(featured image: Powerscourt; taken in Ireland during Caro’s 20th anniversary trip; note – mansion was used in the making of the Count of Monte Cristo (2002).
Following is taken from The End of the World and the Return of the Lord Jesus Christ (2009; 2016) by a servant:
i start with this Confession, not because i am Presbyterian, but to set up what was taught in Ireland up until this time:
Westminster Confession of Faith
In 1646, certain Presbyterians, chief among them Samuel Rutherford, wrote the Westminster Confession of Faith, which was thereafter ratified by the Scottish Parliament in 1648. Three of its 33 chapters are as follows:
“Chapter XXV. Of the Church: ‘The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all. …The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error: and some have so degenerated as to become apparently no Churches of Christ. Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth, to worship God according to His will. …There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalts himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God.’
Chapter XXXII. Of the State of Man after Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead: The bodies of men, after death, return to dust… but their souls …immediately return to God who gave them. At the last day, such as are found alive shall not die, but be changed; and all the dead shall be raised up with the self-same bodies… although with different qualities, which shall be united again to their souls forever… The bodies of the unjust shall …be raised to dishonor; the bodies of the just, by His Spirit, unto honor… There shall be a day of judgment …be always watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord will come…’.
Chapter XXXIII. Of the Last Judgment: God hath appointed a day, wherein He will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ… In which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged, but likewise all persons that have live on earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds… whether good or evil…’.”
…By the middle of the 17th century, ministers and laypeople alike were more aware of prophetic speculation than centuries before. Yet, in the midst of many teachings and various struggles, masses of people became open to strange doctrines (Heb. 13:9). By 1649, a religious sect arose that modified Mede’s and Brightman’s millennium teachings. They were called the ‘Fifth Monarchists.’ They claimed that the millennium and coming of the Lord would occur in 1666, or 1,000 + the number of the beast. During the English Civil War of 1661, about fifty of these men led by Thomas Venner revolted in London in the name of ‘King Jesus.’
…Whether by natural act or judgment of God, i do not know, yet in 1665 a great plague of bubonic disease broke out in England. By 1666, the ‘Great Plague of London’ killed up to 100,000 people, and by some estimates one fifth of London’s population. And whether to purify the city from man or disease, i also do not know, yet in 1666, the ‘Great Fire of London’ was started which consumed over 13,000 houses and 87 churches. Because of the duress and losses, many independents and non-conformist, such as certain Puritans sought to make passage to the newly discovered America. This was difficult because in 1642 the king begin the stop non-conformist emigration to America. Yet, to build up and control the colonies which had been divinely given to the Protestants, the Church of England sent many ministers and laypersons to construction many churches…
Morgan Edwards (1722 – 1795)
Morgan was born in Wales; while at Bristol College in England he wrote an essay on Bible prophecy. After serving congregations in England and Ireland, he immigrated to America; where, in 1761, he became pastor of a small Baptist Church in Philadelphia. In 1772, Morgan moved to Delaware to pastor. McClintock and Strong’s, Cyclopedia of Biblical …Literature records that Morgan left behind 42 volumes of sermons; and that he is sometimes called ‘the first Baptist historian in America,’ due to his works on the history of the Baptist Church.
Thomas Ice’s ‘Pre-Trib Perspectives Articles; Morgan Edwards: Another Pre-Darby Rapturist’ states, “Morgan Edwards taught some form of pretribulationism as can be gleaned from the following statement in his book: ‘The distance between the first and second resurrection will be somewhat more than a thousand years’.” Here Ice is proud to take one small step (sentence) of man, and make one giant leap for the Pre-Trib Research Center.
Morgan’s publication as a fellow of Rhode Island College was not received as creditable. Morgan’s ‘Two Academical Exercises on Subjects Bearing the following Titles: Millennium, Last-Novelties (1742),’ was printed by Dobson and Lang Publishers in 1788. And though Thomas Dobson printed the first Hebrew Bible and prominent Encyclopedia in America, they published for the Unitarians (Thomas Paine, Joseph Priestly; and for Joseph Johnson – co-founded Unitarian church in England).
Now, Morgan, as Ice said, did offer ‘some form’ of a rapture, yet, not without great error. Morgan was influenced by Mede when speaking of the Turks and Ottoman, and by other Reformers when speaking of the papacy. It does appear that Morgan Edward’s offers somewhat of a Pre-Wrath RAPTURE, and possibly a Mid-Tribulation RAPTURE view, though it must be seriously noted, that it was not received by his tutor, the theologians or professors of his day.
His title page verse is, ‘May we know what this new doctrine …is (Acts 17:19).’ Morgan begins his work quoting John, “And I saw thrones… and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and which had not worshipped the beast… neither had received his mark… and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished: this is the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4, 5).’ Notice here that two things are established; first, Morgan’s primary topic is the ‘Millennium,’ and secondly, there shall be persecution and death under the reign of the ‘beast.’
Morgan continues, even telling of the Fifth Monarchy men and dangers of being associated with their teachings, saying, “There will be two resurrections… Paul advances the same doctrine in his first letter to the Thessalonians – ‘The dead in Christ shall rise first… (1 Thes. 4:16).’ …The distance between the first and second resurrection will be somewhat more than a thousand years. I say somewhat more because the dead saints will be raised, and the living changed at Christ’s ‘appearing in the air; and this will be about three years and a half before the millennium… but will He and they abide in the air all the time? No: they will ascend to paradise, or to some of those many ‘mansions in the Father’s house, and so disappear during the foresaid period of time. The design of this retreat and disappearing will be to judge the risen and changed saints; for ‘now the time is come that judgment must begin’ and that will be ‘at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17):’ to this refers that part of my text, ‘and I saw thrones (Rev. 20); and judgment was given,’ viz. the saints were judged and their rewards specified…”
…Morgan writes: ‘…The struggling of Antichrist …and his assumption of Godhead will also precede the millennium. Who this Antichrist will be is hard to say. I take him for the last of them, who have plagued the world under the names of Popes; for Antichrist is to be destroyed at Christ’s coming to reign, 2 Thes. ii. 8…
(skip many pages) Morgan explicitly speaks of wars, famines and other such things spoken of by Christ in Matthew 24, in that it ‘preludes to His coming.’ He knew the temple had to be rebuilt, saying ‘this temple in Josephus (70AD) and …Ezekiel’s temple… are not the same, and the latter temple has never yet had an existence.’ He said ‘the two witnesses’ was ‘another event prior to the millennium;’ though in error he list John as a witness to come. He says ‘the struggling of Antichrist will also precede the millennium …for Antichrist is to be destroyed at Christ’s coming. Morgan says ‘The risen and changed saints shall reign with Christ on earth a thousand years. I do not mean that all will be kings; for some are to be Christ’s priests, some judges, some rulers …such as ‘were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and had not worshipped the beast nor his image, nor had received his mark in the forehead or hand.’ Who are these beheaded ones who did not worship the beast, but ‘they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes …in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 7:14);’ slain under the beast and Antichrist who ‘made war with the saints and overcame them (Rev. 13:7)?’ Yet, Morgan makes a great error saying, ‘…the Son of man in the clouds, coming to raise the dead saints and change the living, and to catch them up to Himself, and then withdrawing with them, and observed before, this event will come to pass when Antichrist be arrived at Jerusalem in his conquest of the world; and about three years and a half before his killing the witnesses, and assumption of godhead.’
Paul, nor Christ, nor any apostle or prophet or creed before Morgan has Christ and the saints raptured and waiting in ‘paradise’ or ‘some mansion’ in the clouds for 3 ½ years, then destroying Antichrist with the brightness of His coming. No, for they follow Daniel who said of the Antichrist, ‘the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them, until the Ancient of Days came and judgment (Dan.7:21).’ And thus Paul taught the Antichrist would persecute the Church or the saints of the most High; and then as to the ‘son of perdition …the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of His coming… (2 Thes. 3-8).’
Nevertheless, these youthful errors of Morgan Edwards were not received by John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, or any English Protestant of his time; so why should anyone follow them now?
(i am not judging Morgan’s love for God or the Scriptures, only his errors in doctrine; and likely without partiality i do and will do for any of the following i site)
Manuel de Lacunza (Ben-Ezra) (ca. 1745 – 1801)
In 1768, Jesuit, Manuel de Lacunza, born in Chile, was expelled from his country, and fled to Italy where he died in 1801. About 1791, Lacunza wrote ‘La venida del Mesias en Gloria y Majestad, Observaciones,’ which is ‘The Coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty.’ He used the Jewish name Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra for his work. Lacunza, knowing and likely building upon fellow Jesuit Ribera’ work, ‘Commentary on the Apocalypse,’ wrote of a Rapture that would occur as early as 45 days before Christ’ coming with His wrath. His book was published in Spain in 1811, and afterwards in Paris, London and Mexico, before it was banned by the Catholic Church in 1819. A translation found its way into Edward Irving’s hands, and made its way to the Library of the Archbishop of Canterbury (London) through Samuel Maitland (ca. 1826).
Edward Irving (1792 – 1834)
As a child Irving attended a school kept by an aunt of Thomas Paine. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh. In 1815 he was ordained in the Church of Scotland. In 1819, he was sent to Glasgow as a missionary. In 1822, he went to London and accepted a position as pastor at Caledonian Church. Irving said he was influenced by writings of Hooker, Taylor and Baxter in theology; and Bacon, Newton and Locke in philosophy; and Shakespeare, Spenser and Milton in poetry. He said, ‘they were the fountains of my English idiom; they taught me forms for expressing my feelings.’ Perhaps, like Locke and Bacon, he welcomed too much religious and intellectual toleration.
In 1827 he opened a new church in Regent Square. It was this same year, that Irving translated Lacunza’s ‘The Coming of the Messiah.’ In 1828, Irving began a series of lectures in England and Scotland in which he spoke of the coming of the Lord, the millennium and even made certain predictions; from these meetings would come the formation of the Holy Catholic Apostolic Church. Irving’s health failed him in 1834, at age 42; many of his followers – called ‘Irvingites’ – formed the Catholic Apostolic Church in 1835 and continued in his teachings.
About 1900, they had about 1,000 churches in 20 countries, and 200,000 members. Irving’s works and those persons he influenced would significantly affect the beliefs of millions. Concerning his role in the Pentecostal Movement, Oral Roberts University’s Holy Spirit Research Center writes in an article entitled The Origins of the Pentecostal Movement: ‘…Although the Pentecostal movement had its beginnings in the United States, it owed much of its basic theology to earlier British perfectionistic and charismatic movements. At least three of these, the Methodist / Holiness movement, the Catholic Apostolic movement of Edward Irving and the British Keswick ‘Higher Life’ movement prepared the way for what appeared to be a spontaneous outpouring of the Holy Spirit in America. …From John Wesley, the Pentecostals inherited the idea of a subsequent crisis experience variously called ‘entire sanctification,’ ‘perfect love,’ ‘Christian perfection,’ or ‘heart purity.’ …Edward Irving and his friends in London suggested the possibility of a restoration of the charismas in the modern church. A popular Presbyterian pastor in London, Irving led the first attempt at ‘charismatic renewal’ in his Regents Square Presbyterian Church in 1831. Although tongues and prophecies were experienced in his church, Irving was not successful in his quest for a restoration of New Testament Christianity.’
About 1830, Irving was brought before the London Presbytery and was found guilty on four charges of heresy. He was dismissed by the Presbytery, but still was supported by most of his church. Due to the significance of Irving’s influences and doctrines, i will use a chronological method to show them. Before i begin this process, i must say that when approaching Edward Irving’s legacy, i thought that he would be some seriously misguided indoctrinator; but what i found was a passionate pastor and teacher who hungered for righteousness and who searched hundreds of works and more so the Holy Scriptures for truth. Like many, he errs in many portions of his interpretations of Daniel and Revelation. Like the time he lived in, he was an instrument of change; like many of the reformers he loved, Irving did not want to be separated from his denomination or country. He would have been among the first to stand up for the very thing he was prosecuted by – the Book of Disciple.
In 1827, as mentioned, Irving translated Lacunza’s ‘The Coming of the Messiah,’ which was several hundred pages. Recall, this work was already circulating in several languages. In the preface of Irving’s translation, he wrote:
‘To the Church of Christ of all denominations who worship God in the English tongue, and believe that Jesus Christ …shall come hereafter in glory. My soul is greatly afflicted because of the present unawakened and even dead condition of all churches, with respect to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, which …is close at hand. Having …been brought to the knowledge of a book, written in the Spanish tongue, which …demonstrates from Holy Scripture, the erroneousness of the opinion, almost universal …that He is not to come till the end of the millennium, and what you call the ‘last day’ …period preceding the conflagration and annihilation of this earth; I have thought it my duty to translate the same into English tongue for your sake… Your brother in the common faith, and servant in …the Gospel, a Presbyter of the Church of Scotland.’
Now, unlike what some claim, especially of the well-funded Pre-Trib Research Center, the Jesuit Lacunza did not teach a pre-tribulation rapture. However, Lacunza did teach that Christ will rapture His church before His wrath is poured out upon the earth. Concerning this rapture, Lacunza said it could be from ‘a few minutes’ up to ’45 days’ from the ‘Day of the Lord’s coming.’
Note: Lacunza wrote: ‘…St. John clearly marks the time of the first resurrection, when he says that those beheaded for Christ… lived and reigned with Christ… (however) …antichrist must first come…’
(skipping a dozen pages)
In 1828, Irving wrote, ‘The Last Days: A Discourse on the Evil Character of These our Times: Proving them to be the ‘Perilous Times’ of the ‘Last Days.’ In this work he makes no mention of a pre-tribulation rapture: ‘…My conviction is, dearly beloved brethren, that many trials and many sacrifices abide us. The spirit of the church, and the spirit of the nation, grows worse and worse…’
…Irving believed not only that the Church was going through the persecution of the Antichrist, but he stated that they had entered those perilous last days, and predicted the end of the world and the coming of the Lord would be ‘the year 1823.’
…(skipping pages) Edward Irving did not teach a pre-tribulation rapture. Like Mede and others that he studied, he believed in certain ‘dispensations,’ such as a ‘Papal period of 1,260 years;’ substituting ‘years’ for ‘days’ in certain places; that the ‘Turks’ were part of the ‘pagan persecutors;’ and that against the church would come many great ‘attacks of the Antichrist.’
‘…In the 12th chapter of the Apocalypse the beast with the ten horns appears making war upon the church… The fourth beast is described as ‘…dreadful and terrible, and strong exceeding: which had great iron teeth and devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped with the feet of it (Dan. 7:7).’ …Now some commentators, and especially Ben Ezra, have found no small difficulty, and indeed have totally refused to refer these characteristics to the Roman Empire… But, with all deference to so able an interpreter as Ben Ezra, we observe, that he has not given sufficient attention to the symbolical language, and has fallen into an over-literal interpretation of it. The meaning of the symbol, a beast for an empire, is to represent a portion of the earth organized into one system and actuated by one spirit; and the meaning of tearing that beast to pieces is the destroying of that organization.
‘…Sir Isaac Newton, whose accuracy in all things is much to be admired, has this observation: ‘The nations of Chaldea and Assyria are still the first beast; those of Media and Persia are still the second beast; those of Macedon, Greece, and Trace, Asia Minor and Egypt, are still the third; those of Europe on this side Greece, are still the fourth.’
‘…Let us now proceed to the identification of the ten horns and of the little horn; these …grow out of the Roman Empire… Machiavelli states the ten kingdoms are the: Ostrogoths; Visigoths; Sueves and Alains, in Spain; the Vandals, in Africa; the Franks, in France; the Burgundians…; the Heruli and Turingi, in Italy; …the Saxons and Angles, in Britain; the Huns, in Hungary; and the Lombards… By Sir Isaac Newton these ten primitive kingdoms …are: Vandals and Alains, in Spain and Africa, which continued until 454, when …subject to the Huns; second …Suevians, in Spain, subdued by the Visigoths in 585; third …Visigoths, continuing in Spain unto this day; fourth, the kingdom of the Alains, in Gaul, merging in …the Franks in the year 511; fifth …the Burgundians …some merging into the Franks…; sixth …Franks, continuing until this day; seventh, the kingdom of the Britons, taken possession of by the Saxons and Angles; eighth, the …Huns, in Hungary; ninth, the kingdom of the Lombards… till the year 774; tenth, the kingdom of Ravenna. …Sir Isaac Newton has remarked: ‘…Of these ten, we shall find how the first three were speedily swallowed up by the little horn which arose… Now, taking these nine – to wit, Rome, Ravenna and Lombardy – which disappeared in the temporal power of the little horn (in Italy), Austria, France, Britain, Spain, Portugal and Naples – you have all the territory of the Western Roman Empire… The tenth kingdom is therefore the kingdom of Savoy, Piedmont and Sardinia (note: by 1861, these three had ceded to France and Italy).”
In this book, Irving wrote: “…I have too much reason, and too much knowledge of church history, and too much …experience of what a liberal is, to believe that a Christian can stand against a government of liberals… As we are Protestants, we contradict the Papists, and pronounce unto them ‘No! your religion is false, is an apostasy.’ …we contradict the Unitarians, and say, ‘No! you are not Christians; you are Infidels… God will assuredly judge; He will not stand by …He will make His arm bare (Isa.52:10), believing, I do fear and tremble (Phil. 2:12)…”
In ‘Discourse VI: Rome, with the Pope her Little Horn,’ Irving wrote: “…The Jewish nation, by the word of Daniel and the Prophets, had been put under subjection to the four great tyrannies; and were to remain so till Christ should come ‘in the clouds of heaven.’ Jesus, as being a Jew according to the flesh, came under the same subjection; and we, as the followers of Christ continue under it…’
…The noble Edward Irving, a lover of God and His words, makes several assumptions in his works. He proposes, as Mede and others, that the time of the Antichrist’s reign over the beast of Rome or Antichrist Papacy is the last 1,260 years, instead of days. Yet, because he was alive in 1829, he knows Mede’s date of 455 as the beginning of the Antichrist’s reign is wrong; so Irving chooses 532 as the beginning. Thus, adding the 1,260, he says ‘we are in the lasts days;’ and adding Daniels extra 45 days, as years, Irving calculates the Lord would return between 1792 and 1837. Obviously, these predictions were incorrect; as were their predictions of the pope’s supremacy. Irving did look for the ‘falling away,’ and the coming of the ‘Antichrist,’ before the coming of the Lord. Irving taught, the Antichrist shall persecute the saints – the Christians. As to Irving’s abolishment for ministers to speak from the housetops against certain liberals: oh how it is needed today, for faithful men to ‘strengthen what remains (Rev. 3:2)’ of the ‘lukewarm (Rev. 3:16)’ Christian nations…
Addressing the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Theory (1830 to 1878)
The history and evidence up until this time verifies that there were no faithful and sound Christians that taught a pre-tribulation rapture doctrine. i say it in this manner, because many people devise all kinds of thoughts, and in fact, in 70 AD, the Jewish historian Josephus tells of certain false prophets that told the Jews in the courtyard of the Temple as the Roman army was besieging Jerusalem, that the Messiah would come and deliver them before the Romans broke through the gates. Obviously, they were not delivered, but tens of thousands were killed and of the survivors, most did they not understand God’s prophecies, but many were greatly bitter against their priests who deceived them. For they did not receive the words of the prophet Daniel, nor their brother Jew, the apostle Paul, who warned their fathers that the Antichrist, ‘the son of perdition,’ must first be ‘revealed’ before the Messiah comes. Corrie Ten Boon stated that in the 1940’s this same thing happened to Chinese and African Christians, and some Christian historians say it also occurred in Germany during World War II, and thus, after the war, as seen today in Germany, most German ‘Christians’ left the Church after seeing weak pastors bowing to the Nazi regime, and some after being deceived with promises of a pre-tribulation rapture.
In the 1830’s, several significant events occurred: Albury meetings, Margaret MacDonald’s vision, the formation of the Catholic Apostolic Church, and that of the Plymouth Brethren. Before addressing these events, remember the ‘Great Awaking’ had already spread through much of Britain and most of the colonies of America, even a generation before the Declaration of Independence (1776). During this time period from America’s independence to the 1830s were many wars and struggles, revolutions and reformations throughout the ‘Christian’ nations and the world. The most notable wars were: The American Revolution, 1775 – 1783; The French Revolution, 1789 – 1802; Napoleon’s army conquered Austria, Egypt, and exiled Pope Pius VI, 1797 – 1799; from 1766 to 1818 Britain had many wars with India, including several Anglo-Mysore Wars; First Barbary Coast War, 1801 – 1805; Napoleonic Wars, 1803 – 1815; Anglo-Turkish War, 1807 – 1809; Anglo-Russian War, 1807 – 1812; the War of 1812; Anglo-Burmese War, 1823 – 1826; and in the 1830’s, two Canadian rebellions; an Anglo-Afghan War and the beginning of the ‘Opium Wars’ between Great Britain and China.
So when the United States had 24 states, repeater pistols were being invented, the world’s first stream railway was opened in England, cotton gins and printing presses were in full operation, we find in the Spring of 1830, in London, that it was being reported that the ‘gift of tongues’ as was at Pentecost (Acts2), had been discovered at Edward Irving’s church. And as the Gospel quickly spread from Jerusalem, through Judea and Samaria unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8), the gossip of these events spread throughout and greatly affected much of Christendom.
It is natural that we creatures seek after that which is spiritual, for our very Creator is Spirit (John 4:24). Yet, caution must be taken. For example, in 1828, when Irving was in Kirkcaldy, Scotland: one day, the church was caught up with excitement, for the next day was a wedding and that evening many sought after the spiritual: some for entertainment and others to edify their souls. A crowd packed the house and the gallery fell down killing 2 or 3 people, upon which a great crowd stampeded out of the church trampling so many that by the time the dust settled 35 people had been killed. Irving said, ‘God hath put me to shame before all the people.’ The fact is that many shared the blame. The ‘elders’ for not exercising proper inspection and controls; and adults who in an instant lost good reason and who were negligent under the ‘last clear chance doctrine (a legal defense – before modern judges seek ‘the deep pockets’ – where one is ‘contributory negligent by placing himself in a position of immediate peril,’ so that they ‘failed to exercise reasonable care to prevent the accident;’ – Black’s Law Dictionary).
In like manner, we must all exercise spiritual caution as the apostle John says, to ‘test the spirits whether they are of God (1 John 4:1);’ for as many sought after the spiritual at that time, crowds gathered and conferences were assembled in which prophecies – good and evil – fell from the galleries of the heavens; some from God and some from ‘spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph.6:12).’ And when the elders – including pastors – could neither discern by proper inspection, nor control unsound doctrines, the deception toll became and has become immense.
