A Letter to a Friend in London by the Late Mr. Gadsby
My dear Friend,
By this time, I suppose, you begin to think that I have quite forgotten you; nor have I more than one excuse to make for not writing sooner, and that is, my Master keeps me so fully employed, that I have but little time to spare. And though I cannot forget your kindness towards me, nor the kindness of some other friends in town, (some of whom you know well,) yet I must be free to tell you that the kindness of my dear Master exceeds the whole. Sure I am that he is the best Master in the world; his service is perfect freedom, the sweetest and most noble employ that mortals can be engaged in. In fact, to do his will, and enjoy his lovely presence, is heaven upon earth.
But here let me pause, and with one of old say, "Lord, what is man!" for, strange to tell, I find an inhabitant of this earthly tabernacle, that hates both my Master and his work, and roars at times, like a distracted bull in a net, against him and all that is his. And such is his nature, that his very breath is as sulphurous as brimstone, and as infectious as the most poisonous venom. His voice is as tremendous as a lion; his eyes sparkle with indignation; his lips quiver with wrath; in short, his whole powers are all engaged against God and truth. His appearance is as frightful as Beelzebub; and I believe, in my very soul, he is a limb of the devil. My Master calls him the "Old Man of Sin;" and, to speak the truth, he has often proved too old and too artful for me. There is no such thing as finding out all his tricks. One who was no stranger to him declareth him to be "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;" and then asks, "Who can know him?" And well he might! for, frightful and detestable as he is, he can at times put on the appearance of an angel of light, and plead for holiness, as though he were the greatest friend to holiness in the world; but observe, it is a holiness separate from Christ, as a recommendation to him. And whenever he gets the servants of Christ to listen to his chatter, so as, in measure, to forsake the Fountain of living waters, and chop and hew out unto themselves cisterns that can hold no water, and so lose sight of Christ and his glory, and be pleased with the fine decorations of the creature or their holy selves, he is sure to plunge them in the horrible pit, roll them in the miry clay, belch over them all the horrid blasphemies that his hellish nature can put forth, laugh them to scorn, and say, "Where is the Lord your God now?" And here they must lie, till Jehovah is pleased to send forth his light and truth, and deliver them; which, to the honour of his name be it known, he is sure to do in his own good time. But this artful monster (the old man, I mean) can shift about; and when it is likely to answer his end, he will appear as great an advocate for free grace, without its effects, as he will for holiness separate from Christ. But, plead for what he will, his whole design is, to undermine the foundation of Zion, overturn the plan of redemption, and promote the interests of the King of Darkness.
Now, as I hinted before, this monster has a residence in the house where I at present dwell. But my Master has more than intimated to me, that it is his design to remove me to a habitation not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, and to be the complete destruction of the Old Man; yea, and that he will pull down the old house, and, on a day best known unto himself, rear it up a glorious edifice, like unto that which he resides in himself. But, for my present comfort, he has graciously sent a lovely company of beautiful inmates to reside with me; and so bountiful is he, that he supports them all at his own expense. But, strange to relate, there has been war in the house ever since they arrived, for the old villain above-mentioned hates them in his very soul, and has given them orders to quit the premises a thousand times twice told; and, indeed, I have at times feared they were taking their farewell of me, which brought me to cry most vehemently to my dear Master, to continue them with me, for, without them, I could not manage the old rascal one hour. You will perhaps wonder that we let such a monster have a being in the house; but the truth is, he has so many holes and corners to flee to in time of danger, that there is no such thing as getting him out. Indeed, he is like a rabbit in a warren, for if you see him go into a hole, and so watch the mouth of the hole for his coming out again, if you only lift up your head you may see him sitting at another, laughing you to scorn; and if ever you do lay hold of him, and attempt to burn him out, he will slip through your fingers like an eel, and away he goes. But would you believe that the old villain has worked with so much craft, as at times to make me almost call in question the faithfulness and veracity of my Lord and Master, notwithstanding be was never known to forfeit his word? I have often thought it an infinite mercy, that, "though we believe not, the Lord abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself."
Should you feel yourself disposed to inquire after the names of those lovely inhabitants that the Lord of the house has sent to reside with me, I will just mention a few of them, not doubting that you have been in their company many a time, and perhaps know fully as much of their natural, or, rather spiritual turn, as I can tell you. One is called Faith; another, Hope; another, Love, or Charity; another, Patience; another, Meekness; another, Humility; another, Holy Fear; another, Watchfulness; another, All-prayer; another, Confidence; another, Zeal; another, Fortitude; another, Perseverance; and another, Joy.
