Monday, June 30, 2008

Let God Worry About Me

A portion of a letter from Martin Luther to his wife, Katie, who had been worrying about him. The letter was written on February 7, 1546. He died eleven days later after experiencing a heart attack or stroke.

Grace and peace in the Lord! You, dear Katie, read John and the Small Catechism, about which you once said: Everything in this book has been said about me. For you prefer to worry about me instead of letting God worry, as if he were not almighty and could not create ten Doctor Martins, should the old one drown in the Saale, or burn in the oven, or perish in Wolfgang’s bird trap. Free me from your worries. I have a caretaker who is better than you and all the angels; he lies in the cradle and rests on a virgin’s bosom, and yet, nevertheless, he sits at the right hand of God, the almighty Father. Therefore be at peace.

Luther's Works, Letters III, Vol. 50, edited by J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald and H. T. Lehmann, Fortress Press, letter # 321.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Your Sinfulness Far Exceeds All That You Have Stated

A portion of a letter written by Charles Simeon of Cambridge, to Lord Harrowby, whose son, Granville, had been deeply depressed. Simeon told Lord Harrowby about a conversation he had had with the son. Simeon gave advice quite different than he had been receiving from his friends. The letter was written in February, 1823. Mr. Simeon told the lad:

You see yourself guilty of sins which preclude a hope of forgiveness. Your friends have endeavoured to shew you that you judge yourself too hardly. In this they have erred for, if they have succeeded, they have given you a peace founded on your own worthiness, a peace that would last no longer than till the next temptation arose in your mind… If they have not succeeded, they have only confirmed you in your views. I say to you the very reverse. Your views of yourself (your own sinfulness) though they may be erroneous, are not one atom too strong. Your sinfulness far exceeds all that you have stated, or have any conception of. “Your heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?” But I have an effectual remedy for them all – “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.” I grant that you are lost and utterly undone. So are all mankind – some for gross sins – some for impenitence – some for other sins. You are lost for the very sins you mention, hardness of hear, indifference, etc…

Do this then, take a book as large as any that is in the Bank of England. Put down all the sins of which either conscience or a morbid imagination can accuse you. Fear not to add to their number all that Satan himself can suggest.

And this I will do. I will put on the creditor side “the unsearchable riches of Christ” and will leave you to draw the balance…

Charles Simeon of Cambridge, by Hugh Evan Hopkins, Hodder & Stoughton, 1977, p. 126.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Meet Me In Heaven

This is a letter written by C. H. Spurgeon to a young boy whom he longed to see saved. A portion of this letter was read by Jonathan Watson at the Banner Youth Conference, March 2008, in an address on the value of reading Spurgeon’s works (see The Banner of Truth Magazine, July 2008). It reveals the evangelistic heart of this great preacher. He was in poor health but he took the time to write this lad about his greatest need. The letter was used of the Lord to savingly bring this young boy to Christ.

Norwood, July 1, 1890
O Lord, bless this letter.

My Dear Arthur Layzell,

I was a little while ago at a meeting for prayer where a large number of ministers were gathered together. The subject of prayer was “our children.” It soon brought the tears to my eyes to hear those good fathers pleading with God for their sons and daughters. As they went on entreating the Lord to save their families my heart seemed ready to burst with strong desire that it might be even so. Then I thought, I will write to those sons and daughters, to remind them of their parents’ prayers.

Dear Arthur, you are highly privileged in having parents who pray for you. Your name is known in the courts of heaven. Your case has been laid before the throne of God.

Do you not pray for yourself? If you do not do so, why not? If other people value your soul, can it be right for you to neglect it? See, the entreaties and wrestlings of your father will not save you if you never seek the Lord yourself. You know this.

You do not intend to cause grief to dear mother and father: but you do. So long as you are not saved, they can never rest. However obedient and sweet and kind you may be, they will never feel happy about you until you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and so find everlasting salvation.

Think of this. Remember how much you have already sinned, and none can wash you but Jesus. When you grow up you may become very sinful, and none can change your nature and make you holy but the Lord Jesus, through His Spirit.

You need what father and mother seek for you and you need it NOW. Why not seek it at once? I heard a father pray, “Lord, save our children, and save them young.” It is never too soon to be safe; never too soon to be happy; never too soon to be holy. Jesus loves to receive the very young ones.

You cannot save yourself, but the great Lord Jesus can save you. Ask him to do it. “He that asketh receiveth.” Then trust in Jesus to save you. He can do it, for he died and rose again that whosoever believeth in him might not perish, but have everlasting life.

Come and tell Jesus you have sinned; seek forgiveness; trust in Him for it, and be sure that you are saved.

Then imitate our Lord. Be at home what Jesus was at Nazareth. Yours will be a happy home, and your dear father and mother will feel that the dearest wish of their hearts has been granted them.

I pray you think of heaven and hell, for in one of those places you will live forever. Meet me in heaven. Meet me at once at the mercy-seat. Run upstairs and pray to the great Father, through Jesus Christ.

