The “Notes On Leviticus” And The “Quarterly Journal Of Prophecy”

It was, for its own purposes, a well-devised law in France which, to destroy the influence of the press, made the writer of every article sign his name to it. That told its value. We are freer here, and I cannot regret it. But singular effects and discoveries would be made if every one were bound to put his name to his commentaries on his neighbour or on his brethren.

The article in the “Quarterly Journal of Prophecy,” which has led me to make this remark, is however characterized by its contents without any name at all. Charity calls upon me to suppose it is a brother, though his paper takes, alas! the form of accusing those whom he does not deny to be brethren. He may be assured that, reviled, they are not going to revile again. I should? not have noticed at all the article on account of the attack contained in it. On no ground would I do so; and it seems to me that this attack will, for every mind that has a trace of nobleness in it, carry its own answer with it, or will find it in the bosom of one who is morally above the spirit in which it is conceived. I take notice of it because it is one of a series attacking doctrines —doctrines which I, for my part, admit and regard very important points: some reaching even to the personal glory of Christ; others, to the true christian liberty of the disciples of the Lord. The attack on doctrine is not made on the writer of these lines. He treats it as a subject of common interest to all.

I will first venture some short words of counsel to the brother who is the author of the article. I regret that Mr. S—— should have furnished occasion (I cannot doubt that he regrets it now himself), in a moment of excitement, to such a comment on his language; I regret that one, whom I must suppose to be a brother, should have profited by it. I should have thought its character, which is noticed by the writer in the journal, would have been sufficient to lead a mind, which itself was morally above it, not to use it as a weapon of attack, but see sufficient excitement in it to have regretted it himself for its author’s sake, and to have left it in the silence which probably he, in cooler moments, would desire. But I must leave my anonymous author to judge of this for himself. It was a good occasion to attack the “Brethren,” and he was disposed to profit by it. He has sought out other allies too. I would only add a word of warning as to all this part of the article: that if a person will grabble in the mud to cast dirt at his neighbours, he is sure to dirty his own hands, whatever he does with others. Perhaps those whom he is flinging it at may go peacefully on their way, guarded by an unseen hand from his efforts. With these few words, I can only leave the author in the position and with the allies he has chosen for himself, and turn to what is really important—the doctrines impeached. I may be perhaps allowed to say, as personally interested in them, I am thankful to the “Brethren” for their patience and grace in the trying circumstances alluded to, and to the Lord for them that He enabled them to be so; admitting, as I suppose all would, imperfection and shortcoming.

Mr. Mackintosh’s accuser shelters himself under the Thirty-nine Articles and the Westminster Confession. But these may be signed and appealed to, and all manner of intolerable doctrines held. Those whom the Free Church of Scotland left signed the Westminster Confession. Justification by works is preached under shelter of the Thirty-nine Articles; Puseyite altars are erected, and baptismal regeneration taught, by those who have signed them—is taught in the Westminster Confession itself. The denial of inspiration is largely spread under the safeguard of the Thirty-nine Articles; and in the Free Church the doctrine is securely promulgated, that Christ was viewed as such a leper that God did not allow Him to visit any holy place nor sleep in Jerusalem. They are a poor protection for the faith of God’s elect. More error than truth is taught by those who have signed them, and error ruinous to souls.

The writer in the “Journal of Prophecy,” who is not under French law, would give more security for sound doctrine by teaching it than by referring to the Anglican and Scottish Confessions, which are elastic enough to admit many novel doctrines and all manner of evil ones.

But I have a more serious charge than the vain shelter by which he seeks to secure confidence in his orthodoxy, and that is, that his accusations are unfounded, and that, in one point at least, he knows them to be unfounded. I will take the second point first, as it will lead into the main object of these lines—the doctrine of the sacrifices.

“Of late,” says our author, “they have become very zealous for the old Valentinian heresy of the ‘heavenly humanity of Christ.’… They deny that Christ’s body was of the substance of the Virgin. The author of that very unsound and objectionable book, ‘Notes on Leviticus,’ maintains this.” Now, my brother, you must have known that this was not true. I make allowance for excitement and prejudice, but your accusation is a serious one. I shall quote from Mr. Mackintosh’s book, which I had not before read, and every one will judge. We are all liable to mistakes, and it is well to correct them; but your charge is a definite one—that Mr. Mackintosh maintains this: i.e., the denial that Christ’s body was of the substance of the Virgin. The reader shall judge whether this accusation is well-founded.

