Propounded In Some Recent Tracts,
In Extracts Taken From The Author’s Writings.
I had purposed giving a brief recapitulation of the statements and doctrines propounded in Ebrington Street, that every one might see clearly what they are by extracts drawn from printed documents; having already discussed the merits of the system at some length in a tract. Since entertaining the thought of giving this brief summary, Mr. Newton has answered Mr. Harris’s tract, so that we have the fullest opportunity of ascertaining what his views are. The author, as is his known custom, after making statements which subvert the faith, seeks by modifying, by making statements which are entirely different appear to be the same, or substituting one for the other, smothering up what was said by expatiating on recognized truths, to confound the minds of the simple, and escape the discrediting detection of the doctrines he has taught. Happier would it be to let it all alone; but it is due to souls that it should be known. I leave to others to express their feeling as to the hopeless dishonesty of the author. To one who knows the facts, this last tract does carry it to an extent inconceivable were it not there in print. I shall merely state the doctrines of the author clearly, and state one or two facts connected with his attempt to evade the effect of it.
There can be no doubt that this last tract is intended to confirm the substance of the doctrine already taught.
The author says, “I increasingly feel, after writing the present tract, that the doctrine intended to be conveyed will bear, as a whole, most rigid examination by the word of God.”
A Plain Statement, &c.
The author’s doctrine is that Christ came by birth into man’s relative condition as a sinner, and into Israel’s under a broken law, making part thus of an accursed people; that He was exposed to, and threatened by, obnoxious to, the consequences of this position—not vicariously, but as being one of them, but preserved Himself in a measure from those consequences, and extricated Himself out of that condition, by His life under the law, which was strong to Him though weak to us, and subsequently underwent what was due to it vicariously on the cross; that is, that Christ was subject, not vicariously but as associated with us, to damnation and wrath, but freed Himself from it by keeping the law; that what He suffered when in this position during the first thirty years of His life was the infliction of God upon His soul; not entering into the condition of man in spirit, though this might be true too; and that He got out of this condition, this relation to God, at John’s baptism (though in this he contradicts himself).
And here I press on the reader always to bear in mind that Christ is stated to have been exposed or obnoxious to this from His birth—not perhaps to have endured it all, which shews that it is not His spirit entering into it, but exposed and obnoxious to it; that it is distinguished as inflictions by God, even when felt, from exercises of His own soul; that these inflictions were under law, not under love. Let him remark also that sinless penalties, though freely spoken of to confound the reader, have nothing to say to the matter. Christ did not extricate Himself from them; hunger and thirst and weariness were His portion all through; nor is that the meaning of the curse of the law. Saint and sinner are alike subject to them. Jesus might have felt their true character as, though more deeply than, the saints will; but this is not an infliction from God on His soul. All this is an attempt to throw dust in the eyes.
I shall now state the doctrines from Mr. N.’s own writings, and first from No. 6 of the second37edition of the “Christian Witness,” vol. 2, in, 113. “In order to form a scriptural judgment on these things, it is needful to consider attentively the state in which we, as the descendants of Adam, are placed before God. There are three particulars which mark our condition as sinners before Him: first, original, or vicarious guilt, imputed (or reckoned) to us on account of the transgression of our first parent,38 of which Romans 5 treats; secondly, Original sin, or indwelling corruption; and thirdly, Actual transgression. “The distinction between imputed transgression, and indwelling corruption is often neglected. It may be thus illustrated. The children of an exile in Siberia, though innocent of rebellion themselves, might yet be involved in all the penalties of their parent and be punished for and on account of him. Even so the one transgression of Adam in the garden exposes all his posterity to be treated by God as transgressors on account of him. The penalty of death would still have impended over them, even though they could have been born pure as angels in themselves.” “The Lord Jesus was as free from indwelling sin as from actual transgression: yet nevertheless He was a member, so to speak, of the exiled family, and was therefore born subject to their penalties. But He was made under the law; and, being essentially holy, He was able to fulfil the law, and so to rise above the39 penalties to which He had become subject on account of Adam’s guilt. He was able to enter into life, by keeping the commandments; and the very same law, which had been death to every other, was unto Him life, even as it is written, ‘If there could have been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.’ On account of our sinful flesh, to us the law was weak, but strong unto Him, because He had no sinful flesh, but was essentially the holy One. He learned obedience in the midst of suffering, and was proved to be the righteous One, who might have entered into life by Himself alone, but who preferred to lay down His life that He might take it again, that so, through the knowledge of Him, many might be justified. All that the soul of a saint recognizes as true in the writings of Mr. Irving, respecting Christ being in ‘that condition of being and region of existence which is proper to a sinner,’ will be found to be altogether comprised in the fact of His being born under the curse of the exiled family,40 vicariously incurred. But He rose out of this region through the power of His own inherent holiness; and therefore never would have come into ‘that experience into [read, of] God’s action which is proper for a sinner,’ unless He had chosen to abide it for the sake of others. And when He had chosen this, then it pleased the Lord to bruise Him.”
