Switzerland, November 18th, 1853.
Your letter, dear brother in the Lord, was very acceptable to me. It followed me from London, and found me in one of the more remote parts of this land, among the poor brethren in the mountains. I think I have delayed to answer it, as also many others, from a pressure of work, which tied me up to imperative duties, and left your letter, and several others, which were the expression of brotherly communion, unanswered. Now I am laid aside from active work by influenza and pains in the limbs, with partial loss of the voice, and I take up my pen to clear off some of my said arrears.
Your letter did not touch my hand save as a gratuity from the Lord, a token of free grace recognition of me of which I am little worthy; for I count not myself worthy to be thought of by the saints in their exercises and services, as one to whom they can unburthen their souls in any way; and when any such communication comes, it is not a liberty they take, but a grace the Lord confers on me.
Every one of us that has been called of God finds more or less that he is isolate unto Him that called him. Those that are in service find it in circumstance as much as all do in spirit. Christ was apart to God. All that Paul got for his own blessing came from God direct; and as to those to whom he, Paul, communicated, if they did not see the Lord, only and apart in what they heard of Paul, it profited not much. There were that heard it as Paul's word, and had high thoughts of Paul, but the word entered not into their souls, and had not its divine height; and when the whim was passed in them, or when Paul's conduct pleased them not, they turned against, not him only, but His Master's work in him. It is clear if God send me a word by A.B., I must see and hold it as God's word if I am to profit or even love A.B. aright; much more if I am to love A.B. when he does not glitter as the messenger of peace to my soul, but as a rebuker in the Lord's name; or if so it be, as was the case with Paul sometimes, as a man whose will and way are not always divinely perfect.
View the saints as God's heritage, as Balaam viewed the rebellious house of Israel in his visions in the wilderness, and you will find in God what covers a multitude of sins and gives you strength to minister to them. Yet never forget that what makes them precious is that they have received the gospel of peace, Christ Jesus. This keeps our souls in the right place, a lustre to theirs in our eyes, and renews in ourselves the value of the grace divine which has expressed itself in so amazing a way by means of the humiliation unto death of Christ Jesus, and of the privileges which flow to us through the Spirit from Him exalted in glory. The presence of the Spirit and subjection to Him is, I know, the power and measure of our communion down here. We love many as believers in Christ, and wish them well, from whom we are obliged to keep separated. To be a child of God and to hold the place down here proper for a child of God are two things; as they say here, "The Church," and "the testimony," but Christ and the Spirit, are in divine grace united in reality together. But our carnal hearts receive not the testimony of God as to Christ in simplicity, but oft only parts of it, and such parts as we can hold with as little inconvenience to self as possible. So was it not with Paul in the epistle to the Philippians; so shall we wish it not to have been when we see the Lord Himself. G.V.W.
MY DEAR BROTHER IN CHRIST, — Great pleasure would it give to many to receive details of your exercises and blessings, and of how the Lord, in spite of all the ups and downs, seas running sometimes mountains high, perhaps, gives you to say, "It is well; our Jesus hath done all things well."
Dear brother, I find more and more that His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts. But all our blessing consists in our, bending ourselves to Him, our ways to His, and our thoughts counting them cheap in comparison of His. May God teach us more and more how to do this; for difficult as the lesson may seem, it is a learnable one, and one in which is all our peace and comfort, while in the wilderness, to have it firmly in principle at least. When we come home (sweet word), His home and ours, then will every way of ours be conformed to His perfect mind; for we shall be like Him, seeing Him as He is. G.V.W.
April 26th, 1856.
MY DEAR BROTHER, — L. F., in Mauritius, writes as being under trial. The smallpox has visited the colony severely, and the iniquity of the place is very great. This to a father of young children, several of whom are girls, must be a real trial. Well, wilderness sorrows have wilderness manna, and the Rock gushing water; and the blessed Lord as manna and living water is not a despicable portion, but a blessed one. Yet how eat manna save in the wilderness? In the land it is the old corn of the land; and how to drink of that Rock in a land where springs abound? No; these are aspects of Christ for the wilderness as well as others for the glory. And better still, the thought that in pouring us from vessel to vessel He is getting rid of our will, and teaching us the blessedness of His own. "Not My will, but Thine be done." "The cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?"
Dear brother, may you and your dear wife bethink you of the privilege the Lord hath given to you in sending you out where you are. Surely in our Father's house, not those who have gone on well in this world, as you might have done had you stayed, but those who have been on service, will have most joy in their retrospect.
Mr. D — is in France, near Switzerland, and the work progresses encouragingly. A good many conversions here in London upon the whole, but weakness enough to make one know nothing but the Lord's arm can suffice; nothing but His faithfulness brings us through. G.V.W.
November 8th, 1857.
"I AM the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me." (John 14:6.)
The context puts a limitation upon the sense in which the terms, "the way, the truth, and the life," are used here by the blessed Lord about Himself. He is "the way" in other senses too — God's way of revealing Himself in creating, upholding, redeeming; man's way, too, to God "the way" to walk in. He is "the truth," the One in and by whom the real truth as to God, Satan, the world, men, alone is known; and He is the life, eternal life, life incorruptible, blessed be God, our life is He. But, strictly speaking here, verses 4, 5, and 7 limit the bearing of the subject matter to the Father. "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me." Yet, as in all the senses in which He, who is the great divine Medium, is the way, the truth, and the life, He Himself still is a person to be known and studied, besides being what He is. So here also. If He is the way, the truth, and the life relatively to our coming to the Father — if that is what is presented to us here -still He Himself who is all this, He Himself is; and greatly do we deceive ourselves if we learn not Himself while we study the doings and offices and glories which He presents to us, that we may learn Himself in them. Yet so senseless is man's mind, that it will get so absorbed in offices and benefits to us through them as to forget to learn Him who fills the offices, who gives the benefits. Moreover, while He is the way, and He is the truth, and He is the life, and thus the way, the truth, and the life centralize in Him, they are different excellencies, and separable in thought, at least, the one from the other. A man may have life in Christ, and be a child of God, and yet know little about the way or the truth. One may know Him as the way, and not know the Father in Him. He as the life leads us by the knowledge of the truth in the way; but still, after all, there is Himself who is all this, who does all this for us. And when we speak of coming to the Father, we speak of that which differs from coming to a place, as even to the Father's house. When we come to know Him, we find how straitened we are in our own selves, how little able to take in; and there is no way of learning our littleness like it. See this for instance in 1 John 1:2: "For the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us; that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." John is writing to believers, and he is presenting that which concerning the word of life had not shined out, and shined into John, until the Lord had taken the last Adam position. Now the life was manifest, and it had communicated of itself in its own present character of display, so that they that know it, have fellowship together — a fellowship which is characterized by their perception of the Father's thoughts about the Son, and of the Son's thoughts about the Father's. Hence they have complete fellowship. This, too, may be seen, in another connection perhaps, but still seen in Eph. 3:14-21: 'The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … according to the riches of His glory, strengthening with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith; that, rooted and grounded in love, we may be able to comprehend with all saints the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that we might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the Church through all ages, world without end.' The great lesson is Himself; and who and what, I pray you, is He in whom such infinite and eternal glory is found, by whom we are brought into such fellowship and such communion through the Spirit? He that is God, and the Father's' centre, and end, and object in heaven and eternity, thus made to become our centre, end, and object in time and on earth. The three one-nesses in John 17 give another illustration.
Now in sorrowful contrast with this I see some learning about Him as a way for themselves to God. Blessed if they find in that way the end of self, or a bit of the way that will lead them from self to God; but how short of blessing is it if they selfishly say, "Safe, because in the way;" learn not Him, but go on with the things of self. Just so men speak of Him as "the truth." And so He is; but the truth as to what and whom? Surely we know little of Him as the truth, if that truth has not taught us about our own selfishness, and the contrast between His will-lessness and our wilfulness; our selfishness and His unselfishness; about the true character of the world in which he was murdered, and in which religion of flesh would allow us to settle down. He, too, is the One who can give incorruptible, eternal life; and it is a blessed thing for one who has not received it to know that He is the only giver of it. But He is our life; our life is hid with Him in God. If I know these things as having learnt them in Him, am I finding, more than that in Him? Himself is more than any one of His gifts, though they all tell of Him. But, as I said, the context here gives a limitation. "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me." But if through the life I have known the truth, and walked in Him, and come to the Father, is that all? or does He Himself (who has been my power and light and way) still remain in all the eternal, divine excellency of what He is, God manifest in the flesh, the only-begotten Son of the Father? "The eternal lover of my soul."
November 8th, 1857.
MY DEAR -, — I have written you a little as above on the word; for the refreshment you and others have found in this sort of broken musing encourages me to go on. Do you say, Stop, when you have had enough. I spoke a few words at Reading, I am told, January 1st, at a quarterly meeting for Berkshire, Oxfordshire, and North Hants, and Bucks, and a brother wrote me last night to send to him what I had said, or enough to be a clue to what he had then heard. It was asked for the little periodical which has appeared since the Girdle ceased. Gladly should I have sent it to him if I could have recalled what I said, and if this day had not been marked off for "W.I. letters." But now I may kill two birds with one stone, and having jotted down a few lines for you, I will send this over to him, that he may have it copied if he thinks it worth while. Thus, too, he will be able to get a skeleton and clothe it himself.
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In reading over my bit of an attempt at teaching, as above I find I have left out the two practical illustrations which I remember referring to as connected with the subject in a lower sense. 1. The gospel was being preached with a considerable degree of power, at Weston-super-Mare, by -. His gospel was the gospel of Jesus Christ, the way to God, and the solemn responsibility of man being indifferent to the way that God had thus opened up for Himself to man, and for man to Himself, and choosing to abide still in the broad way that leads to destruction. How far he saw Christ as the truth I know not. All converted persons in the place took notice of the preaching, and all identified themselves with it except those to whom the person of Christ was dear. They thanked God for the preaching, as Paul in Phil. 1 did; but they saw that the gospel of Christ as the way of God to man, of man to God, was not Christ Himself, and they could not, for the love which they bore to Christ Himself, coalesce with those who separated the way from Himself as a person, and what was due to Him from those who were members of His body, one spirit with Him. All in the place, so to speak, who knew the way coalesced, then accepted prayer-meetings, co-operative meetings, the table, etc. And those who coalesced were found to have committed themselves to the avowal of non-responsibility to care for holiness and sound doctrine; they were in association without knowing it with Bethesda and other errors.
2. S — was preaching the gospel in Ireland, where it had been preached so far as the way went. He observed that all the converts, so to speak, were in Bethesda, and that some had settled peace. So he tried the gospel of eternal life. It told; for one came up the first time and said, "Where am I? If what you have said is true, I have got everlasting life, and I am not to think about keeping up the feeling of forgiveness merely, but walking as a man that has got eternal life." I knew of two other cases thus delivered.
Affectionate love to the wife and family. G.V.W.
MANY thanks, dear brother in the Lord Jesus, for your valued note of 26th October, 1857. Our hearts had been, as yours, in exercise about -'s health, and are so still. Mine is at least. But I know there is the Lord's bosom for the reception of every care and every anxiety. I think that a Christian feels sorrow an immeasurable degree more than does a worldly man; indeed, it must be so on every account — (1) his heart is open to it; (2) the Spirit is there to make him taste it; (3) faith shows him much more than sight can perceive, as we see in our blessed Lord at Lazarus' grave. He alone of all there saw what death really was, and how near to Himself too; and faith throws all open to us, and bring us also to taste God's taste of the sorrow and sin of our circumstances. Now the man of the world sees as little as he can; shuns and counts not sorrows; and can only see the surface and things present. But we have strong consolation in that all things are of Him, who hath reconciled us unto Himself. All things in one way or another, all things, are of Him. And all things work together for good too. G.V.W.
January 25th, 1858.
MY DEAR MISS -, — I have been carrying your note about with me in my movings, and only now write you a line to say I am still prevented coming to see you by fresh movings. … I may be back before very long, and may be then more free to come and see you. The Lord order all things as to your niece. He does all well, and needs not our help, though in grace He stoops to use us; aye, and loves to associate an Ananias with Himself when working to bring even a Paul into the liberty of the gospel. May the Lord bless you abundantly.
In Him affectionately, if not faithfully, G. V. WIGRAM.
Lausanne, August 20th, 1858.
MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, — We have been here about five weeks, visiting among the saints in the Canton Vaud, in Switzerland.
One thought specially has pressed upon me, and that is the blessedness of the position which God has accorded us to see and to lay hold of, not only of having been saved for eternity, but of walking with God for time also. No praise is due to us on this behalf, but the privilege of it is great, and the shelter and blessedness of having to do with the living God is not unmistakeable here at least. All, so to speak, that is ecclesiastical to man's eye, and according to man's boast — the Church — all in ruin, and, as to principle, in dissolution. In one place (Geneva) the congregation which is spoken of as having had most discipline and holiness, is trying to maintain its position as of old three Sundays in the month, and on the fourth Sunday it drops into a collection of congregations, in which, separately or unitedly, there is no discipline. Here a congregation, which one Sunday in the month meets for the supper without discipline, has three Sundays a private meeting with discipline for believers. All is in dissolution.
The brethren are weak enough, to their shame, in practice, but as to principle, and that which they seek to maintain and profess to seek, there is consistency, because they avow that the living God is present always and everywhere, and so they cannot admit any secondary principle.
The Evangelical Alliance for the nations progresses, and truth is elicited at its conferences. The last was at Berlin. The king welcomed one thousand Christians from all the countries of Europe at Potsdam. In America, too, the movement of revival this last spring was much of the same kind as that of the Evangelical Alliance; viz., multitudinous. Now, on the other hand, conscience is individual. If I act as a Christian, I act in God's presence alone; I act there as an individual. If I act in a multitude, or under a multitudinous influence, I never fairly own God's supremacy or my own individual responsibility; and my action in time is different from what the inward thoughts, motives, means, and end are, which are known to my own soul in God's presence. "He that hath an ear to hear" is a safe principle; it is Christ's when all is in ruin among the churches.
Most affectionate love to all. Yours, G.V.W.
November 25th, 1861.
MY DEAR -, — It is pleasant to write to you while you are in the wilderness, and I too; but home is home, and I count upon seeing you there, in courts above, where conflict shall have ended in victory, and the crown be ours in the presence of the Crowner with His many crowns.
There will be rest there; now there is none around; and though there be peace, rest is hardly the word for it within. It is, I think, Leighton who remarks, that no sooner is Christ formed in the heart than there is as much stir within against Him as there was in Jewry when the Babe was born there. The powers that had been in possession in the land knew Him not, and Herod sought the young child's life. I remember well the conflict in my own self when first I believed, and I should not be surprised if you too should pass through some of the same trials. The ground we are upon (see Gen. 3) is a ground where a fearful conflict is going on between God and Satan. And the seed of the woman, and they that are His, are the abomination of Satan, and conflict is all that we can look for as far as he is concerned.
What troubled me most was the discovery of my own awful badness and vileness in myself; and if Satan hid himself amid the household stuff within, and oft spake words that I thought came from myself, he could not have been there it the house had at one time not been let to him. I conceive that the discovery of the extent to which he has had power over us is a very humbling thing; but then it does tend to teach us that grace is grace indeed, and that there are divine springs of mercy which, because divine, are perfect, while, on the other hand, they are sufficient for one that has to say, "Nothing but mercy'll do for me."
I remember the hymn in the Olney collection, "I asked the Lord that I might grow," etc., was a great stay to me. If you get into conflict, may it be so to you, my dear -.
I am uncertain how I may be ordered, N., S., E. or W., but my heart is to come and see you all; and so soon as I can see my way, I shall write and offer myself.
I was called to Ryde last week. Sir C. B. is low in body, though very happy in soul. His voice is gone. Mrs. W. is in fever of some kind or other; the Lord can raise her up.
God bless you, dear -, and bless the circle around you. Our love to all. G.V.W.
July 1st, 1862.
MY DEAR BROTHER -, — * * * Perhaps the Lord showed you the need of exhortation here in London, that you might exhort. The power of doing so is a very distinct gift from God, and is much rarer than that of either evangelist or expositor, because in these two the mind is confined and limited — in the first to the good old gospel, and in the second to the passage of Scripture and what is in it. In the exhortation you have, I suppose, to apply truth of Scripture to the soul, and to know how to slide it in between flesh and spirit, so that it may condemn the flesh and give liberty to the spirit.
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Everything that tells of fellowship in suffering and pilgrimage with the Lord will not only leave its deep trace now on hearts that love Him, who is worthy to have our every sacrifice, but will be found, when we come to the glory, to have left a deep trace on His heart; and to hear Him say then, "I remember how you suffered once the loss of all things for my sake," will be sweet indeed, let alone the rich recompence of the reward. Oh, it is blessed to have given up anything for His dear sake, to have suffered the loss of anything for Him!
I posted yesterday a tract to you, the reprint of an old one of mine. My thoughts in reprinting it were two (1) to show to revivalists something more of the breadth of God's gospel, and (2) to show to the poor and simple that the Apocalypse was not all about "prophetics and the great beasts," but that a simple soul like mine could find marrow and fatness, and what the poor call "fine reading for the soul," in it. Affectionately, G.V.W.
January 20th, 1863.
HALLELUIA! my dear brother in the Lord. Halleluia! Her spirit is with Him that loved her, and gave Himself for her. Oh, how "satisfied," quite satisfied, she, now is, though she have still to wait WITH Him until He takes His power and returns!
When and where will the interment be? I purpose coming down to it, if the Lord will. I suppose it will be in the cemetery at Reading; but this, and the time, you will let me know.
I sympathise with her sisters, with you all, in your loss, but my sympathy with her Lord and with her is more sensibly felt. But sorrow and joy in one cup is no new experience. G.V.W.
May 10th, 1863.
DEAR MISS -, — My friend wrote me yesterday to say, "My friend declines giving me the note of introduction, because he wants to keep all his influence with his friend, the judge, to have a private end of his own."
Well, this has led me to say, "Lord, do Thou give the right introductions." If in answer He, my Master, sends any through me, good; but if not, "He will do it Himself;" for I know I can count upon Him thoroughly. I know He will do this for me. Remember me to -.
Remember what I have written — that I have applied to my Master for the proper introduction — and do you see what comes of it? I think you will find a full answer.
November 8th, 1863.
THE greatest sin of all is that of unbelief; and I think that lies at your door. Oh, thou of little faith! an unbelieving believer. I am very glad you were helped to see "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God," is the only principle of Christian life, and that, according to Matthew 11 (end of chapter), it gives rest to the soul. But then comes the discovery, "But I am not that." Well then, weary and heavy laden, come to Him, and He will, little by little, make you learn how to walk under the yolk with Him. Here below you must be satisfied never to be perfectly at rest in your soul (in the foundation of Christ you may be at once), just because of being still a learner, and therefore perfect rest, in this sense, you will not have. G.V.W.
December 31st, 1863.
MY DEAR -, — * * * You and — are laying up in store for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come in devoting yourselves to the Lord and His work, and labour, and patience, and in waiting to know His will. I cannot doubt that you both desire above all things to know what His will is, that you may do or suffer it. The waiting to know it, is a trial to such bad natures as we have, but the Lord is faithful, and He will make all plain in His own time; and even before we know what we have to do, the position of dependence is one of blessedness and praise before Him. With all your mistakes of feebleness and errors, you have both tried to make His work the main object and aim of your lives; and He will not forget it. Did He ever forget anything done or shown to Him? And who and what are we, worms of yesterday, that we should devote ourselves to the pleasure and service of the Lord of all grace and glory, our precious and blessed Lord Jesus Christ?
What a wonderful one He is! His ways and thoughts, how unlike to ours! From the glory divine He looked out for the place of glory in a sinful earth, and He found it in the cross — the only place in which He could fully serve God (even His Father) and sinners. He had the right to leave the glory; for He was not bound like a creature is by the sphere assigned to it. Where might not the Creator go, if He willed it? But oh, the moral glory that came out, when He thus showed that He did not prize a place of circumstantial glory and blessedness for Himself, as He prized the making manifest the moral glory of God's character and ways in redeeming sinners from under the thraldom of Satan. And surely He never stood more manifestly, more unmistakeably, confessed as God over all than when He was upon the cross. There He met all the mind of God and expressed it, measured out and expressed all the wickedness, folly, lying, and murderous character of Satan — all the ruin of man — while He was doing the work by which alone God could be just while the Justifier of him that believeth. That cross of His is a marvel, not in the fruits of it merely, but in the light itself shed as to the character and personal glory of Him that was there.
Most affectionately yours in Him, G.V.W.
February 2nd, 1864.
MY DEAR BROTHER, — * * * It seems strange to nature to have no home on earth; but they that refuse to have one because one is already provided for them in heaven, God is not ashamed to be called their God. As a matter of fact there is no place in which we can rest here below. Try it ever so much, and you will find it is impossible to get rest here below, or even to say, "I am satisfied," while the eye is upon things here below, or upon things for ourselves. The moment that it rests upon heaven, and that we are thinking, Christ longs to have me with Him there, and in His time thither I go, one can say, "Satisfied," and more than satisfied too. What poor slow things we are to learn to walk as thus dead to all our own and to all around, and filled full with the things which are at God's right hand. Surely no heart ever could conceive or contain all the portion which is revealed in Him for us. I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine.
Wars and rumours of wars are abroad. Denmark and Austria and Prussia at war, and England and France not unlikely to be drawn in. Well, Satan is a murderer, and war is part of the Lord's four judgments.
Affectionately yours and hers, G.V.W.
March 24th, 1864.
MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, — The saints generally everywhere seem anxious to study the Word, and to get communion over it — a good sign surely in the last days. "I commend you to God, and the word of His grace" was Paul's parting word to the elders at Ephesus; and they that honour that word now do find what David says to be true — Thou hast magnified Thy word above all Thy name. "In the beginning was the Word." John 1:1 gives us who the Word is. We know nothing of Him save what is written. It is a word indeed of grace, and the living God makes it precious.
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In reading and lecturing lately on Philippians, I have been much struck with Phil. 3. The contrast between, on the one hand, flesh as sought to be boasted in — its position, energy (blind), and righteousness, and, on the other, Christ — His position, the energy of light found in Him, and the righteousness of God in Him. If it is human righteousness I sought, there could be nothing beyond, because the hour of its judgment is not come, but if I have Christ in His position (vv. 7, 8), there is not only righteousness existent in Him (v. 9), and divine energy ours in Him (v. 10, and Eph. 1:19-20), but Himself remains over and above to be loved, walked with, lived to. Christ Himself was Paul's life down here. Some might draw their thoughts from inside themselves (v. 19), and mind things of earth. Paul was occupied with Christ Himself. Phil. 4 seems to me to be the illustration of how a man who knew nothing but Christ up there in heaven found a side (so to speak) in every thing which pertained to Christ (v. 2) — difference of mind through weakness (v. 3), the feeble labourers (vv. 5-7), the circumstances which have the tendency to lead to care (vv. 8, 9), the things approved of God and shown out in Paul's life (vv. 1019), his own needs and the desire of Philippians to sympathise with God in caring for them — all give the picture of a man who lives with, and to Christ, knowing how to turn all things down here to glory. If the top of the stone looks dry and hot, beneath it is cool and moist. I do think we want more of the practical skill to live out Christ in our circumstances thus below. I pray first for all, but specially for myself. G.V.W.
May 14th, 1864.
MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, — I was grieved to hear of your suffering state; for we may grieve with those that are in bonds, and such a sick and suffering body is like unto. Nevertheless, "by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit." If Hezekiah, before life and immortality were brought to light by the gospel, could say such things (Isa. 38), how much more can we who are in the light of the eternal life incorruptible, which is ours in the risen and ascended Son of man. Seeing that all is to redound to the glory of God, therefore "we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Cor. 4:15-18.) The Lord be with you. … The issues of life are in His hand, as well as the issues of that death from which He has saved us. … Most affectionately,
Your old friend and fellow-pilgrim, G. V. WIGRAM.
September 29th, 1864.
OUR hearts at this moment are under exercise. J. B- lies very ill, and to all appearance, according to the doctors of medicine, his recovery would be a direct act of God over and above, as I understand them, that which usually takes place. He is much set upon departing to be with Christ, conscious of the exceeding blessedness of being present with the Lord.
It is beautiful and blessed to see a soul so occupied with the pleasure of the presence of Christ Himself; for glory and reward have no place in his thoughts. He seems so absorbed in the Lord's presence as his all, as to desire to be absent from the body and present with the Lord. I have not seen him, but from what others say, and from what he has written to me, I fear he is too much occupied with his own rich enjoyment of Christ, and too little thoughtful of us and of the Lord's saints; for surely the removal of one who can be the servant of the Scriptures, to deal forth so richly of their contents in such a day as this, would be a very great loss to the saints beloved of God. I bow to His will, whatever it may be; but I do look up, if haply, feeble prayer from me may prevail, to retain a valued servant at the work. Peter was delivered from prison in answer to prayer the very night before he was to have been put to death, and served, I judge, a goodly service afterwards. Well, I know He does all things well; and there are but three that I know of that have turned to prayer … for others seem to think it a settled thing that he is to go, and that shortly.
I write from H -, where I have been a month come Wednesday next. The Lord is good, and the work seems fresh at -, more I think than here just now. But places vary, like people, from day to day. Dear -'s love to you both. I was to say so from her the first time I wrote. She is well (though aged), and bright in the Lord, and in patience too, which is a grace of very great value before God. We ought to be patient, for He is the doer of everything; and when we are not patient we really find fault with Him and His doing.
Most affectionately in the Lord, with love from mine to you and yours. G.V.W.
January 1st, 1865.
IT is a happy and a right thing for each of a young couple, if Christians, to know a little of human nature, of self and of the other too, before they agree to be united together. And an additional experience ere they come together as man and wife (additional to the knowledge they had before the one proposed and the other accepted), too, is a good thing. I suppose I know what — is, and she knows what I am, after nearly thirty years being man and wife, and growing in the knowledge of the Lord and His grace, as well as of the world, the flesh, and Satan, better than we did in 1835. It is in the knowledge of one another's infirmities and shortcomings that we find here below (not leaven, which has to be put away, but bitter herbs, which have to be eaten) the occasions of pouring forth our faith and grace one toward another, and as to one another.
Marriage is a reality, and generally a very stern one to both, specially to the wife, on whom all the wear and tear of house and family fall; but you must learn how to let His grace be sufficient for you, "His strength made perfect in weakness." Death and resurrection lie in that path as much as in any other for the Christian.
I think as to its being God's will you may rest thus far. What would have been His will may be one thing, what is His will under present circumstances may be quite another. It would not do for me to say to -, "I made a mistake in marrying you." It would not do for the affianced to say, "We never ought to have been affianced." Such a step would be to the Lord's dishonour. Not that I suppose you have any thought of such a thing. Circumstanced as you are in this respect, I should feel that the Lord's mind sustains the engagement, and that if you discover ten thousand times more defects and weaknesses in yourself than you have, all you have to do is to pour it all out before the Lord, and to seek that His grace may prove itself sufficient for you, His strength perfect itself in weakness. … G.V.W.
March 10th, 1865.
MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, — * * * What should we do if we could not say, amid all circumstances, "Unto Him that loved us, and that washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us unto God and His Father kings and priests, to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever"?
Your brother in Him, G.V.W.
Sunday Night, August 20th, 1865.
IT is all well, all that befalls us under the good hand of the Lord Jesus Christ. I make no exceptions of any kind for myself, or for those I love in Him. Surely some ray from His eye gilds every passing sorrow, every trial, thorn, sharp flint, every anguish of mind or body. Nothing reaches us save as having passed through the jealous flame of His love, and that makes all shine to us that believe.
Well, dear Miss -, He, the only one worth thinking of, worth speaking of, He is to have His Father's will made good about you and all your belongings, and about me and all mine.
