Wednesday, July 30, 2008

We Must Give Account

A letter by Andrew Fuller, to his good friend, John Ryland, Jr., who was soon to move to Bristol to take up a teaching post at the Baptist College. The letter was written on December 3, 1793:

My Dear Brother,

I have no other occasion for writing, than to express my earnest desire, that your important removal may be for good. I am satisfied you are in the path of duty; on this consideration, I am willing to part with you. I loved Carey, but I loved the cause of Christ better; and on that account, I could not be sorry at his departure [to India]; though it was with a probability never to see him more.

Your views of divine truth, I consider as of great importance in the Christian ministry. Go then, my Brother, pour them into the minds of the rising generation of ministers. Perhaps, there could not have been a station in which you would have had so fair an opportunity of propagating gospel-truth. Let us do all we can in our different stations. Respectability of character and situation affords great opportunity of doing good. We have several of us, in different ways, hereby, fresh openings for usefulness. It is a trust, as well as other things, of which we must give account; and I hope our account will be with joy, and not with grief.

I have found, the more I do for Christ, the better it is with me. I never enjoyed so much of the pleasures of religion, as I have within the last two years, since we have engaged in the Mission business. Mr. Whitfield used to say, “The more a man does for God, the more he may.”

I should have been glad to have seen you at Kettering. As that cannot be, the Lord God of Israel prosper your way!

I am,
Very affectionately, yours,
Andrew Fuller

P.S. I will write as often as I find something interesting to write about, and opportunity admits. I hope you will do the same.

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. 225-26.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Supported in Times of Affliction

A selection from a letter by the Calvinistic Methodist preacher, Thomas Charles, to a friend who had suffered heavy affliction. He shares with her the blessing that an affliction was to him. The letter was probably written in 1812:

I rejoice that you are in some degree supported under your heavy affliction, and that your thoughts are directed to the Lord, with some degree of submission to his sovereign will, and of confidence in his goodness, care, and faithfulness. I can say that the heaviest affliction I ever met with was one of my greatest blessings. I refer you to three Scriptures which were peculiarly blessed to me at that time and often afterwards, to wit, Rom. viii.32; Heb. vi.17, 18; Isa. liv. 10. Supported by these strong, unshaken and immoveable pillars, it was easy for me to bear all.

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. 321.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Lord Make You a Boanerges and a Barnabas

A selection from a letter by Robert Murray M'Cheyne, to Rev. Patrick L. Miller, who had just been called to be the minister of the church in Wallacetown, located in south west Scotland. The letter was written on September 18, 1840:

I cannot tell you how sincerely I thank God for the event of this evening. You are unanimously chosen minister of Wallacetown. I have already been on my knees to praise God for it, and to pray that you may be filled with the Holy Spirit for this glorious work… The Lord humble, empty, satisfy, and fill you – make you a Boanerges and a Barnabas all in one. May the Lord arise, and His enemies be scattered; and may poor parched Angus become like the garden of the Lord.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne: Memoir and Remains, Andrew A. Bonar, first published in 1884, reprinted by the Banner of Truth, 1966, p. 190.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Be A Good Boy

A selection from a letter by Rev. J. H. Thornwell, to his six year old son, Gillespie, written when he was away from home, June 17, 1851:

Your mother is now with me, and we often think and talk and pray about our dear little boy in Sumter District [South Carolina]. We know that you are in the hands of kind friends, who will take the best care of you. But we are very anxious that you should try and be a good boy yourself. You must mind everything that cousin Sarah Ann, or Mr. Knox, says to you. Learn all the lessons they give you; use no bad words; answer your questions every Sunday; and pray to God every morning and night. It would do your father a great deal of good to see you fond of reading the Bible, and other books. I hope that God may yet make you a preacher. There is nothing that would please me so much as to see you a good man, and in the pulpit. You must not think it smart to be rude and boisterous, and cruel to poor animals, that cannot help themselves. You must not curse or wear, for anything in the world; and no matter what you do, never tell a story; always speak out the truth, whatever may be the consequences.

