To the same.]
[From the French.
* * * The objection made to the use of 1 Corinthians 7:14 has no force. Among the Jews, if one married a Gentile, or vice versa, the Jew was not profane, but he had profaned himself; the children were profane, and the Jew had to send away both wife and children. The husband did not cease to be a Jew, though profaned, but his children were profane, and therefore they could not even be profaned, for that which is already profane cannot be made so.
Now, grace being come, it was the reverse which took place. The unbelieving husband did not cease to be an unbeliever, but he was relatively sanctified (not holy); then the child was holy, not inwardly in its soul, but it had right to the privileges which belonged to the people of God on earth, privileges from which the child of a mixed marriage among the Jews was debarred, because he was profane. He was no more a sinner than any other, but he was excluded from the circle in which were found the blessings accorded by God to His people, and they were great as the apostle says…
* * * * *
To the same.]
[From the French.
* * * We are in the last days, and evidently God is acting in grace to withdraw His people from evil and judgment; but there must be more devotedness, more separation. May God in His goodness work; there is still much to be done in calling out souls and establishing them in the truth, so that they be not carried away by every wind of doctrine. There is so much unbelief, and the human mind is so active, that souls are exposed to dangers of every kind. God keeps them, and His own are, after all, always in safety; only the snare is no longer formalism, but the rejection of everything, or the substitution of opinions for divine truth. Yet I believe that it is a fine moment for one who is decided. We must be Christians in good earnest, and accept the foolishness of God as wiser than men, and the weakness of God as stronger than men. A humble walk, in entire dependence on God, looking unto Jesus, is singularly blessed in these present days, and soon will come the rest.
* * * * * *
My dear Brother,—I should have been very glad to have seen you, and shall be so still, if the Lord so orders it. Meanwhile I will answer your letter briefly. I could not, of course, present myself as a Baptist, because I could not be one, and necessarily could not say I was, nor of any sect. It would violate my whole conscience in the church of God, and in these last days especially, for I do not doubt either that we are in them. I feel it is of the last importance to keep my testimony distinct—I mean distinctly in that truth which I believe the Lord would maintain as His own. I should receive a Baptist or an Independent cordially as a Christian, but I could not give any other testimony than what I believe to be the truth. I am very glad you preach the gospel wherever the Lord opens a door. But I apprehend your desire to have access has led you to dim a part of that truth which might have seemed likely to shut the door to you. Do riot suppose I am judging you; I speak simply from the contents of your letter. I doubt that faith is shewn in lowering my own position from the light I have, to coalesce with that which has it not. I may adapt my teaching to all persons in grace, but not adapt myself to their want of teaching. I have seen, dear brother, those who get into the forms of brethren, who had no faith in the reality of the unity of Christ’s body, and who—when the support of those forms failed them—naturally sank, from not personally holding on to Christ according to the power of that truth, into the common course of what then might surround them. But such are not upon equal ground of blessing with those they have last got amongst them—[that of] the light which the others have left—because they have not the conscience of having left any. I think it very likely, from what I know of the gathering of M. at the time you were there, that there was very little light or feeling as to the church being the body of Christ, and that it ought to shew itself as such in the earth; so I am not surprised it should not have had much hold on your mind. What I should say to you would be to preach as earnestly and as devotedly as you can, to seek the salvation of the souls around you, and search the word diligently to see if there was not an unity of the body of Christ through the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, and hence if sects are not wrong. See if that presence of the Holy Ghost be not a first principle of Christianity. I dare say, if you wished it, some tracts or books on these subjects which would serve as finger-posts to you might be sent down. The scriptures would, of course, remain as the treasury of the truth itself. We facilitate our path by running into the channels dug by men for the current of Christianity to run in, but we do not always maintain the testimony of the word by it.
As to the Lord’s coming. It is not the subject always to bring to souls, though connected even with conversion by Paul to the Thessalonians; but at least it ought to be everywhere the expression of our own hope, so that it should be confessed and known to be our hope. Thus I may use it with the best wisdom I have for others, but it ought to be known as my faith with them who have to say to me—as my faith, not my opinion. I do not doubt that Louis Napoleon is doing his own part assigned of God in preparing the way of forming the Latin empire, but no man can say he is personally to be the head, because scripture has not said it. It is a mere man’s opinion. I do not believe even that the head of the beast is antichrist at all. I believe that the second beast is antichrist (Rev. 13), not the first. But, I add, to me the Lord’s coming is not a question of prophecy, but my present hope. Events before His judging the quick are the subject of prophecy; His coming to receive the church is our present, heavenly hope. There is no event between me and heaven. There are between this time and Christ’s judgment of the earth. Now we are blessed with Christ; as His bride and His body, we appear with Him, reign with Him: the great peculiar blessing of the church is being associated with Christ Himself. The government of the world is another thing; prophecy lights up that as a candle in a dark place, but I am of the day. It is this especially Christians have to learn that they are one with Christ, blessed with Him. And this applies to everything. “My peace I give unto you”— “That they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves”—“The glory which thou hast given me I have given them”—“That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them”— “I have given them the words which thou gavest unto me” —“I go to my Father and your Father; my God and your God.” This brings perfect love so close to our hearts that it is very precious, and thus we nourish ourselves with that love.
I should have been glad if you could have come to Guelph. But God’s will is better than all opportunities if we are clear as to that. May the Lord bless you in your toil for your family. I was very glad to get your letter, and shall be glad to hear from you again. If you write for any books or tracts, do not mind the cost, I will send them. They sometimes refresh us in the wilderness, and you could have some gospel ones to distribute. Have you any place you worship at with others besides your preaching? I do not doubt we are in the last days, but I do not confound the government of the world and the portion of the church—Christ’s body. You will find in Revelation 12 that when Satan is cast down to begin the three and half years, the victory of the heavenly company is celebrated as complete, and their tribulation and conflict over.
Peace be with you, and blessing upon yours, is the sincere and earnest desire of
Your affectionate brother in Christ.
Toronto, September 17th, 1862.
* * * * *
[From the French.
My dear——,—I take account of public discipline. Whatever be the feebleness of brethren, I find that it is important before God to give to discipline all the weight of faith. To me it is a principle all the more settled, that the church is feeble and in disorder. I own that one may be mistaken in particular cases, but to acknowledge the church of twos or threes, is for me an essential thing. This necessarily causes reserve in my intercourse with you; it does not change my affection or desire to see you happy and blessed, but affects our communications.
There is another thing: I do not say that you would not have recovered peace with God, but there is another consideration, namely, the way and the government of God towards those whom He loves… The impression remains with me, that on some points your heart is not altogether open—face to face with yourself and with God. There is, up to a certain point, a desire to hide more or less what has passed; it is human nature; but when it is a question of knowing if a soul is restored, that is everything, so to speak. I do not wish to know evil of you, and much prefer not to know it. If the soul is restored all the past is null, and I wish to forget what could only cause the heart sorrow. If God remembers it no more, His own may well do as much. Such is not my difficulty; the only question is if the soul has now judged all the evil. The judgment of evil in its roots, and power over self—deliverance from the power of sin—go together. You must not confound peace and communion. One may have peace, not have the least thought of anything being imputed to one, and not have the joy of communion, because there is something that grieves the Holy Spirit, or some forbidden thing that the heart retains, or a state of soul where there has been evil, and-where, though recovered from it, the work of God in the heart is not accomplished. I do not think some forbidden thing is your case; it may be that something yet remains to be done that communion may flow in the peace of the soul…
Confidence destroyed is the most painful thing in the world; the consciences of brethren are shocked, their hearts distressed. It may be that the effect of it is manifested, but it is not for you, dear ——, to complain of the lack of tenderness or of consideration in your own case, I am sure that when the work in your soul is completely accomplished you will become reconciled with those whose confidence you have destroyed. … There is the natural pride to overcome, as well as the judgment of the fruit that the flesh has produced. Humility before man is often the best proof of restoration before God. I prefer being behind your expectation as a man, to failing in faithfulness, in a truly divine interest for your soul before God. You may be certain that if you were really restored, and that the results of grace were produced in your heart, the past would never remain in mine as something against you. The forgiveness of God is for me the source of happiness; it leads me to rejoice with those who are pardoned, not to impute evil to them or to remember it. You can count on that; what I look for is a melted heart, softened, distrustful of self, a heart where the new man prevails in every respect over the old man. The evil of the old man is easily forgiven, when there remains (in a practical way) but the new.
