Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Yearning to Know

From Maggie Paton, wife of missionary to the New Hebrides, John Paton, to her sister, about caring for a sick native, November 3, 1875:

His mind was so dark, but he was yearning to know something of that world to which he was hastening, and I felt it so hard to be tongue-tied, for I can’t speak a word of Tannese… I could do little more than mention that blessed Name which is above every name, and point upward; and oh, how eagerly he would look up with his great wistful eyes, and then at me, as if he would fain drink in more!

Letters and Sketches from the New Hebrides, by Maggie Whitecross Paton, printed by Reformation Heritage Books and Sprinkle Publications, 2003, pp. 236-37.

Monday, April 28, 2008

God and Joy

A selection from a letter by David Kinghorn to his son Joseph Kinghorn, February 23, 1782:

May the love of God be shed abroad in your heart and ours; I’ve oft thought on those words of Dr. Young, a deity believed is joy begun, a deity adored is joy advanced, a deity beloved is joy matured.

The Life and Works of Joseph Kinghorn, by Martin Hood Wilkin, reprinted by Particular Baptist Press, 1995, p38.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Salvation of Infants

A selection from a letter by C. H. Spurgeon to someone who had inquired of his views regarding the salvation of infants, June 12, 1869:

I have never, at any time in my life, said, believed, or imagined that any infant, under any circumstances, would be cast into hell. I have always believed in the salvation of all infants… I do not believe that, on this earth, there is a single professing Christian holding the damnation of infants; or, if there be, he must be insane, or utterly ignorant of Christianity.

Letters of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Selected with Notes, by Iain H. Murray, Banner of Truth, p. 150.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Keeping Up Religion in a Hurry of Business

A selection from a letter by Thomas Boston, to his friend Mr. Hog, written September 25, 1721:

The best way that I know for keeping up religion in a hurry of business, is, to look on the business as a duty of the eighth command of our Sovereign Lord, Creator, and Redeemer; and so going about it in compliance with His will, who has allotted to every man their station, and determined the duties of it; to make application to Him ordinarily in your stated addresses to the throne of grace, for wisdom to guide your affairs with discretion, and for the success of them according to His promises thereanent [concerning that]; and actually go about them in dependence on the Lord. Thus, while you served your lawful purposes in the world, you would serve the Lord Christ…

Memoirs of Thomas Boston, first published in 1899, reprinted by the Banner of Truth, 1988, p. 498.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Recommendation for Membership

From the pen of Jonathan Edwards to the Rev. Mr. Stephen Williams, pastor of the church in Long Meadow, recommending Rachel Parsons for membership, February 18, 1745/6, when transference of members “by letter” meant something.

This may certify you that Rachel Parsons (now Bliss) has been admitted a member of this church, in full communion; and so continued, in good standing and without offense during her continuance here. And she having, by the providence of God, been lately removed from hence to dwell at Longmeadow, I would hereby recommend her to be received to the same standing and privileges with you.

Jonathan Edwards: Letters and Personal Writings, edited by George S. Claghorn, vol. 16 in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Yale University Press, 1998, p. 198.

Friday, April 18, 2008

What Death Teaches Us

A selection from a letter by Benjamin Morgan Palmer to Sallie Baxter Bird, speaking of the death of his daughter, Marion Louisa, February 19, 1873:

But what does it [death] teach—what great lesson dos our loving Father mean us to gather up and treasure, in this apparent, and unspeakably painful, harshness to us and to her? I will tell you the conviction, which the Holy Spirit seems to be impressing more and more upon my own heart. I have never had before such an overwhelming sense of the testimonial character of human suffering, and of the awful holiness of God as the particular fact to which the witness is borne. Surely it is right—nay, it is supremely right—that God should exhibit, in the very bosom of His grace, His dreadful displeasure against sin. You perceive that I go behind all secondary causes for the origin of suffering. However it may be brought about through fixed and necessary laws, the moral ground of it is to be found in the fact that we are sinners. The curse—the curse—that terrible word which is written as the superscription over a doomed world—rests upon us, and we suffer. When God, therefore, interposes with grace, and turns this curse into discipline, giving us in sorrow and anguish, not the punishment, but the correction of our sin, He is thereby proclaiming His dreadful holiness. He does it, in those whom most conspicuously He saves, that the world may understand that He saves as a holy God. Are we no in danger, while contemplating His infinite compassion and love, or lowering our views?

