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Some news of the work going on in the north, and now at Coleraine, has reached me. You will not be surprised if I write a line, not surely as wiser than any, but having the matter at heart. It is a great thing to see by most holy watchfulness that Satan does not get in, and the flesh under him imitating the working of God; this I had upon my mind as wishing to write. Such a work (it is really always so) is out of our hands where it is real, but one watches responsibly through it, though of the last importance to serve God and His work, and leave the manner in which He pleases to work to Himself; but to own Him thus, it just gives us the title to watch all that in it is of Him. If I doubt His title to work as He sees fit, I am not of His mind, I thwart His Spirit and lose the power. Where I own and bless Him as above me and above all, I can for Him be jealous that nothing dishonors Him, and watch all fleshly excitement and discredit it because it is not God.
I remember in Wesley's time they used to be seized with a kind of convulsion in the meetings, and fall down. Some caught this, perhaps some imitated or let themselves go to it. He said, the first person who fell down he would have turned out, and no more did so. It was well meant, doubtless, but I doubt the rightness. It were better to judge the false thing, if we could, and leave all divine action free. I admit the difficulty of this; we shall not always be right, but in owning God and doing it for Him He will help us through. Let godliness be a great test, sober judgment of self be a fruit; the authority of the word meets the conscience when the flesh begins to appear, generally under pretense of being above and without it—yet not at first expecting intelligence. When the first action by power on the conscience takes place, you must expect feelings to have the upper hand at the moment, and after forgiveness to have the [exercises] in the heart over the means of being forgiven.
But if there be genuine conviction of sin, the work and Person of Christ will have their value when presented, and feelings will give up to this when more reflection and sober action comes in. Jesus Himself will attract, and His promises of forgiveness—His work will gradually acquire due proportion in the soul as it gets on. Yet we have to follow rather than lead where God is working, and only watch the progress, and minister the word as wants arise.
Above all (I need hardly say), dear brother, pray much that God may help you, and hold in grace fully the upper hand, for you must expect excitement. But through grace and nearness to God, do not let yourself be excited. Peter's sermon was very sober on the day of Pentecost, being after a time of much prayer. Sober and earnest truth from God to them under the work, deep truth for the conscience—I do not speak of knowledge, but deep in the weight of God's presence, for it is a solemn thing that He should be so near to us, and a good thing. But He should be nearer to us in secret than even this wonderful action, and then all will be well. My prayers mount up for you and all those wrought on, that God will keep the work; it is His own and in His own hands. Seek nothing—I am sure you do not—for a party in any sense. It is not that I doubt the truth of a divine path, but God works now, and the true path is to make Christ everything. God is working much in many places in these last days. Satan is also working. Our path is holding forth the word of truth, the immediate presence of God, which will be a light through it all. We know who will have the upper hand; also flesh will be sifted, and in the activities of God will be brought to light and judged. Peace be with you, dear brother, and grace and wisdom from God.
July, 1859.