London, C. A. Hammond, n.d. c. 1927.
It is due to the beloved readers of the Letters of Interest that some notice should be made of the life and labours of our brother Mr. W. J. Lowe, who edited the Letters for so many years, and who passed away very quietly in his eighty-eighth year, in the early hours of September 29th, 1927, at his home 34 Woodside, Wimbledon, London, S.W.
He was born near Regent's Park, London, his parents being godly Church of England people. Even as a boy William Joseph Lowe gave abundant promise of the distinguished place he was destined to win in the estimation and affection of his fellows in after life. As a child he was for some time at school under the late Mr. J. G. Deck, the well-known hymn writer, who afterwards emigrated to New Zealand, and where his labours in the gospel were much used of God. W.J.L. was also at school at Tusculum, near Bideford, under Mr. William Hake, who afterwards became well known as the friend and companion of Mr. Robert Chapman of Barnstaple. The tutor to the boys in the upper classes was Mr. Henry Soltau, from whom W.J.L. received much scriptural instruction. During the years 1856-1857 he attended the Elm Grove Collegiate Institution, near Ealing, where he gained the highest distinctions; winning in the latter year the Silver Medal Prizes for Greek, Latin, French, German, Geometry and Algebra, with the highest marks for diligence and perseverance; all proving him to be possessed of natural abilities much beyond the average.
Besides his scholastic attainments, W.J.L. showed decided artistic talent as is seen by beautiful water-colour paintings he executed while at Elm Grove Institution. Sketches of engineering works in India, and of the country scenes there, also display the same skill.
His desire to keep free from worldly society while in India gave him time to indulge his taste in this direction, and also to study botany and make exquisite drawings of flowers in all their stages from bud to seed. His correspondence at that time also showed the same benevolence to those in need and to God's servants labouring in His vineyard, that characterised his later years.
It was very seldom that he would speak of anything in which he personally had any prominent share, but we remember with what happiness he would recall his conversion as a boy in his 'teens at the old Kennington Room in South London, through the late Mr. Leans, whose gifts and devotedness he much admired. There also he was received into christian fellowship, when Dr. Cronin and Colonel Langford were prominent men. He would speak also of the abiding influence of a visit of two or three weeks in those early days to the late Mr. W. Kelly in Guernsey, which was a turning point in some ways in his life, as also of a later visit on his return from India.
After leaving school, he studied civil engineering in London, and secured, soon after his mother's death, a most important post in India, for which he left via Southampton, in 1859, going round the Cape to Madras, by sailing ship. So deeply did his abilities impress those in authority, that we find him in full charge of very large contracts for the Madras Irrigation and Canal Company in India, engaged in extensive and costly works, building embankments across valleys to impound rivers, forming aqueducts and canals to distribute waters over sterile lands. On these works W.J.L. had many thousands of men under his control when he was but twenty-three years of age. It was in India that he first used his pen to give expression to his deep-seated love for the Lord's people. Three interesting volumes of the magazine he edited there for their edification are still preserved. His health, however, proved unequal to the climate of India, and the doctors ordered him to give up his post and return home.
Rest and attention in England and Switzerland mercifully had the desired effect, and at twenty-six years of age we find him perfecting his knowledge of French under an elderly sister in Switzerland of whose godliness and efficiency as a teacher he often spoke with gratitude to God; his object then being to go out to labour for the Lord in Quebec among the French-Canadians. It was at this time that he was thrown in the path of the late Mr. J. N. Darby, who, as a christian teacher, influenced so many young men in England, France, Germany and Switzerland by his gifts and quite exceptional insight into the truths of the Bible; whose oral sermons and lectures, as well as his writings, were affecting not only the professors and students of many schools and universities, like Geneva and Oxford, but the rank and file of God's people in many countries.
J.N.D. and others whom he had gathered around him at Pau were closely engaged at this time in the work of translating the scriptures into French, a work which afterwards extended to German, Dutch, Italian and English. The proof-sheets of the French New Testament where, at the first, casually passed to Mr. Lowe, to look over, and the number of discrepancies he found, and the value of the improvements he suggested, so surprised and impressed Mr. Darby that he said: "You are just the man we want here, you must now stop and help us."