I should have liked much to have, come down to see you just at this time, but He has seemed to say to us, "South I go thither; north-west, another time. You shall meet in heaven; but now go, work. Rest then." Would I say Him nay? I think not.
I have been speaking on Rev. 4 and 5. How the symbols of creation, providence, and government have to be looked for in heaven now! Man finds them not on earth, nor can find in the character of Creator, God of providence, or Ruler, any answer to sin in his own soul. But how in redeeming love, as set forth in the Lamb slain, alive again, there is a new revelation of God, and just the one that enables the sinner to meet God. The person of the Lamb slain, alive again for evermore, is the propitiatory which shows how God can be just while the Justifier of the sinner.
It would have done at — quite simple enough. I felt power with it, and look for blessing in my little way.
I must not say more, save my kindest regards to all the poor folk. The Lord be with you all.
Affectionately in Him, the risen and ascended One, G. V. WIGRAM.
3, Howley Place, Harrow Road, London, W.
February 13th, 1866.
To MY DEAR BROTHER AND FELLOW-LABOURER. — I received, dear brother, your extracted bits of the newspaper, and, after reading them, passed them on to our brother -.
My own desire would be that you should not answer again, but by a holy and blameless life put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. One thing is clear: the power of the truth with you has been felt by many; and, unable to answer it, the writer of those letters has tried to raise prejudice against you. Your best answer is "perfect silence." Do your own little service to the Lord, and (as your praise is of God and not of man) heed not the hard speeches of any around you, but walk so as you have Him for an ensample.
The national establishment found that it could not punish, much less silence, the writers of the Essays, all infidel as they were. They cannot stop Colenso either; such is the lack of power of the clerical system against infidelity. On the other hand, its liberty towards churchism appears now in the efforts making to coalesce the Pope (with his religion), the Patriarch of Greece (with his system), and the establishment of this country. The establishment is alone in the attempt, but all Protestantism, it is hoped, will come in afterwards. Whether the bishops and Canterbury will succeed with the Pope remains to be seen; but they are doing what seems to them their best, and have made an attempt lately with the Greek Church. [Jerusalem and the Pope, then, in the Church of the Nativity, guardian of the Holy Sepulchre, as centre of the system, we may yet see.]
That which is wanted, and wanted as much by the so-called clergy for themselves as much as by any, is the simple truth of redemption and salvation according to the truth. That we have, and have it apart from the clogs of human systems, in the Lord Jesus. May it lead us to walk in the Spirit, even as it has placed us in the Spirit, and not in the flesh. These things ours, and the hope of the coming too, we must not be surprised if men who are not clear from the current of things here below are offended with the truth. But it will vindicate itself, and God will vindicate it, in our lives down here first of all, and after that in the glory on high.
Here below our path must be a solitary one for each of us; for we are at the closing days of the sojourn of God's assembly down here, and the days around us are evil. But if we are alone with God, well contented may we be to leave all to Him, and ourselves to tarry His leisure as to deliverance from the conflict. Surely we ought to weep when the children of God and followers of Christ are found opposing the truth, but, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do," was His prayer for those that opposed Him, and may be ours too in this our day for those who are so under the power of religious worldliness as to oppose the service of labourers of the Lord because they walk not with us.
Our united love to all. G.V.W.
April 4th, 1866.
MY DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER IN THE LORD, — * * * The Lord sits on high and ruleth all things well. How well may we rejoice that this is not our rest; it is polluted. Christ Himself, and Himself alone, is our rest, our safe guide, and our hope. All, all is in Him. An all which none but God and His Father can measure the fulness of; but all that He sees His Son to be or to have, all that — and no less — is mine. What an eternal, divine fulness is the portion of him who, though down here in the pit without water, looks up to Christ on high, and can say, "I am the Beloved's" (God's Beloved), "and the Beloved is mine." I would that we knew better the solidity of the substance, and the unquestionableness of this our blessing. Possessed by Him, and owned by Him as part of His priceless pearl, all things are ours. Life, death, things present, things to come, past, present, and future, heaven, earth, and hell, all yield their tributes of blessing and profit to him who has nothing but Christ.
"In whom also we have an inheritance." (Eph. 1:11) Also marks something added on the (v. 10) knowledge that everything will be headed up in heaven and in earth in Him. We shall see Him in that glory and rejoice in it; but the inheritance we have is additional to it and above it; it is in Himself we have it.
Affectionately yours in Him, G.V.W.
August 15th. 1865.
You must not, dear -, expect a long letter from me this time, as the night of the 15th has set in, and I am heaped up with work of various kinds. But I may as well write a line, and perhaps add a dirty fragment from what the printer has sent me back from new number of Present Testimony, which will show you whereabouts my mind has been — I trust I may say for myself, and for the children of God all around me.
The days are evil, and God's watchmen sleep; but He that keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. There is now the tenth edition of Ecce Homo, a book which appeared in the spring, and was puffed by the Dissenters and Church people of London, which I have had to wade through. "All the world" reads it. It professes to be the results of an inquirer's researches into the New Testament for himself. That which he has gleaned might thus be stated, I think. "Christ is the father of Babylon the great," and "we being competent to take up all we see presented in Him should have the like passion for man down here as He had."
Not a word of atonement of course, but all the all-gloriousness of man in himself.
How any Socinian even could have written such a book, much more how clergy and ministers can tolerate such wickedness, save upon the assumption of judicial blindness fallen upon them, I cannot think.
. … Dear Mrs. W- sleeps in the Lord. G.V.W.
August 9th, 1866.
You have not got to the end of yourself yet. As to goodness? Yes. As to mendableness? No. As to power? Paul said, "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me;" i.e. he found he could not deliver himself, and why? He was in a swamp — a true bog, a "body of sin and death." It was a very uncomfortable sort of place to be in (a barrel with spikes of I, driven through it), and he felt they lacerated and tore him. But all his forty mes could not get him out. It was death rolled in upon him — death inside himself, moral death in heart and mind too.
But there was One outside it all — God, and in His presence Jesus Christ. And the doctrine of baptism supposed that there had been substitution — one put into the place of another — and that he (Paul) knew it, and could be satisfied to say — not as to any getting out of the evil in himself, but as to God's grace in the substituting Christ for the sinner — "I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord." I think you are finding out that death works in you, and nothing but death; but you have not yet come to be willing to say, What a comfort that doctrine of substitution! I morally dead, He penally dead. I turned my back on God, and God turned His back on Christ on account of my sin. Nothing but that can give rest; nothing but that give peace; nothing but that is grace; and after that comes "my grace is sufficient, my strength made perfect in weakness."
* * * * *
It seems to me that anyone, even as poor a thing as myself, might find blessing to souls up and down the country if one could but walk with the Lord — keeping away from all party feelings, avoiding all assumption and haste of temper too — and letting redemption, a walk with God consequent thereon, and hope of the coming, to be the three staples of one's ministry.
* * * * *
Here there are about thirty in communion. To me it seems that foundation truth wants pressing here, not that those at the table do not hold it, but that the gathering and the principles of gathering may have held too large a place. Atonement finished; holiness of walk with the Lord and entire separation from the world, and the hope of the coming, form souls individually for the Lord and His presence; and they, these doctrines, are for the remnant what is wanting. Indeed, the mass as such cannot be reached save through the individual members who form the mass,
* * * * *
But, on the other hand, I see the positive good the Lord has done. Never did the poor weak ones see so clearly as now that they are "a people" on the earth, though a people disowned by the men of the world; and never, I think, did the Lord show this compassion and longsuffering more graciously than lately to them. I said, "The king's word is, Answer them not a word;" and I think I was right. Conscience there was none. What is man, what are you, what am I, when Satan is allowed to pass us through the furnace? Alas! Job's furnace was blessing, so was Peter's; Lot's and Solomon's were different — very sad.
Ever yours in Christ, G.V.W.
September 18th, 1866.
MY DEAR -, — The hearts of your mother and sister must be tried, I am sure, but Scripture tells us this is not our rest; it is polluted, and in this way all these sorrows turn to be a testimony to us under them of the truth of the word. And it tells not only of suffering, but that if so be we suffer with Him, we shall also he glorified together with Him. As surely as the word describes my life here below in time, so surely does it describe all that lies beyond. Sheltered as I have been in some respects, yet I have found all its sketches of my time and tale true — pilgrimage and strangership, cross and death, and dying daily — all true; and will not the other pictures be proved to be true too? And they are eternal and heavenly, with Christ in glorified body in His Father's house. How bright and how glorious, dear E-, will you look then! and how will all the weary hours, which now you have to endure, then be bright in retrospect as parts of the discipline through which a Saviour's love will then have brought you to glory. And He is with us now in our valley as we pass through. You do not know the lines on these truths —
Should sorrows come, and pain and care,
Oh, keep my soul, my mind, my life,
That I may still Thine image wear
'Mid trials hard and earthly strife!
But let them come; they'll only move
With fonder love my heart to Thee
I had not known but half Thy love
Had trial keen been kept from me.
I bless Thee then, that I can say,
I share with Thee affliction's lot;
'Tis joy to think, in trial's day,
The cross of Christ is not forgot.
Well, my dear young friend and sister, I know whose heart bears you, your father, E -, and all upon it; and knowing that He prays for you, I find it a privilege to say, may my heart be in prayer for you all, in measure, as His, in all its eternal fulness, is perfectly before God for you. What a truth is that of the intercession of the living Christ before God for us!
Affectionately yours in Him, G.V.W.
September 25th, 1866.
MY DEAR FELLOW-LABOURER AND FELLOW-SUFFERER IN THE PATIENCE OF CHRIST JESUS, — * * * It has seemed right to the Lord to allow trial to spring up here, according to that word, there must also be heresies, that they which are approved may be made manifest. A solemn word and description of a soul-humbling sorrow. May we mistrust self, and judge all the secondary motives of our hearts, and have faith and hope in God alone.
* * * * *
The attack on myself is for printing -. "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me" (Ps. 22), refers to the blessed Lord's bearing the wrath due to me; that He was forsaken then and there in my stead. As the paper is in the Present Testimony, every one can judge for themselves. All I can say is, that I believe I ought to be willing to go to the stake for the precious truth there described. I dare say there may be slips of the pen, and perhaps mistakes which I cannot see, but as to the main statement I could not recall it. Man turned his back on God and broke away from Him in Eden; God forsook Christ and hid His face from Him on Calvary. If no one else will say it was for my sake, G.V.W. does; and in that act, which faith says was because of my sin, I have peace. All my blunders, whatever they may be, notwithstanding, the honour of being identified with — in these attacks upon him seems to me too high an honour altogether. The attack upon him is chiefly as to dispensational statements; as to me it is as to what forms the groundwork of my soul's rest. I believe He, Jesus Christ, was a substitute for me under wrath; and it does seem to me that the great question of sin is, and can be, nowhere else wound up and settled. Either the Son of God, who was and is Son of man, bore the whole wrath for the saved people when God forsook Him, and then I have peace through faith in Him, or the question of sin never can be settled or finished for me; for if I disbelieve in what He bore, and have to bear the judgment of sin myself as a creature, the judgment is never ending, but runs throughout eternity; is measureless upon the creature as it is measureless when looked at, as having been borne by the infinite Son of God as Son of man. Of course I do not want any one to take my view of the question if their faith extends not so far as mine, but I am persuaded that faith cannot find contradiction between my view of atonement and any lesser view of it. The paper was not a new one, but the substance of a lecture given at Woolwich three years ago.
* * * * *
The brethren at Woolwich found immense help in the lecture. I judge it to be a carefully written paper, with plentiful latitude in it; but I meant — and have done it — to put down what that is which is the basis of my own mind's peace; namely, that as I in the first Adam was one broken away from God, my back to Him, so my Lord, in the perfectness of His obedience to God and love for me, was forsaken in my stead when He called out, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" These five underlined words were no exaggeration on the lips of the Son of man. All God's billows and waves rolled over His soul because He was my substitute. Do not take my view of this paper or the controversy. May God show you the right. G.V.W.
September 26th, 1866.
MY DEAR MISS -, — * * * Remember the Lord knows His own pathway better than we do, quite as much so as He knows His own ways, and His own thoughts, better than the best-taught saint does. "All these things are against me" was not the language of faith; for without all those very things the Lord's way of blessing would not have been made good.
I write in haste, pressed with many letters; but how good He is to give me so much to do, and I am sure my handwriting will not be otherwise than a welcome sight to you. * * *
Affectionate love to all in Christ, G. V. WIGRAM.
September 28th, 1866.
UPWARD and onward, for this is not my rest, is pretty well all I have to say. No; I got a good word yesterday. "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come." This is a good banner motto for the wilderness. It is written of the Spirit and the Bride while in the wilderness; the cry "Come" showing that the Lord (who answers their invitation with "Surely I come quickly") had not come yet. Now, 'tis good to be able to say then, in God's mind, neither the Spirit nor the Bride have ceased to be; and more than that, these two names (Spirit and Bride) shut out all the individual littlenesses of a — and a G.V.W. as persons still in the body, and show that God looks upon a company, an assembly, and that too as being in Christ, His Church or Assembly. Rebecca's whole worth — fortune and honour — were not found with her in the wilderness as brought by her from Laban, but was in Isaac, and God's promises and counsels about him (Isaac). Isaac was to have a wife, so Christ is to have a Bride. Adam had the inheritance, standing, and blessing ere Eve came. So Isaac, so Christ. And there is enough in Him — if
"I am a poor sinner, and nothing at all,
But Jesus Christ is my all in all "
enough, I say, for me to boast and glory in; and if enough even for me, enough for you too. G.V.W.
October 16th, 1866.
MY grace is sufficient; for my strength is made perfect in weakness." That was my answer to your letter. … At wits' end you will find God beyond it — the God of resurrection. G.V.W.
November 3rd, 1866.
BELOVED SISTER IN THE LORD, — Though I know solitude in the Lord's presence is the first place which your soul will seek in your present deep affliction — and I would not come in to hinder that, or to distract your mind from Him — yet I write a line to say how entirely my heart is with Him, our blessed Lord, in His dealings with you at the present time, and that I look up to Him "that Christ may be MAGNIFIED" in your body, whether it be by life or by death.
Your brother in the afflictions and hopes of the Anointed One, Affectionately, G.V.W.
November 11th, 1866.
MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, — I have been speaking this evening upon a bit of a verse in Eph. 2, and "God, who is rich in mercy;" and the savour of it is sweet. To get the contrast you must read the three sections. Firstly, His grace in Christ, Eph. 1:16-23. The Man Christ Jesus displayed as the servant of God the Father of glory, seated in heaven, the treasury of God for our blessing as to the hope of the calling; as to the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and as to headship, over everything to the Church. What a scene of glory it is! That heaven in which He now sits on the throne, with glory beyond all glory in this or coming ages, Himself there forming down here a body for Himself. Secondly, Eph. 2:1-3 gives the pit whence He takes the clay, the quarry where He finds whom He will take; and oh, the contrast to what there is in heaven in Christ! The dead in trespasses and sins, the course of a world which is inwrought and driven along by another spirit who works in the children of disobedience. If in heaven where God is, all glory is found in Christ. In this world, whether in Sauls of Tarsus or in the filthy worshippers of Diana of Ephesus, all found in that in which Satan can delight, nothing in the state of which God, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, can possibly take pleasure. What point between the two? What connecting link between these contrasts? There is but One who could even look at the two scenes fairly, know how to use the two together for His own glory; and that One is the One of whom it is said, thirdly, But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved through faith;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together is heavenly places in Christ Jesus. If grace and free gift set forth the scene in chap. 1, if patience bore with the scene in chap. 2, 'tis mercy in God alone which can use chaps. 1 and 2 together so as to magnify itself. (v. 7.) "That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." What mercy to enable Saul to know of himself and of the Ephesian believers quarried in such a pit, that both shared Christ's love in heaven, were established there in resurrection power!
If we turn to Ex. 32 we see what mercy is. Israel had made and danced before a calf, their substitute for the living God. But He says, "I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion upon whom I will have compassion." (Compare Rom. 9:15-16 with Ex. 33:19.) I will! His sovereignty is absolute. Who can say unto Him, "What doest Thou?" They had ignored Him, the living God; they had degraded themselves in worshipping a calf made of the trinkets of the women. Would Israel so succeed in frustrating the grace of God's mercy? No. "He hath included them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all." No ground of action save His own mercy is one adequate for God to display Himself fully by, in dealing with men. "I will." It is a great thing to recognize the individuality of God as One that acts, none being His counsellor. Whom did He consult when He created heaven and earth? When He gave the promise, the woman's seed shall crush the head of Satan? Who was His counsellor as to the rainbow? or to Israel coming out of Egypt? As to His Son coming into the world? as to His death? His resurrection, the Father's house, the new heavens and the new earth? But if He does as He likes, He has a character of His own that regulates His actions. Ex. 33:19. The first half of the verse says He will make His glory to pass before Moses; the latter part, "And I will be gracious," etc., tells of the flowing stream of mercy. But when He comes in Ex. 34 to the revelation of His name — that display which is the true revelation of Him — mercy and graciousness are His traits, and characterize all that flows forth from Him. And is not mercy necessarily of God, and of God alone? Who but He could look on me and say, "Thou art the very opposite of Him that I like and delight in, and yet thou shalt have the same portion as He has?" 'Twere confounding heaven and hell, 'twere mixing night and morning, for any other than the exhaustless God of all resources to propose such a thing. But He knew His resources to be in the Son of His love, and that by His work He could be just while justifying the sinner. Yes; and more too, He could use the ruin and rebellion of the creature as the occasion in which to show forth the virtues and the glories of the Son of His love, and make Him who knew no sin to become sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Beloved, all this is plain; but oh, for the individual testing of ourselves, how far in our ruin, and amid ruin all around, we look straight up to God Himself in heaven, and own that all our springs are in His mercy by Christ Jesus. Such a course makes us draw near to Him, while it makes us abhor ourselves in dust before Him.
Grace, mercy, and peace now and ever fill your hearts, and minds, and lives, beloved in the Lord. So prays yours unworthily, G.V.W.
November 15th, 1866.
MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, — But just time for a line, and your kind note and hearty "Come over and help us," is to hand. I had thought I might have got away this autumn from Europe, but caught in it by the storm of obloquy and reproach from the enemy, I think the Lord says, "Tarry," and so I do. The spite and hatred are good to bear, and all that Shimei and Geshem or others may say make good bitter herbs to eat with the Lamb. I am persuaded we are not of this world; and if we practically live outside of it, as did the Pentecostal Christians, the world's abuse would neither frighten nor vex us as it now oft does, some of us at least. Such hurricanes are fine tests of the barometer of self-love and self-complacency and self-competency, and I desire to use them so, and to put self down if it gets up. Of course where respectability and the good opinion of man has not been judged by any, they will find the burning flame in these arids. Of course, too, the young Christians are not to be expected to stand fire as the old ones should do; for those that are leading the attack, their evil is awful and sorrowful in the extreme, and one should have one's heart soft as to themselves, though unwavering as to the Lord's truth and against the evil. And, oh, what an honour is it to be rejected with the rejected One! to be despised and maligned with the despised and with the maligned One. Dear D- goes on well, walks humbly, and is dear to us all in the Lord. I hope the hospital studies will not be too much for him, body or soul.
In haste, but in affection unfeigned, G.V.W.
3, Howley Place, December 10th, 1866.
MY DEAR BROTHER, — My mind has been running much upon the epistle to the Thessalonians. As has oft been remarked, the first epistle gives the use of the coming, and the second guards against the abuse of it. In the first it is remarkable how permanent a place persons in their individuality get assigned to them. 1st, to wait for His Son from heaven, gives us the group of Thessalonian believers — each one bound to Christ, and drawn to Him in the hope of His coming, and so all drawn together by the same hope, even as, if we look more closely to the context, we shall see they were by their faith in what He had done for them, and by the works which flowed out of them through the spiritual communion which they had with Him as a living person now in heaven. In 1 Thess. 2 we see them all toiling in rowing against the tide of this world, and at the close the same company of individuals on the other shore gathered round Paul as his joy, and crown, and glory (1 Thess. 2:19); for what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing, are not even ye, in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming; and the same people (1 Thess. 3:13) were to have their hearts established unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. Paul's mind particularizes these very Thessalonians standing round him in the midst of all the saints that the Lord would bring; standing round him, people he had laboured among, toiled and prayed for, and with — they, individually, as people he knew, the scene shifted from Thessalonica to the cloud, or the Father's house, and time lost in eternity - they should stand around him there; and feelings of one kind today should give way to feelings of another kind then, in himself and in them. And he would meet them there when they would be without blame, without the possibility of blame — nor spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing, should then remain. Still, it is he, Paul, an individual person, knowing what that individual person, God's Son, from heaven meant to do, and would do for His own people everywhere, these Thessalonian individual persons among the rest. Just so in 1 Thess. 4, the sorrow he refers to, be it that it circled round all the Thessalonians, had commenced in some few. From one house a brother, a sister, had been taken, leaving the couch and the chamber without its usual tenant, and the word which follows verses 15-17 was drawn forth by those particular afflictions, perhaps in but ten or twelve individual cases, though the sorrow that disturbed their hearts through ignorance disturbed the hearts of all the Thessalonians around too. The answer to their grief was the presenting of the coming display of the One whom God delights to honour. He Himself would appear, and use the deep necessity of the state of His saints as the occasion in which to show forth the glories of His own person as the resurrection and the life. But here, too, not only will the folly of the Thessalonians' fear be proven. They thought, though He had begun with them in spite of their state and circumstances, that the final realization of the blessing hung upon the circumstance of being alive when He came, as though the quickening of the soul and the quickening of the body were not both alike displays of Himself. When He does come (as John 5 tells us) He will act with discrimination, leaving those whom He had not known, and who had not known Him when alive in the body, still in the grave, and only bringing forth those who, when alive in the body, had heard His voice and lived to God. He, and Himself alone, the worker in that day, and working according to His Father's mind; but He will work upon, only those who had known Himself, and each and all of them alike, whether the body had been in the dust ever since Stephen's, or whether they were alive, and awaiting His return. The individuality and the personality are marked most strongly. Each one and all who had heard his voice, and known and been known of Him, will be there, and none else; though whether their needs in that day will want the virtues of His resurrection power, or of His power to fill up with life, so excluding death, is but a circumstance. Circumstances, as chaps. 2 and 3 show us, are not all forgotten there. Those, at least, which down here have been the channels of His grace, as Paul preaching to and caring for His Thessalonians, will have their answer there. — I should think none others; for in God's eternal presence it must be something about His own only-begotten Son which can live and be spoken of, and shine there. 1 Thess. 5:23 gives us the same sort of thing: "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." Doctrine surely which may mould and test our ways, and cheer us in every way unto the end of time is here; but it was the individual prayer of the person called Paul, and for the particular persons to whom he wrote.
I have been laid aside for a day, and so cut off from going last night to Colchester, where there is a table. I can say, "It is well;" yet I find the thanking God for hindrances is harder work than it is even for sickness and pain of body. But it is well to be under infirmities; and we may glory in them (2 Cor. 12) so far as we are concerned; but an impediment in work, and saints disappointed, are matters of the other world perhaps: the racking pain and the burning fever are of God in this world. Yours, G.V.W.
3, Howley Place.
MY DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER, — I received two loving letters from you, and from — the printed abuse. I wish you joy of it with all my heart. It is well to be spoken evil against, and a good mark when they can find nothing against us save in the matter of our God and His truth.
- sent me also a tract he had printed and sent out to you. It had some clear statements in it, and well put; but I am one of the old school, and the slower movements quite within the range of conscience suit me best. The tortoise won the race, not the hare, according. to the fable.
It is a great thing to let those around us see and feel that conscience is in full play in us, and that we feel we must obey God rather than man. It is this spirit of obedience which has always so struck me in -. He has a mind and intelligence, too, equal to any in his day, but they are never allowed their play by him save where conscience and the spirit of obedience have gone first. This gives such power to his papers on the Roman Catholic and Puseyite questions, and also to those on the infidel questions of the day. One of the learned men of England read his paper in the Present Testimony, in answer to Colenso, while he was dying, and sent me word that he had read everything which had appeared upon the subject, but that those eight pages were the clearest and best of anything he had seen. In the paper, too, on the inspiration of the Scriptures, of an early date in the history of the Present Testimony, conscience and obedience were like the glasses of his spectacles; but the line of thought has been owned by the educated in Europe as being unanswerable. Well, we have young men, and we want such, and old ones too; and I do not mean you to suppose that the old brother that writes to you does not love his younger ones. I find I have to say of many now a days, "He must increase, but I must decrease." I think I say it cheerfully too. J. G. B-, J. C-, and now W. T-, gone home! and some of them that were in the ranks when you and your wife enlisted are aged and feeble.
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We need faith to see and own the hand of our God in all and every thing that befalls us. Nothing escapes His eye, all is under His hand; everything, from the least to the greatest, we may accept as sons of God at our Father's hands, and so the bitter becomes sweet, and the medicine becomes food.
The Lord's grace too is greatly to be noticed in carrying on work. J.G.B. seemed the standard-bearer in Dublin, and many a cawing word was heard after his removal. "What will you do now you have lost your sweet singing bird, that piped so nicely?" But the Lord has turned it all rather to the furtherance of His work, and I suppose the work in Dublin bears as healthful an appearance as it ever did, and with more marks of vigour about it than it had.
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God is God, and remains God, all changes notwithstanding.
My love to the dear sister and all saints.
Affectionately yours, G.V.W.
April 15th, 1867.
MY DEAR -, — Here I am, stuck fast still with duty this and duty that. I suppose the Lord has to humble me for want of Nazariteship practically in my early Christian course. I did not then cleave solely to His will, go here, go there; but the needs of His work and the needs of His people had too much hold of my mind. I will not say that in meeting them I had not pleasure, that even the desire to escape from useless idleness had not a power over me; but in fact there grew up a web which cripples me now in many ways and thoughts, a web of responsibility in services.
Well, He knows my desire, and the best part of my mind is to say to Him, "I have deserved nothing as a disciple, as a servant. If Thou turnedst Thy back on me, Thou wouldst be righteous; but I want to see what honour Thy free love will choose to put upon me undeservedly."
I confess a voyage to the West Indian islands would be a free grace honour, and somehow I hope for it too; for though I do not deserve it, and would not rob you and your wife of the honour He has put upon you, I would like the privilege if He gave it heartily.
All here is pretty quiet. Poor Mr. D — has published a second book, an appeal. It has done much good, opened the eyes of many. One said, "Well, I must be as you say." G.V.W.
Canada West, August 7th, 1867.
NOTHING happens without the Lord, not even the fall to earth of one sparrow. This gives to God His proper place in all things occurrent and happening; not only is He, in being, before all, but in all that occurs His hand is the most important feature in the case. Satan could not act against Job or Paul without divine permission; and whatever Satan might mean in the one case or the other, God meant blessing, pure blessing, for His servants, and that eternal blessing. I hear you are depressed — it matters little what men call it — to me, as having one infinitesimal of faith, it is "of God" and for the blessing of yourself and husband. That it is, though coming through the body and mind, yet "of God" I doubt not; for that is one way in which He works, in breaking our plans of earthly joy, to make us seek our all in Him. (You know the Olney hymn, "I asked the Lord that I might grow.") The extent to which we are dependent upon circumstances, around and within ourselves, we little know till we get stripped of them, and among them perhaps of the feeling of joy which we mistook for faith. Faith is taking God at His word, saying, "Let God be true, and every man a liar." The effect of this is triumph, often with joy, but when of the purer and deeper kind, without joy, and we have then sometimes to give the lie to our own inward feelings, as much as to the thoughts of others all around us. 1 Peter gives us a case of it, so does 2 Cor. 12.
