Letters from Pastors to their beloved

Beloved,

 consider your soul, look to heaven and fly unto Jesus. Put away every known sin, seek Him with all your heart, make Christ the object of your affection, embrace Him upon His own terms, deliver yourself up, body and soul unto Him. See that you have no reserves, no limitations in your surrender to Him. Give Him your heart, cast away your worldly hopes & expectations, and make Christ your first love.

I call upon you: what is to become of your soul?  Where  is the immortal soul of yours like to be lodged for ever?

Amongsts devils or amongst angels?  ..            Upon a bed of flames or in the joys of paradise?

So, go aside by yourself in secret, retire from the noise of the world and say to yourself:

O my soul where are you going, what have I done, why have I not considered the things of God?

Do I not know in my heart that I am undone, that I must be converted or condemned, I must be sanctified or I will never be saved.

What is my chief care, which way do I follow,, is it of the world and  the things in the world, or do I seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness?

Do I think heaven will drop into my mouth, that glory and eternal life will be gotten with a wet finger, with cold or no prayer and selfish wishes, …. while the world has my heart?

Do I think I can win the race and never run, be crowned victorious and never fight, to enter in at the narrow gate and not strive?

This will never do, you must put away all hope of love toward Christ or heaven forever or else rouse yourself and put your strength in seeking after God and Glory.

 Away with sin or you must let Christ go forever. You cannot have Christ and the world too, to serve God and mammon, this cannot be. If you live in the flesh you must die and suffer corruption. The wages of sin is death.

Count upon it, the Lord has spoken it and all the world cannot reverse it. Give yourself no rest night or day till your love of sin has been put to death, till your will has been conformed unto God’s will. Your soul is at stake. Have no peace till Christ be formed in you. Repent and live and lay hold on eternal life. Win Christ and you win all. Fly from the wrath to come. Fly unto Christ and He will be your city of refuge, your strong tower, your mercy seat. Be humbled, may your heart be broken for your sins and your spirit made contrite. Your soul is in great danger. God can save to the uttermost, look to Christ and be reconciled unto God.

Joseph Alleine to his unsaved niece,  17 century

 

 

 

Letter from Howell Harris to a young man commencing His service to Christ.

 

My dear brother,

Your case lies on my heart.  I had more than common freedom to cry that the Lord would send, teach, lead, and fill you with zeal for His glory; that He would cover your head to the very end. He alone has a right to send and to qualify whom He pleases for the work. It is no wonder you are bowed down with a sense of your corruptions and evil nature, and that you feel the buffetings of satan. It is by a train of experience alone that we are brought to know God, the Saviour, and man in his miserable state as set forth in the Holy Scriptures, so as to be able to open divine truths, with authority and demonstration, and seal them, if so called with our blood. Acquaintance with God and our own hearts, and especially with the glory of the lord Jesus Christ, is essentially necessary to qualify us to be His ambassadors. For if the love of Christ doth not constrain us the discouragements that we shall meet from within and without will soon stop us. For when we truly see the nature of the work and begin to feel the weight of it we will with the Apostle cry, Who is sufficient for these things? But let not this discourage my young brother, but rather stir you up to look to Him who hath the government on His own shoulders, and humbly offer yourself to His service, and under a sense of the honour and glory of the office be willing to undergo all hardships to qualify you for such a place. I doubt not but with strong cries you continually and earnestly look up to the throne of grace. Soon the Lamb that stands on Mount Zion will make Himself and His will more and more clear to you as you can bear it. The thirst in your heart to be useful to precious souls come from Him; and though as yet your knowledge of His will is dark, be not discouraged; since you have begun to speak let none but He shut your mouth. Having set your hand to the plough you know your order is not to look back; and in the work the Lord will make His will more and more known to your mind.

To-day the war was proclaimed at Bristol against France, and press-warrants are in constables’ hands to press men for the land service and marines. {To-day in this nation war has been declared against Christ and all that are His.} ( 2012 insert). These things call loudly on us to join in prayer and humiliation. I trust that next fast-day if others will not, we shall be enabled to humble ourselves indeed both for our own and others’ sins, hoping the judgment over us may be averted, and the door be still kept open nfor the everlasting gospel.