Thus commenced a friendship and co-operation in service with J.N.D. of a world-wide influence, and which lasted till the latter's death in Bournemouth in 1882. Mr. Darby, in his later years often said that he knew of no one with the knowledge and general grasp of the truth in its detail, which W.J.L. possessed. Verily a great tribute coming from such a man!
Many of the older brethren will remember the part which W.J. Lowe took in conferences and meetings of brothers in early days, and although not so well known in England as in some places abroad, what he said never failed to arrest attention and to command the respect and approval of those who took the lead among the saints. He travelled and laboured for the Lord incessantly, and was well known in the gatherings in Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Spain and Switzerland, not a few of which were the fruit of his own ministry. He also visited the United States and Canada several times.
He was married to Miss Ellen McAdam, the daughter of the late Mr. Christopher McAdam, of Notting Hill, on September 15th, 1885, after having known the family and co-operated in much service for the Lord for many years; the honeymoon being spent at Dillenburg, in Germany. Even at such a time our brother's preoccupation with the Lord's work was so absorbing that they did not reach Dillenburg till 10.30 p.m. on the 19th owing to visits to several gatherings in Holland on the way; the time at Dillenburg also being filled up with lectures, visits and meetings, as was his custom, including a four-days' conference at Elberfeld. It will interest our readers to see a copy of the entry regarding the meeting to commend them to the Lord on the day of their marriage. "It was quite full. J. S.Oliphant 56th hymn. Then W.T. Turpin and H. M. Hooke prayed. The latter very long and with great detail and power. Hymn 209th. R. spoke shortly on 1 Cor. 7:22. The Lord's free man and Christ's servant. Hymn 173rd. Hooton prayed. Hymn 174th, verses 2 and 3. Then tea. Evening meeting. Mr. McAdam. Hymn 100th. Mr. Howe read Luke 9:9, and John 4:34-38. W. T. Turpin spoke on latter part connecting it with the Lord's ways with the woman."
After the death of Mr. C. McAdam (at St. Leonards-on-Sea) who was very well known, and who had laboured much for the Lord, especially in distributing help to the foreign labourers, Mr. Lowe took over this work, including the editing of the Letters of Interest. This he continued for nearly forty years till he had become a kind of institution among the saints. This varied service brought him into touch with God's people all over the world and entailed a mass of correspondence of which no one had any idea except those more immediately linked with him. The exigencies of this ceaseless toil at his desk, on behalf of the saints and labourers, far more than his travels or public work, were undoubtedly responsible for the breakdown of his memory in the early years of the late war.
The writer well remembers the first meeting with him. It was at the house of the late W.H. Broom, in Barnsbury, London, N., in 1889. Mr. Broom was a man to whose love and fatherly care large numbers of young men owed more than they ever realised. That day many of them had been invited to meet W.J.L. for whom W.H.B. had a deep regard. Mr. Lowe turned out to be a tall man lean of figure, with a dark long beard, thin hands, an unusually shaped head, diminutive pointed ears, somewhat careless of dress, and altogether a man of grave yet striking appearance. No one found him light or flippant in speech, but he was the most accessible of men. The young were always drawn to him in spite of the habit he had of asking them very personal and sometimes — what they would term— "uncomfortable questions": all in order to stir up their interest in the whole Bible. The secret of this, in some degree, was the touch of humour he could at times introduce, and which helped to disarm prejudice and put people at their ease. Some of his most interesting and effective dissertations on scripture were made at informal gatherings of young people. He would make all the allowance he could for people's ignorance or limitations; therefore, the poorest and simplest always welcomed him; but where, as sometimes happened, a brother would be disposed to air his knowledge, some dry or, perhaps, cutting remark would effectually close his mouth. Although he had a practical working knowledge of ten, if not eleven, languages, no one could suspect this in the least from his public ministry. The only time the writer remembers his using any Greek or Hebrew publicly, out of some hundreds of meetings with him, was at a large gathering in South Wales, composed of colliers and steel workers — converts of the Welsh revival, in 1906 and at which some ministers were present. His doing so seemed so novel and surprising. When asked for the reason afterwards, he simply answered, with twinkling eyes: "I thought I would give the ministers something to think about." He learnt Spanish during four brief visits to Spain.
