By G.V. Wigram
Saturday, August 3rd.
MY DEAR -, -- I feel my letter yesterday was too much of myself. After it was gone I judged, "God at the helm" ought to have been more boldly spoken out for; and yourself, who know His saving power, and how Satan is watching everything whereby to dishonour Him, and make us look like mere men, a little more cautioned by me. But I could leave you in the Lord's hands, to care for, guide, and direct.
Still it is well for me to send this.
Ever affectionately, G.V.W.
MY DEAR MISS -, -- I write this line to have somewhat ready to post on my arrival at Melbourne, if the Lord so will; for there seems to be nothing that better announces to friends in the distance a safe arrival like a sight of an absentee's handwriting. The goodness of the Lord is great, and widely spread abroad the proofs of it. One needs only to have the eye open to scan them wherever one is; and if we see them not it must be because we are either blind, or have the mind occupied with others, which must be less worthy objects than are the hand and heart of the Lord, who compasses us about with goodness, and eternal, divine, and heavenly mercies.
Tell brethren, please, that the little assembly in this ship -- six in all -- counts upon their prayers, and those of others in England, for a blessing from the Lord.
Ever affectionately in the Lord.
Copy of a Post Card.
AN old pilgrim writes this on nearing the shore of your island to let you know of his return. Mercies have been many since he left, and all even of the trials had to come out of the bosom of Him who overrules all in mercy, and so all has been well.
Copied from the fly-leaf of one of his Bibles.
BE it that you have little qualification, less gift, and no office whatsoever; yet, as an individual member of Christ, child of God, and inheritor of the kingdom of heaven, you must, as partaker of the blessing, and dwelt in by the Spirit, desire the honour of God and the glory of Christ. While waiting for his Son, the Saviour from heaven, serve the living and true God then.
The Spirit is at work to get Christ's members out of the world, and from under the power of the flesh and the devil. Labour thereunto in God, and be the servant down here in every way, of the interest, honour, and glory of Christ in His members. ou gar humeis este hoi lalountes, alla to pneuma tou patros humon, to laloun en humin. (it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you.)
MY DEAR BROTHER, -- Weigh for me a clause, a phrase weigh it against everything in contrast around; probe it, try it, apply it to everyone around you, and give me your thoughts when we meet.
"There is but one Man that is perfect -- the anointed Man, Christ Jesus." I will only say I applied this much sooner to Him as the sin-offering than I did as my righteousness of God; and after I saw Him as the standard of walk, the comparison (through my love of self, and the place self had in me instead of God) led to depression and oft overwhelming within me.
Now I live more on the positive side than on the negative, and find it oft bursting from my heart, and mind, and tongue -- "Yes; Thou art the only perfect One." Ruined as in Adam was I; ruined in and by myself, in my early life; a ruin as a disciple, not worthy to be called Thy servant; but Thou art of a truth the only perfect One, as a man. Perfect as God; for He came not short of the glory of God. Even Paul had to learn this; learnt it and found rest in it. And so may we.
But we will talk of this when next we meet (D.V.). G.V.W.
September 20th, 1878.
MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, -- . . . I have been gaining again in strength of body, and brought away with me the rested brain which I had gained at -.
I am still looking to the Lord (in Anna's way) for His saints. Not so fervent as she was, nor so true; but, as it seems to me, "the breaking of bread" marks a privilege wheresoever any find grace for it; and thereupon I want the saints thereat to be full of faith and the Holy Spirit.
I may not write more just now. I pray for all the little company, and all of ours. Love to the brothers and sick sisters. Affectionately, G.V.W.
October 2nd, 1878.
OUR Jesus hath done all things well!" has long been our song. And so it must be, whatever we may feel; for if the Father of an only-begotten Son settles everything for us which is for the glory of that Son, surely all is well.
My love to all of ours. May they remember whose they are, and whom they have to serve.
Most affectionately, G.V.W.
October 23rd, 1878.
As to new remedies, God alone is the giver and renewer of life and health. He is the God of resurrection, that raiseth the dead. (2 Cor. 1) But the sentence of death in ourselves goes first. . . . I am decidedly better. The Lord can remove every mark of what has been, and put me into full work. Let Him show the saints His mind; I am His servant to go or theirs to stay. I am surprised at the saints' love.
My love to ours. G.V.W.
October 25th 1878.
I am not sure but that the Lord is about to heal me, and restore me to the work. If it be so, I would that it should be of such a sort that all should say, "See what God has wrought!" I am stronger, and my voice is returned. I will write and tell you when -- might come. G.V.W.
PART FIFTH. LETTERS from 1850-1877.
Letter written thirty years ago.
MY DEAR SISTER, -- I have borne you on my heart and mind with much anxiety through all your tide of trial, and now feel anxious that the fruit of it should appear.
That which I desire for you is fellowship with Jesus in that which distinguished Him so pre-eminently above His fellows -- repose of character. Quietness of spirit from a mind and heart shut up and engaged in divine love and glory is my ambition. How blessed and how unearthly the calm, quiet, unruffled composure of the Lord's course!