Happy feelings are all very well; but happiness down here is not the happiness which we are promised, and weeds oft grow with joy, which weeds, and the selfish root out of which they spring, get killed by nipping frost, and the trial of our faith, which is much more precious than the trial of gold that perisheth. Heaven is open upon us, even the very true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man; and there He sits who is our anchor and forerunner fixed within the veil. Nail in a sure place, and worthy to be trusted to and stayed upon by us down here, be it storm, or cloud, or what not, that may roll over us. It is a duty (in the new nature) for us to accredit Christ and His great salvation. (See "Peace, and how to get it." Present Testimony, new series, part i.) If you saw the inward state of other Christians you would see how they are, as without spring or sentient power, as you are yourself; but God is faithful, and Christ is enough for us all — all our nothingness notwithstanding. I pray for you; for I would have you consciously and intelligently wholly the Lord's, and the Lord's by faith and the Spirit. … All is vanity down here, and will be till He comes, from before the face of whom all sorrow, sin, and sickness shall flee away for ever. G.V.W.
September 4th, 1867.
GRACE, mercy, and peace, beloved brother and sister, be to you and to all the children of God who are scattered abroad in this dark world. They are outshining from God's blessed presence in the face of Jesus, Lord of all; they are down-shining through the Holy Ghost according to all the divine and eternal fulness in which they are natural to God, the God of all grace, who is rich in mercy, and is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. May you drink them in according to their essential fulness, and ever drink into them deeper and deeper; for in our day we want stirring up, that we may apprehend and possess now our present portion, which is not one of human sympathies and limited pitifulnesses, but of joy, and peace, and devotedness.
My wife and daughter joined me last week at Quebec, and from that we came on hither. They both would greet you lovingly; the former has been ill in London, and it was supposed that a sea voyage and entire change of air might restore her. She is in the Lord's hands. He gave her to me, and He can keep her my companion down here. I look up to Him, to Him alone; He is able and He is willing to show His power and His grace I am sure.
Ever affectionately, with love to all saints, G.V.W.
Montreal, via 3, Howley Place, Harrow Road, London, W, September 5th, 1867.
MY DEAR MISS -, — My wife, daughter, and maid left Liverpool on the 15th August, and arrived at Quebec on the 27th. Mercy marked their passage through the great deep. My wife had been ill, and wished to come; and the friends whom she consulted, as Dr. Mackern and Dr. Wilkie, thought that the entire change and colder air might very likely be a benefit. I only advised them to consult the Lord, and do nothing for which they were not quite competent; and they came. I met them at Quebec, to which town their passages were taken, and obtained leave for them to come on in the same boat to Montreal, where we arrived on this day week, the 29th. Her weakness is great, and the exhaustion great; but she is in the Lord's hands, and I, and she, we are both sure He will do all things well. To restore from beyond the grave is to Him easy; to turn back the downward course is to Him a pleasure, who is the resurrection and the life. Her enjoyment of the pure air, and her comfort in having come forth under the Lord's banner, are both of them great. This, and the way that she finds the value of her daughter in her illness, are mercies. I might be jealous to see how little consequence I seem to be of! "No one can do anything like Theodora" is her feeling. But for this I bless God unfeignedly; for I do not think a better nurse could well be found, or a more attentive one by day and by night than her own child. Our maid is a good girl too, and she is fond of her and her quiet way, so that is a mercy. And our friends the B-s have housed us in airy and very quiet rooms outside of the town. I am sure you will feel glad to hear these particulars. My wife had your note of the 16th August, but is too feeble to read or to reply to it, so she has commissioned me to do so in her stead. The work is steady in these parts — Canada. It is more opening than opened in the United States. though there is a beginning in New York and in Boston, and up and down the country — here two, there three; in that point one, — in this four — but enquiry is going on, and in the week I spent in Boston I found many anxious to hear, and still more feeling they could not go on with the old things which have not Christ and His Spirit in them. I am going on with Present Testimony now, and have just sent off a batch. You saw vol. i. of new series doubtless. … My wife's kindest love, to you.
Most affectionately in the Lord. G.V.W.
September 14th, 1867.
MY DEAR SISTERS IN CHRIST, — The Lord has asked for and taken (and would I say Him, Nay?) my sister and companion.
She gently departed at 10.10 p.m. on Thursday, 12th September, 1867, in perfect peace — the peace of God Himself.
I cannot write more just now, save that "it is well," all of it, so well that none but He could say how well.*
Yours and ours around you,
Most truly in Christ, G.V.W.
Dear — and — will pray that Christ may be magnified in me, in this I am sure, and so will ours at -.
*For two more letters on this subject, Search for 'Montreal' or 'Belgian'.
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
MY DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER IN THE LORD, — I and my daughter, and a sister in the Lord who travels with us, came on here from New York on the 12th of December I had paid a seven weeks' visit there, and after our brother J. N. D. came, and had stayed three weeks with us in our lodging, I thought it well to come on hither so as to make the most of what little we may have to use in His service.
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The dear M-'s were well; for him, well; she as usual. I speak of the body. The Lord seems to be "lessoning" him (as the poor people in England say), and I think if he could but make up his mind to leave himself as a dead man in the hands of the Lord, and to look up more simply and entirely to the Lord in heaven, he would be more steadily in peace and joy, and perhaps his body be less in his way. I know how the doctor thinks bad things about said body, but doctors know very little about how far the Lord may out of weakness make strong, or how He may make His strength perfect in weakness.
Your sympathy and your wife's to me, beloved brother, was gracious and of the Lord. But I have felt from the first, as to my companion leaving me at Montreal (to me so unlooked-for a close of fellowship in labour and toil), "Thou didst it," and I have added from the first, "Therefore I am dumb." Probably I have been put through deeper exercises in some things than others, and can walk quietly therefore when I have learnt my lesson, as others who have not learnt it could not. And what really is there to make lengthened residence here on earth desirable to a child of God? Cross, conflict, watching, fighting, are the present experiences of each one who is a soldier of Christ down here; armour never off in war time, and in an enemy's land. And patient as she was, she felt the incessancy of the pilgrim journey, and the weariness of her own weak self too; but rest and presence with the Lord were near. Had they been offered to her she would have hesitated to take them for my sake. Had I been consulted, I could not have answered more wisely than, "Thou, Lord, shalt answer for me." He did not consult me, but took her and left me, and in so doing made an appeal to me — Would I bow to Him? would I rejoice in her gain? The lonely path I am in He looks down upon me in, and reminds me of the glory to come, and of being for ever with the Lord. Surely "our Jesus hath done all things well," and all the weaknesses which this trial exposes me to feel and to realize have their answer in Himself, a very present answer. And if humiliation and conscious weakness be mine, and a needs-be to repress the expression of affections to others, which her presence enabled me safely to do, the life He has given me He can guide skilfully with His own hand, and keep me to His praise and glory. The being poured from vessel to vessel, if not pleasant, is good for our souls, and hinders formality and sleepiness.
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I have been brought into contact of war with annihilationists, etc., of this land, and am trying my hand at a poor man's view of the case. The path is plain to a wayfaring man, but the wickedness of the heretic and his dishonesty makes the difficulty. Still, if the Lord will condescend to give me a wayfaring man's view of the great white throne, I think it may help some of His own children. To pull to pieces the tracts which uphold the heresy were easy enough, I think; for they are all the expression of the busy diligence of man's mind, trying to make God to be what will suit better an unrepentant sinner than will the God of Scripture.
Universalism is another form of evil here; so is spiritualism, which (dropping the Bible) makes man's thoughts to be all from God, vile and filthy as the results are of this system in every vile license to the flesh.
How blessed it is to remember the changelessness of Him who is the eternal Lover of our souls! And oh, what a love He has shown and does show to each of us! We need not wait for the glory to come if we really have been walking in the light, as He is in the light, to set to our seal that God is love, as Christ our portion, and we His, are thought of by us.
Our kindest salutation to one and all of ours. God's best blessing be upon and with you. G.V.W.
Toronto, Ontario, October 1st, 1867.
MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, — I fear I shall not see the dear M-s this autumn, unless the Lord has some way for me to walk in that I know not. But in truth I felt that the Lord meant you to be there just now, and not me. I came hither last week, looking towards Milwaukie and the West. I have been arrested in passage by an attack of sickness, and I have to pause; but He layeth down and He lifteth up, and He can renew strength and send forward if He will.
I find Him very good, and that nothing but the perception of His love as a present portion suffices, in this dry and dreary land, to give freshness to my heart and mind and life. Oh that men would cleave closer to Him — more in the secret of His love!
My kindest salutation in Christ to all that are His around you, and most especially to our brother and sister
Ever yours, dear brother, and waiting for Him, for whom you wait, G.V.W.
November 27th, 1867.
MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, — Everything is under His hand, who is the Saviour God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; and not only so, but everything is in truth so with regard to us His children, above, below, before, behind, around, within us, His work all for our good, our real good, not for our pleasure now, but for our eternal good. We may (and we are called to it) know and find rest in this; yea, by faith in His word about it, may sing our songs amid all the breakage and the wrecking that shatters the earthly tabernacle and rolls the waves of death all around us. But, 2 Cor. 1, God is the God of resurrection for us in the wilderness, as in 2 Cor. 12 He had taught Paul in connection with his catching up into the third heavens, how it is "a hard saying" this to nature, but to the spiritual man it is blessed to see, writhe nature as it may, that all is under His hand and guidance.
Yours of the 7th is to hand. It awakens in me stronger hopes as to -. If God blesses — the sentence of death must roll in first, and the deeper the wave the higher the blessing afterwards. God is not debtor to us to do, to give anything; but when we have prayed, and attributed our prayers to His gift, faith looks up freely and hopes. Assure our beloved sister of my sympathy and thought about her. It is a little thing when Christ and His sympathy and thought are pledged to us; but the littleness of a fellowmember sometimes helps another fellow-member to apprehend the greatness of what is true in the Head. I may not write more, as calls press and post goes. Your writing was no intrusion upon privacy, any more than the pitcher let down into the well would be. If Christ has opened a well in any of us, and if He has given rivers of living water to flow forth, these things are not private. They are, first of all, Christ's for His joy; secondly, the individual's; but thirdly, the portion common to all who can use them. What poor things we are, trickle the water as it may through the stony rock, to be fellow-helpers of one another's strength, and joy, and peace in the Lord.
Ever in the Lord yours, G.V.W.
March 12th, 1868.
MY DEAR MISS -, — Welcome but not unexpected was the good news of -'s being better in the body. I trust the Lord will use her illness to her own soul, and to that of each to whom she is dear, in making us all feel that the body we are now in, each of us, must be changed ere we can have the joy of the taste abidingly of the Lord's presence and love.
It is not only the world around which says, "This is not your rest;" but the bodies we are in say the same thing. A rough muddy road is one thing to make you wish to be by your fireside in a wintry day's walk, but a peg or a nail up through the boot sole will be a strong confirmation of the same.
Love to her, and to each, and to all, G.V.W.
November 11th, 1868.
An old uncle bids you God-speed, and commends you both to the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. Night is nearly over, so mind you walk worthily of the day. If I and — return ere daybreak I shall hope to come and see you. G.V.W.
P.S. — You may tell — from me that she has not yet got to the bottom, but when she does she will find the Lord there. G.V.W.
November 25th, 1868.
MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, — … He knows and does all after His mind whose love, wisdom, and grace we could not better if we would. Thank God, I would not try to do so. Though the old nature in me would think of self, God has put it away in Christ, according to Romans 6, and looks upon it as crucified, dead and buried together with Christ; and I would do so too — though I find that power for the new nature is needed if I am to do so constantly and steadily, not by fits and starts only, but so as to be able to say, "To me to live is Christ," as well as "to die is gain." Motives flowing from Christ, energy of Christ, Christ is the only object; and all three involved in, "To me to live is Christ."
We left Southampton November 17th, 1868; the four months in England gave time now to see the advance of His own work there, in the testimony; and Scotland is now open so that none can shut. We had five Guelph meetings, one at Dublin, and (after that) in York, Stratford-on-Avon, Taunton, Edinburgh, and London, which also gave occasion for seeing the brotherhood.
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What a contrast now everywhere to what it was in 1827, when I began to work and had to pray and wait, take a step, and be content to stand and let Satan try to undermine it, and let men break themselves against it! But God is God in every day, and there is no work worth much but what is in Him and under His Spirit. Paul's work in starting the ball, Luther's, etc., in bringing out the sacred Scriptures again, and this in the closing days, each has its own place, but all under God's hand. And oh! for more Nazariteship, practically and individually, is what we groan for; for unless the vessel be gladly set apart or clean for the Lord — the power of the Spirit, what would it be? I have seen many a foul gun burst because it was foul, and so far as I can see for no other cause whatsoever. The testimony too, as a place, tries ourselves, if it also tries others that hear it; too much sail will upset the ballastless boat. Well, God is able to deliver us, not only from the world and Satan practically, but from our own selves also, otherwise what and where would be His great salvation?
My mind oft thinks of you, and of sorrows which must have passed through your soul in connection with the failure to walk in the Spirit, and so getting into the flesh, of some in England dear to you. But it was mercy which would not let David, or Jonah, or Peter, walk in a vain show; but when they were loosely girded let them show themselves as they were. God would rather have His own name openly dishonoured among men by a servant's walk than cover over a false appearance in the servant. He is the God of reality. A pretty specimen of a note for you, like a blind reader, at the post-office, to try and decipher. Well, it will tell that the Lord makes me think of you. Love to all the Lord's.
February 2nd, 1869.
IN my wanderings you have had a place in my heart and mind before the Lord. Rest in Christ, as of sinners the chief (and I cannot put you lower down than that), is what I have craved for you — that you should cease from yourself and find your all in Christ as Saviour of lost ones. I know how the duties of a new life and new relationships press upon the soul, and how they increase sensibly the felt need of rest in Christ, and in the weakness which is ours seem to render us unable to do anything to help ourselves. But after all we must get down to what is said in Romans 5:6, 8, 10, as to ourselves and God, too, When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. … But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. … If when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life."
We are pretty well, and nearing three months' duration of absence from London. We expect to go Barbados-wards in about ten days, and thence on to Jamaica, if the Lord will, en route to Great Britain.
The range of thermometer here has been from 85° down to 72, but more generally from 85° to 75°. The rainy season ne se fait pas cet hiver, and drought is imminent. We little know in England the value of fresh water, or how costly a gift a cup of cold water oft is here. A friend at whose house I am has given some touching pictures of this; but water is not as yet failed, though government has to fetch it down from up the river, and then send it up the rail, where it fetches now about a penny a gallon of our money. My kind love to all of ours around you. G.V.W.
Friday, May 23rd, 1869.
MY DEAR -, — I postpone writing about the state of things here until I may have had the fullest opportunity which so short a visit can give of seeing. But the Lord's great grace to us-ward should be named, and along with the mention of that our own pitiful weakness. If one could but be nothing, He might use us more. The carpenter can use his saw, or file, or hammer, without fear of its boasting of the work being its own. If God used His children without a good deal of discipline to them accompanying, they would be spoilt, and boast in what was wrought as being theirs and not His. He loves us too much for that. Whom He loves He chastens, and well does He know what in each of us are the tender parts which being touched we feel most.
But it is all that we may be partakers of His holiness, and become fitted to walk with Him while we are still down here in the wilderness; and a broken and contrite heart He will not despise. You and your wife are both in His hand, and while to you the seeing her suffering is a strong and a searching medicine, it is one as full of love to you, and of grace toward His children around you, as it is of love and favour to herself. I look, up for her thus: first, that she may glorify God while in the furnace, and that Christ may be magnified, made to lookers-on to appear bigger than they thought Him, in her body, whether it be by life or by death. But then I look up for myself and us: that she may be restored to us, and that we may not have sorrow upon sorrow. He is pitiful to His children, and I am sure He knows how deeply sorrow would be ours if she were taken now to enter into her joyful rest. His will be done, come what may; and nothing is without Him. As the First and the Last, He is Master of the ground long before we were in being: yet I do hope in Him for her restoration, and for our consolation as well as yours therein.
Most affectionately yours, G.V.W.
MY DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER IN THE LORD, — I am in debt to you a letter. Look at the passages in Song of Solomon, at which I was looking this morning (a) Cant. 2:16: "My Beloved in mine, and I am His." It is like the burst of feeling of a young believer, rejoicing in his newly-acquired relationship to Christ. I love Him, and we understand one another; since I have chosen Him, He is mine, and I am His. (b) Cant. 6:3: "I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine" — a more sobered expression, for she had learnt a good bit more of what a poor thing she was, how fickle her will, how unworthy her grasp to be thought much of; but, just what she was, He had not turned away from her. She was His, and she loved Him. He was her Beloved, and if she was His, then He was hers too. It is a much more sober statement, with much less of feeling and experience, but more depth of faith, and more perception of the real rights of things. But there is yet a more sober statement of the same import a little further on (c), Cant. 7:10-11: "I am my Beloved's, and His desire is toward me;" and this is much nearer the rights of the case, "I pertain to Him whom I love, and His desire is toward me." The why and the wherefore of His desire being towards her, she states not.
The Song of Songs is about persons of glory on earth, not in heaven, and so, not Christ the Head of the body, the Bridegroom of a heavenly bride, but the Lord, as root and offspring of David, and the land Beulah married to Jehovah, is in question in the Song. The Church is the bride, the Lamb's wife. But the why and the wherefore we know; the promises had been made to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and to these the servants of the Lord, the Messiah, would be faithful. I do not remember any passage about Old Testament blessing in which "counsel" is named as at the root; but there are many in which "covenant" and "promise" unconditionally are named. The naming of the counsels from before the foundation of the world, in God's own eternity, came out as one of the secret things reserved for the manifestation of what belongs to an earth-rejected Messiah when returned to heaven. I could wish we saw more now of the spiritual sense of personal relationship to the Lord which is found in His beloved in the Song. "Are my sins forgiven me?" is the language of piety now, and how few rise above that into the enjoyed relationship, into the known association with the Lord.
The work proceeds here, but it is very slowly moving. This does not trouble me, if what is wrought stands firm. Naturally one looks for it to be shown in a land like this, where the wildest notions upon every subject of religion are abroad. Yet God is God, and He has not forgotten His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, nor will He forget to gather a people out to wait for Him, and to say, "Come, Lord Jesus." I am reduced down to that as the basis of all my hope; or, if you please, have had to ascend right up to that, as the basis of faith, of hope, and of love and charity too.
God the destroyer of the works of Satan (see John's epistle) was my main stay this last winter, amid much weakness and feebleness and infirmity, and it is a blade we can use, sharp as it is; for He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and is in relationship known and owned by Him in grace to us-ward His children.
I felt deeply your disappointment this winter in no visitor, after expectation had been awakened. And I longed to come, but no steam-boat running, and my shattered state of body, and a hindrance, too, in the Lord's providence, made me feel that, however unwillingly I must give up the thought. But He is a great giver, and if He hides His hand from giving today, tomorrow He oft gives twofold. My daughter unites in Christian love to your wife and all saints.
Grace, mercy, and peace abound toward you, according to the fulness of God, the Father's love in Christ Jesus. G.V.W.
P.S. — Yours to hand. I look up for Mrs. -. Kindest love to her, and I may say to all.
I knew — would be scourged for not leaving all with the Lord. To stop one's own energy is most difficult of all. "If I could but find something to do" is oft our feeling. To leave all with God is another thing altogether.
June 1st, 1869.
I FIND the secret of all peaceful rest in God in Rom. 3 to Rom. 8:10, which contains God's judgment upon me as a creature before its Creator, and the provision which, for His own name's sake, He has made to enable a ruined creature, lost and undone in itself, to find and to be able to boast in its having rest in Him.
True, there is a painful lesson to be learnt and appropriated too; viz., that "I am a poor sinner and nothing at all," and that to want to be something in myself, or somebody, is all vanity. Jesus Christ, of God's providing for the sinner, alone can give rest to a sinner, or be his rest of heart and mind and soul; and true too it is that until we get to the end of self, and give it up as irremediably bad (so bad that even God Himself can bring no goodness out of it, but has to produce a new creature), we shall still be looking for goodness in self. G.V.W.
June 8th, 1869.
MY DEAR MISS -, — …, Your note of 3rd June tells of your own, and the saints at — experiences of the Lord's goodness. Heartily do I praise Him, and if He has put me into the hearts of His saints, because I am in His own heart, I suppose, well, I bow to Him for that too. He is always Himself. It seems strange to be in London and England again, but He does as He wills, and I suppose He will give me, when the first pressure is a little over, some time for seeing friends.
Kindest salutations to each and all, From yours and theirs, G.V.W.
August 3rd, 1869.
MY DEAR -, — I quite counted that some of those who came during the winter season would drop off when the waters of testimony got again into their wonted channels. This is always the case; but not with all who come, for some do remain and get blessing after the torrents have subsided. Besides this, there is the putting the testimony off a private on to a public one, and that abides. And so does the confirmation of old truth which new visitors give to the old company. But I am quite satisfied to leave all in the Lord's hands. And the confirmation, as I suppose, which our visits gave to your labours which had preceded them, I look to as a happy mark of the Lord's exceeding grace and love.
As to myself, about whom you so kindly and frequently ask, weariness of body was mine on arriving in England, and I judge that the Lord's hand was in it, too, for my good. But a quiet month's rest and prayer — only going out on Sundays and occasionally on week days — was blessed to the putting of me into my usual quota of strength — never very great. Mr. D- looked ten years younger than when he went out, and has been taking full trial of it, in rounds of work fitter for a man of fifty than one who is nearing seventy. But, though looking tired and worn, he seemed not much the worse for his work. He is now preparing to start for the Continent.
I think ours from Barbados, in Demerara, should be content to wait on the Lord until He, in answer to their prayers, pours in more power on the assembly. Of course in returning to England I find some things altered, and can see some things perhaps, after eight months' absence, which I could not before. I do not hide either declension from what was good, or falls into what is evil, from me; but how to meet and help up and onward the feeble knees, etc., as Heb. 12:12-13, is the difficulty; so I find it, and that not only here, but, as you can imagine, in Barbados and in Demerara. The eye that is most anointed will not be the first to see failure in others, and the soul that knows most of walking under the yoke with the Master (Matt. 11) will not be the first to undertake the putting right, according to its own mind, of what halts and limps in others.
As to the work at -, I am thankful — is there. The temptations are less than they were near London; and perhaps more of the grating of the earth against the ploughshare, so far good. But the way that he ignores the fact that he is at work on other men's foundations, and the very low line of truth which he is upon, gives me, on the other side, certain feelings of anxieties. Still the Lord is over all, and above all, and our extremity is oft God's opportunity. I fear for the souls of some who are in work, that they are risking lasting damage to themselves, while the work they are doing may all have its place as work. Indeed, to say the truth, I often think that we sin against souls when we lend encouragement for them to go on working obviously beyond the measure of the Spirit's power with them. …
I am sure we have not too many labourers nowadays; but this, while it should lead to encouragement of every labourer, however lame a one, ought also to lead to fears as to those who may be spoiled if allowed to run too quickly.
Most affectionately, G.V.W.
York, November 6th, 1869.
MY DEAR BROTHER -, — My heart has kept saying, amid the clamorous calls of many engagements to do this and that, to go here and there, "B.-" and "Mrs. -" and "Brethren in Barbados." Well: perhaps if it came through my heart and its affections, the voice came from higher up, even from One whose eye sees as well one side of the earth as the other, and both at the same moment, I write from York on my way from Edinburgh (where they have had their yearly meeting) to Manchester, where a quarterly meeting is to be, God willing, next week.
At the former, as for Scotland, and the North of Ireland, we had a fair opportunity of seeing how the door is opening, if gradually, yet gradually opening. Four years ago, save at the four places where was breaking of bread, none knew, and few cared about, the knowledge of forgiveness of sins. Last year at Edinburgh there may have been saints from fourteen, as this year from twenty-four places, where there is now breaking of bread, and if eighty last year, attendants from all parts, one hundred and sixty this; and a growing sense outside of us of the need of this doctrine of the knowledge of forgiveness of sins as lying very near the basis of all blessing, if not even inseparable from it, — and in a sense preceding it. Until sin be forgiven the soul cannot look up to God, nor till the blood is owned can the Spirit, who gives life and power, dwell in us. — was not able to be there, for the hospital duties had re-commenced, as I suppose, and he had had his outing, and had been preaching in London, Broadstairs, Kent, etc. I fear the excitement in Aberdeen is rather too much, and that he may be working beyond his strength of body and power in the Spirit. But that is the right side, perhaps, to err upon in these days of self-preservation and avoidance of trusting in God. Perhaps there will come a time of calm teaching in Scotland. Patience of hope was called for while the door was shut, labour of love when the door opened; consolidation and exercise of faith may go together perhaps. At any rate, His mercy that has opened the door is to be owned. All South Scotland and the border land seems coming under the testimony, from Shields and Newcastle right back west. …
There has been a pushing out of the Lord from the central points of several, and a taking home of some too; also an adding of witnesses. His name be praised! All is in His hand, and He can supply labourers if He will, or work without them too if He will; for He does not depend upon our readiness to serve Him, in order for there to be blessing. He can save by many or by few.
Ritualism is becoming more and more material and fleshly here, and is largely affecting Dissenters, though not so much so as it does the Establishment of the country. The Master is the only one to be looked to, and His Spirit will not fail those who seek to bear testimony to the worth of the person and work of the Lord, and the counsels, plans, and prospects of the Lord of all glory.
My body has been better and stronger since July. For one month after our arrival in England I had to keep still, and recline a good deal. Well, to have His will done, and to enter into His mind, that we may intelligently and as from ourselves and of our hearty accord do it, that is the blessing.
Most affectionately yours in the blessed Lord, G.V.W.
February 2nd, 1870.
MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, — "Behold he prayeth" told to Ananias a deal about God's heart and Saul. The forty-sixth Psalm is, as Luther used to say, a cure for little faith if taken pure and as it is. It is the Lord's mercy to put us back upon resurrection from among the dead always.
Affectionately yours, G.V.W.
We have some good cases of answers to prayer here of late.
July 16th, 1870.
MY DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER IN THE LORD, — I and daughter have been here (at Whitwell, Isle of Wight) a month yesterday. We left London two days after the party sailed, with J. N. D., for Quebec and Guelph meeting. I had been laid up with fever (of typhoid form) for three weeks in London, and was thankful to get away from all the noise and bustle for a little. I am sure the Lord meant it in love and for blessing from first to last, and I am satisfied that He has done wisely in it, and have had no thought but that His hand has ruled throughout the whole. … The Lord rules things otherwise than we think; and it is well to remember that, and to be passive waiters on His omnipotent and all-wise hand.
Often do I look across in thought to you in B-, and pray and trust for the blessing of the Lord on the work there and elsewhere. Prayer is sure work, and the harbinger of blessing. So I have found in forty-six years' pilgrimage; and laid aside this spring, these two months, it has been a comfort to me to think so, though I have been reminded, too, when drowsy and heavy, of a still more precious truth; viz., that if prayer be a channel of blessing, the spring is in God and the fountain of blessing Christ Jesus. And the blessings flow down freely, and often what sets us a praying for more is a first dropping of His rich love and grace. I have been preaching this evening (July 3rd) from 1 John 4, to a very simple, poor people, as showing what the gospel which John wanted us to hold fast in the last days was. I found it good as testing what passes for religion nowadays, and testing too one's own heart, and mind, and life. Antichrist, any in the place of Christ, and therefore opposed to Him, does not confess Him, will not do, brings in the world, is of the flesh.
We begin with God's love — love, that is for sinners, sent His Son to make propitiation for sin, to give life, to be the Saviour of the world. Thus God puts home upon us that we are sinners — loved as such in all our sins, but atoned for, life provided for, a Saviour found for us.
