* * * * *
Dearest——,—… As to dear——, you must not expect him to stay long in a place: he wins affections, and makes his way much among many minds, but he attaches himself to this, looks to it too much, and consequently does not last in a place for that comes only from attaching oneself to and leaning upon God only. Alas! feeble is he who even unconsciously leans upon man. Were I here to lean on man (indeed I cannot, it has helped to teach me not), I should be miserable enough. I am happy here, and I trust very quiet in the Lord, but were I to look around, I should be dismayed and confounded; error in those who lead, and nothing to hold a feeble heart up against it in any quarter, and I, speaking as a man, a stranger, and thrown all at once into the midst of it all. But the Lord knows the end from the beginning, and how He deals with His church.
I had broken up from Geneva, where, through the Lord’s mercy, though in all possible weakness, I had; a share more or less in all the happy work and intercourse of the place, such as the poor church of God affords to feeble faith now, and was pleasing myself—I hope not after the flesh—that I should soon turn my face towards my old work in England, and what God in His goodness has prepared for me there, and indeed, I long much, the Lord knows, to be on my way thither, or rather at work there; when I find myself suddenly arrested in my course, by what is purely a trial of faith, where, speaking as a man, if blessing I should have no thanks, and another in whom I have no full confidence, though I trust I am mistaken, would externally step into the fruit, and where the canker, through human affection and ignorance and want of faithfulness, has eaten so wide and deep, that as a human judgment it is pure faith—and with the form of good and holiness, when it was so wanting, that the claim justifies itself in almost all consciences; and I turn into a lodging alone to-morrow, knowing none here but those who now are almost all a weight, and that I have a sort of responsibility for drawing after me. But this is all well: it is my lot, and I bless God with all my soul for it too: and in this sense, little it may be to suffer for Him, only may I be faithful. Probably, almost ere this reach you, something will have manifested itself as to the position of things here, and the Lord, I trust, will give His showers and more blessing than before. I feel happily stayed on Him as to the conscience of my position. All the pastors of the so-called churches—I abhor the name now—stood aloof, and let the wolf do what he might. As I said, did I not lean on the Lord, my heart would sink within me, and I should be ready to say, am not I wrong thus to care for them all, instead of letting them all ruin themselves? You have no idea of the patience which this country demands; there was plenty to try sometimes in England, but it was play compared to this… However, I hope soon to be free, and to wend my way towards work where my heart a good deal is. The brethren of Geneva I left in much peace, and did I seek only acceptance for myself, could rest, for which I thank them much in the Lord, with abundant satisfaction there, for they cherished and followed on my ministry much, and I trust with blessing. Certainly they seem very happy; indeed, they wanted me to take up my quarters there.
I had a meeting when some came, last night, and the brother of the minister who had led them in error came; he had been, in fact, turned off d la dissidence four years ago, and is still much valued by many; so that this apparently throws a light, and in one sense a darkness, as to the position I am in here… But I find a little simplicity goes a great way, and finds no knots, where men have tied a hundred—if God is there.
I did hear of dear J. F., one who was much loved, and whom I had well known and daily more, and valued much. Many as myself will feel his loss, but thus it is they daily pass upward, while we wait to serve on till He come. I must, close.
Ever in affection.
Lausanne, March 23rd, 1840.
* * * * *
[From the French.
Dear Brother,—I was very glad and thankful to receive your letter, and I bless God for having led you as He has done in His goodness, and am quite relieved to find that our brethren of La 5:are edifying themselves together. It is a favour from God. When we are doing the will of God, God will help those that are cast down and He takes care of them, and the result is that they are greatly strengthened, because they make experience of the faithfulness of God.
Remember, dear brother, that it is dangerous to be raised all at once into a pulpit. It is not that I do not believe it to be the will of God, but you know that when St. Paul had been caught up, even into heaven, from the work of God, that would have been a snare to him, because of his flesh, but God is faithful to keep us. Man’s acceptation is not God’s approbation, although God can give it us to favour the propagation of the truth; but if we stop at the result, we are at a distance from the source, and that becomes a snare to wither up out soul, instead of a means to lead us to those upon whom we should pour out His riches. I believe that God has in His mercy allowed you to be tested, that you may know how little and feeble you are, before introducing you to the work. As for —— although I hope it will never lose its attractions in your eyes, if God give you for a time work to do elsewhere, and that His will is clear to you, you ought to entrust these dear souls to Him who alone can —whether you are absent or present—feed and nourish them. No one will go further, I hope, than their faith will lead them. If they make progress in your absence, it will be a lesson, often very necessary, that God can act without us, but up to the present no one has visited them… As to your debts, it is clear you ought to pay them, and a minister of the gospel ought not to suffer the reproach that he is going to work, or rather, according to them, to lead an idle life, instead of paying his debts, I shall be very glad to help you in carrying out this duty, but until I return to England I should hardly be able to do so.
I must stop. May God keep you in simplicity of heart, and always in the sense of your vileness before Him. All our joy is destroyed the moment we lose sight of what we are before Him; and our natural strength, for there is that, becomes to us the means of leading us to some fall like St. Peter. He truly loved the Lord, but he had confidence in that love for Jesus, and in his integrity which, nevertheless, was sincere. He could say, “Thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee;” and he fell terribly, led by that very love, from the moment that he trusted it in the time of temptation. I do not suppose such things of you, dear brother, but I tell you these things out of love to you, in confidence that they will not happen. I trust in God for that, assured of His faithfulness. Only be watchful, and pray. Beware of the traditions of men, and of the spirit of the clergy; all that dries up the soul, dishonours the Lord, and nourishes the flesh, by the sense of human respectability, “the pride of life.” But at the same time, honour fully all the gifts God has given to whoever it may be.
What you tell me of the B.’s interests me greatly; only, dear brother, in acknowledging the truth of these hopes in general, for probably there are incorrect thoughts as to details, do not depart from the foundation with them. God has been merciful in giving you access to this people; may it be to bring in with all regard to their condition, and with all prudence, the whole truth. Perhaps you will find that fundamental truth will stumble some among them, and you will have some testing in this direction. May God give you all the wisdom, gentleness, meekness, and firmness, that you will need. You will accept, I am persuaded, all these remarks that I make, knowing well my weakness, for the love of Christ.
Affectionately yours, in the work and the hope of this beloved One, our only Saviour.
Lausanne, July 5th, 1840.
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Dearest ——,—I have suffered lately from violent pain in the stomach which … sometimes four nights a week deprived me of rest… Labouring in extreme heat, and the toil occasioned by the state of Lausanne—where there was no life to walk stayed on the Lord, and if the evil shewed itself elsewhere none that could go and meet it—so that I was pressed above strength, have occasioned this attack…
But, blessed be God, I have been sustained in great repose and unspeakable peace with Him, and that, notwithstanding many things, so that I am in anything but a disposition to complain. Many-of my sleepless nights have been passed in joy or in profit, repassing sometimes the evil which magnifies this immense grace, immeasurable grace of God; but more often I believe in immediate peace with Him, and sometimes prayer for others: of the two first, I scarce know which was the most blessed, though the latter of them surely the most agreeable and I suppose the best. If sometimes sorrow for others, as to others rather, passed across my mind, it was with an indescribably soothing feeling of the perfect goodness of God, while condemning myself, so that I could bless, and see evidently the hand of God in the thought…
But on the whole, above all the circumstances of this place which pre-occupy all minds here, what is eternal, the thoughts of God for Jesus and for us have risen far above all; for me it has been a time, of introduction into the rest of eternity of much blessing. It crossed my mind with much, with very great blessing latterly, in reading the Acts that we should be filled with the Holy Ghost, after the resurrection in glory as. now. We are apt, at least, I, to regard it as a sort of necessary force for resisting the evil, and living above it here, but also shall it be the fulness of unspeakable power of enjoyment when all shall be glory and rest, the glory and rest of God on high. This in us, in man. There is something in this communion, and certainly I have learned it more here latterly, which is above all power of communication at least, till we get there, and then I suppose we shall have it (by the unity of the Spirit and glory) with one another as with God, with the Father and with the Son Jesus. It is blessed, even in feeble measure, to have the foretaste and earnest of it here.
