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PREFACE

The letters of our beloved departed brother, Charles Andrew Coates, were in his lifetime a source of comfort, help and instruction to many, and it has been thought that the publication of a selected number would be for general edification. Our brother's active service was for many years much restricted through bodily weakness, and this contributed, under the Lord's hand, to the development of those choice spiritual feelings which are so evident in his correspondence. His mind was remarkably formed by the teaching of the Holy Scriptures, and all that he wrote was the result of prayerful consideration. Hence the combination of unswerving faithfulness to the Lord with true humility and gracious sympathy in the spiritual experiences of others. Above all else, the reader cannot fail to remark in these pages our beloved brother's deep appreciation of the Person of Christ, and his wholehearted devotedness to His interests on earth, centring in "His body, which is the assembly". No matter affecting the Lord or His saints was regarded as too trivial for his interest and prayers, and the smallest service done for His Name and glory found recognition and appreciation.

We may well desire that these features may be more developed with us all, and that the One from whom they can alone be derived may have a greater place in our hearts.

It was the custom of our beloved brother from an early date to preserve copies of his more important letters and these form the foundation of the present volume. In addition many letters have been made available by the recipients and are included. Thanks are due to all who have contributed thus, and in other ways, to this service.

The Scripture quotations are in general from the translation by J. N. Darby, which our brother habitually used.

The letters have been printed in chronological order, except where the dates are not known; the undated letters, including some previously published in booklet form, are grouped at the end of the volume. Indexes have been added as to the general subject matter of the letters, and the scriptures to which special reference is made therein.

It may be of interest to mention that the writer of these letters was born at Bradford on the 7th December, 1862, and departed to be "with Christ" at Teignmouth on the 7th October, 1945.
W.M.B.
1878.

Henceforth my lips and pen
Shall seek to spread His fame;
My hands and feet shall swiftly move
To glorify His Name.

I seek no earthly place;
My joy is all in Him;
My thirsty soul shall drink no more
From fountains stained with sin.

But in the Lord Himself,
The Lord who died for me,
Despised on earth, enthroned in heaven,
My springs of life shall be.

And when He takes me home
To gaze upon His face,
More loud, more sweet my soul shall sing
The riches of His grace.

(From lines written on his conversion at the age of 16.)

LETTERS OF C. A. COATES

... As to Luke 9:26, it is a word for the conscience and is meant to have a solemn force for all who hear it -- whether saved or unsaved. Nothing is more evil than the practice, which is very prevalent, of turning aside the point of such passages by supposing that they refer only to unsaved ones. Some were quite surprised when I said at -- the other day that "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?" had a solemn and searching application to each one of us, for we all need to "give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip". It is a very evil thing to set one scripture against another, and to use one to weaken the force of another. Each scripture is needed, and while we must be careful that the scriptures which touch our responsibilities do not weaken our sense of grace, we must not allow the thought that because of grace there is no such thing as responsibility.

April 24th, 1894.


MY DEAR SISTER IN CHRIST, -- I have just returned from a few days in the north of Lancashire, and found your letter. I am sorry -- very sorry -- to hear of the many trials through which you have had to pass, but I count it a privilege to be able to pray for you. The present time is a time of suffering for all Christians. Some appear to have to pass through more painful experiences than others, but all have to suffer. And is it not sweet to know that we suffer with Christ, Romans 8:17. We are taken into partnership with Christ both in His sufferings and His glory. He suffered, and was the Man of sorrows when in this world -- so full of sin and its effects. So long as we are here we must suffer too, but how sweetly does the apostle say, "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us". Then again Peter says, "Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ happy are ye, for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you", 1 Peter 4:13, 14. The same apostle

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also tells us that "when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God", 1 Peter 2:20. So that we have a certain joy and a peculiar and blessed sense of the Lord's love and approval when we are suffering for His Name's sake which we do not have at other times.

As to your question about Mary anointing the Lord in Mark 14, I think she thought Him worthy of her all, and she had an instinctive sense that He was going out of the world, and she therefore took the opportunity of expressing how she counted Him worthy of everything. The ointment was costly -- she had done what she could -- she had given her all to Him. The disciples murmured at her, but the Lord approved and appreciated her devotion. They were thinking of the poor -- she was thinking only of Him. What a pattern for us! It should teach us to think less of the opinions of others, and more of the blessed Lord Himself, that we may be also found doing the very things that will give His heart pleasure.

Take courage, dear sister, and trust in the Lord at all times! Make Him your refuge and strength and in all things you shall be more than conqueror through Him who loves you.

Yours affectionately in Christ,

August 15th, 1894.


DEAR --, -- ... We are very sorry to know that you have so much trial and difficulty in your path. I know it is a good deal easier to moralise on such things when outside them, or even when passing through them, than it is to get the present good of the exercise which the Lord intends them to work in our souls. Psalm 42 - Psalm 44 give us a remarkable history of soul-exercise, and the "afterward" comes in Psalm 45. In Psalm 42 and Psalm 43 it is the condition of the soul itself which is the chief cause of exercise, and this is the first and deepest question that God raises with us. In Psalm 44 it is the outward circumstances and oppression that are in view. But the soul itself has got right, though suffering so bitterly under the government of God, and it accepts all from God. Note the seven "Thou's" verses 9 - 19. It can then count upon His "mercy" ("loving-kindness") verse 26; and can say, "For thy sake are we killed all the day long".

Yours affectionately in Christ,

November 13th, 1895.

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The Soul's Awakening.

The great turning point in the history of a soul is when it becomes consciously an object of divine love, Mercy and goodness are often apprehended long before there is any true knowledge of love. The perfectness of redemption may be known with clearness and certainty, and all the common difficulties and exercises of a convicted sinner may find such an answer that the conscience is in peace, and yet the heart may not have found its perfect rest in divine love.

It is well when our hearts learn to put things in this order -- "who loved me, and gave himself for me". Many know Christ as an infinite Benefactor, and are deeply grateful to Him for what He has done, without having realised that all has been the outflow of His measureless and everlasting love. In such cases there is no true response to His heart, and He looks in vain for the answering affection which the knowledge of His love would kindle.

The soul's awakening is a wonderful epoch in its history, and by this I mean not conversion or peace, but the first consciousness of being loved by the Son of God. The effect is indescribable. To know Him in the greatness of His Person in the brightness of the Father's throne -- supreme in heavenly glory -- and to know that there is a living eternal link of inconceivable love between Him and me! Such knowledge as this revolutionises the affections; throws the dim and worthless, though often cherished, idols of the earth into the shade to which they properly belong; and makes heaven supremely attractive because of the One who is there!

But this does not come all at once. It seems to me there are three distinct steps in the appreciation of His love. First, I learn that He loves me so much that He has saved me. I survey all His grace to me as a vile sinner -- I consider His amazing work -- my soul explores the vast range of its blessing and I see it all as the outflow of His personal love. This kindles the heart, and sets it all aglow with responsive affection. "My Beloved is mine" becomes the rapturous utterance of the soul. His love thrills the heart which is filled to overflowing with a sense of what it has got in Him. The thought of having Him is uppermost. He is the soul's treasure, and

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it is the heart's delight to think of Him in His all-varied excellence and beauty.

If this apprehension of His love is maintained in power it speedily leads to what I call the second step of affection. That is, the consciousness that He loves me so much that He has a right to me. All believers will admit this, but it is another thing to reach it in affection. I may acknowledge the right of the Lord Jesus to command me -- he would be a strange Christian who would not -- but this does not bring in any power if I do not reach it in affection. His lordship is not a measure of duty or responsibility alone; it is a claim acquired by love and gladly rendered by love. To use again the language of the song, Jesus is owned as Lord when the heart says: "I am my Beloved's". I belong to Him, He has a right to me; and this not merely because of the righteous claim which redemption has given Him, but because of the love of His heart. He has paid the full price, but the love that paid is greater than the price. He loved me; He would have me for Himself. When this love is known it produces true devotedness, and maintains the heart in pure and holy liberty.

If the foregoing steps were taken a third would be quickly reached -- the consciousness that He loves me so much that He wants my company. "His desire is towards me". Love's delight is found in the company of its object. It is to secure this that He acts as our Priest -- lifting us above the pressure here that we may join Him in the sanctuary. For this He washes our feet to free us from the influences of the present scene around us so that we may have part with Him who has gone to the Father. To this end He is presented to us by the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures and in all true ministry, that our hearts may be drawn away from the place where He is not to the scene of His exaltation and glory. He wants our company. His love delights to share with us the joys of that blessed world -- to make us familiar with the Father's house even now -- in a word, to have us near Himself. May we know in a deeper way, and in fuller measure, the sweetness of personal intimacy with "the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me".

(From a manuscript book.)

June 8th, 1896

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... I am sure that you will be glad to have news of beloved J.B.S. I found him sitting up in his chair near to the window, and with the exception that he is a little thinner than he was and has a white beard there is no change in his appearance. His colour is as fresh as ever, and his eye as bright as in other days. He seemed pleased to see me, and spoke with great animation -- so much so that I felt I must make my visit short lest he should exhaust himself. He asked after many brethren in the West Riding by name, and said: "Tell me now, who is there who is really set to go on with the Lord?" He said it was his great joy when he was awake at nights to think of those in the different meetings who were "going on", and to pray for them. He had just been writing a message to the -- meeting, and what he said to me was very much on the same line, so I send you an extract from the message that you may have it in his own words:

"I have only one suggestion to make to you, and that is, that you not only follow Him in heart adoringly for His wonderful service and interest in you down here, but that each of you study to know something of beholding His glory. Not so much what you say to Him as what He is to you. Not so much your prayers, as the sense of being lost in the blessedness of being near Him outside this world, and this you will find will have a greater effect on you than even His hearing your prayers".

This gives the substance of what was on his mind in speaking to me, and I was most thankful to have such a word from him probably the last I shall ever hear from his lips.

He seemed very glad to hear that his present papers were being so widely read. He seems to have really left everything behind but the interests of Christ, and to be living entirely in that blessed circle to which he has so often directed the thoughts of our hearts. He spoke most affectionately of the brethren, and his last words to me were: "Give my love to all the brethren", and then with much emotion he added "The Lord knows how I love them".

July 8th, 1896

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... It is an immense thing to see how we are "alive to God". I think a great many are trying to live to God, That is, they want to reach it in their responsible life, instead of seeing that it is "in Christ Jesus". I believe that many conceive of living to God as being in their responsible life down here; that is, they think that it is in a life of practical righteousness and holiness that they are to live to God. The "likewise" is forgotten or not understood. Christ has died unto sin, and lives unto God. He lives not only personally free from sin (He was ever this), but He is outside the whole range of sin. He lives unto God in scenes where sin can never come, and where all things are of God. His death is my title to live to God in the same sphere. Such is the grace of God that I may appropriate Christ's death, and count that I have died to sin. It is only thus that I could reach "alive to God in Christ Jesus". Dead to sin is not the terminus -- it is the station en route -- the terminus is "alive to God in Christ Jesus".

I could not live in sin -- that is, in the life of Adam -- and live to God in Christ Jesus at the same time. I must have died to sin by the appropriation of Christ's death, in order to be alive to God in Christ Jesus. "Dead to sin" is not that I abstain from sinning, but I quit the life of Adam altogether by the appropriation of Christ's death, and count myself alive to God in Christ Jesus.

The result of this is that in my responsible life I yield myself to God, and my members as instruments of righteousness to God. It is because I know what it is to be "alive unto God" that I can do this. A good many are reversing the process. They are trying to live to God by putting the responsible life right. What a blessed thing it is to be under grace!

December 21st, 1896.


MY DEAR --, -- ... I trust that the Lord will care for His saints and for His work in --, and that you may have refreshings of heart from Himself. If He is really the Object of our hearts it makes present things look very small -- whether they are dark or bright. He can sustain above the trials of this scene, and He can throw its brightest things into the shade by His own excellency. His love is ever active towards us, and is ever seeking to draw us to Himself. If we know Him it does indeed isolate our hearts from the place of His

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rejection, and make us strangers here. While His love known in our hearts is a little bit of heaven before we get there!

Is it not a blessed thing that God delights to be known by us, and that He has made Himself known in the Son of His love, and by the death of the Lord Jesus? And the Holy Spirit also given to us to shed the love of God abroad in our hearts, so that it is God's will that our hearts should be constantly lighted up with divine love! May we really take it in, and go in for it! It is such a deep joy to the heart of God to find a response to His love.

Give my love to all in the beloved circle at --, and to any others of ours whom you may see. I trust you are all preserved in health, as we are through mercy. Mother is fairly well, but not able to go out in the evenings. She joins me in much love to you all in the Lord.

Yours affectionately in Him,

January 13th, 1897.


MY DEAR Miss --, -- Many thanks for your letter with so full and interesting a report of the good things you have had at Weston (Conference with F. E. Raven). We are deeply thankful to the Lord for His ministry and care at this time in holding His saints and servants so distinctly in His presence, and for giving such a refreshing season of edification. The crumbs that we have got have given us a very happy share in the good things, though not privileged to be there in bodily presence. As you know, -- came down here for four days last week, and he and -- were very good in giving all they could, and with your letters added I think we have had a fair share of the feast, and have been very much refreshed thereby. May the savour of it all remain in every heart with a deepening realisation of the power and blessedness of all that has been thus brought before us! It is appropriation that tests us. How often we stop at admiration! It is as we appropriate that we become spiritually robust.

The Friday evening address must have been a wonderful time -- it seems to have impressed everybody, The illustration of the lamp is excellent and most striking, and yet is the perfection of simplicity. The published notes will be eagerly looked for.

Yours very affectionately,

January 20th, 1897.

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MY DEAR Miss --, -- ... Our time at Ilkley was good for us physically, and I think somewhat profitable also in a spiritual way ... For some weeks we had readings every morning at the Room from 10 to 11:15. We began with Colossians and these were very good readings and, in my judgment, superior to what followed. I think the Lord gave us help as to the Christian circle, and what is connected therewith, and much came out that was edifying as to Christ as Head. When we had got through Colossians it was proposed that we should have one or two readings to note the characteristic differences between Colossians and Ephesians. These were good, but no very special unfolding of the mind of God, at least, so I thought. Then we had two readings on priesthood which were profitable; followed by some on John's gospel in which I thought we got very little of what there was for us. I think perhaps the Lord saw that we had already had as much as we could digest, and it was probably His mind that we should chew the cud rather than feed any more. Then in the evenings we had readings or addresses every evening either at Ilkley, Burley, Otley or Bradford, so that it was quite a day of visitation for that district. As far as I was concerned it was chiefly a time of rest. I preached on the Lord's days, I believe twice at Ilkley, three times at Bradford, once at Otley, and once at Halifax; and gave two or three addresses each at Ilkley, Bradford and Halifax. It was quite a treat to me to hear the ministry of others ...

Yours very affectionately in Him,

September 6th, 1897.


MY DEAR --, -- I am always pleased to hear from you, and I was glad to have your letter the other day.

You have rightly counted on my interest in your welfare, and you may be sure that I shall pray for your guidance and blessing.

When we are simple, and going on in restful confidence of heart in Himself, the Lord orders for us in every detail of the pathway, and if you are happy before the Lord about it, no doubt this attachment is of Himself. I am very glad that Mr. -- is a quiet and devoted Christian, and I trust that he

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may be a distinct spiritual help to you and you to him. If the Lord is pre-eminent in each of your hearts this will be the case, and thus the link of affection may not only be one of earthly happiness, but may contribute to the soul-prosperity of both.

In one sense the formation of a link of this kind is a distinct mercy from the Lord. It gives the heart a kind of stay and anchorage, and thus in many cases is a valuable safeguard.

I trust that you may know continually what it is to walk in the light of divine love and to prove in the pathway here how good is the will of our God!

I have just had a fortnight in Hereford and we are now in Malvern for a week. Both Mother and myself are fairly well. Please give our warm love to all the dear ones at --, and accept much of the same for yourself.

Yours very affectionately in Him,

May 14th, 1897.


DEAR --, -- ... I do not know about being "downright miserable", but I think I do know a little what it is to find that death comes in on things here. We have to drink the bitter waters, nor can we look for anything else if our hearts remember that Christ has died here. If our affections are knit to Him His death changes the whole attitude of our souls as to things here. We see the only green and beauteous One ever found here cut down in death, and as we learn death as that into which He has entered the bitter waters become sweet. That is, we expect to find death on everything here -- our hearts are prepared for it. It is not a disagreeable surprise. Our life is in another sphere, beyond the reach of death's destroying hand. Here we are in measure, like the apostle, delivered unto death and prepared for it as we bear about in the body the dying of Jesus.

I am glad to be found fault with when I say what is wrong for it gives one a chance of getting right; thanks for your criticism as to "theatre-going Christians". I cannot lay my hands on the paper in question, but so far as I remember my remarks were intended to reach the conscience of any who might profess to be Christians, and yet find happiness in what

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is an out and out worldly thing. I should not for my part acknowledge such a person to be a Christian at all, except in the widest sense in contrast to being a Jew, Mohammedan, etc. They are unconverted -- have never turned to God from idols -- are still in the broad road -- and as being friends of the world are designated by James enemies of God. In saying this I do not at all presume to judge of what may lie beneath the surface. I do not doubt that there may be a measure of the Spirit's work -- a very small spark -- deep down in such a soul, but such a one is not on the Lord's side, and is travelling on the road which leads to destruction. If I see a person on the road which leads to hell I give no credence to his assertion that he is sure of heaven. The assurance of such persons is mere carnal security from which there must be a terrible awakening some day. If I know any such persons I should lose no opportunity of pressing upon them the solemn impossibility of such a course having any other end than destruction. I would seek to make them feel that, in my judgment at any rate, they were quite unconverted. I would press on them the absolute necessity of the new birth and of being partakers of the divine nature, and I would try to show them that these things are moral realities, and that one of the children of God would naturally feel that a theatre was hell to him. It is not at all a question of a mere set of ideas about things; it is a question of a complete change of moral constitution. I am perfectly convinced that a person who could enjoy the theatre would not find heaven a very attractive place. Heaven has no hold upon his soul. Why he should wish to be there at all I do not know, except that people have an idea that heaven is a place of happiness. You will think me very severe, I know, in all this, but I think Scripture would bear me out in it.

I do not make any excuse for worldliness anywhere. There are many in fellowship of whose eternal security one stands in the gravest doubt. They have picked up a kind of dogmatic Christianity, and have certain truths in their minds, but one does not see them being morally formed in any way. You can only leave such with God. "The Lord knoweth them that are his ..".

Mother joins me in much love to you in the Lord.

Yours affectionately in Him,

May 24th, 1897.

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MY DEAR --, -- ... I trust that you, and all the dear ones at --, are going on in the light of divine love and rejoicing in the Lord, having no confidence in the flesh, and keeping it where God has put it -- in the place of judgment.

As we are attracted to Christ by His love, we find His death between us and "our old man", and between us and the world. This is the way of real deliverance, and happy freedom from what is evil here in ourselves and in the scene around us.

I hope that ours are preserved in health, and that all of you at -- are well.

I am thankful to say that Mother and myself are fairly well, through the rich mercy of our God.

Our warm united love to each one of you:

Yours affectionately in the Lord,

November 2nd, 1897.


MY DEAR --, -- I was very pleased to have your letter, as I have often thought of you, and wondered how you were getting on. The Lord be praised for all His saving and keeping grace! And may we have increasing confidence in His unbounded love!

His love has taken everything into account, and by His death He has removed from before the eyes of God everything about us that was unsuited to divine light and love, so that we might be near to Him as those whom He has "sanctified" and "perfected for ever" by His one offering, and thus free to know and enjoy the love which is the source of all our blessing.

I trust the Lord may draw you, and keep you, as you seek to walk in His ways, and give you the knowledge of His will and pleasure. It is a very blessed thing to be here only to please Him, and it makes many things simple which might otherwise be perplexing.

I am glad you are desiring to be with those who eat the Lord's supper in remembrance of Him. I trust you will go forward in everything that is according to His mind, without fear, and sustained by the consciousness of His love!

Yours affectionately in Him,

November 5th, 1897.

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MY DEAR --, -- ... I think you ought not to refrain from breaking bread, if your heart desires to be thus in fellowship with His own, and if you know and love the Lord as the One who has saved you and put away your sins. I might say in reference to this, If you tarry till you're better, you will never come at all, The flesh will never be improved. Thank God, it has been condemned and has passed away from before His eye in the death of Christ, so that God is perfectly free to regard us in all the perfection of Christ. It is on this very ground that we break bread. We remember the Lord in that wondrous love in which He died for us. His precious love shines out in the very place where all our sin, and everything that we are as in the flesh, was removed to the glory of God. We break bread in remembrance of Him who in love has cleared us of everything. It is not what we are that we think of, but of Him whose love has reached us through His death. He has made an end in death of all that we were as in the flesh, that we might be in eternal association with Himself as His brethren. He has sanctified us by His death that we might enter into the blessedness of being "all of one" with Him, Hebrews 2:9. And He is not ashamed to call us brethren, not because the flesh is improved but because He has removed it altogether by His death.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

March 14th, 1898.


MY DEAR --, -- ... There is a verse in Psalm 63 which I think very lovely. It is verse 8, "My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me". It is as we follow hard after Him that we get the mighty support of His blessed hand. We are not left to struggle on in weakness. This is very encouraging, is it not?

Mother joins me in much love in the Lord to you all.

Yours affectionately in Him,

October 17th, 1898.


DEAR --, -- ... The great thing is to be prepared for the divine effect of the truth to be made good in us by the Spirit. Much ministry is lost upon us, as to any practical result,

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because we are not prepared to be detached from things here, so as to be simply here for Christ. And the preparation for this is to come personally under the influence of the blessed attractiveness of Christ. When we sit down under His shadow with great delight, everything else becomes so small, and loses its hold upon our hearts ...

The meaning of the expression, "Though he were Son, he learned obedience from the things which he suffered", is that according to His dignity as Son it was His place to command. Obedience was, as it were, a new quality of perfection in Him. Obedience is what is proper to the creature, but the Son has learned it in coming here as Man, and He has learned it, not in circumstances where obedience might be easy, but in a position where obedience involved suffering even unto death. We have to learn obedience because we are originally so disobedient. He had to learn it because it had ever been His to command.

I take the assembly's "crown" to be the knowledge of the love of Christ, Ephesians 3:19. This precious "crown" -- so long lost through the unfaithfulness and worldliness of the church -- is given back in grace to a remnant at the end, and to those who are thus singularly favoured by the Lord, the warning is addressed -- "Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown". 'I have given you jewels of priceless value', says the Lord, 'even that rare and inestimable gift -- the knowledge of My love which surpasseth knowledge -- now beware lest any thief robs you of so precious a treasure!'

With much love from us both in the Lord,

December 6th, 1898.


MY BELOVED --, -- Your letter with some account of the work of the Lord at Mitcheldean gave me much joy, and turned my heart in praise to God. May He lead on in the knowledge of His blessed grace those who have believed, and add to their number! People go to Switzerland and get up at one o'clock in the morning to see the lovely spectacle of sunrise over the mountains. But to see the Sun of infinite grace rising and shedding its bright beams in saving and gladdening

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power upon the dark heart of a sinner is a much more lovely and interesting sight, to my mind. But one longs to see it more often!

With reference to John 3:3 - 5, I think verse 3 gives us the new birth in its absolute sovereignty. It is an entirely new beginning. It is a starting of man on a new moral basis that he may be capable of having appreciation of what is of God that he may see the kingdom of God. It is not only "born again" but entirely afresh as a new point of departure. The word is translated in Luke 1:3 "from the origin" (J.N.D.); "from above" in John 3:31, and in 19: 11; "from the beginning", Acts 26:5; "anew", Galatians 4:9 (J.N.D.).

But "born of water and of Spirit" goes, I think, beyond the previous statement. It is now a question of more than seeing: it is "he cannot enter". I conceive that this is a subsequent thing to the initial action of God by which a man is "born anew". It is that by which he is morally qualified to "enter into the kingdom of God". The point is that death must be applied to all that man is morally, if he is to have any access into an order of things which is of God. This was as true in Old Testament times as now, and ought to have been known by Nicodemus, though the explicit statement of it in terms seemed to startle him. The application of water (death) is the setting aside morally of all that previously existed in man. It is death brought into a man's spirit as to all that he is as a child of Adam. Job knew something of this, and so did David, Isaiah, Daniel, and other Old Testament saints. Death must come in on all that flesh is morally. This is certainly a wonderful preparation for an entirely new order of things. Then "born of Spirit" gives us an added thought which is more on the positive side. "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit". There is the introduction of that which is entirely diverse from flesh. It is that in which there is capability to have to say to God. I apprehend it would be going rather too far to speak of it as nature, but it is the introduction of that which in essence and character is not flesh but spirit. It is that which renders a man capable of receiving light from God; it is a moral basis upon which God can build up a superstructure as it pleases Him -- a superstructure which is formed by the light of the revelation which God vouchsafes at the time of His dealing with any individual soul. The superstructure is not the same now as in Old

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Testament times, nor will it be the same in the Millennium, but the basis is the same for all. To speak of this basis as a new being seems to go a little too far, as it suggests a thought of formation. Formation is always, I believe, effected by the light of God's revelation apprehended by faith. But the new birth gives rather that to which God can address Himself; it is -- to use a figure -- the sensitised plate upon which the light can act. Does this meet your question, or shall I try again?

December 17th, 1898.


... I have been thinking a little lately about the difference between the sympathy and succour of Christ, and the help and support of the Spirit, as illustrated in Peter (Matthew 14) and Stephen (Acts 7).

It seems to me that the priestly grace and succour of Christ are active to the end that we may be with Him. The result of Peter getting succour was that He walked with Christ upon the water. Our blessed Priest would have us sustained above the influences and pressures and weaknesses here that we may be with Him. He supports with a view to our being free to enter into conscious association with Himself in His own circle.

On the other hand, the Spirit is here to support us for Christ in the place where He is not. And this we see fully exemplified in Stephen. In the power of the Spirit he was able to present in testimony in the very place of Christ's rejection the brightest conceivable setting forth of the grace and glory of Him whom heaven had received, and in whom the glory of God is fully declared.

In John 13 we learn something of the priestly grace in which that Blessed One is active with a view to our having "part" with Him -- the full and holy privilege of the assembly. In John 15 we get the other side -- the power of the Spirit to maintain us for Christ in testimony here. John 14 happily links the two, presenting, as it does, the Spirit as the maintaining power of those affections by which alone we can be qualified either for entering into assembly privilege, or for testimony here.

January 6th, 1899.

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... I will try to take your subjects in the order of their importance, and begin with those which have reference to the presence of the Lord in the midst of His saints.

In the first place, the distinction should be clearly recognised between the presence of the Lord with two or three gathered together to His Name as in Matthew 18:20 and His presence in the midst of the assembly as in Hebrews 2, the realisation of which would be in "the holiest". It was the latter to which Mr. Stoney referred -- a privilege as exquisite as it is rare.

Matthew 18:20 states that where two or three are gathered together to the Lord's Name He is in the midst. That is, wherever two or three are together in His interests and, as we might say, in His behalf, He vouchsafes to them the sanction and support of His blessed presence so that "whatsoever it may be that they shall ask, it shall come to them from my Father who is in the heavens". It is His presence in the way of support so that His interests may be maintained and furthered by His own in this world.

It is most lamentable how this precious scripture has been claimed as the exclusive property of certain companies of saints, and often the claim has been loudest where the moral conditions which might have justified it have been most lacking. No spiritual mind would dare to emulate this unholy assumption. To claim the sanction and support of the Lord's presence if we have it not is the worst form of Laodiceanism. It is a poor thing to claim something of which we cannot display the moral evidence. The evidence of the Lord's presence would be that the saints would be preserved from evil and worldly principles, and on the other hand there would be the ministry of the mind of God -- of divine light -- so that the truth and power of Christianity according to God would be increasingly known amongst the saints. I should claim nothing, but I would assert most boldly -- 'Here in Scripture is the pledge of the Lord's presence in the way of most blessed support to those who are gathered in His interests here, and the realisation of this is what I am set for, and I am thankful to know a few others who are also set for it'. It is no business of mine to say that others have not the Lord's presence. I cannot venture upon such ground as this. If they are set for His interests they will have His presence, and the moral effect of it will manifest itself in the maintenance of what is of Himself.

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The great thing is to be continually exercised that we may obtain the support and good of the Lord's presence.

It may be said that many in the sects are as much set for the Lord's interests as are any of those in fellowship. That there is much devotedness and energy in service amongst many of these dear Christians may be most thankfully admitted, but it would be difficult to find amongst them any true and spiritual idea of the church according to the mind of God which is the great interest of Christ at the present moment. The fact is they have not sufficiently companied with Him; they have not spent their three and a half years, so to speak, under His shadow, so as to learn His thoughts and the true nature of His interests. They are eager to do what they believe is for His glory and for the promotion of His cause, but often without having been inside with Him to learn His pleasure. If we speak thus it is with the lowly remembrance that only by God's sovereign grace have any of us been different. It was by that sovereignty that the truth concerning Christ and the church was restored to saints on earth in the early part of this century, and it is by the same sovereignty that any of us have been brought into touch with it, or have had our hearts awakened in any small measure to know its blessedness and greatness.

It may be said that there are many in fellowship with little or no idea of Christ's interests in the sense in which I am speaking. This is true, but it does not alter the fact that they partake of the benefits of a circle of fellowship which has been formed by the truth, and according to the truth -- a fellowship which has resulted from the testimony of the Lord being made known in these last days.

To get, a true idea of the whole matter one must take a general survey of what has happened. It is now over seventy years ago that the Lord was graciously pleased to make known to beloved J.N.D. the true nature of His interests here, and the paper on "The nature and unity of the church of Christ" appeared. Several hearts were at once arrested and attracted by the truth -- doubtless prepared of the Lord to receive that which He was imparting through His honoured servant.

At the same time, or very soon after, it was realised that the breaking of bread was expressive of the true fellowship of the church, and Matthew 18:20 assured several hearts that if they were in the current of the Lord's thoughts and interests they

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might count upon His presence and support even if they ventured to break away from everything which had the countenance of men. Acting on this four brothers broke bread together in Dublin, and a fellowship formed by the truth and according to Christ's interests was actually in being for the first time since the days of the apostles. It does not follow that each of the four brothers entered fully into what was involved in their seemingly simple act, or that each of them really apprehended the interests of Christ, i.e., what the church was in its nature and unity -- but they were in a fellowship formed by the truth, and consistent with the interests of Christ, and each must have benefited to a very great extent because they found themselves for the first time where the Spirit of God was free to act, and where the presence and support of the Lord could be known.

Time passed on; the truth spread in all directions, and was taken up by many -- taken up spiritually by some, mentally by others. The enemy was roused to activity and sought to swamp the whole thing at Plymouth. The Spirit of God lifted up a standard against him -- again using J.N.D. Then Bethesda enunciated a base principle of neutrality when the Person of Christ was in question, and adopted the idea of total independency both of gatherings and of individuals. That is, it was a complete subversion of everything that constituted the present testimony of the Lord. The nature and unity of the church was quite given up. That is, the very thing which essentially constituted Christ's interest here was given up. Thus with those who went away at that time the moral evidence of the Lord's presence is entirely wanting.

Since then there have been three secessions caused outwardly by the influence of certain teachers, but of which the inward cause must have been a certain degree of unwillingness to go on with the testimony, or of lack of appreciation of truth that was really at stake in each case. In result those who have separated have in different ways failed to maintain what is of God. They have not been supported in the testimony, and thus they fail to display the moral evidence of the presence of the Lord. Of course when we come to this it is entirely a matter of spiritual discernment; it is the spiritual who discerns all things; that is, it is the man who is walking in self-judgment and in the light of God who discerns what and where the testimony is. It is not a question of intelligence but of

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spirituality. The simple who are spiritual see clearly what the learned ones miss; and often one has heard simple souls say, 'I cannot explain the truth but I know it is of God'. There is such a thing after all as the "unction from the holy one". If it be alleged that there are meetings with the seceders with more light than some in fellowship, it only proves what I have just said -- that there may be intelligence as to the letter of things without spiritual discernment. And be this as it may, it is a very great thing to be identified with the present testimony of the Lord. Those who clave to Paul to the end were much better off, I apprehend, than those who turned away from him, even though those who turned away might appear to have much more intelligence and ability. I doubt whether Onesiphorus was in the testimony to the same extent as Paul, but he was thoroughly identified with it, and with the one who was its chosen vessel. And the simplest soul may have this great privilege. There is great benefit in being identified with the testimony of the Lord, and those who are so are preserved more than they suspect from the evils and snares and corruptions which run riot in the profession generally. They are where the Spirit can act, and there is much gain in this.

As to realising the presence of the Lord in the "holiest" and as "minister of the sanctuary", it must be borne in mind that this is the very consummation of privilege and divine favour here. The very fact that it has been so much presented to us by the Lord in ministry of late is a very great proof of His presence and favour. Do you suppose that these precious things have even been to any extent before the minds of the seceders? I very much doubt it. And not only have these infinite thoughts and purposes of divine love been brought before the minds of the saints, but it cannot be denied that there has been a very considerable awakening of heart as to them and more exercise and desire of heart after the realisation of them than has been known aforetime. Where else in christendom would you find hearts with any true idea of the divine greatness and attractiveness of these precious and holy thoughts of infinite love?

The honest persons to whom you refer have probably never had any spiritual idea of the holiest at all. Most of them would be likely to say if the truth was put before them that it was transcendental or mystical or too high to be practical! They

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have no idea of a range of things entirely outside the scope of man's mind or body, where the saints may realise entire separation in spirit from the flesh and from everything that is of the present order of things, and find themselves in the undisturbed repose of divine love in association with Christ in new creation blessedness, and in the conscious joy of sonship before the Father's face. Indeed, it was because these things, and others intimately bound up with them, were presented and maintained by J.B.S. and F.E.R. that the seceders withdrew. These things had no charm for their hearts, and their leaders had been for years slighting the ministry of J.B.S., which was pre-eminently a presentation of them.

If many of those in fellowship are not after these things I am very sorry for them, and earnestly desire the awakening of their souls. But so long as they do not resent and oppose the truth one loves to walk with them and to seek their blessing. They are at any rate within the circle where light is found, and they benefit by it more than may be supposed. But the true vital power of the fellowship lies in the testimony of the Lord, and in those who are in heart set for it. These may be few -- they are few -- but it is in them that the whole thing is maintained according to God, though many others may to a great extent get the benefit of it.

If J.B.S. had got into a wrong meeting, as you suggest, he would have felt that he had got into a place where very few were in touch with him. And they would have felt that he was a man with very peculiar ideas and expressions!

One more word as to the effect produced on a meeting by an earnest evangelist. It is precisely the same effect as would be produced in any chapel by the presence and ministry of a similar man. He comes in the freshness and power of divine grace, and infuses for the moment the warmth of his own spirit into the whole company. And if the meeting has been in a low and cold state the effect is often very marked. And this effect will be in proportion to the fervency of his spirit. He acts on people, as J.B.S. once said to a fervent evangelist whose ministry carried all before it in the place where he resided and chiefly ministered -- 'The assembly here comes together not to act, but to be acted on'. It does not follow that any solid result is left behind in such cases, or that the saints have made any real spiritual move. Indeed it sometimes happens that afterwards they are more dead than ever.

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Spurgeon said that there was 'nothing so dead as a church after a revival'. If souls get a real divine move after Christ by the Spirit the effect abides and deepens. It is a positive work in the soul, and not a mere stimulus imparted for the moment by the fervency of another. I have run on longer than I intended, and must reserve your other subjects of inquiry for another letter in a few days. With much love in the Lord to all your circle.

Yours affectionately in Him,

January 12th, 1899.


... Many thanks for your letter. I think it is a most blessed thing, as you say, to be delivered from the influence of man. We make no real headway in divine things until we are thus delivered. No doubt some are peculiarly prone to set value upon merely natural influences, but all this lies outside the Christian circle, and has to be displaced. God has taken us up to introduce us to a circle of things which is entirely of Himself, and where there is no breakdown and no disappointment of any kind. Nothing short of this will satisfy Him, or those who by His grace have come under the mighty attraction of His purpose as set forth in Christ glorified. That you may press on after this with undiverted steadiness of soul and fixed purpose of heart is my heart's desire and prayer.

As to Colossians 3, I am not aware that F.E.R. has said anything different from what beloved J.B.S. used to press so often in latter years -- that for the saints to be risen with Christ is as much the mind of God for them as that they should be justified. Both are set forth in Christ. Justification is that I apprehend by faith that Christ risen is my righteousness. To be "risen with Christ" is that in the apprehension of my soul I pass outside every order of man here to take an entirely new footing with God in association with One who is outside, as I have said, every kind of man here -- whether Jew, Greek, barbarian, etc., etc. And I come to this in the apprehension of my soul "through faith of the operation of God who raised him from the dead". Souls must come to the apprehension of it, but that which they apprehend is the pleasure of God for all His saints -- just as much as justification.

There are many truly converted souls who are not in the light of God as the Justifier. And in like manner there are

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many who have not apprehended the pleasure of God that they should be "risen with Christ". They have not come in view of a scene where "Christ is everything and in all", and it is to this end that saints are "risen with Christ". But that the saints should be "risen with Christ" is as much the mind of God for them as that they should be justified.

There was nothing in the purpose of God between the Red Sea and Jordan. Indeed in God's mind the two coalesce. But forty years came between in the experience of the people.

January 20th, 1899.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- I have received your letter of the 24th inst., and I am very sorry to learn from it that Mr. -- persists in a course which alienates him from the confidence and fellowship of many brethren who would gladly have the fullest fellowship with the gospel. I have no fellowship whatever with a course which can only be justified on the supposition that theatres, placards, and newspapers are essential to the furtherance of God's work in this world.

If these things are not essential, and Mr. -- might admit that they were not, I think it is a very ungracious spirit which thrusts them to the front and forces them upon saints in spite of repeated protests. I regard the self-willed spirit which this betrays as being more serious in itself and in its effects upon the saints than the methods which it pursues. It is a spirit which will sacrifice unity and fellowship rather than abandon its own methods, and which works on lines of expediency rather than spiritual judgment and intelligence.

Mr. -- knows very well what I think on these matters, and if he represents me as having fellowship with his course, all that I can say is that he has much mistaken what I have said to him. It is quite possible that at some time he may have mentioned in writing to me that he was going to preach in a theatre, and I may have said in reply that I hoped God would bless souls through his ministry of the gospel.

I would go a long way in forbearance with the methods of an earnest evangelist, and would be the last to seek to put him in bondage as to the detail of his service. But when it comes to the wholesale adoption of worldly means and methods, and the principle of expediency is exalted above the essential

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principles of Christianity, I feel bound to protest against it.

I think God has been graciously helping us to see that all the true power of Christianity lies in unseen things -- Christ being at the right hand of God, and the Holy Spirit here to act in power and to give effect to God's gracious thoughts of blessing. If this were truly apprehended I am sure it would make us all very independent of human machinery. We should get away from the littleness of man and his methods, and we should have more true power for the service of the Lord.

I trust that the brethren may be gracious and wise, and that nothing like the spirit of party or division may be allowed to come in, but that all the saints may be kept together in growing acquaintance with God's mind; their love abounding yet more and more in full knowledge and all intelligence, that they may judge of and approve the things that are more excellent.

With much love in the Lord,

January 26th, 1899.


... I have read dear Mr. --'s letter with interest. The difference between us is that he only sees two things in Scripture where I see three. He speaks of what is "in God's account", and then of "realisation" by which he means appropriation of heavenly blessing. But there is no hint in his letter of what comes between these two things.

Nearly twenty years ago I learned from J.N.D. that "risen with Christ" is state. Mr. Darby's own words are that Jordan is "entrance into Canaan subjectively; that is, a state suited to it in spirit, not possession of it ... Jordan brings us, as risen with Him, into the state which makes us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light" (Colossians 1:12.) "The Jordan, then, is death and resurrection with Christ, looked at in their spiritual power, not as to their efficacy for the justification of a sinner, but as to the change of position and state in those who have part in them, in order to the realisation of life in connection with the heavenly places, into which Christ has entered". (See Synopsis, Volume 1, p. 340.)

I do not quote J.N.D. as an authority, but only to show that he clearly recognises something that comes between what is

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true of the believer "in God's account" and "realisation". There is such a thing as divine state, but no thought of it appears in Mr. --'s letter.

February 4th, 1899.


MY BELOVED BROTHER, -- As to Romans 5, I think I apprehend your thought, and it seems to me that it does not go far enough to meet the scope and drift of the passage in question.

I think, if you analyse your thoughts as to the latter part of the chapter, it will appear from them as if the apostle was only repeating in a different shape what he had already said in 4: 25, and 5: 1. Are we not set up as righteous before God in the most complete way in verse 1? I am of the opinion that the apostle is passing on to the moral effect of the knowledge of righteousness in the souls of those who receive that knowledge through God's infinite grace. He is thus laying the moral basis for chapters 6, 7 and 8.... I cannot help feeling that the greatness of the chapter has been very much overlooked. I do not see how you could have chapters 6, 7 and 8 unless you have a race not only accounted righteous but characterised by righteousness. Indeed, the very fact that "our old man" is spoken of implies the existence of a new man. I own fully that the scope of the thought does not appear in this epistle -- that the individual side of it is prominent -- but all the elements of the new man are here -- a man created according to God in truthful righteousness and holiness. He can even speak in chapter 8 of Christ being in us.

I do not attach any special importance to the word "constituted" except that I think it invariably sets forth that the person or thing is actually in the position or state spoken of. The one who will be a friend of the world is constituted an enemy of God (James 4:4), and Peter says, "If these things be in you and abound they constitute you neither idle nor unfruitful, etc". These are the only two occurrences of the word, used in a moral sense, in the New Testament, except the twice in Romans 5, and in each the thought conveyed is that of what the person is characteristically.

I am writing all this just to lay myself open to your correction in the points wherein I appear to you to be in the wrong.

February 10th, 1899.

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... What you say about your friend feeling that she was going beyond her faith in standing aloof from Christmas parties, etc., made me think of what Mr. Stoney said at a rather important point of his career. He went to J.N.D. and asked to be allowed to take his place with the very few who were at that time breaking bread. Mr. D. asked him if he had faith for it. He replied, "Faith or no faith, I can't stop where I am".

When a thing is seen to be contrary to God's will, and inconsistent with fidelity to Christ, it will be separated from by any one with spiritual energy or true purpose of heart. Such a one would not stop to consider whether he had faith for it or not; but the very fact that he broke with the unclean thing would show that he was walking in the energy of faith.

When one is really after Christ he is most diligent in the renunciation of things which he judges to be inconsistent, and this not always because he has got rest and satisfaction in Christ, but because he is set for it. Such a one is inquiring the way to Zion with his face thither-ward, and there is not the smallest doubt that the compensation will come in due time. Indeed, any one, who had really come under the attraction of Christ in glory would feel that there was a blessedness in going after Him which threw everything else into the shade, though he might be perfectly conscious that he was far from having reached a region of satisfied desire.

The great point of the Nazarite, which I sought to call attention to in my published address on Numbers 6, is that he was a man commanded by the Lord. The key to the chapter lies in the words -- "unto the Lord". It was not ideas with the Nazarite, but a Person. I remember hearing of a young man who complained, after apparently breaking with a great many things, that he had given up everything for an idea. The truth was he had never come under the attraction of a Person in glory; he was imitating others, and being influenced by others rather than by Christ. And, of course, instead of finding satisfaction he met with nothing but disappointment. It was an attempt to get the Nazarite's compensation by imitating the Nazarite's behaviour, instead of coming under the influence of the Nazarite's Object.

No doubt you will be able to discern whether your friend is really awaking and rising from among the dead so that Christ may shine upon her, or she is merely being influenced to take a certain course of action without having her heart touched

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by the attractiveness of Christ. If the former, she will come out all right and bright presently without a doubt; if the latter, she needs the presentation of Christ to her heart in Holy Spirit power so that His attractiveness may command her, and the "expulsive power" of the knowledge of Him may displace other things.

February, 1899.


... "The day of the east wind" is a trying one to flesh and blood, but the exercise is most salutary if gone through with God. And in His tender mercy He knows when and how to relieve the pressure, and to send a plentiful rain to refresh His inheritance when it is weary. We get discipline in the wilderness but it is not all discipline; there is the unfailing care and ministration of that blessed "loving-kindness" which "endureth for ever". Tell -- to "let endurance have its perfect work" that she "may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing".

February 16th, 1899.


... I have glanced through the book you sent me -- "In His Steps". I can understand a book of this kind being popular in the world, for it is of the world in every sense. What it presents as ideal Christianity is simply Unitarianism -- the improvement and glorification of the world and of man in the flesh by following the example of Jesus. There is no presentation of Jesus as a Saviour, and not a trace of Christianity proper in the book, so far as I have seen. Indeed the popularity of such a book shows how little idea people have of Christianity according to God, and it bears solemn witness to the willingness of men to give up all spiritual blessings and turn Christianity into a great scheme of world improvement. That the enemy is working busily to this end there can be no doubt.

If I knew any young believers who had been taken with such a book I would ask them to consider the things that are exalted therein. Dramatic solo-singing, political agitation, socialism, and temperance are presented as the great levers by which man is to be raised and the world improved. There

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is not a single paragraph in which the gospel of the grace of God is set forth, and nothing to indicate that the author of the book is even conscious of the omission. His only gospel for a world of perishing sinners is to ask them to do what they think Jesus would have done! Such a gospel would be a bitter mockery to every exercised conscience, though it is well leasing to the pride and self-sufficiency of the natural man.

I should think the influence of such a book very pernicious -- indeed I regard these religious novels as being much worse than the thoroughly worldly ones, because they connect all the unhealthy mental excitement which a novel is designed to awaken with divine things. The most holy things are thus made common. It is like Belshazzar commanding the holy vessels to be brought into his ungodly feast. The peculiar sensational force which excites the passions of the mind, and makes these books so popular, is mentally injurious and exceedingly damaging spiritually. I hope these few remarks may be sufficient for your purpose.

February 18th, 1899.


... There are, indeed, many souls in the condition to which you refer. With most of them it has been the case that at some time they have failed to respond to what has been presented to them by God. That is, at some crisis in their spiritual history they have chosen the world or the earth in preference to Christ and spiritual blessings. After a time -- months or years -- God may come in again, and give them another chance, but in such cases it is quite like a second conversion.

I believe God is faithful and does not fail to present Christ to every converted soul, and so long as the soul is responsive it is led on in a path of growing light. Hence the joy and spiritual prosperity of a bright young convert. Christ is before him, and he is responsive to every ray of light that reaches him. But as he goes on many a subtle snare is laid for his feet, and the enemy is ever seeking to divert him by earthly things. A testing moment comes -- perhaps over some little thing -- and he chooses that which is not Christ. The Spirit is grieved the heavenly communications which have hitherto sustained him are interrupted; and if the consciousness of this does

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not at once turn him to the Lord in self-judgment and confession, he quickly drops down to earth's level, and remains there.

Yet even in such a case the Lord will not fail to exercise the conscience, nor to remind the heart of the joys it has lost. And if there be response to this gracious activity of divine love, repentance and confession will result, and entire restoration be the happy issue.

There is another important point to consider. Probably the greater part of those to whom you refer have never had any definite link with Christ. They have never come properly and personally into touch with Him. That is, they have never been truly in the good of the gospel. Grace has never yet had its all-victorious and all-subduing way with them. They may know something of the shelter of the blood, but they need a Philip to preach Christ to them, or a Paul to espouse them unto Christ.

If such souls in all humility and reality would go to God in the honest truth of their condition and tell Him that they had no deep, inward joy such as their spirits craved for, and that their souls had no acquaintance with Christ as a living Person in glory -- if they cried to Him to bring them into the full blessing and joy of His own wondrous grace -- He would not fail to answer them, and to fill them with marrow and fatness. They would find that Jeremiah 33:3 holds good yet. Alas! there are not so many in whom these holy thirstings of heart are found. The most are content with a decent "form of godliness" now and the assurance of heaven by and by.

If a man wants spiritual blessing let him go to the living God, and verily he shall be rewarded, Hebrews 11:6.

The whole thing may be summed up in this -- God is ever working in secret and by ministry to awaken desire for spiritual blessings in the hearts of His saints, and if we desire them we get them.

Of course a man whose heart is set upon things above will turn from things on the earth -- he cannot pursue both. Things here have lost their value in his eyes.

February 20th, 1899


... I have been thinking much lately of John 9 as giving us soul history according to God. With most of us there is such a mixture practically that we can perhaps hardly discern the

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unbroken golden thread of divine history which runs through the apparently tangled web of our spiritual life. But it is there, and in John 9 this golden thread is, so to speak, disentangled from all the complications of experience, and held up to our view in its own proper character and beauty. That is, we see in the history of the blind man "the works of God", verse 3, in unmixed purity and power -- a soul (in figure) learning Christ first as Saviour, then as divine Teacher, Lord, Head, and finally as Son of God. It is a lovely, instructive, and engrossing study, and I trust my soul has tasted somewhat of its spirit and moral power in dwelling upon it. I commend it to your heart as a fruitful theme for consideration and prayer. The complete and blessed satisfaction into which God would introduce our hearts in the knowledge of His Son is so great, and so attractive to everyone who really contemplates it, that it is a perpetual wonder we do not go in for it with more wholehearted purpose. May God in His rich grace vouchsafe to us and to His beloved saints a prepared and understanding heart to estimate rightly and to pursue earnestly these precious and holy privileges to which His grace has called us!

May 9th, 1899.


DEAR Miss --, -- I am always interested to hear of your affairs spiritually, and I thank you for your letter of the 5th inst.

It is indeed very sad that Christians are so divided, and especially so that those who profess to be gathered in the Lord's Name should thus practically discredit in the eyes of the world all that they profess. For it is certain that if we were all under the control of the Lord -- holding fast His word and not denying His Name -- there would be no divisions amongst us. But sad as this is it is only what Scripture would lead us to expect, and there is an aspect of it which must not be forgotten, and of which the Holy Spirit reminds us when He says, "There must be also heresies (sects or divisions) among you, that they which are approved among you may be made manifest", 1 Corinthians 11:19.

The serious point about a division amongst brethren is the absolute certainty that at least one of the parties has entirely missed the Lord's mind as to the matter on which they have divided. That is, instead of having the Lord's mind and

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judgment on the matter they have acted on their own mind and judgment. And if, in consequence of this mistaken act, they take up a position of permanent separation from those who had the Lord's mind on the matter they must suffer incalculable loss. Indeed as to principle they have got back to the very thing which has caused the countless divisions of Christendom -- they are simply acting on their own will. I do not say that this is the case with the many simple souls who are led by the influence of those to whom they look as leaders. The exercise of will is in the leaders but those who are led astray necessarily suffer much loss in their souls, and are deprived of much blessing which they would undoubtedly have received if they had remained in a position which was according to the mind of the Lord. It is the consideration of this which renders it impossible for any one who takes a place intelligently with brethren to ignore the divisions which have taken place or to assume that it does not matter much with whom they break bread.

Of course there are many hundreds breaking bread with the different sections of brethren who simply look upon brethren as a superior kind of sect with more scriptural light than others, and whose services are conducted more in accordance with the Word of God. Such persons would be well content anywhere where there was a breaking of bread every Lord's day and the gospel was simply preached. But an easy-going acceptance of things as they are, in this way, will never satisfy a really exercised conscience or a heart whose supreme desire is to follow the leading of the Shepherd. Alas! there are but few who have ears for no voice but His, but richly blessed is their portion. I am thoroughly convinced that the Lord will not fail to lead all such to be perfectly joined together in the same mind and the same judgment, nor will He fail to lead them into the whole counsel of God.

With reference to the subject of baptism I may at once say that I believe it is right for a Christian to have his household baptised. Household baptism is plainly taught in Scripture. But views on baptism are not the ground of fellowship, and a difference of opinion on this point is no justification for a breach of Christian fellowship.

Baptists -- I mean those who press that none but believers should be baptised -- generally make baptism an ordinance; that is, they press it as obedience to a command, and as something

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to be done by the believer, whereas it is invariably presented in Scripture as admission to privilege, and it is always regarded as the act of the one who baptises -- not of the one baptised. It is clearly connected in Scripture with profession, and it gives admission, not to any spiritual or heavenly blessing, but to that circle on earth where the Name of the Lord is owned, and where the outward privileges of Christianity are enjoyed. It is evident that there can be no assurance that every baptised person is really converted. But every baptised person is admitted to the circle of Christian profession. It is much more easy to see what baptism is in the case of a heathen or a Jew than in a country like this where the profession of Christianity is general. A Jew may believe what he likes so long as he is not baptised. But the moment he is baptised his relatives disown him. He has now become a Christian -- not necessarily a true believer, but a Christian in profession in this world; he is no longer a Jew. In the early days of the church those who received the testimony of the apostles and other evangelists were at once baptised in the Name of the Lord Jesus. And all who were thus baptised were introduced to a circle of Christian privilege and profession on earth. It does not follow that all were converted; indeed we know that very soon men like Simon Magus came into the circle of profession. But the circle existed and every baptised person came within it and partook of its privileges. Of course if he remained unconverted this only added to his responsibility, but the privilege of being in the circle of Christian light was not less a very real one.

If once it is accepted that there is a circle of privilege on earth into which baptism introduces us, and I think this is as clear as can be, the baptism of believers' households presents no difficulty to any mind instructed in the principles of God's ways. If there is any principle clearly established in the Old Testament it is that a man's household is always associated with himself in the governmental ways of God. "Come thou and all thy house into the ark", is the earliest and one of the most striking illustrations of this principle. In Exodus it is "a lamb for a house". And so in innumerable instances. Whenever it is a question of the government of God or of external privilege the household goes with its head.

Now it is important to observe that when a divine principle is once established in Scripture it holds good for ever. And

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this household principle is clearly stated in connection with baptism. We read that "Lydia was baptised and her household", Acts 16; we read that the jailer "was baptised, he and all his". Paul speaks of having baptised "the household of Stephanas", 1 Corinthians 8:16. So there are three examples given of the baptism of households.

And the divine suitability of this will appear to every one who is able to recognise what is suitable to the ways of God. Would the Jew, who had been divinely instructed of old to associate his household with himself in every external privilege, have understood that this was to be so no longer in Christianity, without some very plain declaration to that effect? And where can such a declaration be found in the New Testament? Indeed, the only intimation which seems to be given as to the relative position of the children in Judaism and in Christianity tells forcibly in the very opposite direction. In Old Testament times the children of a mixed marriage were not admitted to the external privileges of which we are speaking (see Ezra 10:3), but in the New Testament it is expressly said that "the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy", 1 Corinthians 7:14. That is, Christianity is more gracious as to the children than the dispensation which preceded.

The believing Jew who owned the Name of the Lord in baptism, and who thus put himself under the lordship of Christ as to his position in this world, could never have been content to leave his household on any other ground. If Jesus was Lord to him, Jesus must be Lord to all his household. And his faith would put them all on that ground in baptism; not looking on it as a fleshly ordinance which could confer some grace or blessing on the flesh, but doing it in faith that recognised the true meaning of baptism -- a figure of the total setting aside of man in the flesh, and a practical expression of the fact that his faith looked for their blessing only on the ground of the death of Christ. His children would thus, equally with himself, be introduced to the outward circle of profession and privilege of Christianity. They would be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They would be taught the Scriptures. They would partake in all the outward privilege of the Christian circle. The exhortations in the epistles to Christian parents and children are evidently

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based upon the fact that the children of believers are regarded as being within the house of God in this way.

Of course, all this has got perverted and corrupted in Christendom, and the profession of Christianity has become the great mustard tree, but divine principles still hold good wherever there is faith to take them up.

Personally I do not believe that a person can be re-baptised. If one has been baptised in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit I would not counsel him to be re-baptised whether it had been done by sprinkling or immersion or whether as an infant or an adult. I believe it is the scriptural mode to immerse, and I would use this mode myself. And I would not baptise any beyond the households of believers, but, seeing that it is a matter which has to do with the external circle of profession only, I do not feel free to ignore the baptism of the whole of professing and responsible christendom. Still, if anyone is exercised, and gets a conscience about the matter, I would say to such a one, "You must keep a good conscience, and if you feel that you ought to be baptised as a believer, be baptised". I believe such a one is mistaken in his idea of baptism, but I respect his conscience.

The really important moment as to baptism for us as believers is when we realise what is involved in it and accept in our souls that to which we were committed in baptism. It is easy to be occupied with the externals of the institution and totally miss its kernel and spirit. We are baptised not because we are saved, as Baptists teach, but because we are lost. All that we are must go in death. Baptism is, in figure, the complete setting aside of man in the flesh. It is not an ordinance to add some grace to the flesh. It is the solemn figure of the fact -- fully proved by the death of Christ -- that the end of all flesh has come before God. Every baptised person in the world is on that ground as to his profession; he is committed in baptism to the fact that it is all over with him, and that blessing can only reach him on the ground of the death of Christ. This is a most powerful ground of appeal to merely nominal professors in the Church of England. Such are often soothed into spiritual indifference by the thought that their baptism has secured something for them in the way of spiritual blessing. In reality it is the solemn witness and figure of their wholly lost condition as children of Adam. Nothing will do before God but "newness of life" -- life

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received through the Lord Jesus Christ by faith in Him -- life which is found in Him.

I have written thus at some length, and if any points do not seem clear to you I shall be glad to write further if you will let me know what your difficulty is. May God guide and bless you in the full knowledge of His will!

With Christian greetings to your mother and yourself, Yours sincerely in the Lord,

May 12th, 1899.


DEAR --, -- ... It is very blessed to know that infinite love is ordering everything for our good, and for the blessing of our souls. And at the same time there is infinite mercy that considers all our weakness, and tempers everything so that we are enabled to bear it. We have to learn that death is here, and the water is bitter until our hearts are made conscious that Christ has been in death -- coming there in the most blessed love -- and when we realise this it sweetens the bitter waters.

It is a comfort, too, that every Marah has its Elim, Exodus 15. God is the God of all encouragement, and the Father of mercies, and He does not fail to send times of refreshing and rest to cheer the hearts of His worn and weary people in their pilgrim journey. May your dear sister prove this, and abundantly realise the present priestly grace of Christ as a sustaining power for her heart! It would be quite right to pray, in subjection to God's will, that she might be strengthened, but the great thing is to learn the divine lessons which God would teach by the discipline through which His holy love allows us to pass.

We came down here a week ago, and hope to stay in S. Devon for some time. Mother is very weak now, and only able to get to a meeting occasionally.

With much love in the Lord, . Yours affectionately in Him,

September 28th, 1899.


DEAR --, -- ... I trust that you and all the circle at -- are keeping well, and that the dear saints are pressing on to know the things which are freely given to them of God. On God's

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side everything is a gift; on our side we have to enter, by the Spirit, into what is given. John 6 is a wonderful chapter, as showing how God proposes to bring men into supreme satisfaction, in the blessed knowledge of Himself. Nothing can really be satisfaction to the spirit of a man, but the knowledge of God. And He puts this knowledge within reach of our appropriation in the Person of His beloved Son. In coming to Him, and in believing on Him, we reach true and divine satisfaction. There must be a work of grace in us -- we must be drawn by the Father -- in order to appreciate Him. But as born of God, and formed in divine tastes, we find the complete satisfaction of every longing in that Blessed One. Who would not covet to enter into this?

Of course this is all nothing to the natural man. It is not as in the flesh that we enter into it, but as being in spirit apart from the flesh by the appropriation of Christ's death -- by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. How good it is for our hearts to find the springs of their life altogether outside this world, and in that Person who is now risen and glorified at God's right hand! ...

Yours affectionately in the Lord,

December 8th, 1899.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- ... I gladly send a few lines as to the matter in question. Mr. -- came here to give an address and stayed the night in this house. Before he left in the morning we had our usual reading, the Scripture to which we had come being Acts 19. I remarked that probably Paul might feel inclined to ask the same question as in verse 2 if he came amongst certain "disciples" today. I went on to say it was important that the risen Christ should be preached so that souls might believe on Him and really be with God on the ground of another Man, even the One raised from the dead for their justification. I thought this was the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation, and that the Spirit was given consequently upon their believing in Christ. It is in Him that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.

I said that in my own case, when I began to break bread, I believed that Jesus had died for me, and therefore I should never perish, but it was not until some time afterwards that I saw with great delight that everything connected with me

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as a ruined sinner had been dealt with in the death of Christ, and that the risen One was my righteousness and that I could be with God entirely on the ground of what Christ was.

This I believed to be the time when I received the Spirit. I had preached before this in my small measure, doing what Apollos did -- that is, making known the grace of God so far as I knew it myself.

This is the substance of what was said. -- to my surprise, objected, and said he thought I had the Spirit before. I am sorry for those who denounce this as "bad doctrine" ...

Yours affectionately,

About 1900


DEAR --, -- ... Since the finer weather came in we have been getting out all day into the villages around here with gospel books, etc.

Your question is a very interesting one -- How can the young people in fellowship with us be helped?

I think I can say that this subject has often been forced upon my attention in much the same way as you remark. That is, one comes across young people, and old ones too, breaking bread with us whose hearts do not appear to have any real desire after Christ. The secret of this grave defect is that they have never had any real soul-exercise, and what they suppose to be faith is, in many cases, merely a kind of intellectual assent to what they have so constantly heard. They take the place of being believers and have been received into fellowship on that ground, but they are evidently not lovers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I fear that in not a few instances the unwise dealing of would-be evangelists, in ministering comfort to souls scarcely conscious of any need and urging them to take the place of professed believers, has resulted in souls taking a religious position far beyond the true measure of God's work in them. Then young people in the households of the saints as children or servants sometimes come into fellowship much on the same ground as they would be confirmed and begin to take the sacrament if their associations had been with the Establishment. They think it the right thing to do, but Christ is not really the life of their hearts -- their interests are practically in the things of the world and of this present life.

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For such a state of things what is the remedy? I should say, in the first place, continued and fervent prayer to God on the part of all those who are cognisant of it. These precious souls need to know the gospel of the grace of God -- they need Christ presenting to their hearts in Holy Ghost power -- they need deliverance, salvation, conversion. There may be the feeble beginning of a divine work in them, but to the positive grace, power, and joy of Christianity they are entire strangers, they need to be convicted, converted, and saved, and for this no power but that of God is sufficient. Hence the imperative necessity for much prayer if we would see this blessed miracle wrought.

As to any help that can be rendered to such souls, it must be remembered that the one thing they need is to become conscious that Christian blessings are realities -- that Christ is a real, living Person, and that His love has power to displace every earth-born motive in the heart. They need, in most cases, to come in contact with vital Christianity. So that the best -- the only true -- way to help them is to be what we desire they should be, so that in contact with us, and by knowledge of us, they may see us possessed of that in Christ which they know nothing of. Thus would God produce in their hearts the desire for "wisdom", and the world would be thrown into the shade in the light of a glorified Christ. I apprehend that hundreds of souls were thus awakened and brought into exercise by beloved Mr. Stoney's testimony -- not so much by his ministry as by the fact that they could see he was in a light to which they were strangers.

As to the many who profess to want help for their souls, and who complain that "brethren" do not look after them and care for them, I am inclined to suspect that this is only a poor excuse for spiritual slothfulness. I admit with sorrow that the number of these who lay themselves out to help the young is not very large, but I am perfectly sure that any soul really desirous of spiritual help can get it more easily and in very much fuller measure amongst "brethren" than anywhere else. The fact is, these complaining souls do not desire to get on at all. They want people to make a fuss of them, and undertake to wheel them to heaven in a perambulator. If they were really exercised and prayerful they would speedily find themselves furnished with as much spiritual help as they

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could avail themselves of. But exercise and prayer are not much in the line of those you refer to. They would not mind being edified if somebody else would take all the trouble of doing it for them! Young ducks may be fattened by the use of the cramming machine, but young saints will only grow by that for which they have spiritual appetite. And if this appetite exists it will find abundance of "royal dainties" to feed upon as it feasts on the fatness of God's house and drinks of the river of His pleasure. The man or woman does not breathe who could honestly say, My heart thirsted for spiritual blessing, and I prayed to God for it, but He has disappointed me and sent me empty away ...

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

June 8th, 1900.


DEAR --, -- I trust you have enjoyed your time near -- . I am glad you found so much refreshment in the realisation of the Lord's presence with the feeble few gathered there to His Name. I often feel that the saints come to the meetings in faith that the Lord will be there, without having the love that would not be satisfied with anything save the manifestation of Himself. It is love that makes things living; without it we may be very correct but very dead.

I have no doubt -- referring now to the subject of your letter -- that many young souls are terribly disappointed and chilled by the company they fall amongst when they come into so-called fellowship. They are not much acquainted with Christ, nor, indeed, very firmly established with grace, but they are willing to go on, and if kept under right influences their course would be very different from what it is when they fall amongst thieves at tennis and croquet parties. I have met with young souls who have heard wonderful and blessed things at the meetings, and have been terribly puzzled to find that these things were not more the theme of converse amongst some of those breaking bread.

But, as a rule, an earnest young soul has a keen scent for a saint of the right sort, and very soon finds where he can get fellowship and help. Of course, the young folks you refer to could hardly be called "earnest", -- and this is where the difficulty

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lies. It is a difficulty which can only be removed by the gospel coming home to their hearts with Holy Ghost power, and winning them for God and for Christ....

Mother joins me in much love to you in the Lord, Yours affectionately in Him,

August 13th, 1900.


MY DEAR --, -- I have owed you a letter now for a long time, but the delay has not been caused by forgetfulness. My heart often turns to the "little flock" at --, with desire for the spiritual blessing and welfare of each one of you. I trust you are really growing, not only in the knowledge of the truth, but in personal acquaintance with Christ in whom it is all livingly expressed. The secret of a free tongue is a full heart. That is, it is easy and delightful to speak of that which fills the heart. A Christ-satisfied heart has but one chosen Theme, and it is a boundless and inexhaustible Theme. The more one thinks of the wonderful place which Christ has at the right hand of God as Head and Centre of God's world of blessing and glory, the more one is filled with the sense of His immeasurable greatness, and yet it is the greatness of One who has made known His love in the most blessed way to our hearts. He has put His love into contact with our souls by going into death for us. He has accomplished everything that was needed in order that we might be joined to Himself by having His Spirit. It is a most blessed thing to think of this. Not only are our sins forgiven, and ourselves secured for eternal glory in all the acceptability of Christ, but we are even now joined to Him. "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit". We have to recognise this, and as the blessedness of it fills our hearts it makes us glad to retire from the world and from our own things, to be more with and for the One who has taken us in love for His own ...

Yours affectionately in Him,

January 7th, 1901.


MY DEAR --, -- ... It is a great comfort to know that every movement of our hearts towards the Lord originates with Himself. The very fact that we have desires and affections towards Him is the proof that He has drawn us. His

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love has flowed out to us, and has taken hold of our hearts to win them for Himself. And in His priestly grace He is ever active to form, as it were, fresh links between Himself and our hearts. What we need is to keep ourselves from idols, and to walk continually in lowliness and self-judgment, that we may not become corrupted from simplicity as to the Christ.

If our hearts are really true to Him we may be assured He will lead us on in the knowledge of Himself just as fast as we are able to advance. He knows how much we can take in, and He does not fail to minister to us the very food that is suitable to our present need. We may sometimes feel inclined to be impatient with ourselves because we do not make more rapid progress, but we have to learn to trust the Lord with our spiritual education. If our eyes are upon Him, and we follow with simple hearts as He leads us, we shall find that He leads us by a right way and brings us through all the exercises we need in order to form our souls in the appreciation of Himself, and of all those blessed things which are brought to pass in Him. We have to trust His love all through, and to learn increasingly to distrust ourselves.

I am very glad to know that your dear sister is so much better. I trust she may continue to gain strength through God's mercy. With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

January 7th, 1901.


MY DEAR --, -- Many thanks for each of your letters, and also for your kind ministry of help in temporal things which reached me this morning. While recognising the source from which all grace flows, I trust I am not ungrateful towards the channels through which it flows in such practical manifestations, and I thank you for this expression of your care and love in the Lord.

I can understand your having a little difficulty about Christ being the Head of every man, as this is an aspect of His headship which has not been made very prominent until recent years, though it is perfectly clear in Scripture and also in J.N.D.'s writings. It is not a question of how any individual stands in relation to Christ, but of how Christ stands in relation to all men on God's part. Adam could not be head for man

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according to God because by him came sin and death. But Christ has established righteousness and annulled death, and this gives Him morally the first place, for no one else could accomplish either. Hence repentance and remission of sins can be preached in His Name world-wide. As soon as a man begins to look at things from a right standpoint he finds himself in a state of sin, and with death upon him. But he learns through the gospel that there is a blessed Man who has taken up the question of sin and entered into death for the glory of God and for the blessing of man. There is a Head now for man from whom he can derive righteousness and every blessing of God. He is not this for some only, but for all. He is the Head of every man. He has the first place in relation to every creature under heaven. Men may not choose to acknowledge this -- they may despise, neglect, or reject Him -- but He has this place in relation to all inasmuch as He died for all.

To write on the Revelation is quite beyond my depth. It is a part of Scripture I have not looked at much for many years. I just know enough of it to be sensible of my deep ignorance. I mean as to detail; of course the main outlines are pretty plain. And I question whether the Spirit of God would occupy us much with prophetic details at the present moment. It is rather the trimming of the lamps, and the going forth to meet the Bridegroom, that has importance at this time....

Mother joins me in much love to you in the Lord. Yours affectionately in Him,

March 29th, 1901.


MY DEAR --, -- It was a pleasure to me to have your letter today, and to be reminded of our meeting at -- five years ago. I unfeignedly thank God that in His infinite grace He was pleased to speak in blessing to your soul at that time, and I also thank Him for keeping you until this present time with desire of heart to know His grace more fully, and to be better acquainted with that Blessed One in whom it is all set forth. To Him be the praise now and evermore, for not one particle of the credit belongs to us!

It is blessed to think that we have been taken up for the satisfaction of divine love, and that we might be near divine

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Persons in the circle of their own pleasure! To this end God has made Himself known to us as a Saviour-God. He has shown Himself to be "for us" -- whether in relation to our sins, our state, or our weaknesses and the enemy's power. All that He has done and been for us becomes the mighty testimony of His love, and that love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. The effect of knowing God's love is that we desire to be near Him in the knowledge of all that is in His mind for us. We find that all our springs are in Him; He is the fountain of life for our souls.

But how infinite is the thought that the blessed God would have us holy and without blame before Him in love -- as sons before His face -- for the rest and satisfaction of His own love!

The Lord direct our hearts into the love of God! And in finding our home in that love may we be preserved from the evil which is in the world!

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

June 22nd, 1901.


MY DEAR --, -- ... I trust you are prospering in a spiritual sense. The great thing is to pursue the knowledge of Christ. As our hearts learn Christ, and hear Him, and are instructed in Him, we get detached in heart and spirit from the flesh, and are enabled to walk in superiority to it.

The Holy Spirit gives us the desire, in the affections of our inward man, to be more acquainted with Christ. Our great business is to encourage and feed this spiritual appetite for Christ. The more we do so, the more is it developed, and the more characteristic of us does it become. So that the believer who walks in the Spirit is more and more attracted and attached to Christ, and with adoring fervour he grows in the nature of that Blessed One....

Yours affectionately in the Lord,

October 18th, 1901.


... I do not find myself equal to very much, but I do not desire physical strength so much as grace and spiritual power to be amongst the saints in some little way for their comfort and furtherance of faith and joy in the Lord. How one covets

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the simplicity of a heart that has really but one Object! So many carnal and natural influences pull this way and that, and we are swayed by them if not held fast by the love of Christ. It is blessed to return to a sense of that love, but more blessed ever to abide in it. Yet it is changeless, in spite of our fickleness. Blessed be His Name!

October 24th, 1902.


... We had a good reading on Numbers 28. It was pointed out, that deliverance is needed in order that our hearts may be free to contemplate Christ, and all that which has been effected by Him, and which subsists in Him for God's pleasure. Further, that everyone has deliverance according to the measure of his true desire for it. It is most blessed to see that God would ever have before His saints that which is a delight to His own heart, thus forming us after Himself and after Christ by His Spirit.
1902


... My great desire is to know more of the reality and moral power of the truth in my own heart -- to abide in Christ, and thus to be able, in some measure, to minister Him to others that they, too, may be taught by the Unction to abide in Him. To see a soul being expanded in the knowledge and appreciation of Christ is a very great joy. It may well be a joy to us, for it is most delightful to the blessed God. All His wondrous activity in grace is to this end. Oh! that it might be more effective in us to His praise!

February, 1903.


DEAR --, -- We are thankful to hear of improvement in dear Miss --, and trust it may continue and be sure, even though slow. You have indeed had a long time of exercise in this way. God is pleased to keep Marah present with us in many ways -- causing us to taste death in some measure that we may the more appreciate and appropriate the One who has been

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into it in order to make it the blessed witness of all the depths of divine love. This is the time of pressure, but the psalmist could say: "In pressure thou hast enlarged me". We do not get enlarged in corn and new wine, but in having the light of God's countenance filling our hearts with joy. If brought low as to life here it is that we may be exalted in the knowledge of Christ.

Many thanks for your love and sympathy and prayers. One can have nothing better here than the love and prayers of the saints. I am thankful to be remembered thus by the dear brethren at -- .

I have been running down in health a long time, and the five months' nursing of Mother last winter, and confinement to the house more than usual, seem to have been the finishing touch. I managed to go on, though feeling unequal to things, until the end of July when I quite broke down, and have been in a very low state ever since, and not at a meeting since the middle of August....

Yours very affectionately,

November 28th, 1903.


MY DEAR --, -- ... What should we say or do amid all these experiences of weakness and sorrow if we could not fall back on the Father's care? No one realises as the Christian how entirely everything here is blighted by sin and its effects, but the Christian knows a blessed secret in the midst of all the desolation -- he knows what is in the heart of God, and is persuaded that none of these things can separate him from the love of Christ or of God. Our future is "glory with Christ above", and if our eye is upon this blessed goal, to which the ways of God are leading us, the sufferings of this present time are seen to be not worthy of comparison. If our present affliction is made, through God's wisdom and love, to form some trait of Christ's moral beauty in us which otherwise would have been lacking, we shall not regret it in that scene of accomplished bliss where He will be admired in His saints. If our sorrows now contribute to our being formed to shed forth some brighter ray of the glory of Christ in a universe of bliss, shall we murmur or repine at them? Shall we not rather adoringly praise the infinite love that so patiently and wisely forms us according to its own wonderful designs?

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When God's work is unveiled, in what excellence of divine beauty will it all appear!

The threads which often seem so tangled now will there be seen interwoven with matchless skill in a pattern of beauty and glory. Oh! for more simple confidence in divine love and wisdom! More patience, more of the light of hope brightening our hearts in the present reality of all that will be manifested in that day!

Yours affectionately in the Lord,

August 23rd, 1904.


MY DEAR --, -- I am trying to read John's gospel at present, but find everything so immense and blessed that I go very slowly. We need to have the Son of God more before us in all His greatness and love. It gives a new character and measure to everything when He is really the Centre for our hearts.

In connection with this I have much enjoyed Romans 8:39. The love of God centres in Christ Jesus our Lord, and it is as abiding in Him by the Spirit that we dwell in that holy love. The Spirit attaches us to the One in whom the love of God centres. Many look, in a certain way, for the love of God to centre in themselves, but it is infinitely sweeter to see it centred in Christ, and to come into it as being attached to Him. One would rather be a joint heir with Christ than have every good -- even if it were possible, which it is not -- as individuals apart from Him. We have not only wonderful blessings, but we are bound up with the Blesser Himself! Joy and praise well become us.

Yours affectionately in the Lord,

November 18th, 1904.


MY DEAR --, -- ... I do not think anything affords us real satisfaction save as we are conscious of seeking to be pleasing to the Lord. But in doing our little bit of service, whether in things temporal or spiritual, entirely for His eye, and for His approbation, there is profound satisfaction and joy.

It does not matter then whether the service be little or great, if it is that which is pleasing to Him. There is something very blessed in rendering a service which is so small that it is

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nothing accounted of here, but which is entirely for the Lord. He will bring it out for His pleasure -- to be content to be unseen by every eye but His -- and to find our deep, holy rest in being subdued to Him whose love is beyond all praise....

Yours affectionately in the Lord,

January 17th, 1905.


MY DEAR --, -- How it is brought home to us in many ways that "sufferings" pertain to "this present time"! Still it is precious divine favour if we are put in circumstances where Christ becomes really indispensable to us. If our hearts are taught that they cannot do without Him, it is but the introduction to an experience in which we prove how blessedly and triumphantly we can do with Him. Strengthened according to the power of His glory we can be filled with deep joy even in this present time with all its sufferings. Be assured of our loving remembrance of you all, and of our true sympathy. Our very much love in the Lord.

Yours affectionately in Him,

February 14th, 1905.


MY DEAR --, -- ... It is a comfort to know that whatever may be the character of one's path or circumstances God has some distinct object in view in passing us through the exercises of our way. And there is some distinct spirit and behaviour called for on our part in which alone we can answer truly to God's will in our circumstances. It should be our continual exercise to have the grace from Himself moment by moment that shall enable us to pass through whatever comes in our pathway in a divine way. I see more and more how very blessed it is to be in the wilderness according to God's mind -- passing on in peace and praise "through scenes of strife and desert life", sustained and refreshed by heavenly supplies, and thus not dropping down to the level of nature.

How much grace and power is needed for this! And yet it is freely available for us, and we honour God by drawing largely from His treasures ...

Yours affectionately in the Lord,

March 31st, 1905.


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MY DEAR --, -- I am grateful to you for writing to me, and letting me know of your good time at -- . Your letter cheered my heart, and so did the last you sent me. It brought before me what the Lord used greatly to refresh my spirit. It was a comfort, too, to me to know that He draws your heart after Himself, and feeds you with a ministry of Himself. This He ever delights to do, blessed be His name!

