J N Darby – Lettre No 103

New-York, 1868

A M. P.

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

Bien-aimé frère,

Heureux de recevoir de vos nouvelles. Grâces à Dieu, elles sont bonnes en général de France et de Suisse. En France, l’œuvre chemine avec bénédiction ; et en Suisse, dans un endroit que j’ai visité à mon dernier voyage dans ce pays, endroit faible, et où l’ennemi avait fait des ravages, il paraît que le Seigneur, dans sa grâce, ranime et attire les âmes. Le frère X. est très utile dans le canton de Vaud. Que notre Dieu le garde et le tienne près de lui. Il n’en reste pas moins qu’il y a partout disette d’ouvriers.

Pauvre E. est très bas, je le sais. Il y a bien des années qu’il n’a pas voulu écouter la voix de Dieu ; il avait toujours la pensée d’être M. le ministre, et il est tombé dans le piège. Il faut le laisser faire et ne pas s’occuper de son opposition. C’est la puissance du bien de la part de Dieu qu’il faut chercher ; et s’il en est ainsi, les plaignants restent à sec sur le rivage.

Quant aux questions qu’on a soulevées sur les souffrances de Christ, j’ai trouvé dans ce sujet la plus profonde édification pour mon cœur. Je ne doute nullement qu’il n’y ait dans mes écrits, sur ce point et sur tous les points, la faiblesse et les inexactitudes d’un homme qui n’écrit pas sous l’inspiration divine ; mais plus je lis ce que j’ai écrit, plus je suis convaincu que mes adversaires ont perdu la plus précieuse vérité à l’égard du Sauveur, et qu’ils sont tombés dans de très graves erreurs. Toutes ces discussions ont été en grande bénédiction pour les frères en Angleterre. Je ne crois pas que Béthesda ait un principe quelconque, sinon de réussir. Ils sont en relation avec tout le monde, et ne s’inquiètent ni de l’unité du corps, ni de la fidélité au Seigneur. M. X. se vante d’avoir des indépendants, des méthodistes et je ne sais quels autres, pour enseigner les orphelins. Lui, et ceux de son bord, étaient en communion à Bristol, dans une grande conférence, avec des personnes qui enseignent des erreurs abominables ; cela leur est indifférent ! Ici, en Amérique, leurs agents et alliés sont en pleine communion avec ceux qui nient l’immortalité de l’âme et les doctrines qui en découlent ; ils me l’ont avoué, et ont ajouté qu’ils voulaient l’être. Voilà ce qui est en vogue ici. D’après ce qu’on m’a dit, Béthesda s’est tout à fait mondanisé ; mais ne vous en occupez pas. Vous trouverez toujours que la marche de ceux qui soutiennent ce parti, suffit pour juger de chaque cas particulier, sauf qu’ils manquent de droiture. L’unité du corps et la solidarité de l’Eglise, dans sa marche, sont niées par tous ceux qui ont exprimé leurs vues sur ce point, soit à Béthesda, soit par les neutres. Au reste, le grand but de M. Newton était de détruire la doctrine de l’Eglise, et Béthesda est tout simplement une église dissidente qui se croit meilleure que les autres, mais accepte la position de la dissidence et ses rapports avec le monde chrétien. Avant la rupture, M. C. examinait les candidats au ministère d’entre les dissidents, et on avait des jours de prières à l’occasion de leur consécration. M. M. a dit que, pendant 20 ans, sous l’influence des frères, il s’était séparé par orgueil du monde religieux, mais qu’il avait cessé de le faire et y était rentré.

Je continue mon travail ici ; c’est une œuvre de patience. Le monde règne en maître, avec l’argent et les plaisirs ; beaucoup de chrétiens, membres d’églises dites “à la discipline,” fréquentent les théâtres ; mais je suis en relation avec beaucoup d’âmes qui cherchent quelque chose de meilleur, plusieurs ont trouvé la paix, – chose, on peut le dire, inconnue ici, – plusieurs reçoivent la venue du Seigneur, et plusieurs sont exercés à l’égard de leur position dans ces corps organisés par les hommes, qu’on appelle “église”. Les frères aussi, qui avaient été en relation avec ceux qui nient l’immortalité de l’âme, sont délivrés, et marchent avec nous. Nous sommes à peu près une trentaine, heureux ensemble, mais éparpillés dans une ville ou plutôt sur un espace beaucoup plus grand que Paris, car ce sont deux ou trois villes qui entourent le havre de New-York.

