Monday, October 22, 2007

'Through Many Trials' David Brown - XXXIV.

The Victorians were great letter-writers, though not in the same way as Samuel Rutherford or John Newton. Still, they wrote to each other. David Brown's list of correspondents was very broad, as we have seen, embracing B.B. Warfield, James Martineau and John Henry Newman! Of course some of his correspondents were brothers in Christ, others he regarded as lost perishing sinners to be won for Christ.
Among Christians Brown was well known for his work as a commentator and, in academic circles, for his work on the Revised Version (unhappy though he was with the final result). One of his most intimate correspondents was Principal Moule of Ridley Hall, Cambridge, later Bishop of Durham (pictured in full Victorian Clergyman's attire). Brown wrote to Moule often during the work on the Revised Version (work that Brown found particularly difficult due to Westcott and Hort). Sometimes he wrote to Moule seeking support for his views, and at other times he wrote to Moule sharing what had happened in the Revision company.
He also encouraged Moule in his writing. In particular he enjoyed Moule's 'Ephesian Studies'. "Ephesians is a subject in which you are thoroughly at home. Bishop Lightfoot [of Durham] told me at Bishop Aukland [then the principal residence of the Bishop of Durham] that it was the Epistle he would try next. I said that I could guess that he would take that after Colossians. 'Yes, but...' 'I know what that but means. You haven't your students, as at Cambridge, to listen to your lectures on the Epistle.' 'That's it,' he said. 'I'm trying to get three or four to lecture to, but it wants the stimulous of about a hundred sitting with pens in hand to hear me.' You know the loss; the book never appeared. He was a real Christian, and I believe walked with God."
That was the effect of the Episcopate on Lightfoot, it dried up his literary work by making him into an administrator.

Brown also corresponded with Moule about the Keswick teaching. Moule was quite involved in Keswick, the Aberdeen Professor had his doubts. So far as the Keswick teaching was simply that the sanctification of a Christian is the work of God, not the work of man, that it is the work of the Holy Spirit in us, he found it helpful. If the Keswick teaching (then in its early days) was that we are completely sanctified in Christ, all was well. If it was that our faith is an instrument of sanctification, while unbelief is sin, good. But the idea of a once-for-all crisis experience ending the struggle with sin was one with which he would have nothing to do. It was FALSE, and dangerous. And so it is.

God willing, next time we shall consider the centre of Brown's theology.



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