A Letter To A Brother In Christ – July 27th, 1831

July 27th, 1831

My dear Brother,

Through the mercy and goodness of God, I am again quietly settled at Sutton after my two months’ tour in the West of England. I arrived on Friday, July 15th, and left Bulteel with his wife and child in Devon, for I could not conscientiously leave my own flock any longer; for during my absence they were left almost without food, as I could not get a minister of Christ for love or money.

Soon after I wrote to you we left Somerset for Bellevue, near Plymouth, and began to preach in that neighborhood. We stopped about ten days in the vicinity of Plymouth. Bulteel preached in the large church at Plymouth, which was also offered to me; and I would have accepted it, had I remained another Sunday. When Bulteel preached there, it was crowded to excess. We preached also in the open air, and in what churches we could obtain, to the great annoyance of the Church clergy. They consulted together whether they could not put us into the stocks. Of course they called upon my Lord Bishop to restrain us. We were the more offensive to them, because multitudes would flock together to hear us.

After we left Plymouth, we traveled along the southern coast of Devon, and preached in several of the principal towns. We both preached. Consequently we kept our hearers standing nearly two hours, and sometimes longer. We preached fifteen nights out of eighteen in the open air, and the numbers that gathered together surprised us; but the novelty of it, and the size of the towns were much the cause. I will mention a few of the towns—Modbury, Kingsbridge, Dartmouth, Brixham, Torquay, Teignmouth, Totnes, Exmouth, &c., etc. We had generally a table to stand upon. I preached upon the docks, as many of the places were by the sea, or had a large river running by them. We were not much molested, considering the offensive truths we preached, and the numbers of the vilest characters among our hearers. But we were called every name that was applied to Christ and the first preachers of the gospel, and we were pelted with a few stones and dirt, etc. But, upon the whole, we had but little to bear for our great and gracious Master. We preached twice at Teignmouth, and twice at Exeter, in the open air. A constable and a magistrate came the second night at Exeter, but we regarded them not, and they dared not touch us, nor could they prevent us, for we had a message for thousands.

Our flesh rebelled much against the work; but I am sure nothing would excite a neighborhood more than faithful preachers standing up in that way. But they must preach the finished work of Christ, or little effect in any way will be manifested. We were followed from place to place by several, and they who were taught of God knew ‘the sound’. We were much refreshed by conversations with God’s dear people, who were chiefly among the poor, and they, alas! poor creatures, were almost without shepherds. Great darkness prevails, and very few preach the fullness of the gospel.

That part of Devon in which we were, is as dark as Rutland, and almost as void of true ministers. Many of God’s dear people showed us great kindness, and those who received us we called Jasons; for they certainly had to bear a cross. Mr. Synge, of Buckeridge House, near Teignmouth, was very kind to us. He stood by us twice in the open air at Teignmouth. We took up our abode with him, and he sent us in his carriage to Totnes, and met us again at Exeter, and stood by us again. May the Lord reward him! He is a man of property, and cousin to your curate.

I could not, in one or two letters, say all that you might desire to know about our journey. But the great question is, Who were converted; and who were comforted? We heard of convictions which were very striking. If no blossom there will be no fruit, but of course we knew but little of the effect of our preaching, as we left immediately, and went immediately to another place. But many could testify of our preaching, that it was good for them to be there. We had a very great number of ministers of all sorts to hear us. Some said we were mad, some said that we were good men, some said that we deceived the people, some mocked, and others said that they would like to hear us again. Very many, both rich and poor, wondered how we dared preach everywhere and anywhere, and they wanted to know what our bishops will say. I have heard nothing from mine, although I am sure he knows of it. Bulteel is to return for Sunday next. I do not think that he has heard from his bishop. We are both indifferent how they will act. If they turn us out of the Church of England, we shall see our way clear; for we both think, that if a mother ever had a daughter, our Established Church is one of Rome’s. Bulteel can easily be removed, but they will find difficulty in removing me, as I am an incumbent. I think they will be afraid of interfering with Bulteel, as his name is so well known, and the poor Establishment is tottering to its very basis. As I mentioned before, the canons cannot prove us guilty, and the Scriptures are on our side. My desire is to do the Lord’s work, and I shall not stop (D.V.) in bearing a testimony for Jesus, concerning those precious truths I know for my own comfort, whenever I have an opportunity.

O, my dear brother, may God open your eyes. I trust the Lord has begun the work in you and your wife, but it is a day of small things. To have the least spark of grace in our souls is a cause of unutterable thankfulness. It is a mercy beyond expression. Your views are changed; you like to talk with God’s people; you stand and plead the cause of such; you believe in the truth. All this is promising; but remember, it is through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of heaven. There is a daily cross, and you must bear it, or there will be no crown.

Be pleased to let me know whether I can have £20 or £30 soon, as my conscience is not comfortable to have so many hundreds, and poor brethren in Christ lacking bread. I do not like to give money away to support pride and idleness; nor do I like to keep it in store when Christ’s dear friends and people need it. We are told not to lay up treasures upon earth. I can say—the Lord be praised—I care less about money, and could live in a plain way. A little plain food and plain clothing are quite good enough for our vile bodies. We visited an admiral who has not even a silver teaspoon, and he gives all away (nearly) to the poor for Christ’s sake. We dined with him, and he showed us the power of Christianity, while we preached it. What is this vain world? “And this world is fading away, along with everything it craves. But if you do the will of God, you will live forever.”

Write me a very long letter, and give me a full account of the Lord’s work in your neighborhood. With every good wish, believe me to be

Yours affectionately, in the best of bonds,

W. Tiptaft.

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