A Second Letter from the Late Mr. Symons.
To the Lord's despised but redeemed children who meet together in S—, to supplicate their covenant God and Father in Christ Jesus, by the Holy Ghost, for the mercies and blessings needed, and to bless and praise his holy name for innumerable favours already received.
It is sweet to meet together for the purpose of supplicating and praising God, when he himself, according to his promise, is in the midst of you, and it is much more profitable than you are aware of. When you attend in hearing, through manifold temptations, the good Spirit will help your infirmities, and take of the things of Christ, and show them unto you, give you a clear view and a more perfect sensibility of your interest and union in him, and also to each other, as bound up together in the bundle of life with the bond of all perfection, the everlasting love of God. These things will bring you to be of one mind, heart, and soul in the things of God, of one spirit with Christ, and with each other. And whilst you are taught to esteem every faithful sent servant, for his work's sake, both in preaching and in writing, you are at the same time to follow them no farther than they follow Christ, and not to swallow down every thing which they say, because you consider them good men. In the present day it appears to me that among the very best of our teachers the old spirit of which shall be greatest most awfully prevails, which has led many to lust after popularity and the riches of this world. To accomplish their ends they preach the gospel in an accommodating manner, so as to please those that may hear them, and to offend none, by which means they get many carnally wise and rich men, with a multitude of others, into a profession, which has caused a multiplicity of carnal contentions and divisions contrary to the gospel of Christ. When these things take place under the preaching of good men, the whole counsel of God cannot be declared, nor the word of truth rightly divided; and instead of giving to sinners, as well as to saints, their portion, they take the children's bread and cast it to the dogs, thereby building them up in pride and presumption. From the above description of preaching and writing there is already raised up a large body of the very worst description of professors that are to be met With in this kingdom, and who will wax worse and worse, and will increase in more ungodliness, and in much greater numbers. Many of this cast are already in the ministry, and many more will yet go forth to preach, each one endeavouring to mimick the man he has been trained under, or some favourite preacher, both in manner of speech and in doctrine; so therefore what a good man doth speak and write a bad man may speak and write also. So far as words go, such have the form of the knowledge, of the word, and of the will of God to saints and sinners, which constitutes the form of godliness without the power. With all these wonderful things the man is nothing but a deceiver and an anti-Christ. Seeing that there are such a multitude of false prophets gone out into the world, how needful it is that we should know those that are of God from those who are of the world. No man in a state of nature is capable of doing this but by the aid of the Spirit who searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God, who is sure to search and try the heart of every saint, and give them power and ability to search and try others, so as to know whether they bring forth the good treasure out of the abundance of the heart, or only preach the letter of truth from an enlightened judgment. "By their fruits ye shall know them." The former will feed the saints and starve the hypocrites, but the latter will feed the hypocrites and starve the saints. Examine yourselves, therefore, whether ye be in the faith or not. I have of late read in three authors, who I hope are good men, that true faith is nothing more than a belief of the letter statement of the word. This Simon Magus believed, and by this faith of nature multitudes in our isle have likewise believed, so that this is the most deceiving of all professions. It spreads most rapidly, but you will find that they are to a man the most desperate enemies to the work of the Spirit in the soul that ever lived, and, with all their boasted zeal of Christ, they know nothing of him ravingly in his person, work, offices, character, and relation to his people. That good men should have been the promoters of such a damnable doctrine, is now, and will remain as a lamentation to the real church of Christ.
May the Lord deliver you from all deceivableness of unrighteousness, and grant you a double portion of his Spirit, to enable you to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, and, through the same, to triumph over all your enemies, to live a life of faith in the Son of God, and to be daily receiving out of his fulness and grace, so that you may thereby be enabled to say, with one heart, and voice, "This God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even unto death." To claim him as your portion with every new covenant promise and blessing is all you can wish or desire. This will influence you to adorn the doctrine of God, your Saviour, in all things; in walking in humility, lowliness, and meekness of mind; forbearing and forgiving one another, so that the unity of the Spirit may be kept in the bond of peace amidst all the false accusations of enemies from without., and the powerful workings of depravity from within, with a multitude of bodily and mental infirmities in your connection and worldly engagements. This is not your rest, it is polluted; but there is still a rest remaining for the people of God. I expected to have entered into it before now, but you see I am still with you in the wilderness. At this season I do not, feel myself worse in body than I have been during the last two years, nor have I ever once, though indisposition, been prevented from speaking since I left you, which is a great mercy. I was from home three Sabbaths last. autumn, and I have been pressed to go to Brighton and Wolverhampton, but the journeys are so great that I dare not undertake them, so therefore must content myself by staying at home. We go on much the same at Bristol and Bath, my friend F— exchanging places with me every fourth Sabbath.
We have lost by death a valuable young man of about thirty years of age. The Lord powerfully convinced him of sin about five years ago, and though there were evident tokens of the good work going on within, yet he had no clear deliverance until the day previous to his death, when the Lord broke in upon his soul with such refulgent brightness and glory that it caused his cup to run over with praise and thanksgiving unto the Triune God. Whilst he was in this state of mind, I called to see him, and on my asking him how he felt, he exclaimed, "I ascend unto my Father and your Father, to my God and your God!" These words so affected me that I was obliged to turn aside and weep. He died the next morning about ten o'clock, and the Sunday following his interment I spoke from the above portion.
May this account strengthen and encourage the hope of those among you who feel their burden of sin, but have not attained to the knowledge of its forgiveness, and may the Spirit help them to believe that he who shall come will come, and grant them a like deliverance.
Yours to serve in Christ Jesus,
Bristol, Dec. 28, 1827.