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p273 [From the French.] DEAREST BROTHER, - I have learned indirectly that your meetings have been closed, at least for the time. I need not tell you that my heart is with the brethren, and how much I desire that they may in every way be guided by God in these circumstances.

We have already prayed for them here, and God, who is above everything, and who never withdraws His eyes from His own, will take care of you - I am sure of this - and will display His grace, and thus His glory, in your behalf. I entreat you to keep very near to Him, that you may know what there is to be done in His name, that you may be encouraged, and that the light of His countenance may sustain your faith. His support is worth all else. These things do not happen by chance, and nothing escapes Him.

"Affliction," it is said (Job 5:6), "cometh not forth of the dust;" and whatever the instruments may be, those who dwell in this world do not direct the course of it, nor does even the enemy of our souls, in the first place. It was God who said to Satan, "Hast thou considered my servant Job?" God saw that Job had need of the sifting; the enemy himself was but an instrument in it.

The circumstances in which the brethren are placed will surely be a trial, but, where grace works in hearts - Oh that it may be so in all! - for blessing. One feels that one is not of this world. The heart is compelled to ask itself, Am I following Christ for the love of Christ, because He has the words of eternal life, because as He said to follow Him is to serve Him? Am I not inclined to accept the course of the world that I may have rest in the world? Serious questions for the heart! … I need not say that, except in the case of matters in which the word is binding upon the conscience, one submits to the authorities; but we do not make terms with the world in the things of God, to make our path apparently easier. I say apparently, for one step leads to another, and it is found increasingly difficult to stop.

May God give the brethren a quiet, patient spirit; may they wait upon God and count upon Him, in the assurance that He never withdraws His eyes from the righteous, and that He will come in when the fit time has come. May they have all gentleness, but also all firmness, while waiting upon God, and let them give themselves to prayer. It is impossible that God should forsake His own, although He may try them. O that God may cause this trial to turn to blessing! May it drive the brethren to God, and bring them closer to Him; may it deepen their spiritual life, and bring them into more intercourse with Him. I count upon Him for you; I have never found Him fail His own, never.

Greet all the brethren affectionately. Let them be much in prayer to God, that will give them gentleness and courage at the same time. It is no new thing for Christians to suffer for Him who has so loved them. God has taken care of His dear children in France up to the present time. He changes not, and if the brethren are firm and patient this will turn to positive blessing. May God keep them. He is working in France and elsewhere; I do not think that He will remove His testimony from them. He may discipline us, that we may give a clearer, brighter, more heavenly testimony, but He will not leave nor forsake His own who put their trust in Him.

February, 1859.