NOTE: This will be an ongoing project as I put in all the letters, keep checking back for new ones to be added.
Pewsey, July, 1842
MY DEAR FRIEND,--
I received your very kind and affectionate letter just before I left home for Devonshire. I believe I can say, before a heart-searching God, that it was made a great blessing to my soul, for I was in great trouble that morning, and was wrestling with the Lord for a true token and a blessing indeed; for my soul was sunk very low under the powerful workings of unbelief. So it was on Lord's day morning. And I mostly feel unbelief and the devil stronger on that morning than on any other in the week. But blessed be the Name of the Lord, when I came to that part of your letter where you spoke upon unbelief, and how you were tried and exercised with it, and as I read on, the Lord, I hope, broke my heart all to pieces; and then my soul felt sweet liberty. And what love I felt to you, my dear friend! I could truly say it was a pure love. And if it had not been on the Lord's day, I should have written to you at once.
I have many times since been exercised about writing to you, but could not sum up courage enough, and I did not like to trouble you so often. I know you have plenty to do without my troubling you. Indeed, I do feel myself to be such a blind fool, and feel so much darkness of mind, deadness of soul, and barrenness of spirit, that I cannot make out what I am, nor where I am bound for. My soul is brought into such straits, at times, that I cannot see that even the Lord hath done anything for my soul. This has been my feeling in the past week. I can truly say that my soul would not live always in this body of sin and death. I verily thought that I must give up preaching altogether; for I feel so shut up, at times. And when that is the case, the Bible is a sealed book to me; and there is no prayer in my poor soul, no, nor yet any desire after it, I am sorry to say.
But, my dear friend, the Lord does not leave me in these states. On Tuesday morning last, the dear Lord was pleased to give my soul a blessed lift, and brought me up again from the dust of death. I had been led to call all my religion into question, and was sunk very low. But my mind was led to read the 47th chapter of Ezekiel; and the dear Lord the Spirit blessed the word in such a way to my poor soul that I felt sweet union and communion with the Lord Jesus, and with his dear people, for above two hours. My soul then saw and felt that it was all well in a moment. For "where the word of a king is, there is power." I could bless the Lord for every state that he saw fit to bring me into, and could see that it was all for my good and for his glory. I could see that he had ever led me in a right way, and also believed that my soul would reach the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. And I believe that you, my dear friend, know something about these sweet moments. And what a mercy for you and me that ever the Lord let down anything from heaven into our souls of that supernatural grace that leads the soul to Jesus, and gives us to see and feel that Christ is all our soul's salvation! What a mercy to feel the least hungering and thirsting after him in one's heart! But my soul never goes out after him except when in deep trouble. Yesterday was a day of hot soul grief; and if ever my soul went out after the Lord in groans and sighs, it did then. And I would rather be in that state of mind than be so dead, cold, barren, and careless. But, my dear friend, it is mostly the case with me on Mondays. On Saturday my soul is tried that I shall have no text, fearing I shall be shut up on the Lord's day; and on Sunday night and Monday I am tried that all that I have said and brought out of the texts has fallen to the ground, and that my labor has been lost labor and in vain.
But after all, my friend, what a favor the Lord has bestowed upon sinful man to make use of him in the least, after one has sinned against him for so many years! And although the Lord has kept me from outward acts of sin since he called me by his grace, yet I feel enough in my wretched heart to make me hang my head and be ashamed; and tremble, at times, for fear the Lord will send some judgment upon me for the wickedness that passes in my desperately wicked heart. But, bless his dear Name, he is merciful and full of compassion, slow to anger, and plenteous in goodness.
Our dear friend Mr. Parry told me that you are (D.V.) coming to Allington in August; and as I am engaged to be in Exeter in that month, I am afraid I may not see you. I should like to know what day next week you think to arrive at A.
The Bath friends have written for me to speak for them in my way into Devon, so (D.V.) I hope to leave home on Thursday, if all is well. But, dear friend, if we do not meet each other, I hope you will be so kind as to preach at Pewsey, as I am leaving my people all the month, except it be on the third Lord's day, when friend Dark is expected for that day. I am glad that you are coming to A., because some of the friends will be able to come over on the Sabbath. Still, I hope you will speak on one or two evenings; and if you could once on a Lord's day, I should esteem it a favor; but if you cannot, you will have a great many persons on a week evening, if it is a busy time.
I hope you are feeling in better health. I have heard that you are to be at E. one evening next week,--that dark city. May God bless you with life and power there, and make your message a blessing. And may the Eternal God bless you, both in body and soul. When I was last at Trowbridge, I went on to Bath and Bristol, and found a few poor tried souls that inquired after you in warm affection,--a few that meet in a room and read your sermons, which they said had been made a great blessing to their souls. Although they have never spoken to you, and some have not seen you, yet they feel a great union to you in the Spirit, and desired their love to you, and trust the Lord will preserve your life for many years for his children's sake and his glory.
Remember me to Mr. and Mrs. Isbell, Miss D., and all friends.
Yours in Truth and Affection,
Pewsey, October 24th, 1842
MY VERY DEAR AND AFFECTIONATE FRIEND,--
I received your very kind and experimental letter while I was at Stoke. I believe I can say, before a heart-searching God, that it was a means, in the hand of the Spirit, of breaking my soul down in love and thankfulness unto the dear Lord for ever raising you up, and making you an honest workman, to stand up, in spite of all your enemies, to declare the whole truth and counsel of God, both at home and abroad, and by tongue and pen. I believe that my soul will ever, at times, be able to bless the Lord for making me acquainted with you, although you received me so roughly the first time I called you at Allington. But you have been made very dear to me, and a great blessing to my soul, which God and myself only know. My dear wife also had a sweet melting time in reading your kind letter. I do not say this, my dear friend, to puff you up, but to encourage you; neither do I think it will; for I believe that you, with myself, have plenty to keep you down. As the Lord opens up the mystery of iniquity in our hearts, and makes it boil and work up strong and powerful in our feelings, it is a means of shutting our mouths; and we are willing to put them in the dust, if so be there may be hope.