Mr. Mackintosh says, “It was a real human body—real flesh and blood.” There is no possible foundation here on which Gnosticism (that is, the old Valentinian heresy of which the journal speaks) or mysticism can base its vapid and worthless theories. Again, “None but a real man could accomplish this [the first promise of the woman’s seed], one whose nature was as real as it was pure and incorruptible. ‘Thou shalt conceive in thy womb,’ said the angelic messenger, ‘and bring forth a son.’” To this passage the following note is appended: “But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” (He gives the Greek words, genomevnon, &c.) “This is a most important passage, inasmuch as it sets forth our Lord as Son of God and Son of man: ‘God sent forth His Son, made of a woman.’ Precious testimony to the ‘flesh and blood,’ of which the Eternal Son ‘took part,’ while absolutely real,” &c. And so is all the doctrine of this part where he treats of the subject. He speaks of Mary’s relation to the blessed One as the mother of Jesus.

Now he does not accept the doctrine of a sin-bearing life shut out from the favour of God; but, because he does not agree as to this with the school of the “Journal of Prophecy,” is this a reason for charging him with what he formally condemns, and the contrary of which he diligently teaches? I must leave the reader to compare the extracts I have given with the accusations of the article. I will state from Gieseler and Mosheim what the Valentinian heresy is, and readers will judge how applicable it is.

“From the great original (according to him, depth, first father, first cause) with whom is the consciousness of himself ([inward] thought, silence) emanate in succession male and female Æons (mind or firstborn and truth, word and life, man and church, &c. So that thirty Æons together, divided into the octoad, decad, and dodecad, form the pleroma—fulness). From the passionate striving of the last Æon, Sophia (wisdom), to unite itself with ‘depth’ itself, arises an untimely being, Achamoth, which, wandering about outside the Pleroma, communicates the germ of life to matter, and forms the Demiurge (creator) of psychical material (matter having the life of a living soul), who immediately creates the world. In the meantime two new Æons had arisen, Christ and the Holy Ghost. Then there emanated from all the Æons Jesus the Saviour, who, as the future associate (suvzugo") of Achamoth, was to lead her and the spiritual nature into the Pleroma. The Saviour united Himself at His baptism with the psychical Messiah (having a living soul) promised by Demiurge.” For the Old Testament came from the creator of the world, not from God. Hence Hyle, or matter, being from the bad god, or itself eternal and bad and put in order by him, they held it to be bad. Some or all of them held that when Christ was crucified the Æon flew away, and indeed the Æon only to have taken an apparent, or rather an ethereal, body, and hence never to have really suffered.

“The misery Achamoth was in, outside the Pleroma, led her to look for Jesus, the Æon produced by the Æons to help her, which was granted, and creation went on between her, Demiurge, and Jesus, spiritual, animal life, and matter being separated; only Achamoth put a little spiritual, unknown to Demiurge, into man. This last must go back to God; matter could not (there was no resurrection); and the living soul might or might not. Demiurge was the God of the Jews, and author of the Old Testament. Men becoming corrupt, Christ came to save them. He took human nature, spiritual, animal, and corporeal; but this last (that He might not be leavened, so to speak, with matter) was ethereal, heavenly in its nature, and only passed through the Virgin Mary. At John’s baptism, Jesus descended on him as a dove. When he was going to be crucified, the Æon Jesus and his spiritual soul left, and only his animal soul and ethereal body were crucified.”

Now I do not know whether the reader will be edified with this short account of the old Valentinian heresy; but at any rate he will be able to judge whether Mr. Mackintosh maintains it. Our journal s elects the part merely as to the ethereal body to prove him guilty: whether he is, any one has only to read Mr. Mackintosh’s remarks on the second chapter of Leviticus, and he can easily judge. The one expression, “The conception of Christ’s humanity by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary,” would suffice to shew the character of the accusation. Indeed the full declaration of the deity of Christ found in Mr. Mackintosh’s statements equally sets aside the Valentinian notions, as to the precise nature of which there is some confusion, but the folly of which, to our sober western minds, is almost incomprehensible. In the Valentinian theory Jesus came down only at John’s baptism. Now, I ask, how can I think that the writer believes his own accusation? But this is a serious thought.