The setting was ripe for change. In 1836, J.W. Brooks wrote a Dictionary of Writers on the Prophecies, in which he recorded over 2,100 titles of pamphlets and books on prophecy, and about 500 commentaries on books of the Bible. According to Lowndes’ British Librarian of 1840, the section titled ‘Religion and its History’ contained about 1,300 pages of references or approximately 20,000 to 30,000 writings. And the 1886 Catalogue of the Library of Princeton Theological Seminary, the section on ‘Religious Literature’ notes over 25,000 works, with over 85 commentaries on Revelation and over 120 books directly related to the ‘Second Advent’ of Christ or to the subject, ‘Antichrist.’
It was in this rich prophetic soil that the Albury and Powerscourt Conferences were planted. Charles Finney was holding Revival Meetings and conferences and writing books, which influenced the likes of William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army). Finney would tell of his merciful conversion experience in which after days of burden and prayers, he was ‘overwhelmed with the baptism of the Spirit,’ as he said, ‘that the Spirit of God had taken possession of my soul (Holy Spirit Revivals; Charles Finney; 1999, from the original published in 1876).’ More importantly, concerning the pre-tribulation doctrine, the Catholic Apostolic Church and the Plymouth Brethren movement were formed.
Early in 1826, Lacunza’s (Ben-Ezra) work came into Irving’s hands. Later that year, with the help of his friend, Giuseppe Sottomayer, Irving began the translation. Also, in London that same summer, Irving, with Lewis Way and James Frere, founded the ‘Society for the Investigation of Prophecy.’ About that time, upon Lewis Way’s suggestion and Henry Drummond’s invitation, they organized a conference to study prophecies. The first meeting took place in 1826 at Drummond’s beautiful Albury estate. Also, in 1827, there were prophecies conferences at the very grand Powerscourt estate; as well as Finney’s ‘New Lebanon Conferences’ in the likes of the Oxford movement. By 1830, the stage would be set for great theological changes, including those from: the Albury’s Conferences; John Darby and the Plymouth Brethren; William Miller’s cult of Seventh Day Adventist; and the formation of the Mormon cult led by Joseph Smith and his Book of Mormon.
The Albury Conferences
C. G. Flegg, after extensive research, in Gathered Under Apostles, A Study of the Catholic Apostolic Church (1992), wrote, the ‘Albury conferences were called for the purpose of examining the Scriptures and especially the prophetic writings with a view to interpreting the political and society events of the days, and also of determining the extent to which biblical prophecies had already been fulfilled in the life of Christ and the history of the Christian Church… Each day (there was) …an address on the topic of the day before breakfast, examination of the Scriptures after breakfast until mid-morning, group discussion until mid-afternoon, and an attempt to reach an agreed synthesis after dinner.’ Flegg notes during those conferences, from 1826 to 1830, ‘Albury …became for a time the principal centre in England for prophetic studies…’.
The Albury estate, of Surrey, England, was less than 30 miles southwest of London. It was owned by the 6th Duke of Norfolk, and the fourth Earls of Aylesford, until sold to his brother. The 150 acre Albury Park was bought by Henry Drummond in 1819, who remodeled the mansion which when completed had 63 brick chimneys. The first conference at Albury had about 20 participants; during that conference they reviewed such works as Lacunza’s Coming of the Messiah.
In 1826, the first Albury Conference was attended by Edward Irving, and Lewis Way, a founder of the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews. The London Jew’s Society was founded in 1809, and by its centennial in 1909, it became the oldest, largest, and richest organization reaching out to Jews (Rothschild’s contributed). The second Albury Conference, in 1827, as recorded in Edward Miller’s, The History and Doctrines of Irvingism (1878), ‘was attended by a larger number than the first.’ He listed 43; historian Lord Riley stated Lewis Way made it 44 men. Yet, some report, Way, a wealthy London lawyer who became an Anglican minister, was on missionary tours to the Jews in Smyrna, Syria, and Egypt. Lady Powerscourt attended several of the meetings. William Wilberforce and Thomas Chalmers, former pastor to Irving, were invited but declined their invitations. By 1828, Drummond called their meeting, ‘the Albury Circle.’
(skipping bios on their leaders)
Before addressing Margaret MacDonald’s visions and the Catholic Apostolic Church, let us look at the meetings held at Powerscourt. After one year of marriage, Lady Powerscourt became the widow of Richard Wingfield, 5th Viscount Powerscourt, who’s great great-grandfather was the Chief Governor of Ireland. Wingfield died in 1823, leaving the 49,000 acre estate to his wife and daughter. The estate, which was featured in the 2002 film The Count of Monte Cristo, has a mansion with about 70 rooms, and a 60’ long entrance hall. The original castle was visited by King George IV in 1821. It has many gardens and a waterfall; which, at 398 feet, is Ireland’s highest. Lady Theodosia A. Viscountess Powerscourt opened her home for weekly prayer meetings not long after the death of her husband. Drummond and Irving had invited Lady Powerscourt to their Albury conferences. Concerning this, William Neatby, in his 1901 book, A History of the Plymouth Brethren, wrote:
“Professor William Stokes, says, ‘…Prophecy meetings were established in 1827 at Albury Park… Lady Powerscourt attended these conferences, and was so delighted with them that she established a similar series of meetings at Powerscourt House near Bray, in the County Wicklow, which for several years were presided over by the rector of the parish, the late Bishop Robert Daly. These meetings lasted till 1833, when the bishop …retired on the account of extreme anti-Church views…’ However, …J. B. Stoney has left us with a graphic account of one of these conferences that he attended as late as September, 1838: ‘Mr. John Synge was in the chair. He called on each to speak in turn on a given subject. Mr. Darby spoke last, and often for hours, touching on all that had been previously said. Mr. Wigram sat next to him. Captain Hall, Mr. George Curzon, Sir. Alexander Campbell, Mr. Bellett, Mr. Thomas Mansell, Mr. Mahon, Mr. Edward Synge were there. There were clergymen present, and Irvingites’.” Note: Irishman James Butler Stoney joined the Brethren in 1834. Nevertheless, Neatby wrote, ‘However debatable the honors of the founder-ship of Brethrenism …it was destined to exercise worldwide influence…’.
The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (1911) states, ‘Conferences like those under the Irving movement were held from 1828 at Powerscourt Mansion, County Wicklow, Ireland, at which John Nelson Darby was a prominent figure.’ Wicklow is on the coast of the Irish Sea, south of Dublin. Over the years, Darby’s influence and dominance increased, which had already caused some to take notice. However, we should take solemn notice that the Pre-tribulation Rapture theory/doctrine was not produce from either the Albury or Powerscourt conferences; for at the time Darby attended the Powerscourt meetings he had not yet believed or proposed such a doctrine.
In 1830, before the last Albury conference, and in the midst of the Powerscourt conferences, two young women had visions. Mrs. Oliphant, in The Life of Edward Irving, offers a letter from Irving in June 1830: ‘…the substance of Mary Campbell’s and Margaret MacDonald’s visions or revelations …carry me to a spiritual conviction …which I cannot express…’. Mary and Margaret had been ill for some time, when suddenly they were healed following many prayers and charges by Margaret’s brothers George and James to ‘arise and stand up (Psa. 20:8).’
(skipping the account of their visions and my addressing them other than to say in the vision she also mentions ‘the trial of Church is from the Antichrist.’)
…As to the pre-tribulation nature of Margaret’s vision, it does not exist, thus, Thomas Ice, in his article, Is the Pre-Trib Rapture a Satanic Deception? correctly agrees with his former headmaster John Walvoord (Ice received his Master’s at Dallas Theological when Walvoord was President, professor and author). In his 1976 work, The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation, Walvoord states, ‘there is no proof that MacDonald or Irving originated the pretribulation rapture teaching.’
The Morning Watch Journal on Prophecy
Now, many things must have been discussed at the prophecy meetings, but there is no reputable evidence that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine came directly out of the Albury Conferences. However, about this time in 1830 and 1831, there were at least two articles that alluded to a Pre-Wrath Rapture doctrine in The Morning Watch Quarterly Journal on Prophecy and Theological Review.
The 1830 Volume II issue of The Morning Watch… published by James Nisbet in 1831, contained an article called, ‘Signs of the Times, and the Characteristics of the Church,’ by Rev. E. Irving. Irving writes:
‘…Now, with respect to the time at which this translation of the saints taketh place …I think, that its time is before the judgments which fall upon the earth at the coming of the Son of man and the setting up of His kingdom. …there is a very remarkable passage in the 16th chapter of the Apocalypse. Immediately before the consummating destruction of the seventh vial, while preparations are made for the grand final catastrophe; while the kings of the earth and of the whole world are gathered by the thee spirits of the Antichrist to the battle of that great day of God Almighty; even at that time of perilous persecution for hideous ruin there is a voice uttered, ‘Behold, I come as a thief: blessed is he that watches and keeps hi garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame (Rev. 16:15).’ Here is the coming of Christ connected with the blessedness of the watchers just before the great consummation of wrath (end of ‘wrath’ – not to be confused with the ‘great tribulation).’
(skipping many pages)
Where the reformers of the 1500’s had only a few printing presses, newly invented pencils, and horses and boats; the radicals of the new movements had newly invented steamed-powered printing presses (1814), rotary presses (1833) which allowed mass productions in the tens of thousands, as well as, newly opened commercial railways with stream locomotives (1812), the Orient Express (1833), and commercial trans-Atlantic steamboat lines (1818) and Clipper Sailing Ships (1833); and soon the electric telegraph (1838). Though several cults began to form and spread in the 1830’s; also, in that decade came Anti-Slavery Societies; the Sunday School Movement in America; and missionaries sent out.
This decade would trigger some of the most significant changes in Christendom since the decade of the 1530’s in which Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Tyndale, Melanchton, Cranmer, Knox, Loyola, Xavier, and many others greatly affected Christianity and the world. During the 1830’s: The Book of Mormon was published and Joseph Smith founded the Mormon ‘Church;’ the Millerites were organized, which became known as the Seventh Day Adventist; John N. Darby and his followers begin the Plymouth Brethren movement, from which he would promoted the Pre-tribulation Rapture doctrine; Henry Drummond, of the Albury Conferences, with J. B. Cardale, formed the Catholic Apostolic Church; Transcendental Clubs were being founded at American Universities; the first Roman Catholic Provincial Council in the United States was established; and several splits occurred in the Presbyterian Church, some due to slavery. Note: in 1825, the American Unitarian Association was formed; and in 1828, Webster’s Dictionary was published.
Philip Schaff, in his The Creeds of Christendom, Vol. 1, states: “Edward Irving, the herald and pioneer of the ‘Catholic Apostolic Church’ …died in the vigor of manhood at Glasgow, Dec. 8, 1834… In April, 1831 …manifestations took place among the members of the Church of England and friends of Irving in London. The ‘prophesyings’ were addressed to the audience in intelligible English… The speaking in tongues …no one could understand… These extraordinary proceedings naturally led to a rupture between Irving and the Presbytery of London (1832). …Ultimately deposed from the ministry of the Church of Scotland… in 1833 …Irving is little mentioned in the writings of his followers, and is regarded by them merely as a forerunner… not as the founder.”
Catholic Apostolic Church
In 1835, a year after Irving’s death, the Catholic Apostolic Church was founded. In 1835, twelve ‘apostles’ were appointed at a ceremony in London. Two were members of Parliament, three were attorneys, one was a captain, another was a writer/teacher/artist, four were clergymen, and another was a former elder at Irving’s church. Brief profiles of Drummond, Perceval, Dow and Tudor, who were all present that at least one Albury Conference have already been given. However, note that Drummond chose Scotland and Switzerland for his places of apostleship.
…As to the doctrine of ‘Sealing,’ William Cunninghame in 1813 published A Dissertation of the Seals and Trumpets of the Apocalypse and the Prophetical Period of 1,260 Years: “We have seen in the sealing of the 144,000… an emblem of the certain preservation of the church of Christ from the general destruction during the period of the sixth seal …the actual translation of the church, from the great tribulation of that period, into that state of millennial rest…”
(like certain other religious groups; a few of their leaders have their faithful adherents ‘sealed’ from certain tribulations and judgments)
…As he was wrong about the 1,260 days representing years and his interruption of every seal, he is wrong about his teaching of the ‘preservation of the church’ from great tribulation.
By 1840, there were hundreds of works and thousands of ministers preaching the very imminent return of the Lord. Yet, most ministers that spoke on the coming of the Lord and the last days still taught that the Antichrist would persecute the Church for 42 months (2Thes. 2:3; Dan. 7:21; Rev. 13:7).
(skipping many pages)
The Brethren movement began sometime between their informal meetings in Ireland in 1827 and 1830, when they held their first meeting in Plymouth, England – from which they are called The Plymouth Brethren. McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia of Biblical …Literature (1887), says the Brethren “originated almost simultaneously at Plymouth, England, and Dublin, Ireland, about the year 1830. They are most generally called after the place where they first started in England, but sometimes they are called after their principal founder, John Darby… clergyman of the Episcopal Church of Ireland. He himself gave to his adherents the name Separatists, because they left the Establishment and determined to maintain a separate existence as a Church.”
The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia… (1911), states: they are “called by some Darbyites or Exclusive Brethren and by themselves ‘Brethren.’ …They took their origin in Ireland about 1828 a movement under the leadership of John Walker …and in England the origin is connected with the interest in prophecy stimulated by Edward Irving. Conferences like those under the Irving movement were held from 1828 at Powerscourt Mansion …in Ireland at which John Nelson Darby was a prominent figure. Prior to this, from 1826 private meetings had been held on Sundays under the leadership of Edward Cronin, who had been a Roman Catholic and later a Congregationalist, for the ‘breaking bread,’ at which Anthony Norris Groves, John Vesey Parnell… and John Gillord Bellett, a friend of Darby, were attendants…’
‘…In 1830 a public ‘assembly’ was started in …Dublin, which emphasized ‘the coming of the Lord as the present hope of the Church and the presence of the Holy Ghost as that which brought into unity…’ Through Francis William Newman, Darby had become acquainted with Benjamin Wills Newton …and George V. Wigram at Oxford. He also visited Plymouth… were Robert Hawker had been active in Evangelical ministry, the first English gathering of the Brethren (1831)…. Before the appearance of Darby’s Liberty of Preaching and Teaching (1834), the Brethren had taken their stand upon a free ministry, while other weighty papers by Darby and Newton appeared in the new magazine, The Christian Witness, edited by J. L. Harris. Recruits of note were Henry Craik and George Friedrich Muller, coming from the Baptist denomination. The latter had been in the service of the London Society for Promoting Christianity Among the Jews, but became convinced that assemblies should consist only of the converted and joined the Brethren, beginning pastoral work at Bristol in 1832… Other noted converts …were Samuel Prideaux Tregelles and Robert Chapman.’
‘Darby continued …London, then went to the continent, where in French Switzerland he promoted the movement… Darby became aware of a tendency toward isolation …in Newton and …(that Newton’s) adherence to the Reformation teaching of justification, inclusion of the Old-Testament saints in the apocalyptic Church, and belief that the second advent would not precede the ‘great tribulation,’ to which the Church would be subject. Failing to secure satisfaction from Newton and his adherents, in 1845 Darby started a separate assembly. …(About 1847, after much confrontation from Darby) Newton severed his connection with the Brethren, but continued till his death (1898) to write on prophetical subjects…”
(skipping bios until Darby)
John Nelson Darby (1800 – 1882) is called the ‘father of Dispensationalism,’ not because he originated it, but because he built upon it and made it a permanent structure among the doctrines of Christianity. According to Christian History Magazine’s book, 131 Christians Everyone Should Know (2000), Darby was “born in London into a prominent Anglo-Irish family… He attended London’s Westminster School until his parents moved to an ancestral castle in Ireland. He graduated from Dublin’s Trinity College as a Classical Gold Medalist in 1819 and continued his studies in law, being admitted to the Irish Chancery Bar in 1822. …Within four years… he was made priest as a curate of the Church of Ireland. ‘I owed myself entirely to God,’ he explained of his career switch; ‘I longed for complete devotedness to the work of God.’ He was assigned to a parish in the mountainous regions south of Dublin…”
In 1825, about age 25, Darby was ordained as a deacon and then in 1826 as a priest. In 1827, he fell from a horse and was injured; during his time of recovery he began to develop his dispensational theories. From 1827 to 1832, he attended Powerscourt conferences; met many future associates; and by 1832, separated from the Church of Ireland. He was a founder of the Brethren movement. In 1830, he visited Paris, Cambridge, and Oxford. Between 1838 and 1840, he worked primarily in Switzerland.
Darby wrote and traveled extensively. He was fluent in French and German. In 1853, he went to Germany, where the following year he produced a German New Testament; and in 1869, he would aid in an Old Testament version. In 1859, he completed a New Testament in French, and by 1880, the Old Testament as well. He visited Canada and the United States in 1859, 1864-1865, 1866-1868, 1870, and 1872-1874. About 1871, he traveled to Italy, and in 1875, to New Zealand. Before his death in 1882, age 81, he had written over 1,000 letters, published hundreds of works, and translated the Bible into several languages, as The Holy Scriptures: A New Translation from the Original Languages. The English and German versions were not published until 1890, followed by a French version. In the Old Testament, Darby used Tyndale’s English spelling of ‘Jehovah’ for ‘God’ instead of ‘Lord’ or ‘God;’ which the Jehovah Witnesses followed in their 1950 version called New World Translation. According to Darby’s Last Will and Testament, his gross estate at his death was more than £ 5,000 (pounds sterling), or about $ 75,000 (in 2010 dollars).
(skipping bios except part of Muller’s)
In 1832, Muller moved to Bristol and served at Bethesda Chapel, where he and Henry Craik preached. In 1834, they founded the Scripture Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad, which without government assistance and request to men, but with much prayer to God, received and distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars over 60 years (millions in 2010 dollars). Thousands of orphans received care and about 2 million bibles and religious textbooks were given out. The orphanage provided for the education of nearly 25,000 children.
Before his death, Muller, who spoke English, French and German, preached in about 40 countries, including Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, most of Europe, and the United States. About age 72, he went on an 11 month missionary tour in which he spoke 308 times and traveled over 19,000 miles. Not long after returning home, in 1878, Muller went on a fifth such tour, in which he preached nearly 300 times in 46 towns in several countries; and nearly, likewise the following year at age 75. He continued his tours; during an 18 month tour, which ended when he was 82, he traveled over 37,000 miles. Finally at age 86, after a yearlong tour, he returned home to Bristol and died. It is estimated that Muller preached over 8,000 times outside of Bristol, and to more than 3 million people. He spoke to queens and princes and by initiation, visited U.S. President and Mrs. Rutherford B. Hayes.
At his death, though over £ 1,000,000 (about 8 million 2010 U.S. dollars) passed through his hands, Muller’s assets were: his books; furniture; and about £ 20, which totaled about £ 60 (< $ 850 today). During his life, he had read the bible through almost 200 times, one hundred of them on his knees. Muller’s doctrine, as Newton and Tregelles, greatly opposed Darby’s ‘any moment’ appearing of the Lord and Darby’s new Pre-Tribulation Rapture teaching.
(skipping until Tregelles)
Samuel Prideaux Tregelles (1813 – 1875) was born near Plymouth. In 1836, he wrote his first book, Passages in the Old Testament Connected with the Revelation. His greatest work was the interpretation of ancient Greek Codexs (Bibles). New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia, states, “Tregelles ranks next to Tischendorf in the importance of his critical labors, and in single-hearted devotion… In 1848, he issued a Prospectus for a critical edition of the Greek Testament, the text of which was to be founded solely on the authority of the oldest Greek manuscripts, the ancient versions of the 7th century… Like Tischendorf, Tregelles visited the principal libraries in Europe for the purpose of collating manuscripts the text of which had not before been published…”
Noted Christian historian, Kenneth Latourette, in his series, Christianity in a Revolutionary Age, A History of Christianity… Vol. II: The 19th Century in Europe (1959), said: “The Brethren enlisted or developed a number of notable figures. Some were men of high education, some were from the nobility, and others were of humble birth. One, Samuel Tregelles, became famous as an expert on the text of the New Testament. Another …Muller …developed orphanages …and for their support depended on God in prayer. In spite of their desire for the unity of the Church, the Brethren proliferated into many divisions of ‘divergences,’ mainly on matters of doctrine and practice…”
As to Tregelles’ ‘expertise,’ he was considered second only to Friedrich Constantin von Tischendorf (1815 – 1874); note that Tischendorf discovered the ‘Codex Sinaiticus (Bible from about 350 AD)’ at the foot of Mount Sinai in about 1860. The Codex contains the entire Greek Bible, as well as the Epistle of Barnabas and most of the Shepherd of Hermas. After discovering this ancient Greek Bible, he preserved it; translated it, and published it. Most of it ended up at St. Petersburg, then after the Russian Revolution, it was sold to the British Museum in 1934. In the 1970’s, more pages were found in a blocked up room in St. Catherine’s Monastery at Sinai. Concerning this, The British Library wrote: “…The Codex Sinaiticus is a treasure beyond price. Produced in the middle of the 4th century, the Codex is one of the two earliest Christian Bibles (other: Codex Vaticanus). Within its …handwritten Greek text are the earliest surviving copy of the complete New Testament…” The Codex Sinaiticus available at www.codexsinaiticus.org. It was a joint project between: St. Catherine’s, Leipzig University Library, the Russian National Library, and The British Library. The codex was written hundreds of years before the Muslim’s Koran.
In 1864, Samuel Tregelles published, The Hope of Christ’s Second Coming, in which he stated concerning Darby’s ‘practice’ of applying Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 to the Jews only: “…If things are so, to whom would the Scriptures apply which give warning of perilous times? To whom could signs be given? This consideration has led to the Jewish interpretation of Scripture. Whatever has been felt to be a difficulty has been set aside by saying that it is ‘Jewish;’ and that one word has been enough to show that it has nothing to do with the Church. Darby started this practice, and it continues to this very hour.”
As to Darby’s ‘any moment’ ‘secret rapture,’ Tregelles wrote in The Hope of Christ’s Second Coming, “The theory of a secret coming of Christ was first brought forward about 1832 …The doctrine of a secret coming and a secret rapture stands in direct contradiction to the Scriptures…”.
John Nelson Darby
The focus of this chapter is not the history of the Brethren, but on how the Pretribulation Rapture doctrine was developed, distributed and even denounced. Samuel Tregelles’ Hope of Christ’ Second Coming (1864), states ‘…the theory of a secret coming of Christ was first brought about the year 1832…’ Before 1832, when Darby was a member of the Church of Ireland, he did not speak of a pre-tribulation rapture. Yet, he was significantly influenced by Irving and Lacunza, as well as by the Albury and Powerscourt meetings, though on occasion he opposed Irvingism.
From 1827 to 1832, Darby attended Powerscourt conferences; met many future associates; and by 1832, separated from the Church of Ireland. During much of the 1830’s and 1840’s, though Darby was constantly writing, he was traveling, converting individuals and congregations to his teachings. In 1845, Darby accused Newton of heresy; and again in 1847 and 1848. By 1848, after much dispute, the Brethren split into the ‘Open Brethren’ and the ‘Exclusive Brethren,’ called ‘Darbyites.’ The Open Brethren or Plymouth Brethren are assemblies or congregations that welcome Christians who believe similarly.
