CALL TO THE MINISTRY
Extracts from the Autobiography* of John Kershaw 1792-1870
Love to Sinners
From this time I date my call to the work of the ministry. Being, as afore described upon my knees, blessing and praising the Lord who had so graciously appeared to me again as my Saviour and Redeemer with love and mercy in His heart, the power of the Lord came upon me in a manner I never felt before, moving me to preach the gospel I then felt to be so sweet and precious to my soul, unto poor prisoners of hope that were shut up and could not come forth (Ps. 88.8). I felt such bowels of mercy and compassion towards them that my soul longed to tell them of His love and tenderness to poor perishing sinners. Oh what a strong desire I had wrought in my soul to speak a word of comfort to them that are weary! to tell them how I had proved to the joy and satisfaction of my soul that the Lord is faithful to all His promises and covenant engagements. Yea; “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself.” “There failed not ought of any good thing which the -Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel.” I have proved Him to be a prayer-hearing and a prayer-answering God; “For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the Lord behold the earth; to hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death; to declare the name of the Lord in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem.”
From this time, the Spirit of the Lord God came upon me to preach the gospel, as a word of comfort to mourners in Zion. The grace of God that was given me constrained me earnestly to desire to be instrumental in His hands in preaching deliverance to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that were bound, as I had been for many months. .I had such a love to the Lord, His precious truth and His blood-bought and Spirit-taught family, such a desire for the in-gathering of God’s elect that are scattered abroad upon the dark mountains of sin and
iniquity, and for the peace and prosperity of Zion, that I was constrained to give myself up to Him with a firm and happy persuasion of His ability and willingness to keep what I had committed to His hands against that day.
I was enabled to say; “Dear Lord, I am thine, Thou hast loved me, and died for my sins, and called me by Thy grace. Thou hast manifested thyself to me as my Saviour and Redeemer, by shedding Thy love abroad in my heart by Thy Holy Spirit which is given to me, and by sealing peace and pardon in my soul by an application of the blood of sprinkling to my conscience that ‘speaketh better things than the blood of Abel.'”
My soul said; “How can I do enough, dear Lord, for Thee, who hast done so much for me? I am Thy servant, willing to do and suffer whatever will be for Thine honour and glory, the furtherance of the gospel, and the good of Thy chosen people, if Thou wilt be with me, to strengthen and support me in it.”
It was deeply impressed upon my mind that the many trials and difficulties I had been wading through, both in providence and grace, especially the soul-troubles, and the comforts I had felt, were designed by the Lord, not only for my good but for the benefit of His church and people.
From this time I felt more life, light, and power in prayer and reading the word of God than ever I had felt before. The Bible became my constant companion. My delight was in the law of the Lord, and in His word did I meditate day and night. I had such a thirst for the word of God that I took it with me to my looms, and placed it in such a position .that I could read as I worked. Thus I was reading and praying over the word of God from morning till evening.
Sometimes I was a long while in reading a chapter, asking myself such questions as these: “Do I know the truth of the things I am reading by heart-felt experience? Do not these truths meet my case? Is it not my desire to live upon them, and, like the children of the elect lady, to walk in the truth in all its precepts, exhortations, and ordinances?”
It was indeed my meat and drink to do the will of God. Oh the many strong heart-felt cries and prayers that I put up to the Lord as I read His word, that I might be taught of God the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, that I might be able to teach others the things I had handled and tasted of the word of life! I was so in love with my Bible that I had it behind my pillow, and read a portion of it the last thing at night and the first thing in the morning. Yea, I was so delighted with the word of God that often when I entered the house and saw the Bible on the chimney-piece, it rejoiced my spirit. The words of Paul (Gal. 2.8) were much impressed upon my mind; “For he that wrought effectually in Peter, to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me towards the Gentiles.” This effectual, mighty working of the Spirit of the Lord in
my soul, I cannot find language to describe. I felt sometimes like a bottle that was ready to burst, and earnestly besought the Lord that I might be raised up by His great power, fitted and qualified by Him to preach the gospel to the comforting of His people, and the in-gathering of His elect.
