Letters On Various Subjects.
Written to his Son, Peter.
TROON, 16th August 1892.
MY DEAR SON,
The subject of Divine guidance is one of the most important that falls to be considered by a Christian. When we remember that Word of the Lord which says, "It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps aright," we can understand the absolute necessity of assured guidance apart from ourselves. Of course, if anyone joins issue with the Lord, and refusing to believe that this is true, go on upon the assumption that their own thoughts, ideas, and feelings are an all-sufficient and infallible guide, then there is an end to any hope of walking in fellowship with God. The Bible, as well as all history, is strewn thick with examples of individuals and nations who came to grief and ruin because they walked in their own light, and not in the light of God.
I do not mean to write you an exhaustive letter, but rather a suggestive letter----that is, I want to indicate certain lines which it appears to me, if followed, solve the question of "Divine Guidance," and my hope and prayer is that you may study carefully what I do write; if these things bear the impress of being in accordance with the Scriptures, then receive them; if not, refuse them.
There are four channels through which we acquire Knowledge and Wisdom. They are these:----
1st.----Testimony.----That is, God speaks to us in His Word of things we could by no possible means, apart from His Word, know anything of. Of all that pertains to the Eternal past and the Eternal future, we could know nothing, except as He Who knows the end from the beginning reveals it, and because we could not so know, Faith comes in, and receives the testimonies of God. Surely it is not assuming too much to say that if the infinitely wise God, our Father, is to be relied on implicitly for the past and the future, He ought also to be as implicitly relied on for the present moment, seeing that He is ever the same yesterday, to-day, and forever? We are only truly wise when we at all times, and for all circumstances, receive by faith, and obey implicitly, the Word of the Lord. If we do so, we shall prove the truth of the Word which says, "The testimonies of the Lord make wise the simple."
2nd.----Observation.----You have heard the story of "eyes" and "no eyes." You know it is possible for two individuals to view the same object, pass over the same ground, look upon the same scenes, be shown the same things; and the one observing narrowly profits at every turn; the other being a careless, indifferent observer, profits nothing. Consideration always springs from observation; and it was one of the fatal sins of God's ancient people that they did not "consider," as saith Moses or Isaiah, who blames them for not considering "the operation of His hand."
3rd.----Experience.----This can only be gained as time goes on, and we are brought through the various difficulties and circumstances of life. Experience cannot be acquired as we learn geography or any other science----by a process of the mind; and hence, experience is of a slow growth. One characteristic of experience is----and it is the truest test of a ripened experience----that the more acquired in this line, the less one esteems themselves or their own ability or judgment.
Now, supposing a person converted to God----who is simple enough to seek and to keep the testimonies of the Word----who is not careless, but observant and thoughtful, who seeks to profit by every circumstance or difficulty of life, a habit of thought and mind is formed which results in this, that when faced with problems or questions on which no direct answer can be had from Scripture, intuitively the spiritual instinct of the soul can, and does know assuredly the right way.
Thus if you live with and watch constantly the habits and trend of mind of an individual, a certain incident arises; and although the individual may never have in your hearing expressed himself on that particular incident, you know at once, from your intimate knowledge of the person, exactly what he will do.
Just so, here is the secret of Divine Guidance. Walk in fellowship with God, as we can do by the Holy Spirit through the Word; then we get, shall I say, so intimate with Him, and His thoughts generally, that when a particular incident arises, although we may have no direct Word from the Lord, we will know exactly what to do to God's pleasing.
To Mr. Mark Kerr, for many years associated with Mr. Hynd in the work of the Lord in Ayrshire,
and who afterwards emigrated to Queensland.
TROON, 30th March, 1887.
MY DEAR MARK,
The present moment seldom gives sufficient employment to the mind. Even pain or pleasure are seldom plentiful enough to keep our souls in constant action, and fully exercise our faculties.
To make up for this, what a blessing that we can call in the help of Memory, which by making the past live again at the moment, gives us the power of ultimately multiplying our enjoyment. Memory is like the wonderful provision of nature in the ox, enabling it to recall its food and chew the cud, so with us when listlessness comes on, or present pasture fails. Then memory relieves the mind in otherwise unoccupied moments by ideas of the past.
We have another faculty that also takes up our attention by employing it on that which is to come; this we call Hope. It is of the greatest importance to life. I don't know but it is the highest happiness to be full of hope.
This at least, I know, that I never feel nearer Heaven than when the coming of the Lord is before my mind, and when the Lord Himself, Who is our Hope, is the most prominent object on my horizon.
