is what is said straightaway afterwards) but the ways of God as to men, through Christ, during His life. If Christ has been received without death and a new creation, the result would have shown that the evil was reparable. Now we know that it is quite otherwise. But God presented the thing to man’s responsibility, before manifesting this impossibility. Those whom He called, He called according to the knowledge He had Himself of what they would do. I have yet my Son: “They will have respect for my son”[1] – that is who has been presented to man. The object of faith is the Person of Christ. In believing on Him, the efficacy of His death is enjoyed, in ignorance during His life, later with intelligence.

There is a governmental pardon which could only take place in virtue of expiation, it is true, but which is something else however. Besides, pardon was accorded in detail in view of the offering of Christ. Christ gave it fully during His life down here in view of the ways of God in grace. The effect was shown, if need be, by a healing as proof. But grace, at all times, has its application in view of the work of Christ (see Rom 3: 25, 26).

Yours affectionately

[1] Matt 21: 27

J N Darby – French Letter No. 158 – The Beast

JohnNelsonDarbyHereford – 30th December 1853

To Mr B R

Beloved Brother

… I believe that the beast will put his foot on countries other than those that form his body. I do not believe that Ireland will make up part of the body of the beast. The positive blindness which will weigh and influence England to be spared him, but it will probably be under the judgment which will come on those who live in recklessness on “the isles”. I think that God will use it as testimony, that it is England’s own error which will blind it, and that Ireland will be to a certain degree an oasis, albeit that the yoke of England, which favours Popery governmentally, will weigh on it. It will be a shelter, but I prefer to trust God, whatever it may be, than Ireland or the United States. Nothing will be decided enough, or powerful enough, to make it a counterweight to “the woman riding the beast”, for Russia is outside and has its own way. God will be infallibly enough for all those who confide in him. He makes all things work together for the good of those that love Him.

As to C and H at Lausanne, it is no doubt sad; and I believe that G has in fact troubled the brethren by his way of acting. The sisters noticed this spirit in G and made him feel it. They are right and wrong as to faith. C has, I accept, something to say, and his silence tends to restrict the limits of the good which might be done in Lausanne. On the other hand, as for those who were excluded, I assure you that they do not feel a lot of regret, save for themselves. They are members of Christ, and God keeps from the sin of despising them, but the mixture of spirituality in forms, together with the effort to please the world, and conformity to the world, will be the ruin of the brethren and of the testimony. It is good that dear G has had this humiliation, for he is very thorough and others go as he hears it, but in the long run, if he learnt what God teaches him, God would become outside it and the brethren with him in a condition where they belong to the narrow way, so as to bring them into a broad field of blessing. Dear C, if he had had a little more faith, could have been very useful. In fact, in Lausanne, nobody has confidence in him. Hearts that he wins by his amiability only harm him. I have put before him what I could, but he takes it a bit haughtily. If there was still somebody who exercised an independent ministry there, so that it was not always G alone who acted, the difficulty would disappear, but it is God alone who can send this. In waiting, the brethren have the consciousness of their integrity, and the flesh in G is not fully put to death, and by his character and decision, it is he himself who leads more or less. Co, who does not enjoy the confidence of the brethren, feels his wrongs, and this has been so in the sense that he has been offended without this being intended. The desire to serve the Lord with integrity is found with the brethren, but they have this without the flesh, which always harms, being mortified enough so that it does not become a stumbling block. I hope that they will bring their case enough to God so that, having exercised and humiliated them, He can bless them in spite of their flesh. This is where I was when I left Lausanne. G was not completely happy; I have left the matter to God. It is a matter of the state of all, not of one decision to take, especially since I could not stay there any more. The sisters think that I do not judge things thoroughly; they make a mistake, but I do not have my feelings involved like them. Only I can leave things to God, because I think that at the bottom the brothers seek the glory of God with integrity. I bear with the malcontents more than the brethren would like, perhaps, for in accepting the grievances of the brethren as to them, and there is a lot of this, I think that their flesh partly gave opportunity to this discontent, and that they can never justify the flesh. But I have confidence in God.