Nor is there any ambiguity as to the extent of this.
“Now it is fully allowed, as has been stated in the preface, that He was born into our ‘condition of being’ in the sense of being born out of paradise. And also that He exposed Himself to the danger of receiving all the punishment which followed upon the imputation of Adam’s offence: but, though exposed to it, He rose above it all, because He was by birth the holy One, made under the law; who did not, as we, find it weak through the flesh, but effectually ordained unto life, because His flesh was holy. ‘This do and thou shalt live,’ was to Him a word of delivering power. So far, therefore, from His having been punished on account of the condition of being into which He had come, He would not have been punished at all, unless He had freely chosen whilst standing as the ‘justified one,’ to offer atonement to the Father, and to become the substitute and sin-bearer of all who believe in His name.” (Page 126.)
It is impossible anything can be clearer than this. Exposed to judgment as inheriting the whole guilt of Adam, He by keeping the law becomes the justified One, and then offers Himself as a substitute. Had He not been made under the law, He must have been condemned as every child of Adam. Nor could He from the beginning have been so offered as the guiltless Lamb, for He was under guilt and exposed to judgment. It was only when by keeping the law He was the “justified one” that He could offer atonement to the Father.
The author now seeks to confound all this in the mind of the reader, by speaking of Christ’s suffering, entering into these sorrows, appropriating the sins, and His and our privilege in suffering. I shall proceed to quote passages from his two late tracts, shewing, with all this garbling and changing for others the statements made, that the doctrine is still contained therein: what that is, we have plainly seen from the extracts from the “Christian Witness.” I do not quote from the notes Mr. Harris published; though they are worth perusing, because, after the corrections of Mr. Newton in his last, they afford the clearest evidence of what is really taught. Those corrections leave the substance unchanged. Many of the grosser forms which are corrected are to a reflecting mind comparatively immaterial. It will be seen, moreover, that to read “the Lamb made perfect through suffering,” or “the One made perfect through suffering,” makes no difference whatever; because it is stated that He was made perfect through suffering in order to be a sacrifice;41 and that is the whole point of the objection. This Mr. N. leaves as it is. And this is quite consistent with the doctrine in the “Christian Witness,” since there He was exposed by birth to the judgment due to Adam’s guilt, and rose by keeping the law out of that region and then offered Himself—and so in the “Remarks,” page 31, “He had to find His way to a point where God would meet Him.” The “Remarks” justify the form, “had to be found,” as the sum of the notes, whatever its force. For there (p. 3), it is said, “The appointment of God required that He should be proved,” “and He must… be proved a righteous servant.” But to proceed.
And first to shew that the two tracts confirm the doctrine that Jesus was by birth associated with Israel in its condition before God, that is, the curse of a broken law; not that He took the sin vicariously, but that He was exposed by birth to the consequences of it.
“The fact of Jesus being by birth an Israelite would have been alone sufficient to link Him in direct association with that people in the estimate of God.” (“Observations,” page 23.) His baptism by John “was the acknowledgment of the condition of His people and of His association with them in that condition.” (Page 24.) As to birth (see also “Remarks,” pp. 4, 5. So “Observations,” p. 20, 21), “It must not be thought that the fact of Israel’s being under wrath and the curse at the time when the Lord Jesus was born amongst them is of trivial importance in the present controversy.” “And if it can be shewn (as it has been shewn) … that Jesus became by birth one of that family.”
And now, as to the extent of this: though we ought not to have to shew it, for Christians ought to know what is due to a broken law, it will be found to embrace man’s position, as such. “He was born, not in paradise, but into the midst of the fallen family of man.” “But He had not merely become connected with the sorrows and sufferings of man. There was a part of the human family, &c. This was Israel.” “They had fallen from that ground of professed obedience, and like Adam, had earned, by their disobedience, the fearful inflictions of God’s broken law, for it had been said, ‘Cursed is he that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them.’” Galatians 3:10.42 (“Remarks,” pp. 4, 5.)
“And observe [“Remarks,” p. 21], what full identification with Israel’s position, and Israel’s sin, is implied in this act of the Lord Jesus, in submitting to baptism by the hand of John; not indeed identification in the same sense as that in which He is made one with His elect people, for that is identification in substitution and in union—identification therefore that cannot fail. But although not that identification, how beautiful the grace, and how perfect the development of character shewn in owning, though innocent and spotless, the shame and guilt of others, as if it were His own.”
Now, fair as these words are, to elude the doctrine taught, it must be remembered that it was not associating Himself with the people in grace in that baptism: He was by birth in this condition. And it must be remembered that He is said to have emerged out of this Sinai condition at John’s baptism. (See “Remarks,” p. 23. So page 25.)