I sometimes think that one reason why the words of the dead have such weight with us, is that we are relieved of the pressure of their presence; the words only remaining are taken at their true value, and therefore more productive of good. Still nobody is satisfied with thinking that perhaps they would be listened to, if they were dead, and so again, I am driven to consider the most effective way of helping those whom it is desirous to assist. I have learned that it does not do to pity another, even if they go wrong. God pities, and we do not resent it. He is infinitely tender, and is perfect, but pity from a fellow-man implies he is superior to me in the matter,.whatever it may be, but on the whole, I may be at least as good. Hence counsel under the guise of pity is valueless, because of the guise under which it comes. Think over this subject and give me the fruit of your thoughts.
Tom (Mr. Hynd's son) tells us you have commenced ‘Lectures on the Tabernacle’ with much encouragement. I highly approve of them being given on Lord's Day evenings. I have for a long time at intervals taken up lengthy subjects on Lord's Day evenings, continuing them, over a longer or shorter period of time, and I have never seen it fail to bring out increased numbers, and I never found myself at a loss, no matter what I was dealing with as a leading subject, to be able to find material in the subject itself, to address all my hearers. I pray for your success and great blessing as the result.
To his Eldest Son, Tom, then in Queensland, who afterwards
departed to be with Christ, aged 20 years.
TROON, 30th March 1887.
MY DEAR SON,
WE received your very welcome and anxiously waited-for letter, and were glad to learn that you keep well, and from the love and spirit of your letter, are enjoying much of the Lord's presence, which surely means His blessing. A sprained ankle is a painful thing, yet the suffering of a little temporary pain is a small matter if it prevent greater evils, by causing more watchfulness on future occasions. "Look before you leap" is an old adage, and one well worth minding. An old woman in Troon said of her son, "If any of the family is born to be hanged, it is my boy Terence; he always thinks after he acts." I don't mean to say you are like this, but we cannot be too careful, that in all matters, we do the thinking before the acting. How very thankful we are, after reading your letter descriptive of the manner and habits. of the majority of the people, that you are decided, and out-and-out on the Lord's side. Nothing else would do in such circumstances, no half measures would avail, to temporize would be to fail.
It is, I understand, a most desirable and beautiful country, and I pray that its beauties may not merely be to you a gratification of the senses, but an enlarged field for learning more of the mind of God. The Lord has established a wonderful analogy between the natural and the spiritual world. This is a secret only known to those that fear Him, but they contemplate it with pleasure, and almost every object they see, when they are in a right frame of mind, either leads their thoughts up to Himself, or serves to illustrate some spiritual truth.
The Lord is still blessing us here (in Troon) and adding to the number. It is no uncommon thing to see 20 at the prayer-meeting; we used to think that half that number was a good meeting; I counted 27 out last Friday night, and at our weekly Bible Reading, there is a large attendance. We have been dealing with Fundamental Truths, such as "How we are saved" (the believer's daily salvation); and we have now the "Two Natures,'' what is to be done with each, and how the new Nature manifests itself when unhindered in godliness of life and ways.
I am pressing on the young, and would press on all this point, by all means, get to know your Bible, to love your Bible, and to obey its teaching----only thus can we know Him, compared with whom everything else is as "dung" and "dross."
It does not require genius to understand the Bible. On the contrary, God has promised to dwell with him that is of "a broken and a contrite spirit," or, as Jesus says, "Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart." Then think of the Language of the Bible. It is clothed with inimitable majesty and authority. God is the Speaker, and reveals the glory of His perfection----His sovereignty, holiness, justice, goodness, and grace, in a manner worthy of Himself, and at the same time, as only God could, in infinite wisdom, just suited to our capacity. The greatest efforts of human genius are flat and laboured compared with the Bible. Judge the Book by its effects. With what powerful and penetrating energy does it alarm and pierce the conscience, lays bare the thoughts and intents of the heart, convincing the most obstinate, and making the most careless tremble.
There is nothing in the world to help your spiritual life. The beginning of this life is smooth and easy, like the song of Israel on the shore of the Red Sea when they saw all the Egyptians drowned. But we soon learn as they did, that there is many a "Marah"----many a bitterness. Why, no Christian could live these days in the world without meeting "Marah" in one way or other. But then it is the "Marah" which draw us near to the heart of Christ. It is the want of sustenance here, which makes us go for refreshment to the Rock----which is Christ. To the soul who knows what it is to have fellowship with Christ in rejection, these "Marahs" are sweet; each one making a never-to-be-forgotten interview between the suffering servant and his loving Master.
