Dearest Brethren and Sisters,
Grace and peace be to you, and mercy from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I cannot write to you altogether as I could wish, for though my heart should flow out towards you all as it does before God, I write with some restraint, for though but slightly ill in itself, yet constant walking on hot sunny flags in a town, relaxes and weakens my eye. I feel, brethren, deeply, all your love towards me, and rejoice to feel it, not for my own sake only, though it has been comfort and refreshment to me, and put thus something of a new feature on my christian life, nor yet for your sakes, dear brethren, only, though I rejoice in it yet more abundantly for that, but yet more because our common Master is honoured, and He rejoices in the prosperity of His people. He must delight in their love, for “he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God.” He must delight in the manifestation of the Father, as He says, “that they may be one in us—made perfect in one.” And I beseech you, the rather, brethren, earnestly to maintain this spirit of love, which is the presence of God. I rejoice, exceedingly, that I have any fellowship with you in it. I know, brethren, that we all have it in great weakness, but though—brethren, I have felt it the rather, because, though I have met with abundant individual kindness, and many dear children of God, yet I have not met the children of God dwelling together so much in unity, but have been a man of contentions rather. God is my witness whether I loved it or not. But it has made me the more anxious that you should bear witness to the power of the principle, yea, of the healing power of God —I mean, in love. For the disease of sin is separating, and God is uniting, for He is love; and this will be the healing of all things, for they are to be gathered together into one in Christ. Some now of His sheep are scattered abroad. Walk then in love, dear brethren, and you will walk in power, and in the glory of God.
I did rejoice for your sakes, that you sent, as I learned, the money to poor Mrs. ——(and indeed, it was greatly needed, for he, having served the Lord in his generation, had left simply nothing, and a sickly family): as you had all known him, I meant to have mentioned him to you, but need I say how much happier I was that it came unmentioned? and it bore witness to your love here, and to the power of it amongst you, and as the blessed apostle says, did not make me ashamed in. my boasting of you, so that I was the rather rejoiced. We have done what we could here also. And, dear brethren, how shall I thank you for all your kindness to me and care of me? I felt to the utmost some of your provision for me, that I might not destroy the memorials of your kindness, but I knew this would be hardly meeting it, and I bear witness to your kindness in it amongst our brethren here.
The brethren who meet in Aungier Street are going on in much unity and sweetness of spirit amongst each other. I should only fear their getting too comfortable amongst themselves, and sitting quietly down, but they all labour in the Lord as far as I know. In the Bridewell, where cholera broke out, and the first cases very virulent, the matron, a sister, sent for some of them to pray, and they did, and all, when I last heard, were recovering. Two out of them have died here of those attacked, though the number of these are comparatively, under God, few. A good spirit seems shewn about it, but the people are enraged, and the doctors are in consternation, as far as I see, as to their feeling about themselves. The hand of the Lord is manifest; there have, I find, been two cases of persons recovering under prayer here: in the second, the attending physician requested it might be done, in consequence of the former case, which he had been attending; and medicine was relinquished, and the person grew better—as far as I collected, it was gradual.
Dear brethren, stand fast; and, I beseech you, to abound in the work of the Lord, and by well-doing, put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. I am persuaded, that what I have seen published about you, did not affect the weakest among you. Remember the word, “being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed we entreat; we are made as filth of the earth, as the offscouring of all things unto this day.” If you are called Beelzebub, you well know why you should bear it, returning blessing for cursing. It is a privilege we have little of, to be like our Master. For the rest, brethren, be wise, be steady, and throwing everything upon the Lord, and the peace of God shall be with you, which is more, far more, than the reproach of the world. Try all things, and hold fast that which is good.
I am detained here awhile, hoping, if it may be, that something may be done, by which the B. Society may be kept, or rather, the service of God kept up in it; if it be done, you shall hear all about it. Dear brethren, in the midst of abundant kindness here, often the countenances of many dear christian friends at Plymouth, shine across my path, with only increased feelings of kindness and pleasure. I do trust in the Lord, to see you again shortly; it will be a little longer than I hoped, partly from my eye, and partly because I cannot move others as fast as my wishes. But my heart is with you, dear brethren, and I long to see you all.
Forgive me my harassed letter, arising from over working, as usual a little beyond my strength. I probably, if the Lord will, shall get a week’s rest of body on my way to the West, and after I have seen them there, my mind will begin to revert to Plymouth, though many have reproached me with deserting this country. I seek only the Lord’s will in it. Grace be with you, dear brethren and sisters in the Lord.
Most affectionately yours in Him, with many prayers that you may prosper with simplicity in His ways.
P.S.—I beseech you to let me hear of you, and that often, specially when anything occurs, even if I should not write, for I am a bad correspondent. I have received——’s, and thank him for it. I have delayed this to make the inquiries, and answer them now in conclusion…
I think it possible she may have been led, though a child of God, to conceal part of her sin, and this always leads to more want of truth… Remember, as a child of God, one ought to be dealt kindly with, even if erring; if a sheep, to drive her into the world again would be dreadful. If you are not wise, Satan might drive you to this—a sad position to be in.
I heard also, by the delay, from ——, whose account of all, though in a few words, rejoiced me exceedingly; he seemed to think you were growing only in unity and affection one towards another. My eye is all but well, and I hope to proceed very shortly on my journey; meanwhile, the Lord has been blessing me in some details, and I have written what I am about (with God’s will) to have printed, about the Archbishop of Dublin.
A converted Jew (H——), a brother in the Lord, was desirous of proceeding to Plymouth, to see what he could do there: he has nothing of his own. I was sure you would have received him gladly, until, at any rate, it was found there was no place for him there; he wants, I am disposed to think, maturity, but is bold, of a good spirit and feeling, and of a mind by no means without flow of thought, and, I believe, a very true brother: you know I love a Jew (how rarely are they brought) when they love the Lord. But the church here thought he had better not go till your mind was known. I think you would do him good. Would you let me or them know your own wishes about it.
Peace and joy and strength be with you all from the Father, in the Lord Jesus, in one Spirit. Let me hear that you are all well.
Yours ever, even to better worlds, in the Lord.
Dublin, May, 1832.
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Dear——, I saw so little of you, from various circumstances, while I was at Plymouth, that I the rather take occasion to write to you, though I steal twenty minutes from the toil of one of our day’s meetings. I am anxious, too, to say a few words about my most dear brethren at Plymouth, and to express my love to them. The Lord has been, I think very graciously with us here, not more gracious than He would ever be (but more than our hearts draw Him down, through our stupidness), for His presence is always blessing; but He has restrained, brought out unanimity, and shewn also a power of His Spirit, in bringing out our minds long apparently hedged in, which is to me quite marvellous. In fact, those things which I have been labouring for in sorrow (partly, I dare say, through my own fault) these years, are now bursting forth in this country, so that I would think that six years had passed since I was last here, so as to meet many from different parts. Though everything is comparatively to be done, it is turning perforce into a missionary country; the character of its state is quite different from in England.
It will be impossible to give you any sketch of the matter here,1 from the immense quantity—not compared with scripture, for it indeed proved our ignorance, but with our individual thoughts: very much of most important matter as to the man of sin, his deceivableness and power, and the power and working of Satan, and of the Spirit, and the opposition of the two, and the Lord’s judgments, and as associated with our present prospects, was drawn with the greatest profit. At least, I so felt it; this to me was the most interesting part, but what interested me was the way it was mixed with faith. There was also marked and universal (I may say almost) reference to the Spirit; it characterised in a peculiar way, I think, what was set forth, so as to shew the Lord’s hand. We had (a few of us brethren, more immediately known and together) prayer together, morning and afternoon, which helped us much, at least, ourselves; and doubtless, the Lord accepted us; and I found it a great blessing to my own soul in the matter. God’s presence and Spirit has, I think, been very graciously with us. I think also, light was thrown (not perhaps quite so bright, but I think there was) on Daniel and the Apocalypse, and other books of scripture. I do pray the Lord may be yet with us, and keep the flesh down. I wish you had been with us; I am sure you would have enjoyed it.
The Lord has been most abundantly gracious to you at Plymouth. I pray God to keep you from everything which will not stand the large, all-embracing love, and purity of His coming. I do feel exceedingly anxious as to this: I trust dear H. may be the means of keeping you, for I know it is near his heart, in all largeness of heart; and you, dear brother, as the rest, ought to know, with all that join and visit amongst you, and are in the habit of sitting down with you all, that no root of bitterness spring up among you, and that none in any wise fail of the grace of God. This is the true secret of a church well ordered, perfect largeness of heart, as large as Christ’s even at His coming, and full consideration of one another to provoke to love and to good works, and that Satan get no entrance or defilement. I beseech you all to watch for this with all the love in which I mention it, that it may be so; surely it is your blessing and privilege. I do trust the young ones of the flock are going on well, and are cheered by every considerateness of their state, that nothing should stumble them (would the Lord own you all as a faithful and wise steward?), and that they in meekness and love are anxious and prompt to learn and to receive of the Lord what He may give. And, dear brother, are you working and watching after the poor souls in K. Street? I do feel very anxious about them, and walking in love with one another.
