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The "Darby Brethren"

by C. H. Spurgeon
From the July 1869 Sword and Trowel


    [From one of the most earnest workers in London we have received the following letter. We only withhold the name at our own discretion, the author was quite willing that his signature should be printed with his letter. We have also received an explanatory letter from Mr. W. Kelly, denying many of the statements of Mr. Grant, but such a disclaimer has first of all a bearing upon Mr. Grant, and only secondarily upon us, and we must leave him to corroborate his own evidence, or to withdraw it. Until that is done, we can only say that our own experience leads us to believe that all alleged may very well be true; for mutch else of like nature we have seen and felt.]

Dear SIR,—If any more testimony were needed in confirmation of the admirable and truthful article in this month's Sword and Trowel, I could give much from personal experience, and the more so that I had a narrow or rather providential escape from falling into the meshes of this truly Jesuitical system, which would probably have dried up every loving feeling in my heart, and sapped away every earnest desire for winning perishing souls for Jesus. I can endorse from personal observation almost every sentence in your article as to the effect of Darbyism on personal character, though I was not aware before of the extent of the unscripturalness of their doctrines. It would be well if your article could be put into the hands of every Darbyite not too deeply inoculated with the pernicious principles of Darbyism, and circulated far and wide in every evangelical congregation of Christians.
    The following story illustrating the principles and effects of Darbyism, and which I fear is only a sample of many others, I can vouch for:—Some years ago I attended an evening meeting for studying the word of God where believers of various denominations met, and for some time it went on very happily. In an evil hour an old Darbyite joined our meeting, and by his winning ways, gained a considerable influence, invited several of the brethren to his own house, to instruct them more fully in the new doctrines. The result was, they left the various churches in which they had been earnestly working for God, not to become unsectarian, but to unite with a sect more exclusive than any save the church of Rome. Three were members of the Tabernacle; one was a fellow worker with myself, one of the most loving spirits, my own son, in the Gospel, with a conscience so tender that he could not rest at night without doing something for his Lord. Those among them whom I still know personally have become the most selfish, unfeeling, and censorious of any Christians I know. Darbyism has so changed them as to quench every earnest purpose, to make them live only for the mutual edification of their narrow clique, and render them oblivious to the claim of the perishing millions around them. From being successful workers in the Master's cause, they have settled down at their ease in Zion, only to make a spasmodic effort when the Spirit moves them, which is very seldom. Were these brethren to allow the same liberty to others that they claim for themselves, we should not complain, but this they refuse—"They are the people," every other Christian is wrong; no matter how earnestly a man is working, or how many souls are added to the Lord by his ministry, if he cannot utter the Shibboleth of Darbyism, he is counted the veriest heretic. The scriptural text, "every tree is known by its fruit," is utterly ignored; and while compelled to recognize the paucity of converts to the gospel through their preaching, and the mighty results through unorthodox laborers, it all goes for nothing: they tell you, with the greatest calmness, God is sovereign, and works as he wills, though it is certainly strange that God refuses to bless the select company to whom alone he has revealed the true interpretation of his will. Two other thoughts concerning them might be added, in addition to Mr. Grant's evidence. First, preaching the gospel to sinners is but a secondary consideration, their main thought being "breaking bread on Lord's-day morning;" and though this precious ordinance is called by them by so simple a name, it is exalted to almost the same position and importance as the lying Romish sacrifice. The Christian brethren who are not actually taking a share in the preaching, by their own testimony, seldom attend the "gospel preaching," not needing to hear a reiteration of such simple principles, but remain at home on Sunday afternoon and evenings "studying the word," gaining more and more light while shutting it out from a dying world. Secondly, the Lord's-day is utterly ignored; about its claim they have literally no conscience. One of the most intelligent of them assured me he would as soon buy and sell on that day as any other except so far as it hindered worship; and those weak minded believers who are so foolish as to testify against the desecration of the day of rest, are looked upon with supreme contempt. Much might also be added of the guiltiness of the Darby brethren in neglecting missionary and benevolent works; unlike him they call their Master, they cannot descend to the earthly wants of poor sinners, but leave them to the tender mercies of their fellow sinners; and such a man of God as George Muller, before whose mighty faith they might well shrink, comes in for a fair share of their execration.
    To any earnest workers for Jesus who want to take ease without compunction, to shut their hearts and pockets to the cries of those who seek their compassion, to shirk the responsibilities God has laid upon them as Christian men and citizens, to shut up the genial sympathy they now feel to all who love the Savior, and to sneak into heaven without having a jewel to deck their crown—I would say join the Darbyites.

Yours very truly in the Lord, _____________

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