Eight Years’ Labour in the Ministry at Leicester (An Excerpt)

An Excerpt From

Eight Years’ Labour in the Ministry at Leicester

By A Watchman On The Walls (William Garrard)

Leicester, March 29, 1850

BRETHREN— The apostle saith “In all things I am instructed.” And if we watch the Lord’s hand, in providence, without, and the work of His Spirit within, and see the end of the Lord in all our afflictions and trials, we shall come to the same conclusion. As bees suck honey out of stinking weeds and thistle blossoms, so the people of God, by divine instruction, have sucked honey out of the most distressing trials, temptations, and afflictions. God raineth blessings upon a wilderness at large, and upon all men indiscriminately; but the strength that wicked men derive from that which they eat and drink, is spent in blaspheming the Name of God, His truth and His people. The serpent’s nature being poison, it genders poison from all it eats; and wicked, ungodly men, being radically wicked in themselves, gather poison even from the letter of God’s holy Word, and make sport with it to their own destruction, as foolish children playing with fire until they are destroyed by it. “O fools! when will ye be wise!” O Lord! give us more grace and wisdom to direct us in all our ways, that we may praise and glorify thy most holy name, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, thy great Gift to the poor and needy!

Well, to proceed with my narrative: after my month’s engagement, I was pressed by many to continue; and I felt a spiritual union to some of the people, especially to some poor old women, godly women, deceased and gone the way of all the earth since I have been here. Old Mrs. Palmer, Mrs. Watkins, Mrs. Fox, Mrs. Bradley, and some others, both men and women, now living. Nevertheless, I felt persuaded that many of the people did not enter into the drift and spirit of my preaching; even some of those who pressed me, week after week, to continue. And for some long time I could not, and would not give them any answer. And it is now evident that most of those persons who incessantly pressed me to continue, did not receive my preaching in life, love, spirit and power, though they consented to it. But I being a new man, the chapel, for a time, was tolerably well filled; and perhaps, poor creatures, that pleased and satisfied them more than my preaching. Nevertheless, I must confess that they all treated me very kindly for some time, and supported me to the best of their ability. And I cannot charge myself with doing them any injury or unkindness. I preached according to the ability God gave me; and some were added to the church. But the Saviour saith, “It is impossible but that offences will come; and I certainly did bear with many things, and put up with many things being determined not to give offence wilfully. But O, if we preach Christ, and Christ only, as our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; Christ, all and in all, and the poor creature nothing at all. “Offences will come;” the poor creature cannot bear to be made nothing; God made the world out of nothing, and will reduce all things to nothing again, except Himself; and we must be reduced to nothing in ourselves before we can be made anything in Christ, because Christ and His people are a new creation, and God’s holy essence is in that creation; “God in Christ, and Christ inGod, and we in both Father and the Son, made perfect in one;” in one God everlasting.

Thus, all out of God in Christ at last, will be found nothing but sin, and sin is of the devil; and he hath nothing in Christ. Still old proud Mr. Satan would be something very great; and satan’s work in our proud fallen nature is to make us something great. But God’s work in us is to reduce us to nothing in ourselves. Hear! hear what the Spirit-taught Paul saith, “Though I be the chief apostle, I be nothing.” Therefore, by nature we are nothing but sin in ourselves; “In me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.” And, in and of myself, I have done no good thing acceptable to God. No; not from my natural birth to this very day. And I feel persuaded that until the grim angel death is commissioned to hurl his dart at my vile and deceitful heart, and deprive me of this mortal life, I cannot be freed from the plague within. Nothing but death’s dart will let the bag of poison, of sin, out of my vile flesh.

“Unclean! unclean! and full of sin,
From first to last, O Lord, I’ve been,
Deceitful is my heart;
Guilt presses down my burdened soul,
But Jesus can those waves control,
And bid my fears depart.”

Sin has polluted all the old creation into which the serpent entered at the fall of man; and God, who made the world out of nothing, will ultimately reduce it to nothing again, by fire, and burn sin out of it; so that the old serpent, at last, will have no place, hole, or corner to hide his head; and sin and the serpent finally sink to their own place—hell! And then there will be nothing left but sin, which is of the devil. O wicked sinner! you that live in sin, delight in sin, and secretly or openly go on in sin, where will you be found at last, but with the devil and his angels! You may be something here, something great, something fashionable in the world, something great in the visible church and in the eyes of men, something great in a pulpit, something in your own thoughts and in your own esteem, and in the esteem of rich and great men. But it is only old creation glory without a new creation glory in Christ Jesus; you are cheated by the devil, and at last will be found to be nothing but sin when stripped naked of all your glory and turned into hell.

“For if a man think himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” Gal. vi. 3. O, to be ignorant of our own ignorance, is gross darkness. Self-deception, or thinking ourselves something when we be nothing, is one of satan’s strong and pleasing delusions; a delusion of satan, which none can escape but those who are born again and taught of God, and by him, in this time-state gradually reduced to nothing in themselves. O, it is to be believed that there are thousands who think themselves something who are gone out to teach others, and themselves never taught of God these humbling lessons, who are wise in themselves before they have been made fools; something in themselves but not yet reduced to nothing. But O ye sweet souls, who are under God’s teaching, he will sorely bring you to nothing, to say with Paul, “I know nothing by myself;” and, with Bildad,” we are but of yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow;” viz., we know nothing of ourselves profitably, only as we are graciously taught by the Spirit of God, “Without charity I am nothing.” “God is love,” and love is of God, little children. God is the head of Christ, and Christ is the Head of the church; and from him and through him, we receive love, wisdom, sanctification and redemption. And by this wisdom and love of God in Christ, being shed abroad in our hearts, in the new creation, God is crumbling and reducing the old creation to nothing, until there be nothing of us seen in this world, and be raised again to be all seen in Christ and in God; and then Christ will give up the kingdom to the Father, that God may be all in all; and the church of God with and in Christ, their Head, be the fulness of Him that “filleth all in all.” O beloved, what a blessing it is to be reduced to nothing in ourselves that we may be found with Christ in God, who is all in all.

