To the Rev. J. JENKINS, MY DEAR BROTHER,
FOR such I shall call you without any grant from Satan, or any conference with your unbelief. I read your letter with many tears, and found liberty and access in prayer for divine assistance in answering it. I see nothing in it but what is to be found in the saints' path of tribulation, nor one footstep that has not been trodden by the Coalheaver: and no less than the outstretched arm of the living God to this day upholds thee, or thou hadst long since dwelt in silence. "When they fall, they shall be holpen with a little help;" "As their day is, so shall their strength be." " It is of the Lord's mercies we are not consumed; they are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness."
Ministers of Christ, if ever they are worthy of that name, must, sooner or later, be instructed with a strong hand, that they may not say, A confederacy, to every one that says, A confederacy; nor fear their fear, nor be afraid. A servant of Christ, who is furnished with weapons to demolish Satan's strong holds, must know, by his own experience, where his haunts and refuges are: after this seasonable and necessary instruction thou wilt know how to lay open the desperate deceit of the heart, by remembering the wormwood and the gall; thou wilt then be able to shew the sinner what it is to be shut up in unbelief, and the necessity of the blood of the covenant to procure the prisoner's deliverance from the pit wherein is no water; and thou wilt handle the law lawfully. It is the law that has got a fast hold of thee now; by the law is the knowledge of sin; by the law the offence abounds, and sin becomes exceeding sinful; the law genders to bondage, and worketh wrath; sin takes an advantage by it, and works all manner of concupiscence. The law ministers wrath , terror, death, and condemnation; it is a first husband, and a cruel one; it is intended to kill, not to cure; and, when it has done its office, Christ will marry the condemned soul, and raise up the name of the dead upon the inheritance; and then thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt remember the reproach of thy widow-hood no more.
Thy present distress will end in an effectual divorce from Moses and his law, and the wedding will follow: it is cutting thee out of the wild olive tree in order to ingraft thee into Christ; it is shaking thee from the sandy foundation of flesh and blood, that thou mayest build on the rock; it is the pains of legal labour that bring to a spiritual birth; it is the spirit of bondage to fear, which foregoes the spirit of love; it is thy arraignment at the bar of God, which will end in justification; it is fire and water, which lead to a wealthy place;, it is the regions of the shadow of death, where God promises the light shall shine; it is turning man to destruction, from whence he calls the children of men; it is the gates of the dead, from whence he begets his issues from death; it is the furnace of affliction, in which God has chosen us; it is the cup of trembling, which foregoes the cup of salvation; it is the meditation of terror, which precedes a sight of the King in his beauty; it is the dark mountains upon which we stumble, and the horrible pit in which we sink; it is the snares of death, and the pains of hell, the former of which shall be broken, and the latter shall he cured.
0 J. my mouth is open unto you, my heart is enlarged! I shall shortly have a fellow-labourer after my own heart. You now feel, and will shortly see, the usefulness of that doctrine which is intended to bring the believer under the law, as his only rule of life. You find now that the law affords you no help, nor will it ever afford you any after you are delivered; and whenever happy deliverance comes, you will find it your will be done without any assistance from the law. Lie passive in the hand of God; call upon his holy name; confess the worst of your faults, and bewail your sins of unbelief, and of despairing of the mercy of God in Christ, which are the greatest sins of all: and be sure of this, that every encouraging text is a forerunner of future power; every ray of light, the phosphorus of future day; every gleam of hope, an earnest of future comfort; every respite, a sign of future victory; and every moment of enlargement, a cordial, or an earnest drop of the new wine of the kingdom, which will make you forget your poverty and remember your misery no more.
By no means run from the work; stand your ground; give no place to the devil. Preach the dreadful fall of man; preach the depravity of human nature; preach the deceitfulness of the human heart, the necessity of a knowledge of sin, and a feeling sense of it; preach the holiness of God, the bondage that the law brings, and the need of deliverance from it; preach the necessity of Christ's blood, and describe the desperate case of such souls as Christ calls to, saves, and heals. This will be preaching out of the abundance of thine own heart: for it appears to me that this is God's intention in keeping thee where thou art. He that feels the terrors of the Lord should persuade men: and, as you are under an alarm, sound as you are under the rod, preach up the rod; as you are under temptation, shew the infernal captivity that sinners are in; and, as you now feel that free-will, human power, human wisdom, self-righteousness, and even spiritual gifts, are of no use, preach them all down as useless to the afflicted soul; by which means you may bring many into the same bondage that you are in; and, when God delivers you, you will preach deliverance to them; and many will, under the operations of the Spirit, follow you into the joy of the Lord, and into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Pay no regard to the contempt of professors; they must come your way, and drink in some measure of your cup, if ever they are saved. Such a ministry as they had at L. is only calculated to make professors. Real saints, and real preachers, are rare things. I have got some hundreds in my charge who have travelled through the same path you are now in, and such souls will ever follow the tried preachers of Christ. Remember that every gleam of hope is what accompanies salvation, for, " We are saved by hope;" therefore patiently wait, and quietly hope, for the salvation of God. There is a set time to favour Zion: and surely they shall not be ashamed that wait for God. The Lord brings clown, and lifts up; he wounds, and his hands make whole. Blessed is the man whom God correcteth, and teacheth him out of his law, that he may give him rest from the days of adversity. The Lord be with thee! and strengthen thee my prayer shall be, in thy calamity; and believe me to be, with all possible respect,
Dear brother, yours to command,