Tuesday, November 30, 2010

There is Yet Room

A selection from a letter by Ruth Bryan (1805-1860) to an unconverted friend. Miss Bryan was the daughter of a pastor in Nottingham, England. She was greatly used of the Lord to encourage people with her letters, some of whom were unconverted. Three evangelistic letters to this friend are in print. She pressed him to lay aside his excuses and find salvation "in the love of a bleeding Saviour." This letter was written January 19, 1856.

But perhaps you will say, "I have no other sources of pleasure; would you have me quite miserable?" O beloved, there is not a blood-redeemed sinner before the throne but was miserable once; and I well remember a time in my early days when I was miserable too. I could not enjoy the world as some I knew seemed to do; there was something wanting. I could not enjoy religion and the things of God as believers did. I felt unlike everybody else, and as if I never should find happiness either in the world or in the church. But though I knew it not, the Lord's hand was in it; and He drew me by a strange way, till at last He brought me to the foot of the cross, to find true peace and happiness in the love of a bleeding Saviour. I should not, therefore, be sorry for you to lose your present poor pleasures, and feel "an aching void," for in my Saviour's heart there is yet room, and He can fill it all. I find His love so precious that I long for others to enjoy it, and cannot help saying, "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good" [Ps 34:8].

The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ: Letters of Ruth Bryan, with a Preface by the Rev. A. Moody Stuart, published by Reformation Heritage Books, 2005, pp. 137.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Seek the Lord While Your Heart is Young and Tender

A selection from a letter by Ernie Reisinger to a grandson at Christmas. Mr. Reisinger was a faithful witness for Christ till the day he went home to glory. He longed to see sinners bowing the knee to Jesus Christ and confessing him as Lord and Savior. He especially desired to see his family members converted. So along with a gift certificate for Christmas, he urged one of his grandsons to be saved. The letter was written in December, 1979.

… We are enclosing a gift certificate for Christmas, and as we do, our thoughts turn to the real meaning of Christmas, that is, why Jesus came – 'To save his people from their sins,' and 'To seek and to save that which is lost.'

Our prayers for you this Christmas are that you would be seeking him as he is seeking you. We would encourage you and plead with you to seek the Lord while your heart is young and tender because if you delay, your heart will grow harder, and then, humanly speaking, it will be more difficult to be saved. God can and does save sinners at any age, but more often he seems to choose the time of youth. You will therefore understand our prayer for you at this season so that your young day will not pass over your head without you being saved, or that you will remember your misspent privileges if you are not saved at all…

Ernest C. Reisinger: A Biography, by Geoffrey Thomas, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2002, pp. 170-71.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pray to God to Give You a New Heart

A selection from a letter by Rev. Daniel Baker to some Sunday School children in Frankfort, Kentucky, where Baker used to pastor, who had sent him money to aid in his mission work in Texas. He told them how God had been saving people through his ministry in Texas, and as he was want to do, exhorted them to be sure that they were Christians and ready to go to heaven when they died. The letter was written from Galveston, July 20, 1849.

And remember, dear children, if you wish to try to get some of the people in Texas to go to heaven, you must be sure to try to get to heaven yourselves. O, it is a sweet place, a blessed place; and if you get there you will be as angels, with your crowns so bright, and your robes so white. I do believe that there are a great many children there already, and many others are on their way to that happy world now. A little girl, only thirteen years of age, joined my church last Sabbath; she was permitted by the Session to sit down at the table of the Lord, and take the sacrament. She seemed very happy, and I do believe she is a real Christian.

Would you not like to be real Christians too, and go to heaven when you die? Then you must pray to God to give you a new heart, and make you good children. I used to live in Frankfort; I used to preach in your church, and talk to your school; but I don't know that I shall ever be in Frankfort again. Many of you, I suppose, never saw me. No matter; if we get to heaven, we will see and love each other there; and there we will see our blessed Saviour, and the holy angels, and all our pious friends, and be so happy for ever and ever!

