South Africa, Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand
January 13th, 1891
Cape Town, South Africa
My Beloved Angee,
We had rather a rough passage from Durban to Port Elizabeth and being in a small steamer felt it all the more. I had informed a brother at Port Elizabeth of my intention of passing there en route for Cape Town and Australia and would land if weather permitted. I was glad to see his loving face on the pier when the tug took us alongside and I spent a nice time with him and another mostly in talking, not in quarrelling over meeting matters in England. The goods I had sold were delivered very promptly and good reports of them on all sides were cheering. The dear brother who met me saw me off again in the afternoon and came on board the ocean mail steamer into which we transhipped at that port which was a very agreeable change and we reached Capetown on Monday morning and it was blowing very hard – what we call a South-Easter and bitterly cold, so that I thought it prudent to put on one of my thick Jaeger vests after breakfast and this is the height of their Summer, but when the wind ceases it will be very hot. The "Arana"[?] I am purposing to go to Hobart in is a few days late, having been delayed by fog in the channel[?] so that this will keep me here over a Lord’s day. I am staying at the same hotel and have a more comfortable room than on my previous visit, but as far as the meeting is concerned there has been a great change since I left and I fear the leaven of Mr Raven’s evil doctrines have reached it. I called Mr Elliott soon after my arrival and had a nice time with him and he was as kind as before subsequently I met three other brethren, one who is a leader as a ministering brother who very soon brought up the trouble and challenged me rather roughly I thought as to my present judgement of the matter which I responded to in plain simple language that I believed the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in John 17 as to what eternal life was and rejected Mr Raven’s strange doctrines emphatically - on the other hand he had endorsed them and thought God was with Mr. R. and there was nothing bad enough to say of any who had presumed to question them. I felt that matter now have to be brought to an issue. The Lord had previously kept me quiet – He knows my difficulty and what has occasioned it. I would not encourage any unkind feelings toward any others, it is not a question of persons but of holding just the plain statements of the word of God against the vain and pretentious elucidations of the mind of man. It was the prayer meeting night so I went and took part as usual - it was a great surprise to many to see me. The brother who I felt had spoken so unkindly walked home with me and a few others. Mr Elliott came in and dined at my hotel today and we talked over all that happened – I told him the difficulty I was now placed in. He was very kind and we talked over the various points of doctrine in question in a peaceful way. On returning to my bedroom about 3 hours after I found the brother referred to waiting there – he had seen Mr Elliott and had heard the nature of our conversation. He was in a different spirit now and had cooled down a little in his zeal and we then talked for some time over the doctrines.
God knows how my heart has dreaded separation from the brethren I love and esteem and for once in my life I have been slow to move this in the mercy of God to me in taking me out of the scene of strife – but it seems as if the question will now have to be faced. I cannot conceive anything more deeply solemn or so tending to arouse the divine nature God has in His mercy given to us than to touch the word of Scripture revealing to our souls what God is for man when man was fit only to be an enemy of God. If this is touched and I am convinced Mr Raven has touched it in an unholy way and if this is accepted where should we soon be landed in darkness and mysticism and all faith’s comforts and assurances are gone. The question is a very simple one after all and is not a question of Mr Lowe's company or Mr Raven’s company, but where is the simple truth as we have known and enjoyed it for years past – where that is, the Spirit of Truth will be and there Christ will be. Blessed to remember that He is God over all and He is for His people no matter where the sin and folly may lead them – their cry always has touched His heart and brought forth the living responses of mercy and power from His vast treasures for their healing and comfort.
I was much struck yesterday in contemplating Revelation III to see that even those who were so terribly deceived as the assembly in Laodicea saying they were such and increased in goods and in need of nothing that even then He was for them and can say I counsel thee to buy of me gold refined in fire such His grace in the presence of those so lukewarm and indifferent to His glory and so solemnly warned. What a lesson for us in the midst of all the ruin and confusion that we are in. The Lord teach us how to believe in his presence and then we shall know how to behave to one another. What strife and how splitting and contentions have been going on among us for years past and here is the fruit now to be reaped and a sad sad harvest it is.
God had been good indeed in connection with the business in South Africa – merchants here are well pleased with their goods and several have sent further indents already – it has been most gratifying to hear the reports from one and another today. I have prayed continually that God would graciously give the goods favour with the merchants and with the people and He has done both and the labour has not been in vain.
D.V. I shall write you once more from here – trust you are being preserved in health amid the wintry weather you are having according to report. I am getting on very comfortable and thro’ mercy in good health and able to rejoice in the Lord, as well we may, who have tasted that He is gracious and faithful and unchanging. It is of course deeply sorrowful all that we are passing through – the Truth however is of far more importance than brethren as J.N.D. has said. Once more with much love to yourself my dearly beloved wife, dear Arundel, Harry & Emma and all the dear little ones not forgetting all dear friends believe me.
Your very affectionate Husband.