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An Appeal to Saints in Bethesda and Salem

By G.V. Wigram

      An Appeal to Saints that remain still in Bethesda and Salem, as to certain bad doctrine.

      The feelings of the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven, are as acute as -- and a great deal more worthy of consideration than -- those of any friend on earth.

      His person has been disparaged; the faith of His people has been corrupted: woe is me, if I know this and am silent!


      1. -- God's gospel is (folly to the world, but) good news to the believer.

      2. -- There is a difference between one who is feeble in the faith, and one who is a destroyer of the foundations of faith. Our conduct must be different to the two. Every statement which touches foundation truth must be denounced, let the person be who or what he may.

      3. -- Objectionable statements.

      Connection of each and every saint in Bethesda and Salem with one of them.

      4. -- Explanation of the statement.

      1. Forasmuch as "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11: 1), and is in demonstration of the Spirit and in (divine) power . . . . there is, therefore, fellowship of thought between God and the believer. For there is unity in the truth; and but one gospel is known in heaven. As to the world, it is written: "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. . . . For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

      God hath shined into our hearts .... the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Mark, here, the unity of truth -- that which is the precious brilliancy of God's grace .... shines into the hearts of us who believe.

      In detail this may be seen everywhere in Scripture. Thus, Matt. 1: 20, the Lord teaches Joseph, in a dream, to call a babe (who should be born of one whom human thoughts would have put away privily) JESUS; for He shall save His people from their sins: and to know Him as Emmanuel, God with us.

      Thus, also, in the very question of salvation -- the chief cornerstone, to the Lord PRECIOUS (to the world a stumblingstone and a rock of offence), is to them that believe precious.

      Thus, too, the one whom God thought of men alone "worthy to be searched after, though unsearchable, the Lord of all, to whom every knee should bow," Jesus -- the God-man -- Him Saul despised, and was mad against his name. But when grace reached him -- "Who art thou, Lord?" and "What wilt thou have me to do?" told of the sympathy he had with the divine mind.

      I shall not stop here to remark, at length, upon the divine power, or on the renewed nature, or on the difference between the Divine estimate into which we are led, and the personal affections of our hearts as men, which all have their respective places in connexion with the subject.

      2. When faith is simple, and the power of the Spirit put forth in the application of truth great -- as in Paul's case -- the progress may be rapid, both into truth, and into the discovery of what we ourselves are. On the other hand, when faith is feeble, and when the gospel has been diluted and corrupted by man, and when, through man's wickedness, the Spirit though acting to save souls for eternal glory does little to make good a present testimony, the progress may be slow, and the consciousness of the precious truth that "faith's estimate" is purely and only according to "God's estimate" may be feeble and little.

      Again, Caleb and Joshua had to wander with Israel; and the faithful servant of the Lord now will find that he has to endure much by reason of the failure of the people among whom he walks, and by reason of their little faith. And truly he that will be as a nursing mother will find his need of tender long-suffering with them that are of little faith, and with the feeble-minded.

      How low saints are sunk, how beclouded the testimony of the gospel has been, and how uninstructed the children of God are, few of us, I believe, know. With such a state the utmost patience is needed, and should be exercised.

      But there is another and a very different state from this sometimes met with; a state, not of persons unskilful in the word, who mistake one thing for another, and have to learn better, but which is found in connection with high profession of knowledge, in teachers -- a condition of soul which does not so much show itself in hindering the progress of the person's own self, as in sapping the very foundations of the faith of others. As to such, the word of the living God to us would rather seem to be (Rev. 2: 2): "I know .... thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them that are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars."

      Such a one, in our own day, in the worst form of it, is the unhappy Mr. Newton, who, in a former book, exalted the church to "omnipotence," "omniscience," and "omnipresence;" and, in his later tracts, degrades the Lord's Christ into the place of an unbeliever: denying that he had any acceptable relationship to God in his work here below.* A blasphemer and a heretic are hard and awful names for any man, however much an individual may have done to earn and maintain them as his own.

      * See "Remarks," by J. N. Darby, on "A Letter on subjects connected with the Lord's Humanity." Oct. 1848.

