Friday, May 30, 2008


A selection from a letter by the beloved hymn writer, Francis Ridley Havergal to a friend, written in 1871:

I feel very much inclined to send you this text: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Because that takes in all “the way.” For if true now, it must have always been true, even when most imperfectly recognised. And we cannot get beyond “never.”

Letters by the Late Frances Ridley Havergal, edited by her sister, Maria V. G. Havergal, first published in 1885, reprinted by Kessinger Publishing, p. 177.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Seasons of Peculiar Joy

A selection from a letter by Elizabeth Prentiss, author of the wonderful book, Stepping Heavenward, to Mrs. Leonard Dorset, August 3, 1869:

I believe fully with you that there is no happiness on earth, as there is none in heaven, to be compared with that of losing all things to possess Christ. I look back to two points in my life as standing out from all the rest of it as seasons of peculiar joy, and they are the points where I was crushed under the weight of sorrow. How wonderful this is, how incomprehensible to those who have not learned Christ!

More Love to Thee: The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss, George Lewis Prentiss, reprinted by Solid Ground Christian Books, p. 276.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Oh For Heaven!

A selection from a letter by Mary Winslow (1774-1854) to a friend about the vanity of the world in comparison to heaven. No date given.

The works of God, how lovely! But I do feel such a weariness of the world that nothing here gives me anything more than a momentary, passing pleasure, and it is gone at a glance. What is this fair world? And what is man without the enlightening, quickening power of the Holy Spirit? Oh for heaven! Nothing else will satisfy my longing soul but the sight of Him it loves. Jesus is all in all to me, and He will be all in all through eternity.

Heaven Opened: A Selection from the Correspondence of Mrs. Mary Winslow, edited by her son, Octavius Winslow, 1864, reprinted by Reformation Heritage Books, 2001, p. 186.

Friday, May 23, 2008

My Heart Is With The Work At Home

A letter from Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who had gone away to Mentone, France, to recover from sickness, to his congregation in London, the Metropolitan Tabernacle, written on February 7, 1886:

Dear Friends,

Revising this sermon (on Mark 8:19-21) reminds me of our happy Thursday evening gatherings. May I soon have the joy of ministering among you again, and marking your numerous attendances at the week-night services! May these ever be to us the happy evidences of the spiritual life of the church!

I have now been here for a week, and the sunshine and warmth are doing wonders for me. We are smitten down on a sudden, but we recover our lost strength slowly, and therefore I am still weak, but the pain is gone, and I can walk a little, for which I am joyfully grateful.

My heart is with the work at home. I am glad to hear that the Elders propose special services. Give them your utmost aid. Will any one member of the church hold back? Surely each one will be eager to make up for my lack of service by his own personal endeavor. I pray my Lord and God to send prosperity to this effort. By the love of Jesus, I plead with him to stir you all up, and through you to save sinners.

With all my heart, your loving minister,

C. H. Spurgeon.
Mentone, February 7th, 1886.

The Metropolitan Pulpit: Sermons Preached and Revised by C. H. Spurgeon During the Year 1885, Pilgrim Publication, volume 31, p. 84.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

He Does All Things Well

A selection from a letter by John Newton to his dear, but troubled friend, William Cowper, July 30, 1767:

Let us strive and pray for a habitual resignation to his will; for He does all things well. It is never ill with us but when our evil hearts doubt or forget this plainest of truths.

Letters of John Newton: with Biographical Sketches and Notes, by Josiah Bull, reprinted by the Banner of Truth, p. 153.

FIRE Conference

It is always good to get home after being away but we really did enjoy the annual FIRE Conference at Mount Hermon, California. It was a blessing to hear reports from the churches, missionary testimonies, and of course, the preaching. Jerry Marcellino, John Crotts, Bruce Ray, James White, and James Grier were all exceptional. The theme was Defending the Hope: Kingdom Apologetics.

Next year, God willing, the annual meeting will be held in Carmel, Indiana. Also, next year, Grace Baptist Church, Madison, AL, will be hosting a regional FIRE Conference in September. One of the scheduled speakers is David Ellis, pastor of the Bethesda Baptist Church, Stowmarket, England.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

FIRE Annual Meeting

I am away for the annual meeting of the Fellowship of Reformed Evangelicals (FIRE), which is being held at Mount Hermon, California, May 12-14. Speakers this year are Jerry Marcellino, James Grier, James White, John Crotts, and Bruce Ray. We are looking forward to the preaching and the good fellowship.

