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
Click here for original – If you have any comments on the translation, feel free to let me know.