“If He was made to realize the distance into which man had wandered out of the presence of God, and if He realized also the distance of Israel… I believe it to have been chiefly, if not exclusively before His baptism. Observe, I am speaking of the exercises of His heart from God. That His own soul did not cease to enter into the condition of things around Him; and that the poignancy of His sorrow increased rather than lessened, in proportion as the blind wilfulness of Israel in rejecting Him became more and more developed, I most assuredly believe. But I am not now speaking of the spontaneous actings of His soul, but of the manner in which He was directly exercised43 by God.” (“Remarks,” p. 25.) The doctrine that Christ was born, subject to condemnation, according to Galatians 3:10, is confirmed by page 15, “Observations.” “It is said by the apostle, ‘as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse, for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them.’ Law worketh wrath; for where no law is, there is no transgression. Israel had formally taken their stand before God, under a covenant of law, and therefore the very first moment disobedience was found amongst them, they were brought ‘under curse.’44 The fire of Sinai began instantly to burn against them, and therefore, even if every deserved infliction had been withheld from that moment to the time when Jesus was born, yet still He would have been one of a nation that was exposed45 to all the terrors of Sinai. They were all set in array against Israel.”
Again, page 29. “As an Israelite, He was under that holy covenant which was made at Sinai… He was standing in closest association with those whose dispensational relation to God was marked by the darkness and lightnings and voices of Sinai —a sight so terrible that even Moses said, ‘I exceedingly fear and quake.’ Sinai marked the relation of God to Israel when Jesus came—and the worship of the golden calf (though that would not fully represent the ripened evil) may be taken as marking their relation to God. And since God, in exercising the souls of His servants, must exercise them according to truth —and the application of truth by God varies according to the nature of the dispensation under which His servants live—we might be very sure, even if the evidence of scripture were less direct than it is, that the Lord Jesus was caused to appreciate to the full the relation in which Israel (and46 Himself because of Israel) was standing before God. We may hear of Sinai, or think of Sinai, but Jesus realized it, as the power of an actual subsisting relation betwixt His people and God. He had to live in the midst of Israel, at a time when God’s only declared relation to it was that of Sinai. Years passed over His head thus. And unless we say that through the whole of that period He remained unexercised before God, according to the circumstances around Him, we shall not find it difficult to say what the nature of His experiences must have been. Every experience in which He realized the condition either of man or Israel must have caused Him to long for that hour when the appointed messenger should go forth to prepare His way before Him.”47
But (p. 31) “The moment that Jesus was anointed with the Holy Ghost as a dove, God stood in a new relation to Israel. The dove belongs not to Sinai.”
How far this goes in the author’s mind may be seen (p. 11) when, speaking of John Baptist’s ministry, he says, “Indeed unless grace be the same as law, and destruction the same as salvation, the infinite importance of that era cannot be denied.”
So that Christ’s position, previous to that era, is beyond all question, though it was not His own sin that brought Him there.
And it was not, as we have seen, substitution.
“So different,” we read (“Remarks,” p. 11), “is the place of a substitute for sinners, from the place of suffering amongst sinners.” And see quotation given from “Remarks,” page 21, and, “Observations,” page 33, “It was indeed a different character of suffering.”
“And what was the world, what more especially was Israel to Him, but as the oven’s heat? God’s holy hand in stern controversy with transgressing flesh was there. The Lord Jesus was not unconscious of the presence of that hand, nor of the nature of that48 controversy. He felt it the more, because He was the holy One. It was not the presence of God as in paradise … It was His holiness present49 in a fallen world, in the midst of sinful flesh and of a transgressing people. (Page 33.)
“How should we feel [“Observations,” p. 35], imperfect as our sensibilities are, if God, according to the power of His own holiness, were to press upon the apprehension of our souls a truthful sense of the present and future50 condition of ruined man? And what relations were there, either of Israel or of man, that Jesus was not caused to estimate thus?”
So, “I cannot well conceive how anyone should suppose that He whose distinctive allotment was ‘to learn,’ should be a man without being caused to feel what man was, or an Israelite without being taught to feel what Israel had become before God.” (“Observations,” p. 56.51)
And that this was what He was exposed to in relation to God, not merely what He was made to learn as of an understanding heart, is clear, not only from passages already quoted, but from others where He is said to have been so exposed, but to have escaped a part, or otherwise got out of it or through it.
Thus “Remarks,” page 8: “Was then the Lord Jesus subjected during His life to all the inflictions that were due to man as man, and to Israel as Israel? I answer, No! To be obnoxious, that is, exposed to certain things, is a different thing from actually enduring them. His faith, His prayer, His obedience, all contributed to preserve Him from many things to which He was by His relative position exposed, and by which He was threatened.” “And since He was not until the cross punished substitutionally, why was it that He was chastened at all? How could it be but because He was made experimentally to prove the reality of that condition into which others,52 but more especially Israel, had sunk themselves, by their disobedience to God’s holy law, a condition out of which He was able to extricate Himself, and from which He proved that He could extricate Himself by His own perfect obedience?” (Page 12.)
