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p351 Mr. Pollock, I sit down at last to write a line or two to you on my return from the States. I was some 130 miles into New York State, speaking to souls there, and then passing through Canada to Detroit, Chicago and St. Louis, on the Mississippi, and some 50 or 60 miles beyond, across the country on the skirts of the war - though not feeling it, beyond soldiers being about, an encampment in sight where E. distributed tracts, &c., but a sad state of things. The church is more worldly in America than anywhere you would find it, that is, the professing bodies, the world - professedly such - inordinately wicked; yet I doubt not many Christians, and some really devoted ones. Scripture has little authority; not that it is openly denied, on the contrary, it is respected and owned to be the word of God, and so on. But giving truth, and quoting it to prove and unfold truth will not do; you must reason about it, or the sermon will not do: the ministers more sceptical than the hearers, as in such systems is generally the case. But there are souls who sigh over. the state of things and long for something better. My object was to visit the French and Swiss brethren, which, save in one locality, I through mercy effected, and was out in the prairies, living among them as in old times, and glad indeed to see them as they are. And it has renewed bonds with the saints in general, cheered them, and I trust been directly healthful to them. The system of coming to America, taking up land without being able to pay for it (which they gradually fell into, as it is the custom), had brought them spiritually low, pinching as they must to pay, or careless in paying. But they have felt it, and there has been a reaction in conscience, which has had a most healthful effect on them, and there is a lively desire of profiting by the word. Many neighbouring French came, and their meeting-house could not hold the people. . . .
I quite trust the Lord sent me there; I was about 2,000 miles in the last four weeks, besides preaching and walking. But the Lord helped us, and He took care of us in every way. Even when wandering in the forest near the Swiss brethren (they break the prairies where there are any streams, and are of considerable extent), I left E. sitting in the forest, and lit on the son of the Swiss brother with whom I stayed, ploughing at the edge of the forest, two miles and a half from his house. At Chicago I was among Americans, and though I felt the desolation, met some who earnestly desire better things, and I have faith as to that great but (usually speaking) poor country; but I think any true spiritual mindedness and devotedness (not mere outward activity) would be more despised there than anywhere. Those who begin must be content with a day of small things, if God gives such, as I think He will, before the Lord comes. . . . But everywhere a plain, full gospel the most advanced are ignorant of. This is what is wanting everywhere; then devotedness, and unworldliness. I hurried back; for the work is going on in Canada. . . .
I suppose I shall return this summer, but I am not without the thought, if the Lord will, of coming back next. The Lord raise up labourers in His grace. There is still a great deal to do here; I have happy news from France. But oh! when one thinks of all the wide work there is to do, how all depends on grace - there my heart turns when it seeks to embrace all the work - one is cast on One who can do it, who has loved the church and given Himself for it, and one's soul gets rest; yet how I long for more concentration of heart. This is the lack I feel; of outward labour I could hardly do much more: but to carry it on within with God, to allow no distracting thoughts to fritter away the mind, where, as it is by grace and takes the form of intercession, concentration is power - there it is I feel my shortcoming, yet feel it, alas, so little, or it would be mended, certainly. The blessing of the church and gathering souls into it is what I have at heart, yet how little I can carry it to God. Yet the gracious Lord has shed His light over my path here. What is my thankfulness for being permitted to serve Him, I could not tell to man. How bright the prospect when it is over, no tongue here can tell. The Lord be with you, dear -, and your little ones. You know that the Lord is all, as well as I, yet it is well to call it to mind to one another - all else will pass away. Give my kindest love to the brethren. The Lord be with them. They will remember me in their prayers.
I have written hurriedly the day of my return to Toronto.
Toronto, May 27th, 1863.