A Letter To A Brother In Christ – December, 1830
My dear Brother,
I was pleased with your remarks upon religion in your last letter. As the Lord has been pleased to reveal to you a little of the light of the glorious gospel, a corresponding practice will necessarily follow, for a lively faith is known, as a good tree is known – by its fruit. It is an inestimable blessing to be taught the value of God’s word, so as to prize it, and to give much time to reading and meditating upon it. Let no one deceive you with vain words, and cause you to think, because you understand the plan of salvation, that you are sure of eternal glory. To receive the gospel in word is one thing, but to receive it with power, and the Holy Spirit, and much assurance is another. I hope and trust that you have received it that way.
If you have, my dear brother, be assured that a great change will be visible in your life and conversation; for “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.”
You will meet with many professing to love the true doctrines of the gospel; but, alas! they at the same time love their sins, and too evidently show themselves to be boasters, proud, covetous, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Remember, Satan has millions of devices, of which a young convert knows but little, and he is as well pleased to lead his people captive with a knowledge of the word as in any other way. Satan fears nothing but the power and spirit of the gospel, which changes God’s dear people from glory to glory, and conforms them to the image of His dear Son. You must not infer from what I have said that I am against the blessed doctrines of grace; I only would have you not prize that knowledge that puffs up. The true knowledge of the gospel is a great blessing, and may you abound in it more and more, so that you may prove things that are excellent. There is no other knowledge worth having compared with it; and I pray that the Lord may by His Spirit lead you to count all things but rubbish for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord.
All knowledge without the knowledge of Jesus will avail nothing. You are a poor dark, miserable, bewildered, deluded creature, if you know not Christ Jesus. It is the Spirit’s work to take of the things of Jesus and to show them to the Church. It is only the Spirit’s teaching that will afford lasting comfort and consolation; and when we are truly taught, we learn to be humble, meek, and lowly of heart; we see our helpless and lost state by nature, and are surprised to find our hearts so unclean and sinful. We are taught to see that Jesus is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” and that there is no hope of entering into glory but through Him. Seeing yourself lost and helpless will lead you to pray to God frequently and fervently to keep you from falling. You will feel troubled and distressed at your cold and lukewarm state, and be grieved that covetousness, pride, and diverse lusts are waging such strong war against your soul. But do not forget that we are soldiers, and have a continual warfare.
Read an account of the Christian armour in Eph. 6, and you may be sure all that would not be supplied for the Christian unless he fully stood in need of it. After an account of the armour, the apostle exhorts strongly to watchfulness, prayer, and perseverance. Blessed be God that we need not be alarmed as to the great warfare, for we have a sure promise that we shall be conquerors, yes, even “more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” God has given us His dear Son, and will He not with Him also freely give us all things? I pray the Lord to lead you to rest more entirely upon Jesus Christ, and that you may see Him to be your wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. I hope that your faith will work by love and purify your heart, so that you may daily become more dead to this world, more fervent and frequent in prayer, and more earnest in pressing towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
The true Christian has a single eye. Have you one? The Lord’s work will be continued, if begun. I hope, when you write again, you will be enabled to tell me more of the Lord’s mighty power working in your soul, and causing you to abound in fruit, to the praise and glory of His holy name.
I am going on here much as usual; my congregation continues still very large, and many profess to know the truth, but the chaff is mixed with the wheat. Some have a clear knowledge of the doctrines, but are evidently void of grace, which has led me to use the exhortations more earnestly. We find doctrines first in the Epistles, and then exhortations. Christ says, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.”
I have had a clerical friend visiting with me, with whom I can see eye to eye. His name is Philpot, a Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford, and he has a curacy in the neighbourhood. He is rather delicate in health, and cannot just now serve his church. He has been with me more than a month. He is a very valuable friend, and I trust the Lord will make his visit very profitable to me. He took a First Class in classics at Oxford in 1824. His company makes the dreary evenings pass away very pleasantly.
Give my best love to Deborah, and tell her I would be very pleased to have a letter from her.
Believe me, my dear Brother,
Yours in Christ,