There were some questions in Miss ——’s letter which I anxiously looked concerning, but- the Lord gave me no answer to give, and I thought I saw why: He was teaching in another way what I could not. The Lord sent us a blessing, and disposed the hearts of the saints much towards us at Bristol, and many also to hear. We preached in both chapels. The Lord is doing a very marked work there, in which I hope our dear brothers M. and C. may be abundantly blessed, but I should wish a little more principle of largeness of communion. I dread narrowness of heart more than anything for the church of Christ, especially now.
I was arrested in my progress, and now write from the end of Westmeath, being on an important preaching tour, in which we are seeking to bring missionary truth, and I hope more, to bear on a large surface of this country. It is important as introducing lay-preaching, and turning the country into a missionary country; indeed, the importance of watching this country is daily more pressed upon me, that the required service of the Lord, so far as may be, may be fulfilled. I lean upon the freeness and power of the Spirit of God. I shall be detained some time in this country I see, but I hope I shall be able to prove to you when I return to Plymouth, that J have not been idle.
My present tour embraces Meath, Enniskillen, Armagh, Trim (if you can find them), having two or three places per diem, to investigate or preach in, in the space of a fortnight. There are, of course, difficulties in the way, and I do not know that I have the onwardness of manner suited to it, but I shall be able to report for them who may follow. On the whole, I have reason to be thankful in this country.
I find it good for Plymouth, I should be a little from it, but I am anxious for every blessing about it. I shall not be happy at being away if I do not hear of Plymouth, I trust fully.
I beg my most affectionate love to all the dear brethren; they would not believe how much my heart is bound up in their prosperity before God. But God is their strength, and will be their strength.
Pray let me hear soon, and never mind hearing from me. Direct to Limerick. Remember me very kindly to all the brethren.
Ever, dear brother,
Yours affectionately in the Lord.
[Finished at] Granard, October 15th, 1832.
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Dearest Brother,—I meant to have written to you before; it is relief to me to write to you now, bearing as I do our dear brethren at Plymouth upon my heart, while I do so, for while I have been much blessed, yet I find incessant intercourse with men distracts me in my weakness of communion. I was very thankful to get your letter indeed, in the midst of many anxious services which every one working the Lord’s work now must have. The order and peace of Plymouth is one of my comforts here; I do trust the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, my God, will keep them ever, and I am persuaded He will, walking in good works, and abounding therein with thanksgiving, in humbleness of heart that God thus undeservedly blesses us all. I do pray He may make them all a pattern of believers, yet growing themselves into deep and brighter conformity to Christ, having Him ever before their eyes, and [leading2] also young and old in Christ into the depth of the riches of His grace. I do remember you—in weakness in my prayer, yet in my measure of faith that it may be so, and trust it may be according to the measure of His goodness, and not any man’s weakness—that you grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and none fall in any wise from their own stedfastness. May the Lord keep you all. May the Lord give you peace, always, and by all means, from Himself.
I can tell you for watchfulness, dear brethren, as well as comfort, that your report, whether of weakness or strength, is gone out, so take heed that you walk very close with the Lord. The last place I heard of H—— was in the County Clare, in a newspaper … with no great honour, but that, of course, we may all expect from the world. It assumes to my mind daily more importance, and that which therefore more immediately presses on my mind is, that they may be all kept in humbleness—great humbleness, that they may walk in God’s righteousness and true holiness by the power of the Spirit dwelling amongst them, granting too what He will so we honour Christ. Do not marvel if such things as ——’s impatience arise; Satan will try to trouble you by them. But if you walk in the communion of the Spirit in power in any measure, the Lord will help you through it, rebuking the flesh and the enemy in him, if indeed you be separated from it and sanctified; for then you will discern it to be of the flesh and the enemy, while you, being sanctified, will have power to repress it, giving all liberty to the Spirit, but rebuking all disorder. And it may be, some time there may be need to rebuke, as we learn from the blessed apostle by the Spirit. But the flesh cannot rebuke the flesh, nor will the flesh submit to it; but if you indeed walk in the Spirit, you have God’s authority according to, your measure, and Satan will yield to the Spirit, and the sanctioned witness of God’s Spirit among you. Pray much for this Spirit; let your prayers abound for it, so shall you be able to discern all things, and the brethren shall grow up soon, unexpectedly, in all things, looking ever towards the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
My heart is with you, dear brethren, while you walk in order, and therefore was your letter such a comforter. You are my comfort and joy, and therefore it ought to be so with me; and, dear friends, I make my boast of you, so (as the apostle says) I hope I shall not be ashamed of the same confident boasting. Yea, I trust it may make you humble and ashamed of yourselves, that you are not more conformed to Christ, when men come to see your ways. The brethren who have met together in Clare, that is Ennis, have much followed your order at Plymouth. Some brethren have met here in weakness, but I trust the Lord will be with them. At Rathkeale they have met, and seem going on well, though in weakness. In Dublin, —a brother I trust, whom you know, has troubled the body exceedingly, as he was about to do before. I pray God it may not produce evil, but it has thrown them into confusion: my God will bring them, out of it into a brighter order and good, if they hear and learn of Him. I know not whether they will receive my word, but I have written—perhaps he will think sharply and haughtily—to B——; but I felt quite assured of what I was doing in love. Pray for them, that all may be well before God. Dear brethren, and you, dear brother, give no allowance to the flesh in any wise, but give all liberty to the Spirit, which is our blessing and power, as indwelling amongst us, and you shall be blest; and if you would be able to repress and rebuke the workings of Satan by it in others, give it no law in yourselves, but yield yourselves to God as those that are alive, yield yourselves to His Spirit, and seek it diligently. I am refreshed in writing to you, dear brother, and I hope to see you all again shortly, though I have some service here first—I mean, not only in this place, but in other parts, or all of this county. Let me hear from you all again, please; but I reckon on the continuance of blessing amongst you, and if so, I am happy. Kemember me with all affection to dear ——, and all the brethren and sisters, one with another. I do trust you may be all kept positively and actually together, so that your faith may be spoken of, for it is not our going, but our faith travelling, that sends the testimony. The Lord especially lead: I am glad to hear that you think of reaching Sidmouth. It would be well if the Lord lead us there, that is all I look to. Pray for us all here, as I would for all of you, dearest brother. Grace be with you all. I got several of the pamphlets for you; they are of the old edition. There is one defect, the resurrection power is not duly stated in them. I see I shall have to be speedily in England, though my body might say rest somewhere. I dread the responsibility of a new pamphlet on it, not knowing the church to be prepared to receive it— but you say it is. Dearest brother, walk close to the Lord, our witness in strength, and our help. My best christian affection to your wife and children. I am your debtor for much kindness. Grace be with you, dear brother.
Ever most affectionately
Yours in the Lord.
I should tell you this country is much blessed, by the expectation of the Lord’s coming becoming a wonderfully practical thing in it. I long for the time of retirement, but it is not easy to make it with the work there is. Grace, mercy and peace, be with you. Tell Miss——, that as I was writing to you I do not to her, but I will, please God, ere long. The Lord is wonderfully gracious to us in an evil world. I have written a paper on De Burgh on the Revelation.
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Dear Miss——, —I was waiting to hear from Miss——, or some of the letters you spoke of before I wrote; for you must remember that you are enjoying the rest and quiet of fellowship, and I am labouring, in whatever weakness, I may almost say, night and day, with almost all around, either opposing, or expecting to be sustained and fed, and one’s judgment exercised at every step. So that I assure you, with the danger of being dragged into the world one is working in (which is more than you suppose), or the loss of communion, which success with men is always apt to produce—while I have found my God most gracious—the consciousness and enjoyment of communion with those who are within the reclaimed country is not only pleasant, but profitable, as keeping before one’s mind what one is labouring for. They say that those who go as reclaimers into the backwoods, constantly fall into the mere backwoodsmen’s life, instead of civilising them. I am much in the backwoods, not indeed as a settler, but leaving the tilled country much to other hands less hardened to suffer, while I could work till all the country be cleared; yet weeds will grow in fallow ground where all has been cleared, and Plymouth is much in my thoughts and prayers (however they may count me careless of them in my absence), that it should flourish as the garden of the Lord.