I have had two years of much weakness, and entire inability for any active service. It has been a time which I have proved very much goodness and mercy, while proving sometimes in a very humiliating way the utter weakness of nature and the incorrigible character of the flesh. What I trust I am learning more of is the blessedness of having to do with divine Persons. To walk with God and to abide in Christ are the great things for us to set our hearts upon. Thus shall we be in the current of the Spirit, and in harmony with all God's ways with us, as He leads us on into the purpose of His love. As we have divine Persons before us we are in peace and stability because we are occupied with what cannot change or fail; and we are in power too, because if the Lord is before us He is also at our right hand that we should not be moved. May we evermore cleave to Him with purpose of heart.

Yours affectionately in the Lord,

September 2nd, 1905.


MY DEAR --, -- ... We have to do with perfect love, whether to nourish and cherish or to convict and discipline. How good that it is so, and that in some small way our hearts have been taught to know it!

We miss you both very much, but we are thankful that you are with your beloved mother in this time of special sorrow and exercise. The Lord will sustain you in every way most surely. It is such a comfort that if we are conscious of receiving from the Lord it must be the very thing that we really need.

So unerring is His love that it could not be otherwise. We are sometimes in Cana and sometimes at Bethany -- it is with us the day of joy or the night of weeping, but He is the Minister of suited grace for each in its season. Blessed be His Name! ...

Yours very affectionately in the Lord,

September 27th, 1905.


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MY DEAR --, -- ... My dear mother has been very ill, and requiring someone with her day and night. The tabernacle is being taken down, and each day shows some distinct sign of increasing weakness. It is now with difficulty that she can make us understand what she wants or how she feels.

I told her of your letter this morning and of your dear mother's sufferings and patience. She quite entered into all, though not able to express herself. I do sympathise deeply with you in all that you feel as to your beloved one, for I am in circumstances very similar myself. It is a great joy to see the Lord making Himself precious to our loved ones in their great feebleness. My dear mother is very peaceful in mind, and we hear disjointed words of praise continually from her lips ...

Our very much love to you all.

Yours very affectionately in the Lord,

November 23rd, 1905.


MY DEAR --, -- I am grateful to you, and to each member of your family circle for your true and loving sympathy. Many things have engaged my somewhat small measure of strength or you would have heard from me before now.

Very much tender mercy was shown to us in all the detail connected with my beloved mother's home-going. She suffered comparatively little, and her mind kept clear to the end. It was just a fortnight from the beginning to the end of her illness. She took a slight cold in some way, and this developed into bronchitis. It would have been a very slight attack for a younger person, but at Mother's age, and in her feeble state, it was more than she had strength to withstand. The heart gradually weakened from day to day until she peacefully departed to be with Christ. During the ten days she was in bed she spoke several times of your dear mother. It was most happy to see how the Lord and His blessed things were before her to the end. It was the quiet triumph of faith, the blessed end of a life of singular unselfishness and unswerving piety and allegiance to Christ. The memory of such is blessed, and one may well desire to walk in their steps....

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 27th, 1905.


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... We have just commenced Romans in our Thursday readings, and I hope we shall get help from God in going through it, so as to be really established in Paul's gospel. It is most important to get Paul's gospel as a foundation in our souls for the truth of the mystery; if we are divinely established in the former I am sure we shall not stop short of the latter. We ought to be profoundly affected by the favour which God has shown us in these last days, bringing to us so much that is infinitely precious, and that is so entirely unknown to many of our fellow-saints! It is certainly not because we are more devoted or faithful than others that such favour is shown us. It is of pure and sovereign mercy, and this thought encourages us to pray that in the same mercy we may be formed in affections and intelligence so as to be in the good of all that is brought before us.

July, 1906.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- ... As to whether a young Christian should study Greek, my judgment would depend on the circumstances in which he was placed. If he had time at his disposal I should certainly encourage him to pay a little attention to New Testament Greek. It is a deeply interesting study in itself, and there are very many passages in which the subtle shade of meaning can hardly be conveyed in translation, and where a knowledge of the original helps. But if a young man's time was limited, owing to pressure of business, etc., I am not sure that I should consider the study of Greek the best investment for the few moments of leisure. So far as we are concerned there is the less need for it, seeing that we have J.N.D.'s incomparable translation, and the necessity for meditation and prayer is at all times urgent, and to neglect these in pursuit of more accurate acquaintance with the letter of Scripture would hardly be a wise use of time.

With reference to this subject a little circumstance comes to my mind which is suggestive. I remember beloved J.B.S. saying at a conference that he wished all the brethren knew Greek. Someone ventured to ask why. He said: "Because they would then, perhaps, be convinced that it is not by study of the letter of Scripture that we get things, but by waiting upon God". It is wholesome to remember this, for sometimes I have noticed in those who have a little smattering of Greek

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a tendency to air it somewhat vain-gloriously. But the fear of the Lord and a lowly walk before God would preserve one from this, as well as from every snare.

I shall be glad to hear from you as to your progress in this study, if you take it up, or if you have already done so. Personally I have no knowledge of Greek to speak of, but I am able to look at the original if occasion requires, and sometimes find it suggestive to do so....

Very affectionately yours in the Lord,

October 19th, 1906.


MY DEAR --, -- ... I have thought much of you all through the winter, in your varied exercises and weaknesses, as I am fully assured you have of me. And I doubt not we owe much -- very much -- of our favour and mercy to the prayerful interest which the grace common to us awakens in those who know and love us in the truth and for the truth's sake. Not that our gracious God needs to be moved by the prayers of His children to bless, but He loves to work out His marvellous designs in connection with the exercises and expectancy of faith, and also by means of the spiritual activities of love one towards another on the part of His saints. This should encourage us to take a lively interest in each other's welfare as those who are bound up in the same life bundle with Christ, and as those who find intercession a happy service. May the Lord greatly enlarge us in capacity for service! With you, as with myself, there is not at present much opportunity for service of a very public nature, but that is no reason why we should not serve the interests of Christ in a very active and blessed way behind the scenes! I desire to have more abundant grace for this ...

My deep and true sympathy goes out ever to beloved -- in her much suffering, and I admire the grace and patience seen in her which makes her a standing encouragement to me, and I doubt not to many others. I do not need to remind her of the faithful grace of that blessed Priest on high, for I am sure she knows and has proved it in a way infinitely beyond my feeble experiences. And yet it is good to be reminded even of that which we know well, for there is a living fulness in that blessed One remaining yet to be proved by us. Our past experiences, whether great or small, do not in any way

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give us the measure of what we may expect to find in Him. His love passeth knowledge, and nothing can separate us from it. How good to have such a High Priest! ...

Yours very affectionately in Him,

February 10th, 1907.


MY DEAR --, -- Most truly and deeply do I sympathise with you in all your present sorrow. And yet, withal, I am thankful to the Lord for the mercy He has shown to His beloved suffering saint in calling her into the rest of His own presence. He has made her for long years a remarkable witness to the sufficiency and power of His sustaining grace. Indeed her patience and gentleness of spirit amidst such long continued sufferings have often been instructive and encouraging to me, and, I doubt not, to many others, while the angels have learned in her lessons of the all-varied wisdom of God.

My heart will be with you all tomorrow, and nothing but physical inability hinders me from being with you in body also. May divine consolation and peace fill all your hearts, and a blessed sense of victory! "Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory by our Lord Jesus Christ".

Warmest affection in Christ to you all.

Very affectionately yours in Him,

May 13th, 1907.


MY DEAR --, -- ... I feel much for you and desire that in spirit you may be free for engagement of heart with Himself, and be able to sit, Mary-like, at His feet and hear His word. The highest occupation that we could possibly have is to "honour the Son", and we do so by hearing Him. No outward circumstances of weakness can take away from us the holy joy of being able to honour the Son. Nay, such circumstances are often a help to us in this direction, for they deliver us from many things which might otherwise distract us from Him.

I have been thinking of the marriage supper in this connection. It is "a marriage for his son", and every guest brought in was there to honour the Son. Land or merchandise hindered some from coming in, and so the natural tendency of our hearts is to get absorbed even with things that are mercies or duties in themselves and not to be free to honour the Son of God.

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Every guest is to be marked by this that he honours the Son. The man without the wedding garment was not honouring the Son. He was outwardly at the supper, but he was not in tune with the spirit of the feast at all. God has called us in to be witnesses of all that He is doing by His Son and for His Son that we may honour Him in all the offices which He fills for God's glory and the blessing of men -- in all the forms of love which He wears. It seems to me that the "marriage" signifies that God is going to make all things glorious and happy and fruitful by connecting His Son with them. The assembly is the first to prove this, and she is in a very peculiar and special way the bride. But Israel will also be connected with the Son of God, and the nations of them that are saved, and, indeed, "all things". And whatever is connected livingly with the Son of God comes into true blessedness. Now God has called us in to behold One who can make divinely happy and fruitful all who are connected with Him. What blessed occupation of heart to sit down before Him to learn His glory and love, and to prove the happiness of which He becomes the minister to those who believe on Him! Is it not a festive occupation? We honour the Son by allowing our hearts to explore with unchanging fresh delight all that He is as the joy-bringer of God's universe. He can hush the long groan of a disordered creation, and bring in unalloyed happiness. We, in spirit, anticipate this, and while all around is the sorrow of divorcement from God we come into those joys which belong to the land of Beulah.

That such joys may be always and increasingly your portion and mine is the prayer of your affectionate brother,

February 9th, 1908.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- ... We have happy remembrance of your visit here, and shall be glad to see you again if ever your steps are turned in this direction. We are, however, looking for a more glorious meeting at a moment which draws quickly nigh. Oh, that we may be found as those who wait for their Lord, formed by the Spirit in all those blessed and holy affections which properly characterise the bride of Christ!

With much love in the Lord to your dear wife and yourself,

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 4th, 1908.


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MY DEAR --, -- ... The weak ones are of small account in this world, but they are of much account in the estimation of the Lord, and for that kingdom whose power is not of nature but of the Holy Spirit. How true is it that "God has chosen the weak things of the world, that he may put to shame the strong things"! May we not judge that it is part of the way of infinite mercy with us that we are encompassed in a special way with infirmities?

Who can tell how much of God's blessed work in us is wrought through the exercises produced by bodily weakness and suffering! These things remove us from participation in many things here which might become a snare to us, and they shut us up more entirely, in a very practical sense, to Christ for support and satisfaction. I remember Mr. Darby pointing the contrast between poor saints and rich ones thus "The poor want as much of Christ as they can get to comfort them in their sorrow; the rich want as much of the world as they can enjoy with a good conscience". If this be so, and who can doubt the general truth of it, it is surely better to be poor or weak so as to desire more of Christ, than to be rich or strong and thus fall into temptation.

I do trust and pray that you may prove that grace, and power of faith, which out of weakness can make strong. That is, we apprehend all the strength that is in another Person for us. This is what the blessed God has called us to, that we may find all strength, blessing, and joy in the spiritual apprehension of Christ. Whatever exercise we pass through there is a large and divine answer to it in Him. The more we reach this as to our personal exercises the more are we qualified to learn all that Christ is in relation to the whole circle of truth.

The fulness and glory of Christ are developed in all the will and ways of God. If we have a defective apprehension of any part of God's will it is because we fail to apprehend the special part of Christ's greatness and glory which is developed in connection with that particular part of God's will. It is because every part of the truth is an essential part of Christ's glory that it is of the highest importance for us to be instructed in it, and to be energised by the Holy Spirit in the affections of the inward man that we may rightly apprehend it.

The great and blessed world of Christ's glory lies before us and welcomes us -- a large and wealthy place indeed, and all

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ours through infinite grace. Then let us encourage ourselves and one another in the Lord, and press on to possess the good land!

Yours very affectionately in the Lord,

March 11th, 1909.


... I enjoyed the notes on 2 Corinthians 12. What grace it is that has so wrought in Paul -- one of like passions with ourselves -- that he became the vessel of such a treasure and such excellency of power, too, for the setting it forth! And the same grace has called us to know the same blessed things, and the same power works in us as wrought so mightily in him. If all be with us of much smaller dimensions according to our spiritual capacity, yet the things we know and enjoy are none other than those which he knew and ministered.

March 23rd, 1909.


... I am glad to have the opportunity of assuring you of my good wishes and prayers in connection with your marriage.

I am persuaded that you have not contemplated this change without much waiting on the Lord, and the conviction of His approval, and I trust, that in all the path to which it will introduce you, you will have the consciousness of His support and blessing.

The way in which we carry ourselves in the various relationships and responsibilities which attach to life here is the indication of our spiritual whereabouts. Every change in these relationships is thus a new occasion for the manifestation of the grace and vigour of life and godliness. Every new circumstance is, in one way, a new kind of test, and while the sense of this sobers one, and keeps the heart in the attitude of dependence, all is well. I heartily pray that you and the one who will so soon be your husband, if God will, may be a great comfort to each other, but, above all, that you may help each other in all these blessed things which abide, and that there may be distinct gain for Christ and the testimony through your marriage.

April 2nd, 1909.


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MY BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... I heartily go with your desire for more of the knowledge of God. It is in this that all true joy and power are found. The greatness of it may be estimated by the fact that only by the gift of the only begotten Son could the revelation of God be brought to us, and only by the gift of the Spirit could we be rendered capable of appreciating that blessed revelation.

May you both be refreshed and prospered in every way!

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

September 27th, 1909.


MY DEAR --, -- ... I know by continued experience how trying weakness is, and how little it is understood by those who have never known what it is. Still the "marvellous loving-kindness" of our gracious God is unfailing, and one learns the minuteness and tenderness of His care in many little things that quite escape the notice of those who have strong bodies and nerves. So that, from this point of view, we have a certain advantage over our stronger brethren which we do well to appreciate at its full value. I have thought sometimes in connection with David's psalms that he was a man of intense and sensitive feeling. Things that might never have affected a duller heart touched his to the quick. While this, no doubt, added to his trials, it became the occasion of his proving Jehovah's deliverance and sustaining grace and power in a wonderful way; and it also qualified him to be the vehicle of those varied and profoundly instructive utterances of the Spirit of Christ which have been so, precious to faith in all ages, and which will be peculiarly encouraging to the remnant in evil days yet to come. The sufferings, no doubt, abounded but the consolations of God abounded likewise. Paul in his day was another illustrious witness of the working of this law of divine compensation (2 Corinthians 1). I seek to encourage my heart to look for the compensation even here and now, so that one may be more conscious of present gain, and more taken up with the "heavenly light" that "makes all things bright". It is blessed to realise that it is our privilege, through the favour of God, to be in spiritual energy in spite of all the infirmities which compass the feeble vessel. I am not thinking now of energy that makes a stir

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in any external way, but of that divine power which can sustain our hearts in a sense of the love of Christ and of the love of God in Him, and can give us appreciation of it, and enable us to respond to it as did Mary of old. Do not our hearts say:

"O largely give, 'tis all Thine own,
The Spirit's goodly fruit!"?

One finds oneself so inconstant and variable oftentimes, but that divine power which gives all things that pertain to life and godliness can form in us even now something of that which beloved J.N.D. had in view when he wrote

"And filled with Thee, the constant mind
Eternally is blest ."..

Yours very affectionately in Him,

September 27th, 1909.


MY DEAR --, -- ... I was, and am, very interested in all that you told me of what you heard lately from one and another of the Lord's servants, and also to know about the friend about whom you have been so exercised. These things show us very distinctly that nothing but a gracious work of God in the soul can prepare one to receive the gospel concerning His Son. We are wholly cast upon Him as to anyone for whom we desire spiritual blessing. Continue to pray for your friend. It is pleasing to God that you should do so, and the fact that she is so much laid upon your heart is an encouragement to believe that He has purposes of blessing for her. You may have the joy in that day of knowing that your prayerful interest in her was a distinct link in the chain of God's blessed way in grace towards her. You may be sure that such exercises as these are never in vain. Nothing that takes us in child-like confidence to God could be without result. Blessed be His Name!

I trust you are feeling better for the change to Folkestone, and especially that it helped your father's health.

It is a wonderful thing that the Lord has furnished us with so many opportunities for the outflow of those divine affections which His grace has wrought in us. He has put us in the circle of "His own", and in that way given us the same objects as His own heart is set upon. In loving the saints,

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and seeking their good, and finding our interests in their welfare we are practically delivered from the things of this present evil world. The youngest and feeblest can thus contribute to the prosperity of what is so precious to the Father and to Christ. If our thoughts and affections go off into other things we become no longer helpful and contributory in God's house, but are rather hindrances to the general flow of refreshment and edification. How important, then, my dear sister, that we should keep Christ's commandments and thus abide in His love! He has bidden us love one another as He has loved us. What a holy love is His! How He ever desires our complete separation from all that is of the world and therefore not of the Father! How He desires us to be intelligent in all that is of Himself and of the Father! And all this holy and sanctifying solicitude is to characterise our love one to another as His own -- a love that ever seeks the spiritual enrichment of those towards whom it flows. One may feel how feeble one is to help much in a direct way, but at any rate one can pray and this service in prayer is perhaps the greatest of any services we can render. See how the beloved apostle Paul breaks off, as it were, in the midst of writing to the Ephesians to pour out his heart's desires for them to God and to the Father (see chapters 1 and 3). May we have grace to serve a little in this way, my dear sister! May every divine encouragement be yours as you with purpose of heart cleave to the Lord!

Yours affectionately in the Lord,

September 29th, 1909.


DEAR --, -- It was quite a shock to me this morning to hear of the home-going of your beloved sister, for I had not heard of her being worse in health than usual. I feel her departure as a personal loss, for she was an old and true friend, and one with whom I have had much precious intercourse and communion in the holy things of God. It is blessed to know that all this is of an abiding and eternal order. Spiritual links endure, and will be our joy in the ages to come, after all that is of the present natural order has passed away. Yet the departure of a saint, and especially one with whom we have had strengthening and refreshing communion, is a real exercise, and is intended by the Lord to be so.

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Your beloved sister loved the Lord and His things, and her heart cared for His interests. During all the years I have known her I have always found in her a true response to everything that was of God and savoured of Christ. And the departure of such a one leaves a gap in the ranks of testimony here which we ought to feel, and which we do feel.

As to yourself, my beloved sister, my heart has bowed before the Father of mercies that He may grant you in abundant measure His own consolations. Every sorrow is intended to be a road by which we travel into some enlarged discovery of the fulness of Christ. To learn the Son of God as the Resurrection and the Life required such an hour as John 11 speaks of. And it was in such an hour that He spake of seeing "the glory of God". May you realise the nearness and succour of that blessed living One, and find your heart stayed by the consciousness of His love! And I pray that all needed wisdom for the way may be given you. I wish I could be with you to render any little help. But as I cannot I shall the more commend you to God, who will be your refuge and strength.

I will not add more as I know you will have much to think of, but I could not refrain from sending a line to assure you of what you knew before, that my deep interest and sympathy are most fully with you in this hour of sorrow.

With much love in the Lord Jesus,

Yours very affectionately in Him,

December 19th, 1909.


DEAR --, -- I am glad to have been able to see you this afternoon and to hear something of the closing days of your beloved sister. I shall ever cherish her remembrance as one whose heart always gave a true response to whatever was of Christ and His interests. And as she was in her life so she was in the ending of her days -- occupied with Him, and finding delight in His preciousness. "The memory of the just is blessed" and one realises it to be so in the case of your sister.

With very much love in the Lord Jesus,

Yours ever affectionately in Him,

February 4th, 1910.


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MY DEAR --, -- ... I think the word in John 14, "I am coming to you" is characteristic of the present period during which the world sees Him no more. It is a general statement which may be realised by the individual or by a collected company. Illustrations of each aspect of it are to be found in John 20. Of course it does not apply to the individual strictly as an individual, but as one of a certain privileged company. And what is vouchsafed to the individual in the manifestation of Himself would prepare each to look more distinctly to realise that peculiar privilege of His presence which is known in the midst of His saints. I quite agree with what you say as to it. It must be remembered, and it is a very blessed thing to remember, that a saint in complete isolation is privileged to take account of himself as being of a wonderful and divinely privileged company. J.B.S. told me on his death-bed that he had never realised so much what it was to be of the assembly as he had since he had been confined to his bedroom. It is this individual instruction in the Lord's mind that I conceive to be of vital importance in view of our coming together.

"I will manifest myself to him" is clearly individual, yet surely there is something very special and distinctive about this, which goes far beyond what is conveyed in the words, "I will never leave thee", blessed as these latter may be in themselves. The latter is a comforting and encouraging divine assurance, but the former is the manifestation to the heart of a divine Person in all His infinite blessedness, glory, and love...

Yours affectionately in the Lord,

November 19th, 1910.


MY DEAR --, -- ... Have you thought of Mark 4:35 - 39 as a figure of the present time? The Lord is asleep: that is, He is not intervening in any outward way to quiet the wind or waves that buffet His own. The question is, Are we content to trust Him asleep? To bear the buffetings of the storm in the quiet rest of knowing that He is near, even if He moves not to still the tumult? To do so is the present triumph of faith. How often, alas! unbelief wakes Him, instead of the soul being subject to the charge addressed to the daughters of Jerusalem: "I charge you, daughters of Jerusalem, by

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the gazelles, or by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please", Song of Songs 3:5. The gazelle and the hind suggest the swiftness with which He can move when the suited moment comes, and He pleases to arise and deliver His own. Till then it is our wisdom to trust Him in all His love and power so near us, though outwardly He gives no sign of moving on our behalf. Depend upon it, though He may sleep as to outward intervention, His heart wakes with deep and abiding interest in His own and all their testings and sorrows.

Yours very affectionately in Him,

February 26th, 1912.


... The subject of eternal life seems to be coming to the front again. I have had an impression ever since dear F.E.R.'s departure that the whole question would be raised again sooner or later. F.E.R.'s thoughts as to it were rejected at Gloucester, and I think he felt from that time that brethren in this country were not ready for the truth. You will have noticed how the subject developed in his mind, between the two volumes of American readings. In the first he connected eternal life with sonship; in the second he connected it with children. I think his contention that eternal life comes in in contrast to all that obtains here in a scene of sin and death and dearth, and that it is connected with earth is most important and indeed essential to the right apprehension of the truth. All this gives the truth as to eternal life such an intensely practical and present bearing, that one can hardly wonder that there should be found some degree of reluctance to come face to face with it.

May, 1912.


MY BELOVED BROTHER, -- I have read your papers with interest on Matthew 14 - 16, and "Christ in the Midst".

I am glad to have seen the latter paper as it gives me opportunity of sending you a few lines on the subject of your last letter to me.

There is much in your paper which I believe to be of great importance and value. Your remarks on the Supper and what it leads to, seem to me to express the truth clearly as to how

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the Lord leads His own into conscious association with Himself where we can be in accord with His praise. And this has to be reached spiritually -- reached by following Him in spirit.

Now it seems to me that the assembly in the midst of which He sings praise is viewed in the light of having reached this place of spiritual privilege in virtue of the drawing and leading of which you speak. He sings in the midst of a company in perfect accord with Himself. That this is God's mind for all His saints is certain, but it is equally certain that but few have reached it in spiritual reality. I am sure that you would labour that this should be wrought in the souls of the saints in divine power and reality, and I believe this to be a necessary condition for the fulfilment of Hebrews 2:12.

This is why I hesitate about using the terms "abstract", "general", and "unconditional" in connection with this Scripture. These terms seem to me to suggest that what is involved in the verse is true of all saints apart from the work of God which alone could make it spiritually good. That it is for them in God's mind and purpose I rejoice to believe, but there are many, alas! who have never reached it.

To sing praise in the midst of the assembly is a characteristic position and action of Christ, but I do not see that it is necessarily a continuous action. The coming together of saints in assembly is an abiding characteristic of Christianity, but this does not imply that it is continuous at all times.

The assembly gives expression to its existence by coming together, and thus takes form locally in every place where saints call on the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And it seems to me that the enjoyment of assembly privilege is connected with this, and would be entered upon in proportion to the spirituality of the saints, and the measure in which the work of God has become effective in them. And I look upon Hebrews 2:11, 12, as the crown of assembly privilege -- the goal which divine love has set before our hearts in all its blessedness and attractiveness to draw us on to its realisation, and to make it an exercise and desire that we may reach it on each occasion when coming together in assembly.

I do not think that the presence of Christ "in the midst of the assembly" can be applied in a general sense as being true of all the saints of God apart from being convened, or apart from that spiritual formation which alone would qualify

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them to be of the assembly viewed in the height of its calling and privilege. The assembly viewed in this light is not only the result of Christ's death and victory, but it is the product of a mighty and divine spiritual work in the souls of all who compose it. Apart from this effective operation of God it has no real spiritual being ...

I am sure you will understand that I am expressing my thoughts as one desiring to learn on such matters rather than as setting up to teach.

With very much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

August 1st, 1912.


MY DEAR --, -- It always gives me pleasure to see your handwriting, and I thank you for your letter and the pamphlet.

I will say briefly how the first part of Ephesians 2 presents itself to me. The apostle prays that the Ephesian saints should know "what the surpassing greatness of his power towards us who believe, according to the working of the might of his strength, in which he wrought in the Christ in raising him from among the dead". It is of all importance that the saints should estimate in a divine way the greatness of God's power towards them. It is not only that He wrought in the Christ, but it is according to the working which He wrought in Christ that His power is towards us who believe. That power expressed itself once in the Christ in raising Him from among the dead, and this is the measure of the power that is towards those who believe, and is exercised in the way of quickening with the Christ, etc., those who had previously been dead in offences and sins. What blessed encouragement there is in considering that so great a power is toward us -- a power that quickened men, and raised them up from the earth and made them sit down in the heavenlies in Christ! To make this simply purpose is to my mind to destroy all the force of the Scripture. It is Gentiles and Jews -- persons having a past history as such on earth, and whose condition and walk are described in the passage, who by the working of God's power -- the outcome of His rich mercy and great love -- are quickened with the Christ. It is the saints viewed not in the light of purpose, but of God's workmanship; that is, it is purpose effectuated by God's power -- spiritually now, actually

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at the rapture. We thus see the height, the blessedness, to which that power can raise men in Christ. Is that power towards all saints? Surely it is, for God's thought and purpose comprehend all saints, but one could not say that all have come by God's power to this height of blessing. I do not think the apostle would have written Ephesians 2 to the Corinthians or even to the Thessalonians. I believe it was effectuated spiritually in a company of Gentiles and Jews, and that the apostle in writing as he did took account of a divine work by which it had been made good in those to whom he wrote. It may not have been spiritually wrought in many, but it was there as full Christianity -- this product of God's mighty power in men. To take it up as true of all saints apart from the divine work in them by which it is made good in spiritual power, seems to me to be the revival in an extreme form of the idea of "standing". That it is God's thought for all saints is true, but saints are only really in it as His thought is made good by His work.

With very much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

January 12th, 1913.


MY DEAR --, -- ... I am not equal to much, but it is nice to see one's brethren. There is mutual refreshment even if one cannot impart very much. Exhortation is very important. Teaching imparts instruction, but exhortation is encouraging and stimulating one another to press on in the path which teaching has indicated to us. It incites to movement of soul, and nothing can be of greater practical importance than that we should be kept in spiritual movement. The ministry of Christ supplies motive for all movement, and it is He Himself who is the goal towards which all spiritual movement leads -- the Prize of hearts that seek and follow Him because they love Him....

Yours affectionately in Him,

May 26th, 1913.


... We had two readings at -- on Monday. We took up liberty in connection with headship and sonship in the afternoon (part of John 8 was read), and as there was a general

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desire to continue the subject in the evening we read Galatians 4. The thought that seemed impressed on my spirit was that we were called to be in the light of Christ, and of what is in heaven. God would have us to take every step in the pathway here in the light of the glorious end which His love has purposed for us. This would make us practically a heavenly people, and set us free from every influence which is of the world and from beneath. And, on the other hand, we should be in the holy freedom of that circle of divine affections to which we properly belong through infinite mercy and grace. One feels that nothing but being in heavenly light with appreciative and responsive affections will keep us steady in such a moment as this. But amidst all the upheaval and overturning of the last days we may have the blessed light of love shining brightly in our hearts by the Spirit. Paul says, "it pleased God ... to reveal his Son in me". This gives the character of what God is doing -- making His Son, the glorious Man in heaven, the suited Object of His delight and love -- known in our affections by the Spirit. Let us pray for one another that the light and power of this may fill all our hearts amidst the darkness which deepens around us, and that the beloved saints may come out more distinctly in the heavenly colour.

August 7th, 1914.


MY DEAR --, -- ... It is good to consider Christ. We lose much of the sweetness we might enjoy by coming to Scripture to find what relates to ourselves. That is, our own comfort, or circumstances, or personal exercises, often have predominance in our thoughts. But all these are divinely met, and much more than met, as we consider Him. And as we do so the heart is invigorated in every spiritual capacity, and its affections quickened, in presence of what is infinitely perfect and blessed. And none have such deep and true self-judgment as those whose earnest gaze is fixed on that Holy One. We have been seeing lately here that the sin offering comes after the three others in which the perfections of Christ are disclosed. That is, it is in the light of all that Christ is, and only there, that we can rightly estimate sin, or value the holy work in which it has been condemned and wholly removed from before God for ever.

Ponder Him as the burnt offering, the meat offering, and

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the peace offering -- and what a delightful and satisfying study this is for the heart -- and then you will judge that all that is not Christ must needs be condemned, that He alone may remain for God and for His saints; and the sin offering is the way in which this has been accomplished.

With very much love in the Lord,

Yours very affectionately,

December 4th, 1914.


... All that deepens exercise, and increases our sense of dependence, is good for us in the end. Indeed, whatever tends to more habitual reference to God is a help spiritually. I feel for you in all the exercise you have had in these circumstances, and pray for you both that you may get some special compensation.

We have been reading Leviticus and have found it very interesting. It does not give us the gospel side, God's movements towards us, but it gives in much instructive detail the movements of our hearts towards God. God loves to make Christ the subject of all our heart movements towards Himself. And from whatever point of right exercise in our souls we turn Godward there is but one blessed Person who becomes the substance of consideration, praise, delight and appropriation. The end in view is two-fold -- that we should be supremely happy and that we should minister to God's pleasure.

He has provided in Christ for the full effectuation of both these great results. The first seven chapters are preparatory to priesthood. If we are not confirmed in the good of chapters 1 to 7 we cannot touch chapter 8. In chapter 8 the whole assembly is gathered for the purpose of being instructed in priesthood. God expects the whole assembly to be deeply interested in priesthood. Chapter 8 shows us the different things in the power of which priesthood is exercised -- the washing, the anointing, the blood on ear, thumb and toe, the hands filled, etc., It is all deeply interesting.

January, 1915.


... It is striking how the Spirit is giving prominence to the "brethren", and the practical side of that bond in which God would have all saints to be knit together. In a path of

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separation, where so many exercises have brought home to saints the necessity for standing apart, the danger is very great that we get narrowed in heart, and do not in truth recognise the divine value of saints as subjects of God's blessed work. It is really a question of what the saints are in our thought of them. If a brother is in an unhealthy state spiritually, and I entertain the thought that he is not worth troubling about, I plainly indicate that I no more know his divine value than he does himself! I believe we have very little understood the power of help and recovery which lies in saints as walking in love. There is a power to gain and restore, the virtues of which the Lord is exercising us about, and which is vital to the testimony at a time when so many efforts are being made to disintegrate, and to foster elements of friction locally.

March 18th, 1915.


MY DEAR --, -- ... I am glad to know your exercises in regard to the Supper. I can quite understand the desire that you have cherished in your heart as to this precious privilege, and I believe the Lord greatly appreciates your affection for Himself which has created and maintained the desire. Brethren used to have breaking of bread with invalids frequently in bygone years. I remember breaking bread once with an invalid sister myself along with two other brothers. But as time has passed on I think we have all been learning -- I am sure you have as well as others -- to regard the Supper less as individual privilege, and more as that which is taken up by the Christian company. I think as presented in Scripture it is, as beloved F.E.R. used to say, the rallying point for the Christian company.

It is that by which the saints are locally convened from time to time, and are thus found "in assembly". Scripture supposes the whole Christian company as coming together to break bread. "When ye come together to eat". Indeed I think the expression "come together" occurs four or five times in 1 Corinthians 11. It is the Lord's way of bringing His own together so that their hearts may be in spiritual contact with each other, in blessed engagement with Himself in His pre-eminent love of which the assembly is the subject. He has a company here loved infinitely by Him, and He appointed

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the Supper to be eaten together by that company as expressing their appreciation of His love, not simply as blessed individuals, but as those who confess in thus eating it together the peculiar bond which makes them one.

Now amongst believers generally all the peculiar sweetness of this is lost. They take what they call "the communion", but in their thoughts it is entirely individual. Pious souls take it in affectionate gratitude to their Saviour and Lord, and have Him before them in doing so, and no doubt find blessing. But there is not the thought of coming into heart-contact with His own, so as to be found in that blessed unity of responsive affection which is the true privilege of the Christian company, and which would, if known, result in a blessed unity of testimony to the absent One on the part of all His own. The more one thinks of what the Supper is in the heart and mind of Christ, the more is one impressed with the thought that it holds a peculiar and central place in the circle of His own. And the voice of His love in the Supper addresses itself to the whole company of His own. You will say, They do not all -- respond. No, but they ought to. If the Supper is being eaten anywhere it claims on the Lord's part the participation of every one who loves Him. There is nothing personal or private about it. If it is truly the Lord's supper it is His call to His company to come together, and being together thus they are "in assembly".

Now it is the consideration of all this, and much more might be added, which would hinder me (if I were confined at home) from desiring to have the Supper as a private and personal privilege. I should prefer to accept the ways and orderings of God for me, and recognise His hand in the deprivation. I would seek to be in spirit with the company who were eating the Supper, and would engage my heart with that which was before them. In this way I should expect to participate in their joy and gain, though not permitted to take my place in the body with them.

I have written freely just what is in my mind because you asked me; and not with any desire that you should look at it as I do unless the Lord commends what I say to your heart and judgment as being of Himself.

Yours very affectionately,

May 6th, 1916.


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... The whole matter of compulsory military service is a new exercise for us. I think it has already been productive of real spiritual gain to many. There has been so much liberty in this country, that it has almost came to be regarded as a right that one should be free to choose his own path. I mean Christians have practically regarded it as a right to be contended for. And there has been a danger that, under the plea of holding oneself for God, there should be an unsubject spirit in relation to authorities which exist by His ordinance. It is only by evidencing our complete submission to these authorities in matters which do not infringe upon what is due to God that we can give force to any stand which we may have to make at a point which we cannot pass in the fear of God. I think the "conscience clause" is a peculiar mercy of God to the saints in this country. Such a thing would hardly be thought of in any other country.

Speaking generally, I think the young brethren have behaved well and there has been much true and simple confession of Jesus as Lord, which will not be without far-reaching effect. And the conduct of our brethren in their new conditions has been such as to differentiate in a very marked way between them and the many and various kinds of so-called conscientious objectors to combatant service which the authorities have had to deal with.

The very ease of our circumstances has tended to make us theoretical Christians rather than practical ones. And so many precious things have been held in an abstract way as truth, without their true virtue and blessedness being known in the conscience and affections. The ministry has been in excess of the praying, I fear, with many, and therefore it has not been developed by the work of God in the souls of the saints.

Now if the present conditions and exercises have done anything, it is in the way of drawing the saints to God in real dependence and in seeing His will and the will of the Lord. And this is a good moral foundation for our growth and progress.

June 15th, 1916.


MY DEAR --, -- I was very pleased to have your letter and enclosures, all of which I have read with much interest. It is nice that you have come into touch with a soul that evidently has Spirit -- wrought desires and exercises, though evidently

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needing a good deal of help as to what is of an elementary nature in Christianity. It is a favour from the Lord to have an opportunity of contact with such, and I cannot but feel that He has given you special opportunities of service in this way with different ones. It is a compensation far your bodily weakness which so limits your activities. How good to be in His hand, and to be found, even in the smallest way, meet for His use! Do we not need, my dear sister, to keep much with Him in prayer, and to cultivate holy watchfulness so that nothing may interfere with the gracious designs which He has to have us here for His service and pleasure?

I think you have answered your friend well and wisely, and I trust that much blessing may attend what you have said so that it may be real spiritual help to her. There is nothing that I think need be altered. The only thing that perhaps it might be well to guard is what you have said as to baptism, lest she might get the idea that it was a kind of private matter only between the soul and God. Of course you are seeking to lead her away from the Baptist thought of "an open confession", but it must not be overlooked that baptism really puts you in a new position on earth. It is burial; it is a giving up of place and status here -- a going out of the world morally as Israel went out of Egypt -- to take up an entirely new manner of life here as under the lordship of Christ. And it is the Christian's privilege to have his household identified with himself in this new position. It is, in a way, the public ground one takes, though not quite as testimony, but as the only true position we can stand in in the light of the fact that Christ has died here. I am not writing this that you should pass it on to her, but just to suggest that you might perhaps modify one or two expressions so that she might not be led to think of baptism as a private matter, but that she might see that it is the public ground which Christians take in profession, and according to which they are responsible, even though they may not be prepared to be true to their baptism. Nothing but affection for Christ will really teach us what baptism means, or enable us to be true to it. I often think of Joseph and Nicodemus returning from the burial of Jesus! I think if it had been proposed to them to be baptised to His death they would have been ready for it. You could not imagine either of them going back to take their seats in the council! They had gone out of the world morally with Him who had became

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Lord to them, and this prepares one to take that ground in a sense publicly in baptism.

I must not add more at present. Please accept my very much love in the Lord, and convey the same to -- .

Yours very affectionately in Him,

November 16th, 1916.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- I am glad you noticed the sequence of things in the history of Paul as corresponding with what we have seen to be the case during the last century. I had thought of it myself as being a very interesting analogy.

In the assembly everything works from the top, and for this very reason the things at the bottom -- if we may so speak of the responsible life -- must be in moral keeping with what is at the top. How could there be moral disparity in a system which on every plane is of God? Thus the moral line and the purpose line are ever in harmony, and the more we look into Scripture the more we see the wisdom of God in maintaining both. Our great weakness really lies on the moral side. G.V.W. in 1855 said that brethren had received and enjoyed the truth of the assembly, but that they were not in spiritual power in the kingdom, and that this was the secret of all the feebleness and failure. A very striking testimony from a man of God!

With much love in the Lord,

Yours very affectionately;

January 30th, 1917.


We are almost at the end now of our series of readings on the death of the Lord Jesus as viewed in the different epistles. One more reading on Ephesians 5 will, I think, conclude them. I feel I should like to go over them all again, and get a little more deeply into the import of all that is presented. We had Ephesians 4 on Thursday -- the Lord's death as His great victory, the spoils of which He distributes amongst His friends.

It is a solemn time of exercise, both for the world and for the children of God. If humbly accepted it will all turn to great blessing, but heart and conscience work is but shallow even in the mass of the converted. It is good for us to be storing up the preciousness of Christ in our hearts and thus to be furnished with supplies of that which cannot fail, and able to pass on to others some of the unsearchable riches. It

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is a beautiful thing that is said of David -- "having in his own generation ministered to the will of God"! None of us is excluded from the privilege and dignity of such a life as this. May it be ours to walk in faith while here below, and to abide in Christ and in the love of God!

May 6th, 1917.


MY DEAR MR. --, -- It is most kind of you to write to me under your present circumstances of trial and sorrow. I esteem it a very real privilege to think of you and yours in prayer, and I trust you may see the hand of God in a merciful deliverance. He considers so blessedly for us in all our weakness and need. You have proved this in very distinct ways in time past, and I look to Him to give you further experience of it at this time of renewed anxiety and sorrow. It is blessed to see in the gospels how the Lord not only met the needs of those personally afflicted, but how He considered for the affections of those who loved them. We see this in connection with the nobleman's son, and Jairus' daughter, and the raising of the widow's son at Nain. He loved to show a double mercy -- relieving the actual malady, or setting aside even death itself for the one under it, but at the same time caring so tenderly for those whose affections suffered because of what had come on those they loved. I trust you may prove this double mercy in His own time. You may be sure I shall continue to think of you and shall be glad when you are able to let me know of any improvement.

I desire to thank you most heartily for your very kind and loving gift. I appreciate most highly your care and fellowship thus expressed, and as you wish me to get some bodily comfort with it I intend to get a warm overcoat with it, which will not only be a bodily comfort, but a continual cheer to my heart as a witness of your love. It was a very great pleasure to me that you came here, and especially that you were able to be in this house for part of the time. I look back upon it with happy remembrances of our intercourse with regard to those precious things which infinite grace has made our common portion and joy ...

With much love in the Lord, and very true sympathy,

I remain,

Yours affectionately in Him,

October 5th, 1917.


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MY DEAR --, -- I was very glad indeed to receive your letter, and to know that you have definitely decided to give up your school work. I have felt for some time that you were attempting to do more than you had strength for, and I am thankful that you have recognised this. I think it is very likely that rest and change, and removal for the time from the region of those terrible raids, may restore you to a very considerable measure of strength. And thus you may be enabled to remain here for the comfort and help of saints, and find opportunity of service such as will fill up your time in a way according to the desire of your heart. You have certainly not been in a hurry to seek freedom from the yoke, and I am sure it is good to bear it until the Lord's time comes to relieve us of it. J.B.S. often said that one's peculiar calling was his training for spiritual service, but, if one is thoroughly broken in, the training has done its work and its effects remain after one is relieved of it.

I think I can enter into all your exercises perhaps rather more sympathetically than some, for I have had a fairly long drilling in the school of bodily weakness. It is trying to find oneself curbed and restrained on all hands, but I believe that if we accept the limitations which are imposed on us we get enlargements even in the way of openings for service in quite unexpected directions. I have prayed for you very often that you might be greatly succoured under the discipline you have had, and I trust that the gain of it may now become available for the good of many others through your liberation from your school duties. I am very glad that you are able to give up your work without any anxiety of the financial side, and I hope you will find the relief very beneficial to your health, as I believe it will be. I heartily appreciate your confidence and am truly interested in every detail of which you speak, and I shall continue, by the grace of the Lord, to pray for you that you may be directed by Him in all your way.

As to the exercises in --, one is thankful for the measure of quieting down as to public agitation, whatever may be the reason for it. Time is all in favour of the furtherance of divine exercise, and the more things are weighed, and prayed over, the clearer will saints become as to the matters in question ... In different ways the Lord is calling attention to the importance of the moral side, and saints are being helped to see what a spiritual reality Christianity is.

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One is sorry for those who seem to be cloudy as to what is at issue, but the Lord will over-rule this to promote exercise, and will, I trust, make things clear to all, and especially to those whom we so truly love and whom we value so highly ... With very much love in the Lord,

Yours ever very affectionately,

October 7th, 1917.


MY DEAR MR. --, -- It was very good of you to write and tell me of your dear daughter's progress. I have thought much of you all in relation to this very trying exercise, and have been seeking the Lord that He would minister to each of you just the gracious succour that you each need. He is very mindful of us in all our weakness, and I pray that you may have rich experience of His faithfulness at the present time.

I was truly thankful to know of some improvement, and of natural sleep being enjoyed by the dear one, and I trust that you are still encouraged by seeing steady improvement. The saints are indeed a "poor and afflicted people", but it is in the circumstances of creature weakness, and often under a deep sense of personal failure, that we learn to trust in the name of the Lord.

It is far better to be exercised and disciplined under His hand, however humbling to us the process may be, that we may learn the grace, love, and faithfulness of God, than to be left to a smooth path in which our souls might never really rise above nature's level. We may well assure ourselves that it is "by these things men live". The Father of spirits is concerned about the life of our spirits. On our side the constant exercise is neither to despise the chastening nor to faint under it. It is the active interest of love, and comes in to help us to run the race that lies before us. It girds us up, and holds in check those natural tendencies which might otherwise divert us from looking stedfastly on Jesus.

May the Saviour's present grace cheer your heart!

With much love in the Lord to Mrs. -- and yourself,

Yours affectionately in Him,

November 1st, 1917.


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MY DEAR --, -- ... I am much interested in all you have told me of the very cheering work of grace in the lady to whom you let your house. It is indeed very gracious of the Lord to give you a link with this soul, and to give you the joy of seeing her brought to Himself. He knows that you cannot move about much, so He sends one and another to you that you may share with Him the joy of their blessing. What a blessed Master He is! He really does everything Himself, and yet He loves to associate His own with Himself in all that His grace does. Indeed He loves to have us with Him in all things, and to share all that He has and all that He does with us.

It was a very real pleasure to me to send you the little books, and I hope you will let me know when you can use a further supply. I cannot personally get about much, so I doubly value the opportunity of speaking to souls through the little printed papers, and I value your co-operation in helping to spread them. Prayer gives great efficacy even to the feeblest service, and I trust that in spite of our feeble bodies we may be able to continue in persevering prayer as to all the Lord's interests as He permits us to touch them personally....

Yours very affectionately,

November 23rd, 1917.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- It gave me much pleasure to have your letter, as I have very often thought of you and prayed for you from time to time.

I am very thankful for all you are able to tell me of the spiritual exercises of the dear brethren. It encourages me to continue in prayer, feeling confident that the Lord has very definite instruction and blessing in view for us all in the new experiences we are passed through. It has struck me that the brethren of what we may call the present generation have not had the deep and special exercises through which our elders found the divine path in keeping with the truth and the testimony of our Lord. Things have been to a large extent ready-made for us, and, while this has been in the way of infinite goodness and mercy to us, it is also true that we have missed, perhaps, some of the maturity and solidity that might have been gained by deeper exercise.

Now a wholly new set of circumstances has arisen, more specially and directly affecting the younger brethren, and

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one cannot help feeling that the Lord is giving them in this way to wait in a very real way upon Himself, so that they may learn His mind and be confirmed in what is of God and find for themselves the divine path for this day. Trained men are needed for the ranks of the testimony in its last solemn hours, and one would earnestly desire to be such as the Lord can support for His Name's sake in true correspondence with Himself and responsive to Him in the affections of the bride at such a time as this.

I am sure that the consideration of God will yield much profit to those who seek Him as to it. I am sure the natural mind is not able to give due place to both sovereignty and responsibility and hence all theological systems fail on one side or the other. But it is clear that Scripture maintains both, and the spiritual mind is always in accord with Scripture.

God carries out His purposes in the sovereignty of His mercy and love; if He did not do so, they would most certainly fail completely, man being what he is. But the work of God is a moral one, and God addresses Himself to the conscience and heart of His poor fallen creature, and deals with him in a thousand ways which recognise his responsibility and awaken the sense of it in his soul. The fear of God might almost be defined as the recognition of responsibility on man's part; yet it is undoubtedly brought about by a sovereign act of God in new birth. God works sovereignly along lines which always recognise and maintain responsibility. The principle runs all through the history of the saints also. God is working out in them His purpose, which will culminate in their being conformed to the image of His Son in glory. But in view of purpose He works along moral lines, and on this line the obedience of faith comes in, self-judgment, watchfulness and prayer, purpose of heart to cleave to the Lord, faith in Christ Jesus and love to the saints, Christ as Object and Teacher, meekness and lowliness as learned of Him. Sowing to the Spirit and walking in the Spirit come in here also, and all this and everything connected with the moral exercises of the saints cannot be dissociated from the thought of responsibility. Thus the moral or responsible line and purpose line are very intimately blended in Christianity and both will ultimately coalesce, when saints are seen not only as the fruit of God's purpose, but also as the subjects of His work and ways. We only reach the land, the sphere of purpose, through the wilderness and

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through the innumerable exercises to which our responsible history gives occasion. At the end of the wilderness it can be said of the saints: "What hath God wrought!" They are brought into moral suitability for introduction into the land. We cannot mentally reconcile sovereignty and responsibility, but we can spiritually, as seeing that the maintenance of both is essential. The Spirit alone can maintain the right balance of the two in our thoughts and I am sure, as we go on, we learn to attach the true value to each, neither letting ourselves off easily by enfeebling the thought of responsibility, nor stopping short of that depth of holy self-judgment that casts us altogether upon sovereign mercy and love.

With much love in the Lord,

Your affectionate brother,
1918.


... I think amidst all the exercises of the present time one learns to value in a special way every movement of divine love. And it is a real comfort to know that every such movement is a bit of what is eternal, and of that which will be for ever our bond and joy.

I have very often thought of you in relation to your long time of bodily weakness, and have felt for you and your husband in all the exercise of it. I am very thankful that you are now somewhat enlarged, and able to get to meetings, etc. I can sympathise with you better than many for I have passed that way myself. I can never forget the eight months when I had no meetings, and very little intercourse with saints. And yet, like yourself, I can bear witness to an exceeding bounty of goodness and mercy in it all, and I do not look upon it as lost time.

I think there is something about a "vow" which the Lord values very much. It seems to suggest an energy of affection which delights to express itself. The Nazarite vow was "unto the Lord"; it supposed that Jehovah was so known as to command the heart, and provision was made for the free action of devoted affections. I do not doubt the principle of it comes out in Romans 6. J.N.D. used to say that in that chapter we are set free, and then the question is, What is the freed man going to do? He yields himself, etc. Romans 12 is on the same line, and also 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15. It would be an immense

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loss to let this side of the soul's exercises drop. There is movement on God's part in Romans 3, 4 and 5, but on our side in chapters 6, 7 and 8. The Lord has emphasised the connection between the two in ordaining that wherever the gospel is preached Mary's anointing Him should be spoken of. The tendency is, I am afraid, not to observe this ordinance of the Lord! Much is made of movements and actings on the divine side -- and too much cannot be made of these blessed actings -- but the answering movement of heart by which something is secured for God and for Christ in man is not so fully asserted as it might be. Is the explanation that the preachers are not so warmly sympathetic with the woman's state of heart as they might be? Certain dear brethren were not so even at the time when she paid her vows!

November 12th, 1918.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- The question raised by your reading of Leviticus 7 is interesting and important, and the contrast suggested by John 6 contains much that is instructive.

It seems to me that eating the offerings is with a view to the reproduction of what is eaten; it becomes characteristic of the person who eats, it forms him spiritually. The fat and the blood were never to be eaten because what they speak of is peculiar to Christ; the saints will never take character from Christ in that which is set forth in these two things. There is that in the Person of Christ which is exclusively for the Father's delight, that which is inscrutable to human eye, a richness and perfection which God only can appropriate. That is the fat. Then the blood is given "upon the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul. Therefore have I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood", Leviticus 17:11, 12. Christ is absolutely alone in making atonement; it is a character in which saints do not participate at all. This is obvious. We can neither be what He was, nor do what He did in the way of atonement, and this is emphasised in the prohibition of eating the fat and the blood.

But when we come to John 6 we are on an entirely different line. It is not atonement that is in view. "The bread of God is he who comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world", verse 33. It is a question of life according to divine

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purpose being given to men, and in order to reach it there must be the appropriation of Christ as the One whose flesh has been given for the life of the world. We have to learn that on the natural line we have no life in ourselves. Eating of the loaves might sustain natural life for a time, but all that order of things is under death. We have to come into a spiritual order of things to know anything really of life, and we only pass from the natural to the spiritual by appropriating Christ as giving His flesh for the life of the world. The love of God has opened up to us a way out, but it is by eating the flesh of the Son of man and drinking His blood. The fact that He has come into death for us shows the impossibility of connecting life with what we are naturally, but it is the blessed manifestation of divine love "come down" (words specially characteristic of this chapter) to the lowest point that in the appropriation of it we might live spiritually. We appropriate that which has come from far above us, but which has placed itself within our reach in the only spot where it could be truly food and drink for us -- even in death. We do not drink the blood in its atoning character -- that is exclusively for God, meeting His holy glory in every way as to sin -- but we drink it as the blessed witness of divine love that would come down into death so that there might be a way out for us from everything that we were naturally, and that we might appropriate the flesh and blood of the Son of man as the manifestation of a love which we could have known in no other way. It is our way into life spiritually in the blessed knowledge of what has come down.

I trust these few remarks may help. John 6 is a very wonderful part of Scripture, and one is thankful for every occasion of meditating upon it.
1918.


MY DEAR --, -- ... It was a comfort to me that (without knowing of any controversy) your spiritual instincts had kept you on the right track. It is better to feel things intuitively than to be reasoned into them even by Scripture, for the former is the living exercise of Spirit -- taught affections while the latter might only be orthodoxy. Of course spiritual instincts will always be in accord with Scripture, and will be confirmed by Scripture. I will not now go into any controverted points,

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as I feel that you have got a just estimate of where the truth lies without my doing so ... Any one may make an unsatisfactory statement, or a positively defective one, and one would wish to bear with mere infirmities of expression (to which we are all more or less liable). But sometimes our own importance gets unconsciously connected with what we say, and then it becomes a difficulty to admit any imperfection. How much grace we all need, and how much the dear brethren who serve in the ministry of the word need our prayers, that they may be preserved in the unity of the testimony, and not diverted or damaged in any way!

Yours very affectionately in Him,
1918.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- It was very good of you to let me know of your present very serious exercises, for I truly value the privilege of taking them up with you sympathetically and in prayer. I mentioned it also to the brothers after the reading last night, and they were all in much brotherly interest, and all will, I am sure, be remembering you in the place where remembrance is most availing. I hope also to mention it on Monday to all present so that there may be united prayer, so that you may count upon it that your visits to Teignmouth have secured the affectionate interest in you of a few who love God. And we shall earnestly seek mercy for you and your dear wife in this time of trial. One could say, "The Lord had mercy on him, and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow". The Lord often considers, not only for the service which He may wish to retain us for, but for the affections and sensibilities of His saints. It is pleasing to Him that we should wish to retain here those whose hearts are engaged with Him and His interests, and He is observant of every such movement of affection. In the meantime may He greatly comfort your heart, and give you peaceful confidence in Himself as to all things! We have been much struck in 2 Corinthians 6:2 how the saints are put in the place of Christ to be acceptable so as to be heard in all their petitions as He was. So that divine help comes freely to them, and they prove that it is a day of salvation. The result comes out in the next few verses where a man is seen who can go through every kind of circumstance, and every possible contrast of

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reception, in the power of God's salvation. He is like Hannah; he has a rejoicing heart, an opened mouth, an exalted horn. Christ is practically continued here in him.

I am sure this is the line your heart is set for, and there is absolutely no limit to the free-giving of God in answer to the prayer of such. The principle goes on all through -- "If thou knewest ... thou wouldest have asked ... He would have given". In some feeble sense of this my heart is comforted in turning to God for you and Mrs. -- at this time of special need....

With much love in the Lord,

Yours very affectionately,

January 9th, 1919.


MY DEAR --, -- . It is true that the present state of things is serious and continual exercise to those who have the Lord's interests at heart. And it is especially so just at this juncture where our dear brother is about to meet his brethren to go into matters which have been the cause of very pronounced disagreement. I do not need to say anything to move you to pray much, for I am sure you will do so.

The dear brethren will all need wisdom, and spiritual understanding, and much lowliness of heart and mind to be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. And it will be needful that boldness shall be given for the maintenance of the truth so that, if there be conflict, no ground may be yielded to the enemy. And, above all, one would wish that any spirit that is not of God may be rebuked by the Lord, for a bad spirit is much more serious than any mere differences as to doctrine. The latter we might count on the Lord to adjust in due time, but a naughty spirit is a question of moral state. Still the Lord can deal with this in His own way of perfect faithfulness and love, and use all to establish what is of God in the souls of His saints. As to any teaching it is important to ask oneself, What is the teacher driving at? What is it that he has before him? I do not expect the accuracy of inspiration, because we can only speak of things according to the measure of our apprehension. I do not mean that we should be lax, or that expressions should be used that do not accord with Scripture. But if the whole drift of a man's ministry is manifestly spiritual and fragrant of Christ, any defective expression -- if it is thought

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to be such -- should be the subject of brotherly criticism and enquiry into Scripture, and not taken up in a spirit of opposition. But the Lord is able to make His servants stand ...

Yours affectionately,

January 16th, 1919.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- I have refrained until now from writing because I knew you would have many letters, and much to occupy your time, but you and your sisters have been very much on my heart since I heard of the home-going of your dear mother. I can enter very sympathetically into your sorrow, for it is one which I have felt, and do feel even yet, myself. And the link between your mother and yourself was a peculiarly strong one because your interests were so entirely one in a spiritual as well as a natural sense. It is a privilege for which we can never be sufficiently thankful to have had mothers whose hearts were set on the Lord, and whose one desire and purpose in relation to us was that we should be for the Lord and for His interests and testimony here.

I first heard of your mother from beloved J.B.S. over thirty-five years ago, and I have not forgotten the terms in which he referred to her then. And it was a great pleasure to me after some years to have the opportunity to meet and know her, and I have valued her ever since as one who obtained favour from the Lord to cherish His name and word, and who had discernment as to the exercises connected with His testimony. The departure of such raises a serious question in one's heart as to how far one is able to take up and carry on the service in intercession, and in spiritual help amongst the saints, which they have rendered. At any rate the thankful remembrance which we have of it all stimulates the desire to do so. And the Lord's grace which sustained them will not be less abundant to usward if we are preserved in lowly dependence and true devotedness.

I may add that I am very thankful to know that you have obtained liberty from military service. I am sure you will appreciate this relief, though I dare say like many other dear brethren you have taken some spoil as the result of your experiences and exercises of late.

With very much love in the Lord,

Yours very affectionately in Him,

February 9th, 1919.


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MY DEAR BROTHER, -- In answer to your letter I am glad to send you a few remarks on the subject of divine healing, though it be simply to call attention to what Scripture sets before us.

The healing of the sick, accompanying the preaching of the glad tidings of the kingdom, was one of the great characteristics of the presence and service of the Son of God in this world. Every form and fruit of the power of evil had to give way before Him; every result of sin -- disease, and even death itself -- had to bear witness to the greatness of divine power which was active here in compassionate goodness to men. It could not be otherwise in the presence of God manifest in flesh. The power was present which could and did relieve men of every pressure, so that it was manifest that He was here who will in a coming day "swallow up death in victory", Isaiah 25:8, and bring about such a state of things that the inhabitants shall not say "I am sick".

And not only was every act of healing a testimony of what was in God's heart in loving-kindness to His ruined creature, but it was a figure of an even greater deliverance by which men should be set free from every moral disease so as to be for God's pleasure, serving Him "without fear in piety and righteousness all our days". The works of power of the age to come were illustrative of the moral healing by which alone man could answer to God's will as set forth in the teaching of the Lord. And it is very touching to see that every act of healing was at the cost of suffering to the blessed Healer, for, as the prophet had said, "Himself took our infirmities and bare our diseases", Matthew 8:17. He did not remove any infirmity by His power without bearing the burden and sorrow of it in His spirit, and this was true of "every disease and every bodily weakness", Matthew 9:35. He thus understands perfectly, and can sympathise with every form of bodily suffering, and this is a sweet comfort to all His "brethren" who are sick. For that such might be sick is clearly intimated in His own words, "I was ill, and ye visited me", explained by "Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me", Matthew 25:36, 40.

We see Him giving the twelve, and then the seventy, power to heal diseases. They had no need to talk about the power, or to write books about it, or to try to make people believe they had it. They had it, and they exercised it in the simplest

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possible way. When we pass from the gospels to the Acts we find the same divine power accompanying the service of Peter and Paul, in testimony to the Name of Him who was no longer here but glorified in heaven, though it may be noted that neither in the Acts nor in the epistles do we find any instance of a Christian being restored from bodily sickness by a miracle. Then we learn from 1 Corinthians that "gifts of healings" were set, amongst other gifts, "in the assembly". And James says "Is any sick among you? Let him call to him the elders of the assembly, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith shall heal the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he be one who has committed sins, it shall be forgiven him. Confess therefore your offences to one another and pray for one another, that ye may be healed".

We are also told that "the body is ... for the Lord, and the Lord for the body", 1 Corinthians 6:13, and again "He is Saviour of the body", Ephesians 5:23. All this is to be weighed and valued as a blessed witness of what divine power and goodness can effect in the way of preservation or healing of the body. It has encouraged the faith of God's people to count upon Him in innumerable instances, so that I suppose there are very few of His children who have not known personally of cases in which prayer has been most distinctly answered in regard to the body. It is simply a question of faith counting upon God and getting its answer. In each case it is a matter of individual exercise and faith on the part of the sick one, or of those concerned about him. One would wish to encourage in oneself, and in one's brethren, more simple piety and confidence in God as to the body and its health.

Remarkable sign gifts, such as "tongues", "gifts of healing", "miraculous powers", existed in the assembly at the beginning; God bore witness with His servants to His great salvation "both by signs and wonders, and various acts of power, and distributions of the Holy Spirit according to his will", Hebrews 2:4. There was one blessed company presenting a united testimony on God's part in the midst of a hostile world, and He was pleased to accredit that testimony in a public and unmistakable way. But where might we expect such credentials to be found today, compelling the attention of men by manifesting His power miraculously, even to sight? It is a day of departure and ruin, and it could hardly be expected that

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God should accredit in a public way a condition of things which is contrary to His mind. If, on the other hand, sign gifts were bestowed on such saints as were individually approved of God, it would put such saints publicly in an extraordinary position, as being distinguished from the church generally -- from all other saints -- by the possession of miraculous powers.

I think a heart that felt aright the true condition of the church would shrink from the idea of such a position. The assembly has departed from first love and is in a fallen state; Christ and the Spirit have lost their place; and man's will and order (which is really confusion) are seen on every hand. We are in 2 Timothy days, and the Spirit shows us there the path of righteousness and faith for those who are found calling on the Lord out of a pure heart at such a time. There is no word of sign gifts being recovered or miraculous powers being conferred on the faithful. There is a call to be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus, to be prepared for suffering, to strive diligently to present oneself approved to God, to shun profane vain babblings, to withdraw from iniquity, to separate from vessels to dishonour, to flee youthful lusts, and to pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with them that call upon the Lord out of a pure heart. All is put on moral and vital ground, and though the servant addressed had frequent illnesses, and another valued brother is mentioned in the epistle as being left behind sick, Paul drops no hint as to their being healed by faith.

We are in a day of ruin, with utter and final apostasy close at hand. There cannot be the smallest question as to God's power: He can heal the bodies of His saints today, as at any time, if it pleases Him to do so. But the condition of the assembly -- the vessel of testimony -- is such that faithful individuals would be concerned rather as to spiritual healing -- that the saints should be found walking together according to truth, and in holy separation from the world, and from everything that is not according to the will of the Lord; that full place should be given to the Holy Spirit and His ministry of the glory of Christ; that the relations of Christ to the assembly and of the assembly to Christ should be known and entered into; that the members of the body of Christ should recognise their corporate bond with one another, and be found acting happily and healthfully in their mutual relations as such;

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that the joints of supply should be in such living contact with the Head as to minister of His fulness continually, so that the body may be united together and increase with the increase of God; that saints may hold the truth in love, and "grow up to him in all things who is the head, the Christ: from whom the whole body, fitted together, and connected by every joint of supply, according to the working in its measure of each one part, works for itself the increase of the body to its self-building up in love", Ephesians 4:15, 16.

These are very great subjects for exercise and desire, and it is to be earnestly wished that saints were more concerned about them. There is a danger of missing the distinctive character of Christian blessings -- of being diverted from the spiritual and the heavenly -- and we have to see to it that we do not lose our crown.

Any pretension to miraculous powers in such a day as this would need to be tested in every way by the Holy Scriptures; the spirit of those claiming to exercise such powers would need to be discerned as being of God, and their teaching judged by the truth.

We are drawing near to the moment of apostasy, and we read of one to come "whose coming is according to the working of Satan in all power and signs and wonders of falsehood, and in all deceit of unrighteousness to them that perish, because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved", 2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10. Alleged cases of healing have been found in connection with grave error as to the truth, and this renders it necessary that the children of God should exercise spiritual judgment, and apply the test of truth to those who assume to exercise healing powers. The desire for signs was one marked feature of Jewish unbelief, Matthew 16:1 - 4, etc.; 1 Corinthians 1:22. Man naturally loves the marvellous, without desiring in conscience or heart to be brought near to God; and in the last days the enemy will gain power over men by gratifying this desire, Matthew 24:24.

In considering the Scripture in James 5 we have to remember that when he wrote the assembly was a distinct and united company, and the elders were known individually who could be sent for as being officially in a position to act administratively for the Lord. The assembly cannot be found today; it is fallen, scattered and submerged in the world. Elders, as of divine appointment officially, there are none. Does this

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tremendous change of conditions make no difference? The very first exercise of a sick saint brings home to him that on the administrative side all is changed through man's failure. But he can still pray, and if anything is on his conscience he can confess his offences to his brethren, and saints can pray for one another that they may be healed. We can go fully on the ground of James 5:16, though probably few spiritual persons would care to take the ground of acting officially as elders according to verse 14. It is all a question of exercise, spiritual uprightness, and faith, and I suppose we have all known instances in which the Lord has come in to heal and raise up the sick in answer to prayer. But it is a great thing not to suffer our thoughts of things to get out of proportion. If we are more concerned about physical health than we are about spiritual health we need adjustment.

It is clear from 1 Corinthians 11:30 that bodily weakness and even death may be the discipline of the Lord upon that which is displeasing to Him. John also refers to this when he says "If any one see his brother sinning a sin not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for those that do not sin unto death. There is a sin to death: I do not say of that that he should make a request", 1 John 5:16, 17. It would evidently be an exercise from the Lord as to whether sickness were of this nature or otherwise, and if a believer felt in his conscience that it was so, and was brought to repentance, it would be good for him to confess his wrongdoing. Such conviction and confession would lead to prayer for the sick one and his sins would be forgiven, and, generally speaking, he would be healed and raised up. There might indeed be the solemn case of sin unto death -- which would be spiritually discerned -- when there might be no faith to make request for recovery, but such a case would probably be exceptional.

But there is much sickness that is not discipline for unfaithfulness. Epaphroditus was sick close to death "for the sake of the work", and his sickness was the cause of much exercise to Paul and also to the Philippian saints. If healing had been the normal thing in Christianity we should surely have found an example of it in this instance, but there is no suggestion that he was thus healed. Paul records with much thankfulness, just as we should of any sick brother who had been raised up, that "God had mercy on him, and not indeed on him alone, but also on me, that I might not have sorrow upon sorrow",

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Philippians 2:27. There is something peculiarly touching in his case: the reason for his sickness, the exercise of Paul (and no doubt others also) about it, the concern of the Philippians when they heard of it, and his own distress because they had heard of it. I venture to believe that all these exercises, and the activities of sympathy and love in the saints called forth by his sickness, were a sweeter expression of the love and "bowels and compassions" of the Christ than any act of miraculous power by which he might have been instantly healed.

How many thousands of saints have been happy to assert that they would not have missed for anything the exercises of prolonged sickness and suffering! They have so learned the grace and sympathy and succour of Christ as the living Priest, and they have been the subjects of so much precious and tender interest and consideration flowing from the spiritual affections of His saints, that they have become conscious of infinite gain and enrichment. And surely the development and exercise of such affections as these, eternal in their nature, though called into activity by circumstances connected with conditions of weakness and time, is a greater triumph of divine love and power than restoring the sick ones to health. I cannot but feel it is a real loss for the attention of saints to be turned from the spiritual dealings of the Lord with His saints, and from all that is the moral result of those dealings, to be concentrated upon the thought of bodily healing.

The experience of weakness and suffering may not only be of the greatest advantage to the spiritual welfare of the sufferer, but it may be absolutely essential to his preservation in service. We see a striking example of this in Paul himself, who suffered intensely from some form of physical infirmity. He was deeply exercised as to being relieved of this pressure, and besought the Lord thrice that it might depart from him. However it was not the Lord's will to remove the infirmity, whatever it was, but to make His grace sufficient for His servant, and to perfect His power in His servant's conscious weakness. Is it not apparent that the removal of the infirmity by divine healing would have meant a real loss to Paul's soul and service, and not a gain? To suppose that relief from physical weakness and suffering is the greatest good is a profound mistake. To prove the grace of the Lord and the power of Christ in the suffering is very often greater gain than to be relieved of it.

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We are called to walk in the truth. If God is pleased to give physical healing in answer to prayer, as He has done in thousands of cases, we thankfully acknowledge His mercy and goodness. If it came to our knowledge that He has been pleased to confer a distinct gift of healing, manifest as such to sober and spiritual persons, we should thank Him for this also. But apart from the difficulty which we might have in verifying the truth of any claim to such gift, we ought not to allow even divine gift to divert us from the truth, or from a path which we have learned to be according to the truth.

Many true and divine gifts -- evangelists, pastors, teachers -- are found labouring in connection with things which we have seen to be contrary to the will of the Lord. We own them as gifts, but we do not walk with them, and we discern that even as gifts they suffer loss, and the church fails to receive the full measure of edifying through them because of the association with systems which are of men's ordering. To have gifts for ministry or miraculous powers for healing is not the crowning glory of faithful saints in a day of ruin. It is rather to be addressed by Him who is the Holy One and True in these words: "Behold I have set before thee an opened door, which no one can shut, because thou hast a little power, and hast kept my word and hast not denied my name ... I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee out of the hour of trial which is about to come upon the whole habitable world to try them that dwell upon the earth. I come quickly: hold fast what thou hast, that no one take thy crown".

With love in the Lord Jesus,

Yours affectionately in Him,

May 30th, 1919.


MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, -- I send you herewith letter of commendation to the saints in -- . I hope you will be able to get to the meetings.

We had the closing verses of Revelation 14 and chapter 15 last night. I think we were encouraged to see how God will make His saints victorious even in the very darkest hour, and in the face of the most terrible opposition and persecution. The saints will have known the cleansing of the water while here on earth, freeing them from every moral stain, otherwise

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they could not have got the victory over the beast, etc. But now the sea is no longer needed for cleansing, but it becomes a crystal pavement on which they stand. They sing of deliverance by God's holy power, and as those who have proved His works and ways and His holy mercy. I enjoyed the thought of His "righteousness" having been made manifest. I understand this to mean that God has shown Himself to be true to every word which He has given for the encouragement of faith. Take the Psalms for example. How many precious expressions of confidence and hope in God have been furnished there for the hearts of His tried and afflicted and oppressed people! But every one will have its answer. God will be faithful to every detail, and confidence in Him will be justified. He will be as good as His word in every particular. And if this will be true for the remnant in their dark day, it is equally true for us in our day, and happy are those whose hearts are set for the proving of it. Soon we shall be able to celebrate on harps of God the praises of Him we have proved in adverse circumstances here. May we not miss any part of what He would make good to us!

With love in the Lord Jesus,

Yours affectionately in Him,

July 31st, 1919.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- I think I can understand your exercises, and all that you feel as to lack of continuous enjoyment. It is surprising how mixed our exercises often are practically. I have thought of it in connection with the word, "I am black but comely". The exercises and afflictions of the remnant under God's discipline will be a severe test, and they will be conscious that it has an effect upon them which they deprecate. They will feel that they do not come out in the divine beauty which they would desire. When one is under discipline it is not at the time seen to be matter of joy, but of grief, and this is not exactly divine beauty. There is the consciousness of being affected by it in a way which gives evidence of weakness and imperfection in ourselves -- an inability to be superior to the burning rays of the trial through which divine faithfulness may see fit to pass us. And such an experience is not at all inconsistent with conscious comeliness as blessed and accepted in Christ. It is helpful to see the two exercises -- apparently

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as dissimilar and incongruous -- going on so nearly together. I suppose very few saints have had to go through a time of testing under God's disciplinary and governmental dealings without feeling the test of it, and its effect in expressing nature's weakness. But it is just at this point that confidence in God and His known love strengthens the heart, and one perceives His great thought to have us partake of His holiness. And it is at all times the comfort and joy of faith to see in Christ the establishment of every divine thought of blessing for us -- blessing which abides, and never falls below its own level.

The more definitely we seek and cherish continuous nearness to the Lord, and the manifestation of Himself to our hearts, the more will His love be free to take its own way with us. It is His own thought to have us near, and if it is the conscious upright desire of the heart to be near there can be no doubt that His purpose and pleasure, and the heart's desire, will have their answer. His love, and the Spirit given, are the sure pledge of this.

With very much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

August 28th, 1919.


MY DEAR --, -- ... I am truly thankful to know of the different cases of interest and need which the Lord brings to your house. It shows that He can give opportunities even under unlikely conditions, and He can use you in the apparent seclusion or isolation of your chamber as a vessel serviceable to Him. I suppose Onesimus was sent to prison (for some offence probably -- or had he enlisted and been put as a soldier on guard over Paul?) in order that Paul might beget him in Christ in his bonds. God can either send the servant to the needy soul, or send the needy soul to the servant! 'All things serve His might'. Be encouraged then, my dear sister, and continue to pray, and He will still make you a vessel of blessing to others. When you want any books, let me know, and please say what you would like to have.

We have had a long series of readings on the Revelation with much interest. Indeed the Room has been practically full all along, and believers coming in each week. We trust there may be fruit. We received one young person to break

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bread three weeks ago, and three others are now desiring to take their place with us. So we have a little cheer.

We have now begun Genesis and had four readings on the first few verses of chapter 2. Pray for us that we may be helped, and that those who are coming in may be quickened in their affections after Christ. How much we all need this! ...

Yours very affectionately in Him,

December 9th, 1919.


RIGHTEOUSNESS IN THE LAST DAYS.

1 Corinthians 5; 2 Timothy 2

(The substance of several letters revised)

In the first of these Scriptures it seems to me that four distinct actions are contemplated. Of course, they all operated together at Corinth, but they are distinguishable one from the other.

1. The apostolic action in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, with which the saints (as gathered together and having the power of our Lord Jesus Christ) are identified, by which the wicked person was delivered to Satan for destruction of the flesh. I think it would be generally agreed that there is no apostolic power to act thus today.

2. That with such a one there was to be no mixing -- "not even to eat". The application of this would clearly be individual, and it is as obligatory on each individual saint as ever.

3. "Remove the wicked person from amongst yourselves". This was to be the act of the whole company of saints. The evil-doer was to be no longer of their company. He was to be excommunicated from the privileges and fellowship of the assembly, and outside there was nothing for him but the world of darkness and Satan's power. It was a "rebuke" terrible in its nature, and, as we know, well-nigh overwhelming in its effect.

4. "Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, according as ye are unleavened". This was a deeper and more searching exercise than merely getting rid of the wicked person. The fact that such a one was amongst them, and known to be so, without any

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mourning being caused, exposed their general state, and it was this which, I think we might say, was the most serious aspect of the case. There was general puffing up, boasting and the allowance of what was fleshly in many ways. All this "leaven" was to be purged out, that the assembly might be practically true to its character as a "new lump" and "unleavened".

All this is before us in its solemnity and force as the commandment of the Lord. In proportion as we limit it in thought to anything less than the whole assembly of God we lose in our souls its import, its unspeakable gravity, and it is well that a deep sense of this should be retained. The desire to preserve the force of this makes me hesitate to use "yourselves" in a limited sense. That is, to appropriate the "yourselves" of 1 Corinthians 5:13 to a few saints who are perhaps today the one-hundredth part of the assembly of God in a town. The assembly as such could, and did, act then effectively as an administrative body with divine authority. The "yourselves" was the whole Christian company -- a concrete company from which a wicked person could be excluded. The fact that the assembly is not in view as such a company today is the sad evidence of ruin through man's failure. Indeed it was the appalling contrast between what he saw the church to be in Scripture, and what it had become in his day, that led Augustine to speak of the "invisible church" and the expression has been in common use ever since. The use of such an expression is in itself the most complete evidence of utter ruin.

We have to feel, and it is right we should feel, the changed conditions. We may be sure that the heart of Christ is very deeply affected by the ruin, and He will not suffer His saints to be unaffected by it. It is really a very holy privilege to be sympathetic with the heart of Christ as to the ruin of that which bears His Name in this world. If we are so, it will surely lead us to act with simplicity and lowliness becoming the present state of things. We have, I trust in some measure, the sorrow of being conscious that in the present conditions no such corporate action of the assembly as could be taken at Corinth is possible. It brings home to us that we are in the last days and not in the first.

But are we, on that account, to give up the truth, and accept

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association with evil? Far be the thought! If any principle or pretext were alleged which would have the effect of causing saints to continue in association with evil it would be obviously making the commandment of God of none effect. We must certainly in the light of 1 Corinthians 5 refuse all fellowship and intercourse with a wicked person. But we must also recognise that all the conditions in the Christian profession are changed.

It is these changed conditions which have been distinctly taken account of, and provided for, in 2 Timothy. In that epistle we have the Lord's mind as to how faithful saints should act in the last days, and how those saints should walk together. But it is essential to the right understanding of 2 Timothy that we should see that the light of the ministry of the gospel and of the ministry of the assembly is supposed to be possessed by the persons who are in view. That is, the epistle is addressed to an individual who has heard things of Paul, and who is thoroughly acquainted with Paul's doctrine, 2 Timothy 2:2; 3: 10. These things, entrusted to faithful men, are to be the subject of instruction amongst the saints. This would clearly include what we have in Romans and Corinthians, and also Colossians and Ephesians. Every Scripture is also spoken of as "divinely inspired, and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be complete, fully fitted to every good work", 2 Timothy 3:16, 17. This proves that no part of Paul's doctrine, or indeed of any Scripture, is to drop out of account.

In the light of all this the faithful saint is to "shun" vain babblings (2: 16), everyone who names the name of the Lord is to "withdraw from iniquity" (2: 19), and he who would be "a vessel to honour, sanctified, serviceable to the Master, prepared for every good work" must purify himself from vessels to dishonour "in separating himself from them" (2: 21). He must "flee" youthful lusts (2: 22), and "avoid" foolish and senseless questionings (2: 23). These things, negative though they be, are most necessary in the midst of a profession where iniquity abounds.

But there is something positive also. We are to "pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, with those that call upon the Lord out of a pure heart" (2: 22). The pursuit of these things would clearly involve practical consistency with every

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part of the truth which the individual has heard and known as Paul's teaching. As in the light of the truth of the assembly he finds here definite instructions in relation to his walking together with other like-minded saints. The "with" clearly brings in what is collective. He is not to be isolated. How could he be in the light of the assembly? Righteousness, faith, love, peace, are bound up with the practical recognition of our divine bond with all saints as members of one another in Christ's body, and as built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit. We cannot pursue these four things alone; in the very nature of the case it must be "with those that call upon the Lord out of a pure heart". This necessitates much individual exercise, for if I am not pursuing righteousness, faith, love, peace, how shall I be able to discern others who are doing so in dependence upon, and desiring loyalty to, the Lord? "A pure heart" suggests that there must be more than the claim to be such; it must be a reality before the Lord, and when it is so there will hardly be the need or desire to claim it. The heart is set on maintaining it under His eye in spiritual reality.