If there is any good in us, it is the Lord that wrought it in us; and it is the Lord that wrought all our good, and good works, in us, and still worketh in us who are inwardly labouring, working, and striving against sin in our mortal flesh. All good works, acceptable to God, spring not from the old man, the old creature, or the old creation —but rather from the work of God the Holy Ghost in the new man, the new creature, or the new creation in Christ Jesus. And thus, even our outward members, that were the willing instruments of sin, are, only by the power of the Spirit working within the soul, made the instruments of righteousness to the praise and glory of, God, and not of us. And it is said that God will not forsake the work of his hands. Thus the tongue becomes an instrument of prayer, praise, and godly conversation. The hands become instrumental of good works from a holy and living principle within, in relieving and giving alms to the poor and distressed of Christ’s flock, from a principle of love within. The feet, also, in walking in the straight paths of truth and righteousness in Christ Jesus, and in all the ordinances of his house, till God shall deliver us from the burden of this flesh, and finally raise us up in the likeness of his risen Son, Jesus Christ, when nothing shall be left behind but sin; and that will then all be found only in satan and the wicked, who will be all sin; and whoever they be that are found not in Christ, will be left out of Christ, and out of the glorious presence of God, and that will be hell wherever it may be.

Well, you see I have again broke the thread of my narrative; but I hope it may not be found unprofitable, perhaps it may be found better than writing so much about my silly vile self, and the silliness of other poor creatures, as silly as myself. But the above is a part of the substance of what I preached, and still preach; but poor creatures, it appears they could not all of them, enter into the drift of it, or perhaps did not like to be reduced to nothing. Poor dear souls, it appears those who had the life and love of God in them, had been so tossed about by changes in the ministry, and other distressing circumstances, that they hardly knew what to receive or what to believe. However, there was a gathering together under my preaching, and some addition made to the church, and some joy of faith among many precious souls. For you must be told, that there were some precious souls, the excellent of the earth, among the people, who had not altogether forgotten the savour of the honourable and indefatigable Hardy’s ministry, though they as a people were much shattered and scattered, and some had crept in among them who have since turned out none too good. Well, we went on for a year or two as comfortable as could be expected under all circumstances, but you know some people deal with preachers, as children do with toys, viz., when the gilt and novelty is worn off them, they throw them away, or stamp them under their feet, and cry out for a new one, and so it was with me, for poor creatures, some of them began to be tired of me and my preaching; so soon as the novelty was worn off, and began to spy and find fault in both me and my ministrations. Ah, poor creatures, that might soon be done, but I saw ten times more faults in myself than they did, and laboured hard to deliver myself from them, but could not rightly do it, though as Solomon says, “I said I would be wise, but it was far from me.” But whether these poor creatures saw their own faults or not, I know not. We should endeavour to keep the weeds down in our own garden, before we cry out against the weeds in our neighbour’s garden. Thistles, nettles, weeds, and thorns will rise up out of the earth every spring season of the year, and when the weeds are cropped, and cleared away, a little in our own garden, if we can in love and kindness help our neighbour, let us take it kindly one of another, and admonish one another in love, not in wrath, for wrath kindles wrath, but kindness softens the heart, and love from above melts all into love. “God is love.”

When we find ourselves without fault, then we may throw a stone at a poor broken-heart self-condemned brother. Old Mr. Satan is full of sin, lies, murder and malice, and yet he will be accusing others, and is called “the accuser of the brethren.” Children I mind that you do not learn the bad habits of throwing stones; such are said to be naughty boys; and are sometimes put into the lock up for it: if you go with satan’s bad boys, you may learn their bad ways. Doctor Martin Luther said that the devil is our Lord God’s hangman, and oftimes the accuser is much worse than the accused, and the hangman worse than those that are hanged by him. Imperious, quarrelsome, railing people, are generally worse than those they rail on, and satan blinds them to their own faults, while looking at the faults of others. Our suffering Jesus was hanged on a tree. Man eats of the forbidden fruit from the tree, on which he ought to have been hanged to death for his sin. But the Lord Jesus took the guilty sinner’s place, and was hanged on the tree in lieu of us, to make satisfaction to the divine law, and save us from wrath. And I am sure that they were all guilty sinners, that hanged him on the tree, and crucified the Lord of life and glory, the innocent, harmless Lamb of God. There the innocent died for us poor guilty sinners, and though we may sometimes suffer justly, and be buffeted for our faults, the afflicter (in God’s sight) may be more faulty than the afflicted, though they escape the censure and judgment of men, “God seeth not as man seeth.” But if we are to know something of the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, we must not only “be buffeted for our faults,” but sometimes suffer for well-doing as Jesus did. Well, I have preached the Gospel of Christ as well as I could, or according to the ability given, and yet I have suffered more from men professing the Gospel, than I have from all other men in the world. Something must be wrong, very wrong, among those railing, wrangling, preachers, and professors. Lord, set us right. Lord, check us when we are wrong, and cheer us when we are right, that we may praise thee.

A Watchman On The Walls.
Leicester, March 29, 1850.

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