Indeed, if you would know the truth, what I dread, because of the blessing that is there, is too much concentration of my interest and my prayers where I have found so much christian happiness and kindness too, lest the Lord should say to me of this also, “Lovest thou me more than these?” But indeed, besides that which might be selfish, I am anxious enough about Plymouth to have longed to hear oftener than I have; and my dear brethren and sisters there must remember that my occupation is travelling and preaching two or three times a day, or as here, standing out on the question whether the gospel is to be preached, in spite of all the clergy, or not; and now that the Lord has opened the minds of the people, lecturing nightly, and expected to answer all the questions and hold every ground that anybody might question. Nevertheless, the Lord is wonderfully at work here, but this, of course, does not make the labour less. I suspect the real difficulty is hardly come yet, for the Lord has allowed no felt difficulty yet, but set the tide one way as regards those around m§. In the meanwhile, the meeting at Powerscourt, as it has wrought conscious desires, and inquiry and prayer too, in the minds of many of the evangelical people in this place, there has been a considerable plunge made into the minds of this country by it, and this has partly exercised me, as interested in this country.
Aungier Street, too, as you know, through the captiousness of one person, has caused trouble. But the Lord worketh still His own way. There is a little church here which has caused in an idle town great trouble and confusion of thought, where the preaching of the gospel was made a crime before; yet I communicate there, preach the gospel, and none to hinder me. We have set up weekly scripture reading meetings, two of them at the two most worldly houses in Limerick. Our only present difficulty is to keep people out. Pray that’ the Lord may turn this to His own real blessing in truth. The Lord is working strangely; one’s only part is to follow closely in the path of His will, and not be led in anything from the point of blessing.
Pray for me, dear brethren. I feed a little day by day upon scripture, and we shall find something to talk about, I dare say, when I meet you all. Meanwhile, I do commend you earnestly to God, and beg your prayers, that that Spirit, by which alone there can be profit or blessing, may descend, and be abundantly upon me—yea, upon all the church: it is the church’s great necessity. I preached a good deal upon it here. Is there much prayer for it at Plymouth? I do trust there is; nothing would I press more. Is there much real prayer there now? May I not be sure there is, and that you abound in reading and good Works; your labour is not in vain in the Lord. Do not let even the enjoyment of your social meeting, pleasant and profitable as it is, trench upon your actual service among those without, specially the poor; as it is harder and less grateful, so when done in the Spirit, the Lord especially meets and blesses them. Be much among the poor, the Lord always owns it, it was always His way, and it has its peculiar importance in more ways than men suppose. It is His order and place of the church, for results are not always from apparent causes. Blessed is the man that considereth the poor.
You may be sure that when my spirit flags I think of Plymouth, as I do also ever, with earnest prayer for the Lord’s sake. I have been detained here longer than I thought, which will be accounted for by what I have mentioned. The Lord’s hand was remarkable. The bishop was removed. The Independent minister, a real Christian, and labouring, but confined and hindering in some things, away; and——, the minister who is setting up the chapel away; and I brought here in an unlooked for way, and those most adverse turned to be the houses open for the truth. Were I to tell you the detail of these circumstances, you would see yet more the Lord’s hand. All I pray is, that the depth of His purpose may not be hindered by our weakness. I have yet Clare to visit, and perhaps a day’s run into Mayo, but that will be nothing; and then, please God, I shall turn my ways towards Plymouth. It may be, I may go through London and Oxford, or perhaps take it in my way there, and see you for three or four hours and then return there. Such is my purpose; we must think of Bristol also, but that would be at and with Plymouth. I will write to W., please God, speedily, but would yet rather he would write to me, so that I may hear of all (What of the Penitentiary?), though it is a comfort to me ever to write to Plymouth.
Ever, dear Miss ——,
Your affectionate brother and servant,
In Christ Jesus.
I am very well, but a little overworked, as usual.
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My dear Brother,—I was minded to write to you a good while, and thought I might have heard from you for I was working and travelling, so as to make my writing a matter of daily postponement. I should not have had to-day probably to do it, but that I missed the coach, which was to be my first regular stage in my journey towards Plymouth. I dare say—I may be sure it was all right, for indeed I was utterly knocked up; and it gave me an opportunity of visiting some here, whom I must otherwise have passed by. The Lord opened so unexpectedly a door, and gave me so far way here, as it made it difficult for me to leave it. However, I thought it best to postpone further work here till a subsequent opportunity, and I gave up Mayo for the present so as to be able to go to Plymouth. I shall start, please God, to-morrow morning on my way, though my way will be a little circuitous. I expect your happiness and state will give me great rest at Plymouth, for I do not doubt I shall be well glad of it by the time I reach there. I was fain to lie down on the rug to-day and go asleep, from mere fatigue.
The Lord has called several here, I think, to far more affectionate devotedness of heart than they were used to, and with this, blessing; we have had too, readings among the Roman Catholics, with very comfortable success, and some Protestants, who are working among the poor; but save this, generally the place was exceedingly dead. I trust many have been aroused since I have been here, and the Lord’s coming looked for by many, and some brought to peace. We have also some very nice scripture reading meetings, to which any of the clergy who hold the truth, have fallen in, though quite mixed, and every one at liberty to speak. It is chiefly, of course, on what may be called first principles, but I trust thorough ones practically. It is a remarkable circumstance, that a dear young lady, who was instrumental in setting them afloat for me, and at several members of whose family they were held—who had been only called about a year by the Lord, but was very decided ever since—was suddenly called away the other day in the midst of it all. The people in Limerick felt it a good deal, and I trust it may be the instrument of good to many. The whole family, which was a principal one here, had been all thoroughly worldly a year ago, and herself and her sister at the head of all idleness. A little church has been formed, or rather, body, like the one at Plymouth, for communion, and I think, though in great weakness, much blessed. On the whole, there is much to be thankful for here, and I think the germ of much greater good.
I meant to have written to you at that Powerscourt meeting, which took a very marked and decided character, and where evil and good came into great conflict, the Lord holding the reins, but I suppose—— has told you all about it, and probably you have heard from Lady P. I feel as if I had lived two years since I came to Ireland, in the development of the Lord’s work, and seeing that there is nothing, nothing else to live for. The Lord always gave me different work to do from what I lay out for myself almost, and puts me into positions I little seek. This meeting has done so here. I am not surprised at that. So the Lord be with me, I care not where He lead me. The greater the difficulty, the greater the honour and blessing too. I thought to have looked for a few sheep here and there, ministering the love of Christ to them. Perhaps I was not counted worthy of this, for surely it is a pleasanter work than being a man of contentions, with, all these useless [discussions3] of truth; may others have a free course to run after—that is all.
Grace be with you, my dear brother. I add the less, and make the less inquiry, because I hope to see you all soon face to face, to my great gain, and to know so all about you.
Believe me, ever, dear Brother,
Most affectionately yours in the Lord,
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Beloved Brother and Brethren,—I waited awhile to write with an object which has partly indeed been attained, but not attained with the same comfort I might have desired, yet still, with the comfort of seeing one’s way rather.
The Lord favoured me with a most quiet and easy passage for such a time of year. A poor soul died on board, and so unlooked for, that though I had intended to speak to him, hearing he was ill, he was gone before the opportunity came; it was a picture of sorrow and evil, but there is One who has remedied all. I do trust the church will feel my undiminished and anxious affection for them all, and as my mind draws nearer the Lord (for daily is our salvation nearer than when we believed), the more does it rest towards them in the brighter necessity of His love. This is the great secret, even His love towards them. I do trust they will walk all together in perfect love, even to the common cause of His love. I do feel that the Lord has been singularly gracious to you all there, in preserving you, and not allowing the enemy to set aside His love.
There is but one thing rests at all upon my mind now, and that has been brought to a mere question of individual profit, and need not, and does not, I trust, hinder the full unhindered flow of the Spirit of God and of love; in that I will employ your service, and I charge any upon whom there might rest any want of it for a moment, that they do not grieve the Spirit by the want of perfect charity toward all. Let me hear what you do about the services please, arid how you all get on.
Here the Lord brought me most opportunely, and in a way of His own order, into intercourse with all those who were the links of my service here; one young clergyman from the north, who has formed a society precisely on the principle we recognise, only as a clergyman not having the Lord’s supper, came to know how he would effect a correspondence between all the other like ones, in order to their mutual recognition as brethren for fellowship when they went into any such places and to get them visited for profit. I hear the north is dotted with little bodies, meeting as you do, though I do not know the places.