Then the Spirit given we dwell in God, and God in us, and find that as Christ is so are we, though in this world, love to the brethren, freedom from fear, we love Him because He first loved us, new birth known and victory over the world.
One-fourth of the village is Ritualistic High Churchism, half Bryanites, the rest, save some brethren, nothing at all. One hardly knows what form wickedness is preparing to take just now; but, blessed be His name, the full, perfect model of the good is clearly, plainly before us in the Lord Jesus Christ, and He with transforming power moulds us into the same image from glory to glory. I have thought of late that we live too far off from Him, and that our being so often fretted because of evil and evildoers is a proof of it. Letters yesterday from -; pretty well there, though he says they want power in the Spirit, and more practical Nazariteship.
Our kindest salutations to all of His household, and of your own too.
Affectionately in Christ, G.V.W.
3, H. P. H. Road, London, W. Oct. 17th, 1870.
MY DEAR -, — I have a letter to send to Barbados from a brother, so I shall make that an excuse for writing a few lines to you. The Lord's grace in heaven is as bright in heaven to us-ward on this side of the sea as ever, for Christ shines always and ever the same. To you likewise He is unchangeably the same. 'Tis good to get up to Himself, where all is eternally bright and divine; for truly all else is either vile, or only good in measure (like the angels), or mixed of good and evil, like saints unfaithful to their Lord. …
We remember with affection, in and before the Lord, all the friends in Barbados, and earnestly desire that their light may shine out more and more, through the grace of the Lord Jesus, and presence with them of the power of the Spirit. A strong taste of Christ upon the heart, a savour of heaven and its blessedness, while it is the portion of the individual Christian, is a blessed testimony for Him for us in a world of feeling of which is, "Who will show us any good thing?" Satisfied with God, rejoicing in Christ, full of the Holy Ghost, the weakest believer may be well one wondered at, by men of the earth, whose bellies are filled with husks that the swine do eat, and who feel an incessant craving for something they know not what.
May the Lord, beloved brother, sustain and cheer you more and more.
Ever yours affectionately, G.V.W.
January 3rd, 1871.
MY DEAR -, — … I think that the power of sympathy in — and the want of girdle accounts for his overstepping himself. I must add, that if we had possessed more power of the Spirit and in the truth, we might have come in and rescued him perhaps. It is blessed in my eyes that there was self-sacrifice and no self-accumulation. I can leave him peacefully with Him who had loved and washed him from his sins, and made him, too, part of the royal priesthood unto His God.
I have been giving some lectures, on Lord's-day evening, on Eternal Redemption; the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man; on the glories of the Lord as Mediator, and His humiliation as High Priest; on the principle on which He took us up, the word of God being the only principle for our walk. He brought us out of the world and from under Satan by it, and making us hear it. Well, from Red Sea to Jordan, we must hear Him and find Him faithful to God for us, and in the entering into glory the same word will be His warrant and our power. I have hardly got into my subject as yet fully the contrasts between redemption in time and eternal redemption; but as I go along it seems to me that there is much precious ore to be gathered here, if so He will.
Tonight I had proposed the blood of the ransom as my subject; but cold lays me up, and another is the mouth-piece, and I am writing to you and — a few lines each.
When I commenced lectures as above I thought to write out afterward the outline of what was given to me, and I tried to do so, but I found what with pressure of work, and what with the many questions which sprang up to interest me, I got searching for more gold dust, instead of giving what I had had given to me. Naturally an extempore word is not deep, as it is addressed to the mass, and also when questions and points crowd in upon the mind while we are speaking, we must needs drop them for the time being to go on. I try to drop the hook where the fish are to be caught, or to feed the mouths that are hungering. But when one sits down to write upon the same subject, new matter and new truth are before one's mind, and lead one off in another line. There is, too, a freshness of the Spirit often when one is speaking as to souls which makes the word tasted in a way it is not even if in a reading-meeting the same subject is gone over more fully. I felt this last week. In my week lecture I had come down to the armour, etc., in Eph. 6, and went through it as trying to break up the loaf among the children. Next day, at a large reading-meeting at -, dear — there, I asked, "What shall we read?" No one seemed to have anything, and I suggested "the armour," in Eph. 6, which he read, and broke it up afresh. My object was that, feeling the immense importance of the doctrine to saints in London just now, I thought in the testimony of a second, the word might be confirmed; it was so, and more brought out a good deal, and very nice truth too. Yet those who had heard Thursday's lecture seemed to taste what they heard more than Friday's reading, though they admitted it was fuller and confirmatory of what was heard on Thursday. I observe this too with -. He said lately, "I am going to preach to souls, and not merely to say what is in the Word for the enlargement of the mind in truth. The people's souls must be thought of."
The work goes on here. All that we have to do is to walk with the Lord, and keep the door open yet in holiness. Our position is still so despised that there is nothing much to attract to it save the truth; and if we could be full of the Holy Ghost and of faith, that would secure blessings within.
Most affectionately yours in the blessed Lord, with love to your household and to all saints, G.V.W.
MY DEAR MR. -, It seems to me (I think too it is the Lord's mind) that if souls in Brisbane realised that Scripture declares that the assembly is indeed part of the habitation of God, that this alone would be sufficient, not only to show out the wrongness of the expressing therein of mere human feelings, but to produce humility for anything of the kind that has been.
If I go to the table of the Lord with the two truths in my soul — 1st, that my own body is a temple of God (for the Spirit is in me); and, 2nd, that this is my qualification to be in the assembly; then, in that presence of God, any sin I may have been guilty of will keep me lowly and slow to speak on the one hand; and, on the other, make any one who may be there, and be, and may have been, troubled by me, watchful not to show even their feelings while there, whatever they may — if it has been godly trouble in them as to me — be led to do afterwards through my brethren there.
Supposing I had deceived any one, or told a lie, ere I went to the table I ought to confess it, lest I become hardened; and having done that to God and my brethren — certainly if I knew that I had been guilty of what God could not do (He "cannot lie") — it ought to make me soft and practically full of self-judgment. On the other hand, if you, or any one against whom the lie was, showed your human feelings, on my most unadvisedly taking a part, as leading in the morning worship, you wrong the Lord and yourself in so doing, and make too much of me altogether; and, more than that, your misconduct puts my misconduct into the second place, your expression of feeling being an overt action of the flesh — positive in character, while mine was more negative - want of grace.
The whole doctrine of what the Church of God is is lost and denied if my stupid hardness and dulness as to what becomes God's presence is allowed, or if the table of the Lord is the place at which my will and feelings may be allowed.
You are master in your own house — and if a party of friends met there, you are responsible that no one guest is allowed to grieve another guest; and if you invite me, and I come to your house, I am bound to behave worthily of you. At the table — God being there, and the eyes of the Lord upon His twos and threes — each one there has to act worthily of God's presence, and each one is responsible for the conduct of all there that it is worthy of the Lord's table. All that are at the table, be it ten or a hundred, are at the Lord's table, and each has the Spirit of God; and if any thing disorderly occurs thereat, each bears the blame, unless and until he has called attention at a proper time to it, and the assembly has cleared itself of the sanction of the evil which its silence gives.
It seems to me, the doctrines of what is the assembly (or church), and what is the responsibility of each person in it, are greatly needed in teaching in this hemisphere; and I hope, amid all these soul-grieving disturbances, and amid all our culpable ignorance and great weakness, that the Lord is yet working so as to bring us into more light, and more practical consistency with His mind about the assembly, and the conduct that becomes us, as sons of God, when at the table of our gracious Lord and Saviour. For three years or more, after I began to break bread, there were but three of us together — I only name this as showing that I know the difficulties of the twos and threes; then we were nine, and a pause; then about sixteen. The difficulties are greater in a small number, very often, than in a large number, always so if human thoughts and feelings are more at work than faith and the Holy Spirit.
Your brother in Him, G.V.W.
March 4th, 1871.
G.V.W. answers for himself. He is up and about; much sickness everywhere around, but all bright and clear in heaven above. The socks are to hand, and shall be tried. The Lord preserve — in her going out and coming in. My daughter got a chill on Tuesday, and seems to have a bilious influenza attack, with quinsy, so that I write for her as she did for me last year.
My kindest love to one and all of ours around you.
Most affectionately in Him our ascended Lord, G.V.W.
March 12th, 1871.
MY DEAR MISS -, — Evil news they say flies apace; but, thank God, through Christ, what man calls evil news has a side where God is found; and what is there which brought into the light of a risen and ascended Lord but may shine in His light?
It has pleased Him, verily, to permit me to be called upon to pay back a loan of His love to me. And the way in which He has wrought has been most merciful and pitiful, saying, as it were, to herself, If you know love, in that He laid down His life for you, do thou also lay down thy life for the brethren. This hindered its being an accident, as many call it. "My steps, thy steps" involves, and grows up out of, the privilege of — having been made, through grace, one with Himself.
The reality that she is gone before remains, however, and through grace, by the Spirit, I justify Him in every step of the way, and cannot call it hard that He should have permitted her to go on high through nursing the sick.
I did not write to you sooner through pressure of duties. Mr. — died in the Lord on Saturday, at twelve, a very bright specimen of mercy. She* is feeble, but happy in the Lord too. It is good to taste and feel the wilderness.
Love to all in the Lord, G.V.W.
*i.e. the widow. — ED.
April 9th, 1871.
MY DEAR -, — I have been watching for an opportunity in which to write to you and Mrs. -. But though at Malvern, I have found the calls, and visits, and letters, and reading-meetings, etc., absorb all my time. Today M. and B. E. are down here, and so I can get a free evening, which I think to claim, so as to write to you.
You may both have heard that it has pleased the Lord to call my child to Himself, and to have appointed the nursing of the sick poor, as her chariot of fire. The last Monday in April she went, hoping to save M. C-, a nursemaid, from being overtaxed in nursing a case of malignant scarlet fever; on Tuesday night she saw she was ill; Wednesday was ailing, but about; Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, ill, and departed at 7.30 that evening. When HE told me, Saturday, 5.30 a.m., "Pray not, for I take her," I said, "Not my will, but thine be done. Only enable thou me to glorify Christ therein, so shall I neither repine nor wish her back." He has been faithful as ever, and His grace perfects itself in weakness. Sorrow is selfish, and makes us turn in on self. I know that, and know too who has touched me herein. But not one single thing is displaced in heaven, by the Lord's loan to me, through 39½ years, being moved up there. Till she was gone I had no idea of what she was to saints, and to many of the labouring ones too. She had got quietly into work, and had grown in grace and truth perceptibly to all around her. To me the way of her departure was a great grace, not disease accidentally contracted, but in service, and in one of danger, known danger; but her mind was made up that 1 John 3:16 meant what it did. And, grievously too, the danger on that one occasion seemed nothing compared with the other cases she had met. But the Lord's mercy is perfect. I have not the will, if I had the power, to alter one item. Thank God, I feel what He has done! but surely the Lord Jesus is welcome to the best of what He has given me, to take it back at Any moment; and for herself, how much has she gained! I know many of you will sympathize with me. … G.V.W.
April 14th, 1871.
MY DEAR SISTERS IN THE LORD, — I doubt not you have both and all prayed for me. So you should know how abundant in grace and mercy the Lord has been. Not in an uncommon way, as though He had found either a vessel or wants which gave Him an opportunity to show how He could go beyond everything in ordinary cases. No; that would risk puffing any one up; but by every-day truth. Surely the Christ who satisfied, to such overflowing, the heart and mind of a Paul, a Stephen, of all the tried members of the household of faith, can fill to fulness my heart. (Eph. 3:14-21) The work must now suffice me for the little while.
Most affectionate love to both, and to all saints. G.V.W.
July 5th, 1871.
MY DEAR MISS -, … He has no regrets that He has taken her [the daughter] to be with Himself; and when He looks upon the many graves where His own have had their bodies placed, no depression, no pang is His, nor any sense of bereavement. These things challenge our hearts as to whether we really are dwellers in heaven or not, and as to whether faith or sight have most sway with us spirit or flesh. And He giveth more grace. …
I am again in London on business for a little. What next I still wait to see; but I have not forgotten my invitation to -.
Most truly yours in Christ Jesus, G.V.W.
September 1st, 1871.
MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, — I am just starting for Paris, Dijon, and Vevey, if it may please God to refresh some through my visit. On my return I hope to see you, ere I go, if He permit, farther to work. I know I may count on the beloved brethren at -. They will not forget me in their prayers, that Christ may be magnified in me, little as I am, more than He ever has been in me. What have any of us down here to live for save Himself and the blessing of His people?
With love to all. Most affectionately, G.V.W.
September 27th, 1871.
MY DEAR Miss -, — Will you please direct this note for me to our sister? I thought I had her address, but I find it not. I enjoyed and got rested too in my little visit to -. How kind she is to me, and always so. Well, the Lord will repay it all, I doubt not. A round of work this morning, so I write this in haste ere going forth to it.
Ever yours in Christ, G.V.W.
I was reading at breakfast an account of a new sect, "The Positivists." The theory is, "Humanity is God," and besides that there is no God. What a fool man is when left to himself. But for the incarnation of the Son of God I should be ashamed to be a man.
October 1st, 1871.
MY DEAR FRIENDS, — I know you will like to read a letter just come from our coloured brother. He is working apart from all system, and is one who has gleaned much from the Lord. Let me have it back at 3, H. P. Our brother, -, preached last Tuesday at C- Room, and said in the evening, "I feel twenty years younger." On Tuesday night, a few minutes after being in bed, he said something about "the end, the will of the Lord be done," and fell asleep. His wife asked for my presence at the funeral, and I hope, if the Lord will, to give it.
I ask the prayers of the assembly at — for myself. I thought to ask them last Monday myself, but feared to do it. I am looking to Demerara, and then the West Indies, if the Lord will, by an early boat (2nd November), not that I count myself worthy to go, but the Lord is very gracious, and can use whom He will. It was the thought of this made me anxious to secure a sight of — saints at once, seeing how short my stay might be in England. If He wills to bring me back in spring He can.
Ever affectionately yours in Him, G.V.W.
November 21st, 1871.
MY DEAR MISS -, — On Sunday night, at twelve, I reached Barbados, when — came on board to greet me, and — to go on with me to Demerara. … We are now about fifty miles off Demerara, at half-past seven Tuesday evening, but as there is a mud bar to be crossed, and it is only high tide at one, I suppose we shall not be inside the bar, where Georgetown is, until two Wednesday morning.
I have found the Lord with me in the voyage, and I have no doubt but that He settled I was to come alone as to man, though dear A. P., who met me at the station, wanted much to come on with me; and indeed I would rather have had him than any one else, but I felt his family had a stronger claim than I had, and I said, No. …
Most affectionate love to all saints, G.V.W.
Kingston, Jamaica, February 23rd, 1872.
MY DEAR -, — Among changes many — of circumstance and of place — you have oft been before me, and that not only as one dear to me individually, but also, and the rather, as a vessel fitted for and called by grace to carry the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to present it and Him to men around you.
The Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, the living and the only true God, is He whose perfect image has been presented to us in Jesus Christ; and not only so, but in grace most abundant it has all been written down for us in human language, so that amid all the failure of man as a bearer and reporter of truth, we have in the written word the exposition and presentation to each one of us of God's view of Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
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I have been on South American shores, Demerara, and after that in Barbados (visiting brethren, labouring among saints and sinners), and am just arrived here with the like object. My heart has had to own the grace of God wheresoever I have been, but oh, the awful state of the mass professing to be Christians! and, alas! the little knowledge among true believers of the full and finished work of atonement; of how God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become God's righteousness in Him. That truth becomes more and more precious in my eyes, and the knowledge of it through faith more and more distinctive of the blessing and blessedness wherewith God has made me to differ from what I was when I was in nature, and from my fellows all around me.
"Christ died, then I'm clean!
Not a spot within,"
is often my morning song. Oft as I rise I sing that 22nd hymn
"How bright, there above, is the mercy of God!"
and follow it with the 327th —
"Lord Jesus! are we one with Thee!"
I find amid the wear and tear of life piety to be like oil on an overworked machine. "Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord," prepares the soul to give thanks always for all things. That is a fine test to the state of one's soul, and though the result of the application to my own soul oft humbles me, yet rather would I be humbled thus than cease to think that among other privileges this is one which Abba's love has prepared for us, even so to walk with Him that we can say, "All things work together for good to them that love God;" and if so, "In all things more than conquerors," and that enables one to give thanks always for all things. …
Heaven is opened on us, that we may look up and see Himself, Jesus, who sits there, our Anchor and Forerunner, fixed within the veil; may see Him who is the object of our faith, the giver of the Holy Ghost, and watch Him till He rises up to come forth and fetch us HOME; then all together, for ever with the Lord
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Yet a little while, and He that shall come will have come; then Himself will have the joy of being surrounded by us, as fruits of the travail of His soul, and we shall then know how great a deliverance and how full a portion we owe to Him.
Shall we meet again here below, my dear -, ere we have seen Abba's house and — better than it or the golden city around it — His own beloved self? I am getting the old man, just sixty-seven; not far off three score and ten, which is the life of man. May Christ be magnified in my body and yours, whether it be by life or death; and it shall (D.V.) be so.
In faith yours, G.V.W.
MY DEAR — Elihu did not come in too late to Job, nor before things in his soul were ready to receive the blessing. The Lord knew what the end of the Lord with Job would be, and when Job was ready for it it came. (Alas! he had not waited for it.) As in infirmity, David's words have oft been strength to me — "This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High" — so, when in the furnace like Job, have I found help in the thought of One who sits as a refiner above the furnace. (The figure says, He looks into the boiling metal until it has thrown up enough of its dross for Him to see His own face reflected in the seething metal below; then the operation is done.) So immensely are our lives below the mark as nominal Christians, that we have next to no idea of the distance at which we have walked from God; and when the soul is turned to seek His face, and Him only as our end and object, we discover with amazement how many false props we have had, and how often we have been leaning on the love and approbation of others, and not upon a Father's love alone. The prop may have been removed in one way or the other, but its removal oft discovers to us that while we had it, we enjoyed (not God's grace in lending it to us, but) its own self, as suited to us and our enjoyment. Of course if its removal be connected with failure, there is more of bitterness and self-reproach, but when we have weighed all things quietly in the presence of the Lord we find that, whatever else there may have been, He has the largest place in it, and that we can justify Him in the jealousy of His love, who, take away what He may from us, never takes away His own love. And God knows how His love of Christ, all alone, was enough for His heart all through His course down here.
It was not that Christ did not feel the absence of love in Peter, or in friends in Israel, etc., but when all else was gone, when all forsook Him and fled, He still had God left to Him; and when, anticipating the anguish of His forsaking Him, divinely perfect as He was, His purpose never wavered, His singleness of eye never varied. That was, in the fulness of it, His alone to bear. God forsook Him that He might never have to forsake us.
But, besides the fact that then and there He was forsaken in our stead (and so our guilt is gone, gone for ever from us in God's presence), what a revelation is that sorrow to us both of His competency to enter into our sorrows when alone and left of all; but, too, of what alas! is terrible to flesh and blood, His purpose to perfect, and His pathway of perfecting, our hearts in practical Nazariteship. Paul in his letter, 2nd to Timothy, shows what he tasted in this way, and the last chapter shows how fully he had found the blessedness of the way, all humbling as it was.
I am told that a paper of mine, Present Testimony, towards the end of it, helps some to see what it is to say, "To me to live is Christ:" if you have it, look at it. I am sure, if I were alone, and all hell and all earth against me, God's love in Christ, taught me by the Spirit, might well suffice to give me songs to God in the night season. I see how far Paul attained in this, in some measure. (See Acts.) But the distance at which we have got from Himself as a living person, the large development of I in each of us, the way that faith is not used if known, and that other powers than those of the Spirit rule with us, make us, when caught in the storm, ready to sink. God sees it all in us, and He sees how we want purging, and His love is faithful enough to give us trial: that purging the vessel will put us in a state to walk with Him, and be satisfied with Him alone. If God be for us (with us, in us, I might add), who against us? and if really we so walk, how He does work!
I must close. God is God, sits on high, rules all here, controls all below.
Affectionately yours in the Lord, G.V.W.
July 20th, 1873.
MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, — "Wit's end" is where I found myself this morning when I rose. But faith said, "If (Ps. 107) wit's end lies in the path, God is He who brings us there, and He is beyond and above it." 2 Cor. 12 and 2 Cor. 1 give us His principles for us in the way. His strength made perfect in weakness in us; and the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God that raiseth the dead.
Difficulties invincible to us surge around; weakness incredible within God finds, and makes us to taste of it. But God is known as God alone, and all the more by all these things. A heart which turns to God, and God alone, under ALL circumstances, makes a man to be like David — a man after God's own heart. To me nothing was more characteristic of him than this; cannot write much, but think to send you this line from Plymouth.*
Your affectionate brother, G.V.W.
*Written in pencil in the train.
MY DEAR -, — To take into one's own soul the sorrows, and the roots of them in sin of others, was what the blessed Lord did perfectly, and could do it perfectly because there was no sin in Him; to do so is ours most surely, however imperfectly we may succeed in doing it, and the whole of Scripture shows me that it is one part of the servant of God's calling. See chap. 9, — Ezra 9, Nehemiah 9, Daniel 9, Ezekiel 9. I see the same in John 11, when I judge the Lord's sorrow was from His taking death in what it meant, into His soul, and not from the weakness of human sympathy with Martha and Mary.
What a comfort it is to have the Lord's bosom opened to us, and drawing nigh to it to find the character of view He has about failure in His people, any of them; but He sees it all as against His Father's love and holiness, something incompatible with the eternal life which He has given — a grief to His Holy Spirit, a dishonour before angels and principalities of the name He has set upon us. The Father on the throne on which Himself sits, and the Spirit sent down to us, and the light of heaven and eternity, are very different things from what we find when we look down just in time at any failure. The two worlds, and the two sets of beings who lived in them, how differently! Then again, to His mind, there is the case of the soul that fails and sins. Peter's ignorant self-confidence in John 13 must be judged; and if he and David before him could not read self in the light of God, self must be left to work out its characteristics in outside things, which angels, and wicked men, and good men could all read plainly now; and so both Peter and David are brought with Job, and all others, to abhor and loathe themselves before God, and (the evil thus judged by self) room be made for the development of the new principles, and that which is acceptable to God in us worked out in us by Him. Remind you of 1 John 2 and 3 first verses, of the reality that the living Christ of God is ever ready; and the close of Heb. 4 shows us this to put forth His help. I commend you to God and the word of His grace.
I am, yours ever, G.V.W.
December 19th, 1874.
MY DEAR -, — The Lord sees tomorrow as yesterday, and if we look after walking under His eye tomorrow, we may count upon His keeping His eye on us tomorrow. I rejoice in B.'s service-life, honourable as it rolls on, sweet in retrospect. I hope, as my time is driven close, to send you a few of my gospel tracts, with a weak body, and a very tired mind, and the cry of "lo, here, and lo, there" all around one here. Correspondence, save on duty, is nearly out of the question. Good and comfortable letters this month from Melbourne, and those parts. Post from Adelaide: all here creeps on. That the Lord has wrought, and in many places is working, I do not doubt; but when one is on one's mule (see Neh. 2:10-20) one needs faith after getting into Jerusalem to see where God works, and to expect. Miriam looking down to watch what will become of Moses in the bulrushark is my model to follow. What will come of all, and after all, Lord, from thee is my expectation. Certainly He will give treble to all our hopes. I may find time to write more quietly tonight, though with five or six packets to go out, I fear to hope so; but I have posted the gospel tracts to you. One has to write them, print them, and then send them out, is the order of colonial life. My love to C., and a kiss in the Lord's name to G., if still with you. Money is very dear just now here, and some crash is supposed at the door — the poor world! Well the Lord Jesus is One that owns us.
Yours affectionately, G.V.W.
April 13th, 1872.
MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, — … The Lord, has been abundant in mercy to me, and given me to feel that I may sign afresh my experience to the truth of 2 Cor. 1; viz., His being the Father of mercies, and the God of all, comfort. My kindest love to all the dear saints. My visit to Jamaica seems now nearly accomplished; after that I thought of turning England-wards.
Most affectionately in Him, G.V.W.
I have been and am pretty well in health.
April 27th, 1872.
MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, — The rights of Christ are to be recognized by the assembly of God at all times. In that we are happily agreed. But those rights may be looked at, in a case like the present, in either of two ways; namely, as we consider Him as the living Head of a body, whose members are on earth, while Himself is in heaven; or as the Head over God's house, which down here is the habitation of God, through the presence of the Spirit among us.
He knows how to act to perfection in both the two aspects; and when waited upon humbly by us, leads us, as He did Paul at Corinth, in the path which showed that the development of the new nature and the crippling of the old nature's actings could be blended with the vindication before man of God's truth and grace and holiness in the flock, bearing before man upon earth the holy name of the God of grace in truth.
Satan knows how to use the world and its principles, through the flesh of any of us, so as to confuse our minds, and to make it appear impossible to act in truth, grace, and holiness in every act, and to blend salvation for eternity before God, in heaven, with ruling and guiding in time before man upon earth, individuals, and companies.
It is evident too, I think, that, as the eternal Lover of my soul, Christ's discernment of me goes from the incorruptible seed of which I am born, right outward to everything in and about me — body, soul, spirit, and world, flesh and Satan, all are discerned by Him in their relative actings on me, as one brought in Him to the Father through the Spirit. And this necessarily goes far beyond what is manifested in His dealings in time, and upon me, as what comes out before man when He is dealing with a company, as was true with any of the seven churches for instance.
The case at Corinth was a very peculiar one in this respect, that the company down there refused to purge itself from the sanction of a sin, of which the heathen around would have been ashamed. This, I think, must not be forgotten.
No doctor in medicine likes to give advice upon a case of a critical nature without seeing the patient and the case for himself, and the judges of this world have to hear the whole case ere they will commit themselves as to any opinion. Just so, I find it impossible to form an opinion of this case, without knowing all the circumstances, and without also seeing the individual.
The case of a man deceived unconsciously into drunkenness, and who knew he had been under the strong effect of liquor, though no one else did, and who came and told me of it himself, would be quite a different one from another who had gone and sat down among drinking men, and been the worse for liquor, and seen by others, and who had not come and made it known himself. In the same way a man may come and tell me of a sin he has committed unknown to any one, the mere fact of his having committed such a sin would not justify my publicly announcing the sin. I only name these things as showing how impossible, without seeing a person, it is to form a sound judgment about the individual, or the conduct of the company toward him, or what the mind of Christ is as to the conduct, and its times to be pursued, both for the health's sake of the soul, and for the name and honour of God, and His assembly before the world.
The great thing, because it is what Christ Jesus Himself seeks, is to get the soul that has failed to take up Christ's interests against those of mere selfishness in human nature. If any one falls, and you can get him to take up God's and Christ's part against his failure, the day is nearly won. This all of us seek for in this case, that the soul should say, "Against Thee, Thee only, have I done this evil," etc. That gained, the weak ones in the company will not be in danger, and the settlement of the extent to which the conduct of the company must go in disciplinary judgment would soon be plain.
On the other hand, where sin has been with a high hand, blended too, perhaps, with great forwardness in the assembly, a high hand and very prompt, bold action may be necessary. Moses's haste and zeal for God was salvation.
God and Christ, and the Spirit and the truth, grace and holiness, must have the first place; that is clear to us all. On the other hand, we must not forget the soul that has failed, nor ourselves, as still in the body, as to our mode of carrying out our purpose, or the time of its public judgment, if that is needful. And in the present day in England, where energy is oft stronger than faith and patience, I should press this, without giving up one iota of the purpose of heart.
Our brother — has oft helped souls in such cases as this, and he probably knows the young man well, and is known to our beloved brother at -. I know no one better fitted to look into the matter; but God knows best.
Most affectionately, G.V.W.