Between 1862 and 1877, Darby made at least five trips to the United States and or Canada. In addition to speaking in Toronto, Ontario; and New England (primarily in Massachusetts and New York); he also traveled to Montreal, Detroit, San Francisco, Hawaii, Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, France, Switzerland, New Zealand, as well as throughout Britain, before his death in 1882. Darby’s great influence on many that met at the ‘Niagara Conference of Prophecy’ in the late 1880’s, ensured that his doctrines would continue to be taught. Before speaking on his dispensational theories, it should be note that in 1843, when William Miller’s (Seventh Day Adventist) false prophecy of Christ’ return pasted, not only did it become the ‘great disappointment’ for his ‘Adventist’ followers, but it damaged the reputations of many pre-millennial dispensationalist for many years. Nevertheless, Darby and his strongest supporters soon found fertile ground in North America.
|(image of Darby – not transferred in WordPress)
‘Father of Modern Dispensationalism and of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Doctrine’
Darby was a chief leader among the ‘Plymouth Brethren.’ They were Separatist from the traditional established churches. Many of the Brethren followed Darby until his death. Henry Pickering, in his book Chief Men among the Brethren (1918), wrote, ‘…from 1859, besides the fields of labor already mentioned, J.N.D. ministered in Canada, the States, the West Indies and New Zealand; also in Holland and Italy. For fifty years Darby was strenuously engaged in original exposition of Scripture.’
There are three primary doctrines which Darby taught that i will address: Predestination; Dispensationalism; and his Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory. The following 20th century men have promoted all three doctrines in some form: Max Anders (graduate Dallas Theological Seminary; editor Holman N. T. Commentaries); Barry Beitzel (provost of Trinity Intern. Uni.; professor – Bob Jones Uni.; translator for NKJV & NLT); Bill Bright (grad. Princeton & Fuller; founded Campus Crusade for Christ; 4 Spiritual Laws); Lewis S. Chafer (founder of Dallas Theological Seminary; Systematic Theology); W. A. Criswell (former Pres. South Baptist Convention – SBC; founded Criswell College); John and Paul Feinberg (professors – Liberty Baptist, Trinity Evang., Tyndale Theo.); Zane Hodges (grad. & professor Dallas Theo. Sem. – DTS); Norman Geisler (Co-founder: Southern Evangelical Seminary); Harry Ironside (parents were Plymouth Brethren; pastor of Moody Church; ‘archbishop of Fundamentalism;’ Bob Jones Uni.; prof. D. T. S.); D. James Kennedy (televangelist; pastor Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church); Tim Lahaye (grad. Bob Jones U.; co-author of Left Behind series; School of Prophecy at Liberty University; also Lahaye Student Center, etc.); John MacArthur (Founded Master’s College; grad. Bob Jones, Talbot U. & Azusa Pacific); J. Dwight Pentecost (grad. & prof. – DTS); Adrian Rogers (N.O. Bapt. Theo. Sem.; Pres. SBC); Charles Ryrie (grad. & prof. of DTS; Study Bible); Charles Stanley (televangelist & Pres. SBC); Jimmy Swaggart Ministers and commentaries; John Walvood (Pres. & Prof. of Dallas Theological Seminary).
Darby: on Free Will / Predestination / Eternal Security
The ‘doctrine of predestination’ or ‘absolute predestination,’ often called ‘Eternal Security,’ which includes the ‘doctrine of preservation’ or ‘perseverance of the saints,’ has been promoted long before Darby and before the Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) or Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) and centuries before Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536) or Luther’s The Bondage of the Will (1525). In the 5th century Augustine wrote on grace, free will, justification, and Predestination.
In Augustine’s On the Predestination of Saints (ca. 428), he wrote: “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world… We were elected and predestinated, not because we were going to be holy, but in order that we might be so. …He did this according to the good pleasure of His will, so that nobody might glory concerning his own will, but about God’s will towards himself.” And in his book, The Enchiridion (ca. 425), he wrote: “He hath mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardenth (Rom. 9:18).’ And when the apostle said this, he was illustrating the grace of God… Both angelic and human, sinned, doing not His will, but their own… In His justice He has predestined to punishment, and to the salvation, of those whom in His mercy He has predestined to grace…”. After On the Predestination of Saints, Augustine wrote, A Treatise on the gift of Perseverance, stating, “I have now to consider the subject of perseverance with greater care; for in the former book also I said some things on this subject… I assert that the perseverance by which we persevere in Christ even to the end is the gift of God; and I call that the end by which is finished that life wherein alone there is peril of falling. Therefore it is uncertain whether any one has received this gift so long as he is still alive. For if he fall before he dies, his is, of course, said not to have persevered; and most truly is it said. …(Yet) he is not to be said to have had in any degree that perseverance …if he has lived faithfully …and the believer of many year’s standing, a little time before his death he has fallen away from the steadfastness of his faith…”.
In Augustine’s own discourse he agrees that a ‘believer,’ even ‘of many years standing’ can ‘fall away from …his faith’ and thus, he says lose salvation, but says as some that he never truly had received the ‘gift of grace’ to ‘persevere to the end.’ These arguments over perseverance and thus predestination, came even centuries earlier. For nearly all of the early church fathers wrote on the subject of man’s ‘Free-will.’ As did 2nd century Clement of Alexandria, in his The Stromata, saying “…Now the devil, being possessed of free-will, was able to repent or to steal; and it was he who was the author of the theft, not the Lord… (see James 1:13-).”
The doctrine of free-will was spoken of from the beginning; as the Lord said to Cain, “IF YOU DO well, shall you not be accepted; and IF YOU DO NOT well, sin lies at the door… (Gen. 4:7).” And the early church was built upon ‘the apostles’ doctrine… (Acts 2:42)’ which was to be ‘committed to faithful men, who were able to teach others (2 Tim. 2:22).’ Yet when ‘teachers’ were unable to ‘teach …the first principles of the oracles of God,’ especially ‘repentance and faith towards God;’ or ‘to discern both good and evil (Heb. 5:12, 14; 6:1, 2);’ then ‘grievous wolves entered in among the flock, not sparing… but speaking preserve things, to draw away disciples after them (Acts 20:29, 30).’ And as disciples left ‘sound doctrine (Titus 2:1),’ more false teachers and false prophets arose.
America was, for the most part, governed by the influences of Christian theologians, pastors and politicians in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Yet the distinction of our nation’s Christianity has become as William Wilberforce stated: “…The grand distinction between the Religion of Christ and that of the bulk of nominal Christians in the present day… the grand radical defect in the practical system of these nominal Christians, is their forgetfulness of all the peculiar doctrines of the Religion which they profess – the corruption of human nature – the atonement of the Saviour – and the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit… (William Wilberforce; A Practical View of Christianity; 1797; Chapter 4; section 6).” And if ‘Christians’ cannot see this, how are they to understand the more difficult doctrines which they usually either ignore or freely received from their own understanding or pastors interpretations?
When the flocks of the Great Shepherd and patients of the Great Physician are misguided and mistreated by the doctors of jurisprudence, theology, psychology, etc., who deliver unto society infant theologians, pastors, professors, judges and politicians from their clinics of education to the pulpits and offices of their nations, then the nation will no longer remain ‘blessed (Psa. 33:12),’ but shall join with ‘nations …drunk of the wine of …(the world’s) fornication,’ and become ‘…partakers of her sins (Rev. 18:3,4).’ i am not saying that most preachers willfully abuse the Scriptures, but i do know by their fruit and the actions of our nation’s ‘Christians’ that most already have ‘giving heed to seducing spirits’ and fallen under the sway of the ‘doctrines of devils (1 Tim. 4:1).’ Most pastors and leaders have already been taught and bred with more than a ‘little leaven (1Cor.5:6; Gal. 5:9; Mark 8:15);’ they have eaten the fruit of their teachers and have regurgitated this fruit to their flocks, who, in overwhelming masses, drink and swallow wholly without testing its contents. After digesting fully, they in turn pass it on to their friends and family. Yes, ‘forsake not the assembly of the brethren (Heb. 10:25),’ but do ‘test the spirits whether they are of God (1 Tim. 4:1);’ ‘search the Scriptures,’ and test all doctrines. Deception and delusion is among us. And in a significant part, it came also through the teachings of Darby, who continued ‘teaching things which he ought not (Titus 1:11).’
The New International Encyclopedia, Vol. XIV; (1903), on ‘Plymouth Brethren,’ states, “…The doctrines of the Plymouth Brethren are Calvinistic. They emphasize original sin, predestination…” Thomas Ice agrees in his The Calvinistic Heritage of Dispensationalism, saying: “…John Howard Goddard (of Dallas Theo. Sem.; 1948; in ‘The Contribution of John Nelson Darby to Soteriology, Ecclesiology, and Eschatology’) observes that Darby ‘held to the predestination of individuals…’ In Darby’s ‘Letter on Free-Will’ it is clear… ‘If Christ has come to save that which is lost, free-will has no longer any place’.” Harry Ironside in his work, A Historical Sketch of the Brethren Movement (1942), noted that Darby was so much a believer in absolute predestination, that because D. L. Moody addressed crowds inviting ‘whosoever will’ come to the Lord, Darby left a conference without speaking.
Darby wrote in The Doctrine of the Church of England at the time of the Reformation… “I soberly think Article XVII (Church of England’s Thirty-Nine Articles; 1563) to be as wise, perhaps I might say the wisest and best condensed human statement of the views it contains that I am acquainted with. I am fully content to take it in its literal and grammatical sense. I believe that predestination to life is the eternal purpose of God, by which, before the foundations of the world were laid, He firmly decreed, by His counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and destruction those whom He had chosen in Christ out of the human race…”
Concerning ‘free-will,’ Darby said in his work, ‘What is the Responsibility of the Saints?’ “…It is an unhappy circumstance that many Christians have an idea that responsibility and grace are incompatible… When a Roman soldier cut off his thumb, so that he could not hold a spear, his responsibility to the State to be a soldier had not ceased although he had not the power to fulfill his responsibility; the responsibility flowed from his being a Roman subject or citizen. …Again, the elect angels are bound to do God’s will… God sustains them in will and deed… Their delight to do God’s will in a part of their existence, in which they are sustained by infinite power, and thus they do it by the strength given to them. …Every created being is responsible; that is, he ought always to do God’s will, not his own. It flows from the necessary and immutable relation of the creature to the Creator. …The husband is bound to be a husband… and the wife… The relationship is not the duty; but the duty is inseparable from the thought of it.’
‘…As a general principle, we have the knowledge of good and evil… and we know that God approves good and hates evil. …But these general principles say nothing of my actual state, be I in or out of Christ… The notion man has of responsibility – that of conduct by which eternal life may be won – is a mere consequence of our fallen state… It is a laboring to win what we have not… True, genuine responsibility is the walking according to a position in which we are… The impossibility of losing the position does not alter the responsibility, but makes it perpetual. A child is always a child to its parent, be he a good child or a disobedient one… Promises had been given unconditionally, which centre all in Christ… Here no question of righteousness was raised: none of responsibility. It was the free gift of God… He was responsible alone; His accomplishment of the promise therefore sure. But, with a creature knowing good and evil, and with a God who judges it, the question of righteousness must come. God could not be indifferent to evil. The question of responsibility and righteousness was raised in the law. There the promises were taken on condition of obedience, and ‘this do and live’ became the rule for man. …The responsibility was there in paradise, and man failed. …But God’s salvation is another thing; that is not our responsibility (Darby is wrong – Phil.2:12; Heb.10:26; Ezk.14:20; chap.18). Christ comes in grace and love into the state in which we were by sin, Himself sinless; and the object of divine favor in doing it; but He came and died, and drank the cup of wrath. He has closed for all who believe on Him… the whole question relative to the first Adam and our sinful life. He has died to sin once… in our representative …the whole question of our responsibility as men has closed in judgment…’
‘I exist no more, as living, as a child of the first Adam. Paul says, ‘If ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world (note: 1 John 2:16)… ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God (Col. 2:20; 3:3).’ ‘I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless, I live, yet not I (Gal. 2:20);’ ‘Reckon yourselves therefore dead indeed unto sin (Rom. 6:11).’ ‘…When we were in the flesh,’ says Paul, ‘the motions of sin which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death (Rom. 7:5);’ ‘But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God dwells in you (Rom. 8:9).’ The whole question of our responsibility, as living in the life of man before God, is settled by Christ’s …death. …He is risen, and we are alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord… God has quickened us together with Him, having forgiven us all trespasses… I am made the righteousness of God in Him. …God has given us eternal life… What is now my responsibility; to make all effort to obtain eternal life by my conduct? I have it. …A child of God, and such forever… my responsibility is that of a Christian. I am to walk as one, because I am one, not that I may be one. The only thing I have to do is to glorify Him. …Nor do we go to Christ in repentance that He may intercede for us: this would be distrust of the perfect love of the Father… but He intercedes for us that we may repent. Our souls are thus restored through grace to communion, or maintained in it. …Christ does not say as to salvation, ‘If a man love Me, God will love him…’ He loved us when we were sinners… (He) has secured us a salvation… there was an end of legal righteousness…”.
Before addressing Darby’s numberous errors, i shall present a few more of his works.
In his tract, On Free-will, he said, “…All men who have never been deeply convinced of sin, all persons with whom this conviction is based upon gross and outward sins, believe more or less in free-will. You know that it is the dogma of the Wesleyans (Methodist), of all reasoners, of all philosophers. But this idea completely changes all the ideas of Christianity and entirely perverts it. If Christ has come to save that which is lost, free-will has no longer any place. …Arminianism …pretends that man can choose… I believe …philosophically and morally speaking, free-will is a false and absurd theory. Free-will is a state of sin. Man ought not to have to choose, as being outside good. Why is he in this state? …If he ought to choose good, then he has not got it yet. …Man was free in Paradise, but then he enjoyed what was good. He used his free choice, and therefore he is a sinner. To leave him to his free choice, now that he is disposed to do evil, would be a cruelty.”
In his Freewill as to Inclination and Choice, he said: “All men speak about freewill is nonsense – free and will do not go together – there is no will till a person is decided and determined. Man is perfectly free to will, as far as constraint by another goes; in truth …it is his own will where he has one – his body, his acts may be constrained …but his will as will is always his own. The moral part of the matter does not lie there, save as having one’s own will to sin… If a creature …be exposed to temptation, he will certainly fall… But ‘free’ needs to be examined …a nature inclined to good is perfectly free in obeying – it is called the law of liberty… I am free, but not free to choose. …To make man free, is absurd, for then will cannot be determined. …Choice has nothing to do with freedom. …And with regard to freewill, man’s likeness to God is an important point, for man was set to have a will and to exercise it; Angels were not…”
|To take away the ‘freewill’ offering to God, would be against His designed will ‘in earth, as it is in heaven’ Lev. 22:23; Psa. 54:6 Matt. 6:10; 10:8. Darby’s in error: Isa.14:10-; Ezk.28:14-; Job 4:18; Gen.6:4; 2 Pet.2:4; 2Cor.1:14; Gal.1:8.|
In Darby’s writing, On Eternal Life, he wrote: “The babe who can but just confess Christ has eternal life… It is not a question of what I am, but to what Christ is. He is in all Christians; He is their life. ‘Christ is all, and in all (Col. 3:11).’ …The ‘gift of God is eternal life (Rom. 6:23).’ It is all grace…”
|‘Through Christ …the Spirit gives life (IF we) do not live according to the flesh. …I consider our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed…’ – Rom. 8 “You are slaves of the one you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” Rom. 6:16|
In Darby’s work, ‘Does the Spirit work alike in all men?,’ he writes: “The doctrine you refer to is widely spread enough. Zwingli held it, all the Wesleyans hold it, and most of the national professors of Christianity. …People confound the ground of responsibility with sovereign grace in saving. …There is none righteous… (Psa.14:3; Rom.3:10).” And in his tract, Sin in the Flesh, Darby states, “I doubt whether you have got all the bearing of Scripture as to sin. Christ appeared once… by the sacrifice of Himself. It is not a question of guilt and imputation that is here. …Sin in the flesh is not guilt; but it would defile and not allow us to be with God, were it not condemned in the cross through His death who was made sin for us… It is never said sin is put away …the work is done, and I am at rest. …as regards guilt and responsibility…”
In this same manner, Darby wrote, Propitiation, Substitution and Atonement: “Propitiation is properly for sins, as Hebrews 2, and 1 John 2, and Romans 3:25, 26 are to the same effect: only, Christ having taken the condemnation for sin… Sin, as calling for it, was not properly known in the Old Testament. Leviticus 1 does not, as far as I see, apply to this, except in a very general way. It was as a peri amartias (sin offering) that God condemned sin in the flesh in Christ for us, so that there was no condemnation for us. In Leviticus 1, though blood was shed and atonement made, all is sweet savor. …In propitiation sins are in view. Substitution is …for sins, that is, the scapegoat in contrast with Jehovah’s lot. Sin, as such, is never forgiven: God condemned sin in the flesh, but Christ took this place… We are dead to sin with Christ, but He has died for our sins. This last is what is properly atonement, and meets judgment… Lost and guilty are different…’
‘…A good deal of Arminian and Calvinistic controversy arises from not distinguishing propitiation and substitution. …This difference is clearly marked in the offering of the great Day of Atonement… On the great Day of Atonement the high priest confessed the people’s sins on the scapegoat, laying both his hands on its head; the personal sins were transferred to the goat by one who represented all the people, and they were gone forever, never found again. …Christ as both high priest and victim, has confessed all the sins of His people as His own, and borne our sins in His own body on the tree. …It will never be found in Scripture that Christ bore the sins of all. Had He done so, they never could be mentioned again, nor men judged according to their works. That Christ died for all is …often said in Scripture. Hence …when a man believes, I can say …Christ has borne every one of your sins; they never can be mentioned again. …The Arminians …in confusion… say, ‘If God loved all, He cannot love some particularly;’ and an uncertain salvation is the result… Thus the scapegoat is practically set aside. The Calvinist holds Christ’s bearing the sins of His people, so that they are effectually saved… He sees nothing but substitution …God is never said to love the church, but the world…”
|His theology is foolish; do you separate the Spiritual nature and will of God? ‘God is never said to love the church’ – a devilish doctrine and stupidity spoken! – John 1:1; 4:34; 10:15, 30, 38; 1 John 5:7. Note Exo.34:7 – ‘God does not leave the guilty unpunished.’ “Repent” – Ezk.18.|
In his tract, The Spirit, and the water, and the blood, Darby wrote: “When we are quickened, the life is not looked at as in us; for Christ says, ‘Because I live, ye shall live also.’ It is therefore immutable. …If Christ can die, so can we; but if death has no more dominion over Him, no more has it over us… ‘Our life is hid with Christ in God.’ Christ Himself is my life…”
In 1869, Darby spoke what is titled, ‘Before certain brethren in Ontario:’ “It is a pure gospel that must be preached with the whosoever will receive it. Paul says, ‘Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed (Rom. 13:11).’ Yet the salvation of the believer is totally whole …complete in Christ. …Personal substitution is a responsibility of each individual; a broad aspect towards all, but only upon all them that believe. Atonement and substitution is God’s positive satisfaction. …How then can a saved sinner take up the law as his rule of life? Sin is lawlessness; it is a violation of God’s will, which, if I deny or sin against, proves at once that the fact that I am crucified with Christ has not had its proper place in my soul; and more, a creature has no right to a will. The Creator alone has an unlimited, indisputable right to a will. Man was pronounced dead on the cross in the Person of Christ, and …He was there, though perfectly sinless, yet was my substitute and God has declared that man is dead to his nature, dead as to practice and dead as to avoiding results. Nothing but the grace of God in providing the blessed Lord Jesus could meet his case; whether under law or without law (Rom. 2) …it makes no difference as to what man is as he stands before God. Consequently, no man will be in hell without a conscience; for the cross and He who hung upon it has been the evidence of God and to man as to his real enmity toward God Himself…”.
| Who does Darby propose chooses for man to sin; to kill, steal and destroy; God or man? Darby’s position on ‘freewill’ is almost exactly that of the Baptist’ Second London Confession of Faith (1689), yet he uses much less Scripture. He says, if ‘a Roman cut off his thumb, so that he could not hold a spear, his responsibility to the State to be a soldier had not ceased, although he had not the power to fulfill his responsibility. The responsibility flowed from …being a citizen.’ That we are all earthly citizens ensures that God loves us and ‘desires that none should perish (John 3:16; 2Pet.3:9);’ yet though many were born ‘Jews,’ citizens of Israel, they became of ‘the synagogue of Satan (Rev. 3:9);’ because of sin, inwardly he no longer qualified (Rom.2:28). As John writes to citizens of Christ, ‘Little children …let no man deceive you: he that does righteousness is righteous… He that commits sin is of the devil …whosoever is born of God does not continue in sin… (1 John 2:1, 18; 3:4-8; Ezk. 18; Rev. 22:11; Gal. 5:21).’ What a foolish and ungodly doctrine to say that God chooses some for eternal life and some for eternal hell. They who say such in any strait or twisted manner do not understand God or the Scriptures. Man and angels ‘choose’ to ‘sin & rebel’ only by free-will.
Darby says, ‘I am free, but not free to choose,’ and he speaks this of man and angels. This statement is not only opposed to itself, but more so to the Bible. Does Darby suppose that God willed Satan to seek to exalt himself above Jesus, or that God wills ‘many (Matt. 7:13)’ men to willfully sin and suffer ‘everlasting punishment (Matt. 25:46)’ – that reasoning is eternally stupid? To present scriptures and truths against all of Darby’s errors or the doctrine of absolute predestination or the preservation of the saints, is far beyond the scope of this book. Yet, because these teaching of men nearly cost me my salvation and service to our eternal Lord, i shall speak briefly on behalf of souls.
Yes Christ came for the forgiveness of sins, yet He never took away the requirement of repentance (Matt. 4:17; Luke 24:47; Acts 26:20). Christ did not die so that Christians can keep on sinning. Moreover, if a Christian continues in willful sin (Heb. 10:26) without repentance they are in danger of judgment; for as Paul said, ‘Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals …nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards …nor extortionist shall inherit the kingdom of God. …Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ (1 Cor. 6:9, 10, 15)? They, like the ‘unbelieving, the abominable …sorcerers …and liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone; which is the second death (Rev. 21:8).’
And Peter did not say, Christ shall be the substitute for all of our sins, but warned those who ‘obey not the gospel of God (1 Peter 4:17).’ And James says, ‘Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves… what does it profit, my brethren, tough a man say he has faith and have not works? Can faith save him (James 1:22; 2:14).’ Understand this, the Lord, ‘who created all things for Himself and His will and pleasure;’ who ‘shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil:’ ‘searches the heart and test the mind’ of everyone ‘to give to each one according to their works (Rev.4:11; Col. 1:16; Jer. 17:10; Matt. 16:27; Rom. 14:12; Rev. 20:12). Over 1500 times, ‘if’ appears in the Scriptures; for example: ‘…If ye do these things; ye shall never fall (2Pet. 1:10);’ or ‘If we walk in the light… the blood of Jesus …cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7);’ or ‘If ye continue in My Word …ye are my disciples (John 8:31).’ It is clear that all men are given the free will to ‘resist the devil; and draw near to God (James 4:7);’ otherwise all His commands would be senseless.