Dear H. stood up manfully in a large meeting of clergy, where the practical question was, should they stop when the bishop inhibited them from preaching, and declared his obedience to Christ, and strengthened many hands in it. The old evangelists, of course, thought they ought to stop. The brethren, two of them, had [been] inhibited the preaching in part of the northern mission. Everything is opening rapidly in this country, and the hierarchy, as an evil agency, will go. I am no enemy to episcopacy abstractedly, if it be real and done from the Lord; and I doubt that it will stand here in any other way.
What I pray, earnestly, truly pray is, that we may walk so near the Lord, that we may have all His mind, and then we shall indeed be sure of His peace, and keep up with the real exigencies, the happy exigencies of His service. I feel clear in judgment, but what I seek is that nearness to God and to Christ, which may make me act in the Spirit, and rectitude of heart, will, and character into which it forms, and in which that judgment is made effectual and representative of God.
I would I had you with me, but you are of more importance in England, and at Plymouth; there you should stay. I feel daily more the importance of the Christians at P., and I do trust that you will keep infinitely far from sectarianism. The great body of the Christians who are accustomed to religion, are scarce capable of understanding anything else, as the mind ever tends there. If they become so in their position before God, they would be utterly useless, and I am persuaded, immediately broken to pieces. You are nothing, nobody, but Christians, and the moment you cease to be an available mount for communion for any consistent Christian, you will go to pieces or help the evil. Pray much to God that you may be kept from concessions, acts, in which Satan may get an advantage over you in it. The church at Limerick have so multiplied, that they must seek some place of meeting, and one has offered, and the hour they talk of changing to twelve, the hour for other places—previously it has been eight. This is a cause of anxiety to me, whilst I wait on the Lord’s will, for I feel the importance of the moral character of the step, for unless called for, it would have the same tendency.
A dear brother, and one previously of most faithful conversation, has run into Manichseism, and writes thus: “I have been fasting for nine days, save one cup of tea, and then walked ten miles into London, where I was desired to eat. My mouth and throat were dry and exhausted the whole time, but I was exceedingly jealous of taking anything to eat there, lest I should mar the work of destruction which was going on in my blood—the work of cleansing my blood from the old reprobate life inherited from Adam, and substituting the Lord’s. (See Lev. 17:11; Joel 3:2.) This is what our Lord means when He says, the vessel must be made new before it is fit to receive the new wine of the kingdom.” And I found a notion from the person who gave me this letter, in a paper I hindered, I hope, his publishing, “That the blood of Christ, His condemned life, was spilt upon the ground like water, and that His new resurrection life was what He carried within the veil”; and he I think a true-hearted saint, and his paper full, though this error, of most interesting matter. What a mercy it is to be kept from the vast and endless wanderings of thought with which Satan now seeks to bewilder saints, or else shut them up in systematic ignorance! May you, knowing what it is to be complete in Him, and in all the rich depths in Him, be kept from going out in the profitless mazes of Satan.
I do feel that the ignorance and narrowness of the Church of Fcgland will be what will be judged for all this, and the judgment is at hand, lingereth not. The Lord have mercy on many in it—dear saints. I do not know so ignorant, and ill-formed a body as it is.
My truest love to——, and all the brethren and my very dear sisters in the Lord. May God keep you continually by the very presence of His Spirit. Grace be with you all from the riches of His fulness. Amen.
Your faithful servant,
And affectionate brother in Christ.
[Received from Ireland] April 30th, 1833.
Very dear Brother,—You might think I was a very unfaithful fulfiller of my purpose of writing, but indeed it was much very anxious trouble that came upon me in service, besides my ordinary labour, that precluded me a good deal from carrying my intention into effect, in which I would I had you with me, though I do not know whether any but my hard heart would have set itself against it, as I felt was the only way. Heresy was infecting many places round, by a very subtle, clever person, who, though he had driven many away by his bitterness, had acquired great influence over the minds of those whom he had not—of the worst character when it had avowed itself without fear, but assuming so subtle a form when attacked, that the poor people could scarce tell what it was about, while it went on in secret in his hands, infecting their minds, though not spoken of to them that had understanding. This was a great trial, for it looked often to others as if I was trying to prove the man wrong, when he was not holding anything particular, and his plausibility was extreme. Save as looking to the Lord the Spirit to secure His own, and walking therein in bounden faithfulness to Christ, I do not know what I should have done, but the Lord kept me through it. The extreme disingenuousness which was apparent to those who had interviews with the person and understood the matter, strengthened one’s hand in the consciousness that it could not be of the Lord in its liability to bewilder the poor people. However, it was a great trial, but the Lord has turned it to good as I believe, though some are resting s little, as it were, under the effects of it, as he yet seeks to maintain a party; but it will do good to the others, I can see, and I thank God for all. It was a great mercy it was discovered: it was entirely through the Lord’s hand, for he never openly preached it, though he disseminated it everywhere he could.
It is remarkable how the reasoning of man fails and comes to nothing in the pursuit of divine truth; but I have felt this a great trial to my spirit, that instead of drawing lovingly from the fresh springs that are in Christ, in whom all fulness dwells, one was discussing whether we were so or so. Now, except as recipients through the grace that is in Christ, we are utterly incompetent to deal with man, or to have anything to say to God; and the tendency of such service, though kept by grace, is to make God the subject—which is impossible—instead of us. This is the real difference between philosophy and religion, and which makes the one all false and the other all true. God cannot be God in discussion. He has lost His essentiality in our minds. He has ceased to be God to us. Hence there is no real philosophy but faith—the realisation of what God is. I recollect being struck with this long ago, when I was a poor dark creature, reading the Offices, I think, at the expression, Subjecta Veritas quasi materia. It makes the mind of God, which it is not, and God subject to its judgment, which is the worst lie about Him that can be told: in fact there is then no God: it is worse than Adam’s, “Ye shall be as gods.” It is destruction to the mind. Faith understands a great many things about God, but it sees God in them, and it has truth. Philosophy may talk, even with the same names, but there is no God in it, and hence, what it has is false. If I judge that God ought to love everybody by mere human feeling, I am not vindicating love, but denying supremacy, and its operation in detail, as the potter over the clay, to do all things after the counsel of His own will. The natural man may see no difference, but there is all moral difference if I am or am not associated with God, and this is the grand aim of Satan in all heresy, to take the mind off its state of recipiency into a state of judging of mere propositions; its strength is gone, and being incompetent to speak but from grace so as to confound error, the opportunity of falsehood, from which no grace can be drawn, is introduced; and while the sheep of Christ are starved, those who are not come in in apparent belief— [cannot4] be hindered—the devil’s children joining in a falsehood.
The state of recipient grace from the truth of God is the only guard against it, because the mind is conscious then of the communion that it has with God in the thing which it defends. The scripture is the guard against any delusion in this, which if [used] under the teaching of God’s Spirit will answer everything; and it is alone to be relied on. It is God’s representation of those things in which is the source of grace—Christ the key to all. I have felt great occasion to guard against this latterly… though it has strengthened me in all established troths, and the rather enabled me to see what they meant, when one would have thought of nothing wrong. This person would tell all the truths in scripture, passing by the one point, in which error, fatal error, ran: and hence the difficulty unless the power of God’s Spirit was so upon the souls of all, as to make them practically feel the value and power of this; otherwise it seemed refuting one who held all the fundamentals of truth for the sake of some inaccuracy. I feel that the presence of God’s Spirit can alone so bring out the bright value and lustre of the truth, as to detect heresy, and then that grace is not in the matter, and discover the flesh in it. There is the subtlety, and where Satan gets in. You never can wield the flesh against the flesh to any good, and the mere reasonings of our mind are nothing, and no stronger, but the same as the heresy. But the Spirit of God detects that there is no grace in it, and thus the saint is preserved.
Dear brother, I have just re-read your note on the Kingdom of Heaven, and I assure you it refreshed me. It drew me back to the pleasant scenes in which I, with you and other brethren, I mean, have fed together on the refreshing pastures of God’s life-giving and heart-satisfying word. And, indeed, while I rejoice before God at the thought of your all walking in love, if you would strengthen me in many trials, and I know you would a poor weak brother, it is just by the love in which, as I trust, you are all walking together. I know, as you know, the trials and comparative difficulties that are amongst you: I feel in your weaknesses as bearing part of them, yet I do see a comfort of love and a blessing from it, which, while I taste the Lord’s goodness in many places, I do not find elsewhere, though I see much christian kindness. And it is not merely the happiness that is in it, but I see plainly that it is in this that the refreshings of God’s grace and truth come, and are to be found. The Spirit can plant and water there. And while I know all our weakness, and mourn over it before God, as a part of the desolate, the poor—as it were, as to her own state deserted—church (yet not of God for blessing and inheritance), yet I find the joy of the Spirit and the comfort of the Spirit’s teaching among you as my joy; and so I trust I may find you. It makes me feel what may be elsewhere—what fruit the principles bear. Dear Lady P. frightened me by the commendation she gave you, but I know you all better than she did. But I quite fell in with your exposition, and, as I said, feel refreshed by it.
