Love to the Church; the Last Days; Devotedness; Dissolution on All Sides; Large Heart in the Narrow Path; Song of Solomon; Synopsis of the Books of the Bible; Basis of Union

Song of Solomon  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 10
My Dear——-, -... I am a little discontented at working by book instead of personally, still I hope there may be blessing. If the beloved bride of Christ is blessed and He more honored, I am content. Here we are in a very healthful position of conflict, spoken against on all sides, but I think still in salutary testimony, and by the Lord's great mercy recovering what had been much damaged by hasty movements and carelessness of walk. Our difficulty for some time now, besides the ordinary ones, and the excessive want of independence of conduct, is that the light and principles introduced have spread in a measure wide outside any gathering formed by them, and union without any real unity by the presence of the Holy Ghost in Christ is sought, cried up, and faithfulness sought to be presented as an obstacle, but I think the Lord is in a measure judging it. We must go through this for a time, its hollowness will be apparent, but want of power becomes very sensible when there is imitation.
One thing is evident, God is working in the last days. Dissolution is on all sides, not only going on, but felt to be going on. If the brethren are faithful, and there is sufficient power to be large hearted with faithfulness, they will be the first of blessings as to the state of things, otherwise—useless but for a certain individual blessing and faithfulness, which is always something. But we ought to love the church, and seek its good, surely more than a David or godly Israelite or Jew could Jerusalem, and seek its good for Christ's sake. The brethren ought not to be our occupation as they have been for some time, but the seat of the affections for the whole church, as the heart for the body through grace by unity of heart with Christ; this is what I look for: for this there must be devotedness, practical devotedness as belonging entirely to Him. This is what I earnestly desire and pray for. We are bought with a price, and are not our own—happy and blessed to be so in a world stranger to life and God. To maintain such a position Christ must be everything. I long to see the beloved brethren in England, and to minister even a little among them, but I feel I should desert my post did I leave here at this moment, and I owe them a visit in Switzerland, and though I feel I lost time at Montpellier, the Lord's time is the best.
I shall be glad to know what came of, I love him dearly, and there is real love to Christ, which is the ground of confidence, though too much sentimentality. But I judge that at-they have an immense sense of their own superiority. There has been much really delightful there, but I fear it has been a snare to them; and with all its kindness, his letter was a real defiance of corporate discipline on the ground of personal superiority of judgment. Such a case may arise in the present state of the church, but as I judge their position false at, and that on very distinct grounds on their own showing, I cannot admit that it is such a case here. But we are not quite at the end of the matter, and with faithfulness and humility many may be recovered. Yet if the brethren get into such a position, that the blessing of God is there because He disposes of hearts, I have myself much confidence of blessing, but of such as is a company held in the hollow of His hand in the latter days. Be assured that we shall have to do with realities, and no evil, though kept from the hour of temptation, and the door open with a little strength. But being of Christ in the world will be a reality. How long God will hold the rein on evil, I know not. He is wise, we know that His long-suffering is salvation, and our earnest desire that Jesus come.
I have had two or three days' unexpected rest from not finding some one expected at Montpellier—rest from the moral strain, though suffering from an excessively violent attack of rheumatism in the back, which is pretty much past. I have been able to write on Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. Bellett has some very nice thoughts on the latter, but as interpretation it will not do, being too much turned to the church. But practically it is not the less useful as teaching. I have found the study of the book always profitable lately, I believe my thoughts on it sober; and the exercise and forming of the affections toward Christ, and the study of His towards us, is of the deepest importance; but how narrow our hearts are to embrace all His thoughts towards us. What a thought that He should delight to tell out how perfect He thinks the church (I say church, not as interpretation, but application by analogy), and to press it on her that He may assure her heart and awake the affections, which in one so feeble, must have confidence to be able to be in exercise. This is very gracious, but to be expected from Him. What is there that cannot be? But I must close. Having arrived at the Prophets, I am come to a large and difficult field, but more cultivated already, and perhaps in some sense more open, that is, less dependent on our own moral seizing of the force and bearing of the facts the Spirit recounts, as in the historical books.
The New [Testament] will be difficult, from the immense development it may receive, and who is sufficient for these things? Peace be with you.... The Lord Jesus bless and keep His people.
Your affectionate brother.
December 9th, 1849.