Friday, May 29, 2009

Working Bees or Dead Flies

A selection from a letter by C. H. Spurgeon to the members of his church, The Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, England. Spurgeon had gone to France to recover from ill health. The letter was written October 28, 1891, just a few months before his death. The letter expresses his desire for the members of the church to assist those preaching at the Tabernacle in hopes of revival.

My one great restorative will be news of revival at the Tabernacle. When sinners are saved and saints are sanctified, my sun will have risen with healing in his wings. If the Lord will work by Dr. Pierson, and Mr. Stott, and the brethren at home, and make them useful at a tenfold rate compared with me in my best days, I will unfeignedly rejoice. “Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets!” Oh, that he would use every man and woman of you! Those whom the Lord does not use are very apt to be seized by another, and turned to his evil purposes. Those who are not working bees usually turn into dead flies, and spoil the sweetest ointments by the pot-full at a time. May no one in our church sink into such a wretched condition; far rather may we be so blest as to become blessings to all around!

The Suffering Letters of C. H. Spurgeon, annotations by Hannah Wyncoll, The Wakeman Trust, 2007, pp. 107-08.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My Only Daily Remedy

A selection from a letter by the Welsh preacher, Thomas Charles, to a friend. The letter focuses on the necessity of forgiveness, bestowed and received. There had been a misunderstanding between them and he sought her forgiveness. The letter was written April 9, 1802.

If I have trespassed, you must freely forgive me, and then we are friends again. The doctrine of forgiveness, whether received or bestowed, is very suitable to us in the world, full of failings; and continual infirmities as we all are. It is my only daily remedy. Were it not for pardon, dearly bought, but freely bestowed upon me, a guilty wretch, daily, I should sink in a moment into all the gloom of eternal despair. But “there is forgiveness,” and we “have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sin,” and that “according to the riches of His grace.” Charming words! Though utterly ruined, we are thus made up for ever.

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. 303.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Principles I Deem Fundamental

A selection from a letter by John Newton to the Rev. Joshua Symonds. Newton expressed his sympathy with all true Christians, no matter what they were called. He was a big-hearted man, loving all who loved the Lord Jesus, as he said, “whatever hard name he may be called by, and whatever incidental mistakes I may think he holds.” The letter was written March 29, 1781.

Whoever encourages me to read the Scriptures, and to pray for the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and then will let me follow the life the Lord gives me, without being angry with me because I cannot or will not see with his eyes, nor wear his shoes, is a consistent Protestant. The depravity of human nature; the deity of the Saviour; the influences of the Holy Spirit; a separation from the world, and a devotedness to God – these are principles which I deem fundamental; and though I would love and serve all mankind, I can have no religious union or communion with those who deny them.

Letters of John Newton: with Biographical Sketches and Notes, by Josiah Bull, first published in 1869, reprinted by the Banner of Truth, 2007, p. 178.

Friday, May 22, 2009

FIRE Conference 2009

I have just returned home to Alabama from Indiana. I attended the annual FIRE conference which was held at the First Baptist Church, Carmel, Indiana, just north of Indianapolis. The meeting was excellent, as always. Hearing church reports and missionary reports are informative and inspiring. The preaching was also excellent. The theme of the conference was Our Amazing God. We heard Steve Krogh, Jim Elliff, and Conrad Mbewe preach faithfully and powerfully God’s word (in Jim Elliff’s case, a first-rate presentation of George Mueller and prayer). John Sale was scheduled to preach but was unable to make the conference due to illness.

One of the highlights of the FIRE conference every year is seeing old friends and getting acquainted with new ones. One of the best parts for me this year was hearing and meeting Dr. Michael A. G. Haykin. Dr. Haykin came up from Southern Seminary to fill in for John Sale. I have read many of Dr. Haykin’s books, heard him preach and lecture on tape, and have corresponded with him, but I had never met him face-to-face. It was a privilege to sit around the table with Dr. Haykin and others and discuss Baptist history.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know that letters which appear here are often taken from books written by Dr. Haykin. In fact, there are bits of letters posted just last week from books by Dr. Haykin on John Sutcliff and Andrew Fuller. We should all be thankful for men like Dr. Haykin for providing us with books that make us appreciate our forefathers in the faith.

The annual FIRE Conference will be held next year (dv) on the campus of Wheaton College. The dates are May 17-19. The church I pastor in Madison, Alabama, Grace Baptist Church, will be hosting a Regional FIRE Conference this year, September 21-22 (dv). Fellow FIRE men Jerry Marcellio, Donnie Martin and John Crotts are scheduled to preach, and David Ellis, pastor of Hinckley Baptist Church, England, will be the main preacher. The theme of the Southeast Regional Conference to be held at our church is The Grace of God and the Gospel. I will be posting more information about this conference on this site at a later date.

So I have had a wonderful week, highlighted by meeting Dr. Michael A. G. Haykin.