There, dear ——, is what holds me back. There is reserve, waiting, not lack of interest or of heart for you, but a waiting for the work of God. It does not seem to me to be entirely done. It is no lack of affection to desire that it may be…
London (Ontario), October 2nd, 1862.
* * * * *
To the same.]
[From the French.
You will doubtless think, dear ——, that I am hard and heartless with regard to you, all the more that my last letter scarcely met the expectation of your heart. But I place myself —at least I try to—before the Lord for you; not without considering the needs of your heart, but putting even before these the good of your soul as well as the glory of the Lord, which is connected with it. I write now that you may know that I am not unmindful of the need of your heart, that you may feel that I take account of it, and that I desire to see the grace of God meet you on this side also. I do not cease to love you. You had a natural character, where with much affection and energy, there was but little moral veneration. Now when one is away from the Lord the bad side of the character shews itself at once, and the moral sensibilities grow weak, and this is what has happened to you. The restoration of your soul will take place by your being led to judge this, re-establishing, and in a certain sense I might say, establishing the judgment of the new man, of God, on this side of your nature. One may follow the leading of the Spirit of God as being born of God, and walk well in abandoning the allurements of the old man, without having judged the character that no longer produces its fruits. If we walk humbly with God, this will be done little by little, almost without our being aware of it. Otherwise, if there is confidence in oneself, negligence, this character which was dormant, reproduces itself in a fall. Then there is not real restoration of soul until this is judged. This is what is called in Job 33 “to shew unto man his uprightness” or his duty, that is to say, what is the right place for him before God in the inner man.
I do not speak of the fruits which this character has produced —it is easy to judge that—but it has to do with oneself. It is then that pride disappears, the wish to excuse oneself. One is before God. If the course of others has broken us down we are thankful, we see in it the hand of God, and not of men. But above all there is the sober judgment of oneself, a clear perception of one’s own character, but humiliation before God, because one takes the side of the new man and of God against oneself. There is gentleness and graciousness. I am myself what God detests, and I cannot bear the thought of being detested by God. I do not speak of imputation, I suppose we are clear as to that; but I speak of the fact that Christ is in us for communion, and we have been—what?
When we think of what belongs to us, not of our position before God, but that Christ can dwell in our hearts by faith, and that our intercourse with God can be real in the purity of the Spirit of God, and up to what point our natural character, our flesh has led us, then the heart shrinks. To think of it is despair. We need that uprightness of Job; when grace acts it is the restoration of the soul; communion is re-established; the heart finds God again. We are always exposed, even to relapses, until we have reached that point. But when we have, it is peace; the will which shews itself in the acting of the natural character is broken, and we walk with God; we can follow Christ, not before. May the Lord indeed work in your heart, and exercise it according to His grace. I shall be glad to know what your state is.
* * * * *
Dearest——,—I had been praying as to this matter in—— Street. That meeting began with the activity of some with little fellowship of brethren on that side the water, and became a refuge even to those who sought agitation. God has shewn the weakness, but delivered the simple. There may be some to be regretted (all in one sense), but if those delivered walk in grace and firmness, and individually so too, as grace gets the upper hand in the others, they will be delivered too: complete break with some, in the state they are in at present, I look upon as a mercy, a great mercy. There is sometimes a little tightness at——, but they are united and care for one another.
All this abuse of brethren I look upon as a sign that God delights in their testimony for truth. I feel in every respect, more than ever, the immense importance of their position, and that in respect of the question of truth too, only it is a narrower path. Standards and church authority are proving an utter failure, infidelity making, alas! often cobwebs of them. I hear dissenters are in the same perplexity. The matter of Colenso is most significant. That there is grace for union, and union holding fast the truth, is just the best and only testimony that can be given for God now; and if we look to Him He will maintain it.
Union without the truth many would have. The dissenters uneasy, yet in practice (here at least), hold it for indifferent. God has exercised us for this point by the Bethesda question, which I look upon now as the greatest mercy. There is an attempt to keep up unity by mere organisation. There was organisation at the first, but that too is a failure: three have tried it in different ways among brethren, and have in result broken up what seemed to have power, firmness, grace and knowledge. It has not stood. I believe in the ruin of the church, but I believe that Christ will be where two or three are gathered together in His name.
As to dear——, I do not see that it is more than “I have not faith in it.” I think I could explain that to him. I have faith in God for it, feeble faith, and in presence of all kinds of difficulties, but I have faith in God. I have never known Him fail those who trust in Him. Obedience is the path of power—that was settled in our controversy with the Irvingites—but not of apparent power, but of having God with one, a little strength, not denying Christ’s name, keeping His word, keeping the word of His patience. That is what we have to look for now, not apparent strength; obedience, grace, and union in dependence on Christ, waiting for Him, waiting as He is waiting. Where there is this, there will be a testimony, and just what the world cannot understand. “Infirmities” is the weakness in which Christ’s power is displayed by maintaining what is so weak. Why attack brethren so much, but that they feel there is what they cannot deal with—what works on the conscience? From what you say of the pamphlet which I have not seen, I should think it would do good, as the unbelief is betrayed in it.
I have answered the Record,18 Quarterly Journal of Prophecy,19 &c, since I was here, but my path here has been very quiet. I have been kept here at Hamilton longer than I thought, as many serious souls are getting blessing. I know nothing as to their joining brethren, as it is called, nor have I inquired; but they are getting peace, seeing what the church is, and hence what the state of things which are so called is, getting through grace faith according to the truth. I have never asked them a word about brethren, but the work is full of interest—not numbers, but souls in earnest. Yet everywhere I have been souls have been added or restored. Of course there are fears and opposition, but this must be expected, yet there is distinct, evident blessing for souls in earnest. I have the bush to visit yet…
Some new towns are opening too, where our brother E., who has been greatly blessed, had not been. He really (though there were individuals who had come out, but recently got loose and had material things) may be, viewing it as a whole, considered the founder of the work in Canada. I have followed his footsteps where he had laid the foundation, save here, and in one or two new places, and even here the nucleus was indirectly through his means. In general there are very nice brethren here indeed, and caring for one another—of course ordinary trials, but grace and fellowship.
I had a tolerably bad attack in my eye, but thank God am quite well. We have had fine weather hitherto, and often pretty much like England, only drier.
I have set about the Synopsis of the Revelation since I have been here and have enjoyed my study of it.
Peace be with you; my kindest love to the brethren, and many unfeigned thanks for their prayers. The Lord sparing me I shall see them again, but I do not see my work in Canada finished yet.
Affectionately yours in the Lord.
Hamilton, [received], December 12th, 1862.