The words also of Paul (Eph. 3.7,8) were, and still are, great words in my soul; “Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Truly I saw and felt myself to be less than the least of all saints, an obscure, illiterate, despised youth, in poverty and distress, and with such low humble views and feelings of myself that I would have given up the thoughts of preaching, but the effectual working of the Spirit and power of God in my soul was such that I could not give it up. Like Jeremiah, I felt that the word of the Lord was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones (Jer. 20.9). The epistles of Paul to Timothy I read over and over again, with meditation and prayer, finding great benefit therein. Some portions of them were very powerfully impressed upon my mind; such as the 11th and 12th verses of the first chapter of the first epistle; “According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.”
I felt that a dispensation of the gospel was committed unto me, and that necessity was upon me; yea, “woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel” that was so blest to my soul; and again; “Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle,” and “a teacher of the Gentiles” (1 Tim. 2.7). I knew that men’s ordination was worth nothing unless I was ordained of God, as Paul and Jeremiah were, and that I could never preach to the comfort and consolation of God’s poor, tried, afflicted, tempest-tossed people unless I was fitted, qualified, set apart, and sent by the Lord. How shall they preach except they be sent? As it is written:
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings of good, that bringeth salvation, that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth, in heaven above, over angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect; upon earth as the blessed and only Potentate, King of kings, and Lord of lords; and over the passions of men and devils, saying unto them, as to the tempestuous wind and raging sea, “Hitherto shalt thou go, and no further.” He reigns in His church as a body, which is His spiritual kingdom; in the hearts of His people by His word, Spirit, and grace, through righteousness unto eternal life; and over all the trials and afflictions of His people, and will see to it that all things, however painful and trying, shall work together for good to them that love God and are the called according to His purpose.
In 1 Tim.3 Paul saith; “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” I read the former part of this chapter many times, and prayed that if it was the Lord’s will to make me a Christian bishop or an overseer of his flock, I might be to His honour and glory, watching over His people in holy fear; and that my walk and conduct might be such as is laid down in this chapter. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who hath heard my prayer, and kept me to this day going in and out before Him and His dear people, and has not suffered me to bring a reproach upon His cause.
In the fourth chapter of this Epistle, Paul speaks of Timothy “as a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and good doctrine, whereunto he had attained.” I knew that there were many unworthy ministers, even ministers of Satan, some of whom preached unscriptural doctrines, and others whose conduct and conversation were a disgrace to their profession. My soul cried mightily to the Lord that He would make me like Timothy, “a good minister of Jesus Christ,” and like Barnabas, concerning whom it is said (Acts 11.24); “For he , was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost.” I often kneeled down before the Lord, with my Testament open at these words, and begged and besought the Lord to make me such a one as Barnabas, who was a son of consolation to the saints of the most high God; and that I might be also “a Boanerges; that is, a son of thunder,” to the awakening of sinners dead in trespasses and sins; so that much people might be added to the Lord.
I told the Master that He knew my heart, and that when in my right mind my highest ambition was that I might be made by Him like these good men, honouring Him, and wanting nothing but what He had promised saying; “Them that honour me, I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Sam. 2.30). The latter part of 1 Tim. 4, from the 12th verse to the end, was often read with many cries to the Lord that He would enable me to obey the directions given; “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” The 15th verse in particular;
“Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them, that thy profiting may appear to all,” was much impressed upon my mind; and I pray the Lord to keep them there more and more. And I thank God who has in some measure enabled me to obey these very seasonable exhortations. Whoever they may be that neglect and under-value them, if they be the ministers of Jesus Christ, it is greatly to their Lord and Master’s dishonour, much against their own comfort, and a bar to their usefulness in the ministry. It should ever be kept in mind that the
exhortation is; “Give thyself wholly to them … take heed unto thyself,” and “to the doctrine” (that it be the doctrine according to godliness), and continue in them” (at all times and seasons); for in doing this, thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.”
