South Africa, Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand
December 29th, 1890
I was thankful to receive a note from you a few days since. The division in England is sorrowful indeed and I suppose unless God in sovereign mercy interpose must be felt to the ends of the earth. But that which has occasioned it is more sorrowful still and the more I hear of Mr Raven's doctrines and their fruits the more I am surprised that godly brethren among us should have tolerated them for a moment.
Thro' mercy I have gone on peacefully and happily among the gathered ones in South Africa and have visited nearly every meeting – the gracious Lord granting us seasons of refreshment – I have neither sought for the followers of Mr Raven or for Mr Lowe but have endeavoured in my measure to minister that which would exalt our Lord Jesus Christ and nourish purpose of heart to cleave to Him. This always has and always will bind our hearts to one another while alas, certain lines of truth taken up and pressed on even gifted and godly teachers, must of necessity make the teacher the centre of it and this works its havoc in separating a certain line from other parts of truth necessary for its balance. Thus a party is soon formed around it and the ruin is complete. Apart from Mr Raven's doctrines which I abhor and refuse I cannot but feel that many honoured and loved servants of the Lord among us have for many years past been pressing a certain line of truth and that all the sorrow, distress and confusion and dishonour brought to the Lord's name is the fruit of it.
The saints here knew little of it. Dr. S. had sounded F.S.R's thoughts of Eternal Life to some but they were refused. Except that occasionally a leading brother has referred to it privately. I have avoided any reference to it – through grace the little I know I was not tired of and the saints were simple enough to enjoy plain and simple things.
If I found F.S.R.'s doctrines ruling in a meeting I should walk out of it assured in my own soul that they were not of God. I heard a few of them set forth by George Cutting while at Barnstaple and I heard quite enough to satisfy me that it was mere dry human theology lifeless as a skeleton without the warmth of what is of God, or the comeliness with which His love and wisdom clothes the pure doctrines of our most Holy Faith, or the living affections they form and through which bind together as the heart of one man all who through grace receive them.
Thank you dear brother for your prayers – I can never cease to love you even if this strange doctrine that has come in severs us from the joy of fellowship. I wish some of my brethren in England to whom this strife has been a matter of intellectual entertainment with their hair splitting of the precious truth of God had been in the circumstances I have had to pass through in my travels through this country I think they would have learnt better behaviour in the House of God. But my heart finds rest amid all the ruin in looking to Him who is above it all and who has His way in the whirlwind. Satan could not hinder His loving the Church and giving Himself for it, nor can he hinder, blessed be His name, His present service of love for it in sanctifying and washing it with the water of the word, nor can he hinder His presenting it to Himself a glorious church with every mark of her failure and defilement eternally removed. If Mr Raven, poor man, is deceived as I believe he has been through trusting his intellect, had desired to lift the hearts of the saints out of the low "grovelling state" into which they had fallen, he might have learnt from the way God acted in His mercy and grace at the beginning as we see in 1st Corinthians 1st[?] ch. how to lift them up, instead of which he has brought in perhaps intentionally that which has distressed and scattered them.
I wish the 500 at Park Street had seen their way to entreat F.E.R. to withdraw all his papers and to have invited those who have been so offended by them to meet others that all may have bowed in brokenness before that God who spared not His own son, but delivered Him up for us all. How blessed then to have looked into each other's faces in tenderness of heart forbearing one another and forgiving one another even as God in Christ has forgiven us.
Is it too late for this? Is it too hard for the Lord? I write with many tears dear brother – for the spectacle we are giving is enough to crush one's heart – we the objects of such rich mercy and such great love, called to such blessing – all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ – are with Him, to be His Bride – such His love and shall we give Him such returns as this for it. May God awaken the love and affections of His redeemed people toward Himself, that they may flow down from their source in Himself and His dear Son through our hearts, unifying them in one mind and one judgement and united in praise and worship to Himself through Jesus Christ our Lord.
With much love to yourself, dear Mrs Rubie and your household believe me beloved bro.
Affectionately yours in Christ, Edward Petter
The enclosed were sent to me for perusal by Mr Cavanagh - will you kindly hand or return them to him and he may be interested to see my letter.