To Theo van Gogh. Paris, Monday, 27 September 1875.
My dear Theo,
‘The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: the kingdom of God is within you.’ ‘The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister’, and we who want to become His disciples, Christians, we are no better than our Master. Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the pure in heart.
Narrow is the way, which leadeth unto Life, and few there be that find it. Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
My brother, let us take care; let us ask Him who is above, who also maketh intercession for us, that He should not take us out of the world, but that He should keep us from the evil. Yea, let us watch and be sober, let us trust in the Lord with all our heart, and lean not unto our own understanding. Let us ask that He compel us to come in, that He give us a Christian life to fulfil; that He teach us to deny ourselves, daily to take up our cross and to follow Him; to be meek, longsuffering, and lowly in heart.
A part which shall not be taken away, a well of living water springing up into everlasting life, these are the good gifts that He who heareth prayer, the Giver of all perfect gifts, will give to those who pray to Him for them.
And in addition to all this, the assurance that there is ‘a house of the Father in which there are many mansions, and that when He has prepared a place for us there He will draw all men unto Him. And to comfort us in this life, on our way to our Father’s house, ‘the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, who will guide us into all truth’. The Christian life nevertheless has its dark side too; it is mainly men’s work.
Those who walk with God, God’s friends, God’s pious followers, those who worship Him in Spirit and in Truth, have been proved and tried, and have oft-times received from God a thorn in the flesh; blessed will we be when we can repeat after our father, Paul: when I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child: but now that I have become a man, I put away childish things, and I became, and God made me: sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing.
Write to me soon, and give my regards to all my acquaintances, and believe me
Your loving brother