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. 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; life takes root with the brethren.
My banker has failed and I have lost a little close to 9,000 francs, but that is alright; I have kept more than I thought.
Yours very affectionately in Christ
 See Matt 13: 47, 48
 a province of France located in the Pyrenees
 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.