Simplicity, directness and brevity in prayer always marked him. He could never suffer what he would term "long-winded prayers," or which were mere repetitions to God of well-known truths. But in private, or in the domestic circle, he would pray most affectionately for everybody and everything that came before him during the day, forgetting no one. His faith in God's word, in the power of prayer, and in the government of God was such as to put most of us to shame; but his dependence on the Lord and his settled practice of watching for the working of God, often caused him to be misunderstood or seem lukewarm or even slack; but behind which was deep concern and much looking to God. Times of sorrow in the church of God he would feel keenly, yet while many would be spending sleepless nights brooding over the havoc wrought by the enemy, the close of the day would find him, in the simplicity of a little child, able to cast it all on the Lord, and then go fast asleep.
The large place he held in the affections of a very wide circle of the Lord's people and on which he set much value was unique. In a great measure he entered into the spirit of the words "The saints in the earth and the excellent, in whom is all my delight." Certainly his labours on their behalf were abundant indeed, few, save those in closest touch with him were aware how abundant, for he ever sought to hide himself, while seeking diligently to honour his Lord and Master.
The reading of his carefully-kept diaries would amaze anyone unacquainted with his life. They disclose activities so varied and unceasing, in long journeys on diligence or donkey, in train or on foot; by day and by night; preaching, visiting, correspondence, and writing for the press, that they remind one of John Wesley's journals more than anything else. Often does he speak of being tired but never of taking any rest or holiday. The habit of early rising which marked J.N.D. had evidently laid hold of those who worked with him. It is no wonder, therefore, that our esteemed brother is found habitually rising between 4.30 and 5.30 a.m. and very frequently attending daily meetings for prayer or reading the word between 6 o'clock and 7.45 taking long walks to hold bible readings before lunch, preaching or having bible readings in the afternoon with visits worked in between, gospel preaching at nights in all sorts of places to large and small companies, followed by talks with those interested; then long walks or rides (sometimes till midnight) to reach his destination for the night, only to start again early the next morning. We see him sleeping in tents, barns, station premises and houses of all sorts and conditions. By such means did he endear himself to the hearts of God's people and stir them into active interest in "the things concerning Himself."
While it could be truly said that he was a man of knowledge — intimate alike with his Bible and general subjects — it was as a man of prayer that he shone most. He would, up to the last, pray publicly two or three times at the prayer meeting, even though the consciousness of his failing faculties deterred him from doing much more. He would pray earnestly, especially for the young, that they might "grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ" and for the saints in Egypt for whom he had a special love.
His pastoral work combined with the distribution of monies entrusted to him for the labourers, and the Letters of Interest, so occupied him, that comparatively little of his written ministry is found in English, although there is more in French. The booklets in existence are nevertheless all of great value on the subjects dealt with, e.g., The House of God, Life and Propitiation, The Choice of Faith, his papers in Words of Help, and some of the older Magazines, and in Le Salut de Dieu, the French periodical which he edited for many years, but now is conducted by Dr. Périer in Paris. Some of his most valuable writings also remain in his introductions to the various issues of Letters of Interest. Controversy of any kind was repugnant to his temperament, and he would never enter into it unless compelled. When he did so his papers — following on J.N.D.'s habit — took the form of helpful expositions of scripture bearing on the subject in hand, rather than of dialectics aimed at scoring over opponents. He was always careful to substantiate any statement of doctrine he made by quoting the scriptural sources from which it was derived, a practice we would do well to follow in our day.
The following is a copy of the entry in Mr. Lowe's diary under April 2nd, 1881, concerning Mr. Darby on whom he waited much during his last illness at the house of the late H.A. Hammond, in Bournemouth. It is not only an entry of great interest, but all those who were privileged to know Mr. Lowe will recognise how closely he followed J.N.D.'s wise advice: — Afternoon. J.N.D. took my hand and drew me to him to kiss him, thanking me most heartily for all cooperation in his work, and said: 'We have worked together and rejoiced together. God bless you.' Then a minute after: 'Work with the younger brethren, occupying their hearts with Christ.' Then shortly after 'Walk with Christ and with the brethren.' I said: 'The only way to walk with the brethren is to walk with Christ, is it not? ' 'Yes.' he said, 'and vice versa… I can only commend you to God and the word of His grace.' "
Having thus laboured so much with J.N.D., especially on Bible translation, he largely shared the zest and delight which the latter found therein, in view of the help and protection it would yield to the poor of the flock as the days grew more difficult. J.N.D. repeatedly stated that it was for their benefit more than anything else that the arduous task was undertaken. It is not recognised sufficiently that the "New Translation" embodies important features which make it unique as a version; being the work of men who had great love for the Lord and for the whole church of God, irrespective of name or system; men to whom the Holy Spirit had given exceptional insight into the truths of scripture and a zealous desire to themselves walk in the light thereof; who united sound scholarship and sober judgment with painstaking toil and prayer. Therefore it is not surprising that the beloved subject of this notice should defer, as he always did, to the authority of this version above any other. Yet he often said that J.N.D.'s respect for the Authorised Version was so pronounced that if the latter had lived to produce another edition of the "New Translation" it would in diction and phraseology have followed much more closely the A.V. than it does now. Such facts should weigh with those who lean towards some of the modern, novel, and often questionable translations now advertised so much. It was, however, Mr. Lowe's special grief that a quantity of valuable Notes which the translators had compiled for the French Version of the New Testament (new translation), from the more recently discovered MSS., could not be embodied in the English Version also.