The Life and Letters of Benjamin Morgan Palmer, by Thomas Cary Johnson, Banner of Truth, p. 397-98.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Death Has Struck Me

A selection from a letter by Robert L. Dabney, expressing the grief he experienced in the death, by diphtheria, of his two sons, written to his brother, December 12, 1855:

Death has struck me with a dagger of ice. He has not only wounded, but benumbed. I believe that Jimmy was too young to be responsible, and that as such, though by nature depraved, he is saved, renewed and glorified by the grace of God; and Bobby, if not also too young to be responsible, which is most probable, showed such sweet and striking evidences of ripening for heaven, that I cannot believe he is anywhere else. Yet believing this as I do firmly, I hardly have life to rejoice in it. But thanks to God, I am not moping nor murmuring. If I could see the blows blessed to myself, my kindred and my friends, I should in time be able to bless God for it; and this is my constant prayer…

The Life and Letters of Robert Lewis Dabney, by Thomas Cary Johnson, first published in 1903, reprinted by the Banner of Truth Trust, 1977, p. 172.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Trifling With the Souls of Men

A selection from a letter by Thomas Charles, to someone who had written him with questions about preaching the gospel to the lost, written January 18, 1814:

Speaking of the terrors of the Lord to sinners with firmness, and at the same time without feeling compassion for them, shews the want of the fear of God and love to man in the speaker. We ought to weep over them as Jesus did over Jerusalem. The words in 2 Cor. 5:19, 20, are particularly descriptive of the true ambassador of Christ, to whom the ministry of reconciliation is given – is committed… ‘We beseech—we pray you in Christ’s stead… be ye reconciled to God.’ As they represent Christ, they ought to be in that frame and temper of mind, in which Christ would be, if he in his own person were speaking. Knowing the terrors of the Lord, we persuade men. O my dear friend, our trifling with the souls of men about eternal concerns, is shameful—is most exceedingly sinful; it is beyond measure shocking! May God convince us of it, and make us able ministers.

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. 397.

Friday, April 11, 2008

It Is Good That I Have Been Afflicted

From a letter written by the Welsh pastor, John Elias, to Thomas Owen, a prisoner in France, November, 1807:

I hope you do acknowledge the Lord’s hand in your affliction, and that you submit yourself under it, that you may be exalted in due time. I pray and hope that it may be for your good, and that you will come out of the furnace of affliction as gold purified in the fire: and then you will have to say as the Psalmist, ‘It is good for me that I have been afflicted; before that, I went astray, but now I have kept thy word.’ It is true you went astray before this heavy trial; it is much better to be in a temporal prison in a foreign land, than to be in a backsliding state, and in captivity to lusts and Satan.

John Elias: Life, Letters and Essays, by Edward Morgan, first published in 1844, reprinted by the Banner of Truth, 1973, pp. 223-24.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Preaching in a Familiar Mode

A portion of a letter from J. C. Philpot, to Mr. Grace, about preaching in the county of Dorset in comparison to preaching in the city of London, August 3, 1863:

I find a great difference in my preaching here and in London; not that there is any change in doctrine or experience, but a rustic population requires a more simple and almost familiar mode of utterance than suits a London congregation. It is not that I study my style, or seek to adapt it to different classes of people; but the thing comes, as no doubt you have felt, almost intuitively, without study or forecast. It is like sitting down to converse with my old almshouse woman… We naturally necessarily drop into that style of speech which adapts itself to the person we converse with. And I am well convinced unless a minister can in this sense be all things to all men it will much limit his usefulness. We need not be low, we need not be vulgar, we need use no word which would offend the most fastidious ear, and yet be perfectly intelligible to the fisherman on the beach or the woman that cleans the chapel. I have often admired our Lord’s discourses from this point of view, independent of their solemn weight and power. What dignified simplicity, what exquisite clearness! Intelligible to the lowest, and yet, in their dept, unfathomable to the highest capacity.

Letters and Memoir of Joseph Charles Philpot, first published in 1871, reprinted by Baker Book House, 1981, p. 379.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Why Me, Lord, Why Me?

An extract from a letter by Howell Harris (1714-1773), to a friend on the distinguishing love of God (no date):

But Oh! That free, sovereign, and everlasting love, that calls those in time, who were elected in eternity! What have we to do but admire more and more this wonderful subject, and exclaim, “Why me, Lord, why me?”

The Life and Times of Howell Harris: The First Itinerant Preacher in Wales, by Edward Morgan, first published in 1852, republished in 1998 by Need of the Times Publishers, p. 166.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Precious Blood

A selection from a letter by Francis Ridley Havergal, to a clerical friend and his wife, written on Christmas day, 1873:

I do not know how one could bear the clearer sight of the sinfulness without the clearer sight, too, of the Precious Blood and its full cleansing power. I had only learnt half of 1 John 1:9, but oh how precious the “and” now is!

Letters by the Late Frances Ridley Havergal, edited by her sister, Maria V. G. Havergal, first published in 1885, reprinted by Kessinger Publishing, p. 138.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


An extract from a letter by Henry Venn, Church of England minister, to Rev. James Stillingfleet, July 13, 1773:

I am not therefore surprised, though I am grieved, for the crosses you meet with. It must be so. Nothing in this world shall we have to find contentment in, if we are Christ’s; for whatever it is which fully pleases, in that we shall take up our rest.

Letters of Henry Venn, by John Venn, first published in 1835, republished by the Banner of Truth, 1993, p. 202.