I will believe we shall not yet be given up to Popish darkness.  Pray much, my dear man. O be much in secret with God, and He will teach you glorious things. Pray that you may be kept humble at the feet of the Lord. Some of the brightest angels and greatest men have been ruined by this secret enemy, pridr; the danger of it is the greatest because it is so hard to know it. But Jesus is above this and all other enemies. In Him let us rest, and to His arms with all earnestness, commit my dear fellow-soldier, and am, yours for ever.

Howell   Harris

And this written to Lady Huntingdon

Well now, Madam, there are several scriptures which should of course be brought home to your experience, such as ‘ all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.’ Ii Tim iii.12. Let us, since in all probability opposition and persecution are the Christian’s lot, humbly entreat our blessed Lord for strength cheerfully to bear the cross, being well assured that they who suffer with Him shall also reign with Him in glory for ever. Rom vii.17. yet a little while and it will be seen who are the mad people, and who are in their senses-those who mock at sin and laugh over their destruction, or the despised few that follow the Lamb. Therefore go on dear madam, in the power of His might, and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to His temple and subdue those enemies that are yet unsubdued in your unhappy soul. But whither am I going? Am I not writing to a King’s daughter? And though there be some remains of sin in her, yet she shall soon be all glorious within, and her clothing of wrought gold. There are multitudes that will go with us to church, sacrament, church meetings, family prayer, and all the outward forms of religion, and rest there. God forbid we should thus mock Him and deceive our souls for fear of a flea-bite like them. Such alas, shall be torn presently by friends in hell forever.

I must conclude, as it is now midnight. ” Let us take up the whole armour of God and go against the prince of darkness- the evil spirit; and when we have attained that degree of holiness so as not only to hate sin in ourselves but also to reprove it in others, the profane rabble will open their black mouths in full cry after us, saying, There go one of the Saints, one of those who do not cease to speak against our great goddess Diana, which is sin, when dressed in her best clothes.

 

 

 

