Life Eternal Denied: 1

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Though my immediate duty be to vindicate the Christian truth of life eternal and to expose its frightful and pernicious denial now propagated, I cannot refrain from pointing out how the revealed testimony of Christ here suffers eclipse, and little remains but a morass of mud and vapor. Who but F.E.R. would say that we get in Ex. 15 figuratively “an idea” of the Kingdom? No one denies that as to this it goes no farther than anticipating the everlasting reign of Jehovah (18) at the end. But the true aim is the celebrating of the people's redemption by power as well as blood, and the destruction of the enemy's force for salvation accomplished. In no way is it the Kingdom come, which in this series of types is the figuration in chap. 18. Hence here as elsewhere all is confusion worse confounded.
Indeed the like destructive vagueness characterizes the volume from the first address at Quebec and its first page (8): “The Kingdom was coming in in connection with the Lord Jesus, who was the expression of the grace of God.” Could any one of spiritual discernment thus put together Luke 10:21-4221In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. 22All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him. 23And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: 24For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. 25And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. 28And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. 29But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor? 30And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. 36Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? 37And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. 38Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 39And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. 40But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:21‑42) &c. with John 1:1717For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)? Indisputable that the Kingdom of God came in Christ and was proved by His casting out demons in virtue of God's Spirit (Matt. 7:2727And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:27)) equally so that it was in their midst then, instead of coming with observation as in the days when the Son of man is revealed. But it is olla podrida to mix up as here grace and salvation with God's Kingdom even in its present moral aspect, which scripture declares to be “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Passing over wild statements about reconciliation, in page 17 as often before we have that phrase, so offensive to a spiritual mind, “you touch life “; “You touch His life now because you have accepted His death.” Among other outlandish expressions (p.172) we read, “The moment you love God, you are in the life of Christ.” Scripture puts the truth in quite the opposite way: Herein was the love of God manifested, that God in our case hath sent His only-begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him. Never is it written or meant that when we love Him, we are that moment in the life of Christ, unscriptural as the language is. That life is from God's love, not from ours. But the constant error is pretending to be in the life of Christ, whilst we have not life eternal; for His life exclusively is that life eternal, and there is no other. Had Christ two lives to give, a life of His now that is not eternal, and another life at His coming which is eternal? Whatever it means, it is a detestable lie of the enemy, incompatible with scripture, and contradictory to it.
What impresses one's soul in reviewing these dreary talks and effusions (“readings” and teachings they are not, save by euphemism), is that Christ is lost, not being held in faith. Hence the truth sinks into a chaos, partly of traditional ignorance as on the Kingdom and the world to come, and partly of hazy “ideas” as on the new covenant and reconciliation far beneath old puritanism. On the kingdom enough has been said however briefly. But a fairly sober Christian has only to confront the “readings revised” with the Epistle to the Hebrews to convince himself how manifestly these speculations stop short of the “divine teaching” vouchsafed to us in holy writ. They are no more than the inanities of an active and feeble mind, which has broken away from subjection to scripture. In 2 Corinthians care is taken to guard against “letter” instead of “spirit “; for though the foundation is laid in the blood of Jesus, the terms and fulfillment of the new covenant can only be for the houses of Israel and Judah. We have only that of it which is compatible with a heavenly calling, yet enough to help greatly the Christian remnant of Jews to whom the Epistle was addressed.
What F.E.R. means by saying in page 38 that “you get two things in this chapter (Col. 1), viz. the new covenant and reconciliation” is just a proof of his total incapacity to expound scripture. Where is a trace of the new covenant in the Epistle to the Colossians? Apparently he, for one statement, alleges “In Him all the fullness was pleased to dwell “, but this immense truth goes far beyond, and wholly differs from, the new covenant; and, for the other statement, “by Him to reconcile all things to Himself” is a purpose wholly future. “In the cross” says he, “there was the removal of the old man to the glory of God: but where that man was removed, the love of God was expressed. The latter gives you the covenant! and the former reconciliation!” Can one imbued with scriptural truth imagine greater imbecility, letting pass the phraseology employed? For according to scripture the love of God was preeminently expressed in His Son's mission, that we might live through Him, and that He might die as propitiation for our sins. Only F.E.R., not scripture, connects it with “the removal” of the old man. Nor does scripture but F.E.R. say, that “where that man was removed the love of God was expressed,” but that “love hath been perfected with us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4). This we could not be if we had not now eternal life, propitiation, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in a power far beyond the new covenant or the reconciliation, as Israel are to know under Messiah.