What a mercy it is in this day of awful departure from the truth, to be enabled to stand fast in the truth, and having done all to stand, quitting ourselves like men, being strong in the Lord, and the power of His might. When I read such words, my soul caught fire from their holy and blessed directions. Also, “Whereunto I am appointed a preacher and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.” My soul was full of crying, that the Lord would make known His mind and will concerning me, that I might be satisfied upon this subject. But instead of this He let me feel more and more my own weakness, and suffered me for a season to be sorely buffeted and tempted. I thus proved the truth of Luther’s words;
“Temptation, persecution, meditation, and prayer make a minister.” I was sorely tried in the fire of temptation, insomuch that, being greatly bowed down, I often wondered where the scene would end.
As I read the word of God and prayed over it, I soon began to find that my faith must be tried. As it is written; “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations, that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honour, and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” Our Lord and Master after His baptism, and before His entrance into the ministry, was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil, “For we have not a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin,” that He might be able to succour His poor, tempted, afflicted, tried people; and the Christian minister that is to be made a blessing to the Lord’s tempted, tried people must know what sore temptations mean, having felt them in his own soul.
The enemy came in upon me like a flood, and unbelief and carnal reason began to work very powerfully in my poor sinful soul. The tempter said, “What! Such an insignificant creature as thou art, a compound of ignorance, poverty and distress, persecuted and set at nought by the world, and withal such an illiterate creature that thou canst but just read and write; what! thou set up for a preacher and teacher? Why, the whole country will be up, and thou wilt be hooted through the streets if ever it gets known thou hast got it into thy head to be a parson.”
My spirit sank, and I felt ashamed at the thought of these things. Unbelief and temptation got such fast hold upon me, in consequence of
these suggestions, that, strange as it may appear to some who know not their own weakness, notwithstanding what I had felt of the exceeding greatness of the power of God in my soul, the devil caught me, and held me fast for a season in this stronghold of his (See 2 Cor. 10.3).
Sometimes, when on my knees beseeching the Lord to put me into :the ministry, the enemy said, “Thou dost not believe that God can make thee into one of His ministering servants; and how foolish and vain to pray for something thou dost not believe that He can do. Is it not written; ‘He that cometh unto God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of all them that diligently seek him’? Now, thou dost not believe that He can grant thee thy desire; and what is the use of praying for it any more?”
Under these feelings, I was determined if possible to give it up, for whenever I attempted to pray that the Lord would send me to labour in His vineyard, the above text for weeks together always stared me in the face; nor could I get from under this bondage with all my tugging;
neither could I give up praying for the blessing.
Such a conflict took place in my mind that I almost became weary of my life, and greatly longed to get rid of all thoughts of becoming a minister. Like Moses, when following the humble occupation of a shepherd and the Lord appeared to him in the burning bush, commanding him to go and deliver the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage, but who, seeing and feeling his own unfitness and the great importance of the work, began to make excuses, saying unto God, “Who am I that I should go? I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. 0 Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.” Like Jeremiah, too, I would fain have been excused, saying; “Ah, Lord God, behold I cannot speak, for I am a child.” Thus, when the power of God comes upon a poor, weak, helpless, polluted worm, to send him forth in the name of the Lord, he is sure to sink in his own esteem, and to make him cry out; “Who is sufficient for these things?”