The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter
 
‘You see that the Holy Ghost doth, by the Word, enlighten men’s minds and soften and open their hearts and turn them from the power of  Satan unto God through faith in Christ, and “purifies them unto himself a peculiar people;” and that none but these shall be made partakers of everlasting life.  Now, though I have no desire, needlessly, to pry into any man’s secrets, yet, because it is the office of ministers to give advice to their people in matters of salvation, and because it is so dangerous a thing to be mistaken as to points which involve everlasting life or everlasting death, I would entreat you to deal honestly, and tell me, Whether or not you ever found this great change upon your own heart?  Did you ever find the Spirit of God, by the Word, come in upon your understanding, with a new and heavenly life, which hath made you a new creature?  The Lord, who seeth your heart, doth know whether it be so or not; I pray you, therefore, see that you speak the truth.’  If he tell you that he hopes he is converted – all are sinners – but he is sorry for his sins, or the like; then tell him more particularly, in a few words, of some of the plainest marks of true conversion, and so renew and enforce the inquiry, thus:  ‘Because your salvation  or damnation is involved in this, I would fain help you a little in regard to it, that you may not be mistaken in a matter of such moment, but may find out the truth before it be too late; for as God will judge us impartially, so we have his Word before us, by which we may judge ourselves; for this Word tells us most certainly who they are that shall go to heaven, and who to hell.  Now the Scripture tells us that the state of an unconverted man is this:  he seeth no great felicity in the love and communion of God in the life to come, which may draw his heart thither from this present world; but he liveth to his carnal self, or to the flesh; and the main bent of his life is, that it may go well with him on earth; and that religion which he hath is but a little by the by, lest he should be damned when he can keep the world no longer; so that the world and the flesh are highest in his esteem, and nearest to his heart, and God and glory stand below them, and all their service of God is but a giving him that which the world and flesh can spare.  This is the case of every unconverted man; and all who are in this case are in a state of misery.  But he that is truly converted, hath had a light shining into his soul from God, which hath showed him the greatness of his sin and misery, and made it a heavy load upon his soul; and showed him what Christ is, and what he hath done for sinners, and made him admire the riches of God’s grace in him.  “Oh, what glad news it is to him, that yet there is hope for such lost sinners as he; that so many and so great sins may be pardoned; and that pardon is offered to all who will accept of it!  How gladly doth he entertain this message and offer!  And for the time to come, he resigneth himself and all that he hath to Christ, to be wholly his, and to be disposed of by him, in order to the everlasting glory which he hath promised.   He hath now such a sight of the blessed state of the saints in glory, that he despiseth all this world as dross and dung, in comparison of it; and that he layeth up his happiness and his hopes, and takes all the affairs of this life but as so many helps or hindrances in the way to that; so that the main care and business of his life is to be happy in the life to come.  This is the case of all who are truly converted and who shall be saved.  Now, is this the case with you, or is it not?  Have you experienced such a change as this upon your soul?  ‘I pray you then answer me these questions:
(1)     Can you truly say, that all the known sins of your past life are the grief of your heart, and that you have felt that everlasting misery is due to you for them; and that, under a sense of this heavy burden, you have felt yourself a lost man, and have gladly entertained the news of a Savior, and cast your soul upon Christ alone, for pardon by his blood?
(2)     Can you truly say, that your heart is so far turned from sin, that you hate the sins which you once have loved, and love that holy life which you had no mind to before; and that you do not now live in the willful practice of any known sin?  Is there no sin which you are not heartily willing to forsake, whatever it cost you; and no duty which you are not willing to perform?
(3)     Can you truly say, that you have so far taken the everlasting enjoyment of God for your happiness, that it hath the most of your heart, of your love, desire, and care; and that you are resolved, by the strength of Divine grace, to let go all that you have in the world, rather than hazard it; and that it is your daily, and your principal business to seek it?  Can you truly say, that though you have your failings and sins, yet your main care, and the bent of your whole life, is to please God, and to enjoy him forever; and that you give the world God’s leavings, as it were, and not God the world’s leavings; and that your worldly business is but as a traveler’s seeking for provision in his journey, and heaven is the place that you take for your home?’
Truly, my friend, I have no mind, the Lord knows, to make your condition worse than it is, nor to occasion you any causeless fear or trouble; but, I suppose, you would account me a treacherous enemy, and not a faithful minister, if I should flatter you, and not tell you the truth.  If you seek a physician in your sickness, you would have him tell you the truth, though it were the worst.  Much more here!  For there the knowledge of your disease may, by your fears, increase it; but here you must know it, or else you can never be recovered from it.  I much fear that you are yet a stranger to the Christian life.  For if you were a Christian indeed, and truly converted, your very heart would be set on God and the life to come, and you would make it your chief business to prepare for everlasting happiness; and you durst not, you would not, live in any willful sin, nor in the neglect of any known duty.
‘Alas!  What have you done?  How have you spent your time til now?  Did you not know that you had a soul to be saved or lost; and that you must live in heaven or in hell forever; and that you had your life and time in this world chiefly for the purpose of preparing for another?  Alas!  What have you been doing all your days that you are so ignorant, or so unprepared for death, if it should now find you?  If you had but as much mind of heaven as of earth, you would have known more of it, and done more for it, and inquired more diligently after it, than you have done.  You can learn how to do your business in the world; and why could you not learn more of the will of God, if you had but attended to it?  You have neighbors that could learn more, that have had as much to do in the world as you, and who have had as little time.  Do you think that heaven is not worth your labor?  Of that it can be had without any care or pains, when you cannot have the trifles of this world without them, and when God hath bid you seek first his kingdom and the righteousness thereof?  Alas! My friends, what if you had died before this hour in an unconverted state?  What then had become of you, and where had you now been?  Alas!  That you were so cruel to yourselves as to venture your everlasting state so desperately as you have done!  What did you think of?   Did you not all this while know that you must shortly die, and be judged as you were then found?   Had you any greater work to do, or any greater business to mind, than your everlasting salvation?  Do you think that all you can get in this world will comfort you in a dying hour, or purchase your salvation, or ease the pains of hell?’
 