My view of Matthew 13 (of which we may speak more, please God, when we meet—I do not know exactly when that will be—though it is in my hope), was of the results [or] of the principles on which those results were founded; and I feel it a very interesting connecting link of the two systems—“things new and old.” I say this, because Christ, who will sit on His own throne, sits now on His Father’s throne, and therefore does not exercise that discriminating power in the world which He will when He assumes it, distributing in power, what we ought to be witnesses of, and of which the Spirit is witness in the church, righteousness—but righteousness to suffering, for the truth of the moral glory is to give it the glory. “O righteous Father”—and He went into the Father’s glory. I speak of Him exalted as a Man, because He had borne witness of it faithfully on earth—we into His, because we (oh, how weakly) have suffered first on earth, and get into the Father’s house-and kingdom because we have known it and done it as sons, for we could not be His disciples unless we glorified the Father; but our share in righteousness is to have the glory, “seeing it is a righteous thing with God.” What we are witnesses of we shall be partakers of, so that we may be immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as we know that our labour is not in vain in the Lord.
Hardman, a dear brother in the Lord, a clergyman, was here lately, and he was speaking at large on the Seven Churches. I was not here, but this ground I hear he took. Sardis, the Reformation, on which, “if therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know,” etc. Philadelphia, the separation of little bodies of believers with a little strength (there is comfort in that), but the Lord on their side “I will keep them from,” etc. “Behold I come quickly, hold fast that which thou hast,” etc. And then the church left in its Laodicean state, its state generally now, at which He stands at the door and knocks—there being still some remaining perhaps amongst them, but He is at the door. What do you say to this? The result to the Laodicean church is to be spued out of His mouth. It is an important consideration in the present state of things. It commends itself morally to one’s mind.
The trial —— met with, and the poor husband, is most grievous; as regards every human feeling, I do not know what I should have done had I been he, unless in deepest instruction the Lord had taught me to bow to His hand. The Lord is always good and righteous, specially to them that know Him.
What is poor—— doing at Oxford? I love that man, much erred as I think he has. Oh, how little have we of the Spirit, to baffle the plans and devices and snares of Satan! The church ought to be not only in possession of truth, but so possessed with the Spirit as, though tried, to baffle all his snares. This is what so humbles me; it is not that I am not ascertained of what is right as regards conscience, or that I and others are not seeking it in sincerity of heart and simplicity of purpose in God’s sight, but no strength or adequate power to keep every saint by the presence of His Spirit out of his power. But the positive work of the enemy I do think most manifest at Irving’s, but where was the energy to keep it out? But I must close, dear brother.
I am pressed here beyond my strength; a few like-minded now I find, of those who ought to follow out the Lord fully, though owning it in their own spirit. The Lord is very gracious, and is, in spite of our foolishness, working widely in the country. The clergy are in a position, I think, of great, very great guilt; but there is sufficient grace among them individually—many of them—to make many hold by them, though those that have it see plainly, and can testify of the breaking up of all around them. They are, I think, very guilty. But the Lord is working in another way. There is not enough energy of the Spirit outside them to absorb everything to itself, though there is a very extensive breaking loose; but there is a craving for scripture knowledge, and desire for communion, which they cannot meet in their present state; and by scripture-reading meetings, and by the clergy themselves in many instances making churches, not with communion, but admitting all Christians, and many little bodies springing up, things are assuming a new shape, though unformed, and there will be an entirely new state of things in a year or two. This country will, I doubt not, be practically separated from England, probably entirely. The attempt is making to reorganise the church, and with considerable present influence amongst the clergy who have risen, one may say, against the present state of things. The subordinate, or, as I should say, the insubordinate, clergy, are trying to get the matter into their own hands. I do not see righteousness in this. I am sure it will restrict them. They exclude laymen from the mission now, and, of course, I do not go on there. The principle of communion in which you meet in Plymouth seems to rejoice the hearts of those engaged in it wherever it has been practised, so that the Lord is manifestly working. He will surely draw substantially His saints together before the end come, though there may be some left in, like Lot. In the meantime, one has only to work on. Adieu, dear brother. My love, very deep and affectionate love, to all the brethren and sisters. Grace, mercy and peace be with you all. I assure you I have much comfort in you all in the midst of many trials. I hope, please God, to see you ere long. I wish I had. some of you over here at Limerick, for instance, for a while, where there is much and nice work.
Ever, dear brother,
Yours most affectionately in the Lord.
I shall be rejoiced to stay awhile with you, when it pleases God to bring me back to Plymouth. I should probably go by London.
Limerick [received], August 19th, 1833.
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My very dear Brother,—I received your letter with great comfort, both as witness of your kind remembrance, and as letting me know of my dear brethren and sisters at Plymouth; though now so much scattered, that I miss so many well-known names, I trust only for a while. How much I love them there they, I trust, in a measure, and my own heart, surely know! The Lord has shewn me many pleasant services; still, the opening out to so much brotherly kindness, and love, and fellowship was, I believe, first at P.; and my heart continually turns there with the fondest recollection of it, though a better place is still before us. I do feel every day the infinite deficiency of one’s labour, and do long for the abounding of this labour in myself, and to see the Lord’s vineyard continuously dressed and cultivated, so that no need should appear, and labourers in it, whose hearts were in its ministrations. Oh, what wise hearts, what patient hearts, what large hearts, in the scope of all the necessities, and the infinite grace that suits them, ought those hearts to be! What a heart of prayer that ministers to, feeds, and cultivates the Lord’s vineyard, and the hearts of the children of His saints, the plants of the Lord’s planting; watching every noxious weed, seeing roots of bitterness before they spring up and claim their right by prescription to the soil! Indeed, the Lord has been very gracious to us at P., and I trust will continue to minister there amongst us; for surely He, however gently and lovingly in manner—and how much is it so!—is the great purger of the vine or its branches. I should regret indeed, much, the scattering of the brethren at P. However, the Lord orders all things (and much better than we do), so that I feel disposed exceedingly to bow, sometimes I fear too listlessly—which is not right—to what arises.
It would appear that the thought has arisen in ——’s mind of settling at Limerick, but I have heard nothing from him; he is to be with us, as arranged, to-day. There might be good there: I dread transplanting a good deal; it is not raising up people in the place; however, you are an argument against that, though only sub modo; he would be hailed there I am sure. So much have I felt the necessity of letting the Spirit of God work in each place, I have sometimes hesitated in having been the instrument, much as it might have been my delight and my comfort, of bringing any of my dear brethren over here. Bellett has just returned from visiting the churches or little bodies, South-west, and came back very happy from them, refreshed by their zeal and grace, which has in no small way comforted me, as you may suppose; he reports much grace, not much gift. I like this; it is a good order, yet I believe that many of them there would be found better informed in most important points of Christianity than most of their neighbours; but their minds have been recently expanded, and want deepening and strengthening in what they have opened to. I have long been quite aware of what he speaks of, nor have I indeed regretted it particularly; it taught them wonderfully to lean upon the Lord, and look for grace, and for-communion, and His teaching, more than mere leaning on ministry, yet He never left them actually destitute, even of this; and indeed, almost all the active exertion in their parts is in their hands.
As to work, I do trust the Lord is surely working there: as to the “Witness,” I think we ought to have something more of direct testimony as to the Lord’s coming, and its bearing also on the state of the church: ordinarily, it would not be well to have it so clear, as it frightens people. We must pursue it steadily; it works like leaven, and its fruit is by no means seen yet; I do not mean leaven as ill, but the thoughts are new, and people’s minds work on them, and all the old habits are against their feelings—all the gain of situation, and every worldly motive; we must not be surprised at its effect being slow on the mass, the ordinary instruments of acting upon others having been trained in most opposite habits. There is a great effort making in this country to keep the reformation within the church, and not let it go farther than they like; for they are very anxious, as always, to keep God within their own bounds: it will not do in the end, nor, if we are faithful, on the way. There is one advantage in sometimes scattering (not, however, counterbalancing the habit of communion bringing the Lord’s presence), and that is the acquisition of the habit of work, a thing much individually blessed ever; but I do feel so utterly our need of leaning on the Lord for these things for the management of the church.