      The great evil of these tracts of Mr. Newton's is, not merely that they have led many naturally intelligent persons, who trusted to their own understanding, into the same blasphemies, but, what is worse (to my own mind, at least), they have been lent and re-lent among the poor, and statements partially agreeing with them made by others before the simple. The effect is, that the souls of many have had the dew of grace removed, the bloom of the ripening fruit (which no man can restore) fingered away; and the blessed Lord, who was to many a poor one enshrined as a beloved object of worship, lost that place in the soul, at all events for the time present, while his person (which no one knoweth save the Father) has become the subject of a speculative analysis and anatomy in conversation, which must sicken those that love, and alarm those that worship Him, and love his flock.

      It is a very different thing, I am aware, to be set in the service of Satan as one of his, and to fall for a season into acts and words which subserve him. But the question of the person, or his character and service, must be dropped sometimes. The words of Paul (Gal. 1: 8, 9) are distinct: "Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let ( ) be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let ( ) be accursed" -- whether the "let be accursed' apply to the person or to the doctrine taught, and sometimes it might be one, and sometimes the other.

      Now, I cannot hold myself guiltless before God or his saints, unless I raise my voice concerning statements made by Henry Craik, co-labourer with George Mueller, in Bristol. And to whom shall I better appeal than to the congregation of which he forms a part in Bristol. I do not accuse himself of being a blasphemer or a heretic; I hope better things. But I do challenge his statements as blasphemous and heretical.*

      * A brother pressed upon me not to touch this case, because of H. Craik's great grace and services. I have no sympathy with this principle at all: it really amounts to this, that I am to sanction Satan because of God.

      3. The statement I lay before them, as in the presence of God, for judgment is the following:-

      "The ark was formed of shittim wood: the hard, sweet-smelling acacia of the wilderness. The tree from which the sacred chest was made, had grown up and been nourished by the rain and sunshine that sometimes cheered the wastes of the desert; so Jesus, as to his humanity, grew up in the wilderness. He was as a root out of a dry ground.* He breathed the same air, and was nourished by the same food, by which mere creatures are sustained. The winds of this desert world blew around Him, and as the tender sapling gradually grows to maturity of height and vigour,   - so Jesus advanced through the several stages of infancy, childhood, and youth, to a state of maturity in age and stature. The acacia wood is said to have great power of resisting the inroads of corruption and decay; so the humanity of the Lord Jesus was free from the slightest taint of moral evil, and his body was preserved from all taint, even of external corruption." -- "Pastoral Letters," 2nd Edit. pp. 92, 93.

      And I pray the congregation to observe how entirely the whole work connected with Mr. Craik, in Bristol, and each of themselves in particular, has been involved in and committed to this statement.

      On Sunday, the 25th of June, was read at each of the three places of meeting this notice.

      "It is intended, the Lord willing, to have an especial meeting of all the brethren and sisters in communion, next Thursday evening at Bethesda, at seven o'clock, at which explanations will be given relative to the printed letter of our brother, Mr. Alexander. All the brethren and sisters are especially requested to be present. The usual meeting at Salem will be given up that evening."

      On Thursday June 29, and on Monday, July 3, 1848, was read at Bethesda, to the meeting so convened, a paper signed by H. Craik; G. Mueller; J. H. Hale; C. Brown; E. Stanley; E. Feltham; J. Withy; S. Butler; J. Meredith; Rt. Aitcheson.

      In that paper it is stated --

      "We feel it of the deepest importance for relieving the disquietude of mind, naturally occasioned by our brother's letter, explicitly to state that the views relative to the person of our blessed Lord held by those who for sixteen years have been occupied in teaching the word amongst you are unchanged. The truths relative to the divinity of His person -- the sinlessness of His nature and, the perfection of His sacrifice .... are, through the grace of God, those which we still maintain."

      And toward the end it is added --

      "One of those who have been ministering among you from the beginning, feels it a matter of deep thankfulness to God, that so long ago as in the year 1835 (Pastoral Letters by H. Craik), he committed to writing and subsequently printed what he had learned from the scriptures of truth, relative to the meaning of that inspired declaration. 'The word was made flesh'. He would affectionately refer any whose minds may be now disquieted, to what he then wrote and was afterwards led to publish." So far Mr. Craik. Then the ten: -- "If there be heresy in the simple statements contained in the letters alluded to, LET IT BE POINTED OUT; if not, let all who are interested in the matter know, that we continue unto the present day 'speaking the same things.'"

      Now here the ten (workmen or labourers among you) labouring to quiet your minds from all fear, throw out in your presence a broad challenge* to any owe. I accept the challenge and answer as before you.

