A Letter To A Brother In Christ – August 27th, 1832
August 27th, 1832
My dear Brother,
My chapel, hitherto, continues to be very crowded. Yesterday it was particularly so both times. Today I have had Mr. M. and his wife to drink tea with me. He is the vicar of a large parish about seven miles from here. He asked me if I had ever been ‘incarcerated with insanity’. He had been told it for a fact; and though he said he always defended me, he could not contradict it, though he had no reason to believe it.
The great question is not whether we attend a church or chapel, but whether we hear the truth for ourselves, whether we receive it as the word of God in our hearts. Real religion will find its way to the heart, and its effect will be manifest in the life. The Spirit’s work is so little understood in the present day. It is the work of God the Holy Spirit to convince of sin, to break the heart, and to plough up the fallow ground. If this work is not wrought in a measure in the soul none will stand the day of trial, for they have no root. The kingdom of God is within you; and when the Lord has taken a poor sinner in hand He will never leave him, but will surely purge away his dross and tin. He will slay his idols, and tear him from those things he so much loves. He will not be aware how many idols he has, until God shows him in a measure the deceitfulness of his heart. The more God’s children are taught spiritually, the greater fools do they become in their own eyes; and the more they know of their own wicked and vile state by nature, the more are they astonished that God should show mercy to such poor worms of the earth.
Real religion is indeed foolishness to the world, and the feelings of God’s children are indeed a puzzle to the mere professors. But you will find how vainly you have thought and talked when the Lord shows you greater abominations in your evil heart. Then you will understand how everything is opposed to the work of God in the soul of man. Then you will find that there are fightings without—and fears within. When God’s children are brought into fiery trials, and persecutions from Satan’s darts, the scoffings and mockings of the ‘Hagar race’ are no more to them than water upon a duck’s back. But God sees fit to teach His children many afflicting lessons, that they may be partakers of His holiness. If your religion is of God, which I trust it is, you will have many difficulties to encounter from various quarters; and when you cannot realize any enjoyment in religion, and all things seem against you, you will think yourself very foolish for making a profession, and will be desirous of going back for leeks and onions to Egypt. But if you were losing your employment, and poverty were staring you in the face, you could even then bless God if He gave you a comforting and reviving view of the work done upon the Cross for you. If Christ is in the boat, we can smile at the storm.
If you are kept faithful, and are enabled to adorn God’s doctrine, you surely will be much opposed. Remember how closely you will be watched; how every remark will be weighed. You will not receive the least kindness in any respect, and many will wait for your halting. You will not be enabled to make a bargain with any one without their endeavoring to discover a secret love of gain in your heart.
Your determination not to hear any minister at Oakham will give great offence, and bring with it a cross. The word of God fully justifies you—”Take heed what you hear”; and, “Beware of false prophets.” If you cannot receive a man as a sent servant of God you are certainly right, and your conduct will powerfully affect the minds of others, who even do go, but not without pricks of conscience. The consistent life of a man of God is an epistle to be seen and read of all men, and he wonderfully influences others without his in any way being aware of it. He glorifies God, and lets his light shine. We need to be much in prayer, and very watchful, considering what wicked and deceitful hearts we have, and what an unruly member our tongue is.
When God leads His children into a discovery of their fallen state there are many painful lessons to learn; but faith is not worth anything if it be not tried. God’s children are frequently tempted to wish they had never made a profession—but if they attempt to return to the world, they cannot, for they are kept by the mighty power of God. I hope that the Lord will be with you and bless you, and make you willing to suffer all things for Christ’s sake.
Yours most affectionately,
In the bonds of the everlasting gospel,