J N Darby – French Letter No. 126 – 81-year-old Darby’s Feelings

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

London – 14th September 1881

To Mr P

Very dear Brother,

I do not need to tell you that I am very pleased by the news which you give me of Orthez[20], a place where I have laboured in the past, but which has been rather neglected for some time. It was the country of almost the first labours and triumphs of dear B, and the start of the awakening in France was there.

As to myself, dear brother, God has had led me close to the gates of death, near enough to have a little experience of what it was, but not as judgment. It was the dissolution of my being which made itself felt; but the experience has been useful to me; no new truth was needed by me, but salvation and grace. Christ Himself and His love, the love of the Father, all this became much more felt, much more real, a great gain to me. Probably, I will no longer have the physical strength to labour as I have in the past, but although to work would be a pleasure to me, I accept the will of God with joy. Besides, for some time, I have felt that I should lead a life more confined to London, then I could be useful in the exercises through which the brethren have passed lately, so beneficial but solemn exercises, which are not finished, but which draw to their end. I work in my office as usual, and I even attended some meetings. An attack of paralysis, though very light, stopped me a bit, but I suffer from it only in the right cheek. Although my members may have lost nothing of their force, I have experienced difficulty in maintaining my balance; at present it gets better, but I have to pay attention to my steps. God continues His work; in several places there are conversions, and the state of the brethren improves in every way.

It is God’s presence, dear brother, which gives us power and joy now and which will always give us them. What joy to see Christ who has so loved us, the same One who has been on this earth, the Friend so accessible to His own, to see Him truly and for ever. Labour belongs to this world, joy to the other, though we taste it as streams of water, before having reached the source.

I thank you, dear brother, for all your good affection. I would have loved to see the brethren in Pau, to whom I am very attached, as to those around, but I do not believe that this will be possible: we will meet elsewhere.

May God lead the elderly ones around you, and sustain the young converts in the good way, and keep them near to Him. All the rest will perish and pass.

Your affectionate brother in Christ

_
Letter originally written in French, translated by Sosthenes, 2013
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J N Darby – French Letter No. 125 – Excommunication and Restoration

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

London – 26th April 1881

To Mr P

Very dear Brother

As for the excommunicated brother who eats with his masters, to give thanks at table is fellowship just as much as at the Supper, and I could not do it with one excommunicated. The fact that does not matter to me, he works but I would be reserved, to say to him only what is needed, and in this particular case if this man goes well, he could perhaps regain his life.

As to the other case, if it is a scandalous sin, he would be excommunicated; the question of repentance would come afterwards. If a great lapse of time had passed and his soul has been really restored, and he had been already humbled and had shown this by his conduct, and finally the state of his soul had been clearly renewed by grace, then I would not put the thing on the carpet and especially in another place than that where sin had been committed. If he had always been in the same place, it would be necessary to confirm that the public conscience was satisfied as to this renewal. This case is presented in V, the same question many times. Sin remains sin, however many years have passed since it has been committed, until, for the soul, all is cleared before God and the conscience is in full communion with God in the light. The Lord has had to wash the feet so that the ashes of the red heifer are applied with water, twice over, to give, I believe, the sense of the seriousness of sin, because it is against the grace which is above the sin. Once communion is restored, it is necessary only to abide there. I believe that it is important to maintain the holiness of our relations with God; if it is not so, the power of communion, God’s secret, is lost, and there is a danger that the brethren go to sleep as to these matters; and both joy and the testimony are then lost, even when God does not withdraw His blessing. But I tell myself to stop.

Salute the brethren

Yours affectionately in Christ

Letter originally written in French, translated by Sosthenes, 2013
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J N Darby – French Letter No. 122 – Peace be with you

Malvern – 12th April 1880

To Mr P

… Peace be with you, dear brother; keep yourself near to the Lord in the consciousness that you are nothing. This is our safety, and it is there that we find the strength and a support which never fails.

Your affectionate brother

————

Letter originally written in French, translated by Sosthenes, 2013
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J N Darby – French Letter No. 121 – Concern about England

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby
Pau – January 1880

To Mr P

My dear Brother,

… Our business is to follow Christ and to be nothing. Our two collaborating brothers are visiting the meetings around here every Sunday, and even during the week.