P.S. — I will add a word or two, which, though self-evident when weighed, I find oft is not thought of as to self-judgment about sin.
Some sins are so shocking that if a man falls into them, he is shocked that he has fallen into such disgraceful sins; but this is not self-judgment, either before God or man, about those sins themselves, but disgust and surprise that they have overtaken him.
Another remark is this, that sin and the root of it are often different. And more than this, until you can reach the root, the fruit will not be judged aright. David and Solomon, and Job too, are instances of this.
I return the two letters as requested. Of course you cannot get to 2 Cor. 2 save as having passed through 1 Cor. 5, but that is, in one sense, owing to the peculiarity of the case. The spirit of the two chapters is, however, connected. But if both these references are left aside, the question in hand remains the same. The question of the soul that has failed, and of the extent to which a company has to clear itself, and of what is due to Christ before the world, remains the same.
Paul calls the person "that wicked person" (1 Cor. 5:13, etc.); the Oxford letter calls him "our brother," "our poor, dear, fallen brother," "our brother is inside," "our poor brother," "our brother." Paul's discipline was to put the evil out; the person would not give up his evil, nor the assembly stand against it, and hence his extreme discipline. I suppose in some cases public rebuke before all would take the place of exclusion; that is, if the evil were judged and ceased from, and in some cases, not before all, but before those who knew of the sin, if it were not known generally; but how far this would apply to this case I know not. The state of the soul, and the facts attendant on the committal of sin, must be thought of.
Satan was a liar from the beginning. God cannot lie. All liars shall have their part in the lake of fire; yet Paul would not put out the Cretians, though they were always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies, but would have them rebuked sharply. (Titus 1:12.)
Of course there must be full fellowship kept up, and one mind, in all parts of the church of God, and prayer, faith, and patience, are needed for this.
Those whom the Lord loves and rules over at — and — will find He has one mind for them both in this matter, and none but Satan can make them have two minds in it.
I pray for you, and for our loving Lord's interest in this matter. G.V.W.
May 15th, 1872.
MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, — On my return I found letters and papers and cases of conscience rather out of all number awaited me, and I have had to stick close to desk-work, only taking Sunday and one or two evenings in the week for preaching or teaching. Everything that makes one realize that God is God, and sits as God upon the throne, yet stooping down to direct the infinitesimally little affairs of each of us who is in Christ, is blessed. Yes; if behind the difficult letter, or the long voyage, God be seen through faith, the Saviour-God, one or other of them is alike acceptable to the saved soul. My task, however, has kept me rather in London, but I am to go down Saturday to Ipswich, and I hope thence on to Stowmarket.
"Not by power nor by might, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord," is a great text for the last days — a very Philadelphian text. It seems to me to lie behind a good many of our little difficulties here in England. If faith go first, then energy as of faith can follow after; for God is in the scene, and resurrection from the dead is recognised as a principle. But if energy gets forward before or beyond faith, it is drawn from within us, and brings with it nature and the world and flesh. Flesh cannot rebuke and put down flesh, as some think; and if it be tried, flesh is drawn out in opposition to flesh. Better to have hard cases in God's hand than easy ones in our own.
I am struck on my return at finding the progress of decay in Established Church walls and in walls of church system, on the one hand, and, on the other, of the growth in knowledge, and the diffusion of it everywhere, as to fellowship of saints as heavenly saints, children of God everywhere.
On the other hand, Satan's anger against the very notion of such a company as "God's company gathered to Christ and in the Spirit" is made manifest by such pitiful tracts as — and others have been printing and circulating; and the same thing is going on on the Continent. In France there are three leading ecclesiastics broken out of the papal system by the late Ecumenical Council's decree of the infallibility of the Pope, yet they have set busily to work to rebuild what has been destroyed.
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This is a wilderness, and we want something of the kind to drive us in upon Him who has said (Jer. 2:31), "Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness?" To me He has not been so, and is not in Himself.
Most affectionately yours, beloved brother and sister in the Lord, G.V.W.
3, Howley Place, London, W., July 17th, 1872.
MY DEAR -, — I judge that, before the Lord, you are right to make no appeal to the chaplain; and they likewise are right not to appeal to the governor. Paul would have done neither, but walked forward in humble faithfulness, prepared to do well and, if needs be, to suffer for it. I am surprised often how slow we are to recognize the simplicity of the Spirit of God's ways, as set forth in the life of the apostle, just because we have been brought up and cradled in an unsimple system of form of godliness without any power in it. I do not want any one in a fleshly spirit to try and smash these forms around us, but I do feel persuaded that, in the measure in which our hearts are full of Christ, and our walk down here is the result of the eye fixed upon Himself, a living Person in heaven, we shall walk, not as seeing what is visible and temporal, but what is invisible and eternal, and then the path will be one of peace and joy.
I said to one today, "'If I could but be a consistent member of the Bride, the Lamb's wife, of the chaste virgin espoused to the Lord, how simple and bright all would be! if I could be simple as a little child of God placed near Christ, the firstborn among many brethren, how bright all would be!" The answer was, "'But what devotedness that supposes!" I replied, "Not what men call or mean by devotedness; they mean by devotedness having a great deal to give up. I am part of that virgin — a child in the family of God — but I look up for the heart and mind of the Bridegroom, and all His love and grace to be mine; I look up for Abba's love to free His child's heart. Will Christ's love, filling my heart and mind; will Abba's love, filling me to overflowing, be my giving up or His pouring in?"
The work of the gospel progresses in Great Britain quietly, but in some cases markedly. On the other hand, Ritualism and Churchism, and the setting aside of Scripture as God's word, is running in one class through England. The tone of brethren wants raising, I think, everywhere in these parts, and the power of their Nazariteship as separated by the 6 of Romans doctrine from world, and flesh, and devil. What poor things we were and are in ourselves to be the battle-field of such principles, and of God's glory and honour, as in Rom. 6 and Eph. 2 I want to see more order in saints; I mean not outward order, but inward; loins girt, and minds bright, and hearts warm, and each knowing how in patience to possess his own bodily self. and soul and spirit, and how quietly to walk with God in his little service, serving the living and true God, while waiting for His Son from heaven: this would give self-possession and girdedness of robes and loins too.
I see in some that their devotedness leads them to try to run faster than their legs can carry them. The result has been bodies and health broken down in two dear evangelists here, and in two others two fearful experiences — one a fall, and the other a habit of evil not judged until God judged it, and put him into an asylum. It is resurrection strength alone in which we can serve and walk, and that flows down from Christ standing in heaven for us in our prostrate, low condition.
With love to all,
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Yours affectionately in Christ, G.V.W.
July 27th, 1872.
MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, — Thanks for the letter… The Lord help on our brother and sister, and fan the spark up into a flame of life. I rejoice in His mercy to Mrs. -. It is very gracious of Him to let her know Christ as the author of eternal salvation… I am in bodily health divinely perfect as to the measure given to me; been knocked about in deep exercise in a case or two of the Lord's people, but grace reigned triumphant; and if I was cast down, yet not destroyed. The Master has given me a bit of retirement in work for a week, but if He will, I look to get out again.
My love to -, who I fancy was at our own room today. Love to all saints.
August 26th, 1872.
MY DEAR -, — I write you from Aberdeen, having come from London some time, via Leicester, York, Edinburgh. Not a little refreshing is the sight of what the Lord has wrought in Scotland, through conversions and gathering to His table; and thus far the door is still open, and no one shall shut it, while He wills to bless. There is large revival-work going on through others and brethren, but those converted, very many of them, seek the table as the place of light and truth; and as where looseness and laxity are not tolerated. False doctrine, annihilation, and universalism are rife in the country; and, alas! for it is a real grief, have got entrance into many pulpits and congregations where the word of truth did rule. Still the Lord is surely working onward toward that time when the Spirit and the bride say, "Come." This is a blessed solace amid all the temptations, weaknesses, difficulties, opposition. He that shall come will come, for He will not tarry.
The spirit of communion is manifest by the invitation from Guelph to come over for the 18th September to a study of the Word; and here by a like call for 17th and 18th September to Stratford-on-Avon; and another from Otley, Yorkshire, for the 11th; and another to Stonehouse, Gloucestershire.
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The Lord direct, and He will direct. What could we do if He were not at the helm? And since He is so, there is no lack of guidance to those that seek it, or of overruling and settling for His Father's honour. Poor things that we are! always frightened and mistrustful, and fearing our very shadows, this at one time; and at another, self-confidence leading us to rashness. Jeremiah and Peter were opposites — the path of the former, if extreme must be, the better of the two. Timothy was always weeping. Paul, lionhearted, yet keeping his own flesh in check, and walking withal humbly, and so showing that no extreme, save in goodness, is needful. Yet the perfection of the blessed Lord was unique, His own alone. No trait or portion of His character out of proportion, but all perfectly and nicely balanced in the love of His Father and God and devotedness to Him.
George Town, Demerara, December, 1872.
MY DEAR MISS -, — I hope — and you heard of our safe arrival here. 'Tis a place for any one who can be satisfied to be a pipe for water to flow through down from heaven. God there is ready enow to give — even to those who look not up, He gives, how largely! One can go in safety to see what and how much it is His good pleasure to give through one; for He honours faith in any, in every one — for self or for others, if one is but simple — for He loves to spread out the excellences and virtues of Christ.
My kindest love to those at the prayer-meeting, and to all of the assembly, please. They live in my heart, and I know I have a place in theirs for Christ's sake; and poor thing that I am, I am not wishful to be loved save for His sake, and by those that love those whom He loves. Any note to me sent to No. 3 will be forwarded in my packet, fortnightly sent to me. Thermometer here is higher than usual at this time of the year, 82-86° in twenty-four hours. I would not write to you ere I left London, thinking you would prefer a Christmas letter hence, to a November one from No. 3.
My very kindest love to -. Mr. M- takes the greatest care of me, and has all the tenderness of a Timothy — this she will be glad to hear.
Most affectionately, G.V.W.
January 21st, 1873.
MY DEAR -, — I have put by your note from -, received ere I left London, mid-November, in some safehold, I know; but as I cannot put hand on it, I shall begin a line to you.
C. — and myself arrived here December 6th, and propose progressing to Barbados about the 26th, or whenever that mail may go.
The need of labourers is here, as elsewhere, a trial; but faith expects trial: 'tis given that it may be tried, and when tried, may be increased, and augmented, and great honour put upon it; for God wills to have down here some who avow and act upon, trust and hope in Him, who raised from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, and gave Him glory, that our faith and hope might be in God. 'Tis a singular contrast: to trust and hope in God for more labourers in the work, on the one side; and on the other, to use there being next to none, as a girdle to brace up one's loins to walk over the course alone.
The Lord has manifestly been gracious to us, and through us, since here, and things are now in a state which would justify one's going ahead, out fishing for souls that know nothing. A few lectures on the kingdom and coming of the Lord in this town of Georgetown have awakened a stir outside among nominal professors. The Lord knows what He has wrought, and what He will work; but whether men will hear or forbear to hear — He gave a good and fresh testimony from Revelation and Daniel, and a simple one too, so that those who are of ours could feed. I had thought after Barbados and Jamaica of perhaps getting on to New Zealand; but — has taken up that work, and it is old ground to him, so that as I suppose there is no need of my being sent on by the wearisome way of California and the Sandwich Isles. But the Lord knows His own grace, and what to do with His aged, and with His young labourers too. There is a movement here in some minds to send out gospel tracts through the run of the West India Islands. If of the Lord, may it be blessed. Hindoos, Malays, Chinese, Africans, are in numbers in the colony, and the Creole population many.
My kind love to all my friends and brethren in the Lord — to your wife in particular. … Grace, mercy, and peace to you in the Lord. G.V.W.
July 21st, 1873.
THEY say that "good-bye" is equivalent to "God be, with you." It may be so, but from habits of thought the former drags down the mind to circumstances; the latter tends towards a lift upwards. If I do not see you en passant, my heart's and my soul's desire is that "God be with you," as well as with me, until we meet again. I am prisoner today, waiting for — to come here. Tomorrow's dawn may give light for my steps tomorrow. I have at present none. My heart entreats God's blessing on you. G.V.W.
October 21st, 1873.
MY DEAR MISS -, — I received your note by the post just in, and all the welcome details of circumstances. Well, if He makes us to feel our weakness and infirmities, it is but to make us find out, how He loves to be near Himself to us and be our solace amid bereavement, our exceeding great reward amid losses, our peace amid troubles, etc. etc. And if the whole round of life must be passed through in order that He may show us the mercy suited to the variety of sorrows, surely it is well to pass through all and learn of the riches of His grace towards us. There are some very interesting conversions here lately, and we have refreshing prayer-meetings.
Affections in Christ to the assembly. G.V.W.
Extracts from Letters from G.V.W.
ALL turns and hangs for us now on what He will work for the honour of His Son by the Holy Spirit down here, the scene, alas! of man's marrings and spoilings, misunderstandings and wilfulness; yet it may be still of God's turning to His own praise and glory of the ruin of those, His children, who trust and hope in Him, their ruin notwithstanding.
* * * * *
I entirely agree with you as to the yearning over every one that has life. Christ died to gather together in one the children of God scattered abroad; Paul laboured day and night thereunto; but the measure in which this truth really holds my soul is (alas!) the measure in which I am instant before God for them in prayer. This is a reality, and I have to measure and judge myself for it, and not to give credit to myself for thoughts and feelings which work no prayer before God. Another thing is to be thought of too (even if one be prayerful for all saints and careful for them), and that is, I think, what the Spirit is most about now. His love is perfect. He is occupied in New Zealand in clearing the foundation for avowed communion., and is diligently occupied with the altar, little known, being better known. "The altar" and "the walls" were in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah the forms which love to Israel occupied itself with in an Ezra and Nehemiah and the remnant to Jehovah in that day. …
… Not that one's own little doings matter much; for truly it is never what I will do for the Lord and His people which is worth thinking of, but what will He do with me as to the name of the Son that is dear to Him. 'Tis a great system one gets into when thus Christ is all to us, and then, and then only, G.V.W. and J. G. D. drop into their own absolute littleness, made great by relationship to and in Him. …
Conflict goes on around us and within us; this we prove daily. But the springs of it are higher up and lower down than we, so that we have to look upward to Him that is above them all, yea, above all spiritual wickedness in heavenly places, and around whom all the surging tides from beneath do but sweep to accomplish the good pleasure of His will. …
I thank God that one's littleness in no wise turns God aside from us; but contrariwise, if we simply do what He gives us to do, He perfects His strength in our weakness. …
I am consciously a poor thing in myself, physically as well as spiritually. But it is best of all to have all one's springs in Christ Jesus alone. The grace of God was from everlasting in His counsel about the Lord Jesus, and how big the field will be when the exceeding riches of His grace is ours. Now, ad interim, between the two, as God finds Christ enough for Him at all times and in all places, so we must learn to know and to be satisfied with having Himself as our portion and exceeding great reward. The contrast between Him and me, how great! He, never upbraiding, never looking at me or my circumstances apart from His own Father and His choice of me, and liking to do so, so unselfish; and I, so selfish that I have but little heart or mind to lose myself in Him, the plenitude of all that is blessed.
What a little globe this is for all the principles of eternal redemption and salvation to have been shown out upon! God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Satan, man, the world, a six thousand years' war, one thousand years of blessing yet to come, and all told out on this little globe! But oft the littleness of one thing enhances the greatness of another: "who for the sake of one bad apple damned all mankind." What a little root for so great fruit, in "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom;" or in "What art thou, Lord?" "What wilt thou have me to do?" I find more and more that all business has to be begun and ended with the Lord. With Him, what is too little? What too great? I am persuaded we have to wait on the Lord about His coming, and the state of His people as being in that day; if they will welcome it, practically ready for it. I have no theory that I know of beyond this, that I hold it will be to His dishonour who has loved us and given Himself for us (that we might live alone to Him), if He were to come and find none actually and practically waiting for Him. To our dishonour surely, but more than that, to His; and I use this oft in prayer to the Father.
God loves to bless. Why? Well, He is God, and God has a right to do as He likes; and He does like to bless through Jesus Christ His Son.
Never till we get down to see that the measure of sin, which alone is full and true, is the blood once shed on Calvary, can we be quietly patient in God's presence, learning of Him the beauty of Christ, who is our sinoffering, anchor fixed within the veil, and hope; and how unlike to Him we are as yet, though all our judgment was borne by Him, and all His beauty is on us.
Melbourne, March 13th, 1874.
BELOVED BROTHER, — I hear you have been sick, and very sick. My comfort is, "Thou, Lord, art above and behind it and so I can give thanks for it as one of the all things. With a heart broken, and a will subdued, I have given thanks for sorrows in which the iron entered into my own soul. I say not with levity, but as before God, "Thou knowest I could not have lived through this and that, if thou hadst not given me grace to receive it at Thy hand, and to find that out of the eater came forth meat."
I hope it may be the Lord saying to you, "Give thyself wholly to the work which I have to be done, and My grace will be sufficient for thee; for My strength perfects itself in weakness." Surely His voice maybe heard now-a-days: "Who will go for us?" It is a solemn thing to reply, "Here am I, send me for there is nothing at our back but the Lord, and if it is not in faith that I get over the boatside of the providence boat, I shall find myself sinking. But in the near taste of Abba and His Son's love (in John 14) many have ventured; and who has ventured truly upon God and been disappointed? Full commons here, and a hearty welcome hereafter, is not so good as scanty and spare supplies here — a hearty welcome hereafter, and the word. "And thou too didst leave thy little all to follow me."
Dear S -, I have not the pen of a ready writer; but I would that you should know that I sympathize with and enter into your languishing.
Affectionately yours, G.V.W.
March 25th, 1874.
MY DEAR MISS -, — I write a few lines amid multiplying calls upon me… The work here is interesting, but needs faith and patient humility; yet I do indeed judge that the Lord's time to bless in New Zealand is come. He has wrought great deliverance for -; and at Auckland, and at Motuika, and Nelson, and Wellington, and Christchurch, and Timara, and Geraldine, with its valley there, is breaking of bread such as one can join; also at Thames, near Auckland. Mr. — has been with me up here, and I too down with him. He is a very useful servant, and took much care of me. My return may be a little delayed, for places I did not think of visiting ask now for visits; but the Lord will direct. Kindest salutations to each and all at the table, and to any and all that care for my love.
Affectionately yours, G.V.W.
Christchurch, Sunday, May 17th, 1874.
MOST welcome, beloved brother, your note. It was the occasion of my tasting, through the Lord's love on high, how fellowship in work under Him knits hearts and minds together. I never should have loved you as a brother and fellow-labourer in Christ Jesus, if you had stayed in Dublin and I in London; the names and persons unmistakeably known the one to the other, and the fellowship in one life owned. But the sympathies of life in common action give to us a full table while down here, most surely, only when we get to the scene in which He will stand in the midst, from whom all our common life and joy will then flow out in eternal and everlasting fulness through each of us, there will be the same sort of taste, only then made divinely perfect and full.
The Lord be praised as to -. It is so; for He has set forth His Almighty power and grace in what He has there wrought in him. You know perhaps that — also has escaped his own doctrine. I saw a recantation in a public paper, and it seemed satisfactory and clear. Singular, is it not? that the reviewer of it ascribes the error to P. B.'s, when J. N. D. was the first to resist it; and I hear, though that may not be confirmed, that he was delivered from it through J. N. D. also. G. and wife are here; their love to you. Thank you for your interest in my grave-clothes of a body, which I am told I must wear until the new covering arrives; the bird within is bright and songful, and has cause to be so. And the old clothes have not broken anywhere — clean entirely, though threadbare and weak. But His name be praised! they never stop me, save I think when my soul needs restoring.
I have thought about you a good deal at times. My heart says for you, the highest kind of work would be on new and unbroken ground, as in Queensland perhaps, or an introducer anywhere of the Word of Life — that of course; next to that as a help under a J. N. D., or to gatherings sufficient to be fish-ponds for fish caught. But I am not worth much when I take the place of saying with Peter, "And what shall this man do?"
Here all goes on quietly; hearts more in tune to heaven's melody, and the grace that is in Jesus' heart, I think, and a good deal more of self-judgment. It seems to me that Monday's lecture on Acts, and Friday's on Revelation, have told on many minds and hearts. But 'tis a day of small, tiny things, only this seems the fashion just now for every one here to go to the Lord in secret, and say, "And I, am I to be left with no message to carry from Thee to any poor sinner today? Wilt Thou not send me?" This is what I have been praying for — next to the recognition of God Himself, and Him in the assembly.
This (Sunday's) prayer in the morning was good, and the table was more like worship than is in our common experience. One truth, and that a high one, running through the séance and good pauses between whiles. … Mr. H. here, and some at Hotitika, are trying to get up a revival. Mr. H. sent to ask me to come and join the ministers in the effort. Dunedin, Invercargill, Hotitika, and Greymouth are upon my soul in prayer, and there I wait.
I wrote by last mail to your mother. I see no reason why — should not be fully restored, and have more physical power than ever. But I have not said so, because I judge the Lord is dealing with his soul through weakness of body, and to wish to get away from that would be wrong.
Most affectionately beloved, G.V.W.
June 3rd, 1874.
MY DEAR S-, — I do not know the whereabouts of the resources of the young couple whom you name, or with any certainty what calls they may have upon them for aid to parents or kindred, of whom I know there are some who are poor.
It seems to me to be a duty under such circumstances, in dependence upon the Lord, to be simple. This I have done myself, stating my fears of being a burden, and trying to get a plain and simple understanding. Often I have staid at a brother's, and taken a part of the weekly expenses on myself, and I have found it happy to be simple. I think it meets the Lord's mind too. He would have us brotherly with one another under His paternal love. Sometimes I have found it was a mistake on my part, and that means were abundant, more to mine host than to me; but even then the thoughtfulness of love is made apparent. And oft, too, I have found that they had quite ability to receive a guest or to care for cases of need known to them, but not for both, and then again the simplicity had given help.
The Lord is quite able to prolong your time of service down here for His saints' sake, and truly the time is short and there is need of labourers. — is better at Motuika but still much crippled, yet hopeful that it may be given to him to rise above his heart complaint, and to shepherd the sheep and lambs of his Master. There has been blessing up there, and at Nelson, before and while — was there, and since, also at Nelson; and — writes for me to come up, if the Lord so will. I am ready to go, but question whether I ought not to stay on here at the present for a little longer. But He will go out before us, if we wait on Him, and be our rereward too. And really our doings go for very little indeed; it is He, and He alone, that giveth the increase to Paul's plantings and Apollos's waterings. Still fellowship is all right with an aged servant, who had wandered and has been restored. There are promises of openings at three or four places, which, on the other hand, look more important as to positive work.
And, here, still needs if He will meet them. The effect of my letter to — as published has been good, as making some see, who had refused to do so before, that the question of Independent churches versus the Holy Spirit, and the body the Church, was all up. And I have had a storm of abuse for it; but I feel drawn to several who have been most violent against me and us (at two places there have been prayers in public that — may be turned away and not allowed to come to New Zealand, nor I allowed to cross the bar of — and -). On the other hand, there is one at Greymouth who is clear of evil, and several that wish me to come. And one, more south, had one MS. letter read to him on John 17, and could not sleep at night for thinking of Christ's longing for unity.
My kindest salutations to the dear -. God bless them and their little ones.
- is tied up at Auckland a month; the Hero in dock. He preaching, I am glad of it.
Most affectionately beloved, S -, G.V.W.
Christchurch, New Zealand, July 9th, 1874.
BELOVED BROTHER, — The Lord is gracious in permitting you to get out in a little work for Him. My heart was cheered by your note, and the news of Ballarat, to the which I found my own mind once and again stirred up when in Victoria, and which I hope I may yet get to if He please. They will be glad to see you at Warnambool. There are several outposts there also to be looked after. …
* * * * *
It needs a good deal of girdedness of loin, as well as fixity of principle and largeness of heart and spirit, to labour in this hemisphere. I thought so at Adelaide and Sydney, and find it so here; but the fact is the Holy Spirit is the sole administrator, and to Him all is easy. But then I want a good deal of treading down to keep me simply the leaden pipe through which water flows down from the cistern, or the vein in the body through which the blood flows.
* * * * *
I find that to wait on the Lord is all that one can do. Necessity shuts one up to it here. Such a variety of minds, and plans, and thoughts, and propositions in the little company; and open adversaries and professing friends, thinking to pass as such, while their own letters (not meant for one's own eyes) tell really what they are after; and the sort of demi-publication, and the recalling the same for consideration, or for love's sake to burn it, while avowedly holding the same as much as ever, and that which is held, awful spiritual wickedness, reminds me more of poor — and Plymouth than aught else.
My letter to — has raised a deal of anger in some, and opposition in others; but I believe it was of the Lord, and that it has been a shield for -, and that it has thrown the question really at issue into the forefront. He is better in body, and writes cheerfully, and the Lord is working by him.
I send you a token from the Master; I trust that His eye is upon your needs. My own movements are not clear to me, save the calls in New Zealand are strong; but He will guide. The winter is still on here till end of July. The damp at times is trying and chilly, and the houses are of wood, and cold.
I had thought of going south in early August, but I have questioned whether the mercy of the Lord would not be more marked, by my putting off bringing matters in Dunedin and Invercargill to a point before one has done all that one can do to help them.
* * * * *
Let me have a line, announcing the safe arrival of this, and how the work fares, and how your body is. Labourers are at a premium in the market in this hemisphere, so that you must take care of the fragment of a one which the Lord has made you nurse to.
* * * * *
I hear — made a stir in Tasmania when last out; but I cannot hear where, or whether the ostensible converts were many. He is a wild evangelist; but often leaves a field worth gleaning after him. — is, in Brisbane, preferring to try work on a clear, clean bottom, to work as at Invercargill, amid dissenting causes. — wrote to warn him, as a father to a son, to take warning, and not to slip off the ground himself as — had done, by running the gospel apart from Christ in His assembly. I see the same danger in one here — gospel wild, but a true man: he does not keep up his individual place with the Holy Spirit in His presence in the church. The line is narrow; for some spoil evangelizing by putting it into the church and under authority. "Ofttimes he falls into the fire, and oft into the water," is what man is when not kept by the Spirit.
Love to all in the Lord, especially the dear -, G.V.W.
Colombo Street, Christchurch, New Zealand, August 4th, 1874.
MY DEAR -, — Yours of the 16th July reached me only on the 3rd August, eighteen days, so that I hope mine of the 10th July has by this time reached you, with an order for £20.
We thank the Lord for keeping you about, beloved brother. You and — are among the feeble-bodied ones, so is G.V.W.; but the cripples may get up to the gutter. (2 Sam. 5:8.)
I read the MS., but, not having the book itself, felt I could not possibly form a judgment upon its value as pro bono publico.
The Lord be praised for help in the — case, and for the help (T- says) which came through you. How like the Lord in answer to my prayers when at Geelong, and through you at G- afterwards, to have reached Mrs. D-. He loves to link His people together, and to use now one, now another, as in Ananias and Saul.
Warnambool, if it opens, will be a praise to my soul. There are two or three nice young men, thereat, and my hope is that there are souls to be gathered near it.
You will find — and wife very kind. He reminds one much of his much-loved mother. The brotherhood there want cementing, and some a little softening.
* * * * *
All goes on here under the Lord; a good deal of discipline in it in some cases, but that is as it should be. They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up as on eagles' wings, run and not weary, walk and not faint. The cold, damp winter here seems breaking a little. The Lord has let it reach me, and produce threatening symptoms, but I accept it all from Him. I can say this, that if He should take me home out here, my having come out was rightest of the right; for He has been renewing my soul amid the conflict and trial, and opening Scripture in a most blessed way to me. What is writhing pain, if one can say, "Even so, Father; for so seems it good in Thy sight?" and He has laid upon me "this light affliction, which is but for a moment," etc. (2 Cor. 4:17-18.)
