Service of Evangelizing and Gathering; Love for Souls; Pastoral Care

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
It is not the first time that our beloved brother has been exercised on this subject. I once exchanged a letter with him on the subject. But where it is a process going on in the soul it is impossible, as far at least as I can say, to give counsel as to it; but many collateral questions come in. I should be greatly grieved if brethren ceased to be an evangelizing set of Christians. Indeed, they would fade in their own spiritual standing, and get probably sectarian, not in theory but in practice, because the enlarging principle of love would not be there. Thank God, it is not as yet so. But grace alone can maintain the testimony. I confess I feel a sort of envy of those whom God has called to evangelize. My want of courage keeps me humble, but it would be better to be humble without it: but our part is to be where God calls us, and I trust I am ready to feed, if it be given me, the weakest of the flock, and count it a privilege. To souls getting peace and liberty, God has blessed me, but comparatively little in awakening, though He has where I have served in this way. I have said there are collateral questions. God is not always awakening souls in a marked way. It is done in a place, and ceases, though souls may be converted afterward. An awakening may again occur through other means, another layer being reached, and by those morally nearer their state. The evangelist may have to go on elsewhere. I have known it cease and go into a neighboring village....
At the beginning brethren were engaged, and pretty much alone, in the roughest evangelizing—fairs, markets, races, regattas, and everywhere in the open air. Gatherings grew up, and the care of them became needful, though evangelizing went on, and was blessed, and in a measure is in many places. Others since have occupied the field who are really their followers under God. If even contention six itself with this—if Christ be preached we ought to rejoice. But the care of the scattered gatherings is most precious work, not altogether neglected, but the laborers are few. There is no reason why should not exercise this local care for a time, and there is large room for it. If God still calls him to evangelize, he will find the craving after souls forcing him out to do that work. At all times in a general way we have to do it, as Paul says to Timothy. Often those nearer the state of the unconverted are more apt for it. This may be imperfection, but so it is, and if then they go on holding to that, they grow little, and meet little the spiritual wants of these last days.
As to dear -, I should say let him, while in the kind of retreat he is in, while evangelizing ever, where he can, look after these small gatherings, a thing I have greatly at heart, and visit them elsewhere; and, I repeat, if filled somewhat with their company, he will feel urged out, if God so call him, to seek souls among those without, both in nearer and more untouched places, or in large towns where there are always masses unreached. Mere evangelizing does not cause to grow, though God may allow and bless it. Thank Him that He does, but see what was taught the Thessalonians at starting. But evangelizing in Christendom is different from doing it in heathenism. A full salvation does give a basis for growth, but in Christendom it is necessarily separative, and hence the need of wisdom in that work, but sorry indeed should I be if it was given up. I see joy and gladness in conversions, even in heaven: it is the making a fuss about them and writing up the people I dread. But God bears with many things. Still the feebleness of work is felt afterward. Hitherto we have got on happily here, and there is some life and progress. If younger I should look to a longer sojourn if spared; as it is, I am the Lord's servant, desiring only His will, and when my work finishes there is its end, and He will gather His own people, in which I shall rejoice in that day. The Lord be with you and keep you near Himself, humble and serving, but having more of Him than you spend in service. I am very thankful for the blessing He gives you. We are His, and may we so walk.
Your affectionate brother in Him.
There is another point, in passing from the love of God in mercy to sinners filling the soul, and the love of God to the saints as such when we have become interested in them through the other. It requires both distinct gift and being very near Christ in consecration of heart to carry on both.
New York,
February, 1875.