Extracts From Letters of J.N.D.

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BELOVED BROTHER, I was very glad to get your letter. The date of mine will explain that my being at Guelph in September is hardly likely, but my heart will be anxiously with you; but I do not know whether anxious is the right word, for one ought to trust the Lord, so faithful, so full of love, and patient goodness with us. But affection will, in one sense, be anxious, and how unfeigned my affection is for Canada I trust you know; and surely I never became more attached to any place, my heart more linked up with those in it.
It is a time of encouragement; even here it is. For a time there had been a relaxation of energy, not an uncommon thing in individual or christian communities after the first impulse of grace. But there is considerable reanimation, and our Conference is largely attended by brethren interested in the truth, many a new generation of saints springing up, and the coming of the blessed Lord has a more actual and practical place. I thought I had done with France, Switzerland, Germany, &c., when I went to America, but I believe the Lord has led me here, and there is a renewal of strength and christian affection. I am to be at a like meeting in France, September 15, and you may all remember us. Then I have Italy, where the Lord is gathering and raising up more laborers, and Germany.
There is a wish to have something like a satisfactory Old Testament in German, and in French. I hardly know how it will be effectually carried out, but it is one object of my visit to Germany. You see my absence from Canada is not idleness. I was very glad to have been in the West Indies. It is, oh! how great a measure of thankfulness to be led of the Lord. The power of evil is in astonishing progress. The boldest denial of all truth alarming Christians; and the world even, anxious and uneasy, and now often considering and inquiring even of brethren why they are so quiet and peaceful. Not that we have not many things to deplore, but in sum we are at peace, feeling the evil more in a divine way, but having a kingdom that cannot be moved, a peace which nothing can take away. The brethren have come with cordiality and readiness from all sides to the meeting, which has cheered and encouraged. There are two Englishmen who have thrown themselves, in some measure, into the work here. Some are going to America.
It is possible I may, now I am growing old, become set apart to sedentary work (though still preaching and teaching), but I do not quite give up seeing you all again. For I am very well, and though I begin to feel the difference of age as to physical exertion, I am for work, thank God, able to go through more than most. This would not as yet hinder me. My difficulty is the rapid progress of the last days, which requires the faithful testimony of those who feel where we are, more perhaps in Europe than elsewhere. Men of the world as well as Christians feel all things shaking, an irresistible torrent rising, professing Christians at their wits' ends. The peaceful testimony from a position which God secures is of moment to souls, and however weak it may be individually as such, it tells on peoples' hearts. My comfort is, for Canada as for England, that the blessed Lord Himself cares for His people. A poor feeble people, but their home is in the Rock.
God is raising up many active witnesses, and the Lord is more waited for. He Himself fills the heart sufficiently to enable us to forget ourselves; still the present link with Him, I feel, is not sufficiently felt, so as to bring Him out as fresh and full as He is given to us. That is what we have to seek here, and for that, it is death working in us- "always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." That we are dead, and in Him, is a simple and blessed truth, but always to bear it about that only He may appear- this is what we have to seek.
I write at intervals in the midst of our Conference, so you must not be astonished at my letter bearing the impress of this interruption.... I have been thinking of one of the joys of heaven, after Christ. and it will be His joy- seeing of the fruit of the travail of His soul and being satisfied- seeing all the saints perfect according to the heart and mind of God Himself, and His who has sought and saved them; what satisfaction and joy that will be. Truly it is what one's heart desires now. Then it will be perfectly satisfied, and Christ glorified in it; and this, thank God, will surely be.
I have been distinguishing latterly a good deal, the responsibility of man fully met by Christ for us on the cross, and the counsels of God before the foundation of the world (see Prov. 8, Titus 1:22In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; (Titus 1:2), and 2 Tim. 1:99Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (2 Timothy 1:9)); the Cross laying the foundation for their accomplishment, in the Incarnation, the ground laid for fulfilling Prov. 8. What a thought- His delight being in the sons of men, and how fulfilled in the Incarnation, and then the Cross giving us a part in it: Man in glory, and the Father's House showing us what it is. Along with perfectly glorifying God, it makes the Cross a wonderful thing, and grace a wonderful thing; and the old man put off, and the new man put on.
But I must close as you see. Peace and much blessing, dear brother, be on you and yours: much love to them and to all the saints, may they and all the Lord's dear workmen be abundantly blessed. Ever yours affectionately in Him, 1869. J. N. D.
BELOVED BROTHER, I rejoiced in getting your letter. I had heard of the blessing in different places through the Gospel, but rejoiced to find that it had roused you up also. Most thankful indeed was I to hear of ____'s conversion too. I trust it is a permanent work.... But the energy of the first impulsion always calms down, and the real value of Christ to the soul appears. It is not that the first impulses are insincere, but there is the impulse given by the first powerful impression, and that dies down. These two things appear, which after all are really one; how far the soul has been fully reached and its state and affections filled with Christ, and how far diligence of heart in cleaving to Him has been produced.