I see by your letter that you are still very much tried in soul matters, which I am glad to hear. It is a proof of your standing in Christ, for the "Lord trieth the righteous;" and it is only those that suffer with Christ that will reign with him. I meet with many who profess to know the Lord for themselves, who have got beyond all suffering, according o what they say; and as for inbred corruption, they only smile at it, and say that it springs from the old man, and therefore they can laugh it off. But that is not the case with you and me; neither do I think that it can be with any elect soul long together; because where grace is put in the heart by the Eternal Spirit, and sin is opened up in the elect sinner's conscience, and God's anger and wrath are revealed against all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and sin is made exceedingly sinful in the feelings, it matters not whether it is sin in the act, or sin in the feelings, it is a burden to a living soul; and he groans, sighs, and cries out under it. And sure I am that wherever grace is put into a soul by the hand of God the Holy Ghost, it makes that soul hate sin. O! My dear friend, it is painful and cutting work to bear up under, and endure the cutting and scraping work of God in the soul, and to endure the fiery darts of the devil. This pierces the soul through and through in one's feelings. I would speak to the honor and praise of God that I am not at this very time confined in some common prison for some crime; for when I was in D. for some weeks, the Lord only knows what temptations my soul passed through. But, honors be to his dear Name he has brought me home in peace and safety, and kept me from all evil.
I felt very much at home at Stoke, both in the pulpit and out. Friend Isbell has a few choice souls there. To take it altogether, I have not enjoyed vital religion for a long time as I did among them the last month. Yesterday morning the dear Lord favored us blessedly together, and some of us in the afternoon; but in the evening, and this morning, my soul has sunk fathoms, and I have called it all into question, and could not believe that either myself or any of the tried children of God had the least blessing from the Lord, and have doubted everything. And what is all the talking, reading or hearing, preaching or praying, without life and power? Truly it is like sounding brass and tinkling cymbals. I believe that all who live and die fighting against a feeling religion will be damned. I believe that they will have their portion in hell, with devils and damned spirits; for the devil is as well pleased to see the letter of religion in a man's brains as the man who has it there is satisfied with it. And where will all those appear, even though ministers, deacons, and members of churches, who are resting upon the doctrines, and fighting against experimental truth felt out in the soul? My firm belief is that they will sink into hell, with all their religion, if they die enemies to a feeling religion. What is Christ to me if I feel him not? He is like a "root out of the dry ground" unto my soul. He is called the Bread of life; but no man will esteem him as such but those God has made to hunger for it. And my soul is a witness that nothing short of a Christ revealed in my heart the Hope of glory will satisfy me. To read of Christ in the Bible, and to hear others talk about him, will not do for a living soul. No, my dear friend, when I feel guilt upon my conscience, reading about the blood of Christ in the Bible, and what it was shed for, will not cleanse my conscience in the sight of God, nor yet in my soul's feelings. Neither can my soul exercise faith in that blood, as many talk about. And although I can believe, at times, that that blood has been applied to my guilty conscience times many, still that will not remove present guilt. No, my dear friend, you and I must have it applied unto our conscience, "as oft as sin defiles," before we can look up. And what is all the prate and chatter about the righteousness of Christ? That will not do my soul any good, nor yet reading in the Bible that it justifies the ungodly without works. No; I must have it imputed and worked into my soul's feelings by the Holy Spirit. Nothing will satisfy my soul but a testimony from God's own mouth that Jesus has wrought it out and brought it in for my soul. And the Holy Spirit must cast it on and over my naked soul; and he must give me that faith which is of the operation of the Spirit, that works by love;--that faith that is accompanied with meekness and gentleness, humbleness and filial fear. And then my soul is satisfied, just while I am in the enjoyment of it, and no longer. And what is the atonement of Christ to me, except I have an experimental feeling sense of it applied to my conscience by the Eternal Spirit, and that all my sins, past, present, and to come, are all atoned for? Then my soul can glory through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom my soul has now received the atonement. O! My dear friend, how these poor deluded wretches who are putting you and me, with many others, down as "corruption preachers," will find themselves mistaken when they come to die! We are obliged to contend for a feeling religion, a religion that saves us from actual sin, as well as from the curse of a broken law and the wrath of God.
I was very much disappointed in not seeing you when you were at Allington. I heard three ministers while I was at S., but did not pick up a crumb under them all. They were not my stamp. They did not appear to be traveling in my path. It appeared to me that any one could sit under them but a poor tried child of God; but I must leave them. The friends here heard Mr. Isbell well, which I was glad to hear. I find by your letter that your path is a tried one, and that you are very much exercised about your ministry, which did my soul good to hear; for I believe, my dear friend, that your learning and gifts are nothing for your soul to hang upon or rest on. No; far from that, I trust that the Lord has brought your soul, at times, where he brought the apostle,--to count it but dung and dross, that you may win Christ, and be found in him, not having your own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ,--the righteousness of God to every one that believeth. And this suits your soul well, because the Lord has made you a needy, naked, and helpless sinner. Then may the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob bless you, and keep you, and uphold you, and strengthen you, both in body and soul.
This is the desire of
Your affectionate Friend for Truth's sake,