Nothing Being Like the Cross; Irving and System; B.W. Newton; Obedience of Christ; Redemption

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As regards N.'s circulated letter, I cannot regret it. The Rainbow, as I learned from the middle of Kentucky, in a review of the recent tracts, says Newtonianism is coming in like a flood. He has given the answer. The Lord's hand is in that: there is nothing like trusting Him. N. knows, as you say, very well who are really opposed to him. At least, the Lord has made him, poor fellow, declare it. He quotes, as all have done, H.'s and P.'s statements as mine, but what I have never said at all. I do pity these poor brethren who have thus committed themselves to the enemy; and it seems to me poor N. and his friends must be sunk very low to have to profit by weapons so furnished by others.
As to what he says, it is important in another point of view. It is a practical admission that he is now where he always was as to doctrine. It is quite true that he did not teach that Christ was a moral distance from God. Nor did any one but Irving, and not even Irving on his own view of the case; he said Christ had a fallen nature, but it was not sin whew not yielded to, and Christ never did, and so was in God's favor, and thus won the Spirit for us. But further in this paper Mr. N. states, that this absence of moral distance was true on the cross when Christ was forsaken of God, and hence the negation of moral distance does not hinder Christ's having been forsaken of God all His life, and that was really the question with Mr. N. He had, he said, to make His way to a point where God could meet Him, and that point was death-death on the cross. He was extricating Himself out of the relative position He was in by piety, prayer, &c. But Mr. N. did state that He suffered not expiatorily, if words have any meaning, and enlarged upon it, for he stated that He suffered not vicariously. However, he relinquished this afterward, and it is not now material. It was as born a Jew, that He was in this relative position (and He was farther from God than Israel when they had made the golden calf), and as born of Adam. He did not state that He was in the personal condition of a sinner: I do not know who ever did, that called himself a Christian.
As to experiences, his statement was, that Christ had the experiences which an unconverted elect man ought to have-I do not know whether he calls an unconverted elect man a sinner -and the wrath of Sinai was pressed upon Him by God's heavy hand.
His statements as to those he calls Darbyites are mere claptrap to catch people. I never heard any such language nor thoughts as "the excellency attached to His own personal condition being canceled." For my own part, as far as any difference can be predicated of His personal excellency (which strictly it cannot), there was no time it shone so brightly as at the cross, for there His obedience was consummated in the highest way, "Now is the Son of man glorified"; "Therefore doth my Father love me because I lay down my life." As to the word obedience including all His obedience, I have no objection, looked at as a moral whole. It is not the act or acts as such, but the obedience in contrast with disobedience which is looked at. When it is said, that to say any of His sufferings were not necessary to the completion of His work in making atonement is to say that He did not suffer as a Redeemer, which would be a heresy -it is again mere clap-trap. His sufferings of course were all necessary to redemption, so was His birth, so was His sinlessness. It is another question what atonement and redemption were wrought by. "We have redemption through his blood," and "without shedding of blood there is no remission." That the character and results of redemption were the same for Christians or saints before Christ or in the millennium, is perfectly true, nor did I ever hear of any one who doubted it. But if scripture be true, redemption was not the sole end of His sufferings. In the first place, the great end was not our redemption at all, but the divine glory. In the next place, as to application, He was receiving the tongue of the learned that He might know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary. He suffered, that we might not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. "For in that he himself has suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted." Another object was to annul the power of him that had the power of death. In every respect, therefore, the statement is false. First the ultimate end is the divine glory, and in application other objects are positively stated as scripture objects, dear to the heart of every saint.
What is important in this paper is that it witnesses that Mr. N. still justifies what he always maintained. The same want of plain honest statement which characterizes heresy is found, characterizing the paper in the strongest way. It denies what nobody accuses him of, and conceals what he really maintained. It is false in doctrine as to the sufferings of Christ, and, whatever value that has from such a quarter, it is a declaration that those who are accused by Messrs. H. and D. as falling in with his views, he considers as his most ardent adversaries.
As to the expression that Christ was in a certain sense connected with sin, I never heard of its being used. I do not think it is a desirable one; but "in a certain sense" a man is connected with the burden he bears-Christ was then made sin for us, to express which the expression, though an ill-chosen one, may be used in so vague a form as "in a certain sense." He was there for sin; I do not like the expression, nor am I aware of its being used, but I should understand it in a legitimate sense in one sound in the faith, if used in contrast with appearing the second time χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας-apart from sin-having nothing to say to it as to those who look for Him. I think the expression awkward, but when in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, though He knew no sin, so vague an expression as "in a certain sense" connected with this can be understood, if I have no reason to suspect it is meant to convey there was any sort of sin or sinfulness in Him I confess I do not admire it. But it is a convenient way of dealing with charges of error, to deny stoutly what no one accuses the person of in terms which may be mistaken for the same, to keep entirely out of sight what one is accused of, to accuse and condemn loudly in others what they have never said, and make a number of true statements which nobody calls in question, which both accredit the writer and imply that others deny them. Such are the real contents of this paper, but it does contain really utterly unsound doctrine as to the sufferings of Christ—the same held by Messrs. H. and others—the denial of any sufferings besides atoning ones. If this is not meant, the statement is a shuffle on the most sacred subject possible. But it has its importance in many respects, and the Lord's hand is in it.
Affectionately yours in the Lord.
I know that dear-does not admit the εἰς and ἐπί. [Rom. 3:2222Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: (Romans 3:22).] I regret it, but it is a mere question of clear interpretation. The end of chapter v., particularly verse 18, confirms in the strongest way what I have myself no doubt is the true sense; movement towards is included in εἰς, though elliptically, as all Hellenists admit; it may be used in the way of rest, but always implies motion; though it may speak of what motion has brought us to, and so be used when there is none. Indeed, it is a found expression to connect τοὺς πιστεύοντας with the first εἰς πάντας. But it is as much interpretation as Greek, though I think it decidedly forcing the Greek to connect,.,. with EIS 7rcivrag• But instead of man's righteousness by law, which would be exclusively Jewish, as the chapter shows, it is God's righteousness, and so to all. It is on all those only who believe, but that includes Gentiles also if they believe. But it is not a point I should contest, but leave it to spiritual discernment.
Cambridge, Mass.,
April, 1867.