William Gadsby's Letters (Complete)

God’s College

My dear Brother in the Path of Tribulation,—I have often thought of you since I saw you in ———, and have as often thought of dropping you a line, to ask you how matters go on at College. Remember, our glorious God and Father does not send his ministers to College with a view of making them into gentlemen, but to make them able ministers of the New Testament, not of the letter, but of the Spirit. Men may be high in, and teach, the doctrines of the gospel doctrinally, and yet only be in the letter, and not in the Spirit; therefore God’s ministers must not rest in the shell of truth, but must be taught the mystery of godliness; namely, the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; and in order to learn these things to good purpose, they must also be taught the mystery of iniquity; and these things can only be taught spiritually by the Holy Ghost, at God’s College; and very sharp, trying; and hot work it is, at times, when we are kept close to College rules. God’s fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem. (Is 31:9) God purgeth the blood of Jerusalem by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning (Is 4:4); and while he gives two parts of mankind to be cut off and die; namely, a profane part and a professing part, the third part he brings through the fire, and refines them as silver is refined and tries them as gold is tried. Here they are compelled to call upon the name of the Lord; for they find that their free-will, creature piety, preparations, and qualifications are nothing but lumber, or “hay, wood, and stubble,” and so become fuel for the fire. There are thousands and thousands of moving animals hid and concealed in this lumber; and when the Lord takes hold of them, there is most horrible screeching and crackling; so that, what with the loss of our supposed pretty things, the horrible noise of the serpentine race, and the sulphureous smell which arises from the burning of the lumber, the poor soul concludes that he is in the very belly of hell, and a mighty constraint is laid upon him to cry unto the Lord, and the Lord is graciously pleased to hear him, and to answer him too, and say, “It is my people,” and give the poor sinner the spirit of adoption, whereby he says, “The Lord is my God.” This, my dear friend, is one part of the discipline of Zion’s College. Not only is all flesh grass, but all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field and must fade away, when the Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it; but the word of the Lord shall stand for ever.

At this College we are taught the awful depravity and dreadful workings of a corrupt nature, and our own inability to restrain them or stand against them for one moment. Here we feel ourselves shorn of all our supposed strength, and can feelingly say, “My strength is dried up a like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws, and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.” (Ps 22:15) Here we are at our wit’s end, and are ready to wish we had never made an open profession of the name of the Lord, and, like Jeremiah, say we will speak no more in the name of the Lord. But the great Master of the College keeps us to the work, let flesh and blood and carnal ease and unbelief say what they will; for it is as Jeremiah expresses it: “His word was in my heart, as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.” (Jer 20:9) To strengthen us with might, by the blessed Spirit, our dear Master sometimes comes with a kind, soft reproof, and soul-cheering encouragement, at the same time saying, “Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest thou, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over of my God? Hast thou not known, hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary?” Then say we, How is it that the Lord suffers us to be in such a dark, loathsome dungeon, and does not give us more light, more love, more faith, more patience, and more of the light of his countenance? Why, “there is no searching of his understanding,” but the end shall prove that “he giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.” This, my dear friend, is God’s way, and by such methods he makes it known that he “chooseth the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and weak things to confound the mighty,” &c.

Well, my dear brother, if you are still at this College, do not kick and rebel, for that will only make more fuel for the fire. May self, with all its cleavings, go, and Christ be all and in all. Pray to be led into the deep things of God, and for the Lord to make and keep you willing to be taught these deep things in God’s own way; and when you come before the people, make no reserve; give them, as far as you are able, what God has given you. Read the first five verses of 2 Timothy 4. The Lord seal their contents upon your heart. Dream not of ease, nor a good name among men, for if you do you will be disappointed. He may live what men call a godly life, and live at ease; but if, by the matchless grace of God, he is enabled to trace up all his godliness to Christ, he must suffer persecution.—Jan. 13, 1836.