William Gadsby's Letters (Complete)

Life From A Living Head

Dear Brother in the Life of all that spiritually live,—I have felt and do still feel for you in your late trouble; but, my dear friend, what a mercy it is that the real Spring-head of all our mercies ever lives, and that in his ever-living life he has secured our life. Hence his gracious Majesty says, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” Trials are really necessary, as a means, in the hands of the blessed Spirit, to make us look round us, and look within us, and look above and beyond us, to try matters up well, that we may see and feel how we stand before the Lord, whether or not we have any vital faith, hope, or love; and if we have, where faith is looking and resting, where hope is anchoring, and what object our love is really embracing; whether right arms and right eyes of a perishing nature are dearer to us than the Lord of life and glory; and whether or not at his bidding we can consent to part with them; and if not, whether, when his gracious Majesty takes them without our consent, we can or not feelingly say, “Thy will be done;” and if not, whether or not we feel prepared for deeper chastisement, and whether our rebellious nature is determined to fight against our best Friend, let the consequence be what it may.

O, my dear friend, how often the furnace throws up such dross and filth that both makes us stagger and confounds us; and when nothing but these horrible dregs of Satan appear in sight and feeling, and when the devil comes with infernal power, and with a horrible roar says, “Where is your religion now? Where is your faith, and hope, and love now? And where is the God you so often boasted of? What is become of your God and your joy?” I say, when this is the case, what an awful mass of detestation we appear, unable to make the least reply, except it be, “I really do not know;” and then when the dear Lord breathes in us the breath of sighing or groaning prayer, and in a state of almost distraction we are enabled to sigh, “Lord, appear for my relief; Lord, help me; Lord, I am vile; have mercy upon me, vile, wretched me! If thou canst have mercy on such an ungrateful, vile, base wretch, do, dear Lord, appear for my help, or sink I must to rise no more!” Then, when the Lord puts arguments into our heart, yea, and mouth too, and causes us to plead mightily with God, and anon shows his lovely face, tells us he is our great salvation, enables us to believe it, and gives us power to embrace him, cling to, twine round, and hang upon him, and give him our whole hearts, and give him leave to do what he will both with us and ours, solemnly confessing our crimes in opposing his will, and feelingly saying he does all things right; then indeed, though we are black, we are comely. How indescribably blessed it is to hear and feel the Lord saying to us, “Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee!” This, brought home to the soul by the power of God the Holy Ghost, draws forth all the powers of the mind in blessing and praising the adorable Three-One God, and causes the believer, with a joy that can never be described, to sing, “This God is my God for ever and ever.”

What a contrast there is between Christ and us! In and of self we are all deadness, darkness, hardness, peevishness, impatience, anger, wrath, and strife, vile, and bad indeed; and in reality we dirty everything we touch; while Christ is all life, and light, and tenderness, patience, love and loveliness, beauty, holiness, goodness, and truth, and sheds a glory wherever he gives a taste of his love and grace; and when he shines in our souls, and, by the power of his blessed Spirit, communicates a measure of his life and glory, we instantly feel a divine change, and can in some sweet degree say, “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” And yet, my dear brother, after all, we shall prove that we have this treasure in earthen vessels; and very often our poor earthen vessels will appear much straitened, and we shall fear that the whole treasure will run out; at least it is the case with me. Why, sometimes I feel as though I might as well ransack the lower regions to find this treasure as look into my own heart; there is such a filthy springing up of everything that is just the reverse, enough even to make a monster tremble, and in deep distress of soul I am obliged to say, “Can ever God dwell here?” Look in the carnal heart for this glorious treasure? Why, I have some times looked and looked till I have been next door to distraction; for I could find nothing but vanity and vexation of spirit. Yet, after all, the Lord has been gracious to appear again, and give demonstrative proof that the excellence of the power is of God and not of me. Bless his precious name that it is so.

Who can help singing the wonders of God’s love when the Lord sheds it abroad in the heart? No one. The essence of vital godliness is between God and our own souls, and there is a path here that the vulture’s eye cannot see.

I am glad the dear Lord supports your mind, and now and then favors you with the comforts of the gospel of Christ. O my dear brother, what a mercy it is to have such a glorious Friend as the Lord! He not only now knows both what we are and what we need, but when he undertook our cause in the grand settlements of heaven in eternity, he then knew what we should be and what we should need, and he engaged to manage all for us, and in us, and by us; and his loving and wise heart is still the same; so that when we are blessed with prayer, and praise, and watchfulness, and love, and humility; yea, when we really live by a vital faith in and upon him, and can both believe the gospel, feel the gospel, love the gospel, and live the gospel, our light in some blessed measure shining before men, so that they are obliged to own it, though they hate it, yet there are no thanks due to us. No, no; “Not unto us, not unto us, but unto the name of our Three-One God be all the glory.”—April 6,1840.