Bethesda and Principles; the Only Rule of Duty; B.W. Newton; Sufferings of Christ

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I read——-'s letter before yours, and I was going to say to you that I could not judge it honest. 1 looked at one paragraph (the first is quite right) and it seemed to me at first sight somewhat obscure, but I will examine it carefully when I have a moment. As to the doctrine, I need not hardly say that I abhor it, and judge that he who wittingly holds it has a false Christ—but one has to be careful even as to words. I have no doubt as to the doctrine I desire to teach. A question came from Manchester, and the answer to holding Mr. Newton's doctrine will appear, written before I received yours.- is the more evidently on false ground, as Mr. Craik wrote the other day (I read the letter) that he was not aware of a single person at Bethesda who would consider Mr. N. a heretic in the ordinary sense of the word.
Affectionately yours.
My letter having been delayed, I have been able to read through the articles. The doctrine is quite right, and the very opposite of Mr. N.'s, but not perhaps clearly brought out. It is carefully stated that He always says "Father," in contrast with the atoning work, in which He speaks of being forsaken. He was enjoying the relationship of a Son with the Father. In the passage itself it is clearly said that Christ entered into it for them at the close, afflicted in all their afflictions. The essence of Mr. N.'s doctrine was that He was born under it Himself, and escaped much of it. Here Christ is entering in grace into it at a given time, when God's time was come. I have no doubt that on the approach of the cross, when His ministry was ended, He entered into a new character of suffering in which the power of Satan was to be all exercised against Him in view of death and judgment, which was not before -he had departed from Him for a season; that He viewed this death, though not yet actually in it, as the judgment of God against sin, and thus entered into Israel's sorrow of the last day; that what He saw in it was the hand of God stretched out on Israel; that this was connected in His mind with the rod of God upon them, and that this closely connected itself with His coming death and their sins, but He was not then bearing them.
The fact is rightly stated: what is not unfolded is the way He entered into them; but I have distinctly stated—though of course, in the case of Christ, they were not His own personally, and that He entered into the sufferings for them, afflicted in their afflictions, but—that the relationship of a Son with a Father who was always heard, He was always in the enjoyment of, till the cross. The way the cross is connected in this Psalm with sufferings, not atoning, is of the deepest interest, though it was the time as a whole that atonement was going on; in which the judgment of God, the hostility of man, and the power of Satan—all were against Him. Though the act of atonement was only His drinking the cup on the cross, yet who can doubt that in Gethsemane He was looking at God's hand in judgment, and took the whole of what He was then delivered up to in all its details as coming from His hand, whoever was allowed to do it. God had now showed. Him that He must suffer: He walks as the smitten One in thought, does not answer, recognizes it as the hour of the power of evil (which it was not before). He is to be reckoned according to God's counsels with the malefactors, delivered up to the Gentiles, and His perfection is that He takes up this from God's hand, and will from none else. "Thou hast lifted me up and cast me down." (Psa. 102) Man, then seeing Him thus given up to it, adds every insult and wrong to His sorrow. They are the things done in the green tree, the true vine -what in the dry? Christ's entering graciously, voluntarily, and yet obediently into this place of sorrows, and subjection to the power of evil, when the time of God's will was come, is exactly the opposite of His being born under it, and escaping it by piety. But it is not the atoning work, nor was it the serving in active love to reveal the Father's name. He was going through conflict of a new character before He actually drank the atoning cup.
Note, too, that under the government of God is not distance from Him—a most important and essential difference. My mind is so totally on another ground from Mr. N.'s, that all the terms which are connected with it are not before me. So far from its being distance, that it is said in this passage that even in Gethsemane He does not say "My God;" it would have been out of place, because it was not the expression of the unclouded relationship and conscious blessedness of sonship in which the blessed Lord always stood. On the cross God was dealing with Him about sin. Now all this, which is part of the passage, is in direct antagonism with all Mr. N.'s doctrine. The only thing I see is that it is not fully explained how He entered into it, though the alleged way—Mr. N.'s—is positively denied in the passage.
November 15th, 1858.