A Letter To A Brother In Christ – September 11th, 1833
September 11th, 1833
My dear Brother,
I am glad to hear that your meetings are well attended. You will need encouragement, in one way or other, to keep you together meeting in the name of the Lord, for the right way is uphill, and some will be continually growing faint and weary.
My soul was much refreshed and encouraged when I was in Wilts, about ten days ago, by finding that the word preached by me in a barn there, for two Sundays last autumn, was much owned and blessed; so that it is well with me, though some curse me, if God will bless me. Some think my work is to go from place to place, preaching as I go, but I cannot say so, though I am sometimes inclined to think so. I have repeated invitations to go out to preach, but I scarcely know how to answer, and I cannot get an answer from God to satisfy my mind on these occasions; others, again, condemn me for going away, as I am still so well attended in my own chapel. My hearers think I neglect them, and leave the few sheep in the wilderness; so I am in a strait. I have had two or three very pressing invitations to go to a favored people in Sussex, who are without a pastor, namely, at Hailsham and Eastbourne, and I have promised them, God willing, to be with them the last Sunday in this month, and the first in next; and as the Lord seems to bear testimony to my preaching among you, I feel inclined, as you invite and wish me to come again among you soon, to preach to you at Oakham on the second Sunday in October, that is, 13th; and may it be made manifest that the Lord has ordered my coming to you. The Lord only knows what ‘hidden ones’ are in the little dark town and county, and He will appoint means to bring His banished ones home.
Philpot preached in a church near me on Sunday, and some who understood the distinction of sounds, heard him extremely well. I think that he will soon leave the Church of England. His church at Stadhampton, where he has preached for five years, is very much crowded. He has refused to send any children to be confirmed, and so I expect the Bishop will intervene.
Two more ministers of the Church of England have lately left in this neighborhood. I think very poorly of those that continue in it, but I cannot think well of some that leave it. The errors, when strongly represented, can be seen very plainly by the light of nature, but grace is little in operation in the souls of the Lord’s people. We live in a dark day, but I think darkness prevailed much about fifty years ago also. I have light enough to see the ignorance and worldliness of even those who pass for good people among good people, and very few indeed seem to be enjoying much of the presence and love of the Lord. As for myself, I am “faint yet pursuing,” but to be enabled to hold on in the fight against the threefold enemy is a very great mercy. Before I shall ever be of much use to the Lord’s family, I must be much more deeply taught in my own soul. It shows me the great darkness of the present day, and a great lack of ministers, that the churches keep applying to me; but there is one good reason, that they hear what they hear from me at the same rate as the Corinthians heard Paul’s sermons. I cannot see the work going on at Abingdon as I could wish, either in conversion or building up, but seldom do I go to any other place but I return more satisfied with my own hearers.
Old nature is very corrupt, and will continually show itself. I know, from heartfelt experience, that I cannot keep alive my own soul nor raise my affections to heavenly things. The Lord does encourage me now and then, but I generally walk much in darkness and with hardness of heart. I think my heart is much like yours, “carnal, sensual, and devilish.” If we ministers were on the wing, those of our hearers who are in the mire would cry out. Very spiritually-minded ministers, enjoying much of the presence of the Lord, would not preach to suit the churches of the present day; nevertheless, if the Lord so favored them, it might be for the refreshing and reviving of the things that are ready to perish. Whatever obstacles and trials we may meet with, it is the right and sure path. The worldlings and mere professors will have their portion here, but how great a blessing do they receive who are made to differ, and for whom the Lord has prepared eternal mansions of glory! But we must be a prepared people for our prepared place.
I believe at times you are tried and tempted to give up all hope, and you doubtless wish you had never been so forward in spiritual things. You have put your hand to the plough, and there is no going back from the work. But your troubles respecting religion are scarcely begun; you are dandled on the knee at present. You will find your enemies more lively and strong the farther you advance in the divine life.
Yours most affectionately,