Friday, August 29, 2008

Strike Away

A selection from a letter to Robert L. Dabney by his mentor, Rev. William S. White, of Lexington, Virginia. Dabney was a young pastor and was in depression of spirits. Rev. White wrote to encourage him in the work of preaching. The letter was written on January 26, 1849:

Remember that it is ‘neither the first blow nor the last that fells the oak.’ Therefore, strike away, and the tree will fall and the forest be cleared. I know no means of building up and extending the borders of Zion but the truth studied, learned, communicated, and then followed by prayer. Preach as if your preaching was everything, and then pray as if it were nothing. If I could not rest in this view, I should despair.

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. 111.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

We Were Sisters

From Maggie Paton, wife of missionary to the New Hebrides, John Paton, to a friend back home in Stirling, Scotland, about the reaction of women natives on the island of Fotuna, who saw white women for the first time. The letter was written on October 17, 1865:

The ladies were, in consequence, very curious to have us examined properly; and they went about it in a business-like way, as I can testify from the pokes and thumps received. They always felt themselves at the same time, to see how far we were alike! Poor things, they had yet to learn that we were sisters, resting under the same penalty and equally in need of and entitled to the same Saviour.

Letters and Sketches from the New Hebrides, by Maggie Whitecross Paton, printed by Reformation Heritage Books and Sprinkle Publications, 2003, p. 27.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Leave Wrangling

A selection from a letter by David Kinghorn to his son Joseph Kinghorn, pastor of St. Mary’s Baptist Church, Norwich, England. He always wrote his son with helpful spiritual advice. This letter was written on August 23, 1794.

Controversy, except on a few subjects, if pursued, cats out the vitals of religion; happy they who steadily pursue the path of duty marked out to them by Divine providence, and leave wrangling, as not worthy of their attention.

The Life and Works of Joseph Kinghorn, by Martin Hood Wilkin, reprinted by Particular Baptist Press, 1995, p. 238.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Suffering With Christ

A portion of a letter by Samuel Rutherford, to Lady Kenmure, written from Anwoth, June 26, 1630:

You cannot, you must not have a more pleasant or more easy condition here, than he had, who ‘through afflictions was made perfect’ [Heb. 2:10]. We may indeed think, Cannot God bring us to heaven with ease and prosperity? Who doubteth but he can? But his infinite wisdom thinketh and decreeth the contrary; and though we cannot see a reason for it, yet he hath a most just reason.

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. 18.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Little But Great Incident

A portion of a letter written to John A. Broadus from T. M. Matthews of Edom, Texas, expressing his appreciation for something he wrote in an “autograph book.” What Broadus wrote was instrumental in Matthew’s salvation. The letter was written May 22, 1883.

I’ve never seen you since 1853 in the pulpit of the church in Charlottesville [VA] when I heard you preach. But, John, you have been preaching to me through all these years. I’ll tell you how. You remember our “autograph books?” Well, of all the students I took mine to you first, that you might write in it the first. Do you remember? I reckon not, however, you wrote: en se hustereo [one thing you lack] (Mark 10:21), John Albert Broadus, University of Virginia.

That rang in my ears till I found “the pearl of great price,” the thing you knew I lacked. I’ve often thought of you since and never without recalling this little, but to me great, incident.

Life and Letters of John Albert Broadus, by Archibald Thomas Robertson, 1901, reprint by Gano Books, pp. 339-40.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Speaking About Religion or Possessing Religion?

A selection from a letter by Thomas Chalmers to is friend, William Wilberforce, member of the English Parliament. The letter was written June 25, 1822:

We had a visit from Mr. Gray of Sunderland lately, one of the good men of the Church of England. It is truly refreshing to have a visit from such; it always puts me in mind of a saying of Brainerd’s, that he has heard hundreds speak about religion, but not above one or two speak religion. We Scotch speak about it—look at the matter intellectually—come forth with our didactic and metaphysical speculations about the thing; but the evangelical English, as far as I can observe, possess the thing; and possessing it, they have by far the most effective ingredient of good preaching, which is the personal piety of the preacher himself.

Letters of Thomas Chalmers, edited by William Hanna, first published 1853, reprinted by The Banner of Truth, 2007, pp 98-99.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Dark Clouds and Sunshine

A selection from a letter by Thomas Charles to a pastor and his family who had experienced a sore trial. The letter was written February 26, 1784.

