A Letter To A Brother In Christ – November 29th, 1831
November 29th, 1831
My dear Brother,
I went to London last week, and resigned my living; and I hope that my ‘letter of resignation’ containing my reasons will be published tomorrow.
I have bought a small piece of land at Abingdon to build a chapel on, for I feel constrained to remain in this neighborhood, as nearly all my hearers are very poor, and would not be able to pay a minister if one could be had for money. So you may send word to Mr. W., that I cannot accept his kind offer and invitation to go to N., as I am about building a chapel at Abingdon, in this neighborhood, where but very little knowledge of Christ is manifested. I have a chapel lent to me, until mine is built, where I preached last Sunday. It will hold, when full, about three or four hundred; but it will not at present contain all my hearers. On next Sunday I am to preach twice at Wallingford, to an established church, which invited me to become their pastor.
It has made rather a sensation in this neighborhood, particularly as I am about to remain. Many were hoping that I should no longer be a troubler of Israel in these parts; and on last Saturday a paragraph was in the Oxford paper about me. I feel much comfort in my mind now that I am free from the Church of England, and I think that the Lord never gave me so much liberty and power as He did last Sunday evening. But already I perceive that I and my hearers will be more hated and persecuted.
I had much difficulty in obtaining a piece of freehold land in Abingdon; but now I have succeeded in obtaining a piece, in frontage 30 feet, and 48 feet 8 in. deep, for which I am to give £105, which is £3 10s. a foot. It is about the same price as Bulteel gave for his. There are 20,000 bricks to be taken up on the land, at £2 per 1,000, which the vendor intended to build with. I have no money to pay for them, and so must consult with you what I am to do. As I said in my last, my hearers could not build the chapel, if they were sold up; and Paul says, “Let not one be eased and another burdened,” therefore I shall have the pleasure to make the sacrifice in Christ’s cause. I have the part, and best part, of my furniture to sell, if not all; for, perhaps, I may take lodgings at Abingdon, unfurnished. My chapel is to be 48 feet long, and 30 feet wide. It will at first, I think, be built without a gallery, and will hold about 400 to sit down in, and galleries might be made, to hold 200 more. Now I know not who will give me a few pounds towards it.
If we are brought to consider what Christ sacrificed for us, and how little we sacrifice for Him, we might blush. And how soon persecution may arise to strip us of every farthing, so that we might be obliged to wander, “destitute, afflicted, and tormented,” or how soon a revolution or famine might sweep us away. If I love my money more than Christ, woe is me!
Conscience tells me I ought rather to stay here than go to where they are so well able to pay a minister. I cannot think my plain kind of preaching would long be received among them, for they are too much of this world.
I dare say I shall be accounted a fool for spending my money and time for nothing. The worldlings around here begin to think there is something particular in my religion that induces me to give up my comfortable house and living, and share the burdens of the poor. Religion is worth nothing, if there be not a power in it.
I shall send you the ‘letters of resignation’ according to promise, but I dare not wait to send this letter with them on account of the delay, as two important things are at stake. I know not when a vicar will be appointed. Some one is coming tomorrow to look at the house. I probably may continue two or three weeks longer there. I shall go to Abingdon to live.
Yours most affectionately,
P.S.—Give my love to all God’s people. I rejoice exceedingly that more seem to be seeking. I trust that it will prove to be the Lord’s work.