Having known the late F.E. Raven intimately for many years, Mr. Lowe was more fully aware than most of the exceptional sense of the value of words which F.E.R. possessed. It was all the more painful, therefore, to him in 1890 and onwards, to find disciples of F.E.R. suppressing the godly exercises and fears of their brethren regarding the latter's errors, by stating that he had a metaphysical mind, and therefore his words should not be taken too seriously. Mr. Lowe viewed such assertions as so many efforts of Satan to hide heinous error as to Christ and it was in much grief that he felt constrained to combat these heresies by his pen and many personal talks with their author. The world-wide effects of this grievous development of leaven, in the very midst of those who ought to have been the best instructed saints, alas still continue: and Mr. Lowe's repugnance of this teaching remained undiminished to the end. We therefore would venture to here appeal to those who are still identified with these errors, both in the so-called "London" and "Glanton" associations, to heed Galatians 5:9, and, with godly zeal, clear themselves publicly from the leaven for their Lord's sake.
W.J.L.'s simplicity, and dependence on the guidance of the Lord, which has already been mentioned, came out nowhere more conspicuously than when discussing what may be termed "church questions." He stressed the importance of the consciences of all those affected being reached and touched by God Himself, of their feeling their individual responsibility in any assembly action, rather than acting mechanically in a mass. The two words "administration" and "organisation" were abominations to him, whenever introduced to regulate, either from without or from within, the conduct of God's assembly. No one appreciated these qualities in their proper sphere more than he did, but he dreaded their operation in the meeting because, in his judgment, they tended to destroy individual conscience, and to bring in human expedients, which invariably militate against, if they do not smother the operations of the Spirit in the gathering, especially in settling assembly difficulties, which difficulties, he held, the Lord often allows to arise in order to perfect our spiritual education, and for the establishing in the truth of all those concerned, in a way they could not otherwise learn.
On the other hand, the importance of giving practical expression to the truth of the one body — of the assemblies acting consistently with that truth; of our considering what was due to the consciences of our brethren in all our actions, were to him fundamental matters. He attached much more importance to all meetings of an open character, such as 1 Corinthians 14 insists on, than to set and often prearranged lectures because such meetings produced exercise of heart before God, allowed room for the spontaneous guidance of the Lord in the midst of His own, and for the use and development of the varied gifts He has given for the assembly's proper direction and edification. But where a brother abused this God-given liberty in such meetings, by taking up time to no edification, it would trouble him much.
He placed great importance on personal godliness and devotedness to Christ. The points of his varied ministry were most often directed to produce these virtues, although some would erroneously credit him with undue fondness at times for doctrinal knowledge, and say he was rather deep. If his knowledge of, and delight in, the word of God seemed to us so remarkable and often shamed us, this is not very surprising, for had he not hammered out every line of it on the anvil of careful prayerful study? In order to stimulate the young to read and re-read their Bibles from cover to cover, he would occasionally give them leaves from his own experiences. It seems that very early in life the importance of studying, rather than skimming, the Bible had laid hold of him: "And," said be, "I would read chapter after chapter by the hour. Then, sometimes I would ask myself 'What have I really gathered out of all this?' Often one would have to wearily confess 'Nothing.' But still I persevered for months and even for years. Then a remarkable thing took place. My Bible suddenly became a living book, a complete whole, whose various parts seemed to spring together to explain and supplement one another, till the O.T. as well as the N.T. became invested with the most absorbing, and sometimes thrilling interest. Therefore, stick to the reading of the Word. If you do not seem to get much out of it, still read on and on. In time, all that will change and give place to immense profit and spiritual pleasure, both to yourselves and those around you."