The Life and Letters of James Henley Thornwell, first published in 1875, republished by the Banner of Truth, 1974, p. 350-51.

Friday, July 18, 2008

All Are Warranted to Approach

An evangelistic letter from Thomas Chalmers to a friend whom he longed to see converted, written November 13, 1825:

My Very Dear Sir,

I have no peculiar mode of addressing the Gospel to any one class of human creatures. It is a wide and general proclamation of mercy to all, and whatever the age or condition of the sinner, still he is welcome to Christ; and coming unto Him he shall in no wise be cast out. All are warranted to approach, even with boldness, to that throne of grace where they shall receive both mercy to pardon and grace to help in every time of need.

It is a wonders plea that the Psalmist urges for pardon, “Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great.” That greatness of transgression, which would preclude the hope of forgiveness from an earthly superior whom we had offended, is the very argument which we are encouraged to make use of in praying for pardon from Him, whose thoughts are not as our thoughts, and whose ways are not as our ways. May you, my dear Sir, and all with whom you are connected, have great peace and joy in thus believing; and sure I am, that when Gospel peace enters, Gospel holiness will follow in its train. Have you read Romaine’s “Treatises on Faith?”—they are very precious.—Believe me, my dear Sir, yours truly,

Thomas Chalmers

Letters of Thomas Chalmers, edited by William Hanna, first published 1853, reprinted by The Banner of Truth, 2007, p. 298.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How I Could Be So Blind

A portion of a letter by Henry Venn, Church of England minister, to James Kershaw, September 7, 1771:

Twenty years ago I was accustomed to solitude; and I believe no one was ever happier in it. Though I was then seeking to enter into life, by keeping the commandments, yet do I still remember the hours of delightful devotion, the earnest supplications I was offering up for a heart dead to every thing but God. I am sometimes wondering how I could be so blind, and yet so comfortable; and am myself a witness, what pains a man may take to go to heaven, and yet be quite in the dark.

Letters of Henry Venn, by John Venn, first published in 1835, republished by the Banner of Truth, 1993, pp. 187-88.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

What Is My Skin To His Glory!

A portion of a letter by Samuel Rutherford, to Alexander Henderson, written in exile from Aberdeen, Scotland, March 9, 1637:

I protest to you (my witness is in heaven) that I could wish many pound weights added to my cross, to know that by my sufferings Christ were set forward in his kingly office in this land. O what is my skin to his glory! Or my losses, or my sad heart, to the apple of the eye of our Lord and his beloved Spouse, his precious truth, his royal privileges, the glory of manifested justice in giving his foes a dash, the testimony of his faithful servants who do glorify him, when he rideth upon poor weak worms, and triumpheth in them! I desire you to pray that I may come out of this furnace with honesty, and that I may leave Christ’s truth no worse than I found it; and that this most honourable cause may neither be stained nor weakened.

Letters of Samuel Rutherford: A Selection, The Banner of Truth Trust, the first edition of letters was published in 1664, this selection was published in 1973, p. 62.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Gracious Visitations to Our Souls

A portion of a letter by the Welsh pastor, John Elias, to his sister Phoebe, with the hope that the revival fires that were stirring in the country were stirring in her heart. The letter was written February 10, 1832:

Oh may we long more earnestly and ardently for the gracious visitations of the Lord to our country and neighbourhoods, but especially to our own souls. I hope, my dear Phoebe, that you my dear child, are not destitute of these delightful visits of heaven these days. May the Lord speak to your precious soul as you read his holy Word, and as you hear the preaching of the Gospel; and may you draw near to him as a Father, through the blood of Christ; yea, may you come boldly to the throne of grace, to receive grace and mercy to help you in the time of need: help in need as wanted, according to circumstances and necessities, and in time, that is quite enough; no more is required.

