Brethren Archive
Monday May 8, 2017

Digitisation of a letterbook of John Nelson Darby

CBA Have made available online a book of (copies of) letters of JND;

The letterbook contains handwritten transcriptions of 51 letters, 160 pages in total, which were written between 1862 and 1863 whilst Darby was on the first of several missionary journeys in Ontario, Canada. A great deal of the correspondence relates to discussion of Darby’s visit, and his activities during his time there, and it is our belief that much of this material will provide a source of new information on Darby’s time in North America.

 See here for more info;

Wonder if anyone is interested in transcribing this into plain text?


In This Section

Bill said ...
Hello Tom,

I would very much like to help in the transcribing of the JNDarby Letterbook. I might be able to do it all, but at very least I could help. Please advise. I would like to download it all so I can work on it off-line.

Bill Chellberg
Monday, May 8, 2017 : 15:34
Tom said ...
Hi Bill,
Thanks a lot, that's great! I've managed to download the whole book and made a pdf out of it. Obviously I can't put that or any of the images on the website due to copyright, but I will email you and hopefully we can get a transcription going.
best, Tom
Tuesday, May 9, 2017 : 12:41
Greg said ...
Hi Tom and Bill

I had a brief look at the letterbook today. Some of the letters are unedited versions of those that appear in JND's three published volumes of letters.

It seems that consistently expunged from the edited versions in the published volumes are (favourable) references to the Grant brothers, Frederick and Robert. Their resignation from the clergy is an interesting thread running through many of JND's letters here, as is the transcription of their own letter of resignation.

I've transcribed his letter to Owen from p.5-10 which, you will see, is quite similar to that in Vol.1 p.334 (Stow Hill) or p.406 (Morrish). Besides the omitted sections and the references to names, there are a few changes in punctuation that slightly change the meaning of some of JND's sentences. The text of the transcription follows.

Dearest Owen,

I had been praying as to this matter in East Street having briefly heard of the act of these leaders, one or two of whom, I believe, are misled. But I think if there was not power to resist the action of the six, that is as things actually stood, what has happened is the best that could, tho’ it showed weakness. All proves to me the evil of the leaders. That meeting began with the activity of some with little fellowship of brethren on that side the water, and became a refuge even to those who sought agitation. God has shewn the weakness but delivered the simple. There may be some to be regretted (all in one sense) but if those delivered walk in grace and firmness, and individually so too as grace gets the upper hand in the others they will be delivered too, complete breach with some in the state they are in at present I look upon as a mercy, a great mercy. There is sometimes a little tightness at Kennington, but they are united and care for one another.

All this abuse of brethren I look upon as a sign that God delights in their testimony for truth. I feel in every respect more than ever the immense importance of their position, and that in respect of the question of truth too, only it is a narrower path. Standards and church authority are proving an utter failure. Infidelity making, alas often cobwebs of them, I hear dissenters are in the same perplexity. This matter of Colenso is most significant. That there is grace for union and union holding fast the truth is just the best and only testimony that can be given for God now. And if we look to Him He will maintain it. Union without the truth many would have. The dissenters uneasy yet in practice (true at least) hold it for indifferent: God has exercised us for this point by the Bethesda question, which I look upon now as the greatest mercy. There is an attempt to keep up unity by mere organisation. There was organisation at the first but that too is a failure. Three have tried it in different ways among brethren, and have in result broken up what seemed to have power, firmness, grace and knowledge. It has not stood. I believe in the ruin of the church, but I believe that Christ will be where two or three are gathered together in His name.

As to dear Willans, I do not see that it is more than “I have not faith for it”. I think I could explain that to him. I have faith in God for it, feeble faith and in presence of all kinds of difficulties, but I have faith in God. I have never known Him fail those who trust in Him. Obedience is the path of power. That was settled in our controversy with the Irvingites, but not of apparent power, but of having God with me, a little strength, not denying Christ’s name, keeping His word, keeping the word of His patience. This is what we have to look for now, not apparent strength, obedience grace and union in dependence on Christ, waiting for Him, waiting as He is waiting. Where there is this, there will be a testimony, and just what the world cannot understand, infirmities is the weakness in which Christ’s power is displayed by maintaining what is so weak. Why attack brethren so much, but that they feel there is what they cannot deal with? What works on the consciences from what you say of the pamphlet which I have not seen. I should think it would do good, as the unbelief is betrayed in it.