And we have always the same reason for the infliction. “But observe I do not say that Jesus was personally accursed, because He formed part of a people on whom curses were resting.” (Page 13.) And curses here were no partial thing; “and secondly, when we remember that Jesus had no feeble or imperfect estimate of the place in which Israel stood; that He indeed truly saw it standing with all the terrors of that mountain arrayed against it, where there were fire and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words, and that His soul appreciated the meaning of these things; and lastly (which is indeed the thing more than any else distinctive of those sufferings of Jesus of which I speak), that God pressed these things on the apprehensions of His soul according to His own power and holiness, and caused Him to feel as a part of that which was exposed to the judgments of His heavy hand.” (“Remarks,” p. 14.)
Again, “Remarks,” page 31: “Man was yet in his distance from God.” “And Jesus, as man, was associated with this place of distance in which man in the flesh was, and He had through obedience to find His way to that point where God could meet Him as having finished His appointed work—glorify Him and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, and that point was death—death on the cross—death under the wrath of God.”53
I shall now quote some passages less consecutively, collaterally bearing upon the subject. First shewing what the place is Christ so took according to the author. “The being so united to another as to be necessarily involved in the consequences of that other’s actings suggests an idea which is very near akin to that of vicariousness. But a distinction is to be made. We were in Adam when he sinned; we are accounted before God as sinners because he sinned,” &c. (“Observations,” pp. 46, 47.)
“The poor defiled sinner, who has nothing in which to stand before the holiness of God—but has resting on Him all the condemnation which He inherits from Adam.
“Neither do we say that Adam disobeyed in our stead, although by his one act of disobedience we are all constituted sinners in the sight of God.” I give these extracts as shewing the view the author takes of the position into which Christ entered by birth, as distinguished from vicariously. The following is given as characterizing the days of Christ’s manhood, as affording “certain and extended knowledge respecting all the years of the Lord’s sojourn here.” (“Observations,” p. 40.) “Therefore I will look unto the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation, my God will hear me. Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise, when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me. Passages like this supply an abundance of principles which must have, more or less, characterized all the days of the manhood of the Lord Jesus.” So page 39, Psalm 119 is quoted as affording it also; in which we read, “before I was afflicted I went astray, but now have I kept thy law.”
Speaking (“Observations,” p. 9) of the analogy of a Son, who had banished Himself, it is said, “we should regard Him not only as one of the banished, but as one suffering also under the penalties which the law of His Father had imposed on the banished ones, with whom He had thus placed Himself in association.” “He was exposed for example, because of His relation to Adam, to that sentence of death, that had been pronounced on the whole family of man; personally He evinced His title to freedom from it, and His title to life by keeping that law of which it had been said, This do, and thou shalt live. And if He was exposed to the doom of man,” &c. (Page 9.) Now all this is given as explaining His being by birth exposed to sinless penalties.
The very extraordinary statements of the author, and how truly, in another tract, their source has been judged of, as it has been indeed by others, and what state of mind one led by this system may be in, will appear from another quotation, “Observations,” page 26: “Moreover, the exercises of soul which His elect, in their unconverted state, ought to have,54 and which they would have, if it were possible for them to know and feel everything rightly according to God—such exercises, yet without sin, Jesus had.” This very clearly brings out the position he places the blessed One in.
And here is the source in his prophetic system, “At an hour not yet come, one portion of His elect will have to pass through a furnace of affliction, the like to which has never been, since there was a nation upon earth. They will live when every jot and tittle of the desolation described in Jeremiah, and the prophets will, in full accomplishment, have fallen upon Israel. They will live when the last grasp of Satan, through his great instrument, Antichrist, shall have laid hold upon Israel. They will live even through the day of the Lord’s visitation—will pass through its fires, and be refined like silver in the furnace. Here is a peculiar experience indeed of some of the elect of God. Into this also Jesus entered. Hence His bitter cries in the Lamentations. The remnant of Israel will not taste of a cup of sorrow of which He will not have drunk; but the difference is this— they will feel partially, incompletely, wrongly, not unfrequently self-righteously, in the midst of the desolations, which their eyes cannot but recognize and their hearts cannot but feel. They will see the ruin, but their hearts will not be in communion with the thoughts of God, whereas Jesus beheld it with and according to God.” All this is connected with the system55 of the author of the unconverted state of the saved remnant of the Jews in the latter-day, and many of the Psalms being expressions of their self-righteous feelings. Hence I doubt not the way he has associated Christ with unconverted sinful Israel, not with the saints and excellent of the earth, in whom is all His delight, and to whom the Psalms will supply the blessed expression of thought and feeling.
