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p190 [E J Harding] MY DEAR BROTHER, - I was glad to receive your kind letter, and to know that you are happily arrived and quietly established at -, though it be a somewhat cold climate; but it is hardly colder for you Canadians than Canada for us English, and I liked it. But, here or there, it is where God would have us, that is our place, and where we may expect a blessing and the consciousness of His presence. He may and does keep us, in His patient and perfect goodness, everywhere, but it is in the way of His will that His presence is revealed to us, so that we walk in the light of His countenance. He kept Abraham in Egypt, but he had no altar from Bethel back to Bethel.
I trust fully that you are both in that way; I do not think it an evil that a young married couple should go through the rough of life a little together at the beginning; it binds their hearts together. Surely there is a far higher and better bond, but as to circumstances the comfort each is to the other, and the sustaining help each is to the other, bind their hearts together for life down here is made up of small things. If it were only when a husband comes home cold and tired, finding ease and a welcome and comfort, as far as may be, and the like, there is the continuous sense of one caring for the other, and that is a great point. They are thrown on one another, and where affection is, this cultivates it, and I believe this is of all importance; and then what accompanies it, entire confidence one in another.
But this is all maintained, dear brother, by Christ being all to each, for self is thus set aside, and the grace of Christ working in the heart overcomes all difficulties, and, while Christ is the motive which rises over all, makes the other the object of affectionate and considerate service. But for our own sakes too He is everything, light to the soul, but the blessed expression and communicator of the love of God; and for this there must be real diligence. All that is around us, and even real duties, are constantly soliciting us away from Him, and tending to weaken us spiritually. When we cleave to Him, all goes on smoothly in the heart, in the consciousness of His love: we know how to confide in and count on Him, nothing separates us from His love. The distractions of the world lose their power, because the heart is elsewhere: nine-tenths of our temptations would not be such at all; as a mother who thought her child was run over by a train would not see fine things in the streets on her way down. And what are really our duties we should serve Christ in. A holy intimacy with Christ is the strength and light of the soul, and He encourages us in it, for He is full of love. How near He brings Peter at the end of Matthew 17. The tribute was the tribute to the temple, to Jehovah, and while He shews He knew all and could command the creatures - the fish to bring the exact needed sum - He says to Peter, "Lest we should offend them," - you and I are children, we do not owe the tribute, and - "that give for me and for thee." And He spoke as intimately and familiarly to His disciples about His death as He did to Moses and Elias. It is a gracious and blessed Saviour we have; He delights in our being near Him, and soon will have us so for ever, and like Him too. May He make you more and more like Him daily! Oh! cultivate intimacy with Him; it keeps the conscience alive and the heart happy. You may be comparatively a young Christian, and I an old one; but He is all we want, each of us, and suited to each. You can have Him to keep you in the journey before you, and I can look back and see a patience and a faithfulness, a goodness beyond all my thoughts and all my praise. It is a sweet thought that in going on I am drawing near being with Him for ever. If spared, you have more of the toil of the way; with me it is almost over. You have a helpmeet, and I have trod it alone; but all is lost, so to speak, in His grace and faithfulness.
Kind remembrances to Mrs. -, whom I must learn to call by her new name - my first attempt - and thank her for her kind note: I am very glad she already bears it, for when people are engaged I do not think long delays are a good thing, though possibly sometimes inevitable. May the Lord abundantly bless you both. . . . I shall be very glad, dear brother, though far off, to Increase my acquaintance with yourself; only may your heart be with Christ!
Your affectionate brother in Him.
Ventnor, November 10th.