Monday, March 30, 2009

I Beg Your Prayers

A selection from a letter by C. H. Spurgeon to a member of the Pastors’ College Association. Having made comments about an upcoming conference, he requested prayer that he might receive help from the Lord by the preaching. The letter was written March 10, 1890.

Our hope is that brief addresses and short prayers will prove more fruitful than longer discourses might have been. If every brother who speaks is filled with the Spirit of God, we shall have no profitless talk; and if all who are coming would aim to be so filled, we should have a wealth of spiritual profiting.

Personally I beg your prayers. There is much to wear away the soul just now, and we need that text to be true in our experience ‘he restoreth my soul.’ I know that I need the visitation of the Lord to refresh my spirit. Do we not each one need it? What if we should each one get it? How good for ourselves, for our churches, our hearers! Oh that the Lord may come very near us, and clothe us with power from on high!

Letters of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Selected with Notes, by Iain H. Murray, Banner of Truth, pp. 126-27.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I Am Satisfied

An extract from a letter by Andrew Fuller to his dear friend in the ministry, John Ryland, Jr. Fuller was less than a month away from death. He wrote about his only basis of assurance and hope of heaven. The letter was written April 28, 1815.

I have very little hope of recovery; but I am satisfied to drink of the cup which my heavenly Father giveth me to drink. Without experience, no one can conceive of the depression of my spirits; yet I have no despondency. ‘I know whom I have believed, and that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day.’ I am a poor guilty creature, but Christ is an almighty Saviour. I have preached and written much against the abuse of the doctrine of grace; but that doctrine is all my salvation and all my desire. I have no other hope than from salvation by mere sovereign, efficacious grace, through the atonement of my Lord and Saviour. With this hope, I can go into eternity with composure. Come Lord Jesus! Come when thou wilt! Here I am; let him do with me as seemeth him good!

The Armies of the Lamb: The Spirituality of Andrew Fuller, edited and introduced by Michael A. G. Haykin, Joshua Press, pp. 269, 271.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

True Religion

A portion of a letter written by Henry Scougal (1650-1678). Scougal was a Scottish Puritan, professor of divinity at King’s College, Aberdeen. He authored a book, The Life of God in the Soul of Man, that was instrumental in the salvation of many, including George Whitefield. This letter was written to someone who inquired of him after reading his book. No date is given for the letter.

I cannot speak of religion but I must lament that, among so many pretenders to it, so few understand what it means. Some place it in the understanding, in orthodox notions and opinions… Others place their religion into externals for the outward man, expressed by public duties and claim to have a model of performances… Others again, put all their investment in religion into their emotions, with rapturous and ecstatic devotion… Such are frequently assumed to be the whole content of Christianity.

But true religion is quite another thing, and those who have experienced it will entertain very different thoughts about it. For they know by personal experience that true religion is a union of the soul with God, a real participation of the divine nature, in the apostle’s phrase, it is Christ formed within us. Briefly, I do not know how one can put it more succinctly that to simply call it divine life given to us…

Letters of Faith Through the Seasons, edited by James M. Houston, Honor Books, vol. 1, 2006, pp. 179-180.

Friday, March 20, 2009

What Debtors We Are to God!

A selection from a letter by J. C. Philpot, the Strict and Particular Baptist pastor and editor of the Gospel Standard magazine, to his friend, Mr. Godwin, whom he exchanged letters for more than 20 years. Both men were nearing the end of their lives. The letter was written March 20, 1868.

What debtors we are to [God], both in providence and in grace, both for body and soul, both for this life and that to come. My chief, my daily grief is to have sinned against so good a God, and my desire is ever to walk in His fear, and to live to His praise. It is His goodness which leads to repentance, His mercy which melts the heart, His truth which liberates and sanctifies the soul, and His grace which superabounds over all abounding of sin. What have we now, dear friend, to live for, but during our short span of life to know and enjoy more of His presence and love, and have clearer testimonies of what He is unto us and in us?

Letters and Memoir of Joseph Charles Philpot, first published in 1871, reprinted by Baker Book House, 1981, pp. 481-82.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Gospel Message

A selection from a letter written by William Carey to Andrew Fuller in England, one of the pastors who faithfully supported the ministry of Carey in India. It contains a sample of the way Carey preached the glorious gospel of Christ. His report to Fuller shows the great missionary in action. The letter was written in November, 1800.

You and I, and all of us are Sinners, and we are in a helpless state but I have good things to tell you. God in the riches of his Mercy became incarnate, in the form of Man. He lived more than thirty years on the earth without Sin and was employed in doing good. He gave sight to the Blind, healed the Sick, the lame, the Deaf and the Dumb – and after all died in the stead of Sinners. We deserved the wrath of God, but he endured it. We could make no sufficient atonement for our guilt but he completely made an end of Sin and now he has sent us to tell you that the Work is done and to call you to faith in, and dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, leave your vain customs, and false gods, and lay hold of eternal Life through him.

The Journal and Selected Letters of William Carey, collected and edited by Terry G. Carter, Smyth & Helwys, 2000, p. 149.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Let Us Be Thankful, Trustful, and Hopeful

A selection from a letter by John A. Broadus to his dear friend and co-laborer in teaching, J. P. Boyce. The letter was written from Greenville, South Carolina, on January 24, 1876. It was his 49th birthday.