Yours very lovingly,

C. H. Spurgeon

Spurgeon: A New Biography, by Arnold Dallimore, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1985, pp. 224-25.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Sweet Farewell

A selection from a letter by John Calvin to Melanchthon, urging him to be strong in his stance on the issue of the Lord’s Supper in face of opposition. Calvin ended the letter with a warm expression of love to his friend. The letter was written March 5, 1555:

Farewell, most renowned and my ever honoured sir. May the Lord govern you by his Spirit, defend you with his protection, sustain you by his power, and may he always keep us in holy union, till at length he gather us into his heavenly kingdom.

Letters from John Calvin: Selected from the Bonnet Edition, the Banner of Truth, 1980, pp. 169-70.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Great Likeness to Jesus

A portion of a letter written by Robert Murray McCheyne to Rev. Dan Edwards, who was on his way to Germany as a missionary. The letter was written on October 2, 1840:

I trust you will have a pleasant and profitable time in Germany. I know you will apply hard to German; but do not forget the culture of the inner man—I mean of the heart. How diligently the cavalry officer keeps his saber clean and sharp; every stain he rubs off with the greatest care. Remember you are God’s sword, His instrument—I trust a chosen vessel unto Him to bear His name. In great measure, according to the purity and perfections of the instrument, will be the success. It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne: Memoir and Remains, Andrew A. Bonar, first published in 1884, reprinted by the Banner of Truth, 1966, p. 282.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

God Has Used You In My Life

An extract from a letter by Ernie Reisinger to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, expressing appreciation for the influence he had exercised in his life. The letter was written on May 20, 1968:

I felt this morning I wanted to just drop you a few lines telling you how greatly God has used you in my own life and in the lives of many, many men in this country. Time would not permit me to recount the number of testimonies of preachers as to the great help they have received from your writings, and when I meet the men from your country, such as Jim Packer, Iain Murray and others, they have personally acknowledged to me their deep love and gratitude to God for your life and ministry. They have both called you ‘father’ in the proper sense of that expression.

Ernest C. Reisinger: A Biography, by Geoffrey Thomas, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2002, pp. 137-38.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Plain Dealing

A selection from a letter by A. W. Pink to Harold J. Bradshaw of Norwich, England. Iain Murray says that the most remarkable correspondence of Pink that survives is the letters exchanged between Bradshaw and Pink. I have had the privilege of seeing these letters, having known Dudley Bradshaw, the son of Harold Bradshaw. Bradshaw grew up under hyper-Calvinistic teaching and struggled with assurance. Pink spoke plainly to him in an attempt to help him either to become a genuine believer or gain the certainty of salvation.

A postman may be gruff, even surly, but that is (relatively) a trifling matter if he hands you a valuable letter! I am an ‘earthen’ and not a golden vessel. I may not be as suave as you might wish, I may even appear harsh, but I hope you will not suffer such defects in your would-be physician to prejudice you against his treatment of your case. This is a day which calls for plain dealing, not Judas-like kisses.

The Life of Arthur W. Pink, by Iain H. Murray, revised and enlarged edition, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2004, p. 231.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Into The Heavenly City

A selection from a letter by Eliza McCoy, the niece of the beloved missionary to the American Indians, Isaac McCoy, after his death. She wrote to comfort Mrs. McCoy. The letter was written on June 9, 1846:

I have reflected much upon the infinite happiness with which his soul is now filled. By an eye of faith I have followed him to the heavenly city. At the entrance stood his parents, all of his brothers but one, with eleven of his children, to welcome him through the gates. Nor were these all; for near by there stood a group arrayed in robes of victory with harps of gold in their hands. And as they raised the notes of praise to their loftiest strain, they said, “We are those from the red man’s land, to whom you carried the news of salvation. We listened to your story of a Savior’s dying love; we believed, cast ourselves at the feet of that Savior, sought and obtained His mercy. We have, some of us, long since been called home. Now, with heavenly rapture, we hail you as you enter upon eternal rest from all your earthly toils.” But even this is not all. He was introduced into the very presence of the Savior in whose cause it was his meat and his drink to labor when on earth.

Isaac McCoy: Apostle of the Western Trail, by George M. Ella, Particular Baptist Press, 2002, pp. 555-56.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Had He Not Been Prepared

A letter by Rev. Daniel Baker, pastoring in Tuscalossa, Alabama at the time, to his dear friend, Rev. John S. Galloway, pastor in Springfield, Ohio; writing about a convert who died shortly after his conversion. The letter was written February 25, 1839:

Dear Brother Galloway:

