Christ is All in All
May the tender mercies of a covenant God be with you. Through mercy, I arrived safe at home, but very poorly, and I have since been quite laid up, My complaint, which I had when I was at your house, kept getting worse until I reached home, and last Sunday I was unable to preach; but I now trust that I am getting better. What poor worms we are! The blessings of health are sovereign favours from our covenant God; not one breath we draw, nor one pulse beats, but at his disposal; and truly he is too wise to err, and too good to be unkind, notwithstanding all the fretfulness and rebellion of corrupt nature. "Many are the devices of a man's heart, nevertheless, the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand." Bless his dear name, "he is of one mind, and none can turn him." If he did not rest in his love, there would be no more hope for worthless me than there is for devils; for if I am left to myself, the scenes which pass through my heart are shocking; and this brings me to loathe myself in dust and ashes; and, as Hart says,
"Shock'd at the sight, I straight cry out,'
But blessings and honour's for ever be to his holy name, he gives me again to prove in my soul that "grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord;" and then my soul can exclaim, "Rejoice not against me, O my enemy, for when I fall I shall arise, when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light unto me." How sweet it is to find and prove our dear Lord and Saviour to he our salvation to save, our strength to support, our wisdom to guide, our light to shine, our fullness to supply, our righteousness to cover, our fountain to wash and cleanse, our Husband to succour, protect, and defend, our Friend that sticketh closer than a brother; our King, who rules over us, in us, and for us; our Captain, who has fought all our battles, conquered all our enemies, external, internal, and infernal; our glorious and great High Priest, who has offered up himself, obtained an eternal redemption for us, and entered into the holy of holies, by his own blood. Christ is our everlasting All in all, and it is of him, and to hint, and through him are all things, to whom be glory for ever. Amen. When my soul is favoured with sweet moments of communion and fellowship with Him, I envy no man in the world, I fear no devil in hell, and the only thing that my soul trembles at is a fear of offending my Lord, and I beg from my very heart that I may be kept from sinning against him. O precious Jesus, lovely Jesus, adorable Jesus! well might the church of old cry out, "His mouth is most sweet, yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my Friend, and this is my Beloved, O ye daughters of Jerusalem!" There is nothing wrong, either within or without, when Jesus is there. What a glorious eternity it must be for all the household of faith, to dwell at the Fountain-head, to see him as he is, to be for ever with him, and to be like him! O wonderful home! never to sin against him. O happy mansions of eternal rest! no noise of archers there; no cloudy, stormy days there; no long nights of dismal fears and anxious cries, "Watchman, what of 'the night?" no sinking with tremendous fears from the fiery darts of the devil, crying out, "O Lord, I am oppressed, undertake for me;" no afflictions, griefs, nor pains of either body or soul there; for "the inhabitant shall. not say, I am sick." Happy place of rest! where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary are for ever at rest. O that my soul may be kept looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ!
My dear friend, at times my soul can sing and triumph, exclaiming, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." Indeed, there is no peace nor rest but in him. I don't wonder at David exclaiming, "Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee." Many will say, "Who will show us any good?" but, O Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. This was the desire of Moses when he said,"If thy presence go not with us, carry its not up hence." I can assure you my friend, that there is nothing so cutting to me as the hiding of the light of the loving countenance of him who the chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely; for I sin daily more and more convinced that without him I can do nothing, He is the strength of the needy in his distress, and when he is withdrawn, I feel myself a worm and no man; he is the light of Israel, and when he is withdrawn I am a poor blind bat, groping for the wall; he is the Resurrection and the Life, and when he is withdrawn I am in the midst of death; he is the consolation of Israel, and when he is withdrawn, sorrow fills my heart; he is the great Captain that gains all my victories, and when he is withdrawn, the enemy is roaring, "Pursue him and take him, for God has left him;" he is the only Husband that can succour, protect, and defend, and when he is withdrawn, I am a widow forsaken, and grieved in spirit; he is the only Shield that can with safety defend, and when he is withdrawn, the fiery darts of the devil split, cut, and chop my poor soul till I cry out, "My soul is scattered at the grave's mouth;" in a word, he is All in all, and if he is withdrawn, there is nothing left but an aching void, let my soul look where it may. If Jesus has hidden his face, all is gone that is worth having, for it is of him, and through him, and to him are all things, to whom be glory for ever. Amen. O how my soul dreads to be left alone, especially in the ministry of the word! O the importance of standing up in the name of the Lord, professing to be God's mouth to never-dying souls! How my poor soul has many times staggered into the pulpit like a drunken man, fearing that the Lord had entirely left me, and that my preaching was nothing but an empty noise, which went no farther than the ears of the people. My preaching sound doctrine does not satisfy my soul, except I can perceive some satisfactory testimony that God the Holy Ghost is bearing witness, by signs following, that it is of God; and I can assure you that when the Lord's presence is withdrawn from me, and I am obliged to go and speak in the dark, I experience terrible scenes of misery in my soul. O the many times I have been determined to give it up, and never to go into the pulpit again. I cannot take a text, and divide it, and subdivide it, and write it down, and commit it to memory, and then fill it up with a few other texts. My study is chiefly wrestling with God in prayer and tears, begging of hint that he would provide me with a message, that he would bless me with light to see, with life to feel, with memory to contain, and with liberty to express, and, above all things, that he would with power carry it home to the hearts of his own people. If there is no power, all is valueless; for "the kingdom of God is not in word but in power." Paul says, "My preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." And O how I have been astonished to see the mighty power of God attending his word, when my soul has been full of confusion! and I have been so ashamed when I have come down from the pulpit, that I have not known where to bide my face. Ah! my friend, God will stain the pride of All our glory, and he will keep teaching us, for we need lesson upon lesson, that we may know that "it is not by. might nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord." He will not give his glory to another, nor suffer his praise to be given to graven images. Bless his holy name, who ought to have the glory but himself? No one, for he does all the work. All praise belongs unto him.
That the Lord Jesus Christ may bless you and all the dear friends at L— with much of his presence, is the prayer of your unworthy brother in Christ,
Trowbridge, Nov. 18, 1841.