Dear brother, I speak not as though you did not, but for love’s sake: seek singleness of eye to our blessed Master’s glory above all things, and that that glory which shall be alone and above all in the Father’s love in that day, may shine so ever in our hearts even now; we must be the Lord’s ministers if we were to beg our daily bread; at least, I feel so, but I equally feel how constantly we must wholly depend upon God’s Spirit, to guide and lead one in the path He has ordered for blessing, and the glory of truth in Christ Jesus, that one may meet Him with joy. Grace be with you, my dear brother… I suppose I may go to the north shortly. May the Lord be with me, and make me His wise servant. My kindest love to all my dear brethren and sisters (I suppose Wigram has left you), and also to the poor people in K. Street, and how I rejoice to hear they are going on comfortably; may the Lord keep and bless them abundantly. I rejoice that G. has Deen faithful; he may be assured the Lord will bless him, not but we all ought to do it, as a matter of course. The Lord bless you and keep you, dear brother, and make you to abound more and more in the only true riches.
Your very affectionate brother in Him.
[Dublin, July 24th, 1834.]
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Dear Mrs.——,—With regard to the question of Mr.——’s letter on 1 Corinthians 15:28, I have not myself any difficulty. Any one acquainted with scripture must see that there is a kingdom given to Christ as Man, distinct from His personal glory as God. “And I saw one like unto the Son of man, and they brought him near before him, and there was given him a kingdom.” This kingdom given Him as Son of man is clearly distinct from Godhead. But the place from which the passage quotes is Psalm 8. “What is man that thou art mindful of him,” &c. “Thou hast put all things under his feet.” This we see not yet, says the apostle. (Heb. 2.) The church is united to Him in it, says Paul. (Eph. 1 last verses.) Now this clearly given to man, put under Him as Man, and not yet put under Him, is a matter of dispensation, which does not affect any question of Godhead. This He gives up, and it does not more affect the question of His being God than of His being Man before He got it. He takes it, moreover, as acquired by obedience, though due to Him as Son. (See Col. 1:16. Compare Phil, 2.)
Now the dominion referred to in 1 Corinthians 15 is the dominion of Psalm 8, of the risen Man, which He has so taken that the church may have it with Him, as well as for His own and God’s glory. “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father,” that is, the kingdom which He has received as Man, of which the whole chapter treate —the resurrection of the Man—“that God [not the Father, for that is here left out; but God in contrast with man in the mediatorial kingdom; for “there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus”] may be all in all,” not Christ as Mediator. Now Christ is all in all; but mediatorial rule shall be given up when its end is accomplished, “when he shall have put down all rule and all authority end all power, for he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet: the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” then this will be given up, and the Son subject. This may create the difficulty, but in fact does not touch the great question of this giving up the kingdom, and subjection of the Son, for He had not taken the kingdom, and yet He was subject when He was upon earth. The exercise of the supreme jurisdiction and rule on the part of God as Man, adds nothing to His Godhead; His giving it up takes nothing from it. He was subject upon earth; there it was, I believe, I get, not the fact but, the main proof that He was God, by what He manifested as Man; His natural place of perfection was subjection, and so He was upon earth perfect.
The royal exaltation as Man was an extraordinary thing, due perhaps, but given on account of His humiliation, that all, even the wicked (who would not, when present in grace), should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father; but the Lord in His death, I believe, had His ear bored, and became a servant for ever, refusing to go out free because He loved His Master, His wife, His children. Now, whatever special exaltation may be the fruit of His travail as Man, His abiding glory is as Head of the new race, Man perfectly blessed in the place in which man ought to be, in the presence of the God of blessing. He could not in that perfect state go out of His place as Man, subjection, for all is perfect there. This alters nothing of His place as God, any more than it did when He Was on earth, subject to all, but “the Son of man, oJw]n in heaven,” the Jehovah of His ancient people. To this state I should apply Revelation 21:1-8; the Lamb is not mentioned there; what follows is descriptive, not continuous history. The subjection of the Son thus is to me a glorious filling up of the great scheme of perfection, and the endless fruit of that love in which, being “all of one,” He is not ashamed, though source of all the blessings—“He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things that he suffered.” This, I trust, may answer your inquiry; if you have with any one any further difficulty, I shall be glad, as far as the Lord enables me, who alone can teach and convince us of the blessed truths of the glory of our Redeemer’s Person, to communicate to you all that has been given me for good. Spiritual communion with the Lord makes these truths, not only proveable, but dear to us, for He who is our portion is unfolded to us in them, in all His unsearchable fulness. They acquire a power and force as a part of our intercourse with God, and as known in Him, which mere reasoning cannot give them, while they have to be simply received on the authority of the word. You will always find submission to the word in question in these cases; that is, of our mind to God, and this is the secret of the question.
The great truth of the divinity of Jesus, that He is God, is written all through scripture with a sunbeam, but written to faith. I cannot hesitate in seeing the Son, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, the First and the Last, Alpha and Omega, and thus it shines all through. But He fills all things, and His manhood, true, proper manhood, as true, proper Godhead, is as precious to me, and makes me know God, and so indeed only as the other, He is “the true God and eternal life.” That there is a God, a heathen might, at least ought to, know: that He was here revealed to me in Jesus is my glory and joy, and eternal life as a Christian: that He who alone could do it and be uncontaminated, laid His cleansing and unsoiled hand on me as a leper, saying, “I will, be thou clean,” is my salvation and my thankfulness for ever. May He, by the Holy Spirit, who gives us fellowship in union with Him and the Father, fill you with the holiness and joy in hope and comprehension which flow from Him, and our wondrous union with Him, setting us in Him above all principalities and powers; and make our union with Him, who fills all things, precious to your soul, and to abound in all your ways to His glory in simplicity of service, to whom alone service is due. Commending you to Him, who alone can keep, and give force and direct.
Believe me, dear Madam,
Your unfeigned and willing servant,
In that blessed One, the Lord Jesus.
* * *—With regard to speaking, I am quite clear those who speak error ought to be stopped, and those, I think, who speak merely from the suggestion of the flesh, ought to be first warned of it. Any one may do it in love, but those who guide may, if it be needed, take it up, and that for their own sakes who have done it; and if there were from this, habitual unprofitable speaking, I think it ought to be stopped. Those who are active in this, must car y the sense of the brethren, which if rightly ordered under the Spirit is a real test of unprofitableness, with them; for that is the ground of the act. I never could understand why the church of God is to be the only place where flesh is to have its way unrestrained. It is folly to suppose this. I desire the fullest liberty for the Spirit, but not the least for the flesh. The church, for God’s glory, is as bound to stop it there (and more, for it is the place of holy order) as elsewhere, and the means are just the same, the grounds just the same, and it is written, “Let the others judge.” Such, I think, is the very simple principle and rule of practice.
On the other hand, I am very jealous of meddling, merely because there is not the same refinement, or people being puffed up for one against another; that is just the flesh in another shape. The poor often get profit, where a refined ear would be offended. It is a holy loving wisdom which must order this. In [cases] of error, the act should be prompt, in cases of profit, patient. But I must say I have not the least idea of subjecting myself to the self-will of another’s notion, that he is to speak when he cannot profit the church. I should take the liberty of going away in such an extreme case, and try the question summarily if driven to it. I never knew the Lord desert me, or. rather the act of obedience to His own will. In such a case, I have no right to wrong the whole church of God, making them unhappy, and hindering the gathering of the saints, to humour the flesh of any.
But then, this must be clearly, and if needs be, patiently ascertained, acting in all quietness, though in all firmness; for the other extreme of stopping people unnecessarily, or merely because they do not please the ear as well, hinders the gathering to Christ equally on the other side.
I only await the signal to leave this, to be up in London. The Lord is working. I do not like leaving uncared for the sign of His hand; but I have learned enough of my own ways and to trust His, not to be anxious to anticipate His plans, nor to press beyond my measure; but I feel the need, and have been a good while myself anxious as to helping in London.
I have my “Revelation” ready too, if the printer could print from my writing, but it is of no consequence.
The great point, if a man were an apostle, as I see from the Corinthians, is to carry the mind of the great body of the people —all, if possible, but the offender—with you in every act of order. This was the first effect of the apostolic action, and when we act in the Spirit we shall ever do so with the spiritual; any for the moment merely led away, will see their folly and be profited.
Very affectionately yours.
Stafford, January 31st, 1839.
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[to the same.]