Much of what I write may not be apprehended by you in its full meaning, because, perhaps, the circumstances and conflicts to which it refers have not yet been your experience. But, perhaps, if not at present, on some future occasion, when need is great, you may find something in my letters if you turn them over, that may serve as a finger-post (because that is all I can be) pointing the way out of trials.
Extract from a letter to his Son Tom in Queensland, whose knee had given way,
and ultimately necessitated his return home.
TROON, April 1887.
MY DEAR SON,
If our ability were equal to our inclination, we would exempt you instantly and always from every inconvenience and pain. But you are in the hands of One----the Blessed Lord----Who could do all this and more, and Who loves you infinitely and yet it has pleased Him to let this come upon you. What then is the plain inference? That He, to whom all the consequences of every event are plainly in view has seen it better you should have this trial than to be without it. I have no more idea of your knee getting bad, or any other incidental trial befalling you without a cause, without a need-be, a designed advantage to result from it, than I have of seeing a pyramid rising of its own accord before my door. The promise is express, and literally true, that "all things," universally, and without exception, "shall work together for good, to them that love God."
Where am I at Liberty to Preach, and Arrangements in Meetings.
To a correspondent who had written on the subject.
Regarding your question about meetings: you must get into the habit of considering all questions apart from their consequences. I refer to questions connected with spiritual things, such as service to saint or sinner. Do you know of any invitation the Lord refused, coming from any quarter? He accepted all, and when there, acted as the Son of God. He did not consider the Pharisees who questioned His going to certain places, neither did he consider those amongst whom He found Himself; He had only One to please. Paul seemed to make it a point to enter synagogues----the people were there, and his mission was, like the Lord's, to all men. My own rule is very simple: I am open to go anywhere with the whole Book; I refuse any compromise on this matter. This does not mean I instantly advance truths peculiar to my position; I don't know the order in which Paul set before those at Ephesus, the whole counsel of God, but I know it took him three years, labouring constantly night and day, publicly and privately, before he felt free to say it.
There is such a thing as Divine Guidance----I have proved it. As an Evangelist, my mission is to the world. God's heart was bigger than Noah's ark----only a limited number were in the latter, but all the world were in the former. As a teacher, my mission is to the Body of Christ for the edification of every member. What is it to me whom God uses to make an open door as long as I can take in the whole Book, and thank God for the opportunity? If to reach sinners, I had to become a member of any other man-devised agency, I would refuse; but I apprehend no such condition is before you. I am strongly of opinion that all the hesitancy about such openings springs from an entirely mistaken and distorted view of what Christendom is, as I wrote you before; from looking on it like the Apostate camp of Israel; whereas that stage is not yet reached.
As to your query re arrangements for meetings, you know my mind. I feel so strongly in the matter of arrangements in the interests of the honour of the Lord and the help of His people, I would positively and persistently refuse to go on the platform to be the mouthpiece of the Holy Ghost at five minutes' notice. On the lower ground, it is an insult to the intelligence of the people we speak to. I never take a meeting without seeking a sense of its eternal importance, and I am bound to give my best in the fear of the Lord, as if it was the last time I would speak in His name.
Ask your brethren this question: If God gives you a message, will He not give you the opportunity to deliver it? The reply must be yes. Then it follows, He will not give half-a-dozen a message for the opportunity where only one can speak. Surely, therefore, those who take part in this ministry can as easily consult a few days before-hand as a few minutes before the meeting. Elder brethren, as such, have nothing to do with this. It is a matter for those who have proved themselves called and fitted to counsel together.
The Right Thing in the Wrong Way.
To a Brother in the Lord.
IT is a right thing to preach the Gospel, and to minister to the saints, but it is possible to do the right thing in the wrong way; and I am sure you are not one of those who believe the end justifies the means.
Jehoshaphat going against Ramoth Gilead; David bringing up the ark, are solemn warnings of God's judgment against the right thing done in the wrong way. The closing words of the Apostle Paul are full of instruction on this point (see 2 Timothy ii. 22): "Follow righteousness . . . with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart."
In earlier days (see 1. Cor. i. 2) "all that call on the name of the Lord," was enough to make fellowship, except for moral and doctrinal evil. But Diotrephes-like spirits had arisen, therefore not only must my companions and fellow believers call on the name of the Lord, but the profession must be tested by the practice, which tells if the heart is pure. That I may continue in hearty, happy fellowship with such, and with those whom God approves, is my constant prayer.