No haste, no hurry, because, though on earth, yet still in heaven. His mind, His heart, deep buried in His Father's love. And may we not thus abide in Christ, and Christ in us? In real fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ; walking in the same Spirit, abiding in the Spirit, led by the Spirit?
May the unction which you have received abide in you. Indeed, I count myself your brother in Jesus, and therefore as well free as bound to be anxious for you. More than this, there is a stake risked on every saint by Jesus, which makes the walk of every brother and sister as our own. For the glory of Jesus has been given us -- not fellowship in the outward glory only, when our co-heirship shall be seen, but (much above this) a present investing with the glory of Jesus -- "The glory which thou gavest me I have given them." May Enoch be your pattern, so far as you have any earthly pattern, who walked with God, and was not.
I have learnt lately much of the value of a life of communion with God. Close communion, and nothing else, should content us, though the flesh has no glory in it, and therefore would fain, as Satan also, pour contempt upon it, and lead us to any or every other object. Yet why should hurry or perturbation be our badge, if indeed we have Christ as our anchor within the veil?
Again I would say, May the unction which you have received abide in you. I feel a great jealousy about you, that you should have much communion, much interchange of thought, with God. It is easy to run here and run there, to speak to this one and that one; but how much may be will-worship of our own inventing, not growing up out of, not appointed us by, the Spirit.
May the Holy Ghost be your life! You know much of truth as to the Person and work, past, present, and future, of Jesus, embodying the moral character of Him with whom we have to do. I would desire to see your mind brought by the Holy Ghost into nearer and closer contact with that character thus exhibited, inhaling the sweet fragrance of the garden of the Lord.
As a brother I write freely. Satan has tempted you, will tempt you, to be unwilling to be subject to vanity. Remember this, that one of the Lord's great objects is, to show that He keeps us; therefore we are subject to vanity. To pride it is humbling to have to give so much time to sleep, to rest, to food, even to prayer, to say nothing to the littleness of life. Yet these are our glory, because His will.
Be much found in needlework for the poor, or some such littleness of female domestic life; for our glory is to do His will. The saint who is used by Him through sickness of body to draw forth the love of others, is as much honoured as a Paul or a Peter. But we have wretchedly ceased to have His will within us, and consequently how wrongly do we judge by man's thoughts, instead of God's. G.V.W.
Extracts from Letters written in 1864.
MY heart has its cravings as to -, not for your sake, not for his sake either, but for the Lord's glory, and the manifestation of His grace as superabounding over all difficulties, and getting to Himself a great name among His people, and before principalities and powers in heavenly places.
WHAT a place we are in, to be called to live to God and to Christ down here on the earth. All our own wants and affairs so entirely taken care of by God in heaven, that we are free to live to Him.
IT was so, my dear Mrs. -, as to your thoughts of the answer we were to have to your prayers about my dear comrade in the wilderness. He knows best, and He took her from weakness and trial here, below, and we must bow. At first I did bow, and through grace at once too, but that was all I could do. Of late my mind has been tracing, and I trust learning of Him, more of His thoughts and ways; and if the privation to me be not diminished, I can trace more of the goodness and tender love of His ways, and how strong His arm to have its own way. I do desire to say henceforth, "This one thing I do."
February 3rd, 1866.
DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, -- I find it difficult to advise, in the sense of saying to any one, Do this or do that at any given time, or in any given set of circumstances. But a remark or two as to what would be my own guidance under the circumstances may even, though apparently vague and general, yet tend to help you.
For myself I find that I have always to "obey God," to subject myself, that is, to His known will. If in any case that springs up, I am convinced that so or so is His will, I would desire, in dependence upon Him, to take up my cross and do it. But as it must be His will that I do (for the virtue is not in my doing something or anything, but in my being subject to His will as known to me), if I am not clear in my own conscience when alone with Him, that I know what His will is, I would rather wait on until I do know, and can say this or that is His will. If my faith is lively, and I am really abiding near Him, I shall see His will early perhaps. If my faith is weak, or my own heart is clouded, or circumstances of the assembly of God, or circumstances of any kind, obscure my sight, I prefer humbling myself under His mighty hand, and tarrying His leisure, to walking forward without the ability of saying, "In this that I do, I think that I have the Lord's mind." I, of course, can enter into the difficulties to which you refer in your note, but I do not see your path; I do see that I can pray for you, and look to Him for light and guidance for you. How good is the Lord! He not only saves us from Satan and the world, but so exercises our hearts and minds (as we pass along the Red Sea to Jordan), that we get formed, even in habit, to the ways and thoughts of His love, and in the very difficulties we find in the way are made to love the more the home to which He guides us, where His will alone is done, and where, too, we know that there will be no distracting circumstances to perplex us or make us have to wait.
I do commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified.
Ever truly and prayerfully
Yours in Him, G.V.W.
MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, -- Perfection must be looked for in God; He alone is perfect, and in Him is Jesus, in whom alone man can trace what is divine. That blessed One, when down here, was wont to see everything on God's side of it. "The cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?" Cup of wrath against man's sin held in Satan's hand before Him! and He saw nothing but His Father's gift! Death, judgment, wrath! He would not see anything apart from His Father's gift, and to Himself. And if my God put it into my heart to come out here in June, and into my wife's heart to urge me to go, and show her love to the Lord's saints, would it become me, even had He taken her away in England, to judge by the sight of the eye or the hearing of the ear, and to repine, not seeing the Father's hand and His love, and love to me in any, in every sorrow? No; now is the time to give up self; Christ's presence will be the place to have giving up of self owned in.