This is my birthday. We have entered, you and I, on our fiftieth year of life. Each of us could look back with sore lamenting and might be tempted to repining, but let us try to be thankful instead, to be trustful too, and hopeful. For one thing I give thanks at this moment, as often before, that God has given me such a bosom friend as you.

Life and Letters of John Albert Broadus, by Archibald Thomas Robertson, 1901, reprint by Gano Books, p. 299.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

What To Believe

A selection from a letter by Thomas Chalmers to a lady that a friend asked him to write regarding the state of her soul. The letter was written February, 1826. Mr. Chalmers sought to answer objections about the gospel that this woman had raised.

But, generally, you complain that you are ignorant of how to go—how to believe. Now, this has long been a stumbling-block to many; their thoughts are how they are to believe, when their thoughts should be what they should believe. They look inwardly for the object of faith. “For every one thought,” says Richard Baxter, “that he casts downwardly upon himself, he should cast ten upwardly and outwardly upon Jesus, and upon the glorious truths of the Gospel.” You say that you have no doubts of the freeness of Christ’s salvation, and of His willingness to save you. Dwell upon this; persist in this; stand in the Gospel attitude of looking upon Jesus, and light will at length arise without you.

Letters of Thomas Chalmers, edited by William Hanna, first published 1853, reprinted by The Banner of Truth, 2007, pp. 301-02.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Real Truth

A selection from a letter by Thomas Charles to a friend. The letter is a veritable sermon, full of counsel and encouragement, but it is especially full of Christ Jesus. The letter was written July 15, 1805.

A poor woman in our country frequently on her death-bed repeated the following words, “Jesus and I exactly suit one another; I have nothing, and He has everything.” I have nothing more to say in my best hours; and when I say this, it is well with me, it is my best season, I triumph. This Jesus, with all his infinite fullness, was designed for us. He suits none else so well. We are invited to come unto Him, to receive Him and take Him for our own for ever. This the real truth, however astonishing it may appear. Now, my good friend, what lack we? Nothing but the constant belief of this truth, and to act suitably towards Him. Thus a great salvation appears at hand; it is near us; it is in our hearts by believing the truth. The Comforter is promised to take of the things of Christ and shew them to us. So in every way we are provided for. Not unto us, but unto His own name be the glory.

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. 350.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Supply of Time

A selection from a letter by Rev. William Still to his congregation, Gilcomston South Church of Scotland, Aberdeen, January, 1960:

God has given us a supply of time, which we are to redeem because the days are evil. John tells us that Satan is ever raging more madly as he sees his time shortening, and many lazy and scatter-brained Christians begin to panic when they see their time is short. We ourselves must find out what God made us for, and then, under His control and not under our own ambition, go ahead and do it with all our might, pressing on, forging ahead, climbing steadily, nothing daunted… forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are before, and pressing towards the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Point, direction, purpose, clear motive, definite aim, and a personality geared to God’s will are what we need.

The Letters of William Still, The Banner of Truth, 1984, p. 70.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Being Fifty Years Old

A selection from a letter by the beloved hymn writer, Elizabeth Prentiss, also author of the helpful book, Stepping Heavenward. Mrs. Prentiss wrote the letter to a friend a week after she celebrated her 50th birthday. Mrs. Prentiss was born October 26, 1818; the letter was written November 2, 1868.

You asked if I look over the past on my birthdays. I suppose I used to do it and feel dreadfully at the pitiful review, but since I have had the children’s to celebrate, I haven’t thought much of mine. But this time, being fifty years old, did set me upon thinking, and I had so many mercies to recount and to thank God for, that I hardly felt pangs of any sort. I suppose He controls our moods in such seasons, and I have done trying to force myself into this or that train of thought. I am sure that a good deal of what used to seem like repentance and sorrow for sin on such occasions, was really nothing but wounded pride that wished it could appear better in its own eyes. God has been so good to me! I wish I could begin to realise how on paper. Life seems teaching some new, or deepening the impression of some old, lesson, all the time.

More Love to Thee: The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss, George Lewis Prentiss, reprinted by Solid Ground Christian Books, p. 252.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Take Heed That You Watch Unto Prayer

A selection from a letter by the reformer John Calvin to the church of Geneva, of which he had been pastor until banished by the civil authorities. He was in Strasbourg preaching to a community of exiles. It would be three years before he returned to Geneva. His letter was filled with spiritual advice and heart-warming consolation. It was written October 1, 1538.

Above all, take heed that you watch unto prayer; for if your whole expectation rests upon God, as it ought, there is good reason to infer that your heart should be daily lifted up to heaven in calling upon the Lord, and earnestly supplicating the mercy which you hope to obtain from himself. Understand, moreover, that if he delays to grant the desire of his children, and does not immediately manifest himself in the time of need for their deliverance, it is generally because he wishes to stir them up and urge them on to supplicate his favour. However confident we may be in making a vain-glorious boast of putting our trust in him, it will be of no avail while we do not offer any proof of it, by flying to him as our refuge, in prayer. Besides, it is a matter of tried experience, that there is never such an earnest fervency of stayed affection and ardour in our prayers as there ought to be, save when we persevere therein without ceasing.

John Calvin: Tracts and Letters, edited by Jules Bonnet and translated by David Constable, first published by the Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1858, republished by The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009, vol. 4, p. 88.