I see all my weakness here—weakness of conduct, and worse, weakness of faith—but too evidently, and it humbles me exceedingly; alas, it has been very great. It is very distressing when one has the interest of the church and of the saints at heart, to see one’s own want of faith and fidelity hindering the inflow of blessing which might be if one had it. Nothing presses on me and humbles me so much. Once too, since I have been here—not that man has judged, or perhaps would judge—my foot has slipped through want of caution, want of patient waiting on His will: but it was a profitable season, through divine and abounding grace, of utter humiliation and renewal to my soul. In truth, I am sometimes astonished at the goodness of God, when I see what wretches we are—all the vileness and misery and pride and unbelief, which work and boil in the heart, and that for want of living in His presence, who is the source of all joy, and only strength of His people.. And we are astonished at a little suffering, our own or the church’s, which places us afresh in His presence. But I did not think when I began, to make you a long confession; perhaps it is a sign of good, for it is difficult to unlock my serried spirit. May abundant grace be with you and all the saints around you, and the power and strength of His presence…
P.S.—I am, in a measure, for the moment, broken up from Lausanne, and therefore, with some delays of visits on the road, I hope to be among the saints in your country ere very long, but take, I suppose, if the Lord will, France, and also a flying visit to Holland on the way. But I hope to leave this soon. Grace and peace be with you. The Lord, in His infinite grace, direct all our hearts into the love of God and the patient waiting for Christ.
Lausanne, September 15th, 1840.
[From the French.
Very dear Brother,—I wish to write you a few lines… Some days have passed; I had to go to Lausanne, and to interrupt my letter. I rather fear, beloved brother, that we have failed somewhat in the energy of faith; I speak of myself. I fear I have lost some months of service, although I do not well know how; I thought of being in France almost at this time, and I see scarcely any probability of it as yet; perhaps I can say that Satan hindered me. I am not so much troubled about it, because G. and R., who will be much better worth than I, will have gone there, but I am afraid of remaining here a While, because I am like a piece of furniture here. There has been blessing lately, more especially in the valley of St. Imier, Where the work is fresh and happy; and in your own dear Valley, which I hope soon to visit, they are going on very well, and are happy. Perhaps you may have heard that E. B. has been terribly beaten. I had a letter from him the day before yesterday, or the day previous. He cannot walk, or walks with difficulty; he rather fears it is a chastisement, because he did not go forward in France; it may be so, for when the Lord loves us He is jealous, and he shews it; still it will be for the blessing of our dear friend… I do hot know how our journey will succeed. I shall be very glad to have you with me, if our gracious Father should so arrange things. We are praying a little more, I hope, and through the grace of God this will be done. But what would comfort me, if I remain a little longer in Switzerland, would be to encourage those in the interior, for surely God would have it so in His grace: there is some need of it. May God teach us to give ourselves to prayer: it is easily forgotten in the work itself, and this is the first bad symptom for the work, as for the soul.
As to the ruin of the church, the theory came for me after the consciousness of it, and even now, the theory is but a small thing to my mind; it is the burden which one bears, and which has of late even weighed me down somewhat; but God, who raises up those who are cast down, has comforted me, and encouraged me a little, for indeed, the arm of Him who sustains us is not shortened, blessed be His name, nor is His love enfeebled. Thank God, we are in peace here; our meetings are in general happy, and even, bleated be God, very happy, and the brethren love each other, and but for some dissenting bickerings, there is nothing painful in the country at present; but in Vaud the activity of service is rather wanting.
Good-bye, dear brother. May God keep us very near Him; we need it,, and ineffable joy and peace are there. Greet warmly our dear D., and reckon upon all the love of your poor brother in Jesus,
In great haste.
I had written to G. on the subject of baptism. It is a common phase of modern research, one has but to leave every one to act entirely according to his conscience. 5:has strong feelings about it, but without much ground it seems to me, still very natural. The same thing amongst brethren in England had its day, and, every one being left free, it produced no effect that I know of. If people dispute, it is bad: that tends also to contract the heart and the understanding, but in allowing full liberty this disappears.
Geneva, October 8th, 1840.
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Dearest——,—A mouthful of English, and thoughts of the dear brethren, of whom I am almost obliged to deny myself the recollection, or I begin to hanker after them, and to be discontented with this fart at least of the desert, for it is always this part that is disagreeable to us—but I check this as unbelief and murmuring, which really is not in my heart, against the Lord; for it was not against Moses that Israel murmured.
In truth, there is an evident march of blessing here, though I have been kept to the wheel most painfully, excessively painful in its progress, in order that my joy might be in it and in the Lord, and not in myself.
The Spirit of the Lord has put many dear brethren in movement, out of their cramped position towards better things, two or three ministers among others. Two have given their admission, but all is in transition, though truly if feeble, yet real progress, so that it is difficult to speak of detail. There needs some one of a faith and energy that I have not, to act positively. I have served negatively in some measure, for Satan would have seized this moment of crisis by the means of Wesleyanism, and that as a system or generality, has not taken place. There are merely here and there a few Wesleyans, much less than I supposed. Probably, in the actual state of the church, it will make its proselytes, and those predisposed by their nature to a certain extent; but in general, it has failed, and though it has very much troubled by its want of integrity, and want of honest firmness of those who differed— for independence of conduct is comparatively unknown in these countries—it, when known, rather retrogrades than advances. The weak state of Christians and the existence of worldly Christianity and Nationalism always leave room for these energies, in which vast evil is mingled with some necessary good. God cannot leave them without the good, and the church is too corrupt to give the good pure, too enfeebled to separate it. The Lord will do His own work: the brethren who were on higher and simpler principles, were not, humanly speaking, of qualities calculated to spread and sanction it. The Lord works Himself. What was in the eye of man steady and of influence, was opposed, but God chooses the weak things, to shew that the truth and strength are His.
I, dear brother, am in a very critical position here, and desire much the prayers of the brethren for me for the Lord’s glory. The brethren who laboured among the Dissenters here, feared the Wesleyanism, and could not come to their defence, standing in the gap. While they feared almost the determination with which it was opposed, they were yet glad that the battle was fought; but when necessarily this conflict produced other effeets, many Nationals came more or less out, and united. They feared again; for the conflict which had hindered in a measure the progress of Wesleyanism, had produced effects of which they felt afraid to judge, and yet more held aloof. In the meanwhile, the jealousy of the Nationals was natural enough; many many Dissenters in heart desire the union of God’s children; others are excessively irritated, and hence, most of the others, or many at least, are timid as to committing themselves with their brethren who are opposed at Lausanne. Then there are now the old Dissenters, partly Wesleyans, among the women, though having protested as a body against it, some saying the pastor who introduced it, but who now denounces it, is their pastor, and some not—and in the meanwhile the principle of leaving their churches, placing the others in a dilemma how to recognise this body: meanwhile they look on. In one place the dissident body is dissolved, or consists of five discontented Wesleyans, and there is a meeting where all the Christians can, and mostly do, unite to break bread with one of the ministers, also whom I mentioned—very happy. At Vevey, Nationals, ex-nationals and Dissenters meet the last Monday of the month to break bread—very happy. It is a beginning. There, also, another National minister has left; a third has quitted elsewhere, but the Conseil d’Etat has begged him to wait awhile till they see what they have to do, which he does for the moment gratuitously—a faithful, upright man, but hitherto buried in scholastic learning, Fathers, &c, but I believe he makes progress out of this lore, and to him that hath shall more be given. Here the old Dissenters, and some who thought to seize the occasion to establish themselves, hate me cordially, at least, the leaders. You will understand by all this what has detained me here, though my judgment is, by more faith I might have got off sooner, for I am very weak in faith.
Adieu, dear brother. Pray all for me, that having done the will of God, I may also, when He sees good, see you in peace… You will see from what I have said, it is difficult to give much account of what passes here—all is so in transition. There needs, I feel, some one more faithful a great deal than I; but yet I doubt sometimes if others of you would have borne with the inconsistencies with many true and precious principles which accompany this state of transition; perhaps you would have been thus more-blessed in your fidelity than in thus bearing with what I have supported here in these things. The Lord turn all I trust to good. Again I say, pray for me. Salute cordially all the beloved brethren, whom I remember with all my heart in the Lord…
Yours, ever affectionately.