The assembly exists, and all truth pertaining to it -- including 1 Corinthians -- remains as divine light for us, but our path amidst the ruin is marked out in 2 Timothy. No company can claim to have the status of the assembly, or to act as such. But saints can still, in the light of 1 Corinthians 5, refuse intercourse with a wicked person. It is imperative that they should do so. Indeed it is clear that none of such as were characterised by the moral traits of 2 Timothy 2:22 would go on with a wicked person. To recognise the authority of 1 Corinthians 5:13 as the commandment of the Lord, and to be consistent with it, is part of the "righteousness" we are to pursue according to 2 Timothy, and we do so in company with our brethren who are treading the same path. Saints act together as pursuing "righteousness". And they not only have in mind the necessity for withdrawing from iniquity, but they act as those who have apprehended the true character of the assembly, God's house, as being essentially holy, and thus necessarily exclusive of evil. Profound exercise as to this before God, and eating the sin-offering, is of the deepest importance. But all this is spiritual and priestly exercise within -- a temple character of things which forms the moral basis in souls of the action taken in public. This must have

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due place, or we shall lose a solemn element which should be present in every dealing with a wicked person.

The assembly is characterised by purity, it is the abode of God's holiness. If the saints are the shrine where God dwells, this necessitates the positive refusal and rejection of evil. But we do not limit the thought of the purity and holiness of God's house to any special company of saints. All saints are of that house, and we apprehend things from that point of view. At Corinth there was a concrete company which had that character, and from which a wicked person could be excluded. But we are in a time of ruin, and though the assembly still exists, and is still characterised by holiness, it is not in view as a concrete company. But exercised saints can apprehend the character of God's house, and walk together consistently with it, in spite of the ruin, though, of course, very much affected by it. If we walk together in the light of what pertains to the whole company we necessarily take action and we do so together. We come to the solemn judgment as before God that an evil-doer is unfit for Christian fellowship, and we sever all our links of association and fellowship with him. Nothing could be more simple and definite, or more absolutely in keeping with 1 Corinthians 5.

Saints do not claim to act as the assembly, or as being the "yourselves" contemplated in 1 Corinthians 5:13, because they take account of the true scope of "yourselves", and they realise the present ruin under the eye of the Lord. But they seek to maintain consistency with every part of assembly truth, and every divine principle. They seek to come together and act together, in such a way that the Lord may be able to own them as gathered to His Name and acting in His Name. They desire, above all, that His presence with them may be their support, and that every act may be so carried out as to have moral value under God's eye. But they own the ruin, and do not set up to be anything. They are conscious that their place of blessing and power is to be a poor and afflicted people whose trust is in the Name of the Lord. He will not fail such. They act together in refusing to be linked with evil, but the only community or corporate body which they recognise is the whole assembly.

The peculiar conditions of a day of ruin tend to narrow us in thought. If we have found a few saints with whom we can walk according to the truth, and on the line of 2 Timothy

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2: 22, we have to be exercised that we do not connect with them in a corporate way ideas which properly are only to be attached to the whole company of saints. Beloved and honoured servants of the Lord have frequently warned us against any such limitation. And I trust we recognise the importance of keeping such warning in mind. There are many expressions which we commonly use, as a matter of convenience, in a limited sense as referring to those who walk together. Such expressions as "we", "us", "ourselves", "the saints", "the brethren", "the assembly", "fellowship". So long as these are used simply and understood there is no harm in them, and I have no doubt we shall continue to use them. But the very fact that we do so renders it wholesome for us to be reminded occasionally that if they were used formally in this restricted sense they would be purely sectarian. We need to keep our hearts and minds in the largeness of the assembly of God, while our feet are kept in the path of 2 Timothy.

The present application of 1 Corinthians 5 will be found as saints regulate their associations in the light of it, and its moral force will be preserved in their souls and in their actions. It has present authority and application, but it should be clearly before us that we act in the light of it as walking together according to 2 Timothy 2:22. Each walks in the light of the assembly, and seeks to pursue consistency with every part of assembly truth, and this is the divine way in which saints can walk together in the last days.

This is important as involving personal exercise on the part of each one. And this individual character of things is very suited to the last days, and gives faithful testimony a peculiar character and value. It is very possible that, while what was done at Corinth was the act of the assembly as such, there might have been many individuals among them who were not truly in accord with it (see 2 Corinthians 12:20, 21). But now each faithful individual is to pursue righteousness, etc., and what is collective really results from what is individual. Thus in the day of ruin it may be possible for things to be maintained under the eye of God in even greater moral value than was the case at Corinth. Faith and faithfulness came out with peculiar lustre in the dark days of Israel's history, and it may be so in the corresponding time of the church's history. We surely desire to have our little part in such divine favour!

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You ask, "If two or three in a day of ruin come together, say on Lord's day morning, do they not do it in assembly character, if as you have rightly insisted they are 'of the assembly' in the place?"

I should say that the two or three are "of the assembly" and are therefore responsible to judge themselves, and to see to it that their associations, ways and spirit are in keeping with its holy character. It is also one of the first elements in "righteousness" that they should recognise and own the ruin into which things have fallen in the assembly of which they form part. In proportion as they are here for Christ, and devoted to His interests, they can be found gathered together unto His Name and acting in His Name, and they will have assembly character. But if their actions are such as to manifest indifference to Christ, or failure to maintain His rights, or are out of accord with the truth, though they are "of the assembly" they are not found in assembly character. There are many "believers' meetings" which could not be recognised as having assembly character at all, though all believers in them are "of the assembly". It is as saints are formed in these moral features which properly belong to the assembly that it may be said that they come together in assembly character. But the more truly they come together in assembly character the less disposed will they be to claim to do so in any formal or ecclesiastical way. The character of their assembling, and of their actions, will speak for itself, and be justified by the truth. To speak, in a day of ruin, of coming together in assembly character in any other sense than as having the moral features of the assembly would be, I fear, that very ecclesiasticism which F.E.R. and others have so dreaded and deprecated, and with which J.N.D. would not have had an atom of sympathy.

In connection with this, I would like to call your attention to a most important paper, which, I am sure, you have often read and pondered. I refer to J.N.D.'s "Considerations on the Nature and Unity of the Church of Christ", written in 1828 (Coll. Writ. 1). That paper contained, as you know, the seed of the great spiritual movement which, in the Lord's ways, marked the last century so distinctively. What is so prominent and striking in it is the intense depth of exercise which it discloses as to the moral features of the assembly. This was the line on which assembly truth was recovered.

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It showed unmistakably that everything ecclesiastical was in complete ruin, but emphasised that that ruin was brought about by unfaithfulness and spiritual decline and defection. It presents everything from the moral side. It was in this way that the Spirit of God recalled saints in these last days to the truth of the assembly. It was no question of recovery to correct scriptural order, or to assembly position, but of exercise as to the restoration of those blessed moral features which mark the assembly. And I think we must conclude that divine revival could only be brought about in this way; the point of departure must be the point of recovery. It might well be a deep exercise for us, do you not think, as to how far we do come together in "assembly character"?

Then you ask, "Is it no longer possible for any saints to 'come together in assembly' because they cannot find the whole?" I do not question the possibility of this. I am sure that as saints walk according to 2 Timothy 2:22, and come together responsive to the Lord's love, they will know what it is to be "in assembly", and to taste largely, through His marvellous grace, of assembly privilege. May we desire and experience this more and more! But is it not quite another matter for a few saints amidst the ruin of the last days to claim that they can exercise assembly administration in discipline formally as at the beginning? The assembly which was together in Corinth in outward unity as God's assembly in that city is now broken and scattered, a great part of it submerged in the world. Indeed, such is the state of things that the fact that two or three come together as seeking to walk in the truth is but a witness, as J.N.D. said, to the ruin. The fact that we are in entirely changed conditions is forced in a sorrowful way upon our attention.

My exercise is that we should adequately recognise the present ruin: it is one of the first elements of "righteousness" to do so; and it will be the first effect of receiving "the light of the assembly". J.N.D. said, "If any Christians now set up to be the church, or did any formal act which pretended to it, I should leave them, as being a false pretension, and denying the very testimony to the state of ruin which God has called us to render ... I think it of the last importance that this pretension of any body should be kept down; I could not own it a moment, because it is not the truth" (Collected Writings, 1: 534). I quote this for the words I have underlined,

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which indicate J.N.D.'s sense of the importance of not losing sight of the ruin. The conditions are not now as at Corinth. J.N.D.'s paper on "The Formation of Churches", written in 1840, contains much that is instructive in principle as to this, though he is not speaking of the point that is at present before us. For example, "A return from existing evil unto that which God at the first set up, is therefore not always a proof that we have understood His word and will. Nevertheless, we shall rightly and truly judge that what He did at the first set up was good, and that we have departed from it" (Collected Writings, 1: 217). "Shall we, who are guilty of this state of things, pretend we have only to set about and remedy it? No; the attempt would but prove that we are not humbled thereby. Let us rather search in all humility what God says to us in His word of such a condition of things; and let us not, like foolish children who have broken a precious vase, attempt to join together its broken fragments, and to set it up in hopes to hide the damage from the notice of others" (Collected Writings, 1: 220). "I am enquiring what the word and the Spirit say of the state of the fallen church, instead of arrogating to myself a competency to realise that which the Spirit has spoken of the first condition of the church". "The lowliness that feels aright the real condition of the church preserves us from pretensions" (Collected Writings, 1: 224).

It is not enough to see that an expression is in Scripture. We must take account of the conditions in which the Spirit used it, and we have to ask whether the same conditions are present now. The propriety, or otherwise, of using words now in a formal way which stand connected in Scripture with the assembly in its original character and unity is a matter for spiritual discernment.

What was perfectly suitable and appropriate when the building was intact might be pretentious if taken up formally when it is in ruins. The Lord has revived, in infinite grace, Paul's ministry, and also (especially since J.N.D.'s departure) John's. In the light of this there has been both separating and gathering of saints. But I think we should conclude from Scripture that the work of the Spirit at the end would not be on the line of re-establishing the Corinthian order so much as bringing about personal attachment to Christ and love to the brethren, so that all that is vitally characteristic of the assembly should be found here.

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In Philadelphia everything is cherished which is divinely precious and vital. It is that which was from the beginning revived and restored in mercy at the end. Not a restoration of assembly status, but a revival of Christ in the affections of His saints, leading to love of the brethren. This is the principle on which saints may walk together even in the most difficult times; it is in line with 2 Timothy, and we may surely count upon the Lord to maintain it to the end.

The Lord has given through many "vessels to honour" a very blessed ministry of truth concerning Christ and the assembly. That ministry has made its way in the face of conflict all the time, and its effect, where spiritually received, has been that man in the flesh has been known as set aside in the cross, Christ's word and Name have become precious and cherished, and the brethren have been loved. This is Philadelphia as I understand it. Not an ecclesiastical body, but saints characterised, amidst the ruin of the ecclesiastical body and owning their share in it, by spiritual affections and intelligence such as were found in the assembly at the beginning.

I most fully own, and rejoice in, the abiding value of Matthew 18:20. It is blessed encouragement for even "two or three" of the assembly, and though not given especially for a day of ruin it becomes available in such a day. To be gathered together unto Christ's Name secures His presence; it is privilege and power. And "two or three" may still act in His Name, and with the sanction of His presence. Who could doubt that such acts are "bound in heaven"?

But then all this produces deep exercise. J.N.D. is careful to say, "Their acts, if really done in His Name, have His authority". This is just the point. It is not for any two or three to claim that they do things in His Name, but to be exercised in every way -- in the consideration of Scripture, and in much prayer and humble dependence -- that it should really be so. And this is especially important in a day when there is not only the general ruin, but the added confusion of many companies claiming to meet and act in His Name. I add that, of course, the responsibility that it should be really so in any dealing with evil rests upon saints locally; saints elsewhere own what is done, as J.N.D. says.

If two or three really act in Christ's Name amidst the ruin, would you not expect that their action would be both morally suitable to the matter in hand, and to the conditions in which

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the action is taken? Christ takes account of the ruin; He is deeply affected by it. Would it not be in accord with Him for us to own that the conditions are changed from what they were at Corinth? The subject of our present inquiry is not whether two or three may act in His Name or not, but as to what manner of acting -- or rather, what ground to be taken in acting -- is most suitable to His Name in a day of ruin?

To have assembly character, and to act in Christ's Name, is blessed divine favour. To claim that we have this character, and that we so act, might be the most worthless pretension. May our exercise ever be to have things in spiritual reality! And it may be well to remember that we do not necessarily get rid of pretension by seeing that 2 Timothy is our special charter in the last days. A few individuals who claimed that they acted and walked together according to 2 Timothy 2:22 might be the most pretentious persons on earth. The true value of what we do does not consist in what we claim it to be, but in what it is under God's eye.

- - - -

I fully appreciate the importance of order. If saints walk together according to 2 Timothy 2:22 in the light of all assembly truth, and seek, through grace, to maintain practical consistency with it in a day of ruin, I feel sure that of such it may be said, "Rejoicing and seeing your order", Colossians 2:5. But this would be found without any thought of setting up to be an administrative body.

The truth regarding overseers or elders supplies a suggestive and helpful analogy. Elders and deacons had an important place in church administration at the beginning. No intelligent brother would think of taking any such place officially now. But I trust it is a matter of continual exercise with us that the care and service should be maintained. And in some feeble measure it is maintained.

All that is comely and in accord with divine order will be found with those who walk together according to 2 Timothy 2:22. But they will have no more thought of setting up to be an administrative body than those who serve in care and ministry would have of setting up to be deacons or elders. Divine order is maintained -- as to the moral reality of it -- without anything formal and therefore without pretension. It is consistent with the order of the assembly that a wicked

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person should be excluded from the companionship of those walking together. But this will be done on the line of following righteousness, and through each one taking up the exercise of it personally, and maintaining separation from the one in question. And, of course, in such a case those walking together would act together. All that pertains to order and administration is secured, so far as possible in a day of ruin, as saints move on together in accord with the testimony. But there is no claim or attempt to secure this in a formal way in the scene of the church's ruin, though there is that which faith can recognise as in keeping with due order.

- - - -

"Church position" is perhaps a somewhat ambiguous phrase. If it means that all saints are by God's grace and calling, and as having the Spirit, of Christ's body and God's house, and that all saints are responsible to be consistent with this position, and that those who walk together in the truth recognise this, and seek to be consistent with it personally and in their associations, I do not object to it. But if it means that a certain company of persons have "church position" in the scene of ruin in a way special and distinct from other saints, it is ground which I do not care to take.

Spiritually, and as a matter of faith, it is open to those in separation from evil to enjoy assembly position and privilege to the full measure of their spiritual capability -- that is, the measure of faith, affection, growth, intelligence, and the Spirit's power; the measure, too, of the Lord's grace, in vouchsafing His presence to them and the gain of His headship. But when it comes to a question of the position which we take up formally here in the scene of the church's ruin, and conscious, as we surely are, that we are involved in that ruin, I think the greatest lowliness and the absence of all pretension whether in thought or word are becoming. To have the two sides clearly before us, and not to confound the one with the other, is very necessary if we are to be found here in intelligent accord with the testimony. As we know and enter into the grace and blessedness of the former, we can afford to take very low and simple ground in the latter. I believe the present exercise is intended to help us as to both, for if we are defective on one side we shall almost inevitably be defective on both.

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Providing that holiness in separation from evil were fully and practically maintained, I should be happy to leave my brethren free as to the terms which, in godly exercise, they might judge suitable to use, because it is the act of complete severance from what is evil which to me is vital, and not the words in which it is expressed. If they felt happy to use literally the words of 1 Corinthians 5:13 it would not affect my love for them or my fellowship with them, because I trust that in mind and spirit my brethren feel, and desire to own, the ruin as much as I do. If it were a matter of conscience with them to use those words I would defer to them. But personally I would desire to avoid the use of terms which might appear to involve the assumption that "church position" attached in some special way to a certain company. That a few saints are privileged to walk together in these last days, through the Lord's peculiar grace, in the light of assembly truth and assembly position is true, and I count it great divine favour to walk with them.

Can it be truly said that the form of action which is regarded as comely in this little paper involves disobedience to the commandment of the Lord, and that it should be separated from as iniquity? Brethren must judge as to whether this is so. If a person is absolutely excluded from the companionship and fellowship of those who walk together, is he not, as a simple matter of fact, removed from amongst them? Is not the Scripture obeyed so far as possible in present conditions? Could any words that could be used add to the completeness or definiteness of the severance? And it must be admitted that even 1 Corinthians 5:13 is not a formula; it was an injunction to be carried out in fact. Where then is disobedience? In what does it consist? There is the fullest possible obedience, but it has taken a form becoming to the day of the church's ruin.

There is a serious exercise as to whether it is comely to formally take the place in the scene of the church's ruin, of a "company" having "church position". It is not thought well to have the "company" idea in mind save as embracing, in principle, the whole. There are dangers to be guarded against -- a sectarian position or thought on the one hand, and a lack of due recognition of the ruin on the other. Those who do not agree with the way in which this exercise is sought to be expressed may surely in brotherly love respect the exercise

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and bear with it. It in no way infringes on what is due to the Lord. No one can say that what are called "new" principles have been productive, or are at all likely to be productive, of laxity in associations. It must be obvious that to insist on each individual being true to certain principles in no way relaxes the obligations which are common to all. But the principles advocated are, in truth, as old as 2 Timothy.

In conclusion, I would submit to the judgment of others the following considerations. (1) Is not the act of exclusion or separation from a wicked person an act which stands in connection with our position and attitude in that which is now the scene of the church's ruin? (2) Can we take up formally any position or attitude in that scene save that of being involved in the ruin? (3) Are not the words which we use in such circumstances a solemn and formal announcement to which all who walk together are definitely committed? (4) If these three questions are answered in the only way in which it seems to me they can be answered, is it not right and seemly that the words used should be in keeping with the truth of the position? It is really a question of where we are, or where we consider ourselves to be, in the place where the church is in ruin.

The exercise as to this matter may appear to some to be a mere quibble about words. But I am convinced that when saints consider it soberly apart from the atmosphere and spirit of controversy, and especially apart from any thought that it involves separation from our brethren, they will realise that it is -- perhaps more important than at first appeared. The exercise has been wide-spread, and one feels constrained to believe that, under the Lord's hand, there is needed divine instruction in it. May it be our concern to see what that instruction is and profit by it! And may we be subject to one another in the fear of Christ, and be ready to give due place to every part of the truth! May God enable us, in this last solemn and critical moment, when the enemy is seeking to disintegrate and scatter, to lay ourselves out diligently to endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace!
1920.


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MY DEAR BROTHER, -- The question you raise is of interest, and one is always glad to know how things strike exercised minds.

My impression is that we may distinguish the knowledge of good and evil from conscience, for God has the former, but conscience is, I believe, always in Scripture connected with responsibility. I would say that it is the faculty in man which applies the knowledge of good and evil to responsibility, either in self-approval or self-condemnation, or in the approval or condemnation of what may be contemplated in another.

But it seems to me that the believer knows good and evil by becoming skilled in the word of righteousness, and as a full-grown man on account of habit has his senses exercised for distinguishing both good and evil. It is in the saint the result of growth and exercise and is more connected with moral formation than with conscience, properly speaking. Saints will be in heaven in the full result and perfection of this moral formation, and they will know good and evil, even as God does, in the blessedness and perfection of the divine nature in which they are made participators.

At the present time moral formation goes on in the sphere of responsibility, and hence is always accompanied and promoted by activity of the conscience. But in a scene where all is wholly and eternally good it is difficult to see what place conscience could have. Evil is known in that scene, but it is known as having been fully exposed and judged in the death of the holy and righteous One, and as having disappeared from God's reconciled universe. Good that is without measure is known there in its fulness in the blessed God, and every vessel is filled out of that fulness -- God is all in all. But both good and evil are known in the divine nature, even as God knows them -- a nature which is abhorrent of evil, and all whose activities, the unceasing outcome of love, are only good.

There is indeed the activity of love now, but it is in the sphere of responsibility, and therefore it must needs flow out of a good conscience. But when responsibility is left behind, and God is all in all, nothing active, or even present, but the divine nature, it seems to me that conscience -- as presented to us in Scripture -- will no longer have any mission to fulfil.

Hence I have felt free to follow J.N.D. in saying that there will be no need of conscience in heaven.

What you say as to grace and the working of divine power

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in man conferring a condition upon the creature in which he is morally equal to the possession of a conscience, is most blessed, and I delight in the thought of it. But is not this exactly what grace has brought in now in the sphere of responsibility? We do not need to wait for heaven for this.

With much love in the Lord Jesus,

Yours affectionately in Him,

January 14th, 1920.


MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, -- I am unknown to you personally, but divine grace has formed a spiritual link between us in the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord, and in the one Spirit.

I have heard of you many times through our brother Mr. --, and through him I have heard of the deep sorrow through which you are now passing. My heart is moved to send you a few lines of love and sympathy. The illness and departure of your dear son is indeed a deep trial and exercise for you, and it has been our privilege to pray for you that the sympathy and succour and love of Christ may be realised in your heart in a very special way. He knows perfectly every step of your walking through this wilderness where the shadow of death falls, and He enters into every feeling of your heart. But He brings near to you what He is Himself, and the light of that love in which He became dead that He might open up a scene for us where no death shadow is ever known. How wonderful is that word, "He turned ... the flint into a fountain of waters",! Psalm 114. The hardest and most cutting thing in the wilderness was made to be a source of refreshment for the people of God. This is the excellent working of that love that knows how to make the eater yield meat and the strong sweetness. And the One who can do such things is praying for you at God's right hand, and many of those who love God are praying for you in the Holy Ghost down here. May every divine comfort and encouragement be with you. And may you see the good hand of our God very distinctly guiding and ordering for you as to the circumstances of your path. Naomi said in her sorrow, "The Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me", but as she proved the unfolding of the blessed ways of God she no doubt learned to say to her soul, "The Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee".

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Please do not think that this letter needs any reply. I only desired to let you know that I, and others here, are thinking of you in love and sympathy and praying for you.

With much love in the Lord Jesus,

Yours affectionately in Him,

January 16th, 1920.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... Your letter was a great comfort to me, as showing that you could so clearly discern the character of what some were doing, and that you had no sympathy with it. Happily the Lord has in much mercy checked the unwarrantable attempts to cause division, and all sober minds are shocked that such attempts should have been made. But we must continue to pray for our dear brethren, for there is much that needs wisdom and grace, and the Head alone can supply it. It is good to realise that the Lord distinctly acts for His own, and defends them from influences that are not helpful. He lets us feel our own weakness, but then He acts, and when He does it is an effective action which cannot be defeated.

I am most thankful to have your prayers; I value them most highly. I am glad to think of you and of all that is an exercise to you and a trial of faith.

With much love in the Lord to dear Mrs. -- and yourself,

Yours affectionately in Him,

March 5th, 1920.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- Many thanks for yours. It is very kind of you to write so fully, and I value the opportunity of considering your thoughts on the subject which is a matter of exercise at present.

It is in the desire to maintain the full force and scope of 1 Corinthians 5:13 as the commandment of the Lord that I recognise His will to be that a wicked person should be excluded from the privileges and fellowship of the assembly, and from the company of all who call upon the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I think this is the scope of the Scripture in a just and sober interpretation of it, taken in its divine setting in an epistle addressed as 1 Corinthians 1:2. I hold that it is obligatory not only on all saints, but on all who call

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upon that holy Name, even though it be in profession only. That, in its full and proper scope, it is not now obeyed is obvious, and is the evidence of departure and ruin, which is humbling to us all as having our part in it.

I am unable to see that the acceptance of the above interpretation involves that "we must necessarily judge as evil all the various judgments of the past and consequently our own present position". It seems to me that if brethren had now come to the conclusion that it was wrong to exclude a wicked person from their fellowship there would be force in your argument! But the matter is on quite a different footing from this. Brethren are, thank God, as much set to exclude evil from their associations as ever. They regard those "various judgments" as morally right, and as come to in the fear of God, with true and upright desire to maintain what was due to the Lord; and what was suitable to the abode of God's holiness. But there have been many things in the practice of brethren, and terms frequently used in years past, which have quietly dropped out through exercise in the presence of increased light. For many years, and particularly since we were so much helped by F.E.R.'s ministry, brethren generally have been exercised to avoid taking any ground, or using any terms, that might seem to involve pretension in the scene and circumstances of the church's ruin. But we do not "judge as evil" what was done uprightly, and for the honour of the Lord's Name, and which was, as to its substance, approved of Him, though we might not feel free to do things just in the same way now. We do not "judge as evil" the measure of light and truth we had forty years ago, though we were happy to say and do many things then which we should not say or do now. To be thankful for increased light does not involve that we "judge as evil" our former measure of spiritual intelligence and growth. The "dilemma" you speak of does not present itself to my mind as being such at all.

I would suggest that the "ground" on which any action may be taken is distinguishable from the "object" or "motive". It is true that all links with an evil-doer should be severed on the "ground" that he is unfit for any Christian fellowship. But the "object" in view would be, first, to maintain conditions suitable to the Lord, and in accord with His holy Name, and in keeping with the character of God's house. And, secondly, in the spirit of grace and love, that the offender

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might be exercised, convicted, and fully restored. The "motive" in all that was done would be the obedience of faith working through love ...

My power is very small, but I would certainly earnestly desire to use it to the utmost to prevent disintegration, and to build saints up in Christ, that as formed in the divine nature they may be comforted and knit together in love. May we have wisdom to discern the movements which really tend to divide and scatter, and spiritual power to resist them as strong in the Lord and in the might of His strength. And in every way may we be found "seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed"!

I have jotted down these few thoughts in reference to your remarks. I submit them freely to your consideration and criticism, and shall be glad to be corrected where I am wrong.

With very much love in the Lord Jesus,

Yours very affectionately in Him,

March 9th, 1920.


... Brethren generally are in such substantial agreement as to the principles involved in the present exercise that the idea of division on the subject seems to be simply preposterous. As to the essential matters, which might justly be regarded as vital to fellowship, there seems to be, happily, universal concurrence of judgment. That is (1), that all links of association or fellowship with a wicked person should be severed, and (2) that all ecclesiastical pretension should be felt to be utterly unsuitable in the present condition of the church.

But a third question has come in, and become the occasion of diverse judgments running in some cases to the point of serious difference. That is, whether as to our public attitude, and the public statement of that attitude, in relation to a wicked person, we should take church ground and put him away from amongst ourselves, as could be done at Corinth, or whether it is not more suitable and seemly to take 2 Timothy ground and to act together on the basis of individual faithfulness, but, of course, in the light of all assembly truth and principles. It must be one or the other. Whatever terms are used there is really no middle course. Much has been brought before us in ministry as to this for many years past, and it seems to be the Lord's mind that this question should be now definitely faced.

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The very fact that there is exercise, with different phases of expression, but which in each case maintains with jealous care separation from evil, and the purity of the saints' associations, and the honour due to the Lord's Name, is something to be thankful for. It is evidence that the Lord is not suffering us to drop down into formality, but is preserving exercise as to the import of things, and as to the moral state which can alone take them up rightly. There is nothing in the exercise which, in my judgment, should be regarded as raising the question of fellowship. It is an exercise for brethren to take up together, and to seek the Lord about, that He may make clear His mind and confirm it in the judgment of His saints. It is surely not a matter which calls for division.

I go most fully with what has been said; viz. "The church -- as set up in responsibility here -- has failed, and there is no corporate body now that we can look to. We must recognise this, and our own part, too, as contributing to the failure. Further, it is a principle in the ways of God that when the corporate thing fails the principles that belong to it are maintained in individual faithfulness".

A principle clearly laid down in 2 Timothy 2 is that of withdrawing or separation from iniquity or vessels to dishonour. It is a principle of very wide -- we might say universal -- application. If it is true that we cannot now look to any corporate body to maintain divine principles, in individual faithfulness we can still act on this basic principle of withdrawal or separation from what is evil. It is a most valuable divine provision for the last days. The faithful saint can never be forced to accept association with evil; he can always withdraw from it. If two were walking together, and one of them became characteristically a wicked person the other could, and would, withdraw from him. And if 50 or 500 are walking together, each one must walk individually in regard to him on the withdrawal principle. It is only as each one acts on this principle that we can follow righteousness together.

But in dealing with such a person those who walk together act together. And the question arises whether there may not be an element in such collective action additional to that of individual withdrawal. I cannot doubt that when faithful saints thus act there is an additional element, and a very important one. If "two or three" take action, as gathered

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together to the Lord's Name, and with the support and sanction of His presence, their action -- as to spiritual reality, and in the estimation of faith -- has assembly character. The Lord's presence, and His power and authority, are concerned in the matter. But the support and confidence which the consciousness of this gives are known only to faith and love, and to the holy and priestly exercises of saints in private with God. I think we should instinctively feel that it would be out of place and unbecoming to take or claim any such ground as to our public position here. Every sober and lowly mind would shrink from it as savouring of pretension.

Now it seems to me that if the difference between these two things were recognised, as it ought to be, the difficulties as to present exercises would be greatly diminished. Some seem to fear that the first is in danger of being given up. No one has any thought of giving it up; it is the supreme joy and strength of faith. But what is said or done in public should be in keeping with the public position, which is that of a few feeble individuals seeking to walk together in the truth in the midst of assembly ruin and confessing that ruin. Hence if brethren feel it comely to say that they "withdraw" from a wicked person I cannot regard such action as an evil so great that it ought to be separated from. It is, at any rate, safe ground to take, as based on a clear divine principle of universal application. And it is unpretentious, and consistent with a condition of things when, admittedly, "there is no corporate body that we can look to". It is acting on a broad divine principle which is clearly available even in the most extreme conditions of weakness, and it surrenders nothing unless it be the claim to act publicly as having church position and the presence and power of our Lord Jesus Christ. But surely all saints would agree that this latter, as I have remarked already, is to be known today as the comfort and support of faith within, rather than taken up as giving a status or authority to be claimed without.

I trust that brethren will be patient, and prayerfully consider the principles involved. If the Lord be waited on and confided in I have no doubt as to the result.

March 13th, 1920.


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MY DEAR --, -- ... The Lord is good and knows how to sustain us, and keep us here for Him, even in much weakness of body. "Long proved in secret help" is a line I am particularly fond of, and it voices the experience which I think both you and I know something about. One longs to be more simply and wholly in His blessed hand, and at His disposal -- meet for His use. He knows the hearts that seek Him as to this, and desire it, and I have no doubt they will all obtain their desire in one way or another....

We are now going through Exodus and have reached chapter 27. The types of the tabernacle are most interesting. We had the altar last week -- the ability of the Lord Jesus to sustain the victim -- all that He is personally as the support of all that He became sacrificially. He could bear every test -- even the testing of all that God is as against sin in "consuming fire". We thought that "silver" spoke of the value, or precious side, of His death as securing redemption in divine grace and faithfulness, but "copper" speaks of the ability to bear testing. We stand with God in the value of the silver -- on the two sockets under each board -- but viewed as the pillars of the court, in outside testimony, we are sustained by the copper socket. For we are tested in our measure, and we need the moral stability which as seen in Him could stand every test. How blessed that God shows us the perfections of it in Him, and then makes it spiritually available for us, so that we may stand in the same character of ability, and hold up our five cubits square of fine linen! "Five" is weakness, but it is weakness that casts us in dependence upon divine grace, and then out of weakness we are made strong.

Very much love in the Lord,

Yours very affectionately,

February 14th, 1921.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- The question as to responsibility, which occasioned a good deal of controversy some five years ago, arose through some remarks made at a brothers' reading in London. These remarks were to the effect that if the assembly had not failed in its responsibility it would not be translated. This seemed to many of us a very strange statement, and it was challenged. Much discussion followed, mainly turning on the question as to whether complete failure in responsibility

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was to be regarded as inevitable, or if it was not rather the truth that in the gift of the Spirit God had made provision for the fulfilment of responsibility in those who walk according to Spirit, Romans 8:4. That is to say, as J.B.S. often remarked, in Christianity man's capability (as having the Spirit) is equal to his responsibility. It was not a question of whether this one or that one had done it -- though many attempts were made to put it on this ground -- but of what was the truth of Christianity according to God.

... I believe the Lord allowed the question to be raised to call attention to the divine provision -- in the gift of the Spirit -- for saints to be found in wilderness conditions according to the pleasure of God. It had been seen clearly that man in the flesh was a complete ruin, and that on the line of purpose man was set up in perfection in Christ outside responsibility altogether. But it was not so clear in many minds that the grace of God, and the power of His kingdom, had come in to bring believers under the moral sway of God, and to give them divine capability in the Spirit to answer to His will in the sphere of responsibility. So that Christianity, looked at according to God's mind, does not contemplate failure in responsibility, but the fulfilment of responsibility. It is not a question of whether I or anyone else has done it perfectly -- we know that in many things we all offend -- but of the true character of the present dispensation of God.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

May 16th, 1921.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- ... Your letter was with reference to a statement "that the Supper sets forth the Lord's death for His friends, and it is not His death sacrificially that is in view". I should have been glad if you had added a few words that would have made clear what was in the speaker's mind with regard to "His death sacrificially".

I should suppose that it was intended to convey that the predominant suggestion in the Supper is the Lord's death as the witness of His love. It is for the calling of Himself to mind. In instituting it the Lord had in view the making present to the affections of His own during His absence -- all that He had been as amongst them in the service of love,

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all that He was as devoted to them even to death. He had told out all His heart, and He would have this to be cherished in the hearts of His own.

There is sometimes a tendency to dwell much on His death as the removal of what was offensive to God, or as a righteous ground of blessing and acceptance for man. But the Lord would have it to be treasured as the full disclosure of all the love of His heart -- and His love is Himself -- and of all the love of God. But I think the fact that all this was expressed in death gives it a sacrificial character, and that this character is peculiarly touching to the hearts of those who love Him.

The ram of burnt-offering for Aaron and his sons goes beyond the burnt-offering of Leviticus 1. The latter is for acceptance, but the former brings into view all that is in the will of God. Christ's body has been given for the saints that that blessed will might take effect. Then the ram of consecration would speak of Christ as giving Himself so that the consecrated company might be brought under the influence of His devoted love, and nourished in their affections on all that He is. One would not care to exclude all this from any connection with the Supper.

With love in the Lord Jesus,

Yours affectionately in Him,

November 19th, 1921.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- I am sorry that you have had a difficulty with regard to the paragraph in the little volume on Genesis (page 202) to which you refer. I certainly had no thought of putting off the Lord's coming. I rather intended to call attention to that blessed work of God by which it is being brought spiritually near to many hearts at the present moment.

I think if you will be good enough to read the paragraph again you will see that the subject which is being dwelt upon, as suggested by Genesis 26, is that of spiritual revival. And, in connection with this, attention is called to the fact that at the end of the Revelation the Spirit and the bride are found in concert, saying, Come. And it is said that on the side of divine working everything is moving to this end.

It was ever true from the standpoint of what is presented in Scripture as the hope of the saints that the Lord might come at any moment. This was as true five hundred years

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ago as it is at this moment. The promise was there just as it is for us. But all the virgins slumbered.

We have now to take account of a further fact. Not only is the promise of the Lord's coming presented in the fullest and clearest way in Scripture, but God has actually intervened in the way of revival. We must recognise a divine and spiritual movement such as is suggested by the midnight cry, and the subsequent awakening of the virgins and trimming of their lamps. And all this in view of the virgins being "ready" when the Bridegroom comes.

That what people call the Reformation was the beginning of this revival I suppose few spiritual persons would question. And it has continued and deepened ever since, until in the last century the truth of Christ's headship and of the presence of the Spirit was revived, giving back to the faith and affections of the saints the peculiar and distinctive place of the assembly. All this has been in view of the development, through divine working, of moral state and bridal affections in the saints. And God is carrying on this blessed work, as well as calling sinners in grace to the knowledge of Himself as a Saviour God.

The recognition of this does not surely put the Lord's coming off, but it awakens a deep and intelligent interest in what God is doing at the present moment in view of His coming. And, indeed, it is only as that blessed reviving goes on in our souls that the coming of the Lord is spiritually near to us. Many thousands now profess to hold that the Lord may come at any moment, but it needs divine revival to make this blessed hope a divine and effective reality. And it is a comfort and encouragement to see that God is specially working in the way of revival. It moves the heart with desire to be found in the current of what He is doing. One would wish all saints to be conscious that they are living in a time of wondrous revival, that their exercise might be to get the full gain of it.

I have no doubt that the present revival has remnant character, but the remnant, viewed properly, includes all that is for God, and what God is doing in reviving grace and power has, I believe, "all saints" in view. All that is given from the Head is really for the whole body, and nothing less, and it should be regarded in this light. How far all -- or indeed any of us -- have been affected by it is another matter, and one of exercise for both conscience and heart. But we cannot tell

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how God can spread abroad what is of Himself, and give it a place in the hearts of His saints. It is like a stone dropped into a pond which makes widening circles to the very circumference. I suppose there is scarcely an exercised saint anywhere who has not benefited in some way by what was ministered through J.N.D., though many of them have never even heard his name. As cherishing the thought of the assembly one would not in one's affections limit the blessed reviving which God is granting to anything less than the whole body. It is intended in divine love to affect all saints.

I do not think I need add more. I trust these few remarks may tend to remove any difficulty which may have been in your mind.

With love in the Lord Jesus,

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 10th, 1921.


MY BELOVED BROTHER, -- Very many thanks for both your much valued letters. I very often think of you before the Lord, and I have done so in a special way since I knew of the peculiar exercises you have been called to pass through of late. There is One who enters perfectly into it all, and who has been, and will be, your Resource and Confidence unfailingly. I do rejoice in the mercy which has taken your dear afflicted daughter out of all the conditions of infirmity to be eternally without distraction with the One who loves her so perfectly, and who holds her in all the power and preciousness of what He did upon the cross, and whose joy is great in having her with Himself. It must be a great comfort to you, beloved brother, to know that she is there before you are removed from the ability to care for her here. The Lord's faithful goodness is clearly seen in this, and our hearts praise Him.

November 26th, 1922.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- ... When the question came up about the notices I was not at first much impressed by the desirability of mentioning them at the commencement of the meeting. But the raising of the question led me to consider whether the Lord might not have something to say in the exercise, and

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certain things have tended to confirm the thought that it is so.

I think we have for a long time been freed from the thought that assembly privilege could be brought to a formal conclusion. We have realised a little, I trust, that in having the gain of Christ's headship, and in tasting the joy of association with Him in the presence of His God and Father, we are touching what is eternal. We cannot at present remain always together in the enjoyment of this privilege, but to suppose that it could be formally concluded would suggest that its true character and blessedness had not been entered into. Hence the concluding prayer -- so general forty years ago -- has dropped out. I do not think it desirable that the reading of notices should practically take its place as a formal dismissal.

It cannot be said, I think, that the notices form no part of the meeting, and that they come in after the meeting is quite over. This would fail to give them their true place and importance. So far as they relate to order and administration they form an integral part of what is connected with being "together in assembly".

Then at what part of the meeting is it most suitable that they should be introduced? Are they not more in keeping with the conditions in which we "come together in assembly", and the order which pertains to that coming together, than they are with the place of spiritual privilege to which we may be led in association with Christ as Head in the midst of the assembly? I think upon consideration, most would feel that they belong to the former rather than the latter. The question is, whether they should have their place there, or whether we should formally return, after perhaps enjoying our place as Christ's brethren and as sons with Him, to that which pertains to assembly order here?

There might occasionally be notices of a sad or sorrowful nature, but the Lord would not have such things ignored. They have to be taken account of in the assembly as incidental to the conditions which exist in the place from which He is absent, and where our hearts are "with woe familiar". His priestly grace may be counted on to afford the help that is needed to free the spirits of His saints in connection with such things, as from other conditions which surround us here.

I trust that brethren may move happily together in this exercise with consideration for the Lord and for one another,

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so that any change which may be made may carry the general judgment and spiritual intelligence of saints with it. And one would desire that there might be a readiness with us all to adjust ourselves to any intimation of the Lord's mind which may be given.

With much love in the Lord Jesus,

Yours affectionately in Him,

May 7th, 1923.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- Many thanks for yours of the 15th inst. This is just a line to let you know that we enjoyed our week's visit to Weymouth. We were able to call and see most of the saints, and we had three readings in the Room. On Saturday we looked at our place as sons and as little children. On Tuesday we had -- because they expressed a local exercise as to it -- the subject of fellowship. Then on Wednesday we considered a little the Lord's supper.

I think all came out to the meetings who could get, and there seemed a measure of interest ...

Then on Thursday we moved on to Yeovil, and had a reading there. We looked at the fellowship (1 Corinthians 10) as that which is provided for man for complete deliverance from the idolatrous world, and then at the Supper (1 Corinthians 11) as securing an affectionate place for the Lord here when His headship can be realised. I was feeling very tired and not up to much, but I trust there was help.

I thought Leviticus 9 answered more to the blessing side of the fellowship as seen in 1 Corinthians 10. I think the sanctuary sometimes means the holiest, and sometimes the whole tabernacle, but in the latter case it is the whole viewed as taking character from the holiest where God dwells. The failure of the sons of Aaron was really the breakdown of the whole system, and hence Leviticus 16 takes up -- or rather suggests -- what is known in full result in Christianity and Israel's true blessing in another day also.

Much love to you both,

Yours affectionately in the Lord,

September 22nd, 1923.


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MY DEAR --, -- It is a long time since I heard anything of you, and as you came rather specially before me today I thought I would write to ask how you are. I trust you are preserved in a fair measure of health during this time of much sickness, and that the Lord keeps Himself before your heart, and gives you continual joy in Himself and in the precious thoughts of His love. How sweet to know that all those thoughts were the Father's thoughts, committed to the Son to be brought into effect! If each of us can say, "The Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me", He did so because it was the Father's will that He should do so. And so with every service of love that He delights to render us. He would have us to trace it all to the Father, that the Father might become to our hearts the Source of all, and that in the consciousness of this we might cry, "Abba, Father!" The gospel of John shows us how the Lord put the Father before the hearts of His disciples as the One who had sent Him, and as the One who had communicated all to Him that He made known to them; as the One whose words He spoke and whose works He did. What a joy it was to Him to be able to say to the Father, of them, "Now they have known that all things that thou hast given me are of thee; for the words which thou hast given me I have given them, and they have received them, and have known truly that I came out from thee, and have believed that thou sentest me", John 17:7, 8. Those who truly love the Lord have peculiar pleasure in seeing what was of such precious interest to Him, and in yielding themselves to be led into that knowledge of the Father which is essential if we are to be "for him", 1 Corinthians 8:6.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

March 27th, 1924.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- Many thanks for your kind letter with the gift of the dear saints meeting at -- . It is very sweet to be encouraged in the service of the Lord by the consciousness of the love and fellowship of His saints. I greatly value the spiritual affections which are thus manifested, and I am assured that the prayers of the saints accompany their practical interest and care, and this is a great refreshment and source

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of strength. Please convey to the dear brethren my thanks, and the assurance that I truly appreciate their love.

It is interesting to know that the brethren at are just considering the same part of Numbers as we have had before us at -- . The thoughts which you had on chapter 18 are very good and helpful. One feels how important that part of Numbers is as giving instruction in the grace which marks God's ways in going on with a people in whom there were many elements of weakness and even contrariety. In the presence of such conditions the work of God in His saints would take character from the features seen typically in chapter 18, and levitical and priestly service would be maintained in spiritual energy. God loves to support what is in accord with Himself, and it is our privilege to be so in the midst of a Christian profession in which there is much that is unsuitable to Him. Faithfulness and devotion in the spirit of priestly grace will maintain what is for God, and every bit of true levitical service will be subordinated to what is priestly and will promote holy conditions. There is a wonderful opportunity at the present time for all this to come into evidence.

With love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

September, 1924.


MY BELOVED BROTHER, -- I greatly value your letter of loving sympathy. It is a sweet cordial to my heart, which comes to me in all the precious fragrance of those affections which fill the heart of Christ, and find expression through His members here. I feel, and shall feel, the departure of dear -- very much: and the circumstances under which it happened give one much exercise. But I have no doubt that it is all the action of perfect wisdom and love. The normal progress of his disease would have entailed a long period of intense weakness and suffering, and the Lord in merciful consideration has taken him home by a shorter and less painful route. And one can only give thanks that, as he said to me on Friday: "All is as well as love could make it".

There were a large number at the burial yesterday -- I heard 150 -- and there was a precious sense of the Lord's nearness, and of complete victory through him. He will be greatly missed in his local meeting, where his quiet and godly

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spirit, and true care for the saints, and his devotion to the Lord, have gained him the esteem and affection of the brethren. I have no doubt his service and example will continue to bear fruit.

With very much love and many thanks for your affectionate sympathy,

Yours very affectionately in the Lord Jesus,

September 11th, 1924.


... Many thanks for your very kind letter. I deeply appreciate your sympathy in regard to the home-going of dear -- . I feel the loss very much, for we have been thrown a good deal together from before the time of his conversion, over forty years ago, and during recent years he has been a comfort to me in many ways. But I am sure the Lord has done well in taking him, for the normal course of his disease would have entailed a prolonged period of increasing weakness and suffering, which would have greatly tried him and those who loved him. But in mercy he has been taken home by a shorter route, and, as he said to me near the end, "All is as well as love could make it".

I have had you all very much on my heart ever since I heard of the illness of your dear sister, and have often looked to the Lord for her that every needed succour might be vouchsafed to her just as she needs it. And that you may all be greatly comforted amidst your sorrow. We know that the Lord makes all these exercises which are incidental to our present bodily condition contribute to what is spiritual and eternal, and this in itself is great compensation. But the sweetest of all is that these bodily weaknesses and sufferings become the occasion of our learning the tender sympathies and consideration of the love of Christ. We learn Himself in a peculiar way, and in a way which no other kind of experience could give us. The experience will never be gone through again, but the precious knowledge of Christ as discovered to us in it will abide as our own blessed secret with Him.

My warmest love to your dear sister, yourself, and your husband. I trust the brethren will be helped in being together tonight.

September 23rd, 1924.


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MY DEAR BROTHER, -- ... One feels that the Lord is giving just now an exceptional opportunity for service through printed ministry on the Continent, exercising the brethren on the Continent to be more diligent in desiring to spread the precious truth, and also interesting the hearts of those there who have special abilities for translating work and moving the saints in this country to help in the financial side of this service. And along with all this there seems to be every reason to believe that a very distinct interest is being awakened in many souls in the different countries where the translations are being circulated. So that I think we should be encouraged to continue in prayer with regard to this branch of the Lord's interests and work.

Our much love to Mrs. -- and yourself.

Yours affectionately in the Lord,

March 16th, 1925.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- ... I can sympathise with your exercise as to the question of paying rates for meeting rooms, as some years back the same exercise arose in my mind, and I was much inclined to think that it would be well to pay them and avoid any appearance of being favoured in a religious way by the government of the country.

But I must say that further consideration of this matter, and more information as to how it really stands in the law of the country, lead me to doubt whether anything in the way of divine principle is really involved. It has seemed good to the powers that be to decide that buildings used for religious purposes shall not be liable to payment of rates. This is their ordinance, with the making of which we had nothing to do. We did not seek it, but if they say that a building used for what they call religious service shall be exempt from rates it is clearly not according to the law of the land that rates should be paid for such a building. That this is a certain benefit to us is clear, but so is also the liberty to meet at all. We value the latter privilege, and gladly use it as granted to us in the mercy of God through His ordering by way of the laws which secure to us this liberty. We own with thankfulness that government takes a course in this respect which is very favourable to us, and it is different from what obtains in some countries.

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If the non-payment of rates necessitated that we should take the place of a religious denomination we might well have serious misgivings about it. But the law distinctly recognises those who decline to be known by any particular name, and extends to them the exemption from rates. This exemption does not put those to whom it applies under any obligation to the State. It does not confer upon them any claim to State-aid, nor are they even required to have the voting lists affixed to their doors. I am aware that this is often done, and it gives the impression that the building is in some way part of the machinery of the State. But I am informed that the law which requires this only applies to chapels of the Established Church, and that the authorities have no right to affix them to the doors of other buildings.

The State does not interfere with us religiously, but grants us full freedom. It requires nothing but that we shall be law abiding, which of course we are most ready to be. And if the State decides that it will not rate buildings which are used for such purposes as our rooms are used for, this is their ordinance, and I do not see any good reason why we should not accept it. It is simply the order and rule of the country in which we live, and I think it is matter for thankfulness that that order is in so many ways favourable to us as seeking to follow the Lord.

I do not know that I need add more, save my much love in the Lord.

Yours affectionately in Him,

May 8th, 1925.


... I was able to be out at the reading last night on part of Mark 14. We were saying that nothing ought to affect us more than the sorrows through which the Lord went in His love. To spiritually apprehend them demands great holiness, but it nourishes spiritual affections probably in a way that nothing else could do. I think Christians generally are more apt to dwell on the perfection of what He has accomplished, and the blessed and eternal results of it, than they are to consider at what a cost to Him it was all secured. Yet it is the latter that really moves the heart, and knits it to Him in personal affection. His greatness, His moral perfections, His

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glory, all have their part in attracting us to Him, but the sorrows through which His love went, and in which it disclosed its depth and power, affect the heart as nothing else can. They subdue, they form tender sensibilities, they bring us to the very heart of Christ. But it is thrice-holy ground that we traverse there; we can only "watch" there as by the Spirit we are apart from the weakness and sentiment of the flesh. May we know more what it is to be really held by the love of Christ!

My love in the Lord to you all,

Yours affectionately in Him,

November 12th, 1925.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- ... The Lord graciously gives many encouragements in His blessed service, and not the least is the cordial support and interest of His beloved saints. Please accept my hearty thanks, and be assured that I value highly the love that is thus expressed. It encourages me to count also on the prayers of the dear brethren, and I do so as feeling how much I need them.

I have been confined to the house with a cold ever since the Monday we returned from Brixham, but was able to be out last night. We read Mark 16, as showing how the service of the Lord goes on in the wide expansion which resurrection gave -- the whole creation coming into view. And the Spirit seems to show how the power all centred in the Lord. On the side of the disciples -- both women and men -- there was much evidence of weakness. But the young man at the right of the sepulchre seems to indicate the power in which the testimony would be maintained. The Lord's right hand had indeed been glorious in power; it had dashed in pieces the enemy; and the saints were to be marked by the energy of that power. Service is now carried on in "the firmament of His power", and is apart from all strength of flesh or nature. We do not learn this in a practical way without such exercises as marked the women, for it is a strange and new power to us....

With very much love in the Lord to dear Mrs. -- and yourself and to all the dear saints whose love I have proved so truly.

Yours very affectionately in Him,

December 10th, 1925.


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MY DEAR BROTHER, -- ... If we want to know God we must come under His service and thus be for the pleasure of God and be worshippers.

Suffering tests us. The Lord said, "I was not rebellious". It refers to the fact that He was to be exposed to every indignity of men. How wonderful! Job was very rebellious. Job's friends morally smote him and plucked off his hair, and he could not stand it. His friends' criticism tested him. Nothing tests us like adverse criticism from our brethren; how few of us could then say, "I was not rebellious", Isaiah 50:5. The Lord took everything from the hand of God, gave Himself up to take whatever He sent who would in the end righteously judge (see note in N.T., 1 Peter 2:23). He awaited God's justification; that is the spirit of Christ. We can all accept things that come direct from God, but what comes from the brethren tests us most. Accept it from God and leave Him to justify you. If you justify yourself you hinder God from justifying you.
1926.


... The questions raised in your letter are important, and they involve much that can hardly be dealt with briefly. But I will endeavour to answer them as far as I can according to the exercise which I have in the light of Scripture.

It is true that J.N.D. or J.B.S. would have received to break bread "a godly clergyman", or "a person known to be godly and sound in the faith who has not left some ecclesiastical system ... as to which his conscience is not enlightened, nay, which he may think more right". And the question is now raised as to whether brethren still do so, or whether they are on sectarian ground if they do not.

It is evident that J.N.D. and J.B.S. had in view, in writing as they did, the spiritual conditions of the time. They did not contemplate persons being received who came from associations leavened by all kinds of worldliness, or by evil teaching on vital matters. Their uncompromising separation from Bethesda, and all who espoused its principles, in 1848, showed that they regarded association with evil as a definite bar to Christian communion.

Truth and divine principles do not change, but it has not been the way of God -- either when first giving the truth

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through the apostles, or in reviving it during the last century -- to give all the truth at once, or the full bearing of it. He has brought it out as the needs of the church required, according to the exercises of the time, and with regard to the conditions obtaining in relation to His testimony. It is well to inquire what the conditions were under which J.N.D. and J.B.S. wrote as they did.

At that time those in the sects were marked individually and collectively by a very considerable degree of separation from the world, and by much true devotedness; they preserved in large measure purity of doctrine as to fundamental truth. Before the movement of separation began it is obvious that whatever light there was, or whatever faithfulness or testimony there was, was found in those bodies. There were "a few names" in Sardis of whom the Lord could say that they had not defiled their garments, and that they should walk with Him in white, for they were worthy. Such had preserved in holy integrity what was consistent with the truth so far as they knew it. If there had not been such, there would have been no material suited to receive the Lord's further testimony. But there was material out of which something truly Philadelphian in character could be formed as ministry was given from Christ as Head.

Now I do not learn from Scripture that it has ever been God's way to suddenly disown, or break the link with, what has been, in its day, of Himself when He brings in further and greater light. He acts in patient consideration for His people. He respects, if one may so say, His former ways. He has regard to that which He may have been pleased to use even though it fell short of what was in His mind. It was so when Judaism was superseded by Christianity; there was a transition period during which the separation between the old and the new was not definite. The faithful remnant entered into the blessings of the new order without altogether severing themselves from the former system -- now really set aside by God. It was not until the epistle to the Hebrews was written that they were definitely called to "go forth to him without the camp, bearing his reproach".

There is a certain analogy between what the epistle to the Hebrews was to the believing remnant of Israel, then made partakers of the heavenly calling, and what 2 Timothy is to us as calling us into separation from those things in the

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Christian profession which are not suitable to the present testimony of God, and which largely have the character of Judaism. But the application of 2 Timothy was accompanied by much consideration -- which was, I believe, at the time, of the Spirit of God -- for faithful and pious souls, even though they were not fully prepared to take the path of complete separation to the Lord. The practice of eighty or ninety years ago was probably, at that time, of the Lord, for it was important to make manifest that the spiritual movement was in no way a sectarian one, but that it opened up a path, through divine favour, for all saints.

But every exercised Christian must see that there is an immense and solemn change in the whole condition of things since those days. Evil has come in like a flood; there has been no power to keep it out of religious bodies; all kinds of leavening influences are at work. No grave and exercised mind can be unaware of the tremendous change. It calls imperatively for greatly increased vigilance and care on the part of those who desire through grace to maintain what is due to the Lord, and to preserve a purity of associations which shall be in keeping with the truth of God's assembly, and with the principles of 2 Timothy 2.

Then it must not be overlooked that if there has been a terrible down-grade movement affecting more or less all the organised bodies, there has been another movement marked by the following of righteousness, faith, love, peace, and by calling on the Lord out of a pure heart. It is evident that the breach between these two movements must necessarily have been widening all the time. The separation between them becomes continually more definitely marked. And I have no doubt that this is felt, and that it has the effect of restraining persons from wishing to break bread who are not prepared to break their links with what is, in the light of Scripture, unrighteous. So that it becomes increasingly rare for any to wish to break bread while still retaining their links with the systems. I think the incompatibility of the two positions is felt by many who have not even seriously weighed the reasons for it.

Things can only be maintained for God as we act on the principles laid down in 2 Timothy. The two-fold seal of God's foundation is that "The Lord knows those that are his; and, Let every one who names the name of the Lord withdraw

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from iniquity". We cannot have Christian fellowship in any definite or practical sense except on this line.

God works by the ministry of what is positive -- by the truth. Certain things have been seen to be evil, and they have been withdrawn from because they have been judged in the light of the positive truth. The lordship and headship of Christ, the presence of the Holy Spirit, the truth of the body and the house, the divine order of the assembly, the spiritual character of all that is for God's pleasure, the heavenly calling of the saints, and much more that might be mentioned in detail, are the great and precious realities by which saints have been revived and moved in these last days.

In the light of these things the present condition of the Christian profession generally has been discerned to be one of great departure from the truth, and this we have to humbly own as having our part in the responsibility of it. But the instructions of 2 Timothy have provided an open door by which to escape from things which are inconsistent with the truth, and with the fellowship to which believers are called. This open door is available for all saints. The truth of the fellowship is only known practically as we avail ourselves of it. The fellowship of God's Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and of the body and blood of Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, and of the apostles, is the only fellowship which Scripture recognises as being a divine one. It is because the truth of this fellowship could not be realised in systems characterised by human order and clerical office, or where a sectarian bond was recognised or boasted in, that so many have definitely separated from such systems. Souls have been freed from these things by the power of positive truth, as they have moved after Christ, and after what is of God, with a desire to realise the true position and wealth of the assembly in the Holy Spirit. And in proportion as there has been separation to Christ, and giving place to the Holy Spirit as practically recognising His presence and action in the saints, there has been great enlargement in the communication and apprehension of the truth concerning Christ and the assembly.

It is impossible to say that there is anything sectarian about this. It is a path clearly indicated in 2 Timothy, and it is open to all saints, and every one who has truly found that path would earnestly wish that all saints might also be found in it. And there is an unrestricted ministry of positive divine

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wealth going on all the time, through what is spoken and printed, by which what is spiritually attractive is put within the reach of those whom the Lord loves, and for whom He cares, and to whom He sends light and food that they may find His path, and know the blessedness and the bond of the fellowship. If souls take this path, they will find the privilege of the Lord's supper awaiting them.

Every Christian is divinely called to the fellowship; it is there for every one who has faith and affection to take it up. And I think it must be admitted that being true to the fellowship morally precedes the eating of the Lord's supper together. 1 Corinthians 10 precedes 1 Corinthians 11. We get first "the teaching and fellowship of the apostles"; then "breaking of bread and prayers", Acts 2:42. But the truth of the fellowship clearly raises the question of associations. It did so at the beginning. How much more so -- may we not say? -- in the midst of all the confusion of the last days. Can there be any doubt that 2 Timothy is given to us as a special guidance for the last days? And does it not raise the question of associations very definitely? It is a powerful divine call to take heed to our moral condition, and to look well to our associations.

In the last days fidelity becomes of the utmost importance and the faithful word must have its place. "For if we have died together with him, we shall also live together; if we endure, we shall also reign together", etc., "Let every one who names the name of the Lord withdraw from iniquity". It is needful to purify oneself from vessels to dishonour in separating from them, if one would be a vessel to honour. And we are to "pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, with them that call upon the Lord out of a pure heart". I would submit that the title of any Christian to be received to partake of the Lord's supper has now to be conditioned by the principles laid down in 2 Timothy. Our companying with saints is clearly to be on those lines. This raises grave considerations as to how far those should be received to the eating of the Lord's supper who are obviously not maintaining fidelity to the truth of the fellowship. To partake of the one loaf and to drink of the one cup is the most intimate and holy expression of our participation in the fellowship. It is a serious thing for any to commit themselves in a most solemn act to a fellowship which in their minds they are not prepared to take up.

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No doubt many look upon the Lord's supper merely as individual privilege and do not consider that it involves any definite fellowship. But it is really the most definite commitment to the fellowship, and to all that the fellowship involves. To sign a deed of partnership is a serious matter even in human things; how much more so in the holy things of God! If souls are not prepared for the path of separation from evil, in the light and blessedness of all the good that is of God, they would do well to wait upon the Lord until they are assured as to the path in which He would have them to walk.

Members of religious bodies stand publicly committed to the acts of those bodies, and these are often such as to raise a question as to whether those who remain identified with them could be regarded as calling upon the Lord out of a pure heart. Not, of course, forgetting that we can only take account of what becomes manifest, and of what persons are identified with in public profession. Present-day conditions call for careful and godly door-keeping.

There is a further serious aspect of this question which we have to face. The course of the testimony during the last hundred years has been attended by many conflicts. And succeeding separations have tested the saints, and have left permanent results in a form that is sorrowful and humiliating, but which cannot be ignored. We cannot now say that we are free to receive Christians without raising any question as to their associations. It would mean confusion and looseness, and would commit us to the practical acceptance of principles which we believe to be contrary to divine assembly order, and to the honour of our Lord Jesus Christ. So far as we have learned the mind of God we wish to maintain it in a practical way. The principles which govern the fellowship are universal and abiding. They have had to be maintained in times of conflict at the cost of separation from many brethren. But it is impossible to accept identification with principles which we have definitely separated from as not being of God. The door is widely open for any to acknowledge the divine principles which they may have formerly refused. But to receive them without this would be to deprive them of the spiritual gain of the exercise which the Lord permitted to be raised.

It may be truly said that many now know nothing of the conflicts which have resulted in their being where they are;

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many, perhaps, converted long years after such conflicts have taken place. In such cases, if the Lord were drawing one by the attraction of increased knowledge of Himself, and of spiritual light and food, it would be manifest that spiritual motives were at work. Such a soul, finding the Lord amongst His saints, and prepared to move as having the Lord before him, would find no difficulty. He would be received as having moved, through spiritual exercise, from his former associations.
1926.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... We go on quietly in the meetings, and the Lord gives encouragement. We are now reading Romans on Wednesdays, and there is an interest. I trust there may be real soul-help for us all. Last night we had the latter part of chapter 2, and were led by contrast to think of Christ as the One who was everything that He said, and in whom all that was hidden from man's eye was absolutely perfect under God's eye. In connection with the last two verses of the chapter we wondered whether "the hidden manna" might not suggest the inward perfection of Jesus in all that related to His blessed pathway here? How much there was inwardly in that holy One which no human eye could perceive! For example, who but God knew the trust which He had when upon His mother's breasts? Or all the exercises and desires which led to His tarrying behind in Jerusalem at the age of twelve? Yet every feature of His inward life, in the most minute detail, was in the perfection of a grace which came down from heaven. The fine grain of the manna was there, touching, as it were, every grain of the sand of the wilderness, but most of that perfection only discerned by the eye of God. How much there was that did not appear even to a John or a Peter! One feels how important it is that what is inward and secret should be such as God can approve. He is going to judge the secrets of men. In His grace He works so that all that is of the flesh might be inwardly judged, and a true appreciation of Christ brought about. So that the hidden man of the heart might carry the features of Christ under His eye....

Yours very affectionately in the Lord,

January 21st, 1926.


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MY DEAR BROTHER, -- I will, as you have raised the question of the reception of the Spirit, make a few remarks on this important subject.

At the beginning of each Gospel attention is called to the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, as the One who would baptise with, or in, the Holy Spirit. It is particularly pointed out that this action would characterise Him. After His death, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of God we find Peter saying, "Repent, and be baptised, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for remission of sins, and ye will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit", Acts 2:38; and he connects this with the call of God. "For to you is the promise and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God may call". There is sometimes a tendency to lose sight of divine calling in relation to the gift of the Holy Spirit, but it is the called ones of God who receive this gift. Certain conditions come in on man's side, such as repentance, faith, obedience, purity of heart, love, desire for the Spirit, but the call of God lies behind all these things. God calls persons in His sovereign mercy and love that He may give them His Holy Spirit. The effect of divine calling is that repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ are produced in the soul. Obedience, purification of heart by faith, and love for the Lord Jesus Christ are brought into evidence in the called ones. It is sometimes as difficult to say which feature manifests itself first as it is to say which spoke of a wheel moves first.

It is helpful to view this subject from the divine side. "Not on the principle of works which have been done in righteousness which we had done, but according to his own mercy he saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, which he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour", Titus 3:5, 6. The death of Christ is the ground on which the Spirit is given, as we see in type in the smiting of the rock, Exodus 17:6. The proposal to give the Spirit was on God's part; the promise of the Spirit is to all whom He calls; and He gives the Spirit through Jesus Christ, and in virtue of the death of Christ.

It is evidence of divine calling when the fear of God becomes a definite characteristic of a person. But in order to the reception of the Spirit there must be the belief of the glad tidings. "The preaching of Jesus Christ" is to the end

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that men may believe on Him, and know that, instead of God requiring righteousness from them which they could never render to Him, He has manifested His own righteousness "by faith of Jesus Christ towards all". He justifies freely "by his grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" all those who believe. He sets forth Christ Jesus as a Mercy-seat in the infinite value of His blood, and shows that on that ground He could righteously pass by the sins of Old Testament believers. He also shows forth thereby His righteousness in the present time, "so that he should be just, and justify him that is of the faith of Jesus", Romans 3:21 - 26. Then we learn from Romans 4 that righteousness is reckoned to the believer without works, and this is declared to be the blessedness of those "whose lawlessnesses have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered", and "to whom the Lord shall not at all reckon sin". God is believed on as "him who has raised from among the dead Jesus our Lord, who has been delivered for our offences and has been raised for our justification". "Therefore having been justified on the principle of faith, we have peace towards God through our Lord Jesus Christ".

The epistle to the Romans sets forth in an orderly way the truth of the glad tidings, and its effects in the souls of men. And we find that at the point reached in the early verses of chapter 5 the believer has received the gift of the Spirit. "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us", verse 5. There is not a word about the Spirit being given until the believer is justified by faith and has peace with God, righteousness being reckoned to him. Then immediately we find the Spirit busy in the heart, having been given to shed abroad the love of God there.

It is to be noticed that he does not formally mark some distinct point at which the Spirit is given, and one has no doubt that divine wisdom appears in this. He would engage us with God, known as operating in righteousness and power with a view to our justification, so that we may have peace towards Him. Then the Holy Spirit is there in the heart. It can then be said without question, "God, who has given also his Holy Spirit to you", 1 Thessalonians 4:6. The attention of the soul is not called to the particular moment when the Spirit was given so as to cause it to be engaged with the experience of that moment. That might turn to self-occupation,

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either in the direction of resting on a certain experience, or in the way of misgivings and uncertainty as to whether one has had the experience or not. The present action of the Spirit is spoken of; "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us". The Spirit pours out into the heart of the believer the love which has been so wondrously commended to us "in that, we being still sinners, Christ has died for us". This is the first action of the Spirit as given to the believer. Then in chapter 8 He is spoken of as dwelling in the believer. But I do not pursue the subject, as it is the reception of the Spirit rather than His subsequent operations which is at present before me.

I believe that God gives the Spirit as soon as He can. He loves to seal "the righteousness of faith" by that wondrous Gift. I do not believe that He delays the gift of the Spirit to any who know what it is to be justified on the principle of faith, and to have peace towards God through our Lord Jesus Christ. The Spirit is received on the principle of the report of faith, Galatians 3:1 - 14. To the Ephesians it is said, "In whom (Christ) ye also have trusted, having heard the word of the truth, the glad tidings of your salvation; in whom, also, having believed, ye have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise", Ephesians 1:13.

In the epistles it is everywhere taken for granted that the saints have the Holy Spirit. The question whether they have the Spirit or not is never raised with those who are addressed as saints by divine calling, or as assemblies. They are instructed, exhorted, warned, and rebuked on the ground that they have the Spirit. Those whom John addresses as little children are expressly said to have the unction from the Holy One. And Paul, while having to address the Corinthians as fleshly, and as babes in Christ -- using the term "babes" as a reproach -- does not question the fact that the Spirit of God dwelt in them. Indeed to suppose otherwise would have been to falsify the position and state of the Christian, and the nature of his relationship with God through grace. Some of the Corinthians had been base and vile characters, but they had been washed, sanctified, justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. It is on this ground that he calls upon them to recognise that the Spirit of God dwelt in them, and that their bodies were the temples of the Holy Spirit which was in them, which they had of God.

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He says again and again, "Do ye not know" that it is so?

To the Galatians, who had so strangely and sadly departed from the truth, the ground of one of his powerful appeals was that they had received the Spirit, and this not on the principle of works of law, but of the report of faith. One serious feature of uncertainty as to whether believers on the Lord Jesus Christ have the Spirit is that it takes away what lies at the basis of Christian responsibility. How can one be called upon to maintain the holiness of God's temple if he is not of it? If a man's body is not the temple of the Holy Spirit he cannot be accounted responsible to hold it as such. Indeed all that is pressed in Scripture as to the holy responsibility of saints in relation to the kingdom, the temple, the house, and even the body, is undermined and weakened if it is regarded as uncertain whether believers have the Spirit or not. I do not believe that God would have this to be an uncertain or unsettled question with any of His children.

I should distinguish between the reception and the recognition of the Spirit. In the history of the children of Israel there is no definite type of the Spirit until Exodus 17, though it is evident that those who can sing what answers to the redemption: song of Exodus 15 have the Spirit. I believe there is a moment when the believer learns to recognise the Spirit as given, and a very important moment this is, but it is not always, or perhaps even often, coincident with the reception of the Spirit. I think many have the "pot of oil", 2 Kings 4:2, without being at all conscious of its value, or of the immeasurable possibilities that are inherent in it. Anything that calls their attention to its reality, and sets in motion the desire to have and utilise the gain of it, is of great advantage to the soul. The recognition of the presence of the Spirit might be compared to the owner of an estate discovering that the estate contained a gold mine of inexhaustible wealth, the presence of which was unknown to him before. No greater help could be given to the saints than to direct their attention to this wondrous Gift. It must not be supposed that every action of the Spirit, as given to those who believe, will be at once realised or understood by the believer. Nor is the gift of the Spirit always regarded in Scripture from the same point of view. It would be nearer to the truth to say that each time it is referred to, some particular and distinctive aspect of the gift is presented to our consideration. For example, in the types

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of the Spirit, the water from the rock in Exodus 17 suggests quite a different thought from the water of the well in Numbers 21; and again, how distinct is the thought in the anointing of the priests! The soul has to be led in spiritual intelligence to recognise each separate aspect of this wondrous Gift, and we do not get the true value of any aspect or action of the Spirit until we come to the recognition of it.

Even as to the reception of the Spirit, and the conditions to be found in those to whom He is given, how varied are the presentations in the New Testament! Repentance, faith in Jesus Christ, baptism in His Name, the reception of remission of sins through believing on Him, believing the report of faith, trusting in Christ as having heard the word of the truth and having believed the glad tidings of salvation, the being sons by faith in Christ Jesus, are seen as conditions in Acts 2:38; 10: 44; 19: 2 - 7; Galatians 3:2; Ephesians 1:13; Galatians 4:6. In Luke 11:13 and John 4:10 prayer is the condition, and in this connection it is of interest to note that it was on Jesus "praying" that the Holy Spirit descended (Luke 3:21, 22), that it was after ten days of "continual prayer" that the Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, and that Cornelius had been "supplicating God continually", Acts 10:2. In John 7:39 the Spirit is spoken of as given to those who believe on Jesus; in Acts 5:32 He is given to those who obey Him; in John 14:15, 16 to those who love Him. In Acts 15:8, 9, the gift of the Spirit is God's witness to hearts which He has purified by faith. These varied presentations are to be taken account of, for they show clearly that even the reception of the Spirit is not always viewed in the same aspect, and this would preserve us from thinking of any one condition in too rigid a way to the exclusion of the others.

Cornelius and his friends were the first-fruits to be received from the Gentile world, and one would conclude that their case might justly be regarded as a pattern of how the Gentiles would receive the Spirit. We see moral conditions there: Cornelius was pious; he feared God with all his house; he gave much alms to the people; and he supplicated God continually. God chose that they should by Peter's mouth hear the word of the glad tidings and believe. The Holy Spirit fell upon them even before they were baptised, while Peter was speaking the words, "To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes on him will receive

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through his name remission of sins". "And the heart-knowing God bore them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit as to us also, and put no difference between us and them, having purified their hearts by faith", Acts 15:8, 9. It was all God's doing; God visiting the nations, as James said, to take out of them a people for His Name.

I quite believe that many persons who fear God have not received the Spirit. But such are not yet in true Christian blessing. They need the gospel. The Lord Jesus Christ is presented to men in the glad tidings in all His trustworthiness as the One in whom God delights, the One who has completely glorified God in bearing the judgment due to sinners, the One whom God has now raised from among the dead, and given to be the Mediator -- the glorious Administrator -- of all His grace to sinful men. Believing on God, and on the Lord Jesus Christ, as thus made known in the glad tidings, they will assuredly receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. God delights to put His divine Seal on the faith that thus honours Him and the Lord Jesus Christ.

In John's gospel the conditions leading to the reception of the Spirit are thirst, and the coming to Jesus to get that thirst quenched. The Spirit does not come in there in relation to the forgiveness of sins, or justification and peace, but as the divine answer to the unsatisfied state of a heart that craves the knowledge of God. For this there must be a personal transaction with Jesus. He alone can give living water; the thirsting one must come to Him and drink, John 4:10; 7: 37 - 39.

With love in the Lord Jesus,

Yours affectionately in Him,

January 30th, 1926.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I have heard, through our dear brother Mr. --'s kindness, of your present weak condition, and I fear it may not be unaccompanied by much suffering. My affectionate sympathy goes out very fully to you, and my prayers go up to the Father of compassions that He may cause you to prove His tender mercy in regard to your bodily condition. You will know the Lord as near, and the priestly support of Christ in precious and unalterable love, while I am sure you will be made to realise that you are embraced warmly by the affections of the brethren, and supported by

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their prayers. Your letters have been a cheer and refreshment to my spirit, and I have felt most thankful for the privilege of meeting you personally which was afforded by your visit here about two years ago. The brethren who met you then have you in remembrance with much love, and have much sorrow in thinking of your weakness and suffering. But our comfort is that the Lord is taking His own perfect way of love and wisdom with you, and that He never loses sight, in any step of the way, of the end which His love has in view. Not a detail of exercise or trial but has its place in relation to the design which He cherishes. The blessed God is bringing many sons to glory, and He will secure that under the leadership of Christ in the path of suffering they shall acquire sons' affections, sons' intelligence, sons' sympathies and sensibilities. And the very condition of the groaning creation -- with which we are linked by our mortal bodies -- in which we have to realise our participation, is a peculiar education for us, which will leave an impression on our spirits eternally. An acquaintance with God, as knowing His love amidst the sufferings of this present time, and being able to glorify Him while in circumstances of creature weakness, is an experience which only belongs to the present moment. We shall never have it again, but it teaches us the value and power and the stability of the spiritual and eternal in a peculiarly blessed way. It "works for us in surpassing measure an eternal weight of glory". The material creation can be shaken, and all that can be shaken will be removed, but the spiritual creation -- all that is known of God through Christ in the souls of His saints -- is unshakeable and eternal. We learn its power at present by contrast with all the present time conditions, and learn to distinguish between the outward man who is consumed, and the inward who is renewed day by day in relation to what is spiritual and eternal.

May you have great and increasing comfort and joy, beloved brother, in the shining of Christ upon you, and in the love of God, the communion of the Spirit, and the affections of the holy brethren!

With warmest love, and the assurance of my sympathy and prayers,

Yours very affectionately in the Lord Jesus,

February 4th, 1926.


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BELOVED BROTHER, -- It was a pleasure to me to have your letter, for you have been very much in my thoughts and prayers since I heard of your being so seriously out of health, and of the necessity for complete rest. I have no doubt that this check comes in the way of mercy, and as a timely warning that you need to curtail your work, and go at a slower pace for the future. And I trust that the Lord's hand is over it all to give you more leisure for Himself and His service. I pray that it may be so, and that your desire to serve His interests may be abundantly gratified.

I am glad that you have enjoyed the opportunity for a little quiet reading and meditation, and it interests me to know that you have been going over some of the things which we have had before us here. There is a peculiar kind of restfulness when one has to lay aside one's regular activities through bodily weakness. It is altogether different from the relaxation and change of a holiday, and the spirit seems to be quieted in a special way when the exercise of it is taken up in piety, and I am sure that such seasons have a very special spiritual value and importance.

I can fully appreciate, and sympathise with, all that you express in your letter as to the tendency with so many of us to go beyond the measure of spiritual power in the part which we take in public service. I can truly say that this is a continual exercise with me, and it casts me much on the Lord for His grace. The remedy lies, I think not in withdrawing from the service, for there never was a time when every bit of faithful service which it lies within one's ability to render was more needed, but in being more prayerful, and earnestly seeking to eliminate every merely natural element from what we do. 1 Corinthians 15:58 has often strengthened my hands when they have been inclined to hang down through the consciousness of my spiritual feebleness. For I see that Paul by the Spirit of God encourages even the Corinthians to abound in the work of the Lord. There was much which was serious in their condition, and a great deal which required adjustment, but it is striking that he does not say that they should cease from the work of the Lord until they got all right. He presses their abounding in it, and I have no doubt that on this line of devotion to His service they would find practical deliverance from the self-gratification and self-importance which was natural to them. We are here to serve the Lord and His

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people. We do it very feebly and with many evidences of our spiritual limitations, but it is better to do it in the feeblest way than not to attempt to do it at all. We need to be "in diligent zealousness, not slothful, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord". But I am sure that accepting in uprightness of heart the responsibility -- and surely the cherished privilege -- of this blessed service would lead to much deep exercise that it should be rendered in spiritual freshness and power, and unmixed with any merely formal elements. The more completely one is free circumstantially for the Lord's work the more necessity there is for preservation in freshness of soul, and that nothing should be carried on in mere natural ability, and even distinct gift, that we might contribute more definitely to the edifying of the assembly.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours very affectionately in Him,

February 10th, 1926.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- I am glad that you wrote me about the difficulty which you felt as to the reference to the book of life in the "Outline of the Revelation" and it gives me pleasure to send you a few fines on the subject, though I do not know that I can add much to what is said on pages 48, 49, 213 of that book.

The book of life seems to be brought before us in two ways. That is, in connection with God's eternal purpose on the one hand, and in connection with His righteous government on the other. It is in connection with God's sovereign purposes and electing love that names are "written from the founding of the world in the book of life of the slain Lamb", Revelation 13:8 ... There is no possibility of such being lost, for their blessing and preservation are the fruit of God's immutable counsel, and of the redemption work of the slain Lamb.