Dear——,—Here and in the U.S. the church and the world are more mixed than even in England, so that the testimony of brethren is more definite and important as far as the sphere goes, and things seem to point to an awakening as to this in the States. I have been invited to more than one point: how the Lord will lead I know not. In this place there is no very apparent fruit in the meeting. Two have been restored, but I think a working of the testimony in the consciences around, more perhaps than anywhere. Only Toronto would be compared. Several have found peace—one who had fallen into infidelity—and a full salvation, a translating into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, the church, the Lord’s coming, have laid hold and deeply exercised the consciences of many. At Toronto I have a larger congregation. Here the very work in souls made them afraid, and get warnings, though the last indeed is the case in Toronto. At Guelph, where our conference was, the growth of the assembly has been rapid since. I suppose, the Lord willing, I shall go when I take it as my starting-point for sleighing on into the bush and the shores of Lake Huron, where I am expected. I do trust the Lord will keep up and deepen even the awakening of souls in this place. The American habit of joining a church for respectability makes the church regularly worldly, but there are a good many Christians, but in a dead state. In Canada there are about 250 brethren, and walking intelligently and happily everywhere. The great instrument of this really was E., though of course others have laboured in detail, but all was confusion till he was here. We are now in snow and I am old; but save a day or two, no very violent cold, scarcely calling to wrap up as much as in England, but it is coming, I suppose, with Christmas… I have got on a considerable way—chapter 15.—with the Revelation for the Synopsis, having at last felt led to take it up fully. You will have seen the “Brethren and their Reviewers.”
I cannot but feel that the Lord is working here, and that my journey here was most timely. There is nothing of éclat; but in these last days a solemn settling of principle which will under grace be important for this country, nay, for the whole continent. The foundation of the truth as to the church’s position, its hopes and its salvation, have been brought home to all classes of Christians, and the authority of scriptures singularly exercised its power in their consciences. This too has strengthened the brethren. The Lord only knows the result. We must only work on while it is called to-day. My kindest love to the brethren, and thanks for all their kind interest in me and my work. May they be blessed in the fruit of their prayers, and in their own souls too.
I have enjoyed Luke much lately, as presenting the Person of the Lord.
Hamilton [received], December 24th, 1862.
* * * * *
Dear Brother,—You will, I trust, have got my letter. I gave you some account of ——. It is so far difficult that there is nothing very striking or salient, though it seems to me the Lord is evidently working. Souls have been added to the assembly; but it is not so much this as the working of truth in many, in which the Lord’s hand seems to be manifest. Then, of course, too, opposition has been at work: it is, all a useful experience of patience.
But our spring of labour must be in the Lord, not in effects. He has to say, “Then have I laboured in vain and spent my strength for nought and, in vain: yet is my judgment with the Lord and my work with my God.” We are often encouraged as He never was, but we must depend on Him for energy to work. Perhaps I am wrong to say “never,” for the woman at the well of Samaria evidently was sent to His soul, when driven by jealousy out of Judea, and one anxious soul shewed Him the fields white for harvest, and gave Him meat to eat man knew not of. But we must be in the secret of the Lord to have this kind of-encouragement. Perfect grace in Him gave Him to see the bearing and import of the working of grace in others and the immensity of such facts; so in the poor woman (Mary) who anointed His feet in Bethany. But then He is a source of strength and blessing and encouragement to us which, though perfect in communion with His Father, He had not, because He enters into all our difficulties and infirmities, and loneliness —has a word in season to speak to him that is weary, as having passed through the sorrows.
I have known much what it is to have little retirement in the villages of France and Switzerland. But where there is the earnest desire of it, and we are in the path of the Lord’s will, He makes opportunities for us, and makes—when there is diligence—our opportunities profitable by His grace. We have in such cases to use diligence to seize moments, but even in going from one place to another, if alone, we find such, and richer sometimes than longer times where there is not the same diligence of heart with God. And then be sure moments of longer duration have a value which otherwise they would not, and are rescued from idle intercourse otherwise. Still it is always of the last importance to take care we have always moments of communion, as nothing can supply their place, and our work flows from God when we have; and there is the seriousness and earnestness of dealing in God’s behalf with souls in their eternal interest.
I think we ought to look for fruits as a sign that God is working with us, but it should not be the spring of labour, but our intercourse with Him so as to have His mind. Peace be with you, dearest brother, and may He give you to be much with Him.
Affectionately yours in the Lord.
* * * * *
To the same.]
Dearest Brother,—I should not have suggested such a plan to you as you speak of. I feel in such cases that gift and all else must find their own level, and my hearty desire would be, I need not say, to have labourers in the Lord’s vineyard. It must depend on your own consciousness of the Lord’s calling. But if you feel that there is not a call for work which absorbs your time, I believe that you would have more energy for work if you were occupied in some way. But if you have energy, and are drawn out into the work so as to fill up all your time, I should be very sorry to see you spend it in other labour. There is another consideration; occupation would, I suppose, tie you to one place, and if your gift is evangelising, this might be a hindrance, if visiting it would not at all. I think your selling about something would be a very good testimony, and would not hinder your giving it up if you felt your heart led out to work. Do not let momentary discouragement form your judgment. I sought at first to do something myself as a testimony that it was an honourable path, but was so called hither and thither for work that I never really entered on it. I believe that the work of——is forming itself, and hence do not doubt that the movement of active brethren may take a more definite shape. If you find a door open, go on. If you have not, and you find anything to do, do it by all means. I believe it would be a good example. If you can do both—by all means. But if you find your time occupied with work for the Lord, work on. If, in spite of seeking souls, you have time on your hands, it is a very good thing you should employ it. We had brethren in France who worked at some trade, one a watchmaker in the summer and harvest, and evangelised all the winter, when the people were free, and several have done something—one of them, one of the most efficient labourers we have; but it does not hinder his work, for he is very active.
If you have time necessarily unemployed, get some good work for necessary uses, but do not be discouraged because at first souls do not fall into your hands. It is quite right not to be a burden if we can, but at the same time you should think of the work, not of that. It would be a loss to leave Christ’s work merely to live. Christ has ordained that they that preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
It is to my mind wholly a question whether you find in Christ’s work real occupation for your time in evangelising and visiting. If not, then it is all quite right you should fill up the remainder. In that case labour would only, I think, strengthen your hands for the Lord’s work. If you gave up any part of His work for it, it would be a mistake. You have then to see if the energy which sets to work is in exercise. Let Christ’s work be the governing and principal thought.
* * * * *
To the same.]
Dearest Brother,—I was glad to hear you were occupied and found openings. I judge any occupation, such as commercial traveller (which I mention because some one said you thought of it), would engross you, and lead you where divinely-given work might not be. All I should think of, supposing your time was not fully occupied, would be to do something which would fill it up, which you could relinquish when service called. In a wild country this is even easier than in an old one, only it requires a little faith and energy. If you found you were not called in your heart to work, that is a different question. It depends on our love to souls. God draws out our hearts after them when He moves us to serve Him in these things. Then it is a great matter to follow the Lord’s leading where His Spirit is working, and, above all, self-sacrifice and devotedness: this, above all, I feel to be the great matter.
