Friday, January 29, 2010

A Wish for a Thousand Lives to Give

An excerpt from a letter by Lottie Moon, missionary to China from 1873 to 1912, to Henry Allen Tupper, the Corresponding Secretary of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board. Miss Moon constantly appealed for more workers to be sent to China, especially for women who could assist in work to the Chinese women. One of her oft repeated messages back home, found also in this letter was, “If only our people would wake up!” Here she pleads for more workers to be sent. The letter was written August 27, 1888.

I should be most heartily glad of ten women for the P’ingtu region. Nobody who has not seen can imagine the wide field opened there for woman’s work. I would I had a thousand lives that I might give them to the women of China! As it is, I can only beg that other women & many of them be sent. Above all, we need mature women. The Chinese have a high respect for such, but, for many reasons, I think young women had best not be sent. It would not be proper, in Chinese eyes, for young women to go out in the independent way necessary in doing rough country work in the interior. Besides, it seems to me too hard on the young ladies themselves. Of course, there may be exceptional cases.

Send the Light: Lottie Moon’s Letters and Other Writings, edited by Keith Harper, Mercer University Press, 2002, pp. 131-32.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Do I Need a New Name?

A selection from a letter by missionary William Carey to Andrew Fuller, one of the leading pastors in England that supported his work in India. Carey explained to Fuller how they looked for preaching gifts among those whom the Lord had saved. Mention was made of Krishna Pal who became a leading worker in the mission. He also wrote about their policy not to change the names of the converts to “Christian” names, thus Krishna, whose name came from a Hindu deity, was not given a new name. The letter was written August 4, 1801.

It has been the custom with the Moravians to give new Names to those who were converted from the Heathens. We had some consultations about it. I opposed it because I thought there was no connection between baptism and giving names but principally because it does [not] appear to have been the primitive practice to change the names of those who believed, for among the primitive Christians we have Sylvanus, Olympus, Hermes, Nereus, Fortunatus and others which are evidently Heathen names. Our Brethren [are] convinced in the opinion that it is unnecessary and, therefore, we have not proposed it. This we should recommend to them not to name any more children with Heathenistic names.

The Journal and Selected Letters of William Carey, collected and edited by Terry G. Carter, Smyth & Helwys, 2000, p. 173.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Advantages of Prayer

A selection from a letter by Henry Venn, Church of England minister, to his daughter, Eling, who had gone to visit friends. He spoke to her about prayer. He told her, “Remember, therefore, my dear Eling, that all good is to be obtained by real prayer, and defence from all evil within and without.” He also told her that the Lord’s people “can no more live without stated times of drawing near to God than their bodies can live without food.” Also, in this letter that was written October 28, 1779, he labored at length to set forth the advantages of prayer.

It is designed, by our most merciful and gracious God, as a relief, adequate to all the miseries we inherit, as the sinful offspring of Adam. By prayer, our sight is recovered; and though born blind, we have the light of heaven brought into our minds. By prayer, our fears and painful doubts, as to our eternal state, are removed; and peace, and lively hope from the Holy Ghost, given unto us. By prayer the several ordinances of Divine appointment are made effectual, to our great edification and growth in grace, and everlasting benefit.

Preaching, through the blessing of secret prayer, teaches, quickens, warms, melts, and overcomes our hearts. Public worship is indeed an entertainment in the banqueting house of God, where His glory is felt, His presence enjoyed, access to Him as a Father experienced, and the overflowing of a heart, grateful for innumerable blessings, are poured out.

By prayer we obtain the witness in ourselves that the Lord God interests Himself in our welfare, secures us in danger, supports us in adversity, and cheers us in the darkest hours; fights for us against our enemies; reconciles us to His own will; and is training us up in knowledge, faith, and love, to His own eternal kingdom, prepared for praying souls.

Letters of Henry Venn, by John Venn, first published in 1835, republished by the Banner of Truth, 1993, p. 280.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Under God All Depends on the Mother

A selection from a letter by Rev. Benjamin Morgan Palmer to his daughter Anna, who recently had given birth to a son. He wrote to comfort her for she has lost her first child, a daughter, at birth. He also wrote to challenge her to be a dedicated mother. The letter was written January 4, 1869.

This time it is a son! What a solemn responsibilities cluster around that word! This boy-babe is after a while to be a man. Can you tell what a vast intellect may be slumbering within that little head? Who knows but that the fate of an empire may be wrapped in the folds of his career? Those little hands may wield the destiny of this great Republic—and that tiny voice may sway the councils of a nation; who knows! That little heart, it may be a volcano of passions, to be belched forth in smoke and fire upon a devastated earth—or it may be the well-spring of a mighty stream of beneficence to refresh and fertilize the world. Which shall it be? Do not stagger, nor be affrighted, when I answer that under God all depends upon the mother.

A fearful trust is reposed in you, my daughter, in this boy’s birth; for of a truth, in time and in the great hereafter, he will be just what you shall make him. It is too late to shrink back in terror. He is yours; and the great God, who gave him to you, says, ‘Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages’ [Exodus 2:9]. Mark the terms of the contract, for therein lies the trust, and the comfort too. ‘Nurse it for me’—that is the trust; ‘and I will give thee thy wages’—this is the assurance. Both are bound together. If you nurse it for God, you shave have ample recompense…

The Life and Letters of Benjamin Morgan Palmer, by Thomas Cary Johnson, Banner of Truth, p. 383.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Be a Consistent and Exemplary Christian

A selection from a letter by Rev. Daniel Baker to his former church in Washington, D. C. Baker pastored the Second Presbyterian Church for six years before being called to pastor a church in Savannah, Georgia. Soon after getting settled in Georgia, he wrote a letter to the congregation in Washington to tell them about his new sphere of ministry and to encourage them to go on for Christ. The letter was written May 13, 1828.

Dear brethren, let me beseech you once more, as I have often done before, to walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing; to live blamelessly and harmlessly as the children of God, without rebuke. O, it is a great matter to be a consistent and exemplary Christian! It pleases God, brings credit to religion, and peace and comfort to our own soul. The time is gone by for me, in any official capacity, to press these things upon you, for I am no longer you pastor; but, as an absent friend and Christian brother, I would call to remembrance the things which ye have heard.

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. 118-19.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Religion and Politics

A selection from a letter by John Newton to John Ryland, Jr. Mr. Newton had exchanged letters with David Williamson on the subject of religion and politics. The letters had been published in a book, Political Debate upon Christian Principles. He wished Ryland to peruse the book. Newton was of the opinion that engaging in political speculation was a waste of time for pastors. The letter was written November 6, 1793.

The times are awfully dark, but the Lord reigns. I understand not the prophecies yet unfulfilled, but I know that they must be fulfilled, and I expect light will spring out of darkness. I shall hardly live to see it. However, it shall be well with the righteous. I am or would be of no sect or party, civil or religious; but a lover of mankind. It is my part to mourn over sin, and the misery which sin causes, to be humbled for my own sins especially, to pray for peace, and to preach the gospel. Other things I leave to those who have more leisure and ability, and I leave the whole to Him who does all things well!

Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letter to John Ryland, Jr., edited by Grant Gordon, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009, letter #59, p. 296.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Never Wearying

A selection from a letter by John Calvin to the persecuted brethren in France. The Reformed churches were slated for destruction by the powers that be. Calvin wrote a common letter to exhort them “not to faint” or withdraw “from the combat.” After setting forth many reasons and encouragements to be faithful to the Lord, Calvin called on them to find help in the reading of the word. The letter was written from Geneva in June, 1559.

We have here briefly touched on what should be your conduct during this fiery trial. The main point is that each of you should diligently exercise himself in the reading of the word, and that you mark and retain the exhortations that are addressed to you by the mouth of God, to serve him with all perseverance, never wearying, whatever befall you.

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. 7, p. 54.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I Have A Great Concern For Your Soul's Salvation

A portion of a letter by Ruth Bryan to an unconverted friend. Three letters to this man, known as Mr. J. A., appear in the book. She told him, “I long for your salvation, and still mention you to the King to whom power belongeth.” She not only witnessed to him and urged him to believe on Christ, she prayed for his salvation. This particular letter was written in December, 1855. After telling him of all the things that Christ does for needy sinners, she wrote:

Perhaps you will say, ‘And what is all this to me?’ Why, it is this to you, beloved – without these things you must perish forever. Should you ask, ‘What have you to do with it?’ I answer, ‘I have a great concern for your soul’s salvation.’ But you may object, ‘The things you have spoken of are for God’s chosen people, and I do not know that I am one.’ You do not know that you are not one, and should rather say, ‘Why not, my soul? Why not for Thee?’ And though they are a free gift not to be obtained by any creature power, yet ask God to give them to you. Ask Him to give you the Holy Spirit to make you feel your need of them. Oh may that Holy Spirit

Convince you of your sin,
Then lead to Jesus’ blood;
And to your wondering soul reveal
The secret love of God

That you may have an experimental knowledge and enjoyment of these things, is the earnest and affectionate desire of yours very sincerely,

R. Bryan.

Jeremiah 6:16, but I hope not the last clause.

The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ: Letters of Ruth Bryan, with a Preface by the Rev. A. Moody Stuart, Reformation Heritage Books, 2005, pp. 134-35.