J. N. Darby.
London, November 23, 1853.
Now that excitement and discussion are over, I desire to state, feeling that God leads me to it, the one point in which, in my own judgment, I may have erred in the Plymouth matter, and in which, in my own mind, I have not the consciousness that I was led of the Spirit of God. I do not mean that any one more spiritual might not have done better, nor do I mean to refer to any general want of spirituality or holiness which might have occasioned the weakness which allowed the evil to arise, or failed to meet it. I speak of the historical facts, in one of which I have felt I might have acted otherwise, and which now, to have my conscience entirely clear before my brethren as well as before God, I desire to mention.
Those on which I have been attacked by others have never reached my conscience at all, as having any ground whatever so as to affect me before God. It was this:- Mr. H. was absent at the time I left Ebrington Street. He had, and so had I, the greatest dread of anything that might seem a confederacy or party; so that we acted quite independently one of another. Before he finally left Ebrington Street, he found it to be in such a state that he refused to minister any longer. I think it was while he was absent that he announced this, but I am not sure. However, he did take this step, and before he left the meeting. Just before his return I left it. Now what I judge might have been done by me was, to await the effect of his resigning ministry there. I cannot now say whether I knew of it when I left or not (and in fact his doing so produced no effect whatever) but leaving before his return (just about when he refused to minister), the effect it might have produced I could not act upon, supposing I did not know it; still, if guided of the Lord in that point, I might still have been there, the effect of which I cannot tell.
I have sometimes said that the only point on which I had not the consciousness of having God with me was one others knew nothing of, but I never felt led to enter upon it until now. Brethren were occupied with other points and excited; and the attacks made on me, as I have said, never touched my conscience or judgment at all. It was not their pressing staying in Ebrington Street that affected me: God forbid I should have done so if it remained what it was! God, I doubt not, set it wholly aside because of what it was, and so far sanctioned my path, and His judgment suffices. In all the rest of my path there, I exercised as far as I know, unwearied patience in the midst of evil, seeking their good: but the feeling of avoiding confederacy, and acting each for oneself, which indeed H. was very jealous of, may have hindered my waiting to see the effect of H.'s movement. I cannot now recollect whether I knew of his act; but God knew of it, and, if guided of Him in this point, I should have had the benefit of His knowledge.
204 As to the evil to be dealt with, of that I have no enfeebled feeling now. My apprehension of it then was not wrong. But I state for His glory and my own conscience' sake, where I could not securely say I was acting in the Spirit, or that the flesh had no part. I add nothing as to subsequent matters. My judgment as to Bethesda is unchanged.
Affectionately yours, J.N.D.
P.S. It may be well to add that, as regards my own path, weeks before I left I had put the difficulty that pressed upon me before the whole body of saints, and then waited many weeks to see if they would take it up; but they did nothing. And one wrote to Mr. H. to say that I had brought it before them, but that nobody paid any attention to it. After my leaving, and Mr. H.'s return when he met all the saints, I met all that would come at their request; but a very large number were diligently prevented attending.
My letter refers to the single point of the possibility of the effect of Mr. H.'s refusing to minister. It did produce none; but I had left before that was seen.