As Calvin’s said in his commentary on ‘if we sin willfully or voluntarily, after that we have received the knowledge of the truth (Heb. 10:26),’ God ‘shews how severe a vengeance of God awaits all those who fall away from the grace of Christ; for being without that one true salvation, they are now as it were given up to an inevitable destruction.’
Darby: on Dispensationalism
Floyd Elmore’s article, ‘J. N. Darby’s Early Years,’ has been posted in the ‘Article Archive’ at the website of the Pre-Trib Research Center (pre-Trib.org). It says: “John Nelson Darby is the acknowledged father of systematized Dispensationalism and a key modern developer of the pretribulational rapture.’ Elmore, of Dallas Theological Seminary, was chair of the Biblical Education Department at Cedarville College in Ohio. Thomas Ice, Executive Director of the Pre-trib Research Center concurs with Elmore, in his article, ‘A Short History of Dispensationalism,’ stating, “The first systematic expression of Dispensationalism was formulated by J. N. Darby sometime during the late 1820’s and 1830’s… The most well-known feature of dispensational theology is the much-debated pretribulational rapture doctrine…” Ice says, a ‘…feature of dispensational theology is the …pretribulational rapture doctrine,’ either in subtlety or gross negligence for a ‘doctor,’ Ice proclaims a pre-tribulation rapture is a fact of Dispensationalism; yet, ‘dispensations’ have been taught for hundreds of years before the pretribulation rapture doctrine; just not in the same manner as Darby or Scofield or their followers.
Paul used the term 4 times as reference to a stewardship or administration; as ‘the dispensation of the grace of God given’ to him (Eph. 3:2);’ as he says, he and the other apostles had ‘received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith… (Rom. 1:5).’ Yet, some men want to appoint a ‘dispensation of grace’ to all mankind, with or without obedience to the faith, to a time period such as during the ‘church age’ from Christ’s death to His return. The grace of God has been all during His existence; you cannot take it away; it is part of His being and His way towards mankind from Adam through eternity (Exo. 34:6; Psa. 136:1; Heb. 13:8).
And another Pre-Trib Center member, Malcom Couch (of Dallas Theo. Sem.; founder of Tyndale Theological Seminary – where in 2008 ‘from anywhere in the world… you can …earn a Doctorate Degree in 36 months …$ 191 per month’) teaches in his Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, ‘…all dispensationalists are premillennialists.’ But what actually is Dispensationalism. Random House Dictionary (1967), defines it as: “the interpreting of history as a series of divine dispensations.’ And dispensations as: “the act or an instance of dispensing; distribution; system or …administration; an appointment, arrangement, or favor, as by God; a divinely appointed order or age: the …Jewish dispensation …or Christian dispensation; …a relaxation of law in a particular case…” And Strong’s defines it as an ‘administration or stewardship.’ If we go back to the 1828 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, dispensation is as Strong said, an ‘administration …executive part of government.’
Many, such as Jonathan Edwards spoke of the ‘gospel dispensation,’ which Irving called the ‘gentile dispensation,’ as opposed to what is called the ‘Jewish dispensation’ or as Random House states ‘the old Mosaic or Jewish dispensation.’ Yet, Darby was not satisfied with an old covenant and a new covenant, as Paul says ‘two covenants; one from mount Sinai… (Gal. 4:24)’ by Moses, and the other by Christ. Thus, John says, ‘the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17).’ And though the Bible speaks of one ‘new covenant’ by which our Lord ‘Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant (Heb.12:24).’ Men still follow Darby and seek to appoint various administrations or ages that never were so by God.
So what is my point? Be careful of how men use words and attach them to biblical doctrines causing confusion and deception. Now, Thomas Ice is right that ‘the pretribulation doctrine is a well-known feature of’ modern ‘dispensational theology.’ The late Charles Ryrie, also with the Pre-Trib Research Center, conceded in his book Dispensationalism (1965), ‘There is no question that the Plymouth Brethren of which John Nelson Darby was a leader, had much to do with the systematizing and promoting of Dispensationalism…’. Yet Ryrie notes, Darby’s teachings are ‘not always easily discerned from his writings.’ This tells us that as with the Pretribulation Rapture doctrine, a new teaching on ‘Dispensationalism’ was introduced also about ‘1832,’ as Tregelles documented. Thus, Ryrie, in his book, A Survey of Bible Doctrine (1972), wrote, “Posttribulationalism was the position of the early church.” Likewise, Pre-Trib Research leader Tim LaHaye, in his book, Rapture Under Attack (1998), follows Ryrie and admits, ‘The post-Trib position …in primitive form …is the oldest point of view.’
In Darby’s The Apostasy of the Successive Dispensations (about 1833), he wrote: “…The Discernment state (C. Ryrie’s first dispensation period) cannot properly perhaps be called a dispensation in this sense of the word; but as regards to the universal failure of man, it is a most important instance. …When he was innocent (C. Scofield listed Innocence as his first dispensation period) and untainted, surrounded by every mercy, and at the hand of all blessing, he fell immediately. The man not deceived but led astray, the woman deceived …corruption, disorder, violence, were the consequences of this, until the Lord destroyed the first world created… Here dispensations, properly speaking, begin. On the first, Noah (Ryrie’s second dispensation period; Scofield’s third – ‘human government’) …the first thing here found is the saved patriarch drunk, and his son shamefully mocking him, for which the curse justly descends upon him…’
‘…Of Abraham (Ryrie’s third dispensation; Scofield’s fourth – ‘promise’ to Abraham)… Genesis 12:13, ‘Say, I pray thee; thou art my sister, that it may be well with me…’ and plagues because of him in whom the families of the earth were to be blessed …under the calling of grace, we find shameful failure. The history of the children of Israel (Ryrie listed ‘Israel’ as his fourth dispensation; Scofield – fifth – ‘law’) is one scene of ‘a stiff-necked and rebellious people.’ But to take up the point of the dispensation – obedience under the law by which life was to be: this obedience they undertook; and Moses returned to receive the various orderings of divine appointment as under it, and the two tables of testimony. But this dispensation, which met the failure of the world, which had gods many and lords many… They made, while Moses was on the Mount, a golden calf, and said, ‘These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of Egypt.’ The spring and foundation stone of all the commandments and ordinances was gone.’
‘The ordinance or dispensation of Priesthood failed in like manner. Before Aaron and his sons had gone out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, because the anointing oil of the Lord was upon them, Nadab and Abihu had already offered strange fire and been consumed before the Lord… And the Lord also spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron …and the Lord said unto Moses; speak unto Aaron …that he come not at all times into the Holy Place within the veil. The consequence was, that the garments of glory and beauty were never worn by the high priest save at his consecration… into the Holy Place within the veil …on the Day of Atonement. …Thus failed the law – thus failed the priesthood…’
‘The kingly dispensation failed in the same way …David and Solomon having exhibited the royalty in victory and peace, Rehoboam and Jeroboam are but the witnesses of its utter failure, patience and mercy still going on, till the provocations of Manasseh set aside all hope of recovery or way of mercy in that dispensation. The same is true of universal rule transferred to the Gentiles (Ryrie listed this as his fifth dispensation period): Nebuchadnezzar, the golden head, sets up the golden image, persecutes the faithful, and is turned into the image of a beast…’
‘But this, never being set up as a dispensation, but only the manifestation of His Person …The last we have to notice, in a humble sense of sin in us, is the present, where we are apt to take our ease in the world, as necessarily secure, but which, and the sin of which, the Lord sees and discerns, takes as much notice of, though not openly, as of others – the dispensation of the Spirit (Ryrie listed this as his sixth dispensation period; Scofield calls it of ‘grace’). …Much has been said, with strong objection to it, as to the apostasy or failure of this dispensation. …The patience and mercy, and sure grace of God has still kept up a witness to Himself through the mediation of Christ…’
‘…For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’ (Phil. 2:20). Such was the result of apostolic labor …the result of Christianity… The Lord …commanded them, ‘Go ye and disciple all nations.’ Where is the discernment of this by the apostles? …The principle and value of the dispensation could not be altered… whatever grace and power from Him that was glorified might effect this dispensation, as well as any other failed and broke off in the very outset; and in point of fact, the gospel has never been preached in all the world… but the church has departed from the faith of the gospel, and gone away backward …We belong to a better glory …and though grace and faith may …effect revivals during the long-suffering of God, the dispensation, is actually gone, that the glory …may shine forth in the hands of Messiah. …When He is come …then shall there be continuance, until… the final separation of evil and good… And the close of all dispensations… shall come …God shall be all in all without question and without failure…”
In 1850, Darby wrote a letter disputing an article published in the Quarterly Journal of Prophecy, which is titled, The Dispensation of the Fullness of Times, and stated: “…The writer… is evidently one of the semi-Irvingite school, who retain the foundation error which led to all poor Irving’s heresies and wanderings. …There is another word which is employed in scripture, which does give distinct periods entirely overlooked in the paper, and which altogether overthrows its denial of divisional periods, which Christians in general call dispensations. …The Lord Himself …speaks of periods …which are very justly called dispensations… The Lord Jesus speaks of ‘this age’ when He was upon earth, as the same as that which will close by judgment at the end; but this was a period connected with His relationship with Jews, and which will not be closed till He again is present in person; whereas, in the interval, the Church of the first-born has been gathered for heaven…’
‘…The writer has confounded the right flowing from the person of Christ with the state in which He exercises the right, and this with increase of error, because he has misstated the ground of the title, declaring it to be the incarnation, and hence fixing the period at the time of that event; whereas scripture in terms founds it on His divine creator-ship, which is clearly wholly independent of that. Hence the arrangement founded on incarnation wholly fails… On earth Christ is sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 15:24). In John you will find His divine person brought out, but never supremacy or the time of glory: ‘My time is not yet come…’ …It is only after His resurrection. Previously He had forbidden going to the Gentiles. Now as a consequence of that exaltation, He sends them to all nations. …Christ is hid in God, and hence He forbids His servants to root up the tares… We suffer with Him while He is hidden in God; we reign with Him when manifested. …The things that remain are in contrast with the Mosaic dispensation, but the things which remain are my heavenly portion in Christ, and as to this we are already in union with Christ, sitting in heavenly places.” In that same text Darby said, ‘…The Aaronic service, for the law had a shadow of good things to come in the parts of it, was a figure of what is now, but not of the millennial time: Melchizedek is that. The person of Christ is like His title to priesthood; but the figure of Aaron refers to Christ his in heaven, not manifest on earth…”
Jonathan Edwards wrote of the ‘Jewish’ time of ‘worship’ by the covenant under the laws of Moses, and of the ‘gospel-dispensation as a finishing state’ until the eternal kingdom. The Word says ‘Jews and Greeks …there is no difference (Rom. 3:9, 22; Gal. 2:6; James 2:9).’ Darby’s promotion of ‘dispensations’ would be built upon by Scofield and Ryrie, and used to explain away many difficulties of the pretribulation rapture theory.
|John Darby’s: Pre-Tribulation Rapture Theory|
As Samuel Tregelles wrote in 1864, concerning this teaching, ‘…The theory of a secret coming of Christ was first brought forth about 1832. …I am not aware that there was any definite teaching that there would be a secret rapture of the Church at a secret coming until this was given forth as an ‘utterance’ in Mr. Irving’s Church…’ It has been shown previously through his writings and teachings that Irving did teach of a Pre-Wrath coming of the Lord for the Church, but did not teach a Pre-tribulation Rapture. Some say Darby had reservations against the ‘secret rapture’ doctrine up to 1845; concerning his interpretation of the ‘tribulation’ period, in the Dictionary of Premillennial Theology (1996), in which at least 28 of the 56 contributors are members of the Pre-Trib Research Center, Floyd Elmore writes: ‘…At times Darby spoke of the seven year period as entirely future, but at other times as only three and a half years remaining for the future…’ So, sometime between 1832 and 1845, when Darby returned to Plymouth, England, he fully developed the modern Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory.
In 1832, when answering ‘Lectures on the Second Advent’ by Rev. William Burgh, Darby did not have his Pre-Tribulation Rapture teaching fully developed. Darby agreed that the Antichrist was a person who would after 42 months break a covenant upon which he would as Daniel prophesied ‘cause the sacrifice …to cease,’ and set up ‘the abomination that maketh desolate…’ then later enter the temple at Jerusalem. However, when Burgh stated the ‘woman persecuted’ by the ‘dragon (Rev. 12)’ is ‘the Jewish nation, against whom Antichrist, in this his short reign, will for reasons before stated, direct all his malignity…’ Darby answered as follows:
“…Though all the malignity of Antichrist is here directed against the Jews, elsewhere we learn that he is to kill all the Gentile saints also. …The attempt to force everything into the three and a half years during which Antichrist is to sit in the temple of God in Jerusalem, involves necessarily, in contradictions and inconsistencies, which prove the falseness of the principles form which they flow… the ten kings, the exercise of all the evil and deceivableness, as ‘man of sin,’ previous to the holding and exercise of that power in Judea, which especially concerns Christendom to beware of…”
About 1843, in The Coming of the Lord and the Translation of the Church, Darby answers George J. Walker’s pamphlet, ‘May the coming of the Lord be expected immediately? And will the translation of the church be secret?’ In this work, Darby speaks against Walker and Newton, and writes of “the church and its rapture previous to the Lord’s appearing.”
In this brief rebuttal, Darby refers to a previous article titled, ‘What Saints will be in the Tribulation,’ in which he wrote: “The question, ‘will the saints be in the tribulation?’ …I cannot, in the space allowed me here, enter at large into the declarations of the Old Testament as to a remnant, nor of the New as to the church. But a short answer to the question …on the rapture of the saints; I purpose adding a development of the true force of 2 Thessalonians 1, 2, so often introduced in the discussions which have arisen on these subjects. …There will be at the close a tribulation; a time such as there has never been, till the Lord’s coming brings deliverance. What, then, are the Scriptures which tell us that there will be such tribulation? I am not aware of any other direct ones than these: Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21; Mark 13:19; Luke does not speak of it (wrong: see Luke 21:23-28) nor of the abomination of desolation; to which we may add the more general passages of Revelation 3:10; chapter 7:14. The first four passages do effectively prove that there will be a time of tribulation such as never was since there was a nation, or as it is expressed in Mark, ‘such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created, neither shall be.’
‘…There will be then a tribulation. The other part of the question still remains: shall we, who compose the church, be in this tribulation? ‘The answer to this question must be sought in the passages which speak of the tribulation itself. The first of them, Jeremiah 30:7, is as clear… ‘It is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be delivered out of it.’ This time, then, of trouble …is the time of Jacob’s trouble. Nothing can be clearer or more distinct. The whole chapter may be read which sets it in the clearest light. It is not merely that Jacob may be found there, but when it is said, ‘Alas! For that day is great, there is none like it,’ the trouble spoken of is Jacob’s trouble. …Michael, also will then stand up for that people, and as Jeremiah had said, they ‘shall be delivered,’ that is, the elect remnant – those written in the book.”
|Notice how slyly and subtly Darby implies this time of tribulation is a Jewish problem, it’s ‘Jacob’s trouble’ and not ours; but then changes their deliverance ‘out of it’ in Jeremiah 30, to that of the Christian Church, or as he says ‘those written in the book.’ This Jewish / Christian division interpretation will become important. However, here Darby changes from saying ‘Gentile saints,’ to ‘Jewish’ ‘saints.’|
Darby continues: “Daniel’s testimony then is also quite clear. The tribulation is the tribulation of Daniel’s people. But this is rather important because it carries us at once to Matthew, the Lord Himself declaring that He speaks of this same time and same event, using the terms of Daniel, and referring to him by name as well as to the statement of the passage. Compare Matt. 24:15 and Daniel 12:11. Those who are in Judea are to flee to the mountains. …The abomination which causes desolation stands in the holy place. They are to pray that their flight may not be on the Sabbath. False Christs and false prophets are to seduce with the hopes cherished by the Jewish people. All is local and Jewish – has no application to hopes which rest on going to meet Christ in the air.”
|Darby entices the reader and his followers to accept the tribulation as a Jewish event, and move on to the next point or event of the vast occurrences prophesied for these last days. Many are blinded by deception, lack of knowledge or undisciplined eagerness to move on without seeking out the truth of every prophecy and scripture. If this ‘time of Jacob’s trouble’ shall be as Matthew says, ‘there shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world …nor ever shall be (Matt.24:21);’ then it is the end of all wars and commotions. Considering that the mass holocaust of Jews during World War II occurred in several countries, and considering that war involved dozens of nations across a third of the earth, then without even consulting the scriptures in Revelation or any scripture, one should see that the “great tribulation” is so far beyond a ‘local and Jewish’ event; and any theologian or teacher or minister who insist such, should be greatly opposed in this matter.|
Darby continues: “Mark relates evidently to the same event and almost exactly in the same terms. Thus these four passages, which speak of the unequalled tribulation, apply it distinctly to Jacob, Jerusalem, and Judea, and the Jews, not to the church. …There are two passages which, as I have said, are more general: Revelation 3:10 and 7:14. Do these, then, apply to the church? …‘Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world to try them which dwell on the earth.’ That is, when the church is addressed, it is with a declaration that she will be kept from that hour which shall come to try others. …Revelation 7:14 may seem more difficult, still is bears witness to the same truth. For the heavenly kings and priests, that is, the elders who have represented them form the beginning of the second or strictly prophetic part of the book, are professedly another class of persons, who have not come out of the great tribulation. One of these elders explains to John who those who have come out of the great tribulation are, another class of persons from themselves.”
|First, concerning Rev. 7:14: ‘these are they which came out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’ Who is this ‘class’ of persecuted Christians? To these ‘…white robes were given… that they should rest …until their fellow-servants and brethren should be killed (Rev. 6:11).’ They shall be ‘beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, nor received his mark… (Rev. 20:4).’ There is not ‘another class’ of Christians.|
|Secondly, concerning Rev. 3:10 – it says, ‘upon the entire world’ proves the great tribulation is more than a ‘Jewish or Jerusalem’ event. Also, ‘the hour,’ could refer to an actual hour, as in ‘that day’ and thus support a ‘Pre-wrath Rapture,’ but not a ‘Pre-tribulation Rapture.’ Next, what do ‘try’ and ‘keep’ mean? Many theologians have interpreted this verse to mean that the Lord shall ‘try’ or ‘test’ them through great trials and tribulation, but ‘keep’ their souls preserved; or as stated in Barnes Notes: “I will so keep you that you shall not sink under the trials which will prove a severe temptation to many. This does not mean that they would be actually kept from the calamity of all kinds, but that they would be kept from the temptation of apostasy in calamity…” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance defines this word ‘keep’ as also ‘to guard,’ ‘to hold fast’ and to ‘watch.’ If we did not even consider the previous points, is it just for Darby to simply pick and choose which verses he desires to apply the great tribulation? He picked the message to the sixth candlestick or the church in Philadelphia; why not the second candlestick or church in Smyrna, ‘…I know thy works and tribulation and poverty …fear none of those things which thou shall suffer… ye shall have tribulation ten days; be thou faithful until death, and I will give thee a crown of life… (Rev. 2:8-10).’ Or the last church, Laodicea, Repent or ‘…I will spue thee out of my mouth (Rev.3:16).’|
Darby continues: “…Revelation 12 – while not using the term tribulation… strongly confirms this same truth. When Satan and his angels are defeated by Michael, he is cast out and come down to the earth, having great wrath, knowing he has but a short time, and persecutes the woman. Now what is the effect of this most important event… the trial of the heavenly saints is ended, and that the inhabiters of the earth and the sea just about to begin in its most formidable shape, because Satan is cast down there. The language is this: ‘Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of God, and the power of Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down… and they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death…’ Now I do not say that this is the moment of the rapture, for I think it is included in the man-child’s being caught up (Rev. 12:5). But I say this that, at the moment of the commencement of the great rage of Satan for the three times and a half, the entire deliverance of the heavenly saintly from his power, and their triumph is celebrated; that is, they are not exposed to that last time of Satan’s rage. This chapter, then, confirms, in the fullest way, the exemption of the church from the last and dreadful time of trial…”
‘The dragon …shall make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev. 12:17).’ This last verse of the chapter shows that it does not ‘exempt the church from that dreadful time of trial,’ but places them in the midst of it. Also, the word remnant is used because many of ‘their fellow-servants’ and ‘brethren’ had already died from the previous perils and ‘things that must come to pass’ before ‘the end (Matt. 24:6; Rev. 6:11).’
Back to Darby’s The Coming of the Lord and the Translation of the Church: “…I now turn to the interpretation of 2 Thessalonians… Some would change here the authorized English Version, and read, ‘But we beseech you, brethren, concerning the coming,’ etc., instead of ‘by the coming.’ The preposition itself is used in both ways; but its constant force with words of beseeching is ‘by.’ The force of the apostle’s reasoning is this, that as they were to be gathered together to Christ, they could not be in the day which was to come by His appearing; they were to go to meet Him in the air, and hence could not be in the judgments of that day, it trials or its terrors. The apostle had taught them in the first epistle that they were to go to meet the Lord in the air…’
‘The church’s connection with the return of the Lord was, to go up to meet Him in the air, to be gathered unto Him. The day was entirely another thing; it was vengeance from His presence. Neither could the day therefore come before the objects of vengeance were there. An apostasy would come, and the man of sin would be revealed, whom the Lord would consume with the breath of His mouth, and destroy by the appearing of His presence. That is, we have two things… we know to be distinct, exactly in this way, Christ’s coming, and the manifestation of it; for when He appears, we shall appear with Him; hence we must be with Him before even He appears at all… They will appear with Him in glory – be like Him. Now it is quite certain they will not appear with Him when they are caught up to meet Him in the air. Thus it is not merely particular expressions, though these are clear and forcible, but the bearing, and object, and course of reasoning of the whole chapter, which shows the distinction of the rapture of the saints before Christ appears, and the coming of the day when He is admired in them.’
‘…We wait for Him to come… We have no need of judgment to participate in blessing under Him; we go out of the midst of all events to meet Him above. The Jews and the world are delivered by judgments. Hence they must await the course of events and the full ripening of earthly evil for judgment; for the day will not come before. …The church on earth has no need to seek this; she belongs to Christ, and will be caught up to heaven out of the evil.’