The following are extracts from some of Mr. Lowe's most recent letters. What he says in them cannot be too deeply taken to heart. The punctuation is his:—
(1) "As to your questions: the souls are more to me than their associations… The sad thing is they have lost Christ, who is the only key to the Gospel or Epistle of John; and consequently they seek to realise an idea of life eternal from their own feeling or experience instead of enjoying it as set forth in Christ in present relationship with the Father." (November 16th, 1917.)
(2) "We must not forget Isaiah 8:12-14. If the object in view is confederation in any sense as giving importance to those so joined together, and a place of consideration amongst christians in general, it will simply end in a final and definite collapse of any real testimony to the truth, God-given eighty or ninety years ago, not for our glory in any sense, but for Christ's sake. This is a solemn and heart-searching consideration." (1917.)
(3) "My heart trembles for … The want of consideration of the consciences of others and determination to seek for big meetings and an extended public testimony has not yet been modified… The principle of confederation is human, and is all against Christ and against the 'two or three' gathered to Him. The principle is, wanting to be 'somebody' when before God, we can only hang our heads with shame, slowly learning our unfaithfulness and that we are nothing and 'nobody' " (March, 1917.)
(4) "We must expect increasing looseness in the last days; but for everything there is a resource in the Lord, and those who look to Him, and keep His word, will never find Him to fail them in the time of need. Faith often needs trying, in order that it may be approved to His glory. But dependence is the great lesson of the wilderness." (December, 1919.)
(5) "In the ordinary matters of this life, as to circumstances, etc., faith's path is not to choose, but to give oneself quietly over to God's ordering for us… In spiritual things, the contrary holds good: God expects us to choose what is most excellent in the path which He graciously opens up to us (Eph. 5:15-17)…"
(6) "I have ventured a few modifications, the chief one being to use the passive voice as much as possible — always a great help in this department of our business. Please not to let my name appear on ANY account. It is a rule I have followed for forty-eight years or so, and it is certainly not the moment to change now… A good rule is to keep the chief point of a sentence as near as possible to its verb." (July, 1921.)
(7) "I have not shifted my ground that I know of, but I do desire to show sympathy and fellowship, as far as one can, with those who are simply and sincerely walking with God. But Jeremiah's caution in Jer. 9:4, is as true and needful now, as ever it was, and if I have one thing more than another in abomination, it is party-making… But scarcely anybody is careful enough to pass on a report exactly as he heard it, without any qualification. I abominate all 'parties' and only know 'the truth and nothing but the truth' to be the sole bond of fellowship… (November, 1920.)
(8) "As to work in the country gatherings, we can only wait on the Lord (Ps. 27:14). It is good in every way. There is a tendency to run when not sent, and also loss to the soul through being preoccupied with work, instead of quietly waiting to see what He is doing, and fall in with that. Do you not think so? How little we know of the discipline, which the Lord, in His tender mercy, provides for us in the way, in order that our souls may be kept in a healthful condition, fit for passing on His messages whatever they may be." (November, 1920.)
(9) "My time is over. It has been a pleasure to serve the saints so far, and the Lord has been very merciful… I sometimes think it is possible to overstep the mark in the matters of fellowship and non-fellowship (see 1 Cor. 5:10). We need wisdom in order to draw the line aright, and God's mercy is very great, while we have much to learn concerning the path of wisdom in this world… How about 'offscouring' in Lament 3:45, and 1 Cor. 4:13?" (December, 1919.)
(10) "But we have to wait on the Lord to open the way, when we have some special service laid upon our hearts. Things gradually settle down. Paul took with him Barnabas. Half of our work, to speak very moderately, consists, or should consist, in fellowship. The Lord shows that sower and reaper are not the same persons (John iv. 38). It is no use for us to make rules of our own as to 'our work,' but to encourage fellowship in a practical way is very important. One man makes bricks, another builds with them; self-sacrifice looks very attractive; but it is better to put our hand to the cart and shove it along for half-an-hour than it is to be able to say: I made the cart and I shoved it and I brought it home. What do you think? " (June, 1919.)