Lausanne, January 11th, 1841.
To the same.]
Dearest——,— … The Lord can speak the word of peace; a little love will smooth all this trouble. I was not united with the brethren for exact opinions on such, or such a point, but by the love of Jesus, though truth be precious; and the Holy Ghost is able to and in love will order this. The word is sure, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule and mind the same thing—if in anything we be differently minded, God will reveal this also. That which is of the flesh will be manifested flesh, and probably there is some of it in all of us, in one as in others; but love is stronger than death. I doubt not that a little love will soothe the spirit of ——, and irritation on any side is not of the grace of the Spirit of God. If it were a foundation truth for the soul, no peace could be held with error: mistake in the interpretation of Revelation, one may exercise much patience with. These things are always the sign of some other evil; but God will turn it to good. Perhaps knowledge has been too much attended to at Plymouth. The influence I had there was always and everywhere by great fundamental principles, and I trust it may ever be so, while I delight and believe in all the revelation of God as others. More humility will put all this in blessing, and perhaps it is needed to this end. I trust in the Lord for this, present or absent, that He will keep His poor children walking in love. I hold to love much more than to my views, or to those of others, or sustaining or destroying the views of others: hold fast by that, dear brother, for love is of God, and he that loveth is born of God. I fear knowledge has too much prominence at Plymouth, though it be very precious… Grace be with you all, and all that love the Lord Jesus, our blessed Saviour and patient Lord, in sincerity.
Yours ever affectionately.
I am myself in great peace about all this matter; I am sure the Lord is the stronger, and that the enemy shall be found to cede, rather give occasion to a better victory; such is my conviction…
Lausanne, February 3rd, 1841.
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[From the French.
* * * Justification is a point where two things unite: first, that the blood has washed us from all our sins, and this perhaps is justification, properly speaking. But in fact, we may add to it our acceptance in the Beloved. “He that practises righteousness is righteous;” for the practice of righteousness flows from the life of Christ in us; but by this life we are united to Christ, and enjoy His righteousness before God, being made well pleasing in the Beloved. The resurrection therefore is the pivot of it, for it is the proof of expiation; it introduces Christ, according to the power of this eternal life (in which we participate) into the presence of God. Around the Person of Christ regarded as risen, all the truths found in the word revolve. The union of the church with Him is the completion of them. Resurrection leaves behind, in the tomb, all that could condemn us, and ushers the Lord into that new world of which He is the perfection, the Head’, and the glory. Now we are united to Him.
September 12th, 1841.
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[From the French.
* * * I do not quite like that expression, “Christ has detained justification from God,” because it presents God as unwilling and even opposed to the thing, while it is the will and the heart of God which has provided the sacrifice and all. It is true that the righteousness of God required expiation and the sacrifice of Christ. Still it is He whose love has provided for our needs m this respect. And He it is who justifies. (Compare Zech. 3) The Epistle to the Hebrews speaks rather of our acceptance under the form of our presentation to Him, of sanctification in an external sense. “That he might sanctify the people by his own blood.” He has also perfected them; they can stand in His presence, as being His according to the perfection of the sanctuary, without reproach, without spot. Justification is the idea of a tribunal, of a judge, so to speak. The Epistle to the Hebrews speaks of the sanctuary, and of presenting us there.
The foundation is always the same; but we can look at it in many ways, and each one gives us more light as to the perfection of the work of Christ, and the results of that work which we enjoy. 1 Peter 1:19 speaks rather in the sense of redemption, of being taken by a ransom out of the handle of the enemy. The obedience of Christ during His life tended to the perfection of the sacrifice; it was not expiatory, but perfectly acceptable. It was a question of the acceptability of His Person as necessary to His work, but that obedience was not expiatory. He would have remained alone if the corn of wheat had not fallen into the ground; but His entire obedience rendered Him perfectly pleasing to God, as it also was itself. (See Phil. 2)
Under the form of justification, the Epistle to the Romans is the one which most formally treats of the subject of our acceptance. What I meant by making use of the expression, “Christ has obtained our justification,” will be understood by comparing the manner in which this epistle is expressed (chap. 3:24), “Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” You see how it is presented, as flowing from the free grace of God. This is important for the state of the soul, and for the clear understanding of grace.
October 7th, 1841.
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[From the French.
* * * To apprehend aright the place of the law is a difficult thing, because we must be fully led by the Holy Spirit in order not to be ourselves, in some sort, under law, as to our feelings at least. We must have rightly seized the power of the work and resurrection of Jesus, otherwise one would be lawless if one were not under law. We are in nowise under the law. Grace does not recognise any participation of the law in our hearts; but how is this, if we acknowledge the law as good? Because Christ exhausted it in His death. He was under the law up to His death, and in His death; but evidently He is not so now; He may employ the law to judge those who have been under the law, but we are united to Him. As Adam was not head of the old race until after his fall, so Christ is only Head of the new race as risen from among the dead. He places them in His own position as a risen Man; they begin with Christ there. They quite acknowledge the power of the law, but in that it has put Jesus to death, there where it has lost all its power, and its dominion over the soul. We belong to another.
We can employ the law, if there be need, against the wicked, because, having the divine nature, we can handle the law, and it cannot inflict its mortal wound upon the divine nature from which it has emanated. We can shew where man is if under the law, in order thereby to bring out the perfection of redemption; it is what the apostle does in Romans and Galatians, in order to make it clear that we are no longer under the law, because we are dead with Christ. Through the law we are dead to the law; we are crucified with Christ. A Gentile was never really under the law. In becoming a Christian he takes Christ at a point where He has done with the law; but, having received the Spirit of Christ, he has no longer need of the law to discern the perfection of redemption: he has intelligence to understand the things accomplished in the history of the Messiah—His perfect work. But this is far from being clear in the mind of Christians, for in fact, the greater part among them have made of Christianity a law, and have pot themselves under the law. They must come out thence in order to enjoy peace; but for them, the discussion as to what the law is is a very important thing, and very opportune on that account. Besides, the human heart so naturally places itself under law, that it is very important for every soul to be well enlightened on the subject. The law, let us always remember, reveals to us nothing of God, except that a law implies a judge; it gives the measure of our responsibility: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God and thy neighbour;” that is the law. It may be said that the gospel gives new motives for our fulfilment of the law; but these motives are drawn from a fact which gives to Christ all that right over our hearts to which the law could lay claim, and by death puts an end to the power of the latter, for we are dead and risen with Christ. We shall do or avoid many of the things found in the law, and the summary of it which has been given us remains the principle, or rather the fruit of the life of Christ in us. It is now fulfilled in all that flows from that life, but we are in nowise under the law, for we are one with Christ, and Christ is not under the law.
The law not only condemns conduct, but men. The law does not only say, “Cursed is everything,” but “Cursed is every one who continueth not.” Thus we must be under the curse if we are under the law. But it is because we are not under the law that we can make use of it, if needs be. The Jews attempted to employ it against the adulterous woman, but they were under the law, in the flesh. The law pierced their hearts to death and condemnation. Christ made use of it, or at least allowed it its efficacy, because, although He was born under the law, it could not touch Him for condemnation, the life of God in Him being perfect. United to Him in resurrection we can make use of it, because we are beyond its reach by the death and resurrection of Christ, enjoying His life in our souls. This is why people are always more or less under the law, until they have understood the resurrection of Christ, and also whenever the flesh obscures the power of our redemption. I hope that you will be able to understand these few remarks.
With regard to the Epistle to the Philippians, it presents another very interesting feature—the affliction and the personal experience of the apostle. He looks at the church as deprived of his care, and he himself is oppressed for the, time by the power of Satan. Thus, in a very touching and very powerful manner, he enters into all that concerns the conflict of the church, and all that is important for it during the period of its abandonment: he also presents the graces which would prevent it from falling into those troubles which sprang up consequent upon the absence of the apostle. Hence the great value of this epistle for the present time. They were beginning to preach Christ in a spirit of contention, not to be of the same mind, to murmur. He shews in what the riches and graces of Christ consist, especially necessary for such a state of things, a state, alas! which has ripened much since then. Why should I say, Alas? for all this will turn to salvation, and shews that the coming of Jesus is nearer.
