By G.V. Wigram
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.
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,
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.
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 seance 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.