Letter to Anne (2)

As one step towards the accomplishment of this longing desire, he commenced a series of monthly letters, a copy of which was to be addressed to each of his daughters. The public demands upon his time, however, became so urgent, that these letters were not continued, and we have only the following specimen to offer

"BURNTISLAND, July 24, 1841.
It is true that the Spirit is the alone effectual agent in the work of conversion, and without His agency nothing can be done to any good purpose. But this doctrine, so far from superseding diligence in the use of means, may supply the alone consideration which can justify that diligence and make it rational. Suppose it were true that in no possible way we could be made savingly to understand the Bible, - then all inducement to the reading of it would be thereby done away. But, instead of this, let us suppose that there was one way, and that was the enlightening of the Spirit given to our prayers, - this would instantly give a meaning and a motive to the exercise of dealing with our Bibles; and the perusal of the sacred volume, accompanied with supplication for light upon it from on high, would instantly become a hopeful and a reasonable employment. And, accordingly, if I were asked to specify the likeliest prescription for the wellbeing and prosperity of the soul, I should say it was a prayerful reading of the Bible.

"That we do stand in need of this supernal aid, we might well be convinced of from daily experience, for without it how often might we read again and again its most familiar and best known passages, and yet remain blind all the while to the veriest simplicities of God's Word. I was much struck with this when reading the evidence of Mr. Purves of Jedburgh the other day on the subject of revivals.... What impressed me in it was, how seldom, after all, faith in God's sayings, which is surely a very obvious, simple, and intelligible idea - how seldom it is realized by any of us. People think they believe in them, because they so far acquiesce as not to gainsay them; and yet with this acquiescence, an acquiescence so resolute and strong, that you would be shocked to utter aught in contradiction to them, there may yet be no faith. For let there be but belief in the Gospel, and where lies the hindrance to peace, joy, confidence in the good-will of a reconciled Father even at this moment? Why postpone all this? Why not rely on the good tidings of great joy, and be glad accordingly? How long shall we pnt off trusting in God for that redemption which is through the blood of Jesus, even the forgiveness of sin? It may startle you to be told, that this last question is tantamount to the following : - How long shall we persist in holding God to be a liar? He himself distinctly reduces it to this alternative. He tells us of the record that He has given of His Son, even that He has given us eternal life, and that this life is in his His Son; amd He complains of being made a liar by all who won't believe this (John v. 10, 11). This one might think is bringing salvation very near to us. It is telling us to take and live, to trust and be satisfied. On this footing, and it is the true one, there should be an instant translation from death to life, from darkness to the marvellous light of the Gospel. Let us not think that the way of being washed from our sins is anything more complex or circuitous than this, else we fall into the error of Naaman the Syrian, when told to wash him from his leprosy in the waters of Jordan. We are washed from our sins through the blood of Christ (Rev. i. 5). But this is through faith in His blood (Rom. iii. 25).. Let us so believe, and so shall it be done unto us. These are plain sayings, - yet how few think of a salvation so nigh, and so placed by God within our reach, even that God who offers and entreats, and beseeches and commands, nay, threatens it upon our acceptance. What need of prayer, then, that the scales might fall from our eyes, which hinder us from seeing this great salvatjon, and from beholding the wondrous things contained in the book of God's law. Read and pray then; ask till you receive, seek till you find, knock till the door be opened to you, and, to hasten the wished for consummation, chide yourself out of your unbelief by the consideration that it is dishonouring to God's truth. For the opposite of this, read Rom. iv. 19-28, and learn from this passage how thoroughly God's glory and your comfort are at one. May you obtain precious faith. May Christ be found in you.
I am, my dear Anne, yours very truly,

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