The Ministry Not Without Trials
(A Portion of an Extract of a Letter)
The Gospel Standard
or, Feeble Christian’s Support
…I sometimes am very low in my mind about my standing in grace, and lower still about my preaching. Everything seems to be against me. I have to tell my hearers that it is presumption in me to stand up in the blessed Lord’s name. I have no stones to throw at Gideon, for his unbelief. Every mark and evidence of a ·true minister seems to be against me, though I am seldom without one, which is, passing through evil report; for such scandalous reports are circulated, without the least foundation; which makes me think that the father of lies is an open enemy of mine. But I would say with David, “Let them curse, but bless thou, O Lord.” I trust that evil reports may prove cautions, for we need continually hearing, “Take heed,” “Beware.” I feel myself as vile as ever they can represent me, and therefore must contend, from heartfelt experience, that salvation is all of grace. I travel so much in mire and darkness, which keeps me from running into head notions much. I murmur that I am kept so ignorant, and that I know so little, and can open so little of the word of God; but still I feel it a mercy to be even in such hardness of heart and such confusion, rather than slipping into the pits of heady notions. Many talk about Christ, and the doctrines of grace, who are strangers to the power of godliness: and what an awful thing it is to have a name to live, and to be dead. I desire to know Christ, but I want the blessed Spirit to lead me to that knowledge; for anything short of that glorious and powerful teaching must fade away, in the time of trial.
I find the work of the ministry a most trying work, and I often feel desirous of giving it up, if I could do so honourably; but having put my hand to the plough, I through mercy continue to this day. The Lord at times encourages me in my own soul, and sometimes I hear of the word being blessed through me; but I wonder how it can be so, feeling so full of sin and various abominations. I meet with very few who are enjoying much in their own souls; and when I meet with any who boast much about an assurance of faith, I generally question how they got at it. The devil is a very great deceiver, and we have very deceitful hearts; so we need not be so very much surprised to find so many puffed up with vain notions. May we ever encourage those who have life and feeling, but may we be kept from bolstering up professors in false hopes and false joys.
May the Lord bless and prosper you, and may the friends be enabled to pray that I may come with the blessed Lord’s sanction. Believe me, Yours very sincerely, for Christ’s sake. April 7, 1835.