As to brother H, my relations with him are good, and I leave it there. I do not believe that he has enough faith to be a testimony under certain conditions. The old dissidents have their character in them. In the way of faith, they have been recognised, as God always does. The world has deceived them.

I am unable to walk, having sprained my right foot, but God, in His great goodness, has given me to profit much from my time with the Word.

Yours very affectionately

J N Darby – French Letter No. 157- Reliable Publications


Montpéllier – 15th April 1850

To Mr B R

Beloved Brother

Here is what has seemed to me as to your second volume. I think that others, having the beginning, would like to have what follows. When you have it printed, you will be able to notify the subscribers that you are not putting it on public sale on account of the difficulty felt by several brothers, but that the volume will be sent to those who want it. I do not see why you should not sell to others who seek it, without however putting it on commercial sale. If the subscriptions are not yet paying, the thing will rest there; if they have already been received, you will find, no doubt, a means of rendering them. I say this out of voluntary deference to the brethren, a thing which never does any harm when the conscience is not concerned. If it is so, it is quite another matter. There are indeed brethren with whom I am not in agreement on various points, and with whom however I am much more linked than with people who accept all that I say. For the rest, love does not depend on this, although unity of feeling is a desirable objective.

I believe that God in His grace acts in goodness in His church and especially among the brethren. Here, there is truly much good, conversions especially, numerous even for our times; the brethren encouraged, revived and renewed so to say, and this at the same time with a need more felt to realise His presence as a reality in the midst of His own. When God is there, difficulties and even sorrows evaporate. There are also some new workers who are blessed, and this is a great subject of joy. One sees the action of God. There are equally quite large open fields, without there being workers to visit them. Here in Montpéllier, where all was quite dead, the Holy Spirit acts in several souls. I have been to Vigan[1], where the Lord has given His blessing. One must recognise the good hand of God and seek to conserve as much as possible this grace which He grants to us.

I have a letter from Mr F, where he speaks of you with much affection. He has been happy at V; he only says, without insisting on it, that you have a ‘hang-up’, a hobbyhorse, about the new Jerusalem, but he is always reserved and perhaps he would like better not to discuss it. I believe that, while rejecting certain views, and in being sometimes tired with mental work, one has found very good things, spiritual too, in your numbers on the Revelation.

I hope to see you all soon, if it please God. I think of leaving from here in ten days, and I will probably spend ten or fifteen days getting to Geneva, spending several days with the brethren on the way, but I do not want to delay my reply. Greet all our dear brethren affectionately.

Yours very affectionately


It is unnecessary to take decisions too far in advance about your course after the second volume. God knows what will suit you. I believe that more occupation with grace towards souls, and less work in the study, would set you more at liberty, but God knows what you must do. I must say to you that I have not the least concern about your publication. It is very probable that I am not in agreement with you on every point, for that is rare. To hold within the limits of God’s teaching is what I seek to do, and I hope more all the time, but I am not calling for different ideas to be rejected, to be aggressive. There is the case where it is better not to arouse before the world or before those weak in faith questions which they cannot resolve.

[1] Le Vigan is a commune in the Gard department in southern France

J N Darby – French Letter No. 156 – On German Mysticism


Montpéllier – 15th January 1850

To Mr B R

Beloved Brother

I thank you very much for your little letter and the affection of which it was the testimony, affection which is precious to me indeed. I am better, but the cause of my illness is always there. God knows if this will disappear, or if I will carry it to the end, with this poor body of sin which gives rise to it. Whatever it be, I am happy and rest with an unspeakable sweetness the work of Him who has loved me and who loves me with a perfect and eternal love.

