J N Darby – French Letter No. 103 – Continuing the Work

New York – 1868

To Mr P

Beloved Brother,

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

I am happy to receive your news. Thank God, it is good in general as to France and Switzerland. In France, the work proceeds with blessing; and in Switzerland, in a place that I have visited on my last visit to the country, a weak place where the enemy had made ravages, it seemed that the Lord, in His grace, revives and draws souls. Brother X is very useful in the canton of Vaud. May our God keep him and hold him near to him. The fact remains that there is shortage of workers everywhere.

Poor E is very low I know. Many years ago he did not want to listen to the voice of God; he always had thought of being Mr Minister, and he fell into a trap. We must let him be and not be occupied with his opposition. It is the power of good on God’s part which must be sought; and the way it is, the complainants remain broken on the shore.

As to the questions which have been raised about the sufferings of Christ, I have found in this subject the most profound edification for my heart. I do not doubt that there have been in my writings, on this point and on every point, the weakness and inexactitudes of a man who is not writing under divine inspiration; but the more I read what I have written, the more I am convinced that my adversaries have lost the most precious truth as to the Saviour, and that they are fallen into very great errors. All these discussions have been a great blessing for the brethren in England. I do not think that Bethesda has any principle whatever, other than to succeed. They are in touch with everybody, and get worried neither about the unity of the body, nor of faithfulness to the Lord. Mr X brags of having the independents, the Methodists and I do not know what others, to teach the orphans. He, and those on his side, were in fellowship in Bristol, in a big conference, with people who taught abominable errors; this is indifferent to them! Here in America, their agents and allies are in full fellowship with those who deny the immortality of the soul and the doctrines which flow from it; they have avowed this to me, and have added that that is what they wanted. This is what is in fashion here. According to what they said to me, Bethesda is completely worldly; but do not occupy yourself with that. You will always find that the walk of those who support this party is enough to judge each case in particular, except that they lack uprightness. The unity of the body and the solidarity of the church, in its walk, are disclaimed by all those who expressed their views on this point, either in Bethesda, or by the neutrals. Besides, Mr Newton’s great end was to destroy the doctrine of the church, and Bethesda is just a dissident church which believes itself better than the others, but accepts the position of dissidence and their relations with the Christian world. Before the rupture, Mr C examined the candidates for ministry of the dissidents, and they had days of prayer on the occasion of their consecration. Mr M[1] said that, during twenty years, under the influence of the brethren, he had separated by pride from the religious world, but that he had stopped doing so and returned there.

I continue my work here; it is a work of patience. The world is master, with money and pleasures; many Christians, members of churches said to be ‘disciplined’, frequent the theatres; but I am in touch with a lot of souls who seek something better. Several people found peace – a thing, one can say, unknown here – some people accept the coming of the Lord, and several are exercised regarding their position in these bodies organised by men, which they call ‘church’.

The brethren also who had been in touch with those who deny the immortality of soul are delivered, and walk with us. We are a little around thirty, a happy meeting, but scattered in a city covering a bigger area than Paris, because there are really two or three cities which encircle New York harbour.

I think that God establishes a testimony, very weak though it is, here in Boston, the truth penetrates, but patience is needed. The Lord definitely had it with us; He even could say (may it not be the case now): “I have laboured in vain”[2]; but I am encouraged. Souls who seek the truth and devotion to our precious Lord (which I hold to as much as knowledge), are attracted; I leave them to walk as God leads them, without encouraging them at all to link themselves thus with us; but fraternal links get stronger, and the truth penetrates.

In Boston, there are perhaps more opened doors outwardly; but as more souls with needs always come, I am not thinking of leaving New York at the moment. I spent a month in Boston.

… There dear brother, is what concerns the work. For me, the Lord and the Word are my all down here, and they are but one, in a certain sense. I sense even more that only the Holy Spirit can work good down here, but I understand even better that ‘one’s home is in heaven’. The Word is always clearer, more precious to me; I have a feeling that our position, however weak we are, is that of the testimony of God, but while enjoying the Word a lot, I also know that we know “in part”[3]. What the Holy Spirit gives us we possess on God’s part, and we have to walk there, this is our all. The wisdom of God Himself is found there, it coordinates necessarily with what we do not know; we feel by this ignorance our whole dependency on God, but the fact that we learn of Him inspires trust. Follow the Word, here is our business: so we shall enjoy the presence of the Lord. Yet a very short time, and we shall see Him.

Salute all the brethren with affection. May God bless you and keep you.

Ever your affectionate brother

[1] presumably Mr C and Mr M are Henry Craik and George Müller, who oversaw the meeting at Bethesda chapel.

[2] Isa 49: 4

[3] 1 Cor 13: 9

 

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.

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