I turn to the sacrifices. Here, again, I must complain of the accusations not being founded on fact. I can understand another not agreeing with Mr. Mackintosh in his explanations of a type, or his views as to Christ’s not being a sin-bearer during His ministerial or previous life. But the article charges Mr. M. with declaring the burnt offering not to be propitiatory. He does not use the word propitiatory; it is not used in the chapter. But he does several times declare it to be atonement, and speaks of it as a special and a blessed character of atonement. The difference he refers to is, that atonement in the sin offering is measured by man’s sins; in the burnt offering, according to the infinite value to God of Christ’s voluntary offering Himself without spot to God. “Atonement, as seen in the burnt offering, is not merely commensurate with the claims of man’s conscience, but with the intense desire of the heart of Christ to carry out the will and to establish the counsels of God. It is atonement, not according to the depth and enormity of human guilt, but according to the perfection of Christ’s surrender of Himself to God, and the intensity of God’s delight in Christ. This gives us the very loftiest idea of atonement.” “The burnt offering aspect of atonement is that about which the priestly household may well be occupied in the courts of the Lord’s house for ever.” Now, Mr. M. does not enter upon the question here at all why this atonement was by death. He is entirely occupied with the different character of the atonement itself, as exhibited in the burnt and in the sin offering, and that the view of the atonement in the burnt offering was (not its sin-bearing character as “made sin,” as it was in the sin offering, but) Christ’s voluntary offering Himself up to death in order to glorify God. As Mr. Darby’s name is set at the head of the article, I may add that, in the “Types of Leviticus,” it is said that Christ, as the burnt offering, fully underwent the judgment of God; and that, besides other things, the cry, “My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?”—a cry which remained without answer till the expiation was accomplished—shews to us the Son of God fully put to the test by judgment. And this is enlarged upon, shewing that it only rose in a sweet savour. I quote the following words, “All the manifestations of righteousness in Him were of no avail (i.e., to win man) in themselves. Thus it was needful that He should become a sacrifice; it was necessary that His blood should be shed that we might draw near to God. Now, it is under this character that the burnt offering represents Him to us.” Now this part of the subject Mr. Mackintosh does not dwell on, but he does call the burnt offering an atonement.

Two points arise here. Is the charge of Socinianism just? And is the view of the article in the “Quarterly Journal” just as to the sacrifices? As to the charge of Socinianism it is simply ridiculous. The author admits that propitiation is taught as to the sin offering. All he can bring himself, however, to say is, “Admitting the sin offering to be propitiatory, which they could hardly deny.” But do not the Socinians quite deny it? Is it not their characteristic view? That, and the denial of Christ’s deity, both of which Mr. Mackintosh largely and zealously puts forth. I should have to cite all his pages on the sin offering, did I quote passages to prove that he views Christ as the sin-bearer, made sin, so making propitiation. Now the journalist must know that Mr. Mackintosh’s views are the direct and absolute opposite of Socinian views. I say he must know it; I will examine his own views on the subject in a moment: but he must know this. The point Mr. Mackintosh is insisting on is thus summed up: “He (the Lord) says on one occasion, The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” And again, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” The first of these passages he refers to as expressing the spirit of the burnt offering; the latter, of the contemplation of His place as the sin offering. The statements, then, of the article are untrue. The motive of them is evident in it too.

“The vicariousness of Christ’s life,” it says, “is denied: Christ was not our substitute till He came to die.” Hinc illæ lachrymæ. But is it an honourable thing to charge deadly doctrine on a person falsely, because he does not agree with the accuser on another point? The author has heard that some of them speak of imputed righteousness as imputed nonsense. Where did he hear it? If I do not mistake, it was Wesley’s saying, though I cannot affirm it. Was he a Socinian? The writer should be calmer; by all this violence he betrays what it is that animates him. He plunges himself too into very unguarded assertions in his haste. He says, “If Christ was not the sin-bearer during His life, the Socinian explanation of His sorrows is the right one.” Of what sorrows? His sorrows on the cross? This is foolish language. I do not know what particular views the Socinians have of Christ’s sorrows during His life, but every one knows their main principles are the denial of the deity of Christ and of the atonement. Now saying, if Christ was not a sin-bearer during His life, their explanation of His sorrows is the true one, casts the whole truth of the gospel on the particular views of the journalist on the point of Christ bearing sin all His life, and living all His life under wrath; that is, that the Socinian’s views as to Christ’s sufferings on the cross and all are right, if the writer’s views as to Christ’s vicarious life are not right: for the writer makes no distinction in sufferings during the life of Christ and sufferings on the cross, none between what He suffered from man, when He had hatred for His love, and what He suffered from the wrath of God. He throws all together; and if this confusion be not right, he says the Socinians are.

Now I do not at all charge him with any approach to their views, but I do with rashness, and great carelessness or ignorance in speaking of the sufferings of Christ. For he makes His sufferings and sorrows all one in character (those on the cross and all the rest being undistinguished) and says that the Socinian view of them is right, if his particular thoughts are not. It is to be remembered that, although it went on to death, Christ was alive when bearing our sins on the tree.