God's purpose and grace are made good to His people by divine calling (see Romans 8:30; 2 Timothy 1:9) and by the work of His Spirit in their souls. So that they are brought to know their lost and ruined state as in Adam, and to abhor themselves and repent, and believe in God as the Raiser up of the Lord Jesus, so as to be justified in Christ by faith, and to have the Spirit. They are put on a new and divine line, and they have the Spirit as life. There is no life in power in

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the soul except by the Spirit, but to have the Spirit as life according to Romans 8:10 puts the soul on the line of righteousness in contrast with sin, so that the new moral character attaches to the called and justified person. If a person professed to believe, but was still characterised by the old man and his deeds, we should not have much confidence in his profession.

If Scripture clearly suggests the possibility of persons being blotted out of God's book, as it does, we may be sure that this cannot refer to the reversal of God's purpose and grace given to His foreknown, predestinated, called and justified saints in Christ. So that evidently in certain passages the book of life is not viewed in connection with God's eternal purpose, but as a register of those who appear in this world in the place of "the living". In the passages which speak of blotting out of the book of life, it is not viewed as the secret record of persons foreknown of God, and marked out by Him for blessing in Christ, but rather as the public list of those who profess faith, and who appear as "the living" in this world. This aspect of the book of life refers to God's government rather than to His grace. He keeps a record of those who appear in this world as "the living", but the fact that they have a place in that record does not ensure that their names will not be removed. If such as have professed to know God in works deny Him, and prove "abominable, and disobedient, and found worthless as to every good work", Titus 1:16, they will be blotted out. J.N.D. says, "In a general way we have God's book as a registry ... they are supposed to be true, unless shown to be otherwise -- as one on the list of voters, unless proved to have no right". If people turn away from the living God (Hebrews 3:12) their names may be blotted out as no longer entitled to remain on the register. But this has nothing to do with eternal security of those divinely called, and blessed in Christ according to God's purpose. It is the striking off the public register of those who are proved not to have the characteristics of life.

All this raises exercise that we should not merely take the place of believers, but that we should have to do with God in a real way, and be preserved through continual dependence from the things that would turn us aside, daily finding Christ more indispensable to us, and learning His worth and glory and blessedness as an abidingly satisfying Portion and Object for our hearts. Thus shall we know the path of life, and there

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will be no question as to the removal of our names from the book of life. Our security lies on the divine side in the unchangeable faithfulness of God to His own purpose and grace given to us in Christ. But on our side it lies in the fear of God, and in cleaving with purpose of heart to the Lord.

Those who hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow Him do not perish. It is our privilege to abide in Christ, and there we are safe.

There is divine wisdom in all the solemn warnings and admonitions of Scripture. They would not be put there if there was not need for them. They serve not only to awaken those who may have professed faith in Christ without any real work of the Spirit in their souls, but also to preserve godly exercise in the consciences of true children of God. There is ever the necessity for us to make our calling and election sure according to 2 Peter 1:5 - 11.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

February 26th, 1926.


MY DEAR MRS. --, -- You have been constantly in my thoughts and prayers, and your dear sons also, during the last few sorrowful days. I can truly say that I share your grief, for I had great regard and affection for your beloved husband, and valued very highly the place and service which the Lord had given him amongst the saints. And one can hardly realise as yet that the Lord has called him from the service which seemed to us to be so necessary and helpful, and from that support to the testimony which he was so distinctly felt to be rendering. His quiet and sober view of things, and steadiness of mind, were often of the greatest value, while the grace of his spirit was in itself most edifying, and a pattern which many of us would covet to follow. We are all bereaved, and that in a way which we can hardly, as yet fully estimate.

It must be a great comfort to you to know how greatly your loved one was esteemed, and how the affections of the brethren are drawn out to you and yours in a sympathy which is true and deep, and of spiritual character. I cannot doubt but that through the prayers of the saints, and the active grace of the Lord Jesus, you have been, and will be, sustained, and your

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faith will assure itself of the perfection of God's way with your beloved husband, and with yourself and your household. There is some peculiar feature of divine wisdom and love in this present ordering of God, and one would humbly bow under His mighty hand, looking to be exalted in due time by the acquisition of some knowledge of Christ; divinely suited to meet the experiences and exercises of such a time. Personally I feel the exercise and chastening of it to be a voice from the Lord, calling one to more intense devotion to Himself, and to have greater singleness of eye and purpose of heart in caring for His interests and service, realising afresh how short the time is.

I pray that the consolations of God may be great in your heart, and that the removal of the one to whom you have rightly looked for support and direction may become the occasion of your proving more fully than ever what a resource you have in the Father's care, and in the ever-living Lord and Priest....

With very much love in the Lord, and with much in my heart that I am assured is in common with your own feelings at this time, and in this I think also of your dear sons and their exercises also.

Yours very affectionately in Him,

March 4th, 1926.


DEAR --, -- In answer to your letter of the 3rd inst. asking what is meant by the expression, "the good of reconciliation", in one of my books, I may say that I understand this to mean that the soul is in full accord with the precious divine truth of reconciliation. God has reconciled us to Himself through the death of His Son. He has removed from before Him everything about us that was unsuitable to Himself. He would have us in His presence completely divested of all those features which gave Him no pleasure -- features which came in by our connection with the fallen man. Everything connected with that condition has been completely judged and sacrificially removed in the body of Christ's flesh through death. It has no place now before God. We are with Him on the footing of Christ, and of what has been effected in the death of Christ. This has in view our being presented holy and unblamable and irreproachable before the Fulness of the Godhead (See Colossians 1).

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Now to be in the good of this would imply that our souls have come by the work of God into accord with His mind. We have judged that all those moral features which we derived from Adam fallen are displeasurable to God, and we are thankful to know that they have been removed in a death of infinite value, which has glorified God, and set Him free to have us before Him according to the good pleasure which He has found in Christ. It now becomes our exercise and joy to refuse practically all those things which have been the outcome of our condition of alienation and enmity, and to give place to those blessed features of Christ in which God delights. This is a matter of continual exercise; it involves the cleansing ourselves from every pollution of flesh and spirit, and the perfecting of holiness in the fear of God. It is not brought about all at once, but is the product of an exercise worked out in dependence upon God, and by His Spirit, through which we purify ourselves even as Christ is pure, knowing that we have been taken up to be fully conformed to Him eternally.

God has effected reconciliation so that He might have us before Him completely detached from what came in by Adam, and invested with the beauty of Christ. As we come spiritually into the good and gain of this it leads to the refusal of what is not Christ in a practical way, and to the putting on of the beautiful features of Christ. The end in view is that nothing may appear in us but what is of Christ. This will be fully attained in conditions of glory, but it becomes the pleasure of the saint to move morally in that direction now.

I trust these few remarks may be of some help, and that you will prove the grace of the Lord in all your exercises as to the blessing of your own soul, and the blessing of those in whose welfare you are interested.

With love in the Lord Jesus,

Yours affectionately in Him,

April 9th, 1926.


MY DEAR MRS. --, -- As one who has long known and valued your dear husband, and proved his brotherly love in many ways, I desire to express to you my very true sympathy with you in the sorrow of the bereavement which you have suffered. The ways of God are often past our finding out, but faith is

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learning to be assured of the perfect wisdom of those ways, and the love which is behind them all. The departure of your dear husband leaves a gap in many hearts, and in the ranks of the service and testimony of our Lord, and to the dear brethren locally, and to us all who have known his interest, and his readiness to support by his sympathy and prayers, as well as by his active personal service, what stood connected with the Name and honour of our Lord Jesus Christ. His removal is a call to us to more personal zeal and devotedness. There is sweet comfort as thinking of him as with the Lord in the undistracted enjoyment of that which he learned of the Spirit here, the wealth and blessedness of Christ, His personal love and the love of God and the Father. And it is a precious thought, that all that he has the joy of as with Christ may be proved by you as divine solace in your present grief. I do not believe that God ever makes a breach in our natural affections without intending it to be an avenue by which new wealth may enter our spiritual affections. There is the tenderest divine sympathy with our sorrow on the part of our heavenly Priest, but His love has its own precious design to bring in more of the imperishable and eternal, in the deeper disclosure to us of all that He is Himself as the Resurrection and the Life.

Though you are personally unknown to us here, we have a link with you through knowing your husband so well, and we have prayed for you, that every needed succour and grace may be richly accorded you, and that your confidence in God and the Lord Jesus Christ may be greatly confirmed and strengthened by what you experience of unfailing divine faithfulness and love at this time....

With much love in the Lord Jesus,

Yours affectionately in Him,

April 25th, 1926.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- ... Your "plain question" is, "If a member of the -- applied for fellowship would you refuse her?" I know nothing personally of -- and I have not been able to gather much from several I have spoken to as to the movement, so that I hardly feel free to answer your question by a definite "Yes" or "No". I can only speak in a general way of what appears to me to call for consideration in such a case.

I gather from your letter that none of the brethren, save

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those in the family of the one in regard to whom this exercise has arisen, are happy as to the associations in which she is at present found. I should fully share the exercises of the brethren in regard to this, and should have serious doubts as to whether the holding an official place in such a movement could be regarded as consistent with a desire to be in separation to the Lord, and to walk in the truth of Christian fellowship. My exercise as to this would be intensified if the applicant had had opportunity of being instructed in the truth.

If one who was identified with such an organisation asked to break bread I should certainly feel it right to raise the question of her associations, and to seek to exercise her on the line that the truth of fellowship precedes the truth of the Lord's supper, and that there is but one fellowship recognised by the Spirit of God. I should consider that it was for the good of the applicant to raise this question, with a view to her disentanglement from an association that could not be spiritually helpful. And I should expect the raising of the question to lead to a clearer apprehension of the nature of Christian fellowship. In many cases the only thought is to break bread in remembrance of the Lord, but it is well that souls should understand that they are divinely called to a fellowship or partnership, and that they definitely commit themselves to that fellowship in breaking bread, and that it raises the question of all their associations. It is a bond to which we have to be true at all times.

I have never ceased to be thankful for the months I was kept waiting when I desired to break bread. It taught me to judge my own will, and the workings of my mind, and to see the importance of subjection to the Lord, in a way that was a great blessing to me. Such things become a test as to whether we are prepared to be in subjection as those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. If I only want His will and way it simplifies everything wonderfully.

Our dear young sister, having been brought to know the Saviour for her own peace and joy, is no doubt fully convinced that there is no remedy for the condition of those who are sinful save the good news of God's salvation in Christ. She knows what will meet the need in the fullest and truest way. There is a divine means by which alone girls, or others, can be guided into the way of peace. It is open to our dear sister to put all her energies into the blessed work of making the

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Lord Jesus known as Saviour, and seeking to bring souls to Him. Paul was "separated to God's glad tidings", Romans 1:1, he stood apart from every other means of elevating men, as knowing that nothing else could meet the case in which the children of Adam were found. I think it would be very helpful for our sister to consider whether the movement she is connected with is God's way or man's. The world has its own ideas -- partly formed under the influence of Christianity -- of what is desirable, and of how to bring it about, and it is not our business to interfere with what they do. But we, as believers on the Lord Jesus Christ, know that what is needed is Christ. We have something infinitely superior to offer.

I think it must be admitted that an organisation of a semi-religious character stands on quite a different footing from what is merely educational, or of the nature of personal influence. To be formally connected with such an association I should regard as a very serious entanglement for a Christian.

I cannot but feel concerned to learn that the exercise which the brethren have had on this matter has not been appreciated by the relatives of the young sister, and that there is even a possibility of their ceasing to break bread with us on this account. This looks very much as if they might be ready to make this association a "test of fellowship" by insisting on its acceptance by brethren. They cannot surely think that to maintain liberty to belong to an organisation of this kind is of greater importance and value than the privileges connected with the fellowship!

With reference to the case of a sister who refuses to meet another sister desiring to break bread I think she ought to do so, or furnish the brethren with some valid reason for her refusal.

For some time there has been desire for a further revision of the hymn book, but nothing of a very definite nature has been done in the matter so far as I know. It is very probable that there are hymns now which it would be a spiritual gain to have available, and there is room for some revision of those in the present book. I do not think brethren are the least bit inclined to take up "fanciful ideas". I believe there is an increasing desire to subject things very carefully to the test of Scripture.

With love in the Lord Jesus,

Yours affectionately in Him,

July 24th, 1926.


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MY DEAR MRS. --, -- ... I find that a good many have had the subject before them to which your letter refers, and I am glad to know how your thoughts have been formed as to it. One feels that it is an important exercise in view of the fact that it stands in relation to so great a principle in the moral universe as the truth of headship. This principle should always regulate us, but 1 Corinthians 11 teaches us that it is to do so in a formal manner even as to our outward appearance whenever we take our places definitely as in relation to God, either in speaking to Him or speaking for Him. So far as I see the "directions" given do not contemplate believers as engaged in household or business occupations, but as "praying or prophesying". They seem to imply a definite engagement in those spiritual activities as distinct from the ordinary duties of life here. The believer may, surely, lift up his heart to God even amidst those duties, or may speak a word to others if occasion offers, but while engaged in "matters of this life" we are hardly viewed, it seems to me, as "praying or prophesying". It is different when we go apart, or join with others, to pray, or when we go definitely to speak to any one on God's behalf.

The question as to what suffices to render woman "covered" in the sense of 1 Corinthians 11:6 is an interesting one. It is a matter for the dear sisters to feel satisfied about. I must confess to some doubt whether a little bow -- often of very small dimensions -- really meets the case. Your own feeling that this "would not be sufficient when the saints are together in the assembly", is to me very suggestive as a spiritual intuition. If not sufficient there, on what principle is it sufficient elsewhere? It seems to me that the thought is that it should be as obvious that a woman is covered as it is that the man's head is uncovered. It would seem particularly to apply to that part of the woman's head where her hair is already "glory to her", and, even by nature, "in lieu of a veil". But I only submit this, in a suggestive way, for your consideration.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

August 9th, 1926.


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MY DEAR --, -- I much appreciate your kindness in writing to tell me of the home-going of your dear mother. Knowing how very ill she had been I am not surprised to know of her departure to be with the Lord, who has exercised the rights of His love in taking her away from all the weakness and suffering here to wait with Him for that supreme moment when He will have the whole assembly in the glorious condition which the purposes of divine love have destined. Hers is indeed a blessed rest; and yours the comfort amidst your sorrow of knowing that she now enjoys uninterruptedly the love and blessedness which had been her joy while here. And for you in your consciousness of loss and grief there is the present love and succour of that blessed Priest on high, who has charged Himself with the supply of every needed grace and support for His own in their weaknesses and their sorrows. I have been praying that you may have a very special sense of the reality of His love and sympathy, and that in this hour of bereavement you may learn Him in a new and tender way, so as to be bound to Him henceforth in more close and intimate bonds of personal affection and appreciation.

I am sure you know you have my deep sympathy and my prayers.

With much love in the Lord Jesus,

Yours very affectionately in Him,

September 10th, 1926.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- I would say, with reference to the questions which you ask, that I believe "that which is natural", 1 Corinthians 15:46, refers to the order of life in which the first man Adam became a living soul. I do not know that the word "natural" is ever applied in the Scriptures to the Lord Jesus. We do read that the Word became flesh, and Christ could be known according to flesh; "the days of his flesh" are spoken of, referring to a condition in which He is now no longer. He was born, and grew, and ate and drank and slept, etc., and all this may be spoken of as natural in the sense that it refers to what belongs to man's condition here as in flesh and blood, yet His humanity was unique on account of who He was. In speaking of the Lord Jesus it is of the utmost importance to keep close to Scripture, for its language is wiser than

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ours, and many, as you observe, have fallen into pits by adding expressions of their own. In Him we see manhood in the power of the Holy Spirit; He was conceived of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin. This is, obviously, quite outside and above the order of nature. No one could believe in the Incarnation without realising the unique character of His manhood, who, though come of woman, and of Israel, and of David's seed according to flesh, is "over all, God blessed for ever". He was truly in man's condition, but that condition derived a wholly new character from the One who was in it. His body was prepared of God, the holy Vessel for the manifestation of God in flesh, and for perfect obedience too -- creature perfection -- for it was characterised by ears being digged. So that the condition of humanity in Him was not what it was in Adam either before or after his fall. It was unique and incomparable -- a wondrous contemplation for those who have spiritual eyes to see it, recognising Him to be the sent One of God.

Scripture clearly states that "as to the life of all flesh, its blood is the life in it", and it is given upon the altar to make atonement, Leviticus 18. This is true of the life in which the Lord Jesus was here in flesh -- a life which it was possible for Him to lay down for men, having come in grace for that very purpose. But He did not die by His blood being poured out, for God would have it to be manifested that His death was in no way a natural death. He laid down His life. He said, "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself". His death was unlike every other death; it was an exercise of His authority as having received commandment of His Father. But having laid down His life His blood was poured out, the witness of the reality of His death -- the ending of that life in blood and flesh in which He had been here. And many scriptures speak of its efficacious sacrificial value, and of it in its character of witness.

Whether blood flows naturally from a dead body or not is quite immaterial; we know that it did so from the pierced side of the Lord Jesus. It was the evidence that His life here in blood and flesh had ended, and many scriptures tell us the precious and divine results of that death.

The Son of God was here as Man, having taken part in blood and flesh that He might die -- not taking up our nature as sinful, save to bear the judgment of it vicariously upon the

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cross, for He was "the holy thing", Luke 1:35, "the holy one of God", "him who knew not sin". The note to Hebrews 2:14 in the New Translation is an important one.

He did not take hold of angels by the hand, by taking up that order of being; He became Man, but it is to be noted that the Scripture does not speak of His taking hold of the seed of Adam, but of the seed of Abraham. That is, men are in view from the standpoint of divine calling. It supposes men being such by the call and work of God that He could take hold of them by the hand -- a generation suited to Him as having faith, the saints that are on the earth, the excellent. They are "the children", "his brethren", "the people" standing in relation to God. Though subject to bondage through fear of death, and needing propitiation to be made for their sins, and help as tempted, they are viewed as subjects of divine calling. The place that He takes in grace in relation to such is before the mind of the Spirit, not His relation to men in general, but it necessitated His becoming a Man, taking part in blood and flesh condition. That condition was in Him unique. He was truly the Seed of the woman, conceived and brought forth by the virgin, her first-born Son, truly Man, but His humanity was by divine power altogether of its own order as without sin. The body in which He was found here was the prepared and holy vessel in which God was manifested in flesh, and in which every feature in Man that was delightful to God also had its full expression.

I just send you what comes before me in connection with your letter, with my love in the Lord to yourself and the brethren.

Yours affectionately in Him,

September 28th, 1926.


BELOVED BROTHER AND SISTER, -- We began Deuteronomy last night with a very good company of brethren, and I think the Lord helped as to the character of the book, and the place into which it fits in soul-history. The plains of Moab are a fine place in which to go over with Christ the whole history of God's ways with us, and of our own behaviour in relation to those ways, for we review it all there as those who are competent in the Spirit to appreciate it all as instructed by Christ. So

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that we get, perhaps long after we have had the experiences, a true estimate of the past, and get adjusted in view of an entirely new place in the land. A good deal was said of the tendency of the flesh to be active in the way of differences between brethren, and of the provision that is divinely made for the adjustment of all such differences, so that nothing might rest on our spirits as a distraction from the blessed proposals of God. The very fact that such differences arise being the sad proof of how little we are governed by the love of the covenant and the purpose which that love cherishes for us. We are so foolish that we will allow any little bit of self-importance to rob us of all that is truly precious for present enjoyment. We did not get further in chapter 1 than the section which speaks of the administration set up so that all differences might be adjusted according to a judgment which is of God.

With much love to you both,

Yours affectionately in the Lord,

September 30th, 1926.


BELOVED BROTHER AND SISTER, -- ... It has been with much sense of dependence that we have taken up Deuteronomy, and a feeling that we have nearly everything to learn. I have no doubt if we are maintained in this spirit we shall get support from the Lord. One feels that it is a book which requires a certain soul-position to take it up. Perhaps we have not all reached "the plains of Moab"! But in the grace of our God He turns all to profit. Few of us can say that not one city on the side of Jordan eastward has been too strong for us to overcome. This requires man in the Spirit, and according to Spirit, but the Lord would encourage us to see how victoriously we can move and overcome in the power of the Spirit.

I grieve over the much failure which is coming to light here and there. But the hand of the Lord is in these sad exposures, and they will deepen exercise in the godly, and lead to truer self-judgment in us all, I trust, as we see more and more that our safety lies in going on in the positive good, and maintaining self-judgment from that standpoint.

Much love in the Lord to you both,

Yours very affectionately in Him,

October 31st, 1926.


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BELOVED BROTHER IN THE LORD, -- It is now some time since I received your very kind letter, with interesting photographs of yourself and others. I am very pleased to have them, and it is a comfort to me to see that you look so well and happy. I thank you warmly for sending them. The Lord has not failed in His mercy toward you, even amid much that has been peculiar trial, and He is still in faithful love strengthening the links of affection between your heart and Himself. We often think of you here, and speak of you together, and remember you in our prayers. It is sweet to think of the One who ever lives to make intercession for us. I suppose there has never been anything of a spiritual nature in the saints, or that has been for the pleasure of God in them, that has not had its secret source in the intercession of Christ. As Mediator He has brought to us all the wealth of the knowledge of God in grace and love, but as Intercessor He takes account of all on our side that needs support, and of all that is needed to maintain our hearts in the blessedness of that which He has brought to us. The intercession of Christ, though graciously considering us, never has anything less for us in view than the full thought of blessing that is in the mind and heart of God. It is very wonderful that the thoughts of God should not only be made known to us as substantiated in Christ, but that we should be sustained in an intercessory way in relation to them. And nothing can separate us from the priestly love of Christ thus active for us at the right hand of God.

... With very much love in the Lord Jesus to you and yours,

Yours affectionately in Him,

February 26th, 1927.


MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, -- With much sorrow of heart we have heard of the departure of your beloved husband, for his visit and service amongst us here endeared him to us, and our affectionate and prayerful sympathy goes out to you in this time of bereavement. There was much prayer for you and your dear children on Monday evening here, and all the brethren would wish to join me in expressing our deep feeling for you in this very great sorrow.

One's confidence is that the wisdom of infinite love is in all God's ways with us, and He is working all things in view

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of His eternal purpose. He can even add to the value of His beloved servant's ministry by thus removing him, and give it a power in the hearts of those who have been privileged to come in contact with it that it never had before. His personal service amongst the brethren has ended, but the spiritual effect of it will continue, and his fruit will remain. And the One who gave him to you in such an intimate relationship, and has enabled you to walk together these years as "fellow-heirs of the grace of life", and who alone knows what his removal means to your heart, will be to you the abiding stay and portion which you need. You have proved His faithfulness in the past, and you will continue to do so in a new way. The love and prayers of the saints are gathering round you now as never before, and this is just one expression of the active love of Christ and of the Father's interest and care. I trust that each of your dear children, as well as yourself, may have a deep sense that the Lord is near, and that your hearts may so turn to Him as to get a peculiar and precious knowledge of Him. He loves to use such circumstances to form new and imperishable links with Himself. May our gracious and faithful God and Father give you all the grace and wisdom which the moment requires, and be your sufficiency now and at all times!

With very much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

August 18th, 1927.


MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, -- ... We were reading Acts 22 -- or part of it -- this morning. How Saul seemed to come into complete subjection to the Lord in a moment! "What shall I do, Lord?" This is where many get a rather poor start. The Lord is looked to for certain benefits, but there is no deep sense in the soul that He alone is entitled to command us in every detail. That He should have His right place with us is the first essential in Christian life, and how it settles a thousand questions and perplexities when He does!

Yours affectionately in Him,

October 1st, 1927.


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BELOVED BROTHER, -- I was much interested in your letter and in the local exercise to which it referred, and am sorry to have been unable to send you a line in reply until now. I have more than once looked to the Lord to guide and help you in dealing with the matter, and I have no doubt He will do so.

I can sympathise with the feeling of difficulty, for I know by experience that it is not easy to arrive at a clear and definite judgment as to how far the Lord would have the element of compassion to weigh in cases where there is evidently a want of mental balance. I think these cases cast us much on the Lord that we may really get His mind and act with Him in reference to them. I have noticed, more particularly of late, how often there is a mental, or semi-mental, side to cases which exercise the brethren. I have no doubt that the enemy seeks to take advantage of mental abnormality to introduce moral disorder.

If a person is quite irresponsible he is hardly a subject for disciplinary action, but rather for medical care and restraint. Such cases have simply to be accepted as a sorrowful and humbling discipline. But the difficulty is more of a test when, along with moral disorder of a pronounced kind, there is sufficient sanity to pursue in large measure the ordinary duties of life. There may be much irrationality without irresponsibility. And there is a point when things pass from the stage in which they can be regarded compassionately as being the outcome of mental derangement, or in which they can be dealt with by admonition, to the stage in which it may be needful for the honour of the Lord's Name, and to maintain the holiness which becomes God's house, that the saints should pronounce a definite judgment of assembly character upon them.

If the saints are called upon to judge, their judgment must necessarily proceed on moral grounds. Priestly discernment puts "difference between the holy -- and the unholy, and between unclean and clean", Leviticus 10:10. I do not see that we are called upon to fix the exact amount of personal responsibility in every case, for this is often -- as you say -- only known to God. The judgment of the saints must be in reference to what is suitable to God, and to those amongst whom He dwells. I have thought that Numbers 5 -- which has been under your consideration -- is important in its bearing on a

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certain cases. In Leviticus there is nothing said about the one with an issue, or defiled by the dead, being put out of the camp. The uncleanness of the issue is emphasised that a moral judgment may be formed as to it. But when the camps of Israel are definitely set in relation to "the tabernacle of the tent of testimony" it becomes imperative that those camps be not defiled "in the midst whereof I dwell". The thought of being defiled by the dead is, previously to Numbers, only suggested, I believe, in Leviticus 21, where the priests are not to make themselves unclean for a dead person, save an immediate relation. But in Numbers this thought is somewhat prominent (Numbers chapters 5, 19, 15), and it gives occasion to the striking statute in regard to the red heifer. It is now a question of what defiles the camps in the midst of which God dwells, and of defiling the tabernacle of Jehovah (19: 13), and the sanctuary of Jehovah (19: 20).

It strikes me that the instruction of this is important. The leper would be one in whom the will of the flesh was active in a marked way. The one with an issue would represent, as I suppose, an unrestrained manifestation of what one was naturally, but something less serious morally than leprosy. But to be defiled by the dead would be often, in the conditions of the wilderness, inevitable, so that, it seems to me, this case emphasises not the responsibility of the individual but the question of what is suitable to God and to the holiness of His dwelling. Things being taken account of from this standpoint, all three classes were to be put out of the camp, though they doubtless would represent three different degrees of personal responsibility. Neither the "camps", the "tabernacle", nor the "sanctuary" are to be defiled, and what does, or does not, defile is to be discerned according to a spiritual estimate of its moral character as under the eye of God.

I do not know that I have, at present, anything more definite in the way of light from Scripture to suggest. It does not add anything to what you have already had before you. But I am glad to share a little in your exercises.

My warm love in the Lord to your dear wife and yourself, and to all the dear brethren with you.

Yours very affectionately in Him,

October 6th, 1927.


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MY DEAR BROTHER, The burial of the Lord Jesus is clearly -- from 1 Corinthians 15:4 -- an integral part of the glad tidings, and I believe it to be connected with the "until thou return to the ground" of the divine sentence in Genesis 3:19. Man, after the order of Adam, was not only to die, but to "return to the ground". He was taken out of it, and now -- having become a fallen and sinful creature -- he would return to it. How marked and explicit is the extent of the divine judgment! It reminds man of his origin, and shows him that he has by sin forfeited his whole status with God as a creature, so that he goes back by the judgment of God to the ground from which he was taken. His returning to the ground does not come in merely in an incidental way; it is definitely part of the divine sentence on the fallen man.

Hence the Lord says, "For even as Jonas was in the belly of the great fish three days and three nights, thus shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights", Matthew 12:40. And in Ephesians 4:9 we read, "But that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same who has also ascended up above all the heavens, that he might fill all things". The Lord Jesus has not only died, but He has been in the heart of the earth. He has descended into the lower parts of the earth. I believe this to have direct reference to the sentence upon the fallen man. The Holy One of God has taken up in infinite grace, and for the glory of God, the whole condition of the fallen man, and the sentence passed upon that man. He has taken it up vicariously, though altogether free personally -- as we well know -- from the sin which He bore sacrificially, and from the penalties attaching to that sin. But He has been made sin sacrificially, and He has died, and He has also been buried.

The first man was "out of the earth, made of dust", but that man fell and came under penalties, one of which was that he should return to the ground from out of which he was taken. Now the Second Man out of heaven has taken up in grace those penalties that as the Last Adam He might be a quickening Spirit. He has died for our sins; He has been made sin for us; He has become subject in grace to all that had passed upon us by reason of sin. And in the full accomplishment of this for the glory of God, and to secure blessing for us, He has descended into the lower parts of the earth.

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This is as definitely revealed as any other part of His blessed and perfect work.

The consideration of this becomes the basis in our souls of the understanding of those most important statements of Holy Scripture -- "We have been buried therefore with him by baptism unto death, in order that, even as Christ has been raised up from among the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in newness of life", Romans 6:4; "buried with him in baptism", Colossians 2:12. It seems to me that these scriptures clearly intimate that the burial of Christ presents a position in which He has been found, through infinite grace, that had in view the penalty of Genesis 3 on the one hand, and on the other our accepting that penalty as carried out in His blessed Person so that we might be able to take the ground of being buried with Him. It was part of what was vicariously undergone by Him that we might be able -- while still alive upon the earth -- to take the ground of burial with Him. For baptism clearly contemplates not only death but burial. That He was most blessedly perfect in all -- in life, in death, in burial, in resurrection -- is clearly evident to all who are divinely taught. He was God's Holy and Anointed One. But death and burial were man's portion as fallen, and Christ entered into them on man's behalf, thus maintaining what was due to God and the penalty which He had pronounced on the fallen creature, but making death and burial available as a way of blessing in grace for men.

The more clearly we see the nature of the penalty, and the full and blessed way in which it has been taken up by Christ, the more shall we be prepared intelligently to occupy the ground on which our baptism has set us. One feels how good it would be for us all -- for all Christians -- to realise the solemnity of the sentence which has divinely passed upon us as connected with the first and fallen man. Our place and status are completely forfeited; we are sentenced to death and burial. There is but one door of hope for us, and that is that God's Anointed has died for us and has been buried. Both these things speak of the penalty under which we lay. But resurrection speaks of the glorious power of God acting because of what Christ was, and it speaks, indeed, of the power that was inherent in Christ Himself. Now we can take the ground in liberty and joy of having died with Christ and being buried with Him. We can accept the termination in death, and the

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complete disappearance in burial, of the man who came under divine sentence in Genesis 3. We have learned that naturally we are of that man, and partake of his moral features, and lie under his sentence. But we have seen marvellous actings of grace and love on the part of God in sending His Son to take up the whole condition and liabilities of the fallen man. We rejoice in the riches of His mercy and the greatness of His salvation. We come through repentance into accord with God, and accept His sentence of death and burial. Not one vestige of the fallen man -- that is, of myself as of Adam -- could be preserved alive. That man must die and be buried, and as vicariously represented in the One who took his place in wondrous grace, he has died and been buried. That man, with all the moral features which characterise him, has been terminated under the eye of God in the death of Christ, and has gone entirely out of view in the burial of Christ, never to be taken account of again, according to the true grace of God, save as dead and buried. This is known to those who are called of God, and born anew, and who have the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the present truth, and it lies at the very threshold of Christian profession, for those who are baptised are buried with Christ in figure. The sentence on the fallen man has been executed, and we accept this, and are responsible to maintain consistency with it. We live through Him who bore the sentence, who is now in resurrection a quickening Spirit, and whose Spirit we have received so that we might participate in the life of the Last Adam.

The different expressions, "crucified with Christ", "died with Christ", "buried with him", each set forth a different aspect of the way in which what we were as of the fallen man has been dealt with vicariously when Christ took it up by the grace of God. "Crucified" sets forth, on the one hand, man's estimate of all that was precious in the sight of God as seen in that Blessed One -- an intense exposure of the true character of the man after the flesh -- but it also sets forth on God's part the public condemnation and execution of that man. To have "died with Christ" signifies the termination of that order of man morally. But "buried with him" intimates that all connected with that man has disappeared from view, never to be reinstated. Christ has been raised up from among the dead by the glory of the Father. Everything of the fallen man having gone in His death and burial, nothing remains in

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Him risen but what corresponds with the glory of the Father. And "newness of life" is to characterise the walk of those who "have been buried therefore with him by baptism unto death".

Outwardly things are not yet changed. We are still in flesh and blood, and bear the image of the one made of dust, and actually we may die and be buried. So that 1 Corinthians 15 is most important as showing how death will ultimately be swallowed up in victory, and that God has even now given us the victory by our Lord Jesus Christ. But spiritually the believer is privileged to know what it is to be dead and buried with Christ, and to walk in newness of life as in Romans 6, or as risen with Christ in Colossians. I have given you what comes before me in connection with your enquiry. If it meets your exercise at all, or there is any help in it, I shall be thankful.

With love in the Lord Jesus,

Yours affectionately in Him,

October 8th, 1927.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- I have not been able to answer your letter of November 22nd until now, but am glad now to send you a few lines on the subject to which you refer.

The children of believing parents need to be born anew, and to become the subjects of a gracious work of God, just like any others. For that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and the children of believers have to learn this in their own experience even though they are relatively "holy" as 1 Corinthians 7:14 teaches. They have to learn that in their flesh dwells no good thing. But in many cases God begins His work very early -- sometimes even from infancy -- and as children grow up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and knowing the Holy Scriptures, like Timothy, from childhood, the divine work in the soul proceeds by almost imperceptible stages. Conviction of sin is brought about through inward exercises rather than by an outwardly evil course. God and the Lord Jesus get a more and more definite place in faith and love. And affections go out to the people of God, and their company is delighted in. There may be much evidence in this way of a real work of God without there having been any definite point in the history when the soul turned round from

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a course of sin to walk in the ways of the Lord. Conversion really means turning round; the converted person has been going in one direction, but now he has turned round and is going in the opposite direction.

Many of us who have been brought up in Christian homes, and with every spiritual advantage, have from early days turned to our own way, and followed our own fleshly desires, and we have needed to be distinctly converted. But this is the sorrowful evidence that we have preferred our own will and desires to the control of the Lord. But if the fear of God is established early in the heart, and through grace there is subjection, the naughty will of the flesh may be judged in secret, and its desires refused. Then a course would be followed from which one would not need to turn. Scripture regards the children of believers as being in subjection to their parents, and as being brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, owning His claim and right over them. From such a course they do not need to be converted. But this supposes that in God's sovereign mercy He has put His fear in their hearts from early days. It would not, and could not, be apart from being born anew. It is this which Christian parents would look to God to effect in their children.

One would not expect that in children of believers there would be in every case evidence of a definite point when they turned round from a course of sin to God. There often would be this, but not necessarily in every case. But one would always look for some evidence of true self-judgment -- that it was realised that flesh was sinful flesh -- and that there was a sense of the need of Christ and of His precious sin-bearing work. One would look for a sense of deserving nothing, and of deep thankfulness to God for bringing in His great salvation in Christ. It would always, of course, be a matter of much interest to know how any soul had been brought to know the Lord, but this might not always be at a definite turning point which could be marked as the time of conversion.

I do not know whether these few remarks will in any way meet your exercises, but if they are of any help I shall be thankful.

With love in the Lord Jesus,

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 9th, 1927.


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MY BELOVED BROTHER, -- We had a letter telling us of the serious illness and suffering of your dear wife, and I am writing to assure you of our affectionate sympathy, and our prayerful interest in her and in you at this time of special trial. We are remembering you daily in prayer that you may both have a deep sense of the Lord's love, and of His gracious support and ordering. We are very sorry to know of the much suffering which dear Mrs. -- has, but in this we are assured she has the sympathy of the blessed Priest on high, who has Himself been perfected through sufferings. It is suitable to God that this present time should be marked by sufferings, and I suppose they are more keenly felt by His children than by any others. Indeed His own beloved Son was the greatest Sufferer by reason of His infinite nearness to God, and the nearer we are to Him the more shall we feel the disordered conditions of a scene that is subject to vanity. It is a comfort to know that all these sufferings will enable the saints to come out sympathetically to set free the groaning creation. They will come out as having known the pressure, and as having proved the delivering power which has taken them out of all the weakness and vanity into conditions of glory. The experience of suffering is, after all, very brief, but its effect on the spirits of God's children will abide and give peculiar character and blessedness to their experiences in glory. And I am sure that there is a peculiar knowledge of Christ derived in suffering which will give capacity for communion with Him when all the suffering is for ever past. Afflictions do really work for us an exceeding and eternal weight of glory, and the wisdom of God will shine out in this to His everlasting praise. And His grace allows us to pray one for another, and we are thankful to take up this privilege for you both at this time....

Yours very affectionately in Him,

January 1st, 1928.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- ... I am sure you are right in thinking that it is not generally profitable to add details to Scripture which are not contained therein. However well-intentioned it may be, there is always the danger of obscuring what the Spirit of God would convey in any particular instance.

In preaching the gospel, and seeking to exercise consciences, there is perhaps a certain latitude to be allowed, for the preacher

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is not exactly teaching, but appealing to souls on moral grounds. Of course it would not be right to apply things in a way that was contrary to the general terms of Scripture.

The thought that many may have helped to build the ark who were never saved by it, has often been suggested by many generations of preachers, and I believe the appeal has been used to awaken unconverted Sunday School teachers, and others. I do not know that I should particularly object; but it is well to remember that Noah preparing the ark for the saving of his house is really a type of Christ. If we use any Scripture out of the setting in which the Spirit has put it, we may succeed in our present object, but at the same time put something into the mind which may hinder the spiritual apprehension of the divine mind in that Scripture. I may drive a screw home with a chisel. I succeed in my present object, but at the cost of probably spoiling the chisel for its own work later on!

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

January 5th, 1928.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- It is always a pleasure to me to see a line from your pen, and I thank you for your letter.

The subject of "the cup" is so important, and lies so near to the heart of the Lord in relation to His own, that one is glad to have one's attention drawn to it again and again. I have noticed in relation to the cup that the Lord refers to repeated partaking -- "as often as ye shall drink it" -- suggesting that He had pleasure in contemplating the frequency of its being done.

I do not think there can be any question that it was one vessel which the Lord took when He instituted the Supper, and which He gave to His disciples, saying, "Drink ye all of it", Matthew 26:27, and of which it is expressly said, "they all drank out of it", Mark 14:23. It was expressive of the new and holy communion in which He would set His loved ones together.

That "one loaf" is essential to the communion would be admitted by all intelligent believers, but some seem to think that we can have two or more cups without in any way detracting from the significance of what we do. But are we justified in thinking so?

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We all realise that a number of little squares of bread do not suggest "one loaf" and that where things are done in this way the thought of the Supper being a communion or fellowship is almost, if not quite, lost, though no doubt in many cases where it is so done there is personal affection for the Lord.

We do not get the actual words "one cup" in Scripture, but we do get repeatedly "the cup", referring to the vessel of which we are told that at the time of the institution "they all drank out of it". In doing so their participation in the blessings of the new covenant as a source of divine joy was set forth in a striking and divinely appointed symbol. They did not enter into it merely as individuals, but as something common to them all. It was not what people would do naturally, though it may be imitated in other fellowships, and even in demon-worship.

My impression is that 1 Corinthians 12:13 has some reference to the Supper, and that all being "given to drink of one Spirit" is a suggestion which has some relation to the cup. Indeed it is as all drinking of one Spirit that we can alone truly participate in the new covenant. We are here in a region of most blessed spiritual realities which have their appropriate and divinely appointed symbols in the loaf and the cup. Who would care to intrude into such a region by suggesting that two cups express the divine thought just as well as one? I know that beloved brethren say that they regard it as one cup, though put into two or more vessels for convenience. I am sure they do, but I do not find two vessels in the institution. I read that all present drank out of one vessel, and I learn from 1 Corinthians that their doing so is expressive of a communion which in its very nature is marked by unity. We can only get clear on any spiritual matter by approaching it from the spiritual side. I see the Lord setting up amongst His own a new and divine communion -- they partake of one loaf, they drink out of one vessel. The more we think of what the loaf and the cup are in their spiritual significance, the less shall we be inclined to weaken the thought of the unity and communion expressed thereby by any concession to convenience.

If we add a feature which had no place in the Lord's institution of the Supper, can we be quite sure that it will not interfere (perhaps in some way unobserved by us) with His

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thought and design in it? It may possibly have a more far reaching bearing than we suppose. For example, if it had been realised that the Lord's thought was that all who ate His Supper together should drink out of one vessel, it would have intimated to the saints that He did not contemplate the Supper being eaten by companies larger than could suitably do so. It would have reminded them that under His ordering, when there were in one locality five thousand men besides women and children, they sat down in companies -- "by hundreds and by fifties" as in Mark, "by fifties" as in Luke. It would have suggested an increase in the number of places where the saints came together rather than largely increased numbers in one place. There would have been no place, under such an arrangement, for large and pretentious buildings; huge churches and cathedrals would never have been thought of. Much that has grown up in christendom would have been entirely shut out. With increasing numbers there is always the tendency to lose family character and to become congregational, and this gives room for the clerical element to come in. We can all see that this has been so in christendom.

In many places professing Christians have introduced individual cups on hygienic grounds. We cannot wonder that where such innovations are introduced the spiritual thought of communion is wholly lost. What should be the sweet and holy expression of the communion of saints is reduced to individual privilege. I am sure that all intelligent believers would repudiate this, but if we introduce the hygienic thought into the Supper we have begun to move in that direction.

It is not conceivable that any person who was suffering from a disease likely to be contagious would fail to exercise consideration for the saints. Such a person would accept the dealings of God, and would either take the cup after others, or abstain from bringing infection amongst the saints, or to give occasion, at such a moment, to thoughts or fears of a distracting nature.

I do not know that I can add more at present, save my much love in the Lord to you and yours.

Yours very affectionately in Him,

February 14th, 1928.


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BELOVED BROTHER, -- I thank you for your letters, and the correspondence as to --, which I return herewith. After giving the matter consideration we decided locally that we could not do otherwise than receive the brother and sister commended to us from -- .

It is impossible for us at a distance to judge of local conditions and details. Responsibility as to this rests on those who are near to the seat of trouble. In this matter they have all reached a common judgment, which has been accepted by neighbouring meetings (who have also some measure of local knowledge) without question. It would be a very serious matter for us at a distance to challenge this. We should feel it needful to have the clearest evidence that the decision was an unrighteous one before taking a step which would certainly seem to be contrary to the normal order of the house of God.

I fully recognise the value and importance of suspending fellowship in cases where this course is called for. It has been the divine way, I believe, of dealing with some cases. But I think you will agree that it is not a mode of action to be adopted automatically without spiritual exercise in every case of local breaches. I have known at least one instance in which it was sought to be wrongly applied by brethren at a distance from the local trouble. It is available for application in spiritual intelligence in cases which call for it. But if a breach were obviously caused unrighteously, or in support of principles not in accord with the truth of fellowship in a general sense, no shutting up of both parties to the breach would be called for. It must be in each case a question of spiritual exercise and priestly discernment. Responsibility of judging as to this would specially attach to those in the immediate neighbourhood, and I think the Lord could be counted upon to give wisdom to those responsible as waiting upon Him in uprightness and dependence.

In the case the brethren in the district around have judged that it was not a case for shutting up. We, at a distance and knowing very little of the local conditions, are not prepared to say that it was. Our brethren have judged that the seceders went out without justification for so doing, and that they can only be regarded as having acted in a way contrary to the truth of the fellowship.

There was evidently sufficient enquiry, or evidence of some kind, to carry the consciences and judgment of saints in the

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three nearest meetings. Is it not right for us, who are at a distance, to assume that our brethren in the immediate district have exercised their responsibility in a sober and godly way, and in the fear of the Lord? Our brethren at -- and --, who are, I suppose, their next nearest neighbours, have seen no reason to question that they have done so.

I should not be prepared to rule out, as prejudice, a moral judgment which may have been formed during years of exercise by those who in neighbouring meetings have been anxiously watching the course of events in a meeting where conditions were unhappy. Is there not, at least, a possibility of there being a sober and godly character about such vigilance, as even a spiritual and priestly power of discernment as to what was working? If so, how could it be set aside as having no weight, or as a matter which should not enter into account, in view of a godly judgment? If there were priestly qualities present in neighbouring meetings should we not expect a far more just estimate of local conditions than could be formed by those at a distance?

I do not think it would be right to set aside as prejudice the judgment of "godly and upright men deserving of esteem", who have been in personal touch with the state of things locally. If any have had, in the ordering of the Lord, special opportunities of forming a spiritual estimate of what was going on, it can hardly be laid down as a principle that the judgment of such persons must be regarded as prejudice. They have not pre-judged in any unrighteous sense. Weighing of things in godly exercise does not, surely, disqualify persons from exercising a responsibility which may subsequently attach to them of expressing a formal judgment. If there is a priestly element in it it is precisely what qualifies them to lead the saints to a righteous judgment.

The Lord's mind may be missed in a local judgment, or in the judgment of a district as to a local breach. But I am convinced that normal order in the house of God is maintained by respecting a local judgment, or -- in the case of a local breach -- a judgment of adjacent meetings, rather than by saints at a distance challenging it without most unquestionable proofs of its being an unrighteous judgment. If a mistake is made it would appear to be a godly course to wait on the Lord to adjust it locally, though this would not exclude the expression of exercise by others if need be. The normal order would be

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for those at a distance to accept what was done. If not accepted the responsibility would rest on those who took this course of making manifest that the judgment was clearly an unrighteous one.

The Glanton case was altogether different from the one now in question. In that case there was an interference with the Lord's rights, and with the direct responsibility to Him of saints in another town. It raised a question of principle which was universal in its bearing. Glanton acted in a matter in which it was not their responsibility to act. The meetings in -- have acted in a matter which did clearly come within their responsibility, and they have arrived at a common judgment. Saints elsewhere will have to be careful about challenging such a judgment. To do so would be to take a course which is not according to the normal order of the house of God. We in have not felt at liberty to do so.

With love in the Lord Jesus,

Yours affectionately in Him,

April 10th, 1928.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... We began James on Wednesday as the contrast to Joshua. There the tribes were entering on the inheritance under the leadership of Joshua -- answering to apostolic days, but now they are in the dispersion -- answering to our own times. It is now a question of bearing trial and having faith in God so as to receive the crown of life through loving Him. Publicly we are "in the dispersion", but all that is vital, and that faith can cherish, remains, and it is still for those who love God a time of "first-fruits". I felt it was good to have this side of things before us, particularly the testing character of God's ways with us, and the development of spiritual endurance under those ways. The unchangeableness of God as the Giver, even if governmentally we are "in the dispersion". All the tribes are there to be accounted of just as surely as they will be in the world to come! So that we move in wisdom and love in the full scope of the divine thoughts even though outwardly it is a reproachful time.

Much love to you both.

Yours very affectionately in the Lord,

June 10th, 1928.


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MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, -- I am sorry to know you have been so unwell and feeling so weak, but I hope you will soon, by God's mercy, be quite in your usual health again.

We were speaking on Wednesday about James 1 and the testing character of God's ways with us. He is very much bent on developing in us qualities of endurance, and He would have us to be assured that every testing is really a gain when it is rightly and spiritually gone through. I feel for myself how easy it is to forget that it is a testing time, and only to wake up to it after we have failed under the test. But He would encourage us to move according to faith even in the smallest details, and to draw wisdom from Him for the steps of our way. God is unchangeable as a Giver even if His people are "in the dispersion". This is very much our position publicly, but God remains, and the Lord Jesus is still the Lord of glory, and we can, as utilising divine resources, still win the crown of life and have first-fruits character....

Yours affectionately in the Lord Jesus,

June 10th, 1928.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- I would have replied earlier to your letter of July 31st, but have been unable to do so. When things are challenged the result is either corrective or confirmatory, and one would wish to be, through grace, prepared to accept the first, if need be, and to be thankful for it.

You say, 'This thought of visits by our Lord is constantly introduced here ... Prayer is made that we may be prepared for such visits and that the conditions may obtain. This latter is legal. Of old He was the coming One, Matthew 11:3. Now He has come and abides wherever we view Him. He came characterised by water and by blood. He came by a greater tabernacle and by His own blood. Having come He announced the glad tidings of peace. I can see nowhere in the words of our Lord or of His apostles warrant for the thought of visits in the way it is presented here. I think the root of it is the confounding of experimental realisation, which is intermittent, with what objectively abides, like being always outside the camp but not always having the experience of that place of reproach'.

I am truly sorry to differ from you, but I am persuaded that Matthew 18:20; John 14:18, 23; Revelation 3:20;

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Hebrews 2:12, do clearly suggest that the Lord comes to His own, whether individually or collectively, in a way that does not objectively abide, but which is dependent upon certain conditions, and I cannot see that it is legal to desire that those conditions may obtain.

Matthew 18:20 is very specific. If "two of you" -- i.e., two of the assembly -- agree on the earth as gathered together unto His Name, He is in the midst of those persons thus gathered. He is there -- spiritually of course -- in a real and personal way to give His support to those who are commanded by the interests of His Name. His being there is dependent upon the condition annexed to it by His own words -- "gathered together unto my name". It cannot be that He abides in the midst of two or three gathered together when they are not gathered together at all. The Lord's words convey to me, and I think to most who have considered them, that He does take His place in the midst of two or three persons who are gathered together in any locality unto His Name. It is clearly conditional.

I believe that "in the midst of the assembly will I sing thy praises", Hebrews 2:12, presents the Lord as having taken His place in the midst of assembled saints, and that His doing so is dependent on the existence of assembly conditions suitable to God. The Hebrew word kah-hahl -- used in Psalm 22:22 -- is translated some seventy times in the Septuagint by the Greek word ecclesia (assembly). The word "assembly" was thus familiar to the Jewish mind, and the disciples were prepared for its use by the Lord in reference to the new company which was to be the result of His death and of the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is also to be noted that the word in the Old Testament is used in the same twofold way that it is used in the New. That is, sometimes it means Israel generally, but sometimes it means the congregation as actually together. In which sense it is used must be determined by the context and by spiritual discernment. I believe that everywhere in the Psalms the word means the company of God's people as assembled together. The scriptures which refer to one speaking to or in the congregation, or praising there, must be taken, I apprehend, as meaning the company of God's people as assembled together. The congregation or assembly of God never had, nor could have had, its true character according to His mind until His Name

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had been declared by His Son as upon the earth in manhood, and as in resurrection after glorifying God in death. Any thought of a congregation of God previous to this could only be prophetically or figuratively anticipative. It is in connection with the passover lamb that Israel is first spoken of as an assembly. Nothing previous to the death of Christ could be in any full or spiritual sense the answer to what God had in His mind as to a praising congregation or assembly. It is as answered from the horns of the buffaloes, and as brought up out of the pit and His feet set upon a rock that Christ sings praise. The congregation takes prophetically in Psalm 22 its true and spiritual character as standing in relation to Him who has been the holy Sufferer -- the forsaken One -- but who has been answered in resurrection, so that He can declare God's Name to His brethren. The true congregation of God now appears -- His people assembled for the service of praise. There is the thought clearly in the Old Testament, as in 1 Chronicles 29, 2 Chronicles 29. But it gets its full answer now in that which is at the present time the assembly of God. Things are not centralised now in Jerusalem, but secured in every place where saints assemble according to the truth for the service of God.

The writer in Hebrews 2 quotes Psalm 22 as one of the blessed proofs of Christ's humanity, into which He has come in view of the suffering of death. By the grace of God He has tasted death for everything, and has been made perfect as the Leader of salvation through sufferings. The whole teaching of the epistle stands connected with the fact that God has spoken Son-wise, that purgation of sins has been made, and that Christ is in heaven as Priest, Forerunner, Leader of salvation, etc. Hence, as it seems to me, the writer designedly quotes first from Psalm 22 as showing what comes about as the fruit of the sin-offering sufferings of the Messiah. He can declare God's Name in the fullest possible way to those whom He has sanctified. There is an assembly in the midst of which He can sing God's praises. He puts this in the first place as securing God's portion in the service of praise in the assembly.

Prophetically "the congregation" or "the great congregation" has reference to Israel as convened in the world to come on the ground of their Messiah's sin-bearing, resurrection and exaltation. The only instance of Christ singing in the days of His flesh was after the eating of the passover and the

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institution of the Supper. It followed the presentation of Him in death to His own in a figurative way. There could be no congregation of God to praise Him according to the truth until after that. It was so typically in the Old Testament. All that properly belongs to the congregation of God must be secured through the death of Christ. Acts 26:22, 23 is illuminating: "Whether Christ should suffer; whether he first, through resurrection of the dead, should announce light both to the people (Israel) and to the nations". There might be pious souls looking for redemption, or awaiting the consolation of Israel, or even believing on Him as drawn and taught by the Father. But it needed His death and resurrection to secure a congregation who could praise God according to His Name as declared in the full truth of it.

Christ speaks prophetically in Psalm 22 of praising in the midst of the congregation, It has in view the time when all the ends of the earth shall turn to Jehovah and all families of the nations worship before Him. That is, it applies as a matter of strict interpretation to the world to come when Christ will be spiritually present in the midst of God's praising congregation, and will praise in their midst. But the epistle to the Hebrews put the remnant of that day into the light and power of the world to come anticipatively in a spiritual way. They were in the gain of God's speaking and of Christ's expiatory work, sanctified according to the value of His Person and offering, and therefore at that present time they constituted the true congregation of God, and as such were exhorted not to forsake the assembling of themselves together. The holy convocations were to continue in the present light of what belongs to the world to come, and by those who have the additional peculiar privilege of boldness for entering into the holy of holies -- a privilege distinctive, as I suppose, of the present interval of Christ's being within the veil.

I do not think it can be questioned that the thought of a praising congregation or assembly of God is continued through this present period. It is not a thought that has lapsed, Paul quotes the prophetic utterance of Christ in Psalm 18:49 as having a present application, Romans 15:9. He certainly did not sing to God's Name among the nations in the days of His flesh, nor in His days as the risen One upon the earth. It is now, in the days when those of the nations are being called, that He sings amongst them, anticipating, as before

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said, a future day, but to be known now in a spiritual way, To sing in the midst of a congregation can only be understood as referring to a company gathered together. There is no recorded instance of His singing in the midst of the assembly as now constituted by the presence of the Spirit -- no example at all of His singing among the nations. But that He would do both is a revealed fact in Holy Scripture to be cherished by faith and love as a very precious reality. Our thoughts are turned to it in Scripture, not as known historically, but as something to be known spiritually. How could He be found in the midst of any assembly in such a character unless there were suited and holy conditions? He is in the midst of the assemblies in Revelation 2 and 3 truly, but it is not to sing. He is otherwise engaged there, as we well know!

And this brings me to say a word about "the conditions" essential to secure His presence. I am surprised that you should say that to pray for such conditions is legal. Is not John 14:15 - 23 expressly conditional? You may say, What believer is there who does not love Him? In one sense every believer does, but could you say that they all keep His commandments? Are not the conditions of John 14:15, etc., normal, while those of the assemblies today are very abnormal? Is it not "the last hour" when many antichrists have come? Have not many been seduced, and is not first love left, and overcoming essential everywhere? Do all believers now keep His word and not deny His Name and keep the word of His patience? If so, why are you found walking in separation from so many of them? Does He come in to sup with every one in Laodicea?

Revelation 3:20 shows that where certain conditions are found the Lord will "come in unto him and sup with him, and he with me". There is distinct movement on His part; it is not an abiding objective reality, but a spiritual movement dependent on personal conditions. Now if He will come in to an individual thus, or as in John 14:21, 23, what difficulty can there be in accepting that He proposes to come to His saints collectively as in John 14:18, where there is love for Him evidenced by the keeping of His commandments? I believe that, in spite of all the ruin, it is still possible for two or three to be found together in conditions suitable to the assembly, and to have the Lord with them as so gathered. It is a supreme and blessed privilege.

I have left a word on Luke 12 until now, for unless it can be

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proved from other scriptures that the Lord does propose to come to His own during the time of His public absence, there can be no ground for applying His words in Luke 12:36 - 38 in a moral way at the present time. But if, as I believe, other scriptures give us the thought of the Lord coming to His own I cannot see that there is anything unsuitable in applying the principle of Luke 12:36 - 38 to His coming in a spiritual sense. Luke habitually presents things in their moral bearing, and Luke 12 presses the moral conditions suitable in those who wait their own Lord. That it looks on to the appearing I have no doubt. The Lord will actually come to His household, and it will be blessed for those who are found in suited condition. The thought of His actual coming raises the question of conditions suitable to Him, and He would have that exercise to be ever present with those who compose His household. But if there is such a thing as His coming in a spiritual manner to His own before He comes publicly it raises the same question. So that I do not see that there is anything incongruous in giving it present application, and I think the Lord's saying, "And if he come in the second watch, and come in the third watch", suggests that He might come more than once, and would thus support the moral or spiritual application of it to any occasion when He should come to His household. His girding Himself and making them recline at table and coming up serving them might thus be applied to His present service of love. I am in no way anxious to press this as interpretation, but I do feel concerned that the precious truth -- so long cherished by thousands of hearts -- of the Lord coming to His gathered saints should not be obscured or weakened.

That Jesus came and stood in the midst on two successive first days of the week (John 20), fulfilling to them His own word in John 14:18, was surely intended to show that their being together on that day was of peculiar account to Him. He would come to them. It has been precious to many to gather that in coming together on the first day of the week to break bread His presence in the midst might be looked for. It is not laid down in precise terms that it would be so, for this is a matter that belongs to lovers, and to the quick understanding of love, but there is enough to give love its blessed clue to His spiritual movements and manifestations in this way.

I gather then from Scripture that the Lord does come to

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His own in a way that does not objectively abide apart from spiritual conditions. When certain conditions obtain He is with His saints for support as in Matthew 18:20, to sing praise as in Hebrews 2:12, to satisfy love collectively as in John 14:18, or individually as in John 14:23, Revelation 3:20.

With love in the Lord Jesus to Mrs. -- and yourself,

Yours affectionately in Him,

August 15th, 1928,


MY DEAR SISTER, -- ... We had a particularly good reading on Wednesday here. At least it was good to me, and subduing to all, I hope. The outstanding point was being healed by His stripes -- the effect of the sufferings of Christ when truly and spiritually contemplated. Many are content with the cleansing of His blood, but do not know in any practical sense the healing of His stripes. It was a solemn subject, and the reading was quiet and subdued....

Yours very affectionately in Him,

August 24th, 1928.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- Please give our united love to dear --, and assure him of our deep interest and sympathy, and of our continued prayer. How often we feel conscious of real gain in circumstances which cast us wholly upon God! We ought, indeed, to be so at all times, but our hearts are ready to rest in circumstances when they suit us naturally, and to lose the consciousness of immediate dependence upon a known and trusted love. Anything that brings us back to this is a restoration to the true home of our hearts, through grace. And it is blessed to have such a "sweet retreat". Our united much love to you both and to all "yours".

Yours very affectionately in the Lord,

October 25th, 1928.


DEAR --, -- ... I feel increasingly the value of the prayers of those who love God. I often wonder where I should have got to but for the prayers of the saints, and, above all, the

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prevailing intercession of our blessed Priest on high. And one has thought that as passing years tend to diminish physical strength there is all the more need for increasing spiritual power. It would be a pity to drop down to the level of enfeebled nature in advancing years, but this would be inevitable if spiritual resources were not available. So let us pray more than ever as the years go swiftly by!

With love in the Lord to Mr. -- and yourself, and many thanks for your kindness.

Yours affectionately in the Lord,

December 7th, 1928.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- I do not believe that any conditions on the part of men change the attitude or disposition of God as a "Saviour God who desires that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth". The Man Christ Jesus "gave himself a ransom for all". There are no exceptions to this, and the Saviour-God regards all men from this standpoint. "All the creation" gives the scope of the glad tidings, and the "world" is provisionally in reconciliation -- all viewed by the blessed God in relation to Christ and His precious death.

If men turn away from all this wilfully, and in despite of all the grace of a Saviour-God, their blood is entirely on their own heads. The warning is there, too, to put every possible deterrent in the way of apostasy. But wilful rebellion does not change the character of the dispensation: it brings out in a dreadful way the enmity of a heart that is unaffected by a righteous and measureless grace. But God is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance".

"The testimony to be rendered in its own times" is that of a Saviour-God, and a Mediator who has given Himself a ransom for all. The warnings of Scripture are not to shut the door of blessing against anyone, but to bring every motive to bear upon men that they should not imperil their own blessing. God remains what He is in spite of what men may be, and He waits to be gracious, as we may say, to the very last moment. If one is actually apostate, as in Hebrews 6, it is in spite of all that God has done to secure blessing for him. The warning is there to prevent anyone from such a dreadful

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thing, and it is only known to God when such conditions are present as to make renewal again to repentance impossible. It would be in Christianity a very extreme case of having full measure of light, but deliberately giving it up and becoming, say, a Mohammedan. But even in such a case the light that is turned away from remains as the only light in which God is making Himself known to men at the present time, however solemn may be the consequences of final unbelief or apostasy from it. It is like the sun in the heavens shining for all. Men may be so wicked that they deliberately deprive themselves of the light that shines for them, but it still shines, though perhaps to their condemnation, as proving that they love darkness rather than light because their works are evil.

I do not know that I need add more, save my love in the Lord Jesus.

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 13th, 1928.


MY DEAR SISTER, -- ... We had a good reading last night on Judges 13, and there was a happy spirit, and general contributions from brethren which cheered me much. Nazariteship to God as the secret of power in the last days was the principal thought before us, and this was linked with 2 Timothy. There is a difference between the vow of a Nazarite (which is a voluntary act of devotedness) and the requirement of Nazariteship by definite divine call and appointment. Samson and John the baptist are examples of the latter. Nazariteship in 2 Timothy days is obligatory on all who would wish in any small measure to save Israel from the Philistines.

There is no failure in Judges 13; all is of God. Samson practically failed to come up to what he was called to be. Alas! how true this is of the assembly. But each faithful individual can maintain, through grace, purpose of heart to come up to what he is called to be. We can always count upon power to be what God's sovereign will has assigned to us in service or testimony. As we accept our divinely appointed place, and call on the Lord out of a pure heart, there is power to fill that place. What a comfort to know this!

Very affectionately yours,

February 28th, 1929.


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MY DEAR --, -- ... We began Ruth on Wednesday. I do not know whether we were all prepared to see that Ruth was the spiritual product of Naomi's exercises and sorrows. If she had not been attracted to what she saw in brokenness of spirit in Naomi she would never have found Boaz.

I suppose if there was no sense of this inheritance having been forfeited we should not have much personal interest in the One who has the right of redemption?

Ruth is a most precious book for the present moment of gracious visitation, but it will only be appreciated rightly by those who have learned under the dealings of God how bitter and sorrowful is the departure from the inheritance as bestowed in love at the beginning. I hope we shall be helped as we go on with it; and I count upon your prayers.

With much love in the Lord to you both,

Yours affectionately in Him,

April 5th, 1929.


MY DEAR SISTER, -- ... I enjoyed the reading on Wednesday and thought that there was help from the Lord. We read chapter 2 (Ruth) again, and went again over the truth of Christ as Kinsman with the right of redemption. I trust it came out a little clearly for our hearts. It was pretty much on the same lines as the previous week, but developed more in detail. There was a general desire to have it opened out a little more, and I think the Lord answered the exercise. It is not good to hurry over scriptures which appeal to personal affections as Ruth does. I think we saw more clearly the stock to which Christ can be Kinsman; not the fallen and sinful stock, but those called of God, and marked by the love of righteousness and the hatred of lawlessness. Such can be His "companions", and to such He is Kinsman. Repentance and the confession of sin are the first moves on the line of righteousness, and where these are found there is something morally kindred to Christ. "Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness". When one truly says, "God be merciful to me the sinner" he is one of the "excellent" in whom Christ can delight, and to whom He can be Kinsman to secure through the right of redemption the whole inheritance. To come under the notice of Christ as having moral qualities like

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His own is a very blessed thing. All that is in His allotment is made available for such in pure and unmerited favour.

I enjoyed the thought of "parched corn" as something directly from His hand, expressive of His personal interest in me, if I am at all moving on Ruth's line. The general fellowship is good, but there are personal communications which have a peculiar sweetness. I fear there is a tendency to go on with what is generally enjoyed, but perhaps to miss one's own individual experience of personal favour. True affection would covet both....

Yours very affectionately,

April 21st, 1929.


MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, -- I am sorry that I have been unable to reply sooner to your letter, but I have thought of you with much interest in relation to your exercises, and have prayed that the Lord may grant you an abundant furnishing of grace, mercy and peace at all times, and particularly when depressing conditions are present.

There are certain physical conditions which tend to depression, and the enemy is ever ready to take advantage of them that our joy may be diminished and the Lord may not receive the full note of praise of which He is so worthy. As to the sins of the past we glorify God and the word of His grace by simple confidence that the death and blood of Christ have settled every question. It is our privilege to cherish the thought that full forgiveness is in the heart of God; He refuses every charge; He remembers our sins and iniquities no more; and He ever regards us as those to whom He has made Christ to be wisdom and righteousness and holiness and redemption. I take it that you have not any difficulty as to this, or as to the complete satisfaction of God in the Person of Christ and in His sin-purging work, but that you are troubled at times by depression which deprives you of conscious joy in divine favour.

It is a comfort to know that nothing can touch the ground of peace on which our souls are with God. That is, Christ and His precious work are unaffected by any experiences through which our souls may pass. Physical and mental conditions may have a great effect on our feelings, and the amount of joy which we have consciously, but Christ in

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unchanged perfection is ever before the face of God for us and it is our privilege to hold to this and to bless the Lord at all times for the precious truth of it.

Certain conditions may even be the direct consequence in God's government of past evil. Such things have to be humbly accepted as the mighty hand of God upon us; they help to maintain true self-judgment in our souls before Him, so that repentance is deepened as time goes on. But then all this is in view of our being exalted in Christ. The learning of what I am, and of what I have been, is truly humbling, but it need not be distressing if I see that all those conditions which have been present with me have just been the occasion for God to bring to light what is in His own heart. When I see this those very conditions magnify before my soul the greatness of His salvation in Christ. The weakness that is in myself, and the many things which I have to deplore in my past, or perhaps even in my present, make me thankful to know that God has brought in another Man, and has secured in Him all His own thoughts of blessing man-ward. There is what is perfect and absolutely for God's satisfaction and delight in Him, and it remains unaffected by what I find in myself. Nay! every self-discovery makes His perfection more a necessity to my heart. What I learn and experience in myself makes me rejoice to believe on Another in whom every promise of God is Yea and Amen.

It is a wholesome thing to remember what we were as in the flesh. See 1 Corinthians 6:8 - 11; Titus 3:37; 1 Timothy 1:12 - 16; 1 Peter 4:3; Ephesians 2, etc., etc. But it will be seen that when the time past of our lives is referred to the object of the Spirit of God is to enhance the appreciation in our hearts of that grace which has reached and blessed us through the Lord Jesus Christ. These scriptures, and many others, show that it is our sinful state and course which provided God with an outlet for all that was in His heart as a Saviour God. The conditions on our side were the very occasion for the shining out of the blessed God in the revelation of Himself in grace. They have furnished Him with the opportunity to make Himself known in His true character and nature. Self-judgment on our part is suitable and essential, but it is divested of the depressing features which would otherwise accompany it when we see how our sinfulness has made God a necessity to us in the true grace which the gospel

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makes known. Hence conviction of sin is ever accompanied by an attractive sense of goodness in God which can be counted on, notwithstanding all that we are conscious of on our side.

Satan would use the thought of what we have been to cast us down, but God would ever use it to make His grace in Christ more precious and indispensable. The more I learn myself the more thankful I am for the death of Christ, which has not only removed my sins but brought my whole history as in the flesh to an end. We are divinely entitled to honour God in the greatness of His grace, and of His salvation in Christ, and to dwell ever on the efficacy of His precious blood through which we have redemption in Him.

Physical or mental depression caused by bodily conditions may be of such a nature as to tend to affect for the time conscious enjoyment of spiritual blessing. This makes the priestly grace and service of Christ a very great necessity if we are to be sustained in liberty of spirit, and He does not fail to minister it to us. Such conditions are of the nature of infirmity, and it is well to fully recognise them as such, even though there may be in them a governmental element which calls for special humbling under the mighty hand of God. They are, nevertheless, the subject of the sympathy and succour of Christ as Priest. He prays for us that faith may not fail, even when under God's hand we are feeling how grievously we have erred. His intercessory service of love takes account of everything, and we may be fully assured of this at all times. The conditions may not be at once relieved, but we may be sure that they will be, and that it is ours to trust Him fully at all times.

I may have experiences concerning which I have to say, "This is my infirmity", and they cast me upon the mercy and faithfulness of Christ as the blessed One who succours weakness in unfailing priestly grace. He is a present living Resource and Refuge for me, and every conscious weakness is an occasion to look straight to Him for divine succour and deliverance. A sinking Peter cried, "Lord, save me", and the mighty Hand was outstretched at once. I would encourage you to turn directly to Him in your times of special need, with confidence that His love is unchanged and unchangeable. He can make you a peculiar vessel to honour in spite of all the weakness you find in yourself. That very weakness makes

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you need Him in a special way, and the way you learn Him through it, and in it, will be your special bit in His testimony, and your distinction in the kingdom by and by.

We may honour the Lord by holding fast confidence in Him even when we are cast down. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is "the Father of compassions, and God of all encouragement", and He "encourages those that are brought low", 2 Corinthians 1:3; 7: 6. I think you must have proved this, at least in some measure, and you will undoubtedly do so in times of need as you turn to Him.

With much prayerful interest and love in the Lord Jesus,

Yours affectionately in Him,

May 26th, 1929:


MY DEAR --, -- I was very sorry to know of your suffering so much pain, and I pray that you may be graciously supported by a sense of the love of Christ, who ever lives to make intercession for us. He knows well the character of the sufferings which pertain to this present time, and is touched with the feeling of our weaknesses. And He knows how to enlarge us spiritually even by things which to nature seem to be most unlikely to do us any good.

I feel much for you, for you need much succour that the confidence of your heart may be sustained in the faithful love that never makes any mistake in its ways with us. We shall be surprised to find in another day what wonderful divine workings have gone on by means of exercises produced by the conditions of creature weakness in which we are at present. The outward man is subject to all kinds of affliction, but while allowing this God never takes His eye off the inward man, and He makes the outward man a vessel of discipline for the profit of the inward man. All His ways with us promote holiness, and make room for the spiritual and the eternal to acquire larger place with us. The chastenings of His love are not joyous but grievous, but they always have their blessed "afterward" in yielding the peaceful fruit of righteousness. May your heart be greatly encouraged, and enabled to honour God by its quiet confidence even amidst your present trial!

With very much love in the Lord,

Yours very affectionately in Him,

June 18th, 1929.


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BELOVED BROTHER, -- The question raised in connection with 2 Corinthians 5 has come up a good many times. The contrast before the mind of the apostle is between the things that are seen and those which are not seen. The earthly tabernacle house is not eternal, but there is a house of eternal character. When living believers are changed, or dead ones raised, they will have a house divinely suited to heaven and to eternal conditions. It will be that kind of bodily condition which is now in heaven in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that it can be spoken of as "out of heaven". It will be wholly of new creation kind. 1 Corinthians 15 is quite in keeping with this, because it says as to resurrection of the dead, that it will be raised in incorruptibility, glory, power, a spiritual body. But resurrection supposes that persons have been buried. It applies to those who, as the Lord said, "are in the tombs". A person is so identified with his body that his body is spoken of as being himself. "Pious men buried Stephen", and as to the Lord He was buried, and the angel said, "Come see the place where the Lord lay". The patriarch David has been buried, as Peter said, but he has not yet been raised; he is still in his grave. All living for God, such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob do, involves that they are so identified with their bodies as to make resurrection a divine necessity. I do not see how one could speak of a "purely spiritual" part being raised. The "purely spiritual" part is surely not in the grave, but with the Lord. But all that was spiritual in saints has been identified with their bodies, so much so that they can be regarded, and are regarded in Scripture, as being in their graves. Resurrection is relative to what was buried, and not exactly to what comes out of heaven. It is the taking out by divine power from the domain of death of those who have died and been buried. All the force of resurrection is lost if this is not seen. Resurrection, as I understand it, is relative to all that is behind it -- the power of death and the grave. Complete victory has been achieved by the Lord having died and risen, and the saints as raised will participate actually in His victory. The house out of heaven has in view rather the whole heavenly scene for which that kind of bodily condition is suited and essential. I think if this distinction is kept in mind it helps in the apprehension of how things are presented in Scripture. Resurrection involves a backward look to where saints have been as in death and the grave. The house out of

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heaven involves suitability to a future and eternal scene of divine glory, for which God has wrought us. It is true that the two things have a point of contact, but we cannot exactly mix them, or set one against the other, without losing some of the peculiar force and blessedness of each. Each has to be apprehended in the setting where Scripture places it. Does this commend itself as being according to truth?

With much love in the Lord Jesus,

Yours affectionately in Him,

March 4th, 1930.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- I gather from Deuteronomy 21:1 - 9 that certain conditions may be found "in the land" which are altogether abnormal, and which by their seriousness affect the whole of God's people. The matter has occurred in a certain locality, but it is a concern for the elders and judges universally, and for all the people; it is not merely local. I judge that we have instruction here as to a case which, in its bearing and issues, cannot be confined to the locality in which it arises, but which has to be viewed as affecting the responsibility and fellowship of saints generally. Something fatal to the enjoyment of the land has taken place, and this is a matter which affects all God's people; all have to prove themselves to be pure in the matter.

The gravity of such a case required that it should not be left undetermined; it had to be definitely taken up somewhere, and it was ordained by God that the nearest city should do so. It was not left to any city to act that might feel inclined to do so; responsibility to do so on behalf of God's people generally was definitely assigned to a particular city. Divine support can always be counted on when responsibility is taken up according to the mind of God.

The case contemplated here is not one of mere local unhappiness, but of the working of things which are fatal to a fellowship which is according to God. In the former case the Lord must be waited on to grant local adjustment and recovery. In the latter the whole of the people of God have to clear themselves of what is evil.

There may be much local friction without the definite action of an evil principle, but if, for example, clericalism as at Plymouth, or independency as at Bethesda were definitely

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working they would be things in regard to which all the people of God must prove themselves pure. A local breach amongst brethren raises the question whether it is a case of local confusion which the Lord may adjust locally, or whether it is the evidence that saints are standing in faithfulness against principles which are really fatal to spiritual fellowship. In either case it seems to me that Deuteronomy 21 appears to give the mind of God as indicating that any necessary steps or proving the saints generally to be pure in the matter are assigned in the wisdom of God to those nearest. It is a principle which J.N.D. insisted on, and I am not aware that any other principle has ever been put out by intelligent brethren as having divine sanction. It may be that brethren have not always been consistent in acting on it.

In a case of local disagreement, without the setting up of my principle contrary to those which govern the fellowship generally (as at Alnwick), matters must be left for the Lord to adjust locally, brethren giving such help by prayer and counsel as they are enabled to do. In a case where principles contrary to the truth are the cause of local division, and this is fully ascertained, it is the responsibility and privilege of the brethren to identify themselves with those who are seeking to maintain what is due to the Lord, and to repudiate what is contrary. There is no interference whatever with local responsibility in either case. If the nearest meeting has no special responsibility in such cases, who has? To leave such matters altogether undetermined would be fatal to true fellowship either locally or generally.

I return herewith the little paper on Local Responsibility, which has been for many years out of print. It contains much that is important, and which I should fully maintain, but obviously it does not touch the principle which you write about, which was not at that time in question. Indeed Glanton was held to be quite in order in declining, for the time, to receive from either party in Alnwick. It was when they absolved saints from their local responsibility in Alnwick by receiving them at Glanton that a serious issue was raised.

Many are praying at this time for --, and looking to the Lord to give a clear indication of His mind, and a spirit of subjection which will enable it to be discerned.

Yours affectionately in the Lord Jesus,

May 6th, 1930.

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MY DEAR MRS. --, -- I cannot write much just now, but I wanted to let you know that you are in our thoughts and hearts in a special way at this time of sorrow. The Lord has sustained you through a long period of peculiar trial, and caused you to know what His grace and succour can be to a heart that needs them. And He will be with you now, and until sympathy and succour in weakness will be needed no more, and then we shall be with Him in His heavenly place. Your dear husband has left all the conditions of feebleness and suffering behind, and is now in the blessed rest of His presence who loved him and gave Himself for him. We have nothing to ask for him, but we can and do ask for ourselves that we may be more devoted to the Lord, and more satisfied with our portion in His love, during the little while that remains to us here.

May the Lord greatly sustain you, and give you such increased knowledge of Himself in this time of sorrow as will be spiritual wealth for your heart evermore!

-- joins me in much true sympathy, and love in the Lord Jesus.

Yours affectionately in Him,

June 13th, 1930.


MY DEAR --, -- I felt it quite nice to get out to the reading on Wednesday. We read Luke 10:17 - 24, and it was good to go again over what had been brought before us on the previous Wednesday. We thought these verses were about the top note of the gospel, as bringing us to the activities of the Father and the Son, having in view what is heavenly. There seemed to be a fair measure of interest, but one feels how slow we are to take on, and be formed by, even the things which truly interest us. How simply could we go through circumstances here if we lived in the secret sense of our present place as written in heaven. We were remarking that probably most believers dwell on what is public -- that is, what is preached or ministered publicly. But it is our privilege to have private, communications, verse 23. The Lord loves to unbosom Himself to those who are objects of good pleasure to the Father and to Himself, and to say things privately to them which are not told publicly. How well might we covet to receive such communications, and to be in a condition of heart and spirit to value and respond to them! ...