It is most profitable to take every trial and burden unto the Lord, to set before him all your complaints, and to cast all your care upon him, for he careth in a very kind and tender manner for us. We may safely entrust him with the concerns of our bodies and souls, our temporal and eternal interests. He is very kind and pitiful, and ready to hear different cases of distress; able to bear all our burdens, to relieve all our wants, and wise to lead us through the intricate wilderness, and guide us safely to the end of the journey.

John Elias: Life, Letters and Essays, by Edward Morgan, first published in 1844, reprinted by the Banner of Truth, 1973, p. 200.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Be Ashamed Yet Do Not Despair

A selection from a letter by Andrew Fuller, to his wayward son, Robert, whom he longed to see in Christ and living a godly life, written in December of 1808. Fuller’s son died three months later. In letters written to his father prior to his death, Fuller’s biographer, John Ryland, Jr., could say, “We hope, he was led to see the error of his way, and to make the Lord his refuge from the tempest and the storm.”

My dear son! I am now nearly fifty-five years old, and may soon expect to go the way of all the earth! But, before I die, let me teach you the good and the right way. “Hear the instructions of a father.” You have had a large portion of God’s preserving goodness; or you had, ere now, perished in your sins. Think of this, and give thanks to the Father of mercies, who has hitherto preserved you. Think, too, how you have requited him, and be ashamed for all that you have done. Nevertheless, do not despair! Far as you have gone, and low as you are sunk in sin, yet if, from hence, you return to God by Jesus Christ, you will find mercy. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, even the chief of sinners. If you had been ever so sober and steady in your behaviour towards men, yet, without repentance towards God and faith in Christ, you could not have been saved; and, if you return to God by him, though your sins be great and aggravated, yet will you find mercy.

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, p. 303.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Read the Life of Joseph Kinghorn

The following is a letter I wrote to a friend commending The Life and Works of Joseph Kinghorn. My favorite biography is the two volumes by Iain Murray on the life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, but next to it is this volume about Joseph Kinghorn. If you have not read it, I hope you will obtain a copy and learn about one of the great Baptist lights of the 19th Century.

November 11, 1996

Dear ______:

I am writing you in order to encourage you to read The Life and Works of Joseph Kinghorn, recently republished by the Particular Baptist Press of Springfield, Missouri. I found it to be a most instructive and heart-warming read.

My interest in Kinghorn, in part, is due to the fact that he ministered in the city of Norwich, England, as pastor of the St. Mary's Baptist Church. I lived just outside Norwich for three years as pastor of a Strict and Particular Baptist Church. My acquaintance with Kinghorn in those days was limited, but I knew of his ministry in Norwich and throughout the county of Norfolk in the 19th Century was tremendous. It was a spiritual treat to discover that the biography of Kinghorn, written by Martin Hood Wilkin, was back in print. Also included in this edition is the funeral sermon for Kinghorn by John Alexander and a tribute sermon about him by John Bane.

Kinghorn was born in 1766 and died in 1832. That period for Baptist is immensely important, as you well know. Kinghorn is not as well known among us as Fuller, Sutcliff, Carey, Hall, Pearce, etc., but he deserves to be.

Some of the highlights of the book for me are the following:

1. Kinghorn attended the Baptist Academy at Bristol. Much information is found in this volume about the school, its teachers, and the struggles the brethren overcame to offer young men preparing for the ministry a good theological education.

2. Kinghorn had a wonderful relationship with his father, who also was a Baptist preacher. The correspondence between the two is worth twice the price of the book. His father offered him much good council and advice. I will give you one example of admonition that David Kinghorn passed along to his 16 year old son when arguments about the deity of Christ and the trinity led many into Unitarianism.

"I advise thee my son to beware of the vain jangling of such persons as are forward to dispute about the Deity, seeing we can know no more of him than what is revealed in Scripture; what its says, and not what man says, is to be our rule. But the great things in religion are to be most attended to; holiness in heart and life, without which no man shall see the Lord… I intreat thee to be swift to hear, slow to speak, especially about the sacred trinity. Sherlock says, 'One fool may start many queries, which a hundred wise men cannot answer, and that not only about religious, but natural or philosophical things'" (p. 31).