Je crois que Dieu établit un témoignage, tout faible qu’il soit, ici à Boston, la vérité pénètre, mais il faut de la patience. Le Seigneur en a bien eu avec nous ; il a même pu dire (ce qui ne devrait pas être le cas maintenant) : “J’ai travaillé en vain” ; mais je suis encouragé. Les âmes qui recherchent la vérité et le dévouement à notre précieux Seigneur (ce à quoi je tiens autant qu’à la connaissance), sont attirées ; je les laisse cheminer comme Dieu les conduit, sans les pousser d’aucune manière à se lier davantage avec nous ; mais les liens fraternels se fortifient, et la vérité pénètre.

A Boston, il y a peut-être extérieurement plus de portes ouvertes ; mais comme les âmes qui ont des besoins se rapprochent toujours davantage, je ne pense pas quitter New-York en ce moment. J’ai passé un mois à Boston.

…Voilà, cher frère, ce qui concerne l’œuvre. Pour moi, le Seigneur et la Parole sont mon tout ici-bas, et ils ne sont qu’un, dans un certain sens. Je sens toujours davantage que le Saint-Esprit seul peut opérer du bien ici-bas, mais je comprends toujours mieux que le “chez-soi est dans les cieux”. La Parole m’est toujours plus claire, plus précieuse ; je sens que notre position, quelques faibles que nous soyons, est celle du témoignage de Dieu, mais tout en jouissant beaucoup de la Parole, je sais aussi que nous ne connaissons « qu’en partie ». Ce que le Saint-Esprit nous donne, nous le possédons de la part de Dieu, et nous avons à y marcher ; c’est notre tout. La sagesse de Dieu lui-même s’y trouve ; cela se coordonne nécessairement avec ce que nous ne connaissons pas ; nous sentons par cette ignorance, notre entière dépendance de Dieu, mais le fait que nous apprenons de lui inspire de la confiance. Suivre la Parole, voilà notre affaire : nous jouirons ainsi de la présence du Seigneur. Encore très peu de temps, et nous le verrons.

Saluez avec affection tous les frères. Que Dieu vous bénisse et vous garde.

Votre toujours affectionné frère.

J N Darby – French Letter No. 103 – Continuing the Work

I am happy to receive your news. Thank God, it is good in general as to France and Switzerland. In France, the work proceeds with blessing; and in Switzerland, in a place that I have visited on my last visit to the country, a weak place where the enemy had made ravages, it seemed that the Lord, in His grace, revives and draws souls. Brother X is very useful in the canton of Vaud. May our God keep him and hold him near to him. The fact remains that there is shortage of workers everywhere.

New York – 1868

To Mr P

Beloved Brother,

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

I am happy to receive your news. Thank God, it is good in general as to France and Switzerland. In France, the work proceeds with blessing; and in Switzerland, in a place that I have visited on my last visit to the country, a weak place where the enemy had made ravages, it seemed that the Lord, in His grace, revives and draws souls. Brother X is very useful in the canton of Vaud. May our God keep him and hold him near to him. The fact remains that there is shortage of workers everywhere.

Poor E is very low I know. Many years ago he did not want to listen to the voice of God; he always had thought of being Mr Minister, and he fell into a trap. We must let him be and not be occupied with his opposition. It is the power of good on God’s part which must be sought; and the way it is, the complainants remain broken on the shore.

