Tuesday, December 28, 2010

From a Prison to a Palace

A selection from a letter by the Welsh Protestant preacher, Christopher Love, to his wife, on the day before his execution by the English government. He was found guilty of treason because he was of Presbyterian persuasion. Other Puritans would be ejected from the Church of England but Love was tried and put to death. He left four children behind with another soon to be born. In writing he revealed great love and care for his wife and demonstrated confidence and faith in Christ. The letter was written from the Tower of London, August 22, 1651.

I am now going from a prison to a palace. I have finished my work, I am now to receive my wages. I am now going to heaven where are two of my children, and leaving thee on the earth where are three of my babes. Those two above need not my care, but the three below need thine. It comforts me to think two of my children are in the bosom of Abraham and three of them will be in the arms and care of so tender a godly mother.

I know thou art a woman of a sorrowful spirit, yet be comforted; though thy sorrow be great for thy husband's going out of the world, yet the pains shall be the less in bringing thy child into the world. Thou shalt be a joyful mother, though thou beest a sad widow. God hath many mercies in store for thee; the prayers of a dying husband for thee will not be lost. To my shame I speak it: I never prayed so much for thee at liberty as I have done in prison…

Dear wife, farewell. I will call thee wife no more. I shall see thy face no more, yet I am not much troubled for now I am going to meet the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom I shall be eternally married.

A Spectacle Unto God: The life and death of Christopher Love, by Don Kistler, Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1994.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I Read With Much Interest and Pleasure

A selection from a letter by the Scottish Presbyterian professor, Thomas Chalmers, to John Ryland, Baptist pastor in Northampton, England. Chalmers was writing to express thanks to Ryland for sending him a copy of the book he had written on the life of Andrew Fuller and for a copy of a pamphlet he had written on Antinomianism. Many Calvinists were attracted to Antinomianism and Ryland's refutation of this dangerous, insipient error was greatly appreciated by Chalmers. The letter was written from Glasgow, February 18, 1818.

I can assure you that I read the latter ["Antinomianism"] with much interest and pleasure. It revived all my recollections of the excellent Jonathan Edwards, to whose principles on the subject of Freewill I have long been a decided convert. You have given a very clear and judicious exposition indeed, of the perfect consistency which obtains between the absolute sovereignty of God on the one hand, and the fitness of bringing forward the urgency of Gospel calls and Gospel invitations on the other. I trust that your performance will do much good. It reminds me of your conversation when I had the pleasure of meeting you at Bristol, and which I shall not soon forget. I feel greatly indebted to you for the question you proposed to put to him who said, "I have come unto Christ,"—"What have you gotten from Him?"

Letters of Thomas Chalmers, edited by William Hanna, first published 1853, reprinted by The Banner of Truth, 2007, p. 320.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sins That Have Always Attended Me

A portion of a letter from William Carey, missionary to India, to one of his dear friends and chief supporters in England, John Ryland. Jeremy Walker, pastor of Maidenbower Baptist Church, Crawley, England, posted this excerpt on his excellent blog, The Wanderer (http://eardstapa.wordpress.com/). In the letter Carey laments his weaknesses and sins. We would do well to examine our own lives for surely the same sins that plagued him are true of us.

I am convinced that some sins have always attended me, as if they made a part of my constitution; among these I reckon pride, or rather vanity,—an evil which I have detected frequently, but have never been free from to this day. Indolence in divine things is constitutional: few people can think what necessity I am constantly under of summoning all my resolution to engage in any thing which God has commanded. This makes me peculiarly unfit for the ministry, and much more so for the office of a missionary. I now doubt seriously, whether persons of such a constitution should be engaged in the Christian ministry. This, and what I am going to mention, fill me with continued guilt. A want of character and firmness has always predominated in me. I have not resolution enough to reprove sin, to introduce serious and evangelical conversation in carnal company, especially among the great, to whom I have sometimes access. I sometimes labor with myself long, and at last cannot prevail sufficiently to break silence; or, if I introduce a subject, want resolution to keep it up, if the company do not show a readiness thereto.

Memoir of William Carey D.D., by Eustace Carey, first published in 1836, pp. 37-38.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Live For God and All Will Be Well

A portion of a letter from Edmund Botsford, pastor of Georgetown Baptist Church, Georgetown, South Carolina, to a young pastor friend, John Roberts. Botsford exhorted John and his new wife to talk freely to one another on spiritual subjects and to form the habit of praying together. With a bit of humor he told Mrs. Roberts if John was too backwards to converse with her, to let him know and he would scold him soundly! The letter was written November 24, 1802.

I sincerely wish you and the dear young lady with which you are connected, the best of blessings. Do, my dear young friend, from the first, make free to talk with the wife of your bosom, and that frequently, on divine subjects. Get her to pray with you; often be on your knees together, and do tell her from me, from your real friend, I beg her, I entreat her, not only to join you in prayer, but pray herself with you. O my young friends, do be praying husband and wife. Do not let shame prevent. O Mrs. Roberts, I earnestly entreat you to pray in secret with your husband; do my dear child get into the habit of praying with your husband; and if you find him backward to converse with you on spiritual subjects, let me know, and I will scold him soundly. I tell you both, live for God, and all will be well.

Memoirs of Elder Edmund Botsford, compiled and edited by Charles D. Mallary, first printed in 1832, now printed by Particular Baptist Press, Springfield, Missouri, 2004, p. 119.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Can't Turn to Christ When You Please

A portion of a letter by Charles Haddon Spurgeon to William Cooper about his need for Christ. Spurgeon, only a young man himself, had been a student-teacher at a school in Newmarket, where he met William. Spurgeon later moved to another school in Cambridge and wrote this letter to his former pupil, encouraging him to come to Christ for cleansing. Spurgeon was only 17 or 18 years of age at this time, yet he was greatly concerned about the salvation of lost sinners. The letter was written sometime in the year 1851.

Perhaps you intend to think about religion after you have enjoyed sin a little longer; or (but surely you are not so foolish) possibly you think that you are too young to die. But who knows whether that future time will be afforded, and who said that you can turn to Christ just when you please? Your heart is deceitful above all things, and your natural depravity so great that you will not turn to God. Trust not, then, to resolutions made in your own strength, they are but wind; nor to yourself, who are but a broken reed; nor to your own heart, or you are a fool. There is no way of salvation but Christ; you cannot save yourself, having no power even to think one good thought; neither can your parents’ love and prayers save you; none but Jesus can, He is the Saviour of the helpless, and I tell you that He died for all such as feel their vileness, and come to Him for cleansing.

The Letters of Charles Haddon Spurgeon: Collected and Collated by his son, Charles Spurgeon, Marshal Brothers Limited, 1923, p. 174. Also available by Logos Research Systems, 2009.