      *I cannot quote from this paper without stating the shock it produced, as a whole, upon my soul, as I am persuaded it would upon every right-minded person who knew the facts of the case. Moreover, in the declaration of incompetency to judge which it contains, it really casts off the name of church of Christ; for the very being of the church of Christ hangs upon separation from evil; and, if you are part of the church, the Holy Ghost is in your midst, and each separate believer among you has an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things (read 1 John 2: 18-27; and 1 Cor. 2: 15). I cannot bring myself to express in detail my indignation at some things in it. I do not believe any of the ten are to be charged with madness or with this wickedness, but that it is a part of Plymouth delusion.

      And now, in premising, I must state, beloved brethren, that it was painful to me to be written to from Bristol some months ago.

      "He (Mr. Craik), said with great warmth the other day, that J. N. D. and his followers made too much of the humanity of the Lord Jesus, and that he believed if the Lord had not been crucified he would have lived to be a shrivelled old man, and have died a natural death."

      It was painful to hear, on coming here, that Mr. Craik had said something like this, that if the Lord had taken arsenic he would have died. It was intensely painful to find it argued by one, that had he fallen into the water he must have been drowned; -- and by another, that had he been stabbed at any time, he would have died, etc., etc.

      Great grief it was to find such topics in discussion among many in Bethesda; great sorrow to find some puzzled; and great indignation to find some accrediting and vindicating the blasphemy.

      Still I might have been prevented making any appeal, but for the above challenge on the one hand, and the unhappy quotation on the other. Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed -- it is a dangerous thing to boast of orthodoxy, and an act either of madness, wickedness, or delusion, to stake my soundness on another man's confession; but here it is, and that by the ten labourers of Bethesda, before the congregations of Bethesda and Salem.

      The preface states, that the original edition was in November, 1837. This, whence I quote, July, 1848, i.e. after your first meeting in Bethesda, which was June 29th. Two letters are added in this edition, one dated 1838, and the second, June 5th, 1848.*

      *This, supposing the rest of the letters are sound, makes the error very remarkable. If it be used to exonerate the nine, it only the more inculpates H. C., and those of the nine (as G. Mueller), who may have given away the book . . . as a specimen of orthodoxy.

      4. And now to the statement itself. It grieves me to compare; yet I was pained at the expression p. 92.

      "I can hardly describe ... the joyous feeling that came over me, when, while alone this morning.... there DARTED into my mind" etc. Mr. Newton's prophetic system I have been told, came just in the same way; and, as it is easy to see, it is his prophetic theory which has led him into both his new church constitution and his statements about the person of Christ, which entirely subvert individual salvation.

      Now turn to Isaiah 53.

      1. "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?"

      2. "For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him."*

      *Who hath believed our report;
      And to whom hath the arm of JEHOVAH been manifested?
      For he groweth up in their sight like a tender sucker;
      And like a root from a thirsty soil;
      He hath no form, nor any beauty, that we should regard Him;
      Nor is His countenance such that we should desire Him. --   LOWTH.

      Surely this second verse describes neither what the Lord was in himself (whether his person, as God manifest in the flesh, or his human form is thought of) nor faith's estimate of him; but that which he would, appear to the Jewish unbelieving people to be.

      Ask any believer you meet with, -- "To whom was it true, of Christ, that he was 'as a root out of a dry ground,' having 'no form nor comeliness,' whether to the believer or the unbeliever?" and I am sure the answer would be one, -- at least from every unsophisticated soul, -- "To the wicked ungodly world, and to it alone, is Christ 'as a root out of a dry ground.'" And if we come to facts -- we see in such a one as the woman of Samaria, the double expression. First, while in nature and unbelief, she thought Him, in whose presence she found herself by the well of Sychar, to be a   weary way-worn, inconsistent Jew, with whom she might have a little light and idle gossip; here he was as a root out of a dry ground: but secondly, when grace had touched her heart through faith,   -   "Come," said she to all her fellow citizens, "[and] see a man that told me all things that ever I did, Is not this the Christ?" Here He was as the fairest among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely. The One, mark it, for whose fame's sake, she would risk her own name and honour among her people. Christ had laid her conscience with all its sins bare to her, she had no good name to vindicate; but could speak for Him and Him alone.

