A Letter To A Brother In Christ – December 16th, 1833
December 16th, 1833
My dear Brother,
“Man devises his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”
In your last you said, “I trust that you will have a call in this direction, when the alteration is made in the chapel.” Now it has so occurred since I wrote to you, that my Wolverhampton friends have made a particular application to me to preach for them the last Lord’s day in this month and the first in the next. I have written to say (God willing) I will preach to them on the above-named Lord’s days; and thence I purpose, if the Lord will, to proceed to you, and accept your invitation; and as you desire that I should be with you two Lord’s days, I am making arrangements here to be with you on Jan. 12th and 19th. I scarcely know how to leave here; nevertheless, I hope that it may be made very manifest that I was to visit you this winter. I shall be glad to find you in a lively state in your souls, manifesting the fruits of the Spirit; and your zeal will doubtless provoke very many.
My chapel being still crowded has excited a great zeal among the Church people and they have made a liberal collection to have a third service in the Great Church. They do not like so many straggling down to my chapel, and imbibing such sentiments as cause them to doubt whether all were moved by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel who stand up in their steeple-house. They intend to commence their lecture in the evening on the first Sunday in the new year. I am speaking the real sentiments of my mind when I say that I wish they had knowledge equal to their zeal.
You will be much tried in your mind respecting your providing a place for the Lord’s people to meet in, and will be tempted to fear whether or not you have been actuated by the influence of the Spirit of the Lord. It will be profitable for you to have searchings of heart, for you need self-examination continually, to know whether your eye is single to God’s glory. You will find even the children of God are worldly and carnal, and heavenly-mindedness is but little seen and known.
It is a blessed truth that Christ came to justify the ungodly, and the children of God know, from heartfelt experience, that they stand among those characters, are stripped of every hope, and have no refuge but in their hiding-place, the Lord Jesus, their Rock. Their life is hidden with Christ in God. Neither wrath, terrors, judgments, law, nor the devil himself, can ever prevail against the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He has conquered, and, as the great Captain of Salvation, will lead all His blood-bought chosen ones to fight the good fight of faith, and so to conquest and to crowns of glory. I trust and hope that there are a few in Oakham and the neighborhood that will stand when He appears; but they are, like myself, very young and feeble, and need strengthening.
The way to heaven is narrow, and beset with many difficulties, and we, at times, are almost sorry that we ever ventured out, especially when we keep continually meeting with the lions in the way; but nothing so much checks and stops us as vile self. It cleaves to everything on the way, and wants so often to turn us out of the way, and the ear is not deaf to the alluring and enticing invitation of Demas to look into the silver mine. Blessed are they who are only allowed to look in; for, alas! how many glaring professors and speedy travelers to Zion, who have been brave companions on the way for a time, have stopped short at that mine, and never could be seen beyond it! Our hearts are very closely knit with everything that the world loves and admires. Good old David had to say, “My soul cleaves to the dust;” and so do all God’s children say it now, at times, if they know the plague of their own hearts.
Neither the terrors of the law, nor the arguments nor persuasions of men, can ever separate a man from the world, and keep him from being a lover of himself. It requires the same power to effect it as made the world. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” It is through the Spirit that the deeds of the body are mortified.
I do not consider that the churches are very spiritual in the present day, nor will they ever be without various trials from without or within. They need to have their senses well exercised to discern both good and evil. Gold bought in the fire makes the Christian rich. I consider that it is a sign of a very low state of soul, for anyone to see the Church in such a low state without mourning and grieving, and having a longing desire to see the Lord’s people revive as the grain and grow as the vine. The ministers themselves are very indifferent about the prosperity of Zion. I believe that they will be revived in their souls before the churches prosper; for “like people, like priest.”
O that the Lord would, of His infinite mercy, pour out His Holy Spirit upon all His dear children, so that we might indeed say that the Lord has done great things for us. I am tried in my soul in various ways. The formation of a church here is in consideration, and I feel it a very weighty matter. I do not at all feel myself fit for a pastor to go in and out before them, nor can I conscientiously continue to neglect the Lord’s ordinances. I am in a strait. The Lord’s people are very odd people to rule, and it is difficult to keep them even looking kindly towards each other. It can be done by no other power than the Lord’s; for “You are taught of God to love one another.” I shall be very glad to find you growing in faith, and your charity towards each other abounding.
May there be an earnest spirit of prayer, that I may come unto you in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. I shall be pleased to find, after a time, that the Lord had some hidden ones in dark Oakham, to bring forth and to cause to shine as lights in a wicked world. It is an infant of days with you at present, but the day of small things is not to be despised. It is first the blade, then the ear, and then the full corn in the ear. But grace will manifest itself, before long, wherever it is.
Nothing is to be compared to real and vital godliness. The least work of grace in the heart is worth a thousand worlds. I hope that you will be more and more zealous for the Lord’s cause, and that you will manifest to those around you that neither your time and money are worth mentioning as a sacrifice in the cause of Christ, who made that inestimable sacrifice, not of gold, nor silver, but of His own precious blood, to redeem selfish, carnal, ungodly, and hell-deserving sinners! Moreover, He has bestowed upon them more than we can ever ask or think, glory and honor be to His adorable name!
Yours very affectionately,