Yours very affectionately in the Lord,

July 11th, 1930.


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BELOVED BROTHER, -- I was interested to see the cuttings herewith returned, which you were kind enough to send to me ...

One can hardly expect a just estimate of any spiritual movement from those in the religious world. They can only see what is external, and it is well to be in reproach publicly, so that there may be nothing to commend the testimony but what is spiritual. One would desire that there might be much to attract the godly and spiritually minded. There are many who are saying in their hearts, "Who will show us any good?" If we are enabled to do so, it will be great favour from the Lord.

With much love in Him,

Yours affectionately,

September 4th, 1930.


MY DEAR --, -- It has been our privilege to think of your dear mother since we knew of her serious condition, and in view of it, and of her advanced age, we were not surprised to hear this morning of her departure to be with Christ. We feel for you and with you in the sorrow of this bereavement; for it is the breaking of one of the tenderest natural ties. But you have the comfort of knowing that she is with the Lord, and that she has served Him here according to the light which she had, and carried on her labour to an age beyond most. With what discriminating love will He gather up all that was of Himself, singling it out from what was of human origin, so that it may remain for the world to come in its purity to His praise, and for the joy of the one in whom it was wrought. I feel personally more and more how sobering it is to be reminded by the departure of so many one has known and loved of the brevity of our life here. It urges to more complete dedication in the little moment that remains to us.

With much love in the Lord Jesus to you both,

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 6th, 1930.


MY DEAR --, -- ... It is good to recognise the hand of God in all these touches. Our bodies are a special means of His discipline to us. They lend themselves to the purposes of His love in this way. I do not find that I naturally like humiliation, but I have, in a small way, learned that when

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God humbles He always has behind it the thought of exaltation. There is something hindering our going up, like the weight attached to a balloon, but discipline cuts it loose, that the heavenward attraction may be more powerfully felt and responded to. But much grace is needed really to profit even by God's disciplinary ways. I have often felt humbled by the consciousness that I have gained comparatively little from even prolonged chastening. But one has to come back to the necessity of leaving oneself wholly in God's hands, and it is calming to be there when we have no thoughts of our own to make us restless.

I trust the Lord's hand is over things at --, and that the dear brethren there may be encouraged in Him, and knit together in mutual confidence. If they honour Him He will honour them, and on that line there are no regrets....

Yours affectionately in the Lord Jesus,

January 18th, 1931.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- I understand the apostle to mean by 2 Corinthians 5:16 that the saints are in Christ as One risen and glorified, and no longer as in flesh and blood condition. He is to be known now in the condition of purpose. Those who, like the twelve, had known Him in "the days of his flesh" no longer knew Him thus, but as now risen and glorified -- the same blessed Person, unchanged morally, but in a new and eternal condition.

With love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately,

January 27th, 1931.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- It has been said, as you know, that a meeting could only act for itself in such cases, and not so as to bind others by its decision. But this would need to be modified by the consideration that fellowship is general or universal.

The assemblies are not independent units. And if the Lord has definitely assigned responsibility, as we believe He has, to the nearest meeting to act in such cases it would be a very serious matter to challenge what was done. Such a course would only be justified by the clearest evidence that the decision was wrong and therefore was not of the Lord. Such

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a case would prove a spreading of confusion. Normally a decision arrived at before the Lord by those to whom He has assigned responsibility would be morally binding, and, in effect, general in result. Ultimately things stand, as before God, on the moral value of what is done....

With much love in the Lord to you both,

Yours affectionately in Him,

February 9th, 1931.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- ... The Lord's words in Matthew 18:19, 20 abide, and will abide, in all their precious value so long as the assembly is here. They are, I trust, more cherished amongst us than ever, but even if we should give them up they would still remain true. They were a peculiar encouragement 100 years ago, as assuring those who were constrained to leave all that was approved in the religious world that the Lord would sanction by His presence even two or three who were gathered together unto His Name. They felt that they needed no other sanction. And all that the Lord's words meant to faith and love then they mean to faith and love now.

But we are sorrowfully aware that those precious words of our Lord soon became in the minds of many the statement of a ground of gathering, as contrasted with meeting on sectarian ground, and many different companies now claim to be gathered unto His Name and to have His presence. I am afraid with many it is still a case of "supposing Him to be in the company" when He is not!

My impression is that the words of the Lord in Matthew 18:17 - 20 stand in an administrative connection, such as we should expect in this gospel, rather than with assembly privilege. They can ever be counted upon when, assembly conditions being present, there is dependence upon God in relation to the interests of Christ. So verse 19 directly refers to agreement in prayer, and verse 20 widens out to embrace every occasion when "two or three" might be "gathered together unto my name". For many years this precious word has been a comfort to me as assuring the Lord's presence for support in relation to His interests, and particularly in relation to what partakes of administration of assembly character. 1 Corinthians 5:4 would be a concrete example of this, and I have no doubt it

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could be counted upon in a care meeting of brothers. I am sure it helps to note the setting in which things stand in Scripture.

The Lord's presence in the midst of the assembly according to Hebrews 2:12 is clearly in another relation, viz. that of assembly privilege. Having declared God's Name to His brethren, He has a company in the midst of whom He can sing God's praise. This is the assembly viewed as in spiritual privilege God-ward, brethren of Christ and in concert with His singing. You would hardly suppose, I think, that this was known at Corinth, where they were carnal and ill-regulated even as to assembly order locally. The supper of which they partook was not allowed by the apostle to be the Lord's supper. The presence of Christ in their midst as Head, according to Hebrews 2:12, could not have been known under such conditions, nor is it once alluded to in the epistle.

In John 14:18 the Lord promises, as I understand it, that His coming to the company of His lovers would be characteristic of the period during which the world sees Him no longer. He comes in the activity of His love to satisfy the love that would be inconsolable without Him. He manifests Himself to lovers.

We come together to eat the Lord's supper in the place where He died, and from which He is absent. It has the character of a memorial, as J.N.D. says. We love the absent One, and remember Him; our affections and thoughts are unified by engagement with Him in the character in which the Supper presents Him. The Supper does not, in itself, suggest the thought of the Lord's presence with us, but rather of how He would engage our hearts with Himself as remembered during His absence, and while we have to announce His death until He comes. It is a question of intelligently apprehending the spiritual setting of the precious institution. We may be quite sure that the Lord will verify His own words whenever suitable conditions are found with His saints, and that He will vouchsafe His presence in the manner that is suitable to each aspect of it that Scripture brings before us.

We do not, surely, forget, in coming together to eat the Lord's supper, that He lives, or that we can know Him as near to us in His love, but at the moment we are engaged in responding to the presentation of the Lord which the Supper conveys to our hearts, the spiritual import of the one loaf and

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the one cup. He has, in the wisdom of His love, ordained that it should be so, and He knew best how to awaken response to Him in the hearts of His own. To thus respond to the love which instituted the Supper does not mean that we forget or ignore the precious scriptures which speak of His presence with His own. But it means that, at the moment, we give place in thought and affection to that which the Lord is Himself calling our attention to. Namely, that He is calling us to remember Him in the place where He has died, and that in the emblems before us He is bringing most touching impressions of Himself and His love to bear upon our hearts -- impressions which, if yielded to, would put us all into heart-condition such as would attract Him to us according to John 14:18, and such as would liberate us for that spiritual sphere of privilege where He can sing as Head in the midst of His brethren, the assembly.

To desire this, to look for it, to see how the Supper would spiritually prepare us in affection for it, is not to give anything up, but to add immensely to the range of our spiritual apprehensions. We get a sense of the holy conditions, and the affectionate conditions, which alone secure the Lord's presence in any aspect. We estimate more fully the favour of that presence; we look more for the conscious realisation of it. Instead of assuming that we always have it -- apart from conditions -- we become more sensitive to its blessedness when granted, and to the deprivation when, either through company conditions, or our own individual condition, we fail to have it or to realise it.

There is nothing new in all this. It has been continually ministered for many years, and I believe it has helped the saints in their affections and spiritual apprehensions.

I hope you are better in health, and your family well.

With much love in the Lord,

February 14th, 1931.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- In reply to your letter I may say, in the first place, that the question raised in regard to the expression "the eternal Son", as applied to our Lord, is not at all a question as to His Deity, or His eternal personality. The dear brethren are all, thank God, perfectly clear as to these great and vital matters of revelation and of faith. The Son was

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eternally God (John 1:1), and subsisted in the form of God (Philippians 2:6); before Abraham was He was "I am", John 8:58. Whatever inscrutable blessedness and glory and power belongs to the Godhead belongs in the fullest and most absolute way to Christ; He is "over all, God blessed for ever", Romans 9:5.

But the question is raised as to whether Scripture ever uses the expression "the eternal Son" in speaking of Christ, or whether He is ever called the Son when spoken of as subsisting in the form of God? If Scripture does so speak the question would be settled at once for all who own its authority. But if we find the Son, or the Son of God, spoken of in many scriptures as sent, or given, or as coming down from heaven to do the will of the One who sent Him, or as sanctified by the Father and sent into the world, or as the only begotten Son in the bosom of the Father declaring God, we see that in many scriptures, at any rate, the designation applies to Him viewed as in a mediatorial position. Now is there any scripture which speaks of Him as the Son when there is clearly no reference to what is mediatorial but to His eternal place in Deity?

We know that He existed eternally in the form of God, in a character of Being which we, as creatures, have no power to apprehend. It is infinitely beyond us in ineffable majesty and greatness, "whom no man has seen, nor is able to see", 1 Timothy 6:16. We cannot connect the thought of "begotten", nor any idea of derivation, or relative inferiority, or posteriority, with One who is in the inscrutable glory of Godhead. He was God, in all the incomprehensible and unsearchable greatness which that holy Name conveys.

I desire to write with much self distrust, and with great reverence, knowing that these subjects are thrice-holy. And I hold myself ready to be corrected in every way by Scripture.

We know the Godhead as revealed, and only so, and in the economy of revelation divine Persons have been pleased to be known in the terms of a relationship known to us as men -- a relationship created, I have no doubt, in view of God's purpose so to reveal Himself. In the economy of revelation there is a certain subordination of both the Son and the Spirit; both are regarded as sent and given, and as taking up services committed to Them. Son is a relative term, and it implies a certain positional difference which Scripture never loses sight of. Now, so far as I have been able to trace, Scripture

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does not carry back this relative and positional difference into the essence of Deity, or what is spoken of as "the form of God". We are brought by Scripture into presence of the profound and majestic fact that "the Word was God". As such He is incomprehensible by creatures. We have to recognise that there are depths which are beyond us, and to be thankful that we can know divine Persons as and when revealed. The Persons are eternal, but the names by which we know Them belong to the economy of revelation.

Divine Persons were known to Themselves alone in the past eternity, known in mutual affections, for God is love, but known in a way that Persons in Deity alone could know each other. According to divine good pleasure One of those Persons -- now known to us through revelation as the Word and the Son -- created the universe. It was in the form of God that He did so, for "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth". Scripture does not say that He created as Son, but John 1, Colossians 1, and Hebrews 1 make known to us that the One whom we know as the Word, and as the Son of the Father's love, the One in whom God has spoken Son-wise, was the Creator -- God of Genesis 1, Psalm 102:25, and many other scriptures. Creation was an act incomprehensible to creature minds, but it is a matter of revelation, and is understood by faith.

All that Christ was in His eternal Personality gave unique character to that blest name of Son by which we know Him, and hence we can well understand that "no one knows the Son but the Father", Matthew 11:27. A relationship is now revealed between divine Persons which is apprehensible by us. That precious name of Son gives character to the revelation of God, for He is made known as Father. But it also intimates the relationship into which God purposed to bring men, through infinite grace. "God sent forth his Son ... that we might receive sonship", Galatians 4:6. He has predestinated us to be conformed to the image of His Son, Romans 8:29. The Son of God will be eternally the Firstborn among many brethren. So that His name or title as Son would appear to be connected with eternal purpose rather than with His place in essential Deity. Certainly none but One who was God in the most absolute sense could have taken that Name so as to bring to men the revelation of God in love, that, in result, holy myriads might be secured to be in the place and

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relationship of sons eternally. As Son, too, He will be in the subject place eternally, 1 Corinthians 15:28; one could not speak of God, as such, being "placed in subjection;" it brings out in a striking way the relative place taken by the Son mediatorially.

There is a sweet mutuality in the affections of a father and a son, but those affections are not exactly co-equal. It is evident that the terms used of the Father and the Son cannot be transposed. One is the Sanctifier, the Sender, the Giver; the Other is the Sanctified, the Sent, and the Given; He comes at the Father's behest, and in His own devotion, to do the will of the One who sent Him. All this has to do with the form which divine revelation has taken; it has to do with what is mediatorial.

In absolute Godhead there could not be any precedence or any relative inferiority. The glory of divine Persons, as such, was equal, Their majesty co-eternal. We do not safeguard the personal greatness and glory of Christ by connecting with Him as in eternal Deity thoughts which in Scripture are connected with Him viewed mediatorially. Our attention is now being called to the difference between what is mediatorial and what is connected with the eternal Personality of Christ as in Deity. It is, I believe, of the Spirit to establish our faith in His eternal greatness and majesty as God. It is the divine answer to all the diverse and multiplied efforts of the enemy at the present day to obscure His ineffable and divine greatness as in absolute Godhead.

When we see that He is the Son and the Word as having taken a mediatorial place it magnifies before our hearts the perfection and grace of the revelation which has come to us. We are bowed in adoration as we contemplate His glory. We get a deepened sense of the condescending gentleness in which grace and truth have come to us. In the light of what He was eternally all that He is as the Son and the Word becomes more glorious than ever in our eyes. God grant that it may be so!

All that can be made known of God to creatures such as we -- and all that creatures redeemed, renewed, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, can know -- is revealed to be our present and everlasting glory and joy. We need not desire to go into matters which are not revealed.

No doubt the expression "the eternal Son" has often been

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used with a godly intention to denote His eternal Personality, and one would be very jealous that a sense of this should not be weakened. But we gain greatly by recognising how things are presented in Scripture, and particularly those great and infinitely precious things which relate to the holy Person of our Lord and Saviour.

He had glory with the Father before the world was; He was loved by the Father before the world's foundation. But He spoke of this to the Father in connection with the unfolding of those purposes of divine love which He had come into manhood to effectuate.... His was the unique glory of giving effect to all that had been purposed from eternity for love's full satisfaction and rest. His eternal personality was essential to this, but it was a glory that stood in relation to the purpose of divine love concerning men. He would give effect through His incarnation, death and resurrection, and as a result of His being glorified as Man along with the Father, to all that was in God's eternal purpose. We know Him as the Son come forth from with the Father, and now glorified as Man with the Father, but the glory given to Him thus can be beheld by His own. It is not of a character which is in unapproachable light, or which no man has seen, nor is able to see.

All that is pleaded for is that we should keep within the limits of Scripture, and that we should regard divine names and titles as they are presented to us, and that we should remember that the greatness of God is unsearchable. One would not care to assert anything of divine Persons that Scripture did not support.

With much love in the Lord Jesus,

Yours affectionately in Him,

March 5th, 1931.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I think I can understand the exercises expressed in your letter of March 25th, with reference to such terms as "the eternal Son", and the "everlasting Word", for mine was a similar attitude when the subject was suggested for our consideration over thirty years ago. One has had to learn that on all great and holy subjects, and especially on that which relates to the Son of God, our Lord and Saviour, absolute subjection to the Holy Scriptures is the only safe

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ground. And it is important that we should be careful to make sure that Scripture does really say what we have been accustomed to think that it says.

I will confine myself for the present to the scriptures which you have mentioned, viz., John 1:14, 18.

I feel sure that I cannot give you any greater help than to beg you to consider well these scriptures. They refer, unquestionably, to the Word and to the only-begotten Son as incarnate, as in a condition in which His glory could be contemplated by men. His disciples contemplated One who dwelt among them full of grace and truth, and who had unique glory "as of an only-begotten with a father". The whole point of the statement lies in the fact that this unique glory was contemplated by men; it was the glory of the Word as become flesh. So manifest is this that I cannot recall that any other interpretation was ever put upon it by intelligent Christians.

Then verse 18 states that the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, has declared God. It is a statement of what He has done as incarnate in time, and that He has done it as having this wonderful place "in the bosom of the Father". It is the unique place which He occupied as incarnate in the affections of the Father, and from which He declared God. That He did not have a less place in the past eternity we may be well assured, but what the Scripture states is the place which He occupied in relation to His declaration of God, which was clearly as incarnate.

I am sure that the One spoken of in verse 18 is "I am", but I should have thought that eis referred to His characteristic place in the Father's affections rather than to His essential Being. You have no doubt observed that eis is used characteristically in John 3:13, 31; 6: 46; 8: 47; 18: 37. I may add that I do not follow what is in your mind in saying that eis "in New Testament Greek" is used without any idea of motion into, as I am sure you must have noticed that it is used in this sense more than 100 times in John's gospel. But I do not pretend to know Greek.

Scripture establishes without any possibility of question the eternal Personality in Godhead of Him whom we know and adore as known through revelation as the Word and the Son. Scripture is full of the relationship in which He stands to God and the Father as Son, being found in manhood in that relationship. But to say that that relationship "ever subsisted"

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in absolute Deity is; I believe, to go beyond what Scripture makes known.

We only know divine Persons as and when revealed, and in relation to purposes of love formed before the foundation of the world. In purpose all that attaches to the names or titles of the Son, the Word, the Christ, even the Lamb, was there eternally, but it awaited time and the incarnation for manifestation. It must be obvious that the Scriptures speak of the Son as sanctified, sent, given, as coming down from heaven to do the will of the One who sent Him. The blest name of Son marks Him as the Father's sent One. That is, He is presented as holding a mediatorial place. Why should we not allow our hearts to expand in all the wealth and blessedness that has come to us from God in Him? We shall find enough within the bounds of revelation to fill us with deep divine joy now and in eternity. We recognise that essential Deity is altogether beyond creature ken, but in boundless love to the creature, and for His love's own satisfaction, God has come into the light of revelation. In that light He is known as the Father, known by the presence here on earth of the Son, and I am sure that the revelation brings to us the light of affections between divine Persons so far as it is possible for creatures to know them. The revelation is in a form suited for creature apprehension, though surely only truly apprehended in virtue of the presence and teaching of the Holy Spirit. We glory in it, find it our blessing and joy, and we adore the grace that marks it.

We could not, as creatures, know the manner or the character of affections that subsisted between divine Persons in essential Deity. But they have been disclosed to us, so far as it is possible, by the coming of One divine Person into manhood to be known by men as the Object of the Father's love in the relationship of Son, and as responding in Son's affections to the Father. We can get no nearer to essential Deity than it is our holy privilege to be as we contemplate the Son in manhood loved by the Father and loving the Father. To be with Him where He is, and to behold the glory given Him by the Father, is to get the nearest and fullest apprehension of the love that existed before the foundation of the world that it is possible for creatures to have. But the wondrous thing about it is that it is glory given to One who has taken the place of glorifying the Father on earth, and completing the work given Him by

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the Father to do, and who asks and receives all from the Father. He is in that place according to divine purpose from eternity, but it is a place of doing what Another has given Him to do, and of receiving all from Him. It is in this way that the mediatorial glory of the Son of the Father shines for the adoring contemplation of creatures.

I should be fully prepared to say that the mutual relations and affections of divine Persons in essential Deity in eternity could not be less than they are now as known in revelation. But I think we should also be prepared to admit that there are inscrutable depths in Deity which are wholly beyond creature apprehension, and which therefore do not have place in revelation, which must in the wisdom of divine love have regard to creature capacity. All that has been said of late is with a view to reserving this, that the proper and essential greatness and majesty of God may have due place in our thoughts, and in the attitude of our souls towards Him. The result will be that the love and grace of the revelation which God has been pleased to make of Himself mediatorially in the Son will be greatly magnified before our hearts.

I will not add more at present, but I shall be glad to hear from you if anything that I have said presents any difficulty to your mind.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

April 10th, 1931.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I am personally thankful for all the labour which has been bestowed on detail connected with Hymn Book revision. The rich wealth of hidden treasures, in the shape of new material, which we had hoped might be forthcoming, has not manifested itself. We can only accept the somewhat humbling fact that we are not furnished with many choice "singers". But I trust there is that which will add something to the collective expression of praise. No doubt the general exercise in regard to this matter has borne fruit, and many adjustments can be made which will be a gain.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours very affectionately in Him,

May 16th, 1931.


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BELOVED BROTHER, -- I am glad to send you a brief line with reference to the difficulty which you express as to the Lord Jesus being said, in certain hymns, to have shed His blood, though I may not be able to say anything that you have not already fully considered.

The whole matter stands, as I am sure you will agree, on how Scripture speaks. And you have, no doubt, noticed that there are only three scriptures which speak of the shedding of Christ's blood. The subject of our inquiry, then, is to learn how these scriptures present it to us. The three scriptures are Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20 -- all being our Lord's own words at the Supper table, and referring to the blood of the covenant as shed for many, or, as in Luke, "for you".

Now do our Lord's words on that deeply touching occasion refer to an act of violence on man's part, or do they refer to the infinite love in which the covenant was about to be secured by Christ on God's part? I have no hesitation in saying that I am persuaded that the latter is the truth.

I believe that each of these scriptures views the shedding of Christ's blood from the divine side, and it is from that side He would have it to be thought of affectionately by His own as they remember Him in eating His Supper. His blood was shed, or poured out (it is the same word as used of the Holy Spirit in Acts 10:45 and Romans 5:5) that expression might be given to all that was in the heart of God, and in His own heart, as made known in the covenant. It was a profound and blessed testimony of divine love.

The whole point of the Lord's words is that He Himself was about to give expression, by the giving of His body and the pouring out of His blood, to the will and love of God. To introduce, at that moment, the thought that it was the act of another -- and he a wicked man -- seems to me to greatly detract from what the Lord would impress on our spirits as we hear His words and eat His Supper.

It is the Lord Himself who has spoken of the shedding of His blood, and He has spoken of it in a connection which puts it altogether on the divine side, and as securing the blessing of the covenant for men. This was surely His own act and deed, and not that of another. If this is so the references in the hymns are justified.

I am sorry not to write at greater length, but I hope I have

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said enough to answer your question, or, at any rate, to show the ground on which it is proposed to retain certain expressions in the hymns. I hope that, upon consideration, this may commend itself to you, as we would earnestly desire to carry our brethren fully both with the changes made, and also in regard to expressions which it is proposed to retain as they are. With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

May 20th, 1931.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- You may be sure that any desire on your part to maintain the full personal glory of the Lord Jesus Christ finds sympathy and appreciation in my heart. If you can suggest anything that will enhance His personal or mediatorial glory before my soul I will gladly be your debtor.

But I think that further consideration of the Scripture you refer to (Hebrews 7:3) will make it very clear to you that the subject of that Scripture is the present priesthood of Christ the Son. It is the Son, begotten in time according to Psalm 2, now perfected through suffering, and sitting at God's right hand according to Psalm 110, who is saluted of God as High Priest according to the order of Melchisedec. It is as entered within the veil that He is "become for ever a high priest according to the order of Melchisedec". Melchisedec was "assimilated to the Son of God" as being a priest in his own personal right, and deriving nothing from his ancestors, so that it is not even mentioned that he had any, neither is it said that he had any "end of life". His assimilation to the Son of God is in priestly office -- "assimilated to the Son of God, abides a priest continually". Jesus "because of his continuing for ever, has the priesthood unchangeable". He is constituted High Priest as the "Son perfected for ever". To apply Hebrews 7:3 to the past eternity is to confuse priesthood (which is clearly taken up by Christ the Son in manhood) with what pertains to eternal Deity. He was God, the eternal I am, previous to incarnation, but He has become Priest as having become higher than the heavens as the exalted Man. It is His present office which the whole Scripture (Hebrews 5 - 8) has in view.

1 John 4:9, and kindred passages, speak of our Lord

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Jesus Christ as He is now known mediatorially as the sent or given One, as coming down from heaven to do the will of the One who sent Him. In this mediatorial position He has declared God, His glory has been contemplated as that of an only-begotten with a father, and He has become the Object of faith and love. There is no subordination of one divine Person to another in essential Deity; as to that sphere the creed is surely right in saying "the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal". But in the economy of revelation one Person in absolute Deity has been pleased to take a place in manhood, and to become known to us as the given One, the sent One. He has been found here as Man in the relationship of Son to the Father who sent Him. As in that position and relationship He was the Obedient One; He could say "My Father is greater than I". But the mediatorial glory that attaches to Him as thus sent and given could only attach to One who was, and is, personally God over all. His mediatorial glory is wondrous in our eyes because we never forget His greater and personal glory as in essential Deity. But the title Son is ever attached to Him in Scripture in relation to His mediatorial glory. This is simply a question of fact as to what is written. If any Scripture could be adduced which attaches the title Son to Him as in absolute Deity, and with no reference to His mediatorial glory, it would settle the matter at once. But I must confess that, after considering this subject carefully and prayerfully for 30 years, I have not been able to find one.

I have found that in praying over this, and pondering the Scriptures, the infinite greatness of Christ and His inscrutable glory as in eternal Deity -- as God and in the form of God -- have been magnified before my heart. And His mediatorial glory as made known throughout Scripture has opened out before me in greater fulness than ever. I know whom to thank for this, and I desire the deepened apprehension of it for myself and all saints. But for this there must be an inward man strengthened with power by the Father's Spirit.

Yours affectionately in the Lord,

July 28th, 1931.


MY DEAR --, -- ... I quite agree with you that local exercises in regard to such meetings are apt to be too casual and indefinite, and not sufficiently the product of serious and

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continued waiting on the Lord that He may give what is distinctively of Himself. It seems to me that those who propose the Scripture or subject should have some sense of responsibility to carry the thing through, and have faith in the Lord that He will support them in so doing. If this were accepted as being of God, which I believe it is, it would make the suggestion of a Scripture a more serious responsibility, and lead to more prayer about it. However, it is a comfort to know and prove that the Lord, in His unfailing love and care for His own, is above all our infirmities, and turns things about in His wisdom for good....

Yours very affectionately,

August 4th, 1931.


MY DEAR --, -- ... The brothers here considered last night what we should next read on Wednesdays, and it was decided to read the Song of Solomon, evidence being given of desire for it on the part of several. And it was believed that it had never been read locally. We shall need the Lord's help very much, and I trust there will be much continued prayer that our affections may all be divinely prepared to receive the impressions that He would make upon us. It would mean much to Him, and for Him, if we were all awakened in heart towards Himself, or revived where affections have waned....

Yours very affectionately,

August 25th, 1931.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- The consideration of the correspondence which you have kindly permitted me to read, and which I return herewith, has confirmed in my mind the conviction that in such cases as the one referred to it is most important to take serious account of the exercises of brethren who know their history, and the details connected with them. Those at a distance obviously do not know, and I think it is according to divine principles that they should identify themselves with the exercises and spiritual judgment of those who do know, and with whom they are one body. A case which has occasioned serious exercise where it was local is one to be handled with priestly care and a considerable measure of holy reserve.

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You have referred to the law of leprosy (Leviticus 13 and 14), and it is instructive to see that in a case of suspected leprosy it is necessary for the priest to make sure that the person is clean before he is given the liberty of the camp. He is to be "shut up" until there is clear evidence of this. During the period of being "shut up" the priest is under no obligation to prove that he is unclean; it is sufficient that there are suspicious features present which have to be considered, and it has to be manifest to the priest that he is "clean" before he can be pronounced to be so. Your letters seem rather to go on the line that the priest can be called upon to furnish legal proof that he is unclean, but what is requisite is that the priest whose attention has been called to the case should be satisfied that he is clean.

When it is a question of priestly discernment it is hardly wise to assume that an individual, or even a company of brethren, at a distance have more ability for this than those who have had it before them as a godly concern in their own locality. Would it not be right to assume that those whom we recognise as moving in accord with the Lord's mind in A are as well acquainted with divine principles, and are as spiritual in their regard for the true good of a soul, and for what is due to the Lord, as the brethren at B?

The fact that in the judgment of godly brethren there is even a shade of misgiving about a case should make us very careful. A person "shut up" would clearly not be a subject of friendly or social intercourse, but of holy and priestly care.

I may add that in my judgment it is a mistake to suppose that the reception of a person to fellowship, or the subsequent giving letters of commendation, renders it out of order to raise any questions as to events in the past history of that person. If it was clear that certain facts were known, and the person had been received as having judged himself relative to them, it would be contrary to grace and righteousness to raise them again, but if things unknown to the brethren subsequently come to light they are by no means covered by the fact that such a person had been received or commended.

With love in the Lord to you and yours,

Yours affectionately in Him,

October 16th, 1931.


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MY DEAR --, -- ... I have often thought of getting one of these chairs, and was on the point of doing so several times, but came to the conclusion that I could do without it! And now I have it as your gift, which is a very happy way of getting it, and I thank you very warmly for it, and for the love that prompted so generous a gift. If it means that the Lord intends me to remain here a little longer to serve Him as one of His scribes, I hope you will continue to pray that every word written while sitting in it may be such as to honour Him, and to make Him more real and precious to those who love Him. In order to do this, do not forget to pray that my own heart may be more and more filled with Him, and that He may be so sanctified in it that there may be no opportunity for any influence to intrude that would unfit the vessel for holy use. I feel the need of this continually, and I hope in an increasing measure.

... I have been, truly, loaded with benefits, and with tokens of love, of which I can only feel that I am not personally worthy, but when I remember that I should not have had any of them but for the worthiness of Him whose love sets all such activities in motion in the hearts of His own, I begin to feel that the truest humility is to accept them with a deeply thankful and appreciative heart, and give Him praise ...

Yours very affectionately,

December 8th, 1931.


... I think there is a growing exercise amongst the dear sisters relative to the question of being covered in prayer, and one is thankful for this. The scripture in 1 Corinthians 11 is plain enough, and I think it applies to prayer at all times -- that is, whenever the woman turns formally to God in prayer. One may pray as one goes about one's daily work, but this is hardly the same thing as kneeling down to address divine Persons in a formal way. I think whenever the latter is done it is just as comely for the woman to be covered as it is for the man to be uncovered.
1932.


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MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, -- ... I am truly sorry to hear of your friend who suffers in such a distressing way from a disordered nervous system. I know of no form of suffering which is more trying in its effects, as taking away for the time all enjoyment or consciousness of spiritual comfort. But I have known of severe cases of this kind of affliction who have, in time, emerged from it. To a very large extent the cause is purely physical, and everything that helps to build up and give tone to the nerves will tend to alleviate the distress.

There is no doubt that Satan takes advantage of such a condition to harass, but on the other hand there is the support of the intercession of Christ. It is well for a soul in such a condition to recognise that the thoughts and feelings which are so unhappy are manifestations of infirmity, which are a subject of divine compassion. It is true that the unbelief and naughtiness of the flesh come into evidence also -- I mean inwardly and in thought -- but the mind of the believer does not consent to such thoughts, or find any pleasure in them. On the contrary, as your friend knows well, they are a cause of profound distress. According to the inward man, which, through grace, takes sides with God, she judges these thoughts. In her true self she is not identified with them, but hates them. In her depressed nervous state she cannot rise above them, but this is a physical depression, and is as much an infirmity as if she had a stiff leg. To recognise that it is so is often a relief. Then confidence in God is not to be cast away; it is the true antidote against despair. The special exercises which accompany physical conditions, whether these conditions are hereditary, or otherwise brought about, have their place in the ways of God with us, and in the end all these ways will be justified. I would exhort your friend always to pray and not to faint, and to be assured that God hears every true cry of need. And she should encourage her heart to think of Christ as perfectly expressing the love of God to her, and as expressing, too, how she stands in divine favour through Him and in Him. The wreck and disorder which has left such marks on our outward man does not, and cannot, touch what is of God in Christ. The Spirit would make much of that to us, and give us to value more and more the blessed fact that God has in love given us a new Head. We are entitled to dwell on what is ours in Him. We value it all the more by learning what

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wretchedness is in ourselves. Then, on the physical side, we can count on mercy, and we shall prove that God's loving-kindness endureth for ever.

With love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

April 18th, 1932.


BELOVED BROTHER AND SISTER, -- I thank you for your very kind gift; and for all the love and precious sympathy of which it speaks. I find in it a sweet cordial at a time of sorrow, for it is a very true sorrow to me to lose the one who has cared for my needs so long, and for whom one has had the privilege of caring in a small way in the recent years of her weakness. Though she has been so infirm, and constantly dependent, her presence had value in the household, and it being no longer here leaves a blank. But we cannot fail to see that the Lord's time and way of taking her to Himself is altogether the right time and way, and it has been carried out with most tender consideration for her and for us all.

The abounding love of the dear brethren yesterday greatly comforted me, and I felt that the Lord took account of us very graciously.

There is no need for us at present to alter our arrangements here, and we hope it is of God's ordering that we should just continue here as heretofore.

... With very much love in the Lord to you both and a deeply appreciative sense of your love and sympathy,

Yours very affectionately in Him,

May 10th, 1932.


MY DEAR --, -- ... I hope now that many will pray that this little paper may bring spiritual enlargement in the knowledge of the Son of God to those who love Him, and that as doing so it may banish all difficulties and misgivings. What exercises me a good deal is to find that some souls can be in contact with a most precious and Christ-exalting presentation of the truth, and yet see nothing in it of positive and heart-satisfying blessedness. Quite a few elder ones amongst us seem to feel that something is being taken from them without anything being given that is compensation for the loss. It is, truly a

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pity when the glory-cloud seems to be a darkening rather than an illuminating cloud. But the Lord is over all, and can make His voice heard from the "cloud", and then love is reassured ...

Yours very affectionately,

June 10th, 1932.


MY DEAR --, -- I feel very much indeed for all of you in this present time of trial and exercise, and I am praying for you all, and particularly for you in all the special demands that your dear father's illness will bring upon you at home and in the business. One's comfort is at such times that God's hand is over all, and it is a "mighty hand", whether to restrain that which might be adverse to our spiritual prosperity, or to support us in that weakness of which we are made so conscious.

I was convinced, from what you said, that your father's case was a somewhat serious one, and I was not at all surprised to learn that he had had to give in altogether. I trust the complete rest may strengthen his heart, so that he may be able to resume some of his wonted work again. And I trust also that being taken aside from all the activities that have occupied him so largely, and necessarily, will be made a great blessing to his soul. The Lord allures, and brings into the wilderness, that He may speak to the heart, and He always does so consolingly and tenderly. He so perfectly understands all our frailty, and considers our trouble. It is very precious to know that He is not content merely to take notice of any trial, but He considers it, as weighing well every part and detail of it, and entering into the effect which it is having on our spirits. He knows our soul in adversity -- taking note of every holy and subduing influence which it is promoting, and watching, too, with love's perfect solicitude that no pressure shall be permitted that is too heavy for faith to bear.

I am afraid that you will be at present unable to get away much, though as I write this I feel rebuked that I should say, "I am afraid", for, if wisdom and love are combined to order our way, why should we fear either for ourselves or for those we love? You will have grace and strength, and "the burden and heat of the day" will bring out what you can do through Him who gives you power....

Yours very affectionately in Him,

June 21st, 1932.


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MY DEAR --, -- ... Mr. Stoney used to tell us that bereavement is the greatest of all sorrows because it is irreparable, but for this very reason it is the greatest opportunity to learn the heart of Christ in all its power of sympathy, and in its ability to bear the spirit above all the pressure that is here.

There is a peculiar loss when a parent is taken from us, however naturally inevitable it may be, and in your case your long association with your dear father in the business, and his constantly available help and counsel, will leave a special sense of deprivation. If one were to speak merely naturally this would mean that you will be cast very much more on your own resources. But speaking according to piety, and this is how you will regard things I know, it means that you will be much more cast upon the Lord as your Resource. To a heart that loves Him this is real gain, for it intensifies in the soul the desire to cleave more closely than ever to Him, and greater nearness to Him means more joy, as well as deepened peace and increased power. May the new chapter of your history which thus definitely opens be the best chapter, as enriching you with a fuller and sweeter knowledge of Christ and of God than you have ever had before! ...

Yours very affectionately,

September 5th, 1932.


BELOVED BROTHER, Your very kind letter, and the generous gift from the dear brethren in --, are a very touching proof of the activity of spiritual affections. The value of such affections is only fully estimated by divine Persons, whose grace produced them. But they are a refreshing cordial, and a true encouragement, to my heart, though I feel that the bounty of the brethren goes far beyond any little service that I have been privileged to render. Indeed the privilege of serving those who are beloved of God is in itself the greatest recompense that one could wish to have. But I appreciate with all my heart the love and fellowship of the dear saints, and desire that you will give them my warm love in the Lord and my thanks for their interest and care, so practically expressed.

We are all feeling just now the sorrow of beloved Mr. --'s home-call. His spirit was choice, and his ministry by word and pen, both in the glad tidings and in the service of the saints, was very helpful, and being increasingly valued. He

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never spared himself in service, and I think it may be said that he has laid down his life for the brethren....

Yours affectionately in Him,

September 6th, 1932.


MY DEAR MRS. --, -- My heart sorrows intensely to think that your beloved husband is with us no longer. His portion is indeed most precious, for he is with the One whom he loved and delighted to serve, and who loves him. But his departure is a very real loss to the assembly, and a great personal bereavement to many. He has been a choice vessel in the house of God. His ministry, both in the glad tidings and in feeding the household of faith, has been very sweet and edifying, and with conscience-searching power, while his spirit has always greatly affected and humbled me. I thank God that it has been my privilege to know and love him for many years. I can enter in some small way into what you are passing through, and my deepest sympathies and earnest prayers are with you. The Lord will stay your heart upon Himself, and carry you through the present sad experience, and the other loved ones who specially mourn with you, and will make Himself more precious to all your hearts. And in the day when all mysteries are unveiled we shall see the perfection of the divine way, and the wisdom of infinite love even in this.

On our side we can see that your beloved husband did not spare himself when the work of the Lord called for the labour of love. He has served to the end, often not regarding his own strength, and such devotion is a fragrant odour to the Lord, while it is a stimulus to those who remain to be stedfast and immovable and to always abound in the work of the Lord. With much love in the Lord,

Yours very affectionately in Him,

September 6th, 1932.


MY DEAR --, -- ... I value your friendship and your prayers, and I value your many kind gifts because I take them as a token of an interest that will not fail to have me in mind in relation to my many and great needs as one who seeks to serve the Lord. Increasing years do not diminish the need for dependence; indeed I do not think I ever realised the absolute need for help from on high as much as I do now. And if I

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can gain a little more spirituality through your prayers I shall be eternally your debtor. And this is the chief thing to be desired, for to serve without spirituality in the servant would yield little for the Lord, nor would it yield much for the saints, for ministry cannot produce a deeper result in those who come under its influence than it has produced in the one who is the vessel of it.

Going back to the thought of my birthday, it is really a serious thing to be seventy, for it is the normal term of human life, and one is just nearing the end of the journey, though in the ordering of God it may be a little prolonged. On the side of my responsible history I feel very much like Jacob -- "Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life". But on the side of sovereignty and mercy privileges and favours have been abundant, though always accompanied by disciplinary ways which have, I am convinced, been necessary. But in numbering one's days one just feels the increased urgent importance of applying one's heart to wisdom. If one were permitted to end one's course like David in laying oneself out for the house of God it would be happy indeed....

Yours very affectionately,

November 27th, 1932.


MY BELOVED SISTERS IN THE LORD, -- I much value your affectionate good wishes and birthday salutations, knowing well that they are accompanied by your prayers, to which I attach priceless worth. Very many thanks also for the very kind gifts in which your love has found practical expression. I shall put them into use with comfort to my body, and as the fruit of affections which are a cordial to my heart.

I am thankful to be here for a little season with the dear brethren. They have given me a very hearty welcome amongst them, and the meetings have been refreshing. I also get to the weekly readings at --, when there is very distinct interest in reading Ephesians, and many come in from the surrounding district. Last night we had the precious portion in chapter 4 about learning the Christ, hearing Him, being instructed in Him, and finding the truth in Jesus, all this producing its inevitable result in the saints having put off the old man, etc. Tonight we shall be, if God will, contemplating that choice verse -- 1 Peter 1:8.

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There is to be a fellowship meeting at --, if the Lord will, next Thursday. I know you will think of us with earnest seeking that the household may be fed. I am trying to get on with Numbers, but a fair amount of correspondence rather checks progress. It seems strange to me to feel that I have passed the allotted term of human life. One earnestly desires that any little extension permitted may be filled with service and love and praise surpassing in spiritual value anything that has gone before in one's feeble history. With warmest love to you all,

Yours very affectionately,

December 8th, 1932.


DEAR --, -- I thank you for the kind letter of greeting received on my birthday. It is a comfort to be assured of the interest and prayers of the saints, and, indeed, one counts on it always. I continue to pray for --, and am always glad when I hear a good account of the meetings and of the brethren. There are many things which come in to test whether we are content to go on with the Lord's approval, or whether we want to stand well in "man's day". The qualities of the new man get their opportunity when we come up against trying elements in others. But we have all to learn that having a right thought of what ought to be does not, in itself, give capability to carry it out. But the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ suffices for all things, and it can be got through prayer.

I am glad you enjoyed your time at -- . It is nice to see the grace of God in the brethren, and it shines often when there is not much gift or even natural ability. How differently we look at things when we remember that "the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit". A tender and self-humbled heart that appreciates Christ is of more value to heaven than the possession of all endowments without it.

I have been thankful to move round a little, and see the brethren in some of the small meetings. And to find everywhere some evidence of the Lord's support. I have just gone from place to place as He has opened the way, and have seen His hand in many details.

With love in the Lord to -- and yourself,

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 9th, 1932.


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DEAR MR. --, -- I received your letter as written with a true desire to maintain the truth as to the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I am in full sympathy with this desire, for, like yourself, I believe that "all divine truth centres in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ", and also "that all error, of every kind and degree, is against His Person".

But there is an infinite fulness in the testimony of Scripture concerning His Person and glory, and it is well that we should soberly and reverently enquire how the Scriptures present His varied glories to us.

With reference to Romans 8:3, I think you will agree with me that that precious verse contrasts what the law could not do with what God has done. He has condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son into the place of being "for sin", of course in a vicarious and sacrificial way. He was the anti-type of the brazen serpent, in the likeness of that in which the venom was, but wholly free of the venom in Himself. He was sent into the place of sin and death, but the One who was sent was God's own Son. He was sent "for sin", that is to be in the place of sin sacrificially, and He was not this until He was upon the cross. It was at God's cost that such a sacrifice has been furnished, for it was His "own Son" who was sent "for sin" -- the One who was His delight according to Luke 3:22 and many other scriptures. His going to the cross that in Him sin in the flesh might be condemned is thus the expression of infinite love on God's part. The more we enter into His perfection, and into the delight which God found in having such a Son, the more we shall be affected to think that such a Person should be sent "for sin". In no other person, and by no other sacrifice, could sin in the flesh be condemned in such a way that God should be glorified in its condemnation, and a new status in Christ Jesus and in the Spirit made possible to saints. His Deity is, of course, behind it all, but it is as One perfect in manhood that He was sent "for sin".

It is not exactly His coming into the world that the Spirit is calling our attention to in Romans 8:3, though of course, He could only be a sacrifice for sin as having come here, but the point is that One who was God's own Son has been sent in love to the place of sin that sin in the flesh might be condemned. "His own Son" is that blessed One who in His holy perfection, and in His delightfulness to God as Man here, was suitable in His spotless purity to be a sacrifice "for sin".

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The thought of all that He was as God's "own Son", as it is presented to us in the gospels, gives a most touching force to such a One as that being sent into the place of sin and sin's condemnation.

Then if we pass on to verse 32 the import of the precious words "his own Son" becomes yet more evident. God "has not spared his own Son, but delivered him up for us all". When was He "not spared"? When was He "delivered up"? Such words could not possibly apply to Him as in eternal Deity, They apply, and could only apply, to that solemn period immediately preceding the cross when His "hour" came, and He was delivered up to man's hour and the power of darkness. But the One who when that hour arrived was not spared but delivered up, in view of the accomplishment of redemption, was God's own Son -- a divine Person here in holy manhood. The whole force of the Scripture is lost if this is not seen.

I trust you will understand that I do not make these few remarks in any spirit of controversy, but as setting forth my apprehension of the scriptures you refer to. I am conscious that though I have been slowly learning in the school of God for more than fifty years there is much that I have yet to learn.

Yours sincerely in the Lord,

December 17th, 1932.


MY DEAR Miss --, -- ... One cannot have anything better down here than the love of the saints; it is the one green spot amidst the desert waste of this world. And it is not only a solace and support to us, but it is precious fruit for God as being in correspondence with Himself. What a scene of holy enjoyment it will be when there will be nothing present but what is the outcome of the divine nature! "When we shall flow, in love's full glow, with hearts like Thine surrounded".

I have been sorry to hear of increased weakness of body on your part, but I pray that you may be sustained continually so that your spirit may be in restful enjoyment of the love of the Father and the Son. We have been subjects of divine choice and calling, or we should never have known God in His love. And He will carry through, and perfect, all that pertains to the accomplishment of His purpose. Not even our unfaithfulness -- of which we are often conscious -- can change or turn aside His faithfulness. For all centred in Christ before

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the foundation of the world, and all will remain secured for God, and for the saints, in Christ when the world has passed away. So that faith can lift up her head with confidence and triumph and give God all the praise of His sovereign mercy and love.

With much love in the Lord and many thanks,

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 29th, 1932.


DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, -- I am interested in your enquiries, and should be glad to render any help that I can on the subject of your exercises though I am at present restricted in ability for writing at length.

"Eternal life" is a distinctive blessing, spoken of in the Old Testament in Psalm 133:3 and Daniel 12:2. It is seen in Psalm 133 to be commanded where brethren dwell together in unity as under priestly anointing, and under the divine refreshing of the dew of Hermon. In Daniel 12 it is connected with awaking out of the dust of the earth, clearly a resurrection figure. Both these scriptures give a very exalted and spiritual view of life eternal. The Jews rightly gathered from them that life eternal described the blessedness which those favoured of God would inherit in the world to come -- see Mark 10:17; Luke 10:25, etc.

The Lord makes plain, by the words to which you refer in John's gospel, that this great and wondrous blessing is available now, and is the portion of those who believe on Him. Eternal life is the divinely given portion of every believer just as Canaan was the allotted portion of Israel by God's gift before they left Egypt, but to possess and enjoy it experimentally they had to take the journey and put their foot on the land which was given. So that the Lord's words are not to be taken merely as words of assurance that we possess something of which we know nothing, but they are intended to move our hearts to go up and possess the land. Eternal life is truly given to us in the Son of God, but as something to be known experimentally now. To have it consciously we must be characterised by eating the flesh of the Son of man and drinking His blood (John 6:54), and we must have the Spirit as the Fountain of living water in us springing up into eternal life, John 4:14. And there must also be a sowing to the Spirit, for Paul says, "He that sows

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to the Spirit, from the Spirit shall reap eternal life", Galatians 6:8.

Mr. Raven sought to encourage the saints to go in for the enjoyment of their portion, and not to be content with title without possession. This is highly important, for otherwise we may be saying that we have eternal life when we are perhaps practically living after the flesh and in the world.

Take some other precious statement of the Lord. "He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water", John 7:38. "He that believes on me shall never thirst at any time", John 6:35. These statements, and many others which might be quoted from John's gospel, show the immense possibilities that are opened up to men in the love of God, all to be possessed on the principle of believing on His Son. They are there as precious divine proposals, but what they mean is unknown until they become conscious realities by the Spirit. It is possible to find carnal and worldly persons saying that they have eternal life, but such persons do not really know what eternal life means.

As to your second exercise I think we have to learn that Scripture uses the words "saved" and "salvation" in different connections, and it is well to consider each passage separately. We shall find that this will give us a very extended view of the subject. While, in a general way, one would have no difficulty about speaking of believers as being "saved", meaning that they have come through faith to the value of Christ as God's salvation, one would be glad if persons knew more definitely and intelligently what they mean when they say that they are "saved".

Christ is "for salvation to the end of the earth". There is complete deliverance in Him from every enemy and from every evil. So that we can say confidently to any one who feels distressed about his present condition, "Believe on the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house", Acts 16. His whole lost condition will be divinely met. But this means a great deal; its completeness will open up more and more to him as long as he lives, for the believer's whole course as cleaving to the Lord is a continual learning of the greatness of the salvation of God.

It is quite scriptural to say of persons who trust in Christ, "By grace ye are saved", but this views them as in the completeness of it, so that they are seen as raised up together

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and made to sit down together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, Ephesians 2, And when it is said, "Who hath saved us", we read that it is "according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began", 2 Timothy 1:9. It is salvation viewed in all its completeness according to divine purpose. But then salvation is sometimes looked at as needed all along our course as in Hebrews 7:25. And sometimes it is future as in Romans 5:9; 13: 11; Matthew 24:13.

It is probably a sense of the greatness of salvation, and its many and varied aspects, which makes brethren not use the word "saved" so freely as some do. But we can tell any man that there is salvation in Christ for him, and if he finds salvation there he can say, "The Lord is my strength and my song and he is become my salvation". But, speaking practically, I am afraid that many believers are not yet fully delivered from the working of their own wills, but salvation would include this, Philippians 2:12, 13.

With regard to your third exercise I can only say that I am sorry if -- you have not found the brethren diligent in gospel service; they ought to be. I can assure you that many brethren do earnestly seek souls, and I am thankful to say that I often hear of persons being brought to the Lord. There may be places where there is not much evangelistic gift, and this is a matter to pray about. I am sure it would be good if we were all more zealous in the gospel. But it must be borne in mind that what is distinctive of the spiritual movement which called saints into separation is the recovery of the truth of the lordship and headship of Christ, and the presence here of the Holy Spirit, and, in connection with these precious realities, the constitution of the assembly, and the divine principles which govern the fellowship which pertains to it, have come out. And it is to be noted that there has been a constant tendency to let these things get into the background through attention being given almost exclusively to evangelising. I believe it was this, conjoined with Baptist principles, which led to the defection of 1848.

I trust you will be divinely led and helped in all your exercises. With true desire for your blessing and spiritual enlargement, I remain,

Yours sincerely in the Lord,

March 1st, 1933.


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MY DEAR BROTHER, -- In answer to your letter of the 17th inst. I may say that I should be truly thankful if I were enabled of the Lord to do anything helpful in regard to the adjustment of the very unhappy difference which has continued so long between you and -- . It is a very real grief to me and to the brethren generally.

But no help which your brethren can afford can take the place of personal exercise on your part before the Lord. And no better counsel can be given you than the Lord's own specific commandments. I think you would be helped by considering very prayerfully and in a spirit of subjection the law of trespass and of the trespass offering -- Leviticus 5 and 7. This part of Scripture directly bears on the subject, and, though typically presented, it is the word of God to us, and cannot be disregarded with impunity.

You will notice that the law of trespass is more exacting in its requirements than the law as to sin of inadvertence. Something more than acknowledgment of wrong done is required, The "principal" has to be restored, and a "fifth part" more added thereto. There is the thought of a reparation which leaves one on better terms with one's offended brother than before the trespass. Nothing less than this could be in the Lord's mind when He said, "first go, be reconciled to thy brother". He puts upon the offender the responsibility to "be reconciled". He does not suggest the thought that it will be attempted in vain. He will Himself see that if it is sincerely sought it will be gained. But it must be sought by one who feels that he has trespassed against the affections which pertain to a very close and tender and divine relationship. It is "thy brother". How touching is the appeal!

The thought of what is due to the Lord in the matter is also to be fully owned. The ram of the trespass offering must be brought to Jehovah and eaten in the holy place. I do not need to enlarge on this. It shows how serious as before God is any trespass against one's brother. Nothing could remove it from before God's holy eye but the death of Christ. But that blessed One loved us so much that He would die and bear in judgment what was due to our trespass. In the light of that how could we hesitate to go down before an offended brother? to surrender all thought of our own importance or dignity? What a lead our precious Saviour and Lord has

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given us. He who did no wrong has taken all our wrong upon Himself in love. And now His Spirit is to come out in us. Of course in us it is only a matter of righteousness that we should get back into the true and spiritual relations which have been broken in upon by any trespass against a brother.

I have prayed much for you, for I feel that the present circumstances are a real test, and I earnestly desire that you will so get to God about the whole matter as to prove it to be one of the most truly valuable experiences of your life. I am sure that this is what the grace of God would make it for you.

With love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

March 20th, 1933.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- ... Your exercise as to the body and the bride is a very interesting one. I do not know that I can contribute much, but I am glad to send a few lines. So far as I see, your thought as to not connecting the idea of union with the family or children of God is right. There is community of nature, and they become, as the Lord said, "one in us", but the idea of union does not come in in this connection. Of course it is a little difficult to speak of the scriptural force of a term which is not actually found in Scripture, and which appears to be used by Christians in rather different ways. But it has been generally used amongst brethren, and particularly by J.B.S., as indicating the assembly as brought to Christ in the place where He is and united to Him there. That is, it is not quite the thought of Eve being taken from Man, but of her being brought to Him. She was first of Adam as deriving from him, and then she was brought to him in marriage union. If this is the scriptural thought of union, as it appears to be, John would touch it in speaking of the marriage of the Lamb being come. And this is anticipated by the saints of the assembly being brought by the Spirit's power to Christ where He is, so that as thus brought to union the assembly is looked at in Ephesians 5 as being already in the place of the wife. As thus in union the heart of her Husband doth safely trust in her, and all her interests are merged in His. The assembly is "his own flesh" in the sense that all that she is morally is derived from Christ, and she is thus suited to be united to Him.

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The thought conveyed in the body would seem to be rather of an organic unity into which we are baptised by one Spirit -- the living organism here in which Christ is set forth for the pleasure of God, and which is His fulness. The saints are "one body" marking their unity, and they are Christ's body as called to set Him forth morally. Christ being Head of the body, the assembly would be one marked feature of His glorious pre-eminence, but in Ephesians He is "Head over all things to the assembly, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all". This is the place God has given Him of widest headship, and as having it He is Head to the assembly -- all supplies and direction flow from Him to the assembly as having relation to Him as His body. No other company of saints will ever have the place of being His body; this is peculiar to the assembly. It is altogether of Himself in the most intimate way, and as being so there is no disparity, so that union can take place. The man and his wife of Ephesians 5:31 are two entities, but the man becomes united to his wife so that they become one flesh by union. And in speaking of this Paul tells us that he has Christ and the assembly in view. So that union seems to be associated with the idea of marriage rather than with the organic constitution of the body. But the two thoughts run so closely together, and almost into one another in Ephesians 5, that it is by no means easy to draw the line between them.

I think that John's presentation of the assembly as "the bride, the Lamb's wife", has relation to the suffering path in which everything has been maintained for God even unto death by that blessed One. All will have its answer in displayed glory on the line that Peter presents, and the assembly as having had part in the sufferings will have its peculiar place in the display. She has been taken out of suffering conditions brought about by the maintenance of righteousness, and so is manifestly suitable for public union with the Lamb. She has been one with Him in suffering here, and this qualifies her for manifested union in the day of His glory here. Her union with Him in this sense is not consummated until the marriage of the Lamb shall come.

In relation to the body I do not know whether it would be quite right to say that there is no individuality, but I thought that one's individuality was merged in a unity to which each one part contributes so that the whole increases to its self-building

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up in love. The truth of this applies itself very definitely to us in our individuality, and unless it is worked out in some way practically, and in our local relations with the brethren, there is not much bringing the truth of the body into evidence.

With love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

July 3rd, 1933


MY DEAR MRS. --, -- ... I have been thinking often of you and your household lately, having in mind the sorrow of a year ago. But you have all proved another year of faithful mercies, and the year has been crowned by divine goodness. Indeed, all God's paths "drop fatness"; there is an excellency about them all if our eyes are open to perceive it. All that He does is in wisdom, and along with it there is always tender consideration for us in all our infirmity in frail earthen vessels. The great lesson we have to learn is subjection to the Father of spirits. It is the subject heart that gets the present comfort of a faithful and forbearing love that never turns aside. The love is there whether we have the comfort of it or not, for He abides faithful, whatever the conditions may be on our side. But He delights to give us the comfort of knowing that at all seasons our times are in His hand. He loves to be known and trusted by hearts that can get behind the veil of circumstances and find that He is there, not far from each one of us, and well pleased to be found by us in every need and distress. But found, also, in His own precious thoughts of infinite love which are secured in Christ outside the whole region of need and distress. Soon we are going to be in circumstances which will be in every way most blessed, even in His Father's house, but before we are there actually the Son would bring us to the Father's heart. Philip had a thought of how satisfying it would be to know the Father, for he said, "Lord, show us the Father and it suffices us". But all that his heart craved was there before his eyes in the Son, and it is there for us too, blessed be God! ...

Yours very affectionately in Him,

August 29th, 1933.

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MY DEAR BROTHER, -- I have looked over the paper in connection with the truth of our Lord's Sonship which you left with me on Thursday. The different scriptures referred to have all been fully examined during the course of the enquiry into this great subject, and the matter published upon it should be carefully read by any one who wants help. I cannot take up every statement in the paper (this would mean writing a pamphlet) but I send a few remarks.

As to "Thou art my Son; I this day have begotten thee", Psalm 2:7, I quite agree that it must be interpreted in the light of the New Testament quotations. These, however, concur in referring it to Christ as incarnate. In Acts 13:33 the promise is fulfilled in the raising up of Jesus, "as it is written", etc. This is the raising up of Jesus as God's Son begotten in time; it does not refer to His resurrection. His resurrection is spoken of in verse 34 but not in verse 33. In Hebrews 1:4 He inherits a Name, and verse 5 shows that it is the Name of Son. He could not be said to "inherit" a Name which belonged to His essential Being as in Deity. Hebrews 5:5 is the priesthood of Christ, which is clearly taken up in manhood. So that when we examine the context of the quotations we find that they definitely establish the truth that the Son begotten refers to Him as incarnate.

Colossians, Hebrews, and John's gospel do say plainly that the Son was the Creator. But it is clear that they were all written after the Son had been here as Man, and had become the Object of faith to many thousands. Such were now divinely taught by these inspired writings that the Son in whom God had spoken to men, and on whom they had believed, was no less than the divine Person who created all things. It is a Person now known and believed on as the Son of the Father's love who was the Creator, the One in whom we now have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, this necessitating His humanity and death. He did not have the kingdom, nor had the saints redemption in Him, nor was He the image of the invisible God, until He became Man. But as knowing all that He is and has brought to pass by coming into manhood, we are also permitted to know that long before He became Man, or the saints had redemption in Him, creation was brought about in His power. It is clearly looking back from how He is known now, subsequent to incarnation, to state what was accomplished in His power and through Him long

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before He became Man. Not at all saying that the title by which we know Him now applied to Him then. It is evident that the kingdom, redemption, headship of the body, firstborn from among the dead, cannot be carried back into eternity. But He in whom these things are now substantiated was from eternity and was the Creator. It is the Spirit looking back from the standpoint of how we know Him now to what was true of Him as creating long before. All this enhances His glory, and in no way derogates from it.

"Life in Him eternal and uncreated ... brought to light when the Lord Jesus came here ... Old Testament saints ... all ... had life ... the thing was in eternity in the Person of the Son". I cannot follow what is in the writer's mind in making these statements, but so far as I understand them he does not seem to distinguish between what belongs to Deity and is incommunicable, and that which is in divine purpose for man.

As to Galatians 4:4; 1 John 4:9, 14, it will be obvious, upon careful consideration, that the whole mission of the Son of God is in each case in view. It is in each case the object in view in the sending that is stressed -- that He might redeem, that we might receive sonship, that we might live through Him. "His Son" in Galatians is the One announced as glad tidings; that is, the thoughts of God as to men are set forth in Him. "The fulness of the time" evidently refers to the making known those thoughts, in contrast to the "child" state in which the people of God were as under law. But then this necessitated the Son of God being here as "come of woman, come under law;" it is One in the place of man who was sent forth to redeem, and whose Spirit has now been sent out into our hearts. It is clearly not eternal Deity that is dwelt upon, but One, who was indeed eternally divine, now viewed as in the relationship of Son in view of our receiving sonship. No scripture brings out more plainly than this one does that the title Son of God is relative to divine thoughts as to men, and that those thoughts are secured through a divine Person coming into that relationship in manhood.

1 John 4:9 is similar. It is the manifestation of the love of God as regards us. It refers to what has actually come under the eyes of men in the Son of God as manifested here. We do not live through Him as in pre-incarnate Deity, but through Him as the only-begotten Son of God. John's gospel

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is written that we might "believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life in his name". He was sent in love by God to that very end. Nothing could be more simple or precious.

1 John 4:14 confirms this. "And we have seen, and testify, that the Father has sent the Son as Saviour of the world". The apostles could testify this as having actually seen the Son here as sent by the Father. They did not see something that happened before He was here, but they saw Him here as Saviour of the world, and knew that the Father had sent Him to that end.

It is a mistake to say that Nebuchadnezzar recognised Him as Son of God. He said, "the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods". He simply meant he was like a super-natural Being. What could a heathen king know of the Son of God?

With much love in the Lord to yourself and your dear wife,

Yours affectionately in Him,

November 25th, 1933.


MY DEAR --, -- ... I think we have to make up our minds that this is the time of suffering, and of love's chastening for profit, and that the important thing is to have our ear open to discipline. Naturally we would like a good time here, with everything that suits nature, but spiritually we should rather cherish the thought of bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, and of learning that as death works in us there is something that can take its place in the eternal system of glory. Some seem to need more pressure than others, but we are poor judges of each other's experience, generally speaking. Each heart knows its own bitterness, but our blessed Intercessor enters into it all, and weighs its effect upon us, tempering all with divine skill, easing the burden when it tends to exceed the ability of the frail vessel. You have learned to repose in His ever-faithful love, and if for a moment, now and then, you get away from your sweet retreat, you know how to call upon your soul to return to its rest, as Noah's dove came back to him....

Yours very affectionately in the Lord,

December 7th, 1933.


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MY DEAR --, -- ... I have no doubt there is a distinct lesson for us all, and perhaps particularly for me, in the experiences we have passed through. And everything yields blessing to exercised and humble hearts. Let us give ourselves more and more to prayer that what is unworthy may be excluded by the positive power of what is precious and holy being more known in our hearts.

I am thankful to be here for a little time with the few who are known to us. There is much to cheer in the grace of the Lord, but no great things in the way of others being attracted, so far as we can see at present. But if divine favour shines upon us there will be a shining from us which will have an effect in due time.

With much love in the Lord to your dear husband and yourself,

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 7th, 1933.


MY DEAR MRS. --, -- Both your dear husband and yourself have been very much on my heart through all the time of his illness. And I am sure you have been succoured in answer to many prayers, and that the grace of the Lord will not fail you in any of the need of the pathway. But I feel moved to send you just a line to assure you of my deep sympathy and of my prayers for you in this hour of so great bereavement. It is part of the great mystery of the workings of divine love that the deepest sorrows yield the sweetest and richest fruit. It has been so with the Lord's own sorrows, and it will be proved to be so with the sorrows of His own. They leave a peculiar touch on the spirit, and make the Lord more indispensable than perhaps any other experience. And when He is most needed He is most available, and loves to manifest Himself, as He did on that wondrous day at Bethany. May He be very consciously near to you now!

It is a great comfort to recall the devoted way in which your beloved husband laid himself out to serve the Lord, and how much he rendered of direct levitical service even while so largely occupied with his strenuous teaching work. I have always thought of him as one who was truly "in diligent zealousness, not slothful", and the Lord has honoured him much in blessing his labour in the glad tidings, and using him

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to help and encourage His people. His departure leaves a gap in the ranks which the Lord would have us to feel, with a real sense of the value of the service which he rendered amongst us. He was permitted to serve during a prolonged period, ministering to the will of God in his generation, and it is sweet to know that his toil has not been in vain in the Lord.

My personal links with your beloved husband are a very happy recollection to me, and were such as to leave a real sense of bereavement in my heart through his departure. But he has the far better part "with Christ", and very soon we shall be for ever with the Lord as the fruit of redemption, and of that sweet electing love that chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.

With very much love in the Lord to you and yours,

Yours affectionately in Him,

February 5th, 1934.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- ... The glad tidings of Romans 1:1 clearly refer to the Son of God as known and preached by Paul. You cannot legitimately detach "his Son" from the context, that is, from the fact that He is "Jesus Christ our Lord;" the glad tidings are concerning Him in His present condition and position -- in which alone Paul knew Him. But Paul tells us further that these glad tidings had been "before promised by his prophets in holy writings". We turn to those holy writings to see what was "before promised" and we find that all the promises centre in One who is spoken of as the Seed of the woman, the Seed of Abraham, the Seed of David, the Son of man, the virgin's Son called Immanuel as born of her, the Christ, the Son of God. There is nothing metaphysical about any of these promises. And if we turn particularly to the prophecies in regard to Christ as the Son of God (Psalm 2; 2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 89:27; Isaiah 7; Hosea 11:1) we find that they all refer to Him as come of David's seed. And it is thus that Paul speaks of Him.

Indeed Paul himself has enlarged on Romans 1:1 - 4. His own preaching reported in Acts 13 is an exact and illuminating exposition of those verses. It gives us an actual example of how he carried out the ministry to which he was separated. We get it all there -- the promises fulfilled in the bringing to

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Israel of David's seed a Saviour Jesus, raising Him up as begotten in time according to Psalm 2, in which connection he speaks of Him as God's Son, and then raising Him from amongst the dead. He presents Jesus as the theme and substance of God's glad tidings, God's Son, and the promises substantiated in Him as come in flesh and having died and been raised. Apart from these great realities there would be no glad tidings at all.

God's glad tidings are concerning His Son. But, having said this, Paul, as though anticipating that some learned commentator in the last days would darken counsel by speaking of a "metaphysical sonship", adds at once, "come of David's seed according to flesh". Nor is this an isolated connection; the whole usage of the New Testament falls into line with it; it ever links together the thought of the Christ and the Son of God. Nathaniel's confession (John 1) and Martha's (John 11) show the connection in the mind of pious Jews. It was Jesus who had appeared to Paul in the way whom he preached "that he is the Son of God". Do you not think that his Jewish hearers in the synagogues would understand this as referring to Psalm 2? The signs in John's gospel were written that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Paul speaks of "the Son of God, Jesus Christ", 2 Corinthians 1:19, of "Jesus the Son of God", Hebrews 4:14. John says that "Jesus is the Son of God", 1 John 4:15; 5: 5, and speaks of "Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father", 2 John 3. Then there are several passages in which the same phrase is found as in Romans 1:3; viz. 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 John 1:3, 7; 3: 23; 5: 20, every one of which absolutely excludes any "metaphysical" idea. In short the testimony of Scripture is everywhere clear and unequivocal that the title Son of God is applied to Him either as viewed personally as Jesus, or officially as the Christ. If there is a scripture anywhere which connects the relationship of the Son with Him as in the past eternity, let it be produced. If this is so vital to the glad tidings as you would have us to think, how comes it that Scripture is absolutely silent with regard to it? I agree with you that it is the introduction of the Son that brings light and understanding, but He must be introduced as Scripture presents Him, and things must not be regarded as essential and necessitous of which Scripture says nothing. Scripture does contain definite statements as to the pre-incarnate

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existence in the form of God of our Saviour and Lord, but it does not say that He was in the relationship of Son then. We know Him as in that relationship now, and we know also that previous to His incarnation He was in the form of God and was the Creator -- was God in the most absolute sense.

Those who talk of a "metaphysical sonship" must first prove from Scripture that such a Sonship exists; the whole usage of the New Testament is to speak of the Son of God in a way which precludes such an idea. Your opinions as to the terrible consequences which logically follow the refusal of your ideas have not the slightest weight because you must first establish your premises before you are entitled to draw deductions from them.

I trust you will bear with me in saying that, in my judgment, there is nothing more hindering to the reception of divine light than self-confidence; I trust you may be delivered from every trace of it.

Yours sincerely in the Lord,

March 23rd, 1934.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- I received your letter of the 3rd inst. I do not know why you should imagine that I had said, or implied, that you denied any part of the truth as to the Son of God in manhood. There is no trace of such an implication in my letters.

I would gladly serve you to the utmost of my ability, though your letters do not encourage one to continue a correspondence which appears to be fruitless of result. But my affectionate interest in you prompts me to call your attention to the passage in Romans 1 which you have selected as proving eternal Sonship. I do so once more because I feel sure that, if you are prepared to submit your thoughts to correction by the Lord's authority as embodied in the Holy Scriptures, a careful examination of Romans 1:1 - 4 will, by His grace and the help of the Spirit, lead to considerable adjustment of your apprehension of the truth.

It cannot be denied that Paul is writing from the standpoint of his own connection with the glad tidings of God. He was separated to those glad tidings; by Jesus Christ he had received grace and apostleship on behalf of His Name for

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obedience of faith among all the nations; he was in a distinctive way minister of the glad tidings, minister of Christ Jesus to the nations. Romans 1:1 - 7 is the formal assertion of his apostleship; no one else ever had, or could have, the relation to the glad tidings which he had.

The glad tidings to which Paul was separated, and of which he became minister, concerned the Son of God. He, as revealed in Paul (Galatians 1:16), and as Paul knew Him, is the great and blessed Subject of the glad tidings. That He was pre-existent as subsisting in the form of God is of the very essence of the faith, but as divinely pre-existent He was not, and could not be, the subject of glad tidings. How could there be glad tidings for sinful men apart from redemption and the revelation of God's righteousness? Apart from the incarnation and death of our Lord, Paul could have had no apostleship or ministry of glad tidings. So he carefully asserts that it is the Son of God as come of David's seed according to flesh, and marked out Son of God in power by resurrection, who is the Subject of God's glad tidings.

Those glad tidings were "before promised ... in holy writings", but they were not announced in Old Testament times for the very simple reason that the facts which they announce, and which constitute their essence and substance, had not then come to pass. That which would, in due time, be made known to the nations as glad tidings was promised, but every child knows that a promise is not the thing promised. All was before the mind of God, as purposed by Him to be brought to pass in due time. But to say that the glad tidings existed, and had a living subject, prior to the incarnation of our Lord, is pure nonsense. The glad tidings are not a purpose, nor are they a promise; they are the blessed ministry confided to Paul of God's righteousness and grace, revealed on the ground of accomplished redemption, which God would have made known to the nations, and wherein His Son is preached as the blessed glorified Man in whom every divine thought as to the blessing of men is set forth.

The question at issue between us is not as to our Lord's eternal pre-existence in the form of God; I trust we are of one mind as to that. The question is, When did He become the Subject of the glad tidings of which Paul was minister? Clearly not until after He was risen. Every Old Testament promise showed what God had in His mind, but those promises

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were not fulfilled so as to become the subject of glad tidings to the nations until after Christ's resurrection. The whole teaching of Scripture and all the apostolic preaching which is recorded is in absolute harmony as to this. I have referred to the characters in which the Lord is the Subject of promise in a previous letter, and need not repeat it.

It is absolutely certain that the glad tidings of which Paul speaks in Romans 1:1 - 4 concerned the Son of God as incarnate and risen. It is equally certain that the promises in holy writings of old referred to Him as in conditions which were yet future. You insist, without one word of Scripture to substantiate it, that they concerned Him as in pre-incarnate Deity, and that if we do not accept this "we might just as well argue that the God who promised the glad tidings did not exist as God"! I think you must see how absurd is such reasoning.

Yours sincerely in the Lord,

May 11th, 1934.


MY DEAR MRS. --, -- The tidings of your beloved husband's home-call was hardly a surprise to me, for his extreme weakness made me feel that at any time the silver cord might be loosed. Thank God, we know the Hand that has now loosed it, and liberated our loved one for the undistracted enjoyment with Christ of a portion of which he had, through grace, many a sweet foretaste here. His being "at home with the Lord" awakens deep thanksgiving, not only on account of its own blessedness, but as the divinely granted release from burdensome conditions of weakness patiently endured. One reflects with pleasure on his long course of faithfulness and service and care in the Lord's interests -- all taken account of for full recognition in "that day". It has been yours to have a peculiarly intimate share in his exercises and his service and his spiritual light and joy, as well as being his helper and companion in a very close tie of relationship and affection in the sphere of natural things. And therefore his departure leaves a great gap, and means more to you than any other. But the Lord, who has so graciously sustained you for many years, and who has particularly helped you during the long time of your dear husband's continually increasing feebleness,

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will not fail you now. He will consider you in His faithful love in the changed circumstances, and will hold you to Himself in a new way as one who has claims on His interest which you had not previously. He values all that you have been for Him and for His saints, and your gospel service also, and His love is minded now to make you more an asset to the assembly than ever. The sorrows of the way are really spiritual promotion, as they become the occasion of proving the tender sympathy and succour of the blessed ever-living Priest on high. We thus acquire wealth that becomes available for the comfort of others.

I pray that you may have all needed wisdom for this time of readjustment, so that in every step and in every detail you may have the Lord with you, and that all may work out for your comfort and encouragement in God.

I hope to be with you all on Wednesday, if the Lord will, and I continue to pray for you and yours.

With much love in the Lord to you all,

Yours very affectionately in Him,

August 5th, 1934


DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, -- I am interested to have your letter, and to know something of your exercises before the Lord. I feel assured that He will help you, as you continue to seek Him about the matter, and will give you light as to the path in which He would have you to walk.

I am glad that you have arrived at a definite judgment as to the failure of Open Brethren to recognise the truth of the one body in its practical bearing on the fellowship of saints. This will make your way clear as to continuing association with them, and it will also help you much in regard to other difficulties which beset the path of faith in this day.

It is easy to answer the first part of your question. The Christians with whom I am privileged to walk do recognise the truth of the one body, and this not only in an abstract way (as I suppose all Christians do) but in its practical bearing. That is, the essential and vital unity of the body is not merely local but universal; 1 Corinthians 12:13 establishes this. So that local assemblies are not independent congregations who may agree to work and walk together with mutual inter-communion,

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but the saints who meet locally in assemblies form an integral part of a universal unity, and thus no assembly can be independent of any or all the other assemblies. It is not merely a question of agreeing to act on the same principles, but the unity is a vital and organic unity. So that any disciplinary or administrative action is taken in the light of the universal fellowship and the divine principles which govern it, and also as recognising the vital unity of the body, which underlies that fellowship.

The brethren at Bethesda chapel, Bristol, in 1848 did not recognise that saints generally were as definitely committed to the refusal of evil which had come to light at Plymouth as were those who had the immediate responsibility of dealing with it. They held that a judgment of evil in Plymouth did not necessarily bind other assemblies; each assembly must judge for itself, or not judge at all, if it thought best to be neutral! This was clearly to make the assemblies independent units, and this principle is still maintained by those known as Open Brethren. What was judged at Plymouth was a clericalism which would have set aside all that the Spirit of God was recovering as to the truth of the assembly. Later it was found that along with this grave error there was the propagation of most serious evil teaching as to the Person of Christ. The latter was professedly judged at Bethesda after division had been caused by the refusal to judge it, but the principle of independency (which had left it an open question whether it should be judged or, not) was never judged as evil, but is still maintained.

The second part of your question, in which you ask, "Seeing there are so many different companies of 'Exclusives', how can one know for certain which is the true expression of the one body?" is more difficult to answer. To begin with, I doubt whether the Lord would have us to look for a company which should be the true expression of the one body. I think this would be too pretentious a ground to take in the midst of all the confusion of these last days. I believe the Lord would have His saints to recognise the truth of the one body, and every other part of the truth, and to seek to maintain consistency with it by following righteousness, faith; love, peace, and that in so doing there will be found a divine path of separation from evil in which they can walk in the light of all the truth of the assembly, and have the Lord with them in so doing.

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But each heart seeking to be in the truth and power of what is of God, and to give expression to it according to the measure of what is made available to us.

To find the company which has the Lord's approval and presence is a matter which involves not only the truth and principles which have been in question in each case, but also where the different companies stand spiritually at the present time. I would not care to attempt to prove that one certain company was right. It is largely a matter of spiritual indications which the Lord will undoubtedly afford to any who only desire His mind. To follow the man with a pitcher of water is a good guide. Look out for a living and spiritual ministry of Christ, and for purification from the influences of the world. But this calls for spirituality of discernment which can only be acquired by nearness to the Lord. So that we cannot look for certain guidance apart from our own personal communion with the Lord. For, after all, it is a question of where the Lord is, and of where souls are truly gathered to His Name. And this, as I think you will understand, can only be appreciated in a spiritual way.

As a matter of history each breach amongst brethren which has resulted in permanent separation has been caused either by the attempt to introduce principles or teachings which were contrary to the truth, or by the refusal to accept light which the Lord was giving and which could be substantiated by Scripture. These things speak indeed of human failure, but they have been permitted as an exercise for faith; they cannot now be ignored, and therefore they cast every enquiring heart very much on the Lord, who does not fail those who wait on Him.

I cannot offer you better counsel than to suggest that you continue to wait much on the Lord, with readiness to follow any spiritual leading which He has given you, or which He may yet give you. As you move in faithfulness to the light which He gives you it will increase and your path will be made very clear to you. I shall be interested to hear from you again, if you care to write and let me know how you are being led.

With love in the Lord to your dear wife and yourself,

Yours affectionately in Him,

October 9th, 1934


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MY DEAR --, -- ... I do, indeed, thank the Lord for His grace to us both, in keeping us walking in the same path, and enjoying the same precious and holy things. So that I think we can both in measure say that we see more of the greatness of Christ and of all that stands in relation to Him than we did forty years ago. I thank God, too, that He has showed us both so much mercy even as to our bodies. Little did I think when I came to -- in October, 1892, that such a long period of life here remained to me! And you have been wonderfully restored to be able to do what you have done. It is, indeed, a favour to be left here to learn and to grow, in this wonderful formative period. For my part I am conscious that formation goes on very slowly, but I desire to wait on God continually, and to give more place to the Spirit, that the inward moulding after Christ may be more effectively wrought....

May the Lord greatly bless you, and fill your heart with the wealth of the inheritance! Still pray for me as I do for you.