The new creation is a distinct truth, super-added to reconciliation and never in scripture confounded. No divine teaching is clearer on it than Rom. 5:10, 1110For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:10‑11); which closes the question of God's righteousness in view of our sins, before the supplement which treats the annulling of our old man, a special Christian privilege for faith but not without the need of learning it experimentally.
As to the new covenant the apostle cites Jeremiah's words for days to come of blessing on all Israel; but thence for the Christian he turns to the beautiful shadows of heavenly things which the Mediator's death brought in, “God having foreseen some better thing for us.” This never seems to enter the mind of these interlocutors. Yet is it the express truth which God opens in the Epistle to the Hebrews, a hope that enters within the veil, of which the new covenant in itself knows nothing, and never will. Have these sorry laborers forgotten what used to cheer and gladden the hearts of true men in days that are past, and of some by grace still? Let them read and learn what follows in Heb. 9. 10. where the Christian is shown to be put into living relation with the true holies, ourselves not only sanctified but perfected in perpetuity. Israel even under Messiah and the new covenant will have no such spiritual portion, but Levitical priests, material sacrifices, and an earthly temple with a veil, and the sons of Zadok. How fallen from divine teaching are those who once seemed to enjoy it forsaking the fountain of living water for broken cisterns which can hold no water! And what are others who sit quiet and dumb in the face of such enormous corruption? For there are not a few spiritual men who value heavenly truth, I feel sure, and who groan at this spurious substitute.
But it is in the Toronto reading (23-34) that the vagaries about the Kingdom come out so grotesquely. Matt. 18 is spoken of as very important, notably for the condition of entrance, but “at the close the great principle of the Kingdom i.e., grace reigning through righteousness.” Now every person of real intelligence must know that the closing parable gives a totally different teaching, not in the least grace reigning through righteousness, but after pardon was proclaimed, the one who proved alien from its spirit consigned to condign torment. Can we conceive an archer more thoroughly missing the mark? No wonder he and his friends regard dispensational bearing with disfavor. “This is the rock on which many have split” (26) says the wrecker.
Nor is this specimen of “divine teaching” all the error here. In p. 32 we read that David's throne is really the throne of God! the very thing which the apostle contradicts in Acts 2. For David both died and was buried, and his monument was among the Jews unto that day; but being a prophet he testified of Messiah's resurrection, and to Psa. 16 we can add Psa. 110 where he tells us of His Son sitting at God's right hand, on His throne above, where none ever sat or ever can sit but Himself. “You could not understand this well from the Old Testament, but in the New find that David's throne is God's throne!” Was there ever a more perverse as well as pretentious blunderer? The O.T. does speak of Solomon chosen to sit upon the throne of Jehovah (1 Chron. 28:55And of all my sons, (for the Lord hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. (1 Chronicles 28:5)), which as it is differently expressed has quite another import. “But in the New” you do not “find that David's throne is God's throne.” Not only is it an invention but a falsehood. The Son of God, the anointed of Jehovah, shall sit on David's throne. But every decently taught Christian knows that this will not be till He appears in glory: and we have always treated such an identification as the ignorance and even folly of adversaries. In contrast with sitting as King on Zion by and by Christ sits now on God's throne, His Father's throne. This is not mere ignorance in F.E.R. It is shameless abandonment of the truth which he long confessed. Yet not one of his fellows moved the wing, or opened the mouth even to chirp. They seem spell-bound and won over to invincible darkness. Can one be surprised that these unworthy retrogradists allowed it to pass that “ecclesiasticism! standing!! ground! and such ideas! have almost ruined us” (34). Brethren, how have such insults to God's precious truth been heard or read without rebuke and repudiation? Truly “all have not faith": if they have only “ideas,” they must come to ruin. Yea, they seem ruined already.
