Though Dead, He Yet Speaketh
Dearly Beloved in Christ Jesus, - Once more my soul saluteth thee in the Lord. Grace, mercy, and peace he multiplied.
My sincere thanks for your kind reply to my last short epistle, in which the brethren join for the favou promised, should it please the dear Lord to grant his permission. The God of Israel bring his servant up to us full of the blessing of the gospel of peace, be your sufficiency, and bless your labours, if his dear holy will.
Did my brother but know the painful circumstances, having my business to attend to while I write, under which I labour while writing, and the many lets and hindrances Satan often casts in my way to prevent me, surely his heart would feel for and sympathise with me, and would try to excuse the brevity of my last letter. My spirit felt willing to have written to you more at length, for the Lord only knows how blessedly my soul often is comforted while thus conversing with my friends; but I really felt too much fatigued in body (on the conclusion of a long epistle to a brother beloved) to proceed.
It does appear to be a surprising and marvellous thing to me, that any one, especially a favoured servant of the Lord Jesus, should ever request an epistle at the hands of one so worthless, barren, shut-up, contracted, short-sighted, sinful, ignorant, and vile, as I feel myself to be. But till the Lord lays it so heavily on my mind to comply with the desire that I cannot rest, and inspires me with a hope that he will help me, I cannot comfortably reply. When that is the case, the trembling anxiety I feel in my throbbing breast, like also to what I feel when at a throne of grace, and in the ejaculatory sighs and deep-felt groans that are hourly arising from my sorrowful heart, to write and pray as I am moved by the Holy Ghost, is no trifling matter. My friend knows what I me:tn, but the far greater part of professors do not. I feel it a very hard thing indeed to go entirely dependent on, and a most blessed thing to feel myself under divine influence, although in ever so small a measure. Without it I can neither hear to profit, nor read to profit, nor pray with access nor acceptably, nor write nor live comfortably, nor to the glory of God, nor be made manifest as a living branch of Christ the living Vine; nor shall I be favoured to die rejoicingly, which I pray God I may be able so to do, for my own sake and for the sake of others.
O how flimsy and vain does the religion of the day appear now to me ! How my soul grieves to see so many poor deluded mortals, who appear sincere and devout in their formal round of duties, who never felt that influence for which, if a man would give his body to be burned, it would be for ever unavailing and contemned by God; neither do many of them even know whether there be a Holy Ghost. Living and dying so, as sure as God lives they will be lost for ever. It often melts my heart and eyes to think, amidst the thousands that are deceived here, that sovereign grace has taught me better. How it encourages my hope, and strengthens my faith, when I feel within the influence and power of that love, the love of God and his Christ, drawing my soul near the Lord, endearing his dear, precious, and holy name to my heart more than rubies, or health, or wealth, or friends, or ofttimes life itself. The sweet consideration thereof at times thrills through my veins with pleasures untold.
O, my friend, these are happy moments indeed ! How then am I favomed amidst my daily toils and the nocturnal shades, to hope in God, to trust him, and to praise him too, for all that he is and has to bestow, and for all that I have received at his kind and gracious hands. How then am I enabled to cast my cares upon him, to roll myself with all my sin, and guilt, and misery upon him· the Christ of God, upon his atoning blood, and on his complete and spotless righteousness, and leave myself in his dear hands. O what sweet effects then do I feel,-pardon, and peace, and reconciliation, and resignation to his divine will, and nearness of access to him, and permission to call him my God, and my Father, and my Friend, and a contrite and broken heart at his dear feet, careless who may serve or who may possess the world's good wish, or applause, or riches, or grandeur, if so be I might remain thus at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in my right mind.
What a contrast, my friend, was there between that dear man's request, out of whom Christ cast the legion of devils, and that of the Gadarenes of old. I have often admired it with wonder, love, and praise, and asked my soul, "How is it with thee ?" Once, the wringings of hands and heart I felt; but the feeling of one touch of the love of Jesus within my breast exceeded the powers of language to describe. Then with what painful suspense did my soul long hang on a "Who can tell?" and how many times since have those risings of divine hope in my breast turned to the triumphs of faith within, notwithstanding all my doubts, and fears, and unbelief, and hardness of heart, and sin, and guilt, and forgetfulness of God, and wanderings, and worldly-mindedness, and rebellion, and fretfulness, and backwardness, and coldness in prayer. Hence, by a repetition of the favour divine, is my soul still encollraged to hope in his mercy. Mercy is designed for the miserable, the sinful, the guilty, the feelingly-needy soul,-and such am I. I feel miserable to the extreme when my sins cause my Lord to leave off communing with me, and to hide his lovely face from me. I feel my whole body and soul and powers wholly contaminated by sin; and sin it is which makes me continually groan, being burdened. I feel sin is mixed with all I do, or say, or think; so that I am sick and
"Weary of earth, myself, and sin;"
and do ofttimes wish, when I can rise above my keen parental feelings, that I could lay myself down and die, and be with Christ, which is far better than being here. I feel myself guilty, and vile, and base as sin and hell can render me, and do rejoice because there is a fountain opened for sin and uncleanness, when I can feel the power thereof; nor can I rest only as I am proving its power, again, again, and again, as oft as guilt defiles and sin disturbs the peace of my longing breast. I do also feel myself so needy that all which God has to give is not too much for the contimml cravings of my soul, and less is not enough, nor can I take a denial at his hands; and until I awake in his likeness I am sure I shall not be satisfied.
