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p247 [From the French.] BELOVED BROTHER, - … As you say, communion (and nothing else) is the regulator which maintains the equilibrium between dependence and the activity of love. But this is, I think, what explains it as to the principle. The new man, so far as it is a participation in the divine nature, is in its activity, charity, love. Then the love of God, being shed abroad in our hearts by the Spirit that He has given us, becomes a powerful impelling force in this same way. The Spirit directs us, whether it be towards the saints individually, or in the exercise of gift, or whether it be towards poor sinners. One is father, pastor, evangelist, perhaps all three. But at the same time, the essential quality of the new man, as it is seen in Christ, is dependence on God and obedience. It lives with God, and in the consciousness of its real relations with Him. Now this relation is to wish nothing, to do nothing without Him. The new man cannot. Then he is led by the Spirit. Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Thus the Lord Jesus, love itself, did nothing where He had not the will of His Father for the motive. Not that the will of the Father would stop Him in the activity of His own proper will, but that the will of the Father alone was the motive of His. Love was always active, but its exercise subject to the will of the Father; it was directed and set in motion externally by the will of the Father. This is why it was obedience. So far as the new man acts in us, it is the same with us. But alas! the I, self-will, self-love, tend to enfeeble love and to turn us from obedience, from entire dependence on God in our activity - as a consequence, more or less of uncertainty, or activity of our own. Now the intercession of Christ, and communion with God, then the action of the word in our hearts, the restoration of the single eye, are alone able to re-establish the balance.

As to 1 John 1:1, for a time, but long ago, I thought as you do, and it is impossible to separate the pre-existence of the divine nature in a person. However, I think that in saying, "That which is from the beginning," the Spirit speaks of what Jesus was on earth, of what John had seen and handled. In the Gospel, "in the beginning," relates to the whole previous existence of God, that is to say, the phrase states the eternal existence of Christ as the Word. John's great subject is the manifestation of God, and of divine life on earth. To this end, he speaks of the eternal Word, and of His incarnation; but in the Epistle he goes on to the reproduction of this life in us, and with this object he traces up this life in us to its origin and to its perfect manifestation - what Christ was on earth. 1 John 2:7 seems to prove that this is the force of the passage. In these days, when people will have something more perfect than Christ, it is not unimportant to insist on that which was from the beginning.

It is of the utmost usefulness to cultivate a healthy spirit, which does not search after questions, but piety. It is of this that Paul speaks to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:4. Thorns never nourish us. This sort of thing is a proof of a bad state of soul.

I have been struck latterly with the three characters of experience, or of the action of the Spirit of God, in Philippians, 2 Corinthians and 1 Corinthians. In the first, the soul raised above everything, can do all things, always rejoices, is troubled about nothing, does but one thing, knows not whether it is better to live or to die. In the second, he despaired of his life; when he arrived in Macedonia, he had no rest; without were conflicts, within were fears. But in the first case he rested on Him who raises the dead; in the second, God comforts those who are cast down; thirdly, he glories in his infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon him. In a word, it is power and divine consolation when one is pressed down by difficulties. In 1 Corinthians the Christians were in a very bad state: he reproves them sternly, but begins by saying, "God is faithful, who will confirm you to the end, that ye may be irreproachable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." What grace in all this! And this has done me good, and I have found it instructive.

Dear brother - gave me good news of the work in your quarters. God be praised for it. The labour of His own will not be in vain, if we do not relax. May God sustain you, dear brother, and bless you yourself in your soul. One must drink for oneself in order to have the rivers. Salute very affectionately all the brethren, although I do not know them by sight. May the Lord, theirs and mine, bless them.

[Date unknown.]