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p114 BELOVED BRETHREN, - I saw so very few of you before I left, and for such a little moment, that I felt anxious to write a line, being separated from you in presence and not in heart.
When I took my place, my heart misgave me a little at leaving you all, but on looking to the Lord I felt it was more my natural heart, and that I was in the path of faith in going to France. I found on going home from the Friday prayer meeting, a letter which confirmed me in the purpose of going speedily, but what at the same time will shorten my absence some weeks at any rate, nor indeed is it my present purpose to be long out of England; my thought is to visit the south of France and return at once, or at any rate make no stay in Switzerland. The same faith which has led me, and made me feel right to go, gives me confidence, beloved brethren, that the Lord will keep you to the blessed testimony of His own faithfulness and grace.
I would urge upon you walking in thorough unity, shewing all confidence one in the other, and casting all that may arise at once on God. His faithfulness to His church and people who trust in Him is infallible, and He cannot but help you in all for which you look to Him. I do not doubt His care over you. I trust that those who take part in any service needed for all, will do it together with common consultation, and that it will be done diligently as a duty. I say this, dear brethren, because uneasiness creeps in where this is neglected, and soon produces discomfort, which hinders both unity and blessing. It is written, "If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven." There is another thing I have on my heart to say, that is, as far as brethren can, they should visit others; of course, they must wait on the Lord's leading for it, but it will minister to fellowship and unity in brotherly love, and that is our joy, beloved brethren. For the rest I commend you to the Lord; He will guide you in waiting upon Him. If we assume nothing at all beyond what we are, a company of poor saints waiting upon God according to His will, we shall infallibly meet Him in blessing.
I believe we are not properly aware, few, at least, of the unfeigned importance of the position He has set us in, in testimony of separation from evil and waiting on Him. But the secret of all strength in it is, assuming nothing - not expecting to be like other Christians, as the Israelites, who would have a king like the Amorites and other nations, and thus falling back into the common path of unbelief, but truly waiting upon God. If there be gift, blessing Him for it, but swift to hear and slow to speak, counting God's presence more precious than all, and - while desiring God's ordinance in the testimony of His word to sinners, and if any can give a public testimony, accepting it - not counting the routine of a sermon necessary to the course of the saints.
Peace be with you, beloved brethren. May the Lord give you to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that it is God that worketh in you to will and to do of His good pleasure. Give my love to dear old S.; I do trust that the brethren will visit him now that he cannot come out. Again, peace be with you all.
Your devoted brother.
P.S. - Since I came up I have other letters which make it probable that I could not stay in Switzerland if so disposed; at least, the French troops are on the frontiers, and the Swiss have been marched to watch them. The brethren at Rawstorne Street are getting on quietly and happily, and though my toil, I doubt not, is not yet closed as to service, of which I am persuaded none of the brethren scarce know at all the evil met, yet I have been greatly encouraged and comforted.
I have a letter from dear -, who is arrived at Bombay, and happily lodged at a Christian's; he says, "And I pray also the Lord that the brethren at Plymouth, who are simply gathered in the Lord's name, may never be dismayed in looking at their own weakness in meeting, but be glad that there is nothing to look to but to Him who is in heaven, the only One all eyes are fixed on, and that the brethren may constantly look for Him who will come and not tarry: yet a little while and we shall see Him face to face. In the moment we limit His coming, unconnected with any circumstances, we begin to make our nest in the foliage of this world. And the dear brethren too at Plymstock I do never forget; give to all of them my most affectionate salutations."
It is a long letter, with all the details of his voyage, and some interesting particulars as to his search into the prophetic question, which I cannot here give. Peace be with you, most beloved brethren. Be of good cheer. Glory with Christ is ours; the love of Christ is ours. Only let us trust the Lord, and we know not how much blessing is in store for us, though we ought to know how faithful, how infallibly faithful He is. The Lord has led out several to labour here of the younger brethren, and I have found others whom I trust He is so leading. I trust quite He is working. He has led me wonderfully every step of the way.
Your devoted brother in Him.
London, November 6th, 1846.