William Gadsby's Letters (Complete)

To A Brother Minister

In nearly all the volumes of the “Gospel Standard,” from its commencement in 1835, there are letters or pieces by my father. From 1874 to 1878 there are many relating to the present Gower Street Chapel, and I have also a number in MS. ‘If all were put together they would make a large volume. I have however, contented myself with selecting a few. The following was to Mr. Robins, who was minister to the people at Conway Street, London, who left Mr. Huntington’s chapel, because the trustees would not admit my father, Mr. Abbott, and Mr. Robins to preach therein. In 1820 the Conway Street friends built Gower Street Chapel. (See “Gospel Standard,” 1878, page 75.)

Dear Brother,—Yours I received, and was glad to hear of your peace of mind and welfare in the best things; and if it be the Lord’s will I hope you will find your present affliction of body very profitable to you and soon be restored to your wonted state of health. But it is not good for us to dictate to our heavenly Father. He knows best what is for our real good and his glory. Afflictions are not joyous but grievous; yet such is the skill and power of our dear Lord and Master that he often makes them yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness, and teaches us to bless his name for every stroke of his rod. Through the mercy of a covenant God, I am still hobbling on in the narrow way, but am sometimes so hemmed in and close put to it that I have scarcely power to breathe or time to swallow my spittle; yet at other times my blessed Master grants me abundance of elbow room and bids me enter into a wealthy place, where the skies are clear, the air wholesome, the springs pure, and the fruit delicious, and where a dog dare not so much as move his tongue. Here there is sweet fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. The Fountain of life plays, the wells spring up, every enemy disappears, and the blessed gospel of God our Saviour appears in its own glory,—a glory so transcendently excellent that to be employed in dispensing it to the family of heaven appears the most blessed employ in all the world. They are, in very deed, the Lord’s ways, and to the soul ways of pleasantness, and his paths peace.

But, my dear Brother, these seasons are neither long nor frequent. I very often have to stand and deliver my Master’s message to his blood-bought family while all hell appears up in arms against me, and clouds and darkness hide my dear Lord from view. Indeed, at times I am almost persuaded that the devil himself is in the pulpit, ready to pull me into a thousand pieces. But thus far the Lord hath helped me, and in the midst of all he is making bare his holy arm, and I believe he is with us of a truth.

I have no cause to tell you that this country is full of distress. But you must not believe all the newspapers say about there being plots to set fire to the town, &c. &c. Very few people in this country believe a word of the sort. I must say that the reformers, as they are called, have never yet in this neighborhood made any disturbance whatever. It is extreme distress which makes the poor people cry for a redress of their grievances; and I believe that in time the Lord will hear their cries, whether anybody else will or not. But I can assure you that I have work enough without taking up my time with parliamentary matters; but is it possible, at such times as this, to keep entirely free?

What a mercy it is that, let what will come, it shall be well with the righteous. Bless the Lord, our safety is in him. He is Head over all things to the church.

I am truly sorry for the Bath friends, and wish it was in my power to assist them; but I do not see a way at present. For me to go to London or go there without a view of getting a supply would be wrong. Could I see a way I should like to go to Bath a Lord’s day or two; but as you seem to think you cannot come to Manchester this year, I set no way at present of either being at Bath or London.— Manchester March, 1809.