Monday, December 31, 2007

Each Cross

From a letter by Samuel Rutherford, the great seventeenth-century Scottish Christian:

I would wish each cross were looked in the face seven times, and were read over and over again. It is the messenger of the Lord and speaks something.

The Loveliness of Christ: Extracts from the Letters of Samuel Rutherford, first published in 1909, republished by the Banner of Truth, 2007, p. 42.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Think of Jesus

A selection from a letter by John A Broadus, while in Goshen Depot, Virginia, to Mrs. Broadus, June 16, 1867, about a sermon he preached at the Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Virginia:

Sunday morning it rained considerably, which prevented my going to Sunday-school, and prevented the huge Presbyterian church from running over. It was full, including some four hundred college students and cadets [Washington and Lee College]. I did greatly long to make them think of Jesus. Oh, that I could once speak of him somewhat as a man ought to speak [he preached on ‘One Jesus,’ from Acts 25:19].

Life and Letters of John Albert Broadus, by Archibald Thomas Robertson, 1901, reprint by Gano Books, p. 226.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

To Him Let Us Look

Extract from a letter by Augusta Toplady to Mr. Rutter, October 3, 1768:

May the light of his gracious countenance, the comforts of his Spirit, and the cheering intimations of his favour, be your strength, and your portion, when heart and flesh fail! You have, I trust, a merciful and faithful High-Priest above, who bears you on his heart, and is touched with the feeling of your infirmities. To him let us look; on him let the anchor of our reliance be cast.

The Works of Augustus Toplady, Bookshelf Publications, reprint from the 1794 edition, p. 832.

Monday, December 24, 2007

First Lesson

A selection from a letter by John Newton to Rev. Thomas Scott, June 23, 1775:

The first lesson in the school of Christ is to become a little child, sitting simply at his feet, that we may be made wise unto salvation.

Letters of John Newton: with Biographical Sketches and Notes, by Josiah Bull, first published in 1869, reprinted by the Banner of Truth, 2007, p. 248.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Foremost Desire

From a pastoral letter by Robert Murray M’Cheyne, to his congregation, February 13, 1839:

Believe me, it is the foremost desire of my heart that Christ may be glorified in you, both now and at His coming—that you may be a happy and a holy people blessed and made a blessing.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne: Memoir and Remains, Andrew A. Bonar, first published in 1884, reprinted by the Banner of Truth, 1966, p. 224.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Religious Concern

From a letter by Jonathan Edwards, quoting a report on the revival at the College of New Jersey, given by Aaron Burr in a letter to Edwards, February 22, 1757. Edwards’s letter was sent from Stockbridge to Rev. John Erskine of Scotland, April 12, 1757.

For near a week past, a religious concern has been universal, not one student excepted… Time must discover what genuine effects will remain. I can’t but hope a number have been enabled sincerely to give themselves to Christ. It has been remarkably carried on by the still voice of the Spirit; no boisterous methods; no special pathetic addresses to the passions.

Jonathan Edwards: Letters and Personal Writings, edited by George S. Claghorn, vol. 16 in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Yale University Press, 1998, p. 704.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Chamber of Death Irradiated

A selection from a letter by Rev. J. H. Thornwell, to Rev. John F. Lannean, of Salem, Virginia, who had recently lost a son in death. Mr. Thornwell could sympathize with him, for he had lost his own daughter. The letter was written on January 30, 1860.

It would be monstrous ingratitude to talk of grief in a case like this. There may be, and there must be, the pang of separation; there may and there must be those tears of nature, which testify to a father’s interest, and a father’s love; but anything that deserves to be called grief, must not enter where God and Christ are so gloriously present, and where the chamber of death is irradiated with the light, and joy, and blessedness of the eternal city.