There is another thing that you will have to consider, that is, that true work is not like ordination to an office where a routine is to be gone through, and, if blessing comes, it is all well. There are exercises of soul; there is, even when we have the truest desire to serve, so much in us that has to be exercised to fit us for service. You might say, did not .Paul preach at once? Yes; but he was then set aside for some years till Barnabas went to seek him. Moses was forty years thus set aside. Now I do not say that every one is thus, as to the form of it, set aside; but as to the flesh—making nothing of us—it is true. It may be by, as to men, a little valued exercise as to ministry, so as to be cast on the Lord, and our motives purified; or, where more-exercised gifts are, so that, though we may work with blessing in less conspicuous spheres, notice is elsewhere. This is not a question of gift exactly, but that maturing of the vessel which connects gift with the state of soul, so as to give on the one hand subjection, earnestness, and seriousness; and enables the labourer to connect truth with the souls of his hearers. Now when the Lord calls us and exercises us thus, we may often be occupied partially with other occupations, as not having our time filled. I should not feel happy at the thought of seeking one’s mere livelihood, if called to serve the Lord, through anything like a want of faith. It mars faith for the work itself, just as mere worldly occupation or attention to men, however amiable. We are not our own; “occupy till I come” is the word. All I look for in the last case I have put is where work does not call. It is healthful not to charge the church. It is not healthful to neglect work where it does call, not healthful even to our own souls. Our heavenly Father knows we have need of all these things. We have also to consider the difference of gift. All is not public speaking; visits, reading meetings are as important in their own way as public discourses, sometimes work when other work cannot be done…
My earnest hope would be that the Lord has called you to work. But suppose (I do not in the least judge so, or the contrary) the Lord had given you more of a pastor’s and teacher’s work than an evangelist’s, this naturally requires more maturity even for the teaching, still more for pastorship. During the process we might, in a measure, spare the burden to the church: if it dragged us out of the exercise of the gift or the service which matured for us, it would be a great pity. In a certain sense I believe I was put into official ministry immaturely; but I know God makes all things work together for good to those who love Him. You are perhaps as happily placed for growing up into ministry as may be. If anything which leaves you free you could do, as I said in my last, it would be so far a testimony. Elders (Acts 20.), though counted worthy of double honour, are exhorted to labour for their temporal wants. A moving evangelist would find it very hard unless he had a Paul’s energy. If brethren are scattered, not having a home is an advantage: one does not waste just half one’s strength in returning to it. It greatly facilitates the work. I have largely worked in this way. If the work is local, save occasional visits to a distance, where one may stay a night, it is better to have one, a gîte of some sort.
I trust the blessing continues at Hamilton, but there are first last, and last first. May He keep us doing “this one thing” and walking with Him.
Affectionately yours, dear brother.
* * * * *
To the same.]
Dear Brother,—I shall be very glad to hear how you get on. I feel how little power I have myself of acting so that there is power of motive on the conscience. I have felt latterly that I need more faith in the willingness of Christ to bless. I so fear dragging men beyond their faith that I do not encourage them enough in the path of faith. I think I used to do it more. But I have the greatest dread of any one’s acting beyond his faith; but then one ought to be able to present Christ so that He should be a sufficient motive, but for that one must have faith to bring Him in oneself. The Lord grant us do so more; I am sure devotedness in oneself is needed for this—not merely not to have another object, that I think I could say—but to have this in earnestness and energy. The Lord be with you.
Affectionately yours, dear brother.
Dearest Brother,—I am wholly ignorant of your London affairs to which —— alludes … of course, all interests me about the brethren, but I leave even the reaching of news to the Lord, as all else; for it is a part of our moral existence, as all else. I am aware of the attacks, but that, though unhappy, in itself is a sign of good, and of the power of truth, and the means of good. I have no doubt truth is spreading and penetrating as it never did. Of course, it tries timid people here and there… As to the work here, I have not much news to add. I came here with snow to go up north to the bush. We had forty-seven degrees of frost two days before at Toronto; the thaw has come on and stopped me, as sleighing is generally impracticable. There was in a day or two a difference of fifty-five degrees, fifteen degrees below zero to eight degrees above freezing-point. I hardly know now when I shall get up north till this thaw goes, but my visit to Guelph is all right, at any rate… I was glad to leave the work at Toronto and Hamilton for a time, for it to settle, and take its bearings a little without me, as it is of growing interest. I have had meetings at houses where no one would have dreamed of it. The work is not so much adding, though souls have been added to the. gatherings, as the real penetrating of truth into souls around. This work is all, I may say, new, both as to clearness as to the gospel, the question of the church, and the Lord’s coming. At —— the Kirk minister has preached it, I fear too soon, but a number of souls are learning and feeding on the truth, and I trust the brethren established and taught in it themselves.
I know not how far I shall reach in the States, but more than one door is open. But what a field, and of a character so difficult! Even in this country, looseness and worldliness reigns, with attachment to the importance of a course one had embraced—bigotry to party and indifference to the truth—but some souls sighing after more reality… .
My heart has not left either the continent of Europe or England, but for the moment my work is yet here. It exercises patience, perhaps, because the truth is penetrating into layers of yet unreached materials, but it seems to me a real work is going on in souls.
Peace be with you.
Guelph, January, 1863.
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Dearest——,—I feel the seriousness of the crisis or position in which the testimony of the saints of God is placed by the controversy which is going on. It has, in a certain sense, come to me by surprise. And I am perhaps, in a certain sense, better able to feel it by being at a distance. I am in no hurry, but I feel it very sorrowful on one side, and very encouraging— uncommonly so—on the other. When the tract came out on the “Righteousness of God,” I had not the remotest idea of the tumult that would ensue, nor, I may add, of the low state in which the evangelical body, as such, stood. God (I am well and thankfully assured) will never leave His own, but the professing body seems to me to be breaking up into Puseyites —who (as the Pope said to some of them lately—not ill) are as the church bells who call the people into it, but are always outside it themselves—on the one hand, and rationalists on the other; while the evangelicals are incapable of holding with power any truth to maintain what exists. This brings out any true testimony, if made public, into a very special place. They are making that that is amongst us public by their attacks. I believe it to be the one true scriptural ground of the church of God, and with that, the true, full gospel of grace. That I have felt, as all well know, for years. But this breaking up of what Establishment or Dissent held, the public place of profession, even if a lower ground, brings out the truth into that place, not as assuming it, but as the necessary consequence of the attacks against it.
But I do not think that we have anything to do but to pursue peaceably onward the testimony we have, seeking, above all, its realisation in true devotedness, and practical separation from the world. No part of the testimony of God is more important than this, a greater witness that we are not of it, that we follow Christ. I dread the saints getting tired of unworldliness. It was the first decay of Christianity; it is always our danger. It is often what gives falsehood its power over the conscience of the world. They see motives that master what masters them. This may be imitated to propagate error, but truth and goodness should have it naturally of the Lord. I feel very anxious for this as to brethren. I do not doubt that full truth and grace is the weapon of God, but the vessel that carries should be the devoted effect of the truth and grace it speaks of—this, and that the Word should be held fast in all its integrity. Multitudes I doubt not, and indeed so have heard, who would reject the stupid inanities of the “Essays and Reviews,” or of Colenso, yet have their natural unbelief set free, and the word of God has lost its absolute authority. This works two ways: one sets reasons (this is human will) above all—man may believe this or that, but he does not believe God; or, in the weariness of the want of some authority, some rest, men turn to the authority of the church, and are degraded from a reliance on a holy God to reliance on corrupt man. The acknowledgment of the holy scriptures is of the essence of the acknowledgment of God now, and our security; though the revelation of a personal God whom we can trust, known through Jesus, is eternal life and blessing.
I am daily more struck with the connection of the great principles on which my mind was exercised by and with God, when I found salvation and peace, and the questions agitated and agitating the world at the present day: the absolute, divine authority and certainty of the Word, as a divine link between us and God, if everything (church and world) went; personal assurance of salvation in a new condition by being in Christ; the church as His body; Christ coming to receive us to Himself; and collaterally with that, the setting up of a new earthly dispensation, from Isaiah 32:(more particularly the end); all this was when laid aside at E. P.’s in 1827; the house character of the assembly on earth (not the fact of the presence of the Spirit) was subsequently. It was a vague fact which received form in my mind long after, that there must be a wholly new order of things, if God was to have His way, and the craving of the heart after it I had felt long before; but the church and redemption I did not know till the time I have spoken of; but eight years before, universal sorrow and sin pressed upon my spirit. I did not think to say so much of myself; but it is all well. The truth remains the truth, and it is on that we have to go; but the Lord’s dealings with the soul, connected with the use of truth, have to be noted.