“The New Covenant and Reconciliation” (35-47) abounds in judaizing and the like confusion as before.
But let us turn to page 148 which led to this retrospect. There we find contradiction of himself as well as of his betters. To the question of the difference between the Kingdom “of God” and “of Heaven,” the absurd answer is given that the latter is analogous to what God did at the beginning: [For it was on the fourth day] He set a great light in the heavens to rule the day. Surely any old woman might furnish one with more sense and any Christian child with more truth. But his explanation of the former is duller still. “The Kingdom of God, on the other hand, is connected with the presence of the Holy Ghost down here.” Now he had already acknowledged, as all know, that the Kingdom of God was here before His presence at Pentecost. Again, to one who asked, what was once universally owned, whether the Kingdom of God is a more inclusive term, says F. E. R. “I don't think so.” Yet when another remarked that “the Kingdom was really set up when Christ took His place on high,” his answer was, “Yes, the Kingdom of Heaven.” Yet he adds what contradicts himself that “the Kingdom of God was present when Christ was on earth;” for this conclusively proves the latter to be the “more inclusive term.”
Is it by the way worth noticing the absurd change (p. 121) from the plain and certain force of Gal. 3:2626For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26)? The only error in the A.V. is in “the children,” where all agree it should be “sons,” of God. Thus “W.M. Do you read that passage in Galatians Ye are all the sons of God in Christ Jesus by faith? F. E. R. I do.” This seems drawn from the R. V. which by its strange punctuation comes to the same sense, or from an English scholar who followed two or three Germans, and, being himself learned, had great weight with the
Revisers in misleading them too often. But learning carries none safely through Scripture. The present instance is a distortion of the sentence, and the issue a truly unnatural abortion. No scholar would so twist a classic. Where is there anything in the N. T. to warrant “sons” any more than “children” in Christ Jesus? Either would be out of harmony with God's word. It is due to sonship on the brain of one who has no title to pose as the least authority in such a question, despising here as elsewhere an honored servant of God who really had the fullest claim to respect.
Who can wonder that one who dispenses such “ideas” says in page 150 “I think a great point in connection with the Kingdom is to get away from dispensational ideas. We have been greatly hindered by taking things up dispensationally”? Think of so bold a revolt from the fullest chapter God ever inspired on the Kingdom! For Matt. 13 (and it is far from being alone) for the most part sets forth dispensational teaching, though not this only. “He that hath ears let him hear” said the Lord. F.E.R. says on the contrary, “Get away from dispensational ideas.” “Have ye understood all these things?” the Lord asked. F.E.R. is not afraid to gainsay Him: “We have been greatly hindered by taking things up dispensationally”. Exactly so think the uninstructed leaders of Christendom. Extremes meet. Yet only samples are noticed by the way, by no means all that deserves severe castigation as well as entire rejection, that those who love the truth may see how far-reaching is the departure which once would have been felt intolerable and without excuse.
Think too of such monstrous teaching in the same short paragraph (154, 155), “for the moment the Kingdom is hid at the right hand of God,” compared with the quotation of the future day when “the angels shall gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend,” &c. Had it been said that “the King” is hid, one could understand; but “the Kingdom” has no sense. It is the fruit of sneering at dispensational truth and cultivating a crop of moral vanities. “In a day of confusion” (153) scripture is the divine resource not mere moral views, which without it only mislead. But what can Christians think when to one who asked the difference between the Father's Kingdom and that of the Son, the answer was, “They refer to the same point”! And to another on the same page he maintained that Christ has “received the Kingdom,” and cited for this error, “we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor!” It is to be hoped that all who heard knew the gross mistake of both answers. Heb. 2:99But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9) is no more proof of Christ's reception of the Kingdom than Rev. 4 v. proves that the heavenly saints then reign. It is His present exaltation when we do not yet see all things put under Him. When He comes to reign, He wears many diadems and is not merely crowned. Who can fathom this disgraceful ignorance? or the dense delusion which accepts it as fresh light and truth?