With kind love in particular to all of the G-'s and all of the Lord's, yours, beloved brother, always wishing to hear of you, G.V.W.
Motuika, Nelson, New Zealand, August 8th, 1874.
MY DEAR MISS -, — We are getting out here slowly into spring. The mountains still snow-capped, and the winds from them cold; the sun, however, hot from eight a.m.
The work of the Lord is one of patient waiting out here for His servants; but this part of it ought to be to an aged servant more easy to bear than to a young and therefore inexperienced one. I count there will be blessing to come shortly, please God, of a marked character; but a fresh action of the Holy Spirit is wanted in order for what I look for to be made good; but nevertheless I do count upon His giving such an energy in His own good time, which is better than ours. The call on my pen here has made me unable to write much to any in the old country; but that is all part of the Master's good pleasure and way. My kindest love to all of them round about you, please. …
Ever in the Lord yours most truly, G.V.W.
Nelson, New Zealand, Sept. 18th, 1874.
BELOVED BROTHER IN THE LORD, — Your three notes reached me in due course, and were most welcome. We are but leaden pipes to let the water down from the cistern above — dry till it flows in above, and dry if it ceases to flow in. It is good to remember this at all times, and to walk humbly in the truth of it. Truly the Holy Spirit is the sole administrator in the assembly; we that seek to be used by God, and those ministered to, should know this. I found it useful (the remembrance of it) in praying before speaking. Oft not a word seemed with me to give, and the spreading out before the Lord His estimate of the worthiness of His Son to be spoken about, and His will that He should be announced, has been followed by a full, fresh flow of water of the word of life.
I am still here (Nelson), but think to cross, perhaps, Monday, the 2nd Feb., to Motuika. Here things are the expression of mercy from the Lord in our little meeting (of about twenty-two) at the Harmonic Hall. The Lord will do as seemeth Him good. I pray more for reality of soul-work in individuals than for union. God sees the heart. — has written two tracts, the first of which I have answered; it gave a fair opportunity of pouring out, in public, some precious truth about his text motto (Eph. 4:1-16), which he did not attempt to open up.
Motuika is only from two to three hours across the water, eight and a half round. I may return on Tuesday, or stay there a little. My body seemed to need this rest here, though I came not here to seek it. My mind was very tired, but that seems past to a very great extent.
I may not write more, though I fain would. The Lord watch over you. — has been blessed at Brisbane, but seems to be leaving it for the north.
J. N. D. is in U.S., and it seems quite understood that he hopes to come over hither, if the way be open; i.e. if a boat runs. I have no news of Dr. Mackern.
With salutations in love to one and all, G. V.W.
Nelson, New Zealand, October 8th, 1874.
MY DEAR -, — The great danger, as to access to communion, may be on either side, so far as we are concerned with those who really are the Lord's, but who have not knowledge and intelligence of mind, yet have spiritual love. To the known world the door is shut. If we press what would protect us, as man's mind thinks, we find out communion, to our surprise, has knowledge only as its turning-point — "if you know, you may come into communion with us." This shuts out the Annas and Elizabeths, the Simeons and such like, and is a falsification of the Lord's table and of truth. It is a sect, and nothing else. If, on the other side, we are too free in our accessibility, we may either really dishonour the Lord by letting the world in, or cheat saints exercised in the Spirit about themselves. I would receive all thereto who have faith in the Lord, and are walking up to their light, and yet bring before them the responsibility of it in them, and the judgment which will light on them from the Lord, if they come to Him unjudged where He is, and unpurged. Every step in life is difficult, save to a living man in health. This I desire to be.
Of course I would desire to watch that no ecclesiastical difference which I can be glad to see the holder, if he have life, jump over, be a cover for moral evil. The moral evil rises above the ecclesiastical question altogether.
* * * * *
Poor -'s clerical weeds at the bottom of the ship make sailing slow. I suppose Mr. D- to be in U.S., and with quiet purpose of soul to get over to these parts shortly.
A volcanic eruption at Nelson burst forth from — against me and us. I have been sorry not to be there so as to shelter the weak ones. But a lying spirit is in the congregation as formed anew, and there seems to be nothing they will not say. "Ours" are, I trust, taking it all quietly; but I leave all to the Lord. I judge that the — people are true to the Lord, each in his or her measure, according as they are under His perfect love and faithfulness to them.
Farewell, dear brother. I send you a memento of remembrance from the Lord I trust.
Affectionately yours, G.V.W.
December 4th, 1874.
MY DEAR -, — Your last note, from Warnambool, rather made me afraid, as I was doubling weakness (that the excellency might be doubly of Him that raiseth the dead — the old apostolic, Pauline way) and you were going to put on a strong body, and come out without a halt or an infirmity, able to do a full day's work against any one — only I said: Ah! but — remembering who was above and around.
- names your being in Melbourne, so I send you there a little token of fellowship which has come to my hand. I know not the Master's thoughts about me, but desire to wait on Him for guidance.
When Britain and three governments announced "no more mails to or from San Francisco till proper arrangements had been made," the question was, Would there be boats if not mails? Post-office could not say. Now Wellington says, "One on the 16th;" and the Sydney agent here says, "Sydney will continue one monthly, mail or no mail." I wait on Him, not knowing what I am to do, and so shall still, which an attack of influenza had previously settled too in another way. Omaru, Dunedin, Invercargill, the Bluff, Melbourne did seem to lie before my mind. Now I question whether I may not postpone for a time; for if the boats are uncertain, the effort to get to San Francisco and Knoxville, Jamaica, Barbados, must perhaps be abandoned. One is infinitesimally little! How good of God to say, Abide in Him. "Live in Christ, who is in Me, and I will put you in the right place at the right time."
My love to all. I often think about the elder brother — and the children. The Lord pour His mercy out upon them.
Christchurch, New Zealand.
MY DEAR -, — Yours of 20th ult. reached me here today, the 6th April, so I write at once, not to lose a mail.
Having come out with New Zealand on my heart and mind, I must do what I feel I can, under God, do here, ere I pass on.
The expression you refer to, "The Lord's body was broken," I will (D.V.) write you upon again. As a matter of fact, His hands, His feet were pierced, and His side also, so that the statement is according to fact. The terms, however, do not occur in 1 Cor. 11; and while critical books have pointed this out, hyper-critics are for showing their knowledge, by watching to see whether any quoting Scripture, as learnt educationally, are guilty of misquoting, according to the latest MSS. and translation in 1 Cor. 11. One elderly man used to make it a touchstone; and a good many, tickled with their own little bit of knowledge, have worried others with it. Of course, if after due examination I had accepted a newly-translated passage anywhere, I have accepted it. But then, not I, nor any grave brother, like -, or -, would like me to read out a new translation of my own in the assembly, so I read the authorized version (- says there is only one passage which — will not read as in the A.V., and that is 1 John 3:4).
I must not write more, so for the moment farewell. Salute your brethren for me, and all whom I know in the Lord. I hope to write soon again, on above, etc., and so soon as I see my path. Do you, too, write to me, if a path opens to yourself.
Most affectionately, G.V.W.
Invercargill, January 18th, 1875.
MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, -. The Bluff is twenty miles hence, and I expect to embark there (D.V.) for Melbourne the day after tomorrow. As I landed in New Zealand, 14th January, 1874, I have paid at the sundry places fair visits, speaking as a man.
That heaven will be a wonderful place, and as blessedly blissful as wonderful, is the sum of all my thoughts in contrast with what meets one here below and around. I am, through mercy, in my usual health I think, though not so young as in the Rawstorne Street days, and had to pay for it this spring. May the Lord, to whom Mr. W. belongs, who bought him with His own life blood, cheer and sustain him all through the narrow way. The dear old man is dear to me in the Lord. Is he not a brand plucked from the burning?
Affectionate salutations in the Lord to all at the table from yours and theirs, G.V.W.
March 9th, 1875.
MY DEAR -, — I have been laid aside here, the result, I suppose, of the Lord's approving the faith principle of "resurrection from the dead," and disapproving human energy. His name be praised for all His dealings, under all circumstances; but one may still long to be a more apt scholar in His school, even while reduced to the service of praying for His name and saints on the earth. There is great need of prayer for this hemisphere, and it is not labour in vain.
I cannot go on till one or two matters in hand are ended, I think. If you are staying up at Ballarat, it is possible I might come up thither for a quiet week and prayer; but He knows all. I seem to want quietness and retirement. He has been very gracious, and my last letters from England made me see somewhat of the riches of His patient love, anticipating His children in their way.
How are you as to money? We near the end of the quarter, and if I do go, I would like to know ere I go what you have in your purse.
3, Howley Place, Harrow Road, W., June 28th, 1875.
MY DEAR -, — I know not whether or not I posted a letter to you since my arrival, May 17th, at Southampton. I know I began one after your unmarried sister called on me; for it pleased the Lord to let me be fairly knocked up — or down; and after landing I had one of my attacks on reaching London, which from the appearances threatened, if not declared, typhoid fever symptoms; but this had not a full development, through mercy, and though laid much aside for six weeks, I am getting about again. The S-s awaited me on the quay, and I got two hours with them ere they embarked, which appears, from his letter, to have been greatly comforting to them both.
Last Lord's-day a married sister of yours spoke to me in the evening at North Row. The Lord is good and doeth good. What has He not done for His own great name's sake? And what is He not doing and prepared to do? Only we have to remember that whatsoever turns up is, one way or another, for the furtherance of blessing and the expression of His own good pleasure. It may be something which nature in us would not have chosen, but deprecated. Many a sharp point the rasp may carry, but its reaching me is never without its being according to God's permission, if not appointment and good pleasure. And who am I to suppose that I can improve upon what He appoints to me? "Giving thanks always for all things" is a fair specimen of Paul's character. I would have it of mine too, though I may need a longer time to catch my breath and the note of thanksgiving than he did.
The sensational movement in England has been great. M- and his friends, the — friends, and now Mr. and Mrs. — and theirs. The stirs have been wide, very wide. I connect them all with God's purpose, that everybody, so to speak, everywhere should hear the name of Christ. That that is a present action of His hand I do not doubt, any more than I doubt the mixture of energies, deficiency as to purity in what has been taught, and a large percentage of positive error in the teaching of some of them. But the Lord is coming, and when we look at things in that light we see the real character of them, and why that which has tried to break the power of the world over us, and to make us see how completely we are not of it, but of Him who is gone on high, cannot put people down here into Nazarite position of waiting for Him from heaven.
Though I have been here now seven weeks, I have no formed judgment upon the real state of ours. I see many questions are at work, and many feel that "where" they are standing, there is, within their "whereabouts," a conflict of principles going on, on various questions. In several of the cases it has seemed to me that tenacity upon each man's own point gave that semblance, where, if the principle of God's mind was seized upon, and the points left alone, there was the fullest room for unity and fellowship.
* * * * *
We got on well to Point de Galle, where the Ceylon went off to Bombay, and after two or three days ashore we embarked on the Surat for Southampton. The boat was full when she came in, and we fared accordingly, and according to the passengers from China, Calcutta, etc. A good many of God's people on board, some very decidedly so, I hope; but one is a Nazarite ecclesiastically. The nursery was large on board, about seventy-five children first-class, from thirteen years down to two months. We lost three by death on board — a colonel, who confessed Christ, the cook, and a bed-steward. One had gone ere they reached Galle, and another left at Suez for the hospital, too ill to go on. I never had been on board a Peninsular and Oriental boat, and had supposed that the early prestige was maintained; but this is not the case. The Somersetshire was quieter, better served, et ceteris paribus to be preferred. But all is well to the soul that passes through all in His presence and with Him; and to me, I imagine, the sea voyage was naturally good, though I lost my sleep, and did not grow fat. I think the Lord really taught me a good deal on board, and I felt so at the time, and could, and did, take it all from Him, though the will and the weakness of my own self were most evident to me. "I, yet not I," as Paul wrote. I got a few good lines out of it all, and in the midst of it, on perfection.* Mine is not poetry, but the Lord gives me what helps me sometimes. Pearsall Smith's biography of his son Frank seems to me a fair exponent of his own, status in doctrine; Mrs. — is very much darker still.
*These were printed in vol. i. page 451. — ED.
I have written nothing upon it as yet, though I think the Lord has given me something. H- B- has published against it, but not freely from his own shortening views of truth.
P-'s conversion and breaking bread ere he died has made an eddying among some. Dear man! he ought twelve years ago to have taken his place upon the moral ground of God's truth; but he was drawn aside, though he did it at last, ere his sudden and unexpected death, upon grounds which were very much lower. His eldest son's conversion led to it, and I fear to a false testimony at the funeral. But he seems a very devoted young man, and a preacher of the gospel; but mentality and human will, will not do in days like the present. Nor Christ nor Philadelphia had either of them these as their distinctive marks, but dependent obedience in full development.
I have a letter to — in hand, but my pen does not run freely, and my head soon gets weary and tired; but, blessed be God, it is all right. And His love in cutting me out of some things on my arrival, and of some things by its being later than was expected, has been very marked indeed. I like to see the marks of His hands in providential deliverances from spiritual difficulties, as in the spiritual care of what He has made His own chargeour souls for the glory.
Yours, dear S-, affectionately, G.V.W.
July 26th, 1875.
MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, — Your note of the 9th was most welcome, though it came to me at a time I could answer no letters from pressure of duties.
I am sure your wife may count God to be "a very present help in time of trouble." It is in His heart to be so to her individually, and to all that trust in Him through Christ, whom He raised from the dead and glorified, that our faith and hope might be in Himself. And, as to power, He that made all things, and upholds all things, is equal to, and a match for, any and every contingency that can befall any between Calvary and the cloud of glory.
I look up to the Lord for you — my mind not assured that the work abroad, in parts beyond those in which the Lord's word has been received, is not the place or sphere of your work rather than England. He alone can guide; and He alone in reality it is who decides all such questions. With Him I leave it.
I trust you will not go beyond your measure, but will work with the Lord as to preachings, etc. Your throat may require a tropical climate for the winter.
With most affectionate love to all the Lord's people with you and around — God's best blessings on the babe and its mother,
November 5th, 1875.
MY DEAR -, — Your word yesterday brought me to my prayers, and to the word of God. I do not think before the Lord that I am such an one as would be justified, before Him or my brethren, in taking with me any huperetes. (Acts 13:5) Moreover, You have a speciality in work (judging by your labour in Quebec, Montreal, Richmond) which lays an embargo upon you before the Lord; you are not your own to go out of your own special line wherein the Lord has blessed you.
The only person I ever asked to go with me on my own little line (and I did it in the full liberty, as I judged, of 2 Cor. 5:15-16) was one who was then in nowise committed to any kind of work. Dear -, I took him just as if he had been in nature my own son, and nothing more, and he knew not whether there was any work from the Lord for him of any special kind; and, moreover, then had no wife or child.
You see where my soul is in this matter. The ought of duty, and not the "I like" on the one hand, or "I dislike" on the other, has to rule.
My prayer for your wife and children as well as for yourself will be heard for His sake.
Most affectionately yours in Him that is coming for us, G.V.W.
September 29th, 1875.
He never changes. That is our safety, and the rest of our souls as to present peace, even the character and changelessness of God as revealed in and by Christ Jesus. And more than this, the contrast between our circumstances and His He uses to His glory, and for our blessing. This enables me to rest as to you and your circumstances; and I would that you should rest there also. Do you know the lines the Master gave me, ere I went out to the West Indies last time? I would the truth of them might abide with your soul
"How bright there above is Thy mercy, O God,
How fully set forth in the Saviour's blood," etc.
MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, — I thank you for both your letters, though the pressure has been so heavy on me that I have not been able to reply either to these or to a heap of other letters, or even to write to some in affliction and trial, to whom my heart longed to write. It is well to see how even the least of our little concerns is in the hand of the Lord, and no wish of ours, no purpose, no strength, can suffice to bring fruit to perfection. 'Tis Himself, His eye, His hand alone which can accomplish His own good pleasure in us. "Not by power, nor by might, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord." Poor things (however blessed in Him) that we are (in ourselves), oft mistaking His guidance, oft mistrusting the light of His eye, oft translating our thoughts as though they were His mind; yet still blessed, and to be blessed, is the flock and all the poor silly sheep who have Christ for Shepherd. Is it not so?
From my own prayers and thoughts about — through several years, I suppose there are many souls there to be gathered to Christ, and many there, too, to turn aside from simplicity any that try to follow the Shepherd's voice. The power of the world too is strong, and Satan crafty to keep the place if he can, and to lull men to sleep there, if any get roused up. But who and what is he to prevent God and His Spirit gathering unto the Person of a risen and ascended Lord? Only if we — you or I — are to be used there, the vessel must be kept clean, and we must live unto God and Christ, and lean on Him and the word of His grace only, and be satisfied to be nothing in ourselves. Satan will then be able to do nothing against the Lord through us.
I have thought over and carried — more than I can tell you; and oft, when in work abroad, I was occupied in spirit with it. So that the Lord's working there is of peculiar interest to me.
There is a trial of faith now in many places; but the one word, "Enoch walked with God," is the password to those that live in it in the measure of their faith.
I have been greatly cheered by letters from New Zealand relating how the Lord has been working, and several of them of deep interest, as showing the soulwork and new life from the walk of the soul with God and Christ right out; not merely by a new position taken outwardly, but a new life, the eternal life, working out from within, out into all details of life around.
One came to offer to go to Demarara if (I think I may say) I would co-operate with him. But co-operation or arrangement before the work begins can aright be only from the Lord. A good many are changing their places of work — all quite right, if of the Lord alone.
A letter is always welcome, and stirs up prayer for you and the work, even if an immediate answer comes not to your letter or the prayer.
Affectionately yours in the Lord, G.V.W.
November 11th, 1875.
MY DEAR MISS -, — It was kind of you to tell me about the visit and S-. I look for him to be gathered back to the Lord in full simplicity.
I have been packing all the morning. I doubt Timothy took so much time as I do. The 2nd December the Moselle is to sail. The Lord seems to be quite sufficient as caretaker and for fellowship. Several have volunteered to go with me, but the Master's mind did not seem with any of the offers.
Some say I ought to think of the feelings of the saints here in England, and therefore take some one. But my answer is, "If His feelings are met that is all one need care for and in some journeys none but a tried companion is other than a hindrance. I think to write to you on arriving (D.V.) at Demerara, but I will not promise not to drop a card ere I leave on Thursday.
Ever yours in Him, G.V.W.
November 15th, 1875.
THE sight of your handwriting, dear brother, was welcome to me; for I wanted to hear from and all about you.
The difference between the counsel or purpose of the Lord and His working it out into action is obvious enough. The seed of the woman was announced in Genesis 3 as to bruise the serpent's head, as well as the serpent to bruise His heel.
But though such was declared in Genesis 2:15, seven thousand years were to roll their course ere the seed of the woman finally did so as in Revelation 20:10, and four thousand ere the woman's seed was born. God's purpose and intention about Moses, and his willing attempt to work it out himself, are given to us in Exodus 1 and 2. See also Acts 7:23-29. After forty years the Lord's time was come (30-42, etc.), and He wrought with an unwilling Moses. God has a counsel and a plan, and has revealed many such in the written Word; but who can work them out? Who keeps us in the position of dependence? Who proves himself the God of resurrection to us in the carrying out of His work but Himself? The New Testament is studded with instances of the same kind. Peter would go through death for his Master's sake ere Christ died and rose; the same Peter who had to go through death for his Master's sake after his Master was risen.
If you will consider this you will, I think, see and get helped as to many puzzling things. A young man converted gets hold of "Enoch walked with God" as his purpose in life. Surely it is God's purpose for all His children; for it was what the Son of His love did perfectly. But many a one has set out to walk, and given himself to the work (as did John Mark), who, before they could be spoken of by God as having that true of them, had to learn some lesson or other about themselves, or their circumstances, or God. Lookers-on say, "A mistake from first to last," without taking what is precious from what is vile. The soul that humbly waits on God learns of God all about the various parts of the conflict, and comforts itself in God, and waits to see what end the Lord will bring forth. "Be still, and know that I am God," is the word for you, perhaps; but look up and do not be puzzled. God often says, "It was well it was in thine heart," even where His time for working out is not fully come, and when we have been showing out self, and what's of the world, and gives power to Satan too.
I bear you on my heart. May our God, the Father and God of our Lord Jesus Christ, sustain, and mould, and guide, and lead you.
Very truly yours in the Lord, G.V.W.
Self-judgment from first to last; for they that bear the vessels of the Lord must be clean; but Job, and Moses, and Samuel, and David, and Peter, and Paul, and John, all have to pass that way.
November 20th, 1875.
Your note of 29th October answered the good purpose to get me into prayer, and looking up to the Lord for one in the furnace. I had to put it on my file, and have had no five minutes in which to write. The pressure on me was so great that I had to postpone my departure a fortnight, and it is still very heavily on me. It were vain to write unless one could go into and through the whole case; but this only makes prayer the more valuable. Through evil report and through good report Paul had to pass, and so far as any accusation against me is known to me as not true as to me, I do not think one need to be unhappy about it; for no honest mind would be thankful that the accusation was correct. But there is a reward for our bearing false accusations. … I pray still and look up, and have faith and hope in God as to every part of it. The end of the Lord is very pitiful. G.V.W.
Southampton, December 2nd, 1875.
MY DEAR MISS -, — I am to leave at 11.30 the docks (or quay) in the tug, and to run down to the Moselle, which lies 2½ miles down the river. Dear A. P- came down with me to see me off, and W. P- is said to be here too.
The Lord was with me, to my conscience, in the night season, which I take as a promise that He will bless myself, at least (who wants it most of all), in this my outing. My kind love to -, and to each and all of ours (because we are His, and His are ours), and I pray that we may know better how to walk according to that truth. I write before breakfast, so bad writing must be pardoned. Yours in Him, defected and feeble, as also little, yet His own by redemption, as by His Father's gift to Him, and the indwelling of the Spirit of truth, trust, and hope. G.V.W.
The Moselle (not dated).
MY DEAR MISS -, — … I take advantage of the leisure of the ship to write a few lines, while the pounding of the steam screw goes its round of fifty to the minute.
God has His own work for these last days. The Son of His love is ever before Him, and (as I suppose) He will have a report to go out, far and wide, of that Son's glory and beauty, and of the finished salvation in Him — a report of Him in His three displays: in humiliation unto death, the death of the cross; in patience, as now sitting at God's right hand; and in the approaching display of His coming glory. I am praying for this feebly enough, but praying for it. And it is well to have it in one's heart to do so, as I surely believe. My kind love to -, and to all the dear saints. In my conflicts and hours of solitude my heart gets comfort when the thought of saints in England praying for me occurs to me. And this not for my sake only, but for their own sakes also; for I would those I love should have their share in the work wrought abroad, and prayer goes further in that than anything else.
Ever yours, all of you, in Him, G.V.W.
Remember me to the dear aged brother as he lies in bed. I think of him and of many of those that suffer.
Probably, February or March, 1876.
MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, — I received, with thankfulness, yours while I was in Demerara. The Lord is good and doeth good. My salutations to all. I am well, and able to work about as usual, through mercy. The doors are opening out here, and I had to go to Essequibo, and also to Berbice (New Amsterdam). Lectures on Prophecy too are asked for, and have to be given. Tobago, Montserrat, and St. Thomas's each present doors ajar now; but workmen are wanted. Pray ye the Lord of the harvest, etc. I do so in my feeble way, and then look up. …
Most affectionately, G.V.W.
April 7th, 1876.
MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, — Your letter was a very welcome one to me, telling, as it seems to me to do, of the presence and action of the living God at -. Beloved W-'s departure, too, was characteristic of the mercy that had found him — mercy which, like water, accommodates itself to every shaped vial that is opened for it.
I reached this — yesterday from Barbados, sailing hither in the same ship with your note to me. The S-s well. The Lord was very gracious to me in my visit there, as He always is. I am, through mercy, well in body; but seventy-one past, one is not as strong as one was. The compliments, however, paid to me on my clear, bright skin, springy walk, and walks (which for W. I. are thought to be not for a white man) would satisfy any grandma' or nurse, or should do so, I am sure.
I have no light as to my next anchoring-ground, but I have stopped any more letters from leaving London until I do know. Love in the Lord to all in the Lord.
Affectionately in the Lord, G.V.W.
Paddington, September 8th, 1876.
MY DEAR -, — I have written little from this side to that (of the earth) where you are, partly from pressure of duties around me; and while — was in that hemisphere I thought affection had an object large and worthy enough to be satisfied with in him. Latterly pressure of calls, and inability to say anything about my probable movements, have stopped me, and do still; for while my heart may turn to New Zealand and Melbourne, etc., I have not been able to say I have any thought that is His mind. His will be done, is my wish any and every way; and it shall be done, please God, whether I wait on here, or, having light, rise to follow it out as to Him. Defective as our perception and judgment may be, we yet have to live to Christ, and if called on to die to Him. This supposes reality in us, and sets aside plans which grow out of self having in us too large a place, and so open the way for the adversary, and for worldliness. But if, "Speak, Lord, and let thy servant hear," be the real language of our hearts, then we can do as unto the Lord, or tarry till we see what we can do as to Him. I find more and more the value of that word, "Enoch walked with God." I daresay in doing it he had his difficulties; but he did it. And to us 2 Cor. 5:15 puts the truth in a way to aid us to live to Him, not to ourselves, but to Him — the Anointed Man, alive from the dead, the object of our faith, lives, and hope.
Mr. D- writes from Canada that the work has opened so fast there and in U.S. that he does not know when he can come back; if before winter, then (D.V.) to return there in spring. Numbers appear to have got free from the -, and to be now at the table — this in Canada. In the States several of them open to the work, and to labourers in them lately enlightened, and that makes the field wide. Since above, — sends me yours to him to read. A letter of mine to you appears from him not to have reached you, and I fear two. The first is my recognition of your first envoy of Matthew to me, with which I wrote you fully; second, I think I must have written to you, and — about -. But of this I am not clear. I find I have to abandon the thought of using that MS. — the Bagsters, who I thought might take it up, are not free to do so. And as to myself I desire to cease from all work, save that of waiting on the Lord, and His serving saints, and the saints, and the gospel. But though I say "I desire" (which is true), He seems to will it; so that my desire is the result of subjection of will to Himself.
- writes depressedly as to the closed door in Ireland. But to my mind he forgets; first, that spring is only one of four seasons; secondly, perhaps (and I think so) that the other hemisphere is for the time his sphere of action. He is very dear to me, and may mature into a very valuable labourer. England is overstocked with runners and preaching. They asked me at one place to preach; I could not give the day named; I named another, and found they had been eight weeks ahead arranged for! The young men who go out are many too many. But what "I find to do here" is rather the frame of their minds than "Here am I, send me," in answer to the Lord's, "Who will go for us?" (Isa. 6)
I send you a little token of the Lord's remembrance of you. To my mind you are in your right hemisphere, and I hope I shall find you walking in it in all simplicity, if the Lord permits me as now "the aged" to come and see what He has wrought, in what He has used you. Oh for more of the Spirit of Christ — of Paul, who sought the parts beyond, and loved to labour where others would not! Several times I have seen this in J. N. D. I have said perhaps, "Whither do you go now?" And he has answered, "I wait, and let others decide where they will go, and take what they leave." This seems to me as it should be.
Should you be surprised if the Lord let me walk in where you are?
Most affectionately, G.V.W.
September 25th, 1876.
MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, — Time or quietness to write in I find not; yet amid the turmoil of the way He has granted me to write a few words to some in affliction and trial, of whom the number at the present time is large. We talk of the wilderness, and of having renounced all to follow Him; but how little do we know how this one thing to do — to forget that which is behind, and to look to that which lieth before, and to press on to the mark of the prize of the high calling of God. The battle of life becomes hotter and hotter, the road more steep and slippery, but all this only to wean us more and more from ourselves.