Most affectionately yours in Him,

December 7th, 1934


MY DEAR --, -- I thank you for your greetings on my birthday, and for your prayers, and for all that has come into your mind in relation to my comfort and good. I wish I felt more worthy of all that I receive from you and others, but then if I did it would take off the sense of a grace and love which acts from what it is in itself, and not from anything found in its object. This is the character of divine giving, and it pervades the family of God. Some complain that there is no love! If I personally have any complaint to make, it is that there is too much! So that the recipient is apt to be damaged by the superabundance lavished upon him, and come to think something of himself. F.E.R. said at Weston, "The best service you can render me is not to make much of me". So I hope you will pray that I may know how to get the comfort and encouragement of your interest and care without being inflated by it. And, surely, if kept in nearness to God, and in the spirit of continual thanksgiving, there will be no self-exaltation, but rather a deepening humility that knows how to gladly give glory and praise to the One to whom it is due. But, notwithstanding these warnings, which I address to my

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own heart, I find comfort and encouragement in every holy link of friendship, and realise how much I owe to anyone who prays for me, as I believe you do. I thankfully appreciate this service of love, and never did I feel the need for it -- the urgent need -- more than I do now. Indeed, may we all strengthen ourselves for the service of prayer, for I am sure it is the most productive service, both for ourselves and for those whose prosperity we delight in! ...

Yours very affectionately in Him,

December 7th, 1934


MY DEAR --, -- ... I do not feel inclined, like Job, to curse my natal day, but rather to overflow in thanksgiving for the abundance of mercy and grace into which it brought me -- mercies abounding even when the infant heart knew them not, and continued now beyond the threescore years and ten of which Moses spoke.

One would desire to number one's days and apply one's heart to wisdom. For this is the supremely important formative time, when the creation of God in the new man is proceeding. This is, I fear, with most of us a slow process; I know it is with me. But there is encouragement in the thought of the faithfulness of God who will finish for the day of Christ what He has begun in all the feeble conditions of the present time.

With love in the Lord to yourself and your dear husband,

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 7th, 1934.


MY DEAR --, -- It is very good of you to think of my birthday, and to send me such kind gifts. The -- has arrived, and been put into use, and I shall value it as your gift. But remember what I told you, that after 70 people do not send presents, but just write comforting letters that cheer and refresh more than material things can, for they breathe the atmosphere of that world that knows no passing years, and bring a fragrance that can be carried over into it. One would like to know more what it is to be quickened in one's affections for the present enjoyment of resurrection life, and even of what belongs to the place where Christ is as ascended! The

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Spirit's power has, indeed, opened the heavenly door, but we need "the wings of a dove" to carry us through that open door, and they, too, are available for seeking hearts....

If assembly sorrows do not enlarge, they almost inevitably tend to narrow and straiten us. They either bring out the best or the worst that is in us! We want it to be the former here....

Yours very affectionately in the Lord,

December 14th, 1934.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I was interested to have your letter and to know of the exercise in --, as to having another room. I believe that the Lord has greatly encouraged the brethren in different places who have moved on the line of reducing the numbers who break bread in one place by opening up new rooms. The new meetings thus started have brought into happy service many who had not previously much opportunity, and it has been found that smaller companies have given liberty to many to take part whose voices were not heard in the larger meetings. This is surely a great gain to the dear brethren and also to the Lord. I trust you will be much cheered as you move in this way.

As to the age limits for levitical service, I think it is clear that these are to be taken in the way of what they suggest spiritually rather than as literally. No one would suppose that Peter or Paul or John finished their levitical work when they became 50 years old. How much the assembly would have lost if J.N.D. or J.B.S. or F.E.R. had retired from active service at that age!

The thought suggested by the levitical age limits is that the work of the Lord is to be carried on in spiritual maturity and in full spiritual efficiency. Some young men of 20 are marked by more gravity and competency for holy service than others of 50 or 60. "Let no one despise thy youth" was said to Timothy. That is, he was to act with such sobriety and discretion that no one could disregard him as a young man of no weight. It would be obviously out of keeping with all that becomes the house of God for a young man to take up service therein unless he were marked by qualities which commended him to the confidence of the brethren. But these would always be estimated by moral worth rather than by literal age. It is a good exercise for the younger

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brethren to give themselves to prayer that they may quickly qualify for service in the house of God. Our spiritual age is measured in a moral way by soul-history with God, and development in this way need not be delayed if there is purpose of heart to seek Him out.

At the other end of the scale it is for brothers to see to it that they do not get past 50. Elder brethren need to be preserved in continual watchfulness and prayer that no signs of spiritual weakening make their appearance. The "grey hairs" sometimes come unperceived by ourselves though others notice them. Renewing is a great element in Christianity, and so long as it has place actively -- the inward man renewed day by day -- we shall not get past 50.

I hope you will be much helped in the apportionment of the services in the new meeting, and that there will be a great development of spiritual qualifications amongst you, so that all may have reason to be thankful for the move which you are making.

With much love in the Lord to yourself and your dear wife,

Yours affectionately in Him,

February 22nd, 1935.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- In reply to your letter of the 8th inst. I may say that I do not see much moral difference between going to concerts, etc., listening to church music and sermons, by being actually present, and listening interestedly to these things over the wireless. I can understand a certain scientific interest in the means used to transmit and receive these sounds, which might lead one to listen a time or two simply on this ground. I know how this would have appealed to me as a youngster without my having the slightest interest in what might be actually heard. I am afraid that young people are sometimes drawn into a snare in this way -- the tastes of the flesh being awakened by being ministered to, perhaps for the first time, in that way. So that even this has to be watched. But I cannot understand a brother professedly walking in separation to the Lord wishing to install permanently in his house apparatus which links him on with all that the world is interested in, and more particularly with that in which it finds entertainment. This is certainly not to preserve the character of a covered vessel, and one would not expect to find such a one wearing priestly garments on any occasion.

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How such a case should be dealt with is a matter for exercise to those who come in contact with it. I should think that it would first be dealt with as a matter for pastoral care. Paul served at Ephesus "with all lowliness and tears". The "tears" showing that there had been much which was a sorrow in the service, but it had patiently continued, so that he was clean from the blood of all. If personal service in love failed to produce exercise it might become matter for admonition on the part of elders, and each case which reached this stage would have to be treated according to the state which came to light, and the indications which the Lord might give to the brethren locally. He loves to be counted on as the Source of wisdom in all such matters.

I trust your dear wife is in better health, and that you are sustained in soul and service.

With much love in the Lord to you both,

Yours very affectionately in Him,

March 14th, 1935.


MY DEAR MR. --, -- I am glad to send a few lines in answer to your letter. It seems to me that, as having the light of God's mind in regard to what He has before Him, we are able to view all our fellow-believers in relation to that mind. But we have sorrowfully to feel that most of them know little or nothing practically of the truth of their divine relations with their fellow-saints. We might, indeed, own that we ourselves are only slowly learning what those relations are, and what they involve. But as to those who are still held in the trammels of human systems they are in a position which is so contrary to the truth that it effectually hinders them from any true apprehension of it. How could they get any idea of what the service of God is in His house when they are engaged in carrying on a service which is humanly ordered, and usually carried on in a way which does not require the power of the Spirit of God! There is a fixed order, and generally one person officially appointed to perform the service according to it.

According to 1 Corinthians 12 there are distinctions of gifts and services, all manifesting unity in their operation, so that it becomes evident that one Spirit is the power of all, and that there is an anointed vessel in which all are baptised into

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one body. Now to come into the truth of this in a practical sense saints have had to leave the whole human order which obtains in christendom. The recognition of the presence of the Spirit has led many to do so. This is the true starting point of godly exercise. For if the Spirit of God is here He does not depart from the order which was originally set up in His power, nor does He sanction what is contrary to it. While quite admitting that He acts sovereignly in conversion and in all ministry of the truth, yet it is evident that He does not act according to the divine order in systems which are quite contrary to that order. I understand the "divine system" to be that which is divinely regulated in every detail, and answers to the mind of God. Many saints have realised that human systems do not answer to this at all, and therefore they have left them so that they might realise, at any rate in some measure, what is true of the divine system. All those who have the Spirit have competency to fill a divinely appointed place in the divine system, but it seems to me that it is important to see that that system will not fit in to any human order, and therefore to move in it according to God requires separation. Apart from this I do not think there will be any spiritual apprehension of the truth of the body or of the house.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

May 6th, 1935.


MY DEAR MR. --, -- I thank you for your further letter, and also for sending me the copy of the notes to which you refer, and which I now return herewith. I have looked at the sentence to which you have called my attention, and I do not see anything in it that seems to be particularly likely to be misunderstood. But perhaps I do not quite apprehend what you have in your mind about it?

I thought it was important to see that human "systems" as viewed in the light of the truth are really complete disorder, for they are contrary to what has been made known as the mind of God. But Scripture gives us much instruction as to an order of things which is according to God's mind, and a great part of this is found typically in Exodus and Numbers. It is because we are learning the features of the divine system

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that we have been constrained to leave what is manifestly inconsistent with it. The order of God's assembly is a beautiful order, for His glory and wisdom appear in it, but it is utterly unknown in the religious organisations of men. It can only be known where place is given to the Spirit of God, and where the regulation of divine principles is accepted. It may be said, of course, that this is only true in measure of those who walk in separation from the systems of men. But I trust the faces of many are definitely set in that direction, and there can be no doubt that much help has been given from on high, so that the true character of the "divine system" is much better known, and practically entered into, than it was. But we all need to enter into it more fully and spiritually that God may increasingly have glory in the assembly.

With reference to the young sister who wishes to be baptised and to take her place with the saints in fellowship, I should suppose that she has already told her parents of her exercise, and of the step she proposes to take. She would no doubt be able to tell you what their attitude in regard to the matter is, and if they were in measure sympathetic, as I should expect them to be in regard to the baptism at any rate, as they would look upon this as a right thing to be done, though they might not much care about our way of doing it, it would be nice to give them the opportunity of being present if they desired.

Of course the young sister is not under responsibility to her parents in this matter, but to the Lord, but as honouring her parents she would certainly communicate to them the step she intended to take. This would be a comely confession, which the Lord might use in blessing to them.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

May 16th, 1935.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- In answer to your letter of the 29th inst., I may say that I believe the remarks referred to were made in connection with a question which was raised about withdrawing from one who had already withdrawn from us. It seemed to be in the minds of some that if one had withdrawn from fellowship with the saints he could not be the subject of any disciplinary action. If this were so, an unrighteous person could at any time save himself from coming under discipline by withdrawing. But if unrighteousness is definitely

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proved, the saints are under responsibility to express a judgment as to it, and to withdraw from the person guilty of it. They are under obligation to say that they cannot walk with him. Having broken bread with the saints, he remains still entitled to do so until something occurs on his part which renders him a subject of discipline. If one left us and identified himself with that with which we cannot have fellowship it would be right to withdraw from him as having done so. This defines the position, and makes it clear that he cannot again break bread until he has judged the associations with which he has identified himself.

Sometimes persons withdraw through getting cold and losing interest in the Lord and His things, and it is even possible that a working of conscience may lead in such cases to a feeling of being unfit for the position and privilege. These are cases for pastoral care rather than for discipline; they really test the measure of our spirituality.

I hope this will suffice to make clear what was conveyed in the remarks referred to.

It was a great joy to me to be with the dear brethren at Bournemouth last week, but I found it pretty much a tax on my head. The ministry was very precious and timely, and will, I trust, bear much fruit universally.

With love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

May 31st, 1935.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I value your counting on my interest and sympathy and prayers in your deep sorrow. I feel for you very much, and can enter in some measure into what it means to you to have such an unexpected grief. It is my comfort to know that the whole matter has been considered and weighed by divine wisdom and love, and that it enters into the design which is being worked out in the ways of God with you and your dear daughter. And everything in those ways which causes grief -- and many things do -- has its own spiritual compensation. My prayer is that you may be made conscious of this, and that your heart may not be only sustained and comforted, but enlarged in confidence in the faithful love of God. The blow which has fallen on your affections is a severe one, and therefore it furnishes a peculiar opportunity

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for divine teaching, and for a manifestation of the Lord, who will love to come near to you and give you a precious sense of His care and sympathy, and that there is that in Him for your heart which is truly greater than the sorrow.

I have long thought of you in affectionate interest, and your present grief is a special opportunity to pray for you and -- . I am thankful there is a work of God in her soul, and trust the full joy of grace will soon be her happy portion.

With much love in the Lord and deep sympathy,

Yours very affectionately in Him,

August 6th, 1935.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I thank you for your letter telling me of your marriage, if God will. If I am anywhere within reach I shall certainly hope to be present on that occasion, for it has already been my privilege to pray for you both in relation to your taking up this divinely appointed union.

I can hardly say yet where I may be in a month's time, but I hope that matters may turn out so as to be favourable to my being with you, to add my Amen to the prayers of the brethren.

I trust you will both be greatly comforted and encouraged in taking up this new and holy relationship. I have confident assurance that you both desire to be for the Lord, and to serve His interests here, and my prayer is that you may both be strengthened and enlarged in this desire, and in practical ability to give effect to it, by coming together. I look for further help and support to be given to what is for God locally through your marriage. His grace alone will suffice for this, but it will not be lacking, for your hearts will confide in Him to bestow it. There will be a new channel for that grace to flow in -- a channel which will, I trust, be continually deepening and widening as the knowledge of God expands in your souls through your individual and common exercises in faith. I trust you will have many a seed-time and harvest together, and prove that both in summer and winter, and day and night, the faithfulness of God continues its stedfast course, and turns all to blessing to His elect.

I am thankful to know of your good district meeting, and I am looking to the Lord for heavenly showers to fall on His inheritance tomorrow.

Yours very affectionately in Him,

August 20th, 1935.


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MY DEAR --, -- ... We considered together the Lord's holy sufferings and death as the ground upon which all rests that is for God's glory in time and eternity. When He formed His purposes of love in the past eternity He had in mind that they would bring out the value of these precious sufferings, so that all that comes under His eye in the universe of bliss will be the memorial before Him of Christ, and of what He suffered to establish the divine glory eternally. What fragrance this will give to the whole scene! The thought of it enables us to understand how we can have such a wonderful place in sonship now, if we think of it as being proportioned to the value of what Christ suffered, and, indeed, the adequate result of sufferings so profound and so utterly beyond creature apprehension. We can understand in some measure how the saints above will "of all Thy sufferings talk". And this is indeed perhaps the choicest theme which can now occupy our minds and tongues.

With very much love to you,

Yours very affectionately in the Lord,

August 29th, 1935.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... I appreciate increasingly any place which the saints give me in their hearts, for I am assured that this will lead to their thinking of me in their prayers, and this is a service far more precious than silver or gold.

I have had much mercy from the Lord in moving round during the past months, and have been much comforted in seeing the brethren in quite a number of places. I think I can say I have found a great readiness everywhere to value any presentation of the truth which one has been enabled to set forth. There is, manifestly, a desire to increase in the knowledge of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. What a privilege it is to be, even in the smallest degree, moving in concert with what the Holy Spirit is saying and doing in this our day! May we, indeed, minister more and more to the will of God in our generation! ...

With much love in the Lord to yourself and your household,

Yours affectionately in Him,

September 7th, 1935.


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BELOVED BROTHER, -- The "root" idea being connected with Jesse, meaning "Jah exists", leads me to conclude that Jesse as a type represents the faithfulness of God. Righteousness as applied to God in the Old Testament seems to be used in the sense of faithfulness, corresponding with Peter's use of it in 2 Peter 1:1. It is indeed the root of all blessing for men, and, if blessing comes on the ground of what God is in His immutable faithfulness, Israel has no exclusive claim to it. It becomes a banner of the peoples, and the nations seek it. Hence the apostle quotes Isaiah 11 as showing that in bringing in Christ God had, in the prophetic word, the Gentiles in view. God's righteousness, when manifested, is towards all because He is God of all, not of Jews only....

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

September 10th, 1935.


MY DEAR --, -- ... You also have my sympathy in regard to the damage and theft at your shop. I came in my reading today to where Paul recounts his history of what he had suffered, and one item in it is "in perils of robbers"! So that you are in good company in having to bear this disquieting circumstance. One would not judge that Paul was possessed of much that would tempt anybody to rob him! All his valuables he was ever ready to give away to anybody who cared to have them! And it is a comfort that no one can take from us the true riches....

Yours affectionately in Him,

October 4th, 1935.


MY DEAR --, -- ... It is precious grace that has kept us all these years, and enabled us, in all our conscious feebleness, to have the Lord and His holy things before us. And He has not failed to repeatedly stimulate our hearts by what He has brought before us. I feel more and more how important it is that the full height of divine thoughts should be distinctly in our view, and this is largely brought about by the ministry which the Lord maintains by the Spirit. One feels constrained as the years go by, to pray more for that inward renewal by

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which alone we can be kept in the freshness and power of the truth. Christ Himself will then become more entirely our Object and Joy, and His interests here our life-business....

With very much warm love in the Lord,

Yours very affectionately in Him,

December 8th, 1935.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- With regard to your question, it seems to me that it would help very much if believers would consider that the Father is the blessed Name of grace and love by which God is made known to men through the presence here on earth of the Son. This is an immense advance on how He was known in Old Testament times, whether as Creator, the Almighty, or as Jehovah. The Names by which God has been pleased to be known by men are relative to His ways with men. I think this should be obvious to any intelligent reader of Scripture. What a marvellous unfolding of love's purpose with regard to men came out in the Son's prayer to the Father in John 17! There are references in that prayer to relations which subsisted between divine Persons before the world was, but they are evidently spoken of from the standpoint of the Son as here on earth having made known the Father's Name. That is to say, they are referred to because they stand in some relation to the mediatorial system which was even then in divine purpose. If this were seen clearly I do not think there would be much difficulty as to the remarks in my little pamphlet to which you refer....

Yours affectionately in the Lord,

January 20th, 1936.


MY DEAR --, -- ... I trust that much gain in spiritual blessing may be the result of the severe and long-continued exercise. What a comfort it is at such times to remember that God cares about us, and has measured beforehand the weight of all that comes upon us, and has proportioned it exactly to the ability which He confers to bear it! His ways are past finding out, for they often have the character of mystery so as to be hidden from the natural eye. But presently the mystery will

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be unveiled, and the choice design that was behind it all will appear and will be admired, for it will display divine skill in every detail....

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

March 10th, 1936.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I thank you for your letter. I am much interested in your approaching marriage, if God will, and have had the privilege of praying for you both in relation to it. It would have been a pleasure to me to be present, and it was with a feeling of disappointment that I found that your marriage was arranged for the same day as the one at -- . But we shall have you specially in mind, and the two occasions will give more opportunity for prayer than one, and of this I trust that both couples may get the full gain. I am sure you will have the hearty fellowship of your local brethren and of all who know and love you. The setting up of another "goodly" tent is an event in which the lovers of God have much interest, for assembly testimony and welfare largely depend on prayerful and spiritual conditions being maintained in the households of the saints. I see more and more clearly that the strength of things lies there, and also that vigorous personal piety is needed on the part of both husband and wife to secure the unhindered liberty of their prayers. I am thankful to be assured that you have both known something of the blessedness of having to do with God in your separate pathways, and I pray that as united in marriage you may have an enlarged and deepened experience of it. The exercises that are inseparable from any new step in life -- and particularly one so important as marriage -- are intended to give a fresh impetus to everything that is spiritual in our souls. Our God and Father does not overlook the comfort that He ministers through natural affections. It has its own sweetness and value as sanctified by His fear, and the knowledge of His love. And I trust that even on the natural side you will have together an abundant experience of His loving-kindness, reaching down into the smallest detail of your lives. But I trust you will not be detained, even by the mercies granted you, from rising

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up as on eagles' wings to that pure region where all is unsullied light, and where the inheritance that fades not away can be enjoyed.

With my warm love in the Lord to Miss -- and yourself,

Yours affectionately in Him,

April 5th, 1936.


DEAR BROTHER, -- I gather from your letters that you wish to maintain that in a case of local disorder amongst saints the service or help of brethren outside the locality is to be regarded as "an infringement of the Lord's prerogative in relation to a local assembly", and that the attempt to render such help is introducing "a feature foreign to the administration of the local assembly".

I fully acknowledge that each local assembly is, like the one in Corinth, under direct responsibility to the Lord to maintain righteousness in administration, and conditions such as are in keeping with the holiness of God's house. But this in no wise sets aside the fact that a local company may need and obtain much help from brethren outside the locality. Corinth is an outstanding example of this.

Paul asserts that the saints locally are "Christ's body and members in particular". Thus reminding them that they are part of a universal organism, and cannot be, in any sense, independent of it. He also calls attention to the fact that "God has set certain in the assembly" -- clearly the assembly universally, for "apostles" are not set in any local assembly and he mentions amongst those thus set "helps" and "governments". Those who have that character by divine ordering would surely be responsible to serve according to it in any locality where they might become available. Paul recognised in Timothy and Titus men who could give spiritual help in any locality, and he sent them to Corinth as knowing the local need, and also begged Apollos much that he would go there with the brethren. If Corinth needed so much help from outside, where they were one company, who could be addressed as "the assembly of God which is in Corinth", how can a few believers today who are consciously humbled by sorrowful local conditions assume to be independent of any help which God has set in the assembly?

For it must not be thought that such help is to be limited to the ministry of the word in a general way, because "governments",

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for example, would evidently stand in relation to matters involving order, and administration according to universal assembly principles. God would certainly not set aside local responsibility in any way, but He did in His faithfulness and grace give much help at Corinth so that the local responsibility might be carried out according to His pleasure. And He has been pleased to let us know that He has set those in the assembly generally whom He can use to furnish local help even in regard to order and administration. It is precisely help of this kind which is often most urgently needed, as it was at Corinth.

In the light of this I cannot accept that there is any violation of divine principle if brothers seek to help, according to the measure of grace given to them, in cases of local difficulty. I do not think that the attitude which you have taken up will commend itself to brethren generally as being of God.

Yours affectionately in the Lord,

April 13th, 1936.


MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, -- I am glad you wrote to me, because it gives me opportunity to say how much I feel for you in the great sorrow and disappointment you have experienced ... The Lord will support you, I am sure, in this trial, and will use it to bring about increased knowledge of Himself. Let your heart turn unreservedly to Himself in full confidence that He can make up for the sorrow in some way known to His love ... I am most thankful that by the grace of God you are able to own the Lord's hand as being over this matter. I am satisfied that, it is so, and that you will ultimately be able to thank God for this breach which is now so painful and so difficult to understand. The Lord has taken account of every desire that has ever been in your heart after Himself, and He may be in this painful way preserving you from a path in which there may have been spiritual dangers unperceived by us but known to Him. So take courage, my dear sister, and set your heart more stedfastly than ever to seek the Lord and to follow Him. For every natural loss, accepted in faith, there is an abundant spiritual compensation. May you prove this in a peculiarly blessed way for your joy and God's glory and praise! ...

Yours affectionately in Him,

October 15th, 1936.


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MY DEAR BROTHER, -- ... It is very interesting to know of the exercises of your dear daughter; and I pray that they may be confirmed by the grace of God, and that she may continue to be a comfort to you and your dear wife, and also to the brethren. It is delightful to see the work of God in one so young. It seems to me that what one looks for in children of the saints is that their interest and affection should be manifestly found in the Lord and in His people. It is not so much what they may be able to say, which might be derived from what they have heard others say, but to observe that they are drawn to what is of God, and away from what is of the world, and also that they are sensitive in conscience as to what is wrong in themselves. Those brought up in the truth often come into things on the line of attraction to what is of God rather than by exercise as to the evil of the world and the flesh, though, of course, they have, sooner or later, to face the moral exercises by which they learn to distinguish between good and evil. But there is a moment when each one gets to know the Lord, as it were, for himself, and this comes about as a result of some definite exercise. I think this is often, as you say, when something has come definitely on the conscience, about which there has to be personal dealing with the Lord.

I hope you will have continued joy in seeing your dear child grow spiritually as she grows naturally. Nothing is more delightful than to see a young soul developing in the knowledge of God.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 8th, 1936.


MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD --, -- I appreciate the kindness in which you have again thought of my birthday, and thank you for the gift of useful and acceptable things by which you have marked the occasion. It is a comfort to be thought of by those who love God, and particularly when one is assured that they give one some little place in their prayers. I value this very highly, as I know not how I should go on without the prayers of the saints. If there has been the least bit of spiritual value in anything that one has done I am sure it is owing to the prayers of the brethren, and I feel very grateful that it is so. It makes one think highly of the Lord, whose grace is

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the source of all, and of the brethren, whose intercessory service brings down such copious gain.

... It has been a cause of much thankfulness that I have been able to move about so much this year. My little journeyings have covered a larger area than for many years past, and it has been most encouraging to see the interest manifested everywhere in any ministry of the Word. And I believe there is a general desire to be in the spiritual gain of what is ministered, so that its virtue and power may be known in soul-consciousness and not merely in terms.

The little companies here and at -- have received additions since I was last in this district. There is quite an encouraging bit of new and young material, which I trust, may be fashioned under the skilful hand of the true Solomon into shapely stones for the spiritual house of which He is the Builder.

I shall have been here four weeks on Thursday, and am beginning to think of the last clause in J.N.D.'s well-known sentence -- "Say little; serve all; pass on". One feels that the last injunction is the part which one can do with most satisfaction to oneself!

With love in the Lord to yourself and your dear husband,

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 8th, 1936.


MY DEAR --, -- ... I appreciate your very kind thought of my birthday, and all the good wishes you have expressed, and especially do I set value on being remembered in your prayers. Indeed when we think how much can be gained for ourselves and others by waiting on God it is a wonder we do not pray much more than we do. And no one needs our prayers more than those who come forward, even in a very small way, to serve the saints by laying before them the precious things concerning our Lord Jesus Christ. These things are so great, and so holy, that one trembles to handle them in any power save that which is of God. And none can truly serve out to others what he has not got as given from above. So that we are alike dependent both for the reception and communication, and also for the needed chastening of spirit to preserve a comely condition in the vessel so that it may not be out of keeping with the treasure that grace has

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put in it. Personally I feel that my own prayers are not sufficient, unless they are supplemented by the prayers of the brethren, to secure all that is needed, and therefore it is a great comfort to me to feel assured that some do pray for me. And I feel sure you do, and I am most grateful for this great service. Please continue it....

Yours very affectionately in Him,

December 9th, 1936.


... I am comforted to think that the Lord is well pleased by such manifestations of love to His Name, and that He attaches permanent value to them. And, indeed, at the present time He finds very much to gratify His heart in the loyal affections of His saints which prompt a very generous care for what is levitical. Personally I receive so much from the bounty of the saints, that I am continually reminded of Exodus 36:5, and one has to feel very dependent on the Lord to give opportunity to use rightly, and for His praise, what comes under one's hand in this way. I can assure you that He has never allowed me to be in difficulties save with regard to the right use of any surplus over one's own needs, and this has often been a very serious concern. I think you will be glad to know this, and that you will accept as a responsibility the obligation to pray that I may have wisdom and guidance in regard to this difficulty, as well as for all other matters which so often call from one's heart the exclamation, "Who is sufficient for these things!"

May 6th, 1937


BELOVED BROTHER, -- Many thanks for your letter which I have read with much interest, and also the correspondence which I now return herewith. I feel sympathetic with you at in the exercise which has come to you in relation to the case mentioned. As the only desire is to do what the Lord can approve we may surely count upon Him for help and direction.

I do not know that I can say anything helpful with reference to this matter. It is obviously greatly to be desired that the

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consciences of our brethren at -- should be carried with any movements of restoration of the two persons concerned.

And it would seem to be right that the brethren at -- should put you in possession of the facts as known to them, so that your actions may be taken in the light of what has been judged at -- . The case having now passed on to --, it becomes your responsibility to judge whether there is genuine repentance, and a present condition of soul which would justify restoration. You would, of course, take into account the past and present exercises of -- and be concerned to see that any acknowledgments due to them were made in a suitable manner either by letter or personal interview. It would be your matter to see to this, and until it was done to your satisfaction you would hardly be free to proceed further in the direction of restoration.

But the actual service of restoration now rests with you, as the persons concerned are resident in your locality. But as knowing of the grave concern of the brethren at -- in regard of the case you would feel it of importance, having regard to universal fellowship, that they should be satisfied that the matters which they have judged have now been judged by those guilty of them. There should not be any difficulty as to this if the matters have been judged. But these family differences are often a very sore point.

I should have thought that the "actual grounds of withdrawal" would have been made known to you, as those now under responsibility to deal with the case....

Yours affectionately in the Lord,

May 10th, 1937


BELOVED BROTHER, -- The exercises expressed in your letter (whether it is right for a Christian to apply for unemployment benefit at a Labour Exchange) are of much interest to me, and I am sure it is acceptable to God that you should be concerned not to do anything that would bring reproach on the excellent Name.

I do not know much about the detail of the matter you refer to, but it seems to me that 1 Peter 2:13, 14 and Romans 13:1 - 4 bear on it. There is distinctly the thought of them that do well benefiting by what rulers do -- "for it is God's minister to thee for good". The provision for unemployed

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persons who are willing to work, but cannot get work to do, is a legitimate matter for those in authority to consider. It is in itself good, and I think it may be regarded as providential that such a provision should be made. We all receive very many benefits from the good ordering of things by those in authority. We accept them thankfully as expressions of God's providential care. If they appoint that we shall pay taxes, we are subject. If they appoint that our meeting rooms shall not pay rates, we are subject to them in this also. The fact that we benefit by what they ordain seems to me to be just a cause of thanksgiving to God.

Of course, if they required me to do something contrary to what we know to be pleasing to God, our path would be clear, to refuse to leave the path of obedience. But if they minister good to us, without requiring us to do wrong in anyway, can we not regard them as God's ministers?

It is evident that Paul and those with him benefited much by the kindness of the Melitans. They did not decline the friendly hospitality of Publius, or the presents made to them "of what should minister to our wants". This shows that God may use the people of the world to care for, and to supply the "wants" of His people -- even such distinguished servants as Paul and Luke.

I have had the privilege of thinking of you in prayer.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

August 22nd, 1937


BELOVED BROTHER, -- The enquiry which you raise is one of much interest and importance, and it is well worthy of consideration. No doubt there is something for us to learn from the fact that the particular form of words used by the Lord in Matthew 28 in giving the eleven their commission is not said to have been used by any in the Acts.

It seems to me that the Lord's words are more comprehensive than any of the terms used in the Acts. The making disciples of all the nations was in view of men being brought into that great economy of revelation connected with the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. This economy included all that was made known of God as revealed in grace in the Son, and it also had in mind the Holy Spirit as subjective

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power to make the revelation effective in human hearts. The nations were to be baptised to that Name with a view to their coming into the blessedness of it in that true spirit of subjection which would mark the kingdom of the heavens. The Lord seems to have in mind the great positive gain that would come to all the nations through the service of His disciples, so that it would look on in result to a day that is still future. But His words are an authoritative commission in the light of which we can baptise now, as having a great sense of the Name to which we baptise, and of all the fulness of blessing which is wrapped up in it. I am sure this should have a great place in our thoughts as we baptise.

In the Acts what is made prominent is the Name of Jesus Christ or the Name of the Lord. God having made Him Lord and Christ raises a direct issue with those who had crucified Him. Repentance in regard to what they had done, and the public recognition of the Name of Jesus Christ in baptism, would secure the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Baptism here is that by which men clear themselves in respect of the dreadful deed that has been done. So that it is the divine way of escape from a perverse generation into a position on earth where God's blessing and favour can be known and enjoyed. It is evident that from this point of view the name of Jesus Christ is the important matter to make prominent in connection with baptism. It is not exactly in Acts 2:38 that it is done in His Name, but His Name supplies the occasion or condition on which it is done. There is the recognition of His Name in doing it on the part of those baptised.

In Acts 10:48, it is "in the name of the Lord". It is done as directly under His authority. In Acts 19:5 it is "to the name of the Lord Jesus;" He being known now as having come, they were set by baptism in relation to His Name like being baptised to Moses in 1 Corinthians 10:2. So also in Romans 6:3, 4, and Galatians 3:27. So that in the Acts and in the epistles we see how baptism stands in relation to the Name of Jesus Christ and to the Name of the Lord, and that it is to Christ. It is needful to see clearly that baptism is a matter of the Lord's authority, and that it is to Him. It seems to me that this is what would generally be stressed at baptisms at the present time, and that it is on this account that it is so presented in the Acts and epistles.

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But this does not in any way mean that we are to lose sight of the great scope of what the Lord presented in Matthew 28. But the latter requires more maturity of spiritual understanding as embracing the whole economy of grace -- one might say the whole mediatorial system. Those of the nations are to be baptised to that. We have that in mind when we baptise, so that it is quite in order that persons should be baptised to that Name. Nothing less than that is really in view, but it is a vast and wondrous presentation of God as known in three Persons. The whole Christian economy is bound up in it -- God as saints of the assembly know Him. But in the actual taking up of things we first come to the recognition of the Name of Jesus Christ; that Name becomes the occasion of our baptism; we identify ourselves publicly with that Name here where He has been crucified. Then in being baptised to Him we are permanently committed to Him to own Him as Lord, and, as He has died here, to accept identification with His death. All this involving a public position here in which believing parents are entitled to have their children with them, in view of bringing them up in the discipline and admonition of the Lord. All this, it seems to me, is more the side of how we take up baptism, while Matthew 28 gives the whole great result as known to the Lord, and as in the minds of those who baptise intelligently.

This is what occurs to me at the moment, and I hope it may in some way meet the exercises which have been in your mind.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

November 2nd, 1937


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I greatly value your letter and the care which you and the dear brethren are expending on the case before you, which is in many ways so sorrowful, and yet in connection with which there seem to be some rays of divine light, and some prospect of a maturing of the work of God. As having had the matter brought before me I feel now under obligation to share the exercise with you, at any rate in my prayers....

The Corinthians evidently took some time before godly sorrow and true repentance to salvation were fully brought

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about. The patient service of grace is needed, as counting upon what appears of the work of God in the soul, and looking for its deepening. If there has begun to be divine sensitiveness it will be increased as Christ and the grace of God are ministered. I trust that you, and the dear brethren, will have the comfort and joy of seeing this brought about in the great mercy of our God.

From what I heard I was a little concerned lest the moral disorder of the past, which in this case is very sorrowfully manifest, should be in any way regarded as a barrier to one being received to fellowship who now judges it and has thus been morally cleansed from it. Your letter makes very clear that you have not this at all in your mind. I think you are right in wishing to be assured that moral cleansing has taken place, so that what was wrong is now viewed as wrong though it is now manifestly impossible to retrace the steps and undo the past. There is the sprinkling of clean water upon the subjects of the new covenant as well as the full discharge of sins and lawlessnesses being remembered no more. But in relation to this it is well to bear in mind that there is not the same capacity for self-judgment in all, and the sin-offering of Leviticus 5:11 would have a bearing on this....

With warmest love in the Lord,

Yours very affectionately in Him,

November 21st, 1937


MY DEAR --, -- I think I can say that I value increasingly the prayerful interest of my friends, and your kind letter greeting me on my 75th birthday is a cheer and refreshment for which I thank you heartily. One looks back gratefully to every step in the pathway which has been illuminated by divine favour under the shining of God's countenance. And one looks back gratefully, too, to the cloudy days when humbling exercises have had to be gone through. They have, perhaps, been most productive, for without clouds there would be no blessed fertilising showers. So one thanks God and takes courage....

Yours very affectionately in the Lord,

December 7th, 1937.


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BELOVED BROTHER, -- I am interested to have your letter, and I enter very sympathetically into your feelings and exercises as to the matter referred to. God has pleasure in a sensitive conscience, and He dwells "with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones", Isaiah 57:15.

It is to be noted in Ephesians 2 how we are reminded of what we were in times past, and also in Titus 3:3, but this is evidently to intensify our appreciation of the wondrous grace that has come to us, and to fill us with profound gratitude. For all our sins have been forgiven and forgotten by God; He does not hold a single thing against us. In your own case you have made confession, not only to God but also to the one trespassed against, and there is no moral question outstanding in regard to the matter. It seems to me that Satan is seeking to hinder your liberty by keeping before you a matter which has really been dealt with in a righteous and holy way, and which grace entitles you to regard as divinely settled in all the sin-cleansing value of the precious blood of Christ.

I can well understand that any mention of a similar subject revives a certain recollection which is of a humbling nature. It can hardly be otherwise under the circumstances. But I believe God would give you immediately the consciousness by His Spirit of how perfectly you have been relieved of the moral stain, and that through the one offering of Christ you are perfected for ever. Your heart would thus be lifted up in grateful thanks.

You will remember that Peter charged upon the Jews that they had "denied the holy and righteous one". He must surely have thought, as he uttered the words, of how he himself had denied Him, and yet he was now so freed from it by self-judgment and confession that he did not hesitate to bring the charge upon their consciences. God was really honoured in this, for we honour Him by taking full account of His grace. It does not honour Him if we, as it were, pull a cloud over our spirits which He does not put there. Satan would like to rob God of the glory that is due to His grace by retaining a cloud where God would give sunshine. You must watch and pray against giving way to anything of this kind. The very sensitiveness of your heart and conscience may be taken advantage of by the enemy in this way, but he is to be resisted by stedfastness in faith.

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I can understand your feeling that it would be a kind of relief to tell everyone of your past. But this would not really do you any good, nor would it be profitable for others. We do not want to occupy people with ourselves, but with Christ, and with the all-blessing grace of God. Of course a time might come when it might be an encouragement to some sin-convicted soul to put yourself near to him as having experienced the same exercise. But generally you would do this in your own spirit rather than by speaking to him of your own past sins. Those who feel ashamed of the past, as we all ought to be, have no desire even to speak of it. Nor is there any call that we should.

With much love in the Lord, and assuring you of my interest and prayers.

Yours affectionately in Him,

January 1st, 1938.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- It is evident, I think, that Matthew 24 and 25 contemplate two classes which are clearly discriminated when the Lord comes. There is the faithful and prudent bondman in chapter 24, and also the evil bondman; the five prudent virgins in chapter 25, and also the five foolish ones; and in relation to the talents the two good and faithful bondmen, and also the wicked and slothful bondman. It is said particularly of the foolish virgins that they "did not take oil with them". In a dispensation characterised by the presence of the Spirit they wholly lacked the essential element. It is clearly not a question of receiving the Lord into the midst of His assembly, but of going forth to meet Him, and going in with Him to the wedding feast. And the door being shut shows that the exclusion is final, and there is no response to the cry, "Lord, Lord, open to us", save that He answers, "Verily I say unto you, I do not know you". If there were any work of God there the Lord would never say, "I do not know you".

When it is a question of His coming in to us it is He who knocks, and it is for us to open to Him, as we see in what is written to Laodicea. He is in the attitude of standing at the door and knocking; there is no thought of His shutting the door upon Laodicea; there is a last solemn moment when He will spue her out of His mouth, but that means final and

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eternal rejection by Him. But Laodicea has her door shut upon Him, and He waits in the patience of His love to see if anyone will hear His voice and open the door. If so He will come in to that one and sup with him, and have that one to sup with Him. It does not seem to be in accord with Scripture to think of the Lord shutting out at the present time any of those who are His by redemption, and by a work of God in them. They may keep Him outside, alas! but His love is such that He will never shut the door upon them, or declare that He does not know them. His heart longs for them all, and He waits in the patience of His love for them to open the door to Him.

As a matter of interpretation I believe the five foolish virgins represent those who are in the place of profession, but who have no personal link with the Bridegroom and who have not the Spirit. When the others go in with Him to the marriage they do not go in, and the door is shut, and when they come to knock He tells them that He does not know them. He says this after He and the wise virgins have gone in to the marriage. This present period of going forth to meet Him is then over, and there is no longer any opportunity to do so. This could not possibly be applied to any saints at the present time; however lax and worldly they may be, Jesus would still say, "Let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is athirst come; he that will, let him take the water of life freely".

I think these few remarks are sufficient to indicate how this matter presents itself to me, and I believe it is in accord with the way that Scripture puts it.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

October 31st, 1938.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... I am prayerfully interested in what the dear brethren come to in their exercises in regard to the fellowship readings which have been held in different parts of Devon for some years past. I am quite sure that the Lord has taken account of what was in the minds of His people in having these meetings, and He has graciously supported them and used them to help His saints and to promote fellowship. For all this we thankfully give Him praise.

But from time to time He is pleased to call our attention

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more particularly to how things stand in Scripture, and in the light of this He expects us to adjust our practices so that they more and more bear the impress of what is in accord with the mind of God. And for two or three years past it has been brought before us that the local assembly is the administrative unit, and that there is no scripture for a certain number of meetings agreeing to work together in a systematic way. A fellowship meeting is, of course, entirely the responsibility of those in the place where it is held. It gives opportunity for the ministry of those gifts whom God has set in the assembly to become available to many brethren, and the only limit to this is the number that can be practically provided for. But even for fellowship meetings it seems to be desirable that invitations should not always be sent to exactly the same places. We want to reach out as far as is practicable to all that are within our reach, so that it might sometimes be well to leave out one or two meetings so that we might take in one or two others. So that our area does not become too sharply defined.

In the light of current exercises we have felt it happy to give up the united readings of the three meetings -- Newton Abbot, Dawlish and Teignmouth -- as savouring of a kind of special fellowship. But the brethren are, of course, free to go to the local readings, and always have done more or less, so that the giving up of the special readings does not really diminish the opportunities for fellowship. But it removes what might grow into what is not in accord with assembly principles.

I am convinced that the increased number of fellowship meetings amongst us is evidence of a distinct work of God, and it is ministering to spiritual increase and prosperity. So that anything that is being given up, as being not exactly in line with divine principles, is being very largely compensated for by an increased wealth of spiritual ministry becoming available in this way for saints generally.

I have been thankful to be here for a little time, and I feel encouraged to see the local interest and the exercises of the dear brethren. We had a special reading last night to consider the subject of local meetings for edification. This exercise has been before the brethren here for a considerable time, and I think it is now coming to maturity....

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 1st, 1938.


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MY DEAR --, -- ... I enjoyed the meeting this morning, and we had help this afternoon on 2 Peter 1:12 - 18. The voice was uttered to Him "by the excellent glory". Peter seems to bring over all that stood in connection with the Shekinah, and link it up now with God the Father. And we thought it was not only good that there was such a Voice speaking of such a Person as the beloved Son, but there were those capable of hearing that Voice, and taking into their affections what the Voice said. "This voice we heard". God the Father would not speak of His delight in His beloved Son unless there were ears to hear what He says. He did not have His beloved Son in the world without making sure that there were hearts prepared to appreciate Him. "The children" were there, "the seed of Abraham", and as they were in blood and flesh He took part in the same. He would take up kindred, not with the fallen race, but with that generation of God which loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. We see their exercises, their sense of sin, and at the same time their confidence and delight in God, in the Psalms. A little green oasis in this desert world -- "the saints that are on the earth" -- the excellent in His eyes. The three on the holy mount were a sample of them. They could see the kingdom majesty of the Son of man, and they could hear the Father's voice. The works of the devil were undone in their hearts. One sees more and more that the important thing is what is inward, not what comes to us in Scripture or in ministry, but the inward capacity to perceive its blessedness by being morally kindred with it. How this casts us upon God! He becomes to us God, in the sense that He is the Source of everything in us by which we become "the excellent". Then He becomes objectively all as the One who has set His heart on us, and taken such infinite pains to satisfy us by the knowledge of Himself effulgent in His beloved Son....

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 11th, 1938.


BELOVED SISTER IN THE LORD, -- ... It would require a lengthy paper to set forth fully what has brought about that Christians in very many localities are found walking together in a fellowship which they confess to be of universal character, and which they are fully persuaded is according to the truth. But I will

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mention very briefly some of the considerations which have brought this about.

About 100 years ago there began a movement of the Spirit of God amongst His children in many different parts which produced wide-spread exercise in regard to the truth of the church, or assembly, of God. There were national bodies in evidence then, as now, and also different sects possessed of more or less truth. But neither of these different forms of religious association answered to the truth as presented in Scripture. The national bodies nominally included all baptised persons within their area, including a great mass of persons who were not converted at all. This was manifestly far too wide to be a true basis of Christian fellowship. On the other hand each of the sects had its own membership of persons who adopted its particular form of church organisation and theological views. By taking a distinctive name each sect marked itself off from all others, and had thus confessedly a narrower fellowship than the assembly of God.

When the Scriptures were prayerfully considered, and the Holy Spirit was recognised as being here to give illumination in the mind of God, it was soon perceived that there was nothing in Scripture to justify the arrangements which were in force by human ordering. It was learned from 1 Corinthians that the saints in any particular place formed the assembly of God in that place, and that they could come together to exercise discipline, if necessary (1 Corinthians 5), to eat the Lord's supper (1 Corinthians 11), and for edification (1 Corinthians 14), without any appointed minister or leader. It was seen that the Holy Spirit operated, and divided as He pleased spiritual gifts amongst the saints, so that it might appear that they were one body by the way the different members functioned together (1 Corinthians 12). One Member of the body cannot possibly function as a substitute for the other members, however gifted he may be. So that 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 completely set aside the clerical system, and show that an entirely different system is in the mind of God for His assembly. Each local assembly has "body" character (see 1 Corinthians 12:27), and is therefore intended to function body-wise. Now neither in the national bodies nor in the sects is there normally any such coming together. That is, there is no such coming together as is contemplated in

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Scripture as the normal coming together of the assembly of God. In the light of this what can any exercised believer do, who wishes to walk in the light of God's mind as made known in Scripture, but separate from an order of things which leaves no room for the divine order? The assembly is not merely a congregation or an organisation; it is an organism, the members of which function together in unity. It is clearly suggested in Scripture that the service of God assembly-wise will go on under such conditions. If there is no room for the manifestation of the Spirit in different members of the worshipping body, is it not a grave departure from the divine order? Why should not the worshipping company pass on from the breaking of the bread and the drinking of the cup to praise divine Persons in the beauty of holiness -- the different members functioning according to the measure given in the service of praise? This would secure a living service with unlimited possibility of spiritual expansion, so that with deepening spirituality there may be a deepened and enlarged volume of praise ascending from the body as the worshipping company. One can hardly conceive what the service of praise would be if all the vessels of the sanctuary were available in a practical way.

The truth of Christian fellowship involves separation from what is evil. This is clearly seen in 1 Corinthians 10 and 2 Corinthians 6, and our definite instruction for the last days is: "Let every one who names the name of the Lord withdraw from iniquity (or unrighteousness)". It is as the people of God have acted on this principle that they have received great light as to the spiritual privileges and constitution of the assembly. Indeed, every part of the truth concerning Christ and the whole counsel of God has been ministered by the Holy Spirit amongst those who have honoured God and the Lord Jesus by separating from what was not in accord with true assembly order as laid down in Scripture. Room was made by the grace of God for a ministry which could not possibly have been given in conditions where there was no room for it. How could assembly truth be brought out where there were no assembly conditions? It is a common thing for those who are not prepared to separate from evil to desire to benefit by the spiritual wealth which has been given to those who have walked in separation. But this would be to hold the truth in unrighteousness. The ministry is, indeed, available

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for all; as the Scriptures are; all that God has to give is for all His saints, but it can only be known and enjoyed as the essential conditions are accepted. Persons who remain in associations which have been formed by men must not expect to have the enjoyment of spiritual privileges which require an altogether different environment. Each one is responsible to withdraw from what is wrong, that is, from things which are obviously not in accord with God's assembly order, or with any part of His truth. Then, having ceased to do evil, they are in a position to learn to do well. This is a matter of individual exercise for each one, as the Lord may be pleased to give light to each.

One does not question the piety, or the true desire to serve the Lord, of many who go on with what is not according to the truth, and one longs that they should have all that it is possible for them to have. But until they see that a humanly devised order in divine things is really disorder, and they are prepared to return to the true order of God's assembly, they cannot expect any great degree of spiritual enlargement with reference to how God would be served in His assembly. I do not suggest that the Lord does not give them supplies of spiritual food; I am sure that in His faithful love He does. But they fail to enter into what is most pleasurable to Him.

The enemy has greatly used the principle of independency to weaken or counteract the truth of the assembly of God. But how could one part of the assembly of God be independent of another part of it? For there is one body universally, and it is an organism one part of which cannot be detached from the rest without doing violence to its very constitution. If we think of the matter from the divine side we shall be convinced that it must be so. The assembly is one, though it may take form in a thousand, or fifty thousand different places. So that no instructed believer would feel free to be identified with any independent company of Christians, however estimable they might be personally, because in the very fact of taking independent ground they are giving up something which they should cherish exceedingly; namely, that they are of the one universal assembly of God, and that while they walk in local assemblies they always have in mind that "there is one body", and they seek to recognise this in a practical way in the principles and practice of their fellowship.

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No company of believers walking together in the truth would set up to be the assembly of God. They are conscious that they are but a fragment of it. But they are privileged to walk in the light of the mind of God in regard to all His saints, and to seek grace and wisdom from Him to work it out practically, notwithstanding the many difficulties and their own felt weakness.

The gifts for ministry which God has set in the assembly (1 Corinthians 12:28) do not belong to one locality more than another. Wherever they may be in the Lord's ordering they exercise their gifts for the benefit of the body. This applies also to the gifts of the ascended Christ mentioned in Ephesians 4.

It is recorded that in the days of Asa Judah sought Jehovah "with their whole desire, and he was found of them", 2 Chronicles 15:15. And I have no doubt it will ever be true that those who seek the Lord with their whole desire will find Him, and I do not believe there is any other way to discover His mind. A heart that seeks Him becomes impressionable. A little word that has no particular significance to others becomes full of divine import to a seeking soul. If we only want the Lord's mind He will not hide it from us. Indeed, the whole matter is simply one of obedience. But often preconceived thoughts hinder us from simply seeking the Lord for His mind.

This is just what occurs to me at the moment, and I trust it may be of some help.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

January 6th, 1939.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I have never ventured to say what proportion of the human family will be brought into blessing, for I do not think that Scripture gives us light on this matter. I have no recollection of ever making the remark which you quote. I remember the subject being mentioned, I believe at a tea table, when I said that I understood that more than half the souls born into the world died before they reached the age of responsibility. And if God were pleased to secure to them in His sovereignty the value of that great redemption

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wrought by His Son it would mean that the greater part of the human family would be secured for eternal blessing. I do not think anything more than this was said.

It is evident from Scripture that there are different families named of the Father -- Old Testament saints, and the different companies in the Revelation -- and each family will have its own place in the universe of bliss. I should not like to say that there are different families now, because this is the assembly period, the day of the Spirit, and I am not aware that there is any thought in Scripture of other families having a concurrent place in the ways of God. I think we should be getting off solid ground if we began to speculate on the possibility of there being other families now. "In the power of one Spirit we have all been baptised into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bondmen or free, and have all been given to drink of one Spirit". The Lord's servants were sent into all the world to preach the glad tidings to all the creation. There is no thought, so far as I see, of any other testimony going forth alongside the glad tidings. Our business is to take account of what is revealed, and to see that those with whom we come in contact truly hear the present testimony of God.

In a certain sense there is a concurrent testimony in the things which are seen (Psalm 19), but it is striking that when Paul quotes this in Romans 10 he applies it to the glad tidings as though to suggest that the former testimony merges in the present. I would not like to say that God will not in any case use the testimony of creation now, and perhaps even where the glad tidings have not gone, but this would be a matter of His sovereign power, and I do not think He has given us any light in Scripture as to His doing so. So that we cannot build anything upon a supposition that He might do. Indeed, I am sure you will agree with me that it is well to avoid all merely speculative questions in regard to the actings of the blessed God. I think that what He does with children who have never come into responsibility must be left to His own perfect and all-wise goodness. It is indeed most happy to leave it there....

With very much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

January 10th, 1939


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... It is one of the choice features which divine grace is bringing forth amongst us that there is willing-heartedness to be fully and practically identified with the work of the Lord, as realising that we are all committed to it in our affections. I believe it is the Lord's way to make strength for service dependent on the general spirit of sympathy and prayerfulness among His people. And the sustained freshness of ministry amongst us at the present time is the Lord's answer in grace to the affections that devote themselves to His interests. So we may well desire that this blessed work of grace may be not only maintained but greatly increased, so that the windows of heaven, which are now so widely open, may continue to pour out blessing....

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

January 17th, 1939


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... I am sorry that I have never been able to visit Ireland, though I once got as far as Chester on my way to Dublin, but was hindered by illness from going beyond that point. This was about 45 years ago. The greater part of the time since then my health has been such as to put a good deal of limitation on my movements, but I am comforted by the assurance that this has been under the gracious ordering of the Lord, and that it has been His way for me. He has permitted to me a little service amongst His people by means of what has been printed, and I am thankful for this, but it would have rejoiced me much if I could have seen more of the dear brethren in their own localities.

I am interested in your remarks on "the love of the Spirit". I do not think we can have any doubt that the service of the Spirit is a service of love. All that He does for us, as brought out in Romans 8, is surely in love; and as shedding abroad the love of God in our hearts I believe He has the delight of love in doing it. "Another Comforter" would suggest that He would take the place of Christ in undertaking all needed service for the loved company -- the assembly -- during the absence of Christ as having gone to the Father. The Spirit clearly has His own place in the great economy of divine love. And, as indwelling the saints, He forms in them a love which is after His own kind of love, if we may so say, as embracing

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all that is dear to Christ, and essential to His service. It is from this point of view that the expression "the love of the Spirit" is used in Romans 15:30. It is in relation to the immediate needs of the service which was filling the heart and the prayers of the beloved apostle. It was to be prayerfully supported by the saints at Rome in an affectionate way in keeping with the love of the Spirit. It is a beautiful expression and might well appeal to our hearts....

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

February 25th, 1939.


MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, -- In reply to your letter of the 10th inst. with reference to the sorrowful case which you have under consideration at --, it seems to me that the withdrawal of the brother in question raises a question of principle, in regard to which it is due to the Lord that there should be some expression of assembly judgment. I do not think any of us would be free to accept that the principles of association which mark --, or --, are such as we have learned, by divine favour, to be those of the assembly of God. The brother, it appears, has not identified himself personally with those bodies, so that it is not exactly a question of his conduct but of the principles which he avows. A principle adopted and adhered to after remonstrance and instruction is quite as serious as conduct. It is perhaps more serious, as involving a leavening influence which may spread if it is not judged.

I think in such a case there should be some expression of assembly judgment, so that it may be made clear that we are not able to walk with persons who avow principles which are contrary to what we have learned as the truth. I am assured that the Lord will help the dear brethren locally as to the form which this judgment should take, after consideration of all the circumstances of the case before you. I trust that all may be helped in result, and the principles on which we walk together made more clear, so that there may be gain, and increase of spiritual strength, through the exercise.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

April 14th, 1939.


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BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... It seems to me there is a certain difficulty in applying the word "alone" to the Lord viewed as in absolute Deity. The word as used by Jehovah in Genesis 2:18 and by the Lord in John 12:24 applies to Christ in His unique manhood. The thought of His being "alone" in Deity does not seem to be suggested by any Scripture that I can at present recall.

I think it is wise for us, in referring to the relations which subsisted between divine Persons as in the form of God, to keep exceedingly close to the language of Scripture. I am sure you are in full agreement with this. Certain things are revealed as to the relations of Two of those Persons; One was "with God" and was loved by Another before the foundation of the world. And in that particular connection the Spirit is not mentioned. But neither of the scriptures which make these wondrous things known to us (John 1:1 - 3; John 17:5, 24) say anything which would exclude the Spirit, and we may be assured that He had His part in the activity of that ineffable communion which they contemplate. So far as I know, the Spirit is not mentioned in Scripture until we come to divine operations. But He undoubtedly had His place, and room is left for this in the words of John and of the Lord.

With much warm love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

June 1st, 1939.


MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, -- ... I think it is evident that the one who had so sinned at Corinth is regarded as one whose spirit was to be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. That is, he is viewed as a believer. But his conduct made him a subject of judgment and discipline from the Lord, and the assembly was called upon to act in accord with the Lord's mind in this. As Paul, by the Spirit calls him a "wicked person" I conclude that he had not, as yet, judged himself. He is presented in 1 Corinthians 5 as guilty of that which must be judged as evil by the assembly of God. This was, no doubt, in view of his judging it by the same judgment as the assembly.

There may be cases of gross evil in which repentance may have been granted to the evil-doer, and the assembly would

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thankfully take note of this where it was found. But the government of the Lord goes on in respect of evil-doing, even where there is repentance, and the assembly in disciplinary action is with the Lord in His governmental ways. And He would have it to be made manifest that the assembly is in accord with His judgment of evil. If the evil-doer has repented he will fully accept what the assembly does in a disciplinary way; he will own the action as divinely right under the circumstances, and this will make his public restoration in due time an easy matter.

It is to be noted that the apostle uses the word "brother" in relation to very evil conduct in 1 Corinthians 5, but he modifies it by saying, "if any one called brother". It is as much as to say, he has had that place publicly, but whether he is truly a brother may be somewhat questionable. It does not seem to me that a meeting for discipline is exactly the time to emphasise the fact that the evil-doer is a "brother". It is an occasion for marking the Lord's solemn judgment of evil, in which the assembly is in accord with Him. In some cases we may be well assured that the one in question is a brother. If he is known to have repented of the evil he has done there is good reason to own him as a brother, and the assembly will look forward with confidence to his restoration to Christian privilege.

I certainly think that in any meeting for discipline some Scripture should be read on the ground of which action is being taken.

I trust these few words may in some way meet your exercises.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

July 14th, 1939


MY DEAR --, -- ... I have very often thought of you since the time we met first now many years ago -- a precious link in the Lord which will abide eternally, through His infinite love.

... The scripture you were looking at in 1 Thessalonians 4 is to tell us that when Jesus comes back to take up His kingdom here God will bring with Him those who have slept in Jesus. In order that this may be brought about, the Lord Himself will descend and catch up to Himself all His dead and living

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saints. So that they will all be with Him before He comes forth in His royal majesty. And God will bring them with Jesus: not one of them will be missing from the vast throng that will come forth from heaven with Jesus. The believers at Thessalonica were afraid that those of their number who had fallen asleep would miss a part in the glorious appearing of Jesus. But Paul writes to comfort them by telling them that God would see to it that they all came with Jesus. They will be brought forth with Jesus because they have been previously caught up to meet Him in the air. But it is striking that he says that God will bring them with Jesus. It is not only that Jesus will bring them with Him, but God will bring them with Jesus.

What wonderful realities are before us! And how soon may all this be accomplished!

With much love in the Lord,

Yours very affectionately in Him,

August 18th, 1939.


MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, -- I feel very much for you, and for each member of your family, in the sorrow which has come upon you. Indeed, I personally share in the sorrow, for I have for many years had a happy spiritual link with your dear sister, and I have much valued her letters, and the occasional opportunities I have had of meeting her. I am now particularly thankful that you came over so recently to see me, and I was able to see her once more before she was taken to be with the Lord.

For her it is, indeed, "far better" and one can but thank God that she is removed from so much that is sorrowful in the conditions that prevail in the world. She is where no trial of spirit will ever intrude upon what she enjoys. It is good to know that she entered while here into the joy of her eternal portion in Christ, and had a happy share, in common with her brethren, of those precious things which are the fruit of divine love. And no doubt the many years of weakness, with their attendant exercises, have done much to further the work of God in her soul. He has His own way of wisdom with each one of us, and what He has wrought will come out to His praise "in that day".

I pray that you may be greatly comforted, and that there

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may be distinct blessing from God in your family circle, through the home-going of your dear sister. Coming so unexpectedly it must have been a great shock to you all, but the voice of love is in it for us all, calling us to give ourselves more wholly than ever to those things which are spiritual and eternal. The Lord is ever seeking to make Himself more precious to us, and times of bereavement are occasions which greatly serve the purpose of His love. May you all prove that there is enrichment amidst the sorrow!

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

September 2nd, 1939.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... With regard to the matter you mention I am sorry that my head is not at present equal to writing as I should like. But I may say briefly that such scriptures as Acts 15:14; 2 Corinthians 6:14 - 18; and John 15:19 make clear that believers are not of the world, and that in the path of separation they will be approved of God and will be made His paternal care.

If we rightly value our position as called to be identified with God's testimony I think we shall shrink from committing ourselves voluntarily to any kind of association which is different in character from what we have learned of the truth of Christian fellowship. If the government ordered that all young men should take a course of "First Aid" training it would, no doubt, be right to obey. But a voluntary association to serve a national purpose is another matter, and raises a question whether it is suitable for those who are called to the fellowship of God's Son to enter into it.

We deeply appreciate the privileges and liberties which we enjoy under the government of this land, and thank God for His great goodness to us in this respect. And it is fitting that we should pray much for all those who are in authority, as we are enjoined to do.

But being partakers of heavenly calling involves being strangers and sojourners on the earth. If this were a reality to us it would settle many questions at once. We need to pray that we may be kept in the truth that our citizenship is in heaven, and that we are here to represent God as revealed in grace. We need to be preserved from national feeling, and

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to have heaven's view of what is going on here, and to be at the same time in sympathy with suffering humanity. We should be ready, as we have opportunity, to do good unto all men, but in order to do this we do not need to enter into associations which are not in keeping with the truth of the Christian fellowship. I trust the dear brethren will have grace and faith to keep their garments unspotted from the world.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

November 10th, 1939.


DEAR MRS. --, -- ... Each birthday reminds us how the period of our stay here is getting shorter, even in the natural course of events. And therefore it should stimulate us to use it as fully as possible to acquire what may be eternal wealth to us. Solomon learned the vanity that is in human life, but infinite mercy has brought something into our lives which is not vanity. So that we look forward to going out of the world far richer than when we came into it. God's elect have come into the world that they might acquire the knowledge of God, and go out of it freighted with grace and glory. We find the heavenly city has the glory of God, and no doubt this is the shining out in display of what has been acquired here. So we are far better off than those who have to say that "all is vanity and pursuit of the wind". God, as revealed in His beloved Son, is the treasure in the earthen vessel now, and as having this treasure we are suitable to the eternal scene of divine glory. What manner of persons ought we to be!

With much love in the Lord to yourself and to your dear husband,

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 8th, 1939


MY DEAR MRS. --, -- I very truly appreciate your letter received on the 7th, and also the text card and other enclosures, all of which are a cheer and refreshment. I thank you for again thinking of my birthday, and I value all the kind thoughts

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you have expressed in relation to it. In one sense it is humbling to have lived so long with so much less fruit for God than there might have been with deeper spirituality. But while this thought has its place rightly it does not diminish the consciousness of how wonderful have been the ways of God in mercy and favour. He has brought before one for many years the exceeding preciousness of those thoughts which were formed in Christ before the world began, and in the effectuation of which He will find His eternal satisfaction and rest. And He has in exceeding favour preserved in one's heart some desire for the perfecting of that work of His Spirit by which the divine thoughts can be so inwrought in the soul that they result in spiritual formation. It is a comfort to realise that there has been in one's life some pulling down of confidence in the flesh, and some appreciation of the Second Man. This is all that has value, and one desires to let all else drop out.

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 9th, 1939.


MY DEAR --, -- ... We are reading Ecclesiastes in our morning readings, and it has made me very thankful to be living in a time when the Incarnation, and the accomplishment of redemption, and the exaltation of Christ, and the gift of the Spirit, have brought such an immensity into view that is not vanity. A birthday must be a sorrowful affair to those who find that each succeeding year brings only fresh experience of vanity! But if the years are adding some of that glory which is going to fill the heavenly city they are worth marking off with letters of gold! It is certain that we brought nothing into the world but necessities which could only be met by divine goodness and love. But, thank God, we may carry out with us treasures which are beyond the knowledge of angels, save as they learn them in us. It is wonderful, indeed, that God is doing so much amidst conditions of sin that He could not have done in an innocent world. Every discipline that helps to subdue our wills makes more room for the will of God, and, as we sing sometimes, "All that will is love" ...

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 12th, 1939


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BELOVED BROTHER IN THE LORD, -- It has been a very definite exercise with me ever since I began to break bread that the printed ministry ought not to be made the source of financial profit. The first tracts which I wrote, about 55 years ago, I published myself at cost price, and the brethren generally greatly appreciated the opportunity of getting gospel tracts at a low price. But the Tract Depots did not approve of profits being eliminated, and I had at that time to fall in with the system current. But I clung to the thought that the Lord's work should not be regarded as a profit making business.

For many years there has been a growing exercise that books of ministry were sold at prices which seriously curtailed their circulation ... It was felt that the Lord was giving very much that was intended by Him for the blessing of His saints universally, and that gospel books were rightly to be distributed as widely as possible. It seemed clearly to be wrong to impose an unnecessary check upon the circulation of that which had been so freely given from on high....

I think you will be able to gather from the above how I regard the matter. Of course the elimination of the commercial element from this particular part of the Lord's work involves in principle that it should be eliminated from the distributing agencies also. That is, the Tract Depots should be regarded as kept for the furtherance of the work of the Lord, and not for the purpose of making profit on the ministry which is sold. And brethren should be prepared to have fellowship in the necessary cost of maintaining the Depots. Adequate compensation for this would be found in the fact that the ministry would be available at less than half the cost, so that two or three books could be given away in place of one. Indeed, the very large increase of the circulation of the printed ministry is marked evidence of the need there was of a change. But even apart from considering what has resulted I feel sure that you will agree that it is not good that the commercial element should so influence the publishing of spiritual ministry that the circulation of it is restricted. Our desire is that it should go abroad as freely as possible for all those for whose benefit the Lord has given it.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 12th, 1939


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BELOVED BROTHER, -- Many thanks for allowing me to see the letter which I return herewith. Our dear and esteemed brother writes in a nice spirit "as only having in view the better elucidation of the subject of propitiation", so that I feel free to make a few remarks on his letter which you are welcome to send on to him with my love in the Lord, if you think well to do so. I comment on his letter as being thoroughly one with him in the desire that "this important aspect of the truth might be clarified", and I trust the Lord may help to this end. My contribution will be confined to pointing out what seems to me to be a fundamental misconception of the subject.

Our dear brother sees that God has in love provided the propitiation (1 John 4:10), and he concludes from this that -- propitiation is from God to man, and that it carries the thought of God being propitious (favourable) toward man. He illustrates propitiation by the coats of skin (Genesis 3), and by the mercy-seat in Romans 3.

I would like to suggest for the consideration of our dear brother that the scriptural view of propitiation is that it is wholly God-ward. Not, surely, to bring about any change in God, but to glorify Him in holiness so that He may consistently with His own glory make Himself known in mercy and grace to sinful creatures. God is propitious to man the sinner, but it is on the ground that Christ has been the propitiation in all the value God-ward of His offering for sin. J.N.D. has well expressed the truth in saying, "Propitiation is presenting to a holy God what the righteousness and holiness of that God necessarily claim, while infinite love has provided, and infinite love has offered, the spotless sacrifice".

If this is accepted as being true it will be evident that the coats of skin do not in themselves give us the idea of propitiation. They express typically what God in righteous grace can put upon man as the result of propitiation. It has been said many times that "skin" showed that death had taken place. If propitiation is to be found in this type it would be set forth in the death of the animals, and not in the coats of skin which resulted, and which became a covering for man. Righteousness of God by faith of Jesus Christ is now towards all, and upon all those who believe, but this is on the ground of propitiation.

Then our dear brother has adopted the idea that "mercy-seat"

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is the scriptural meaning of "propitiation", and it is probably this which has formed his thoughts on the subject. But though this statement has often been made it is not true. J.N.D.'s note to Romans 3:25 in the New Translation is certainly right. It was the blood being put upon the mercy-seat which effected atonement or propitiation. Leviticus 16 leaves no doubt whatever about this. Paul, in speaking of Christ Jesus being set forth a mercy-seat, evidently had in mind the mercy-seat as it was after the day of atonement, when the blood of the sin offering was upon it. It is evident in the type that that the mercy-seat was distinguishable from the blood of the sin offering which was put upon it. It was the latter which made atonement. Now the propitiation and the mercy-seat are identified, for both meet in one Person. He is the propitiation in all the value of His sacrifice for sin. And He is also the mercy-seat as set forth by God for the showing forth of His righteousness in passing by the sins of His people of old, and now in justifying. Christ as set forth by God to man as the Mercy-seat is never to be separated from what He is as the propitiation. We cannot set forth the righteousness of God as known in the glad tidings without bringing in the thought of propitiation. "His blood" is that of the sin offering which has met every claim of the divine glory.

"Atonement" is the great word in Leviticus 16. It means a covering, and it is not used in the New Testament, I suppose because the Son of God having been sent as the propitiation there is very much more brought into it than merely covering sin. God is glorified in an infinite way about that which was abhorrent to Him. But all that lies in the word "atonement" in Leviticus 16 lies in the word "propitiation" in the New Testament. Christ suffered for sins, and He was forsaken by God as made sin, and in this way He became the propitiation. It was the only ground on which God could be righteously a Saviour God or a Justifier. God required propitiation as the basis of all His actings in mercy and grace, but He provided it Himself in wondrous love. The whole principle of offering for sin brought out that God required what met His glory in this way. Propitiation is the rendering to God what is due to His holy glory by One bearing the judgment of sins and sin. That God is favourably disposed towards His fallen creature is blessedly true, and it did not need propitiation to make it true. But without providing for His own glory by atonement

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or propitiation God would have had no righteous ground on which to make good what was in His heart.

I have felt for you and many others in the pressure that has come upon you of late, but I am glad that you have been able to see the dear brethren in the north, and to serve amongst them. These are peculiar times of pressure and suspense as to conditions here, but, as you say, God has held things so far in a wonderful way.

With much love in the Lord to you and yours,

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 20th, 1939.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... There is a more severe shaking of things than we have had experience of before in this country and God intends that we should be sensitive to it. But those who wait upon Him will have a greater sense of His care and support than they had in easier times. And the things which cannot be shaken will stand out more distinctly before every single eye. A ministry has been given such as was suited to prepare us for a time of testing, and its true value will be known as worked out in presence of pressure. One would look that, by the good hand of our God upon us, there may be increasing spiritual ability to minister to Him in the service of His house.

My health has not been good during the past year, and I have not been able to move about as in some former years. Certain limitations come with advancing years, but one's desire is that, notwithstanding these, there might be spiritual enlargement.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

January 5th, 1940.


BELOVED BRETHREN, -- ... I was much touched by the invitation to the conference (1939) so kindly sent me by the dear brethren in Sydney. If it had been at all possible for me to undertake the journey it would have been a very great joy to me to be present. The gathering together of so many beloved saints and servants from different parts of the world was much before me for many months, and we know it was in the thoughts and

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prayers of a very large number, all of whom rejoice that the Lord's good hand overruled all things so that the brethren could be together in peace, as preserved of God, and that there might be an unchecked flow of precious and spiritual ministry in an atmosphere favourable to it. What has already reached us of the ministry fills us with thankfulness that the universal prayers were answered, and we await fuller notes in confidence that they will prove to be profitable and stimulating. The Lord's faithful love in furnishing such ministry ought to affect our hearts deeply. I trust that in some measure we are conscious how great is the favour that sustains such a ministry in freshness and power amongst us. It is now for us all to see that we get the full profit of it, and do not allow the enemy by any means to divert us from what is manifestly of the Spirit. May we have grace and fixedness of heart to work it out to completion!

I am thankful that the love of the brethren has granted me this further personal link with those holy convocations by permitting me to share in what remained over of the free-will offerings of the Lord's people. I thank the dear brethren for their loving thought of me in this way, and take it as an encouragement from God.

With very much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

January 12th, 1940.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I duly received your letter, and I enter very sympathetically into your present suffering; and pray that in the mercy of our God you may soon get relief. Nervous depression is one of the most trying maladies, and while one is suffering from it the soul often seems to be deprived of its normal comfort in Christ. This is a peculiar trial, of which Satan does not fail to take advantage, but it is an opportunity for faith to get the victory, and to maintain its confidence in God notwithstanding the low state to which one may be brought as to one's own consciousness. At such times we have to encourage ourselves in what the blessed God is as having made Himself known in His beloved Son; we have to feed on His faithfulness, assured that the trial will pass, and we shall yet

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praise Him who is the health of our countenance and our God. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy will come when He gives us a morning without clouds.

I believe that experiences such as you are going through have their part in God's way with us. They are humbling and very distressing, and sometimes even the fiery darts of the wicked one may be thrown at us, but the shield of faith enables us to quench them. If I learn my own weakness, and all the evil that works in my flesh, as I never knew it before, it is that I may appreciate as never before the love of God that comes out to me by the death of Christ. This is a precious and abiding reality, and the more I discover what I am in myself the more I value the precious Saviour who in love bore all that was due to me that I might be invested with all His worth, and have Him as my righteousness eternally. The lower we go down in the humbling sense of what we are, the better are we prepared to appreciate how low that blessed One has gone in His love. We can never really go to the bottom of what we are, and of what is due to us, but our Lord Jesus Christ has gone to the full depth of it, and glorified God about it all, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. I may feel how unreal I am, and how unreal the things of God are to me, but what was accomplished at the cross is real, and Christ at the right hand of God is real, and the call of God by which I have been brought to faith in Christ is real. All the divine verities subsist in their value and abiding reality, even when, for a season, the enjoyment of them is clouded in the believer's experience.

Satan will bring up everything that he can to harass the heart, but we are with God on the righteous ground that the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth from every sin. And any particular failure that comes on the conscience as a burden can be got free from by confession, after which it will never be held against us by the faithful and righteous God.

I trust you may prove special mercy, and be helped in every needed way. I have prayed for you, and hope to continue to do so.

With love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

March 1st, 1940.


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BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... There can be no doubt that in all parts of the Christian profession there are those who seek, according to their measure of light and gift, to preach the gospel so far as they have apprehended it. And God answers the prayers, and blesses the labours, of earnest persons wherever they are, and even when they are in associations which are not at all in accordance with the truth. We can be thankful that in the sovereignty of God's mercy it is so, for if God did not work anywhere save where things were all in accord with His mind, how small would be the area in which He could work!

But if we felt free to identify ourselves with all who in any measure preach the grace of God, and get conversions, there would be no separation at all. We should find ourselves mixed up with every kind of spiritual disorder, and with many vessels to dishonour. We should thus be acting in disobedience to the will of the Lord, and we should drop out of line with His testimony.

Satan seeks to corrupt what is of God very largely by mixing it up with what is not of God. And he even uses what is of God to accredit institutions and associations which are not of God. For example, every earnest clergyman who preaches some measure of the truth accredits by it the system with which he is connected. The wrong system derives some sanction from the fact that earnest and godly men remain in it. They ought all to withdraw from unrighteousness, and to purge themselves from vessels to dishonour by separating from them. If they do not do so they are in a false position, even though God in the sovereignty of His mercy may use them to bring some measure of light and blessing to souls. It would not be right for us to go to them in a false position -- a position which God has shown us to be contrary to His mind. It would be giving up what God has committed to us for testimony, and we should inevitably drop down to the level of what we associated with.

I trust you will see clearly that what God does in His sovereignty is not a guide for us as to what we associate with. We must be guided by obedience to what He has made known to us; our path must be determined by the light which He has been pleased to give us.

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We pray for the work of God universally, but I do not know that I should feel free to pray in the prayer meeting specially for any work which I could not recognise as furthering the unity of the Spirit....

Yours affectionately in Him,

April 29th, 1940.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... I begin to feel more the limitations which come with advancing years; and I have not been able to move about much during the last twelve months. But the Lord still gives opportunity for a little service in a quiet way, and the measure which He permits is the one best suited to each particular vessel. So that one thanks God and takes courage.

I have thought much lately of the shaking in Haggai 2 as having directly in view the bringing of precious things to the house of God. God claims everything that is precious for Himself and for His house, but it appears that He has to shake everything in order to get it. May we not confidently expect that as a result of the present great shaking much that has divine value as God's work will be secured for the adornment and service of His house?

Then the shaking and overthrowing at the end of the chapter are in view of Zerubbabel being made "as a signet". That is, God has in mind to put the impress of Christ upon persons for His pleasure. It is good to bear in mind that this is what God is after, and He will make the general shaking further it. He will produce an impressionable state that will be prepared to be moulded under His chosen Signet. Having this in mind, we could not but be very sympathetic with the sorrows of suffering humanity, and this would establish a point of contact with souls which God would use for blessing. Surely we all desire at such a time as this to be serviceable vessels!

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

July 18th, 1940.


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BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... We are passing through a testing time, but the saints are sustained in a great degree of quietness and confidence, and much will come out of it all for God. We have been seeing here this week how those who came out of the captivity had "silver and gold" which could be made into crowns for Joshua the high priest, Zechariah 6. It suggested to us that as we accept any suffering which comes upon us (even though it may be in God's government) we shall acquire spiritual wealth which will enhance the priestly service; and, in result, there will be enlarged apprehension of Christ, as seen in verses 12 and 13. No doubt this is how things are working out at the present time.

The brethren have been preserved locally from any injury so far, and all meetings have continued without disturbance, for which mercy we are most thankful. Two brothers on the south coast have had their houses destroyed, and minor injuries have been sustained, and in some cases there have been remarkable preservations. But God's protection has been manifest and, on the whole, much less damage than might have been expected has resulted from the raids.

Things are fast heading up, both in the political sphere and in the circle of God's spiritual movements. May we be kept in watchfulness and prayer, so as not to miss the supplies and support that are needful to sustain us as over-comers at such a time!

With very much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

August 22nd, 1940.


DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, -- Your letter of the 12th inst. duly reached me, and I am glad to send you a few lines in reply. I am thankful to know that you are reading the books which you mention, as I feel sure you will find them helpful, and as you increase in the knowledge of God you will get light on all the matters which you are exercised about.

I had not previously seen the remarks which you have copied for me, and I have read them carefully; I trust I am willing to receive help from anyone who has light from God. But I believe that the Lord's words in John 13:16 are universally true. If there are any exceptions it should be easy to produce from Scripture at least one clear example. The

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Holy Spirit being sent cannot be regarded as an exception unless it can be made evident that it is one.