My soul could enter into the feelings of poor Gideon, who, while .threshing his corn to hide it from the Midianites, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him; “The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?” Gideon’s reply entered into my case and circumstances so fully that I have often been greatly encouraged by it: And he said unto him; “Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” Gideon was in such poor circumstances, and a man of such little note, the least in his father’s house, and had such humble views of himself, he could not think that anything could be done by him for Israel’s deliverance. He would fain
have had the message sent by someone else. But the Lord will not be defeated in His purposes and designs by the weakness, fears, and timidity of His people. Gideon was to be the honoured instrument in the Lord’s hand for the deliverance of Israel; and when the Lord’s time came; the Spirit of the Lord God came upon him, and he blew the trumpet, and the people gathered themselves unto him. But Gideon, still timid and doubtful whether the thing was really and truly from the Lord, wanted a token; “And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by my hand, as thou hast said, behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all he earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine land, as thou hast said.” Full of anxiety, he arose early in the morning to see what state the fleece was in, whether wet or dry. And behold it was wringing full of water as he immediately found it.
Did not this great condescension of the Lord put an end to all his scruples and fears? No, Unbelief, that great Goliath who made the armies of Israel to tremble, still works. The enemy suggested that it might only be chance. His confidence is shaken; he again fears and trembles, and, with the humility and solemnity of Abraham when pleading with the Lord on the behalf of the inhabitants who dwelt upon the plain, Gideon said unto God; “Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew” (Judges 6.39). Behold the great condescension of the Lord! Instead of upbraiding His weak, timid, unbelieving servant, upon whom He was about to confer such honour, his request was granted; lo, there was dew on all the ground, and the fleece alone was dry.
The Lord is determined to secure all the honour and glory arising from the deliverance and salvation of His people to Himself. To accomplish this, Gideon, the least, and perhaps the most unlikely person in all his father’s house, was made choice of as their deliverer;
a man naturally of weak, timid mind, and in poor circumstances. Lest he and his army should take the glory of the victory to themselves, their number, thirty and two thousand, was reduced to three hundred, that lapped water like a dog. With these few men the Lord delivered Israel, with Gideon for their leader, out of the hands of the Midianites, and thus got to Himself an everlasting name, so that no flesh should glory in His presence; according as it is written; “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
Though these things were greatly calculated to encourage my mind, seeing that others of the Lord’s servants had the same humble views of themselves, and were like myself the subject of fears and timidity of spirit, though the Lord had made bare His holy and omnipotent arm for their rescue, yet the reading of these things, though they encouraged,
did not deliver my soul, I was still in the snare of the fowler. The text before mentioned (Heb. 11.6); “For he that cometh to God,” &c, was .till uppermost in my mind. I felt in reality that I had not faith in the ability of the Lord to do this great thing.
It appeared to me impossible that such a poor polluted wretch as I, could ever be made useful as a minister of the gospel. So powerful was the conflict between the spirit of prayer that was poured down into my soul and the powerful temptations of Satan, the workings of unbelief and carnal reasonings, that I felt, at times, as if my heart would break. My soul was so engaged with these things that I longed to be alone as much as possible. I was no company for anyone. My wife knew not what was going on in my mind, neither could I tell her nor anyone else. She was sorely troubled to see me in such distress, and thought it was our temporal trials that bowed me down, and caused so many sighs and groans. She feared I was dissatisfied with my married state, seeing that we were brought into such poor circumstances. This, however, was not the cause; my temporal difficulties had little weight with me at this time.
The tempter also assailed me upon the authenticity of the scriptures, and laboured hard to bring to my mind apparent contradictions, haunting me with infidel principles, of which, for brevity’s sake, I forbear to speak particularly. At this time I was, however, so overwhelmed with these things that I was in truth a man of sad countenance. Being now in the fining pot, or crucible, I wandered about in the woods, fields, and byways, pondering matters over in my heart, weighing my motives, praying and beseeching the Lord to make known His mind and will unto me in this important affair.