3. Kinghorn pastored one church his entire life. From 1789 until his death 43 years later in 1832, he labored in Norwich. He also was responsible for starting churches in villages and towns in the county of Norfolk.

4. Kinghorn was a scholar and theologian as well as pastor. He was learned in the original languages of Scripture, especially Hebrew. He sets a great example for pastors to be learned men, and not just professors at the Seminary.

5. Many of the controversies of Baptist life in the 19th Century are evident in the book. Calvinism and HyperCalvinism, strict and open communion, church and state, missions and anti-missions, the mode and subjects for baptism, the extent of the atonement, etc., are issues with which Kinghorn interacted.

These are just some of the things that stand out in this wonderful biography. I hope you will buy or borrow a copy and read it for your own spiritual edification.

Copies can be obtained through Cumberland Valley Bible Book Service or directly from the publisher, Particular Baptist Press, 2766 W. Weaver Road, Springfield, MO 65810.

Sincerely in Christ,

Dean Olive

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Atonement in Point of Power and Design

A letter in full by Joseph Kinghorn, pastor of St. Mary’s Baptist Church, Norwich, England, to a friend who had criticized his understanding of the gospel. He wrote an earlier letter to her (April 29 and May 1) and then followed it up with this letter, explaining his understanding of the extent of the atonement of Christ.

May 11th, 1826

I am not sure that my remarks in my last went to the bottom of the subject, but as far as they went consider them. Perhaps you are afraid that such a plan of reasoning will run across the redemption by Jesus Christ and make it of that general kind that will lead to Arminianism. Our best Calvinistic writers have not thought so. This, you will say, is mere authority—granted. I would then ask, do either the scriptures or reason applied to the principles of the scriptures lead us to conclude, that suppose the number of the elect was greater than it is, the atonement made by the death of Christ would be insufficient for their salvation?

Should you say, as some have done, that there was so much atonement made for sinners precisely, and no more, I would ask you to pause a moment, and say, how can you prove it? Since it was the character of the sufferer that gave weight to both his obedience and suffering, how are we to throw a line round infinity and measure that which is beyond measure? What then, you may ask, limits the redemption of sinners and draws the line of distinction between that general idea of redemption, which, by taking in everybody, makes it especially applicable to nobody; and the opinion of the highest Calvinists, viz.—so much atonement and no more?

I reply, the election of grace; so that the Lord came to fulfil a plan; making an atonement, which in point of power would have saved more, had more been included in the plan, but in point of design, and ultimately in point of application, was made for those who were given him.

This is a very brief sketch, and I cannot conceive it new to you; but I direct your attention to it, to show that the limits of the Calvinistic system go further than they are sometimes supposed, and that we need not be afraid of going to the extent, if only we know where to stop. If you purchase an estate you know you have a right to cultivate it, up to the last inch. Some good people are so afraid of being Arminians, that they leave a large piece of their territorial inheritance to the briars and thorns of the wilderness.


The Life and Works of Joseph Kinghorn, by Martin Hood Wilkin, reprinted by Particular Baptist Press, 1995, p. 416.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I Love to Write to My Dear

A letter from the Lord Protector of England, Oliver Cromwell, to his wife, written from Edinburgh, May 3, 1651:

My Dearest,

I could not satisfy myself to omit this post, although I have not much to write; yet indeed I love to write to my Dear, who is very much in my heart. It joys me to hear thy soul prospereth: the Lord increase his favours to thee more and more. The great good thy soul can wish is, that the Lord lift upon thee the light of his countenance, which is better than life. The Lord bless all thy good counsel and example to all those about thee, and hear all thy prayers, and accept thee always.

'To Honor God:' The Spiritually of Oliver Cromwell, edited and introduced by Michael A. G. Haykin, Joshua Press, 1999, p. 87.