O William! Consider Your Dangerous Situation

A selection from a letter by Rev. Edmund Botsford, Baptist pastor in South Carolina and member of the Charleston Association of Churches, to William B. Johnson, an unconverted young man. This is the conclusion to a letter that was hard-hitting about the young man’s sin. Johnson was later converted and became most useful in the kingdom of Christ. The letter was written August 15, 1803.

If you do not turn to him [Christ] with your whole heart, his justice will light on you, he will execute eternal punishment upon you. When I tell you these things, you can evade the force of them, and your natural politeness prevents you from unbecoming behavior; but you go away, and sin again, and do not the things you are required. I tell you, if you continue this practice, the eternal God will be aroused to anger, and swear you shall not enter his rest. When you are summoned to his bar, you must obey; then no evasion will do; you must answer to all that is alleged against you. And how will you answer? In the name of God, how will you answer? O William! If ever grace reaches your poor, blind, hard, unbelieving heart, you will have a worse opinion of it than any other person can. I sincerely wish you may make the discovery in time, but believe me, I greatly fear for you. I consider you in a dangerous situation. I shall not think it strange to see you at the left hand of the Judge, when we shall all make our appearance at his bar. God grant it may be otherwise. If it should be, a great change must take place.

The Memoirs of Elder Edmund Botsford, originally printed by W. Riley Charleston, South Carolonia, 1832, published by Particular Baptist Press, compiled and edited by Charles D. Mallary, with additional footnotes, illustrations and an index, 2004, pp. 124-125.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Need for a Stated Minister

A selection from a letter by Mary Andrews, a prominent member of the Baptist Church in Olney, England, encouraging John Sutcliff to become their pastor. Olney was the town where John Newton and William Cowper lived and ministered. John Ryland had recommended Sutcliff as pastor. Sutcliff became pastor of the church in 1775 and stayed there until his death in 1814. The letter was written November 7, 1774.

The Baptist Church here have long been destitute of a stated minister, therefore whenever an opportunity offers for a supply they are glad to embrace it. Receiving a line from our good friend Mr. Ryland last night wherein he informs us that you are not like to stay long at Shrewsbury and likewise encouragement that, if applied to, you would kindly think of the case the people here are in and would be prevailed upon to make them a visit, our friends unite in love and beg leave to petition your kind assistance in supplying them for two or three Lord’s days. Here’s a great number of precious souls that are ready to attend upon the Word and was there an answer of prayer in providing suitable means in a stated way there’s reason to hope there would be an increasing number. If the Lord should incline you to think with compassion on the above case and willingly to comply with the earnest request of our friends in paying them a visit, they would be glad if you could make it agreeable to be here the fourth Lord’s day in this month and the two following Sabbaths. But if that can’t be, must leave it for you to fix a time when it will be convenient to you. But hope, sir, you’ll not defer it long beyond the time proposed; hope you’ll be so kind as to indulge with an answer as soon as possible. I wish you may have direction from the Lord in this and every importunate affair so God’s glory may be much advanced and your comforts and consolations abound greatly in the Lord. Though a stranger, I hope, sir, you will excuse the freedom I have taken in writing on the above. ‘Tis on the behalf of the needy and distressed sheep of Christ that prevailed upon me to send those lines. That the same motive may excite you to comply with an answer in the favour is the ardent wish of, sir, your sincere friend and humble servant.

Mary Andrews

P.S. If we should be favoured with a line of hope of seeing you soon, shall expect your company at my house.

One Heart and One Soul: John Sutcliff of Olney, His Friends and His Times, Michael A. G. Haykin, Evangelical Press, 1994, p. 88.

Friday, May 15, 2009

We Are Encouraged by the Gospel

A letter written by Ann Judson, wife of missionary to Burma, Adoniram Judson. She wrote of the hardships of missionary life but also of the joy in carrying out the Great Commission. The letter was written July 22, 1813.

Were it not for the support we derive from the gospel of Jesus, we should be ready to sink down in despondency in view of the dark and gloomy scenes around us. But when we recollect that Jesus has commanded his disciples to carry the gospel to the heathen, and promised to be with them to the end of the world; that God has promised to give the heathen to his Son for an inheritance, we are encouraged to make a beginning, though in the midst of discouragement, and leave it to Him, to grant success in his own time and way.

The Three Mrs. Judsons, by Arabella W. Stuart, first published in 1851, reprinted by Particular Baptist Press, 1999, pp. 29-30.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fear We Are Forgotten

A selection from a letter by missionary William Carey to one of his dearest friends, Andrew Fuller, a supporting pastor in England. The mail was not always reliable and caused concerns whether his work had been forgotten. The letter was written January 21, 1802.

Our dear Brethren in England are not forgotten by us in our prayers, tho we have some reason to fear we are forgotten by them, it being now a year and a half, at least, since the date of the last letter we received.

