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 …