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p305 My Dear G Glenny, - One thing that you relate gave me much to think of, as indeed it has been a subject of thought pretty often for a long while, nor am I sure that I have the Lord's mind clear upon it. I think evangelising the greatest privilege of any in respect of gifts, though I am not an evangelist, only when I can, do the work of one as well as I can. That is not my difficulty, but what you say: that the evangelisation has enfeebled the teaching the saints. The gifts are clearly distinct, but I do not see that one should enfeeble the other. Paul assuredly evangelised, and as surely taught, and taught in evangelising: witness the Thessalonians: and if he did not look for, he certainly found, present fruit. He distinguishes being a minister of the gospel and a minister of the church, to fulfil (complete) the word of God. This is not in the Thessalonians: all is personal, not corporate. We must be with God for each, as called of Him to it; and then I do not see why power should not be for both. But a certain salvationism, instead of Christianity, I think has to say to it, which God may bless, but which carries its effect with it. Few carry in their mind, "I endure all things for the elect's sake." It is a general idea that God is love, and would have all men to be saved, which is blessedly true; but thus it ends in being saved, man's safety. There is no purpose of God in it, no glory of Christ - all called upon to bow to and own Him. Hence as to the preacher's state of mind, when he has got the person saved, and this confessed, he is content, goes no further: God's interest in His own is lost, which leads on to building them up. If we were with God about them, the heart would soon be drawn out in testimony to them. There is another thing - glory to Christ in His church. This I confess greatly absorbs my spirit, though I be a poor hand for this work too: but this leads us to prayer for saints, so also to testimony to them.
The evil is not earnest devotedness to evangelising - it is itself the way of blessing to an assembly, or rather God's working in one by His presence builds up the other - it is being absorbed by it. But this affects the evangelising itself; there is less of Christ in it, more of man's importance, and when pursued in a revival way, more of delusive work; it never gives a solid foundation to build upon. I should be most loath to weaken evangelisation: I believe God is blessing it, specially for gathering out in these last days, and it is healthful for an assembly that their hearts are engaged in it. At the very beginning it characterised brethren, and I trust still does, though it be more common now on all hands. The love exercised in it binds also saints together. But God is in a great professing body, awakening them to their state, and this has its importance also: the cry that awoke the virgins was not the gospel, ordinarily so called. Finally, the hand cannot say to the foot I have no need of you. I do not reject the joy of counting converts, but we must not lean upon it: "When ye shall have done all these things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do." The bond of service to Christ is kept up, and that is of great importance. It is not referring the effect to our work but our work and heart to Him.
I am sure if we were near Christ we should do both well, assuming of course that Christ has called us to it. Do not be content to put one in place of the other, but see what Christ means by it. Be with Christ about the saints when you have to say to them. Be with Christ as to both, and then see what is the result. The question in general has very long pressed upon me in connection with the spiritual activities of the day. I have never been allowed to see much fruit, and have been more blessed in bringing to peace than in awakening. There is One, thank God, who is above all, and does all: let us look to Him. The Lord be abundantly with you, and guide you both in heart and work, and keep you in much enjoyment of Himself, serving from Him as well as for Him.
Your affectionate brother in. Christ.
New York, November, 1874.