And now as to the doctrine of the sacrifices itself. Bishop Patrick is first referred to, to destroy the edge and break the handle of the Socinian axe of C. H. M. and Darbyism. But I am often at a loss to know whether it be the haste of violence and vexation, or real want of honesty, that animates the pen and argument (I am sure, not the heart) of our Scottish adversaries; but I really believe the former. But it is sadly rash and careless, and ought not to be allowed in grave accusations. “Bishop Patrick,” we are told, “in his Commentary on Leviticus, remarks, that the burnt offering, the holocaust, was the most ancient sacrifice in the world.” I have turned to Bishop Patrick. He does so. That is the beginning of his note; here is the end: “I shall add no more, but that these whole burnt offerings seem to have been simple acknowledgments of God, the Creator of the world, and testifications that they own Him to be their Lord, and continued in covenant with Him, and implored His blessing upon them. And therefore, with respect to the first and last of these considerations (the first was, no man eating of them), the Gentiles were permitted to bring these sacrifices (as the Jews tell us), but no others whatsoever to be offered to God.” This is in the same note as what our journalist quotes—a note whose real object is to shew that they were not propitiatory. If C. H. M. had written this! But perhaps Noah’s sacrifice, and Abel’s, will help us out. They are tacked on to Bishop Patrick by the article.

Hear him on Noah’s: “Some think these burnt offerings had something in them of the nature of a propitiatory sacrifice, as well as eucharistical, which they certainly were, for their deliverance from the flood. Their reason is taken from what follows, ‘The Lord smelled a sweet savour’ (ver. 21); that is, as Munster understands it, He ceased from His anger, and was appeased. So the Syriac and Josephus. But it may signify no more, but that his thankfulness was as grateful to God as sweet odours are to us.” As to Abel: “What kind of sacrifices these were is a question among learned men. The Talmudists are of opinion they were whole burnt offerings. Abel brought of the fat thereof, that is, of the very best.” Cain ate the firstfruits himself, as some allege. He says, “But there is no certainty of this; and the apostle to the Hebrews hath directed us to a better account—Abel offered with a pious mind.” And before, “It was a very seasonable time to make their grateful acknowledgments to God who had given them a plentiful year.” But worse yet, “He graciously accepted them (Abel’s offerings, offered with a pious mind), and his offering was accepted, because he himself was accepted. It is a metaphor from those who, when a present is made to them, look kindly upon the person who brings it, if they like him and his present.” What do you think, my reader, of citing Bishop Patrick to prove that burnt offerings are propitiatory? And what do you think of the journal which cites him for it? “Cain offered of the fruit of the ground, but did not devote himself to God.” Now I do not agree with Bishop Patrick, though I do not charge him with Socinianism; but he lays the Socinian axe to the parent root and stem in a terrible way.

Now there was, the Jews state, no other sacrifice before the law. I somewhat doubt of this among the heathen, but they are right according to scripture history. Sin-bearing was not brought out distinctly as it was under the law. Yet sin was in the world, and death by sin. And death, as needed atonement, was kept in sight in the divine way of a sinner’s approach to God. Under the law this was brought far more clearly out. Sin-bearing was distinctly expressed, and, as the sacrifices were types of Christ, other deeply interesting parts of His sacrificial work, which had to be distinguished from this, were presented in them. The journalist’s effort is to confound all these together, so that we should lose the profoundly interesting instruction conveyed in them. Mr. Mackintosh, to bring out the contrast, and while stating it expressly to be atonement (which Bishop Patrick demurs to), does not enter into the question of how it was so.

Now in the burnt offering the thought is distinctly kept up that death had come in, and that atonement and a victim were needed for our approach to God. But while this is carefully maintained, and sin, being there, Christ could not have offered Himself for us and as making atonement for sin without blood-shedding (“for without shedding of blood there is no remission”); yet the specific purport of the burnt offering is that which the article seeks, as far as possible, to destroy. Christ is presented in the burnt offering as offering Himself to God for us. This must go on to death most surely for atonement; but it had not the specific character of the sin offering, but another. Job, when there were no other than burnt offerings (unless feasts are offerings, peace offerings, for such I think they were, see Exodus 18:12), offered them in case his sons should have sinned. The whole idea of an offering, even to death and expiation by it, was embraced in the one kind. In the law, God, while maintaining the grand principle of death and atonement, separated the distinctive parts, that is, the voluntary offering (because Christ was to offer Himself wholly, even unto death), and the actual bearing of sins and drinking the cup of wrath, though both were in one act, death being there for both.