Dear——,—The Lord is sufficient for all things, and not only so, but, blessed be His faithful name, provides for and orders all things to the glory of Him whose interests are made the same as ours… As to your own work… I think the visiting part myself, quite as important, if not the most important part of the work: it is said, “publicly, and from house to house.” In these days, when there is a good deal of general testimony, though feeble and mixed perhaps, the latter assumes more than its primary relative importance. The clock, of course, strikes the hours, and avails to the passers by, but the works inside make the good clock, and make the striking and the hands right. I think it should be your substantive work, and take all else as it comes; indeed, I do not believe any can minister well without it. The springs of love, and the use and application of doctrine are fed there, minds are understood, the Spirit is led to apply truth to need-spiritually understood and entered into; we are apt to get essays else, theories or thoughts. The Holy Ghost, I believe, teaches people while it teaches truth, and suits the truth to conscience and its known state; and it is good for our own souls besides. I dread much public testimony, and altogether so, if there be not private work.
Grace be with you, and kind love to all.
Ever affectionately yours in the Lord.
Edmondsbury, August 2nd, 1839.
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[From the French.
Very dear Brother,—G., who told me that you are now settled in ——, begged me to write you a few lines, which I do very willingly: indeed, it was on my. asking him for news of you that lie spoke to me of you, and told me that you had some thought of applying yourself more directly to the work of the Lord. Nothing is more desirable, dear brother; there is the greatest need of labourers, and when our blessed Saviour raises them up, it is a sign that He would do a work Himself in this world of darkness. France presents a field at this moment, blessed in several ways by the Lord. For me, the near coming of the Saviour, the gathering together of His own, and the sanctification and joy of those who are manifested, are always the thoughts predominant in my soul. There is every appearance that the Lord is hastening the time; for the rest, our duty is certain.
It is for you, dear brother, before God, to determine whether the Lord calls you certainly to this work of faith. The more devotedness there is, the more trials there will be, but a hundred times more will there be of happiness and of joy, and when the Lord returns, the crown of glory that fadeth not away. From the circumstances in which you are placed, it is difficult for me to speak, and probably those in which you will be placed would occupy your thoughts. This is a matter of faith. G. committed himself to the Lord, and the Lord has sustained him, and he has always been maintained without difficulty, and has even provided for the wants of those who had trusted men. In any case such a step is always an act of faith, and one ought never to induce any one to follow it.
If, for example, it will be always my delight to help the brethren, whether in England or abroad, as our brethren do according to their power; but if I undertook to do such and such a thing, all that I have might fail me through the providence of God, or a more pressing need might present itself, and I, already bound, should fail, either as to the will of God or my engagements; and, further, I have a very strong objection—I am, in fact, entirely opposed—to sending any one into the Lord’s field with a salary of so much per annum. I can only say that it will be my joy, by the grace of God, to relieve the needs of my brethren according to my power, but to engage any one to work is, it seems to me, to take the place of faith, at least, if there were not some special direction. I wish to make you understand all the interest I should take in helping you if God call you to the work, on one side, and on the other to prevent you from counting on me or any man whatever.
Perhaps you will be surprised that I have said so much; but I know that this was on the heart of G. I hope that the work of God prospers in your heart. That the Lord may raise up many workmen, and send them out into His harvest—this is the earnest desire of my heart. May God grant me to devote myself to it with all my strength, and may He strengthen the faith of all His servants, so that they may not distrust His goodness.
For myself, I can bear witness that He has never failed me, feeble and faithless as I have found myself to be, but always sustained beyond my expectation by His goodness. You will find it the same, dear brother, if you feel yourself called to work for, the Lord. My faith has been feeble, and the Lord has been good to me; if your faith is stronger, you will gather a more abundant harvest. May God bless you and keep you, and direct your thoughts and your steps. May He ever increase your faith, and make you feel His abundant love. May the Lord reveal Himself more and more to your soul. I think of revisiting Geneva. I do not know exactly the time. I shall be here a fortnight.
Your affectionate brother in Jesus.
Neuchâtel, November 22nd, 1839.
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[To the same.]
[From the French.
Very dear Brother,—I was rejoiced to receive your letter, and to see that you are in fact working in the Lord’s field and for the Lord.. Specially that you are able to trust yourself to the Lord to sustain you in your path, and to maintain you as to the things of this world. You have already, dear brother, made proof of His faithfulness, as you told me. Be very sure that He will never fail in it. Oh, for more faith, that we might be able to trust ourselves to His incomparable faithfulness, to His love, which will make us pass without doubt, through testings for our good, but which at least never wearies.
Dear brother, in the midst of much unfaithfulness, I have always found Him faithful—I can bear witness to it—and more than faithful, always full of mercy and goodness. It is a happy thing to be able to be witness to one’s God, though in humbling oneself for all one’s own wretchedness. When the goodness and will of our God have forced us out into His harvest, we have always need to be well on our guard against the wiles of the enemy, especially when we leave, even ever so little, the ordinary path of Christians. One is so accustomed to trust oneself to men, the habit of it. is so rooted in the ways of Christians, and in their manner of working as to the gospel, that Satan is extremely jealous of those who separate themselves from it, and who trust themselves to our God, and he lays for them all possible snares, and even Christians look constantly to see them fall; so much so, that if we do not keep our spirit carefully, we are always in danger.
There are many Christians who withdraw from us from the first, saying that it is pride that prompts us to walk alone, when in fact they desert us in spite of ourselves; and this increases the danger, because the isolation in which we sometimes are, exposes us to the arrows of the enemy, either by the ordinary trials of life, or by the temptation of thinking too much of ourselves, and of leaning to either pride on the one side, or to depression on the other. Do I desire, dear brother, to discourage you in saying these things? far from it, but only to remind you that it is a fife of faith, and that we cannot pass through this world of sin, when we are put ever so little forward, without constant communion of our souls with God. As you advance in your path of service, as I hope that you will advance, you will find that if you do not walk in the ordinary paths, a very great number of Christians will be opposed to you, an opposition much more painful than that of the world, which one ought to expect. And this because this question is agitated greatly at this moment, whether one ought to walk by faith or not. May God keep you in humility, and give you a firm and quiet faith which, recognising the duty put upon you of serving Him, has nothing to do but to obey Him, and to do His will. As to your temporal circumstances, dear brother, it will always be to me a great pleasure to help you. I am not very rich, but what I have, I hope, through the grace of our God, will be always devoted to His work…
There is still one thing, dear brother, that has come upon my spirit. I suppose that you have continued relations with the established church 5 perhaps I am mistaken, but I-discern the possibility that these relations may be enfeebled if you follow the call to evangelisation which you think you have received from God. If this come to pass, I hope with all my heart that you will not throw yourself, on the other hand, into narrowness; it is this which has been one of the sores of Swiss Christians. I have nothing to hide from you in my christian ways (habitudes). It is my joy and my privilege to find myself in the midst of brethren who know one another in Christ, and to rejoice in the blessedness of brotherly communion in all the weakness in which it may be found at present; but I could not recognise an assembly that does not receive all the children of God, because I know that Christ receives them. I see the church in ruins: I follow my conscience according to the light that I have received from the word, but I desire to bear with the weakness or lack of light that I may find in other Christians, and do all that I can to unite those who love the Lord. The liberty of your ministry, if God bless it, may be a means to this desirable result; and I, according to the light that I have received, find it impossible to remain in nationalism, but I would rather remain alone and isolated, a position, I admit, not at all desirable, than to restrict the limits of the church of Christ to some brethren, even though they may be more correct in their thoughts than others, and to enfeeble the action of the Spirit of God in uniting the Lord’s sheep, scattered by our wretchedness and by our sins.
I have ventured to say these things to you, dear brother, in all frankness, because in all my weakness I have at least the good of the beloved church of my Saviour at heart, and further, because I love, and I ought to love in a special manner, the dear Swiss brethren, in the midst of whom I have received so many blessings, and so much love in Christ. I hope that God will keep you from every bond save the bonds of Christ, and that He will rivet these bonds of security and joy more and more.
If you are able not entirely to give up your calling, so much the better; the workman is worthy of his hire, but it is my experience that in the existing circumstances of the church, the more one is independent of men the better one is circumstanced. If you were able to apply yourself to it in leisure moments, or to work alone, and could sell what you made, even if you were not in an establishment, I do not know if the thing is possible, but for you even I am persuaded that it would be very desirable. I write in haste, dear brother, but I did not wish to delay my letter any longer. Be assured of the cordial and sincere love of
Your affectionate brother in Christ.
Geneva, January 2nd, 1840.
