I have really enjoyed this, eyelog!
I am reminded of something I once read, but I cannot remember the author and I will have to paraphrase:
If someone is one or two steps "ahead" of us spiritually, we will admire them and want to attain to what they have attained. If they are MORE than one or two steps "ahead", we will think them quite evil.
Actually, now that I think of it, it could very well have been NEE who said it, which would be bizarre, and apt, and....chuckle-inducing...
I can understand Nee not wanting that publication translated. Sometimes I fear that I lay too much out there, and especially with ones with a younger age, spiritually speaking, than me. If you aren't careful, you have set them back some by giving them a set of written instructions, or a...blueprint to follow instead of following the Spirit for THEMSELVES. We just seem to want a list to follow. It is just IN us to want this, it seems. Also, they may read what we have written for them over and over in some sort of...spiritual vampirism, instead of going to the fount. I have seen people do this and I have seen myself do it.
I think his apprehension may have run along those lines. Not that the writing was perfect, but that it left nothing for a man to work out with God in his own learning process spiritually.
When I first read Nee, there was only one thing that greatly confused me in what he said, and I diligently struggled with it for some length of time, until I just realized that if it was causing me to move more to working and further from trusting, then I just needed to set it down for awhile as not useful for me at that time. The one thing that I struggled with was his remark (my paraphrase) that we had to be careful to not give the enemy a foothold by becoming blase. "Blase" was not the word, and for the life of me I cannot remember the word.It may have been "apathy", but that wasn't quite it either.
I remember thinking that something had to either be wrong in my comprehension of what he was saying, or wrong in his understanding, because I had not once been led wrong to completely lean on God, and his words seemed to try to move me from that and into a fear of sorts.
Additionally, I really am chuckling about that cigarette story because, while I never read it to the best of my recollection, that very way is what I experienced, and six years after telling God that I do not understand if my cigarettes are a "sin" or not, and that I was leaning toward "not" because it is not what I put into my body that defiles me, but that I really do not want to smoke anymore whether it is or not, and that if I am to quit He will just have to see to it because I cannot do it, I somehow miraculously quit. It was as if one day, out of the blue, He decided I was done with it.
None of this was to argue with you.
But just consider if maybe he may have advanced beyond your understanding as of yet and that maybe it could have a little to with the verse: No! Leave him alone. If he is throwing rocks at me it is because God told him to. God has not told me what He is doing.
Thank you for this eyelog blog! I wish there was more to read.
So far as Nee's shift into Keswickianism, or "The Higher Life Movement," it is significant he spent time in Keswick, England, during the time of Higher Life conferences and such, fraternizing with the Plymouth Brethren movement.
So far as the evisceration of self and will, along with opening the believer to the dangers of passivism and quietism, I think Wegter puts it very well:
Higher life teaching promotes passivity or “quietism.” “Let go and let God,” has been taken to extremes by a number of higher life teachers. Boardman and Trumbull have been two of its most vocal proponents. Victory supposedly can only become habitual when passivity is cultivated. For passivity is what quietists think is the means of releasing the Spirit. Personal initiative of any sort is attributed to the flesh. Passivity allows God to work through the person by promptings and impressions. Annihilation of selfhood is key. When self is out of the way, “the divine life” can flow freely through the individual. 
The quietism enjoined by the higher life approach is actually contrary to the scriptural pattern of spirituality. In truth, the Holy Spirit works in us through our minds and wills. He causes us to comprehend the reasons for conformity to God’s will. And He operates through the rational exercise of our wills. He imbues upon us the importance of resolute obedience. 
Far from the exercise of our wills blocking God’s power, according to Philippians 2:12, 13, the Christian has “the assurance that God works in us all our good impulses!” God energizes the believer by effecting both the “willing” and the “doing.” The Christian “works out” his salvation by reverently esteeming God’s gracious purposes as the energizer of his acts of obedience.  This is worlds apart from quietism that condemns exertion.
The notion that man “lets go” to “let God” contains an incipient pride. For though man is pictured as passive in the process, God cannot work until man “lets go.” Thus man is still in control of the process of sanctification. 
Quietism lowers human responsibility by discouraging the very “fight of faith” commanded in Scripture (1 Timothy 1:18, 19). “Letting go” is the antithesis of resisting sin. As a result, passivity leaves the door open to antinomianism. Quietistic mysticism has for many, lowered the city walls and sent home the defenders, allowing immorality to easily invade. 