It shall be well at last with the righteous; and though for a season a dark cloud should hang over him, yet he may be well assured, that every cloud is big with blessings; and the darker it is, the more blessings it contains; and when it has emptied itself, the sun will shine comfortably. The cloud and its contents are as necessary as the sun. Without the cloud the heat of the sun would burn the earth, so that it would bring forth no fruit to perfection. The rain and the sun together make a fruitful season. Let us therefore bless God for the one as well as for the other.

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. 355.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Love God And Do As You Like

A selection from a letter by William Still to his congregation, Gilcomston South Church of Scotland, Aberdeen, November, 1946:

St. Augustine, you know, had a motto – ‘Love God and do as you like.’ This is a very sound maxim, and fully Scriptural. But it is the second part that attracts us. If we really love God, we shall do what He likes us to do.

The Letters of William Still, The Banner of Truth, 1984, p. 23.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Great Desire

A selection from a letter by Jonathan Edwards to George Whitefield, requesting him to come and preach in Northampton. The letter was written on February 12, 1739 or 1740. Whitefield accepted the invitation and arrived in Northampton to preach the gospel on October 17, 1740. Great blessing attended the meeting.

My request to you is that, in your intended journey through New England the next summer, you would be pleased to visit Northampton. I hope it is not wholly from curiosity that I desire to see and hear you in this place; but I apprehend, from what I have heard, that you are one that has the blessing of heaven attending you wherever you go; and I have a great desire, if it may be the will of God, that such a blessing as attends your person and labors may descend on this town, and may enter mine own house, and that I may receive it in my own soul.

Jonathan Edwards: Letters and Personal Writings, edited by George S. Claghorn, vol. 16 in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Yale University Press, 1998, p. 80.

Friday, August 8, 2008


A portion of a letter by Benjamin Morgan Palmer, to a friend from his childhood, Sallie Baxter (now Bird), written July 8, 1870. Both of them had experienced much grief with the loss of loved ones in death.

My bereavements have not been comparable with yours; still they were and are keenly felt. But I am continually surprised to find how I am able to gather all these tender and tearful memories about me, in the consciousness that in the bosom of them all I am more deeply, yet more serenely, happy that I even was before.

It seems a violent contradiction. But there is happiness in submission to God’s blessed will—in the subdued tone which grief lends to the character. There is a sanctifying virtue in sorrow, which brings us into closer sympathy with out transfigured ones who are with the Lord. It seems as though the rest into which they have entered had thrown a soft shadow upon our own life, tranquilizing those cares which formerly chafed us…

The Life and Letters of Benjamin Morgan Palmer, by Thomas Cary Johnson, Banner of Truth, p. 404.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I Cannot Write Without Him

A selection from a letter by the beloved hymn writer, Francis Ridley Havergal, to a friend who had written to thank her for two of her hymns. The letter was written October 30, 1874.

What you tell me of the Lord setting His manifested seal upon two of my hymns, “O thou chosen Church of Jesus,” and Certainly I will be with thee,” made me feel very unworthy and very thankful, and (I cannot help saying it) sent a new thrill of love through my heart to Him who is so good to me. If you ever sing my hymns again, will you send up a prayer that I may more and more rejoice in the truths which they feebly represent; and, if it be our Master’s will, that He would give me yet many more powerful messages of song, for I cannot write without Him.

Letters by the Late Frances Ridley Havergal, edited by her sister, Maria V. G. Havergal, first published in 1885, reprinted by Kessinger Publishing, p. 218.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Promise is True

A selection from a letter by Rev. Daniel Baker to his close friend, Rev. John S. Galloway, pastor in Springfield, Ohio, about the joy he experienced in seeing sinners converted in eight weeks of meetings in Arkansas. The letter was written March 29, 1848:

Thank God, the promise is true, that they that sow in tears shall reap in joy; and that he that goeth forth weeping, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. O for a stronger and more simple faith in God’s blessed word! For want of this we oftentimes lose much.

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. 322.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Coming to the Services

From an annual letter written to the members of Westminster Chapel by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, January, 1968:

Nothing can be more encouraging to any preacher than to feel that people come to the services, not out of habit or a sense of duty, but with a deep desire to worship God and to get to know more of Him through our Lord and Saviour.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones Letters 1919-1981, Selected with Notes, by Ian H. Murray, Banner of Truth, 1994, p. 177.