In p. 164 (the Minneapolis reading on the Sanctuary) we come again to the old strange doctrine. “You don't begin with eternal life,” says an accommodating disciple.
F.E.R. You end with it, at least if scripture is right, ‘The end everlasting life.'
W.E. And that scripture does not mean then that you die?
F.E.R. I don't think so. A man gets to eternal life on earth. He may not get it until resurrection, but get it he will. Every believer will certainly get it.
W.H.F. Before he leaves earth? F.E.R. Yes. W.H.F. You don't enter into it now, but in resurrection?
F. E. R. You will be put into it then; you will not enter into it.” The meaning of this utterance seems to be eternal life given only at Christ's coming when we shall not all sleep, but all be changed. But this is to efface the Lord's giving it to believers now as a known and present possession, for mortality swallowed up of life at His coming, with which he confounds it. Scripture is as plain about the beginning as about the end. F.E.R. denies it for the believer when he most needs life eternal to know God, follow the Lord, overcome the world, and resist the devil. He is doing the enemy's work and corrupting the temple Of God.
The human invention of the believer's life by the Spirit, which is not a present reality in Christ or life eternal, explains much said hitherto, and is distinctly taught in “The Wilderness and the Land.” “You have not yet got to eternal life, but it is life Godward in the wilderness” (185). The truth is that life in Christ, life eternal, is at the starting-point; as is taught in John 3:1515That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:15), &c., v. 24, 25, vi. 40, and very clearly in 1 John 4:99In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9) compared with 10. It is unmistakably false doctrine that “John 3 [3] carries you farther than Rom. 8” [8]: a total misconception of that Gospel, which tells of the Son comedown from heaven yet Who is withal in heaven, light come into the world then manifesting God on earth. This is not less “the wilderness” than anything in the Epistle to the Romans: and “the thought of God” is as truly in both Rom. 5 and Rom. 8 as in John 3. In short the teaching is a string of discreditable and mischievous blunders. Hence “perishing” is in the wilderness (181), yet means not only to “apostatize” like Judas, a lot so exceptional, that there is another string also to the bow. It really expresses the everlasting perdition, whatever its shape, which befalls every unbeliever. And what more inept than the comparison (180), even before that, of Rom. 8 with v.— “what we are for God in the Spirit?” Surely if Rom. 5 is God fully known in grace superior to our sins, Rom. 8 is our place in Christ, superior to law, sin, and every other difficulty. But this book drags souls from divine truth to self habitually, instead of ministering Him Who alone acts on us in the power of grace by the Spirit.
Think too of the strange “idea” in 182 that “The only way in which you escape from the wilderness is in your own house. I don't think one's own house is exactly the wilderness, for it is a circle which God owns. The moment you are outside of your own house, you are in the wilderness”!!! Was there ever such puerility in a Christ-given teacher, or even a sane man? Who does not know that if typically we pass through the wilderness, which the world is to the new man, tents are an essential part of it, and that these become the pilgrim rather than the settled houses of Egypt? But what a conglomerate of thought or at least of words and figures, to claim for “our own house” so favored a circle! Would to God, our homes were more pilgrim-like, and more redolent of Christ!
But we come to more serious and systematic development of error in the use made of some later types in the book of Numbers.
“G. R. Does the brazen serpent answer to Rom. 8; 3?
“F. E. R. Quite so....
“J. S. A. And I suppose that although a person might be out of Egypt through the Red Sea, and. brought to God in that sense, he cannot enter into the purpose of God unless he apprehends the brazen serpent.
“F. E. R. No, the Spirit is the real beginning of life in the believer, ' The Spirit is life' (184)... God goes back to Adam (!) and the serpent, and sin is condemned in the flesh in the sacrifice of Christ, in order that God might impart the Spirit as life to man. You get the Lord's own expression of this in John 3.”