I have nothing very new to communicate as to the work. I have been partly occupied here with the death of two beloved ones, brought in since I was here—one converted: the sweetest deaths, and most perfect distinctness of grace and peace you could see, a witness and edification to all. I was kept by the weather from starting for the bush, as we had no means of sleighing: meanwhile these beloved ones went, one aged, the other leaving four little children. Sunday week another soul found peace, and is now in communion; but this has kept me from the more direct sphere of my work. I have worked, of course, all the same. I am sure with patience, and looking only to the Lord, there must be blessing…
We have had 52 degrees below freezing-point, fine healthy weather, but it stopped my preaching at a place I was much interested in when there before—Acton—where I found many hungry souls. It is astonishing how many souls a simple full gospel, filled with Christ and His love, finds famishing. D.V., Monday we start for the bush, 40 miles off, where there are a good many brethren, godly, intelligent men; some six or seven years ago a place of bears and wolves… They kept 400 of my answers to Colenso for this country; they appeared Wednesday and all were gone Saturday, and no more to be had, though inquired for.
Guelph, February 10th, 1863.
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Beloved Brother,— … After all we go on, though in different circumstances, pretty much as you all do. Man and the world are the same, though the forms may vary. The indifference to truth is more common here; the denominations do not seem to trouble their heads about it—more pushing to settle oneself; hence the testimony of brethren, if there be devotedness, and the truth is held fast, is more decided. The case is still stronger in the United States. I have no doubt if God raised up a testimony and it were content to be nothing, it would be most weighty there. As it is, though there be no Establishment, and all sects are alike, they are dreaded as in the old country: every error is allowed, though brethren under a ban. But this is all well. Yet for testimony I have found the door open in some way everywhere… But one has to trust God for His own time of doing the work. I should like to see people decide faster; still His own work goes on. I have a tract on hand here on Romans 7:and viii., which one is ever obliged to dwell on, and I am going to publish again “Why do you Groan?” corrected. So I work for the old country too…
Ever, beloved brother,
Minto, February, 1863.
* * * * *
To the same.]
Beloved Brother,—I got your letter on my return here from the bush. We did not linger longer there, though there is work open, but which would have required residence… In sum, the work is going on, and I believe, healthfully. I, who have but a short time probably here, would naturally desire to see it go faster, but I am sure the Lord is right, and it is only saying I have little power. Still there is general blessing. But I cannot help desiring a blessing which may reach America too, and devotedness with the opening of truth. I seek only the Philadelphia state, but that I do seek. I am most thankful for the prayers of the brethren. I do not doubt they have been a blessing to me in my weakness…
I had a most unsatisfactory communication with——. It is not merely a rejection of the word “wrath,” as a crotchet; he came out when pressed, with a denial of all real propitiation. He had withdrawn certain expressions of evil doctrine which use scripture phrases, but said, when he was asked what he meant by propitiation, that it was God shewing His favour to us through Christ. The point was gone through carefully and in every shape, and he consistently and deliberately denied all real propitiation. I judge he is fundamentally and utterly unsound on the foundation of our hopes… He has amazing confidence in himself,, and I do not believe he has ever been before God in his conscience as a sinner…
I have got to Toronto—hard frost again; here it was 64 degrees of frost when we had 62 degrees. I must close.
Ever, beloved brother,
Guelph and [finished at] Toronto.
* * * * *
Dearest——,— … In general the work is going on happily, and people’s hearts are in it. Souls are converted, brought to peace, added to the saints quietly, and if we would desire more spiritual power, still we cannot but thankfully see the Spirit of God working… Here, the world even says, Christianity is put in quite a new way. It is simply that salvation is preached.
The case you mention20 has occurred before… It is a very trying and sorrowful case, and calls for a lowly and retired walk in the person concerned. The refusal of divorce is the only additional circumstance. Did the woman refuse it, or how came it to be refused? It must be recent, as the court is. This may modify the case, because it may have been a recognition of the bond by her conscience. But this apart, I judge the church must take her as she is when converted. I suppose a heathen, who had been married and separated, and had ever such a long history, and then was married, converted and baptized—I should certainly take him as I found him. I look upon the man’s act as a breach of the tie before God, namely —the tie as broken (Matt. 19:9); and that the church must take the person as it finds them when converted.
The only other question connected with it is, the state of her own conscience when she married the last time. Did she consider herself free, or as then committing a sin? This may affect the present state of her conscience. But I should take her, as before the church, as married to her present husband. But she should walk softly.
I think the truth has come out more clearly here in Canada, in contrast with mixed law and world and gospel, than anywhere.
Toronto, February 26th, 1863.
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Dearest ——,—I have not seen the latest attacks… It is a solemn time, because it seems to me the throes of the Establishment, but in opposition to truth. But it only leads me to go on calmly with the truth; the rest the Lord provides for. I have no thought of entering into any dispute with adversaries and those who attack. I think you will find, and it has been my comfort when I have recurred to them, that in all my controversies, French and English, some great fundamental or practical truth has been in question. On this question of law and righteousness, it seems to me that as to any present service I have written enough in a controversial shape, because the truth is fully out. For disputation I have no taste. The statements of the Record as to my doctrine are false, I fear deliberately so. They have been brought here largely by the clergy as a pamphlet. I have printed a fly-leaf of two pages with two columns, giving their statements and mine, but have pursued no further argument. The circulating the attacks here comes from their uneasiness and from the progress of the truth. I know not that I could very clearly bring before you or brethren the state of things here.
There are conversions by no means unfrequeutly, and souls brought to peace. We have had from among them, as from other Christians seeing clear, pretty constant additions to the gathering. But truth, proving Christians, as in our place, is working largely and sometimes deeply in many minds. First it is the enjoyment of the blessed truth of our relationship to Christ and the Father, and Christ’s coming, and then comes the discovery by the persons and their friends that this means breaking with the world—by ministers, that it means leaving their place or losing their flocks; then it is a land that eats up the inhabitants thereof, or fear to come there if there is a work; then wants of souls that bring them back—sometimes staying away with a bad conscience: in Hamilton particularly, but also in Toronto, this has been going on—quiet, humble, dropping in meanwhile and enjoying. We have been preached against, and it has frightened some and strengthened others, who saw the truth was with us—led others to inquire. There are many in H. deeply exercised, and some here… I can pray for them now, which is a comfort to me. I felt I ought to be able to reckon more on Christ for them. I felt as if the children were come to the birth, and there was not strength to bring forth. I blamed myself for this, lest there should be knowledge without Christ enough for motive. This is what is going on in a great many souls, and some when they found the real blessing thought we did not sufficiently bring forward these truths. But really foundations have to be laid, and we must give meat in due season.
This, though I leave it all to the Lord, exercises me as to staying here sometimes. I of course thought to be back in the fine season: I do still; but when I see the work widening and deepening, it is difficult to fix a moment, and should it link on to the States seriously, it would be yet another ground of prayer. It has even crossed my mind that I might return and come back again if the Lord so willed. I am growing old, but having once crossed, it is not so formidable; and I have nothing to do but to serve Christ. He knows the future and I do not. Of the two Ian better here in health than in England. I have work, and am anxious about it, in both England and France. At present I leave it, even in my mind, in the Lord’s hands— thank God it is surely there, and I am happy to serve while it is called to-day. But I have received the deepest and pro-foundest conviction, that the truth that the brethren have been taught of God is the special testimony of God for these days, and these are serious days—the last days. Our path is simply to seek the good of souls, as much as lies in us to five peaceably with all men, but to hold fast the testimony God has given us, to keep His word and not deny His name. Thon I confess I look earnestly for devotedness in myself and in all.