      In connection with the same One, when a babe, murder was in Herod's heart, and treachery under his tongue; and self-complacent expositions flowed from the lips of the chief priests and scribes -- but enquiring, seeking wonder, and service, led the poor shepherds, who had caught the sound of heaven's thoughts about the babe, and the Magi too. To whether of the twain was he *"as a root out of a dry ground?" Surely to the former class, and not to the latter.

      *Some ask, Is not this Scripture? If so, what the harm of applying it to Christ? "He hath a devil, and is mad, why hear ye him?" is also Scripture; but, God forbid that I should therefore apply it to my Lord as an expression of my thoughts of Him, as some did.

      "We have left all to follow thee!" "Let us also go and die with him!" were, while he was on earth, the testimony of faith towards him   - and "My Lord and my God," and prostration in worship before his feet (which he refused not as did Peter), were the consistent, harmonious acts.

      "Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?" Matt 13: 55. And (Mark 6: 3.) "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary," etc., etc., was the language of those to whom He was as "a root out of a dry ground," etc., etc.

      The evil of a believer's applying this clause to Christ, as his own estimate of him, is this, that it is a declaration that Christ was in himself that which God said he would appear, to a wicked gainsaying generation of Jews, to be. And, thus it degrades Christ down to the position -- not merely of an unbeliever -- but (as will be plain to every Christian) of an impostor. For Christ was either God over all blessed for ever, or the most wicked impostor that ever trod the earth. There is no medium place.


      But there is another evil, and a very great one in the statement - and that is, that where scripture says HE, referring to the person of the Christ, God manifest in the flesh, the statement says, "his humanity." Observe, it is not said His form as a man, or in appearance as a man; but his humanity. Faith says of Jesus "that Holy thing," and there seems to me no sense in saying the humanity of the Lord was like a tender plant (or sucker, shooting up at the side of a tree), and as a root out of a dry ground. His humanity was that of God manifest in the flesh. Such an expression could not rightly mean, that, instead of being of strong constitution and noble form, and in circumstances of kingly glory, he was of feeble constitution and ill-developed form, and in poverty of circumstances, etc., because His humanity was something more than that -- He was not born as I was -- "Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel," (Matt. 1: 23.) "and the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore, also, that Holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1: 35.) The seed of the woman indeed, partaker of flesh and blood, yet Satan had nothing in him; He was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners   - His was the humanity of the eternal Son. The only sense I can make of it, is by a division of the person of the Christ; and from this my soul, as I trust that of every godly saint, shrinks. I dare not divide the one person into two.

      Such was the root of Mr. Newton's error.

      Of the heart and its affections; of the mind and all its creditable thoughts, of Henry Craik, -- I still desire to hope better things than that the Nazarene, in any part of his earthly career, would have been "as a root out of a dry ground." Does he not know him there as the Alpha and Omega? -- the first and the last? -- the beginning and the ending? And would he not gladly have seen the wife of his heart washing His feet with tears, and wiping them with the hairs of her head -- and hailed it too as a high honour for her? But this hope, (may I not say) this persuasion, of better things may not lead me to admit or sanction the naughty word, or truant sentence. The sentence is calculated to encourage the souls of the simple in evil speculations, -- as his words, unguarded words, have done already; and I would rather see him indignantly burn off the hand which wrote those words, in flames kindled by the pages on which it is printed, than lazily and carelessly allow the flock to be corrupted, and the name and honour of the Lord spoken against.

      Having admitted such a word   -   no wonder if such a one could be looked upon, and spoken about, as being identical with, because holding a place identical with, his own creatures. Thus --

      "He breathed the same air, and was nourished by the same food by which mere creatures are sustained. The winds of this desert world blew around Him; and as the tender sapling gradually grows to maturity of height and vigour, so Jesus advanced through the several stages of infancy, childhood and youth, to a state of maturity in age and stature."

      That the Lord was perfectly a man; debtor to all the tender sympathies of His virgin mother, advanced through the several stages of infancy, childhood and youth, to a state of maturity in age and stature, is quite true; but more is suggested to the mind here than this.

      In circumstance he might be like a mere man; and the very circumstances of man were his: but He, Himself was not to, or in his circumstances, like any mere man, man though he was; Son of David, and of the seed of Abraham as pertaining to the flesh.