These heterogeneous “ideas” may please souls immature in the truth; but they indicate a mind caught by appearance, and at sea with a compass wholly out of order. For the book of Exodus furnishes the shadows of redemption and its consequences, up to God's dwelling in the midst. There we have not only the sacrifice of Christ in the Passover but God's action in power for His people in the passage of the Red Sea, Christ dead and risen. “The purpose of God” had been before them in Ex. 3:1717And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey. (Exodus 3:17), and vi. 4, 8; as they all celebrated in the song, Ex. 15:13-1713Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation. 14The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina. 15Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. 16Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O Lord, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased. 17Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. (Exodus 15:13‑17). In figure they were truly and fully brought to God. Then come lessons of grace by the way and conspicuous among them the Bread of life come down from heaven marking out the true rest, and the gift of the Spirit in the living waters from the smitten rock fitting for conflict, though victory depend on the Mediator's intercession on high.
Is it not therefore certainly and manifestly in contradiction of scripture that one could not enter into God's purpose without the serpent of brass? For its object as the emblem of Christ crucified was to annul the power of Satan through the fiery serpents which bit those that loathed “this light bread.” And it was an absolute and immediate remedy to the look of faith, Aaron being dead just before: and those concerned seem not such apostates as Jude speaks of, but such as had not come out of Egypt nor passed through the Red Sea. They were a fresh generation requiring a new enumeration soon after, who have God's intervention for them against the enemy within and without, and hence too receive the Spirit's refreshing, as they had the emblem of Christ made sin for them previously. It was meet that God should grant all this for the generation about to leave the wilderness; as He had done for those who left Egypt for the wilderness.
But what a hodge-podge is made of “divine teaching” by these ill-assorted ingredients from Exodus and Numbers boiled together for a witch's caldron of poison! Yet not a soul among his British companions or his American friends raised a note of warning! If the progress of audacious error is alarming, the silence of men in the party who must see more or less through Satan's deceits seems more distressing still.
If we turn to the fuller light of the N. T., the violence done to revelation is extreme. For a twofold reason is given in the opening of Rom. 8 why there is no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus, itself a wondrous expression of divine favor. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus freed me from the law of sin and death.” This was not only life eternal but in its risen power: God could not condemn one so liberated. But there is more. “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God, having sent his own Son in the likeness of flesh of sin, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us that walk not according to flesh but according to Spirit.” As God already in Christ's cross condemned sin in the flesh, not merely sins but sin, He is not satisfied only (as the old divines were wont to put it) but glorified therein. Thus on neither score can condemnation fall. The sins of the believer are forgiven in virtue of Christ's bearing them on the tree; and the sin in the nature also has already been condemned there to God's glory. The believer in both respects stands clear, in order to righteous practice in loving God and man, as he walks in that life which he has in Christ according to which the Spirit enables him.
No Christian doubts the part played by the Holy Spirit in new birth: but how can anyone overlook the plain truth that, when the apostle discusses the further working of grace in the verses which immediately follow, not a word here implies that “the Spirit is the real beginning of life for God in the believer, the Spirit of life'“? For F. E. R's aim is to deny that Christ now gives life, life eternal, and here in resurrection power, to the believer. This he deliberately discards as the beginning or indeed at any time in our actual existence till He comes; for “life eternal” he believes only in “the end” —an end of glory which can never come without its beginning in grace now. The apostle shows that it is no question of duty only, but of a new nature with its spiritual affections quite opposed to the flesh and its lusts which are enmity against God. The believer's relationship to God is in the Spirit, but grounded on having Christ for life and on being in Him. This is made clear even by ver. 10: “But if Christ [be] in you, the body is dead because of sin, and the Spirit life because of righteousness.” Christ already in him as life warrants him to disallow the body as a guiding power, that the Spirit may act in that life and be life practically. For thus only is sin excluded and righteousness produced. As no Christian doubts that the Son quickens in communion with the Father, so he holds that one is thus also born of the Spirit. God in the fullness of His being acts in this operation of His grace. And here we learn how the Spirit is the immediate energy in the inner man all through. But to pervert it (as heterodoxy usually avails itself of a scripture difficult to many, in order to deny Christ as the present giver of eternal life), O what a sore grief to Him who is sent here to glorify Christ, and should receive of His and report accordingly!