As to our dear Sp, I believe that he is a bit mystical, or rather that the German sort have a tendency in their personal character which tends always to look entirely within, to be occupied with the effect of grace, that is to say with self, instead of the object of faith and the source of grace: with God Himself and the Saviour who has loved us. It is an incorrigible evil of the heart, because a [certain] faithfulness is made of it, and, at the bottom, they like to be occupied with self, if they can call this occupation devoutness. Satan indeed makes fun of it, and those who are like that judge others as being Antinomians and unfaithful, as taking the thing lightly, while, indeed, it is themselves that have altogether too good an opinion of themselves. In short, such as I am, I am necessarily lost; seeing that God says I should be so; I acknowledge that His judgment is necessary. However, while making an abstraction of mysticism, I believe (you will be surprised by this) that Sp is right – not in the way he envisages it, but in fact. There is, I believe, a knowledge of oneself before God, besides conscience of sins. The poor Canaanite woman knew her misery and sought a cure from Jesus, but the Lord puts her on this terrible ground for the heart, of being in the presence of the blessing, knowing what it is, and deprived of right to participate in it. She was not precisely guilty of this or that thing, but because of what she was and of what the blessing was, she could not have part in it. The love of God was the full answer to this state, and it is thus only as He is known in His own purity, in His free gift, in His sovereign goodness, that He is known as He is, pure and absolute, God Himself being revealed in this love, such as He is. That is why the faith of the poor woman is acknowledged as being great, because she sees what God is, through the consciousness of what she is herself. Mystics consider this to be a state of soul and, as a result, are seeking for it in a true spirit of their own righteousness. Faith enjoys it as a revelation of God. It is what has been given to me, morally weak as I am, a joy and an unspeakable pleasure during my illness and before. This was not pardon for sins; for I do not doubt it, and I recognise the infinite grace which has pardoned them freely, pure grace towards me, unworthy sinner, and this by the precious Saviour, but I could not rest in One who has done these things without thinking of Him directly. For, for this, one has to recognise oneself as a little dog, and not only recognise one’s sins; and this is what makes peace solid and permanent, because it is in God. I believe that the most part of Christians are not there. It is (although not the only thing) what indeed makes sincere Christians have such conflict on their death beds. They have not been themselves before God. It is not that grace has not acted, it is not they have not sincerely recognised their sins, recognised that the blood of Christ alone can wash them; but they have not truly been led to say: “O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me?”[1] – in result, yes, and they are resting there; but as to the fact of being with the source – that is to say, oneself before God in judgment – no. Look at Job. Grace had acted in him; in the eyes of God Himself, there was not his like on earth. He had never really been in the presence of God himself. This is not to say that a man is not regenerate[2], or that he is not justified. One can be all this and feel the goodness of God, but in personal relation with God, one has not said, finding oneself such as one is before him: “Now mine eye seeth thee”[3]. This experience can happen in various ways: 1) at the beginning, when one is under the law; 2) after a long Christian life, with long exercises or more peace. A mixture of one or the other, it may be. But its true result is not mysticism; it is really the destruction of it, when it is complete. The mystic contemplates himself; and that is his trouble. He speaks of himself, and a ruined self is much better for me, as a God who makes us be forgotten. How can one remember oneself in the presence of God? God can make me feel what I am to lead me into His presence, He can call me a little dog, and I acknowledge it, but faith sees nothing else there than all that God is, even for such a being. Madame de Krüdener[4], of whom our dear friend Eynard has published a biography[5], was only there on her death bed, and then she judged all her preceding life. But it is God alone who can do this work. It is necessary, in confessing one’s sins, to relate to His grace who pardons us, and to walk under His eye with full confidence in Him. One cannot put oneself in this moral struggle with God; one must not do it; it is too true that we are little dogs to be able to do it. When He does it, He knows how to sustain the soul, as in the case of the Canaanitish woman, or in the case of Jacob, although He stopped himself yet mystically at the blessing as happens for a time.

It is a serious and important subject, dear brother. However, let us always hold to the simplicity of God’s grace. The one who has passed there, while having, as before, his battles with himself and with his flesh, is much more stripped of himself, has more discernment of what is judged of man in him, and of God; the outward life, however active it is, takes less importance, and God is more the all in all. Outwardly, this Christian may be much the same, but at bottom he is not; man has taken his true value in his eyes. He has more communion with his brethren, but at the same time he is more isolated, that is to say more with God. It is what Christ was perfectly, because there was nothing to strip away in Him.

Peace be with you, dear brother. If you still have some thoughts on this, write to me. As to the defection of our brother E, I am not surprised. I cannot say more, save for him in charity, than that this has pained me. He knew himself very little, or at all. God has allowed that he should be a great blessing, I believe, to his wife. I knew her for many years, and her family too.

