A friend asked me to write about my experiences reading through Collected Writings of John Nelson Darby. What was it like? What did I learn from it? Are there any tips and hints for someone else wanting to read the whole set?
I read Collected Writings over the course of 15 years. There were some volumes I read in a week or two, others took months. Sometimes I’d go months, or even a whole year between finishing one volume and starting the next. And of course I read some other things in the meantime, which might have helped me understand JND a little better.
To answer the most important question, yes it was tough reading, but it was definitely worth the effort. I would absolutely encourage anyone else to read Darby. Whether reading through Collected Writings is worth the effort depends largely on who you are and what you’re looking for. If you want a verse-by-verse commentary, you’ll be disappointed. Darby wasn’t really an expositor. If you want a study of types and shadows in the Old Testament, you might want to read C H Mackintosh (CHM) instead: that isn’t really what Darby writes about.
Darby’s writing is all about bringing the Word of God to bear on every question, of bringing every thought into captivity to Christ. It’s about seeing everything in the light of the whole counsel of God. It’s about gazing out at the vast ocean of God’s love.
But you say: What is a simple child of God, who knows no theology, to do? Just this: to remember that any so-called gospel which is not pure unadulterated grace is “another” gospel. If it proposes, under whatever specious guise, to win favor of God by works, or goodness, or “character,” or anything else which man can do, it is spurious. That is the unfailing test.
C I Scofield. “The Grace of God.” The Fundamentals, Vol. III. Ed. R. A. Torrey, A. C. Dixon. Los Angeles: The Bible Institute of Los Angeles. 1917. p. 98.Read More