Now, by this time, I suppose you begin to see who my companions are, and, by the names already given, can guess at the rest, knowing something of their connexions. But I must not forget to tell you, that every one of the above, with their connexions, hates the Old Man and his deeds as much as he hates them; so that war there is, and war there must be, as long as the old house stands. But in all the battles fought, Christ, the Lord of the house, leads the van and brings up the rear; for the above are his holy train, and all the victories gained are through him and the power of his might. It is amazing to think what wonders are performed under the banner of Immanuel. Indeed, I have at times been led to say, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Were you here to behold the exploits that are done, I am sure you would join me in saying, "What hath God wrought!" To see how Faith lifts up its head in a dark cloud, and against Hope believeth in hope, knowing that faithful is He who hath promised, who also will do it. To behold how steady Hope keeps the soul, living in the full expectation of the accomplishment of all God's promises; together with the holy goings forth of Love towards God, in the glory of his Person, relationship, characters, offices, fullness, word, work, worship, ordinances, people, yea, and all his dealings in providence and grace. To view the precious resignation of Patience, cheerfully waiting the Lord's will and submitting to his control, knowing that what he appoints is best; and with what gracefulness Meekness and Humility unite in lying in the dust of self-abasement, while they are ravished with the glory and dignity of Christ, and crown him Lord of all. And with what reverence and caution Holy Fear walks, lest the Lord of the house should be offended, and his name be abused. To be acquainted with the diligence of Watchfulness when on the watchtower, and to hear with what earnestness All-prayer cries when Watchfulness perceives danger; and how manly Confidence, Zeal, and Fortitude behave themselves, and with what undaunted courage they display their parts, in times of imminent danger; followed up with Perseverance, which seems as unwearied as if but just set out; and then to be charmed with the sweet and heavenly music of holy Joy, singing victory through Him that hath loved us. I say, to be able to view these things, and see with what fortitude they all unite in fighting against the Old Man of Sin, his old father the devil, and all his agents, would do your soul good.
Now, as they are all furnished with weapons of war suited to their nature, (for their weapons are not carnal, but mighty, through God,) you perhaps wonder how it is that the Old Man can get me into any snare. And you may well wonder. But the fact is, sometimes, after a sweet victory gained, the old villain will appear almost as dead as a stone; nor has he a dog in all his kennel that attempts to move his tongue. So that, fool-like, I begin to suppose that the whole camp is as good as dead, and take too much liberty with them, not doubting but I shall be able to serve them as they have served me; so that I venture to approach without much timidity, or even asking counsel, or imploring the aid of my Master. And, for wise ends, my dear Master lets me try my own strength; so that the old fox, perceiving me alone, musters up his forces, and, either by craft or force, prevails against me; and, were it not that my life is hid with Christ in God, he would have destroyed me long ago. But such is the divine love, tender care, and eternal faithfulness of my dear Lord, that he always comes to my deliverance, though not without a rod in his hand, which he makes me feel as the effect of my folly; but then, he uses the rod with so much skill, as in the end to make me kiss it and the hand that appoints it. Indeed, his skill is infallible; but such is the Old Man of Sin, that to give a true and full description of his implacable enmity against every act of divine faith, every expectation of hope, and against all the goings out of Love in holy affection after God and truth, and every act of submission Patience is able to perform - against all the exalted views Meekness and Humility have of the King and his glory, and their mean views of self and creature-attainments; yea, against every cautious step of Godly Fear, and every sharp look-out of Watchfulness, and all the groanings, signings, partings, breathings, and cryings of All-prayer; against all the vivacity and courage of Confidence, Zeal, and Fortitude, and the unwearied resolution of Patience, and all the melodious Sounds of holy Joy: I say, to give a true and full account of the Old Man's wrath, rage, and enmity against these things requires an abler scribe than has lived upon the earth these last seventeen hundred years. Yea, such is his dreadful enmity against every branch of divine truth, that there is not a doctrine of grace, a promise of eternal life, a single blessing of the everlasting covenant, a stream from the fountain or a drop from the ocean of unchanging love, nor one display of Jehovah's faithfulness to the word that is gone out of his mouth; a smile of his countenance, a kiss of his lips, nor one compassion of his heart evidenced, a precept he has given, an ordinance he has instituted in the church, an exhortation he has left on record, nor one fatherly rebuke, but what the Old Man holds up to contempt and perfectly detests and abhors. If all the servants of the Lord upon earth were to unite their efforts, and each one do his best in describing this monster of iniquity, such is the dreadful nature of his enmity, that I question whether they could come near the point. One of the King's most noble servants sums it up by calling him "enmity against God," "a body of sin and death," and "sin that dwelt in him." Nor is there a redeemed messenger that was ever sent by the King to the hill of Zion with glad tidings of salvation, but what has felt something of the power of this monster's hand.
And besides all this, he is a wonderful orator. I have been witness to some of the orations he can make, and have known him to contradict the King's messenger in everything he has delivered in the name of his Sovereign; yea, and he has delivered his horrid speech against the King's message, in such a crafty and masterly way, as to make the King's messenger quake for fear, and almost question the truth and veracity of the message God had given him to declare. I assure you, I know more about him than I have either time or inclination to relate.
I therefore shall conclude, at present, with observing, that I believe his destruction is sure; for sentence of death is passed upon him, and strict orders are given to all the King's servants to watch against him, put him off, and mortify him with his deeds. And the King has given all his true servants both his promise and oath, that they shall be more than conquerors in the end; he has engaged to fight their battles for them, and lead them forth to conquest and a crown. And I am persuaded that He, and He only, is able to accomplish the work. So, from the whole I am led to conclude, that, salvation, from first to last, is all of grace.
Manchester, January 18, 1809.