It is manifest that as "sent" the Son had a mission to carry out; He was in the position of doing the will of Another. He said Himself, "For I am come down from heaven, not that I should do my will, but the will of him that has sent me", John 6:38. This does not imply any inequality between Him and the Father in the Godhead, but it does assert that as come down from heaven He took a relative position in which He did not do His own will but that of the Father. Jesus is God, but obedience is not a proof of His Deity, but of His perfection as Man. It may be said that His own will could not be otherwise than right, but this does not alter the fact that if He had done His own will it would have been to give up the whole principle on which He lived as Man. No believer needs to be reminded that at a most solemn hour He said, "But not as I will, but as thou wilt". It is as Man that He is seen to be the sent One of God the Father. So John can say, "And we have seen, and testify, that the Father has sent the Son as Saviour of the world", 1 John 4:14.

Mr. -- says that to speak of "sent" in this way is to deny "absolute equality to God the Holy Spirit, for He was 'sent'". He asks, "In what way, then, was the Holy Spirit 'sent' and 'given'?" The answer is very simple. He was sent by the Father and by the Son as glorified to take a special place with and in the saints which was, and is, quite distinct from the place which He has as in absolute Deity. If this is not maintained as the truth, the place which the Holy Spirit holds in the present divine economy will not be understood. I hold, through grace, that the Holy Spirit is God in the most absolute sense. But I also see that He has come into a special place, and is carrying on a special service, as sent by the Father and the Son, and that this special place and service of the Holy Spirit gives character to the economy in which God is known today. The Holy Spirit is God, and He has part in all that belongs to Godhead, including omniscience and omnipresence. But as sent by the Father and the Son His activities are limited to those to whom He has been sent. He indwells the saints, and is known to them as the Comforter, the Spirit of truth; He announces to them certain things which He has heard and received. The fact that the Holy Spirit hears and receives before He announces shows that, as thus spoken of, He has

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a place in the divine economy which corresponds with the place which the Son has taken in that economy. Not that the Holy Spirit has become incarnate, but as indwelling the saints He operates in a special way to do what He was sent to do, and which is clearly set forth in the scriptures which speak of it. There is a speciality about the present service of the Spirit which we shall not clearly apprehend if we do not distinguish it from those universal activities which pertain to Him as a co-equal Person in the Godhead. His place in the Godhead remains unchanged and unchangeable eternally, but as "sent" He has come into a place in which He was not before, nor could be until redemption had been accomplished and Jesus glorified. His position, and the service which He renders in that position, are entirely new to Him, and they belong to the present economy in which the Father and the Son are viewed as sending, and the Holy Spirit is seen as "sent" for certain specific purposes which do not cover all that He is as a Person in the Godhead. Both the Son and the Spirit when viewed as "sent" have a particular sphere of service to fill, but each of Them has also His own place in eternal Deity. What belongs to divine Persons in Themselves is one thing; the place which Two of Them have come into as "sent" is another. The latter belongs to the present divine economy. One of the co-equal divine Persons has become Man; Another of Them has come to dwell in the saints. All this is infinitely profound and blessed, but it is the plain and simple truth as stated in the Holy Scriptures.

What the Holy Spirit does as "sent" is confined to the circle of the saints, and it moves on the lines indicated by the Lord's words and by other scriptures. But I do not suppose that any intelligent believer would say or think that there is no action of the Spirit, as One of the Persons in the Godhead, outside the circle to which He has come as "sent". He acts in His own sovereign divine power universally, but as "sent" by the Father and the Son He acts in a particular and limited sphere, and on certain lines which Scripture presents in a very definite way. The Spirit has a place in the divine economy which is special and for particular objects, but which does not cover all that He is and does as a divine Person in the Godhead.

With reference to Hebrews 2, it is clearly to be seen that the writer tells us that he is speaking of "the habitable world which is to come". He is not thinking of Adam in innocence,

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but of the Son of man. "The son of man" in Psalm 8 is, literally, "the son of Adam", and it is certain that Adam could not be the Son of man. It is the Son of man of whom certain things are predicated in Hebrews 2:7 which will be fulfilled in the world to come. In the meantime "we see Jesus, who was made some little inferior to angels on account of the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour". The Spirit of God has used these words, and they leave no doubt that Jesus was found as in manhood in a position of relative inferiority, though never ceasing to be, as to His own Person, all that is said of Him in Hebrews 1.

I do not think I need add more. I trust you may be definitely helped of God in the apprehension of His holy things.

Yours affectionately in the Lord,

September 19th, 1940.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I very much appreciate your kindness in writing, and I, and others here, value every bit of knowledge that comes to us with reference to the severe trials and testings which are coming upon our beloved brethren. We have you all in our hearts continually, and day and night prayers go up that all needed support may be given, and that the enemy may not be allowed to gain any advantage by reason of the weakness that is inseparable from the earthen vessels. We give thanks to God for what we hear of the confidence in Himself which is marking so many at a time of unprecedented disturbance of all our normal conditions of life. He is glorified in this, I am sure. But I feel constrained to seek His mercy in some modification of the pressure. For it is evident that assembly privileges and services are seriously affected in some localities, and one earnestly seeks that there may be that on our side which will entitle us to experience the reality of the promise to Philadelphia. There are many dark parts, probably, which the Lord means to remove, and dross which needs the crucible to purge it away from the precious metal. But the Refiner sits over the process, and deliberately considers how the process is going on. He knows how to preserve what is precious to Him while dealing effectively with what is otherwise. With love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

October, 1940.


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BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... I am sure the evangelical revival of the eighteenth century was an important landmark in God's ways in this country, and should not be overlooked. Its weakness was that it was so individual, and, on the Wesleyan side of it, so built up on man's free-will. But it entered largely into the general religious thought of this country, and left an impression which has lasted until our day. Unhappily it has fallen off very much and lapsed into worldliness now.

I trust the dear brethren are supported under the present severe trials, for I conclude that your locality will be receiving a good many air raids. We think of our dear brethren day and night in our prayers.

It is cheering to find that much support is being proved even by those who are most severely tested. God will come in, I trust, in some way to modify the pressure so that His service and testimony may not be hindered.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

October 31st, 1940.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I warmly appreciate the love of the dear brethren in expressed in your kind letter, and also in the accompanying gift.. I feel sure that the Lord has accepted this offering as the fruit of love to His name, and as a token of care for His work and interests. And I accept it, with much thankfulness to the dear brethren, as a cheering proof of their affectionate fellowship in that small measure of service which I am permitted to render. I feel more and more that all is of divine favour. The knowledge of God is the greatest favour of all, but it is also by His favour that we are permitted to serve, and then it is an added favour to have much encouragement in the appreciation and fellowship of those who love Him. So that all praise is due to Him, and is gladly given.

I am most thankful to know how the dear saints have been preserved in your locality, and also that those on the coast are sustained notwithstanding depleted numbers and increased difficulties. The way that support is being given in circumstances of unwonted trial is a very blessed manifestation of the faithfulness of God. I am sure it is adding to the spiritual wealth of the saints, and at the same time it is developing subjective features such as sympathy, and bowels and compassions,

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which are pleasing to God as being in accord with the feelings of His own heart.

Here, by God's mercy, we are in much quietness, and meetings go on unhinderedly. Indeed, so far as numbers go, we are increased, and have added help. I usually get to all local meetings, but am not able to move about. But we have cheer in coming together, and God has wrought for the recovery of some who had turned aside.

With much love in the Lord to the dear brethren, and to your dear wife and yourself,

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 12th, 1940.


DEAR --, -- I am sorry that we have seen so little of you for a long time, but we do not forget you, and we pray that the Lord may not lose the place to which He is entitled in your heart. No one has such a claim upon you as He has, for He has died for you that He might have you altogether for Himself. He knows what the world is, of which Satan is the god and prince. It never satisfied anybody yet, though there is everything in it to appeal to our natural desires and likings. But you know that following our own desires, though it may gratify us in a certain way, only pleases that in us which does not love the Lord. And it is poor happiness that leaves Him out, and finds us living as a companion of those who do not want Him either in their hearts or in their lives. I am sure you know that there is something infinitely better than all the world has to offer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in His wondrous things, and in the company of His people. But through unwatchfulness, and by neglecting prayer, and the Holy Scriptures, and by holding aloof from the companionship of believers, it is possible to lose desire even for the things which we know to be really precious. You once made choice of the narrow path which leads to life. Let me earnestly beg you to resist and turn away from all those influences which would draw you back into the broad way. The priceless privilege of being a true follower and confessor of the Lord Jesus is within your reach. Do not despise it, or miss the honour of bearing the reproach of Christ in the time of His rejection.

The dear brethren are much concerned about you, and

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earnestly desire that your heart may be filled with a sense of the worthiness of Christ, that you may count it your chief joy to get to know Him better, and to be a faithful follower of Him in the little while before He comes again....

With love in the Lord and every desire for your spiritual blessing,

Yours sincerely in Him,

January 11th, 1941.


MY DEAR MRS. --, -- ... I felt refreshed in the reading last night. We just had the verse or two about David taking Zion as a place where God could dwell and out of which He could shine forth. We thought the Spirit would have us to link this with Jesus being glorified. All divine grace was there in Him personally when He was here, but it was not in its own place positionally until He was glorified. Then it was manifest that, as F.E.R. used to say, grace is commensurate with glory! And God would have "all saints" to move, as it were, with Christ as all Israel moved with David. Thus should we reach in spirit the apprehension of grace according to its Ephesian measurement....

Yours affectionately in Him,

January 16th, 1941.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... It was very cheering, and a cause of deep thanksgiving, to know that the dear brethren in have been preserved from personal injury during the heavy raids which have taken place. I thank God for His mercy to them and thousands of others.

In the case you refer to it seems to be a question of waiting until the brother referred to is really free in his own spirit to take up again his privileges and responsibilities as of the assembly. I have noted that, in relation to the cleansing of the healed leper in Leviticus 14, the exercises of the first nine verses have to be gone through before he is presented before Jehovah at the entrance of the tent of meeting. When he is to be so presented it is the man himself who takes two he-lambs, etc. That is, on the eighth day he moves in his own exercises and brings his own gifts.

The exercises of the seven days precede this. I think we

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should gather that the leper outside the camp is a continual subject of interest. He would never be forgotten, for the presence of his "tent" in the camp would be the abiding evidence that his normal place was there, and the moment would be awaited with continual expectancy when it could be discerned that Jehovah had healed him. As soon as this was reported the priest would inspect him, and it would be confirmed that the sore of leprosy was healed. From that time the process of cleansing began, and went on until on the eighth day the healed leper took up exercises himself which had direct reference to the tent of meeting.

I think we rightly look for a repentant one to come to this point in his exercises. It cannot always be hurried. The exercises of verses 8 and 9 are serious ones, and they have to be gone through before the healed leper is really qualified to have to say to "the tent of meeting". There ought to be priestly discernment as to how far the cleansing process has gone. Has it reached the stage when the person can come as an offerer to "the tent of meeting"? Is he really free in his own spirit to do so? If he is, he will surely indicate this to the brethren. There is probably some reason for the brother you speak of holding back. Priestly discernment may be needed to find out what it is. It may be he needs some kind of spiritual help to bring him to the "eighth day". This is an exercise and a service for the brethren.

Our withdrawing from one who has sinned is not at all with the idea of having done with him, but with a view to his being saved for the assembly through godly sorrow working repentance to salvation. When it is known that this has come about by the working of God in his soul those that are spiritual are under responsibility to ascertain that it is really so. This being confirmed restorative activities can go on. Grace and encouragement can be shown; the repentant one can be assured of the love of the brethren. But I think it is rightly a matter for his own exercise as to when he feels free to take up again his relations with "the tent of meeting". It is well for one to wait until he is really free in his own spirit to take things up again. Of course spiritual persons can help him in this direction, and the saints can show that they no longer hold against him his wrongdoing. Christ is represented to him in the attitude of the brethren. This helps to deepen

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self-judgment, and it also tends to liberate the man to take up for himself exercises in relation to "the tent of meeting".

With much love in the Lord to your dear wife and yourself,

Yours affectionately in Him,

March 12th, 1941.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- Many thanks for yours. I do not remember writing anything that deals specially with the point of men being free to choose Christ. I think the letters of J.N.D. which you refer to are very clear and according to truth. A fallen creature will never by an act of his own will repent and submit himself to God. It is not at all that God has put any barrier in the way of man's repentance. He commands all men everywhere to repent, and this is what should be more pressed. Men are responsible to obey God's command; it is not at all a matter of what they choose to do but of obedience. We know that, apart from a sovereign movement on God's part, they will not obey God's command. Such is the dreadful state of the fallen man. But God is working in the sovereignty of His mercy to secure for Himself those whom He is pleased to constitute vessels of mercy. If He did not work not one single person would ever choose life. The whole bent of man's will is in the opposite direction. "Ye will not come to me that ye might have life".

God is pleased that His servants should persuade and beseech men. This is a testimony to what He is, and to His readiness to pardon and save. But nothing will really affect man God-ward apart from new birth. We preach to enlighten men as to God's attitude as a Saviour God. He is what He is for all men apart from any choice or change on their part. But they will not be affected by the thought of this apart from His working in them. So the choosing is really on God's part; and it is made effective by His calling. As knowing our own hearts we are fully assured that no impulse God-ward could ever have originated there. It has been mercy from first to last.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

April 25th, 1941.


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MY DEAR MRS. --, -- I am deeply moved by the tidings of your beloved husband's departure to be with Christ; and my heart is full of true and prayerful sympathy with you and your family. I feel not only for you but with you, for his departure is a very great bereavement to me. I cannot tell you what a comfort his brotherly love and great kindness have been to me for many years past. I have had very much cause to thank God for the help he has been to me, and for the comfort of intercourse with him in relation to the precious things of the Lord Jesus Christ, and matters connected with His interests here. I love to think, too, of all that he has been in service to the saints both publicly and privately, and of what he has been as a "pillar" in support of the testimony, and what is, perhaps, the greatest of all, the beautiful spirit which has characterised him in all his service and movements amongst the brethren. The thought of all this is, I am sure, a peculiar satisfaction to your heart, as it is a cause of thanksgiving to all who have been privileged to know and love your beloved husband. I pray that you may have a very deep and blessed consciousness of the love and support of Christ; and that to each member of your family this great bereavement may come as a divine touch making room for the inflow of the wealth of heaven in an enlarged way. I do not think I can desire for you all anything better than that the prayers of the deeply loved one who has gone may be answered abundantly for each one of you.

I am sure you are surrounded by the love and prayers of a very large number, and the sympathies of Christ expressed through His members will greatly support you. And He is interceding for you above who knows exactly what you need in this hour of sorrow. He can make the well-spring of His own love to flow in such a valley as this.

It is a trial to me not to be able to be with you tomorrow, but I am comforted in the knowledge that many will be there as vessels of the grace of Christ, and many more who cannot be there in body will be there in their affections:

With very much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

May 1st, 1941.


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BELOVED BROTHER, -- Many thanks for your letter, which I was most thankful to receive, and which I read to the dear brethren here last night. We are all most deeply and prayerfully sympathetic with our beloved brethren in -- in the great testings which you are passing through. Our hearts bow in thankfulness for the grace that has been upon you, and for the mercy that has so largely preserved you from personal injury. We are within hearing of the gunfire and explosions so that our hearts are kept alert in their affections and prayers for you. It is a comfort to know that our God has foreseen all that is now happening, and we may be sure that, while it is a judicial dealing upon that part of the earth which is professedly Christian, it also has a direct bearing upon His elect remnant in all the countries affected. He knows how to make it all contributory to His work by reducing the influence of what really hinders that work. I trust we shall all be much less earth-dwellers than we have been, and that the things above may be much more of a reality to us. F.E.R. used to speak of retiring into the region of the Spirit. There is much attraction to draw us there, but how often we need the negative help of pressures outwardly to move us in that direction. Our hearts are, indeed, made familiar with woe in this unprecedented time, but you are proving in a wondrous way that it does not separate from the love of Christ. May you, and all of us, know that love more fully than ever amid the present tribulations!

We were grieved not to have more of you with us on Saturday, but you had a very special place in our thoughts and prayers. I think we were helped as to the character and progress of service in the assembly.

With much love in the Lord to your dear wife and yourself and, indeed, to all the dear brethren,

Yours very affectionately in Him,

May 1st, 1941.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... It is many years since I saw the paper, "Righteousness in the last Days" (see pp. 91 - 104) but I believe the statements in it were intended to warn against the setting up on the part of the saints of any formal claim to be "the assembly". Well known servants of the Lord, such as J.N.D. and F.E.R., had spoken in a similar way when circumstances

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seemed to call for it. But these honoured servants spent their lives in labouring that saints might be brought into the truth of the assembly, and might walk together according to it in spiritual reality. So that the warning against assuming in a formal way to be "the assembly" is quite consistent with the earnest desire that not one iota of the truth in regard to the assembly shall be a dead letter. I believe that the Lord intends us to walk in the light of every part of that truth. He has, in wondrous mercy, revived a testimony to what is in the mind of God, and I believe that He will maintain it.

I cannot understand saints who have had light as to the assembly, and who believe that the divine thought of fellowship, and of assembly features and privileges, has been revived in mercy, and that these things are known in a practical way by thousands of saints the world over, taking the ground that assembly administration in dealing with evil is not to have any place. Matthew 18:15 - 20 is clearly part of the truth as to the assembly; it is a divine provision for matters which the Lord knew would arise. It may, of course, be said that the assembly is not in evidence in a concrete way as it was at Corinth. But if a few saints are in the light of the assembly, and in suitable moral conditions, assembly features will be there without any formal claim to be "the assembly". My impression is that, without any pretension, there is an increased cherishing of every part of the truth concerning the assembly, and increased desire to maintain it in a practical way. In order to this there must necessarily be the feature of assembly administration.

The Lord appears to have had a day of departure in mind when He added Matthew 18:19, 20 to what He had said before as to "the assembly". "Two of you" would be two of the assembly -- two who hold assembly ground spiritually, however great the general departure may be. If only "two" are available they can maintain what is due to the Lord in the assembly, in dependence upon His Father, and with the support and sanction of His presence. This, when the conditions of Matthew 18:19, 20 are found, is not a pretension but a spiritual reality, and it can be carried out in faithfulness to the Lord without any formal claim to be "the assembly".

I fully admit the weakness of things in the present day. It is manifested by the fact that I, or any other brother, may maintain the truth at one time and discredit it at another.

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You have had humiliating evidence of this in your own locality. But I cannot think of saints as able to take up in a practical way the fellowship, and the spiritual privilege of the assembly, and as having the Lord in their midst, and yet as unable to act with His sanction and authority in the matter of dealing with evil.

I am sorry to hear that some who have been withdrawn from claim that they are still in fellowship, for this seems to indicate an unwillingness to face the issues that have been raised, without which there cannot be a restoration of confidence.

I am not able to write as fully as I could wish, but I hope I have written enough to make clear what is in my mind. I fear that the statements in "Righteousness in the last Days" may not have been sufficiently guarded, and it may be they would need to be balanced by the statement that assembly truth and principles can be maintained, by the grace of God, without any formal claim to be "the assembly", There has been a good deal of ministry which bears upon this with which I am in the fullest accord.

We have had our worst local raid of the war this morning. The principal destruction has been at the local hospital where a number of deaths have occurred. A brother's house near by escaped without injury, and none of the brethren are hurt.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

May 8th, 1941.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... I most warmly appreciate the loving thought of the dear brethren, and desire that you will convey to them my fervent love in the Lord and my thanks for the gift in which they have expressed their love. It is only as having His name called upon me that I am at all worthy to be so thought of, but He is all-worthy, and I am comforted to know that He values more than I can the care of the dear brethren for His name.

Through much mercy the saints in this locality have been preserved from the severe testing which has come upon many others. Property has been destroyed and deaths have occurred locally, but none known to us have been injured, though a brother and sister have had their house damaged, but it was quickly repaired so that they could return to it.

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But all meetings have gone on "as aforetime", and with increased numbers on account of some coming here from severely raided areas. And this is so generally in this county of Devon. Fellowship meetings continue, and with larger numbers attending than in pre-war days. And in the meetings generally there is happy liberation in spirit from the conditions around, and ability to enjoy together our common portion in Christ.

Our dear brethren in have gone through a severe time, but have been inwardly supported, so that something of the spirit of being "more than conquerors" has been in evidence. It cannot be doubted that there are results for God of all this great and unprecedented trial. Increased sobriety, and deepened appreciation of all that has been presented in ministry for many years past, is to be observed, though there is much room yet for spiritual formation and enlargement. I think we all feel how much we owe to the prayers of our beloved brethren in all parts of the world; and we are deeply thankful that we become more and more conscious that there is one body, and that we are gaining by the love, and spiritual activities towards us of our fellow-members in far-off lands.

As regards material things we are supplied with all that is necessary, and the rationing system secures fair distribution, so that, generally speaking, there is very little cause for complaint. But it is quite possible that things may be more tightened up as time goes on.

My health keeps fairly good, considering my age, but under present conditions I do not feel able to get about as in past years. But I am sure that the Lord will give opportunity, and an open door, for such service as He intends to be rendered. It is a very great favour from Him to be enabled to serve Him, and His saints, even in the very smallest way.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

June 9th, 1941.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- The question you raise as to speaking of the assembly of God in a place where no saints come together as in the light of the truth is of interest and importance. I am free to submit my thoughts as to this to your judgment.

All saints indwelt by the Spirit are of the assembly -- of the

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house, the temple, the body -- and none of them can evade the responsibility which attaches to them as called of God to such a holy privilege. But if, in a certain place, the saints are all found in the national system, or in sectarian bodies, I cannot see how they can be spoken of as the assembly of God in that place. For the assembly of God, as addressed at Corinth, is not an abstract idea, or an invisible body, but a concrete company of persons, acknowledging the Lord's authority, accepting responsibility to maintain what is due to His Name, and enjoying together Christian fellowship and collective privileges. What J.N.D. felt in 1828 was that "the true church of God has no avowed communion at all". But if, through infinite mercy, a few saints are found walking together in the truth, something of assembly character can be recognised, and accredited to the locality where they are.

Not that such would publicly or formally claim to be the assembly of God, but they walk together as in the light and faith of the assembly position, and they are, I think we may say, the assembly of God representatively. There is something under the eye of God, and known to faith, which has the true character of the assembly of God in contrast to the many religious bodies which have not that character at all. There may be many believers in a place, but if they are all found on sectarian or independent ground how can we rightly speak of the assembly of God in that place? Through the enemy's work, and man's unfaithfulness or infirmity, the assembly of God is not there in any concrete expression. There may be material for the house there, and perhaps we may do something to get it built together, but, so far as I can see, nothing has taken assembly form as yet.

I know that it has often been said that all the believers in a place make up the assembly of God in that place. But this is looking at the matter very abstractly, and it does not carry us beyond what any pious person in the sects would say, and the practical result of holding this idea is that exercise is set aside, and believers made content to remain where they are. I do not see that Scripture contemplates the local assemblies of God in any such a vague and intangible way. They are always, I believe, definite companies of persons who have certain customs, and who can depute messengers to carry their practical love to saints in other localities, and who can receive letters of commendation. It seems to me that if we

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apply the term, "the assembly of God" to saints who are scattered and divided in the systems of men we are in danger of losing a sense of what is in the mind of the Spirit in using the term. It is to put an abstract idea in the place of a concrete company of persons. I cannot think that this is the mind of God....

With love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

June 21st, 1941.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... So far as I can see, "the assembly of God" as addressed in 1 Corinthians 1:2 was a body of persons occupying a public position in Corinth. It was not an abstract conception, but a company of persons bound together in a definite fellowship, and having intimate links of fellowship with similar companies universally, as being in organic unity with them as one body. It is evident that to be identified with any national, sectarian, or independent association is something entirely different from the assembly of God as it was constituted at Corinth. The practical effect of Christians being found in such associations is to reduce the thought of the assembly of God in their minds to something invisible. Indeed, they are accustomed to speak of "the invisible church". They suppose that all believers have a place in this invisible assembly, though they do not assemble in the truth of it, and in many cases would refuse the application to themselves of the principles which are laid down authoritatively as the Lord's commandment in 1 Corinthians. I cannot see that this is at all God's thought of His assembly as in a city.

Wherever there are saints indwelt by the Spirit there is, potentially, material for a local assembly, but I do not think Scripture contemplates persons being regarded as the assembly of God who never come together as in that character, or walk as recognising the truth of it.

"Ye are Christ's body and members in particular" could hardly be addressed to a sectarian or independent company, though we might use such a Scripture to exercise believers as to their position and associations. I think we have to take up every part of the truth in its scriptural setting, and, at any rate, we should be careful not to apply it to conditions which

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are contrary to it. 1 Corinthians has very little meaning to the majority of believers today, because they are not in a position where the truth can be understood, or in which it can be put into practical application.

We should not formally claim to be "the assembly of God", but there is a public position which corresponds with that at Corinth. And where the truth is maintained in principle and practice it is to faith the assembly of God in contrast with all other ways in which believers may come together. We do not want believers to think that they are the assembly of God when they are in principle and practice denying the truth of it.

I trust this may suffice to indicate how this matter presents itself to my mind.

With warm love in the Lord to your dear wife and yourself,

Yours affectionately in Him,

June 23rd, 1941.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I thank you for your letter, and count it a privilege to be able to pray for you in view of the Tribunal tomorrow. It is a very great comfort to see how the brothers have been helped on these occasions. And I cannot doubt that the effect of the testimony goes out much more widely than we think. And the opportunity of declaring publicly how we stand in relation to the Lord Jesus, as confessors of His Name, is truly an honour from God. I trust you will have a very distinct sense of support in answering any questions, and that the Lord may overrule all so that it may work out for His praise and for your gain. It is encouraging to think of the affectionate interest with which thousands of saints are concerned about those thus called upon to take up entirely new exercises. The Lord has not given such a universal spirit of prayer without meaning to give a very gracious answer to it, as you and many others will, I trust, fully prove....

With much love in the Lord to your dear wife and yourself,

Yours affectionately in Him,

July 1st, 1941.


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BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... The word generally translated "censer" is translated "snuff-trays" in Exodus 25:38; 37: 23; Numbers 4:9, and "fire-pans" in Exodus 38:3, so that it evidently refers to certain vessels fitted for contact with flame or fire even if not used for incense. But in Leviticus 10:1; 16: 12, and in the references in Numbers 16, it clearly means vessels in which incense is offered. It is clearly intimated that it was customary for priests to be furnished with censers, though there is no direct instruction as to their being made. It is assumed that they would use censers. The sin of Nadab and Abihu was that they offered with "strange fire". They represent persons who use fleshly means and abilities in the professed service of God. But God refuses any service that is not in the power of His Spirit; those who worship God must worship Him in spirit and in truth.

In Numbers 16 it is a question of persons seeking the priesthood as a glory to themselves, without being kindred with Christ. These men would glorify themselves even in the sphere of most holy service. They were highly privileged as Levites, but they coveted a distinction which was not theirs. In nothing is the pride and rebellion of the flesh more manifest than when it arrogates to itself priestly dignity and function. No doubt this applies prophetically to the claims set up by the clergy, but it speaks to us all of the seriousness of assuming to exercise priesthood without moral kinship with Christ. We cannot offer by fire unless we have been salted by fire ourselves. To bring unjudged flesh to God is bound to result in it being burned up. We must be "of the seed of Aaron" to be accepted.

A censer is the appropriate means of offering incense. It is a vessel which will bear the action of fire. But it cannot be rightly used by one who has not come under the baptism of fire himself. Hebrews 12:29 would connect with Numbers 16. I do not know that I can add more at present....

I trust that you and yours are well. With much warm love in the Lord to your dear wife and yourself,

Yours affectionately in Him,

August 12th, 1941.


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BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... Paul regarded the ministration of the Philippians to him as "an odour of sweet savour, an acceptable sacrifice, agreeable to God", and thus he would indicate that it was no mere matter of giving and receiving, but that it had its place in the service of the altar. So that there is a priestly side of such offerings which gives them spiritual elevation, and which also requires that they should be received in a priestly way. As the grace of God appears in the bounty of His dear saints one would earnestly desire that it might appear in the way that one receives of that bounty. It is with such thoughts in my heart that I wish you to give my warm love in the Lord to the dear brethren in and my thanks for their gift.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately is Him,

August 25th, 1941.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... It seems to be quite certain that development in the Child Jesus could only be in relation to the condition into which He had come. The thought of who it was who came into that condition underlies and enhances the wonder of it. The truth of what He was, and is, in Deity is the foundation of everything, but it is also true that He was found here in a condition in which He was in relation to God as dependent on God and instructed by Him. Though there is no record in Luke of His praying or reading the Scriptures before His baptism we do not doubt that He did pray, and found delight in the Scriptures. We know that it was His custom to attend the synagogue. At twelve years of age He thought that those who knew Him well should have known that He ought to be occupied in His Father's business. It was this that led Him to hear the teachers in the temple, and to ask them questions. I have no doubt that the understanding and answers which astonished those who heard Him had been formed by the Scriptures. They were not what He knew as God, but what He had learned from God as in the place of an instructed One. He has been spoken of as teaching them, but this is to take the whole incident out of its proper setting. For Him to have acted or spoken then according to His place in Deity would have been out of keeping with the truth of His condition and position at the time. It seems to me that

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He "advanced in wisdom" as continually adding to what He received from God as in the place of an instructed One here.

As God He had originated everything, and given the Scriptures; He was omniscient; He needed not to learn anything. But He had come into a condition and position in which He stood in relation to God as subject and dependent and instructed by God. As in this position He knew things as they were made known to Him. Even as to His public service it was "morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the instructed". The instruction did not come all at once even as to His public service, and I think we may understand that in His boyhood and youth He was continually acquiring instruction from God. He would meditate in the law of Jehovah day and night. But this has altogether to do with the place in which He was here God-ward as in the place of dependence and instruction. It is not the side of what He was as to His Person in Deity. He was ever God, and never less than God as to His Person, but as born in time He came into a condition which was marked by the features which rightly mark man as in relation to God. I think it is right to connect His advancing in wisdom entirely with this side of things. F.E.R. said long ago, "The two thoughts are wholly distinct conceptions, which cannot be grasped at one and the same time by any finite mind ... Now these two thoughts, though realised in one Person, must of necessity be separately and distinctly apprehended. The one presents God, the other man".

As to waxing strong in spirit, you have no doubt noticed that the Editors omit "in spirit", which leaves the expression as to waxing strong a general one, which is quite easy to understand as going along with advancing in stature, and belonging, of course, to the condition into which He had come....

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

October 10th, 1941.


MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, -- I am pleased to have your letter and to know that the little card was a comfort to your dear husband. I have prayed much for him, and for you,

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since I heard of his weakness and suffering, and I trust you will both be prepared vessels to receive just what the Lord will minister to you of Himself at such a time. I have a thankful remembrance of my personal contact with your dear husband, though it was only on rare occasions that I had this privilege. And I am thankful now to think of him in sympathetic affection.

I desire for him, what I earnestly seek for myself, that inward strengthening by the Father's Spirit, that will secure a dwelling-place for Christ in the heart through faith. It is marvellous that human hearts can be made capable of affording Him a fixed and "settled" place, even more acceptable to Him than the "house of habitation" which Solomon built, 2 Chronicles 6:2. That the One who dwells in the Father's heart should dwell in ours is almost too much to take in, and yet the riches of the Father's glory are freely expended to bring it about. And it is done for those, who on the side of their own personal exercises, are consciously "less than the least of all saints". It is not easy for us to put together extreme conscious smallness and the most transcendent spiritual enlargement. Yet the two go together and they both glorify God.

Yours affectionately in Him,

November 10th, 1941.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I very much appreciate your kindness in writing to let me know of the favourable issue with regard to the lost papers. It was a comfort to us to know this and an answer to our prayers. How the goodness and mercy of God enter into every detail of our lives! Indeed, this is always so, but when things go on, as we say, in the ordinary course, we are apt to be unobservant of it. But when incidents occur that make us feel our dependence, and He comes in for us in a special mercy, even though in what may seem a small thing, it is a very happy experience, and secures a note of thanksgiving which otherwise would have been absent....

With much love in the Lord to you both,

Yours affectionately in Him,

November 29th, 1941.


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BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... Such communications tend to bind us together as having a common interest, and they also encourage, as evidence that there is a great volume of support behind even the smallest bit of the levitical service. None who serve can say that they are left to serve alone! So I thank God for the fellowship of the dear saints at --, and I desire that you will convey to them my warm love in the Lord and my thanks for their gift, and for the loving interest of which it is the token. I desire that, through the grace of the Lord, and the prayers of His people, I may be enabled to serve Him, according to my allotted measure, so long as He may be pleased to vouchsafe the privilege.

The brethren here have been mercifully preserved from the severe testings that have come upon so many, particularly in the larger cities. But I trust this has not made us less sympathetic with our suffering brethren.

Your reference to the prophets is, I am sure, timely. They remind us that the remnant must expect to have part in the suffering which accompanies God's governmental ways, but for them it is a purifying process, refining what is precious in the sight of God, and bringing it out in its own true character.

I think we can see something of this going on. And it would appear, from the extension of the world-conflict, that none are to be left out of the exercise or out of the enrichment that will accompany it. In a certain sense, we have had the enrichment beforehand in an abundant spiritual ministry, but its value will be better known through the experiences we pass through.

Yours affectionately in the Lord,

December 12th, 1941.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- In answer to your letter received this morning with reference to Psalm 16:10, I may say that the Hebrew word sheol is explained by Mr. Darby as "vaguely expressing the place or state of the soul separated -- from the body" -- see note to Psalm 6:5 in the New Translation. The person who dies, as we see frequently in the Old Testament, goes down to sheol. But the Lord, in having death before Him, had full confidence that His soul would not be left to sheol, nor would He be allowed to see corruption. That is, He had resurrection immediately in view. In His case, as

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we know, He committed His spirit into the Father's hands, and He was that day in paradise. So that there is no vagueness or uncertainty as to where His spirit was in the interval between death and resurrection. Nor is there any uncertainty as to where the spirits of the saints are who have departed; they are with Christ, with the Lord. So that we do not think of speaking now of sheol or hades in reference to saints, for God has given us light far in advance of what was vouchsafed in Old Testament times. Saints of old died in faith that God would fulfil His promises, and I have no doubt apprehended in some way that it would be as raised from the dead that they would enjoy them. And they ought to have gathered from the Scriptures that Christ would die and be raised from among the dead; at any rate Psalm 16 made it clear that His resurrection would quickly follow His death. And the New Testament makes clear where His spirit was in the interval between death and resurrection.

I do not know that I need add more. I am pleased to think of so many of you being together to be a comfort and help to one another. You are continually in the prayers of the dear brethren. I trust you will be much helped in reading Colossians together.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 18th, 1941.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... It is a great comfort to me to be thought of by the dear brethren, because I believe their interest and prayers may give an enlargement and fruitfulness to any little service permitted to me which it would never otherwise obtain. And it is deep joy to know that so many hearts, the world over, are united in the one desire that the Lord's Name may be honoured, and His work furthered, by means of all the vessels which He is pleased to use, whether they be large or small.

I can truly say that we never felt our dear brethren in Australia to be so near to us, or so one with us, as we have felt it during the times of trial that have passed over us. The sympathy and prayers and practical manifestations of loving interest, have given very tangible evidence of a divinely formed unity which stands in vivid contrast to all that we see around.

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And it is now, apparent that your side of the world is not to be exempt from the trials which have harassed Europe. You, in your turn, will prove the same unfailing grace that has been proved by so many in this land. And I trust we shall all move together as more than conquerors through Him that has loved us!

In this little town we have had several raids, but none of those walking with us have been personally injured. The saints generally are preserved in quietness and confidence, and are deeply thankful for the comparative relief of the last few months....

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

January 6th, 1942.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I am sure you are counting on the affectionate sympathy and prayers of all who know you, and who know of your great bereavement. No words of mine can express how deeply I feel for you, and your dear wife and son. You are continually on my heart and in my prayers. My comfort is that I know you are sustained by the intercession of Christ our blessed Priest on high, and also the Spirit is interceding for you according to God's present mind for you. Divine Persons are making your sorrow their concern, and this being an assured reality the outcome can only be good, however testing the present experience may be. I pray that you may have a deeper and sweeter sense of the love of Christ than ever before, and that you may gain much in this hour of sorrow that will remain as an enrichment when all sorrows will be forgotten.

I will not add more save to assure you again of my true love in the Lord and my deep sympathy.

Yours very affectionately in Him,

February 14th, 1942.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... I am most thankful to the Lord for His great favour to me in giving me constant assurance of the spiritual affection of His beloved saints. And the grace that is upon them which leads them to express in a practical way their care for His work is also a matter of continual

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thanksgiving. I very warmly appreciate the loving thought of the dear brethren in --, and desire that you will give them my much love in the Lord and my thanks for their gift. The service rendered -- however small it may be in itself -- is sure to be fruitful when it is accompanied by the interest and prayers of the saints. So I am greatly encouraged by being made conscious of the partnership of the dear brethren in that portion of the great service which has been allotted to me. That the Lord may be honoured by it, and His Name magnified, is what they desire, and I trust His grace and power may secure this.

I am less able now to move about, but prove a great deal of mercy continually, and generally get to all local meetings. The saints here have been preserved, and find comfort and refreshment in coming together.

During the last week we have had a special sorrow in this district. Our dear young brother --, of --, was machine-gunned at his work in a nursery garden and fell asleep within three hours. He was coming on so well and contributing so happily in the meetings, that his sudden departure is a deep exercise out of which I trust much blessing may come. About twenty of his fellow-workmen attended the burial on Monday last, and some seemed much impressed....

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

February 21st, 1942.


BELOVED BROTHER. -- I was glad to see your handwriting, and to know something of your local cheer. I am interested to hear of your new meeting, and I trust it may prove as distinctly of the Lord as similar ones have in other places. It is good to see the Lord's work and testimony extended, and I hope you will have this joy as a result of the new room being available.

In all typical characters it is very needful to distinguish between what they were personally and those incidents in which they were typical of Christ. This is especially needful in such a case as Samson's. His personal weaknesses are marked, and yet he has faith (Hebrews 11) and power by the Spirit of Jehovah. In Judges 16:3 it is not the Spirit exactly, but his own inherent power by which he escapes from the

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snare. It is good when we see a believer who has been caught by the enemy proving that he has power to extricate himself. In so doing he shows that there is inward power notwithstanding his sad failure. So that Samson does something which the Spirit of God can use as typical of Christ. There was something there by the work of God which asserted itself in the crisis of verse 2. We might wonder how such weakness and such power can be in the same man, if we did not know something of our own history! God knows how necessary it is that we should be humbled by our own weakness if we are to be in any marked way the vessels of His power. God sometimes uses that which has something discreditable about it, so that there may be no glorying in man, and in times of disorder like we see in Judges it would be likely that He would do so. He takes up what is not commendable, but disciplines the vessel so as to bring out features of Christ, and these are enhanced by the previous contrariety. I think Samson is very instructive for us in the last days.

I am just getting over a cold which has kept me indoors about ten days. The brethren here are sustained, and there is often gracious help from the Lord in spite of all our weakness. We have about a dozen with us through war conditions, and they are a help. We do not see much extension of interest amongst believers locally, but one or two come in to the readings, and we hope are getting something.

We have had several raids here, but on a small scale compared with what has been in your neighbourhood. We have the dear brethren in Australia much in mind now.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

March 20th, 1942.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... As to Revelation, and the bearing of current events, there can be no doubt that things are moving in the direction which the prophetic word indicates. But we have always to bear in mind that the assembly period is not the subject of prophecy. It is instructive to observe, in connection with the fourth beast, that the Spirit of God passes over to the events of the last days, and gives little or no intimation as to what would transpire during the time that saints of the assembly are being called. The present is a gap in

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prophetic time, and it has always proved fruitless and misleading to try to connect what is happening now with prophecy, though many believers have wasted time in the attempt. One thing is certain, that the mystery of lawlessness was already working when 2 Thessalonians was written, and it has been developing ever since. But there is divine restraint upon it, so that the principles at work are not allowed to mature so long as the assembly is here. The "opened door" set before Philadelphia cannot be shut. We know not what changes may take place before the ten-kingdomed confederacy takes shape, and it is not well to try to forecast the course of human events. Our great concern should be to understand what wonders God is bringing to pass in gathering Christ's joint-heirs, and in securing His own inheritance in the saints.

I believe, as it has often been said, that the first movement that we should look for will take place at the right hand of God. Our eyes and hearts must be there. The great subject of our prayers should be that God will give increasing power with His word so that the elect may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory, and that saints may more and more find their portion outside this world, as being linked up in mind and affection with the Coming One, and be fully set for His interests here. We do not look for events, but for a Person, and the more simply we have this in view the better will it be for our souls and for our testimony. With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

March 23rd, 1942.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... I cannot, of course, express any judgment as to how a particular case should be dealt with. That is a matter for those locally to consider who know the case and the state of the person. But, as all have moved together in withdrawing, it is important that there should be mutual confidence as to how we act individually with reference to a person withdrawn from. It could not possibly help such a person to give him the impression that we were not all of one mind, or that some did not regard his position as seriously as others. It is well that brethren should confer as to the line of conduct that is suitable in such a case, so that we regard the fellowship in what we do, and do not move independently.

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We can hardly make rules as to detail of conduct, but it is clear that an attitude of great reserve should be maintained in relation to one withdrawn from until the brethren are satisfied that there is some measure of genuine repentance. It needs spirituality to approach one under discipline with due regard to the holiness of God's house, and at the same time in the spirit of the dispensation of grace. It needs a "priest" to discern when a leper is "healed", and, generally speaking, we should look to find priestly discernment when the brethren keep together in their exercises and move in unity. If we are not careful to move in unity Satan may get an advantage. How dependent we need to be all the time!

I trust you may be helped in this exercise and that, through patience, all may come to be of one mind.

With love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

April 8th, 1942.


MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, -- I appreciate your kindness in sending me word of the departure of our dear sister Miss -- to be with Christ. I had heard of the state of her health some weeks back, and have had the privilege of thinking of her in prayer. I am truly thankful now to know that her suffering time is over, and she is with the One whose love she knew so many years. You will miss her much, for the link with her was long and intimate, but I am sure you will have a certain satisfaction in knowing that her wilderness journey is over, and also in being assured that the lessons learned, often in weakness and sorrow, remain as a permanent enrichment and joy. Spiritual formation is like the growth of a tree. It can be observed often more definitely in its early stages, as when I saw it in our beloved sister nearly sixty years ago. But it goes on all, the time, and each year adds something to it, until the mature result is ready to be transplanted to the place for which it is fitted. All, from first to last, of pure grace, and to the praise of Him who has wrought it all.

I trust that you and yours will find much comfort in this hour of bereavement, and that, by the grace of the Lord, the sorrow may yield much to you in spiritual gain. The sorrow

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will pass, but the gain will abide. I am sure you will be surrounded and comforted by the love of the brethren, and you will be thought of in sympathetic affection. I count it a privilege to have my share in this.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

April 18th, 1942.


BELOVED SISTER IN THE LORD, -- You and your household have been very much in our hearts and prayers during the sad days and nights which has passed through. We are deeply thankful to know that you are all preserved from injury, and that, so far as we have heard, none of the dear saints known to us have suffered personally, though some have had their houses damaged.

It is not God's will that His testimony should be taken away until His appointed time comes, and His beloved saints are the vessel which carries His testimony. So we are retained here, in spite of man's violence, to be more prayerful and devoted than ever as we await the return of our Lord. How blessed to have a portion in Christ which no power of evil can touch, and which is secured to us by the sufferings and death of our precious Saviour! The things above are ours now, and as things here are shaken and pass away it is more and more a comfort and joy to think of them.

I trust you are sustained in a quiet confiding sense of the love of God, and of His faithfulness. He has considered all that His saints have to pass through, and He intends that it shall all work for good. It is part of the process by which He is preparing us for glory. We do not always understand God's ways with us, for they are "past finding out", but when the result of them all is seen we shall glorify Him for them all.

But we have something even greater than the ways of God to think about. We have God Himself, revealed to us in love by His beloved Son; and this is the resting place of our hearts even while we prove what a scene of sorrow we are passing through. May you and yours have the sweet comfort of His known and trusted love! ...

Yours affectionately in Him,

May 5th, 1942.


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BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... I have much comfort in the assurance that I have an abundant measure of support through the prayers of the dear brethren, and I value their fellowship increasingly as my ability for service diminishes through the limitations which advancing years bring with them. There is no reason why there should be spiritual limitations even if there are physical ones, and one would earnestly desire to be like Paul or John, yielding the richest fruit in ministry towards the end of the course of service here. And through the prayers of the saints, and the super-abounding grace of the Lord, this may be realised even by the smallest and feeblest vessel of service.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

June 13th, 1942.


BELOVED SISTER IN THE LORD, -- We have heard today of the departure of your dear husband to be with Christ, and our hearts are deeply moved as feeling that we are bereaved of one whom we greatly valued and loved. We can and do sympathise very truly with you in the great sorrow which has come upon you, and we pray that the Lord Himself may be your solace and support and make Himself and His love exceedingly precious to your heart. You have the unspeakable comfort of knowing that your loved one is with the Lord, whom he loved and served so earnestly and faithfully for many long years, and whose care and support he proved even to the end. For he was permitted to continue in active service amongst the dear brethren to the end, and this is just what he wished to do, I am sure. I thank God upon every remembrance of him, and I am glad to have had sweet links of fellowship with him, and particularly that I was privileged to have those few days in -- which I think of with continual pleasure. I am comforted to know that you will be surrounded by the love and sympathy of the dear saints, who will enter very affectionately into all that has come upon you, and you will have the prayers of the brethren far and wide. It is blessed to know that soon we shall be all together with the Lord, when there will never be anything to distract our hearts from Him, and we shall be conformed to His image, for His glory, and for the satisfaction of the Father's love. What joy it will

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be to serve Him perfectly as seeing His face and reflecting His beauty! And we owe it all to Him, and to the wondrous love which took Him in death for us.

Please do not think that this letter needs any reply. I only wanted to assure you of the remembrance and sympathy of many here who love you and who loved and valued your beloved husband.

With fervent love in the Lord,

Yours very affectionately in Him,

August 25th, 1942.


MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, -- ... So far as I see, the instructions of Scripture as to the woman's attire are so worded as to give the prominent place to what is within, but they imply that there will be correspondence in the outward deportment and dress with what is within. This calls for sensitiveness of moral perception as to what will really accord with the testimony. It is not commendable to make haste to follow every current fashion. We have, more or less, to fall in with what becomes general, but even sober people in the world do not hurry to pick up every new fashion or habit, much less should believers have any desire to do so. If the body were held simply as a vessel in which Christ is to be magnified it would have a very great influence on how we dress, and on all our behaviour.

We have precise instruction as to the woman having her head covered when she prays or prophesies. This marks her place in the great economy of headship, and she does well to cherish it as her own peculiar glory. I do not know that Scripture puts an obligation on her to have her head covered whenever she appears, as one might say, in a public way. But I think a Christian woman who had the truth of headship in her heart would feel it to be happier to be covered rather than uncovered when she walks abroad before the world. Not regarding this as a matter of requirement, but as expressive of a delicate sense of suitability. The Lord would value such an exercise of heart as linked with one of the greatest principles of the moral universe. This just comes back to what I began with, that the important thing is what is within, and that the outward should take character from it.

I do not speak of this from any personal observation, for I

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do not think I have seen any instance of sisters walking about uncovered. Of course, going a few yards, say, from one house to another, is hardly, I suppose, what you have in mind. Those walking with us here have all been preserved, and we are hoping to be provided, within a few weeks, with a suitable room to meet in. My health is not good, but I generally get to all local meetings.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

September 21st, 1942.


MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, -- We have now heard through your dear sister that you are very weak, and this moves our hearts to special prayer for you that the Lord Jesus Christ may be with your spirit. He has come nearer to us than any other could do, for He has come into the place of sin and death in which we lay as members of a fallen race. He has glorified God about all that we were, and about all that has had the nature of sin in our history. He has completely settled in righteousness every question between God and our souls, and He is now our righteousness before God, and the blessed measure of our acceptance. Nothing can be added to His perfection, nor can anything be taken from it, and it is all ours through infinite grace. Eternity will unfold this more and more to us.

Heaven contains many glorious beings, but none save One could furnish us with any title to occupy their place. But the blessed Son of God has secured His own place for us, and He is holding it for us, and He is keeping us for it, and none can pluck us out of His mighty Hand. Nothing in heaven would attract us if He were not there. There would be nothing there on which our hearts could rest if the One who has died for us were not the central Object. But He is there, and we thankfully own how worthy He is to be there. His perfections here filled the heart of God with delight, for He did always the things which pleased His Father. We have believed on Him as the perfect, blessed Son of God, the Anointed One, and this is the evidence that we are born of God. We have never been able to find anything trustworthy in ourselves; there has never been any resting place for us in self. But One has come before us in whom there is no flaw, and He has

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brought the love of God to us by His death, and He is ours now in all His blessedness. Serving us all the time as Advocate, Intercessor, Priest, thinking of us even when we do not think of Him!

It is blessed to think of being with Him eternally, and to be conscious that we owe all to Him, and to the Father who gave us to Him! In His tender love He is touched with the feeling of your present weakness; He sympathises and succours, and intercedes for you and moves His saints -- His members -- to do the same.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 17th, 1942.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- As to the bearing of sins by the blessed Lord, I think it is important to see that Scripture never says that He bore the sins of all. He is the propitiation for our sins; but not for ours alone, but also for the whole world. God has been glorified about sins in such a way that Christ can be set forth a Mercy-seat on God's part towards all men. This answers to Jehovah's lot on the day of atonement, Leviticus 16. The blood of the one goat goes in and is put on the mercy-seat. God's glory is so met that His righteousness in remitting sins can be set forth to all. But as to substitution -- the actual bearing of persons' sins -- this is limited to believers, that is, to God's elect. This answers to the other goat, upon which the sins of the people were confessed and by which their sins were borne away. In preaching the gospel we speak of Christ as the Mercy-seat, and of His blood as the righteous ground on which God can remit sins, and that He and the value of His blood are available for all through the grace of a Saviour God and a Justifier. But when persons have believed the glad tidings we can tell them that Christ bore their sins in His own body on the tree, so that they are gone, and will never be remembered by God any more. But persons who die unsaved will be judged according to their works. Christ did not put away their sins. They will not only be condemned because they did not believe, but because they have died in their sins, and will be under the guilt of them at the great white throne. It is not sound doctrine to say that Christ bore a person's sins, but that if he does not believe he will

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eventually be judged for those very sins which Christ bore. This is often said, but Scripture does not say so.

As to the action of the Holy Spirit in human systems, there are no doubt pious and God-fearing persons in those systems, who may serve individually in the power of the Spirit in preaching or teaching according to the measure of their light or gift. When such believers serve they may be blessed in conversions, or in helping those who are the Lord's. But there is no Scripture for choosing a pastor. They have devised this out of their own hearts, or it is part of the system which they have adopted. It is really confusion and disorder from a scriptural point of view. But we must bear in mind that in the very mixed condition which prevails in the religious sphere God respects those who act with a good conscience, according to the measure of light which they have. And if a company of pious believers pray that they may get a minister who will preach the truth and help them spiritually, it is very possible that God will hear and answer their prayers. Alas! I am afraid that practically such exercises and prayers tend to diminish greatly, and the spiritual quality of the preaching declines very much. This, to a large extent, results from the unscriptural practice of congregations choosing their pastors. In such cases the majority decide, and the majority is rarely composed of the most spiritual elements. The Spirit acts in His sovereignty by whomsoever He will, but He is greatly hindered, and often positively quenched in human systems. It is for us to show them from Scripture, and in actual practice, a more excellent way.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 26th, 1942.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- You and your dear children are continually in my heart and in my prayers at this time, and you are surrounded by the affectionate sympathy of very many. And, sweetest of all, you are being succoured, I am sure, by the grace of the blessed Priest on high.

God's ways are, indeed, "past finding out", but they have often been proved to be ways of love and blessing, even when apparently otherwise to the natural eye. I pray that you may be greatly comforted in the sense of divine faithfulness, and

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enabled to go through this time of sad bereavement in quiet confidence in God's wisdom and love. Thus you will honour Him, and this will ensure that you will be honoured by Him in His own time and way.

I will not add more; I only wished to let you know that I most truly and deeply sympathise with you. Please do not think that this word of loving interest requires any reply. You will have much to think of.

With warmest love in the Lord to you and yours,

Yours very affectionately in Him,

January 3rd, 1943.


... We have had you all in -- much in our hearts since we knew of the raids, and we doubt not that you have thought of us. These things lead to more prayer for our fellow-members, and this is one part of the spiritual gain which accrues from them. We are all most thankful for the overshadowing mercy which has preserved so many of us from any personal injury. But we feel for and with our sorrowing brethren in -- in their grief.

It is ours to patiently bear the trials which come upon us in common with so many thousands of our fellow-men. The remnant in a coming day will cry, "How long!" and for the elect's sake those days will be shortened. Perhaps the world will owe a return of peace to the prayers of saints, but if a lengthening of tranquillity be granted we know that it cannot be for long. How happy are those who have gone out in mind and affection from all that is here, through the attraction of what is in heaven!

January 11th, 1943


MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, -- I gladly send you a few lines in answer to your letter of January 8th, 1943. I am thankful to know of some who have been converted, and are coming on to the meetings at -- . May they be greatly helped, and led on in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ! No doubt they will need building up in grace, and this will be a happy service for you and others.

The paragraph on pages 48 and 49 of the "Outline of Revelation" simply calls attention to certain statements of Scripture

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with reference to the book of life. We may be quite sure that all that Scripture says is true and very profitable for us, and if there is anything we do not understand we can pray about it, and also get help from others.

The first time the book of life is mentioned in Scripture, indeed, the only time in the Old Testament (Exodus 32:32, 33 refers to it simply as God's book) is in Psalm 69:28, which speaks prophetically of those who hated Christ without a cause, and who would destroy Him, being His enemies wrongfully (verse 4), and who persecuted Him (verse 26). It is said of them, "Let them be blotted out of the book of life". To understand this we must remember that the Jews and their leaders were in a place of great privilege as having the oracles of God, the promises, the service of God, and even having Christ amongst them. They were in the book of life as having great divine privilege, in contrast with the dark heathen world; Christ owned them as "his own", John 1:11. But by their wicked rejection of Christ they forfeited all right to the privilege which God had conferred upon them, and they were blotted out of the book of life. Many today are in a place of light and privilege, but if they neglect the great salvation, and perhaps even persecute Christ in His people, it will come true, if they do not repent, that they will be blotted out.

The first mention of the book of life in the New Testament is in Philippians 4:3, where we read of certain fellow-labourers of Paul -- "whose names are in the book of life". They were not at all the kind of persons to be blotted out.

Then in Revelation 3:5 the promise, "I will not blot his name out of the book of life", is given to the overcomer in Sardis. If we watch, and do not defile our garments, there is no fear of our names being blotted out.

It will be noticed that the above scriptures have a certain reference to our place as in responsibility here. They raise the question as to whether we are really in the list of the living, or have we merely, like those in Sardis, a name to live? But the simplest believer who knows the Saviour's love, and who knows that his sins have been washed away by the blood of Christ, is entitled to know that he is one of Christ's sheep and that he will never perish. But he also knows that he cannot keep himself, and that his security lies in keeping near the Shepherd; he does not, and dare not, trust himself.

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But in the closing chapters of the Bible the book of life is spoken of in a different way. It is called "the book of life of the slain Lamb", and we learn that the names written in it were written "from the founding of the world", Revelation 13:8; 17: 8. The book of life in these scriptures has clearly to do with God's purpose as made sure on the ground of redemption. Nothing in that connection depends on man's responsibility. It is purely of God's sovereign love and mercy that names are written in the book of life of the slain Lamb. There can be no thought of blotting out in that connection. Those written in that book are God's elect, and will be surely kept by His power through faith. None of the names written in that book will ever be blotted out.

If we take Scripture simply as it stands we shall not get into any difficulty. We shall see that the book of life is sometimes viewed as containing the names of those who have a place of privilege and responsibility in relation to God, such as Israel had in Old Testament times, and such as the Lord's bondmen have now. This may be illustrated by the fact that the name of Judas is on the list of the twelve apostles, Matthew 10:2 - 4. He was numbered amongst the apostles, but he was never converted or saved, and by transgression he fell, and his name was blotted out.

I trust these few words may serve to clear up any difficulty. With love in the Lord,.

Yours affectionately in Him,

January 12th, 1943.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... The abounding love of the saints makes one long to be able to serve them in a better and fuller way, and, as loved by divine Persons, they are worthy of the very best service that can be rendered to them. And the Lord delights to take up what is of Himself, even though it be small in measure, and to multiply it, as He did the loaves and fishes, so that many may be fed, and His grace may be known in the whole matter. I value much the prayers of the dear brethren that the little service which still remains to me may be made fruitful to His praise.

The dear saints here have been greatly comforted by knowing that so many have thought of them sympathetically, and I am sure we have proved the reality of the support which comes

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in answer to the prayers of God's children. Our meetings are reduced in the number able to be present, but the grace of the Lord has sustained us. We are just at present reading the prophet Habakkuk, and seeing that there can be great inward joy in God even before there is any outward deliverance from trial and pressure. This is the peculiar triumph of faith in an evil day. May we all know more of it in an experimental way, through the grace of our faithful God!

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

February 26th, 1943.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I greatly appreciated your kindness in writing to give me details as to the departure of your dear mother to be with Christ.

You and all the family have been very much on my heart and in my prayers since your bereavement. I can enter very sympathetically into the sorrow of it, for there is something peculiarly sweet and tender in the link which is divinely formed between a mother and her children. And the breaking of that link touches the heart in some of its deepest affections. But the Lord intended this sorrow to have its part in the formation of a vessel that can be tenderly susceptible of influences from Himself as having known His sympathy in it.

Your mother endeared herself to all who knew her, and filled her place of service in a way which, I am sure, was very pleasing to the Lord. She has left an example to be considered and followed, and models are fully as important as teachers, for they bring out the living virtue of divine grace, and have thus a very practical and effective place in the testimony.

With much love in the Lord and true sympathy with you all,

Yours affectionately in Him,

March 8th, 1943


BELOVED BROTHER, -- Your letter reached me this morning, and it gives me the opportunity of praying for you at a time when you are going through bodily weakness. I hope it may be the will of God to grant you full recovery so that you may continue among the beloved saints for their comfort and for

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your own joy and His glory. I have no doubt you are proving that when the Lord calls His own aside from the normal course of their life He has some distinct purpose of blessing in it. He has enabled you to perceive what the great end is which He has before Him, and that it requires subjection. The spirit of insubjection has marred everything here, and we know how it has wrought in our own experience, but the knowledge of God as revealed in love has become powerful to deliver us from it, and this deliverance is being perfected all the time in view of what you have spoken of as finality. The full strength and vigour of spiritual life is known when divine Persons are before us, and I trust you will have some experience of this while you are laid aside. I can in measure sympathise with you in your weakness, for I have known it in my own life, but have learned that it is often preservative and educational, and that it liberates from the influence of many things that tend to obscure spiritual vision....

With love in the Lord to your dear wife and yourself,

Yours affectionately in Him,

April 9th, 1943.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I thank you for your very kind letter of the 21st inst. I warmly appreciate your brotherly love, and sympathy, and prayers, and also the affectionate interest of the dear brethren in -- . My enforced rest has been, I think, for my physical good and, I trust, not without some spiritual gain. And the love of the dear brethren has been a sweet cordial to my spirit.

Through God's mercy I have not suffered any pain, so that being laid aside for a time was not attended by any discomfort.

I feel that my strength is reduced, and the doctor tells me I must keep in mind now that I am an old man. But this is not an unhappy consideration, and I trust it may favour the acquisition in increased measure of a wise heart -- a heart strengthened to be a dwelling-place for Christ.

With much love in the Lord to your dear wife and yourself and to the dear brethren,

Yours affectionately in Him,

May 27th, 1943


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BELOVED BROTHER, -- Your kind letter, enclosing the very gracious gift from the dear saints in --, has duly reached me. I am sensible of the Lord's favour in permitting to me a small part in His blessed service, and also in the great encouragement which He gives me by the love and fellowship of His beloved saints. And I am especially touched when this love is expressed by brethren whom I have never seen in their own locality, for such communications establish a personal link which I greatly value. So I desire that you will give my warm love in the Lord to the dear saints, and my thanks for their free-hearted gift. I have no doubt it is accounted of God as a sacrifice of sweet odour upon His altar, and that it is thus part of His holy service as the fruit of His own grace and love.

My little service for a long time has been chiefly through what has been printed. This is not so direct or happy a service as speaking face to face, but in the Lord's great goodness it has its place, and one is thankful and content if He is glorified and His loved ones helped.

I had heard of the trials through which you have passed in --, and I am deeply thankful that you have proved amidst such testing circumstances the care and protection of God's mighty hand. We cannot always see at the time what has been gained in the experience; we are kept in dependence even as to this, but in the confidence that His ways with us are never dissociated from the purpose of His love. They are intended to help us to remain in the attitude of subjection. In one sense there is nothing higher than this, for it is the attitude in which the Son will be placed eternally. We have to be disciplined to it, that we may be with Him in it eternally, and this wondrous process is going on now. It is well when our hearts are able to recognise the value of it, the wisdom and the love of it, even at a time when the operation of it is not joyous but grievous. Our God and Father will eventually vindicate all His ways with us.

The dear brethren here have all been preserved from personal injury, and the privileges and services have continued by the Lord's grace and support. And we have had a considerable time of quietness now, which we appreciate thankfully.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

August 10th, 1943


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BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... I realise deeply that all is of grace, whether it be the favour of serving, or the favour of being supported and encouraged in the service by the fellowship of the beloved saints. Please give my warm love in the Lord to the dear brethren, and my hearty thanks for their gift, and the interest and care which it expresses. I am sure that it is all the outcome of their love to the Lord's Name, and this is very precious in His sight. It is, indeed, a comfort to me to be thus thought of, though at the same time, it makes me conscious how little I have been able to do to serve those who have been called by God into such a wonderful portion in Christ. But the love of the brethren stimulates the desire to be more available, and more spiritually competent, as a vessel of service, while accepting the limitations which necessarily are experienced when one gets beyond fourscore years. One would wish to be more mature in the service even if what is done is much reduced in quantity. The harvest is still great, and the workmen comparatively few, and much remains to be done in a short time, for we cannot contemplate the assembly remaining here much longer. Every moment is precious, in view of every man being presented perfect in Christ, and this was the end for which Paul toiled, combating according to God's working which worked in him in power. How impossible it is for such an end to be reached save by divine power, and this casts us wholly upon God, and especially so at the end of a dispensation marked by the greatest failure. But 2 Timothy is full of encouragement even for the difficult times of the last days, so that we may lift up our heads as having received from God the Spirit of power, and of love, and of wise discretion.

The dear brethren walking with us here have all been preserved from personal injury, and there is an encouraging sense of the Lord's grace and support in the midst of frailty in the earthen vessels.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

August 27th, 1943.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- Your kind letter reached me this morning, bearing with it the affectionate gift from the dear brethren in -- . This very practical expression of love and fellowship

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calls forth thanksgiving from my heart because it testifies of an interest and care with regard to the work of the Lord which is the fruit of God's wondrous grace, and of the activity of the divine nature in His beloved saints. I am comforted by the love of the dear brethren, and encouraged by their fellowship, and I am consciously enriched by having a personal link with them through their movement of love towards me. Please give them my warm love in the Lord, and my hearty thanks for their gift.

These are days in which the Lord is doing much to form and strengthen universal bonds, and to deliver His saints from an outlook which is narrower than His own. And the fellowship of dear brethren in far-off lands is a continual stimulus to my heart to have prayerful interest in many whom I have never seen, and this is a very gracious enlargement for which I thank Him. The testing circumstances in so many parts of the world are also developing universal sympathies, and personal interest in those of whose trials we hear. And instances of the steadiness of faith under trial are a continual comfort. We are all specially interested in those of our brethren who are in the near and far East, and we have much cheer in what we hear of those who have gone from Australia and New Zealand. One cannot doubt there will be fruit of the testimony and service rendered, which will remain to the praise of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The brethren here are preserved and sustained, and have much to be continually thankful for. I wish I could speak of extended interest, but of this we have not much evidence locally. But amongst those walking together there is, I believe, increasing appreciation of the available privileges.

I cannot now move about as in past years, and during the last three months I am more restricted than before. But it is just the increased weakness that comes with advancing years. I have not much actual suffering, and I am nearly always able to get to the local meetings....

We have just heard that Italy has surrendered, and we are thankful if this is a step on the way to peace amongst the nations.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

September 9th, 1943.

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BELOVED BROTHER, -- It seems to me that what it is to speak injuriously against the Holy Spirit may be gathered from Mark 3:30, "Because they said, He has an unclean spirit". See also Matthew 12:22 - 32.

There was every evidence that the power of divine goodness was operating in Jesus, and that men were being delivered from the power of evil and its consequences. There could be no question that God was with Jesus in infinite goodness, and that He was spoiling Satan's house after having first bound him. But the Pharisees, knowing this, for it was plainly before their eyes, said out of the pure wickedness of their hearts that Jesus cast out demons by Beelzebub the prince of the demons. They knew that divine goodness was there, operating to deliver men from Satan's power, but they said it was Beelzebub. It was a question of the character of the power that was operating; was it "an unclean spirit" or was it the Holy Spirit? They knew better, but their wicked hearts attributed what was of the Holy Spirit to Satan. It was charging the Holy Spirit with evil, and for this sin there was no forgiveness. Resisting the Holy Spirit is not quite the same as charging Him with evil.

Man as fallen has the knowledge of good and evil, though it is only those who are the subjects of a divine work who have their senses exercised for distinguishing the two in a spiritual way. But man does know the difference between good and evil. Man knows that evil is of Satan and good is of God, and if he says that good is of Satan it shows him to be morally perverse in his will. It is not that his judgment is at fault, but his will; he hates the good.

The Holy Spirit was the power by which all the works of Jesus were wrought, and they were wrought amongst a people who had not only the knowledge of good and evil but had also the Scriptures of the Old Testament. They had every means of knowing what was of God and what was of Satan. But notwithstanding all this, when the works of the Holy Spirit were before them in the miracles of Jesus, they said those works were wrought by the power of Beelzebub. For this there was no forgiveness; it made manifest that they were of their father the devil.

We must remember that now there is no such public manifestation of good in power as there was when Jesus was on earth. The conditions are not present now which made such

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a sin possible when the Messiah was here. The Holy Spirit is acting still, but not in the same public or manifest way. There is not the same opportunity to speak injuriously of Him. The Lord's words apply particularly to those who, when He was here, attributed His works wrought in the power of the Holy Spirit to Beelzebub.

No one born anew could possibly be guilty of this sin, though Satan often harasses poor souls by leading them to fear that they have. But it is clear enough that if people are afraid of the very thought of such a thing they are certainly not guilty of it. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is not merely a wicked thought which Satan may put in the mind, but a thought expressed in words and maintained as a definite judgment.

I do not know that I can add more, but if there is still any difficulty please let me know.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

October 25th, 1943.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I am sure that you have counted on my deep interest and prayerful sympathy in the very heart-testing experience you have passed through, and now in the great bereavement of which you and your household are feeling the sorrow. But I am moved to send you a few words of much affection, that you may know that ever since I heard of your dear wife's illness she and you and your dear children have been daily and nightly in my thoughts and on my heart and have been the subjects of my continued prayers.

The Lord has cared for you and for the loved one who is now with Him, and what He has done in the past He will do. "Having loved ... loved ... unto the end" and so it will be with you and yours. It is sweet to think of His grace as shown to, and shining out in, your beloved wife. It was my privilege and joy to come in contact with it, at intervals, through many years, and I thank God that I was permitted to know her from very early childhood, and to see evidence of the opening, of her heart to the preciousness of Christ, and He has continued to be her support and joy, and to manifest His love to her, and has given her to see divine grace extending itself to her dearly loved children. And now she is with Him who was so

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much to her while she was here, and He is more to her now, for it is "far better" to be with Him, for there are no distractions of any kind there.

You have been surrounded by the love of the brethren in your sorrow, and I am sure you have much solace in this, and that it will give an added touch to the way in which you serve them, as you are left to encourage them by the comfort which you have yourself received from God.

I look to Him to give you all that special support which the present time requires, and to enable you to continue in His blessed service enriched greatly by what you acquire in your present exercise and experience with God. I shall continue to think of you and your household as His grace enables me.

With very much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

November 2nd, 1943.


MY DEAR --, --, ... I was most thankful to have your letter to tell me how graciously and tenderly the Lord had been pleased to take your dear mother to be with Himself. It is a great loss for you all, and at the same time, I am sure, a cause of deep thankfulness in all your hearts. For with our aged loved ones there is always a relief of spirit in knowing that the time of exercise and weakness and suffering is over, and that the "far better" has been entered upon.

I am specially glad to know that my prayers were answered in your dear mother having rest and joy in the Lord in the time of nature's greatest weakness. This was His special favour to her and to you all, and it will be a happy memory to cherish.

I should have counted it a privilege to join in the thanksgivings that will ascend from the hearts of the brethren on Saturday, and, indeed, I shall not fail to do so, though it will be here, and not in bodily presence with you.

I have you much in mind also with regard to all the changes which will now necessarily come about, and my prayers will continue that you may have all the needed wisdom and direction that will be called for. What we have proved in the past will not fail us in the present or in the future, whether that, future here be prolonged or shortened as the will of God may order.

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My love and sympathy go out to you all, as you may be assured, and I count upon the Lord for His sustainment as the need requires....

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 9th, 1943.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I received your letter and I am glad to send you a few lines in reply. I will touch upon the difficulties you mention without further prelude.

Upon careful consideration of Matthew 8:5 - 13 and Luke 7:1 - 10 I think it will be seen that there is no discrepancy between the accounts given. Luke adds to the account given by Matthew the interesting circumstance that the centurion sent twice to the Lord before he came himself. Luke, writing to a Gentile, relates circumstances which bring out in a striking way the conscious unworthiness with which a Gentile officer approached the Lord, yet, withal, his implicit confidence in the divinely conferred authority of the One to whom he appealed. Luke, by inspiration of the Spirit, records facts which Matthew did not, but they do not conflict in any way with what Matthew writes.

Matthew tells us that two possessed men met the Lord; Mark and Luke only mention one. You say that the two latter tell us there was only one. If they had said so there would have been a serious discrepancy, but if you look at the passages you will see that they made no such statement. It must be borne in mind that the gospels are an inspired selection from an immense amount of material (see John 21:25). And each evangelist selects by inspiration of the Spirit just those details which were needed to fill out his presentation of Christ. The wisdom of God enters into every detail of the presentation. It is allowable, and most profitable, for us to enquire why the Spirit of God has left out this detail or that in one gospel and inserted them in another. But this is a test, not of the accuracy of Scripture, but of our spiritual discernment of the character of each gospel. To attempt to bring the accounts into harmony in a way of human accuracy is simply to break down the beautiful carved work of the Holy Spirit.

I cannot tell you why Luke apparently gives Lebbaeus the name of Judas, but this is only a proof that I do not know everything; it is wholesome sometimes to remember this.

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John using, as I believe, Roman time, tells us that at the sixth hour the Lord was before Pilate; that is, at 6 o'clock Friday morning. He was crucified at the third hour (Jewish time); that is at 9 o'clock in our reckoning. The accounts agree perfectly.

Mr. Darby's thought was that Matthew 18:1 was in the dusk of Saturday evening, as we should speak, and that this visit stood by itself, and is not to, be confounded with the subsequent visit of the women very early on the morning of the first day of the week. It is by no means easy to fit all the events together that are given in connection with the Lord's resurrection. It is not at all necessary that we should do so. We may be quite sure that each evangelist gives them by the Holy Spirit with designed reference to the subject and object of his gospel....

I hope my very brief remarks may be of some help. I am under a good deal of restriction at present. So I will only add my much love in the Lord.

Yours very affectionately in Him,

December 27th, 1943.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- My heart is deeply moved to hear of the great sorrow which has come upon your dear wife and yourself and all your family. I am most sympathetically with you, and my prayers are going up continually for you all. But how feeble are my thoughts and sympathies compared with those of the blessed Priest on high! He has known beforehand what was coming upon you, and His intercession has been going on for your sustainment, and will be answered. On our part we can but bow our heads and our hearts in presence of the inscrutable ways of God. They are, to us, untraceable, but He has said that they are above our ways, "as the heavens are higher than the earth". This suggests that His eternal and heavenly purpose gives character to His ways with His saints here on earth. Every detail has heaven in view, and what will come out there. Your loved one has shown clearly that heaven, and the glorified Saviour who is there, was in his heart as a practical power, and it is your comfort and joy that it was so. We had all hoped that he might have remained to adorn and further the testimony here, but it is otherwise ordered. Divine love has claimed him to await with the Lord

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that blessed consummation for which we, too, are waiting. May God enable you all to fix your eyes on the unseen and eternal! And thus may there be worked out for you an exceeding weight of glory through the great affliction which has come upon you. I pray much that the Lord Jesus Christ may be with your spirits in His own precious grace so that He may be known by you all in that special way in which your hearts need Him now.

Please do not feel that this needs any answer. I only wanted to assure you all of my deepest sympathy and my prayers. You will be surrounded and comforted by the love and heartfelt interest of the dear saints, far and near.

With very much love in the Lord to you all,

Yours very affectionately in Him,

January 4th, 1944.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I know of nothing in principle to hinder the hiring of a hall for a few gospel preachings by brothers spiritually gifted for such service, and in whom brethren generally have confidence, if the rooms used habitually are not conveniently placed to serve the object in view. A service of this kind is, of course, the personal responsibility of the brother or brothers who take up the service as having faith for it. But as privileged to walk together in the fellowship, and carrying the interests of the Lord and His service in unity with our brethren, we should not care to move in a matter of this kind without being assured of their confidence and their co-operation. And it would be our jealous care that nothing should have place in the service that fell below the level of the true character of the glad tidings as we have learned it through God's infinite favour.

I can hardly suppose that there would be anywhere an objection on principle to a special service of this kind, undertaken in faith and lowliness, with no desire save that men may be brought to know the Saviour God. Such a service I should think would be the common interest of all; and as it became evident that the hand of the Lord was with those who had faith to take it up, every Barnabas would rejoice.

It is true that brethren have very special favour from God in having some knowledge of what the assembly is for Christ and in relation to the service of God. And this should leave

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its mark on the gospel which they preach. There should be more of God and of Christ in it than could be heard anywhere else. And this in itself brings reproach, for it is not at all what the natural man approves. Nothing but a work of God in souls will make it acceptable....

Yours very affectionately in Him,

March 20th, 1944.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- Your letter of the 6th inst. reached me this morning. I am interested, and thankful, to know of the brother who has recently been exercised as to his associations, and also about his household being baptised. I trust he will be definitely helped of God.

As to the elder children, would it not be well for our brother to tell them his exercise, and to bring before them the scriptures from which he has gathered God's mind in the matter of household baptism?

Our brother having moved with the light which the Lord has given him may now count upon special grace coming in for him with reference to his children. I trust the Lord will support, even in their hearts, what is in accord with His own mind. It may be that the subject being brought before them may prove to be a great blessing as leading them to think seriously of how they stand in relation to the Lord. How happy it would be if they were brought to know and confess Him!

But if, after having the truth brought before them, there was any difficulty in their minds, or objection, arising out of what they have been formerly taught, I should not personally feel free to insist on baptism in the case of those who are evidently of responsible age. One would desire that by a work of God in them they might come to value baptism as a privilege.

But if, as subject to their parents, they were willing to be baptised, by all means let it be so.

I write in weakness of body, and, on this account, more briefly than I could wish, but I hope I have said enough to indicate what is in my mind.

I am thankful to say I have been able to be at the breaking of bread the last three Lord's days.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

April 10th, 1944.


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BELOVED BROTHER, -- The Lord's supper is ever a matter of deepest interest to those who love Him. I desire more and more that it may be to me what it was in His mind when He instituted it. There is not, so far as I see, in the institution, nor in the emblems employed, nor in Paul's references to it, any allusion to the Lord as risen or ascended. His body and blood, His death, are emphasised. No doubt this led Mr. Darby to stress that it was "a dead Christ" who was recalled in the Supper. Though we do not recall His death merely as a fact; we recall the Person who died; it is "for the calling Me to mind". He would be remembered in the way that would most deeply affect the hearts of those who love Him. But the fellowship is of His blood and of His body, and in eating and drinking we announce the Lord's death, and those who do so unworthily are guilty in respect of the body and of the blood of the Lord.

The remembrance of Him as having been in death for us liberates and unifies us, and brings about that He is the one Object before all our hearts. If that were truly so He would not leave us orphans; He would come to us. And it is evident that if He comes to us the thought of remembrance or memorial gives place to His realised presence. Hence, as we have been learning for many years, the Lord's supper has its place at the beginning of the assembly service. If He presents Himself to us as living we are clearly not remembering Him; we have entered a new and further phase of the service. And so with association with Him before His Father and God. The Person whom we call to mind is living, but is not the whole point of the institution that He should be remembered as having been in death for the saints of the assembly? That was His point of contact with us, and of ours with Him. And while here in the place where He died we are in the fellowship of His body and His blood, and give expression to it in eating the bread and drinking the cup together. And our understanding of this, and affectionate identification with Him in it, is preparatory to our realising what it is to live with Him as out of death. The steps in assembly service must be taken in their due order; if we are weak in what the Supper presents we shall be weak in all that follows.

The Lord did not institute His Supper as risen or as in heaven. In the institution He viewed His death anticipatively as already accomplished and set before them in emblems

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which He selected for the purpose -- emblems which would never suffer them to forget, as assembled, His body and His blood. These things were the voice of His love as expressed here, never to be heard again in the same way, but perpetuated as the rallying point of the assembly until He come.

It is to be noted that when our apostle refers to this he does not touch on association with Christ in spiritual privilege (I suppose the Corinthians were not at all ready for this). He dwells on the fellowship and the remembrance in their intensely moral and practical bearing. If we participate in the fellowship of the Lord's body and blood it must condemn every unholy association here. If we announce the death of the Lord the very way in which we eat and drink must be in moral keeping with that death. In principle this would reach out to every detail in our responsible life.

