Thy Love Is Better Than Wine
Manchester, November 1830
My dear Friends,—I received your very kind letter, for which I am thankful. I assure you it often affords me pleasure to find that I have a place in the hearts of God’s dear family; for, next to union with my dear Lord and Master, I esteem union to his blood-bought, heaven bound family.
Among the blessings in which your soul delights you have also your sorrows; for both of which may you be thankful, since they are all tokens of our dear Lord’s love, and a proof that he has not forgotten you. “The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposal thereof is of the Lord.” These are eventful times, but the dear children of God have no just cause to fear; for they are the special care of a covenant God, and he is too wise to err, and too good to be unkind. All things must work together for their real good. We enjoy a sweet and solemn frame of mind when we are enabled “to sing of mercy and judgment,’“ and feelingly to say, “The Lord hath done and will still do all things well.” What fools we are! At least I can say what a fool I am! Were I but wise enough always to act wisely, I should never want to mend the work of God, either in providence or in grace. But, alas, alas! This is one of my crying crimes. The cursed pride of my heart is so frequently engaged in finding fault with God’s ways that I blush for shame, and often wonder that the Lord puts up with my brutish ways. But, thanks to his lovely name, he knoweth our frame and remembereth that we are but dust. The matchless nature of his love passeth all understanding; and when his gracious Majesty is pleased to shed it abroad in our hearts, we are compelled to say that it is better than wine, stronger than death, and better than life; indeed, life without it is but death at best. The blessed enjoyment of this love sweetens all our cares, and makes death itself desirable. I can assure you that I am quite a mystery to myself; therefore I do not wonder at other people thinking me mad; for if my life depended upon it, I cannot always keep my heart in a direct line with my head; for my judgment says that the Lord’s ways are at all time righteous, but my poor heart often inquires how these things can be. But when my dear Lord is graciously pleased, in a manifestive way, to put on my court dress (the Lord my righteousness), call me to court, banquet me with some of the rich treasures of his heart, show me his lovely face, tell me some of his secrets, and draw me into his very bosom and heart, I feel a modest blush, a sacred joy, profound reverence, and holy triumph; and O what filth a fleshly religion then appears! Then the language of my heart is, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.”
Well, my dear friends, a few more troubles, and a few more love-visits from our dear Lord, and we shall be with and like our adorable Head. I was sorry to hear of your trials, but I thanked God for you and on your behalf, that you were in very deed in the Lord’s path. Be assured all is well.
William Gadsby (1773-1844) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher, writer and philanthropist. John Hazelton wrote of him—
“[Gadsby’s] labours extended to well-nigh every part of the country, and who by his sermons, hymns, and other writings, exerted a wide spiritual influence, and his interest in the poor and needy in Lancashire and elsewhere rendered his public advocacy of their cause of great value. In him we have a man of eminent public spirit, as well as of originality and spiritual force…The first time he preached was in 1798, in an upper room in a yard at Bedworth, from the words, "Unto you therefore which believe, He is precious." His Hymn Book, now so widely known, was first published in 1814, his desire being "to have a selection of hymns free from Arminianism and sound in the faith, that the Church might be edified and God glorified.” He removed to Manchester in 1805, and while over the Church there he travelled over 60,000 miles and preached nearly 12,000 sermons.”