I have the idea, after having achieved a certain part of our work, of going to England. They are in peace there, but they need to be nourished and cemented. Mr X is very useful there, and encouraged; brethren are added in London. Certain people would like to blow out the fire, but it seems to me that their puff is spoiled. I find that my strength is to stay quiet.

Your affectionate brother

______________

Letter originally written in French, translated by Sosthenes, 2013
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J N Darby – French Letter No. 119 – Switzerland

Lausanne – July 1878

To Mr P

Beloved Brother

I rejoice with all my heart and in every way for the blessing that God has given you in M.

I have, thank God, good news of all parts of the United States. In Rome in Georgia[11] and the surrounding country, I am advised that the word has been blessed. L works there; Lord A C[12] has visited them; there are two or three new meetings besides Rome. In Pennsylvania also, there has been blessing and the doors are widely opened.

For myself, I have been principally occupied with conferences in London, Elberfeld, Stuttgart, Zurich, Lausanne, etc, and I have found the Lord with me. And now, dear brother, rejoice altogether that we are nothing and so happy to be nothing. Oh! May He be all to our heart. Our great concern is the return to Gilgal after the victories, to the place where the heart is in order before God. Neither the wilderness, nor Gilgal, formed part of God’s counsels, but of His ways, so that on the one hand we should know ourselves, and on the others that we should be held in a state suited to His service. Yes, may we keep near to Him, forgetting the things which are behind us and stretching out to the things which are before[13], pursuing always until He comes to take us to be there where He is, and where all will be to His glory.

May God keep you and bless you. All the brethren are interested in your work.

Yours affectionately in Jesus

______________

[11] Rome, GA was founded in 1834 ; badly affected by the Civil War, the population would have been around 3,000 when this letter was written.

[12] Presumably Lord A Cecil

[13] Phil 3:13

Letter originally written in French, translated by Sosthenes, 2013
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J N Darby – French Letter No. 118 – Meetings in Germany

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

Elberfeld – 4th May 1878

To Mr P

Very dear Brother,

I will not rush to break bread at X. As long as you are there, this can continue, but young as they are in the faith, when you are gone, the lack of experience will be felt. It is not like old Christians exercised as to their walk. I do not doubt that, if they were simple, God would keep them; He is always faithful, but His ways must be followed. Then, all the same you are there, to break bread is to enter at once into conflict, and although one must not shirk the testimony in order to avoid conflict, it would be to be unfaithful to do this, and be in danger of losing the blessing. However, it is when the seine is full that one draws it to the shore, and begins to put the good fish in vessels[8]. But God will lead you in this. The bad fish have to be left on the shore after all, one will never have the world with you if one is faithful. Only, God has His time for everything. As to the hour for the service, I do not believe that this makes any difference. At the beginning, it appears it was generally in the evening.

I am quite at ease that God has led you there where He has prepared a blessing for you and an opened door. At this time, He acts everywhere. We are in the last time. Unbelief abounds, but at the same time, God sets out His standard and works everywhere. Here in Germany, there are numerous conversions. On the borders, and even in the Russian interior, it is so too. Perhaps I will see the brethren in France. I am here for a conference, but naturally, in waiting, I take part in the work and I read the Word with those who have come before the date fixed for the meeting.

We have been occupied with the difference between the Red Sea and the Jordan, along with the epistle to the Romans and those to the Ephesians and the Colossians, and the Word has opened up marvellously, at least for me. In the epistle to the Romans, we have essentially the work of God, in response to the needs of sinful men: then all is grace. The Holy Spirit reasons in deducing everything from the grace, which results in consequences in life and justification. Man is in Christ and Christ is in man so we are dead to sin. Only, man is envisaged as still living in this world, but reckoning himself dead to sin. In Ephesians, it is all a new creation; one is not in Christ for salvation but in Him by virtue of the place where He has entered. These are the counsels of God, and the relationships in which we are found according to those counsels. We are in Christ where He is. Christ is envisaged as risen from among the dead, and we as dead in our sins, so that there is nothing more morally, and all is new creation. The responsibility of a living man is not in question here. In the Colossians, it is not us in Christ, but Christ in us. We are made fit subjectively for the inheritance, but we wait for it; we are dead and raised, we who otherwise would live in sin, circumcised by the true circumcision of the Christ, dead to the elements of this world, which is not said in the epistle to the Romans. In Colossians, the question remains, will man remain good until the end? Because he is not yet in heaven, that is to say in the position described by the epistle. In the epistle to the Romans, it is the work of God, and He who has begun it will complete it. In Colossians, it is our resurrection life down here, and it remains to know if we are truly such. The position in the epistle to the Romans is the effect of the Red Sea, deliverance by the salvation of God, salvation perfect in itself. The position in the Colossians is a somewhat like that in which Christ was found after His resurrection during the forty days; for us, death, resurrection, circumcision, with Him (chap 2: 11, 12); then the dead made living, but the consequences are not followed as far as heaven. The Holy Spirit is not found in this epistle (save chap 1: 8), but life more than in the others.