Making Many Glad: The Life and Labours of Daniel Baker, by William M. Baker, first published in 1858, reprinted by the Banner of Truth, 2000, p. 387.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Present Need

An extract from a letter by Martyn Lloyd-Jones to his good friend, the Rev. Philip E. Hughes. Lloyd-Jones mentioned several good books that had been recently published, books by Oswald T. Allis, Cornelius Van Til, and a book written by several faculty members of Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. He said, "These seem to me the more important books to which I should draw your attention." But having pointed out the vital importance of good books for ministers, "the Doctor," as he was often called, gave a spiritual diagnosis of a different sort. The letter was written April 17, 1946.

All these things are of real importance but more and more I feel that my present need is "to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings" [Phil. 3:10]. Clear ideas are vital and clear thinking but that is not enough. I feel my love to Him is so cold and so poor and so weak. Yet He is gracious and kind.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones Letters 1919-1981, Selected with Notes, by Ian H. Murray, Banner of Truth, 1994, p. 72.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Cannot But Rejoice

A portion of a letter from missionary William Carey, to his pastor-friend in England, Andrew Fuller. Carey had received letters from Fuller and was thankful. He said, "Few things afford me more pleasure than your letters do." In his reply, Carey gave a report of baptisms for the year 1809. It took seven years before the mission work saw its first baptism but he was able this particular year to report that there had been many. The letter was written December, 1809.

I believe the number baptised within the last year, in all the Churches of Bengal, is sixty seven. Two or three of them have been excluded or suspended, but a greater number of those who had been formally excluded, have given satisfactory proof of repentance, and have been re-admitted to the Lord's table. All the churches are supplied with pastors and have the Word regularly dispensed among them, and some new stations have been attempted, and old ones strengthened. Upon the whole, I cannot but rejoice in what the Lord has done and is now doing among us.

The Journal and Selected Letters of William Carey, collected and edited by Terry G. Carter, Smyth & Helwys, 2000, pp. 202-03.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

To A Friend in Trouble

A selection from a letter by John Newton (1725-1807) to a friend who was experiencing tough times. The letter was later published in the Gospel Magazine under the pseudonym, Omicron. Readers didn’t know who wrote the letter or to whom it was written. A series of letters were published under this pen name that was helpful to numerous hurting and struggling Christians. When published, this letter was entitled, “A Letter to a Friend in Trouble.”

... Read the inscription, "As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" [2 Cor. 6:10]. No wonder that we are often sorrowing in such a world as this; but to be always rejoicing, though in the midst of tribulation, this may seem strange, but it is no more strange than true. When I want witness to this truth in open court, I may confidently subpoena you to confirm it.

They who would always rejoice, must derive their joy from a source which is invariably the same; in other words, from Jesus. Oh, that name! What a person, what an office, what a love, what a life, what a death, does it recall to our minds! Come, madam, let us leave our troubles to themselves for a while, and let us walk to Golgotha, and there take a view of his…

The Works of John Newton, vol. 6, first published in 1820, reprinted by the Banner of Truth Trust, 1985, pp. 377-78.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thou God Seest Me

A selection from a letter written by William B. Sprague (1795-1876), pastor for 40 years of the Second Presbyterian Church in Albany, New York. He wrote a series of letters to his daughter after his wife and her mother died. The letters contain counsel from a loving father who desired for his daughter to become a godly woman. No date is given for this letter.

… let me counsel you to cherish a deep sense of the constant presence of God, and of your accountableness to him for every part of your conduct. An habitual impression of this kind will make you comparatively indifferent, both to the censures and applauses of mortals, and will lead you to regard every other question as unimportant, in comparison with the simple question of duty. And the consequence of this cannot fail to be, that you will judge carefully and honestly of what is right, and will act with unyielding decision. No matter what temptations may spread themselves before you to divert you from the path of duty, the reflection, "Thou, God, seest me" [Gen. 16:13], brought home to your understanding and conscience, will insure you the victory over them. This is something distinct from natural inflexibility of character: it is independence of mind, based on religious principle; and it is this especially which I urge you to cultivate.

Letters on Practical Subjects to a Daughter, by William B. Sprague, New York, 1831, pp. 90-91.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Devil Old Woman Has Come!