Forty years have I known her; thirty-seven years have I seen the motto of her life to have been, "It is right for me to devote myself to God, and to His saints, while here on earth." Thirty-two years of that time it has been mine to seek to shelter her as my companion. He said, "If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father." Did I love His gift to me? and shall I repine if she was put into fuller, greater blessing, made to feel how right her self-denying devotedness is counted in heaven? Selfishness and materialism would stir the storm of passion, and feebleness of human feeling might quiver, and the divine taste of death, as the Lord took it into His own soul in John 11, would lead to deepness of sorrow too, unselfish sorrow; but above it all, if "Christ is to be magnified in my body" by life, the Spirit being in me, I should still say, "I thank Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth," and "The cup which the Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?
We are poor things, poor vessels, to have such treasure as we carry in us; but "My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness."
She fell asleep at 10.10 p.m., September 12th, 1867.
Heaven is not changed, nor has her admission into the presence of my God cast a spot nor any dimness or shade there. He who chose to reveal Himself to her, who forced her to own His death, and Himself, alive in heaven, coming again to fetch us, had a right to take her there; and He comforts my heart with the truth of her being there, let into His presence. Our prayer was, that "Christ might be magnified" in her body and in mine, "whether by life or by death." She was selected for the one; may I find grace for the other; saints keeping me by prayer. The last two Lord's-days, wishing neither "to despise the rod, nor to faint under it," I abstained from preaching dear B- being here; but now I would be like David, and spoke last night at the room on "God, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort."
The interment takes place (D.V.), Monday (the undertaker having this morning changed the time). Dear J.N.D. had settled to come for it on Tuesday, the day first appointed, but now he cannot be here (as we have exchanged telegrams). All this is well -- his proposing to come, and the preventing cause too. It will prevent his exhausting himself by a three days' journey too.
My salutation, G.V.W.
Montreal, October 1st, 1867.
MY DEAR -, A line will, I am sure, be welcome to you; and so far as that line treats of tender mercy and loving-kindness shown from God, through Jesus Christ and by His Spirit, to one whom I loved, to write it is praise to God, a rendering to Him the acknowledgement of the mercy and grace which He has shown.
She rests, absent from the body and present with the Lord; and His manner of loosing the cords that bind, in this life, body and soul together, and of His gathering up to His own presence, was a master-work of gentleness and tenderness.
Seeing how, -- as our pilgrim course lengthened out, her sense of weakness and littleness grew upon her, and strengthened her timidity and retiredness, I had each summer of late proposed to her to accompany me alone in my work -- Southampton one year, Aberdeen another, etc.; and when dear Mr. Darby's illness was heard of this year (Guelph), at first she hesitated to accompany me, next day accepted the thought, and then declined, her own feebleness and the need of preparation to accompany me this September to Barbados (D.V.) her plea; but most heartily did she urge my coming. Soon after my arrival, I found that Mr. D- intended going to Barbados in December. This, after prayer, led me to postpone my going thither, and to my proposing to stay and work in America till December, and then to my writing to say that, as Lady Robinson was returning hither in August, she might, as saints here so much wished it, come out. I said I would not come to fetch her, only because I feared that my doing so might induce her to come while her inclination might be against so doing.
When my letter reached her, she was very ill from liver and some mucous membrane attack; but the worst symptoms yielded to rest, diet, and exercise, or seemed to do so, though her judgment seemed formed that her days were now markedly numbered.
She decided to come, per Belgian, 15th August, and reached Quebec on the 27th. She had but one thought about the coming, and that was that it was the counsel of God for her and His most tender mercy to herself. Pitiful was He in the ship, and in a thousand unheard of ways. The little sea-sickness proved, I think, how out of order the system was. I met her, daughter, and maid at Quebec, and we came on in the same boat hither. The kind B-'s had prepared airy rooms in the college for us, and we were cared for in love. Two weeks and four hours after her being carried up into her room from the ship she passed away, as if falling asleep, after twenty-four hours of watchfulness.
To me she was communicative in this fortnight as to what God had wrought for her in Christ, and in her in enabling her to bow to God as the reconciler. (2 Cor. 5: 20, 21 as to Psalm 32, Rev. 1: 5, 6 as to 1 Thess. 4: 15, 17.) "That is mine; God has given it to me," she said when I spoke of it -- as to the unchangeableness of God and Christ, as to her own self having been forced out of the world and self-righteousness, etc., as to how much He had blessed and taught her between June 15th and August 27th; shown her too that He had, in love, to judge her ways, the discovery too of the daughter being a far better prop to her than her husband in things of this world, and turning from him to her in all cases, her self-judgment, occupation with all whom she loved, and urging her husband to write for her to this and to that one, and her care about her poor, were remarkable. Not long after her arrival there was, during a day and a half, an attack of inflammation, and from that she rallied not, save in measure; it was not acute pain, but distress. My being here, and not in routine work, left me free to be much with her; and my feeling that the Lord's rod was stretched out upon me, made me decline preaching on both Sunday nights, as another was ready. These evenings I spent in her room.
