J N Darby – French Letter No. 151 – A good State in an Assembly leads to Restoration

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

 

151

Plymouth – 25th August 1846

To Mr Foulquier

We are happy here, thanks be to God; the brethren are quite peaceful and make progress. It has seemed to me that, in the exercise of discipline, we have not given the first place enough to prayer. Without doubt, in flagrant cases, discipline must be exercised. But there are a thousand cases grieving to the Holy Spirit, disturbing His movement in the body, which do not need to become the subjects of public discipline; but do not in the least hinder geral blessing.

Christ loves His church; we are of His flesh and of His bones. For often the heart, instead of being moved to respond, must be pressed towards Jesus, so that His love is manifested towards this soul, a precious member of His body, so that it should be cured, restored. If one thought of souls as members of His own body, one would be interested in what would make them in a good state according to grace, and would count on His grace for this to be accomplished; for He acts directly on the souls of His own, as He does on sinners to call them. It must be remembered, dear brother, that, for knowledge as much for other things, it has to be acquired, when it is true by the Holy Spirit, and that He acts freely in His sphere which he has formed by His power which acts in grace; thus if the objects with which He is occupied do not possess our hearts, these hearts cannot be full of His knowledge in communion.

From this [flows] the importance of the spiritual state of the brethren for the enjoyment of this communion, the food of which will be the revelation of the things of Christ by the Spirit. Without this, they will seek an education which leaves the soul in its own laziness, instead of enjoying it as providing the means of spiritual communion.

It is therefore necessary to think of the state of souls, and if we do not know how to act directly upon them, it is necessary to pray much that hunger and thirst for Jesus take possession of them.

Recently, we have read together the epistle to the Hebrews with much communion of soul and, I hope, to our profit. For myself, I have been particularly taken up with the epistle to the Ephesians, and with the position of the church as a dispensation or special object of the counsels of God, and I hope that I have profited from it – mainly in affirming my faith and the basis of this faith which stretches my knowledge.

But the position of the church has been set in relief before me in this reading.

  • See 151A

I finish, dear brother …

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

J N Darby – French Letter No. 124 – Excommunication and Restoration -2

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

March 1881

To Mr P

Very dear Brother,

Hidden sin is always a great evil for a soul and for an assembly. It may be that a soul is really humbled, and in this case there is no profit in publishing the evil, but it is something very delicate to take on oneself the responsibility of judging whether he who has sinned has been humbled. There are indeed things which do not appear in your account. Was the young man already in fellowship when he committed this sin? I suppose from your letter that he was converted, and if this was before being in fellowship, was there a long interval between his coming among us and his fault? He was not already married: this changes the character of the sin. If the interval between the sin and his reception has been short, there is room for asking if there has been lightness with him. To humble oneself when the fact is known can be sincere because of the work of God, but the matter can hardly be avoided – what of course one would prefer – that it should go farther. If he is indeed broken and humbled, it is better for the peace of all and the glory of God that things should rest; because sin made public tends to make the mind get used to sin, which is a great evil. I hope he will no longer feel ‘at the head of the assembly’, but, without pointing it out, that he will hold himself more in reserve. Your great concern is, not to pursue him, but to be completely assured that he is humbled. It will show itself in his spirit, in his walk, and in your discussions with him. How long had he been converted when he sinned? Was he then already active in the assembly, exercising a ministry, when he continued to do it? All this says a lot about the state of his soul, and the judgment that he would have of the facts that I list would say a lot more about his present state. As the responsibility lies, when you wrote to me, on you and on X, you will do well to be clear on these points. If the affair is indeed past, and judged, there is no benefit in putting it back on the carpet; but that is the question. God does not lightly dress the wound of his people, but, in his sovereign grace, He does not remember pardoned sin any more. The interval is something, but a sin not judged is a present sin.

Salute the brethren affectionately

Yours affectionately in Christ

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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.