Lausanne, January, 1842.
Dearest ——,—As to all speaking, if the brethren prefer all meetings of brethren as such, it is all very well; I have no objection; I would meet cordially with them; but when they do not meet corporately as brethren, then I act on my individual responsibility to God—I individualise myself. If I find it profitable to associate another with me, as Barnabas or Silas (Paul chose Silas), it is all well; but I count it pf the very last importance to maintain individual responsibility, while insisting on unity and discipline. Counsel the individual, exercise discipline if needed, refuse him your room if he preaches error; but where there is unity and discipline in form, if individual responsibility be not recognised therewith, it becomes a petty Borne, and worse, from being narrower. Where charity is warm, there is no difficulty. If brethren who have a room, desire to use it only for corporate meetings, as I have said, it is all well, and I admit the liberty of the Spirit edifying by whom He will; but my position in the body of Christ for service in the responsibility of individual gift is between me and Christ, where not exercised in a corporate meeting; I dare not forego this responsibility (woe to me if I preach not!); and no one can meddle with it—he meddles with the prerogative of Christ. In the assembly, the order of the assembly, or Christ by the Spirit in that, is supreme; out of the assembly, I act on my own responsibility to the Lord. If I have five talents, I do not necessarily club with him who has two.
I admit fully, alongside of this, all godly counsel; and all discipline as to error or misconduct. Even so, you cannot help a man’s preaching alone; only you can refuse to recognise him, or warn, or the like. I attach all possible importance to this individual responsibility (repeating yet again, all just accompanying principle): I would not be of any body where it was touched; I dare not, for I should do just what Rome has— set up something between me and Christ. If the brethren do not like to lend me their place of meeting, where I may exercise my gift on this responsibility, I resist not; it is merely a question of rooms, or of wisdom; perhaps they may be wiser in this than myself. The question arose at——. I replied, as above, that if the brethren did not like me to preach on my own responsibility in the room, and would have only open corporate meetings, I had no more to say, I would hire another; but out of the corporate meetings I was Christ’s servant, and I recognised no right in another to meddle with this responsibility, saving discipline if that were needed. The difficulty disappeared, as it always does where there is fidelity; though humbleness alone can save us getting out of one ditch into another.
Ever, dearest brother, with much thankfulness for your letters,
Lausanne, July 14th, 1842.
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[From the French.
Dear Brother,—Dear F. has communicated to me your letter. I bless God that you have found the sweet peace of communion with God: it is there that strength is found—our only true strength; it is there, dear brother, that we get hold of, and there alone, the principles which make us pilgrims and strangers here below, because faith is in question when one desires to be a stranger on earth, and to lean only upon God. Happy, thrice happy, he who can do it, but this can be only through communion. And now, whilst encouraging you, and ready to help you, so far as the Lord will enable me, I urge you to weigh the matter well, and to see if with ten thousand you are able to make war against him who comes against you with twenty thousand; if not (it is God who makes all the difference) you must make peace, and be content, if you have peace, to remain on this side of Jordan, instead of trusting to God that which is dear to you, and going to make war against those who still hold the land. But I believe that you have tasted too much what truth is to act thus: you have too much light to be on good terms with God in not following this light. God has acted, dear brother, with respect to you, with so much goodness and tenderness in leading you into His work, and in following you along the road, that I hope your heart will feel its effects powerfully. As for me, I will do what I can to help you, as every brother in Christ. God has stood by you, when you had only Himself and the resources which He Himself placed at your disposal, so that there is enough to lead you to trust His faithfulness…
I say no more, except that I shall be rejoiced to see you walk with liberty in the path of truth and of personal devotedness. I know by my own experience, that those who trust in the Lord shall not be confounded, and that His service is the only true liberty and joy on earth. I commend you heartily to Him; He is the only resource that you and I have. I rejoice at the peace and the healthy condition of your soul, as if it were myself. Let us remember that communion is a matter of eternity, this sweet and precious eternity which Christ has won for us, of which He Himself will be the centre and the glory. Adieu, dear brother; peace be with you, keep yourself in the love of God, and look only to Him: if your eye is single, your whole body shall be full of. light.
There is much blessing in Switzerland, but a little commotion, because of the new wine, which does not suit well with the old bottles—old at least in many respects, because they are human —and everything is feared about if anything is touched.
Your affectionate brother.
I shall be at Lausanne probably next week.
Geneva, October 10th, 1842.
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To the same.]
[From the French.
Dear Brother,—I have not much news to give you from here. In comparison with what was the case a year and a half ago, the awakening and the results are striking enough, but old Dissent on one side, and especially the old Dissenting ministers, whom the new awakening has laid aside, are jealous, and are bestirring themselves. We have no other difficulty, except this jealous spirit of the ministers. They have taken the ground solemnly in a conference lately, that the church was not responsible for the condition in which it then was. I feel myself much more, or rather altogether apart, from all official connection with their system; as to individuals, I hope that love will be only the more easy in its exercise; but it appears to me a principle of rebellion against God. In general there is blessing; God has raised up some workmen, and all those who are labouring are blessed. There are conversions, and rather numerous considering our weakness, through the goodness of God, and in general more devotedness. I have not given up the thought of a visit to the Ardèche, but this attempt to revive the old Dissent in opposition to the awakening which is taking place, makes me undecided for the moment as to my duty to leave; the rather because hearts are calm as long as I am here, and are more agitated if they are themselves the object of these attempts. In general, Wesleyanism affects them, save perhaps where they have had too much to do with it.
May God keep you, and us all, beloved brethren, in simplicity and peace, near Jesus. In our Father’s presence there is always rest. The work which is the expression of our dwelling .there, of our intimacy with His love, is always blessed and always happy—tried it may be, but happy. The joy which is in Him is infinite and eternal—a joy which only those who enjoy it know, or can conceive, but you know it, dear brother. Let us be of good courage, not alarmed because there is opposition, and not even because there is coldness, which is much more painful. Jesus loved “to the end;” this is the character of His love; it will be so of His love in our hearts, but we must be near Him that it may be so. May Got direct you in your plans; we have nothing but His will to direct us in the short passage of the pilgrimage here below. What happiness to have such guidance! May my Jesus, this good and faithful Saviour and Shepherd, give you a single eye, that your whole body may be full of light. Reckon upon His faithfulness, and may He direct you. Greet all the brethren cordially. May the God of peace, our God, be with them all; my heart greets them in the mighty and eternal love of Christ. May God bless them and yourself, dear brother.
Lausanne, October 11th, 1842.
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Dearest——,—It is always good to hear both of the Lord’s
work, and the labour of the beloved brethren. I am exceedingly thankful for the prayers of the brethren, and indeed I pray you to thank them that pray for me. I need it, and if I be weak, need it the more.
You must not expect much news. It is not my gift. I have passed through so trying and difficult a path here, that I distrust myself to speak of it, but I am come out of it, I trust, in charity, and it was no easy matter. To be opposed is easy in a certain sense; I have had plenty, and all who would maintain things when the Lord is overthrowing them, naturally count me to do the work of Satan—the reputation I have in general in France and Switzerland—when there is frankness to speak out; but speaking out or acting on conviction, is not generally the habit on the Continent—they complain of it even. Yet there has been blessing. The young men, whom those who would be with us vilified all they could, have been blessed very generally, and there are many conversions through their means, and in general there has been awakening wherever they have been, and joy and gladness have accompanied their steps. This is a subject of rejoicing, and the Lord has kept them in a most healthful feeling of responsibility with much zeal. At the same time, the dissemination of truth and blessing, and on what are called our principles, thus spreading on the right hand and on the left, without knowing whence it came or how it sprung up all of a sudden, has exceedingly irritated those, who with much effort were doing nothing or spoiling their own work, and I confess, has surprised me; for we are slow to count beforehand on the goodness of God. That He has acted is most manifest. Also I am much more free, for in all their plans, they have planned against themselves., They had what they called a Conference Fraternelle, to judge the expressions of my tracts, which has had the effect of setting me completely at large. They sent to all their churches, that a new system agitated many Christians, and that thereon they would judge if the expressions of my tracts were scriptural. They told nothing of their plan to those who had received more or less the principles contained in the tracts, but invited them when all was ready, saying that the state of Christians was so changed in Lausanne, that they could not offer hospitality to the brethren. At the meeting which I had declined attending, but went afterwards, at the demand of many who were come from far, they admitted the ruined state of the church, which they had denied hitherto, but denied our responsibility, saying that we were not answerable for the evil of our forefathers. I told the two I was most intimate with, that after that I could not go on with their Dissidence any longer, though I was in charity with all. I am much freer and happier since, and blessing is manifest.