‘…The Thessalonians knew perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night… ‘But ye, brethren, are not in darkness that that day should overtake you as a thief: ye are all children of the day.’ (Paul) had just taught them that they were to be caught up to meet Him in the air… This passage says nothing of not being in the tribulation – we have treated that point already; but the objection confounds the tribulation and the day which really closes it. The tribulation is Satan’s power, though God’s judgment in woe; the day is Christ’s, who makes it and binds him. But the passage speaks not at all of the tribulation …but it does speak of the day of the Lord, and with the instruction as to the portion of the saints, which shows that it can have in no way whatever to do with them. …All it says is – The day will overtake them as a thief: but it will not overtake you, for ye are of the day…”
|We must agree ‘apostasy will come, and the man of sin will be revealed’ before the coming of the Lord, because Paul says so. Darby admits ‘the tribulation and the day which really closes it;’ that is that ‘the day’ of the Lord or coming of the Lord ‘closes’ ‘the tribulation,’ yet states, ‘But the passage speaks not at all of the tribulation …but speaks of the day of the Lord.’ He is opposed by his own words, but more importantly by the Holy Scriptures, in which Paul explains in 2nd Thessalonians: ‘I told you in the previous letter’ (1st Thessalonians), ‘of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ… be not soon shaken …or troubled …as that the day of the Lord is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed… sitting in the temple of God (2 Thes. 2:1-4).’ If that day ‘closes the tribulation,’ as Paul explains and Darby admits, then not only does the ‘passage speak’ and warn of apostasy and tribulation; but warns we shall be in ‘the midst of all events.’|
In another article, The Rapture of the Saints and the Character of the Jewish Remnant, Darby wrote: “…The rapture of the saints before the appearing of Christ, strange as it may appear to some, has nothing to say to the church, directly or exclusively; but as we form part of those caught up… The rapture is in connection with the glory of the kingdom; and the saints in general, who are to reign in the kingdom, have part in this rapture. Still, indirectly, the enquiry leads to the question, what is the church? The doctrine of the rapture of the saints before the appearing of Christ connects itself with the existence of a Jewish remnant waiting for deliverance after the rapture and before the appearing; and the position of this remnant connects itself, more or less, with the spiritual condition of the saints before the manifestation of the church on the earth.’
‘…The two points …first, that there will be a Jewish remnant at the end… secondly, the true character of the church of God. …This Jewish remnant has neither the church’s heavenly blessings nor the church’s hope. …First, as regards the Jews, Zechariah 13:8, 9: ‘…two parts …shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver… and try them as gold; they shall call on My name, and I will hear them… Still they will be united in the land. See Ezekiel 37; verse 19: ‘I will take …the tribes of Israel… and make them one…’ Verse 24: ‘And David My servant shall be king over them… My tabernacle also shall be with them.’
‘As regards Judah, Daniel tells us: ‘And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble …at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book (Dan. 12:1).’ I have no doubt verse 2 refers to those scattered in the countries: but on this point I do not dwell here.’
| Darby has no problem writing another 4 pages, but he does ‘not dwell here’ nor quote verse two because he no longer believes in the early creeds that the Lord shall come to judge the living and dead as taught in Matthew 13:24-50; John 5:25-29; Rev. 14:14-20; and Daniel 12:1, 2: ‘…at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.’
Darby continues, “…The remnant of Israel …as it is said in Isaiah 10, ‘…shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.’ The points thus made clear are that it is the remnant which is blessed …according to promise, in the land, with Jehovah as their God. The next and capital point …is their previous state: is it a Christian or church state? …In the Sermon on the Mount the remnant are morally distinguished… Two great principles of discernment in this teaching of the Lord are the spiritual character of the law, and the revelation of the Father’s name. It is to be remarked that persecution is supposed, and reward in heaven presented as the fruit of it. …Obedience to His teaching was like a man building his house on the rock; while Israel was warned he was in the way with God, and if he did not come to agreement with Him, he would be cast into prison till all was paid. Compare Isaiah 40:2. It will be remarked, that all this is divine government, not divine salvation.’
‘…In chapter 10 (Matthew) Christ sends out the twelve. They were not to go in the way of the Gentiles… but to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and declare the kingdom of heaven at hand; to enquire who was worthy, i.e., seek the righteous remnant, not poor sinners, and repel with fullest condemnation… ‘as sheep in the midst of wolves:’ it was an ungodly nation. They were to seek the worthy ones in it… But in verse 18 this goes on to circumstances out of the Lord’s lifetime. They were to be brought before Gentiles, and …would be hated of all men for Christ’s name sake, and when persecuted in one city, go to another; they would not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of man come.’
‘Now here we have a mission exclusively to Israel, carried on during the Lord’s lifetime, carried on by the Spirit afterwards, in which they were to endure to the end – a ministry which would not be closed nor completed, and still confined to the cities of Israel, till the Son of man came. …They have only to do with Gentiles as enemies, along with the wicked and hostile nation of the Jews. …They were, according to Jewish hopes and prospects, to gather out a remnant and prepare a people for the kingdom which was at hand.’
‘The Lord then proceeds in Matthew 24 to announce the judgment of Jerusalem, and the circumstances of His disciples in connection with the end of the age. The disciples enquire when should the temple be destroyed, what the sign of Christ’s coming, and the end of the age. That the questions here relate to the Jewish people is perfectly evident: the end of the age, it is well known that ‘world’ is a mistake, has no sense or application out of the sphere of Jewish thought…’
‘As to the first part, to whom do persons come, saying, I am the Christ? Not to Christians, as such, I suppose. It was an expectation that Christ might appear, into which the disciples, with Jewish expectations… The scene, sphere, and character, of deception are Jewish. Many troubles and wars would arise; but… before that arrived, the gospel …would be sent to all the Gentiles, and then the end comes. Why even this difference, if the previous part were not Jewish in its sphere? The later part, from verse 16, demonstrates, as clearly as any language can do, that the Lord was referring to what was Jewish. The abomination of desolation of which Daniel spoke in a prophecy specially referring to his (Daniel’s) people, is the point of departure: it would stand in the holy place. Those who were in Judea were to flee to the mountains; they were to pray that their flight should not be on the Sabbath day…’
‘…The saints, the nations, and their judgments, (are) in chapter 25. …Chapter 10, and pursues it to the close – the coming of the Son of man – in an exclusively Jewish character. The Lord takes up the disciples and the multitude, chapter 23, on definitely Jewish ground… the remnant before they would see Him again: and then, showing the judgment on the house, shows the nation guilty – iniquity abounding – the testimony of the remnant in the midst of this iniquity – the true witness of the kingdom – and extending before the end to all nations; and, finally, He returns to the last great tribulation and occupies Himself with the godly remnant in Judea and Jerusalem, previous to His own appearing; warning them that new pretenses would properly so called, because they are to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. …We go up to meet Christ in the air… and not await His coming to earth; but that this coming to receive us to Himself is not His appearing… Colossians 3, shows that we are already with Him when He shall appear, ‘When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory’.”
|Because i shall address the ‘any moment’ pre-tribulation rapture later and soon will offer works by many who opposed Darby, i shall be brief here. Darby says certain chapters in Matthew apply to the Jews only, and then certain other chapters apply to the Gentiles and again others to Christians, and sometimes all three at different places within a single chapter. Matthew certainly records Christ speaking to Pharisees and Jews in certain chapters, yet to say that the gospel of Matthew applies to Jews only, unless otherwise obvious, is ridiculous; yet many ministers and teachers and professors follow this absurdity. Second, to say the disciples of Christ were to go to Jews only is foolishness. For Christ, about two years after Matthew 10 and weeks after Matthew 24, instructed His apostles and His followers to be ‘witnesses of Him in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).’ Obviously, this is beyond the ‘Jew’ only; it is for ‘all nations (Matt. 28:19);’ and followers of Christ shall continue this command to ‘preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15),’ knowing Christ is with us ‘even unto the end of the world, Amen (Matt. 28:20).’ Matthew 24:14: ‘And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the entire world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.’ Are we to believe this is only a Jewish event? And Darby opposes the established churches and Rev. 20:12, and excludes Jews from the judgment, saying they are not part of Matthew 25:31-46.|
Darby continued in this same manner year after year in other articles such as, ‘Is the Coming of Christ for His saints the proper hope of the Church?’ In his commentary On the Epistles to the Thessalonians, Darby wrote, concerning “1 Thes. 4:13-18, Paul presents, at the end of the chapter, fresh developments on the subject of the Lord’s coming. …What he adds as a fresh element is particularity the doctrine of resurrection. Doubtless, the Thessalonians would not have denied that there will be a resurrection from among the dead, but they might not perhaps have been able to apply it to the Lord’s coming…”
|Once again Darby misleads the novice Christian or the elder that no longer searches the Scriptures; for the Thessalonians knew quite well of ‘that day’ of the ‘coming of the Lord (2 Thes. 2).’ Not because Paul already had ‘told them these things (2 Thes. 2:5),’ but because the Scriptures taught in this manner for a thousand years, as Job said, ‘I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and …in my flesh I shall see God (Job 19:25, 26).’ Likewise, Noah, and Jacob and Abraham, who looked for the New Jerusalem, by faith taught of the ‘better resurrection (Heb. 11:10, 35);’ of ‘that day’ that the Lord should come and resurrect the dead and ‘judge the quick and the dead.’ They knew when this age or world passes away, as Martha said of her dead brother, ‘I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day (John 11:24).’ And when Christ told Martha, ‘I am the resurrection, and the life, that he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live;’ she believe Him and knew that it was ‘the Son of God, which should come into the world,’ and bring about the resurrection. And not only did John speak of the resurrection through the coming of the Son of God (John 5:25-30); but Daniel spoke of the resurrection unto the judgment of the Lord centuries earlier (Dan. 12:2).|
Darby continued: “2 Thes. …Chapter 1 ‘…we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure…’ Then he (Paul) shows in what an end these tribulations would issue and change of position they were preparing between the persecuted and the persecutors at the appearing of the Lord Jesus. In that day we shall be at rest while the wicked will find themselves in tribulation…”
|Again Darby does not see or warn that before the time the Lord returns with great wrath upon the earth and ungodly men, and to destroy the Antichrist, already half of the inhabitants have been killed by wars, famines, pestilence and persecution.|
Darby continues: “…Verse 6, ‘What withholds.’ It is not in order to prevent the revelation of the lawless one that God has put a restraint; it is to prevent his being revealed before his time. The adversary is always ready for evil. In the day that God takes away the bridle, Satan will immediately show himself at work to drag men into apostasy. ‘That which restrains’ …is not that which restrains now; then it was, in one sense, the Roman empire, as the fathers thought… At present the hindrance is still the existence of the governments established by God in the world; and God will maintain them as long as there is here below the gathering of His church. Viewed in this light, the hindrance is, the presence of the church and of the Holy Spirit on the earth. The Antichrist will be the head of the ecclesiastical apostasy… He will be at the same time a civil head, although the first beast (Rev. 13:1-10) will be the one to whom the authority and throne of the dragon will be given. The Antichrist, whose seat appears to be in Judea, will be a kind of lieutenant of the beast. ‘…The Lord shall consume him …with the brightness of His coming.’ …This leads us to distinguish between the coming of the Lord and His appearing. The Lord will first come, and then He will manifest Himself – He will appear…”
|Darby’s writings usually do not flow smoothly, and mostly do not flow biblically. ‘That which restrains’ will be addressed later; yet tell me, how can God remove His Spirit from any place and still there be breathe, or more so ‘the testimony of Jesus which is the spirit of prophecy (Rev.19:10),’ or salvation? How can the ‘two witnesses prophecy 1,260 days’ without the Holy Spirit (Rev. 11:3)? The Scriptures say: ‘these are they which came out of great tribulation (Rev. 7:14),’ and ‘I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and …had not worshipped the beast, neither received his mark (Rev. 20:4).’ Yet, a hundred seminaries and thousands of professors, preachers and Sunday school teachers now teach as Darby, and most without taking a hundred hours, much less than a thousand hours or two, to faithfully study the subject. Now, Darby did teach correctly that ‘the Lord will not put the saints into sorrow and trouble when He comes …when He shall be revealed from heaven, the saints will have rest.’ However, it is only because the Lord shall come just exactly as He said: ‘immediately after the tribulation of those days… (Matt. 24:29).’|
Darby wrote hundreds of letters, and in many we find him speaking of future events. In his lectures given in many countries, he continued to teach this doctrine of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. Between 1862 and 1866, he made several trips to various cities in North America. In Toronto, Canada, Darby gave his ‘Lectures on the Second Coming of Christ.’ By this time, in his sixties, John Nelson Darby was speaking with great confidence on his ‘dispensations,’ and events of the last days. In what is titled, ‘Lecture 1,’ in Toronto, Darby said: “…When the disciples ask Him the time when these things are to be, He tells them to watch; and in verse 44, ‘Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.’ But the Lord goes farther in the following parables, which apply to Christians. The mark of the evil servant given there is that he says in his heart ‘my lord delays his coming,’ and thereupon begins to eat and drink with the drunken. They lost the expectation of Christ… Matthew 25:1, ‘Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps and went forth to meet the Bridegroom.’ There is the essence of the church’s calling. They went forth, but while the Bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept – saints as well as professors, no exception. They all …gave up watching. And what is it that aroused them from the sleepy state into which they had fallen? ‘And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the Bridegroom cometh: go ye out to meet Him.’ They had to be called out again; they had got into the world, into some place to sleep more comfortably, just where the professing church is now, eating and drinking with the drunken, and the cry is, I trust, again going forth, ‘Behold, the Bridegroom cometh.’ And what made the church depart… just what people and Christian people too, are saying now, ‘The Lord delayeth His coming.’ They do not say He will not come, but He delays it…”
|All the virgins, good or evil (John 5:29) heard the ‘shout’ and awoke (Dan. 12:2), that is, to ‘go out to meet Him’ who is coming with judgment. Darby was correct in saying most do not consider the Lord’s return.|
In Darby’s ‘Lecture 2,’ he says, “…turn for a moment to Zechariah 14, where it is said the Lord shall come and all His saints with Him, and His feet shall stand in the day upon the Mount of Olives. This is referred to by the angel, when, after Christ’s ascension from Mount Olivet, he said to the disciples, ‘…Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.’ Again, in verse 14 of Jude… ‘Enoch …prophesied of this, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints (holy ones -NAS) to execute judgment upon all. Here they are associated with Christ in the executing of judgments. …Of ‘His saints to execute judgment’ shows how entirely we are associated with Christ. …You will find the same truth in 2 Thes. 1 …when ‘the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with His mighty angels… taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction… when He shall come to be glorified in His saints…’ He comes with these ten thousand or myriads of His saints.’
‘…You find a distinct statement of their coming given in figure in the Revelation. At chapter 17 it is said, ‘These shall make was with the Lamb.’ All the kings of the earth shall be found, not in blessing, joined with Christ, but in open war with the Lamb, joined with the beast. ‘These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them; for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings; and they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful.’ Other passages show us that angels will be with Him, but it is not angels that are here spoken of as being with Him …but these that are ‘…called,’ and it is the saints who are called by the grace of God. …Now to chapter 19, ‘And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True , and in righteousness He doth judge and make war.’ …A little while, yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. He only knows how long the gathering of the saints to be with Him will last.”
|The scene of the Lord’s coming shall not change, it is with His ‘holy ones’ – in the Greek ‘saints,’ hagios, can be used for angels or righteous men. In Zechariah 14 & Jude 14 it is as Darby said, the Lord with His angels. Yet, Darby divides the Lord’s coming into two comings and supposes that in Rev. 17 the Church is with the Lord in heaven and not on earth; but this is not a war in heaven as previously spoken of in Rev. 12:7. Yet, the angels shall be with the Lord when He returns, Paul says in Thes. 1:7 where he identifies ‘angels’ specifically returning with the Lord. And when the Lord returns He will not need to ‘pray to the Father, and receive twelve legions of angels (Matt. 26:53),’ they will already be with Him.|
In ‘Lecture 3,’ Darby wrote: “…But there is still a week left – we have only had sixty-nine weeks; and here, without entering into details, is the great principle I want you to get hold of. We have the sixty-nine weeks, and then there is a lapse. Messiah comes, is rejected, and is cut off, does not get the kingdom at all …He gets the cross… He ascends to heaven, and therefore our hearts must follow Him up to heaven, while He is there. Then comes the time of the end …and he (Antichrist) ‘shall confirm the covenant with many for one week (Dan. 9:27).’ For remark what was said before, ‘unto the end of the war desolations are determined (Dan. 9:26).’ As to the time all is left vague; these desolations are to go on for no one knows how long after the destruction of Jerusalem, the Messiah having gone and taken nothing. ‘…In the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations’ – that is, idolatry – ‘…he shall make it desolate even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate (Dan. 9:27).’
‘…So again our Saviour, in Luke’s gospel, after speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, says the Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. …He cannot begin these dealings with the Gentiles in the last week until the gathering of the saints to be heirs with Christ is over. Until He has got the heirs, Christ cannot take the inheritance; and thus, all the dealings of God or of Christ …direct dealings of God with the world through the Jews are suspended until the church is taken up.’
‘…You never find, until the end of Revelation – the church revealed in prophecy, except in connection with Christ. …He only intercedes for the world when He asks for dominion over them, and of course, it will be given Him. …And He will take judgment in hand, the rod of iron. But then the saints will judge the world too ‘…know ye not that we shall judge angels? Do ye not know the saints shall judge the world (1 Cor. 6:2, 3)?’ …At the end of Revelation 2 you will find that this is given to the church ‘…He that overcomes and keeps My words unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron…’. In Daniel 7 ‘…and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High,’ the saints who will be in the heavenly places with Christ, when Christ comes…’ And in Rev. 20 ‘…And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them.’
‘…In chapter twelve of Revelation …you have it positively revealed that it is finished with the saints, as regards all their trials and all their accusations, before the time that the trial of the Jewish people begins in the last half-week of Daniel. …The ‘woman clothed with the sun… and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.’ This, I have no doubt, is the Jewish people, nothing else; because Christ is not born of the church, but …born of the Jews, ‘of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came (Rom. 9:5).’ Twelve is the number always used to indicate power – the power of God’s administration among men. You have the twelve apostles sitting on twelve thrones – the city built on twelve foundations and having twelve gates, etc. …Well, Christ was to be born. ‘And she being with child, cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered;’ and so the Jews say, in Isaiah 9, ‘To us a son is born.’ The church cannot say that at all. We can say that we believe He is the Son of God; but we do not say He is born to us. As concerning the flesh, He was born into Israel.’
‘…And the woman fled into the wilderness… 1,260 days …the gap, with regard to all God’s dealings with the world, which there always is in prophecy – without, however, giving any dates at all – between the time that Christ is taken up, and the time that the church is taken up… It is positively revealed, as God’s own order in Daniel 9, that Messiah was to be revealed, and cut off, and take nothing; that blindness in part happens to Israel till the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled; and that then the Jews would be brought to repentance, as Jesus Christ says in the gospel of Matthew, ‘Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, ‘Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. Thus we get the church, united with Christ, taken up to God, and the woman fled into the wilderness.’
‘Now we come to the progress of events, not as regards the church at all, but as regards Israel and the world. ‘And there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon …and his angels…’. That is in direct contrast with the result of the church’s warfare; ‘We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities… and rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’ This is the conflict we have to wage as to our title to sit in heavenly places with Christ; and the result of this spiritual conflict is, that the power of Satan is cast out. ‘And the great dragon was cast out… Satan, which deceives the whole world… and his angels were cast out with him. …Now is come salvation …and the kingdom of our God …for the accuser of our brethren is cast down… And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and loved not their lives unto the death.’
‘…Woe to the inhibitors of the earth… For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knows that he hath but a short time. And the dragon …persecuted the woman...’ We see here very clearly that by the woman it is not the church of God …they have overcome the accuser by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. This woman is …the Jewish people. This is for them the time of great tribulation… I have now gone through all the passages in the New Testament, which, so far as I am aware, speak of the resurrection; and I think it must be as plain… those passages show very distinctly that the resurrection of the saints is an entirely distinct thing from the resurrection of the wicked, being founded on their redemption and their having received life from Christ, the power of which is shown by the resurrection of their bodies; that resurrection of life is definitely distinguished from the resurrection of judgment by a thousand years elapsing between the two…”
|Concerning Luke 21, many have and do teach that it is referring to Titus’ destruction of the Temple and Jews in 70AD. And if Luke 21:5-28 did not parallel to Matthew 24 and Mark 13, i also might have taught that of vs. 20. But, Luke 21 speaks of same events and goes into the same parable of the fig tree – Luke is recording Christ words that Matthew and Mark also heard. Darby says the Church is not in Rev. 12; tell me, who are they who ‘overcome …by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and loved not their lives to the death (12:11); and who are ‘the remnant of the woman’s seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (12:17)? They are the ‘fellow-servants (6:11) of those that ‘came out of great tribulation (7:14); they are those who ‘were beheaded for the witness of Jesus (20:4),’ they are Christians – the Church.|
In Lectures 4 and 5, Darby continued his teaches, and in Lecture 6 concerning Daniel chapter 7:21, 22 he said, “…‘I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them… and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.’ …It is not here the church, but all the saints who have their dwelling in heavenly places in connection with the kingdom, yet in a state of eternal glory. God took the name of God Almighty in relationship with Abraham, of Jehovah with Israel, of Father, in grace, with us. Thus Abraham was to be perfect, walking before God Almighty; Israel was to be perfect with Jehovah their God…’
‘…Meanwhile tribulation and trial is the portion of those on earth. The little blasphemous horn …makes war with the saints. …I do not believe this little horn to be Antichrist: the source of persecution is ever the traditional religious power. Antichrist will be in direct association with him and urges him to it… But this is the last active power of evil in the Roman Empire or beast whose names of blasphemy are on it… This persecution will continue till God’s power interferes …till the Ancient of days …the Son of man …A total change takes place, judgment is given to the saints of the high places, and …the saints possess the kingdom. He does not say saints of the Most High here, for on earth …the earthly saints will possess the kingdom, as in Matthew 25 …the Ancient of days then comes, judgment is given to the heavenly saints, compare Revelation 20:4, where we read judgment was given unto them, and they live and reign with Christ a thousand years…’
‘…Times and laws’ refer to Jews entirely; the words are terms which refer to their statutes and ordinances. These, not the saints, are given into his hands. God never gives His saints into their enemies’ hands, though He may use these as a rod. …The 42 months or 1,260 days …belongs entirely to the Jews, and the three years and a half begin to run when they are again on the scene, when Satan has been cast down, and the beast …comes up out of the abyss.”
|Darby is both confusing and in great error. He denies that the ‘little horn’ is the Antichrist; and he states that the persecuted ‘saints’ that Daniel speaks of ‘is not the Church… but saints who have their dwelling in heavenly places;’ and Darby says Christ is not ‘our King’ because ‘we reign with Him.’ He says the tribulation belongs to the ‘Jews entirely.’ Are we to believe Satan distastes only the Jews and ignores the worshipers of Jesus Christ; are we to believe that persecution against the Jews, about .2% of world population, is ‘a time of trouble, such as never was (Dan. 12:1)?’|
If we examined the hundreds of other works of John Nelson Darby, such as The Two Resurrections; Judgment-seat of God and Christ, or his lectures on the Apocalypse or Daniel – Are there Two Half Weeks in the Apocalypse, we would find the same teachings. However, it is worth looking at a portion of Darby’s Outline of the Revelation, to show again how he teaches confusion:
‘…The number of the Jews …144,000 is a mystic number… We find these Jews in Matthew 25 spoken of as the Lord’s brethren. We have the heavenly saints in the same chapter as the virgins and the servants. These are not altogether the same as the 144,000 of Revelation chapter 14. Some of them are killed during the tribulation and get their places in heaven. …The Gentiles seen in chapter 7 are those who have gone through the tribulation… The great tribulation is not the same as Jacob’s trial (trouble); the former is connected with the whole earth, while the latter only applies to Israel. They may be going on at the same time. …In Revelation 8 are the first four judgments,… are the western judgments; in Revelation 9 the fifth and sixth trumpets… these are the eastern judgments, the third part of man being slain. The fifth falls on the apostate Jews who had not the seal of God on their foreheads; Rev. 9:4.’