On the 12th, she had had no sleep during the night, but was moved at morn to another bed; no suffering, but exhaustion and weakness, and a frequent asking for beef-tea, and brandy and water in a teaspoon, as she sat up. At 7.30 p.m. I took my papers to her room, and prayed by her several times that Christ might be magnified in her body and mine, whether by life or death. Faintness came on as once before, but yielded to ordinary reliefs, and she fell asleep, dozing at first, then into deeper sleep; and about 10, while I and Mrs. B- were beside her, she breathed heavily. I fetched the daughter, who had gone to rest, so as to relieve me at 1; and she ceased to breathe at 10.10.
From the peculiarity of her mind, and my knowledge of it, I went through an agony, lest Satan should be permitted to make an inroad; but, thank God, the agony and the wrestling, the fear and the watching, and the strong crying in prayer, fell to me as my portion, and not in the least to her.
She is one who will be better known in heaven than on earth -- a woman of a meek and lowly spirit.
Forty years I knew her; about thirty-two been the one that tried to shelter her, as she tried to help me by prayer. I expect no one to be able to estimate her grace, Christ's grace in her; but she is with Him who loved her, gave Himself for her and to her, fought with her till she bowed to His being all in all, and He now makes her happy. He will bring her again, for we are to be together there where "we are ever with the Lord" can be said. It is right for me to be wholly and altogether devoted to God and to His people on earth. If that was the characteristic of any one, you could understand how, after thirty-seven years' life, when the thought of leaving domestic quietness, and going with a husband to West Indies, and then going out to Canada to join a husband there, got upon the mind, she passed through all sorts of exercises as to domestic retirement not having been devotedness to God; and how, as the mind got formed for new work, it got a new energy. This was of God, a ripening up at the close.
The great love of saints in England; the visits of a Mary L-, Mrs. C-, etc.; the many kind letters; the prayers for the work of J. N. D -, for her husband, for the going forth of a wife and daughter and maid; the interest in the voyage which J. N. D- and saints far and wide in the Canadas and United States took in it; the godly reception at Quebec and Montreal -- everything done as unto the Lord -- all put the soul into a state in which were tasted afresh the sweets of the pilgrim missionary work in earlier days of her youth in Ireland, etc.
The mind, too, expanded, and many a private habit of thought dropped. "I used to think that in myself; but God in His circle where I am thinks this."
Her age, 55 all but a few days. G.V.W.
Cambridge, Mass., U.S., January 7th, 1868.
* * * Here, necessarily, progress is a matter of grace entirely; for errors of the worst kind and worldliness have found liberty and equality in the flesh a fine soil to grow in. It has pleased God to let the nature of that soil be shown out, and how very productive of poisonous weeds and of corruption the mixture of "liberte, egalite, fraternite" is as a soil; not so bad here as in France at the Revolution, in measure, perhaps, because there Romanism and Jesuitism were the religious orders of the day. Here the Bible is open, and there is a seed which fears God, and would walk with Him; yet really the Lord's heritage, such as He can own it -- His Simeons, and Annas, and Marys -- are in a low state, while a popular preacher would be run after by ten thousands. Still, He has His reserved ones -- it may be seven thousand, as of old -- and He is calling out one here, and a second there, and a third in another place. This does not discourage me at all, perhaps because I am a slow-minded one myself, but also in measure because I am sure He knows what He is about, and has more heart to bless than have I or have any of us; and He knows, too, the real state of hearts and minds, and the end from the beginning.
To a new-comer, things in detail are very strange here. At a meeting ten days ago there were "Adventists," "Millennium men," "Holders of the second coming." This sounded hopeful; but my first text, 1 Thess. 4, the "for ever with the Lord" was negatived. "I know no promise," said one of them, "but for the earth and in the land;" and with a great knowledge of broken bits of Scripture which they had, I had to ask them whether Christ were God or mere man, and to take my stand upon atonement. Last Monday, again, another was at another place, trying to make a gospel a rest and a hope of the Sabbath-day in Eden. Of course, the question of separation from evil inside the house is looked upon as bigotry of the worst kind. Universalists, who make all to be saved; Annihilationists, who put the wicked hereafter into non-existence; and Spiritualists, who consider inspiration to be the flow of thought in themselves, which, though it come from Satan they accredit with God's name and sanction -- of course cannot see holiness without which no man shall see God. On the other hand, in the herds of these there are many there through ignorance, whom God brings out -- His name be praised -- one and one at a time. The church's rule here is to turn off the pastor when he ceases to be young and lively enough to be engaging to the young. The rising generation have a ruling hand in everything, and their likings rule to an extent which would be folly if it were not sin. G.V.W.
Extracts from Letters.
WE are hardly up to the mark as to walking with God down here; walking as the Lord walked.
I see this abundantly in myself as to, and under, the privileged departure of my daughter. The iron may enter into the soul -- and it does in my case, and that of us all in this departure -- but there should be no surprise. For two or three years she has been in work as a nurse, and been exposed in worse forms to that which the Lord was pleased to remove her by. I think she had counted the risks, and this was not the one she deprecated.
Perhaps it is my want of girdedness which makes me feel that others are not girded up, ready to depart at any moment. She and I had a talk, after I had spoken at North Row, on 1 John 3: 16, and I found her mind thoroughly made up, at least so far as the theoretic and practical parts of the question.
"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."
ON Sunday, February 26th, 1871, I spoke at the table on Romans 5: 7, 8, and 1 John 3: 15. I was struck much at what I said, and so were others; it was cutting, like a two-edged sword. She had taken up nursing, and was quite prepared to lay down her life for the brethren; and it would not have been like her to have retreated, had one known the issue beforehand, but of course that one could not have known. She said lately, "I hope I shall not be taken away in small-pox." On my saying, "It is as good a chariot of fire as any other," she said, "Oh, but for me to know you were sitting at the foot of my bed unable not to loathe the sight of me, would be painful indeed!" To me it seems as if the Lord were pleased to permit her to go on high through laying down her life in nursing those dear to Himself. Why am I to allow my loss and privation to be of more importance than His pleasure?
At six o'clock on Saturday, am., I judged that He meant to take her, and all that I could say was, "If so, give me grace to glorify Christ about it, and I will not repine, nor ask her back." He did not ask me to do what He asked Abraham as to Isaac, yet which He afterwards told him not to do, because He alone would give up His only Son for us; but all He asks is, "Will you bow to My hand? Will you accept the correction of the chastening at My hand? Will you let Me bless your child in My own way?"
I DO want help from the Lord that I may glorify Christ in the matter practically, as He would have me. I have said to His Father, "I justify Thee in every step of the way. I accept it at Thy hand, and I thank Thee for it." But there is, besides subjection, the present energy of the Spirit to come out with vital energy. I hope you will sympathise, therefore, more with the Lord and His honour, than with me and my feelings. Let G.V.W. be reckoned crucified, dead, and buried, but let there be more of Christ displayed in me as "quickened together, raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places."
You have heard that it has pleased the Lord to permit my daughter to go on high, through nursing the sick. It has pleased Him, and verily I would not, if I could, have said Him nay; nor when the Lord came in and claimed her, would I count that I ought to have been consulted or thought of. I bless God I can say to Him, "Only enable Thou me to glorify Christ in the matter, and I will not wish her back, nor say Thee nay." I am old, the Lord is the Ancient of days, and He can help me on.
Ps. 40: 8: "The volume of the book," said by the Jews to be par excellence the law, or book of the law -- literally, the roll of the writing." The same two words occur together, Jer. 36: 2, "A roll of a book," and verse 4, (read the chapter), and Ezekiel 2: 9.
MY DEAR Mrs. H-, -- As found in Psalm 40: 8, I should explain "The volume of the book," by the principle of 2 Peter 1: 20, "No prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation;" i.e. God, in writing His word, has ever had His Son, and Him the end and centre of everything, before Him. As the winding of string supposes a roller to wind it upon, so Christ ever was the central thought and end of every revelation. A greater than Adam the first, or than Abel, or Noah, or Abraham, Isaac, Jacob -- than Israel as the vine out of Egypt, than Moses or Aaron, than David or Solomon, was before God when He wrote about them severally.
The same passage occurs in Heb. 10: 7 as in Ps. 40: 7, and, as in the mouth of the rightful owner, brings to one's soul such enlargement of thought and truth, as Eph. 1: 4, "Chosen in Him before the foundation of the world;" Titus 1: 2, "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;" and 2 Tim. 1: 9, "Grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began," etc.
As to Ps. 40, no one could have said, without qualification, verse 1, or verse 4, or verse 8, or verse 10, but a perfectly righteous one.
These are the few thoughts I have to offer.
Affectionate regards to Mr. H- and all your circle. I am be-colded just now, and using my Sunday night for communion by letter, while a brother is preaching in my stead.
I have had two most blessed instances of the Lord's answers to prayer these last six months. One of a notorious infidel in the great world in London, for whom I have prayed for forty years on and off, and done battle with him as to his infidel scoffings. Now he is a wonder to himself; brought round by the Lord alone. The other the husband of a friend. He got into Walkerite doctrine, and lost every trace of godliness and piety; but his soul has been visited by the Lord. He, too, has been the subject of much prayer.
I feel it important and right to make such cases known, for relations' and friends', children's and parents' sake -- that all of ours may remember the smitten Rock's waters are gushing freely. It is a hard case if we can find no empty vessels to set before Him.
Most truly and affectionately yours, G.V.W.
June 28th, 1871.
MY DEAR -, I have endeavoured to care for the Lord's glory, and prayed that Christ may be made more apparent to everyone in both you and your dear mother, in the sufferings you have had to pass, with the Lord, under of late.
I did not write with pen to any of you, but I tried to speak to Him that loved you both, and came off the throne to die for you; and what I asked was, that He Himself should be glorified in you. A nice letter from C- reached me on Saturday. He had heard of my passage under sorrow, and looked at it quite as I wished all my young friends to look at it, that whatsoever the trial, none befalls us but what is common to man, and that the Lord can make His love to superabound above anything trying.
Yes, if heaven is open, upon us all shines in the light of His love; and if one asks of any trial, "And what does it appear in Christ's eye?" more still than that it shines will appear.
I snatch a moment to write to you in, but I oft find you and your father and mother upon my heart of late.
Most affectionately, G.V.W.
Demerara, British Guiana, South America,
November 24th, 1871.
MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, -- MY heart has been stirred within me, deeply stirred both as a child and servant of God, by scenes through which I have just passed. God our Father would, according to the word of His grace, have the testimony about His Son preached everywhere here on earth.
I have just passed among the various West India Isles belonging to various nationalities, some to the Dutch, some to the French, some to the Spaniards, Portuguese, English, with no small addition to the number of their inhabitants of Germans, Swiss, etc.
But where has the preaching of the gospel of Christ in simplicity been in any of these isles? Has the gospel in its simplicity been preached anywhere in those islands in this generation in English, French, or Dutch? In no case, as far as I can hear, though in some of them there are estimable men of the Moravians, and strong partizans of Wesley, etc. The Roman Catholics are wide awake, and the Ritualists of the Establishment in England are playing into their hands (as said the Pope), like the bells in the tower calling people in, but not coming themselves. What can be done? If too old and feeble myself for much of the work and service, yet my heart stirs me with faith in God and His grace, to pray Him to send forth labourers for the work. And when I look back to His answers to prayers made in bygone times for France, Switzerland, Prussia, Scotland, Ireland, England, America, my heart says boldly, "Prayer now for these islands will not be in vain."
I desire too to stir up all those who are spiritually interested in the gospel as a testimony flowing from God, whether they be young or old, men or women, English or French or German, etc., to join in prayer for the sounding out of the Word throughout the world. If the Lord will graciously pour out a spirit of prayer and supplication (surely, I would say to all who love Him, the desire that He may do so is yours and mine, and the promise is to the prayer of two or three), expectation of blessing will spring up, and bear fruit too. The isles I have named, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and the East Indies, are on my heart. Nor you, nor I, could send anyone, even if any were ready to go, but we know the Lord of the harvest, and gladly shall we welcome His answers to prayer, and seek to comfort ourselves, and any whom He may incline to go. When Isaiah had had his iniquity taken away and his sin purged (Isa. 6: 7), he heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" (v. 8.) His ready answer was, "Here am I, send me." Oh, that that voice, which speaks in every pardoned soul who loves the gospel, "Who will go for us?" were more simply heard and obeyed as by Isaiah of old! The night is now far spent, the dawn draws nigh. The testimony as to Christ should go forth everywhere, and from every one of His. Testimony to Him in His past, in His present, in His coming service to God, and as to man. How few addict themselves now-a-days to the ministry of the saints. (1 Cor. 16: 15.) How few having believed therefore speak. (2 Cor. 4: 13.) Compare Acts 8: 4: "They that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word." If, as I trust it is, God who puts these thoughts and desires upon my soul, I may stay my soul upon Him, and hope as to blessing to come. The Son is to be preached everywhere; the Spirit works toward this, and will work (see Rev. 22: 17); and is there no chaste virgin espoused to Christ? It is written, "And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Pray. None who can pray, can say, "As for me, I can do nothing in this matter." That the service in this testimony requires men in Christ, and not babes, is true.
But there are evangelists who have been tried, and approved themselves in their work. Let them bethink themselves of their work.
For myself, if the Lord permit me (who came out in my old age with none save Himself with me) to return to London, gladly shall I communicate all I can, in information, and to any that may inquire. The step needs faith to be ready to walk with God, if needs be alone. "But I am with you," saith the Lord, "to all such."
Ever yours, etc., G.V.W.
P.S. -- It is but in Jamaica, Barbados, Demerara, that we know of any who would welcome to their homes and the table, any evangelist.
3, Howley Place, Harrow Road, London, W.,
April 5, 1872.
MY DEAR SISTER IN THE LORD, -- Amid a whole forest of difficulties and impediments to writing, my heart has carried its purpose and desire to write to you. I had just got in measure free to do so, when B -- 's note, containing a copy of J 's, reached me, and, shortly before it, the news of -'s death by cholera.
The battle-field of life! But, thanks be to God, no uncertainty upon it, to those that believe God's word, either as to themselves or as to those who, through Jesus, sleep in Him.
