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p303 [From the French.] VERY DEAR BROTHER, - I was very glad to have tidings, and to see your name at the end of the page. I trust God is keeping you very near Himself, and that He maintains the freshness of His grace and love in your soul. We need to be constantly renewed; without that, spiritual energy does not keep up - "they shall renew their strength," it is said, "like eagles." And it is not progress in knowledge that effects that; although this is profitable for teaching Christians, and even for rendering the gospel which we preach more pure: what is of moment is the keeping of oneself near God. There love maintains itself and grows - His love in our souls, which finds its activity and comfort in exercising itself towards poor sinners and towards the saints: one seeks the glory of the Lord in them, and their own well-being. God gives you to enjoy Himself; but God reveals Himself not only as infinite blessedness in Himself - but also in the activities of His love in which He finds His delight. And when His love is shed abroad in our hearts we enjoy assuredly what He is, but this love is active towards us by His grace. Activity, unless renewing itself in communion with Him, may be sincere, but will degenerate into routine and into a habit of acting, and is even dangerous; the soul gets far from God without knowing it. But abiding in His love in Jesus and His word abiding in us, we can count on an answer to the requests we address to Him in our hearts.
Here I do not see much movement in souls: what there is does not turn away from human ways in the christian path and presses them to activity in doctrines not scriptural. But there is not activity in the gospel among brethren. They walk very well. There is not any gift; but in general there is a good deal of movement and need in this vast country, and even conversions are not wanting. The state of the churches is scandalous indeed: pious souls groan, but where are instruments to be found to guide them in the good way? God has raised up a few, several ministers even have left their systems, but it is a drop of water in the wide sea, and there is a great effort to keep souls in the various systems while taking advantage of the light which brethren have and preaching their doctrines. They do not even conceal it. One of the most active who has visited Europe told ministers that they could not keep up with the brethren unless they read their books, but he was doing everything he could to prevent souls leaving their various systems called churches. It is a new wile of the enemy. Thank God, that does not discourage me. I have seen that God is above all that; but it is an additional difficulty. If there is activity of grace with brethren, it is another victory to carry off. He also tries to hold them by presenting a false perfection as an object to attain to, which is none at all, where Christ the precious Saviour is so terribly veiled.
I had to stop. I had a very good meeting last evening, and some strangers came to hear. I do not doubt that if a gift were exercised here in a continuous way there would be blessing. But the harvest is great and the labourers few: we know where we have to go to have them - may God give us to do it with faith! Study the Bible, dear brother, with prayer. Seek the Lord there, and not knowledge - that will come too; but the heart is well directed in seeking the Lord: the eye is single, and then the whole body is full of light. Greet affectionately all the brethren. My earnest desire is that they may be near the Lord, and the Lord very near them - not conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of their mind. Christ is all: the more one travels on down here in His ways, the more one feels it. Your affectionate brother in Christ.
Boston, September 27th, 1874.