I hear the 29th and 30th November are the days for the Manchester meetings. May the Lord prepare hearts for a blessing, and pour a large one out. One's path as walking with God has to be learnt, and the Saviour is patient enough in teaching it; but how one learns the contrast between what His mind and heart presented to God's eye, and what one's own heart and mind present to Christ's. Safe and saved in Him for ever, but what has He saved? And how does the completeness of the salvation in Him make us see how little we have attained to saying, "Lord, I come to do Thy will, and Thine only." "Thy will my will. Nothing owned by me as my desire or will till it is known to be Thy desire and will first." A conqueror in all things, practically victorious, I asked Him to make me. Not free from Satan only, and from all judgment to come, but, therefore, free from the world and from self. How little do we know what it is, having conquered, to stand fast.
The doctors send out patients wholesale hence to Sydney, New Zealand, etc., and very rashly in many cases lately it has been ordered; but let any one propose to go out thither to look out, and look up, a few poor sheep of the Master's, and the same doctors are terrified at the mad folly. But if we walk humbly before the Lord, and humbly with Him, He will be with us. And sure I am He loves to say, "It is well it was in thine heart." I do count on the prayers of the poor of the flock. Monday, the boat starts at three. Four or five saints on board to break bread together, if the Lord will.
Love to all at the table. Most affectionately, G.V.W.
On board the Moselle, October 8th, 1876.
BELOVED of the Lord, to you and to those at the Lord's table, with all the widows and afflicted (prisoners of the Lord, of necessity to us), not able, though longing, to get to His table, greeting. Grace, mercy, and peace be with each one of you.
I am but passing now by St. Thomas, to leave there dear — and his brother, who may call at Barbados on their way to Demerara. I look to God to help you one and all above your individual feebleness, in which we are each one so prone to wish for that which we have not, and be discontented and overlook what good things God has shared to us, a little bit of the cross, and of privation perhaps, for His name's sake; and may God especially deliver you as a little company from the marks of conformity to the world around.
If the outer man perish, the inward man is renewed day by day, (but only) while we look to that which is unseen; and while we look to that which is unseen, the hand is open to let slip that which is seen. I want, and my prayer is for, more heavenlymindedness, and therewith less of minding of things present. Suffer, beloved, the word of exhortation from an aged one, who has been 52 years a would-be pilgrim and stranger, as you are down here.
You have among you some, given of the Lord, who have addicted themselves (as Paul wrote) to the ministry of the saints. May God bless them in spite of any feebleness in them, which leads them too soon to be cast down, and of any other impediments in Providence to their service among you. You have, too, one or two remarkable for their power of presenting Christ to the sinner. Our brother, Mr. D-, noticed this when he was with you. It is a power from God. Be not jealous of it, but be jealous to give it full scope. Infirmities often attach to such, perhaps to keep them humble; help them onward, and let them go forward in faith. When in London this summer I found many such, and I took care to do all I could to help them on. I took a very low service in outside places, preaching the gospel on Sunday evenings as the portion of aged Christians as having a word to such. The room soon filled, though I saw it was from the distant parts that most came. Each has his place of service; if he wait on God, God will give it him. You have, too, a father's heart in one or two that I could name, whose love has oft refreshed my own heart, and I have seen it refresh others too. Our brother D- wrote, asking about you all; he is still in the United States, and will, I hope, write to you. … Saints up and down in England greatly enjoyed our brother -'s visit with his wife to England. He is much known and loved in London by many of the older brothers. … I often go in mind over the names of you all. I am (D.V.) to go on with — and -, dropping them at Jamaica, pass on to Colon, Panama, San Francisco, and New Zealand. An old man I am for such an undertaking, but if the Lord be with me, all is well; every place is as near to heaven down here as another. Abba's house, and not England, is my home. The movement of the steam-packet makes writing difficult.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you. So prays, G.V.W.
Speed me with your prayers for that other hemisphere.
January 12th, 1877.
MY DEAR MISS -, — … I have reached my landfall, Auckland, New Zealand, and I look up to the Lord to make my coming a consolation to His saints in these parts. Their path is roughish, and the dust of the roadway hinders many of them singing the Lord's songs in the wilderness. If I might see them gladdened a little, according to the Spirit, it would gladden me.
I trust the Lord's work is holding its way onward. Abba's love in courts above makes the person of the Lord attractive. How far better off is Paul, and Timothy, and Phoebe than what we are! It ought to make us long to depart and be with Christ, at home with Him, though from home in our bodies. People talk of God sparing them a little longer down here; but what they mean is, that they prefer being down here to going home and being up there with the Lord, for ever with the Lord. My kindest salutations to each and all the saints. A note is always acceptable through No. 3, H. P., delayed here and there on the way out. I am now pressed as to my letters.
Ever yours, dear Miss -, in the Lord, your old friend affectionately, G.V.W.
Christchurch, New Zealand, April 30th, 1877.
As the Lord sent me an answer to prayer through you, in the note you forwarded, I must write you a line. The care taken of me here by the poor, God has used and blessed to give me again my usual measure of strength, but the cough is within, strengthened too. I am overdone with letters for the post to England, and so must say, God be with you.
Love to — and all that care for such a word from me,
I pray for them all. G.V.W.
June 23rd, 1877.
THE goodness of God abideth still; for the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting. (Ps. 103) A golden chain from eternity across time to eternity, beloved brother.
All goes on quietly and happily here, and I think the Lord did well as to you at Orange. I have been laid low — a safe place — by one of my bilious attacks, which turns me inside out. It is all well.
I may have to run up to Christchurch for a little by the first boat, but I am waiting on the Lord to know His will.
Most affectionately, G.V.W.
March 22nd, 1877.
MY DEAR MISS -, — Yours of January 11th is just to hand, and a pouring rain keeps me in the house tonight. I will begin a few lines to you. I have spent one month at Auckland since landing in New Zealand, and one in Nelson, and Motuiki three days of it; four days in the chief town of the country, New Zealand, namely, Wellington, and landed here last Lord's-day afternoon. Each place has its phase peculiar to itself of difficulties; but the answer to them all is in God, who raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, and gave Him glory, that our faith and hope might be in God. This place and sensible weakness go together. No teaching brother resident here, and no habit of meeting round the Word, as at Nelson, on Sunday evenings when they have no teacher. I look up to the Lord for some blessing; whatsoever He may see would be for the glory of His Son. Mr. D-'s visit was greatly helpful to many Christians who were outside, and who, when helped, came in to the table. … I have Timaru, and perhaps Osmaru, and it may possibly be Dunedin, before me for visits. G. J. S. wants me to come to Sydney, others to Melbourne, and others to Adelaide; but for an old man a step at a time is enough, and I really have New Zealand on my heart.
My love to each and all the saints whom you name. May the Lord be with you all. I write this scrap as a something to be ready, whether I can add more or not; for the distances are long, and I am slower than I used to be.
29th March, 1877.
MY DEAR MISS -, — … I seem this last week better in health; more able to eat, drink, and walk too, than I was. I leave myself in His hand or would do so completely. Better for me if He fixes the hour of my departure than if I had a voice in its regulation. …
My kind love to -, and affectionate salutation to those that walk as Saints. G.V.W.
3, Richmond Terrace, Domain, Sydney, N.S.W., May 18th, 1877.
MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, — When I received yours of the 6th March, 1877, at Christchurch, New Zealand, I was naughtily inclined to write — "To ask an old man, upwards of seventy-two, who never had any health from infancy, and can recall few days without pain — 'How is your health?' seemed a strange question." But some hours afterwards it floated through my mind, "You thought for some days, end of February or beginning of March, that you were rapidly sinking, and must give up animal food, when suddenly, as the poor saints out here began to show out their love, and one sent Devonshire cream and butter, and fresh eggs, and another strong beef-tea and loaves of home-made bread, and preserves and cake, you suddenly rallied! I had to say, 'It was of the Lord.'" But if brethren beloved have prayed for me, then the Lord, the prayers, the love as above, and the sudden change, form links in the chain.
I try to keep a set time for prayer for you all, and the rest of the saints. But when in another hemisphere, with its rush of work upon me, I cannot write as if I were free. So you must put this in as the reason of few letters. …
Most affectionate love to one and all, G.V.W.
October 14th, 1877.
Thou art supreme. Father of an only-begotten Son, Thy highest glory, most attractive beauty known to me. Throne of the Majesty of the Highest, His seat now as Son of man at Thy right hand, anomalous; a Man upon the throne of God. Is it possible? Yes, but only for that One; for no other man is who and what He is, God manifest in flesh, the mighty One, who is Jehovah's fellow. In nature, self-existent, His place was and is God with His Father (the Son) and the Holy Spirit. Here is what is altogether new, and large spheres does it throw open to him that is taught of God the Father from what is written.
These, dear -, were the beginning of a musing of mine this morning when first down, 14th October, 1877, Christchurch, New Zealand. My heart has craved news of you, but I am in your debt a letter, and have had no heart these last months to write to any one. A good deal of work has pressed upon me, and at last heavy sickness brought me right down to where I could do nothing. But the Lord proved Himself unchangeably the same. He changed not, but cheered me by scenes above and scenes ahead. I cannot write much; but I write a line to you and Mrs. S, thus the expression of my love. "The night is far spent, the day is at hand," are certain truths. Let patience have its perfect work. May the Lord take His own selfsame chosen paths for each of us; 'twill so be best of all. My love to all my old esteemed friends, Mrs. C-, H-, W-, and each and all the rest.
From most affectionately yours and theirs, G.V.W.
Wellington, New Zealand, December 30th, 1877.
I have been laid very low, in body I mean, and if I have thought my little tale of life among the dead was told out, as did Paul the great in 2 Cor. 1. 8-10, I have been happy, both in the unclouded face and love, and in the fact that my going on high would leave no vast hiatus as would his.
I have seen my seventy years and two; but I still look up for the work in this little while, and have an empty hand to see what God will put into it, as to things connected with the Son of His love, or the assembly, His Body. I never felt so ill in my life as I have done today, perhaps it may be premonitory one way or another. I desire to be will-less, yet willing to stay if He wills it.
We old men look drops upon the window-pane running from the top to the bottom, as if we all hasted to be first at the end of the course; but I trust we, each and all, are willing to abide till He call us, yet are we in the fresh power of our position in and round Him. An aged saint happy in the Lord is a beautiful subject, Christ seen reflected in him.
I am better since my collapse of power in the road three weeks since; but our strength is to sit still. G.V.W.
Wellington, January 6th, 1878.
BELOVED -, — They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Your letter refreshed and gladdened me in my low estate; for, since here, I have had a worse attack than any other a little more than a fortnight ago, and this morn has been my first appearance again at the table. I am not up to writing much. I fear, from your handwriting, that you too have been in suffering; yet why do I say "I fear," when love divine directs it all for me, for you? all too for the glory of Christ, though God moves in a mysterious way.
My thought had been to go on today to Melbourne, and thence to Adelaide; but He said, "Stay where you are till I speak."
2 Tim. 4:6 analusis is evidently to his being offered up departure on high, analuo, verb. Luke 12:36, when he will return from the wedding; Phil. 1:23, to depart and be with Christ, which is far better, are the only occurrences. The context in Phil. seems to me to mark in various ways that Phil. 1:23 is as 2 Tim. 4:6.
Farewell for the moment; I say nothing about Christchurch, the Lord having sent me on hither. What rest to one's soul that we see Him who is invisible! Cheering letters from San Francisco just in.
Your fellow-servant, G.V.W.
MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, — Your letter, as you will see, was probably delayed. I thank God, beloved, that the Lord gave you refreshment in reading these three lectures of Demerara. There can be sweet savour anywhere, but the Lord alone can make the savour to fill the whole house. For Mary He marked the hour when the box (perhaps it had often rebuked her for past worldliness) would have a proper use. Whatever led her to put it by, He was above her, and showed what use He meant it for. How unsearchable His ways and love!
That opening of John 12 is very blessed:
Verses 1-11, Jesus the object of worship;
Verses 12-19, as Son of David;
Verses 20-36, as Son of man.
(The light of, His glories flitting over the scene ere He went to the cross.)
The Spirit adds three more things
1, Isaiah's testimony to Him as the self-humbled One, 38 and
2, the very same One, Jehovah in glory, 39, 40, and NB., v. 41;
3, why men could not receive Him, 42, 43, to the end.
I wrote by the post, after your kind letter reached me, to — a few lines, unable then to write more. I have been laid down by the Lord — taken aside in grace a little — for a little private intercourse with Him, in whose eyes my Lord Jesus, eternal Lover of my soul, is exceedingly precious.
Our brother — is in Tasmania; his heart was much cheered at Launceston, where he was two days at most, now I suppose for the like time at Hobart Town, then back (D.V.) here.
I am like a wrecked ship at sea as to my body; but it is very grand to be able, as one power in nature cracks or gives way after another, to say, "I thank Thee, Lord, for that which I receive at Thine hand, in whose hand all power is vested, and not at the hand of any other."
It is grand, through grace, to be able to triumph, even in 2 Peter 3:7-13.
But the old ship will not break up by storm or wave till He says, "I want you up here."
Grace, mercy, and peace to you, and all that seek to walk with Him.
So prays, G.V.W.
Uttoxeter, July 22nd, 1878.
MY DEAR -, — My heart has been wanting to hear from you, and trying to stir me up; but this only made your letter the more obviously welcome to me, and it was a voluntary one too. I leave myself, or think to do, in the Lord's hand; but am at times feeble, and last Sunday lost my voice at the morning meeting. But He is in all these things, great enough to take them all in, and to gather them all up. I count myself both blessed and happy; and His grace is sufficient for me, for His strength is made perfect in weakness. No mere doctrine or saying, but power in weakness, as you know.
I am here, in a quiet house and airy, and willing and able to meet what has seemed to me the Lord's mind; but I see nothing beyond: I wait.
Morning by morning let thine ear be open to Him, for the settling of everything, and doing of His own good pleasure, whether to do this in dependent obedience, or to suffer that in lowly patience. If I were not so little as I am, I should have attained to more skill in this life of Christ.
But Phil. 3 is the Spirit's picture of a model man, though of one who had the law of sin and death in his body; that is, large, so as to take in the little ones, and truly full of warning, and of encouragement too.
Whether going into the country, or for other needs, you may lack a little of what Christ had so little, as to have asked on one occasion, "Show me a penny."
Most affectionately, dear brother, G.V.W.
Uttoxeter, August 2nd, 1878.
MY DEAR -, — My judgment, as formed, under the Spirit I would hope, but certainly upon "what is written," is that God wants no help from us.
I have had to take my body — a poor and feeble one it has been — under the hand of the Lord, and try to rub along as best I could, As such, S. S. says "a little wine for thy stomach's sake and often infirmity," though I latterly have been afraid of that little, from the effects of it upon the chest. I find it confessedly difficult to be sure as to His mind about simple medicinal remedies; but I am sure that those that cast all upon the Lord, and never touch any such supposed and real aids, are the happiest; their conduct most in the Spirit. The surgical operations are different, though I admit both the length of the scale from the top to bottom of the practice.
Still, if God gave me either by birth, or as to Israel, or by accident in childhood, one leg shorter than the other, so far as I can see, I should take it so at His hand, and not try to put the matter otherwise by any operation. What I had got the Lord had given me, or permitted me to have, and my soul would be more at rest as reminding Him and Him alone who can make that which is crooked straight, my Counsellor. I judge true and righteous judgment in saying my heart and mind will say you have taken the more excellent way, if in simple faith in God working in providence as in creation you say, Thou, Lord, seest, and I will be still before Thee as I am. I will look (D.V.) to the Lord for you in this matter. I dread more than I did, getting under the power of things down here, in body or in mind.
A full and comforting letter from Christchurch. God has been working there. The adversary is displeased and pushed, but God seems to have met his move. My comfort still is, if — and others still are strong in the Lord in prayer, blessing will go on and grow, and the evil be fully set aside.
Most affectionately. Always glad to hear. G.V.W.
Saturday, August 3rd.
MY DEAR -, — I feel my letter yesterday was too much of myself. After it was gone I judged, "God at the helm" ought to have been more boldly spoken out for; and yourself, who know His saving power, and how Satan is watching everything whereby to dishonour Him, and make us look like mere men, a little more cautioned by me. But I could leave you in the Lord's hands, to care for, guide, and direct.
Still it is well for me to send this.
Ever affectionately, G.V.W.
MY DEAR MISS -, — I write this line to have somewhat ready to post on my arrival at Melbourne, if the Lord so will; for there seems to be nothing that better announces to friends in the distance a safe arrival like a sight of an absentee's handwriting. The goodness of the Lord is great, and widely spread abroad the proofs of it. One needs only to have the eye open to scan them wherever one is; and if we see them not it must be because we are either blind, or have the mind occupied with others, which must be less worthy objects than are the hand and heart of the Lord, who compasses us about with goodness, and eternal, divine, and heavenly mercies.
Tell brethren, please, that the little assembly in this ship — six in all — counts upon their prayers, and those of others in England, for a blessing from the Lord.
Ever affectionately in the Lord.
Copy of a Post Card.
AN old pilgrim writes this on nearing the shore of your island to let you know of his return. Mercies have been many since he left, and all even of the trials had to come out of the bosom of Him who overrules all in mercy, and so all has been well.
Copied from the fly-leaf of one of his Bibles.
BE it that you have little qualification, less gift, and no office whatsoever; yet, as an individual member of Christ, child of God, and inheritor of the kingdom of heaven, you must, as partaker of the blessing, and dwelt in by the Spirit, desire the honour of God and the glory of Christ. While waiting for his Son, the Saviour from heaven, serve the living and true God then.
The Spirit is at work to get Christ's members out of the world, and from under the power of the flesh and the devil. Labour thereunto in God, and be the servant down here in every way, of the interest, honour, and glory of Christ in His members. ou gar humeis este hoi lalountes, alla to pneuma tou patros humon, to laloun en humin. (it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you.)
MY DEAR BROTHER, — Weigh for me a clause, a phrase weigh it against everything in contrast around; probe it, try it, apply it to everyone around you, and give me your thoughts when we meet.
"There is but one Man that is perfect — the anointed Man, Christ Jesus." I will only say I applied this much sooner to Him as the sin-offering than I did as my righteousness of God; and after I saw Him as the standard of walk, the comparison (through my love of self, and the place self had in me instead of God) led to depression and oft overwhelming within me.
Now I live more on the positive side than on the negative, and find it oft bursting from my heart, and mind, and tongue — "Yes; Thou art the only perfect One." Ruined as in Adam was I; ruined in and by myself, in my early life; a ruin as a disciple, not worthy to be called Thy servant; but Thou art of a truth the only perfect One, as a man. Perfect as God; for He came not short of the glory of God. Even Paul had to learn this; learnt it and found rest in it. And so may we.
But we will talk of this when next we meet (D.V.). G.V.W.
September 20th, 1878.
MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, — … I have been gaining again in strength of body, and brought away with me the rested brain which I had gained at -.
I am still looking to the Lord (in Anna's way) for His saints. Not so fervent as she was, nor so true; but, as it seems to me, "the breaking of bread" marks a privilege wheresoever any find grace for it; and thereupon I want the saints thereat to be full of faith and the Holy Spirit.
I may not write more just now. I pray for all the little company, and all of ours. Love to the brothers and sick sisters. Affectionately, G.V.W.
October 2nd, 1878.
OUR Jesus hath done all things well!" has long been our song. And so it must be, whatever we may feel; for if the Father of an only-begotten Son settles everything for us which is for the glory of that Son, surely all is well.
My love to all of ours. May they remember whose they are, and whom they have to serve.
Most affectionately, G.V.W.
October 23rd, 1878.
As to new remedies, God alone is the giver and renewer of life and health. He is the God of resurrection, that raiseth the dead. (2 Cor. 1) But the sentence of death in ourselves goes first. … I am decidedly better. The Lord can remove every mark of what has been, and put me into full work. Let Him show the saints His mind; I am His servant to go or theirs to stay. I am surprised at the saints' love.
My love to ours. G.V.W.
October 25th 1878.
I am not sure but that the Lord is about to heal me, and restore me to the work. If it be so, I would that it should be of such a sort that all should say, "See what God has wrought!" I am stronger, and my voice is returned. I will write and tell you when — might come. G.V.W.
PART FIFTH. LETTERS.
Letter written thirty years ago.
MY DEAR SISTER, — I have borne you on my heart and mind with much anxiety through all your tide of trial, and now feel anxious that the fruit of it should appear.
That which I desire for you is fellowship with Jesus in that which distinguished Him so pre-eminently above His fellows — repose of character. Quietness of spirit from a mind and heart shut up and engaged in divine love and glory is my ambition. How blessed and how unearthly the calm, quiet, unruffled composure of the Lord's course!
No haste, no hurry, because, though on earth, yet still in heaven. His mind, His heart, deep buried in His Father's love. And may we not thus abide in Christ, and Christ in us? In real fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ; walking in the same Spirit, abiding in the Spirit, led by the Spirit?
May the unction which you have received abide in you. Indeed, I count myself your brother in Jesus, and therefore as well free as bound to be anxious for you. More than this, there is a stake risked on every saint by Jesus, which makes the walk of every brother and sister as our own. For the glory of Jesus has been given us — not fellowship in the outward glory only, when our co-heirship shall be seen, but (much above this) a present investing with the glory of Jesus — "The glory which thou gavest me I have given them." May Enoch be your pattern, so far as you have any earthly pattern, who walked with God, and was not.
I have learnt lately much of the value of a life of communion with God. Close communion, and nothing else, should content us, though the flesh has no glory in it, and therefore would fain, as Satan also, pour contempt upon it, and lead us to any or every other object. Yet why should hurry or perturbation be our badge, if indeed we have Christ as our anchor within the veil?
Again I would say, May the unction which you have received abide in you. I feel a great jealousy about you, that you should have much communion, much interchange of thought, with God. It is easy to run here and run there, to speak to this one and that one; but how much may be will-worship of our own inventing, not growing up out of, not appointed us by, the Spirit.
May the Holy Ghost be your life! You know much of truth as to the Person and work, past, present, and future, of Jesus, embodying the moral character of Him with whom we have to do. I would desire to see your mind brought by the Holy Ghost into nearer and closer contact with that character thus exhibited, inhaling the sweet fragrance of the garden of the Lord.
As a brother I write freely. Satan has tempted you, will tempt you, to be unwilling to be subject to vanity. Remember this, that one of the Lord's great objects is, to show that He keeps us; therefore we are subject to vanity. To pride it is humbling to have to give so much time to sleep, to rest, to food, even to prayer, to say nothing to the littleness of life. Yet these are our glory, because His will.
Be much found in needlework for the poor, or some such littleness of female domestic life; for our glory is to do His will. The saint who is used by Him through sickness of body to draw forth the love of others, is as much honoured as a Paul or a Peter. But we have wretchedly ceased to have His will within us, and consequently how wrongly do we judge by man's thoughts, instead of God's. G.V.W.
Extracts from Letters written in 1864.
MY heart has its cravings as to -, not for your sake, not for his sake either, but for the Lord's glory, and the manifestation of His grace as superabounding over all difficulties, and getting to Himself a great name among His people, and before principalities and powers in heavenly places.
WHAT a place we are in, to be called to live to God and to Christ down here on the earth. All our own wants and affairs so entirely taken care of by God in heaven, that we are free to live to Him.
IT was so, my dear Mrs. -, as to your thoughts of the answer we were to have to your prayers about my dear comrade in the wilderness. He knows best, and He took her from weakness and trial here, below, and we must bow. At first I did bow, and through grace at once too, but that was all I could do. Of late my mind has been tracing, and I trust learning of Him, more of His thoughts and ways; and if the privation to me be not diminished, I can trace more of the goodness and tender love of His ways, and how strong His arm to have its own way. I do desire to say henceforth, "This one thing I do."
February 3rd, 1866.
DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, — I find it difficult to advise, in the sense of saying to any one, Do this or do that at any given time, or in any given set of circumstances. But a remark or two as to what would be my own guidance under the circumstances may even, though apparently vague and general, yet tend to help you.
For myself I find that I have always to "obey God," to subject myself, that is, to His known will. If in any case that springs up, I am convinced that so or so is His will, I would desire, in dependence upon Him, to take up my cross and do it. But as it must be His will that I do (for the virtue is not in my doing something or anything, but in my being subject to His will as known to me), if I am not clear in my own conscience when alone with Him, that I know what His will is, I would rather wait on until I do know, and can say this or that is His will. If my faith is lively, and I am really abiding near Him, I shall see His will early perhaps. If my faith is weak, or my own heart is clouded, or circumstances of the assembly of God, or circumstances of any kind, obscure my sight, I prefer humbling myself under His mighty hand, and tarrying His leisure, to walking forward without the ability of saying, "In this that I do, I think that I have the Lord's mind." I, of course, can enter into the difficulties to which you refer in your note, but I do not see your path; I do see that I can pray for you, and look to Him for light and guidance for you. How good is the Lord! He not only saves us from Satan and the world, but so exercises our hearts and minds (as we pass along the Red Sea to Jordan), that we get formed, even in habit, to the ways and thoughts of His love, and in the very difficulties we find in the way are made to love the more the home to which He guides us, where His will alone is done, and where, too, we know that there will be no distracting circumstances to perplex us or make us have to wait.
I do commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified.
Ever truly and prayerfully
Yours in Him, G.V.W.
MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, — Perfection must be looked for in God; He alone is perfect, and in Him is Jesus, in whom alone man can trace what is divine. That blessed One, when down here, was wont to see everything on God's side of it. "The cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?" Cup of wrath against man's sin held in Satan's hand before Him! and He saw nothing but His Father's gift! Death, judgment, wrath! He would not see anything apart from His Father's gift, and to Himself. And if my God put it into my heart to come out here in June, and into my wife's heart to urge me to go, and show her love to the Lord's saints, would it become me, even had He taken her away in England, to judge by the sight of the eye or the hearing of the ear, and to repine, not seeing the Father's hand and His love, and love to me in any, in every sorrow? No; now is the time to give up self; Christ's presence will be the place to have giving up of self owned in.
Forty years have I known her; thirty-seven years have I seen the motto of her life to have been, "It is right for me to devote myself to God, and to His saints, while here on earth." Thirty-two years of that time it has been mine to seek to shelter her as my companion. He said, "If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father." Did I love His gift to me? and shall I repine if she was put into fuller, greater blessing, made to feel how right her self-denying devotedness is counted in heaven? Selfishness and materialism would stir the storm of passion, and feebleness of human feeling might quiver, and the divine taste of death, as the Lord took it into His own soul in John 11, would lead to deepness of sorrow too, unselfish sorrow; but above it all, if "Christ is to be magnified in my body" by life, the Spirit being in me, I should still say, "I thank Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth," and "The cup which the Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?
We are poor things, poor vessels, to have such treasure as we carry in us; but "My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness."
She fell asleep at 10.10 p.m., September 12th, 1867.
Heaven is not changed, nor has her admission into the presence of my God cast a spot nor any dimness or shade there. He who chose to reveal Himself to her, who forced her to own His death, and Himself, alive in heaven, coming again to fetch us, had a right to take her there; and He comforts my heart with the truth of her being there, let into His presence. Our prayer was, that "Christ might be magnified" in her body and in mine, "whether by life or by death." She was selected for the one; may I find grace for the other; saints keeping me by prayer. The last two Lord's-days, wishing neither "to despise the rod, nor to faint under it," I abstained from preaching dear B- being here; but now I would be like David, and spoke last night at the room on "God, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort."
The interment takes place (D.V.), Monday (the undertaker having this morning changed the time). Dear J.N.D. had settled to come for it on Tuesday, the day first appointed, but now he cannot be here (as we have exchanged telegrams). All this is well — his proposing to come, and the preventing cause too. It will prevent his exhausting himself by a three days' journey too.
