Elberfeld – November 1869
To Mr P
You will be happy to have news of the South of France where I have spent several weeks, but where I have worked a little beyond my strength. I had thought of coming here first, where I am occupied with translation, or more exactly corrections, for I have refused to translate, the thing being beyond my powers. The brothers who have to help me not being ready, I left London for Geneva, Aigle, Lausanne, St-Aubin, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Neuchâtel, Ste-Croix, Gilly, Le Brassus; Geneva for the conference, then Morges and Lausanne; afterwards France, Lyon, St-Etienne, Annonay, with a short but good conference in Valence for two days; to Montpéllier, a rest day; then the conference in Vigan, St-André, St-Hippolyte (where those from Lassalle and others came on Sunday), next St-Jean, Nîmes, Montpéllier, Geneva, German Switzerland, Berne, Zofingue, Zurich, with a German conference: then Andelfingen, Schaffhousen, Stuttgart, where we have had a German conference for Würtemberg; and finally Elberfeld.
I have suffered a bit from fatigue, and from the journey, but at last I have seen the brethren in the places which I had not seen for a long time, and whether at Valence or Vigan, they came from all parts of France, the Doubs, etc. At Geneva, the conferences have been very good, full of good harmony and serious. Through all, one is occupied with what it is to be dead to sin; one has desired to have more time on this subject, even at Vigan; we have spoken of it in Valence.
I went for one day to Vergèze ; the brethren in these quarters were occupied with the grape harvest during the conference. There are quite a lot of interested young brothers, and in certain places the work progresses. In the mountains, they go on well, but they need shepherding and teaching; for in general they are a bit elementary. In the plain, there is a bit of progress; the wine trade does poorly, but they keep going.
The meeting in Montpéllier has gained, in my view, but on all sides the need is felt of workers dedicated to the work.
In Switzerland, the work renews itself; the old brothers were a bit down, but there is a younger generation which brings life and spiritual spring in the meeting. In the Vallée de Joux , things are good, and in German Switzerland, the work is greatly extended. But in general, a new fire is needed, a new devotion, on the part of some places. In summary, I have been encouraged.
There are other places in France where the work expands a bit.
In Italy, doors open; B has gone there. He asks as other workers that I go there.
In Germany, the work is extended and enlarged.
There, dear brother, is a summary that will give you some idea of what is going on, and of what is being done; I can only be short in a letter but I know that this will interest you. I do not have a lot of time to write, you can believe. At this time, we have a conference in Elberfeld, which I am enjoying.
Our correcting work may be useful, but here the Word enters directly in contact with the brethren’s souls, and more particularly with those of the workers. It is there that we have to look. Our work on the Old Testament has the same object, but it is not properly concerned with souls. However, I believe that it is His will that I do this work, and His will is always good. I am happy to be the brethren’s servant for the love of the Lord and for His glory.
I have very good news of New York; M and an English brother are there; they have a tract depot. They meet there as usual, and the Spirit acts in souls; their state has changed for the good. We will always find conflict here, but faith lifts us above all. I have confidence that this work of the enemy will turn to good by the Lord’s grace; and one is happy when one has confidence in the Lord, when the flesh, the human heart even, would not find its trust, but one counts on Him, happy to be nothing for His service. One is nothing, we know it well, but to be content to be nothing is another thing, and this, when the work to which one holds is what is according to God, is grace. But God is always good, always faithful.
I do not know if your work is finished in the West. It would be damaging if you should have gone so far without finishing what God brought you there for, but when I see all the needs of France, I think of course of the French workers who are not there. Ah! if there was more devotion, the workers would not be lacking, at least as it is currently. I hope that someone will have felt it in our conferences. But One alone can give both workers and devotion. May He do it in His goodness!
I have thought a little of going to America next summer, but I leave the thing to God, not knowing if I should be able to find enough time, or if should have enough strength. In the end, the thing is in His hands. Keep near to Him, dear brother, it is our strength and our happiness, and the Lord’s grace suffices us; only, by grace, let us keep near to Him, seeking His power.
Cordially greet the brethren. I am very glad to hear that things go better in Sugar Creek : may God bless them. I remember all the brethren in Illinois with much affection.
May God be richly with you
Your very affectionate brother
The Lord is our all now by faith, soon He will be in perfection, and will be fully revealed. May He be your all, and ever more so to all His own – yea, their all!
Letter originally written in French, translated by Sosthenes, 2013
Click here for original – If you have any comments on the translation, feel free to let me know.