A BIRTHDAY LETTER
My dear Friend,
In the beginning everything was dark and disorderly until ‘the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters’. O how true of our condition, and as I attempt a few lines a deep sense of need is present that the blessed Spirit will occasion something profitable to the glory of the Lord.
You approach, my dear friend, the allotted span, and it is with thanksgiving to the Lord that we would join you in reflecting upon the goodness and mercy which has brought you to this day, giving you a hope in Christ Jesus, and establishing you upon the walls of Zion to be His servant over these many years.
On Â—Â—Â—. as you were born into this world an immediate testimony was present that you must perish but for outside help, but God, in the provisions of His providence, cast your lot into the lap of those whose delight it was to make every provision for your preservation, and to tenderly care for your every need. Consistent with the purposes of God, “the child grew”, and reached maturity and manhood.
In the 16th chapter of Ezekiel a relevant parallel is established in the spiritual realm. O the certainty of perishing spiritually and eternally but for the interposition of the Lord and His miraculous help to our preservation. Everything surrounding us and associated with us naturally speaking is consistent with our destruction and eternal ruin. What an awful condition to enter this world without an interest in the sovereign love and preserving care of Jehovah. Devouring elements indwell and surround the ungodly, working within them that which will promote their everlasting misery, from the very moment of their birth to the moment of their death.
According to the riches of God’s eternal purposes it has pleased Him to think upon certain with thoughts of peace and not of evil. Their condition naturally no less precarious, yet loved with an everlasting love, they shall be saved, and every needful provision shall be made for their preservation, “Yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood. Live”. O the majesty contained therein, and the complete change wrought in the position and destiny of every one thus favoured. “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
So, my dear friend, in the fulness of time the Lord’s gracious purpose develops, and we believe has developed in your experience to your joy and peace in believing as the Lord the Spirit bears witness with your spirit. May there be, even this day, some sweet moments in humble reflection upon the sovereign favours of the Lord in beginning and continuing that good work in you.
I hope, also, that this day you will be enabled to feel the spirit of Paul when he wrote to his son Timothy, “And I thank
Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.” (I Tim. 1.12). It was through grace that initially you were made willing to launch out into the deep of the Gospel ministry, for being the son of a minister you were not a stranger to the ‘other’ side which so many hearers are ignorant of in their assessment of this calling. The continual sacrifices, privations, downsittings, misjudgments and misrepresentations, temptations, fears, misgivings, and devastating reflections attendant upon this exercise have not been suffered to overcome, but you can say today, “By the help of God I have continued”. No occupation affords more discouragement than the gospel ministry, but none more satisfaction when the dear Lord makes bare His holy arm and gives a true token of His condescension and use of a poor, worthless sinner. To you, through the years, our gracious God has granted some sweet seals, and some now in glory include in their songs of praise the goodness of the Lord to them through your instrumentality. Some of us on earth have cause to contribute our mite to the heavenly treasury of thanksgiving and praise.
So, my beloved friend, may our gracious Lord enlarge your heart in sweet contrition and thankfulness for His grace to you and through you to the glory of His own great Name, strengthening you to believe in His faithfulness and immutability as to your future way. A sanctified sense of the past works in the heart of a believer a holy confidence as to the future for time and eternity.
Your unworthy but sincere friend and companion in tribulation,