(11) "What a wonderful hope is before us — nothing short of our blessed Lord Himself. May we be found watching according to the close of Mark 13. Eph. 4 'one hope.' Col. 1:27. In Hebrews 10:37, the qualifying word for 'little' is repeated giving the force of "ever so little." And it is reinforced by what follows: 'will come, and will not tarry.' Very remarkable words, are they not?" (April, 1922.)
(12) "During all my life I have never felt as I have done lately, what the deep sufferings of the blessed Lord were on the cross — their enormity, their terribleness — at the hand of God, of Satan, and man, as well as in making expiation for all the sins of His people." (December, 1922.)
The funeral, which took place at Gap Road Cemetery, Wimbledon, on October 3rd, was attended by a large and representative company of the Lord's people, and the fellowship was truly fraternal. In the chapel hymn 30 (App.) was sung. Our brother Th.R. prayed, thanking God for our brother's long service, his faithfulness to the Lord, and the example of his life. H.L. then read Matt. 25:14-21, Luke 17:7-10, and 1 Thess. 2:19-20, and pointed out how thoroughly our dear departed brother's unselfish life exemplified these scriptures. Hymn 287 having been sung, our brother W.Ry. read 2 Sam. 3:38-39, and carried our hearts (1) in comparing our departed brother to a prince and a great man fallen in Israel that day; (2) in stressing that we who were left were "weak" in ourselves, though anointed by grace and set in the place of kings and priests of God; and (3) though the wickedness and hardness of the enemies of Christ — the evildoers against the truth, are active on every hand, yet we have, in our weakness, a precious resource in Christ, who still abides with His own — the blessed One of whom it is written "Thou remainest," "Thou art the same." Th.R. then read Acts 20:28-38, and in mentioning how truly apostolic in spirit was dear W.J.L.'s service, he read a communication which he had received from a brother confirming this: — "The intensity of the blank is softened by the prolonged period of the break-up of the earthly house of this tabernacle, but the effects of his long and abundant labours in the cause of the truth will yet abide, more so in other lands perhaps than here."
"I have a note of his, written in 1920, in which he alludes to his travels through France with Jacques B. after the Franco-German war of 1870 — fifty years previously, when they visited the assemblies to learn how they had fared under the pressure of the invader's heel, and he remarks: 'So time flies, and we are still waiting for the coming of the Lord.' " Another hymn brought the indoor meeting to a close.
At the graveside after prayer, the hymn "For ever with the Lord" was sung. Then dear J.H.L. prayed and fervently thanked the Lord for the "blessed hope" of His return which brightened up such a moment with divine joy. Hymn 90 was sung with much feeling at the end:—
"Glory, honour, praise and power
Be unto the Lamb for ever.
Jesus Christ is our Redeemer,
Hallelujah! — Praise we the Lord."
Communications received from many places express the sense of the great loss sustained by the church of God in the departure of our much beloved W.J.L.
One brother from the Continent fully indicates the feeling of the saints when he writes: "We are thankful to the Lord for calling home His dear and faithful servant, although we feel very deeply the church's loss. What a welcome for him in that place of ineffable bliss, from the One whom he served with such remarkable constancy, energy and faithfulness for more than sixty years. He was a man of faith, wonderfully devoted to the Lord's interests, and the preaching of the Word to saints and sinners. He will have a full reward for his labour of love and self-denying service. I have known him for the last forty-four years. When a youth of seventeen I heard him speak for the first time on Num. 4, and ever since have deeply enjoyed his ministry and friendship. He was used for the conversion of many souls in France and Switzerland, and the building up and strengthening in the truth of numbers of saints. He used to say in later years that he remembered with special joy the sweet fellowship he had in gospel preaching in his younger days with my dear departed father some sixty years ago. He was a great friend of ours, and I would be thankful to be with you to-day for the funeral. Soon the Lord will come and our departed ones will be raised from their graves and together we shall meet our Blessed Lord on the cloud to be for ever with Him."