Great and marvellous is the lovingkinduess of God, which I have proved; but I have been brought through the depths of affliction, sorrow, and distress to attain thereunto; and even now let not my friend suppose the Lord's great goodness toward me has lifted me above the troubles and sorrows of the way. I cannot suppose he thinks so; my friend is better taught; for it is through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom, that is, the Christian's home. Blessed be God for that word "must!" It has done my soul good many a time, and will, I trust, again. It assures us there is no uncertainty in the matter when the Lord has has assured us that we are the "us" in the text, and he has caused me to hope so. Blessed be God for that; for I trust I have felt the Spirit's testimony within. Jehovah's "shalls" and " wills" insure possession of the inheritance above. Faith proves there is such au inheritance; the Spirit's witness testifies who are heirs to this inheritance; love, wisdom, and mercy divine have drawn out in lines of blood the only way to this inheritance, viz., through" much tribulation;" and Christ, in the arms of faith, is the substance of all we hope for beyond the grave, and the earnest and seal of this inheritance within. Praise ye the Lord! O, bless him, my soul, for Christ and I are one! His love's impress I feel now on my heart, nor can I part with him to all eternity. My heart and eyes melt into tears as I record it.
Who would not choose the bitters that often fill a heir of glory's cup while here below for the sake of the sacred sweets which God in mercy mingles therewith? And the thought, the hope, the assurance of inheriting his glory above far outweighs it all. Hence Paul counted his afflictions light, and his life not dear to him for his dear Lord Jesus's sake. Hence my soul counts all things but loss, and dung, and dross, that I may win Christ, and be found in him. Hence my heart labours hard to maintain a near intimacy and close communion with God and heaven by sighs and groans that steal away my worthless life apace, that I may know more of his mind and will, and have grace given me to do his will and to glorify him below with all my powers, in hope of praising him above.
Ah! Little did. I think once what it was to be a Christian; but now my days begin to decline, after nearly three-and-thirty years in the divine life in the wilderness, I now begin to know a little about it; and, to the everlasting honour of God, would now say, before men, angels, and devils, hitherto has the Lord helped me, and, I trust, will help me till I am safe in his heavenly kingdom, where the days of my mourning shall be ended. Then shall I soon forget my misery; and every pain and trouble by the way leaves the appointed score allotted for me that one the less.
Thus I read as I run, and reckon, with Paul, that these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, are all working for my good, and are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. How this manner of reckoning, at times, soothes the sorrows of my breast, and bows my stubborn mind and will to the Lord's will; then everything seems to go on right, though at other times all things appear to go wrong. And when I can lay aside the weights which I carry about me, and can feel my loins girt up and around with divine power, O my friend, it is then sweet running indeed. And what is the best of it is, those who run in this race run not at uncertainty, as those who beat the air, but are sure to obtain the prize, for God is their strength, refuge, and shield, and Christ is the prize and mark of their high calling; and having Christ locked up in their breast, the hope of glory, not sin nor death itself can rob them of the treasure; and it insures them strength by the way, and the victory and the prize at last. Therefore blessed are they who, thus taught of God, do run, for they shall obtain.
Grace has put my brother and his worthless friend in the number, and grace will bring us through, and make us more than conquerors too. The Lord has seen good to make my friend a steward of the mysteries of God, and entrusted him with the true riches. May God Almighty keep him faithful to death, bless his labours, and at last give him a crown of life, as I believe he will. Blessings on his dear and holy name for his manifold mercies.
Well may my friend take up a lamentation concerning the lukewarm state of the church of the living God. My soul has long beheld it with grief. Salvation is of the Lord, therefore to him do I look as I mourn, for he alone can alter the scene, when it is his good pleasure. May the dew from the everlasting hills, which waiteth for no man, rest upon us, and the holy anointing make us, amid the seeming barrenness and lifelessness around, savoury, and fruitful, and lively, and watchful, and prayerful in our different stations in the dear ways of God; then may we sing of mercy and judgment, as we mourn and stand in the most holy place, to hear what God the Lord will say on his Zion's behalf; and if he speak peace, it will make our hearts rejoice in hope, and patiently wait to see his salvation, and to bless the Lord for his discriminating favour bestowed on us and on a few others in particular. Blessed be God for that.
We are tolerable, through mercy. Brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run and be glorified. So said Paul, and so craves my friend, and I trust he may not ask it in vain. Brother, do also pray for us. The Lord come with you and be with you at all times, especially when you need him most. Adieu!
Yours affectionately, in hope of eternal life in Him,
G. T. CONGREVE.
Bedworth, July 17th, 1846.