My neighbours said that I was going crazy, and the cry went forth that I had read the Bible and studied religion till I was gone out of my mind. According to public report, therefore, I was twice crazy; first when the Lord was making me in some measure sensible of what I was as a lost sinner, and again when He was about to put me into the ministry, though I showed no marks of insanity, but was truly and solemnly devoted to the Lord, and my conduct and conversation becoming the gospel. They thought it strange that I did not run with them to the same excess of riot. Thus I became a reproach to my neighbours, a scorn and a derision to them that were round about me, and like David (Ps. 69.12); “I was the song of the drunkards.” But these things made little impression on my mind. The great question was, ‘Has the Lord designed me for the work of the ministry?”
One evening, upon my knees before the Lord, in the same solitary place where He was so graciously pleased to appear for me aforetime, the Lord applied these precious words to my soul; “For the eyes of the
Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry,” of which I have spoken particularly in a former part of my narrative. I was there pleading with the Lord, in my poor broken-hearted way, to bless me with faith in His ability to raise me up to preach His blessed gospel, when He was graciously pleased to reveal Himself to my soul in greater beauty, majesty, power, and glory than I had ever seen or felt before. The language of David in Ps. 68.18 came with great power into my soul; “Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive; thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell amongst them.” The Holy Spirit, whose prerogative it is to glorify Christ, led me to view Him as the “Immortal Word” that created the heavens and the earth, and all that therein is; who “was made flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as the only-begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.” I saw Him in His beauty and glory, as the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. I was led to look on Him in the garden of Gethsemane, resisting unto blood, striving against sin; also by precious faith to view Him on the cross, bearing all our sins in His own body on the tree, enduring the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. The Holy Spirit bare witness with my spirit that all my sins, and the curse of the law due to them, were for ever put away by the sacrifice and blood-shedding of Jesus Christ, my Saviour and Redeemer, that He had overcome the world, vanquished death and hell, having swallowed up death in victory. I felt in my soul that I knew Him, and the power of His resurrection, raising me above all my sins, doubts and fears. I beheld Him by faith in His glorious and triumphant entrance into heaven, with all power both in heaven and upon earth in His hand, and that, as the Lord of the harvest, it was His prerogative to send forth labourers into His vineyard, who, when He ascended up on high, and led captivity ;aptive, received gifts for men (ministerial gifts); some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.
I had such a sweet and solemn view of, and faith given me in. His power and ability to raise me up, fit and qualify me for the work, that I blushed for shame that, like Thomas, I should be so faithless and unbelieving, doubting His ability to send by whom He would send, however unlikely they might be for the work, either in their own eyes or in the eyes of others. I could now tell my great adversary that he was a liar from the beginning, and that I had faith to believe that God is, and .that He is the “rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” The snare of the arch-fowler was broken, and my soul escaped. All my fears and carnal fleshly reasonings fled before the power and glory of the Lord like the mists before the sun. With a flood of tears I blessed and praised .the Lord, and told Him that I hoped that I should never doubt any more
His power and ability to put me into the ministry.
The following words lay with great weight upon my mind; “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” I told the Lord that He knew I did not want to go, if it were not His will, and that I would not without His sanction and approbation. With Moses, I said, “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” I was like a little child, begging of the Lord to do with me, for me, and by me as He saw would be most for His honour and glory, and the good of His church and people.
I knew that many were put into the ministry by their parents and friends for a livelihood; that, as the Scriptures say, “they may eat a morsel of bread,” and are blind leaders of the blind; so that, if the grace of God prevent not, they will eventually fall into the ditch of eternal perdition. Sometimes even good and gracious men get it into their heads that they are gifted to be preachers, and, whether their pastor will or not, they are determined, like Ahimaaz, who ran with tidings to the king whether Joab would or not (2 Sam. 18.22-23).
But to return to my own case: I was daily on my watch-tower, watching the hand of the Lord, as a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God, to see whether He would put it into the hearts of my brethren to encourage me, that I might not, like Uzzah, put my hand to the ark unlawfully, which I was afraid of, had I spoken to any of them in such wise as to move them to it.
One Sunday, after service in the afternoon, our church was called together to hear a letter read from our minister, who was then in London, begging for the debt on our chapel.