“Observations,” page 81. The writer says of the law, “No blessings were ever proposed to Israel save in the form of a testament, and a testament implies death, even the death of a testator. God could not even have given the law to a sinful people, much less have given blessings consequent upon its being kept (had such a thing been possible), except on the ground of the precious efficacy of the blood of Jesus.” So that the law not in the heart, but written and engraven on stones, as a ministration of condemnation and death, and which entered that the offence might abound, as given under the old covenant, gendering to bondage, was founded necessarily on the blood of the new.
I shall now quote a passage which, while confirming the statements as to Christ being relatively by birth at man’s distance from God, shews that all attempt to attract the affections of the saint by the notion of Christ’s soul entering into our sorrow, and our fellowship in His sufferings by the Spirit, is really the merest deceit.
“His servants [“Observations,” p. 35], such for example as St. Paul, may follow their Master in drinking in their more feeble measure of the cup of others’ woe; they may suffer much with others, and for the sake of others; they may also have exercises of spirit; but none excepting Jesus ever had His soul exercised in the same manner (for the dispensation was one of law), nor with the same intensity—the intensity of truth. The Lord Jesus was as much alone, in His living estimate under God’s hand of the circumstances of human life here, as in enduring wrath upon the cross. He who, before He was made flesh, had known all the heights of uncreated and eternal glory; was also, when here, made to estimate according to the sensibilities of that nature, which He had taken, the (to us) inconceivable56 distance of humanity from God. And when thus exercised, though personally holy and beloved, He was made to feel that His association with them, thus standing in the fearfulness of their distance from God, was a real thing, and that it was so regarded by God. His was no mere pretended imaginary association.”
Hence all such language as that, “To know the fellowship of His sufferings, as well as the power of His resurrection, was the desire of one who was wise in Christ, wise in seeking the true riches—one who has told us to imitate him as he imitated Christ” (p. 62)—such words, I say, are merely seeking to delude, because he has told us (pp. 35, 36) that this very Paul, to whom he alludes, could not possibly have anything to say to the sufferings of which he is treating in these tracts, any more than he could to those of the cross. So also he says (note to p. 58), “though our experiences are very unlike to His” (Christ’s). And hence, also, all that is said (p. 57), “when believers now are exercised in spirit, when they are caused to feel—to feel perhaps keenly the present ruin of the Church, &c, are such exercises esteemed contrary to blessing—are they inconsistent with the closest abiding in love?” All this is merely seeking to delude, because there is, according to pages 35, 36, no analogy whatever in these sufferings. It is added, “So far from being tokens of divine displeasure towards the individual, they may be, and in the case of Jesus always were, tokens of highest honour.” This goes farther than seeking to delude; it is, after what is said in pages 35, 36, positive deceit. And what is the curse of the law, and man’s distance from God, and that under law, in the intensity of truth, and that as exposed to it by birth—if it be not divine displeasure, as to the exercise of the soul? It is, moreover, a singular remark in a tract, vindicating the application of Psalm 6 to Christ, which says, Neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure, affirming that Christ did pass through this.
Mark the note too to page 57, where it is sought to be said, that it is not “implied that such exercises, whether in our Lord or in ourselves [we have seen that we cannot be in those in which Christ was], had anything to do with atoning for sin”— then it would not be mysticism merely, but direct heresy and sin. “Without shedding of blood there is no remission.” Now if Christ came under “man’s doom,” under the reckoned or imputed guilt of Adam, though not a sinner, how did He get out of it? By keeping the law. He rose out of that region, that is, through these very sufferings, “for the dispensation [p. 36] was one of law, in which He exposed Himself to the danger of receiving all the punishment which followed upon the imputation of Adam’s offence. But though exposed to it, yet He rose above it all, because He was by birth the holy One made under the law.” “‘This do and thou shall live,’ was unto Him a word of delivering power.” “He would not have been punished at all, unless He had freely chosen, whilst standing as the ‘justified one,’ to offer atonement to the Father.” So that the imputation of sin was got rid of by another means than by shedding of blood. Where the imputation was to be altered nothing. Christ’s being exposed to it (as we well know by the cross) could not set aside God’s eternal principles.
The whole system of doctrine is, according to the author, heresy and sin, and in my judgment of a worse character than that he attaches to it.
It is needless to quote many other passages which confirm the doctrine taught, or which speak of Christ’s sufferings, to attract the heart, in a way denied to be true, by the writer himself. There is another passage I would quote, as remarkable collaterally: “The anointing of the Spirit would never have come on Him at Jordan unless He had been fore-ordained, and certainly known as the victim to be slain on Calvary.” (Page 32.) Now that all was fore-ordained, and known and linked together in the purposes of God, is most sure. But that Christ could not have been anointed without blood is most false and heretical: the writer has not said, could not; what he means by “would not,” I must leave the reader to judge. One other class of reasoning may be noticed—suffering from association with others. (“Observations,” p. 23.) “Did not Caleb and Joshua suffer under die infliction that had fallen upon Israel, when,” &c. What has that to do with man’s distance from God and exposure to the whole of the punishment of Adam’s guilt? the sufferings in which Christ is as much alone as on the cross? All saints suffer sorrows consequent on common failure. This is not wradi on their souls. Did Caleb and Joshua suffer that? All this is merely misleading.
