A Letter To A Brother In Christ – December 30th, 1831
December 30th, 1831
My dear Brother,
I trust that I shall not covet a single farthing from a poor laborer, so that his children would be deprived of bread. Much covetousness lurks in our evil nature. From the prophet to the priest they all went after it in former days; and as it was then, so it is now.
I have taken possession of my lodgings. I slept there last night for the first time. They were unfurnished, and so I have brought part of my furniture with me. They are consistent with my preaching, and I trust Christ is saying to me—”Zaccheus, make haste and come down.” If we were called upon to sell all that we have—houses, land, etc., to be one common stock, we would find how hard it is for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. We have so little faith, we would rather trust to our funds, than to God’s promises. If we make a little sacrifice, we are ready to say, “Come and see my zeal for the Lord.” Pride must come down. I acknowledge that I have much to come down, and there is much to be brought down at Oakham before great grace will be manifest. We want things to go on well with both body and soul, but it never was so, and never will be so. Those who are seeking ‘creature comforts’ will not at the same time find ‘spiritual consolations’.
I trust that the Lord will keep us from a desire of pleasing men. Remember, if any man loves the world, the love of God is not in him. The rich children of God can see only one side of God’s countenance, and they have but an obscure view of that; precious faith they know little of. Now, suppose you were not called by grace to walk in a strait and narrow way, and to be a peculiar person, “zealous for good works,” how would your mode of living differ from your present? Are you walking in tribulation’s path? Do you understand self-denial, and enduring hardness for Christ’s sake?
Since I published my Letter, a friend of mine has left the Church of England, by name Brenton, the only son of Sir Jahleel Brenton, Governor of Greenwich Hospital. I am blamed as the cause, he being intimate with me. His father, I trust, is a good man; for the sermon which Brenton preached on the occasion he sent to his father, and he returned an answer, saying that he would rather see him act in that conscientious manner than attain the highest preferment. His father could have soon procured a good living for him. The cause of his leaving so abruptly as he did was the objection to bury a very wicked man, who died without the slightest penitence. He has published the sermon on the occasion, and advertised it in the “Record.” I have a neighboring clergyman who cannot conscientiously go on in the present church system; and he is going to endeavor to leave; but he knows not the difficulties.
If the Lord separates the faithful ministers from the Establishment, it will then fall without doubt. Light makes darkness manifest. Before any one ought to condemn me, they ought to prove my objections to be of no weight.
Let me hear from you soon, and let me know how the work of the Lord is going on among you. We can spend everything upon that vile monster, self; but when we are called on to give anything for Christ, we hold our money back. A day of reckoning will come for all this. Christ has said, “Occupy until I come,” and He will say, “Give an account of your stewardship.” Pray for me that the Lord may open my covetous and selfish heart, and cause me to give freely for His sake; for “there is one who scatters, and yet increases.” If we spent as much every year for Christ as we do to feed our pride, our light would shine more than it does.
If I had a wife, with a family, perhaps I would not so willingly build a chapel and preach for nothing. Take my advice and have as little to do with the world as you can help. Desire not to be a collector of ‘thick clay’. I very likely may, if the Lord will, pay you a visit this spring, before my chapel is completed; but I have plenty of preaching. There is but little vital godliness anywhere, and very few ministers are led into the great mysteries of the gospel. So few know the power of godliness, or the preciousness of Christ’s blood, or the love of God shed abroad in the heart. If there be no root to a man’s religion, it soon withers and dies. None can keep alive his own soul. When you talk with professors upon the subject of religion, ask them what they know of these things experimentally.
Yours affectionately in the Lord,