Friday, November 30, 2007

Free Grace - A Sweet Theme

From the pen of J. C. Philpot to Fanny Philpot, February, 18, 1840:

Surely free grace is a sweet theme to all the ransomed family of God; but what makes it sweet but sheer necessity? If there were no sins to pardon, no backslidings to heal, no wounds to cleanse, no broken bones to restore, no aggravated iniquities freely to blot out, free grace would be but a name, a sound in the ears, a Bible word, the article of a sound creed; but not a felt, tasted, and enjoyed possession, sweeter than honey or the honeycomb in the soul.

Letters and Memoir of Joseph Charles Philpot, first published in 1871, reprinted by Baker Book House, 1981, p. 154.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Preaching with the Zeal of Luther

A selection from a letter written by missionary Henry Martyn, July 4, 1808, to Rev. D. Brown, referring to some problems he had faced with Roman Catholicism:

I feel my spirit roused to preach against Popery with all the zeal of Luther. How small and unimportant are the hair splitting disputes of the blessed people at home, compared with the formidable agents of the devil with whom we have to combat here!

The Life and Letters of Henry Martyn, by John Sargent, first published in 1819, published by the Banner of Truth, 1985, p. 246.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Doing Something for God

A selection from a letter by Henry Venn, Church of England minister, to James Kershaw, July 8, 1769:

Oh, pray for me! And I will endeavour to return the favour—that every morning I may rise with an active and steady purpose to be doing something for God, as the miser rises with the design to get more gain each day.

Letters of Henry Venn, by John Venn, first published in 1835, republished by the Banner of Truth, 1993, p. 155.

Friday, November 23, 2007

My Only Guide... My Constant Rule

A letter from John Calvin, to his friend, Laelius Socinus, who had departed from orthodox doctrine. It was written probably sometime in the last few months of 1551:

Yet nothing shall ever hinder me from openly avowing what I have learned from the word of God… It is my only guide, and to acquiesce in its plain doctrines shall be my constant rule of wisdom.

Letters from John Calvin: Selected from the Bonnet Edition, the Banner of Truth, 1980, p. 128.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"Then" and "Now"

Extract from a letter by John Leland to Rev. John Taylor, Dec 10, 1830:

A new order of things has taken place in the religious department, since I began to preach. Then, when I went to meeting, I expected to hear the preacher set forth the ruin and recovery of man, and labor with heavenly zeal to turn many unto righteousness. His eyes, his voice, and all his prayers, and deportment, gave evidence that his soul travailed in birth for the salvation of his hearers. But now, when I go to meeting, I hear high encomiums on Sunday-schools, tract societies, Bible societies, missionary societies, anti-mason societies, etc., with a strong appeal to the people to aid with their money those institutions which are to introduce the millennium; assuring the people that ‘every cent may save a soul.’ I do not wish to be the bigoted old man, who always finds fault with new customs, though ever so great improvements; but, when I see the same measures pursued that were in the third century, I am afraid the same effects will follow.

The Writings of the Late Elder John Leland, 1845, reprinted by Church History Research and Archives, 1986, p. 602.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Preparation for Heaven

From the pen of Thomas Chalmers, to his friend Mrs. Jane Morton, March 20, 1840:

I have now entered on threescore, and desire to give up the remainder of my days on earth to a busy work of preparation for Heaven—a work of greatest difficulty, nay, impracticable, without the aids of that Spirit who alone can help our infirmities, and perfect strength in weakness.

Letters of Thomas Chalmers, edited by William Hanna, first published 1853, reprinted by The Banner of Truth, 2007, p. 227.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Great Joy in the Midst of Great Trials

A selection from a letter by Isaac Backus to his mother about a sermon he preached from 1 Peter 1:6, after having recently endured some difficult trials. He wrote:

I was led to observe: (1) That manifold trials attend God’s people in this world, (2) That these are sent because we have need of them; [they are sent] to kill pride, to cure us of worldly mindedness and love to the creature, to rouse us from our sloth, and to quicken our regard to eternal things, etc. (3) That these temptations and sorrows continue but for a short season. And, (4) That in the midst of them God gives his saints springs of great joy. And blessed be the name of the Lord, I did not preach an unfelt religion. I have seldom seen affliction bear a more pleasant face than it did then.

A Memoir of the Life and Times of the Rev. Isaac Backus, A.M., by Alvah Hovey, 1858, republished by Gano Books, 1991, p. 135-36.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

No Hope Apart from Revival

From a letter by Martyn Lloyd-Jones to his close friend Philip E. Hughes, April 17, 1946:

You will be glad to know that the work at Westminster [Chapel] is progressing favourably… But the general state of the people in London and in the country is one of apathy and deadness. Mr. Tom B. Rees created a bit of excitement with a campaign at the Westminster Central Hall for six Saturday nights in the winter. But he drew Christians almost entirely and much time was spent in singing choruses. There is a levity and carnality about such efforts which I simply cannot reconcile with the New Testament. There is no hope apart from revival.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones Letters 1919-1981, Selected with Notes, by Ian H. Murray, Banner of Truth, 1994, p. 70.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Bush Not Consumed

A selection from a letter written by missionary to India, William Carey, to pastor Andrew Fuller in England, May 5, 1813, about the great trials and afflictions he had faced:

We are a bush that has been burned with fire for several years and yet the bush is not consumed.

The Journal and Selected Letters of William Carey, collected and edited by Terry G. Carter, Smyth & Helwys, 2000, p. 99.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thanks for Material Blessings

Extract from a letter by William Still to his congregation, Gilcomston South Church of Scotland, Aberdeen, October 1948:

If you see the grace of God working in your life, and if you recognize material blessings that have come your way as a consequence, do not forget to thank Him. It is sad when there is nothing for which we feel grateful to God, but it is serious when there is something and we fail to show gratitude, and it is tragic when we are so busy asking for more that we forget to thank Him for what we have received.

The Letters of William Still, The Banner of Truth, p. 35.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Be of Good Courage

From the pen of Mary Winslow (1774-1854) to a friend recently widowed. Mrs. Winslow too was a widow, left with 9 children to bring up in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

He can make straight our crooked paths, and smooth the rough ones. The silver and the gold belong to Him; and all hearts are in His hand, and He can turn them as it seemeth to Him good. And what is more—all things are yours, because you belong to Christ, and Christ is God’s beloved Son and unspeakable gift. Then be of good courage, live by faith in the Son of God, and walk with your heavenly Father in your journey homeward, shortening every hour.

Heaven Opened: A Selection from the Correspondence of Mrs. Mary Winslow, edited by her son, Octavius Winslow, 1864, reprinted by Reformation Heritage Books, 2001, pp. 124-25.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

I Am Satisfied

A selection from a letter by Samuel Rutherford, written from prison to John Laurie, June 10, 1637:

If my Lord would bring edification to one soul by my bonds, I am satisfied.

Letters of Samuel Rutherford, With a Sketch of his Life and Biographical Notices of His Correspondents, by Andrew A. Bonar, first published in 1664, reprinted by the Banner of Truth, 1984, p. 330.