GRACE TRUTH MINISTRIES
We are a ministry declaring God's Grace in Truth.





LETTERS
OF JOSEPH TANNER



NOTE: This will be an ongoing project as I put in all the letters, keep checking back for new ones to be added.



LETTER 46

Cirencester, July 19th, 1862

My dear Friend,--As the time is approaching when, if the Lord will, I am once more to visit you, I write you a line.

I am obliged a little to consider my earthly house, for it is my lot to have a poor, weak, sickly tenant in a tottering house or tabernacle. I felt the other day I must go to the High Priest, according to the law of leprosy or suspected leprosy, and my language was, 'It seemeth to me (that) there is, as it were, a plague in the house.' (Lev. 14:35) The high priest having looked on it, did not shut it up, being without doubt a true case of leprosy; but there has been some little scraping. It is a fretting leprosy in the house; it is unclean; and so it is to be broken down, and all the stones, the timber, and the mortar, are to be carried forth out of the city unto an unclean place. I have a gracious promise from my most adorable God and King that he will rebuild it, and in such fashion as we have no pattern on earth for glory and beauty; and he has given a pledge of the truth and certainty of this promise in the resurrection of his holy, well-beloved, only-begotten, and eternal Son, whose glorious body is the pattern of the new house, or the rebuilt or glorified body that my immortal soul shall dwell in. This new house will be without any taint, spot, or particle of this old fretting leprosy. Indeed, it will be set up in that state of perfection that it cannot be subject to any pollution or infirmity, and in that blessed and glorious land of pure delight, where neither sin nor Satan will ever be permitted to enter, where the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick, and the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity, and they shall be holiness to the Lord. Well may the poet say,

"How different from the wilderness
We now are passing through:"

And,

"Here often from our eyes
Clouds hide the light divine;
There we shall have unclouded skies,
Our Sun will always shine."

Sometimes, when my poor, barren, helpless soul is helped by faith to look a little at those unseen things, and look away from those things which are seen, as Paul speaks, 2 Cor. 4:17,18, it makes affliction to be in feeling what it is in the word of God. The present affliction is light compared with that eternal weight of glory, and short compared with its eternal duration; and when I am led a little into the glories of this free, rich, sovereign, discriminating, undeserved grace of God, that has given me a good hope of shortly, yea, very shortly, entering upon all that glory revealed in the scriptures of truth, it lays me very low. I lie at the dear feet of that Jesus who was crowned with thorns, that I, a worthless sinner, might be crowned with honor and glory with him; who was made sin, that I might be made the righteousness of God in him; who, as the great and good Shepherd, was smitten, that I and all his sheep might go free; who died an ignominious death, that I might live a glorious and eternal life. I feel my own ignorance, darkness, and confusion to be so great that if I attempt to ponder it a little, to write of it, or attempt to speak of it, I am so lost in confusion, I feel as it were even to beggar and mar the glorious subject; and at times a feeling sense and knowledge of this makes me afraid of writing or preaching. It is one thing to plead ignorance before men, to fish for applause, and another thing to feel it before a heart-searching, all-seeing God; and yet I am sure there is none too ignorant to be the subject of pride, whether preachers, or prayers, or professors in the church of God. How Hart describes that sin of pride; and although this poor scribble is such as I feel ashamed to send, yet I find it working in the words he expresses:

"This moment while I write,
I feel its power within;
My heart it draws to seek applause,
And mixes all with sin."

I do sometimes feel so sin-sick and selfish, I know not what to do, and groan out, 'O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?' I am able sometimes to add, 'I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord;' but still find it to be that 'with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin;' and this brings about, 'We that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened.'

One thing with another teaches me that this is not my rest, and that here I have no continuing city, but I seek one to come, which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God; and at times, when a little of the love of Jesus is shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Ghost, I stretch forth towards the mansion my most glorious and precious Lord Jesus has prepared for me, and say with Newton,

"The Saviour, whom I then shall see,
With new admiring eyes,
Already has prepared for me
A mansion in the skies.

"I feel this mud-wall'd cottage shake,
And long to see it fall;
That I my willing flight may take
To him who is my All."

Then, again, I go down into the depths. The storms arise; the night also comes over me, when all the beasts of the forest creep forth, and it is not till returning day, when the glorious Sun of righteousness arises, and by his bright shining scatters the shades and darkness of the night, that they lay themselves down in their dens, and man goeth forth to his labor:

"In darkest shades if he appear,
My dawning is begun;
He is my soul's sweet morning star,
And he my rising sun."

I do not pray to the God of all my mercies to take away all the Canaanites out of the land, as I have no promise of his to plead for his so doing; but I sometimes pray, I hope honestly and earnestly, in my feeble measure, that he will graciously lay and keep them under tribute, that they may not reign.

I do not know why I have run on writing in this rambling way. I only took the paper to write the things needed about my journey to you. And now I must leave it; and sincerely do I hope the Lord may grant you, my friend, much of his sweet presence and lovingkindness, which is better than life, and of his soul-enriching blessing, with which he addeth no sorrow.

I hope you are inwardly and outwardly more fruitful as a living branch in Jesus, the true and living Vine, than I am. And O may the Lord, in mercy, arise and have mercy on his Zion, and appear in his glory in building her up, and bless us one and all with an increase of grace to desire to live more in his fear and to his glory the few days or months or years it is his pleasure we shall still be sojourners in this world of sin and sorrow!

Give my kind love to friend T., and all the friends of the Lord Jesus, and who may have love to or enquire for such a poor, helpless worm as I feel myself to be.--I am, my dear Friend, yours very sincerely, in hope of the grace of life, J.T.