As to the questions which have been raised about the sufferings of Christ, I have found in this subject the most profound edification for my heart. I do not doubt that there have been in my writings, on this point and on every point, the weakness and inexactitudes of a man who is not writing under divine inspiration; but the more I read what I have written, the more I am convinced that my adversaries have lost the most precious truth as to the Saviour, and that they are fallen into very great errors. All these discussions have been a great blessing for the brethren in England. I do not think that Bethesda has any principle whatever, other than to succeed. They are in touch with everybody, and get worried neither about the unity of the body, nor of faithfulness to the Lord. Mr X brags of having the independents, the Methodists and I do not know what others, to teach the orphans. He, and those on his side, were in fellowship in Bristol, in a big conference, with people who taught abominable errors; this is indifferent to them! Here in America, their agents and allies are in full fellowship with those who deny the immortality of the soul and the doctrines which flow from it; they have avowed this to me, and have added that that is what they wanted. This is what is in fashion here. According to what they said to me, Bethesda is completely worldly; but do not occupy yourself with that. You will always find that the walk of those who support this party is enough to judge each case in particular, except that they lack uprightness. The unity of the body and the solidarity of the church, in its walk, are disclaimed by all those who expressed their views on this point, either in Bethesda, or by the neutrals. Besides, Mr Newton’s great end was to destroy the doctrine of the church, and Bethesda is just a dissident church which believes itself better than the others, but accepts the position of dissidence and their relations with the Christian world. Before the rupture, Mr C examined the candidates for ministry of the dissidents, and they had days of prayer on the occasion of their consecration. Mr M[1] said that, during twenty years, under the influence of the brethren, he had separated by pride from the religious world, but that he had stopped doing so and returned there.

I continue my work here; it is a work of patience. The world is master, with money and pleasures; many Christians, members of churches said to be ‘disciplined’, frequent the theatres; but I am in touch with a lot of souls who seek something better. Several people found peace – a thing, one can say, unknown here – some people accept the coming of the Lord, and several are exercised regarding their position in these bodies organised by men, which they call ‘church’.

The brethren also who had been in touch with those who deny the immortality of soul are delivered, and walk with us. We are a little around thirty, a happy meeting, but scattered in a city covering a bigger area than Paris, because there are really two or three cities which encircle New York harbour.

I think that God establishes a testimony, very weak though it is, here in Boston, the truth penetrates, but patience is needed. The Lord definitely had it with us; He even could say (may it not be the case now): “I have laboured in vain”[2]; but I am encouraged. Souls who seek the truth and devotion to our precious Lord (which I hold to as much as knowledge), are attracted; I leave them to walk as God leads them, without encouraging them at all to link themselves thus with us; but fraternal links get stronger, and the truth penetrates.

In Boston, there are perhaps more opened doors outwardly; but as more souls with needs always come, I am not thinking of leaving New York at the moment. I spent a month in Boston.

… There dear brother, is what concerns the work. For me, the Lord and the Word are my all down here, and they are but one, in a certain sense. I sense even more that only the Holy Spirit can work good down here, but I understand even better that ‘one’s home is in heaven’. The Word is always clearer, more precious to me; I have a feeling that our position, however weak we are, is that of the testimony of God, but while enjoying the Word a lot, I also know that we know “in part”[3]. What the Holy Spirit gives us we possess on God’s part, and we have to walk there, this is our all. The wisdom of God Himself is found there, it coordinates necessarily with what we do not know; we feel by this ignorance our whole dependency on God, but the fact that we learn of Him inspires trust. Follow the Word, here is our business: so we shall enjoy the presence of the Lord. Yet a very short time, and we shall see Him.

Salute all the brethren with affection. May God bless you and keep you.

Ever your affectionate brother

[1] presumably Mr C and Mr M are Henry Craik and George Müller, who oversaw the meeting at Bethesda chapel.

[2] Isa 49: 4

[3] 1 Cor 13: 9

 

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.

J N Darby – The Soul’s Desire – I’m Waiting for Thee, Lord,

I’M waiting for Thee, Lord,
Thyself then to see, Lord;
I’m waiting for Thee,
At Thy coming again.
Thy glory’ll be great, Lord,
In heavenly state, Lord;
Thy glory’ll be great
At Thy coming again.