I have answered the Record, Quarterly Journal of Prophecy, &c., since I was here, but my path here has been very quiet. I have been kept here at Hamilton longer than I thought, as many serious souls are getting blessing. I know nothing as to their joining brethren, as it is called, nor have I inquired, but they are getting peace, seeing what the church is, and hence what the state of things which are so called is, getting thro’ grace faith according to the truth. I have never asked them a word about brethren, but the work is full of interest, not numbers, but souls in earnest. Yet everywhere I have been souls have been added or restored.

At Toronto too there are many most interesting souls, and I am thinking of while here even going a day there, it is 50 miles by rail, and lecturing. I have been there and found many who have been made earnest by my preaching and meetings. Of course there are fears and opposition, but this must be expected, yet there is distinct and evident blessing for souls in earnest. I have the bush to visit yet, save at one point, there the Indian Catechist is, I hear, at length quite decided to send in his resignation, and there is hopeful work among the Indians; one of the clergymen is used to and loves work in the bush.

Some new towns are opening too where our brother Evans, who had been greatly blessed, had not been. He really, tho’ there were individuals who had come out but recently got loose and into material things, may be, viewing it as a whole, considered the founder of the work in Canada. I have followed his footsteps where he had laid the foundation, save here and in one or two places, and even here the nucleus was indirectly thro’ his means. In general there are very nice brethren here indeed and caring for one another, of course ordinary trials, but grace and fellowship.
I had a tolerably violent attack in my eye, but, thank God, am quite well. We have had fine weather hitherto, and often pretty much like England, only drier.
I have set about the Synopsis on Revelation since I have been here and have enjoyed my study of it.

Peace be with you. I trust, as you say nothing, you are well. My kindest love to the brethren, and many unfeigned thanks for their prayers. The Lord sparing me I shall see them again, but my work in Canada I do not see to be finished yet. Give my kind love to Gould. If Daniells has not yet enough, in January I could add a trifle to what I gave you. My Canada journey took my means partly then.

I was very glad to hear there were teachers for the school. Kind remembrances to Mrs Owen, the Lord’s blessing be on your little ones.

Affectionately yours in the Lord.

Thank Dodd for his letter. I do not write another as I am writing this. Assure dear Miller and Mrs M of my unfeigned sympathy with him as to his daughter and dear Neatby, and my desire for blessing on them unfeigned. I strongly suspect that the Peckham move was that the six were not one between ourselves, but tho’ patience might have wrought a more complete work, an entire clearance is, I doubt not, the best thing, if, as I said, grace and firmness are shown.
Tuesday, May 9, 2017 : 14:30
Tom said ...
Thanks a lot Greg! Have added that to a Transcription Project I have started.
Tuesday, May 9, 2017 : 18:13
Bill said ...
Hi Tom,

What has happened to the Darby LETTERBOOK? I have transcribed it and am up to page 129, but it has disappeared off the web site.

In Christ,
Tuesday, Oct 24, 2017 : 18:38
Tom said ...
Hi Bill, it hasn't actually disappeared, just been pushed onto the 2nd or 3rd Whats New page because of the Hymns i've been adding .. That said, it took me a minute or two to remember how to find it! The link is on the Manuscripts page, it was at the bottom, but now I've moved it to the top.
Best, Tom
Wednesday, Oct 25, 2017 : 15:49
Doug Engle said ...
Delighted to find that someone has beat me to volunteering to transcribe the American letterbook! :-) Bill, I don't know if you'll see this here, but great job on the first 129 pages, or so I read! If you would like an extra proofreader at any point, feel free to let me know at dougengle76 at gmail dot com. I live in Kansas, hope that won't be held against me too badly. :-)
Friday, Nov 17, 2017 : 10:46

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