I have a good letter from our dear N at T, and I have written to him. The joy of the assembly and the grace that our Lord gives them are my joy, dear brother, and a grace which He shows to me. I am with them in Spirit. May He keep them near to Him in humility and in the joy of His presence. Many greetings to T, G and F (I have received a card from him; I have been too ill to reply to it), E and all the brethren. D M is, I suppose, always at V. Also greet affectionately, besides C, C and all the others than I cannot call by name. I have still thought of taking my journey in Switzerland, if God allows me to do it. It is possible that my state of weakness will put back it to a fairer season for crossing the Jura, but not for long, I think. Apart from several visits, I do not reckon to find my field of work here. Nîmes will probably call me later. But before that I think – God alone knows – to go to Switzerland.

Yours very affectionately

[1] Rom 7: 24

[2] As noted in No 18 of the Articles, JND sometimes uses the words ‘regenerate’ or ‘regeneration’ as equivalents of ‘being born again’ (as in John 3). But, as he explains in many other places when expounding the sense of these words more accurately, they are not the same. The Greek word παλιχχευεία (palingenesiá) occurs only in Matthew 19: 28 and Titus 3: 5, where it is translated ‘regeneration’, and means ‘passing from one state, that of ruin, into another and new state of things’ (Collected Writings, vol 13, p213).

[3] Job 42: 5

[4] Baroness Barbara Juliane von Krüdener (22 Nov 1764 – 25 Dec 1824) was a Baltic German religious mystic and author. She had an influence on the Swiss Réveil

[5] Jean-Gabriel Eynard wrote a two volume biography of Madame von Krüdener

J N Darby – Letter No 154 – The Antchrist – Translation Issues

Montpéllier – 20th December 1848
To Mr B R
I make some remarks as they present themselves. There are other interpretations which, while not being yours, do not encounter the difficulties which you suppose.
In the first place, I do not doubt that the Assyrian, or at least a power which is not the Antichrist, is the desolator (Dan 9: 27). I think that it is the “king of the north”, but this does not imply your explanation of this verse, even though it will be the Antichrist who confirms
the covenant. But there is quite simply: “because of the protection of abominations, a desolator”, that is to say, “there will be a desolator”. The Antichrist having led them into idolatry, the desolator will be released against them (cf Isa 28: 14-18).

In the second place, I do not at all assert on Hebrew grammar, but regularly speaking, [chapter] 11: 31 would be: “the armies or forces will stand, will rise up from him, and they will profane … and they will remove, etc”. I would not know that there is an example where the verb accords regularly with the masculine plural already expressed, for which ‘one’ could be substituted.

Then you have confounded the idea of the one who re-establishes the sacrifice with the one who is the object of it, or rather to whom it is presented, the function which he attaches to it.

You ask who removes the continual sacrifice (Dan 8: 11). One has to look to Keri which gives: “it was removed”. The passage says nothing more or less. It must still be previous letters relate these notebooks to notes for the Lausanne translation project ‘let it have effect’

Keri signifies the marginal note of the Massorites, indicating their idea of how the text should be read. All the oldest and best manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible contain on every page, beside the Text lines of smaller writing, distributed between the upper and lower margins. The word Massorah is from the root masar, to eliver remembered that, in Daniel, Israel is always considered as the people of God , a very important remark for understanding the book which goes to the root of some of your reasonings. God speaks in grace and Jerusalem is treated as Daniel’s holy city. For it seems to me that one will not manage to see in the Prince of princes the prince of the army.

Remember also that this is in the hands of the little horn of chapter 7, that the seasons and Jewish ordinances are given up (chap 7: 25). It is that one who changes them, who blasphemes and exalts himself. As to “cast down the truth to the ground” (chap 8: 12), I really think that it is horn of chapter 8, that is not the Antichrist but the Assyrian or the king of the North. As head of the army, Christ is not seen as accomplishing Hebrews 9 and 10, but as Head of the Jews in the last day. In this character, it is to Him that the sacrifices belong, as – as a matter of privilege – they belong to the Jews. Many of the Psalms speak of the sacrifices of righteousness; these are not the same as the sacrifices for sin; the “Thamid” was a burnt offering; without this the Jews had no altar, no public relationship with God.

