Letter 31

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March 1, 1851.
My Dear Sister,
Your letter was a surprise and a joy to me. I had, I believe, concluded in my mind that we were at present very differently affected by this agitation among brethren, and that it was well understood by our hearts that the happier way was to be silent towards each other. But your letter has told me other things in which I rejoice. And indeed the more I give myself a thought upon it, I think I can the more say that I marvel at the lessons which this agitation is fitted to teach, as being still unlearned by so many. But it shows that many a mind among us was very little removed from the ordinary dissenting ground. The great personal grace and devotedness of some was long an occasion of delay and hindrance with me, and some of the ways of those in the other scale, was another similar hindrance. I made such mistakes, and took the journey so lamely, that I have to be forbearing and humble; but I do indeed, again I say, wonder at the slowness of many hearts.
It has been a testing of the state of the spiritual senses among us. Had the Christ of God and the Church of God been more discerned in the exercise of the divine nature, I am certain the actings of Bethesda would have been promptly resented. The unclean letter of the ten, and the divisive or heretical actings in connection with that letter, ought to be instinctively detected, repudiated, and condemned.
It is not a question of personal devotedness with me. I know how such ones as dear. stood in the midst of difficulties and oppositions for the Lord, while I was at ease and in leisure. But, I feel assured, the spiritual senses have been but poorly exercised in the peculiar calling of the Church of God, when such a letter as that can be gloried in, or its existence as the symbol of any gathering in Christ be vindicated.
0 how little, with all that we assumed, was the mind that was in the midst of brethren purified from the common leaven of the day Would that many, my dear sister, would still the prejudices and the partialities of their hearts for and against individuals, and in the pure and heavenly light of the Church's calling, challenge the sayings, the writings, and the doings of Bethesda.
But with all this, many of us are deeply debtors to this agitation-debtors to the Lord through it. Indeed I am sure of that, and though I see myself in such changed circumstances here in Dublin, that I suppose time will never repair, or give me back what, in a certain way, I have lost in brotherly enjoyment, yet I would not surrender what I have learned and experienced for a tenfold increase of even the past enjoyment.
0 that dear... 's mind was spiritually guided in this, as I know his heart and services are with the Lord 1 There are some who surprise me, in the place they are taking, much more than others; and had I been asked, I should say, he was among them. I should have hoped he would have seen the direction in which the Spirit was-may I not say-so manifestly leading. He had not even the earlier habits of even an Independent's or Quaker's mind to withstand his progress. But we know not. Calculations have been all disappointed, and on either side the Lord has dealt in much of the sovereignty of His grace. In my own little connection with this agitation I have known Him again and again disappointing what I had reckoned on, and giving help even from what I had feared and suspected.
May He Himself be more personally with and before us! a nearer and more real object than ever!
Truth that gives thoughts is not fully the right thing; but truth that gives Himself-that is the thing.
Jesus once here-now in the heavens-again to be here and with us forever-the same Jesus throughout-known for eternity as He was known in His track through the cities and-villages' of Israel-this is the mystery that gives us Himself. And it is the business of faith to reach Himself. The centurion pierced the cloud, the thick cloud, of His humiliation, and got at the divine glories, which lay the other side of it, or under it. The poor sinner of the city pierced the cloud, the dark cloud, of her own sin and misery, and got at the divine love that could heal it all. Faith may thus find various excellencies in Him, but it is Himself it reaches.
Faith sits and sings
"All human beauties, all divine,
In my beloved meet and shine."
Let not this evangelic age, dear sister, give you the work of Christ alone. It tends that way. Without His work, I know, all would be nothing. But let not doctrinal acquaintance with His work turn you from personal acquaintance with Himself.
I write at once, on receiving yours, for it was indeed a surprise and a joy to me.
Our dear sisters are at Cheltenham, where Mrs. M.... is, in very bad health. My dear Mary is increasingly feeble in her limbs, but “her peace in Jesus," through His grace, perfect. Great comfort have we in our dear child at our side; deep, eternal joy in our dear child that is gone.
All will soon close in the brightness of vision. The Lord bless you and be with your spirit.
Ever, &c.,
J. G. B.
Accept my Mary's love. Let us hear again of you and all dear to you, for it is a long time since we did.