Linda is going with me and we will be taking a few extra days to see San Francisco and Monterrey. I’ll get the blog back on track next week (dv).

To Live and Die Contentedly

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

We may live and die contentedly, without the honours and emoluments which aspiring men thirst after, if He be pleased to honour us with a dispensation to preach his gospel, and to crown our endeavours with a blessing. He that winneth souls is wise; wise in the choice of the highest end he can propose to himself in this life; wise in the improvement of the only means by which this desirable end can be attained…

Letters of John Newton: With Biographical Sketches and Notes, by Josiah Bull, reprinted by the Banner of Truth, p. 246.

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Calm Hour With God

A selection from a letter by Robert Murray M’Cheyne to his congregation, St. Peter’s Church, in Dundee, Scotland. He had been laid aside with sickness for awhile and wrote to exhort them and encourage them to be faithful in his absence. This letter was written on January 30, 1839:

It does not become me here to show what benefit it may be to me. Suffice it to say that it has been a precious opportunity in which to reflect on the sins and imperfections of my ministry among you. A calm hour with God is worth a whole lifetime with man. Let it be your prayer that I may come out like gold, that the tin may be taken away, and that I may come back to you, if that be the will of God, a better man, and a more devoted minister. I have much to learn, and these words of David have been often in my heart and on my lips: “I know that Thy judgments are right, and that Thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me” (Ps. cxix. 75). Ministers are God’s tools for building up the gospel temple. Now you know well that every wise workman takes his tools away from the work from time to time, that they may be ground and sharpened; so does the only-wise Jehovah take His ministers oftentimes away into darkness and loneliness and trouble, that He may sharpen and prepare them for harder work in His service. Pray that it may be so with your own pastor.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne: Memoir and Remains, Andrew A. Bonar, first published in 1884, reprinted by the Banner of Truth, 1966, pp. 218-219.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Extract from a letter by A. W. Pink to his friend, William Naismith, no date:

While it is nice to have our problems solved and difficulties removed by others, it is not always best for us. Instead of continuing to answer your questions, I feel I might be of more service if I put you in the way of answering them for yourself. That man is the greatest help to me who most casts me back upon God and stimulates me to the study of his Word. ‘Study,’ I say, for while there are many who read it daily, and use the concordance, scarcely any study it.

The Life of Arthur W. Pink, Ian Murray, Banner of Truth, p. 141

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Read Over Your Own Sermon

A selection from a letter by Andrew Fuller, to his friend John Ryland, consoling him in the loss of his wife, February 2, 1787:

I have often been in pain for you, since I saw you; but God is good, and will support you. I was thinking, whether it might not be of use to you, to read over the latter part of your own sermon, on God’s Experimental Probation of Intelligent Agents. God has long tried you, my Brother, by a series of trials; under which you have had one to feel with you, and for you. The Lord, it may be, has taken her away, that you may have a more direct recourse to him. It was much to me, when my child died, to think, ‘The Lord liveth, and blessed be my Rock!’ It is no small comfort, to think, you are not parted forever. Your dear departed might have adopted the words of her Lord, to you, ‘I shall see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, etc.’ O what a meeting shall we have at last!

The Work of Faith, the Labor of Love and the Patience of Hope: Illustrated in the Life and Death of the Rev. Andrew Fuller, by John Ryland, published by Button & Sons, Paternoster Row, London, 1818, pp. 224-25.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Decay of Discipline in the Church

From a letter written by the Welsh pastor, John Elias, to Rev. Robert Jones, March 9, 1801:

Our churches stand in great need of divine support and help. The world as such is as well as can be expected; but the church is not so! I fear from the present approach of the church to the world, that we come nearer to the world than they do to us! I fear that much of that arises from the decay of discipline; and I think that much of that decay proceeds from not watching and ruling our own spirits. We weaken ourselves exceedingly by improper indulgences, and consequently we cannot rebuke them in others, as they are in us as well.

John Elias: Life, Letters and Essays, by Edward Morgan, first published in 1844, reprinted by the Banner of Truth, 1973, pp. 260-61.