In the Ephesians, it is the Holy Spirit and the contrast between the new and old creation.

In Romans we must give ourselves to God as men alive on the earth; in Colossians, to have, as dead and raised, our affections fixed on heavenly things where Christ is found; in the Ephesians, to go out of the presence of God to manifest His character down here as love and light, as Christ has done.

Having a tired head, I only indicate the points which can give you to reflect, for all this has been quite developed here.

I think I have said to you that the wilderness does not form part of God’s counsels (Exod 3, 6, 15); but God’s ways (Deut 8). The history is given up to the end of Numbers 20, this links with what I have come to say about the three epistles.

I have good news of Béarn[9]; life takes root with the brethren.

My banker has failed and I have lost a little close to 9,000 francs[10], but that is alright; I have kept more than I thought.

Yours very affectionately in Christ

______________

[8] See Matt 13: 47, 48

[9] a province of France located in the Pyrenees

[10] at that time, when both currencies used the gold standard, a pound sterling was worth about 25 French francs; the sum lost is equivalent to about £30,000 ($48,000) in 2013 purchasing power.

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.

J N Darby – French Letter No. 117 – Universalism and Annihilation

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

London – 2nd March 1878
To Mr P

Very dear Brother,
I bless God with all my heart that those to whom you have been a blessing are standing firm. It is a true subject of joy, especially in these times when there is so much seed that falls into the stony ground and, I fear indeed, where the seed itself does not grow well. It is a time when we have to be much before God so that he may take care of the work Himself, and act in souls so that the work should be solid. However, it is a time of blessing. The desire to hear the Word is striking, and conversions too are not lacking. Ecclesiastical institutions are shaken, and there is unrest everywhere, but the work of God develops, and the unrest makes more seek God and the truth. The shaking of everything also turns hearts more towards the coming of the Saviour, but unbelief takes the high ground. However, I have a slight feeling that there is a certain reaction in the spirit of good people, but this open unbelief invades every country.

I have examined the pretensions of its promoters; I have found them to be based on a bottomless quagmire of doubts. The two principal points are the denial of inspiration, and either annihilation or a fresh upsurge of universalism; annihilation being the game of the mind of man who does not submit to the word of God. This is reproduced in a way to capture the light and lazy minds of women, people disposed to please themselves and to take away the authority of the word of God, or even to appear amiable towards those who are formally opposed. Universalism is fundamentally a question of the estimate which we make of sin, and in consequence of redemption and what it has cost the Lord to make take away sin by the sacrifice of Himself; in this way, Christianity is entirely taken away, responsibility in its true character, repentance, expiation. An animal, whatever intelligence it has, has no need of expiation; it does not have a nature which hates the Lord. Universalism, like annihilation, equally destroys Christianity and the conviction of the evil of sin in the soul. The important thing for us, dear brother, is that we should be more with the Lord as to the work; then the work goes from Him in the soul and it is for Him. Let us not be frightened by the progress of evil; He is above all, He has been there in His humiliation; He is there now that He is glorified; only He exercises our souls through the difficulties that we have to pass through. I desire much to see souls exercised before the Lord. They may not walk badly, but the soul is not exercised before Him, there is something superficial; they are always in danger, temptations even are not resisted which may arise, they do not know the Saviour very much; they do not depend much on Him in a practical way. I always say there are three men in me; Christ at bottom, otherwise I am not a Christian; then an outward walk where there is nothing to reproach me; but between these two things, what occupies me all day inwardly, that is to say where my motives are, my thoughts? Is my heart a beaten path, trodden by all the comings and goings, even by the follies of my own heart? It is there that the real state of the Christian is found. Oh! that we may occupied of Christ! May He dwell in our hearts by faith , and that, in our discussions with others, this may flow from its source. Thus also we are rooted and founded in love. Things are happy, there is communion one with another; an assembly may even suffer, but they find patience and support there; hearts refer to Christ in everything; they consider one another for provoking to love and good works .

