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p27 [J Dunlop] BELOVED BROTHER, - I know well what you mean by what you wrote me of grace and legality in your letter, having passed through it, and so much the more painfully, as it was a dreadful cross to me to address myself to a stranger, and still more in public, so to speak. There was often legality; that is, conscience not grace drove me. But I found if I was near Christ in my soul, I found many opportunities and open doors, that I did not find when I was not. And this made my conscience work when I had difficulties. On the other hand, when conscious that I was with Christ and Christ with me, and at home in the service of His love, I felt more free to use opportunities (the true sense of redeeming the time in Eph. 5), freer and happier, at liberty so to use them, and not forced by conscience to do it when it was only bringing out evil - I do not quite say casting pearls before swine, but at any rate, approaching it, which we are directed not to do. But I am too great a coward to be satisfied with myself in the matter, and have, alas, often had to act from conscience, yet felt happier afterwards; at least, confessing Christ, if not seeking souls in love.

There may be cases where it would be amiss, and it would rather be "but rather rebuke them." But there is a taking opportunities - but the hearty soul for Christ finds them. I do not say Satan drives, but conscience may, and we may then often do it in an ill way, because there is neither the wisdom nor the love. But I say all this, conscious that I am too great a coward in addressing myself to strangers in public to say a great deal. But I have found by the Lord's gracious mercy I get the ear of most who were willing to hear when a little time with them. When people see that you will speak of Christ, and use common kindness and courtesy, those who will not draw off, and those at all inclined give occasion to do it. We are according to our gift to preach the gospel to every creature, but there is a guidance; and if whole hearted in that I may leave Mysia and Bithynia and Asia, and go to Macedonia, without my conscience upbraiding me, whereas, if I am not, my conscience may upbraid me for Mysia and Bithynia, though I ought not really to have gone there. "If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light."

In these last days it seems as if God allowed much pressure on spirits to go to all, but regularly there is the thought of the claim of God, not merely the claim of souls, and then one is guided of Him who has the claim. When that is there, it is "Woe is me if I preach not the gospel"; but we do it guided of Him who has the claim over us. At any rate, our gracious God will accept a service poorly rendered by conscience, but we ought to serve Him well.

In public service another check is away. There was, and is in many places, the world against, and no civil rights, religious liberty, to plead. This is often a great snare, though not so great as cowardice through want of faith. Englishmen often do mischief through this; they force the world to leave the gospel free, and the work is hindered. The Lord uses this for testimony, and even to send the testimony elsewhere. Christianity has no rights but God's in the world, and that is in a rejected Saviour, who indeed has all power, but has left the cross behind Him in the earth. With the consciousness of this, and love for souls, we can go on with faith, but for Him. And where He has no place we have none. We must submit as He did. And He opens, and no man shuts, and shuts, and no man opens. Where little strength is, yet boldness with great mistakes, God has owned, and I am far enough from it to honour it greatly. They hinder themselves sometimes, but they do a great deal more of God's work. Some of it does not sometimes last so well. I do not doubt our hearts can be puffed up in doing feats. I have seen this. We are called to serve more than to do, and in serving to follow. I look for patience (it was the first mark of apostolic service) and guidance, but I see such a thing as great boldness in Christ Jesus. Of course, when the flesh comes in, Satan can use it, if grace preserve not. But the difficulty I have found is conscience driving when there was not peaceful love enough, enough of Christ to do it wisely. But there is a light boasting of preaching adventures in the world sometimes, which is painful.

As to Matthew 25, I cannot doubt a moment that it is the separation of the wicked and righteous - in a word, goats and sheep. "Them" (ver. 32) is merely those who compose them: indeed in Greek it does not agree with nations. We have the same form in other cases. As to the knowledge of Christ, it was very imperfect. Still He was looked for, but connected with judgment. The gospel preached was the everlasting gospel - Revelation 14 - answering to the judgment on the serpent in paradise: (Ps. 96 and Matt. 24) - "this gospel of the kingdom." It was now too late to have the other gospel, so to call it. They had not to do with Antichrist, at least, only in a distant way. He was in Palestine, and subservient to the beast out of the bottomless pit, and these were judged by Christ coming from heaven, the rest by Christ sitting on His throne when come.

Everlasting life is always life in Christ for ever, but we get it in heaven. Two words are translated "world to come" in N.T. In Luke 18:30 it is the age to come, Messiah's time, which may be in heaven. "The world to come, whereof we speak" (Heb. 2), is the habitable world to come, which is of course down here. Life in Christ (He is eternal life - 1 John 1, John 1) may be on earth, as Matthew 25, or in heaven, as "the end everlasting life," and elsewhere. It is only twice spoken of in O.T., Psalm 133 and Daniel 12, both referring to the millennium, namely, on earth. …

I find the person of the Lord more and more everything in the word. It is unspeakably blessed to see Him, and God revealed in Him, in this world. How wondrous to have God revealed in a man amongst us. The whole Trinity was first fully revealed when He took His place in the first right step of His poor returning people in grace, and became the model of our standing here - Son, owned of the Father, anointed and sealed of the Holy Ghost: all heaven open, only no object above for Him as for Stephen, but Himself the great object of heaven down here. Then in that place, He takes another part - conflict with the enemy. What a testimony to the word too, that one verse is sufficient for the Lord, as authority as the obedient man, for Satan, to leave him not a word.

Peace be with you, dear brother, and mercy and grace. Kindest love to all the saints.

Ever yours affectionately in the Lord.