The Life and Letters of James Henley Thornwell, first published in 1875, republished by the Banner of Truth, 1974, pp. 444-45.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

To Rejoice, To Mourn

A selection from a letter by Elizabeth Prentiss to Miss Eliza A. Warner, September 27, 1868:

The summer has gone, and I am grieved that I have not been, from its beginning to its end, so like [Christ], so full of Him, as to constrain everybody I met to love Him too. Isn’t there such power in a holy life, and have not some lived such a life? I hardly know whether to rejoice most in my love for Him, or to mourn over my meager love; so I do both.

More Love to Thee: The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss, George Lewis Prentiss, reprinted by Solid Ground Christian Books, p. 246.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Preacher's Perpetual Proneness

Extract from a letter by Andrew Fuller to Benjamin Francis, July 13, 1788, about a personal weakness in pastoral ministry:

I find a perpetual proneness to read and study rather as a minister than as a Christian; more to find out something to say to the people than to edify my own soul.

The Armies of the Lamb: The Spirituality of Andrew Fuller, edited and introduced by Michael A. G. Haykin, Joshua Press, p. 113.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Deep Enmity in my Heart

A portion of a letter from Joseph Alleine (1633-1668), to a dear friend, lamenting the lack of deep love in his heart for Christ:

Oh, the deep enmity that there is in my heart against Christ, notwithstanding all the personal excellencies that I know to be in him, and all the benefits I have received from him! He shed his heart's blood for me, and yet I do begrudge any service for him.

Life and Letters of Joseph Alleine, by Rev. Richard Baxter, Theodosia Alleine, and others, with a new introduction by Joel R. Beeke and Herb Samworth, Reformation Heritage Books, reprinted in 2003, p. 280.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Doctrinal Sermons

From the pen of David Kinghorn to his son, Joseph Kinghorn, pastor of St. Mary’s Baptist Church, Norwich, England, who was preaching a series of sermons on doctrinal topics. The letter was written on July 25, 1795:

I quite approve of your plan of preaching a few doctrinal sermons, as it keeps up in the minds of the people a view of those truths on which Christianity is founded, in all its practical effects on the heart and life. For without the doctrinal part, religion sinks into dead formality, and without the practical part, it dashes on the rocks of speculation, and beats itself to pieces in idle disputation…

The Life and Works of Joseph Kinghorn, by Martin Hood Wilkin, reprinted by Particular Baptist Press, 1995, p. 254.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Agreement in Doctrine and Practice

A selection from a letter written by C. H. Spurgeon, July 20, 18??, to someone who had inquired about a church member who had been directed to find another church or face discipline because of his annihilationist views.

We, as a church at the Tabernacle, cultivate fellowship with all the churches of our Lord, although within our own membership, we have a basis of agreement in doctrine and practice, and where a member differs from it, it is his duty to remove to some other community where his views are held, or else he must expect us to withdraw from him.

Letters of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Selected with Notes, by Iain H. Murray, Banner of Truth, 1992, p. 151.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Letters Not Good for Debating

From a letter by Martin Luther to Philip Melanchthon, September 9, 1521, in discussing the problem of monastic vows:

It is not good to debate in a letter. While one writes quite verbosely about something the other person already knows only too well, one omits what the other person is most interested in…

Luther's Works, Letters I, Vol. 48, edited by J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald and H. T. Lehmann, Fortress Press, letter # 95.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Our Strength and Our Comforts

A line from a letter by Benjamin Morgan Palmer to his daughter, Anna, January 4, 1869:

God, who makes our strength equal to our duty, makes also our comforts equal to our responsibilities.

The Life and Letters of Benjamin Morgan Palmer, by Thomas Cary Johnson, Banner of Truth, p. 383.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Source of Afflictions

A selection from a letter by Thomas Charles, to Miss Wright (no date):

When [the Lord] afflicts, it is not willingly, that is, not from any injustice or cruelty in his nature; no, infinitely far from it. Afflictions proceed from his goodness; and they are ordered by perfect wisdom and the greatest tenderness.

Thomas Charles’ Spiritual Counsels: Selected from his Letters and Papers, by Edward Morgan, first published in 1836, reprinted by the Banner of Truth, 1993, p. 302.