My friend, I am heartily sorry to find you in so sad a case, but I should be more sorry to leave you in it, and therefore let me entreat you, for the Lord’s sake, and for your own sake, to regard what I shall say to you, as to the time to come.  It is of the Lord’s great mercy that he did not cut you off in your unconverted state, and that you have yet life and time, and that there is a remedy provided for you in the blood of Christ, and that pardon and sanctification and everlasting life are offered to you as well as to others.  God hath not left sinful man to utter destruction, as he hath done the devils; nor hath he made any exception in the offer of pardon and eternal life against you any more than against any other. 
‘If you had yet but a bleeding heart for sin, and could come to Christ believingly for recovery, and resign yourself to him as your Savior and Lord, and would be a new man for the time to come, the Lord would have mercy on you in the pardon of your sins, and the everlasting salvation of your soul.  And I must tell you that, as it must be the great work of God’s grace to give you such a heart,  so if ever he mean to pardon and save you, he will make this change upon you; he will make you feel your sin as the heaviest burden in the world, as that which is most odious in itself, and hath rendered you liable to his wrath and curse; he will make you see that you are a lost man, and that there is nothing for you but everlasting damnation, unless you are pardoned by the blood of Christ, and sanctified by his Spirit; he will make you see the need you have of Christ, and how all your hope and life is in him; he will make you see the vanity of this world and all that it can afford you, and that all your happiness is with God, in that everlasting life in heaven, where you may, with the saints and angels, behold his glory, and live in his love, and be employed in his praises.  Let me tell you that, till this work be done upon you, you are a miserable man; and if you die before it is done, you are lost forever.  Now you have hope and help before you, but then there will be none.
‘Let me therefore entreat you, as you love your soul, First, that you will not rest in the condition in which you at present are.  Be not quiet in your mind till a saving change is wrought in your heart.  Think, when you rise in the morning, Oh, what if this day would be my last, and death should fine me in an unrenewed state?  Think, when you are about your labor, Oh, how much great a work have I yet to do, to get my soul reconciled to God, and sanctified by his Spirit!  Think,  when you are eating, or drinking, or looking on anything that you possess in the world, What good will all this do me, if I live and die an enemy to God, and a stranger to Christ and his Spirit, and so perish forever?  Let these thoughts be day and night upon your mind til your soul be changed.  Secondly, I entreat you to bethink yourself seriously what a vain world this is, and how shortly it will leave you to a cold grave, and to everlasting misery, if you have not a better treasure than it.  And consider what it is to live in the presence of God, and to reign with Christ, and be like the angels; and that this is the life that Christ hath procured you, and is preparing for you, and offereth you, if you will only accept of it; and, Oh think, whether it be not madness to slight such an endless glory, and to prefer these fleshly dreams and earthly shadows before it.  Accustom yourself to such considerations as these when you are alone, and let them dwell upon your mind.  Thirdly, I entreat you, that you will presently, without any more delay, accept of this felicity, and this Savior.  Close with the Lord Jesus that offereth you this eternal life:  joyfully and thankfully accept his offer as the only way to make you happy:  and then you may believe that all your sins will be done away by him.  Fourthly,  resolve presently against your former sins; find out what hath defiled your heart and life, and cast it from you, as you would do poison out of your stomach, and abhor the thought of taking it again.
 
‘My last request to you is, that you will set yourself to the diligent use of the means of grace til this change be wrought, and then continue the use of these means til you are confirmed, and at last perfected.
(1)     As you cannot of yourself effect this change upon your heart and life, betake yourself daily to God in prayer, and beg earnestly, as for your life, that he will pardon all your sins, and change your heart, and show you the riches of his grace in Christ, and the glory of his kingdom.  Follow God day and might with these requests.
(2)     Fly from temptations and occasions of sin, and forsake your former evil company, and betake yourself to the company of those that fear God, and will help you in the way to heaven.
(3)     Be especially careful to spend the Lord’s day in holy exercises, both public and private, and lose not one quarter of an hour of any of your time; but especially of that most precious time which God hath given you purposely, that you may set your mind upon him, and be instructed by him, and prepare yourself for your latter end.  What say you to these things?  Will you do this presently, or at least so much of it as you can?   Will you give me a promise to this effect, and study henceforth to keep that promise?
‘I pray you, take it not ill that I have put you to this trouble, or dealt thus freely with you.  It is as little pleasure to me as to you.  If I did not know these things to be true and necessary, I would have spared this labor to myself and you; but I know that we shall be here together but a little while:  We are almost at the world to come already; and therefore it is time for us all to look about us, and see that we be ready when God shall call us.’

 

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