• Christ and Church Life and Building Spirit and Bride


    As a lover of Christ and a pursuer of truth, I write down my joys, memories and reflections.

    May God lead us all into the secret of His presence, and build us into the oneness of His body in love.
  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Recently Viewed

  • Recent Posts

  • Advertisements

John Nelson Darby as I knew him.

His largeness of heart, for one of strong convictions and of practical consistency, showed itself in many ways. After he left the Anglican Establishment he preached occasionally at the call of godly clergymen who urged it; but he only appeared for the discourse and was not present at the previous service. So in afterwards he preached for pious ministers of the Reformed Church; nor did he refuse the black gown as an academic dress; but when they brought the bands, “Oh! no,” said he: “I put on no more.” Again, he did not spare but warmly rebuked the zealots among half-fledged brothers, who were so ignorantly bitter as to apply what the apostle said of heathen tables to those of the various Denominations. It was only fundamental error which roused his deepest grief and indignation. Then, as one of these (a heterodox teacher) said to me, J.N.D. writes with a pen in one hand and a thunderbolt in the other.

As a more public instance, take his letter from to Archdeacon Stopford, when cast down by Mr. Gladstone’s disestablishment and spoliation of the Irish Protestant church, to assure him of his sympathy. “If the Protestants trust God, this will remain their position. Let them, because of the word of God, and in honouring it and what is called Protestantism, as owning it cordially, coalesce with the Presbyterians, as you have noticed they did in the best times under Bramhall . . . Only be yourselves, and trust God. Have done with the State, reject it, making no terms for a little money and much subjection; if you do, you are lost.” But none the less, when the pious and learned Dr. O’Brien, Bishop of Ossory, who had married his niece, wrote a defence of Baptismal Regeneration, which he had long rejected, Mr. Darby wrote a vigorous reply, and proved that the argument on the formularies as well as Scripture was simply and grossly a begging of the question.

Even in his own circle his forbearance towards prejudice was as great as his decision in momentous things. He often worked with another, when he did not shrink from preaching in the open air so much as later. Once his companion was a man of singular eloquence, but slow to learn fuller truth and addicted to form. So the naval ex-commander read a petition from the Common Prayer selection, and the ex-clergyman made the gospel appeal. Perhaps one such experiment sufficed. Incongruities happened in those days. At a later date he became more chary of preaching in so-called churches or “temples” (as they call them abroad), when superstition crept in and rationalism. The recent indifferentism that prevails also curtailed in practice the readiness with which outside Christians were received, though the principle abode as ever; but its application could not but be abridged, when some wished to break bread who were insensible to notorious and grievous error taught where they usually attended.

It will interest many to hear that his paper on the Progress of Democratic Power, and its effect on the Moral state of immensely struck the late Sir T. D. Acland, who was Mr. Gladstone’s intimate friend from Oxford days till death. In acknowledging the gift of Miscellaneous I., which contains the sketch, he wrote to me that it was (though written many years before) the most wonderful forecast and just appraisal he ever read of what is come and coming.

This then is my conviction, that a saint more true to Christ’s name and word I never knew or heard of. He used to say that three classes, from their antecedents, are apt to make bad brothers; clergymen, lawyers, and officers. He himself was a brilliant exception, though a lawyer first and a clergyman afterward.

A great man naturally, and as diligent a student as if he were not highly original, he was a really good man, which is much better. So, for good reason, I believed before I saw him; so taking all in all I found him, in peace and in war; and so, in the face of passing circumstances, I am assured he was to the end. Do I go too far if I add, may we be his imitators, even as he also was of Christ?

W. K.

%d bloggers like this: