Conversions Where Superficial; Feelings and Work in the Soul; Large Heart in the Narrow Path; Presence of the Holy Spirit; Hymns in the Gospel; Revivals

John 4:22  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 9
* * * It is the greatest joy to me that the hearts of the saints have been turned to souls, not surely from the word, but charity thinks of souls. I remember often in olden times saying to you, remember the people have souls.
As to the work, I heartily and with deepest thankfulness delight in it. No doubt human infirmity may accompany its effect and working amongst men. Does that make one turn away from the manifest hand of God? There may be in given cases accompaniments which make it impossible to join in particular meetings or acts, but where God is free, where the Spirit is, there I ought to be; and if I cannot join, as I could not when Christ is preached of contention, rejoice for all that, that He is preached and brought to souls. I see that it will be a judgment on the professing church, because it seeks the credit of God's work, and does not own the presence of the Holy Spirit, and I have no desire that the truths which have made us own that and our place in the last days should be in any way enfeebled; but if full and happy liberty were left anywhere to the Spirit of God, nothing that grieved Him maintained, this consideration would lead me rather to cultivate intercourse. I judge it would be a deplorable sign if brethren could not freely rejoice, where God evidently works, but I have no desire in having my heart large, and tender too as regards the Lord's work, to have my feet out of the narrow path.
It is a very great joy to me to know these dear young C.s are converted. Give my kind remembrance to their father and mother, and tell them how heartily I sympathize with them. I was greatly rejoiced too in -. Surely I remember him, for in two or three weeks I had become greatly attached to him. I never saw, I think, a soul receive Christ and the gospel as he did, a soul open under its influence as his did. The Lord grant his wife may follow his path. I trust the C.s may be in testimony there also, and that they may remain humble, serious, simple and unexcited; but I say cultivate these droppings of divine grace, this spring-time of the soul. There is need of building by the Word, but the earliest fruit of an awakened soul will be feeling, not knowledge, and this will become feeble and unhealthy if not fed by the word. But this process went on at first, and has given the Epistles, but we see the weakness which may accompany it; they would have given their eyes, but did not hold fast justification by faith. All this needs the continual work of the ministry—not to make a fuss about the first feelings, the flowers which precede the fruit, but to labor therein to feed the soul.
As to conversions in singing, there is nothing at all unscriptural. If the truth is in the hymn, spoken of with divine affections, or souls' affections expressed respecting a truth already outwardly admitted, it is quite within the ways and operation of the Spirit of God to act on the soul in a quickening way by it, not without truth, but by truth so addressed to the soul. I do not say that the work will be there as deep, or the foundation as solidly laid at the moment for after exercises, as if it was the direct application of the word by the Holy Ghost to the conscience, but the heart receives Christ convincingly and lovingly, so as to love. I have ever said that the smallest atom of Christ suffices for the Holy Ghost to quicken by, if it be really Him. No doubt a profound conviction of sin by the word casts off a mass of imaginings of the flesh by a deeper inward work, which such a conversion leaves undiscovered; but if God works, He will do His own work, and bring it to a good issue.
The work in Ireland has confirmed me largely in the truth of all I have learned connected with brethrenism, so called, but it would be deplorable if I could not rejoice in God's acting wherever His own blessed sovereign goodness is pleased to do it. I do so with my whole heart, and if one is not ready for Him, there may be first last and last first, without the truth being weakened: salvation was of the Jews; alas, it was in result more for others than for them; the fields were whiter for harvest elsewhere than there.
May the brethren be found with their hearts free and their feet firm; and they may be of the largest blessing to the church of God at this moment.
Here, God be thanked, God has largely blessed my visit, and the brethren I may say are in peace.
April, 1860.]