A Letter To A Brother In Christ – December 5th, 1833
December 5th, 1833
My dear Brother,
Now that you have a chapel, I hope God will consecrate it with his presence. The Lord has conferred a great honor upon you and your sisters in using you as instruments in opening a place for the preaching of the everlasting gospel, and many would like to serve you as the heifers, which drew the ark of God. They will say to you, “We know your pride and the naughtiness of your heart, why you have provided a chapel.” But you may answer with David, “Was there not a cause?” I am very glad to hear that the people flock to hear the reading and to join in prayer. I conceive you will be more anxious for preachers than you now appear; but if the Lord does not send them among you, they will come in vain and for no profit.
I am obliged by your kind invitation, but for the present I do not see my way to Oakham. But if there be a real desire in the souls of the people and any work for me to do, I must come.
I have been very quiet at Abingdon since I left you, and I hope and trust that I see more of the work of the Lord going on among us, but it is neither with myself nor people as I could wish. There is a great spirit of hearing generally, so that I am slow to leave them. I have preached to my people regularly for several Lord’s days now. I scarcely know what to do in leaving them—in going anywhere. I have had a letter from the friends at Colsterworth, and they speak of a farmer being called under my ministry who assembles in a room with them. The work of grace is a great work wherever it has been begun.
There must be trials of soul to break the ties which bind us to the things of time and sense. I am afraid your mind is perplexed and harassed with the affairs of this life. I wish you could be extricated from all worldly cares, except your regular calling.
I will not justify ______ in disappointing you, but I hope that you will manifest the power of religion in your kindness and forbearance towards him. “Overcome evil with good.” “Who makes you to differ?” Poverty and a large family have driven even God’s children to do what is not fitting of the gospel, and what may you expect when there is no grace? God has wonderfully provided for you and your family, and I have no doubt that He will. But those who have godliness with contentment are as rich as you. In the primitive days of the gospel, how the rich sold their lands and houses and laid the money at the apostles’ feet! But we scarcely like to mar our inheritance. You and I have much to learn in the school of Christ before we deserve the name of teachers of others, and no school is more profitable to be taught in than that of unselfishness. “Let your fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers in the streets.” “He who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly.” Real religion does not consist in outward things; but where genuine religion is, the fruits of righteousness will be made manifest.
You at Oakham as well as we at Abingdon need more of the Spirit’s teaching. We need more powerful operations of the Spirit on our souls, and sensible apprehensions of the Lord’s great love to us; and we need to die daily. Much may be learned in the letter, but that soon dies away, and leaves a man powerless in his life and conversation. If the Spirit of God rests upon a man, he will be hated and yet loved; unknown and yet well known; dying and still alive; very weak yet very strong.
I have but very little grace and true knowledge, and I wonder that the Lord should bear testimony to my preaching, and that the people will persevere in coming to hear me. I sometimes enjoy a little of the light of God’s countenance, but I soon become dark and barren again.
It is now more than two years since I left the Establishment, and, through mercy, I continue in a measure faithful to the light which the Lord has been pleased to give me. I have learned more of my own ignorance since that time, and feel as fully convinced that the most vital godliness is to be found among those who are falsely called ‘Antinomians’. The work of grace is by no means clear and regular apparently to us in the hearts of the Lord’s people; and many things seem even inconsistent in those who can speak of the deepest trials of soul, and the greatest revelations, and the sweetest testimonies of peace to their souls.
I believe that God will mar the pride of man. He will have all the glory, and prove that the best of men are but men at the best. Such instances are left on record in God’s word, and we may truly say God’s thoughts are not as our thoughts, nor God’s ways as our ways. If we have the Spirit of Christ, we must have treatment similar to His. The ungodly will hate the godly, and if we do not suffer with Him we shall not reign with Him. You will have your trials and crosses before you will have your crown, and they will not come in the way most suited to your natural wishes. A cross is to be a cross. You will have trials with your chapel, trials with your brethren, and trials with the world; but that monster SELF will be your worst trial, for he will so often plead your friend. Nevertheless, as the sufferings abound, so also the consolations; and as your days, so your strength shall be.
Mrs. Husband is very delicate and poorly from pain in her chest. Husband has licensed his house at Appleford, and preaches there in the evening. Philpot was here yesterday, and slept at Appleford. He is rather better.
May the Lord abundantly bless your meeting together, for Christ’s sake.
I remain, my dear Brother,
Yours very affectionately,