Remember, dear brother, that there is a work of self-knowledge which is absolutely necessary for rest of soul; a work where it is not a matter of redemption, although things are often mixed in experience; but, assuming that the redemption is known, it is always necessary to know oneself, and while showing, as in the case of the thief, that the blood of Christ has made us fit for the inheritance of the saints in light , in general God leads us through the wilderness to humble us, to prove us, to make us know what there is in our hearts . If redemption is not clearly realised, this work is mixed with the thought of acceptance; if it is realised, it is a painful sounding of the heart so that all should be brought into the light. If one is always manifested to God, as one will be before the judgment seat of Christ, then the atmosphere of the soul is clear, the air serene without cloud. His loving kindness is better than life . It may be that God chastens us along the way if, when we fail, we do not judge ourselves. Sometimes, one sees a soul labouring deeply on a death bed, when Satan draws near to torment them, in making them look over their whole life in which motives have not been judged, but that is a matter of God’s ways, not of His own settled purpose (see Exod 3, 6, 15). These understand the redemption and glory as Christ and with Christ, according to His sovereign grace, at the end of the wilderness. He did not see iniquity in Jacob, nor wrong in Israel . But Moses saw nothing else. It is a question of self-judgment, being always manifested to God, walking in its presence, having the consciousness of it, this is what holds our conscience on the alert.
… Salute the brethren affectionately on my behalf
Yours affectionately in Jesus
______________

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.

J N Darby – French Letter No. 116A – Romans, Corinthians, Colossians

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

Dublin – January 1878

To Mr P

You see the difference there is between the epistles to the Romans, to the Ephesians, and to the Colossians. In the epistle to the Romans, man is considered as living in sin, then we are dead to sin. It is deliverance from the old man in this epistle; one is not raised with Him. In Ephesians, we are raised with Him and seated in heavenly places in Him; we are considered as dead in our sins, and all is God’s creation. In Colossians, we find the two things: “dead with Him”, the way to be delivered, “raised with him” but not seated in heavenly places. Here, man must live in the resurrection Man on earth, having his affections on things which are above where the Christ is. The inheritance is above. In Ephesians, the inheritance is all that Christ has created. Thus, we have three different aspects of the Christian life, with very instructive teachings for our walk. At the beginning of the second [epistle] to the Corinthians, we find the realisation of the epistle to the Romans: “Always bearing about in our body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifest in our body”[10]. Then God helps us in it through the circumstances by which he makes us pass. Only, in chapter 5, we have the principle of the epistle to the Ephesians: if one has died for all, then all were dead, and we find there the new creation[11]. If we grasp the significance of these truths, we understand much better what is the true character of Christianity, and its importance also. All this has been a great deal to me. The Word is adapted to our position and our circumstances down here, but it comes from above, and it brings us above. We can take it as divine light for down here or we can indeed follow it and rise up to its source. It is thus with Christ, the living Word, perfectly adapted to poor human beings. It reveals what is in heaven. For our thoughts and our prayers can take the character of one or the other, but all spiritual affections are developed when we are with Him above. Certainly, God draws the brethren to more devotion and spirituality. The Lord is also awaited more really, I believe.

 

….

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.

J N Darby – French Letter No. 116 – An Opened Door

Dublin – January 1878

To Mr P

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

Very dear Brother,

My voyage to the West Indies, and the excess of work during my short visit in London, have interrupted our correspondence and have hindered my writing to you. You will be surprised to learn that it is only now that I only just read your letter. As it was addressed to Mr McA, I thought that it was news of New York, of which I already had enough, and it was only when I wanted to write to him on leaving London that the mistake has come to light.

For the moment, I am in Ireland, but in several days, I depart for Germany; then, God willing, for Switzerland, France, Italy, where the work extends and where several labourers have been raised up by God.