By contrast, New Testament imperatives connected with sanctification are directed at man’s responsibility. The believer is to bring “his renewed mind, will, and desires to bear against indwelling sin, . . .” (1 Corinthians 9:27, Romans 6:13,
2 Timothy 2:22).  The believer is anything but passive in the process of sanctification. In the final analysis, it is passivity that quenches the Spirit rather than releasing the Spirit.
"THE HIGHER LIFE MOVEMENT." See, for example, "A CRITIQUE OF THE HIGHER LIFE MOVEMENT" By Jay Wegter, http://www.frontlinemin.org/higherlife.asp (Circa 2006?).
I don't necessarily agree with Wegter's entire article, but I do agree with these words, wholeheartedly. Indeed, Wegter does acknolwedge some of the virtues of the Higher Life Movement, and I agree with those as well:
... Keswick teaching has exposed the danger of “prayerless self-reliance.” Efforts to progress in sanctification that are contaminated with self-confidence and self-righteousness will likely be unfruitful. In addition, Keswick teaching focuses upon the inestimable privilege of the believer’s union with Christ. The infinite benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection life are given to every believer (Romans 6:14-22). Keswick teaching rightly stresses that sanctification is a supernatural work of grace. Keswick teaching also calls individuals to total consecration. Holy living is preconditioned upon ongoing repentance and full commitment to Christ. As a result of Keswick teaching, many double-minded folk have been effectually exhorted to walk in the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). 
Keswick teaching has a high regard for the inerrancy of Scripture. Higher life teachers universally hold to the primacy of the inerrancy and authority of Scripture. “Higher Life proponents have contributed a wealth of literature to the evangelical world.” Many of the devotional works produced are practical expositions of the Christian life produced by godly men. Finally, the higher life movement has made a significant contribution to world evangelism. A number of mission groups have successfully recruited at Keswick conferences and continue to do so. 
As one commentator puts it:
Nee was clearly influenced by the Plymouth Brethren and the Keswick, or "victorious life," form of teaching. He also read and admired Hudson Taylor, George Meuller, and Madam Guyon. These influences are evident from the time of "The Spiritual Man" (1923) up until "The Normal Christian Life." Watchman Nee and the House Church Movement in China, By Dennis McCallum, MAY, 1986 http://www.xenos.org/essays/neeframe.htm
I think McCallum is correct, if he is saying Nee's theology was changing between The Spiritual Man (1928) and The Normal Christian Life (1935). Clearly, the earliest publications of his views, in The Present Testimony (1), 1923-1925 and The Christian (4), 1925, 1926, 1927, support and even help explain his views in The Spiritual Man (1928).
Obviously, something happened between Nee's 1934 Questions on the Gospel and his 1934 General Messages (1).
In 1934 Nee says things like:
We should remove anything that defiles our body and spirit and anything that is not of God, and we should bear the fruit of sanctification in the fear of God. ... To be sanctified in the truth is to bear the fruit of sanctification daily. This truth is the word of God. Daily as we compare our conduct with God's truth, any conduct that is not sanctified unto God should be done away with by the word of God so that we may be cleansed. This is a matter of daily progress and cannot be accomplished all at once. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, which He performs day by day in our living, according to the truth.
Some say that sanctification is a sudden matter and that we can be sanctified instantly. This is impossible. There are indeed sudden experiences of victory over sins. We do have sudden experiences of victory over sins, but we cannot call this sanctification. Sanctification means to be separated unto God. Instant victory over sins is deliverance. An erroneous interpretation will produce an erroneous result. Questions on the Gospel 1934
This view that it is WE who must remove what defiles the body and will our own sanctification really has not changed from The Spiritual Man (1928). Nee says we are to exert our will to put off unrighteous conduct and conditions, and it is a progressive process.
But in that same 1934 year, Nee says:
Chapter seven [of Romans] says that a believer should not try to do good any longer, because he has a body of death. If we want to accomplish anything, we have to look to Christ. We have to believe that He is working, and we have to look to His working and believe that He has accomplished what He wanted to accomplish. ... We are delivered from the flesh when we see that the law no longer has a demand on us and that we no longer have to do anything.