In France there is progress, and I found the brethren well, and walking near the Lord in general. There is now a large field open in the Gard… At St. Hippolyte, though others labour equally, several true men (finding that our brethren walked more with the Lord, and had His blessing), who had been exceedingly prejudiced, hare drawn towards the brethren and avowed it. There will be opposition there, at least, on the westward, but there is testimony. In the Isère there is a commencement of blessing, and in the Drôme, at Montmeyran, where they are however weak; this place will bring probably excessive enmity on me. I saw brethren from this place when in France. I could not go there when in the Ardeche. At Annonay and Vernoux they came as much as eighteen leagues to read and confer; this shews the awakening to the state of things which exists. It is chiefly, though not exclusively, among simple brethren; they are devoted and zealous—this is a remarkable feature. One in Switzerland has been severely beaten, but is happy in his work; one who is much blessed, has left all recently (a lithographist), and felt led to go out at once, without reading with us at Lausanne. Five more are come to read, of whom three I trust will be valuable labourers in different ways. The brethren meet to break bread in France, in places of which I knew not the existence before I went there this last trip. Many of them receive next to nothing, being unmarried: their zeal has-awakened the goodwill of those among whom they labour; they receive them, and even give them clothing as presents. In the towns this can be less the case, and in the Catholic population in France—that is, where the work has not produced its fruits. At any rate, all work on their proper responsibility; if they have not faith, they have only to return to a life of labour like others. Much happy confidence reigns.
I am exceedingly happy with them all, exercising no control but what their own affection claims, and I find that thus cast in considerable difficulties on the Lord, they acquire by the necessity they are in, a rapid ripeness of judgment and prudence according to the Lord. In France many are locally employed, and earn their bread. The married brethren naturally having ménage, need more…
I write up my letters as much as I can; my head scarce suffices for all, but, thank God, I have been very happy in my soul, and helped on in various ways, and though poor and Miserable, conscious that a gracious, faithful and pardoning Lord is with me… Kindest love to all the brethren.
Ever yours, most affectionately in the Lord.
Lausanne, January 21st, 1843.
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Dearest——,—I was glad to have some news of you; we must not expect to pass through the valley without combats, also “the husbandman labouring first must be partaker of the fruits.” All we have to seek is to be faithful to Christ in them, and then there results always blessing; it is a purging process, the evil being let out; the secret is to lean thoroughly on the Lord. I pray for you, and not to seek to do good even, in our strength. I do not doubt, dear brother, that you do so much better than myself.
As to heresies, I feel a difference between one who, for want of light or from early prejudice, cannot get rid of error, and one who propagates it ever so secretly (for in general where there is an evil will, it is secretly propagated at first), because then there is the love of error, and the will of the flesh is at work; they are the fruits of the flesh. What is written as to heresy—not as to every one that is in error, even where the error is grave—is, “after the first and second admonition reject.” But I doubt not, you have been better directed of the Lord in waiting on Him, than anything I could thus write, but I believe these principles correct. But all these exercises are good. Surely it would be happier never to give the Lord occasion thus to exercise us; but it is much more merciful to be put through the exercises, which brings out faithfulness, than to be left in what separates us from the Lord—far, far better.
As to the second point, that of teaching meetings, if I remember, the same difficulty had occurred before, but it appears to me the matter is very simple. I scarcely understand the difficulty, as it seems to me to deny the exercise of a gift, which I am bound to exercise according to my responsibility to Christ. As to the circumstances of its exercise, they are comparatively immaterial. That one teach, or that more than one take part if united in work, is a matter for them to judge of, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost. Paul and Barnabas assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. He who has the gift of teaching is responsible to Christ for the exercise of his gift; it may be exercised in private; in the meeting together of brethren, if so led, on the Lord’s day; or he may assemble them to teach them if he has the capacity for it, for he is acting then on the responsibility which lies on him to trade with his talent. That this should be done with the concurrence and in the unity of the brethren, is natural where charity exists, and desirable: but if one has a gift of teaching, one is accountable for its exercise in charity where it can be a blessing to the church. Only, if in the assembly he act in the flesh, that, not his gift, is a subject of discipline—as when tongues were used for vain glory. It is a question of edifying. Charity uses a gift for edifying, but charity is bound to use the gift for edifying. Besides, if there are brethren who in conscience do not approve of it, their path is easy, not to sanction it by their presence; but they ought not to make their conscience or scruple the law of others’ conduct, where it is a matter of spiritual judgment.
There has been so much blessing in France, that I cannot regret not having got home to England, though indeed I desired it. Since then I have done little here, having been ill, and I doubt that the Lord has much for me to do here, but the brethren who read with me are all blessed in their work in this country, French Switzerland, and there is awakening in all parts. Yet I long to be back in England. I suppose still that I may make my journey back by France, where doors were more and more open to me the last time I was there. May I be only the Lord’s servant, and that within, as well as, and before, being it without. I have been in general happy, and how otherwise with fresh grace; yet I have seen several times lately my deplorable weakness. Yet having been ill, I have been astonished how deeply I felt utter and entire separation to the Lord. Work more or less occupied me with things and people here; when incapable of it, as I have been latterly almost entirely, I found I had nothing but Christ and His importance beyond all our highest and fondest and most sincere thoughts: it was a sort of experience morally of death, not perhaps all its force on conscience, but all on my position.
Our brethren who have died lately have been in sweetest peace, and have felt in a peculiar manner the importance of the Lord’s coming for the church, even when dying, and sorrowed only, where sorrow was, at not having more entirely acted on all principles they had received. The awakening produced by these principles in Switzerland and prance is really deeply interesting.
The anxiety of dear——’s followers to propagate his views, seems to me the flesh. Some brethren and sisters here have the same difficulty, but it does not seem to me as flowing from or accompanied by increased spirituality, but a tendency to bring down the mind to earth. But I have never combated it much. My mind has opened out to many wider views and details. I find many more classes of saints and glory in the Apocalypse than heretofore, though all blessed. It may be some will pass through, but I am more than ever confirmed that it is not presented to our faith, but the contrary, and that the faithful will be kept from it. If some pass through it, it would make a difficulty for those who could not separate the signs of special blessing there, from the evidence of greater faithfulness which made us escape it. This, I believe, happens often. Lot experienced mercies not manifested to Abraham in the same way, and the proofs of righteousness are occasions of sorrow if we go far enough. He vexed his righteous soul; and the Lord knew how to keep. Does this identify his ease with Abraham? But farewell. May the brethren pray for me, for I am a very weak vessel, that feel often my want of discernment in the midst of, for me, an arduous responsibility. Grace, mercy and peace be with you. Salute all the brethren. May they be kept in lowliness and peace.
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Dear Mrs.——,—You must not be surprised at the seeming long delay in answering your letter, as it has followed me to Lausanne and Geneva. Perhaps the good Lord has given you peace already—at least, before you receive this; but in case it be not so, I answer according to the light God has given me. In the first place, I beseech you to count on the goodness of God, of our God as He has revealed Himself in Christ, and that notwithstanding feelings which may arise. Indeed, I see that He has already given you to do it in a measure. I know it is difficult, impossible to us, not to judge of God by what we feel in ourselves, but it is evident it is not the truth. Our feelings are not the measure of what He is towards us, but to us they often are (when in the state your mind is in).