It is only by the Spirit of God's presence with us that we have received power to say, "I am Christ's," and "Christ is mine." It is His presence, personally, with the new nature given to us, that is our power of feeding upon such truth as, "Go tell My brethren, Behold, I ascend to My Father, and your Father; to My God, and your God." I find it important to keep very distinctly before the mind, that fellowship with the Father, and with the Son, is only for us in the New Creation. In that, nothing breaks down; in that, there is no unshipping of anything in the storms or hurricanes of providential or governmental kingdoms. Yea, the very effect of the slaughter of the sheep, killed all the day long, is but to realize more and more, that the threads of life are in that which cannot be cut, the root and source of life, Christ Himself, in glory at God's right hand. "I, yet not I, but Christ" (Gal. 2: 20), is one of Paul's own peculiar expressions. "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." The "I" that was crucified together with Christ, and died together with Him, is what I was -- a creature made for its Creator's glory and praise, but in its lapsed condition living from itself, and by its own power, and to itself -- this I reckon dead; the I, yet not I, is myself as part of the New Creation. My selfishness is bowed before the love of Him, who gave up glory in heaven, on the throne, to become a man to die for us -- who lives, and in love thinks of us, -- a living Man in heaven, and whose love will find its own expression, when He presents us to Himself a glorious church, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. In God's love in giving Christ, and in Christ's love in enduring all for us, selfishness in us finds its deathblow, as well as sentence. But Romans 6 goes further, because it not only makes an appeal to our hearts' affections, but shows God's thoughts and counsels, and His view of Christ's death; that He, occupied with Christ's death, counts me dead who believe in Him; and that I am bound to count or reckon myself so too. Now this meets the difficulties of the greatest and of the least of us. We that believe have been brought out of that system in which self is looked at as everything into another, in which Christ is looked at by God, and us too, in Him, the alone One. He only is the fountain, stream, end of all God's good pleasure, but we get our place both in Him before God, and with God in His thoughts about Him; for the Spirit is in us.
However little I am among men, or among the saints. of God, or you, the question with God is, Is Christ magnified in us, and in our bodies, whether it be by life or by death? A slave might do this in the midst of slavery -- live as rejoicing in Christ, as using His resurrection power (2 Cor. 10: 11), in all the details of the life of a slave, and do it all to Christ. An apostle might not succeed so well as the poor slave in this. For what is characteristic distinctively of an apostle, was, to have seen the Lord, and be one sent by Him as a messenger for the Lord's own self. Paul had not life -- eternal life in Christ, more than had Phoebe or Onesimus.
Now it is just in possessing, and walking in this life, that you can magnify Christ in your body, whether it be by life or by death. The dewdrops on the trees and flowers can reflect the light of the rising sun; you in your retirement and suffering, bereavement and hidden life, can live unto God through Christ. This is just what I referred to, when I spoke to you of glorifying God and Christ in the furnace. However little you are, the thread, the pulse of eternal life, the knowledge of Christ who was crucified, and who arose, and lives up there in heaven, is possessed by you; and now He is coming again shortly, and if these things become the power of your life down here, if you walk down here as seeing, and waiting upon Him who is up there, He will be magnified in your body by your walk.
All the glory of Christ who is the image of the invisible God, is unveiled to us, and the tiniest of us can reflect Him; can shine as Himself.
My dear child, I pray for you, that Christ may be lived to by you. Excuse haste, for interruption upon interruption has been mine. Tell your mother I hope to write to her.
Your brother and fellow-servant, G.V.W.
Uttoxeter, July 20th, 1875.
BELOVED IN THE LORD, -- I received your letter and the welcome news of J. T-, when out in New Zealand, but, though I put it to be a memorial of a letter from me to you, poor memory was not helped amid the pressure out of measure at the time upon me.
Since I have been back I have had another letter on the same subject from Mrs. W. T-, to the same effect as the other, but written at a later date. Of one thing we may be sure, that prayer works its own answer, obedient dependence to God, and that displayed even only in a groan or a sigh, never is forgotten by Him who is on high; it goes up, and in, with the savour of Christ upon it, and the remainder from us of what grace has already done for us in Him, and by the Spirit, and we may, and must, trust and hope on still.
I heard of your wife's weakness in body soon after my arrival. I am here feeble enough, but happy in the Lord; though able to do but little, able both to suffer and to give Him thanks for every bit of His dealings.
I think to be up farther north in my cruise, but when I know not; yet I trust in His "now." And if so, I may challenge you as to your being "at home" to me at that time. I have no plan or chart which I knowingly have drawn up or accepted, but wish to hang on upon Him still.
The last letter which I heard of from J.N.D. came last week from Springfield, en route (D.V.) for England, via San Francisco, New Zealand, and the United States. In a parenthesis, "I see nothing as to Australia," or words to that effect. (McA- named it to me.)
The days are solemn, but with much to encourage the hearts that trust in God, wrought in them as saints. But the testimony should go forth as to the character of grace, as to the coming of our Lord, as to the saints' life and walk -- so I judge -- in a way now which none but God can cause it to do so.
My kind love to dear Mrs. H-. Your daughter, whom I met in London, invited me to come and see you.
July 21st, 1876.
MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD, -- The Master keeps me so much as a personal attendant on Himself, and the full work He gives me just now to do, that as a servant I have no liberty to put in or leave out any word.
This does not change your loving invitation or my sense of it, though it puts it out of my power to profit from it. I send you a copy of what S -- sent to me from Sydney lately. It is not poetry,* but was my answer to his (G. S. S- 's) request for an answer to Pearsall Smith's tracts.
Your fellow-servant in the Christ, G.V.W.
*This little poem has often been printed but it is added here for the sake of those who may not have seen it. -- ED.
O Man! God's Man; Thou peerless Man!
Jesus, my Lord! God's Son:
Perfection's perfect in its height,
But found in Thee alone.
