Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Beseech You to Pray for Me

A letter from C. H. Spurgeon, attached to a printed sermon that was on sale to the public. Sermons were printed each week in The Penny Pulpit. This letter contained information about his recovering health and an appeal for funds to carry on many of the ministries of which he was in charge. It was printed at the end of a sermon from Mark 14:6, entitled, “To Lovers of Jesus: An Example,” which was preached at the Tabernacle on November 2, 1884.

Mentone, [France], April 5, 1885

Dear Friends,

When this letter reaches you I hope I shall have returned to my family, and my people, much refreshed. I can hardly hope to be very long quite free from the disease which afflicts me; yet I do confidently expect a few months of steady service, and I am anxious that upon these the divine blessing may richly descend. I beseech you pray for me.

For more than thirty years these sermons have been published week by week; may I not entreat your supplications that I may be enabled to maintain their freshness, fullness, and power? For this I shall need great help from on high. My own resources are slender enough, but the divine fountain can never run dry.

The church over which I preside is large beyond all precedent, containing more than five thousand members. I entreat your prayers that wisdom and grace may be given me as the Pastor of such a flock. I tremble as I think of my responsibility. Who is sufficient for these things? Beside all this, — there are the Orphanage with its hundreds of little ones, the College with its students for the ministry, the Colportage with its book-selling missionaries, the Evangelists travelling from place to place and proclaiming the living word, and many other minor enterprises. The burden is too great for me unless the Lord’s own power be revealed in my weakness. For these institutions I need money in large measure, and grace beyond all measure. Those who profit by these sermons would act kindly if they would help me with their prayers and their contributions. I need both, and both at this time, in a special manner.

On my return I shall have to prepare for the gathering of the clan, in the form of the College Conference. A great host of ministers will come together to spend a week in holy fellowship and united devotion. If the Lord be with us, it will be a soul-refreshing season, and the brethren will return to their flocks prepared for a great blessing: but without the Spirit of the Lord all will be in vain. By the love of Jesus I implore the special prayers of faithful brethren and sisters. O Lord, send now prosperity! Revive thy work! Revive our own souls, for Jesus’ sake!

Your servant for Christ’s sake,
C. H. Spurgeon.

The Metropolitan Tabernacle, vol. 31, No. 1834, Logos Library System and Ages Software.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Life Is Too Short For Prolonged Contention

A letter seeking reconciliation by Robert Haldane to Greville Ewing, a pastor friend who had separated himself from Haldane due to differences in doctrine and other matters. Their disagreements had an adverse consequence on the growing Baptist and Congregational movement then taking place in Scotland. Haldane didn’t want to enter heaven without their being reconciled. Haldane’s efforts for a public reconciliation were in vain but it appears that Mr. Ewing laid aside all personal animosity and bitterness. The letter was written in 1819 in Montauban, France, but was not delivered until Haldane returned to Scotland in 1821.

My Dear Sir:

Having had the other night a pleasing dream respecting an interview which I thought I enjoyed with you, and which recalled all that tenderness of affection I once had for you, I cannot let the feeling it excited pass without sending you these lines. Life is too short for such a prolonged contention. A great portion of yours and mine has passed since the unseemly strife began. Peace be with you!

I would not, however, desire to place so important a matter merely on the foundation of feeling, but it appears to me, considering the complication of circumstances which were, and perhaps still are, viewed by us in different lights, and the long period that has elapsed since we met, that while to each of us there are strong ground of searching of heart, all real or supposed offences may now be mutually set aside and give place to peace and cordial goodwill. May He who, I trust I may say, has loved us both, and washed us in his blood, subdue all our iniquities and cast our sins behind him into the depths of the sea! Being at such a distance, it is uncertain if we shall ever meet on earth. May we enjoy a blessed eternity in his presence!

I am, my dear Sir, yours,
Robert Haldane

The Lives of Robert and James Haldane, by Alexander Haldane, first published in 1852, reprinted by The Banner of Truth, 1990, p. 374.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Pop-Gun Threats of a Frowning World

A selection from a letter by the Puritan preacher, Joseph Alleine, to his congregation from prison. He was ejected from the Church of England for nonconformity in 1662 and was arrested and imprisoned because he continued to preach the gospel. Alleine wrote letters to his church while in prison. John Wesley once referred to him as “the English Rutherford.” Alleine touches on the theme of persecution and its blessedness in this letter. It was written July 28, 1665.

…Hath not God said, that if we suffer with him we shall also reign with him; and that these light afflictions work for us a weight of glory? And if this be true, I pray you tell me whether God hath not dealt well with us in counting us worthy of this little tribulation for his name? Indeed, the sufferings are but little; but verily the reward will not be little. I know whom I have trusted; I am well assured the glass is turned up, and every hour reckoned of our imprisonments, and every scorn and reproach of our enemies is kept in black and white.

