The Danger of Discussion on the Nature of Christ; Irving and System; Satan; Temptation of Christ

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 7
I accept your statements quite, as far as I see. Meddling metaphysically with the Lord's Person is beyond our power, and only does us harm. But we are right in seeing what the sense of χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας in Heb. 4 is; and I have never doubted for many a long day (and have so translated it, if I remember aright) that it means "sin apart," namely-He was not tempted by sin as we are. So long ago as Irvingism I took this ground on it against them. In taking scripture thus simply without pursuing it further metaphysically at all, the soul gets a resting-place. I know that that blessed One had no sin in His human nature as I have, and it is a comfort and a rest to me. I know there is, and know a sinless humanity, and that is a relief to my spirit. But then as a saint I am tempted, not by sin within merely, but by attractions and distress from without. In me it is often mixed up with combat with the flesh within; but then I blame myself that I let it thus be alive, and I may not in such case always draw the fine thread of God's word between the two. In Christ the temptations were there-all the kingdoms of the world, and the distress of death. One met repulsion, as taking it from Satan; the other, perfect submission, which was what was needed. It was perfectness- not a moment's acquiescence. In one, Satan sought to introduce lust as he did in Eve, in the other to turn away from the path of painful obedience. Blessed be God, in both it was only triumph over him, and more than the mere absence of evil, though that was there. But if we, being saints, shrink (I do not say feel it) from trial, or feel attracted in will or lust by temptation from without, we have to recognize the still practically living flesh, which we have a right to hold as dead, not because we are as Christ was alive, but because He has died: He had to be able to die sinless, and to sin—we, to hold ourselves to be dead thereby to it. Hence, we are not called upon to be what Christ was, but "to walk even as he walked;" while we can say as before God, "as he is so are we in this world." Though of course ripening in it-(as it is our privilege to do), all that ground I had to go over in scripture in Mr. Irving's time, some four-and-thirty years ago, and have never had any difficulty—except, alas, in making it good—since. We are, thank God, as He is, through grace, in this world. It seems paradoxical to say we are as He is in glory, and cannot say we are as He was in humiliation; but it is easy to solve for the believer: I quite agree with what you say.
I sympathize with dear -, but we must expect these trials. I would I were there to help him, unpleasant as it is; but we must never expect conscience or delicacy with heretics. Our part is to trust the Lord, and be as firm in testimony as possible. I have always found gracious patience with mistakes the way, but when with God, treating Satan as Satan, when I saw it was so, by grace, he had no power. I have seen most striking cases of this.
Here there is nothing new or flattering. The loose gathering is now in the hands of M., and openly denies the immortality of the soul. It was preached there last Sunday. We are getting united, and to know each other, and there is a little individual testimony.
I think, were I staying here, I should gradually get among a few—a very few I have. In general, money and churches satisfy them, but there are those who groan at the state of things. They are not a happy people, such is my impression, though I find them easy to live amongst.
Ever, beloved brother, affectionately yours.
New York, [1866].