‘It is the wrath of God here that is poured out, not that of the Lamb. …His title as the slain Lamb is owned in Revelation 5, but we do not get His acting in judgment till we come to Revelation 19. (note: in Darby’s Thoughts on Revelation, he said, “…The seven last plagues give us the wrath of God, not of the Lamb, we do not get that until chapter 19.”) The action here is all angelic. …Revelation 10 and 11 are parenthetical; Rev. 12, 13 and 14 are connected; Rev. 15 – 18 form an appendix. The whole book closes at Revelation 11:8. It brings us down to the judgment of the dead, at the end of the millennium… Rev. 20. The last verse in Rev. 11 belongs to chapter 12. It goes on beyond the millennium into the eternal state…’
‘…Revelation 11:2, the holy city is trodden under foot of the Gentiles 42 months. …In Daniel 7:25 it is the times and laws, and not the saints. …In the half-week of the Lord’s ministry the remnant received Him, the nation did not. When under Antichrist the nation goes through the first half-week, it will be the converse, the nation receives him and the remnant does not. In the Gospels by Matthew and Mark we have only the last tribulation, while in Luke is also seen the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. Luke says nothing of the abomination of desolation set up. We find from Revelation 11:1-3 that true worship and true testimony are maintained during the whole of this time of 1,260. Time is never counted except in connection with the Jews. The church belongs to heaven, and the time is not reckoned in connection with it. There is no date mentioned in Revelation till you come to the last half-week.’
‘When the church is caught up, there will be apostasy. We see in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 that those who received not the love of the truth that they might be saved are given up to believe a lie… Revelation 11 takes us on to the last scene of judgment – that of the dead, which takes place after the millennium: this finishes the book. Thus the beast, Babylon, and then the appendix, chapters 11:19, 12, 13 and 14, go together. …The church is not spoken of here.”
| Again Darby follows error and says Matthew 24 and Mark 13 relate to the ‘last tribulation,’ and Luke is the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus’ and ‘nothing of the abomination of desolation…’ What is obvious is that Matthew, Mark and Luke are recording the answers to the same question: ‘Master, when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall pass (Luke 21:7; Matt. 24:3; Mark 13:4)?’
Upon which they all began their records, saying, And Christ said, ‘Take heed that ye be not deceived… (Luke 21:8; Matt. 24:4; Mark 13:5).’ Moreover, Darby says ‘the church is not spoken of’ in Revelation chapters 11-14. He must say this as all pretribulation teachers do, because they assign the great tribulation only to Jews and unbelievers. But ‘hear what the Spirit’ says to the churches (Rev. 3:22), and what the Lord writes to the Christians – saints (Rev. 13:7), those who are persecuted such that ‘the dragon …makes war with (them) …which keep the commandments of God , and have the testimony of Jesus Christ… (Rev. 12:17).’
Now, Darby did preach salvation through Jesus Christ; and he rightly taught, ‘there is no such thing as annihilation,’ and opposed those who were saying so; for some such as William Miller in the 1840’s (a founder of Seventh Day Adventist) were teaching the souls of those that do not enter heaven would be ‘annihilated’ and that there is no eternal hell. In the 1870’s Charles Russell’s ‘Bible Students,’ which became the Jehovah Witnesses, taught this same ‘annihilation’ doctrine.
Darby wrote many letters to friends showing his love for Christ, and for the word of God, and for lost souls. He earnestly sought to do the will of God, yet, like Luther against his friend Zwingli, Darby spoke in error against many teachings of John Wesley, and many times, likewise, against the Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, etc. Darby wrote so often, that one collection of his writings is 32 volumes.
One of his most influential works was his 5-volume Synopsis of the Books of the Bible. According to Logos publishers, “Darby’s …Synopsis …has played a central role in the emergence of fundamentalism and the development of American Christianity. As the intellectual and theological forerunner of well-known preachers such as Dwight Moody and contemporary authors such as Tim LaHaye, John Darby’s influence is profound. From a dispensational interpretation of the Bible, to the contemporary understanding of the rapture and the End Times, the prominent features of evangelical theology are indebted to Darby’s influence. ‘…I literally devoured these five volumes…’ H. A. Ironside; ‘Darby left a lasting legacy for us today,’ Conservative Theological Journal.” In his ‘Synopsis…’ on 1Corinthians chapter 15, Darby wrote, “…The dead shall be raised incorruptible …the apostle always looked at it as a thing immediately before his eyes, ready to take place any moment…”
Writings and Arguments against Certain Actions And Doctrines of John Darby
1. Samuel P. Tregelles, perhaps the most scholarly Plymouth Brethren, the New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia says was ‘…next to Tischendorf in the importance of his critical labors…’ In 1864, Tregelles published his critical work, The Hope of Christ’s Second Coming: How is it taught in Scriptures? And Why? which states:
“…The only means that we have of learning anything respecting the coming of our Lord is from the teaching of Holy Scripture inspired by the Holy Ghost. Had the Scripture been silent we should have known nothing on the subject; on any points as to which Scripture is silent we do know nothing; but where the Scripture has spoken, we have as learners to receive what it teaches us; and if we shut our ears to this revelation, we are setters aside of the truth of God; or if we substitute our own speculations we are adding to what God has revealed. If there are points which the Scripture does not clearly reveal, there may be differences of opinion; but where the Word of God definitely speaks, there we have simply to listen and to learn.’
‘…Before the first advent of Christ there had been the revelation concerning Him in promise and prophecy, and this, too, in very minute (microscopic) details: the family from which He should spring… His birth place …His miracles, His teaching …His crucifixion, death and burial; His vicarious sacrifice; His resurrection; His ascension… and His tarriance seated there until His enemies shall be made His footstool (Psa. 110:1; Heb. 10:13). All these leading incidents connected with His coming, as well as many that are more minute, were given in ancient prophecy.’
‘…To those who hold as conclusive the words of the Lord Jesus, and the teaching of the Holy Ghost through apostles and prophets, I wish to address the inquiry, How is the second coming of Christ set forth in Holy Scripture? And Why? …Matthew 24 …The Lord Jesus on the Mount of Olives, a few days before He suffered …in that prophetic discourse applies the terms ‘ye’ and ‘you,’ not to the four disciples (Mark 13:3) who had questioned Him as individuals, but to the Church of the first-born as one body, having one hope, of which those four were representatives. Thus when He says, ‘When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation (Matt. 24:15)’ …etc., He specially, of course, regards those to whom His words would be applicable from the age in which they should live… our Lord in the same discourse adds, ‘What I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch (Mark 13:37).’
|Yes, Christ was not talking about the 4 disciples, for James died in about 44, Andrew about 60, and Peter died about 65AD; all before the fall of the Temple.|
Tregelles continues: “Now the questions put to the Lord Jesus by the disciples… They say, ‘What shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world (or age; Matt. 24:3)?’ …We are called on to take heed to His reply. In His answer, He first tells His disciples of many and various intervening events; deceivers should arise; there should be commotions amongst the nations, persecutions of the faithful servants of Christ, and the preaching of the Gospel should be carried out as a witness amongst all nations: all this must precede the end, and, in fact, must continue up to the end. The words, ‘the end is not yet (verse 6)…’ and ‘then shall the end come (verse 14)’ …It is evident, on simply reading the inspired record of what our Lord taught, that it sets before the believing people of Christ the hope that He shall Himself come ‘in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory;’ that then ‘He shall send forth His angels with a great sound of a trumpet and they shall gather together His elect (Matt. 24:30, 31)…’ and that before this coming there ‘shall be great tribulation, such as was not from the beginning of the world to this time (Matt. 24:21)’ …and that the parable of the fig tree is given us that we may learn how to watch and wait. We have to expect the Lord as He has promised to come, and in no other way.’
‘…His ascension took place, ‘while they beheld, He was taken up and a cloud received Him out of their sight (Acts 1:9).’ But …He was mindful of them; the two in white apparel, who appeared to them, directed them onward to the day of His coming again: ‘This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven (Acts 1:11).’ These words, with the previous mention of the cloud… (were) intended to lead them, and to lead us, to consider the definite promises and prophecies which had been given of His coming in the clouds of heaven. They might remember Daniel 7:13 ‘…behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds…’ and our Lord, in His discourse on the Mount of Olives, in speaking of what should be ‘immediately after the tribulation of those days,’ specifies the darkening of the sun and moon, etc. – ‘then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man coming in the clouds… (Matt.24:29-).’ …In the revelation given to the beloved disciple in Patmos, we again find the same accompaniments of the Second Advent of the Lord Jesus: ‘Behold, He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him, and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him (Rev. 1:7).’ It is to the testimony to this coming that the Apostle John responds, ‘Even so; Amen (1:7; as 22:20).’
‘…In the conclusion of 1 Thes. 4, the apostle comforts the Thessalonians …teaching them …that the whole ‘Church of the first-born (Heb. 12:23)’ shall be gathered together at the coming of the Lord; the dead being raised, and the living changed. He then tells them how the Lord shall come: ‘The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we …shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall ever be with the Lord. Comfort one another with these words.’
‘And this the most uninstructed Christian may do who simply accepts the words of the Apostle… The scene presented is the very reverse of secrecy: the Lord comes with a shout; His call shall wake the dead; but besides this, the voice of the archangel shall be also heard (see Rev.14:15) …and there shall be the sounding of the trump of God (Rev.10:7; 11:15; 1 Cor.15:52). This is just what Christ has promised in Matthew 24:31, when He comes with the clouds of heaven. To say that this triple sound shall not be heard by all, would be a mere addition to Holy Scripture of a kind that contradicts its testimony. We might as well say that ‘every eye shall see Him’ means that He shall only be visible to some few. …It may have been needful to teach the Thessalonians that the Day of the Lord must still be waited for; that the falling away and the revelation of the man of sin had first to take place (2 Thes. 2:3); but even these things connect themselves with the same hope; for this Head of evil is he ‘whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth, and destroy with the brightness of His coming (2 Thes. 2:8).’ ‘It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed (2 Thes. 1:6,7).’ Thus, at the revelation of Christ from heaven, there shall be rest for His Church and destruction of their oppressors. The date …for both is the same. The Church is called to a ‘patient waiting for Christ (2 Thes. 3:5),’ and not to mere excitement of speculative expectancy.
‘…The evening before His crucifixion, our Lord contemplated His Church as being left here on this earth for a considerable period: the instruction then given for its guidance during such an interval, and the mission of the Holy Ghost, as the Paraclete (comforter; John 14:26), was for the right endowment of such to live and act in the circumstances. Jesus tells them …their hope, ‘I will come again… (John 14:3);’ so that every direction, every warning and every promise of support, would relate to persons thus waiting. …One thing especially which the Lord promised to His disciples was suffering: ‘If the world hates you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you …if they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you (John 15:18, 20).’ ‘…The time shall come that whosoever kills you will think that he does God service (John 16:2).’
‘…Persecution is here one of the significant tokens… Matthew 24: ‘Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you, and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name’s sake, and …many shall betray one another… (24:9; see Matt. 10).’ ‘…I am with you always, even unto the end of the world (Matt. 28:20).’ ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15).’ ‘Ye shall receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon you and ye shall be witnesses… (Acts 1:8)’ The Church was taught that she was called to a place of service and trial… She knew that certain signs should precede that coming…’
‘…The Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ left in their epistles instruction for the Church in all ages. ‘Little children, it is the last time; and as ye have heard that Antichrist shall come… (1 John 2:18).’ …The Church had been taught the coming of the Antichrist. …The Apostle James speaks of the evil characteristics of ‘the last days…’ saying, ‘be patient brethren unto the coming of the Lord…’. The Apostle Paul revealed that there would be evil days, both in the Church and in the world, before Christ’s second advent… ‘in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils (1 Tim. 4:1);’ …also, that ‘in the lasts days perilous times shall come… (2 Tim. 3:13).’
‘In Revelation 20 we read of the ‘first Resurrection.’ …This is in full accordance with other Scriptures: for instance, 1 Corinthians 15:23, where the order of the resurrection is taught: ‘Every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, afterward, they that are Christ’s at His coming (singular).’
‘…But there is a very different theory of the coming of the Lord as the hope of His Church, which many teach, and which many more receive, as though it were unquestionable truth. It is said that there shall be a secret coming of the Lord Jesus Christ; that at this secret coming His believing people who are in their graves shall be raised, and that the living changed, and that a secret rapture of the Church shall then take place; that this secret coming and secret rapture are our hope, and not the manifested appearing of Christ in the clouds. It is said that after this secret removal of the Church, the full manifestation of human evil, for some years at least, will take place, during which time shall be the display of the Antichrist, the persecutions foretold in Revelation, the extreme trials of Israel, the unequalled tribulation; and that at the end of this will be the manifestation of Christ visibly coming with His Church… This doctrine of the secret coming of Christ which many now preach as if it were the acknowledged truth of God, instead of its being, as is really the case, that which at every point would require proof from the Scripture.’
‘But not only is this doctrine of the coming of Christ not taught in the Word of God, but if, in what has been previously said, there is any point of truth, then this whole system stands in distinct contradiction of what the Scripture reveals. It is refuted by whatever speaks of the Lord’s coming in the clouds of heaven when every eye shall see Him… for which people of Christ are to watch and wait, and …after the last anti-Christian persecution, and not before…’
‘Chapter 9: The ‘Secret Rapture:’ Its Origin: When a new doctrine is taught as if it were a revealed truth, it behooves every Christian to inquire on what Scripture testimony it rests; and unless this is satisfactorily set forth, what is taught ought not to be accepted. This will apply very definitely to the system of the secret rapture and secret coming. …The apostles taught intervening events, the corruption that should take place in the Church from false teachers…’
‘…Secret rapture …had been divided into two parts …He would appear in glory …take the Church …and cease until He came to crush evil, and then reign. This would be virtually a second and third coming; it would err in the fact of addition to Holy Scripture, as well as in that of contraction to its testimony. (Tregelles footnoted: ‘in 1863, I heard it publicly …that the secret coming is the second coming and …the manifest appearing of our Lord is His third coming.’)
‘…Thus the doctrine held …that believers are concerned not with a public and manifested coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, not with His appearing when every eye shall see Him, and when He shall sever the wicked from among the just, but with a secret or private coming, when the dead saints shall be secretly raised, the living changed and both caught up to meet the Lord in the air; that the shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God, do not indicate anything of publicity, for the ear of faith alone shall hear them, that the Church shall meet the Lord, not at His visible coming, but in order to remain with Him, at least for years, before His manifested advent, that after this secret coming there shall be in the earth a full power of evil put forth amongst both Jews and Gentiles that there shall be a time of unequalled tribulation and great spiritual perils… and that this condition of things shall end by the manifest coming of the Lord.’
‘…Chapter 10: ‘The Jewish Waste-paper Basket.’ …But if things are so, to whom would the Scriptures apply which give warning of perilous times? This consideration has led to the Jewish interpretation of Scripture. Whatever has been felt to be a difficulty has been sent aside by saying by saying that it is ‘Jewish’ and …that it has nothing to do with the Church. On this principle the application of very much of the New Testament has been avoided. …But it must ever be borne in mind that, however differing in external circumstances, the Church is one body, dwelt in by one Spirit: the Jew and the Gentile, alike brought near to God by the blood of Christ, are one in Him; so that Jewish circumstances or Gentile circumstances do not affect the essential unity.’
‘…If the application of the Jewish theory of interpretation of definite New Testament prophecies be carefully examined, it will be found to refute itself… when Matthew 24 has been used as teaching how we are to expect the Lord, it has been repeatedly said that it is entirely ‘Jewish.’ …But what then? Who are to use it, or to take heed to its warnings? No one can acknowledge Jesus as a teacher without owning Him as the Christ: ‘Many shall come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ’ and shall deceive many.’ The persons who will use the warnings, and who will expect the manifest appearing of Christ …must be believers in His divine mission… believers in His name …they must be a part of the Church of the firstborn…’
‘…In order to avoid applications of certain Scriptures to us, doctrines have been called Jewish: thus it has been said that Covenant, Priesthood, and Mediation, are altogether Jewish. To this it has been added that the Church, ‘the body of Christ,’ stands altogether above everything of the kind; even ‘above dispensation,’ whatever this may mean. …It does not make the New Covenant a merely Jewish thing. Just as the Lord Jesus said the night before He suffered, ‘This is My blood of the New Testament which is shed for many for the remissions of sins (Matt. 26:28).’
‘…The Lord gives a warning of unequalled ‘tribulation’ which shall ‘immediately’ precede His ‘…coming in the clouds of heaven… (Matt. 24:29).’ Some have said, ‘What a fearful prospect it is if the Church shall be in this tribulation!’ ‘Can we suppose it possible’ …And thus any theory is judged admissible which shall exclude the Church form sharing at all in suffering, or from being on earth at the time. But we cannot draw conclusions in this transcendental manner. Thus Peter argued and spoke when his Master foretold ‘that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer …and be killed, and be raised again the third day.’
‘It was nature, and not spiritually, that led him to think thus of the sufferings of his Lord, rather than of the promise of His resurrection: ‘Be it far from Thee… (Matt. 16:22).’ Should not our Lord’s rebuke to Peter check all such reasoning? …Is suffering and trial so strange a lot for the people of Christ? ‘These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation… (John 16:33).’ How continually did apostles teach ‘that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).’ ‘No man should be moved by these afflictions for you know that we are appointed thereunto; for verily, when we were with you, we told you that we should suffer tribulation… (1 Thes. 3:3,4).’ If certain tribulations are to be expected as the common experience of the faithful servants of Christ, why should it seem strange that they be instructed respecting the great and final tribulation?’
‘…What are these that are arrayed in white robes…? These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb… (Rev. 7:13, 14).’ These are ‘a great multitude, which no man can number…’ In this last tribulation, Christ is very mindful of His people: ‘for the elect’s sake, those days shall be shorted (Matt. 24:22);’ and besides this, they are warned of that time…’
‘…Now, it is quite true that the Scripture does speak of two remnants in Israel: First, ‘The remnant shall return …of Jacob unto the mighty God (Isa. 10:21).’ This …is the spared Israel who, after the judgments of the Lord, shall be the earthly people. Second, ‘At this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace (Rom. 11:5).’ This remnant of Israel …is that portion who, during this dispensation, believe in Christ; but in the Church they form no separate body; believing Jew and Gentile are one in Christ…’ (Rom. 2:29; 3:22; Gal. 3:28)
‘Chapter 15 …The parable of the wheat and the tares (Matt. 13) Christ gives us some very simple instruction. The result of the sowing of the seed is that there is much wheat in the field: an enemy sows tares amongst them; and from that day until the harvest there is no point of time in which the field does not contain some of each. ‘Let both grow together until the harvest… and I will say to the reapers, ‘Gather ye together first the tares …to burn them; but gather the wheat into My barn (Matt. 13:30).’ ‘…So shall it be in the end of this world… (Matt. 13:40).’ Thus the removal of the Church, as set forth in the secret rapture theory, is impossible: for, from the moment of the first preaching of the gospel, until the angels are sent forth to sever the wicked from among the just, both classes are found mingled in Christendom. …This contradicts also the notion of a body of Jewish believers being formed after the rapture of the Church. …There is no such break or interval allowed in Scripture up to the harvest.’
‘…Watch, for ye know not what hour your Lord does come (Matt. 24:42).’ …Does not this passage show that the momentary expectation that our Lord may come is that which we should rightly cherish? …Some say it is ‘Jewish,’ …but it …is a groundless assumption …to quote a few words from such portions in defense of a supposed secret advent… (from) the same passages which speak of our being called to watch… He who looks for promised events as indications of the Lord’s advent, will not rest for a moment in the events themselves: their value is, that they lead on the thoughts and affections to Him for whom the Church is called to watch and wait, and who has Himself promised these signs to His expecting people. To watch unscripturally is really not to watch at all, but to substitute something of emotion and sentiment for the patient waiting for Christ. …The Lord has promised signs (Luke 21:25) …and these signs can only be for His believing people. They are connected with our watchfulness. We wait for the budding of the fig tree; ‘when these things begin to come to pass, then look up …for your redemption draws near (Luke 21:28).’
‘Chapter 19: Secret Rapture – Scriptures contradictory. …Now, it is very remarkable that those who have the Scripture, and who read it with some measure of attention, can have adopted or received a system which contradicts some of the simplest statements of our Lord and His inspired apostles… Our Lord has promised that He will return in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, and that then He will send forth His angels to gather His elect. The secret advent doctrine teaches that He will come privately, and that then He will raise His sleeping saints and change the living, taking them up to Himself a good while before His manifestation. The Scripture warns the saints of perilous times (2Tim.3:1) and of evils in the later days before the coming of Christ. The secret advent theory maintains that no such events can be known as would interpose an interval between the present moment and the coming of the Lord. The Scripture speaks only of Christ’s second coming, until which He remains at the right hand of God the Father. The secret advent is a notion entirely opposed to this; for it represents our Lord coming in a private manner to take the Church to meet Him, and then at a future period coming in glory; and this some call His third coming. The Scripture teaches the Church to wait for the manifestation of Christ. The secret theory bids us to expect a coming before any such manifestation. Our Lord says that the wheat and tares shall be together in the field until the harvest (Matt. 13:30). The doctrine of the secret rapture affirms that at some time considerably before the harvest, all the wheat shall have been removed, leaving only tares. Our Lord bids us look for certain signs, and use them in our watching. The advocates of the secret advent contradict this, saying that the signs are not for us.’
‘The Scripture tells us that the ‘first resurrection’ of the saints will be when the Lord has come forth as the conqueror, add that those will share in this resurrection who have suffered under the final Antichrist. The teachers of the secret doctrine say that the resurrection of the present Church will take place long ‘before the first resurrection,’ and before the manifestation of Antichrist. It is not surprising that men with their Bibles in their hands, can be led to adopt a theory of doctrine which not only adds to Scripture, but contradicts it at all points? This is just the simple and natural consequences of the acceptance of the one leading addition to Scripture, that there shall be a secret coming of the Lord and a secret rapture of His Church. When Christ distinctly states a truth, it might have been expected that at least those who profess to be His believing people would receive those words as conclusive; and thus it might have been thought that those only who avowedly reject His authority would deny the force of what He said. Now our Lord has expressly taught us that His coming shall not be secret: He has told us this, not only by saying that it will be manifest, but also by warning against any supposition of secret coming as suits some of the ‘Jewish’ notions.’
