South Africa, Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand
October 18th, 1890
Uitenhage, South Africa
My Beloved Angee,
Your letter of Sept. 18th due a week ago has just arrived and is doubly welcome and am very thankful to hear you are comfortably settled in your comfortable house at Barnstaple once more. The gracious Lord keep your heart and mind at peace above all the terrible confusion that appears to be more and more rampant in England. We left Port Elizabeth yesterday morning and purpose staying here over tomorrow Lord's day and probably until Tuesday morning when we go a day's journey inland to a place called Graff-Reinet. Last Monday afternoon I went out into a country place called Sandflats – between 50 and 60 miles from Port Elizabeth where there is a happy little meeting. I travelled by a luggage train which was therefore very slow and did not reach our station until near 7pm where a brother met me and we then walked across some fields to his home. A cup of tea was very refreshing and the meeting was announced for 7.30 but it was 8 before they came. Our dear brother Mr Smith at whose house it was held told me that would be a company of hungry souls present and so I found it for at 10.30 they were not in much hurry to go. One very bright sister the wife of a farmer who is in fellowship brought several friends in a huge cart with a team of bullocks and when they left at about 11 I wondered how ever they would find their way home over the "veldt" for is very dark and there is nothing in the way of road. On asking the sister how they would find their way she said, the bullocks know the way – their farm was on the side of a hill about 2 or 3 miles away. It was a good time indeed that the Lord granted to us and they did enjoy the few crumbs I was about to give them.
The bed was very welcome that night although I did not get much of it having to rise again at 4.30 to meet the train at 5.30 that morning for Port Elizabeth. Mr Smith walked to the station with me and his wife had risen early too to get a nice warm breakfast before leaving. The morning air was lovely and I greatly enjoyed the early walk, arriving at the station in good time and was safely landed at Port Elizabeth a little before 9 – in time for the business again. That evening I gave another address at Port E. where a goodly company are always found together at every meeting. On reaching Uitenhage station yesterday two of the brethren were there to meet me and had announced an address at the hall in the evening which was well-filled and all appear to have been much refreshed. You will remember that I visited this place for one evening meeting during my stay at Port E. so that I was not quite a stranger. The business continues to keep very good and am sure P.F. will be astonished to receive Port Elizabeth indents, indeed it is all the same in every part I have visited. I am glad to hear Harry is doing so well and trust the Lord may preserve and bless him in every way. I am glad too to hear from P.F. that they have sent out one of their young men from the office to India, Calcutta and Bombay especially to endeavour to pick up some indents. I have no kind of leaning for another journey through that country, indeed my heart will be glad to settle down quietly, if it please the Lord to grant us His mercy.
Captain Bartous[?] leaving Mr Raven's company and being with Mr Lowe will be a blow for some of the West of England meetings. Harry met him it appears at a large meeting in London when he told Harry that what settled him was Mr Mackrow's saying "that after being with the woman at Sychar's well, He (the Lord) had to get back to communion with the Father". It is no wonder that saints are alarmed at it. Through mercy I continue to go on with the good never referring to it publicly, but in private when brethren speak of it I do not conceal from them my abhorrence of the whole working of this thing headed up by Mr Raven even though there may be a little shred of truth in it and that the reports I heard it or found it prevailing in any company I should turn away from it as an evil thing. God has in His mercy kept my spirit quiet about it and none can say that I have sought division.
Lord's day morning, Oct. 19th
We are in the midst of the beautiful green country which looks specially fresh and green after a little rain – it is very comforting I assure you and beneficial for mind and body. The person keeping the hotel is in fellowship – it is only used by families who are seeking rest and a change. Yesterday afternoon he took me for a nice long drive which I greatly enjoyed. They do not take much notice of rough roads but it is rather uneven and the greater part of it is over fields or the unbroken ground in its primitive state with only a wheel track to guide us as we took the horses out of the carriage for half an hour making it fast and then walked for some distance into the bush looking for a spring or well there about somewhere but could not find it and I did not feel too comfortable there as wild beasts are known to be in this jungle. It gave me some little true idea of African life. Mr Glover the landlord of the hotel who was with me had spent a few years of his life in the wilds of America near the spot where I met with the railway accident so that he did not mind the bush and its perils.
I was interested to hear yesterday that none of the native races here have a written language – this is a great contrast to the numerous tribes of India and Asia generally where they all have a well-defined language in character. Poor creatures they are very degraded many of them – the Kaffirs especially and yet there are beautiful instances of the grace of God lighting up their poor dark hearts with the knowledge of Himself and His dear Son Whom He has sent. A brother was telling me of one recently gone to be with the Lord who worked in the railway shops here. This dear fellow when meal time would come would sit down anywhere to take his simple food (Indian zani[?]) and the moment he had taken it would take his testament from his pocket and begin to eat the precious word of God – nothing ever moved him from it for years and years and it was a very real testimony to its preciousness rendered by a poor degraded being it had emancipated by its simple, homely truths. He was with Wesleyans, but well known to some of the brethren also employed in the same work.
Monday morning, Oct. 20th
Our meetings here yesterday were among the happiest ever known and all our hearts were much refreshed and I trust the Lord's heart was too while in the midst of a few gathered to His name to remember Him and once more showing forth His death ‘till He come. The Hall was filled in the evening. Many strangers never seen in the room before being present. The thought much laid on every heart to utter was God speaking in the Gospel through me perceived it not yet it is God who speaks[?] - may He grant that some may be found who will not harden their hearts at the sounds of mercy and love and pardon He is now extending and showing to even His enemies.
I fear the meeting matters are a little trouble to you, but I pray to God about it continually that we all may be saved in a path that shall be well pleasing to Himself. With regard to our position at Ilfracombe when I left it, we had not raised any church question or yet identified ourselves with any who had gone out. That we felt sympathy with them was not concealed but the morning Mr Shapland spoke at the Lord's table he stated distinctly that we had not as a meeting raised any ecclesiastical question even though we refused Mr Raven's teaching – if this had not been so I could not have presented a letter of commendation for fellowship at Cape Town, nor should I have desired to do so. So far as I am concerned for the moment that is exactly my position today only I must say after all the exercise and patient waiting upon God for guidance and with no desire to strain any of Mr Raven's obscure statements and after hearing or reading Mr French's able defence of it, yes the conviction has deepened in my soul that the whole working of this new thing which so many have sought to force upon us is not of God and with this conviction I still refuse it, while I trust I hold in my heart and conscience before God more tenaciously than ever, the reality and the blessedness of being gathered to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in the scriptural ground of the church of God. The bulk of the saints in South Africa are in this position too.
The Lord guide you aright my beloved wife. Once more with much love to you, dear Arundel and Harry and Emma and all the dear children, Mary, Martha, Eunice and Eliza and all our friends. Believe me my dearly beloved Angee.
Your very affectionate Husband.
Yours of the 25th is just received – sorry to hear you have a cold – trust it will soon pass. Mail just closing.