Extracts From Letters of J.N.D.

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BELOVED BROTHER, Few, I should trust, have a larger spirit than myself, or are more disposed to leave the fullest liberty of conscience. I fear being too large sometimes, but I do not quite understand individual liberty in public common discipline.... The difficulty of present circumstances in exercising that discipline I understand most fully; but supposing discipline to have been justly, and consequently divinely exercised, surely saints elsewhere are to act upon it; or confusion, and disorder, and slighting the saints and Christ Himself in antinomian liberty, is the result.
I freely admit that, as things are, it is difficult in many cases, not of common evil, but of ecclesiastical judgment, to deal otherwise than the best we can; but it is always well to respect brethren unless one has a clear case of conscience. Of course, ____ is free not to be bound by the judgment of brethren, but if people put things on this ground- why, we might say as much. But woe be to him who, if brethren have walked humbly and patiently with God, holds himself free from their judgment. Such may despise them, and for a time they may for their good have the lowest place, but I do not believe such a course will prosper, for God is with them that fear Him, however He may humble them.
Certainly no one has less sought to make a party than I have: I trust my heart is too much in heaven to find such a thing supportable. I am sure I am too morally lazy. But I shall pursue the course I believe to be of God, and He who judges the secrets of men's hearts, will judge all things and all men. The cry of party does not move me. It is evidently the enemy's cry: the only danger is others shaking one by it, by giving decided persons the reputation of being a party. But I am not afraid of the enemy, though I would be on my guard against him....
I see looseness is an easy road, but I prefer following Christ. And I see very clearly here that gentlefolks who want an easy berth would prefer _____ for unholy reasons. Perhaps God in the present state of the church would give them an easy path, half-way with the world. They have their own cross then for their class, and they are not capable of more. Christ preferred the poor: ever since I have been converted so have I. Let those who like society better have it. If ever I get into it, and it has crossed my path in London, I return sick at heart. I go to the poor; I find the same evil nature as in the rich, but I find this difference: the rich, and those who keep their comforts and their society, judge and measure how much of Christ they can take and keep without committing themselves: the poor, how much of Christ they can have to comfort them in their sorrows. That, unworthy as I am, is where I am at home and happy. I think I am intellectual enough, and my mind, though my education was in my judgment not well directed save by God, cultivated enough to enjoy cultivated society. I have none of it, but I prefer the cross.
London has given me the opportunity latterly of comparing through all this break up, the effect of what I embraced joyfully on principle, and as a principle, 27 years ago. I thought then it was the cross, but took it up in the energy of first and inexperienced zeal. I have had the opportunity of weighing it by experience. And when, perhaps in the most trying way, I have found it to be the cross, and with the additional difficulties arising from my own failure, and poor, feeble, and with little wisdom to know how to walk in it, I accept it still. I am sure more faith might walk more powerfully in this path, but the path is the right one. There I walk with God's help. I have seen many swerve and seek ease, I have seen my own failure and feebleness in it, but the path is Christ's, and I desire to walk there still. I did not enter into this path for its success, but for its truth, because I believed it Christ's. I walk in it still for the same reason. I did not enter into it for brethren, or brethrenism: there were none to join. I did so because the Spirit and the word showed me it, and that it was following Christ. It has not ceased to be so; and now that many have left for a broader, and I think more worldly one, I still prefer the narrow one. I did not choose it for them; I do not leave it because they have left it. Faith may be more exercised, the faults of others and my own may have made it more difficult to walk in it, and it is so, but have not altered it. When I left Ebringtan Street I thought myself alone. I think the brethren behaved very badly, but I recognize my own failing enough to leave all that, and walk straight now through grace. If others will not, I mourn always when they do not, but do not change my path for the world, more or less.
I endeavor, and earnestly desire, to show grace and largeness of heart to those I think even wrong. I do not deny that in the conduct of the affair, the failure of judgment as I think of others, has made my own path much more difficult, but I cast all this on God, and go on looking to Him. The result is in His hands. If alone, alone; if He grant union, it will be my heart's joy, but at any rate faithfulness, and His favor and approbation. This is my answer to these things. Ever affectionately yours, May 1852. J. N. D.