In the next place I admit freely, that when the conscience is powerfully wrought upon, it is quite possible that many physical and nervous sentiments way accompany them, which to the world, and perhaps to doctors, appears the whole matter, while they are really (while I quite admit the possibility of their existence) but the mere indices of deeper and much more important feelings: and it is of these that I desire to speak. It is sad indeed to smother up our feelings towards God which concern our eternal interests, because they produce certain passing painful effects.
And here I will say a word as to——: I feel thankful that you are fallen into the hands of one who recognises as he does the word of God. There is a measure of truth in what he says; it is true that we have to rest on the written word; there he is quite right, but he does not, for I know well the system in which his mind has been taught, recognise the effects and working of the Spirit of God in the soul, as the revelation of God reaches and requires that we should; so that though he be quite right in exhorting you to rest on the written record, he could not rightly interpret what passes in your soul, nor make sufficient allowance for the work of the Holy Ghost. Nor could you perhaps distinguish now quite between what was a physical effect and the real inward work. Praying God to give you peace and calm as to this even outward physical part, I will apply myself to that which is of God.
It is not surprising when the Spirit of God takes a soul in hand to convince it of sin, to change its whole course and object, to give it a life it had not before, and judge thereon every thought which has had a place in it previously—it is not surprising that in such a case there should be wonderful upsetting and havoc. It is astonishing when one comes to know what is really done, that so many are brought peacefully to know themselves, the Lord, and His grace. And here suffer me to add, dear——, not as a reproach, but on the contrary, as confirming the hope that it is the Lord’s own work in your soul, that called as you had been long before, and that call dropped as it were for so long a season, that when the Lord re-visits a soul and takes up His work which has been neglected (I will not say slighted), it is generally with much more painful convictions—with a hand that acts in love, but as forced to make the soul feel the urgency of the case, and that it must pay attention to God’s hand and call. And when the Lord acts thus in grace—is forced by our folly thus to act—Satan would seek the occasion to tell us it is too late, that the Lord is hard and acts harshly, just because we have forced Him to act in a manner to make us feel the position we are in and our need. But be of good cheer; the Lord makes all work together for good to them that love Him. Your case is not extraordinary. Often souls are attracted by the grace of Jesus, or some religious impression, but the conscience slightly touched; a season of neglect ensues, and then the passages which speak of turning back are strongly applied to the conscience, instead of those which speak of ordinary evil, as in the case when the conscience is reached at the beginning. The enemy always seeks to profit by these convictions, when he can no longer hold the soul in bondage by carelessness, and would drive it to despair and hard thoughts of God. The Lord does not hinder this, for it adds to the seriousness of the convictions, but He is faithful in the end to bring us out of it. If our imagination or feelings are at work, our joys and distress will be more apparent and acute, for the flesh mingles with this also, though the ground work be real. When you know Christ and yourself better, you will be better able to discern between what is accessory merely, and real; but it is of little importance to you now, and God is faithful, though you know that when Peter denied Christ with execrations, Christ had prayed for him that his faith might not fail. It was permitted, because Peter had need of this sad lesson as to himself, and this painfully acquired knowledge of himself was the means of his being able to strengthen even his brethren, for all that humbles us is good; but I desire to remark in the case of Peter, that behind all this scene there was the intercession of Christ which secured the recovery of Peter and the maintenance of his faith, his confidence, and reliance on the goodness of God, instead of falling into despair as Judas; as he says afterwards, “If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”
But there is a deeper work than all these feelings; not so acute perhaps, but which judges sin in the light of God’s grace. Further, until the mind gets based upon the truth that all is grace, and that thus it is by the obedience of One that many are made righteous, the soul which is sincere is necessarily under the law, and occupied with itself—thinks as you, that it is unworthy to follow Him, and the like. Surely you are unworthy to follow Him, and the Lord is pleased to lead you to make the discovery of this humbling truth. Seeing that we are lost (and you will be tormented till you are completely convinced of that) we think that there is no hope, when it is exactly then that the gospel begins, for the Son of man came to seek and to save those that are lost, and He has done the whole work that saves them.
You must not attach too much importance to your joy, though it were real, for it never reached the height of its object; nor to your distress, though it may have been an effect of the operation of the Spirit convincing you of sin, which after all you cannot measure more than the joy; nor to your indifference, more painful in some sort than the distress, and by which the enemy often tempts us. God has weighed all that joy shall be for us; He has weighed all that sin is, all your thoughts seen beforehand, all your indifference—miserable as all this proves us to be; and knowing beforehand all that we are and all our sin, He has given Christ for us, who has charged Himself with all, and us such as we are, and has accomplished without us all that was needed by the justice and love of God. It is absolutely accomplished; you can add nothing by joy or sorrow to the perfect work of Christ. All these exercises of soul may be very useful to bring us to the point of acknowledging our own nothingness, so that Christ may have His first place in our rinds by faith, but they can add nothing to Him. Your peace will come from a calm and holy conviction that you are nothing, and that He is all, and that the Lord knew all that you were, and because you were all this, took your place in responsibility and suffered for you.
You will say, but I have neglected Christ after being awakened. It is possible, and it is very sad; nay, more, as I have said, this gives a handle to the enemy to torment us, but does not change the efficacy of the blood and work of Christ in God’s eyes, and that is what gives peace. It is not what you think of Christ’s work, but what God thinks of it, that saves. Your knowledge of what God thinks of it, by faith, gives peace. God says to Israel in Egypt, not when you see the blood, I will pass over, but “when I see the blood.” He it is that has been offended, He it is that judges, and He it is that has accepted the ransom in justice as He gave it in love. He is faithful and just to forgive us.
As we may confound sometimes the acuteness of our feelings with the spiritual judgment of sin, almost always at the outset we confound the work of the Spirit and the work of Christ. Each has its place in the saved, but they must not be confounded. The -Spirit of God may humble, convict us, reprove within and thus distress us, or give us joy, and often we set about to judge of all this in order to know our acceptance with God. But these things, though they have their place in the mind of the redeemed, are not the ground of his peace. Christ has made peace by the blood of the cross. Christ has done all, and has left us nothing but thanksgiving and praise. If some one has paid my debts, my sorrow at the folly that contracted them, or my joy at their being discharged, adds nothing whatever to the payment of the debt, though both be natural and just. It is sometimes hard to esteem all our feelings as nothing, but it is only a remains of self; but only think what it cost the Son of God in undergoing the wrath of God, and we shall feel on one hand the perfect security of our justification, and the nothingness of all our feelings compared with what our sin really was in the sight of God; but He remembers it no more, as He has said. If Christ had not completely discharged and effaced it, He could not be in heaven, for He could not sit at the right hand of God charged with our sins, though He was charged with them on the cross.
If your heart demands, But how do I know that I have part in all this? I answer, with the word of the Lord which abides for ever, that whoso believeth in Him. That all might be grace, God has willed that it should be by faith, and though faith produces immense effects, it adds nothing to the thing it believes. Christ and the efficacy of His work must be, and be before God, all that I am called to believe them to be, before I believe it. The feelings and distress through which we pass care very important, but only in order to bring us to this, and peace and joy are found in a humble and lowly sense of sin, and of the infinite—— [copy defective.]
Yverdun, March 25th, 1843.
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[From the French.
Very dear Sister,—Here I am then, in this vast and horrible town, but led by the good hand of Him who never fails in His faithfulness, and the haste that I make to let you have tidings of us, ought to assure you on the one hand that I count on the interest you have in receiving them, and on the other hand, that I do not forget Switzerland. In fact, when I arrived here, I felt myself a stranger, and much more at home in Switzerland than here. It was not from lack of affection on the part of the brethren, far from it, for their reception was affectionate, could not be more so. I felt my unworthiness, and attributed it as much to the interest that they take in the work in Switzerland, as to what was more personal. It is not as a compliment that I say this. But they had prayed much for the work in Switzerland, and naturally that had identified me with that work.