Next a few words as to the shelter sought under others’ names, and the diversion attempted to be made by discrediting others.
Dr. Hawker’s doctrine has no analogy or connection with that of Mr. N. The statement is that, Christ having become the surety and representative of His people, He* suffered in this world the sorrows and infirmities incident to their state, its calamities, and participated in every groan He heard; and even through life as well as in death was a man of sorrows. No one questions diat this was the case, but it has nothing whatever to do with the doctrine of Mr. Newton; as he admits, having contrasted what Dr. Hawker speaks of with what he means (p. 21, of “Remarks”), while he declares that he does not agree with the doctrine of Dr. Hawker. Dr. Hawker states that all His life the blessed Jesus was a man of sorrows; and who is there that does not believe it? Mr. N. tell us that He was by birth liable to the condemnation man was in. With this Dr. Hawker’s statement has nothing to do. The use of His name is merely an attempt to cover, by one that all respect, what it has no connection with at all.
Nor has Witsius. He, like Hawker, holds Christ’s sufferings through His life to be a part of His vicarious work; but he merely speaks of “vicissitudes of human misery,” and has no such thought as that of Mr. N. at all. Nor is there a word that leads to the idea of what Mr. N. says he must have found in the Psalms—direct inflictions from God. He speaks of “misery which has followed upon sin, and to which the sinner man is obnoxious all His life.”
I will next say some few words on the subject of the Rock.
The reference (“Observations,” page 34) to the Reply to the “Wreck and the Rock” is a dishonest statement. The language used in the Reply is not an argument to shew that Peter was not individually gathered to safety on that Rock.
That paragraph begins thus: “And here let me state a point of greater importance; namely, that what the Lord meant by building His Church upon the rock is a totally different thing from the representation made in this tract.” It is a discussion on the import of Christ’s words in Matthew 16:18. The reader will judge how far Mr. Newton’s statements are honest from the following facts. Mr. Newton declares that, the Hagar vessel in which the Jews were being wrecked, John Baptist was on the sand, and Peter gathered by Christ on the Rock. The author of the Reply says, If you mean really safety, or being saved by having an interest in Christ, Abel, Abraham, and John Baptist, were all on the Rock as well as Peter himself. If you speak of being really gathered to safety, how can you speak of John Baptist being on the sand? If you speak of the ground of safety as to actual accomplishment then you must bring in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ: without which safety cannot be, or you make incarnation sufficient to save without blood-shedding and resurrection. Hence Christ says, I will build my Church. If you mean in God’s mind, every saved one in all times was on the Rock as much as Peter. And in truth a more absurd, and unsound, contradictory statement could not well be than the Wreck and the Rock. For, as a system of argument, it put John Baptist expressly and in fact all the saints previously, out of safety and off the Rock of salvation. In reasoning on this, the author of the Reply says, that when in Matthew 16:18 the Lord speaks of building on the rock, He speaks of a thing future, I will build, and not of what He was then doing. And as to the point in question he says, “But, first of all, the disciples of Jesus were not gathered on the Rock in His lifetime in the sense of Matthew 16.” Because to begin the building actually He must be dead and risen, the firstborn of the dead, the Head of the body of the Church.
I add that this expression, rock-man, given as if of inspired authority, is without sense. Because, in the author’s meaning of it, there is nothing peculiar to Peter at all, for all were rock-men one as another; for they were all gathered in safety to Him on the rock. Whereas it is evident that there is something special as to Peter in the passage.
The author’s argument in the Reply is, that when Mr. N. speaks of Christ’s presence being a new ground of safety, he is in error. Because if he speaks of real fundamental safety, it was not new ground, but the only one in all ages. If he speaks of actual accomplishment, then he makes incarnation, and not death and resurrection, the ground of safety, which is false doctrine; and that Christ therefore, in Matthew 16:13, speaks in the future, I will build. To say therefore that it is attempted to shew that Peter was not individually gathered to safety on that rock is a dishonest statement. Nobody says Peter was not placed on that rock as to personal safety, but so was John Baptist too, whom Mr. N. places on the sand. And so was Abel and Abraham and all else. They were rock-men in that sense. I proceed to the attacks in page 35.
“I read that union with the Son of God57 is a thing which the scripture knows nothing of.” Mr. N. would lead the reader to suppose, that the person he alludes to and others deny the well-known doctrine of union with the Lord Jesus Christ. What is the fact? The term union with the Son of God, had been used in a general sense by all, and innocently enough, because the term was taken as a title of the person of Christ. Mr. N., however, declared that the saints in glory would be omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, declaring it in terms. It then became necessary to distinguish and shew that union with the person of the Son of God was not a scriptural expression58—necessary, because Mr. N. used it in the sense of partaking in the attributes of Godhead. And in this way taken, as a divine title, scripture does know nothing of union with the person of the Son of God.