‘After speaking of the unequalled tribulation, He says, ‘Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo here is Christ, or there, believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets …with great signs… if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. …For as the lightening cometh out of the east …so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be… (Matt. 24:23-27).’ No man with these words in his Bible ought to accept the doctrine of any secret coming without feeling that he is casting off, in so doing, the authority of the Lord; for this is done, virtually, when the warning of Christ is treated as if He had taught the very reverse…’
‘…A supposed distinction has been made between the coming of Christ and the day of the Lord, as if the one could be a secret hope before the other which is manifest; but in 1 Cor. 1:8, ‘the day of our Lord’ is the hope of the Church; so too, in 2 Cor. 1:14 …Phil.1:6, 10 …1 Thes. 5:2 …2 Thes. 2:1,2 …In 2 Peter 3:12, believers are spoken of as ‘looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God,’ this is the ‘day’ as our hope contradict all theory of secrecy. Could the ‘Sun of Righteousness (Mal. 4:2) arise’ without the day beginning? …Teachers of the ‘secret’ doctrine act in very contradictory ways with regard to the Apocalypse. Some of them say that it is not for our instruction… others say that the epistles to the seven churches are our potion …but that when a door is opened in heaven (Chapter 4) the Church is caught up. Others maintain that the whole book is future …after the secret removal of the present Church. …Let it be again noted that the coming of the Lord is set forth in the opening of the book: ‘Behold, He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him…’ and to this coming the Apostle responds, ‘Even so, Amen (Rev.1:7).’
No supposition that the Church is found in resurrection glory prior to such a coming can be admitted… nor can any symbol be rightly interpreted as setting forth the Church as actually in resurrection glory at a point of time previous to the first resurrection of Chapter 20, and that is after the last anti-Christian persecution, in which the faithful are beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus. …If the manifest coming of our Lord in glory be not our hope, it would be indeed strange that the apostles should have so habitually taught such a coming. …If the secret advent and secret removal of the Church be true, how can the advocates of this theory show that the secret event did not take place long ago?’…”
|Tregelles notes at the end of this chapter: ‘A maintainer of the secret rapture, in publishing a text of the Revelation, gave a few readings professedly from the Codex Sinaiticus, in which he prints …some strange hallucination …later copied by Dean Alford in his Greek Testament, and in …Stuart’s useful work …so that the error has become widely spread. Codex Sinaiticus reads (Tregelles quotes some Greek) exactly like the common text (KJV). I have seen the passage in the MS itself, and anyone can verify it in the two editions of Tischendorf.’|
In an ‘Appendixes’ to his book, Tregelles wrote: ‘This responsibility is a very heavy one. It is no light thing to undertake the instruction of others in the truth of God. The words of St. James are very solemn: ‘My brethren, be not many of you teachers, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.’ And i add another passage from James, ‘Be patient …brethren, unto the coming of the Lord.’
Also in the Appendix Tregelles writes: ‘…Of the Lord’s coming as ‘a thief in the night,’ which, we are constantly told, prove that the Lord intends His true saints to regard His advent as momentarily imminent. Such passages occur at Matt 24:43; Luke 12:39; 1 Thes. 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10; and Rev. 16:15 (Joel 2:2-). With regard to them all… the emblem of a ‘thief’ is obviously used to indicate not merely the unexpectedness of the coming, but its unwelcomeness! Further, this emblem implies the advent of one who comes to take away, not to give something to those whom he visits, for ‘the thief cometh not but for to steal, to kill and to destroy (John 10).’ Lord’s coming in its relation to the true believer, to him who ‘loves His appearing (2 Tim. 4:8),’ and to whom ‘grace shall be brought at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13),’ ‘ye …are not in darkness that that day should overtake you as a thief (1 Thes. 5:4).’
|‘That day’ is singular, for the Lord does not speak of another rapture ‘day’ for the faithful, but only of salvation to ‘he that endures to the end (Matt.24:13; Mark. 13:13).’ i am not one for reading fiction, and rightly so is the ‘the Left Behind’ series filed under ‘fiction;’ yet, Tolkien’s fiction was is more accurate in displaying a type of the coming of the Lord – while ‘good’ forces fought in fierce battle amidst great tribulation, from the east the deliver came and with the brightness of His coming the ‘evil’ forces were destroyed (Matt. 24:27; 2 Thes. 2:8).|
Tregelles concludes, “Error is always inconsistent. It should be remembered, as a warning, that those who speak thus have formulated the theory of the secret coming of the Lord as distinguished from His public appearing, founded upon the supposed distinction between the use of two Greek words! …Nothing could be more palpably incorrect than to set the ‘letter’ and ‘spirit’ of Scripture in contrast… It is worthy of remark, ‘how often the supporters of extravagancies in theology have manifested an instinctive dread of exact learning – Rev. T. S. Green, M. A., On the Grammar of the New Testament Dialect; 1842’.”
Now, i am not a Greek scholar, but i do understand that when the Lord warns ‘if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city… (Rev. 22:18, 19)’ that, at that warning, one should not approach the revelation, nor any of our Lord’s teachings, as some do with great self-confidence of insight and revelation and with boldness of proclamation of their own commentary, but one should rather seek humbly for guidance from the spirit of wisdom, understanding, knowledge and counsel (Isa. 11:2) for that which Rev. Green called ‘exact learning;’ then with great care teach the perfect Scriptures, which when properly offered, need little aid.
2. The second work i present against Darby’s methods and teaching is by J. Grant. The Dictionary of National Biography (1890), Vol. 22: ‘James Grant (1802 – 1879), journalist, born at Elgin (Scotland) …founded his own paper at 25; and from 1850 to 1871 …was editor of the Morning Chronicle in London. …Grant conducted several other London periodicals’ including the Christian Standard. Grant wrote 36 books …among his last were, in 1869, The Religious Tendencies of the Times, or How to deal with the Deadly Errors and Dangerous Delusions of the Day; and in 1875, The Plymouth Brethren: Their History and Heresies. In his book: The Plymouth Brethren… Heresies, Grant writes:
“…The bulk of this publication appeared …in Two Volumes, entitled, The Religious Tendencies of the Times. It attracted great attention but the price – 12 shillings (2010 dollars: > $23) …prevented many …from reading the work. …(it) having a profound persuasion that Plymouth Brethrenism, as taught and practiced by the Darby section of that body, is essentially at variance with the spirit and doctrines of the religion of Christ, and that it is working great mischief wherever it has got a footing…’
‘…Plymouth Brethren are a sect of whom we hear a great deal, but of whom the public know but a little. …The Plymouth Brethren… existed for some years before they were called by that name. Their origin …took place in Ireland …between the years 1828 and 1834. …It chiefly arose from the pulpit ministrations and published works of Rev. Edward Irving and his expulsion from the Scotch Church. …Irving had embraced Millenarianism, which at that time had found its way into but very few pulpits… But the simple fact of inculcation the doctrine of the personal reign of Christ on earth for 1,000 years would not of itself have caused the excitement produced by Mr. Irving’s pulpit… The sensation which he created arose chiefly …(from) his preaching on his newly adopted belief, that Christ might come to our world any day, and at any hour, but would most certainly come in that generation…’
‘…In association with these novelties in doctrine, there was another. Mr. Irving fully believed that the gifts of working miracles and speaking with tongues were not withdrawn from the Church. I myself have repeatedly heard Miss Hall, who was believed to be more largely endowed with the gift of speaking in tongues than anyone else, exercise that gift in Mr. Irving’s church in Newman Street. …On a particular day I was one of from 2,000 to 2,500 persons present… Miss Hall rose from her seat and in tones which no one that heard them could ever forget, shouted aloud, ‘He’s coming, He’s coming, He’s coming! Behold, He is at the door. He is here.’ …I should here observe that the speaking with tongues in Mr. Irving’s congregation was not in unknown tongues, as most people… supposed …(it) was in plain English. (Note: This was not the case with Margaret MacDonald and others in 1820’s, in Irving’s church with unknown sounds.)
‘…(Not before 1828 were) …Darby or …Newton, Craik or Muller …heard of. …Mr. Darby went to Plymouth …either in 1832 or 1833. He had not been long there before he joined Mr. Newton, as the leading teacher in the ‘gathering’ in that town, numbering… not less than 1,200 or 1,400. Of course, Mr. Darby had by this time separated from the Church of England… He said …the apostles always addressed the saints of God as ‘brethren…’ For several years Darby and Newton worked in the large gathering at Plymouth, harmoniously and successfully; but circumstances transpired – I speak from the testimony of a friend who was personally cognizant of the fact – which proved that Mr. Darby was seriously wrong of some doctrinal points… However, he did not bring these dangerous doctrines before the church, nor mention them among his private friends, it was fondly hoped that he had abandoned them… Nor was Darby alone in this case to be blamed …for the church (elders) in Ebrington Street were also to be blamed for keeping silence for so long a period in relation to Mr. Darby’s errors. It was their duty, as men professing to be faithful to the truth as it is in Jesus, to have conversed with Mr. Darby…’
‘…Mr. Darby …separated from Mr. Newton and the church in Ebrington Street… The second ‘reason,’ as published in Darby’s Narrative of Facts, of Mr. Darby for separation relates to what the Plymouth Brethren term the ‘heavenly calling’ …the expression …I believe, because the Darby class of Brethren are firmly and fully assured that all believers in Christ, in the present dispensation …will, on His descending again to our earth …be caught up in the air to meet Him ‘at His coming,’ and to reign with Him in the air while His Millennial dynasty shall last …and possess a far greater amount of glory …than either the saints who lived in Old Testament times, or those who lived during the Millennium.’
‘In fact, the Darbyites do not recognize either …as belonging to the Church of Christ at all. They indeed make this abundantly clear; for they deny that there was any Church of God under the previous dispensation… Thus, the thief, for instance, converted on the cross, will have a higher place in heaven than Moses… Is it not truly deplorable that we should be called on to answer such astounding extravagances?
‘…The third ‘reason’ assigned by Mr. Darby and his friends for separating from the church in Ebrington Street, Plymouth, was his conviction that ‘unfeigned faith in the presence of the Holy Ghost to guide and to minister in the assembling of the saints, was undermined and subverted.’ …They are essentially the same as those of the Quakers. The only difference is, that whereas meetings of the Society of Friends occasionally take place in which not a word is spoken, but a perfect silence is preserved from beginning to end of what they would still call the service, it is not so with the Darby division of the Brethren. They never meet without one or more speaking… Quaker-like, remain silent ever for a few minutes…’
‘…The fifth ‘reason’ for the separation …charges Mr. Newton… with claiming Omniscience and Omnipotence. These grave charges …would have been equally grave, though not more groundless, had they been brought against the loftiest archangel in heaven. …The sixth ‘reason’ …(Darby stated) was ‘the constant extenuation of the evil of Popery, and the decided absence of Christ from the teaching, while the saints were exalted almost into an equality with God.’ …It is hardly possible to believe that either Mr. Newton, or anyone else, occupied so high a place in the love or esteem of the church as to be ‘…almost …of equality with God.’
‘…The seventh and last ‘reason’ for separation was, ‘the exaltation …of a person Antichrist, in a way quite contrary to Scripture…’ Until a comparatively late period, the almost universal belief among students of prophecy was, that the Church of Rome was the Antichrist that was to come… the notion begin to make some progress …that the leading writers on prophecy, for the last 250 years, had labored under a mistake in believing that the Papacy was the Antichrist of Scripture. They came to the conclusion that whoever Antichrist might be, he would be a person, not a system… Rev. R. Govett …believes the Antichrist is to be Nero; …Rev. M. Baxter believed …Louis Napoleon was the destined Antichrist. …But I have made a slight digression. What Mr. Darby means, when he charges Mr. Newton with exalting ‘and beautifying a personal Antichrist’ …I am unable to comprehend. …Mr. Newton believes just like Mr. Darby in a personal Antichrist.’
‘(Mr. Wigram said) ‘…The cause of withdrawal was not difference of judgment upon the prophetic question, neither was it a question of doctrine. My act of withdrawal took place solely and simply because a new and a human church system had been introduced… They are all accredited as Christians …without any question.’ …Two important points are thus established by the testimony of Mr. Darby and Mr. Wigram, now the leading man, not only at the ‘gathering’ in North Row …but in London. Both concur in explicitly admitting that, up till this period, namely 1845, no charges were made of false doctrine prevailing among Mr. Newton and those who remained with him in the Plymouth gathering of Brethren…’
‘…By far the most numerous and still more influential for the gifts and graces of its principal members, was the gathering …in Bristol, in a chapel named ‘Bethesda.’ The leading members of the church, Mr. Muller and the late Rev. Mr. Craik, where at that time two of the best known men in the religious world. Mr. Craik had been highly educated for the ministry in the Church of Scotland, but coming to look upon Presbyterianism as unscriptural, and Congregationalism as being in accordance with the Word of God, he withdrew from membership in the Church of Scotland and joined the Baptist denomination, whose views are the same on all points with those of the Congregationalists except on the one point of baptism. …Mr. Muller …German by birth, came to this country (England) and soon after… by faith, undertook to build and maintain, without knowing where one shilling of the necessary money was to come from, an institution for the children of the poor…’
‘…Muller …with the late Mr. Craik …by 1845 connected themselves denominationally with the church under the superintendence of Mr. Newton, in Plymouth. …There were then no favorite ‘teachers’ or leaders… The churches of the Brethren are essentially based on the republican principle of any one ‘edifying’ the church, by addressing its members, who might deem himself fitted for the work. …But it was soon found that …Craik and Muller …became as paramount there as Mr. Newton and Mr. Darby had been in Plymouth. …Darby in the meantime formed a new church in Plymouth, consisting of those who had …with him left Mr. Newton’s church, or followed… calling themselves ‘Darbyites’ or …accepting the distinction from others… Mr. Darby in his new place of meeting became supreme in the ‘gatherings’ of his adherents. He had everything his own way, no one venturing to differ from him in relation to any matters that were brought for decision before the church. So that he was …practicing that very supremacy with which he unjustly charged Mr. Newton. …Until 1847, Mr. Darby remained in fellowship with the Bethesda in Bristol… when circumstances occurred which compelled Craik and Muller, and the ‘gathering’ in Bethesda Chapel, to sever all connection with Mr. Darby and his adherents… Mr. Darby… broke off at once all fellowship with Mr. Craik and Mr. Muller and the church over which they were practically, though not in name, overseers.’
‘…Mr. B. W. Newton charged with heresies (by Darby) …(was defended by) …Dr. Tregelles …The first charge was made in 1846… the second followed… (to which Tregelles responded in 1849). …When, in order to uphold certain prophetic and dispensational theories, the Brethren, at first covertly and afterwards openly, were setting aside Covenant, Priesthood, and Mediation, as if they could not relate to the Church, and that …the Church did not include Old Testament saints, these erroneous doctrines were distinctly opposed by Mr. Newton.’
‘…Mr. Darby and his associates, at first privately, and from the year 1845 …publicly… endeavored to traduce the character of Mr. Newton… In 1835 (Newton) had published a pamphlet against Irvingism, defending Christ’ spotless humanity… In 1847 …Mr. Newton …seeing that they were mistaken …published a withdrawal of these statements expressing his sorrow that he had made them twelve years before. …But many of the Brethren …chiefly Mr. Darby and his party, persisted for years in asserting that Mr. Newton’s retraction was not complete. I do happen to know, from special sources of information that never in the world was a more complete retraction given of any error… But Mr. Darby and his confederates in the opposition got up against Mr. Newton …(who) had not for 12 years written or spoken a single word …of the subject.’
‘…1848 …conferences took place with respect to the unsatisfactory state of Brethrenism, caused by the divisions… Mr. Darby seems to have chosen a new course… He felt it to be his duty not to remain in London… but to travel through …America and… Europe, for the purpose of spreading those principles which he regarded as alone in accordance with the teachings of the Word of God …chiefly …France and Germany…’
‘(At this time) the entire number of the Darby class of Brethren in Great Britain, I should say it amounts to 15,000 …There are many of them in the south of France, in Germany, in Italy, and in other Continental countries. In Canada, too …and in the United States, Mr. Darby has also a number of adherents… spreading in Australia…’
‘…In most of the Bethesda ‘gatherings’ or as some …prefer the word ‘assemblies,’ derived from the phrase ‘forsake not the assembly of yourselves (Heb. 10:25)…’ They hold the class of opinions usually denominated Calvinistic. …(And) the belief that the Antichrist who is to precede the second advent of our Lord, when He comes to inaugurate His personal reign, will be, not a system, but a personal Antichrist, who will last at least for 3 ½ years, that being 1,260 days, and not for 1,260 years, as prophetic writers, almost without exception, expected for the last two centuries and a half, would be the period of Antichrist’ supremacy…’
‘…I pass over various other errors entertained by the Darbyite class of Brethren, which though of a most dangerous as well as unscriptural character, do not with equal urgency claim a notice at my hands, because they are not so prominently brought forward, either in the oral ‘teachings’ or writings of the Brethren…’
‘(Concerning)… Christ’s obedience to the law …(Darbyites) are in nowise interested in our Lord’s obedience. Until Mr. Darby advanced this astounding doctrine, I am not aware that the notion was ever before even hinted at… The Substitutional obedience of our Lord is so essential a part of the scheme of redemption, that without it, His sufferings as our Surety would have been of no avail to a single soul… I recommend those who would wish to examine it in all its bearings …consult …Dr. Tregelles’ Christ, the End of the Law for Righteousness…’
‘…(Concerning) the Plymouth Brethren, it was thought that no designation could be more appropriate in relation to them than that of ‘Sheep-stealers’ …because they not only carry off as many as they can of the Shepherd’s flock, but take care to carry off the best sheep – the best members of the churches from which they steal… Mr. Darby is, to all intents and purposes, a thorough Pope, though under a Protestant name. He will never admit that he is in error…’
‘Darbyites who gather together in London can go so far as to exclude all other denominations, even the most godly men among them ‘believing themselves to be the one, or only, assembly of God in London;’ how need we feel surprised that Mr. Darby, as the ‘prophet, priest, and king’ of the party, should exercise a perfect despotism (dictatorship) within the domains of Darbyism?’
‘…Plymouth Brethrenism changes the most kind, courteous, and winning manners into the opposite. …A gentleman of high rank in the army lived for years in as great happiness with his wife, as perhaps any husband ever did. They were both eminent Christians. In an evil hour, the wife, one of the most amiable of women, fell into the hands of a Plymouth sister, and the result …was, that in a few weeks she became a thorough proselyte to Darbyism. The very first fruit of her ‘conversion’ to Darbyism …she would no longer even kneel with her husband alone in prayer before retiring to rest, a practice which they never omitted from the day of the marriage until the unhappy hour in which she was entangled in the meshes of Brethrenism…’
‘Another illustration …a Plymouth sister, whose family do not share her views… she even turns away …when the head of the house asks the Divine blessing on the meals… Is not this sad? …I am also acquainted personally with another case, in which …a mother and daughter had adopted the opposite views on Brethrenism; the result was that the two would not sit down together at the same Lord’s Table… Another case …told me …by a minister …of a family who were all Plymouth Brethren, but one half belonged to the Darby party, and the other to the Bethesda, or Muller party. Their house was a perpetual scene of discord and …unhappiness…’
‘In 1874… godly man, in Scotland… got a separation from his wife, owing to the fact that she had lately adopted Darbyite views, and literally tormented him so persistently and so relentlessly that he was unable to bear it any longer. I know of another case in which the wife …a proselyte to Darbyism, was eminent for her piety …will not only not now engage in the very holiest work in which a Christian can engage, but systematically absents herself form the dinner table when her husband invites some of ‘the excellent of the earth’ to the house, though the object of their meeting be …to promote the glory of God and the good of souls.’
‘…Before closing my volume, I wish it to be distinctly understood, that the cases to which I have referred, of the domestic misery caused in families by Plymouth Brethrenism, are of every-day occurrence. Thousands of formerly happy homes have been made the reverse by the simple fact of Brethrenism being brought into the domestic circle by some influential member of the household. Let me then ask, as my concluding words, can that be a Scriptural, can that be a system of real religion, which is productive of such lamentable effects as those which I have thus exposed, as springing from Plymouth Brethrenism? I feel confident there will be but one answer to the question. …The fruits of the Spirit are not enmity and discord: they are love, peace, union, and joy in the Holy Ghost. The End.”
III. The third work i present was also published in 1875. This work, Plymouth Brethrenism: Unveiled and Refuted, was written by William Reid, a former pastor of Lothian Road United Presbyterian Church, Edinburgh, Scotland. Before this book was distributed, Reid had published Things to Come Practically Considered. Charles Spurgeon said that the work was ‘composed of solid and sober teaching.’ The January 1872 issue of the United Presbyterian Magazine stated, ‘If Mr. Reid had followed the broad way of unbridled fancy, instead of the narrow road of revealed truth – if he had filled his book with idle and foolish and pernicious speculations, he would have been hailed by many as a wonderful genius; but as he feels himself bound to keep by the words of truth and soberness, he must be content to forfeit such an honour…’
Shortly before his work on Plymouth Brethrenism was published, in 1874, his book, Everlasting Punishment and Modern Speculation was printed. Concerning this work, the British and Foreign Evangelical Review stated, ‘We regard Mr. Reid’s book as one of the most valuable contributions to our Christian apologetics which has appeared for a long time.’ In this work Reid fought against the doctrine of Annihilation then being accepted by ‘Unitarianism, liberal Christians, by many English Nonconformist, and Broad Church Episcopalians.’ In his preface, Reid noted that ‘frequent and persistent assaults’ were being ‘made upon this article of Christian belief’ with weak resistance by preachers.
Reid quotes ‘the Right Honorable W. E. Baxter,’ Parliament Member, in his preface saying, ‘The laity of Scotland… more liberal views …regard creeds and catechisms… as much more immaterial than their forefathers did; and my thorough conviction is, that if the clergy do not keep pace with the times, but indulge in what is popularly called heresy-hunting, and in constant dissertations upon abstruse doctrines which may admit of many interpretations, there is a great danger of their losing a large portion of their influence, of the decadence (corruption) of which we see some symptoms already…’
And i add, the symptoms of that corruption, due to lack of proper pulpit procedures, have progressed into a perplexing plague which has produced offspring and spread across the planet polluting tens of millions. No wonder foolish doctrines, such as those which deny an eternal hell, thrive; first, because most ‘Christians’ do not ‘search the Scriptures’ and ‘perish for lack of knowledge;’ and secondly, because most shepherds of the flock know not how to go out to save even one that strays, much less than to ‘seek and save’ deceived masses.