We must bear in mind that the Lord's supper is the first thing in the assembly service, though we must admit that we came very slowly to the apprehension of this. It is what the assembly takes up as in the wilderness position. As we take up affectionately the remembrance or memorial side, with its far-reaching moral effect, we get liberty for spiritual privilege. And I think it must be borne in mind that the Lord, in putting His Supper first in the assembly service was thinking of all His own; He would have babes and fathers to start together all unified in calling Him to mind, and first of all in relation to His body and His blood. There would probably be more liberty if we did not attempt to bring into the service of the Supper what really has its place after the Supper.

May 2nd, 1944.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... In my present weakness of body I find very great comfort and refreshment of spirit in the active love of the dear brethren, and I thank God for His gracious favour in bringing me into a circle where spiritual affections flow so abundantly.

Please give my warm love to the dear saints on whose behalf you write, and my thanks for their gift and for the fellowship which it expresses. Their interest and care stimulate the desire in my heart still to serve the welfare of God's called ones, so far as it may please Him to give ability and

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opportunity to do so. But my strength is now limited, nor can I expect at my age that it will much increase. But we have to do with One who raises the dead, and this kind of power cannot be baffled even by the weakness of the vessels in whom it is pleased to act. So I am encouraged to continue, counting upon Him to give increase to that which in itself is small and feeble, but which by His grace may bear some impress of His own glory....

Yours affectionately in the Lord,

May 11th, 1944.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... I am somewhat better in health than I was some months back, but in one's 82nd year one does not pick up strength quickly, and no doubt the feebleness that comes with old age has its own appointed place in the ways of God with us. One thinks less of what is done by us and more of what is done in us, and Christ and the Father's love become more undividedly the rest and satisfaction of the heart. I desire that this may be so in my case, and in the case of all who have reached that period when outward activities can only be carried on in a limited way.

I rejoice in the cheer you have locally and in the movements after the Lord in one and another. May His gracious work come more and more to light! ...

With much love in the Lord to you and yours,

Yours affectionately in Him,

June 6th, 1944.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- I gladly send a line in reply to your enquiry, though in relation to the great and holy matters to which you refer I feel much more inclined to take the place of a learner than a teacher. But what we have is to be available for others, whatever may be its measure, and in communicating we often get adjustment and enlargement.

I do not see that the Lord will ever give up His place as Head. I think that Ephesians 3:21 shows that the assembly will be "in Christ Jesus" -- that is, under His headship -- eternally, and this in relation to there being glory to God. But my impression is that priestly service is looked at as being taken up in relation to the place where sin has been. The

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sanctuary suggesting holiness in contrast with all that is stained by evil. The saints are "a holy priesthood" to offer up spiritual sacrifices, and this service goes on now under the headship of Christ, but I can hardly suppose that it will go on eternally. The priestly side of things seems to me to stand in relation to time conditions, whereas sonship is eternal. Of course the two go on side by side at the present time, that is to say, both may have place in one meeting, and sonship now gives its own peculiar touch even to what is priestly in the service.

But I do not think that Christ will ever cease to sing praise to God, for He will be the Firstborn among many brethren eternally when nothing remains but what is the fruit of divine purpose, and I cannot suppose that He will be silent to God in that blest eternity. So that if, by grace, we pass in the assembly from what is priestly to what is eternal, He does not cease to hold the place of Head to us, and as in that place He first ministers to us out of the fulness that is in Himself (John 14:18; Colossians 2:19), and then voices God-ward the response which is suitable. I desire that we all realise more what it is to have Him come to us as Head for both sides of His blessed service....

With much love in the Lord to your dear wife and yourself,

Yours affectionately in Him,

June 30th, 1944.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- The dear brethren in the London area have been continuously on my heart night and day since the new form of destruction came into operation. Your letter comforts me by giving me reason to believe that none of "ours" have suffered personal injury, though I feel deeply for those whose houses have been destroyed or damaged.

I am thankful that the grace and support of the Lord have been so realised, for it has been the great burden of our prayers that it might be so. I feel encouraged to hope in God for some restraint to be put upon this form of warfare which brings such severe strain upon His saints. But, in the meantime universal prayer is being made for those who are subjected to it, and I trust that life in Christ Jesus may be more consciously realised by them day by day. I think we may be assured that when we are "excessively pressed beyond our power" divine deliverance in some form comes in.

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We have had quietness here for a long, time, and appreciate the mercy of it.

I have been at five meetings this week, and five last week, and am thankful to be enabled to be with the brethren. For several months I got to few week-night meetings though generally to the breaking of bread.

With love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

July, 1944.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... I do not favour the thought of God securing by the gospel two distinct families of saints during this present period. The Son of God was revealed in Paul that he might preach Him as glad tidings to the nations. Sonship is in God's mind and purpose for men and this is made known in the glad tidings which have been proclaimed in the whole creation which is under heaven. And Paul laboured incessantly, according to God's working in him, to present every man perfect in Christ. He had no thought of being content with anything less than this, and to this end God wrought in him. Why this intense solicitude if the divine purpose was that many should only know the shelter of the blood? Because there cannot be a family of saints blessed by God unless by His purpose and election. Now can we think that God purposes to give many saints a lower place than what He has proposed in the glad tidings? Men are indeed slow to rise to God's great grace; they would prefer to be hired servants. But God gives the very best in order to satisfy His own love and because He can do it righteously through the death of Christ. When God began with us He had the end -- His own end -- in view, and He will not be diverted from it. When God calls men it is in view of His purpose, however slow they may be to come to it. The epistle to the Romans makes this clear. To suppose that God's elect can come under the shelter of the blood and not move farther, and this by God's appointment, seems to me to take the type altogether out of its divine setting, and it seems to attribute to God what is the result of unbelief and dullness of heart in man. If men have not the Holy Spirit it is because they have not believed the glad tidings as presented by Paul. All you can say of them is that a work of God has begun with them, but it has not

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come to maturity. They stop short of what God has proposed to them. I do not think it is good to suggest to such persons that they are in the place that God has appointed for them. I should think it was encouraging unbelief.

With very much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

July 8th, 1944.


MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, -- I have the deepest sympathy with you in the great and unexpected sorrow which has come upon you, and I count upon the Lord to be to you all that your heart needs at such a time. The ways of God are past finding out, but they will all be justified in the end, and it will be seen that wisdom and love have entered into them all.

I am thankful that your dear husband was permitted to continue to the end in the service which he loved, for I think he would have wished that it might be so. It was, indeed, a special favour from the Lord that his last Lord's day on earth should have been filled with happy and much appreciated service amongst the brethren. It was in keeping with his course through many years past, which has left impressions of Christ on many hearts, and which will be cherished as a fragrant memory.

I have valued much the opportunities which I have had of contact with him, and have always been impressed by his devotion to the Lord and his true desire for the welfare of the brethren. And I can realise what his departure will mean to those amongst whom he has moved and served so faithfully. The Lord knows how to use even his sudden departure to deepen all the spiritual impressions which his life and ministry have made. And thanks were given in the prayer meeting here last night that his service is not finished. It will continue in another day (see Revelation 22:3, 4), and will derive something of its character even then from what has been done in the conditions of this present time. It is noticeable that the word "serve" in that scripture is the word for priestly service. And many can bear witness that your beloved husband loved to have his part in such service while he was with us. Thank God! it will be continued in a brighter sphere.

What your present experience is only the Lord can fully enter into. And He had weighed well what it would be to

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you before He suffered it to come upon you. And His resources were prepared beforehand for the occasion. I am comforted, too, to think how you are surrounded by the love and prayers of the brethren. All those known to you here would wish to send warmest love and sympathy, and in this I have my full part. May you be supported in every way, and have wisdom from above for all the detail of your pathway!

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

September 12th, 1944


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... A mighty protecting hand has ever been over those who love God, and it will assuredly continue to be so.

We have been reading Romans here lately, and I think with an added sense of the greatness of God in grace, bringing in righteousness, reconciliation, and deliverance, so that in the blessedness of the divinely appointed Head we might be wholly for the pleasure of God in the very scene where we were once a grief to Him. This is, in a sense, familiar to our hearts, but it is good to have it renewed again and again, and to get it deepened every time we review it.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

October 6th, 1944


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... I thank God that so many of you have been able to be together at --, and for His grace in enabling you to be mutually helpful. And I have confidence that the experiences and exercises of recent years have yielded spiritual increase, and will continue to do so. They have been instructive and formative in view of the accentuated difficulties which will beset the path of faith so long as the assembly remains here. And they have been formative, too, in view of what is soon to be manifested as the perfect and glorious contrast to all that has marked man's world. And it is very certain that the Spirit is active all the time to secure "chaste virgin" features in the assembly, and this not merely in an abstract way, but in local companies of saints. The inroads

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of the world are ever to be watched against as operating directly against this.

I am restricted as to the use of "ink and pen", but my love in the Lord goes out freely to you all.

Yours affectionately in Him,

November 13th, 1944.


MY DEAR BROTHER, -- ... So far as I can see Scripture speaks of the book of life in two different connections. Certain passages (as Revelation 13:8; 20: 12, 15) speak of it as containing the names of persons marked out by God's election and purpose for eternal blessedness. We know that there is a registry in heaven of the assembly of the firstborn ones (Hebrews 12:23), and that the Lord told His disciples to rejoice because their names were written in the heavens (Luke 10:20). Names will never be blotted out that are written there.

But it is evident that when Paul speaks of certain persons as having their names written in the book of life (Philippians 4:3) he has some reference to the character of the persons. And it was in the way of commendation and reward that the Lord said of the overcomer in Sardis that He would not blot his name out of the book of life (Revelation 3:5).

It seems to me to be important to distinguish these two aspects of the book of life, and to give each its due place. I must not weaken the thought of divine sovereignty in connection with that book, neither must I weaken the thought of moral suitability. I once had contact with a man who boasted loudly that his name was in the book of life, but he was a notoriously bad man, and therefore nobody believed what he said.

In a coming day "he who remaineth in Zion, and he that is left in Jerusalem, shall be called holy -- every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem", Isaiah 4:3. In that divine census roll everyone gets his place according to the moral conditions which characterise him. And when we read in the New Testament that certain persons' names are in the book of life we may be sure that their character and service were such as to entitle them to be there. By the grace and work of God those persons were really living in relation to Him. The assembly in Sardis could not be said to have this

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character, for the Lord said to it, "Thou halt a name that thou livest, and art dead", Revelation 3:1. This gives peculiar force to the Lord's word to the overcomer that He would not blot his name out of the book of life. The very fact that he was an overcomer showed that the energy of life was in him. When Paul told the Philippians that the names of certain persons among them were in the book of life, I think he meant them to consider the moral force of the statement that they might get an impression of the kind of persons who were suitable to be enrolled in the book of life. I think their moral suitability was before him rather than their place by sovereignty. Both, of course, being true.

To be blotted out of the book of life is one of the most solemn things of which Scripture speaks. I believe it always has reference to the judgment of apostasy, as set forth in a terrible way in Judas. The Christian profession will be spued out of Christ's mouth as nauseous to Him. Christendom is drifting rapidly in the direction of giving up everything that can be regarded as life. The deadness of Sardis is preparing the way for this, but while this looms in the near future faithful overcomers are encouraged by the Lord's words, "I will not blot his name out of the book of life". Overcomers will be kept, amidst surrounding death, in the features and qualities which entitled them to a place in the book of life. They will be held in life by the gracious power of the Lord.

In your letter you quote two sentences from page 48 of the "Outline of Revelation". But you omit the sentence which comes between which states that the working out of divine purpose must be through suitable moral conditions, which really puts the whole matter in its proper setting. We believe that the saints will be raised in glory according to divine purpose, but we are definitely told by the Lord that it is those who have practised good who will go forth to resurrection of life, John 5:29. The moral conditions which are suitable to God have been secured in them. In like manner we do not think of anyone having his name in the book of life now without being characterised by the moral conditions of life.

I write with some difficulty, having been unwell for more than two months, but I hope these few words may be of help. With love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

December 29th, 1944


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DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, -- ... The scriptures to which you refer with regard to the Lord's coming have been very fully considered by the brethren for many years past, and much light has been afforded by the Lord on all parts of the subject.

We must first ask, Has the Lord given any special revelation to the saints of the assembly as to how His coming will affect them? The answer is that He has done so by a special revelation to His servant the apostle Paul (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13 - 18). Let nothing move you away from this; it is "the word of the Lord" to you and to all those who are of the assembly.

Now you must admit that there is not one word in Matthew 24 about saints being caught up to meet the Lord in the air. There is no hint of such a thing, and this clearly proves that in uttering the words recorded in Matthew 24 the Lord had a different company of saints in view from those addressed in 1 Thessalonians 4. This is confirmed by Judea being specially mentioned in Matthew 24 as the scene of trial. The assembly, as I am sure you know, is mainly being called out of the Gentile world.

I think, upon consideration, you will conclude that it is not at all likely that the Lord would suggest to saints of the assembly that they should pray that their flight should not be on the sabbath.

Such warnings as are found in Matthew 24:23 - 26 would not be needed by saints who are expecting, in the light of 1 Thessalonians 4, to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. They will be of great value to saints who will be waiting on earth for the appearing of Christ after the saints of the assembly have been caught up.

The confusion in people's minds as to these things nearly all arises from the fact that the distinctive place of the assembly as belonging to heaven, and having its place there, is not understood. Spiritually, and by the work of God, we are already there (see Ephesians 2) and the rapture will put us there actually. Then the ways of God in relation to prophecy, and the place of Israel in earthly blessing, will begin to unfold.

It is impossible to deny that the disciples when the Lord was here were a Jewish remnant. They became, as we know, the nucleus of the assembly. But after the assembly is translated there will again be a Jewish remnant who will need the instruction and warnings which the Lord gave in Matthew 24.

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I am sure that if you ask the Lord about these matters, and are prepared to receive help from the brethren, you will be enabled to see all things clearly.

With love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

January 17th, 1945.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- God is entitled, on the ground of propitiation, to present His grace to all men in Christ, and all who hear the gospel have the opportunity to receive it. If they do not receive it it shows that they love darkness rather than light. The responsibility rests on them. As Paul said at Antioch, "Since ye thrust it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life", Acts 13.

But it is well to bear in mind that if God did not work by effecting new birth not one person would believe the gospel or be saved. It is of God's mercy that any are made willing to repent and believe the glad tidings; every believer knows it was so in his own case. Therefore it is always true that "No one can come to me except the Father who has sent me draw him", John 6:44. God's sovereign mercy is the only hope of lost man.

Scripture does not speak of any being marked out to be condemned. Election is not presented in Scripture as shutting some out, but as ensuring that those chosen and called of God will come in. God is pleased that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in the Name of the risen Christ to all nations, and whosoever will may obey the gospel. But, alas! man naturally has no disposition to do so. The gospel when preached brings to light those in whom God is working, but if men persist in unbelief it proves that they are among those who perish. "Whosoever" remains true, but unbelief refuses to take advantage of it.

Matthew 10:21 just brings out the intense enmity of the human heart to the name of Jesus, that even children would cause their parents to be put to death. Acts 16:31 shows that saving grace is for a man's house as well as himself, but the children will not be saved if they persist in unbelief. Every believing parent tells his children that they can only be saved in the same way that he was, but that it is God's thought that the house should be linked with its head in

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believing. But if the children do not believe they will perish.

The "everlasting sin" was that of those who said that Jesus cast out demons by the prince of the demons. It was most manifestly by the Holy Spirit that He did so, and for those who attributed it to demons there was no forgiveness. It is doubtful whether this sin could be committed now, as there is not the same evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit as there was when the Son of God was here.

I trust these few words may be of help. If there is anything not clear, write to me again.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

February 8th, 1945.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- My heart moves me to send you a few lines to say how I have thought and felt for you and yours in the bereavement you have sustained through the departure of your dear son to be with Christ.

I am sure that you have great comfort in knowing how faithfully he was set to follow and serve the Lord, though in one way this adds to the sorrow of his departure at a comparatively early age. But it is a very real cause for thanksgiving that he had come to so much spiritual maturity, so as to be a help to others, and one whose example will continue to bear fruit in those who were privileged to come in contact with him. We can never say of any servant of the Lord that his work is finished, because it goes on, like Abel's, long after he has personally left the scene of service, and it will go on in a most blessed way in the glorious future when "his servants shall serve him".

The Lord has said, "Blessed they that mourn, for they shall be comforted", and I am sure He will fulfil His word for each one of those who sorrow over your dear son's departure. All that He does is in the wisdom of perfect love. He perfects His work early in some, while some of us who did not expect a long life have to be retained until old age that we may learn what His love would teach us.

May the consolations of God be great in your hearts!

I have been laid aside for four months, but I was able to be present at a fellowship meeting here on February 3rd. With much love in the Lord to you and yours,

Yours affectionately in Him,

February 13th, 1945.


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MY DEAR --, -- ... I often recall with pleasure my visit to --, and I have been sorry to hear how very reduced in number they are now. Indeed, it is a time of changes everywhere, but the love of God has given us a portion in Christ which does not change save that it becomes sweeter, and affords fuller joy, as we go on in the Spirit.

... We are losing some of our number here by removal, and several have departed to be with Christ. So that we are likely to be reduced in number, but if this results in deeper dependence it may work out for good....

Yours affectionately in Him,

February 26th, 1945


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... I believe that your connection of the two goats in Leviticus 16 with Romans 3 and 4 is a right interpretation, and cannot be questioned. But I should hesitate to say that He carried our sins into the grave, for this would imply that sins were still upon Him when He was buried. He bore our sins in His body on the tree, and I believe it was there that they were removed from God's sight for ever. By one offering He has perfected in conscience the sanctified. Expiation, as I understand it, was not accomplished by burial, but by death and blood-shedding. And, as you have said, it is the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses from all sin. It was necessary that He should be buried that the whole sentence on the fallen man might be borne vicariously, and also that life in the power of resurrection might be brought in, and made available for men in Him. His death is thus the starting point of all that is new as well as the end of all that is old.

Except for a few meetings in February, I have not been able to get to the Room since last October. It is a new experience for me, but it brings its own lessons and gains with it. And I do not feel out of things, for I am abundantly comforted by the love of the brethren, and kept in touch with all that is moving spiritually amongst them.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

April 3rd, 1945


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BELOVED BROTHER, -- I thank you for your cheering letter which bears with it the loving gift from the dear brethren in -- .

It is very sweet to experience the activity of love, and it is specially touching when manifested by those to whom one is unknown by face. For it is then truly "love in the Spirit", as flowing entirely from the link which the grace of God has brought about in the affections of His beloved saints leading them to identify themselves with the work of the Lord in every part of the field of service. I am sure the Lord sets great value on this, and it strengthens the hands of those who serve, even though the measure of service -- as in my case -- may be very limited.

Last night we were dwelling on the greatness of Christ as brought out in Colossians 1, and the wondrous thought that the saints are set in such an intimate relation to Him as His body, so that He is vitally in them and is to be expressed in them. No wonder that the apostle, who had the truth of this by the favour of God, laboured so intensely that the saints might be in the light and spiritual gain of the mystery. For it is the greatest thought of God, reserved for this peculiar time while Christ is above, and the life of His saints hidden with Him thus. May we all be helped to enter into it more fully!

... With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

April 26th, 1945.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I thank you for your letter of April 22nd, which raises a question of much interest, which has come up in my own mind.

It is not easy to see exactly what application can be given to assembly service of the fact that the spouse speaks of the Bridegroom's perfections but not to Him. When the spouse speaks of the Bridegroom it is in each case when she is not conscious of His presence or nearness. When she is conscious that He is near she has less to say; His love and embrace satisfy her.

One thing is certain, that J.N.D. (see "Synopsis", Volume 2, on Song of Solomon) could never have intended to suggest that we must not speak to the Lord in the assembly. He constantly did so himself, and we may say that he does so still in his many precious hymns which we sing continually.

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In the assembly all is on the ground of the Lord's death, and the love expressed there which has secured us for a place of blessed association with Him. When in spirit we touch that place we do not dwell on particular features of worth which we have perceived in Him. Our hearts are well assured of them -- indeed, we regard them as having come out supremely in His death -- but He Himself is now before us in the new place which He has taken beyond death, and in which His love has given us to have part with Him. We speak to Him now in the intelligence of the new position which we have as associated with Him risen and glorified. Our hearts are possessed of His perfections.

"No trait is lost, each beauteous grace is found,
All brought through death to resurrection ground".

But we think of His Person as comprising all, who is now Head of His body the assembly....

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

May 10th, 1945.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- My heart is touched to receive your very kind and brotherly letter, and the enclosed gift from the dear brethren at -- .

I can, indeed, bear witness of their love for many years past; and I trust the repeated experience of it serves to deepen my appreciation of the spiritual affections manifested by them. I thank God for the comfort and support I have found in their fellowship, which I specially value at a time when my ability to do anything in the way of service is so very limited. I am thankful to say I am proving all the time abounding love, and I have no lack of anything that would be for my comfort.

Please give my warmest love in the Lord to the dear brethren, and my hearty thanks for their liberal gift, and for their prayers.

I have been able, through mercy, to be at the readings here the last two Wednesdays. We have had before us the greatness of Christ in the glorious position which He holds as the Head of the body, and the blessed character of the body as a spiritual formation which is altogether of Christ. The Colossians stood in the truth of Romans and 1 Corinthians, but they needed the added touch of their own epistle to fortify them

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against those who would lead them away, and to bring them into completeness in Christ, and into the true blessedness of having Christ in them. I think we were made to feel how good it would be if we were all spiritually formed in the truth of the Colossian epistle....

I have heard this week of the Lord using our dear brother -- in the blessing of several young people in -- . He was also used lately in blessing to several in -- . We are always glad to know of the Lord raising up those with evangelistic gift. And our dear brother's history has been an encouraging one.

With much love in the Lord to dear Mrs. -- and yourself,

Yours affectionately in Him,

May 11th, 1945.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I thank you for your letter of the 8th inst., which brought with it the loving gift from the dear brethren in -- .

I have had long experience of their love and fellowship, and have valued it as an encouragement and stimulation in that small measure of service which has been permitted to me by the Lord's favour. And my heart is touched by their thought of me once more in thus communicating in spiritual affections. Please give them my warmest love in the Lord, and my thanks for their gracious gift. For some months during last winter I was unable to be present even at the local meetings, but recently I have regained a measure of strength, and have got to several meetings each week. But I have found that the less one can do the more does the love of the saints abound, and it is exceedingly happy to be surrounded by such a flow of divine cheer and warmth.

My heart often turns to --, and especially so as considering all the pressure you have passed through. One can hardly think that such a time will be suffered to come upon saints beloved of God without some definite spiritual end being in view. Indeed, I believe we shall all gain as a result of what we have gone through. But we shall need grace not to relax our exercises in the quieter time which is now granted to us in God's great mercy.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

June 10th, 1945.

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BELOVED BROTHER, -- I am interested to receive your letter of the 18th inst., and to know something of your exercises, which I have already brought before the Lord in prayer. Indeed, I think I can help you more by my prayers than in any other way. Because the question of your associations is one which you must get the Lord's mind about for yourself. I do not know of any Scripture more plain than "Come out from the midst of them, and be separated, saith the Lord", 2 Corinthians 6:17.

It used to be often said, "Do not go before your faith or lag behind your conscience", and this is a very safe principle on which to walk. If you feel that your present links disqualify you for the Lord's service it is evidently a very serious matter for you to decide which you will go on with.

I fully and heartily sympathise with you in the difficulty which you have to face; that is, so far as one can sympathise who has never been in the position.. And I am sure the Lord is fully able to enter into all that is involved in holding fast the confession. And He is a great High Priest for us in that very connection. The word of God is sharp, and it penetrates to our most inward parts. But we have a great High Priest, and a throne of grace where mercy can always be received, and grace found for seasonable help.

So I would encourage you to move forward with confidence in God, in that path which you are assured is the path of His will. He has never been known to fail faith. And as you move before Him you will be confirmed and strengthened in all that is in His will. You will prove that it is good and acceptable and perfect.

I am sorry that I cannot add more at present, for I am not very well, but I would assure you of my interest in the exercises of your path.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

June 20th, 1945


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I thank you for your kind letter, and the enclosed cheque ... from the dear brethren at -- . Such an expression of love is most refreshing, and I thank God for His grace upon His beloved saints which leads them to identify themselves so definitely and practically with the work of the ministry, and it is especially gracious that

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they should think affectionately of one who can do so little as I can in this blessed service of the Lord, but I am sure they think of the worthiness of the One served, and this is very acceptable to Him.

Please give the dear brethren my warmest love in the Lord, and my hearty thanks for their bountiful gift. I believe they have sowed in the spirit of blessing, and they will assuredly reap accordingly.

I have been confined to bed for the last five days, and the doctor says I must remain there until there is some decided change for the better, so I am waiting on the Lord as to what His mind may be. I have had much before me the thought of the presence and operations of the Holy Spirit, and this especially in connection with the Father. The Lord said, "I send the promise of my Father upon you". The Spirit is thus a direct and personal link with the Father, expressive of His pleasure in us as having trusted in Christ, and giving us when ungrieved the most blessed liberty in the Father's presence as consciously in sonship. Nothing less than a divine Person in our hearts could make real to us the wondrous thoughts of infinite love, and as those thoughts are realised we enter upon the most profound satisfaction, for what we are brought into can only be measured by what the Beloved is, and we can only bow in worship before the Father as we take it in. It is the Father's pleasure to give the Spirit so that we might have in our hearts in a divine and spiritual way what is in His heart for us as in Christ. These precious realities have been before me, and I thank Him for His gracious favour.

With much love in the Lord to your dear wife and yourself,

Yours affectionately in Him,

July 3rd, 1945.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... I very much appreciated your kindness in writing to tell me of the departure of dear Mr. -- to be with the Lord. I was not greatly surprised, having heard of his increased weakness for some time past. But I am sure he will be missed amongst you; and I feel bereaved, for my personal friendship with him goes back to our very early days. He was, even in his youth, thoughtful in relation to divine things and steady in his course, and he has continued in the

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same characteristics to the end. I feel that he filled up the measure of service allotted to him in a faithful way and this shows that God's grace was with him and we give thanks that it was so....

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

July 10th, 1945.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I thank you for your letter and for the gift from the dear brethren at -- . I am touched by their affectionate thought of me, and I desire that you will give them my warm love in the Lord and my thanks for their free-hearted liberality in thus ministering to me. I have much comfort in their love, and I am thankful that I can assure them that I am abundantly supplied, through the great love of the saints universally, with all that is needful in a temporal way. And I have much mercy as to my bodily condition, for, though weak through loss of blood and confined to bed, I do not suffer pain, and my spirit is free for occupation with the blessed things in which divine love has been manifested....

I was able to get up for several days, but have had to return to bed. But if my trouble is checked I may get about a little, but this is in the Lord's hands. He has kept me here very much longer than I expected, that I might have opportunity to learn more of Him, but I am not yet perfected in this blessed knowledge. For this it is good to be here, if far better to be there.

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

July 12th, 1945.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- I thank you for your letter which comes laden with comfort in Christ, and consolation of love, and fellowship of the Spirit ... I seem to be left here just to experience what love there is in the hearts of the saints. It is, indeed, abundant, and I am thankful for it, though I feel how little I have ever done to serve them. And now I am almost laid aside from activity and I do not even get regularly to the local meetings....

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I am interested in what you say as to your own movements. I believe the more we have service before us the more simply and fully we can count on the grace and guidance of the Lord. The household of Stephanas appointed themselves to the saints for service. It was not that the Lord appointed them; it was a spontaneous action of love on their part, and it was very pleasurable to the Lord. I suppose they had a deep sense of the value of the saints, and this is a true spring of readiness to serve them....

With much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

August 9th, 1945.


BELOVED BROTHER, -- ... We have a good many brethren visiting this district at present, and we are deeply thankful that there is now more liberty to move about. It is a joy to see our brethren, and to find that they have come through testing times by God's grace and mercy, and that some have definitely gained in spiritual substance by what they have gone through.

I can hardly expect to increase much in bodily strength, but I should like to be serviceable in some small way so long as I remain here. The saints are worthy of the best possible service, and one finds they value everything that makes much of Christ and the assembly, and of the Father's love, even if this is set forth in feeble measure, and in limited vessels.

With very much love in the Lord,

Yours affectionately in Him,

August 13th, 1945.


... My attention has been specially drawn to John's ministry during this last time of absence from meetings -- now over nine weeks -- and I think I see how fitting it is that this is the closing ministry. I feel sure that family affections are being developed, and all that stands connected with being born of God. We have had much as to sonship, but have perhaps not deeply entered into the thought of children as John presents it. The family thought is a very precious one, and it goes along with the holy Name of Father. How wondrous to have a nature capable of answering to that Name!

August 24th, 1945

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... I cannot say that John 20 teaches this aspect of the truth (that is, the general aspect of the presence of the Lord with the assembly). First of all we have the dawn of a new day; everything had begun for God after a new order. The disciples had been made to feel the break-up of everything connected with the old order. As to Judaism -- man after the flesh under divine culture -- its heads and representatives had wholly rejected the Son of God. As to their own little company -- one had betrayed Him, another had denied Him, all had forsaken Him. As to Christ after the flesh, He had gone in death; all their associations with Him after that order had come to an end. They had to pass through the travail of soul of which the Lord spoke in chapter 16: 20 - 22, the birth-throes through which an altogether new and blessed joy should be given to their hearts in seeing Him again. The new day dawned in full splendour in His resurrection, but it was by His own service of love as the risen One that its light shone into the hearts of His own. It was in the manifestations of Himself to them that they found the light and joy of that blessed day. Mary may be taken as representing the state of bereavement and sorrow in which the little company of disciples were found at the moment. There can be no doubt that she loved Him, and He had said, "He that loves me shall be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him", chapter 14: 21. This was fulfilled in chapter 20: 16.

But if the Son of God manifested Himself thus to an individual who loved Him, it was to instruct her as to His new position, and as to the new association. Her individual need was met, but she was also instructed in His mind as to the assembly. He was taking an entirely new place as ascending to His Father, and none could be in association with Him in that new place, save as being of His own order. For this blessed association there must be a sanctified company, one in nature with Him, His brethren, the subject of divine counsels and working, and the result of His own falling into the ground and dying as the corn of wheat from whence alone could spring such a harvest for God, and such is the assembly. Mary was instructed in all this, and made the messenger of it to the others. What we get in this chapter is what I have heard beloved J.B.S. speak of as "the assembly in pattern". We must learn individually in the history of our

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souls what it is to be of Christ's assembly before we can really come together in the truth of the assembly. It is the lack of this which causes so much weakness and feeble realisation of spiritual privileges, and of the Lord's presence when we come together. I judge that individual instruction in the mind of the Lord is of the greatest importance in view of our coming together, otherwise there might be a meeting of believers -- happy -- perhaps even edifying -- without any true apprehension of the wonderful position and privilege of saints as being of Christ's assembly. In John 20, where we find the Lord's mind as to His own in its proper fulness and blessedness, the saints are His brethren, and they are in the most blessed associations with Him. This is how He regards them. It is the character in which He claims them for Himself and for the Father. They did not as yet understand what had been effected by His death, but He understood it all. He recognised them as of His own order and as divested of everything that could have unsuited them for association with Himself.

I think it was J.N.D. who said that the disciples were gathered together by the message which Mary carried to them. They learnt by that message that He was risen, and they learnt His thoughts in regard to them. There was a wondrous bond between Himself and them and therefore a wondrous bond linking together the company of those whom He owned as "my brethren". The effect of this being realised was to bring them together. It was a company actually gathered together, to which Jesus came and stood in the midst. I attach the utmost importance to this. If believers get any idea of Christ's new place, and the association of His saints with Him, it must lead directly to their coming together. What marks the new company is love one to another, and this necessarily draws saints together. Indeed it is in this way that the company declares itself and gives expression to its existence. We may conceive of the assembly in the abstract and one might add that, in days like these, one necessarily learns the truth of the assembly in the abstract. But the moment the truth is learned it must express itself in a real way. Christ's company here manifests itself by its coming together. It is delightful to the Lord to see His saints together as loving Him and loving one another. Such a company attracts Him; He delights to come into the midst, and manifest Himself there. The coming together of saints is an essential

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feature of Christianity and peculiar and blessed privileges are connected with it, which cannot otherwise be known or enjoyed.

The Lord's first word was "Peace". His presence brings with it an entirely new atmosphere. On their part they had shut the door. They were entirely dissociated from the religious man after the flesh. But whatever the relief of a closed door, it could not compare with the blessed peace of His own presence. When the Lord comes into the midst, bringing the peace of His own presence, there is the foretaste of what will be known, in a future day -- "Joy whereon no grief encroaches, Peace where strife shall all be o'er". Then He showed to them His hands and side. This is very suggestive of the Lord's supper. John does not give us the institution of the Supper, but he certainly gives us the spirit and vitality of it in setting the risen Lord before us as in the midst of His own and showing them His hands and His side. It is as He shows us His hands and His side that it all becomes great and exceedingly precious to us. "The disciples rejoiced therefore having seen the Lord". Several individuals had seen Him in the course of that wondrous day, but the climax of all was when, He came and stood in the midst. In the earlier part of the day His service of love had been rendered to one and another, meeting their individual state and exercise with a view, it seems to me, to their coming together as of His assembly in the evening. And His coming into the midst of that company was, I take it, a pattern of how He would come into the midst of every similar company throughout the period that intervenes before the rapture.

But when we come to verses 21 and 23, chapter 20, it seems to me that we get what could not be repeated on any other occasion. What we get in these verses is administrative. It is the inauguration of the new testimony, and the words and actions of the Lord have clearly in view, to my mind, the whole scope of the testimony. It is the initiation of what was then wholly new, but which has subsisted ever since. Of course it began with those present, but I think they must be viewed, in this section of the chapter as receiving administratively from the risen Lord the mission and vitality which was to characterise the whole company of saints during this day. It is the institution once for all of that which abides

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until the present testimony shall come to an end. So that in these verses, we have what marks Christianity as a divinely instituted testimony in life of divine grace in the midst of a world of sin and death.


... If you weigh the Lord's words in John 14 you will see that to make the Lord's presence an abiding one rather than special visitations or manifestations is not in keeping with the tenor of the whole communication. All that the Lord said was occasioned by the fact that He was going to be absent. But there would be a circle to which He could come, not once for all, but a circle which would find its peculiar distinction and satisfaction of affection in being such that He could and would come to it. The form of the word implies that His coming to His own company would be characteristic of the period during which the world would see Him no more. Not His abiding presence, but the abiding preciousness of the fact that He would come to His own.

Then I do not think there is anything abstract about the company. The "you" was a very distinct and concrete company of persons who loved Him, and kept His commandments. And it is to such a company that He still delights to come. The assembly is not an abstraction. It is true that people speak of the "invisible church", but this is a thought never contemplated in Scripture. The assembly is composed of persons who cannot but be found together because they love the Son of God, and, as keeping His commandment love one another. That most believers have drifted far from this is true, and humbling to us all, but the privilege attaching to it may be realised in measure by any "two or three" who are together in true assembly condition. I do not believe that anything abstract was in the Lord's mind when He said, "I am coming to you".


MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, -- I have thought of you with much interest in relation to your exercises, and have prayed that the Lord may grant you an abundant furnishing of grace, mercy and peace at all times, and particularly when depressing conditions are present. There are certain physical conditions which tend to depression, and the enemy is ever

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ready to take advantage of this, and to seek to bring on the mind and conscience the sins of the past, as though they were still standing against us. We cannot be too simple in holding to the efficacy of the death and blood of Christ, as having settled every question of the past, and in cherishing the thought that full forgiveness is in the heart of God, so that He refuses every charge, never remembers our sins and iniquities, and never regards us as other than as having Christ as our righteousness. I take it that you have not really any difficulty as to this, or as to the complete satisfaction of God in the Person of Christ, and in the perfection of that work which He has accomplished for the purging of the sins of those who believe on Him. But that you are troubled by times of depression when you have not the conscious joy of divine favour.

We have to learn to distinguish between the ground of peace on which our souls are with God through the Person and work of Christ, and present conscious enjoyment, which may be, more or less, affected by physical or mental conditions. Those conditions may even be the direct governmental consequences of past evil, in which case they have to be humbly accepted as the mighty hand of God upon us; they help to maintain in our souls true self-judgment before Him, so that repentance is deepened as time goes on. But then all this is in view of our being exalted in Christ. The learning of what I am, and of what I have been, is humbling, but it need not be distressing if I see that all the conditions which have been present with me have just been the occasion for God to bring to light what is in His own heart, and that they may magnify before my soul the greatness of His salvation, in Christ. The more I realise the weakness that is in myself, and the many things that I have to deplore in my past, or even my present, the more thankful I am to know that God has brought in another Man -- Christ Jesus -- and has secured in Him all His own thoughts of blessing manward.

I find in myself the negation of every divine thought; I am the Nay. But He is the Yea; everything that is of God and for God's pleasure is substantiated and confirmed in Him, and, through infinite grace, it is there for me, to be the solid stay and comfort of my soul, and my praise God-ward at all times. I may, have experiences concerning which I have to say, "This is my infirmity", and they cast me upon the mercy and faithfulness of Christ as the One who succours weakness

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in unfailing priestly grace. He is a present, living Resource and Refuge for us, and every conscious weakness is an occasion to look straight to Him for divine succour and deliverance. A sinking Peter cried, "Lord, save me", and the mighty Hand was outstretched at once. I would encourage you to turn directly to Him in your times of special need, with confidence that His love is unchanged and unchangeable. He can make you a peculiar vessel to honour in spite of all the weakness that you find in yourself. That very weakness makes you need Him in a special way, and the way you learn Him through it, and in it, will be your special bit in the testimony, and your distinction in the kingdom by and by.

It is a wholesome thing to remember what we were as in the flesh. See 1 Corinthians 6:9 - 11; Titus 3:3 - 7; 1 Timothy 1:12 - 16; 1 Peter 4:3; Ephesians 2, etc. But it will be seen that, when the time past of our lives is referred to, the object of the Spirit of God is to enhance the appreciation of that grace which has reached us and blessed us through the Lord Jesus Christ. These scriptures, and many others, show that it is our sinful state and course which provided God with an outlet for all that was in His heart as a Saviour God. The conditions on our side are the very things that have given occasion for the shining out of the blessed God in the revelation of Himself in grace. Our sinner-ship thus becomes our introduction to the knowledge of God, and furnishes Him with the opportunity to make Himself known in His true character and nature. Self-judgment on our part is suitable and essential, but it is divested of the depressing features which would otherwise accompany it when we see how our sinfulness has, made God a necessity to us in the true grace which the gospel makes known. Hence conviction of sin is ever accompanied by an attractive sense of goodness in God which can be counted on, notwithstanding all that we are conscious of on our side. Indeed, it is that very consciousness that impels us to turn to God.

Satan would use the thought of what we have been to cast us down, but God would use it to make His grace in Christ more precious and indispensable. The more I learn myself the more thankful I am for the death of Christ, which has not only removed my sins but brought my whole history as in the flesh to an end. We are divinely entitled to honour God in the greatness of His grace, and of His salvation in

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Christ, and to dwell on the efficacy of His precious blood through which we have redemption in Him.

Physical or mental depression caused by bodily conditions may be of such a nature as to tend to greatly affect conscious enjoyment of spiritual blessing. This makes the priestly grace and service of Christ a very great necessity if we are to be sustained in liberty of spirit, and He does not fail to minister it to us. Such conditions are of the nature of infirmity, and it is well to fully recognise them as such, even though there may be in them a governmental element which calls for humbling. They are, nevertheless, the subject of the sympathy and succour of Christ as Priest. He prays for us that faith may not fail, even when under God's hand we are feeling how grievously we have erred. His intercessory service of love takes account of everything, and we may be fully assured of this at all times. The conditions may not be at once relieved, but we may be sure that they will be, and it is ours to trust Him at all times. We may honour the Lord by holding fast confidence in Him, even when we are "cast down". The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is "the Father of compassions, and God of all encouragement", and He encourages those that are brought low, 2 Corinthians 1:3; 7: 6. I think you must have proved this, at least in some measure, and you will undoubtedly do so in times of need as you turn to Him.

With love in the Lord Jesus,

Yours affectionately in Him,


... My impression is that in the present state of things there are many matters which have to be left to individual exercise and conscience, and I think the holding of shares in companies is one of them. Personally I should not feel free to be a shareholder, on the ground that it is really a partnership, and as a matter of principle, I do not see any difference between being in partnership with one or two unbelievers, or one or two thousand or more. I should think the latter just as undesirable as the former. This is how it presents itself to me, and I would seek grace to walk in the steps of my own exercise. The fact that very many Christians -- and amongst them very many who are probably more spiritual than I am -- feel quite free to take up shares in industrial and other companies, is a

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matter which I would leave as between them and the Lord. But I have no doubt that voluntary links of partnership with those who are unbelievers are spiritually enfeebling, and not without their effect upon the public testimony. Satan works in subtle ways to draw believers into associations which are not of God, and the whole trend of things in the modern world tends to make it appear desirable, or even necessary, to have one's part in such associations. But if the men whom the Father has given to the Son are not of the world even as He is not, it draws a broad line of separation, and spiritual enlargement depends in great measure on that line being maintained in integrity, 1 Corinthians 6.

Where there is genuine personal exercise as to such matters, I think we may fully count on the Lord to make plain the way in which He would have His own to walk with reference to them.


DEAR FRIEND, -- I am sorry not to have been able to answer your letter before now, but I have prayed for you daily.

It seems to me that you would do well to think much of how God is presenting Himself. He is a Saviour God. Adam and Eve, as disobedient and self-condemned creatures in the garden of Eden, did not seek God, but He sought them, and without being asked He made for them coats of skins and clothed them. They had tried to cover themselves with fig-leaves, but this was of no avail; it did not even satisfy their own consciences. But when the Lord God undertook to provide for their need they could not doubt that He would be satisfied with what He had done Himself. They could rest in it with full assurance that it was entirely His own doing.

Now through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus God has found a way to justify us freely by His grace. He does not require that we should do a single thing; He delights to justify the ungodly sinner who believes in Jesus. Everything that needed to be done was done when Jesus our Lord was delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification. It is our part as repentant sinners to submit to His way of clothing us with righteousness before Him through our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is so great, and His death is so wondrous in its sufficiency, that nothing more is needed as the ground on which God can clothe us with divine righteousness. Is

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not this most comforting and assuring? It is for faith to receive the good news, and to give God the praise for such wondrous grace. We are justified by faith without any merit or deserving on our side; it is all of pure grace on God's part, and He acts in this way on the ground of the death of Christ. And being justified by faith we have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

I think you have been looking for something to be brought about in yourself that would give you the assurance of salvation. But so long as you look for this you will never feel quite sure. You must fix your mind on the fact that God is well pleased to account you righteous through faith in His blessed Son. Your righteousness will never be in yourself; it is in Christ and only there. The truth is that in spite of all that you are God is favourable to you, and He has provided for you in Christ a spotless and perfect righteousness. As repentant and looking to God for mercy, Christ is provided and available for you.

"Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses", Acts 13:38, 39. This is what is in the mind of God for you; He does not desire to hold anything against you, notwithstanding how you have sinned against Him. You have not to commend yourself to Him in any way; He commends His love to you in that while you are a sinner Christ died for you. You can be certain of this because God says so. Instead of being against us, as Satan would like us to think, God is for us. The one who has the assurance of this in his soul is saved, for he has escaped from the darkness in which Satan once held him, and he knows God in forgiving grace, and as a Justifier.

Then God gives His Spirit to the believer as power for walk and holiness, and as we walk in the Spirit we do not fulfil the lust of the flesh. The deeds of the body have to be put to death, and the Spirit is power for this -- see Romans 8:13. When you are harassed by fleshly lusts you must look straight away to God for deliverance, and on your part you must avoid all occasions that tend to bring these lusts into activity. God, will not fail a dependent heart.

I trust these few lines may be some help to you.

Yours sincerely in the Lord,


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MY DEAR BROTHER, -- ... It is evident that in each passage where the Lord speaks of speaking injuriously of the Spirit His solemn statements on this subject were called forth by the Pharisees saying that He cast out demons by Beelzebub. Luke 12:10 refers to Luke 11:15. The Lord's words must be accepted as meaning just what they say; viz. that this particular sin is not forgiven, neither in this age nor the coming one.

But it is evident also in each passage that the Lord assumes that His disciples are of a very different character from this. He says, "The good man out of the good treasure brings forth good things; and the wicked man out of the wicked treasure brings forth wicked things", Matthew 12:35. In Mark He says, "Whosoever shall do the will of God, he is my brother, and sister, and mother", 3: 35. In Luke 12:12 He speaks of His disciples being taught by the Holy Spirit. These things show that disciples of Jesus, believers on Him, are in every way exactly opposite in character to those who would speak injuriously of the Holy Spirit. It is not that the flesh in them is any better than it is in blaspheming Pharisees. But as subjects of grace and of the work of God they are no longer characterised by the flesh but by features far removed from attributing evil to the Holy Spirit. Such a thought would be intensely abhorrent to them; it would be to yourself.

It is true that the flesh is capable of any evil, and I recognise that this is true of my flesh, but as Paul said, "So then I myself with the mind serve God's law; but with the flesh sin's law", Romans 7:25. It is manifest that no person who with the mind serves God's law (and this is true of everyone who is the subject of a divine work) would ever be guilty of speaking injuriously of the Holy Spirit. This is the very acme of wickedness, such as would only be perpetrated by those abandoned to Satan, his children taking character from him. The Lord spoke of some that they were of their father the devil. Of course we cannot say that of anyone, for we do not know, but the Lord knew that it was true of those to whom He spoke, and such persons might become guilty, as they did, of speaking injuriously of the Spirit, and thus lie under the guilt of an everlasting sin, as He said in Mark 3.

But it is not possible for one born of God to commit this sin; he would regard it with horror, though fully admitting that his flesh is capable of it. But the deep thanksgiving of

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his heart goes up to God that that vile flesh has received the condemnation that is due in the cross and death of the Lord Jesus. It has been fully judged by God in the person of His own Son, and the believer is now in Christ before Him. By the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus we are set free from the law of sin and death, and are liberated to praise God. We thank God with full hearts for His infinite mercy to us, for we might have been amongst those who are children of the devil, and capable of committing a sin for which there would have been no forgiveness. We are in our minds in accord with God who has condemned sin in the flesh, and we rejoice to know that God has accounted us righteous by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. We are thus free to worship God, not as having any confidence in the flesh, but as having the Spirit of His Son sent forth into our hearts crying, Abba, Father.

I would remind you that, as a believer on the Lord Jesus Christ, you have received the forgiveness of sins through Him, and this, by the infinite grace of God, is irreversible. The Spirit witnesses that "their sins and their lawlessnesses I will never remember any more". You are amongst those of whom it is written, "by one offering he has perfected in perpetuity the sanctified". How impossible it is, then, that any sins should be ever charged against those who are in Christ! They will, most assuredly, never be guilty of that supreme wickedness which finds expression in speaking injuriously of the Holy Spirit.

It should be noted that this sin is not an inward movement of the flesh but a deliberate judgment to which the person stands publicly committed by speaking to others. Anyone who feared God would, as I have already said, shrink from it with intense abhorrence.

I trust that these few words may be of some help in your exercises. I pray for your blessing in every way that will be for your joy and for the glory of God.

Yours affectionately in the Lord,


... So far as I understand the case referred to, the judgment arrived at was as to certain conduct. The assembly as seen in Matthew 18 binds or looses with reference to conduct, previous private efforts to bring about repentance having

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proved unavailing. Though the binding has a certain judicial aspect it is not inconsistent with the reign of grace, because one object of it is to help the offender to view his conduct as the assembly views it. When he does so he is in harmony with the assembly and with the mind of heaven. Grace has reached its end with him, and loosing can take place righteously. The offender proves himself to be "a little child" by hearing the assembly, and judging his conduct as the assembly judges it. He is "converted" by coming into line with the assembly. Now if the conduct which is brought before the assembly is such that it calls for binding, the offender can only clear himself of it by repentance, and on the assembly discerning his repentance it clears him administratively by loosing him. In the case before us I understand that there has been conduct which the local brethren felt should be brought before the assembly. I have not heard that any one questions that the conduct was wrong. The offender himself has admitted this. Now if he is really on this ground before God he has only to follow out his exercises a little further to be near enough to his brethren morally to make it possible for them to touch him in a restorative way. Delaying his acknowledgment, as it were, to the last minute robbed it of the moral value which would have attached to it if it had been made earlier. Would it not be well for him to own the Lord's governmental hand upon him in the whole matter, and to take a low place as owning the rightness of the judgment passed upon his conduct? I think if he becomes "a little child" there will not be much difficulty, but nothing short of a miracle will bring any of us to that point! I trust the brethren, on their part, may be quick to discern even the beginning of that gracious work which they had in mind to promote by their action. It needs, perhaps, more grace to move restoratively than to move in the judgment of what is manifestly wrong. The latter is sometimes a painful necessity, but there is more glory in the former.


The Principle of Christian Fellowship.

The mystery was made known to the apostle Paul by revelation, and it was bound up with the glad tidings which he preached, as we learn from Romans 16 and Ephesians 3 and 6: 19. He spoke of it to the Corinthians, chapter 12: 12, 13,

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and to the Colossians and the Ephesians. This truth is universal, and is for the enlightenment of all. It is in no way limited to anything local.

Another important part of Paul's teaching is that the assembly is the house of God, 1 Timothy 3:15. There is one foundation, one corner-stone, and in Jesus Christ "all the building fitted together increases to a holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also (Gentiles) are built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit", Ephesians 2:20 - 22.

Paul speaks further of the saints as being called by God into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, 1 Corinthians 1:9, and that their fellowship is set forth in the cup which we bless and the bread which we break, 1 Corinthians 10:16, 17. He assumes that all believers bless the cup and break the bread, for he says "we". It is evident that there cannot be two divine fellowships.

The apostle, or the Spirit of God by him, gives no hint that the assembly, in a universal sense, was an invisible body. He regards it as one body on earth, gifts being bestowed with a view to its edifying, that it may work for itself the increase of the body to its self-building up in love, Ephesians 4. The saints are called in one body to let the peace of Christ preside in their hearts. There is no thought of an invisible body.

1 Corinthians gives us the truth as it is to characterise each local assembly, for it is addressed not only to Corinth, but to "all that in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ". The saints universally are set in the light of that epistle, which makes known that all saints are baptised in the power of one Spirit into one body, chapter 12: 12, 13. "The Christ" is clearly a corporate designation of the saints as one body, which could not be limited to one locality. The saints at Corinth were "Christ's body and members in particular", but only in virtue of having part in the universal unity of chapter 12: 12, 13.

In that epistle we see that assembly administration is to be carried on locally. The saints at Corinth were directly responsible to the Lord to exercise discipline upon an evil-doer in their midst. Such an act was to be done in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and according to Matthew 18 it would be bound in heaven. If, after the Corinthian assembly had acted thus in discipline by the Lord's commandment, the assembly at Cenchrea had said that the act did not bind them,

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the latter assembly would have been marked by pure lawlessness. It was binding, if for no other reason, on the ground that there is "one Lord" who had entrusted responsibility to act for Him in such matters to the local assembly, and whose Name was connected with their action. In apostolic times "the power of our Lord Jesus Christ" was formally associated with His Name when the assembly dealt with evil, 1 Corinthians 5:4.

Now, to pass from the days of the apostles to our own, we find that, in the revival of the truth over a century ago, what was prominent in the minds of the spiritual was the truth of the assembly. We have been told that the light broke into the soul of Mr. J. N. Darby that there was a Head in heaven. Then, said he to himself, there must be a body on earth. If we read his early writings, such as "The Nature and Unity of the Church of Christ", written in 1828, we find that it is the assembly which is before him, and its moral and spiritual features. The coming together of saints was to be in the light of those features which pertain to the assembly universally. The revival was definitely on the line of Paul's glad tidings, and of Paul's ministry of the assembly. The brethren who were spiritually instructed had no such thought as that it was the divine intent that the assembly in its universal aspect should be, or should become, invisible. On the contrary, they felt deeply the fact that it had become so; that "the true church of God had no avowed communion at all" was a grievous evil to be mourned over and confessed. They felt that the body is here as a substantive reality to be edified, and to increase with the increase of God. Christ is sanctifying and purifying the assembly, and nourishing and cherishing it. This is not in heaven, but down here on earth.

But alongside this revival of Paul's doctrine there was developing amongst the brethren an entirely different system of teaching. There were those who held that the assembly in its universal aspect had become invisible, and that nothing now remained but to set up local assemblies, each being a self-contained body, having no responsibility with reference to other such bodies, and free to receive any individual believer supposed to be personally sound in the faith and consistent in life, without taking any account of the associations in which he may have been previously. The truth of the assembly in its general unity, calling for recognition in a practical way by

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those who have the light of it, thus entirely lost its due place. According to this system of teaching, each separate meeting is an independent "assembly", even if there are several in one town. Scripture never speaks of different assemblies in one city. At Jerusalem, where there were thousands of believers, and where they no doubt met in many different places, it is always "the assembly" -- in the singular. The idea of independent churches, without any recognition of a universal bond of responsible partnership, is quite foreign to Scripture.

There were thus two different conceptions in the minds of brethren. One was governed by the thought of the unity of the whole assembly as one body, one house, one temple, and by the thought of all the saints everywhere being called to one universal fellowship. The other was based on the idea of each meeting being an independent "assembly". The moment was bound to come when these two different principles would be found to be entirely out of keeping with each other. It was not long before circumstances arose which brought this to light, But it is important to recognise that what happened at Plymouth did not bring about the difference of principles. It only served to expose what was there before.

Mr. Darby and others separated from the original meeting at Plymouth in 1845 because clericalism was set up there, which they rightly judged was not of God. But the Lord in His wisdom did not allow this particular matter to become the general test. In 1847 it was discovered that Mr. Newton held and taught most serious error as to the Lord's personal relationships. This false teaching definitely raised the question as to whether fellowship involved a responsible partnership or not. The extreme gravity of false teaching as to the Lord's relationships ought to have helped the brethren to be very sensitive in their affections, as well as in conscience and intelligence. They ought all to have weighed well that fellowship (or partnership) with such error was most serious in the sight of God. The ground was taken eventually at Bethesda that the error was condemned, but that fellowship with it by breaking bread with those who held it was no bar to communion, and that no individual believer was to be held responsible for what he might be walking in partnership with, unless he actually avowed the error himself.

Thus where this principle is adhered to, no assembly bond

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of partnership which involves saints in common responsibility is admitted. Each is regarded as an individual who is not to be held responsible for any associations he may have been in, but only for his personal views and conduct. There is no thought of fellowship in this, for fellowship means a common equal sharing, or joint participation, and this, when it is a question of breaking bread, in a most solemn way as before God.

The fact that defilement is contracted by touching what is unclean is clearly laid down in the Old Testament, and the New Testament expressly says, "touch not what is unclean", 2 Corinthians 6:17. It is also clear in Scripture that a much less thing than breaking bread with a person may involve one in responsibility for what he does, for John says that the one who gives a friendly greeting to a man who does not bring the doctrine of Christ "partakes (the verbal form of the word fellowship) in his wicked works", 2 John 11. One is viewed as in fellowship with his wicked works if simply greeting him. This shows what a very small thing, as men would say, involves responsibility as before God for one's associations. If to break bread with an evil-doer does not, in the minds of believers, involve any complicity in his evil, neither does breaking bread with faithful saints involve the recognition that we are in the most intimate partnership with them. The sense of the divine bond is lost; persons break bread as so many individuals without any sense of responsible partnership. So that, according to these principles, the local assembly takes independent ground in declining to be bound by any assembly action other than its own, and the individual is held free of any responsibility, even in his own assembly, for anything that may have taken place there save his own views and his own conduct. This principle annuls responsibility in regard of associations, which Scripture so carefully maintains; it entirely sets aside the true thought of fellowship.


... The question is raised by you as to whether the breach of 1908 was not caused by some "misunderstanding". It appears that it is still your conviction that it was so. I would most gladly do anything possible to remove misunderstandings.

You say, "I do not see disorder if, say, a saint in Laodicea or Thyatira, feeling the condition of things, and having read the instructions of 2 Timothy 2, withdrew and was received

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at Philadelphia. I cannot see that Philadelphia would be interfering with the Lord's prerogative in receiving such a one".

If such a one had gone to Philadelphia it seems to me very probable that the brethren would have said something like this to him:

"Dear brother, we are deeply interested in you, as being of the assembly in Thyatira, for we love the brethren everywhere, and we feel a special care for those who are comparatively near to us, as you are. We are conscious that the spiritual power we have is only little, but this makes us desirous of clinging tenaciously to every intimation of the Lord's mind that we can gather from His word. And we should like to put before you what we have learned from Him".

"For a long time we have had a copy of a letter written by the apostle Paul, and we recognise that the things he wrote are the Lord's commandment to us. We have gathered from that letter that assembly exercises are to be taken up and worked out in each locality where the saints are found, for not only was it addressed to 'the assembly of God which is in Corinth', but to 'all that in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ'. This has taught us to recognise the assembly of God as in local responsibility in each place where saints are found, and that 'in every place' the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ can be called on as One who is available to direct His saints, and to adjust them locally. Indeed we count it a most precious privilege that we can thus refer directly to the Lord in our own locality, and obtain His grace and help in seeking to keep His word and not to deny His Name. We thankfully own that we are set in Philadelphia in responsibility to maintain here all that is due to the Lord, and also to avail ourselves of all the resources and sufficiency that is in Him for us. We feel it to be a great privilege that in our local exercises we have not to look to our brethren in Sardis or Smyrna, but directly to our beloved and only, Lord. We have proved His grace and faithfulness and sufficiency in our local needs, and we earnestly and affectionately entreat you not to call upon us, who are of another assembly, but to call upon the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ that He may show you His mind and act for you in the locality in which He has set you".

"We may say, further, that we have just recently received

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from Patmos a copy of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him, and we have been intensely interested in John's letters to the seven assemblies in this district. These have greatly confirmed us in what we had previously gathered from Paul. We have been greatly comforted by having a direct communication from the Lord to us locally. It has given us the sweetest sense of His love and concern, not only for the assembly universally, but for His saints in each local assembly. This is exceedingly precious to us, and we earnestly desire that you should prove the value of it in your own locality. We know something of your exercises, for we have read the epistle to the angel of the assembly in Thyatira, and it encouraged us much to know that the Lord was taking direct account of you in your locality even as He did of us in ours. We counsel you to attend to what He says. He is addressing you in your local responsibility, and your blessing will lie in owning this, and in obtaining His grace to answer to His mind".

"As to what you say about withdrawing from the assembly in Thyatira, we do not understand what you mean. Are you not one of those of whom the Lord has spoken as the assembly in Thyatira? This is how He regards you, and therefore how we regard you. We could understand your having to withdraw from iniquity, and to purify yourself from vessels to dishonour, for we, too, have read Paul's second letter to Timothy. But we believe it to be impossible for you to withdraw from the assembly in Thyatira so long as you are resident there. The Lord is unquestionably addressing you there, and though we have observed with sorrow that there is much in the assembly there of which He does not approve we have also noted that there are some exercised souls there whom He has addressed as 'the rest who are in Thyatira'. Why cannot you take up your exercises with them?"

"If you have not been able to get on happily together with them you need the Lord's grace locally to enable you to do so. He wants you to recognise His voice, and to obtain His grace for the adjustment of your local differences. We are ready to help you in every spiritual way that is in our power, but we believe the greatest help we can give you is to exhort you to be cast upon the Lord that you may prove His sufficiency in your own locality where He addresses you. He has reserved to Himself the authority to adjust and regulate things amongst you at Thyatira; He has not committed any charge as to this

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to us. We believe it to be your great privilege to recognise His direct authority where you are, and to obtain His personal direction and grace for every difficulty and exercise in regard to your walking together there. We believe it to be His holy and perfect ordering that it should be so".

Are you not prepared to accept that the above is according to Scripture? Then why accept another kind of action which is not at all in accord with it? If there is a divine order, that which is not consistent with it must be disorder. To acknowledge that there is a divine principle which should govern our action, and in practice to go contrary to it, is a course which I find it difficult to understand.


... I have greatly enjoyed dwelling a little on the precious teachings of the book of Ruth, and I trust all our hearts have been moved to desire to know the present reality of what is pictured there. I feel personally that what I know of Christ is almost nothing compared with the vast fulness that dwells in Him, and my heart seeks more energy by the Spirit in its affections to pursue the knowledge of Christ with more intense purpose and fervour. It is a comfort to know that affections are being quickened towards Him in His loved assembly in view of a consummation which is fast drawing near. And all who desire to move towards Him in affection may assuredly count upon the spiritual quickening which will give impulse and power for such movement. It is such a delight to God that we should be Ruth-like that we may be confident He will keep us on that line.


"The Lord is full of tender compassion and pitiful", and He enters fully and sympathetically into all the sorrows of His own. And none of those sorrows are more acute and distressing than those which affect the mind, and particularly when they are such as to cloud the present enjoyment of spiritual things.

There may be times in the history of His beloved saints when, as to their own consciousness, they walk in darkness and have no light, though fearing God. To such the prophet has a sweet word of cheer: he says, "Let him confide in the name of Jehovah, and stay himself upon his God", Isaiah 50:10.

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It is far better even to be in such a case than to be amongst those who compass themselves about with sparks of their own kindling. Blessing is assured to all those who fear God, and who value His favour, even though they may be distressed by not being conscious of that favour. The very fact that they long for the light of His countenance to shine upon them is the proof that He has effected new birth, and He will not fail to carry through the gracious work which He has begun.

There are many deep and agonising experiences recounted in the Psalms which saints of God have gone through, and which others will yet have to go through, and we may be quite sure that not one of these experiences is overlooked by the blessed God, or will fail to find its answer in His wonderful light which shines in Christ.

Many such exercises are, no doubt, the result of the workings of unbelief, or mixtures of unbelief, for how often, practically, faith and unbelief are side by side in the soul! The distressed father said, "Lord, I believe", but he added, "help thou mine unbelief", conscious that the latter element was there, though now a sorrow and hindrance to him which he would fain be helped to overcome.

Nervous conditions have a great deal to do with many cases such as you speak of. They are simply cases of extreme physical depression in which everything looks black. Those thus suffering should remember to say continually, "This is my weakness", and also to remember, "the years of the right hand of the Most High", Psalm 77:10. There is that at the right hand of God which is "changeless through all the changing years". Christ is there in all His blessedness, the delight of God's heart, and His salvation for men.

What a comfort to see that another Man altogether has come in on God's part, and that all that God is in grace shines in Him, and God's salvation is there in its blessed completeness! All that could possibly be experienced of what we are, or of what we are subject to when our nerves get out of order, cannot affect the glorious Man at God's right hand. He is salvation for us in its fulness.

There may be ten thousand complications in our actual experience: we have been great sinners, we have failed much as believers, we have not had the joy we might have had, or even ought to have had, we have not been faithful as we ought. Exercise as to all these things would be right and godly, but

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when nervous or mental disorder is present the mind dwells on them morbidly, and the enemy does not fail to use them as a darkening cloud over the soul.

But then all these things only serve to prove to us that what we need is something which comes in from God, complete in perfection as being of Him, and wholly apart from everything connected with our moral or physical condition as born into this world. Death is upon all that, and we have to learn it, so as to be intensely thankful to know that death has come upon it in the Person of a divinely provided Saviour and Redeemer.

This clears the way for us to be linked with Christ, and to know that He is made of God to be wisdom for us, and righteousness, and holiness, and redemption.

The Spirit witnesses to the perfection of Christ and to the completeness of the way in which He has glorified God. And even if I lose, through my infirmity, the consciousness of it, it remains in all its blessedness, and God will in His faithfulness bring me from under the cloud. While under it I must humble myself before God as to what I am, while counting confidently (as His grace and mercy would enable me to do) upon being exalted in due time, not in myself, but in that glorious Man who is His light and His salvation for me.

The world is full of people who are satisfied with themselves, who have no conviction of being all wrong, and who are happy in a dreadful way without Christ.

What a mercy it is to be amongst the humble, the contrite, the broken in heart! those who cannot find a spot in themselves on which they can rest complacently! who can only sigh and cry, and smite on their breasts, and feel that nothing but mercy will do for them! The fulness of Christ is for such; the heart of God in all its full measure is set free to pour itself out into repentant souls. He is glorified in blessing them in Christ.

There may still be depression and trying experiences when the nerves and mind are disordered. But all this belongs to the outward man, not the inward. It belongs to that which will be entirely left behind at the rapture, or at the moment of departure. It belongs to the perishing order.

I will add, before I close, that I do not believe any experience of those who fear God will be without some answer ultimately that will be for His praise.

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We learn in a variety of ways that we have a link with the creature of vanity; we have to feel the bondage and the burden that has come into creation. But we learn to look out for a deliverance that shall be worthy of God, and every experience of the vanity and bondage will enhance our appreciation of the deliverance.

There could be no sympathy with a groaning creation if we had not learned what it was to groan as part of it. But if I groan I shall also sing, for I believe it will be found that every groan has something to contribute to the tuning of the stringed instrument on which God's praise will be sounded eternally.


... To have found by personal experience that the flesh cannot be improved, and that the more one tries to be for Christ the worse one seems to succeed, is a useful and instructive exercise so far as it goes. It humbles us and breaks down our self-sufficiency, but it does not give joy or power. Self-knowledge can only lead to self-disgust, and to hopeless despair of improvement. You have rightly concluded that something more positive than this is needed to bring delivering power into the soul.

All blessing and joy and power lie in the knowledge of God. This may seem a simple thing to say, but in it lies the true secret of deliverance and liberty. When we have the consciousness that God is for us we are in true liberty of soul. I will try to point out how this comes to pass.

In the first place we have to come to the knowledge of God as the Justifier. If we think of ourselves as children of Adam nothing attaches to us but sins -- the sad evidence of our state and irretrievable ruin. But the Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself for our sins that we might be cleared of everything that attached to us as in the flesh. It was God's will to have us thus cleared that we might be delivered from this present evil age. On our side we have become conscious of the necessity for this, and have taken God's way to reach it. We have believed on Christ Jesus that we might be justified on the principle of the faith of Christ. We have sought justification where alone it can be found, that is, in Christ.

But God's favour to us is not limited to justification. He has called us in the grace of Christ, Galatians 1:6. He has brought

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into the vision of our souls the blessed and glorious "Person of the Christ, enfolding every grace". This opens an entirely new world for our hearts, which we may explore in all its length and breadth in the happy consciousness that we are called into it by the blessed God. We see One raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, and crowned with glory and honour at God's right hand. From thence there shines forth for us the radiancy of the glad tidings of the glory of the Christ who is the image of God. All that God is in infinite grace is set forth in that glorified Man, and in this grace God has called us.

It is easy to write these words, and easier still to read them, but that of which they speak is so vast and glorious, so pregnant with infinite blessedness, that it may well be the constant exercise and lifelong prayer of our hearts to enter into it.

It is in apprehension and appreciation of the grace in which we are called that we "live to God". Our hearts are filled with the joy of it in the power of the Holy Ghost, so that living praise flows forth to God. We find true liberty of soul in the consideration of this blessed grace which has enriched us in Christ. We cherish in our hearts the knowledge that all that we are has gone in the death of Christ, and now Christ -- the One by whom and in whom everything is established for God's pleasure and our blessing -- lives in our affections.

Then as to our practical life here in flesh we live in the light of the Son of God, and of all that subsists in Him. It is not a law that we have before us, but a Person in whom all the light of God shines and whose love holds our hearts.

The way to "go on rightly before God" is to be kept in the knowledge and joy of the grace in which He has called us, and in the light of all that subsists in His beloved Son. This -- and this alone -- delivers us from the dominion of sin, and from this present evil world. And if your heart turns to God in desire that all this should be made a divine reality to your heart, and the living blessedness of your soul, He will not fail to bring it to pass by His Spirit. It is His own will concerning you, and when your heart turns in that direction you find yourself in the line of His purpose, in the current of His Spirit, and in harmony with all His ways.

Many an exercise may be needed, many a painful discovery of unsuspected flesh; but if our hearts are set in the right

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direction we may leave the education of our souls with implicit confidence in the hands of God. He will teach us and bring us on just as fast as we are able to travel, and we shall not learn a lesson in His school that we do not need.

We cannot be men all at once; we must be content to begin as babes. Spiritual stature and strength do not come by effort but by growth; and growth is the result of being nourished by proper food. But if we do not grow by effort it is important to remember that we do not grow without exercise. God begins by giving our hearts a sense of the blessedness of the grace in which He has called us, and of all that subsists in His beloved Son, that we may be awakened to pursue the knowledge of all this with purpose of heart and prayerful exercise.

As we go along in this line we find that the grace of the Lord continually succours us in our weakness. We get divine support as we need it, whether for service -- if we are called thereto -- or for suffering reproach for Christ's Name.

It is quite right to be exercised as to how we walk here, and to desire to be here solely for Christ, but if this is the prominent thing -- that is if it takes the first place in our thoughts -- it can only result in legal effort and failure. It is we who are trying to do something for God and for Christ. But if, on the other hand, we exercise ourselves rather to know God in all the blessedness of the grace in which He has called us -- as we wait on Him to make Christ known in our hearts by the Spirit -- we find power in the knowledge of God, and Christ does practically displace what is of ourselves. Christ is formed in us by the Spirit, and then Christ can come out of us.

There is no other way than this for you to reach what you desire. Let it be your great concern and prayer that God will establish you with His grace, and fill your soul with the blessedness and glory of Christ as the One in whom that grace shines forth -- the One who as the glorified Man is the image of God.

As you travel on this line you will think less and less of yourself, either as a sinner, saint or servant; but you will find deepening delight in the knowledge of God, and you will be wholly cast upon His grace for your life and testimony here. Paul rejoiced that his conscience bore witness that his conversation was in simplicity and sincerity both in the world and towards the saints, and this not by fleshly wisdom but by

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the grace of God, 2 Corinthians 1:12. It is a great thing to be content to be what the grace of God will make us. There is no effort in this, though there may be much exercise in prayer before God, and we may have to learn humbling lessons under His holy and gracious discipline.


... To my mind the importance of connecting John 13 with the Supper is very great. It is true we do not get the Supper in what may be called its formal character in this gospel, but we get the essence and vitality of it, and of what is spiritually connected with it. I do not see the difficulty which some appear to have had in connecting feet-washing with the Supper. Is there any moment when the Lord so distinctly detaches our hearts from the influences of the scene through which we are passing as when together to eat His Supper? It is then we experience in a very special way the refreshing power of His own love borne witness of in death. If, on the one hand, we minister to Him, it is also true that He ministers to us. Do we not know in some small measure the reality of His service at such moments as these, and its effect in leading us to enjoy in our feeble measure part with Him.

And, if we learn how His love serves His own, that becomes the pattern and key-note of all our service towards one another. It suggests a peculiar and blessed character of ministry -- the outcome of communion with the Lord and the knowledge of what is in His heart for His own -- that directly tends to free the saints from every influence that would hinder part with Him, and, at the same time, refreshes and invigorates the feet so that they press on in that "unsullied way which His own hand hath dressed". It seems to me that all ministry in the assembly would, more or less, be of this character. It is not in any way that it engages you with the soil that has been contracted. It blessedly and completely removes the soil, so that the spirit is free to enter upon and enjoy association with the Son of God -- the full height of assembly privilege. I think, what makes a difficulty to some is that the unique service of John 13 and its end are not understood. It is looked upon as something akin to advocacy and as having rather a negative character. But in reality it is the positive and delightful

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service of the love of Christ -- whether in Himself or in His own -- in view of the saints entering into full assembly privilege. If this were seen clearly, I do not think we should have any difficulty in perceiving how appropriate is the setting of this service in connection with the Supper.


Why is there no silver in the holy Jerusalem? ... I can only suggest that possibly "silver" represents that aspect of redemption in virtue of which we have forgiveness and are justified so that we may do God's will in the very place where we were under the enemy's power. That is, that "silver" perhaps suggests our side of redemption -- "we have redemption", etc. But in the holy city all is the display of God's accomplished counsels, and saints are manifestly the righteousness of God in Christ. The glory of God lightens the city and the Lamb is the light thereof. It seems to me that any special figure of redemption, such as silver would be, would be out of place in a scene every part of which is lighted by the Lamb. Every ray of the glory of God emanates from the One who died. It is no longer redemption as that which takes me out of the thraldom of the enemy, but as the holy light in which God is known in a scene where neither the enemy's power nor the stain of sin can ever come.


A true Servant.

... After reading your letter this morning, I opened my Bible on these words: "There was a man sent from God whose name was John. The same came for a witness to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe", John 1:6. This set me thinking of some of the marks of a true servant, as we see them in John -- marks, which I trust, may be more I and more imprinted on our lives and service.

First, he comes from God. In order to do this, we must first be with God. Alas! This is the weak point with so many. The excitement of service has an attraction for the natural tastes which the holy calm of the sanctuary does not possess. In one way service makes something of us, but in the presence of God we find that we are nothing. Men are needed who are really with God. There is no real freshness

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or power if we are not with God. Our hearts lose their divine sensibilities, we drop down to the level of things around us, and service becomes more or less formal.

The most glorious and soul-stirring realities are soon held as mere doctrines, and of course are preached as they are held. Then very soon the servant begins to feel a complacent self-satisfaction as to his service, which is not disturbed even by the lack of any manifest blessing, and this is the mark, I think, of an awfully back-slidden state.

On the other hand, if we are with God, we are in spiritual reality as to our own experience. We do not deceive ourselves as to the measure of our progress, gift or faith. We think "soberly as we ought to think". Then it is with God that we learn His love, His unmeasured grace, His glorious purposes, His great thoughts concerning Christ and the assembly, the reality of the Spirit's power, and many other things which are accepted in theory by many but known as realities by few. Then, having been with God in the secret of His presence, we can come from God in the power of what we have learnt within, to serve in a world like this. We do not then measure the enemy's power against our own weakness, but against God. We do not put on the armour which others have worn, or follow in the beaten track where other servants have trod. We do not confer with flesh and blood as to the scope or character of our service. There is an originality about every servant who comes from God. God does not fashion two servants in the same mould -- that is man's work -- and just in proportion as we are formed in the sanctuary, each will have his own peculiar fitness for his own service, and such stamp will be upon it that faith will recognise that it comes from God.

The second mark of a true servant is that he is consciously nothing. John could speak of himself as only a "voice", and a greater than John was consciously "less than the least of all saints". The moment we think ourselves to be anything, we are out of the servant's true position and spirit. There is a beautiful contrast between John's account of himself, and the Lord's description of him (compare John 1:22 - 27, with Luke 7:26 - 28). The more worthy we are of the Lord's commendation, the less do we think of ourselves.

The third mark of a true servant is that he is a "witness". He speaks of that which he has seen and known for himself.

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It was said to Paul that he was to be "a witness of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee". We may minister things which we have never entered into ourselves, but we cannot be witnesses of them. Hence the deep importance of cultivating communion with God, and increased intimacy with Christ. Instead of this weakening our gospel testimony, I believe it would make it fuller, richer, and more simple. We would be in touch with the grace that can stoop to the lowest point to win a sinner's heart. Our preaching often lacks weight because we have so little realised the things of which we speak. Whether it be the terror of the Lord, the love of God, the value of Christ's work, or the blessings which faith enjoys, we must ourselves have entered into that which we press upon others or we become lecturers rather than witnesses.

Another mark of the true servant is self-forgetful devotedness to Christ. John was ready to decrease if so be that Christ might increase. He was willing to be displaced, to pass into the shade, to be forsaken even by his own disciples. The effect of his witnessing was the proof of its divine reality -- men left John and followed Jesus. This gave him real joy (John 3:29), for morally he had left himself and found his Object in that blessed Lamb of God. The result of his testimony was to accomplish in others what had first been effected in himself, and this is the end of true service. We may, through grace, bring others to where we are ourselves, we cannot lift them above our own level. How deeply important it is, then, that we should be vigilant, prayerful, sober, and that we should habitually walk in the Spirit! Christ will then be the Object and Motive of our whole life and service, and it may be ours to say, in some feeble sense of the greatness and blessedness of it, "To me to live is Christ".

Then the reality of these different characteristics is sure to be tested. Satan will not miss an opportunity of sifting the servant of Christ, and on the other hand, God allows the sifting in order to humble us by the discovery that we are not so spiritual or so devoted as we thought we were; while, in result, the reality of what grace has wrought in us comes out more plainly than ever. The servant must not always expect to be in one set of circumstances. The Baptist was, for a time, the most popular man of the day. Tens of thousands attended his ministry, and honoured him as a prophet of God.

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For a time he was unopposed by the religious leaders and even heard by the king with respect and attention. He was the lion of the hour -- the dictator of morals to every rank in the nation. How many servants have been lifted up with pride in circumstances similar to this in kind, if not in degree? A crowded audience, the approbation of the world, or of the brethren, the esteem rightly due, and cheerfully rendered to a servant honoured of God, and even success in spiritual labours, will act upon these wretched hearts of ours, and lift us up with a carnal elation, if we are not, through grace, in the continual exercise of self-judgment. If John's eye had not been steadily fixed on the glorious Person of whom he was the herald, he might soon have thought himself worthy of some higher station than that of the slave who stoops to loose his master's sandal, but with the divine glory of that One before him, he would not assume to be worthy to render Him even the meanest service. But John was to be tested, like most other servants, in a different way from that of which I have spoken. He must know the north-wind of adversity, as well as the south-wind of prosperity. He must be transferred from the great congregation of the wilderness, to the solitude and apparent uselessness of the prison, and that, too, at a time when it must have seemed more than ever necessary for all true servants to be spreading with divine energy the gospel of the coming kingdom.

Fancy him like a caged lion, immured in a lonely castle on the dismal shore of the Dead Sea, and hearing there the glorious things that were being spoken of "throughout all Judea, and throughout all the region round about", Luke 17, 18. Can you wonder that when such reports were brought to his ears, his spirit chafed at the confinement which hindered him from having a share in all this? In the day of his prosperity he had said, in effect, that he was nothing, but now he was made to enter in