The remark that I have made as to the way of envisaging the Jews in Daniel sets aside your interpretation of [chapter] 8: 10; as to [chapter] 8: 11, I have already spoken. You say that the “prince who will come” (chap 9: 26) is the same as the desolator (v 27). Why? “On the top of abomination” (chap 8: 27) does not present any idea to me. The abomination is an idol, a profane thing and defiled in God’s eyes. What would the top of an idol signify?

Your heir of Titus, a desolator who follows the prince that shall come (chap 9: 26-27) is nothing; for me, I do not believe there has been one. The Antichrist will be his heir is a sense, as being flesh, or at least the principle horn of the Beast, although effectively it is another, according to me as well as you, who will act as Titus in attacking the city, although not in the destruction at the same time. Titus “ estroye ” the city (chap 10: 26, the king of the North or the Assyrian “overthrows it” (chap 8: 11).

The Assyrian is not therefore the desolator. On this we are agreed. On the other hand, you have not considered enough that Israel is called (chap 8: 24) the holy people, and if God cannot call His people that, He answers to Daniel’s heart in recognising His prophetic faith,
and calls them “thy people” (as He did to Moses). That is to say, that He takes knowledge of them by the intervention of a mediator. For verses 11 and 12 are relevant to Daniel’s view (speaking, it goes without saying, by the prophetic Spirit).

As to your “Summary”, I accept it, without the difficulties which do not exist for me. It seems to me that it is neither Jesus, nor the Antichrist, who will restore sacrifices in this time.

I think that the Jews will have done it themselves. It is very possible that the king of the North will remove his false worship of the Antichrist (but he takes Jerusalem). But can you something into the han of another, so as to commit it to his trust. The name is given to the small writing referred to, because it contains information necessary to those to whose trust the Sacred Text was committed, so that they might transcribe it, and hand it down correctly. The Text itself had been fixed before the Massorites were put in charge of it. This had been the work of the Sopherim (from saphar, to count, or number). Their work, under Ezra and Nehemiah, was to set the Text in order. This work lasted from Nehemiah to Simon the first, 410-300BC. The Sopherim were the authorised revisers of the Sacred Text; and, their work being completed, the Massorites were the authorised custodians of it. Their work was to preserve it. The Massorah is called “A Fence to the Scriptures,” because it locked all words and letters in their places. It does not contain notes or comments as such, but facts and phenomena. It records the number of times that several letters occur in the various books of the Bible; the number of words, and the middle word; the number of verses, and the middle verse; the number of expressions and combinations of words, &c. All this was, not from a perverted ingenuity, but for the set purpose of safeguarding the Sacred Text, and preventing the loss of misplacement of a single letter or word.

A footnote to this verse in JND’s English Bible says that it might be rendered: ‘and the abomination (idols) of the desolator shall be on the pinnacle (ie of the temple)’

J N Darby – No 153 – Reasons for delayed work

To Mr B R
Dear Brother
Here at last is another notebook
. I have been in Ireland, travelling, ill, all sorts of things. Having had, by the delay in my departure for France, several days of at least a
comparative tranquillity, I have used it in part for this work. I hesitate a little: 1) because this will probably be too late for it to be used; 2) because I have had to do it with less care and attention than the gravity of the service required. However, being subject to others, I send it; one would perhaps still correct some things on the proofs, if it is found good, and as the translation requires it, it seems to me. I have not had even a few of the books which I could in
general use, but at last here is the work such as it is. aleat quantum
with you.
Yours very affectionately

J N Darby – French Letter No. 152 – The Positive Results of Persecution


England – 23rd September 1846

To Mr B R

Beloved Brother

I hasten to answer your good letter, especially since I see a little spiritual discouragement there. As for the translation[1], I had pursued it in all simplicity, to add what I could for the common good, even if the specialities of epistles demanded more positive gifts as to co-operation. The answer says nothing about what I asked for in this respect. I shall do the will of the Lord, thereupon as much as I shall be able. What had given rise to my question was that there are particular difficulties because the spirit of the French language does not answer much to Greek abstractions. If it was refused to face up to this difficulty, by acknowledging the bearing of this circumstance, I would have been a bit disheartened in this attempt; the work would have been useless, because, for the idiom of the French language, it is obvious that I must depend in some measure on other people. In the end, I left the thing there without adding anything.