There was nothing extraordinary in my journey, unless it be the continued goodness of God. I hoped to spend the Sunday in London, but we encountered a storm in the passage from Rotterdam to London, so that we only arrived the Sunday evening. I have already spoken, on Monday and Tuesday, and we had the presence of God; but half of those who attended were unknown to me, the number of brothers having greatly increased during my absence. There would be an extraordinary amount to do in this country, but at present my heart is in Switzerland, I believe by the will of God. I do not know if you will believe me when I tell you that I feel much more a stranger here than over there, and it gives me wonderful joy when I meet a Swiss brother or sister. I hope that the only thing that will lead me will be the will of God. I cannot doubt that God has raised up a testimony at the present time in Switzerland and in France, which He gives me, at least I think so, still to carry on in those countries. I feel my weakness and my incapacity, but this does not stop me at all, because I feel that the work is of Him. I am conscious of having but one desire, namely, that testimony should be borne to Christ, to Him whose glory alone is precious to me. I am conscious that that is my only desire, and that makes me happy and inspires me with entire confidence. I do not doubt that I have done the will of God in coming here; and it is very sweet to feel it, and it is this that removes from me all anxiety with regard to Lausanne. When I shall have finished what God wishes me to do, I hope to be there again. I have only the thought of a journey here at present, till the moment of my return. I know nothing about it, that depends upon His will. May He give me the discernment of that will, and of the things that are really of some importance.
As to the brethren of this place, I have not yet spent a Sunday, but this is the impression they have given me. They talk to me much more of God and less of man than in Switzerland, this is a great good; on the other hand I have found, it has seemed to me, much more solemnity and seriousness in our meetings at Lausanne, &c., than here—though I have been happy in the two I have been at. There is more care of souls also here. I am still ill at ease in meditating, and almost incapable of praying yet in English. In Ireland they have been neglected, but in Dublin they are much blessed, more than ever, and they walk in peace elsewhere, but there is no work. There are some, but few new workers in England, but the work has been greatly extended. The time of returning to Switzerland will be to me a time of joy, although I particularly love the brethren here, and see more and more the solidity and the truth of the work that God has done in these times in this country, and I feel that the links that attach me to them are not of man.
I hope that our dear sisters at Lausanne will not think that my heart does not own all their affection and their goodness with regard to me, although, pre-occupied with so many things and little demonstrative, I received all the testimony to it without saying much. I should indeed be very ungrateful if I were not sensible of it; but the fact is that I am. I cannot accuse myself of failing there, but the best recompense that I can render, is the ardent desire, adding to it my prayers, that they may enjoy fully and more and more, the fellowship and grace of our precious Saviour, the joy and the portion of my heart, and that they may be more conformed, and more acceptable unto Him. My joy when I think of them, is not only that they have shewn me so much goodness and patience, but that they glorify the Lord; it is in this also that I have boasted of them. Can I do otherwise than desire that they may abound more and more in it?…
Greet cordially all our dear sisters, particularly your family, face to face. My object, if God permits me soon to see the brethren again, will be to unite the brethren much more. It is possible I may change my whole manner of living, remaining partly isolated, and receiving the brethren if they are disposed to come. I think it is very possible that I may attain this end by the goodness of God more easily in living thus isolated. That I shall lose much as to my comfort in every way, I well know. You are assured, dear sisters, I hope, that I am not forgetful of all the regard you have had for me in this, of how much I owe you in every way. If you have spoilt me, so that I have received so much attention and care as if it were all natural, it is your fault. I say this, because I know that often when I count on the sincerity of the kindness of any one, I avail myself of it, as an effect of christian love, without making compliments; but I can assure you that I am very keenly and sincerely thankful for all the goodness which you have shewn me, even though, as I have said, pre-occupied with service, I have accepted it without saying much. Accept my sincere thanks before the Lord. I hope, all unworthy as I am, you have done it to Him. Once more, greet all our dear sisters and the brothers whom you know.
Your affectionate and grateful brother.
I write in haste, at different times, having begun in London and ended in Sussex.
London, August 3rd, 1843.
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To the same.]
[From the French.
Dear Miss ——,—No doubt some habits formed in this country remain, but the native soil has few charms for me; a paternal house, spoilt and dishonoured in the hands of our enemies, has but little attraction for the affections of the heart, and this is England at this moment. Every one is confounded. They do not know what will become of them, nor what will happen. Happy those who possess a kingdom that cannot be shaken; it is our sure portion. Blessed be God for it. I have felt God more with me than ever in this visit, and the position of testimony in which I am with my brethren more real and true. But the love and confidence of the brethren humbles me extremely, though I bless God for it, as a great happiness. I am, I think, at the end of my journey towards the north, having given up my visit to Scotland, to be able to retrace my steps towards the south. I shall cross England again to-morrow to visit Hull, where the work is beginning (a minister of the national church having quite lately given up his place); and then, if it please God, by Hereford to London. There I shall stay for a little, and make some little trips, which the railways render very rapid and easy now; and if God will, I shall leave afterwards for France, but I do not think of being in Switzerland for some time to come; however, I think, long enough before they disperse for the country. This is, at least, my mind, if God accord it me. We had a blessed meeting at Liverpool; I think that the brethren enjoyed themselves more there than at preceding ones; perhaps less of fresh knowledge, but more solid and more serious, and new souls that found there precious links with the brethren, several localities being newly opened. Brotherly love was without restraint, and very real and blessed, so that we had indeed something to bless God for. The brethren returned like the Israelites from the dedication (2 Chron. 7:10), though it were but an earnest, and even in a poor and miserable assembly. The field also is an open one, and the testimony absolutely sought for. Besides, I ought to tell you this, that whilst hurrying to return to the Continent, I am deeply [convinced] that it is a moment that the testimony is urgently demanded in England, and I think that I must return to work here, that at least a testimony may be borne by the grace of God, before Puseyism possess the country, and whilst religious liberty remains to us, which I do not think will last too long. The dissenters can do nothing; they hold meetings to know what to do, and what they possess is slipping from their hands before their eyes; they feel it, throw themselves right and left, and avow that all is lost, when they dare to say so. Externally the country is becoming nationalised, and nationalism is becoming Puseyism, and Puseyism no longer hides itself in its Romanist tendencies. It is no longer a question of searching the prophecies in quietness to know what should come to pass, but of acting, of working while it is day; it is a sombre picture no doubt.
The country is prosperous in its temporal affairs; they are building fine Gothic churches everywhere; they are making immense collections for the education of poor manufacturers; but the truth, some moral principle, some energy of faith that can meet the evil, is lacking everywhere. Such is England! I believe it will be my duty to work there a little, without, however, giving up Switzerland or other countries. There is need also of caring for the sheep; perhaps one may be able to do little, but this little ought to be done. What happiness to await the precious Saviour, and to know that His glory that one has so desired, so wished for, is drawing near; what happiness that the dark clouds that are about to burst upon the world will but discover this Sun of righteousness too long hidden (though that has been His grace), this Sun with which we are but one, united to Him according to the counsels of His love! Truly this makes us lift up our heads; besides, we shall be kept as in the hollow of His hand, of the hand of Him to whom all power is given in heaven and on earth. May my dear Lausanne sisters know how to await thus our precious Saviour, and you yourselves, my dear sisters, among others. Perhaps it is their lot to await Him in peace and quietness, in happy works of charity in the shade (I greatly envy them in this respect)— mine to be compelled to face the winds and the waves of this stormy world, although it be with the Lord, so that all goes well; our life and our portion are in Him. You see what a piece of paper I have taken, without noticing it. I cannot re-write my letter. May peace, mercy and grace be abundantly with you all… God be with you.
Your affectionate brother
And servant in Christ.
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Kendal, November, 1843.
[From the French.