Of Abba's love -- of God's great claims --
Thou com'st not short at all;
Perfect in everything art Thou
Alone, since Adam's fall.
O matchless, peerless Man! shall we
Begrudge to Thee this praise?
Perfect alone, Thou cam'st in love,
To glory us to raise.
Peerlessly spotless Man! 'twas Thou
The wrath did'st bear for me,
Peerlessly righteous Man! I'm made
God's righteousness in Thee.
Peerlessly glorious Man! how soon
Shall I be like to Thee?
Thy very glory then reflect,
Thy perfect beauty see.
Sydney, June 14th, 1877.
Your letter comforted me. Any one standing by, and not in the eddying whirl that another may be in, can often see that which the weak one in the eddy cannot see -- some grace and mercy of the Lord's, the very naming of which is responded to by the other. I am such a poor, weak thing, that often nothing but the dire necessity of the case forces me on, to make me stand firm. Oft I am firm because I have to say, "To whom shall I go, Lord, but to Thee?" and often, when inclined to be still, the truths that the mass is perishing for the lack of the clear gospel, or the saints are asleep as to the return of the Lord Jesus, force me to make an effort.
Certainly we are on the flat that runs down to the end, and certainly we ought to seek to get every child of God into the light of His coming. Jesus Christ is coming back! What tremendous changes must take place on earth, in the heavenlies, in heaven and in hell below! And all we here, who know all this, and know the bearing upon Christendom and men it, surely we may well look up to be enabled to speak a word to those around. And it is in the light of that great action of God that the Christian sees light. If He is coming back, how did He leave His Church? If He is coming back, how did He leave His people? and are they where He left them? The Holy Ghost was the Guardian or Paraclete on earth: where is He? He has not gone away; but those put under Him have slipped away from hallowed ground, down into the world and flesh and Satan, and Satan has blinded their eyes as to the insults and griefs put upon the Spirit.
On the other hand, how blessed a thing that we have not to preach man's failure, but how, notwithstanding all that man has done, God remains God still -- His Son as bright as ever, His humiliation, obedience, death, resurrection, and ascension remain as important as ever. Expiation is accomplished for the believer in Him on the throne -- Himself alive from the dead, in heaven until He rises up to come and fetch His people thither, and the Holy Spirit here to vindicate and make good the claims of the Lord Jesus over sinners and saints.
The Lord is good, and doeth good. The conviction grows deeper and deeper in my soul, that the Lord is coming quickly, and that the Father and God is separating a people down here to meet Him at His coming. Happy they who, alive and seeing Him, are able to say, "This is our God; we have waited for Him." And if I love any down here, no wish can be so good for them as that they may be ready in heart, and in their circumstances, to welcome Him -- have nothing about them practically inconsistent with the hope, and be unworldly, so that they can amalgamate with the scene then opened to them.
The body will be changed, and all its death lost; but beside this, we may be in such a state as to find nothing lost but that which we had curbed and struggled against. Selfishness, for instance, cannot cross the border, nor self-confidence, nor self-complacency. But these, however, may have got the mastery of us here, and if so they are our plague. and vexation now (for the root is in us, ever ready to crop up); but when He comes, no law of sin in our members to be watched and kept under!
If we are not victors now, here, over these and every thing unlike and contrary to the Lord, humbling will be the first thought -- or if not first, for the power of the presence of Christ must be that; but the second thought -- humbling is the folly which had kept us going on still with the old self, and allowing it liberty. But besides this blessedness being surely the blessing of those for whom He comes, there is another truth; and that is, He ought to have a people waiting for Him -- and the Father must think He is worthy of this. The close of the book of Revelation (Rev. 22: 16-20) always leaves the impression on my soul that there are to be such. Some would build on this the needs-be for a lapse of time between today and the time when such a people (not now found on earth) could be found; but this is a fallacy.
If the Lord were coming today at one o'clock, His Spirit could awaken thousands that are His, in one place even, to the truth, "He is coming back," and that, too, from among those who never thought about it.
They would not be at home in the subject, perhaps, nor practically their lives made ready for it; but as those to be alive and waiting for Him, they might have a child's joy in expecting Him
Ever in Christ (for He letteth me not out of the ark),
Sydney, June 29th, 1847.
MY DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER IN THE LORD, -- Grace, mercy, and peace to you; I have heard that the Lord has visited you with sickness to one of your daughters, and I am sure you will not count a note to be an intrusion from one to whom you showed so much kindness in my visit to Christchurch.
What a blessed thing to us in these afflictions it is, that we have a God who loves us enough to chasten us.
To me it has been very precious that I have for my God and Father One who is set on making me practically a partaker of His holiness, even as I am so already in Christ.
Hebrews 12 is a goodly portion, and I hear your beloved child has owned to the faith in the Lord Jesus. How well and how blessed for her! and how well and how blessed for you too! My heart looks out for a large blessing for you. Your eldest, and your second son, are yet to be blessed, and why should one single one of your little flock not be yet in Abba's house? There is room enough there yet, and the Lord Jesus is large-hearted and ready-handed to bless. I pray for you, and for your sick one.
Affectionately, with love to each and all, G.V.W.