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.

No comments: