Self Knowledge

Psalm 31:20  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 9
It is time I wrote to you, and seek withal to cheer you also, for I hear that you have had trouble. My letter I had headed to begin some weeks ago, but only now could continue. I have not lost my interest in Barbados, nor in your work, dear brother; but I have been incessantly occupied traveling and visiting the gatherings, besides claims in study work. I have been looking over the hymns for a new edition, have my Testament on hand for a new edition, an English translation of my German to look over, am writing on John's gospel for the French, and on Romans for the Germans, and have been laid up in the gout to boot, not to say that I am within a few months of eighty; but enough of myself, only to excuse myself for my delay in writing. And now I must begin again for the third time, with the same excuse, having had two meetings, if not more, daily up to this (Edinburgh); besides the same work as far as possible while traveling, but Christ more precious than ever. I wonder sometimes how in sovereign grace God has revealed Him to me. I feel nearer, more at home in the Father's love, yet conscious of unworthiness, but more in the sense that all is pure grace. That there was no good in me I learned, in one sense thoroughly, that is as a fact, some eight and fifty years ago, and I have, I hope, a deeper, clearer sense of it now, not seeing it, of course, at God does-for who does?- but at least with Him; but thus more in the sense of present, sovereign goodness in Him. And that is blessed, for that is what will be forever, when no sin will remain and where sin can never enter; but that love is a sanctuary in which we walk while passing through a world of snares, "the provoking of all men... from the strife of tongues," and the more the crossing and entanglement of what is without, the sweeter the rest of His presence; and soon there will be nothing else, and even here He makes all things work together for good to them that love Him: but the rest is better, but the other leads to it even here.
We are not at the end of our troubles here, at least locally, for in the mass in the country they only need ministering Christ to them. And there is a great thirst for the word, so that a door of blessing is richly opened. But besides the positive evil in worldliness, a class had sprung up of true hearts, many of them, but where will, and, in some, pretension was at work, who, tired of the evil which I think they had not faith to meet, would have thrown, as we say in French, the handle after the ax, and cut the connection altogether, and set up afresh—not pretending exactly to make a new body, but that it was hopeless trying to go on. I had been deeply tried by this question before the evil broke out, but had concluded before God that it was not faith thus to leave, that "the hireling fleeth," and I stayed and served, though away in France from the London disturbances.... Where there has been faithfulness there is more life than before, sensibly so I think, and they are more closely united; but there is wanting a bond of general confidence which, I trust, may grow with time, and is growing; but there is still the feeling, and locally the effect, of the class I mentioned—the last not large, but it tends to keep the sense of uneasiness alive. One has to have faith for everybody. Yet God is so good; for the work goes on with as much blessing as usual. Except in the locality referred to, a stranger would perceive little amiss; it is the general bond which is wanting: for one's work in testifying of Christ it is quite, happy.
I thought you would like, dear brother, to know how things were here, and I have given you as plain and true an account as I could. Those who went wrong are disposed to make and represent all as bad as may be, but as to that I trust God. I have little uneasiness as to that. They feel I believe, when there is a little soundness, that God is not with them in it. I fear more what I believe is the unbelief of those who have felt and judged the evil, and with whom, as to that, I sympathize. The real truth is, God has been sifting us, but I believe in love, and when needed; and in that love I trust, and in this matter I never trusted anything else.
Kind love to the brethren: may God abundantly bless you and them.
Affectionately yours in Jesus.
Edinburgh,
1880.