 

6.6.11.6.6.11.

I’M waiting for Thee, Lord,
Thyself then to see, Lord;
I’m waiting for Thee,
At Thy coming again.
Thy glory’ll be great, Lord,
In heavenly state, Lord;
Thy glory’ll be great
At Thy coming again.

Caught up in the air, Lord,
That glory we’ll share, Lord;
Each saint will be there,
At Thy coming again.
How glorious the grace, Lord,
That gave such a place, Lord;
It’s nearing apace,
At Thy coming again.

We’ll sit on Thy throne, Lord,
Confessed as Thine own, Lord,
Of all to be known
At Thy coming again;
But glory on high, Lord,
Is not like being nigh, Lord,
When all is gone by,
At Thy coming again.

The traits of that face, Lord,
Once marred through Thy grace, Lord,
Our joy’ll be to trace
At Thy coming again;
With Thee evermore, Lord,
Our hearts will adore, Lord,
Our sorrow’ll be o’er
At Thy coming again.

But, better than all, Lord,
To rise at Thy call, Lord,
Adoring to fall,
At Thy coming again;
With Thee, clothed in white, Lord,
To walk in the light, Lord,
Where all will be bright
At Thy coming again.

For ever with Thee, Lord,
And like Thee to be, Lord,
For ever with Thee,
At Thy coming again;
I’ll live in Thy grace, Lord,
I’ll gaze on Thy face, Lord,
When finished my race,
At Thy coming again.

I’ll talk of Thy love, Lord,
With Thee there above, Lord,
Thy goodness still prove,
At Thy coming again.

J N Darby, 1881

Selected verses in Little Flock Hymn Book  (1962, 1973) – No 19

This is a paraphrase of a similar hymn by Hannah Burlingham ‘I’m waiting for Thee, Lord, Thy beauty to see Lord’  Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs 1978 – No 440

 

J N Darby – Love Displayed – We’ll Praise Thee, Glorious Lord, Who Died to set us Free

Soon wilt Thou take Thy throne,
Thy foes Thy footstool made,
And take us with Thee for Thine own –
In glory love displayed!

Jesus, we wait for Thee,
With Thee to have our part;
What can full joy and blessing be
But being where Thou art!


S.M.

WE’LL praise Thee, glorious Lord,
Who died to set us free;
No earthly songs can joy afford
Like heavenly melody!

Love that no suffering stayed
We’ll praise – true Love divine;
Love that for us atonement made;
Love that has made us Thine.

Love in Thy lonely life
Of sorrow here below;
Thy words of grace, with mercy rife,
Make grateful praises flow!

Love that on death’s dark vale
Its sweetest odours spread,
Where sin o’er all seemed to prevail
Redemption glory shed.

And now we see Thee risen,
Who once for us hast died,
Seated above the highest heaven,
The Father’s Glorified.

Soon wilt Thou take Thy throne,
Thy foes Thy footstool made,
And take us with Thee for Thine own –
In glory love displayed!

Jesus, we wait for Thee,
With Thee to have our part;
What can full joy and blessing be
But being where Thou art!

J N Darby, 1881

Edited version in Little Flock Hymn Book  (1962, 1973) and in Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs 1978– No 235

Christ’s Sufferings from Men and from God, in His Spirit, and in Anticipation

sufferings of Christ.

His sufferings at the hands of men.
His sufferings at the hand of God.
His sufferings in relation to the state of man.
His sufferings in anticipation of His work on the cross

A Summary by Sosthenes of J.N. Darby’s ‘The Sufferings of Christ’

In this paper, written to the Editor of the “Bible Treasury”, Darby outlined four aspects of the sufferings of Christ.

  1. His sufferings at the hands of men.
  2. His sufferings at the hand of God.
  3. His sufferings in relation to the state of man.
  4. His sufferings in anticipation of His work on the cross

To view the complete paper – The Sufferings of Christ

To download book (JND Collected Writings – Vol 7 Doctrinal 2– p139) containing this article click here

Christ’s Sufferings at the Hands of Men.