I do seek a large heart, but I also seek that my feet may hold the steps He makes for me, because the steps of the Lord may be often seen, where it would be sinful for me to follow. To prevent you misunderstanding my meaning, I give a simple illustration:----I am a father, and say to my son, "Go home;" as for myself, having other plans in view, I go elsewhere. What is my astonishment and grief to find my son at my side a little later on. "Why are you not where I sent you?" "Ah! Father, I like to be with you!" This touches my heart, but that does not condone the disobedience to my plain, positive command.
Service and Reward.
To a Brother in the Lord.
TROON, 30th October 1895.
MY DEAR BROTHER,
I have yours of yesterday. It gives me pleasure to be of any little service I can. I trust your readings will be profitable. Avoid discussion. Should differences of judgment arise, let each state his opinion temperately and in all humility, leaving the others to judge. Seek much and often the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, without whom we can know absolutely nothing as to the mind of God.
As to your first question. I have no hesitation in saying that the Saints from Abel down till the coming of the Lord Jesus, all alike having part in the first resurrection, will all alike stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. This judgment is an individual one. It is not as members of the body, but as servants of God. We are judged, and rewards are for those in the Kingdom as well as in the Church. Matt. v. 11-12 makes this clear. The Master was there enunciating the laws of the Kingdom, and the promise of a reward in Heaven there given, was spoken to many, who, perhaps, died long before the day of Pentecost, on which the Church had its beginning. Moses had respect to the recompense of the reward, and he looked to the time of the reward, enduring as seeing Him who was invisible. In the parable of the talents and the pounds the same truth is taught. It must never be forgotten that all the revelation, written of old, from the lips of the Lord Jesus, as by the Spirit sent down after the ascension, were present messages to those listening to the first unfoldings. So that like as in Matt. v., there were doubtless some to whom these parables were spoken, who died before the Church commenced, but who had earned their reward when the Lord returned. In speaking of the Judgment Seat of Christ, make mercilessly clear, that is only for His own, and not a judgment of persons, but of their works; Lot had deliverance, he was a sheep, and therefore could not perish in the overthrow of Sodom. Abraham was also a sheep; he had more than deliverance; he also got rewards (Genesis xv).
In 1 Cor. iii, there is no question of false teachers or their professors. These are not on the foundation at all. The judgment is for what is built on the foundation (verse 12 ). The thing built may be wood, hay, stubble, but the foundation is right, and the building is on the foundation. Attempts have been made to limit the whole section to ministering brethren. Compare verse 5 with verse 10, but the last sentence of verse 5 with the opening sentence of verse 10 shows to me it is not the specially gifted servant, but every child of God, because we are all called to service. Note in the parable of the talents. Each was made to differ from the other, according to the number of talents received. In the parable of the pounds, each man was equal, having a pound a-piece. This is the two sides. A sense in which we are all servants. Another sense in which there is special gift, and therefore greater responsibility, and I think 1 Cor. iii. 14-15 proves degrees of reward. Perhaps, like Lot, some may have none. The measure of faith will determine the character and value of all work done in His name.
As to your 3rd question, connect 1 Peter iv. 17 with 1 Peter i. 17. The judging and judgment referred to is on persons. He who judges is the Father, and the time is now. All judgment in the future is connected with the Son, whether it be on the believer's works at the Judgment Seat or being there when he comes as Son of Man, or at the Great White Throne on the wicked dead. We do not bear this, as it is true of us, that there is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, but from the time of our conversion until we go home, our Father in Heaven deals with us as His children requiring oftentimes chastisement (see Heb. xii. 5-11). The Father dealing with the son, because he is a son, and (see 1 Cor. xi. 28-32) disobedience on my part as a child may, even in the mercy of my Father, end in His taking me away from earth altogether. The Psalmist says the wicked don't live half their days. The Scripture teaches that even a child of God may so wander; that God, the Father, may cut short his days on earth also as they are being wasted. Note specially that the judgment we are made to feel in our person is now during our stay on earth, and that we might not be judged with the world. This explains the expression in Peter, "The time is come" (or now).
I have not been at all well for some time, but this is my bad season, and the Lord has wonderfully sustained me. I was in Dalry over Lord's Day. I am taking the opportunity of having help here every Lord's Day evening, to pay a visit or two, long promised on Lord's Days. The public hall was taken for me. It is seated for 500 and was packed from floor to ceiling. The Christians were saying in all their recollection, there never was such a Gospel meeting for numbers in Dairy, in kirk or hall. I had my diagram and was greatly helped in speaking on the destinies of the human race.
“Feed My Sheep” 1904