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p226 J Dunlop, I have had much on my mind, the question of those converted coming out confessedly in the unity of the body; and truth naturally comes in. The two services in these days are distinct, though they meet in one point.

At the beginning, power was at the centre, and gathered into a known and sole centre or unity. If a person refused to come into it, he was still outside, and not owned as a Christian at all. Now, in Christendom, the unity of the body, and divine life and holiness being owned, the gathering into this is of persons already externally Christians - perhaps really - and who leave the present recognised, though false centres, and go "outside the camp." In the meanwhile, a mass of persons, who are called Christians, have not life at all - are not saved, and they are evangelised to save their souls, pretty much without any reference to gathering at all. The question is, putting these things together.

We began by (being already Christians) meeting, leaving the camp, and then set about evangelising with activity, and with pretty widespread blessing, which has extended over a pretty large part of the Continent. Since then considerable activity has existed in seeking souls, as in Canada and elsewhere, a good deal independently of our position in these last days, and the character of the gospel had not much connection with it. Hence the work of gathering had to be superadded. Without saying there were none converted (at our first coming out and preaching) which did not come out, for I have known such; still, it generally took that character. We had reading meetings of all sorts of Christians, but one after another they came out, and others seeing it, were afraid to come, and they for some years dropped off. Since then they have been found in various places. But where there was no mention of church questions or principles, the kind of full gospel I refer to made people come out. They could not stand the services they heard elsewhere, and the gospel itself laid the basis. Besides, many got hold of these truths who did not come out. But this preaching of redemption and unity made a difficulty sometimes for those who felt deeply we were in the last days, at the kind of gospel which knew nothing beyond a soul getting safe, and with little depth of action on the conscience, so as to make them look out for the right path; and this was often the case. It was getting safe - an immense thing, I grant - the essential thing; and for my own part, I have never preached separation, or what are called brethren's principles, but sought to bring needed truth to the soul where it was: if any person hated sectarianism it was myself: but I have a deep feeling of a Christian's being not of the world, and that we are in "the last days." For this very reason God allows all manner of activity for conversion, and I thank Him for it.

What I look for, dear brother, for myself, is, that those who are separated and gathered shew a life and detachment from the world, which is itself a testimony; otherwise the gospel with them, will sink into the common stream; others will gather the fruits perhaps. It is a choice of views, not separation to God. Next, that the gospel act freely on consciences, and being "bought with a price," and thereby being so utterly outside the camp oneself, that it may tell on those preached to. Then I believe our path is to bring to each soul the truth that soul needs, leaving the result to God. Amongst the gathered ones, and in intercourse as God furnishes occasion, the truth of the Church and its manifestation on earth will come out, and the presence of the Holy Ghost, unbelief in which is the great cause of the state of the professing church. Not to gain numbers, but to profit souls, according to Christ's own heart for them - this is the great point; and so God will gather, and gather the consciences and faith of souls, and these by grace firmly. If opposition is violent, Paul's path at Ephesus may help to guide.