We have to distinguish Christ’s sufferings from man and His sufferings from God.  He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.  The world hated Him because He bore witness to the fact that the world’s works were evil.  It hated Him before it hated His disciples.   He was “light,” and he that doeth evil hateth the light, nor comes to the light, because his works are evil. In a word, Christ suffered for righteousness’ sake.

Christ’s Sufferings at the Hand of God.

Upon the cross, Christ also suffered from the hand of God.  He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him … It pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief; when He shall make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed. (Isa. 53:5,10) He who knew no sin was made sin for us, (2 Cor. 5:21) and then. He suffered the just for the unjust; (1 Peter 3:18).  He suffered, not because He was righteous, but because we were sinners, and He was bearing our sins in His own body on the tree. As regards God’s forsaking Him, He could say, ‘Why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ (Psalm 22:1)   In Him there was no cause.  We can give the solemn answer: In grace He suffered the just for us, the unjust.   He was made sin for us.

Thus at the hands of men, as a living man, He suffered for righteousness; at the hand of God, as a dying Saviour, He suffered for sin.  It is most interesting to contrast these two characters of Christ’s suffering as expressed in the Psalms.

Christ’s Suffering for Sin

In Psalm 22 we have both His suffering from the hand of God (v. 1-11) and the sufferings at the hand of men (v. 11-21).  At the height of His sufferings, God, His only resource, forsakes Him.  This is the great theme of the psalm – the consequence of His bearing our sin, the wrath due to us.  But He came to put sin away by the sacrifice of Himself.  Hence the result is unmingled grace — nothing else.  He drank the cup at His Father’s hand.  God heard Him, and raised Him up and gave Him glory, because He had perfectly glorified Him as to sin.  He is raised from the dead by the glory of the Father (Rom. 6:4).  This name of His God and Father He immediately declares to His brethren, ‘I will declare thy name unto my brethren’ (Heb. 2:12).

God’s testimony was now of grace, and Jesus leads the praises of His redeemed.  Now we have praise sung in all Israel, the great congregation, (v.25) ; then all the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD (v.27).

Such is the effect of the cross.  Sin was put away in the suffering and judgment on the cross.  The judgment was borne, but passed away with its execution on the Victim.  He had in grace substituted Himself; and when we appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, we will appear before the One who put away our sins.   Indeed He will have come to fetch us, so that where He is, we may be also (John14:3).  In a word, will be the One who suffered for sin, not for righteousness; and the effect, pure grace.

Christ suffered for sin that we never might. We are healed by His stripes. We do not partake in them,  Christ suffered alone, as forsaken of God in wrath, so that we never should taste one drop of that dreadful, bitter, and to us insupportable cup.

Christ’s Suffering and Ours

We who believe have been given to suffer for His name. If we suffer, we shall also reign with him (2 Tim. 2:12).   If we suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are we, and yet more blessed if we suffer for His name.

The difference of suffering for good and for evil is touchingly contrasted in Peter’s epistle; while both are attributed to Christ, we are warned against the latter.  Suffering for righteousness may be our happy portion; suffering for sin, as regards the Christian, was Christ’s part alone.

Christ’s Sufferings in Relation to the State of Man.

We should note two other characters of suffering in our blessed Lord.  Firstly, the sufferings in His heart of love due to the unbelief of unhappy man,

in John 11:35, at the tomb of Lazarus, He wept and groaned within Himself at seeing the power of death over the spirits of men, and their incapacity to deliver themselves.   He also wept over Jerusalem, when He saw the beloved city about to reject Him in the day of its visitation.  All this was the suffering of perfect love in a scene of ruin, where man’s self-will and heartlessness shut every avenue against the love, which was so earnestly working in its midst.

Sin itself must have been a continual source of sorrow to the Lord’s mind.  He was calmer than righteous Lot in Sodom.  Still He was distressed by sin.  He looked about upon them with anger, being grieved at the hardness of their hearts (Mark 3:5).