As to the seed of Abraham, it is very certain to me that this title of God’s children does not amount to the full statement of a church position, because it does not express unity in one body by the Holy Ghost come down from heaven.
Of the next statement, what shall I say? I am ashamed really to allude to it. There are some things almost too bad to talk of.
Mr. N. had taught for a length of time, that the Old Testament saints had not life at all. He subsequently charged me with it in print, at which I was amazed, as I had brought him out of it, and we had had a long discussion just before, before thirteen people, as to what he had taught. However, many knew he had taught this, as Lord Congleton, Sir A. Campbell, Mr. Deck, and others, and he at last confessed it was himself who had taught it, but said he had never charged me with it, which, as it was in print, was no use either.59
To the rest of the reasoning no answer is required. “In Him as the Son of Abraham” is, I apprehend, as new as many others of the author’s expressions. I prefer the truth of scripture and the language of scripture. The honesty of declaiming on two modes of union may be judged of by the following quotation from a tract of the author’s. (Second Letter, p.54.) “Observe, I do not say there was the same character of union as afterwards in resurrection. But I hold that it would be an equal error, to say that there was no union previous to the resurrection, and to say that it existed after the same sort as in resurrection.” What “forms of salvation” mean, I really do not know. Of modes of union I am not aware that I have said anything.
I have adverted, thus far, to the attempt to direct attention from the views of the author, by attacking others. I leave it without further comment, because my object here is to place Mr. N.’s doctrine plainly before the saints by extracts from his own elaborate writings, so that all may judge of it.
I append the following as another form in which the doctrine was stated in public teaching, affording further distinct evidence of what it was.
Christ was in the place of man’s distance from God, and had to work His way home to God, and we begin where He finished. I would just refer too to page 13 of “Observations,” and ask, if that was meant to depict Israel’s position as Christ identified Himself with it, what was originally due to it, remembering that all through his statements, Mr. N. declares that he was under law, not under our discipline in love?
Another expression, noticed elsewhere, used to express this doctrine was, that Christ as coming into the world was a constituted sinner, and worked His way up to life. This is important as being the application of Romans 5:19 to Christ according to the doctrine of the article in the “Christian Witness:” the word “constituted” being habitually, and not wrongly, employed for “made,” there used. See page 14, last paragraph.
37 It is not in the first.
38 Hence Christ, though personally able to rise out of it, was really an heir of wrath naturally as man. For this, as we shall see, was of the three particulars that which applied to Him. Mr. N. has sought to distinguish wrath from wrath. But what is due to man’s distance from God, by imputation of Adam’s guilt, and the curse of a broken law, or, as we shall see, the future condition of lost man, if it be not wrath in the full sense?
39 It is clear enough here that it is not “sinless penalties,” such as hunger and the sweat of His brow, which are in question. He never rose above them. Note here sinless penalties is an expression conveniently borrowed to confuse people. All penalties are sinless. The expression has been used to express that Christ partook of the sorrows incident to human nature in consequence of the Fall, but had not the taint of sin which came by it. But this leaves untouched the question: was He under the guilt imputed to Adam’s children and exposed by His birth amongst them to the penalties due to it, without taking them vicariously, according to Romans 5? Mr. N. says He was, and got out of it by keeping the law. Note the word “But He was made under the law.” That is, without this there was no hope for Him to be delivered from the guilt He was under. And if we remember that He was the true God, think what it was to be born liable to the penalty of Adam’s guilt; not to bear it in grace!
40 It is equally clear here that Christ was born under the curse due to man, but did not endure it because He rose out of it by keeping the law. Mr. N. in both the subsequent tracts says that “vicariously” is wrong here; and declares that the condition of suffering spoken of was not vicarious j as indeed is evident, for He did not rise out of vicarious suffering, save in quite another sense, but underwent it. Note, He was born under the curse, not took it on Him therefore vicariously. Afterwards He abode it for others. This shews plainly what He was under by birth. For, what did He abide?
41 The passage in Hebrews 2 refers to Christ being perfect on high by passing through suffering unto death, not being made perfect in order to be a sacrifice.
42 We see here what the colour given to it by the term, sinless penalties, is worth. It was a condition expressed by Galatians 3:10, into which Jesus came: and it will be remembered that in Galatians 3 this is expressly referred to what was borne on the cross.
43 It will be remarked here that, to whatever extent these inflictions from God came upon Him, they are positively distinguished from His own soul entering into the condition of things. So that all that may be said attractively about that has nothing to say to the doctrine we are discussing. When confounded with it, or presented as what is meant, it is but an attempt to deceive.
