Monday, May 01, 2006

J.N. Darby on the Heavenly Character of the Church

John Nelson Darby wrote:

"But there is another state of things far worse than this, when Babylon has carried the body of the people away, that is, the reluctance of the residue to stay in dependence of faith, and their determination to go down into Egypt for help, where judgment would surely overtake them. Such is the continual testimony of the human heart; such help is the church therefore continually seeking. But the church is not of this world, even as Christ is not of this world. And how is Christ not of this world? Surely in spirit and in character He is not of it, as it is an evil world, unholy, opposite to God. When His spotless excellency passed through, it was unscathed, though passing trough every scene that wearies and bows down our frail and feeble hearts. But it was with other thoughts also that Jesus was not of this world, and so said He of His disciples. He was not of it, but of heaven- the Lord from heaven; and we are not of it, but from thence, associated with Him who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and who is now separate from sinners, made higher than the heavens, now in manifested association (that is, to faith, as the object of it there), in the accomplishment of what forms the dispensation in the heavens. The founding of the dispensation upon the accomplishment of the exaltation of its Head is of the greatest importance, because it is the ground of ascertained rigteousness and its extent,and the seal and character of the whole dispensation. It belongs as being rejected in its Head from the world, to the heavenlies. But it is not merely as the result of the treatment of the Lord and His being glorified, that the dispensation had such a character, and held such a place. It was the secret of God hidden from ages and generations, and formed an extraordinary break in the dispensations, to the rejection, for their unbelief , of the proper earthly people of God; a forming out of the earth, but not for it, a body of Christ- a heavenly people associated with Him in glory in which He should be and should reign, when the full time was come, over the earth, in those times of restitution which should come from the presence of the Lord; a system forming no part of the earthly system, though carried on through the death of Christ in the forming of its members in it, but that, when all things are gathered together in one in Christ, in the dispensation of the fulness of times, these should be associates of His glory, in whom it and the riches of His grace should be shewn, given them in Christ Jesus before the world began, according to the gift of the Father; a purpose formed for Christ's especial and personal glory before the worlds, and kept secret till the time of His sending down the Spirit after the actual glory was accomplished, after He had entered, in risen manhood, into the glory which He had with the Father before the world was.

The church has sought to settle itself here; but it has no place on the earth. It may shew forth heavenly glory here according to that given to it; but it has no place here, but in glory with Christ in heavenly places at His appearing. We, through the Spirit, wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

The subject, as to the special distinctness of the dispensation, has been treated of elsewhere, and therefore I do not enter into it at large here. I believe it to ne the most important point for the church to consider now. Looked at as an earthly dispensation, it merely fills up, in detailed exercise of grace, the gap in the regular earthly order of God's counsels, made by the rejection of the Jews on the covenant of legal prescribed righteousness, in the refusal of the Messiah, till their reception again under the New Covenant in the way of grace on their repentance; but through making a most instructive parenthesis, it forms no part of the regular order of God's earthly plans, but is merely an interruption of them to give fuller character and meaning to them. As to the thing introduced, we are called to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is not the place or the time of His glory; our calling therefore is not here at all; but when Christ who is our life shall appear, we also shall be in glory. Ministration upon earth is merely to this purpose. The moment there is a minding of eartly things, there is enmity to the cross of Christ; for 'our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself.' The Jewish system was a system of derived earthly authority; and while the church was simply among them, it never lost its earthly character entirely; it was open at any time for the return of the Lord, and was formed upon the order of derivative authority from Him when He had not yet ascended into glory, though it was accomplished by the Spirit, which enabled them to testify to His ascended glory. But they were Jews; and they maintained the character of the earthly system so far as it was associated with the resurrection of Christ was the 'sure mercies of David.'"

Taken from The Character of Office in the Present Dispensation in Collected Writings vol.1, p.93-95


Rose~ said...

... and we are not of it, but from thence, associated with Him who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and who is now separate from sinners, made higher than the heavens,...

I liked that. But generally, I think his writing is very hard to follow. I have tried to read the several postings you have offered from Darby, but I get very lost! I need simple prose. His thoughts are very choppy, as though he is writing as he would talk.

I have to hand it to you - to read so much of him as to do a doctoral thesis on his thoughts, which are so poorly expressed - you are a trooper! Your head must spin around a lot.

The IBEX Scribe said...

Rose, this one seemed a lot harder for me to follow than most of his stuff that Matthew posts. Some of his sentences were extremely long and full of dependent clauses - reminded me very much of Herman Melville's writing style (for which I do not care).

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Thanks for trying, people.

One of the sentences in this excerpt was actually 20 lines long in the book.

Darby admitted that he just wrote down his thoughts without trying to make himself readable.

He once said "I could easily have equalled the rhetoric of one of the great masters, but I never thought it worthwhile", which is a rather arrogant attitude.

Every Blessing in Christ


Anonymous said...

Best regards from NY!
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