The sorrows, too, of men were His in heart.  He bore their sicknesses, and carried their infirmities. (Isa. 53:4)  There was not a sorrow nor an affliction that He did not bear on His heart as His own.  In all their afflictions He was afflicted. (Isa. 63:9).

Christ’s Sufferings in Anticipation of His Work on the Cross

Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour.” (John 12:27).   The other characteristic was the anticipation, when it was time for Him to look at death.  He could not take His part with the excellent of the earth, and bring them into real and permanent blessing, without first going through death – death as the wages of sin, for even the excellent of the earth were sinners.

And for Him death was death — all dark, without one ray of light even from God.  Perfect obedience was needed, and (blessed be God) it was found in Him.

We see:

  1. Man’s utter weakness
  2. Satan’s extreme power
  3. God’s just vengeance, alone, without one sympathy
  4. Christ forsaken of those whom He had cherished
  5. The rest of men His enemies
  6. The Messiah delivered to Gentiles and cast down
  7. The judge washing his hands of condemning innocence
  8. The priests interceding against the guiltless instead of for the guilty
  9. Man would not have the Deliverer

He anticipated death, and all it meant to His soul;  He looked for deliverance.  He could not wish for, nor fail to fear, the forsaking of God and the cup of death that He had to drink.  He was heard in that He feared (Heb. 5:7).  That was truth, and true piety.

He took the cup just as it was being brought to Him, though He would take it from none but  His Father’s hand.   The tempter now returns to try Him with all that was dreadful for His soul.  Above all, He had persevered in His obedience and work to the end.  If the Lord was to effect salvation in the wretched race, He must be, not a mighty living powerful Deliverer, but a dying Redeemer.  It was the path of obedience and the path of love.

We find Him with His Father, occupied with the cup He was about to drink, and His obedience shone out in perfection.  God was not forsaking Him yet; He was conversing with His Father about the cup of His being forsaken of God. “Father, save me from this hour. But for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name” (John 12:27).

He got His answer to obedience to death, an answer of real and complete victory.  It was the widespread opening out of the God’s revelation of love, even though in it the world had been judged.  But all was closing in in Gethsemane.   We read of His sweat as drops of blood, and see the power of darkness and the Lord’s deep agony expressed in a few mighty words.   But His obedience was perfect.   The tempter was utterly foiled; the Name of Jesus sufficed to make his agents go backward and fall to the ground.   As far as they were concerned, and as far as Satan’s power went, He was free.  But the Father had given Him the cup to drink, and He freely offered Himself to drink it, showing the same unweakened power as ever.  He in blessed, willing obedience now takes the awful cup itself from His Father’s hand!  Never can we meditate too much upon the path of Christ here.

Love brought Him to the cross, without the present joy of a ministration of love.  He was not dealing with man, but suffering in obedience, under the hand of God, in man’s place and for man.   He endured unmingled, unmitigated suffering – God’s forsaking.   All His sorrow was the direct fruit of love — He felt for others, about others.   What must He have felt about those who took away the key of knowledge, and entered not in themselves, and hindered those that were entering?  Righteous indignation is not sorrow, but the love that gives birth to it.

Conclusion

He felt the violation of every delicacy that a perfectly attuned mind could feel.  What broke in upon every delicate feeling of His nature as a man!  Men stood staring at Him as He suffered.  Insult, scorn, deceit, efforts to catch Him in His words, brutality and cruel mocking, He bore it all in a divinely patient spirit.  He was deserted, betrayed, and denied — “I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none(Psalm 69:20) Reproach broke His heart. He was the song of the drunkards.

Jehovah knew His shame, His reproach, and His dishonour.  All His adversaries were before Him; but He endured it all.  All sorrow was concentrated in His death, where neither the comfort of active love, nor the communion with His Father, could provide any alleviating sweetness, or be for a moment mingled with that dreadful cup of wrath. His royal glories were given up.   Now He has been received up with a better and higher glory from His Father’s hand.   He always had this glory, but now He has entered into it as Man.