You need not fear my getting enamoured of these controversial pamphlets. I find such blessedness in scripture in the revelation of God, that though my mind is engaged in the reasoning when writing, or as long as the question is before me, it is all poor and wretched to me when once I have done with it; even the truth that is there has less attraction in controversial shape. But one has to go through a kind of outward life, a life having God for its source, furnished with the truth which takes its form from the circumstances through which we have to pass. As soon as they are over, the mind returns to its own relationship with God. Only we have to take care that all is guided by the word of God in it. This was true of Christ. When tempted in the wilderness all was perfect according to the power of the Spirit, and He returned in that power to Galilee. But His occupation, so to speak, in the conflict, was with other things than His own joys, or even the meat He had to eat, even in service. And so in our poor measure with us—special service and conflict to which we are led by the Spirit, but which is in no way our own joy and delight, or good of souls. Yet we have to do it, and trust Him with our joy who will keep it for that day. Even here it is not a development exactly of what I might be occupied with among saints (I do not speak of our own meetings as saints) in England. The great groundwork principles have to be brought out and developed. I do not deny I am often tried by the incapacity of saints to get on, beyond settling the foundation for themselves—everybody seems at home if you get into Romans 7—I mean everywhere. Still I feel the promulgation of truth is of vital importance for the church. Some may rail, but simple souls find the true ground of standing and liberty. That comforts me; they are hid from the wise and prudent, but while the war is going on, many a simple soul is drinking in the truth… All are fully warned against us, with renewed energy, so that the meetings [which] from two or three had grown up, are gradually less numerous again; but with this, souls ripening and getting decided. I am afraid sometimes I take this too quietly. I expect it. After all, if the Lord opens the door, none can shut it, and I read “an open door and many adversaries.” “Long time therefore abode we, speaking boldly in the Lord.” Meanwhile, souls in earnest clearly ripen faster…
Kindest love to the brethren; may they walk in unity and peace. The Lord keep us simple, peaceful and subject to scripture. If it be a time of breaking up and evil, it is a time of great blessing to those who are simple in heart. There is this difference as to your Corinthians,21 (though I have often felt what you have said, on account of the printing and publishing which all read), the apostle was writing to them in their right place, though walking wrong. To the Jews, whom God was visiting at the close, the Lord when they stumbled only gives them harder things: I admit they were unbelievers, still there is an analogy: crumbling Christendom wants the truth. Peace be with you, and all the beloved brethren: I trust and am assured they pray for us. I find sensible progress in my last visit (weekly) to Hamilton. People are more than ever occupied with the truth.
Toronto, March, 1863.
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* * * I sit down at last to write a line or two to you on my return from the States. I was some 130 miles into New York State, speaking to souls- there, and then passing through Canada to Detroit, Chicago and St. Louis, on the Mississippi, and some 50 or 60 miles beyond, across the country on the skirts of the war—though not feeling it, beyond soldiers being about, an encampment in sight where E. distributed tracts, &c, but a sad state of things. The church is more worldly in America than anywhere you would find it, that is, the professing bodies, the world—professedly such—inordinately wicked; yet I doubt not many Christians, and some really devoted ones. Scripture has little authority; not that it is openly denied, on the contrary, it is respected and owned to be the word of God, and so on. But giving truth, and quoting it to prove and unfold truth will not do; you must reason about it, or the sermon will not do: the ministers more sceptical than the hearers, as in such systems is generally the case. But there are souls who sigh over the state of things and long for something better. My object was to visit the French and Swiss brethren, which, save in one locality, I through mercy effected, and was out in the prairies, living among them as in old times, and glad indeed to see them as they are. And it has renewed bonds with the saints in general, cheered them, and I trust been directly healthful to them. The system of coming to America, taking up land without being able to pay for it (which they gradually fell into, as it is the custom), had brought them spiritually low, pinching as they must to pay, or careless in paying. But they have felt it, and there has been a reaction in conscience, which has had a most healthful effect on them, and there is a lively desire of profiting by the word. Many neighbouring French came, and their meeting-house could not hold the people…
I quite trust the Lord sent me there; I was about 2,000 miles in the last four weeks, besides preaching and walking. But the Lord helped us, and He took care of us in every way. Even when wandering in the forest near the Swiss brethren (they break the prairies where there are any streams, and are of considerable extent), I left E. sitting in the forest, and lit on the son of the Swiss brother with whom I stayed, ploughing at the edge of the forest, two miles and a half from his house. At Chicago I was among Americans, and though I felt the desolation, met some who earnestly desire better things, and I have faith as to that great but (usually speaking) poor country; but I think any true spiritual mindedness and devotedness (not mere outward activity) would be more despised there than anywhere. Those who begin must be content with a day of small things, if God gives such, as I think He will, before the Lord comes… But everywhere a plain, full gospel the most advanced are ignorant of. This is what is wanting everywhere; then devotedness, and unworldliness. I hurried back; for the work is going on in Canada… .
I suppose I shall return this summer, but I am not without the thought, if the Lord will, of coming back next. The Lord raise up labourers in His grace. There is still a great deal to do here; I have happy news from France. But oh! when one thinks of all the wide work there is to do, how all depends on grace—there my heart turns when it seeks to embrace all the work—one is cast on One who can do it, who has loved the church and given Himself for it, and one’s soul gets rest; yet how I long for more concentration of heart. This is the lack I feel; of outward labour I could hardly do much more: but to carry it on within with God, to allow no distracting thoughts to fritter away the mind, where, as it is by grace and takes the form of intercession, c ncentration is power—there it is I feel my shortcoming, y t feel it, alas, so little, or it would be mended, certainly. The blessing of the church and gathering souls into it is what I have at heart, yet how little I can carry it to God. Yet the gracious Lord has shed His light over my path here. What is my thankfulness for being permitted to serve Him, I could not tell to man. How bright the prospect when it is over, no tongue here can tell. The Lord be with you, dear——, and your little ones. You know that the Lord is all, as well as I, yet it is well to call it to mind to one another— all else will pass away. Give my kindest love to the brethren. The Lord be with them. They will remember me in their prayers.
I have written hurriedly the day of my return to Toronto.
Toronto, May 21th, 1863.
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My dear Brother—I was very glad to get your letter, and to know too that the Lord has thus far blessed you and led you on. Your littleness is anything but a reason for the Lord’s not caring for you, or—I may truly say—my own unfeigned interest in your blessing. You may believe that, my heart had not forgotten you. I suppose I shall return, the Lord willing, to England this summer. I shall have much study work to do in London, but if allowed shall be most glad to come and see you. I have to seek, of course, that my steps may be guided of the Lord in the work, for He has His own work and His own way. I am thankful you are free.
The more I go on, the more I approach the glory and rest that remains to us, the more I see how sad the condition of soul of most Christians is. I have just travelled some 2,000 miles, of which 1,800 in the United States. It has brought home to me with fresh present consciousness how sad the state of things is—a certain measure of outward evangelical activity, but minds absorbed by worldly activity, the word of God without power, spirituality almost unknown. Surely there are exceptions, but that is what characterises the state of things. The non-professing world in the States is wicked to a degree; blasphemous language to excess—in the east drunkenness dominant, lawlessness of spirit everywhere, and corruption of manners. Yet I do not doubt there are many saints. But Americans do not deny this: little family life; young married people go and live in hotels for cheapness, and corruption is rife there; and those who have houses go to the hotels to find company and spend the evenings, little at home. Yet it is a religious population, men would say: people join churches for respectability, but christian life is feebleness itself.