By 1935, Nee says:
It is not my improvement nor my progress. It is not working with my own strength to be like Christ. Victory is Christ living in me and overcoming for me. Yielding without believing will not bring in victory, since yielding is the negative side, while believing is the positive side. Only when both of these sides are implemented can victory be assured. Life that Wins (1935)
By the time of The Overcoming Life (1935), Nee has left the will of man behind completely, and thereafter never recovers from his Keswickian positions, which are all closely associated with "THE HIGHER LIFE MOVEMENT." See, for example, "A CRITIQUE OF THE HIGHER LIFE MOVEMENT" By Jay Wegter, http://www.frontlinemin.org/higherlife.asp (Circa 2006?).
Now, as to your specific question:
Scooby Wrote: Do you think Watchman Nee entered into error in his later works, rather than show His continued sanctification process?
I do see Nee as having entered into error. If he had said much of what he later says in addition to reaffirming the role of the human will and will power, in the way he speaks of them in The Spiritual Man, he might have appeared contradictory, but he would not have been in error. As it is, he makes statements which exclude the human will and will power. i see this as error, because all day every day we obey God using human will and will power. These are essential components of self control. to suggest otherwise is just to ignore reality, both as expressed in Scripture and as we all know from experience.
On the other hand, it is also true that reliance on our will and will power, to the exclusion of working in and with God, in the ways Nee explains throughout his writings, would be just as bad of an error. Clearly, all use of the will is to be in "cooperation" with God, in connection to God, while walking in the Spirit. Indeed, the point of the use of the will is to resist sin, to put on and off, to consecrate ourselves, purify the body, mind and spirit, etc. These are spiritual endeavors which free will allows us to freely pursue with all diligence. This is the point of The Spiritual Man.
So, while I like a lot of Nee's analysis of the spiritual way of approaching our sanctification process, I disagree where he seeks to diminish the role of the will, and where he starts to deny progressive sanctification, and the like.
Ironically, in one of Nee's later published sermon series, he calls for Christians to be willing to suffer, to live a life of poverty and to be extremely diligent in all things. These things take effort as well as free will and will power. The role of the Spirit should never be diminished in speaking of the will as essential to our life in God. However, to exclude it in the name of overcoming the "self" is an oversimplification which not even those who say it can fully mean.
We are not to eviscerate the "will", as Nee points out in The Spiritual Man. But we are also not to eviscerate the "self" altogether. Rather, the old self already died with Christ. Rom 6. We are to put to death the old self in practice, however. The old self is the old man, the old anthropos. We are to put off the old anthropos and put on the new anthropos in practice, the latter of which we have already received in the form of a new spirit and heart. Ezekial 36:26.
Whenever we do anything in practice, we are using the will and it is a "self" exerting the will. The self is the self-conscious, self-aware "I" which is experiencing life and acting within it. It is impossible to eviscerate the self, and trying to do so is tantamount to a quasi-Zen Buddhism. Anyway, Nee is sloppy in the way he speaks of dying to the self.
The upshot is that if we took a few of Nee's contradictions of his earlier theology out of his later theology, the latter could stand, just fine. But to do so would strip it of its Keswickian bent, and I don't think doing so would have pleased Nee in the least. He appears to have had a genuine change of theology, unfortunate as it was. After all, later in life he specifically requested that The Spiritual Man not be translated into English. Perhaps Nee sought to suppress wider publicaton of a work he considered representative of youthful naivety.
See the translater's Explanatory Notes to The Spiritual Man:
Long after the book's initial publication in Chinese our brother once was heard to express the thought that it should not be reprinted because, it being such a "Perfect" treatment of its subject, he was fearful lest the book become to its readers merely a manual of principles and not a guide to experience as well. But in view of the urgent need among the children of God today for help on spiritual life and warfare, and knowing our brother as one who is always open to God's way and most desirous to serve His people with all that God has given him, we conclude that he would doubtless permit it to be circulated in English. Hence this translation.
If Nee considered his treastise so "perfect," one wonders why he dropped much of the central thrust of it, associated with the will and the responsibility of the believer to actively cooperate with God.
Do you think Watchman Nee entered into error in his later works, rather than show His continued sanctification process?
What causes you to believe this if so, based on your own experiences with Him...If you are willing to do so, of course.