J N Darby – French Letter No. 152 – The Positive Results of Persecution


England – 23rd September 1846

To Mr B R

Beloved Brother

I hasten to answer your good letter, especially since I see a little spiritual discouragement there. As for the translation[1], I had pursued it in all simplicity, to add what I could for the common good, even if the specialities of epistles demanded more positive gifts as to co-operation. The answer says nothing about what I asked for in this respect. I shall do the will of the Lord, thereupon as much as I shall be able. What had given rise to my question was that there are particular difficulties because the spirit of the French language does not answer much to Greek abstractions. If it was refused to face up to this difficulty, by acknowledging the bearing of this circumstance, I would have been a bit disheartened in this attempt; the work would have been useless, because, for the idiom of the French language, it is obvious that I must depend in some measure on other people. In the end, I left the thing there without adding anything.

As for the dangers about which you speak, they are possible, but the One who has kept his people before grape harvests, will keep them afterwards. He does not change. The enemy can roar and grind his teeth, but the hair of the head of each of the faithful is counted. I fear rest just as much as persecution for the dear and precious children of God, though I bless God when He grants us this rest. Only let us know how to walk in the fear of God, and it will be in the consolation of His Spirit. It is very natural that the respite, after the tension of persecution, brings a little of spiritual slackening and that the enemy should seek to profit from it, but, by seeking His face, His grace will be enough for us; His power will be perfected in our weakness. It is for each of us to be held near the Lord, not for themselves only, but being there by grace for others. A man of faith often disconcerts (by grace) the enemy in an astonishing way. It is what God desires. He intervenes and He is acknowledged. However hidden it is, the instrument will not lose its reward. It is the hidden work which is the most beautiful, most near God and His heart, most entirely for Him, and He will acknowledge it as such in the day when He will manifest what He will have given and approved.

As for the assemblies, dear brother, apart from what I have just said, it is necessary to trust to the Lord and to seek much to cultivate a true spirit of love, of brotherly affections flowing from the charity which takes nothing into account, so that God is glorified in His own. As for your difficulties which you feel on the subject of your prayers, it is a serious and hard thing, I admit, but God’s grace is not lacking to you. I do not doubt, beloved brother, that the flesh is the reason, negligence, false confidence, the lack of smallness and of poverty of spirit. Alas! I only know it too well. However, there is something to say here. The Lord makes us feel our dependence in the thing which is the easiest to us, in which we prove a certain satisfaction, in which the flesh does not fail to find its worth. I do not say that this incapacity happens to us without there being some fault, some spiritual negligence, for the flesh that takes pleasure in it cannot be active in the presence of God, and does not seek it. Thus, we relax inwardly; there is not the same intensity, the same need; the presence of God is no longer as before the source of joy for us; it does not feel needed in the same way. Our love towards the church is the love of God towards the church, and it is the only object in God’s view according to the love of which He is the source. It no longer carries the same character in our opinion; the motive of prayer lacks in the measure in which the link with the source is weakened. – but at the same time, dear brother, all this makes us make the discovery of the flesh in us, and we understand thereby even more profoundly that everything is grace. In the state about which I speak, having no consciousness of the love of Jesus for the church, we see more easily His sorrows, and these sorrows in a more painful way, less as objects of His solicitude, the more as hard things for us, and, having no trust which inspires His love, we are discouraged by it.

You have spoken of quite an important subject, responsibility and its relationship with grace. I believe that one can very well insist on devotion in a spirit of grace. I desire that you should abound in this grace also, as the fruit of love in us. It is thus that one is encouraged in these things. Devotion is not produced in blaming weakness in devotion, for it is the fruit of grace. Devotion which flows [from this blame] is only an imitation, a bad basis. In reading the epistles, you will easily find this distinction. Besides, if God gives it to me, I will tell you a word on the link between responsibility and grace, or rather between grace and responsibility. Room fails me to do it here.

Whatever it be, beloved brother, draw near to the Lord, our infinitely precious and faithful Head. The grace which is in Him suits all our circumstances, all our states of soul. It is the remedy and more than this, for our sorrows are only the occasion of knowing its fulness and perfection. “I have seen the affliction of my people”[2]; there were indeed other things to see. For the rest, God is faithful. Faith acts individually, although it produces common effects, while there is a common faith to which God answers. It is to Him that I commit you, beloved brother.

I believe that “the end of the Lord” in James 5: 11 signifies the end in contrast with the way. For us, the way is patience, but the end which is in the Lord’s hands is always mercy, as is seen in Job.

Your affectionate brother

[1] Notes for the Version of Lausanne

[2] Exod 3: 7

A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible – James

He speaks of three laws –

the law of God, as to which, if we offend in one point, we are guilty of all
the royal law, “love your neighbour as yourself”
the law of liberty, by which our conduct is to be judged, and where the will of God and the our own nature run together

Outline of Bible coverIn James you get the perfect law of liberty applied to the Christian’s path. We should not act in self-will, but be patient with confidence in God, thus acquiring wisdom and strength. If there is evil, it comes from man – if good, from the unchangeable God, who of His own will begat us by the word of truth (chap. 1).

James then introduces sweeping denunciations against riches and the spirit of the world. He speaks of three laws –

  1. the law of God, as to which, if we offend in one point, we are guilty of all
  2. the royal law, “love your neighbour as yourself”
  3. the law of liberty, by which our conduct is to be judged, and where the will of God and the our own nature run together

Mere faith in the head is treated as worthless; the test of a man’s living faith, is in his works. But the works referred to are  works of faith. Any other works are bad works (chap. 2).

We do not get redemption in James; but the apostle insists on self-subjection, especially as regards the tongue: hence we are warned against being many teachers. We are to display the true character of heavenly wisdom.  The fruits of righteousness are sown in peace.

The epistle closes with a strong exhibition of the power of the prayer of faith. The letter is addressed to the twelve tribes; but faith in Christ, and the existence of the assembly, are distinctly recognised, even though the synagogue is also still in existence.


Originally by JND.   Lightly edited by Sosthenes,  September 2014

– Se A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible  for the original