The Apostle says, not only I have suffered the loss of all things, but I COUNT them but dung. The excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus gave permanency to his estimate, of what was in the world around him and gave to him as a natural man. Philippians 3 gives us the principle of walk, which stamps its energy and character on the Christian's course, a positive active energy with an object in view. Phil. 2 gives us the graciousness of the Christian's life; Phil. 3 its principle of energy: the former Christ descending, the latter Christ in glory whom the soul runs after as its sole object. This it is gives energy: "The double-minded man is unstable in all his ways;” even in natural things the man who has one object is energetic and full of force. It is this continuance in the judgment of the worthlessness of all things that marks the place Christ has in our hearts, gives true joy and liberty, and makes us a bright witness for Christ in the world. Only remember that he that seeks finds, that we need force every moment, and that the manna of to-day will not do for to-morrow. The world solicits always; we need the constant grace of Christ, the whole armor of God, having done all to stand. It is a blessed place, blessed now, but requires singleness of eye, not merely avoiding actual evil, but the heart positively set upon an object pursued with lowly, cheerful, but constant energy.
The last days are hastening on, and we have to be as men that wait for their Lord, when He shall return from the wedding, that when He cometh and knocketh they may open to Him immediately. Fix your mind calmly, but steadily, on His coming.
I have been half round England and had a local meeting like Guelph, besides working very hard in London- then visited 14 places in Switzerland, and had a Swiss Guelph meeting, and now the same in France, having visited some 12 meetings there. So that I have not been idle, and now leave for Germany to work a little there, and help in having a more correct Old Testament. But I have more on my hands in this respect than I know how to do, but I labor on. If possible I shall go to Italy, but not just yet; there the door seems opening.... Ever affectionately yours, 1869. J. N. D.
BELOVED BROTHER, Canada is dear to me for the work's sake, and for the affection of so very many from whom I have received every sort of kindness- beloved ones in the Lord. When I have labored in a place, I always feel it mine, not in possession, but in the service I have to render to the saints. I have a faint hope- but wait on the Lord as to it- of getting to the Guelph meeting. I should be glad to see them once more, but, as I have told some of them, I am in my seventieth year, and though, through mercy, strong still, we know that threescore years and ten close the title of man's active life, though our God can do what seems Him good. It depends a little on my getting through the work I am about here. I feel how great the privilege of evangelists is. I preach here in the country around, regularly speaking, unless some special hindrance, two or three times a week, but every one has to do the work, and fill up the little niche assigned him by God. My work is more in setting souls free, and now, in these last days, where all is going so fast to evil, getting, as the Lord enables me, the word of God, in its contents and purity, among those who profess His name. They need being built up here; the work has greatly extended. And besides, I have undertaken nothing less than correcting the whole Old Testament, working it from the Hebrew with all the helps I can. It is service underground, but I trust it will be a help to the saints. They were really without an Old Testament, either an excessively incorrect one, or by infidel translators. We have done (I have helpers for pure German), the Prophets, Job- the most difficult of all- and all in good progress, with other parts. The historical are very easy comparatively. I had done the Psalms, a few years ago, for them.
I believe God is graciously helping us. I am very happy in the work, but a little anxious as to the time it will take. Then I have three Gospels ready of the new edition of the New Testament (English), that and the French being now out of print, and the French are waiting for the English corrections. But if I get another Gospel quite ready, I might perhaps get, for a couple of months, to America, and return; if fine weather, it would be a rest for me, and that I somewhat want. I am generally hard at work from seven or eight to twelve o'clock at night, but, thank God, very well, but a little worn; save to the post or meetings, I never get out... I accept my present work, while it is so important in these last days that brethren should have the word of God, and that they should have it as pure as possible- and we must expect in these clays to have the poor, as always, when the church gets into its own place in the world, at least for the great mass; and I feel I am serving the Lord in using the little knowledge I have of Greek, Hebrew, &c., in furnishing brethren who have them not with the word of God as nearly as possible as it is; otherwise, the times call for building them up in the truth solidly, as once given; so that I am jealous as to how much time I spend on what is means, however precious, for we cannot esteem the word too precious. It is that which God has given us when the church went wrong.
I rest on the Lord's goodness towards His people, though I be a poor intercessor for them. I feel the difference of counting on the Lord's love (that I feel through grace I can do), and using it in the activity of faith to obtain the blessings it has in store for His people; there I feel weak. God will give surely according to His own thoughts and purpose, but He allows us to have a part in carrying them out, first by prayer, and then by service; and while I doubt not all is foreknown and surely ordained for those for whom it is prepared of the Father, yet herein comes our responsibility, the place of a single eye that does not confer with flesh and blood- one so wrought from the beginning, holding himself dead from that time- and always bearing about in his body the dying of the Lord Jesus. We, alas! have often to learn how to do it, or do so, at least, after much mixture of the living and the dead. Yet he (Paul) had to be helped, and have a thorn in the flesh, and be delivered to death; but then it was from God, and for Jesus' sake. The flesh was not different, but the man was. However, the Lord is all we need, and He is perfect.
I have not doubted a sifting time would come for the work in Canada, but the workmen must not be discouraged by it. I doubt not there may have been some excitement and craving after it, still, with self-knowledge. I dread excitement, but I do not forget that when the Lord sowed, only one in four came to perfection. I do not mean this as a rule; we do not see it thus when the apostles preached. It is danger, and characteristic, but I use it to check a false judgment upon a work where some disappointment may come. I am more anxious about what the world, and the spirit of it forming a clergy, may do, than about the reality of what has been done. I know_____ too, but I know the gracious Lord is above all our weakness. It is a great point to know how to serve in what we find, not expect all as one would. Christianity works with what it brings, not with what it finds; and we are poor creatures ourselves, after all.
My kindest love to the dear brethren, and I am, dear brother, affectionately yours in our blessed Lord,
1869. J. N. D.