T.W.B. writes: "The work he commenced in Belgium about the year 1878 has borne much fruit. Many happy expressions of gratitude for his love and devotion are still heard to-day among Belgian saints." T.N.V. of The Hague, writes: — "How often in years gone by he spoke to us as young people! How great was his love for the bible! If such men are taken away from us, we feel the loss greatly. A great endowment is taken away this day out of our lives. I remember how often Mr. Lowe was in our midst and awakened our love for the whole bible, not for the New Testament only, but for the Old Testament also. He was always so simple, and full of questions to young people, in order to make them think. But we are glad that the Lord Whom he loved so much has taken His faithful servant to Himself."
The Glory in the Cloud.*
Now freed — no more a slave — 'tis God has saved thy soul,
Proud Egypt's army lies where those deep waters roll,
God wrought alone, not man; His arm the mighty slew,
His mighty power shone forth where I my weakness knew.
But now no place of rest my straining vision greets:
Is this blank barrenness th' exchange from Egypt's sweets?
Is there no food, no drink, through all this desert waste?
Is Marah's bitter well all that my soul must taste?
'Tis true, God showed the tree which made the bitter sweet,
And gently led His own to Elim's glad retreat,
Not less this barren waste doth yet with grief oppress
My heart, so slow to learn for suffering to bless.
But stay, what do I see? What is yon glorious cloud?
What hidden light of God doth penetrate its shroud?
True forecast of the light which once from Jesus streamed,
Fit dwelling-place of rest prepared for His redeemed.
Upon the "holy hill" without a veil between,
For one short moment blest, by favour'd eyes 'twas seen,
When Jesus gave a glimpse of God the Father's plan,—
Glory divine revealed, and shining in a MAN!
This glory cheers my heart and lights my pilgrim way,
Reveals how ev'ry trial prepareth for that day
Which soon with joy shall crown the sorrows of the road,
Explaining outward grief that hides the hand of God.
By tribulation thus my heart's for glory form'd:
How shall I count my days, — all by His love transform'd?
"Years of His own right hand," I find them now to be,
For GOD delights to show what HE can do for me.
Now shall my way-worn harp give forth a clearer sound;
"Tis in the desert, Lord, Thou makest to abound
That grace which e'er shall lead my chasten'd soul along:
Then let no loosen'd string henceforth afflict my song.
E'en death, in his approach, will bring no dread, no fear;
Jesus, not death, I see; not earth, but heaven is near:
He fills my heart anew with a more glorious note;
Though high the waters rise, GOD keeps my ark afloat.
The sting of death is gone since Jesus died and rose,
The captive's chains are riv'n, and vanquished all my foes;
E'en Satan and the grave must cow before His word,
Unwilling yield each saint in likeness to his Lord.
Yet more,— that glorious cloud the wilderness endears,
E'en in its dreariest wastes my drooping spirit cheers:
Thy footprints there, O Lord, by its blest light I trace,
There, Thou'lt unfold to me new secrets of Thy grace.
The desert now, for me, gleams with a new-found joy;
The heart Thy hand has freed Thou wholly wilt employ,
Thou leav'st me in the place where Thou, my Lord, hast been,
And I've to learn THY path amidst this weary scene.
Thus treading in Thy steps, I follow on and see
Th' o'erflowing bitter cup, man, heartless, brought to Thee,
So blind to all Thy love,— slave of his wicked will,—
But Thou didst drink it up, and then… 'twas Thine to fill!
O fitted "Man of Sorrows" a human heart to melt,
And fill with joy a soul which ne'er true joy had felt,
How didst Thou make our ruin the servant of Thy love!
How take a dying thief up WITH THYSELF above!
Midst hatred love-provoked, midst evil only good;
Thy meekness wins the heart Thou'st wash'd in Thine own blood;
In secret teach me, Lord, the movements of Thy grace,
And thus prepare my soul to gaze upon Thy face.
Keep me, my God, in peace, where Marah's tree was found,
And feed me on that "root out of the barren ground,"
Thy substance clothed in flesh, Thine own effulgent light,
Shine in and through my heart, mid darkness make me bright.
Here for a "little while," I wait Thy rest above
When I shall see the SON, and fully know Thy love;
Crowning the life day's work, Thou hast in grace allow'd
Thou'lt bring with Him Thy saints in glory on the cloud.
W. J. Lowe.
*The above poem found among Mr. Lowe's papers is inserted as being the only example of his poetry in English, so far as is known: although several are found in French and Spanish. It reveals his deep-seated feelings, as the true pilgrim he was, pressing onward towards Christ in glory as the goal and magnet of his life.