      The tree was dependant upon and subject to the laws of nature. It was dependant for life upon a will above it; it had no power to lay down or take up that life; without moisture and nourishment it would have withered, and without air purified by the storm; or, if torn by the storm too mighty for itself, it would have been destroyed. Such in no respect was the Lord; and I cannot admit that such was his humanity, because in admitting that, I admit the division of His person into twain.

      Was the Lord dependant upon any thing of the kind? Most surely not.

      Leprosy defiled him not; he walked on the waters; parted the loaves and fish among thousands; called the dead and was obeyed by them; had power to lay down his life, and of himself had power also to take it again.

      The question of who he was being in the thoughts, the wonder of wonders was not the shining forth of his glory, but the hiding of it; and the laying down of His life upon the cross.

      I cannot but feel that the connection of this sentence with the sentences recorded p. 8, and a conversation reported to have been held between Mr. Code and Miss Hill in the presence of Mr. Mueller, H. Craik and Mr. Groves, about Micah 6, justifies my demanding for the saints' sake an explanation from Mr. Craik (I might add, his non-condemnation of Mr. Newton's doctrine); for this is the branch of Mr. Newton's error.

      But, again:-

      "The acacia wood is said to have great power of resisting the inroads of corruption and decay; so the humanity of the Lord Jesus was free from the slightest taint of moral evil, and his body was preserved from all taint, even of external corruption."

      The acacia had an inward virtue wherewith to throw off the inroads of corruption and decay. No such virtue is here, however, ascribed to the Lord. All that is said, is that there was not the slightest taint; -- "his body was preserved from all taint;" -- actual freedom, from taint is asserted;   - preservation from all taint is admitted here, but no inward salt -- nothing which made taint or external corruption altogether impossible.

      And with that unhappy speech in memory, that, if the Lord had lived long enough, he would have become a shrivelled old man and died a natural death; and again, that word about poisoning through arsenic, I have a right to ask and to be plainly answered, Were there, on the Lord's body, any inroads of corruption or decay?

      Mr. Newton has charged loathsome disease, and bodily sicknesses, and the proper experiences of an unconverted elect soul (i.e. I suppose the expectations of damnation)   - awful blasphemy! -- upon Christ? Mr. Craik's words may mean, and naturally suggest, a great deal that is similar.

      And what is meant by "taint of MORAL evil"? "The humanity of the Lord Jesus was free from the slightest taint of moral evil." Was it not free from all taint, or only free from taint of moral evil?

      And again, What is meant by His body being preserved from all taint, even of external corruption?

      For it must be remembered that Mr. Craik has made very light of Mr. Newton's errors; nay, has been understood to approve Mr. Newton's last tract; and that the statements of the two approximate; -- and also, that Mr. Craik is a scholar who writes not his thoughts, like some, in careless, ill-chosen words.

      Was there any danger of internal or external corruption; and what is meant by "was preserved"?

      And did evil (though not moral) taint any part of his humanity; although his body was preserved from external corruption?

      The fruits of his system. so blasphemous against the Lord's person, have been stated and vindicated by Mr. Newton, in terms too near and kindred to Mr. Craik's, for a simple mind to be satisfied without explanation. Mr. Craik's words do awaken the very same thoughts which Mr. Newton's assert.

      It is a happy thing to receive the testimony of Scripture; and I would that the saints had been satisfied with these three shields.

      "No man (one) knoweth the Son, but the Father." Matt. 11: 27.

      "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man (one) taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." (John 10: 17, 18).

      "Whom God has raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was NOT POSSIBLE that he should be holden of it. . . . Moreover, My flesh shall rest in hope: because Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption" (Acts 2: 24-27.)

      It is one thing to attempt to explain the person of the Lord; and it is another to bring forward, as I have, feebly enough, done, passages which detect and condemn statements made.

      When the flesh is at work, prying curiosity passes the limits of faith; and as in the days of the heresy of Irving, so in these of the heresy of Newton, the simple saints, where there is not watchfulness, are unsuspectingly led away into evil.

      Mr. Newton's error originated thus; so it seems to me:- Supposing that the Lord would stand in relationship or association with Israel as such, in its unconverted condition, he had to make the Lord to be one who would be capable of relationship, sympathies, and experiences similar to those of unconverted Jews. This, in reality, required the Lord to be degraded into an unbeliever. In Godhead this could not be; so, unconsciously perhaps, the person was divided, and the manhood was to be looked upon as so -- 1st, by relationship; and when looked at so (separate as it must be from the person of the Christ), no wonder if it was stated that He was so too; -- 2ndly, in providential connections;   - and 3rdly, in essential constitution.