My salutation, G.V.W.
Montreal, October 1st, 1867.
MY DEAR -, A line will, I am sure, be welcome to you; and so far as that line treats of tender mercy and loving-kindness shown from God, through Jesus Christ and by His Spirit, to one whom I loved, to write it is praise to God, a rendering to Him the acknowledgement of the mercy and grace which He has shown.
She rests, absent from the body and present with the Lord; and His manner of loosing the cords that bind, in this life, body and soul together, and of His gathering up to His own presence, was a master-work of gentleness and tenderness.
Seeing how, — as our pilgrim course lengthened out, her sense of weakness and littleness grew upon her, and strengthened her timidity and retiredness, I had each summer of late proposed to her to accompany me alone in my work — Southampton one year, Aberdeen another, etc.; and when dear Mr. Darby's illness was heard of this year (Guelph), at first she hesitated to accompany me, next day accepted the thought, and then declined, her own feebleness and the need of preparation to accompany me this September to Barbados (D.V.) her plea; but most heartily did she urge my coming. Soon after my arrival, I found that Mr. D- intended going to Barbados in December. This, after prayer, led me to postpone my going thither, and to my proposing to stay and work in America till December, and then to my writing to say that, as Lady Robinson was returning hither in August, she might, as saints here so much wished it, come out. I said I would not come to fetch her, only because I feared that my doing so might induce her to come while her inclination might be against so doing.
When my letter reached her, she was very ill from liver and some mucous membrane attack; but the worst symptoms yielded to rest, diet, and exercise, or seemed to do so, though her judgment seemed formed that her days were now markedly numbered.
She decided to come, per Belgian, 15th August, and reached Quebec on the 27th. She had but one thought about the coming, and that was that it was the counsel of God for her and His most tender mercy to herself. Pitiful was He in the ship, and in a thousand unheard of ways. The little sea-sickness proved, I think, how out of order the system was. I met her, daughter, and maid at Quebec, and we came on in the same boat hither. The kind B-'s had prepared airy rooms in the college for us, and we were cared for in love. Two weeks and four hours after her being carried up into her room from the ship she passed away, as if falling asleep, after twenty-four hours of watchfulness.
To me she was communicative in this fortnight as to what God had wrought for her in Christ, and in her in enabling her to bow to God as the reconciler. (2 Cor. 5:20-21 as to Psalm 32, Rev. 1:5-6 as to 1 Thess. 4:15, 17.) "That is mine; God has given it to me," she said when I spoke of it — as to the unchangeableness of God and Christ, as to her own self having been forced out of the world and self-righteousness, etc., as to how much He had blessed and taught her between June 15th and August 27th; shown her too that He had, in love, to judge her ways, the discovery too of the daughter being a far better prop to her than her husband in things of this world, and turning from him to her in all cases, her self-judgment, occupation with all whom she loved, and urging her husband to write for her to this and to that one, and her care about her poor, were remarkable. Not long after her arrival there was, during a day and a half, an attack of inflammation, and from that she rallied not, save in measure; it was not acute pain, but distress. My being here, and not in routine work, left me free to be much with her; and my feeling that the Lord's rod was stretched out upon me, made me decline preaching on both Sunday nights, as another was ready. These evenings I spent in her room.
On the 12th, she had had no sleep during the night, but was moved at morn to another bed; no suffering, but exhaustion and weakness, and a frequent asking for beef-tea, and brandy and water in a teaspoon, as she sat up. At 7.30 p.m. I took my papers to her room, and prayed by her several times that Christ might be magnified in her body and mine, whether by life or death. Faintness came on as once before, but yielded to ordinary reliefs, and she fell asleep, dozing at first, then into deeper sleep; and about 10, while I and Mrs. B- were beside her, she breathed heavily. I fetched the daughter, who had gone to rest, so as to relieve me at 1; and she ceased to breathe at 10.10.
From the peculiarity of her mind, and my knowledge of it, I went through an agony, lest Satan should be permitted to make an inroad; but, thank God, the agony and the wrestling, the fear and the watching, and the strong crying in prayer, fell to me as my portion, and not in the least to her.
She is one who will be better known in heaven than on earth — a woman of a meek and lowly spirit.
Forty years I knew her; about thirty-two been the one that tried to shelter her, as she tried to help me by prayer. I expect no one to be able to estimate her grace, Christ's grace in her; but she is with Him who loved her, gave Himself for her and to her, fought with her till she bowed to His being all in all, and He now makes her happy. He will bring her again, for we are to be together there where "we are ever with the Lord" can be said. It is right for me to be wholly and altogether devoted to God and to His people on earth. If that was the characteristic of any one, you could understand how, after thirty-seven years' life, when the thought of leaving domestic quietness, and going with a husband to West Indies, and then going out to Canada to join a husband there, got upon the mind, she passed through all sorts of exercises as to domestic retirement not having been devotedness to God; and how, as the mind got formed for new work, it got a new energy. This was of God, a ripening up at the close.
The great love of saints in England; the visits of a Mary L-, Mrs. C-, etc.; the many kind letters; the prayers for the work of J. N. D -, for her husband, for the going forth of a wife and daughter and maid; the interest in the voyage which J. N. D- and saints far and wide in the Canadas and United States took in it; the godly reception at Quebec and Montreal — everything done as unto the Lord — all put the soul into a state in which were tasted afresh the sweets of the pilgrim missionary work in earlier days of her youth in Ireland, etc.
The mind, too, expanded, and many a private habit of thought dropped. "I used to think that in myself; but God in His circle where I am thinks this."
Her age, 55 all but a few days. G.V.W.
Cambridge, Mass., U.S., January 7th, 1868.
* * * Here, necessarily, progress is a matter of grace entirely; for errors of the worst kind and worldliness have found liberty and equality in the flesh a fine soil to grow in. It has pleased God to let the nature of that soil be shown out, and how very productive of poisonous weeds and of corruption the mixture of "liberté, egalité, fraternité" is as a soil; not so bad here as in France at the Revolution, in measure, perhaps, because there Romanism and Jesuitism were the religious orders of the day. Here the Bible is open, and there is a seed which fears God, and would walk with Him; yet really the Lord's heritage, such as He can own it — His Simeons, and Annas, and Marys — are in a low state, while a popular preacher would be run after by ten thousands. Still, He has His reserved ones — it may be seven thousand, as of old — and He is calling out one here, and a second there, and a third in another place. This does not discourage me at all, perhaps because I am a slow-minded one myself, but also in measure because I am sure He knows what He is about, and has more heart to bless than have I or have any of us; and He knows, too, the real state of hearts and minds, and the end from the beginning.
To a new-comer, things in detail are very strange here. At a meeting ten days ago there were "Adventists," "Millennium men," "Holders of the second coming." This sounded hopeful; but my first text, 1 Thess. 4, the "for ever with the Lord" was negatived. "I know no promise," said one of them, "but for the earth and in the land;" and with a great knowledge of broken bits of Scripture which they had, I had to ask them whether Christ were God or mere man, and to take my stand upon atonement. Last Monday, again, another was at another place, trying to make a gospel a rest and a hope of the Sabbath-day in Eden. Of course, the question of separation from evil inside the house is looked upon as bigotry of the worst kind. Universalists, who make all to be saved; Annihilationists, who put the wicked hereafter into non-existence; and Spiritualists, who consider inspiration to be the flow of thought in themselves, which, though it come from Satan they accredit with God's name and sanction — of course cannot see holiness without which no man shall see God. On the other hand, in the herds of these there are many there through ignorance, whom God brings out — His name be praised — one and one at a time. The church's rule here is to turn off the pastor when he ceases to be young and lively enough to be engaging to the young. The rising generation have a ruling hand in everything, and their likings rule to an extent which would be folly if it were not sin. G.V.W.
Extracts from Letters.
WE are hardly up to the mark as to walking with God down here; walking as the Lord walked.
I see this abundantly in myself as to, and under, the privileged departure of my daughter. The iron may enter into the soul — and it does in my case, and that of us all in this departure — but there should be no surprise. For two or three years she has been in work as a nurse, and been exposed in worse forms to that which the Lord was pleased to remove her by. I think she had counted the risks, and this was not the one she deprecated.
Perhaps it is my want of girdedness which makes me feel that others are not girded up, ready to depart at any moment. She and I had a talk, after I had spoken at North Row, on 1 John 3:16, and I found her mind thoroughly made up, at least so far as the theoretic and practical parts of the question.
"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."
ON Sunday, February 26th, 1871, I spoke at the table on Romans 5:7-8, and 1 John 3:15. I was struck much at what I said, and so were others; it was cutting, like a two-edged sword. She had taken up nursing, and was quite prepared to lay down her life for the brethren; and it would not have been like her to have retreated, had one known the issue beforehand, but of course that one could not have known. She said lately, "I hope I shall not be taken away in small-pox." On my saying, "It is as good a chariot of fire as any other," she said, "Oh, but for me to know you were sitting at the foot of my bed unable not to loathe the sight of me, would be painful indeed!" To me it seems as if the Lord were pleased to permit her to go on high through laying down her life in nursing those dear to Himself. Why am I to allow my loss and privation to be of more importance than His pleasure?
At six o'clock on Saturday, am., I judged that He meant to take her, and all that I could say was, "If so, give me grace to glorify Christ about it, and I will not repine, nor ask her back." He did not ask me to do what He asked Abraham as to Isaac, yet which He afterwards told him not to do, because He alone would give up His only Son for us; but all He asks is, "Will you bow to My hand? Will you accept the correction of the chastening at My hand? Will you let Me bless your child in My own way?"
I DO want help from the Lord that I may glorify Christ in the matter practically, as He would have me. I have said to His Father, "I justify Thee in every step of the way. I accept it at Thy hand, and I thank Thee for it." But there is, besides subjection, the present energy of the Spirit to come out with vital energy. I hope you will sympathise, therefore, more with the Lord and His honour, than with me and my feelings. Let G.V.W. be reckoned crucified, dead, and buried, but let there be more of Christ displayed in me as "quickened together, raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places."
You have heard that it has pleased the Lord to permit my daughter to go on high, through nursing the sick. It has pleased Him, and verily I would not, if I could, have said Him nay; nor when the Lord came in and claimed her, would I count that I ought to have been consulted or thought of. I bless God I can say to Him, "Only enable Thou me to glorify Christ in the matter, and I will not wish her back, nor say Thee nay." I am old, the Lord is the Ancient of days, and He can help me on.
Ps. 40:8: "The volume of the book," said by the Jews to be par excellence the law, or book of the law — literally, the roll of the writing." The same two words occur together, Jer. 36:2, "A roll of a book," and verse 4, (read the chapter), and Ezekiel 2:9.
MY DEAR Mrs. H-, — As found in Psalm 40:8, I should explain "The volume of the book," by the principle of 2 Peter 1:20, "No prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation;" i.e. God, in writing His word, has ever had His Son, and Him the end and centre of everything, before Him. As the winding of string supposes a roller to wind it upon, so Christ ever was the central thought and end of every revelation. A greater than Adam the first, or than Abel, or Noah, or Abraham, Isaac, Jacob — than Israel as the vine out of Egypt, than Moses or Aaron, than David or Solomon, was before God when He wrote about them severally.
The same passage occurs in Heb. 10:7 as in Ps. 40:7, and, as in the mouth of the rightful owner, brings to one's soul such enlargement of thought and truth, as Eph. 1:4, "Chosen in Him before the foundation of the world;" Titus 1:2, "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;" and 2 Tim. 1:9, "Grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began," etc.
As to Ps. 40, no one could have said, without qualification, verse 1, or verse 4, or verse 8, or verse 10, but a perfectly righteous one.
These are the few thoughts I have to offer.
Affectionate regards to Mr. H- and all your circle. I am be-colded just now, and using my Sunday night for communion by letter, while a brother is preaching in my stead.
I have had two most blessed instances of the Lord's answers to prayer these last six months. One of a notorious infidel in the great world in London, for whom I have prayed for forty years on and off, and done battle with him as to his infidel scoffings. Now he is a wonder to himself; brought round by the Lord alone. The other the husband of a friend. He got into Walkerite doctrine, and lost every trace of godliness and piety; but his soul has been visited by the Lord. He, too, has been the subject of much prayer.
I feel it important and right to make such cases known, for relations' and friends', children's and parents' sake — that all of ours may remember the smitten Rock's waters are gushing freely. It is a hard case if we can find no empty vessels to set before Him.
Most truly and affectionately yours, G.V.W.
January 8th, 1871.
June 28th, 1871.
MY DEAR -, I have endeavoured to care for the Lord's glory, and prayed that Christ may be made more apparent to everyone in both you and your dear mother, in the sufferings you have had to pass, with the Lord, under of late.
I did not write with pen to any of you, but I tried to speak to Him that loved you both, and came off the throne to die for you; and what I asked was, that He Himself should be glorified in you. A nice letter from C- reached me on Saturday. He had heard of my passage under sorrow, and looked at it quite as I wished all my young friends to look at it, that whatsoever the trial, none befalls us but what is common to man, and that the Lord can make His love to superabound above anything trying.
Yes, if heaven is open, upon us all shines in the light of His love; and if one asks of any trial, "And what does it appear in Christ's eye?" more still than that it shines will appear.
I snatch a moment to write to you in, but I oft find you and your father and mother upon my heart of late.
Most affectionately, G.V.W.
Demerara, British Guiana, South America,
November 24th, 1871.
MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, — MY heart has been stirred within me, deeply stirred both as a child and servant of God, by scenes through which I have just passed. God our Father would, according to the word of His grace, have the testimony about His Son preached everywhere here on earth.
I have just passed among the various West India Isles belonging to various nationalities, some to the Dutch, some to the French, some to the Spaniards, Portuguese, English, with no small addition to the number of their inhabitants of Germans, Swiss, etc.
But where has the preaching of the gospel of Christ in simplicity been in any of these isles? Has the gospel in its simplicity been preached anywhere in those islands in this generation in English, French, or Dutch? In no case, as far as I can hear, though in some of them there are estimable men of the Moravians, and strong partizans of Wesley, etc. The Roman Catholics are wide awake, and the Ritualists of the Establishment in England are playing into their hands (as said the Pope), like the bells in the tower calling people in, but not coming themselves. What can be done? If too old and feeble myself for much of the work and service, yet my heart stirs me with faith in God and His grace, to pray Him to send forth labourers for the work. And when I look back to His answers to prayers made in bygone times for France, Switzerland, Prussia, Scotland, Ireland, England, America, my heart says boldly, "Prayer now for these islands will not be in vain."
I desire too to stir up all those who are spiritually interested in the gospel as a testimony flowing from God, whether they be young or old, men or women, English or French or German, etc., to join in prayer for the sounding out of the Word throughout the world. If the Lord will graciously pour out a spirit of prayer and supplication (surely, I would say to all who love Him, the desire that He may do so is yours and mine, and the promise is to the prayer of two or three), expectation of blessing will spring up, and bear fruit too. The isles I have named, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and the East Indies, are on my heart. Nor you, nor I, could send anyone, even if any were ready to go, but we know the Lord of the harvest, and gladly shall we welcome His answers to prayer, and seek to comfort ourselves, and any whom He may incline to go. When Isaiah had had his iniquity taken away and his sin purged (Isa. 6:7), he heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" (v. 8.) His ready answer was, "Here am I, send me." Oh, that that voice, which speaks in every pardoned soul who loves the gospel, "Who will go for us?" were more simply heard and obeyed as by Isaiah of old! The night is now far spent, the dawn draws nigh. The testimony as to Christ should go forth everywhere, and from every one of His. Testimony to Him in His past, in His present, in His coming service to God, and as to man. How few addict themselves now-a-days to the ministry of the saints. (1 Cor. 16:15.) How few having believed therefore speak. (2 Cor. 4:13.) Compare Acts 8:4: "They that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word." If, as I trust it is, God who puts these thoughts and desires upon my soul, I may stay my soul upon Him, and hope as to blessing to come. The Son is to be preached everywhere; the Spirit works toward this, and will work (see Rev. 22:17); and is there no chaste virgin espoused to Christ? It is written, "And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Pray. None who can pray, can say, "As for me, I can do nothing in this matter." That the service in this testimony requires men in Christ, and not babes, is true.
But there are evangelists who have been tried, and approved themselves in their work. Let them bethink themselves of their work.
For myself, if the Lord permit me (who came out in my old age with none save Himself with me) to return to London, gladly shall I communicate all I can, in information, and to any that may inquire. The step needs faith to be ready to walk with God, if needs be alone. "But I am with you," saith the Lord, "to all such."
Ever yours, etc., G.V.W.
P.S. — It is but in Jamaica, Barbados, Demerara, that we know of any who would welcome to their homes and the table, any evangelist.
3, Howley Place, Harrow Road, London, W.,
April 5, 1872.
MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, — Amid a whole forest of difficulties and impediments to writing, my heart has carried its purpose and desire to write to you. I had just got in measure free to do so, when B — 's note, containing a copy of J 's, reached me, and, shortly before it, the news of -'s death by cholera.
The battle-field of life! But, thanks be to God, no uncertainty upon it, to those that believe God's word, either as to themselves or as to those who, through Jesus, sleep in Him.
It is only by the Spirit of God's presence with us that we have received power to say, "I am Christ's," and "Christ is mine." It is His presence, personally, with the new nature given to us, that is our power of feeding upon such truth as, "Go tell My brethren, Behold, I ascend to My Father, and your Father; to My God, and your God." I find it important to keep very distinctly before the mind, that fellowship with the Father, and with the Son, is only for us in the New Creation. In that, nothing breaks down; in that, there is no unshipping of anything in the storms or hurricanes of providential or governmental kingdoms. Yea, the very effect of the slaughter of the sheep, killed all the day long, is but to realize more and more, that the threads of life are in that which cannot be cut, the root and source of life, Christ Himself, in glory at God's right hand. "I, yet not I, but Christ" (Gal. 2:20), is one of Paul's own peculiar expressions. "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." The "I" that was crucified together with Christ, and died together with Him, is what I was — a creature made for its Creator's glory and praise, but in its lapsed condition living from itself, and by its own power, and to itself — this I reckon dead; the I, yet not I, is myself as part of the New Creation. My selfishness is bowed before the love of Him, who gave up glory in heaven, on the throne, to become a man to die for us — who lives, and in love thinks of us, — a living Man in heaven, and whose love will find its own expression, when He presents us to Himself a glorious church, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. In God's love in giving Christ, and in Christ's love in enduring all for us, selfishness in us finds its deathblow, as well as sentence. But Romans 6 goes further, because it not only makes an appeal to our hearts' affections, but shows God's thoughts and counsels, and His view of Christ's death; that He, occupied with Christ's death, counts me dead who believe in Him; and that I am bound to count or reckon myself so too. Now this meets the difficulties of the greatest and of the least of us. We that believe have been brought out of that system in which self is looked at as everything into another, in which Christ is looked at by God, and us too, in Him, the alone One. He only is the fountain, stream, end of all God's good pleasure, but we get our place both in Him before God, and with God in His thoughts about Him; for the Spirit is in us.
However little I am among men, or among the saints. of God, or you, the question with God is, Is Christ magnified in us, and in our bodies, whether it be by life or by death? A slave might do this in the midst of slavery — live as rejoicing in Christ, as using His resurrection power (2 Cor. 10:11), in all the details of the life of a slave, and do it all to Christ. An apostle might not succeed so well as the poor slave in this. For what is characteristic distinctively of an apostle, was, to have seen the Lord, and be one sent by Him as a messenger for the Lord's own self. Paul had not life — eternal life in Christ, more than had Phoebe or Onesimus.
Now it is just in possessing, and walking in this life, that you can magnify Christ in your body, whether it be by life or by death. The dewdrops on the trees and flowers can reflect the light of the rising sun; you in your retirement and suffering, bereavement and hidden life, can live unto God through Christ. This is just what I referred to, when I spoke to you of glorifying God and Christ in the furnace. However little you are, the thread, the pulse of eternal life, the knowledge of Christ who was crucified, and who arose, and lives up there in heaven, is possessed by you; and now He is coming again shortly, and if these things become the power of your life down here, if you walk down here as seeing, and waiting upon Him who is up there, He will be magnified in your body by your walk.
All the glory of Christ who is the image of the invisible God, is unveiled to us, and the tiniest of us can reflect Him; can shine as Himself.
My dear child, I pray for you, that Christ may be lived to by you. Excuse haste, for interruption upon interruption has been mine. Tell your mother I hope to write to her.
Your brother and fellow-servant, G.V.W.
Uttoxeter, July 20th, 1875.
BELOVED IN THE LORD, — I received your letter and the welcome news of J. T-, when out in New Zealand, but, though I put it to be a memorial of a letter from me to you, poor memory was not helped amid the pressure out of measure at the time upon me.
Since I have been back I have had another letter on the same subject from Mrs. W. T-, to the same effect as the other, but written at a later date. Of one thing we may be sure, that prayer works its own answer, obedient dependence to God, and that displayed even only in a groan or a sigh, never is forgotten by Him who is on high; it goes up, and in, with the savour of Christ upon it, and the remainder from us of what grace has already done for us in Him, and by the Spirit, and we may, and must, trust and hope on still.
I heard of your wife's weakness in body soon after my arrival. I am here feeble enough, but happy in the Lord; though able to do but little, able both to suffer and to give Him thanks for every bit of His dealings.
I think to be up farther north in my cruise, but when I know not; yet I trust in His "now." And if so, I may challenge you as to your being "at home" to me at that time. I have no plan or chart which I knowingly have drawn up or accepted, but wish to hang on upon Him still.
The last letter which I heard of from J.N.D. came last week from Springfield, en route (D.V.) for England, via San Francisco, New Zealand, and the United States. In a parenthesis, "I see nothing as to Australia," or words to that effect. (McA- named it to me.)
The days are solemn, but with much to encourage the hearts that trust in God, wrought in them as saints. But the testimony should go forth as to the character of grace, as to the coming of our Lord, as to the saints' life and walk — so I judge — in a way now which none but God can cause it to do so.
My kind love to dear Mrs. H-. Your daughter, whom I met in London, invited me to come and see you.
July 21st, 1876.
MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, — The Master keeps me so much as a personal attendant on Himself, and the full work He gives me just now to do, that as a servant I have no liberty to put in or leave out any word.
This does not change your loving invitation or my sense of it, though it puts it out of my power to profit from it. I send you a copy of what S — sent to me from Sydney lately. It is not poetry,* but was my answer to his (G. S. S- 's) request for an answer to Pearsall Smith's tracts.
Your fellow-servant in the Christ, G.V.W.
*This little poem has often been printed but it is added here for the sake of those who may not have seen it. — ED.
O Man! God's Man; Thou peerless Man!
Jesus, my Lord! God's Son:
Perfection's perfect in its height,
But found in Thee alone.
Of Abba's love — of God's great claims —
Thou com'st not short at all;
Perfect in everything art Thou
Alone, since Adam's fall.
O matchless, peerless Man! shall we
Begrudge to Thee this praise?
Perfect alone, Thou cam'st in love,
To glory us to raise.
Peerlessly spotless Man! 'twas Thou
The wrath did'st bear for me,
Peerlessly righteous Man! I'm made
God's righteousness in Thee.
Peerlessly glorious Man! how soon
Shall I be like to Thee?
Thy very glory then reflect,
Thy perfect beauty see.
Sydney, June 14th, 1877.
Your letter comforted me. Any one standing by, and not in the eddying whirl that another may be in, can often see that which the weak one in the eddy cannot see — some grace and mercy of the Lord's, the very naming of which is responded to by the other. I am such a poor, weak thing, that often nothing but the dire necessity of the case forces me on, to make me stand firm. Oft I am firm because I have to say, "To whom shall I go, Lord, but to Thee?" and often, when inclined to be still, the truths that the mass is perishing for the lack of the clear gospel, or the saints are asleep as to the return of the Lord Jesus, force me to make an effort.
Certainly we are on the flat that runs down to the end, and certainly we ought to seek to get every child of God into the light of His coming. Jesus Christ is coming back! What tremendous changes must take place on earth, in the heavenlies, in heaven and in hell below! And all we here, who know all this, and know the bearing upon Christendom and men it, surely we may well look up to be enabled to speak a word to those around. And it is in the light of that great action of God that the Christian sees light. If He is coming back, how did He leave His Church? If He is coming back, how did He leave His people? and are they where He left them? The Holy Ghost was the Guardian or Paraclete on earth: where is He? He has not gone away; but those put under Him have slipped away from hallowed ground, down into the world and flesh and Satan, and Satan has blinded their eyes as to the insults and griefs put upon the Spirit.
On the other hand, how blessed a thing that we have not to preach man's failure, but how, notwithstanding all that man has done, God remains God still — His Son as bright as ever, His humiliation, obedience, death, resurrection, and ascension remain as important as ever. Expiation is accomplished for the believer in Him on the throne — Himself alive from the dead, in heaven until He rises up to come and fetch His people thither, and the Holy Spirit here to vindicate and make good the claims of the Lord Jesus over sinners and saints.
The Lord is good, and doeth good. The conviction grows deeper and deeper in my soul, that the Lord is coming quickly, and that the Father and God is separating a people down here to meet Him at His coming. Happy they who, alive and seeing Him, are able to say, "This is our God; we have waited for Him." And if I love any down here, no wish can be so good for them as that they may be ready in heart, and in their circumstances, to welcome Him — have nothing about them practically inconsistent with the hope, and be unworldly, so that they can amalgamate with the scene then opened to them.
The body will be changed, and all its death lost; but beside this, we may be in such a state as to find nothing lost but that which we had curbed and struggled against. Selfishness, for instance, cannot cross the border, nor self-confidence, nor self-complacency. But these, however, may have got the mastery of us here, and if so they are our plague. and vexation now (for the root is in us, ever ready to crop up); but when He comes, no law of sin in our members to be watched and kept under!
If we are not victors now, here, over these and every thing unlike and contrary to the Lord, humbling will be the first thought — or if not first, for the power of the presence of Christ must be that; but the second thought — humbling is the folly which had kept us going on still with the old self, and allowing it liberty. But besides this blessedness being surely the blessing of those for whom He comes, there is another truth; and that is, He ought to have a people waiting for Him — and the Father must think He is worthy of this. The close of the book of Revelation (Rev. 22:16-20) always leaves the impression on my soul that there are to be such. Some would build on this the needs-be for a lapse of time between today and the time when such a people (not now found on earth) could be found; but this is a fallacy.
If the Lord were coming today at one o'clock, His Spirit could awaken thousands that are His, in one place even, to the truth, "He is coming back," and that, too, from among those who never thought about it.
They would not be at home in the subject, perhaps, nor practically their lives made ready for it; but as those to be alive and waiting for Him, they might have a child's joy in expecting Him
Ever in Christ (for He letteth me not out of the ark),
Sydney, June 29th, 1847.
MY DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER IN THE LORD, — Grace, mercy, and peace to you; I have heard that the Lord has visited you with sickness to one of your daughters, and I am sure you will not count a note to be an intrusion from one to whom you showed so much kindness in my visit to Christchurch.
What a blessed thing to us in these afflictions it is, that we have a God who loves us enough to chasten us.
To me it has been very precious that I have for my God and Father One who is set on making me practically a partaker of His holiness, even as I am so already in Christ.
Hebrews 12 is a goodly portion, and I hear your beloved child has owned to the faith in the Lord Jesus. How well and how blessed for her! and how well and how blessed for you too! My heart looks out for a large blessing for you. Your eldest, and your second son, are yet to be blessed, and why should one single one of your little flock not be yet in Abba's house? There is room enough there yet, and the Lord Jesus is large-hearted and ready-handed to bless. I pray for you, and for your sick one.
Affectionately, with love to each and all, G.V.W.