Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Every Returning Birthday

A portion of a letter by Rev. Henry Venn, Church of England minister, to his son John on his 20th birthday. He recounted his son's birth in a depraved state, his upbringing and education, and then his conversion. He was a thankful father, happy to know that his son was a follower of Jesus Christ but also that he had given himself to the work of the ministry. His joy is expressed in this natal letter and wise counsel, peppered with hope, characterizes the last paragraph, a letter written March 9, 1779.

… With every requisite qualification as a scholar, and with a character unsullied by conformity to the world, you may, if life is spared, be admitted amongst the witnesses who testify against the evil doctrine and evil practice everywhere prevailing, and come forth engrossed by one grand purpose, from which nothing shall ever divert you—a purpose, through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, to spend and be spent in His service—to follow, though with very unequal steps, yet still with all your might to follow, the example of the Apostles, in the doctrine you preach, in the self-denied life you will lead, in the longing desire of our heart to see the lost saved, and the slaves of sin and Satan returning to Zion with everlasting joy upon their heads, transformed into the Divine image, and, with all gratitude, confessing they heard from your lips what they found the means of their salvation. In this most blessed employment (if it please our adorable Saviour) may you work for many years! And every returning birthday solemnly present yourself before Him, to be endued with more wisdom, knowledge, and grace; till, in the appointed hour, you are called to give account of your ministry, and find the day of your death infinitely better than the day of your birth! This is the wish, the ardent, constant prayer, of your affectionate father…

Letters of Henry Venn, by John Venn, first published in 1835, republished by the Banner of Truth, 1993, pp. 273-74.

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