      If the estimate of unbelief is that which holds my mind: Christ will be degraded -- the unity of His person forgotten   - wrong things said about Him as a man   - such as, that he was as a root out of a dry ground; and then, it is easy enough to see how unconsciously he is looked upon as having been dependent upon what man was dependent, and in person like a mere man.

      In conclusion, I will only say, that the state of many minds in the congregation. -- the far and wide spread report of Mr. C.'s sayings   - the strange way the good of Mr. N.'s blasphemous Tracts is spoken of by Bethesda saints   - the positive refusal of Bethesda to judge the evil in the paper of the ten   - the challenge by the ten before the congregation upon the gage of Mr. Craik's published book makes my present Tract, painful as it is, imperatively necessary. That there are those more competent to write, I admit; that there are those (as Mr. Code) on whom an obligation rests to do so, I believe; but, poor thing as I am, if the glory of the Lord and the warning of His lambs requires it, I will do it.

      I only add. that I cherish still thoughts of affection to Mr. Craik himself for his former work's sake, though his words and acting at this present time are to be blamed, and utterly condemned. So far from over-stating my evidence of the evil, I have kept back very important and leading points, which might have been adduced.

      Bristol, Monday Afternoon, 30th Oct. 1848.

      I had written Upon this NOT TO BE SOLD; and had proposed only printing a few copies for the congregation in Bethesda. The step taken by Messrs. Craik and Mueller at the Church Meeting, on Monday night, at Bethesda, makes such a course needless.

      I would add, as to R. Chapman, one word. He has lulled many who were awakening (as to the danger of the doctrine) in Bethesda, asleep again. His conduct on Monday was just what might have been expected --   a man of God, when off God's ground, can do nothing but mischief   - it will not turn to his honour. He has strengthened Mr. Mueller in his course of self-vindication; and yet he knows very well that all that was said about fears and warnings, as to my unsoundness about the Humanity of the Lord, is the very same thing Mr. Newton and Compton-street spread far and wide of him (aye, and one in Bethesda too said it); and yet he was silent hereon.

      To Brethren generally, I shall say a word as to the why we have been allowed to have this last and most overwhelming wave of sorrow; viz. -- Bethesda's failure. The Lord has been dishonored, and His Spirit grieved by the hateful comparison many of you have made of "The evil at Plymouth" and "details connected with the mode in which it was attacked, and through mercy arrested." The Lord gave deliverance in Sampson's day from the Philistines; -- there was much in Sampson reprehensible; and so, in their several deliverances, it was the case with each of the Judges. But this was the Lord's testimony against THE LOW ESTATE OF HIS PEOPLE; and had any of them seen that which was reprehensible in the deliverer, and, instead of mourning for Israel's low estate, only blamed the deliverer, or compared the evil of the deliverer with the evil of the oppressor, he would have been really despising God, and refusing to bear his own shame. As a Jew, I would have abhorred from the bottom of my soul, the fault David's brothers, or Saul, found with him; and cursed, in the name of the Lord, any compassion expressed in Israel for the fallen Goliath. As a Christian when Christ is slandered, I desire not to be unruffled in feeling. If Paul had been coarse and rough in rebuking Peter, no godly heart ought to have compared that ungentlemanliness with the compromise of the Gospel by Peter; and if, in cutting off a false brother unawares brought in, Luther had used coarse language; alas! for the man who felt that, rather than the Lord's mercy in giving the energy to Luther; and woe to those, whose hearts were in that state, that they could see in the zeal for Christ and His sheep, merciless conduct against the heretic. Christ was slandered and blasphemed;   - a delivering testimony (say with much about it, in itself reprehensible, which was a proof of the general state of declension) was raised. Some, when snatched out of the fire, complained of being roughly dealt with. Brethren forgot Christ and the flock, and joined, some only in this complaint; but some have also added on to it sympathy for the slanderer of Christ and the injurer of His flock, that Mr. N. too should have been so rudely dealt with! And God has sent us chastisement through Bethesda. For one, I accept it at the Lord's hand, and wait delivering grace for my Brethren.

      Publisher: J. K. Campbell. 1848.

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