Brethren Archive

Personal Testimony.

by Henry Varley

As one who has been greatly blessed; it is to me a real joy to send you my testimony for this first number of The Christian's Pathway of Power.
Twenty-two years since, I was brought to the Lord Jesus Christ.  I was then a boy in the busy metropolis. The Grace of God, in its exceeding abundance, called me to rejoice in Jesus as my own personal Saviour.
Succeeding years found me engaged in the busy scenes of commercial life, where I found an abounding sphere or labour for the Lord.  My cup was full when the Lord Jesus counted me faithful, putting me into the Ministry, and raised me from the stewardship of money-making, to win souls.
How very small is the former issue now, as contrasted with the commerce of souls!  My wonder is modified, that even Jesus emptied Himself of His Glory, and "became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich."  To teach and preach Jesus, we would vacate a throne, nor forsake the joyous service to obtain one.  Thus, the years wore on.  Increasing knowledge of the Divine Word, opened out to me the great thoughts of the Mighty God, and the exalted privileges of the Believer in Christ.  The sublime revealings of His holy Word were such, that I literally revelled in "The vast mysteries of His love."  One thing, however, greatly troubled me; I had been and was from time to time, painfully conscious of seasons of depression, coldness, self-will, prayerlessness, failure in temper, lack of tenderness and sympathy, dispositions to be hypercritical, desirous of honour, and love of commendation.  These things were not manifest to others, perhaps, but I felt their evil workings, and they were a shameful thing to me in inward consciousness.  Could it be possible, I asked, that I can know such experiences and yet be God's child?  Sometimes I spoke in confidence to a brother, only to find that he too realized the same, whilst in many cases, I saw enough in the experience of others to show that the same existed in them also.
I had almost settled down to the conviction, "It must be so."  The ·ordinary views of "the body of  sin,” Paul's "O wretched man that I am," and the conflict between “the flesh and the spirit, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would," seemed to shut me up to the fear that these experiences of failure must continue until death.  Then the thought would come to my mind, I see a far higher experience in the Divine Word.  Paul says, "Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily, and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe" (1 Thess. ii..10); and Peter, also, "Seeing ye have purified your souls, in obeying the truth unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently" (1 Pet. i. 22).  I was perplexed and in the thick of harvest work smothered up as best I could my sense of failure, and by dint of energy and toil, minimize these seasons as much as possible.  These matters went on, the light in my understanding and the gulf between my knowledge and my walk increasing also.  So foolish was I that I believe I sometimes thought it a proof that I was God’s child, as though the loving Father designed our sense of sin to prove our relationship.  How long l might have gone on—sometimes bareness and sand, I know not.  The Lord very graciously brought me in contact with one of His dear servants, who startled me by saying, that uniform victory over sin in its power, both of flesh and spirit, was the privilege of every child of God; that continues peace, fulness of joy, anxious of anxious care, no matter what the circumstances of life's history, that these were but parts of the children's portion,—not some favoured ones, but of all the family of God, "For myself," said he "my communion with God has been almost uninterrupted for the past six years.  I do not say I have not known failure in this trust, but in the very first moment of its consciousness, I have been restored.  My life in the midst of business, as one of the heads of a large manufacturing and commercial establishment, has been continues joy in God, and is so at this moment.  Oh, the sweetness, the blessedness, of this fulness of this joy and peace."  Memorable to me are the results of that interview.  I felt like one brought near to the blessing I had seen in the pages of the truth of God.  My dear friend's face ratified his words, for peace was written there; and if he possessed it, why not I?  'Twas neither brotherly nor lovely to envy his possession; the more so as his cup was filled from the fountain whose overflow is for the whole Church.  In that day, Jesus said to me again, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink."  I searched again in the Divine Word, and there the truth was found that furnished my understanding, my judgment, my heart.  The truth is this—That the faith of God is superior to all circumstances, and equal to all our need.  Oh! the possibilities to faith!!  Oh! how eagerly I read of those who through faith, subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises.  How I drank that passage that affirms the same mighty power in me that raised Christ from the dead (Eph. i. 17-20).
I could have embraced Paul for the word, "Striving according to His working which worketh in me mightily." (Col. i. 29)  Yes, yes; I had limited the Holy One of Israel; I had for years allowed unbelief to hinder the might and growth of faith; often had I regarded unbelief as an infirmity, for which I ought to be rather pitied, instead of the vilest, darkest sin that could be committed.  By His grace, I determined to regard this sin as worst of all, more terrible than murder or blasphemy; then and there, I yielded all up to God, and so far as I know, He has now no controversy with me.  Never shall I forget how my soul revelled in unbounded blessedness as the simple exercise of faith met the resources of the exalted Christ.  Very sweet is the memory of his tender love, when after confession of my much failure to trust Him in years past, moment by moment, He sweetly said, "Weary child, rest;" and I do rest in Him, and He keeps me, and I am scarcely conscious of the former things.  Truly, His yoke is easy and his burden light.  He said, "Ye shall find rest to your souls."  It is so.  Yes, precious Lord, Rest.
Months have passed since the experience thus described, and I confess the thought did come to me, "Will it continue?"  Faith said, Yes.  It was not new to wear out; but good, to get better; and truly, the life of faith is most blessed.  Its ease and gracefulness is indeed lovely; its power has its illustration aptly in the locomotive engine; it can stand still, or move on slowly, or increase its speed until all human energy is left behind.  It brings God always on to the scene and cannot be separated from Him.