I told you of the revival with which we were favoured last fall. Well, one of the converts died a few days since, furnishing a new proof of the great importance of at once securing the salvation of the soul. This young convert, a very interesting and talented young man, was accidently shot while hunting, and died in about six hours. On hearing the sad intelligence that he had received a mortal wound, I stepped into a carriage and went to the place, about two miles from the city, where I found him lying upon the ground, weltering in his gore. He was in great agony of body; he groaned and cried aloud, so that his voice re-echoed through the grove. ‘My dear brother,’ said I, ‘Is Christ precious?’ “He is,’ replied he. ‘Are you willing to die?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Are you happy?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Well, I trust you will soon be in heaven; and there is no pain there.’ As soon as I mentioned this, he seemed to be wonderfully calmed, and, as well as I can recollect, he cried aloud no more. Observing his apparent composure, I thought his pain was really gone; but on putting the question, he said, ‘Great pain.’ He was brought in a furniture carriage to town. I though he would have died on the road; but he was carried to the house of a friend, and, in about two hours after, he peacefully fell asleep in Jesus. O, what a blessed thing it is to be a Christian! As our Master says, ‘Blessed is that servant whom our Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching.’ Had he not bee prepared, when shot, how could he have been when he died? O, how do poor sinners place in peril the salvation of their souls! My dear brother, your business and mine is to do what we can to awaken them. May the Lord make us more earnest and more faithful in our great work.

With Christian salutations, your brother in Christ,
Daniel Baker

Making Many Glad: The Life and Labours of Daniel Baker, by William M. Baker, first published in 1858, reprinted by the Banner of Truth, 2000, p. 217-18.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Ignorance of the Gospel

A selection from a letter by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, to his daughter Elizabeth, and her husband, Fred Catherwood, written on April 5. 1954:

I went to Birmingham on Tuesday and preached to a congregation called together by the Welsh community. I preached on the Woman of Samaria. I was amazed myself how readily it lent itself to the occasion as the condition of the Samaritans was so similar to that of modern Wales – Nationalism, interest in religion and theology and preaching etc., and yet ignorance of the gospel in any living and vital sense. I felt I was given much liberty and authority.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones Letters 1919-1981, Selected with Notes, by Iain H. Murray, Banner of Truth, 1994, p. 117.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Forgive Him For Christ's Sake

A selection from a letter by the one-eyed Baptist preacher of Wales, Christmas Evans, to a friend who had asked him about forgiving others. It was written on August 7, 1836:

If some person attempted to injure me in my character, by slander, calumny and falsehood; I have no inspiration by which I may know that such a one sins the sin unto death, and that God has abandoned him to irrecoverable delusion; therefore I must, according to the nature of the gospel, and the grace of God, pray for my enemy; not that he should take him to heaven in his enmity and ungodliness, but that he would grant him repentance, and make him sensible of his crime, and then forgive him for Christ’s sake. I do not expect forgiveness myself of God for the sake of the blood of Christ, but in connection with repentance and sorrow under a sense of my sins. I perceive it necessary, and have been enabled to pray for my greatest enemies, that they may be saved in the same way that I myself expect to obtain forgiveness, even in connection with repentance and faith in the blood of Christ. Our hearts must be brought into such a state in respect of our enemies, that we can say, we would rather they should be brought to heaven in God’s gracious method, than that they should perish under the righteous judgement of Jehovah.

Christmas Evans: The Life and Times of the One-Eyed Preacher of Wales, by Tim Shenton, Evangelical Press, 2001, pp. 442-43.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Atonement and Faith

A selection from a letter by Robert L. Dabney, to his youngest sister, whom he sought to win to Christ by exhorting her to believe and be saved. The letter was written either in 1840 or 41:

If… you had committed but one sin, some atonement must be made for it, either by your own eternal sufferings or by the obedience and death of an all-sufficient, because an infinite and divine, Saviour. God is pleased to accept the atonement of Christ, and all you have to do is to receive it thankfully, not caviling at the mode or the conditions. This condition, which must be fulfilled before the benefits of the atonement can be enjoyed by you, is one which is evidently proper and suitable to the nature of the case. If you are sensible that you need it, you can formally accept it, in your inmost soul, and at the same time renounce all other hope, and this is the faith in Christ, which is the condition of salvation. By having this faith you do not become any more worthy. It is still sovereign grace in Christ Jesus. But by having this faith you fulfil the condition that God has been pleased to set for you, so that he can then bestow his gift of pardon in accordance with the plan he has been pleased to lay down. Simple as this faith on Jesus is, the carnal mind will not submit to it, and give up all its own hopes, unless by the grace of God constraining it.

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. 71-72.

Monday, June 2, 2008

If He Was Ever Of Us

A selection from a letter by Augusta Toplady to a friend, about a mutual acquaintance who had departed from the faith, written on September 6, 1768:

If he was ever of us in reality, God will, in due time, bring him to us again. A truly gracious man, like a thorough good watch, may deviate, and point wrong, for a season; but, like the machine just mentioned, will after a time come round, and point right as before. In the mean while, let such instances teach us to be jealous over our own corrupt hearts; make us dependent on the power and faithfulness of the Holy Ghost; stir us up to prayer, that we may be kept from being carried away with the error of the wicked; and put a song of thanksgiving into our mouths, to that God whose free, invincible grace hath enabled us to stand, when others (in appearance stronger than we) have fallen, and become as water that runneth apace.

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