After it was read, and the answer resolved upon, one of the friends asked me if I would go to our corresponding deacon with the letter, he being at the time unwell. I set off immediately, having three miles to go, little thinking what was going to take place in reference to myself. When I got there, I gave him the letter, telling him what message the church wished him to send to our minister. After we had done talking upon this business, he asked me to go upstairs, that we might have a little conversation between ourselves. He asked me if I had any thoughts about preaching.
I said, “Yes, or I should not go so much to hear it. I delight to hear a good gospel sermon.”
“So do I,” said he; “but that is not what I meant. Have you any thoughts of being a preacher yourself?”
I said, “Yes; and I think there are few of God’s people who are males who, when they are sweetly led into some precious portion of God’s word do not preach many a silent sermon to themselves.”
He smiled, and said, “Yes, I have indeed preached many a silent
sermon during my work, and when walking by the way; yet I am satisfied God never designed me for the work of the ministry.”
Here he looked at me very solemnly and earnestly whilst he said, “John, can you honestly say, before God and man, that there is nothing upon your mind respecting the ministry but what you say is common to the people of God?”
I inquired what made him so pointed and inquisitive?
He replied, “I will honestly tell you all about it. Before our minister went away I attended a church meeting when you were absent. At that meeting our minister said that he believed that the Lord designed you for the work of the ministry, and that though you and he had had no conversation on the subject, yet he was persuaded your mind was much exercised about the work, both day and night; and as we had just been praying the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth labourers into his vineyard it was time that something should be done in the case.”
He moreover told me that there was not an individual at the meeting but what thought the same concerning me. It was therefore mutually agreed that as he and I were very friendly, he was to speak to me first on the subject when opportunity offered.
I inquired how it was that our minister and the church had these thoughts concerning me, seeing that I had not said a word on the subject to any person living.
“We have been watching,” he said, “the dealings of the Lord with you, both in providence and grace; and as my brother deacon said at the meeting, ‘When John opens his mouth amongst us, whether in prayer or conversation, there is a deep solemnity, a sweet savour; and life, light, and power attend what he says; so that I feel satisfied the Lord designs him for the work of the ministry.’ Now, these have long been likewise my views and feelings concerning you.”
Whilst he was telling me these things, I was astonished to see the arm of the Lord so clearly revealed as a prayer-hearing and a prayer-answering God. Under these circumstances, I could not refrain from opening unto him my whole heart and soul, and as we sometimes say respecting the good work of grace in the heart, I began where God began with me, touching the work of the ministry. I had a great deal to say, as may be imagined, as it was two o’clock in the morning ere we separated. O what an unbosoming of my whole heart and soul I had that night! The Lord was with us, of a truth, and the sweet saviour of the name of Jesus was as ointment poured forth. When this is the case, the moments roll on so sweetly that time is forgotten, and we can hardly believe that the hours have passed. I had two miles to go ere I reached home, and part of the way led through the woods where I had spent so much time in the earlier period of the Lord’s work in my soul and in prayer and supplication respecting the ministry. As I went along, I thanked and praised the Lord. I had now the testimony of my friends,
and I besought the Lord that I might have His Spirit’s testimony that I was anointed by Him to preach His gospel.
Paul tells us (2 Cor. 11.27) that he had been in weariness, painfulness, in watchings oft, in hunger and thirst, in fastings oft, in cold and nakedness. Instead of being ashamed of these things, I rather count it an honour to be a companion with that eminent saint and servant of the most-high God in this path of tribulation. Lazarus passed through the vale of poverty and affliction into Abraham’s bosom, whilst the rich glutton who fared sumptuously every day, receiving his good things here, afterwards lifted up his eyes in hell, being in torments. I have often besought the Lord that, like Lazarus, I might have my evil things in this life, and in the world to come life everlasting. Let none despise the Lord’s poor, for He hath not despised them, but said by the apostle James, “Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” There is no disgrace attached to poverty,