I believe, therefore do I speak; God is infinitely tender of us, my brethren, though a poor and despicable generation. I value not the pop-gun threats of a frowning world; it is well with us, we are God’s favourites. Come, my beloved, let us sit down under his shadow; here is safety and rest; if God be for us, who can be against us? Verily He bottles all our tears, and tells all our wanderings; He numbers all our hairs; whosoever toucheth us shall not be innocent. Know you not that we are the apple of his eye? Hath not he reproved the greatest for his people’s sakes, saying, ‘Reproach not mine anointed.’ And so we forget how he loved us. Are not we his jewels? Doth He not own us for his members, for his children?

Life and Letters of Joseph Alleine, by Rev. Richard Baxter, Theodosia Alleine, and others, with a new introduction by Joel R. Beeke and Herb Samworth, Reformation Heritage Books, reprinted in 2003, pp. 197-99.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Little Fire for the Devil

A selection of a letter from Martin Luther to his wife, Katie. He was hoping to return home soon. He reported on a fire that raged in the Thuringian Forest. He believed the devil was behind the damage done. He then asked Katie to pray and have the children to pray against the attacks of the devil. The letter was written July 26, 1540.

Pray, and have [the children] pray against that horrible Satan who most violently attacks us not only in soul and body but also in property and honor. May Christ our Lord come down from heaven and also start a little fire for the devil and his companions which the devil would be unable to extinguish. Amen.

Luther's Works, Letters III, Vol. 50, edited by J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald and H. T. Lehmann, Fortress Press, letter # 293.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Keeping Things Within Bounds, Time-Wise

A selection from a letter by William Still to his congregation, Gilcomston South Church of Scotland, Aberdeen. He wrote a pastoral letter to his people each month. Having a lengthy pastorate there meant he wrote hundreds of letters which take up many themes. This letter is an appeal to backsliders but he also addressed a complaint that the services were too long. It was written May, 1970.

I know my faults, and realize the danger that meetings can go on too long. Many feel this and often appeal to me to try to keep the meetings, as well as the services, within bounds. And we are learning, slowly, although I must admit that it is hard to have one’s enthusiasm for the Word and the things of God clipped because people nag about the length of meetings. Do not I also need to consider my body? But I am determined to try to keep things within bounds, time-wise, because it is often our keenest folk who are most definite that the time factor must be observed. Yet the Lord and His Word and His work are so preoccupying that it is the easiest thing in the world to forget the clock and go on and on. Would you not like to be so caught up with the movements of the Spirit working in, from, and through, our congregation that time cease to be an overruling or dominant factor?

The Letters of William Still, The Banner of Truth, 1984, pp. 105-06.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Very Sweet View of Affliction

A selection from a letter by Rev. Thomas Boston, to his friend James Hog. Boston’s wife suffered from depression. She had gotten better but then turned worse again. The letter is full of faith and trust in the Lord even in the midst of afflictions. It was written August 8, 1724.

There is no appearance of the dissolution of the cloud that for several years now has been over my wife. We have made a new essay this season in the use of means for her help; but all hitherto serves for nothing, but to discover that vain is the help of man in the case.

She has not wanted seasonable supports from a higher hand; and when several coals were by wise and holy Providence cast in together into our furnace, she who behooved to be waited on and served before, was even helped to wait on, and be very helpful to others in distress; and then the clouds returned after the rain, and now she comes little out of the bed at all.

But all is necessary, and He is infinitely wise who has the managing of all in His hand. It is a very sweet view of affliction, to view it as the discipline of the covenant; and so it is indeed; and nothing else to the children of our Father’s family. In that respect it is medicinal; it shines with many gracious purposes about it; and, end as it will, one may have the confidence of faith, that it shall end well. And O how happy would we be if we could always maintain the confidence of faith! The soul in that case would be like that babe in the shipwrecked woman’s arms on the plank, smiling amidst the waves, unconcerned with the hazard.

Memoirs of Thomas Boston, first published in 1899, reprinted by the Banner of Truth, 1988, p. 499.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Independent Minds Rejecting Christianity

A selection from a letter by John Adams to Thomas Jefferson. Though rivals in the political realm for many years, they came to appreciate one another and were friends, evidenced by their extensive correspondence. This letter was written near the end of their lives. It makes clear that Adams shared with Jefferson the religion of Deism. Both were guilty of excising all from the Bible except the moral principles they approved of. In this letter Adams mocks those who have creeds and confessions of the Christian faith, stating his devotion to liberal science instead. The letter was written January 22, 1825.