I have seen too the universal state, not confined to America, that those who are converted are as if-outside God’s house and circle, and desiring, hoping, praying that it may be well with them, and that they may be found within; but not in adoption within, seeking to live up to their place—the true liberty which is in Christ. I do anything but despise this, I was a good while so myself; but it lowers the whole tone and character of Christianity. The only safe state, so to speak then, is rigid legality and devotedness on that ground—a kind of Thomas à Kempis life. To know that we are risen with Christ, in Him before God, alters all. It sets us free before Him, and free from the power of what was contrary to Him. He is our life, and accepted before God, our path is through the wilderness towards Him. Blessed thought! soon we shall see Him, and be with Him in unhindered adoration of heart for ever.
The Lord be with the dear brethren. Here there has been a good deal of blessing, and the brethren have been cheered and are getting on. A good many have been added, both newly converted and from sects. The Lord is working in others. Ever since I returned last week I was at a new place (Clinton), where I found the word have much power from the Lord on souls. I hope to be allowed to return there.
Peace be with you, and all needed grace.
Ever affectionately yours in the Lord.
May 21th, 1863.
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Dear Mr. Governor,22—You will perhaps recollect one who went up in the train from E. to D., now about a year ago, or not far from it, and be surprised perhaps to receive a letter from him from Canada. But though I have been much occupied —as you may suppose I did not cross the Atlantic for nothing— I have not forgotten our conversation in the train, and I crave to hear how you are getting on. We have had here the Governor of the Jail fully brought to the knowledge of salvation, and to walk with the saints of God, as he still does. (He would still like another place, but awaits the Lord’s leading to find him something.) His dear wife, already a believer, was led to see she ought to be more entirely separate from the world and live more devotedly, and so she did thoroughly, and the Lord has taken her. She expected it, and was longing to go. No cloud came over her peace and joy. She suffered dreadfully and long, but no impatience was shewn; all was bright and all peace. She left four children, charming little ones; we had them in the house where I was, to spare the nurse while she was ill. She saw them, gave them her blessing, and bade farewell, but it raised no lingering look behind. Another dear old man, only six months converted, died just after, rejoicing with all his heart. We buried both not far apart in the deep, deep snow, which indeed kept the earth soft enough to be opened (for sometimes they cannot bury), committing them to Christ till the resurrection.
And now how would it be with you if thus called? Is all peace and right with God? You know yourself that you need it. You know that Christ is the only way to have it. Let me add a few words as to the fulness of it. He appeared once in the end of the world to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. That work is finished. It can never be added to, nor taken away from. Its value does not change. But the Spirit of God works in us to shew us our need of it, makes us see that we are sinners, that we are lost in ourselves, leads us (perhaps by deep and painful convictions) to the sense that there is no good in us, that when even to will is present with us, how to perform that which is good we find not. We find not only that we have sinned, but that there is a law of sin in our members warring against the law of our mind, and bringing us into captivity to the law of sin in our members. But when—really humbled about this and convicted in our own hearts, removing all pretensions of righteousness in ourselves—we turn to Christ, we find that He has died for this, that He has been a sacrifice for sin as for the sins that burdened us—has been made sin for us, has put it away for us by the sacrifice of Himself.
Thus we get peace and liberty of heart before God, because the sin is put away between us and Him; Christ has made a full expiation. Sin does not exist as between God and us. When He looks on the blood of Christ He cannot see sin in the believer, because when Christ shed that blood He put it away. Thus we get liberty and power too, because submitting thus to the righteousness of God, having Christ for our righteousness, we are sealed with the Spirit, which gives us power and shews us Christ, so that we get strength and joy, and are able to glorify Him.
How is it then with you? Are you still a worse prisoner than those you are watching over, or freed by the redemption that is in Christ? Have you been brought to see, that if you refuse life through His name you must perish? Do you seek that you should know Him, or are you joining with His enemies—hail-fellow-well-met with the world that to its judgment and ruin crucified Him? If we have His Spirit we know that we are in Him, and all is peace and joy too, because we know the Son of God and abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost. I shall be glad to hear from you. May the blessed Lord in His grace direct your eye fixedly on Christ.
Ever truly yours in Christ.
I am here for the Lord’s work, and have found a great deal to interest me. The Lord willing, I shall be back some time in summer.
Toronto, May, 1863.
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Dearest Brother,—I rejoiced to hear through Mrs.—— that God had encouraged you still… Often patience finds its issue in blessing. If a door is open, many adversaries are a reason for continuing long in a place…
As to the “three days and three nights;” it is the regular way of Jewish computation. Even in years, if a king began to reign, at the end of the year, the whole year was counted to him; so if one had been a part of the same, to him too, so that this has to be taken into account in chronology. So the same period is called six days after and eight days, according to the method of computing; rising on the first day morning it was the third day, beginning at six in the evening—the whole of Saturday, and from the afternoon of Friday. It is evident that the computation is a regular one, and no mistake, for it is given with open eyes as the fulfilment of what had been said: they had no idea it was not a fulfilment… Peace be with you, and blessing.
Ever, dear brother,
Affectionately yours in the Lord.
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Dearest Brother,—It seems to me unreasonable that gatherings should be called upon to give out names, with their own responsibility engaged thereby, and not have an opportunity of objecting or delaying. The Saturday meeting had for its object that those interested in the various gatherings should have an opportunity of fellowship and consultation, so as to effect concurrent action. That they bound anything is an utterly false accusation; and the way the enemy has sought to assail this meeting, through unprincipled attacks or personal feeling, is a proof to me that it is of God. The reading out the names even in the gatherings concludes nothing, for the very object is, that if there be objection it may be mentioned… But it was long ago felt that it was desirable that a name should not be publicly given out until all practical inquiry was made, as it was very disagreeable to have a name publicly mentioned, and demur made thereto on moral grounds, when it could be avoided. Hence the previous inquiry and consultation. Till they are announced to be received, nothing is officially done, but the previous inquiry is the ground on which that takes place.
Now in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, the testimony of the local gatherings must be relied on, and that is to be desired; but it would not be, if the others were precluded from saying anything where they may possibly have something. And surely, if I am to give out people’s names, I must have liberty to make a difficulty if I have one; and the case has arisen, and the previous inquiry just what gives efficiency to this process. If brethren who care for the saints were present from all the gatherings, mutual consultation and godly care would take place; and, while they could not, and are not meant to decide anything, they could bring the names, or anything else, before all the gatherings, with adequate previous inquiry, so that things should not be done rashly. Confidence would be produced in common action.
The notion of —— I totally repudiate. London is not as large as Galatia. It is utterly false, and there was no agglomerated population, where a person could walk on a Sunday morning to another part of the town, perhaps when under questions of discipline, where he resided… But I go on the facts; the analogy is wholly and practically false. The difficulties are practically great in London, but with cordial co-operation they disappear; and I believe in the power of the Spirit of God to overcome the difficulties which arise from the immense size of the town, and produce common action. If every one will go his own way it cannot be; but you have independent churches and members of them. In Galatia a man was of a local church, and if he went to another place took a letter of commendation. Could I take one, say from the P., every Sunday morning I went down to P. or K. ? We are necessarily one body in London, and with grace can so walk.
I mourn these efforts to dislocate the united action hitherto carried out, but as yet will hope that we may not have the testimony that we have not enough of the power of God’s Spirit to overcome the practical difficulties, but are obliged to confess that we give up the testimony to the unity of God’s church in London. ——’s practical independency, or Congregationalism, I repudiate with every energy I am capable of. What I earnestly desire is, the cordial co-operation of brethren to maintain common order in one body according to the scriptures and the unity of the Spirit of God; and I earnestly pray that the beloved brethren in London may be kept in grace seeking it, in the faithful desire of union, and service in lowliness of heart, and I am sure of the faithfulness of God to help them, and carry it out in grace for them. May the Lord bless and keep them. I have laboured with them, and suffered with them, and trust the Lord that He will bless them in the unity of the Spirit of God. May they remember that there is one Spirit and one body.
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Beloved Brother,—I was glad to hear from you; you have had so far the good part, the afflictions of the gospel this time, though a sorrowful kind of them. We do well to note God’s ways, how far our path is the path of faith, so as to meet His power—the path of His will. As to——, I do not much attempt beyond what God leads me into, though I have found the energy of faith always rewarded. The Lord, our gracious Lord, has His own time for——, as elsewhere. ——’s case is sorrowful, but I note that the Lord never allows evil to remain hidden in connection with brethren. Better to have none, but else better it should come out.
I could not refuse the testimony of the world as to the sin of the saints. Supposing a Christian had been drinking only with worldly people, the likeliest case, and all, with no appearance of malice, said he was, could I reject their testimony? I should not certainly go hunting up for testimony against a brother from worldlings, but I should not reject an honest testimony to facts rendered by them. Most sins would be committed with worldly people, and probably with them only; and the dishonour to the Lord is before them. I never would hunt up evil; but covering it up where the question has arisen, and probably some know it, cannot [but] leave distress—cannot be blessed. The Lord guide the brethren there, and give wisdom.
I have been at ——. There are elements of good and the moving of the waters, but in which we have to wait on the Lord. But we should look for more power. In all our journey we want to be more wholly Christ’s, enlisted by Him and our hearts in it with Him. But oh! we are poor in inward springs; we get on, but our life does not pass enough between our souls and Him. It is not that I am not happy and confiding; I trust Him with my whole heart, but I want something more decided. It is a great point to be where He would have us. There is never free power else. Yet the harvest is plenty and the labourers are few.
I have written a new paper on the Righteousness of God, more an exposé of the whole scripture view of it. I feel it an immensely responsible thing publishing it. Yet I feel it must be faith with God doing it or not at all, and that I must be individually responsible for it. I feel more than ever that it sets one on a basis apart from current evangelicalism. I have no doubt of the truths in it; we have held them probably all before us, but it puts it out as a whole, and though not controversial, does denounce the opposite doctrine as false. I have been greatly interrupted in writing it, and I fear there is repetition, but that is a small thing. One owes it to Christ not to put a false statement as to divine righteousness. Things strike me sometimes—save the kind of guarding comment of James upon itj no scriptural writer [save Paul] ever speaks of justification at all. Is not that remarkable? We have many truths connected with it, but the thing itself never treated or spoken of. The word of God is very large, and I find eternal truths very weighty. May our eye be single and our spirits subject to God. Give my true love in Christ to all our brethren in——. I hope to see them, but I follow the work as well as I know how.
Ever, dear brother,
Affectionately yours in the Lord.
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My dear Brother,—We ought not to confound the last Adam and last Man (1 Cor. 15.), though, from never having got it straight in my memory, perhaps more, I am always doing so, the thought being vague.23 Last and second, moreover, are both important. He was second as contrasted with the first, last as no other will come after Him as a head of race. Adam is the Hebrew for man, but then looked at as a race, and personally the head of a race. Man is generic in the sense of character, what he was. But I get both, brought together in verse 45. “The first man, Adam”—and here Adam becomes a name, but intimating still, I believe, the representant of a race, though what that man was is in question, and that was a living soul; “the last Adam” (last man would not do, it would be the last born into the world), hence I have simply the last Adam; there is no other race of men after this. I have found both terms needed for the Continent, when they would confound Him with the first, and say, too, He summed up the perfection of His day, but we shall have a pure, perfect representation of the race yet. In verse 47 I have it characteristically—the first man was earthy, the second heavenly—because here it is characteristically in contrast with the first. So that “Adam” is the head of the race: “man” first and second, the two characters of man.
Next, was He the second Adam here on earth? Personally no doubt He was, but not properly. As the first Adam was not actually head of a race before his fall, and hence, not in this special sense first man Adam, though personally he clearly was so—though not as head of a race; so Christ was not the head of a race till He had accomplished the work of redemption and began a new position for us as risen. But personally He had life in Himself, and could quicken, and did; but He had not taken the place of second Adam to be the head of a race till He was risen. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone.” And it is the risen Man that will have all men subject to Him in the millennium—nay, He is glorified (Eph. 1): He died too, rose and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Personally He had a title, for all things were created by Him and for Him. But consistently with God’s character and His glory, He could only take it consequent on redemption. He is thus as man made Lord and Christ. As Son of God He quickens whom He will, but this is not head of a race as last Adam. There He is man, according to God’s counsels, in a new position. Hence the “sure mercies of David” are based on and cited as a proof of His resurrection. The Lord will be for ever the man, head of all others, in glory; only that second and last refer to time circumstances. Last Adam is as none coming after Him, not as closing the Adamic race, unless, indeed, that is what you mean. But the Adamic race is not closed actually save for faith. God since the cross holds it for lost and condemned, while dealing in infinite grace with it as such. Faith sees it is all over with it, since it has rejected Christ; its moral history is closed. The ends of the world have come upon us, and the judgment of the world (morally, not its execution, of course) took place in the cross.
As to Adamic, it is a mere human word, and if understood it is all that is needed. Our first business is to get at what God means in scripture in His own account of it, and then at our own language, which is often right in our meaning, but partially so, and can be taken otherwise. Thus man’s moral history is closed in Christ, but not his actual till judgment. Just as we are dead (Col. 3), but not actually so. Scripture is always right, we partially and imperfectly.
Your affectionate brother in Christ.
Often, too, when we get hold of a truth we are engrossed by the new and important side of it, and for exact truth have to modify what we say in expressing what we have got hold of.
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18 “Collected Writings,” vol. vii., p. 459
19 Ibid, vol. x. p. 49.
20 Namely, “the position of a woman whose husband left her and his child, and went and married another; she, some while after, unconverted, marries a man who takes her and her child and cares thoroughly for them. She becomes converted, and wishes to break bread. Is she to be dealt with as an adulteress now the case is known? Or, the husband having broken the tie and set her free by marrying another woman, can her present position of wife to another be recognised by the church of God? Her present walk is of good report before the world; and when her husband tried to get a divorce, it was refused him by reason of his misconduct towards her.”
21 It had been suggested that the age is Corinthian, and unprepared for such truths as put out in “Brethren and their Reviewers,” and in a tract on “The Righteousness of God”—“I would say such precious matters are rather for the ‘spiritual’ than for the Corinthians, as was Paul’s ‘hidden wisdom.’”
22 Governor of a jail. “I was speaking to him about his soul, and he asked me to write to him.”
“Is it right to use ‘Adamic,’ in contrast to Christ?
Is it correct to look at the Lord Jesus as the ‘last Adam’ in the sense of His closing the Adamic race?
Do the second Adam and the last Adam convey the same thought?
And, is it correct to say that the Lord Jesus was not the second Adam when He was Man here on earth, and only became the second Adam in resurrection?”