Reid’s Plymouth Brethrenism: Unveiled and Refuted: “…Mr. Bellett, a prominent in the movement, one day remarked to a lady, ‘Groves has just been telling me, that it appeared to him from Scripture that believers, meeting together as disciples of Christ, were free to break bread together, as their Lord had admonished them; and that, in as far as the apostles could be a guide, every Lord’s Day should be set apart for thus remembering the Lord’s death, and obeying His parting command.’ …Here was the germ of the whole system of Brethrenism. Nothing, however (is)… further from the intention of the originators of the movement, than the formation of a new sect… In 1829 Mr. Groves left for Persia. On his return in 1836 he found that ‘the brethren’ had abandoned their original ground, and constituted themselves a distinct religious party. In a letter to Mr. Darby, he (Groves) deeply deplores this and predicts that ‘a step or two more in advance’ was all that was needed to ‘see all the evils’ among themselves, of the systems which they denounced.
‘…Chapter II: The Theological Opinions of the Brethren. …At first the movement consisted simply in a condemnation of ordinary church order, and an attempt to reconstruct the Church upon the apostles’ model, minus the elders and teachers whom the apostles ordained… the witty remark of Sheridan is peculiarly applicable to their case: ‘They hold much that is both true and new; but the new is not true, and the true is not new.’
‘Prominent among the views professed by this new sect is the doctrine of Christ’s heavenly humanity. …It is maintained (by some) that Christ’s sufferings on the cross were not all-atoning …and that on the cross, He was at a moral distance from God, that …He suffered as a sinner; Equally peculiar are the views of the Brethren respecting Christ’ second coming. It is said… at this second coming, His people who are alive shall be transformed, and those who are in the graves, shall be raised and removed from dire calamities, which come upon the wicked. According to this notion, it is not a public and glorious appearing of Christ …but a secret or private coming. …They have also embraced strange notions of the Church …its meeting for worship they designate the Assembly of God and claim that it is to be found solely in their little ‘gatherings’ which are presided over, they allege, not by man-made ministers, but by the Holy Ghost; hence all that is uttered in the assemblies of the Brethren, is to be accepted as His infallible announcements… it is demanded that the work of reconstruction be …under the direction …of Darby, Kelly, and M’Intosh…’
‘…The Rev. Fredrick Whitfield, who was for many years associated with them, says – ‘They will tell you, as some of their principal teachers have told me, that all the New Testament is not for the Church; that the four gospels, excepting so far as spiritual principles may be derived from them, are not for the Church; the only the epistles are for the Church, and that there are portions even of these not for the Church. I have been told so repeatedly by their most eminent teachers.’ Dr. Tregelles corroborates this statement. He says – ‘The attempt was made by various individuals to draw as great a contrast as possible between ‘the Church’ and all things Jewish: thus the gospel of Matthew was said to present a Jewish aspect… though Matthew is the only one of the four gospels in which the name of Church occurs (Matt. 16:18; 18:17).’
‘Brethrenism …is the revival of heresies which have appeared of old… misleading thousands… Mr. M’Intosh doubtless derived his notion of Christ’s heavenly humanity from the Eutychians of the sixth century; while for their other notions the Brethren are chiefly indebted to the Rev. John Walker, Edward Irving… In 1804 Mr. Walker resigned his fellowship in the University of Dublin… He propounded the idea of the Church as the Assembly of God. …Irving, contributed the notion of the presidency of the Holy Spirit, justification in a risen Saviour, the pre-millennial advent, and the secret rapture of the saints… ‘
‘…A denominational hymn-book may be regarded as the devout expression of the belief… We have before us a hymn-book specially compiled for the Brethren, but out of the 300 hymns… not one expresses a sense of the need of the Spirit for the soul’s purification – the Holy Spirit is only once or twice incidentally alluded to… Another …hymn-book …340 hymns …there is not one addressed to the Holy Spirit…’
‘…One false step in doctrine or practice generally leads to others, as the history of heretical sects show. Unitarianism, Universalism …Irvingism, and Brethrenism, each and all are governed by the same laws, and illustrate the same facts. …The Church of Rome claims to be the only true Church, and the Brethren declare that theirs is ‘the one Assembly of God.’ …Hebrew, Greek, and English words are thrown into their critical crucible, and under the strange fire employed, come forth fashioned to any form required. The Lord’s Supper is exalted to the chief place in religious service, and the claim of infallibility is made with a confidence unsurpassed by Pope or Ecumenical Councils.’
‘…Mr. Darby gives ground for like suspicion. Instead of reading Acts 20:28 as it stands in the common English version – ‘…Feed the Church of God which He hath purchased with His own blood,’ Darby gives us in his translation of the New Testament – ‘Shepherd the Assembly of God which He has purchased with the blood of His own…’ which ignores the divinity of Him who so purchased the Church. ‘The blood of His own’ may mean the blood of any one… (the statement) divests Christ of His righteousness…’
‘…Proselytism (converting) is a recognized principle with the Brethren… What they mean by the success of the Gospel, is the conversion of church members to their peculiar views. …When do their evangelists go down among the outcast and neglected, and seek to win them to Christ? …The Church, according to their view, is in ruins, and their mission is to gather together its scattered members under the banner of Brethrenism… (Note: some Brethren such as Muller, Tregelles, Groves, Caldwell, and Bewley did in fact evangelize among lost souls, though they did not follow Darby).
‘…Alexander Burnet (Plymouth Brethrenism is Antichrist) …says, ‘At the lonely village of Banchory-Ternan …they have got hold of a few Baptist …and have perverted them, having established a church there in the very same building… Here at Kemnay they have done the same, having almost annihilated a Baptist congregation… Inverurie… Braco… Aberdeen… and Portobello, small hand-bills have been seen week after week…’
‘…As to practical means for counteracting its error… no single means is adequate. In some instances the evil has been effectually suppressed, by the ministers …publicly exhibiting its unscriptural character, and exposing the Jesuitical methods by which the Brethren seek to promote their cause. Some prefer private dealings… In either case valuable …publications on Plymouth Brethrenism’ (are available). …Rev. Fredrick Whitfield tells us, ‘Circumstances threw me into connection with these people for many years. I resided with several of them (Plymouth Brethren) …and was very often at their meetings… nearly 12 years. …during this time I never …threw off …the Church of England. …They are continually making heartless attacks on every side on our Church, and for the assiduous, persevering manner in which they are going about, not to brings sinners to Christ, but to draw away God’s people from our Church, and from other denominations…’
‘…Mr. J. E. Howard, a gentleman who has been connected with the Brethren from the origin, said, ‘All those who join the Darbyites are unknowingly and unintentionally making themselves parties to a condoning amount of evil of which they have no conception. …I learn that one of the chief reasons now leading some good men to join the Darbyites is that they think there is a power amongst them which they do not find elsewhere… Who is to say that there shall not be an outbreak …of some fresh delusion in this very quarter? Why else are we told, ‘Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God… (1 John 4:1)?’ …I do not say they are possessed by a seducing spirit… (yet) a sect thus cradled in fanaticism and fostered in hypocrisy, the appropriate end would seem to be to fall into strong delusion…’
‘…Mr. B. W. Newton, who was so long one of their leaders, says, ‘It is this system which I feel bound in conscience to oppose in every legitimate way. If in my speaking or writing, I make use of any harsh or ungracious expression, I am willing to ask the pardon of any brother whom I may have offended and to strive to avoid needless severity of expression; but beyond this I cannot go. I desire to produce in the minds of the dear Brethren everywhere the same strong sense that pervades my own of the evil of this system…’
‘Lord Congleton, the associate of Mr. Groves… asks, ‘Have you tried these Brethren, the Darbyites? I have tried them and found them false prophets – in every sense of the word, false. They are false in what they say of their brethren, false in doctrine, and they are false in their walk.’
‘…Mr. Stewart, who was made to feel the wrath of the Assembly, says, ‘No pen could describe how, for 14 years, the poor saints of God have been worried and perplexed in Jersey (Britain). …Whenever a dishonorable action is to be done, one has not far to go to find an agent. …Through the cunning craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive …is it come to this pass, Brother Darby, that injustice, banished from the slaveholders of America, has found an asylum in the bosom of the Brethren? …I do not believe that any religious body could be found, unless it be the Mormons, where such a wanton outrage could be offered with impunity to truthfulness and honor.’
‘Mr. James Carson, in his …book on Plymouth heresies, gives the following extract from the letter of an excommunicated member: ‘On entering the meeting one Saturday night, I was seized by my throat by Mr. … and I bore for several days the marks …and yet this old gentlemen is allowed still to teach. …I am extremely glad that I have been delivered from the worst sect that a Christian man can meet with under the canopy of heaven…’
‘Dr. Tregelles gives the following… ‘Not only have bad and heterodox (heretical) tracts been written, but there have emanated from Dublin professed extracts from the writings of the Reformers and others, in which the liberty has been taken of altering their words and doctrines, so as to suit the taste and theology of the reviser …all appears under some known and venerable name; so that the doctrines are ascribed to some ancient writer, which really are those of some modern Brethrenite… such tracts have been circulated by thousands…’
‘Mr. Henry Groves, says, ‘Would to God the solemn warning given had been effectual, in leading Mr. Darby and his party to retrace their steps at that early part of their career, and we should not now have to mourn over a brother on the awful pinnacle on which he now stands, helped on by those who, acting with him, have placed him there, a beacon to the Church at large; nor should we have had to mourn over many of the Lord’s disciples led away by the enemy unto a following of man rather than of God…’
‘…Mr. Craik of Bristol, colleague to Mr. Muller, says, ‘Oh, what a terrible thing is party spirit! …The truth is, Brethrenism as such, is broken in pieces. By pretending to be wiser, holier, more spiritual, more enlightened, than all other Christians; by rash and unprofitable intrusions into things not revealed; by making mysticism and eccentricity the test of spiritual life and depth; by preferring a dreamy and imaginative theology to the solid food of the Word of God; by the adoption of a strange and repulsive phraseology; by the undervaluing of practical godliness; by submission of the understanding to leading teachers; by overstraining some truths and perverting others; by encouraging …self-conceit; by grossly offensive familiarity of speaking of such sacred matters as the presence and teaching of the Holy Ghost; …by these and similar errors, the great Scriptural principles of church communion have been marred and disfigured.’
‘…Mr. Muller …withdrew …for the following reasons: ‘The end which these religious societies propose to themselves… that the world will gradually become better and better, and that at last the whole world will be converted. To this end there is constantly reference made to …Habakkuk 2:14, ‘For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord…’ But these passages can have no reference to the present dispensation, but to the one which will commence with the return of the Lord… The present dispensation things will not become spiritually better, but rather worse… the whole world will not be converted, but only a people gathered out from among the Gentiles for the Lord…’.
‘Part III …the love of novelty… the Brethren’s substitution of Christ’s resurrection for Christ’s obedience, in the justification of the sinner. …They are never done speaking of justification in the risen Christ, and flaunting before us some dreamy, mystical notions of Christ’s risen life and of our participation in that life – notions for which there is not the slightest ground in Scripture. That the resurrection of Christ is a most blessed fact, no believer will deny; but in the economy of grace it has its own place… Nor is Mr. Darby alone in this view…’
‘…The history of the notion of Christ’s non-atoning sufferings forms perhaps the strangest chapter in the history of this peculiar people. B. W. Newton …was the first to broach (introduce) this dogma (doctrine). His views appear to have passed unchallenged for some years, till Mr. Darby, having differed with him as to the interpretation of prophecy …(acted in such a way that) Mr. Newton withdrew from fellowship with Mr. Darby …and Mr. Darby having …rid of a formidable rival, proceeded to invest himself in Newton’s discarded garments… Mr. Henry Groves says, ‘The doctrine is …that Christ is personally placed under the judgment of God, otherwise than atoning…’
‘Part III, Chapter IX: The Secret Rapture of the Saints. …While the Brethren are generally …premillennialists, they are peculiar even in this belief, and hence their notion of the secret rapture of the saints. …One desirous of studying this notion will find ample scope for patient investigation in the writings of Mr. Darby and Mr. Bellett. ‘…No doubt the saints will be manifested before the judgment-seat of Christ, to give an account of themselves to God,’ says Mr. Darby, ‘but even this is not separation from privilege, for they arrive there, already like Himself. …This special association with Christ is made good, not by Christ’s appearing… but by His coming to receive them to Himself where He is… into His Father’s house, and in the kingdom placing them in the heavenly seat of government with Himself. This is effectuated by His coming and causing them, raised and changed, to come up and meet Him in the air. This is the rapture of the saints, preceding their and Christ’s appearing; at that they appear with Him; so that at their rapture He has not appeared yet. The moment of their rapture none can know …I will now …show our exemption from the tribulation predicted, a position in which the world will find itself, and in an especial manner the Jewish people restored to their land… (though) Revelation 7:14 could alone leave open the smallest question…’
|Mr. Reid offered more testimonies from various witnesses, but my space is limited and i believe i presented a significant amount of evidence.|
4. James C. L. Carson, M.D was featured in many journals such as the London Medical Gazette. Three years before his death, Carson completed his book, The Heresies of the Plymouth Brethren (1883), in which he wrote:
‘…Many parties imagine, because the Plymouths have no professed Confession of Faith, that they have no regular system of belief, but this is a great mistake. They not only have a very complete system, but they are as tyrannical as Rome in keeping their followers to it. …The great difficulty of getting at it arises from the fact that it is put forth in a Jesuitical form. …It is so thoroughly ‘guarded’ that Mr. Darby seemed surprised I was able to unfold it, as he says, ‘the incriminated language, not one in a thousand would have noticed as anything particular.’
‘…In this enlightened age, and in this free country, every man has a right to promulgate his own views, provided he puts them fairly, plainly, and openly before the community… But no man is justified in catching the unwary by small distillations of truth, whilst the opportunity is taken of gradually and almost imperceptibly slipping in the deadly poison. ‘The doctrine of reserve (holding back sacred doctrines until the teacher thinks the persons are ready to understand), says, Mr. Spurgeon, ‘so detestable in the mouths of Jesuits, is not one whit the less villainous when accepted by Protestants.’ The Plymouth Brethren come amongst us, as they say, to preach the ‘gospel of the grace of God.’ In their public addresses they produce very little beyond what the people already believe. In this way they gain a hearing and a position which they could not possibly attain to, if they would plainly and openly declare all their sentiments in the ears of the people. The public get the choice things, whilst the peculiarities are kept for the benefit of those who are gradually drawn into the mysteries of this most decided sect of all the sects…’
‘…Mr. Spurgeon cautions his pupils… ‘Those gentlemen who know the least Greek, are the most sure to air their rags of learning in the pulpit; they miss no chance to saying, ‘the Greek is so-and-so.’ It makes a man a inch and a half taller by a foolometer, if he everlastingly lets fall bits of Greek and Hebrew, and even tells the people the tense of the verb and case of the noun …These observations should be a warning to those …who are continually altering the test of revelation.’
‘…The author of The Ruined Condition of the Church (D. W. Piccadilly; 1841), says, ‘…The writer of the tract called ‘The Brethren’ says, ‘As to elders, then, an apostle chooses…’. This is entirely new light to me. As my Bible contains no such statement, there must be some version of the Scriptures which I have never yet beheld. It must be the Plymouth, or forged version. My Bible informs me that those companions of the apostle (Acts 15:22), and the apostle himself, ‘ordained’ elders in the churches, but it nowhere states that they ‘selected’ or ‘chose’ them…’ (If churches were not established, Paul ‘set in order things,’ ‘appointing’ as in Titus 1:5)
‘…Mr. Mackintosh asks, ‘Why were not the churches at Ephesus …or Crete, directed to elect of appoint elders? …In the Scriptures …Timothy and Titus …got not instructions whatever to elect or choose; …the elder must be selected or chosen before he can be ordained. The rule of the Scripture is plain …the members of the church, are to choose their office bearers …The Church is to be ruled and taught, and the pastors must be capable of ruling properly, and be ‘apt to teach.’ …It is truly awful to think of the way in which the Plymouths deal with revelation. …Mr. Darby asks, ‘If God is there… and if He do, it is a manifestation of the Spirit in the individual who acts; it is a gift, and if you please, an impulse… he should not only not be appealed from, but his decision should, on no account, be questioned, because he is the direct and infallible mouthpiece of the Almighty. (Darbyites say) ‘To hinder any movement of the Spirit… is to quench the Spirit’.”
|If it is of the Spirit, then ‘quench not the Spirit (1 Thes. 5:19);’ and let ‘two or three’ prophets speak; but let ‘the other judge (1 Cor. 14:29),’ and let the elders ‘test the spirits whether they are of God (1 John 4:1);’ and ‘search the Scriptures whether those things are so (Acts 17:11);’ let them ‘try them which say they are apostles, and are not… (Rev. 2:2).’|
Carson continues, “…Mr. Govett, wrote ‘these not only claim inspiration for the interpretation of the inspired writings, but they go the whole length of claiming inspiration for all that is said at the meetings.’ …On their own showing, the Plymouths are as thoroughly inspired as were the prophets of ancient days. …They are far beyond the reach of the instructions given in the New Testament; ‘If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11).’ Here it is the man who is to speak; but amongst the Darbyites the man is only to stand up for the Holy Spirit to speak through him. Here the man is to speak in accordance with the oracles of God; but every Darbyite is an oracle of the Holy Spirit. We are told the Jews had a great advantage, ‘because that unto them were committed the oracles of God (Rom. 3:2);’ but we of Great Britain have a far greater advantage, because we have Oracle Darby…’
‘…(former Brethren) Mr. Culverhouse says, ‘Our brethren, Mr. Darby, Mr. Wigram, Dr. Cronin, and Mr. Lean are the chief and ruling members. …Was not the Priory (religious house; government of the denomination) literally reduced to a mere theatre? …Theatrical matters can only be expressed in theatrical terms, and this, brethren, is my excuse for such allusions. …I have been delivered from the worst sect that a Christian man can meet…’
‘…Mr. Groves, who was one of the chief founders of Plymouthism, foresaw the condition into which his party were certain to fall, and thus warned them in the year 1836: ‘Your government will soon become one wherein is overwhelmingly felt the authority of men. …The position which this occupying the seat of judgment will place you in, will be this – the most narrow-minded and bigoted will rule, because his conscience cannot and will not give way, and therefore, the more enlarged heart must yield.’ The truth of these observations has long since been fully verified.
‘…Mr. William Dorman author of The Close of Twenty-eight Years of Association with J. N. Darby (1866) & High Church Claims of the Exclusive Brethren (1868) …held an important and prominent position as one of the leaders amongst the Plymouth Brethren for more than a quarter of a century. …His letter runs thus: ‘December 1870; Dear Dr. Carson, I feel that I have no title to obtrude myself upon your notice, or to take up your time… but I have just read your book on the ‘The Plymouth Heresies,’ and on this account I venture to send you a line. In the first place, I may say that – if here and there I do not exactly agree with your statements – I think so highly of its force and purport that I heartily wish your book may gain all the attention from Christians that you can desire for yourself. …It puts its seal upon the judgment that I had come to 4 years ago – that I had spent 28 years of most energetic labor in building up what I now believe to be the worst sect in Christendom, instead of accomplishing the union of all Christians, apart from sectarian distinctions, …under guidance of God’s Spirit instead of under man’s appointment and control…’.”
|It is not my desire to make ‘Christians’ despise their leaders or flee from every denomination, though they all need reformation and though we should strive to unified for strength. We will continue to schism and be more independent, liberal and non-denominational; for unification will be impossible until the Lord returns; due to many unyielding doctrinal errors and controlling men. i pray elders will ‘strengthen the things which remain (Rev. 3:2),’ and ‘reproof and correct (2 Tim. 3:16)’ where needed.|
Many others wrote against Darby’s teaching, such as William Collingwood, in ‘The Brethren: A Historical Sketch (1899);’ or Henry Groves (eldest son of Anthony Norris Groves, co-founder of the Brethren) who wrote Darbyism: Its Rise, Progress, and Development (1866). In 1866, J. E. Howard wrote A Caution against the Darbyites warning against ‘the sickly existence of Darbyism’ which was ‘reinvigorated by young blood from the revival movement.’ William Blair Neatby, in his A History of the Plymouth Brethren (1901), notes that former Brethren F. W. Newman compared Darby to Ignatius Loyola. And after Darby’s tours in Toronto, certain protests followed; for example, E. H. Dewart wrote Broken Reeds, or The Heresies of the Plymouth Brethren Shown to Be contrary to Scripture and Reason (1869). And after a certain Darby tour in Toronto, Dr. Daniel Steele wrote This Theology of the So-called Plymouth Brethren, Examined and Refuted (1887).
Steele stated, “…Mr. Darby’s influence with the people is said to have been so great that the regular ministry was almost entirely ignored, and he became the accepted prophet. In fact, his publications had the effect to turn the people, as a whole from the ministry… When Darby had sufficiently drawn the people to himself, he was prepared …to make known to them his plans more fully… Several years ago, D. L. Moody learned his method of Bible-study and Bible-readings from the English Plymouth Brethren… he made …voyage to Europe… Hence they claim him as a product of their system. …Some, as Tregelles, are very scholarly; such men, as …Muller …are in strong sympathy with them. They have missionaries in India whose disorganizing influence has given our Methodist missionaries some trouble… Mr. Darby’s doctrine …has already spread widely in America, and their theological tenets are preached by leading ministers in Boston, New York, St. Louis and other cities, while their theories of Church organization are rejected. The Brethren, having no written creed and no Church discipline, are exposed to constant schisms… we have heard Mr. Darby say that if any man had anything to do with the law of God, even to obey it, he was a sinner by that very act. …The doctrine of assurance is strongly emphasized by these Christians as the privilege of all who are in Christ… Both Calvinism and Arminianism have checks which deter believers from sin. The Arminian …that the holiest saint …may fall from grace and drop into hell. The Calvinist is restrained …by the consideration that no man may, beyond a doubt, know that his name is …chosen. The Plymouth Brethren drop both of these safeguards by uniting with eternal incorporation into Christ, a present and absolute assurance of that fact… John Wesley teaches the certain knowledge of justification by faith, with appropriate safeguards…”
Darby said concerning his Pre-tribulation Rapture Theory, ‘Revelation 7:14 could alone leave open the smallest question.’ No doubt that it is difficult to quench the light of truth in such scriptures which speak of Christians ‘which came out of the great tribulation,’ or of ‘the Son of man appearing …immediately after the tribulation (Matt. 24:29, 30). And i offer another single verse which ‘could alone leave open the smallest question’ to both Darby’s theory of the Pre-tribulation Rapture and his ‘doctrine of assurance.’ Before His crucifixion, on the night in which the Lord allowed Himself to be taken by the Roman soldiers and officers of the Jews (John 17:12), He lifted up His eyes to heaven, and prayed to our Father God many words including this verse, ‘I pray not that Thou should take them out of the world, but that thou keep them from the evil one (John 17:15).’