It is intolerant of sin, for it is holy;
Upon its shield, ever fiery dart is quenched.
It knoweth not unkindness, for it works by love.
It cannot lead to boasting, for its law excludes.
It has never learned to distrust the living God.
It attributes all victory to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed is the life of faith on the Son of God, not a series of acts only, but a LIFE.  To those who know its normal condition, this life is as easy as breathing the air.  It is the very life the Lord Jesus came to impart, therefore of dignity, power, grace and abundance.  Let us not dwarf it by unbelief, or hinder its sweetness by sin, nor limit the "strengthening might of His Spirit in the inner man."  The life of faith is not human effort or activity, the reception of Divine strength.  Therefore, did Jesus say, "He that believeth in me, out of his belly shall FLOW rivers of living water" (John vii. 39).  Mark! it is, giving forth, spoken of.  Faith exercised is IN possession, and says in triumph, "Freely ye HAVE received, freely give;"  "All things are yours, for ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's" (1 Cor. iii. 21-23).  In order to this overcoming power of faith, all questionable, doubtful things must be at once given up.  Any indulged sin, ("Whatsoever is not of faith is sin") will paralyze and, for the time, prevent the exercise of faith.  Some months back, a Christian man of business, to whom I was speaking of this subject, said, "I should have to put my house in order first."  Yes, indeed.  If any reader of this paper desires rest and peace, and joy, let him remember there must be full surrender to the Lord.  The Saviour from the penalty of sin, can save from its commission.  Have you believed, and do you prove His ability for this?
Beloved reader, let there be a definite laying aside of unbelief.  Do it solemnly, do it at once, and believe from this moment that the exceeding great and precious promises of the living God are yours for fulfilment in daily, hourly and momentary experience.
Dare to believe, dare to refuse the testimony of your own consciousness; far better to give the lie to the thoughts of your own heart, than to the testimony of the Lord.  Like Abraham, stagger not at the promise through unbelief.  Only Believe.  He hath said it, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee;" so that you may boldly say, "The Lord is my helper."  Are we not engaged in His service, and shall we not rejoice in and use His resources?  Let me suppose that some Capitalist in London desires me to carry on for him a branch establishment in one of our provincial towns; suppose the arrangement made, and, a few days before I leave, the man of money should come to me and say, “You are going to carry on that business for me, but I expect you to work it with your own capital.”  What a monstrous statement, I think I hear you say; yes truly, but what shall we say?  How many of us are engaged in the Lord's business, and working with our own capital?  'Tis even so, instead of the unlimited resources of the ever-blessed God, we are turning in upon native energy and power.  Oh, that from this hour many of us should sing, "The Lord is my strength and my song; He is also my salvation.  I will trust and not be afraid."
“The Christian’s Pathway of Power” 1874

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