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* * * If we have any right views of what the church of Christ is, every one will be bound by love to serve in some way. The preciousness of the church is shewn in this, “He loved the church, and gave himself for it.” His love never changes— “strong as death” will be marked by-and-by. There is individual love to serve one-another. This is not what is spoken of; but love to the Lord must bind us to wish to be servants to the body. We are bound up one with another. One’s desire to serve is often checked by the thought of how little we can do. Epaphras entered as much as was possible into the mind of God about service— as much as Paul did. “Continue in prayer” &c. (Col. 4:2); making the effect of his ministry hang upon their prayers. Apostle as he was, it might have been thought he could not need prayer. Here is the zeal of a man, perhaps lying on his face all day— no great zeal it might be said, but having the muster-roll of God’s saints before him; feeling wearied perhaps—but no, there’s another and another of God’s saints I must pray for. This was the particular path of Epaphras (perhaps Epaphroditus the same). We do not find him standing in any other place of service but this; labouring that the saints might be perfect and complete in all the will of God. It may be that in which we are most lacking—no eye but God’s—courts no public praise—no bustle —no activities—is like the fibre to the root of the plant. “Rejoice evermore; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks.” Closer connection between these three than our souls are wont to acknowledge. Joy will ever rise in proportion to prayer and thanksgiving.
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We must take courage, dear brother, and hold the Head that holds us up. His strength is made perfect in weakness. Christ will be a sure friend, and even if we begin to sink in the water, will stretch out His hand and lift us up. It is sweet to have His hand in any case, even if our failing foot has led Him to stretch it out.
[From an old letter, date unknown.]
1 It may be of interest to insert here the following account of the second meeting, for the consideration of subjects connected with Prophecy, held at Powerscourt House, from September 24th to 28th, 1832, at which this letter was commenced, with a list of the subjects. A comparison with the brief notice in the letter itself, suggests that it was from Mr. Darby’s pen- It was addressed to the Editor of the Christian Herald, in which there is a Review of the Rev. W. Burgh’s Lectures on the Second Advent, by Mr. Darby. (See Collected Writings, vol. xxxiii. p. 1.) (The first Powers-court meeting was held on October 4th to 7th, 1831.)
To the Editor of the Christian Herald.
Dear Sib,—If done with the delicacy due to a private house, the importance of the subject, and its association with that which so intimately affects the church, may justify some notice of the meeting held on the subject of Prophecy, and the truths connected with it, at Powerscourt. I shall venture, therefore, to send you some account of it, praying the Lord’s blessing upon it; as, for my part, I feel very strongly its importance.
It would be, of course, impossible to go at large into the several subjects which were handled there; I shall endeavour merely to convey to you some character of the meeting. There were a number of Clergy, and several of the Laity, whose minds had been exercised on these subjects; and the Rev. Robert Daly, Rector of Powerscourt, as on a former occasion, unless casually absent, presided. The subjects you will be enabled to state below, should you feel it an object to your readers. The solemnity which characterised the meeting was broken only in a single instance, which needs only to be mentioned for the sake of truth. There was, besides at the opening And closing of each morning and evening assembly, much prayer made elsewhere for the meeting, and this even in England; and the remarkable recognition of the Spirit, I mean practically, was very striking; and, it appears to the writer, met by a restraint on the thoughts and feelings of man, which, considering the variety of the subjects, was very remarkable —more so even than the elucidation of scripture which was afforded. It appeared to the writer that the progress in knowledge and exposition of scripture was decided, but the practical apprehension of the subjects treated, yet more so. There was, of course, variety of view in so large an assemblage, but scarce anything which did not positively add to the information of all—subject, of course, to the correction which interchange of views ever brings, where there is unity in the general scope. There was but one individual who introduced anything which could have given pain to any on these subjects; and that was a reference to the reception of “the gifts” and the principles connected with it. Little, however, was said upon it; and while the principles were calmly inquired into by a few, it did not, I think, affect the meeting, otherwise than to direct the earnest desires and prayers of many, for the more abundant presence of that Holy Ghost, by which alone, error can be brought to light, and the believer guided into all truth. On the whole, this part of the meeting was, perhaps, the most practically profitable, from the elucidation of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit casually drawn out by it; and the presiding presence of the Holy Spirit most marked, by a careful observer; and several defective and erroneous views prevalent (to the writer’s knowledge) in England, met by what appeared to be scriptural light.
The belief in the coming of a personal Antichrist was common, and that amongst many who, at a former meeting, had not received it at all; in this there was a very distinct and avowed change of opinion on the part of some. The discussion of the subject of Antichrist led to an extensive development of scripture, and to much very profitable detection of1 the spirit by which he might work in the nations; though no definite conclusion was come to upon this; while the recognition of his actings amongst the Jews, in Jerusalem, was more definitely recognised by those more conversant with the subject.
On Daniel a good deal of light was thrown, and though there was some, I think not so much, perhaps, upon the Revelation; though particular parts of it were discussed with considerable accession of knowledge. There was some very interesting inquiry as to the quotation of the Old Testament in the New; particularly on the point, whether there was any “accommodation,” or whether they were quoted according to the mind of the Spirit in the Old; this gave occasion to some very interesting development of scripture. The progress of the Antichristian powers was very fully discussed.
This will give you, after all, but a very imperfect idea of the meeting. Even as to the extent of scriptural information brought forward, while it left the additional impression of how much yet remained to be understood of blessing and of truth, and left upon the minds of many a highly increased degree of value for the privilege of the word of God, many, I am sure, were humbled, and many refreshed; while light was afforded also to many, on points which are exercising the christian world so universally at the present day.
That all was perfect there, Sir, I suppose none there would be disposed to think; but this certainly struck the writer, how remarkably, as he has stated, the Spirit restrained, while it left the strengthened consciousness of all the imperfection and weakness which exists among us; and I think those in the church, who are really in earnest, must most deeply feel, on the whole, that, spread as that assembly will be over the country, the meeting was one of deep interest to the church of God at large. In the discussion on so many subjects, and many relating so much to the practical position in which Christians are, it cannot be doubted that the views advanced by some may have given pain to a few; but the effect, on the whole, was to knit, in the deepest interests of the church of Christ, the affections of many believers, and to unite them in the surest tie with each other; while the sense of the difficulties in which the church is now placed, would lead them individually (under God) to more earnest seeking the guidance and presence of God’s Spirit, and that blessing upon the church, and presence of God’s power with it, by which alone it can be brought, in the honour of Christ, through the perilous times in which it is now placed.
I remain, dear Sir,
Yours faithfully, X.
Subjects for Consideration at the Meeting above referred to.
Monday Evening, Six o’clock, September 24th, 1832.—An examination into the quotations given in the New Testament from the Old, with their connections and explanations, viz.:—Matt. 1:23, Is. 7:14; Matt. 2:15, Hos. 11:1; Matt. 2:18, Jer. 31:15; Matt. 11:10, 14, Mal. 3:1, 4:5; Matt. 21:16, Heb. 2:6, Ps. 8:2; Matt. 24:15, Dan. 9:27; Matt. 27:9, Zech. 11:12, 13; Eph. 4:8, Ps. 68:18; Heb. 2:13, Is. 8:18; Heb. 8:8, Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 10:16, Jer. 31:33; Luke 1:73, Gen. 22:16; John 10:34, Ps. 82:6; John 19:3-7, Zech. 12:10; Acts 2:17, Is. 44:3, Joel 2:25; Acts 15:16, Amos 9:11, 12; Rom. 9:25, Hos. 2:23, 1:10; Rom. 10:5, 6, Lev. 18:5, Deut. 30:13; 1 Cor. 9:9, 1 Tim. 5:18, Deut. 25:4; 1 Cor. 15:55, Hos. 13:14; Gal. 4:27, Is. 54:1; 2 Pet. 3:13, Is. 65:17, 66:22.
Tuesday.—The Prophetical character of each book in the Bible; including the three great feasts of the Jews, the blessings pronounced on Jacob’s sons, the Parables in the Gospel, and the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Revelation.
Wednesday.—Should we expect a personal Antichrist? If so, to whom will he be revealed? Are there to be one or two great evil powers in the world at that time? Is there any uniform sense for the word Saint in the Prophetic, or New Testament scripture? By what covenant did the Jews, and shall the Jews, hold the land?
Thursday.—An inquiry into, and a connection between Daniel and the Apocalypse.
Friday.—What light does scripture throw on present events, and their moral character? What is next to be looked for and expected? Is there a prospect of a revival of Apostolic churches before the coming of Christ? What the duties arising out of present events? To what time, and to what class of persons do 1 Tim. 4; 2 Tim. 3; Jude; Matt. 24:23, 24; and 2 Peter 3 refer?
2 Copy defective.
3 Copy defective.
4 Copy defective.