I hope to see a few of our friends in the South of France[7], but this will be a bit later, and I would very much like to recover a bit beforehand. The Lord has been with me, and the Word still has more clarity and power for my soul; not in knowing new truths, but what had been vague and beclouded has become distinct and clear; only I would like a little peace and to make acquaintance with a lot of new brethren, the number having greatly increased. There are now three hundred meetings more or less in England; more than thirty in London and in the working class outskirts, not to speak of Ireland and Scotland where the number of them has greatly increased. It is impossible to follow it in detail, this casts us more on the Lord who alone can keep them (which is always true), and this in the midst of more snares and errors than ever. What a consolation to know that He loves His own, feeds them, cherishes them, and that He takes care of them. There is my consolation. He alone can do it, and He does it with a love which greatly surpasses all our poor thoughts.

But evil rises on all sides. Popery, heresies, unbelief, all the ripples which mark the power of the enemy, arise and roar around us, only the Lord is more powerful than all. The efforts of the enemy cause despair to gain momentum. The Lord’s silence demonstrated the calm of His power. But here He speaks.   As He has said to Philadelphia[8], He has the key of David. He sets before His own an opened door which no-one can shut, and one sees it, for the gospel is preached as it never has been, and the testimony to the truth spreads itself. But everything is getting ready for the end. It seems to me that the Lord allows unbelief as a counterweight to Popery, for Protestantism is no longer that at all.

In the midst of these floods, I find a very sweet peace; we have received a kingdom not to be shaken[9]. Never has there been such sobriety, or desire to hear the Word. The time is short; let us seek to wait for the Lord, and to serve Him until He come.

… (See 116A)

Salute the brethren. God knows if at my age I will be able to see them again. In the end, I seek as I have sought their good before God, and He is One who never leaves them. May He keep them in His grace near to Him. Peace be to you.

Yours ever affectionately

[1] in Illinois

[2] B F Pinkerton from Springfield, IL who went as a missionary to Syria, Egypt, and Palestine.

[3] see Note 24 to Letter No 13

[4] Le Midi – see Letter 105

[5] JND’s letter in Letters vol 3 p389 shows this to be Halifax, Nova Scotia

[6] Jude 3

[7] Le Midi – see Letter 105

[8] Rev 3: 7-8

[9] Heb 12: 28

[10] 2 Cor 4: 10

[11] 2 Cor 5: 15-17

 

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.

J N Darby – French Letter No. 112 – Ardèche and Drôme

112

London – January 1874

To Mr P

Beloved Brother;

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

I know the need of a practical ministry in the South of France[4], especially in le Gard. In l’Isère, la Drôme, dear X has been encouraged in particular in Valdrôme. He is an excellent brother, and I rejoice much in his labours, for he replaces me a bit in these regions now that I have become old. Now he has gone to Italy for he also speaks Italian. It is precisely because I knew the needs of the South of France that I have mentioned your stay in France, and be sure of it the workmen would not lack if there was more devotion. I am sure that there is indeed un-developed gift.

In the Ardèche, less is lacking but several here are put aside! This is all a subject for prayer and humiliation. Devotion brings consideration for others, the feeling of responsibility, and by this exercises of heart by which one grows. There are those who are not growing because their devotion is lacking; I could name those who for want of some little labour lose the glory and the sweetness of working for the Lord… As for visiting the South of France, during my trip, I fear undertaking too much at the same time. I must be in Italy around Easter for a small conference, and visit Switzerland on the way; then I leave for London to go to Ireland. It is possible that, on my return of Italy, I can go in France, which I will do with great pleasure.

I am relieved indeed that you will be a while in Nîmes. The loss of dear G left them very weak, but God is full of goodness.

Here the brethren go on well; there is devotedness; the world is ever to be combated, but in general there is solidity, and hearts are united. There are now more than thirty meetings in London and, I reckon, more than 3000 brethren. Who can be sufficient for looking after this, if it is not One only? Thank God, they can count on him, and this is a big comfort.

We have good news of Switzerland, and quite good of Holland. The truth makes progress in America.

Pinkerton has gone to Egypt and Syria. I was struck by his solidity and how much he has matured in the consciousness of his position. They break bread in Syria and in Alexandria; God had prepared the way. There is only a small foothold in each locality. Already there have been some persecutions; a native brother of Syria had translated tracts and the missionaries returned them. The return of P also awakened the opposition of the Presbyterians, but doors are opened to him.

Yours affectionately in Jesus
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.