To An Aspirant For The Ministry
Dear Friend,—Yours I received, but have been so engaged that I have not been able to write till now. You will excuse me from entering into particulars, as I feel persuaded that if your feelings are of God (and I hope they are), all the men in the world cannot give you real satisfaction. The work of the ministry is a work of such importance that a soul deeply and truly impressed with its solemn importance must have satisfaction from, God alone, before he dare consider himself called of God to that momentous work; and to rush into it without divine authority is awful presumption. I hope the Lord of the house will influence you to be much in prayer, and daily lay the case before Him who alone can satisfy your mind; and though, for wise ends, he may a while forbear, and send no satisfactory reply, yet to wait at his door, and sit at his feet is the safest spot. Bless his holy name, there you may spread your case, again and again, without once apologizing for being in any way troublesome.
If the friends with whom you meet feel willing and desirous for you to read a part of the good Word of God unto them and speak a little upon the blessed things therein contained, and you feel liberty of mind so to do, I cannot see that there can be anything wrong in so doing, if you are enabled to attend to it as in the sight and fear of God. But pray that the Lord will keep you near his wounded side and low at his feet, lest Satan should puff you up; for we are poor wretches when in any measure left to ourselves.
But if the Lord has designed you for the work of the ministry, you have many rough winds to face, and many hot furnaces to pass through. Nevertheless, you have no cause to fear; for winds, waves, and fires are all at the control of your heavenly Father, and must work for your good and his glory. But God’s ministers must not learn to preach as schoolboys learn their tasks. Whom the Lord sends, he sends with the things they have tasted, handled, and felt of the good word of life; and, to accomplish this end, he puts them into such circumstances as to make them feel the real necessity of the truth; and then, in the riches of his grace, he makes manifest the truth in their consciences, as suited to their case, and freely given unto them. We know nothing, in reality, of any branch of divine truth but only as we feel the necessity, suitableness, and power of that truth in our own experience; and, just as this is the case, we are made at a point in the things of God.—Manchester, October 14,1814.
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.”