Your University is a noble employment in your old Age, and your ardor for its success, does you honour, but I do not approve of you sending to Europe for Tutors, and Professors. I do believe there are sufficient scholars in America to fill your Professorships and Tutorships with more active ingenuity, and independent minds, than you can bring from Europe. The Europeans are all deeply tainted with prejudices both Ecclesiastical, and Temporal which they can never get rid of; they are all infected with Episcopal and Presbyterian Creeds, and confessions of faith, They all believe that great principle, which has produced this boundless Universe. Newtons Universe, and Hershells universe, came down to this little Ball, to be spit-upon by Jews; and until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there never will be any liberal science in the world.

The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams, edited by Lester J. Cappon, The University of North Carolina Press, 1987, p. 607.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Little Girl Was Wrought Upon

A selection from a letter by Andrew Fuller to his friend in the ministry, John Ryland. Fuller wrote about the effects of a child’s death who had come to know the Lord. No date is given for the letter, but it was sometime in 1786.

Some time ago I spoke at a child’s grave, and addressed the children. It appears that a little girl was wrought upon, who is since dead. At that time her father and mother were very ignorant. She talked much to them before her death. I hope the Lord has lately wrought upon her mother. She seems very tender-hearted, and in real earnest after the salvation of her soul. Her husband has opposed her coming to meeting, but in vain. He beat her, but to no purpose. He then despaired, and began to think her right and himself wrong. ‘If it had not been of God,’ he said, ‘I had overcome it before now.’ The man invited me to visit his wife. I went, expecting him to dispute with me, as he had threatened to stop me in the street for that purpose; accordingly I gave him an opportunity; but, says the poor man, ‘I have done with that now, my chief concern is, What must I do to be saved?’ I cannot tell how it may issue as to him; he comes sometimes to meeting, and sometimes goes to hear Mr. Lydiat, at Warkton.

Last Tuesday I was visited by a lad, who has lately been observed to weep very much under the word. He appears to have every mark of true and deep contrition, and says a sermon I preached, two or three months ago, on sinners being under the curse of the Almighty, was first of use to him. The Lord carry on his work!

The Works of Andrew Fuller, edited by Andrew Gunton Fuller, first published in 1841, republished by The Banner of Truth Trust, 2007, p. li-lii.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Forget Not the Truth

A portion of the letter that John A. Broadus wrote to his church, the Charlottesville Baptist Church, Charlottesville, Virginia, when he resigned the pastorate in order to take up a teaching position in the newly established Baptist Seminary in Greenville, South Carolina. J. P. Boyce had prayed to God and pleaded with Broadus that he might help begin what was soon to become The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, which eventually moved to Louisville, Kentucky. The letter was written August 28, 1859.

I am unable to express my feelings of gratitude for all your kindness and of affectionate interest in your welfare, as a church, as families, and as individuals. I trust you will always look with charitable indulgence upon my faults of character, and failures in duty. I have little fear of being personally forgotten here, but I especially ask that you will not forget the truth I have preached among you, but will seek to profit hereafter by the labors which are now ended; so ‘that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.’

Life and Letters of John Albert Broadus, by Archibald Thomas Robertson, 1901, reprint by Gano Books, p. 166.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

How Greatly I Have Been Blessed!

A portion of a letter from Rev. Daniel Baker to his friend in the ministry, Rev. John S. Galloway. He told him of the blessings they had experienced in a protracted meeting in his church in Holly Springs, Mississippi, and of his sons call to the ministry. The letter was written December 21, 1842.

I have some very pleasing intelligence to communicate. We have had a blessed and powerful work of grace in my church. We had a protracted meeting in September last, and about seventy precious souls were made, as I hope, to bow at the feet of our blessed Redeemer! Protracted meetings were held nearly about the same time in all the other churches; and the result of the whole is, the hopeful conversion of more than two hundred souls in our town! To God be all the glory!

Among the converts in my church, I am peculiarly happy to say is my youngest son, who has already turned his attention to the sacred office. Once he was deeply tinctured with the principles of infidelity, and was a great admirer of Byron; but, after his conversion, when asked whether he was willing to be a preacher, he replied, with much emotion, ‘Pa, I would be willing to be a ditcher, for Christ’s sake.’ I have sent him to Princeton to prepare, if it be the Divine will, to preach the glorious gospel of the blessed God. I have another son, who was last week taken under the care of our Presbytery as a candidate for the gospel ministry. How greatly have I been blessed! Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Making Many Glad: The Life and Labours of Daniel Baker, prepared by his son, Rev. William M. Baker, first published in 1858, reprinted by the Banner of Truth Trust, 2000, pp. 294-95.