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 makes reference to her practice of "regular, systematic visiting." A major part of her mission work consisted in visitation of people in their homes. She took a Chinese helper with her; they were sometimes treated cordially and sometimes not. This letter was written December 28, 1874.

As I write, the old woman who goes out visiting with me comes in. I thought surely, with the ground covered with snow, she would hardly make her appearance today, but she is really indefatigable. The branch of work to which I am especially devoting myself, is regular, systematic visiting. I feel a good deal encouraged by the kind reception that I meet. Not of course that personal kindness means spiritual interest, but it is more pleasant to visit those who receive you cordially and address you respectfully, than it is to go among those who greet your appearance with the words, "The devil old woman has come!"

Send the Light: Lottie Moon’s Letters and Other Writings, edited by Keith Harper, Mercer University Press, 2002, p. 160.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Christ's Beauty and Love

A selection from a letter by Jonathan Edwards to Lady Mary Pepperrell. Edwards had visited her husband, Sir William Pepperrell, and had found her to be in deep sorrow because of the death of her only son. When Edwards left, she asked him to write her, so he did. He penned a letter, as he said, on "the subject which above all others appeared to me to be a proper and sufficient source of consolation to one under your heavy affliction: and this was the Lord Jesus Christ." He developed two main points in his letter – "the infinite worthiness" of Christ and Christ's "great and unparalleled love to us." What sweet comfort this letter breathes! It was written from Stockbridge [Massachusetts], November 28, 1751.

Now, Madam, let us consider what suitable provision God has made for our consolation under all our afflictions in giving us a Redeemer of such glory and such love, especially when it is considered what were the ends of that great manifestation of his beauty and love in his death. He suffered that we might be delivered. His soul was exceeding sorrowful even unto death, to take away the sting of sorrow and that we might have everlasting consolation. He was oppressed and afflicted that we might be supported. He was overwhelmed in the darkness of death and of hell, that we might have the light of life. He was cast into the furnace of God's wrath, that we might swim in the rivers of pleasure. His heart was overwhelmed in a flood of sorrow and anguish, that our hearts might be filled and overwhelmed with a flood of eternal joy.

Jonathan Edwards: Letters and Personal Writings, edited by George S. Claghorn, vol. 16 in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Yale University Press, 1998, p. 418.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Solemn Visitations of Providence

A portion of a letter written by a soldier in the Southern army during the War Between the States (1861-1865) to the newspaper, The Southern Presbyterian. This soldier was part of the Sixth Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers and was stationed near Richmond, Virginia. He sent a report about the revival that was taking place among the soldiers.

I am happy to report to you the manifest tokens of the presence of the Spirit among us, even in these times of strife and battle. I do believe that these solemn visitations of Providence have been His chosen way of touching many a heart. There are earnest desires awakened in many a bosom, which I trust will lead them to the Cross.

Christ in the Camp, J. Williams Jones, first published in 1887, now published by Vision Forum, p. 274. This portion of the letter is quoted in an excellent article, "The Fruit of Revival," at Joel Taylor's blog, 5 Pt. Salt (http://5ptsalt.com/2010/11/05/the-fruit-of-revival/).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sustaining Hope

A selection from a letter by Thomas Chalmers to a close friend, Jane Morton. Having already written a letter of sympathy to her upon the death of her daughter, he writes again to help steady her soul with the comfort of the Lord, but he cautions her not to sorrow as those who have no hope. The letter was written October 19, 1845.

I observe from your letter of the 1st, that you still dwell on the thoughts of your dear Catherine, and I would not forbid this; mellowed and mixed up as these thoughts are with the sustaining hope that you will meet her again. The Gospel does not lay an interdict upon your sorrow, though it would dissuade you against being swallowed up of too much grief. But you have fled to the best refuge; and He who is touched with the fellow-feeling of our infirmities, knows how to adapt His succor to the necessities of all who trust in Him.

Letters of Thomas Chalmers, edited by William Hanna, first published 1853, reprinted by The Banner of Truth, 2007, pp. 248-49.