As for the dangers about which you speak, they are possible, but the One who has kept his people before grape harvests, will keep them afterwards. He does not change. The enemy can roar and grind his teeth, but the hair of the head of each of the faithful is counted. I fear rest just as much as persecution for the dear and precious children of God, though I bless God when He grants us this rest. Only let us know how to walk in the fear of God, and it will be in the consolation of His Spirit. It is very natural that the respite, after the tension of persecution, brings a little of spiritual slackening and that the enemy should seek to profit from it, but, by seeking His face, His grace will be enough for us; His power will be perfected in our weakness. It is for each of us to be held near the Lord, not for themselves only, but being there by grace for others. A man of faith often disconcerts (by grace) the enemy in an astonishing way. It is what God desires. He intervenes and He is acknowledged. However hidden it is, the instrument will not lose its reward. It is the hidden work which is the most beautiful, most near God and His heart, most entirely for Him, and He will acknowledge it as such in the day when He will manifest what He will have given and approved.

As for the assemblies, dear brother, apart from what I have just said, it is necessary to trust to the Lord and to seek much to cultivate a true spirit of love, of brotherly affections flowing from the charity which takes nothing into account, so that God is glorified in His own. As for your difficulties which you feel on the subject of your prayers, it is a serious and hard thing, I admit, but God’s grace is not lacking to you. I do not doubt, beloved brother, that the flesh is the reason, negligence, false confidence, the lack of smallness and of poverty of spirit. Alas! I only know it too well. However, there is something to say here. The Lord makes us feel our dependence in the thing which is the easiest to us, in which we prove a certain satisfaction, in which the flesh does not fail to find its worth. I do not say that this incapacity happens to us without there being some fault, some spiritual negligence, for the flesh that takes pleasure in it cannot be active in the presence of God, and does not seek it. Thus, we relax inwardly; there is not the same intensity, the same need; the presence of God is no longer as before the source of joy for us; it does not feel needed in the same way. Our love towards the church is the love of God towards the church, and it is the only object in God’s view according to the love of which He is the source. It no longer carries the same character in our opinion; the motive of prayer lacks in the measure in which the link with the source is weakened. – but at the same time, dear brother, all this makes us make the discovery of the flesh in us, and we understand thereby even more profoundly that everything is grace. In the state about which I speak, having no consciousness of the love of Jesus for the church, we see more easily His sorrows, and these sorrows in a more painful way, less as objects of His solicitude, the more as hard things for us, and, having no trust which inspires His love, we are discouraged by it.

You have spoken of quite an important subject, responsibility and its relationship with grace. I believe that one can very well insist on devotion in a spirit of grace. I desire that you should abound in this grace also, as the fruit of love in us. It is thus that one is encouraged in these things. Devotion is not produced in blaming weakness in devotion, for it is the fruit of grace. Devotion which flows [from this blame] is only an imitation, a bad basis. In reading the epistles, you will easily find this distinction. Besides, if God gives it to me, I will tell you a word on the link between responsibility and grace, or rather between grace and responsibility. Room fails me to do it here.

Whatever it be, beloved brother, draw near to the Lord, our infinitely precious and faithful Head. The grace which is in Him suits all our circumstances, all our states of soul. It is the remedy and more than this, for our sorrows are only the occasion of knowing its fulness and perfection. “I have seen the affliction of my people”[2]; there were indeed other things to see. For the rest, God is faithful. Faith acts individually, although it produces common effects, while there is a common faith to which God answers. It is to Him that I commit you, beloved brother.

I believe that “the end of the Lord” in James 5: 11 signifies the end in contrast with the way. For us, the way is patience, but the end which is in the Lord’s hands is always mercy, as is seen in Job.

Your affectionate brother

[1] Notes for the Version of Lausanne

[2] Exod 3: 7

J N Darby – French Letter No. 151A – The Holy Spirit in the Present Dispensation


Plymouth – 25th August 1846

To Mr Foulquier

Recently, we have read together the epistle to the Hebrews with much communion of soul and, I hope, to our profit. For myself, I have been particularly taken up with the epistle to the Ephesians, and with the position of the church as a dispensation or special object of the counsels of God, and I hope that I have profited from it – mainly in affirming my faith and the basis of this faith which stretches my knowledge.