44 Let the reader remember, from Galatians 3, what curse.
45 It must be remembered, that this is not vicarious, nor His soul entering into it. The exceeding and outrageous folly of putting Christ in such an identification with Israel is seen, page 18, where it is shewn they were declared not My people, and page 20, where the passage, “Therefore they would not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts,” &c, is quoted as part of this curse and affliction, adding, “are these words obscure?” But think of a system that puts Christ under that!
46 Mark this, for it is not vicarious nor entering into sorrow. Christ’s own relation to God (because of Israel), before He took sin on Him vicariously, was that of being under the curse of a broken law, and guilty of ripened evil. Note all the italics in the quotations are the author’s. All Christians believe that Christ was made under the law; but they believe, that as the sinless spotless Son of God, He was perfectly acceptable under it, and took its curse only vicariously, and as a substitute for others; though He suffered many outward consequences in sorrow of Israel’s condition, and entered in spirit, into their afflictions.
47 Note here too, that John’s baptism and message were for the relief of Christ Himself from the relation in which He stood to God. It is the more out of the way, because the message goes before the face of the Lord to prepare His way. And, note, sinless penalties have nothing to say here: John’s message did not relieve Christ from them.
48 Remember, that, though not because of His personal sin, it was His own relation to God, according to the author.
49 It must not be supposed that this means that Christ was God’s holiness present in a fallen world. Christ was subject to the presence of God’s hand in judgment as one of the fallen world, though not Himself fallen. See next quotation, page 35.
50 This can leave no mistake as to where Christ is said to have been; for every Christian knows that the future condition of ruined man is damnation. And remember that is Christ’s relation to God; and not on the cross. Nor is there any confusion of mind with the cross, nor with the soul of Christ entering into the sense of it. The passage is introduced (p. 34) by the following statements: “But we should form a very inadequate conception of the living experiences of the Lord Jesus, if, in addition to the sufferings which flowed spontaneously, as it were from the condition of man and of Israel, we did not recognize a more close and searching dealing of God with His servant.” What is the good of talking about sinless penalties? Is hell a sinless penalty? Well, so it is, perhaps; but is that what people mean? And, remember, Christ was obnoxious, exposed, to this, at any rate up to John’s baptism.
51 The entire forgetfulness of all scripture truth by the author, is remarkable here, for he adds, “And did not Jesus appreciate and long after this instruction? Did He shrink from it, because He who increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow? No! He longed for it as hid treasure.” That is, He longed to know what damnation was, and what man was in his distance from God, and what Israel was, as under the curse of a broken law, according to Galatians 3:10, and this as His own relation to God. We know, that when He had to suffer it for others, He desired, both at the time, and before, and He prayed, that the cup might pass. And it is singular, that all the author’s remarks are founded on his comment on a psalm, which prays that He may not so suffer. But once on such ground intellectually, without any guidance from God, and there is no end to the folly.
52 Note here that it is not the sorrows of Israel under divine government, for this does not apply to “others.” Nor sinless penalties, nor entering into sorrows, nor appropriating them, for “extricating” Himself from them admits of no such application.
53 This passage is plain enough. There was no point where God could meet Jesus as a man, till He had worked His way up to the wrath of God which was due to man. This is neither entering into sorrows nor appropriation of anything. Jesus as man was there. To reconcile this with His deliverance from Sinai to Zion, and change of relationship with God, by John’s baptism, is not for me to undertake. In either case the doctrine is substantially the same. Jesus was, not as a substitute but as a man and as an Israelite, under that wrath which was measured, if infinite can be said to be measured, in His sufferings in death on the cross; and He worked His way up out of it—“rose out of that region”— “emerged” out of it—“extricated” Himself from it. Only here no room is left for His afterwards undergoing it vicariously; for He suffered death as part of the obedience necessary to get at the point of meeting. Save this very important point, it is the doctrine of the author in his article in the “Christian Witness,” in the second edition.
54 Note, an unconverted man in such a case must know himself to be lost. This clearly confirms the statement of what the doctrine is. Did Jesus know and feel this?
55 I have not the least doubt (from circumstances I have heard lately of the authenticity of which I have not the smallest question) that Mr. Newton received his prophetic system by direct inspiration from Satan, analogous to the Irvingite delusion.
56 Mark that this was His own relation by birth. It is not the cross.
57 There are no references which enable me to verify the statements. This point is treated in page 69 of the Examination of the Thoughts on the Apocalypse, where it is stated that union with the person of the Son of God is an unscriptural statement, on the ground here referred to, and union with Christ, as the head of the body, is fully spoken of.
58 All this may be seen in the “Answer to the second Letter,” &c.
59 The doctrine of the author on the communication of the divine life is fundamentally unsound now, as it was subversive of fundamental truth to deny life to the Old Testament saints. But all this has been already discussed. He confounds Deity with communicated life, and hence expressly in terms attributes omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience to the saints. See “Answer to the Second Letter to the Brethren and Sisters,” &c. As to having life from the Son of man, I can find nothing about it in anything I have written on the subject. The writer gives no references.