Is it not blindness to say as in p. 185, after Rom. 5 and 8:3, which is said to answer to the brazen serpent, that “you have not yet got to eternal life, but it is life Godward in the wilderness?” As we have seen, the very verse (Rom. 8:1010And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10)) abused to put forward the Spirit, in exclusion of Christ's gift of life eternal, refutes the unbelief, and makes “Christ in us” the antecedent to the Spirit's power in making it good in our practice. But more: the Lord's application in John 3 proves that the life given forthwith to such as looked on the serpent of brass answers to “eternal life,” and not to an imaginary different and inferior life meanwhile. Scripture never speaks of Christ giving the believer any life but His own life eternal. F. E. R's doctrine is a fraud of dangerous consequence from every point of view. Can a faithful man doubt that the Holy Spirit, far from accepting F. E. R.'s error in pretended honor to Himself, resents it as a profane slight on the Son of God and the Father's love?
If it were really meant that the life we have in Christ may in some disclose little beyond a pilgrim character, whilst they ought to have a heavenly character also as occupied with Christ glorified on high, one would accept its truth as long confessed and prized. This however is in no way his “idea.” He fancies life eternal to mean neither the one nor the other: he asserts it to be “a purpose of God,” and “a promise” to the believer, but in no case his present and known reality, and less still admits it to be the life of which all Christians live. His notion that “the Spirit is life,” to the exclusion of eternal life in Christ now given, is a wicked falsehood, and beneath not only every Christian teacher, but any Christian whatsoever. It is possible indeed that he was beguiled by his own misapprehension of the difference between the heavenly life and the earthly (or pilgrim) life in a practical sense, whether of Christ or of the Christian. Such a misunderstanding of one truly taught of God may have been the enemy's snare into his own systematized error. But if any one a dozen years ago doubted what he meant, there can be no real excuse now. The reader of this volume has abundant and decisive proof. Who with the fear of God can now say that there has been no false system, nor false doctrine at root? To deny it at this time of day would be party-spirited will and obstinacy unworthy of Christ.
No doubt mistake on the side of these who were right in the main weakened their testimony and gave a seeming aid to the adversary. For all ought to have seen that there are two principles and directions for the life Christ communicated, figuratively the wilderness, and Canaan. The heavenly ways and the wilderness walk are quite distinct. It was so even for Christ, where all was perfection. But this raises no uncertainty as to the unity of His life, any more than as to the life eternal now given to us. It affords no real cloak for the error, which positively denies the communication here and now of eternal life, and only admits the gift of the Spirit (56 et passim). For it is foolish and evil perversion of Rom. 8:1010And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10) to exclude our having at present eternal life in the Son, under the plea that without it “the Spirit is life.” Even verse 2 had clearly joined Christ with the Spirit, like the verse tortured into the contrary. For what means “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,” if not that? What God joined together, let not man venture to sever.
Further, what Christian taught of God does not see that in Rom. 8 it is a question, first in 2, of delivering power in the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, and, next in 10, of the Spirit as power inwardly in order to walking in the Spirit? Think of confounding all this with being born of the Spirit, or with the gift of the Spirit! Yet this is a root-error throughout the volume; as if one could be born of the Spirit without life, or have life imparted to the believer which was other than life in the Son, life eternal. What a return to old ignorance, if one conceive that the experience of Rom. 7 could be that of a soul not born of God! Yet as clearly it is one without the Spirit of liberty. But F. E. R. is on every side wrong; and the worst is, that it is a departure from light into darkness on the foundation as well as the privileges of Christianity.