Very dear Brethren,—My heart has joy in turning towards Lausanne, where God has given me to work so long amongst you. And in looking back, in order to reflect upon all the time I spent among you, and upon the work which has been done at Lausanne, I find indeed that for which to bless God; and I think I may say, much loved brethren, that while owning many shortcomings in myself before God, I have never sought anything amongst you but the glory of Christ, and the welfare of you all. I had much upon my heart to say a few words to you the Sunday before my departure, but I had not courage for it, and could not bear the idea of turning looks towards me when we had been occupied with the Lord. At any rate, I felt the need of pouring out my heart just a little, and saying thus to you a word of affection and of thankfulness. I suppose, dear and much loved brethren, that with more faith, and thus more knowledge of the will of God, one would have done more for His glory, and for the manifestation of life and the power of His grace in the assembly of His children, for His glory in the church. Notwithstanding, I do not doubt, on the contrary I see, and praise God for it, that He has acted in the midst of us, and that it was His work, and I am astonished sometimes at His grace and goodness. Alas, with more faith, one would have much more still of His glory; but if we think of what we are, we shall bless God from the abundance of our hearts every hour, that He intervenes—and those who are working, so much more than the rest, because they know with what vessels of clay the work is done, and all the shortcomings of their own hearts. At all events, dear friends, as I have said to you, I have the sweet consciousness of having only sought your welfare; and now let me urge on you to seek union among yourselves, and to attach yourselves to one another, seeking the presence of God, which makes the strength of His own; that will be (be well assured of it) your strength and the means of His glory. Do not forsake your holy assemblings; profit by that which God gives, while seeking His presence more than any other thing. For my part, I believe that there is something yet to be gained with regard to the assembly. The principles which I believe to be the truth in our present position having been laid down, I believe that we shall have to seek more union, and more being together, and it is to this I shall apply myself, if God permit me to see you again, as I much hope, and that before long; for to tell you the truth, I am astonished to find to what a degree I am a stranger here, and the distance from Lausanne, instead of separating me in heart, has made me feel how much I was bound to you all. I believe fully that my journey was according to God’s will, and thus I am convinced that it will be in blessing to you all, as to myself. It is a very sweet thing to feel oneself conducted by His good hand. I am trying also to get rid of the feeling of being a stranger here, while at the same time being content to feel myself a stranger everywhere. My stay upon the Continent has been blessed to me in every respect, and that one among others. Thanks be to God, the affection of the brethren is stronger than ever, also they have prayed much for the work in Switzerland and in France.
In general, the work here has extended greatly, but it seems to me, from the little I have seen, that in the following out of that, the links need to be made firmer. There are places where blessing continues and increases; some, where the enemy has sought to make ravages, but God, I believe, has turned his efforts to good, although the circumstances were humiliating for all, for hitherto the hand of God has been in a remarkable manner with the brethren. Let Him be blessed for it, and may they also be kept in humility; without that assuredly He will resist them to their face. I hope, dear brethren, if I come back to Lausanne, according to my thought, by the goodness of God, to apply myself more to making fast the links between brethren individually, and to be myself more amongst them. I have sought it when I was habitually in the town, for latterly I was often absent, but I was not yet content, and I will try to make arrangements so as to be able to meet more often among ourselves. I believe that will be the means of strengthening love, of making us all grow, even in knowledge, and of giving more strength and unity for the glory of Christ, Meanwhile, I do not doubt, dear brethren, that God, will bless you. Seek to tighten the links of charity among yourselves; without making any great external appearance, but in simplicity, attach yourselves to each other, while seeking one sole end, the welfare of all—the being together, staying yourselves on God, and in the seriousness which His presence gives. His presence always gives humility; one is more firm, but self is annihilated when one is before Him.
I beg you to think much of the younger brethren and those less confirmed in the faith, and to surround them with your care and your affection, it is just they who have need of it. I have several upon my heart, but I leave it to your charity to think of them. God adds His blessing when one acts in charity, and that is not only the simple effect of our cares, but He is Himself in the power of His blessing and feeblest hearts are established. I am sure that my absence will be for blessing to you. I have full confidence of it before God in looking to Him. Adieu, dear brethren. Be united, walk in love and unity more than ever, as we have sought to do it in our feebleness, and God will establish you, and add to you still more. Do not think that I attach much importance to myself in venturing thus to give you all these counsels, or rather exhortations, but I desire your welfare, and the glory of the Lord Jesus, because in my feebleness I love you much.
Keceive this at least, as a testimony of my affection. I thank you much, dear brethren, for all that I met amongst you. I am very sensible of it. I salute each one in particular, whilst in my memory passing you all again before me, and ask much your prayers for all the church. May God bless you, in keeping you in the way in which the Spirit leads those who belong to Christ, in unity and in light, and may it be given to each one to seek to perfect his sanctification in the fear of the Lord.
My heart is with you, dear brethren.
Your affectionate brother
And servant in Christ.
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[From the French.
Very dear Sister,—I believe God has given me more power than ever in my ministry, blessed be His name; indeed, I am very thankful for it. I hope, at the same time, that this has made me more humble than before; no doubt I had need of it, but I have felt myself so unworthy of this grace, and so humbled by the goodness and affection of the brethren that surround me, that whilst being impelled to work, I wished the rather to hide myself somewhere. Oh, how I desire that all the brethren should be emboldened by grace to bear witness to the grace and power of Christ according to its efficacy in those who bear it. And why not? However, there are several who in fact are more blessed than I, so that I believe sometimes there must be some fault in me that puts me forward, whilst others draw souls to God. God knows that I have not the desire for it. May God bless these brothers ever more; but what need the kingdom of God has of workmen who apply Christ to souls by the word, and give them the rest that they need, even amongst the children of God! It is quite possible that I leave England this week, I think of doing so… I have done what I desired in my heart to do before leaving. Something may always retard us more than we think, but I have nothing now on hand to hinder me… May God in His goodness ever strengthen the bonds of Christ between His dear children… Your affectionate brother in Christ.
* * * * *
To the same.]
[From the French.
Beloved Sisters,—Here I am at last at Montpellier, not knowing how long I ought to stay here. Outwardly there is not much to make me remain. However, I believe that God has something in His mind, and though I shall go after a little into the Gard, I do not think of leaving Montpellier altogether. God, I trust, will lead me. I have all confidence in Him, who governs according to His thoughts of grace, and not according to those of man.
But in writing to you, it is rather you, your sister, and your family that I think of, for cold and undemonstrative as I am, you cannot think that after so much kindness and care that you have lavished upon me, I could be indifferent to what concerns you. I was deeply touched by the news, received through——, of the death of your poor nephew. I was ready to complain of you for having told me nothing about it, but that I had regard to the affliction that a blow so felt must have produced. But I venture to assure you of all my sympathy. I know that it is the Lord alone who can really comfort when He strikes us, and the source of our consolation is precisely the feeling that it is He Himself who so loved us, who strikes us, for that which comes from His hand can only be perfect. We shall not know how to explain it; the heart suffers by it; but it is our Father that has given the cup to drink; that was the only, and it was perfect, consolation of Jesus. One recognises the hand of one who is known; we do not stop at the circumstances that appear to us mysterious, we refer in them to Him, and all is changed; the heart is softened by it, does not wish it to be otherwise, but the will is not in rebellion, and we are comforted near Him, feeling more than ever that He is our all. What a precious lesson, what a glorious position! God alone could have placed us there. Until we are there, the flesh will stir: we must not be surprised at it: and then all will be dark, because we see everything after our own hearts, and light is not in man; but if the life of Christ is in us, we shall see that there is sin in it; it will be exposed; we shall feel that we had need to be smitten; submission will come; we leave ourselves before God. “I was dumb, and opened not my mouth, because thou didst it.” Then peace will soon be there. If the soul is already subject, then nothing separates us from His love; and confidence in this love gives us an unruffled peace.
Dear sisters, I can weep with you and the family of your poor dear C. like the Jews with Mary, but I know that He who loves him can sustain your souls. I have confidence in Him with regard to you… I trust this painful blow will be a blessing. Be assured also yourselves of my entire sympathy. I feel that this will operate in a different manner with each of you, but our precious Saviour will do His own work in each of His own. From what I saw three months ago, I thought that—— might be discouraged and cast down by this affliction. If it be so, let her remember that His ways are not as our ways, and that the heart of Jesus, of Him who smites us, has itself passed through all the trials through which He makes us pass; that He cannot make us taste anything for our good without having drunk Himself all its bitterness to the dregs. He knows what He is doing; He suffers all that He inflicts. It is His love, His knowledge of all that makes Him do all that He does. Let us have full confidence in Him who has been tempted in all things like unto us. Do not impose on yourself the task of replying to me. I think of seeing you before very long. There is an English brother who lost his wife nearly a year ago, who will be with me.
Your very affectionate brother.
Montpellier, March 15th, 1844.
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