The article states,” It (the burnt offering) is spoken of in almost precisely the same language as the sin offering.” Now this is a very great mistake indeed. The blood, the fire, and the altar are used for both, as alleged, though even this statement is very inaccurate. The one general previous sacrifice, the Holocaust, was, under the law, separated into two. One preserved the name of Hola; but the specific character of Chata (to which we may add Ascham, a trespass offering), a sin offering, was set apart as distinct under the law.

This was called for when such a one as the Son of God was to be brought near the eye, so to speak, as a sacrifice; and this difference the writer obliterates, and C. H. M. insists on. The differences are these:

The name of the sin offering in Hebrew is the same as sin itself. So Christ, who knew no sin, was made sin. The offerer was to bring his sin. The sin offering was appointed to be offered only when a man had sinned. He was to offer, and was bound to do it, for that sin. He could not rightly offer the burnt offering till this was done. The burnt offering was not offered when a man had sinned, but of his own voluntary will. The sin was forgiven (the word is omitted as to the high priest) when the sin offering was offered. This is never said as to the burnt offering. When the blood of the sin offering was brought into the holy place, the body was not burnt on the altar at all (hence I said the writer was very inexact)—and this was a capital fact referred to by the Epistle to the Hebrews—but burnt outside the camp. It was not called a sweet savour (though the fat was, in the individual ones, to intimate the connection of the two in the one perfect person of Christ). In the burnt offering the sacrifice was wholly burnt on the altar and was always a sweet savour. And this was so distinct that the word burn is not the same. As to the sin offering, “burn” is the common word; as to the burnt offering, the same as burning incense. In the individual sin offering the priests ate apart; in the burnt offering all was consumed on the altar.

Now all this marks out a very different aspect of the work. Sin offering, called sin, supposes a person incapable of worshipping. He must bear sin (or another for him) and be forgiven. The burnt offering does not suppose an actual state of sin before God, which forbids approach, though it shews that no man could approach without blood; and that if Christ gave Himself up for us, it must be to death. When the case called for it, he first offered a sin offering, and, being forgiven, could offer his burnt offering. It was the voluntary act of the worshipper, not the present necessity of sin. Thus it represents Christ who gave Himself up obedient unto death; and then, in a subordinate sense, our coming through Him, worshipping, and devoting ourselves to God.

The law does carefully distinguish between the two aspects of sacrifice, which were, in the previous days of undeveloped truth, left confounded. These the writer confounds. No approach but by Christ’s death, by atonement; but transgressions are singled out by the law and imputed somewhere, and this is distinguished from a voluntary offering. I see only ignorance in the objections of the article.

Imputed righteousness has been treated of elsewhere. I only add here, that the writer’s mistake here arises from his not understanding what imputed righteousness means. It does not mean a quantum of formal righteousness outside us, imputed to us, but our being accounted righteous. Righteousness being imputed to a man simply means the man being accounted righteous. As the writer refers to the Thirty-nine Articles, he may see it so expressed there. Hence the argument of the article about imputing a divine attribute goes for nothing—has no sense in it; it is, like the rest, simply ignorance. God, according to that divine attribute, accounts us righteous, because of the work of Christ. There is nothing “lurks” at all, except in the mind or pen of the writer of the article. I simply, very openly, deny his doctrine of the justifying vicariousness of Christ’s life as under the law. But the writer says we evade the passages which speak of His righteousness. We do not evade them; we ask for them. It does not at all follow because Christ is God that, if God’s righteousness is spoken of, it means Christ’s as a man under the law. What we say is, that Christ’s righteousness as a man under law is not spoken of at all. The righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ, in 2 Peter, is not spoken of as to justification at all, and has nothing to do with the subject. The promises have been fulfilled in sending Christianity (Christ the object of faith, though not personally present) to the dispersed remnant by a righteous God. (Chap. 1:1.)

In fine, the sacrifices do incontestably point out the difference of Christ’s voluntarily devoting Himself to death to glorify God Himself in the work of atonement when sin was come in, and His specifically charging Himself with the sins of His guilty people to bear and put them away. If the writer cannot understand the difference, he loses a large part of the blessed truths specially exposed in St. John’s Gospel, and suffers very great loss to his own soul.

I know not that any further answer is necessary, unless I may recommend my reader to Air. Mackintosh’s “Notes on Leviticus “if he wishes to learn whether the accusations of the article in the “Quarterly Journal of Prophecy” have one particle of truth in them. I cannot but think, if the writer of the article be a Christian, as I suppose, that the time may come when he will regret having been the author of such a one; I confess I should much prefer being the object to being the author of it.