The Journal and Selected Letters of William Carey, collected and edited by Terry G. Carter, Smyth & Helwys, 2000, p. 220.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Erroneous Views of the Gospel

A selection from a letter by Andrew Fuller to a friend, Charles Stuart, who had asked Mr. Fuller for a written account of his testimony. Fuller shared how hyper-Calvinism had shackled his mind and had prevented him from believing that he had a warrant to come to Christ. The letter was written in 1798.

I now found rest for my troubled soul; and I reckon that I should have found it sooner, if I had not entertained the notion of my having no warrant to come to Christ without some previous qualification. This notion was a bar that kept me back for a time; though, through divine drawings, I was enabled to overleap it. As near as I can remember, in the early part of these exercises when I subscribed to the justice of God in my condemnation, and thought of the Saviour of sinners, I had then relinquished every false confidence, believed my help to be only in him and approved of salvation by grace alone through his death. And if, at that time, I had known that any poor sinner might warrantably have trusted in him for salvation, I believe I should have done so and have found rest to my soul sooner than I did. I mention this because it may be the case with others, who may be kept in darkness and despondency by erroneous views of the gospel much longer than I was.

The Armies of the Lamb: The Spirituality of Andrew Fuller, edited and introduced by Michael A. G. Haykin, Joshua Press, p. 72.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Difference Between Liberals and Conservatives

A selection from a letter by Rev. William Still to his congregation, Gilcomston South Church of Scotland, Aberdeen, July, 1980. He wrote about the curse and failure of liberalism in churches.

The difference between liberals and conservatives is simply that we take the words of the Bible seriously and believe them, and that seems to work! For when the authority of the Word is harnessed to the power of the Holy Spirit through prayer (it is not always in conservative or Reformed circles!) – dare we mention prayer! – the church is quickened, numbers are added, the Christian life of worship, study, prayer and service becomes soberly exciting.

The Letters of William Still, The Banner of Truth, 1984, p. 178.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Jeems Is Willin'

A letter written to Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy during the War Between the States (1861-1865), by a girl who wanted him to give her fiancé permission for a leave of absence from the army so they could get married.

Dear Mr. President:

I want you to let Jeems C., of company oneth, 5th South Carolina Regiment, come home and get married. Jeems is willin’, I is willin’, his mammy says she is willin’, but Jeems’s capt’in, he ain’t willin’. Now when we are all willin’ ‘ceptin Jeems’ captain, I think you might let up and let Jeems come. I’ll make him go straight back when he’s done got married and fight just as hard as ever.

Your affectionate friend, etc.

The Road to Appomattox, by Bell Irvin Wiley, published by Atheneum, 1968, p. 8. Mr. Wiley says that the president wrote on the letter, “Let Jeems go.” Mrs. Davis latter said, “Jeems went home, married the affectionate correspondent of Mr. Davis, returned to his regiment, and did fight as well as ever.” Wiley is also the author of two other excellent books, Johnny Reb and Billy Yank, both of which contain numerous letters from soldiers.

Monday, May 4, 2009

True Religion and Emotions

A selection from a letter by the Welsh pastor, John Elias, to his son John who was away at school. He reminded him that a change of heart in conversion is not the same as an emotional experience. The letter was written December 8, 1819.

True religion does not consist in emotions. The passions of many are much excited under sermons, without a change of heart! Others may be changed; their hearts broken, conscience tender, sin hated, self loathed, but perhaps without many tears. There is a great difference in the natural temper of people, which accounts for the difference in their feelings under the Word preached. I confess that if people are easily moved under natural causes, but unmoveable and unaffected under sermons, it is a very bad sign. But the thing we should aim at in hearing the Word, is to see more of the greatness and majesty of God, the purity of the law, evil of sin, our miserable state by nature, the preciousness and excellency of Christ, the privilege of giving ourselves to him to be saved in his own way, and to serve him all the days of our life; and the feelings may be affected by those circumstances as God may see proper.

John Elias: Life, Letters and Essays, by Edward Morgan, first published in 1844, reprinted by the Banner of Truth, 1973, p. 70.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Loving His People

A selection from a letter by J. C. Philpot, the Strict and Particular Baptist pastor and editor of the Gospel Standard magazine, to a dear friend, Mr. Tanner. The letter was written February 16, 1865. He was writing about the importance of loving the brethren. He said, “Where love is deficient there is a sad want of every other Christian grace… It is sweet to feel it, and a misery to be plagued with its opposite.” He went on to add:

I have often thought that though there is in our day so much strife and division, yet there is a real and close union amongst the living family. How many kind affectionate friends has the Lord given to me; and my desire is to walk with them in union and communion, and, as far as I can, to avoid everything which may tend to separation. Next to loving the Lord and His truth is loving His people; and how sweet it is to feel the flowings forth of love and affection to the Lord’s people for His sake, and for the image of Christ which we see in them.

Letters and Memoir of Joseph Charles Philpot, first published in 1871, reprinted by Baker Book House, 1981, p. 422.