But the position of the church has been set in relief before me in this reading.

Have you noticed that, in the consecration of the priests (in Leviticus), it was not a question of entering into the holy place, either with blood or with incense? All was outside. Moses and Aaron went in afterwards; but the consecration is not concerned with this. The goat offered for sin would have been eaten. This sets out the ostensible purpose of their priesthood as such, in contrast to the heavenly things of the church. The day of atonement was something else. I would like that you think of it. Christ, of course, occupies this double place.

Moses is Christ rejected by His brethren and risen to glory, identifying himself with his brethren, stranger and misunderstood, in returning to liberate them from their bondage. In the first case, he receives, himself exalted, his people in grace. In the second, he comes as one of them to deliver them.

There are also certain characters of the Holy Spirit during this dispensation, a character which belongs to Him: the union with the hidden Head, risen to the right hand of God, and the earnest of the glory to come.

It is evident that the Holy Spirit will be spread abroad as the Spirit of power during the thousand years, but this will no longer be the power of a life hidden with Christ in God. He will be no longer hidden. Besides, the seal and the earnest during the non-accomplishment of the promises will not have their place in those times. These are those who have hope in advance who need to be thus sealed and obtain thus the earnest, and this by a Spirit come down who links the heart to Him who has gone up.

The Spirit has, it seems to me, two characters at the end of the gospel of John, even as to His office.

  • The Lord, as Mediator, obtains Him and the Father sends Him, and he acts on behalf of the Father as the Spirit of adoption and of the knowledge of the truth. He comforts and instructs the children here below.
  • But also, [in chapters] 15 and 16, the Lord Christ risen on high sends Him Himself; then he takes the things of Christ and shows them to His own; and all that the Father has is [given] to the Son, that is to say that He renders testimony to the glory of the Son of man risen as being one with the Father, and finally to all His glory …

I finish, dear brother …

J N Darby – French Letter No. 151 – A good State in an Assembly leads to Restoration

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby



Plymouth – 25th August 1846

To Mr Foulquier

We are happy here, thanks be to God; the brethren are quite peaceful and make progress. It has seemed to me that, in the exercise of discipline, we have not given the first place enough to prayer. Without doubt, in flagrant cases, discipline must be exercised. But there are a thousand cases grieving to the Holy Spirit, disturbing His movement in the body, which do not need to become the subjects of public discipline; but do not in the least hinder geral blessing.

Christ loves His church; we are of His flesh and of His bones. For often the heart, instead of being moved to respond, must be pressed towards Jesus, so that His love is manifested towards this soul, a precious member of His body, so that it should be cured, restored. If one thought of souls as members of His own body, one would be interested in what would make them in a good state according to grace, and would count on His grace for this to be accomplished; for He acts directly on the souls of His own, as He does on sinners to call them. It must be remembered, dear brother, that, for knowledge as much for other things, it has to be acquired, when it is true by the Holy Spirit, and that He acts freely in His sphere which he has formed by His power which acts in grace; thus if the objects with which He is occupied do not possess our hearts, these hearts cannot be full of His knowledge in communion.

From this [flows] the importance of the spiritual state of the brethren for the enjoyment of this communion, the food of which will be the revelation of the things of Christ by the Spirit. Without this, they will seek an education which leaves the soul in its own laziness, instead of enjoying it as providing the means of spiritual communion.

It is therefore necessary to think of the state of souls, and if we do not know how to act directly upon them, it is necessary to pray much that hunger and thirst for Jesus take possession of them.

Recently, we have read together the epistle to the Hebrews with much communion of soul and, I hope, to our profit. For myself, I have been particularly taken up with the epistle to the Ephesians, and with the position of the church as a dispensation or special object of the counsels of God, and I hope that I have profited from it – mainly in affirming my faith and the basis of this faith which stretches my knowledge.

But the position of the church has been set in relief before me in this reading.

  • See 151A

I finish, dear brother …