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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.