Saturday, January 29, 2011

A PASTORAL LETTER, Never before Published by Robert Hawker

[quoted from "The Gospel magazine, and theological review. Ser. 5. Vol. 3, no. 1-July 1874, pg. 38"]


Never before Published, by the Rev. Dr. Hawker.

Plymouth, July 1, 1824.

The pastor, and the elders, with the whole elect church of God which are among you, at Chertsey, I desire to greet in the Lord ! Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from ihe Lord Jesus Christ the Son of the Father; through the rich anointings, and blessed influences, of God the Holy Ghost!

Brethren beloved of the Lord ! having heard that the glorious Head of his Church and people hath inclined your hearts, first to give your ownselves to the Lord ; and then unto the church, by the will of God, in forming a small community in your chapel of Mount Zion, by way of aid, under the unction of the Holy Spirit; to promote the welfare of the Gospel Tract Society, established in London, my soul is drawn towards you, as the Lord God of Israel is said to have drawn of old the men of the children of Napthali, and of the children of Zebulun, to Mount Tabor, for the deliverance of Israel then ; as the same Almighty Lord God of his Israel is doing by you now. And as the prophetess Deborah said on that occasion; so may I humbly, from the same well-grounded confidence, of help and strength from the wisdom that is wisdom that is from above, say on the present; is not the Lord gone before you ? Indeed, indeed, from the affinity of spirits which distinguish the redeemed and regenerated church of our most glorious Christ: knit together in the mystical fellowship of Christ's body, from their union with Christ, the one Almighty Head. I feel the sweet spiritual influence, and, like musical instruments strung to the same note, my soul vibrates with your's. And if the Lord preserves me in the body, to the evening of your meeting, at the seventh of the 5th instant, I shall be with you in spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. And if the Lord, which strung the harp of Deborah, graciously toucheth mine, the goings forth of my soul will be in language like hers, when she said," my heart is towards the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people : Bless ye the Lord."

And this communion of saints, (which next to communion with the Lord, and which ariseth out of communion from the Lord, is the sweetest of all spiritual enjoyments here below, during a life of faith,) I need not tell you, is the stated privilege of all the Lord's people. And wherefore should it be thought incredible, unless by carnal men, who know not the work of the Lord, nor the operations of his hands? Is it not one and the same Almighty Spirit which indites all prayers that are offered in faith ; which awakens all the praise that is framed in the spirit in love ; which directs the heart into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ ? And from hence, is it not clearly proved, to the spiritual apprehension of every regenerated child of God, that both in prayer and praise; and in all the numberless nameless enjoyments of the renewings of the Holy Ghost, shed upon us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. We can, and do testify to the concurring grace of the Holy Three in One, which bear record in heaven ; and set to our seal that God is true ? And is it not on this authority, attested both by sacred scripture, and in the living tablets of our hearts, that when the Spirit helpeth us in our infirmities, and as we know not what we should pray for as we ought, he it is that maketh intercessions for the saints according to the will of God ? Is it not also, on this very account, the church is said to have the mind of Christ; because the same Almighty Spirit which anointed Christ, and dwelleth in Christ—dwelleth in us, and maketh our bodies his temple ? And under all these assurances, which are both scriptural and spiritual, is it not certain, yea is it not one of the plainest, and most palpable truths, that however distant from each other, the Lord's people are in body, though self-elected in different countries or climes, yet from the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, are all united all alike to the one glorious Head ; and being adopted as children in Christ, by the God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in them all: they constitute the one body of Christ, and have spiritual union with each other, as members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

With these impressions from the Lord, I hail your assembly, in your proposed meeting; and having with you, first looked to Him for a blessing, who hath graciously promised that whenever two or three are gathered together in his name, there is He in the midst of them. I would humbly and affectionately address the meeting on the sacred and most interesting occa-sion for which they are congregated. I would say, Brethren ! in the formation of your society, according to the grace of God given unto you, see that as wise master builders, it is founded on the rock of ages—for other foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, which is, Jesus Christ. Make Him, what Jehovah in his Trinity of Persons in covenant love, in the ancient settlements of eternity hath made Him, the Alpha and Omega—the first and the last—the author and finisher of salvation. Take heed, that from divine teaching, you have each for yourselves, a true, clear, scriptural, spiritual apprehension of the Person, of our most glorious Christ; for it can be only from the knowledge of his Person, that ye can have the knowledge of the infinite nature and efficacy of his salvation; that while the clear, scriptural, and spiritual apprehension of his Person becomes the firm, unchangeable, and everlasting object of your faith : the complete and finished salvation which he wrought, and the righteousness which he brought in, will be the steady and unshaken subject of your hope. And while through rich, free, and sovereign grace, the Lord giveth unto you such views of the essential and underived Godhead of his Person, which he hath in common with the Father and the Holy Ghost in his divine nature ; and the immaculate holiness of his human nature; and in the union of both: the infinite fulness and suitability in himself, as the surety of his people: settled and established in these glorious truths yourselves, you will, under the Lord's blessing, be made instruments to communicate the information of them to others also. And from the scriptural and spiritual apprehension of the Person of Ch/ist, which give validity and efficacy to the salvation by Chris^: you will, according to our Lord's own statement of thes>e blessed truths, arrive to the only way by which you can arrive to the personal knowledge of, and communion with, the whole Persons in the Godhead. For, as Jesus said himself; no man cometh unto the Father but by me : so, in the same Scripture, the Lord added ; if ye had known me ye should have known my Father also. And again ; he that hath seen me hath seen the Father. John xiv. 6—9. Hence, therefore, allow me to say once more, and the Lord who is present, stamp the divine truth with his Almighty emphasis on every mind : Brethren see to it, that the basis of your society is our most glorious Christ, the Rock of Ages ! And if the gracious Lord, in infinite love, and in infinite condescension, establish you to be thus formed on him, and cemented in him : in every part of the building, as you go on in your labors ; your hearts comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and Christ: in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I ihall not think it necessary to trespass further upon your time, and the indulgence you have granted me, in stating the several particulars by which you will find yourselves called upon to act, as an Auxiliary to the Parent Socjery. With these you can be furnished from the Original Institution. And from the publications which have been issued from thence (all which are of a complexion purely Gospel) you will at once conclude how far your exertions, in your own place and neighbourhood will tend in securing a blessing, to be helpful in gathering into Christ's fold, the sheep of the Great Shepherd, which he has scattered abroad. But while I presume not to direct on those points (they come not within my province) 1 venture to observe, how very delightful, as well as honorable, the service to which every member of your Auxiliary Society is called by the critical consequences of this day. My Brother! I would say to every individual among you, the humble employment in ministering to the heirs of Christ's kingdom, is what angels are emulous to be engaged in. We read that a multitude of the heavenly host posted down from heaven on the morning of Christ's birth, so be the first heralds of those good tidings of great joy. And if the Great Head of his Church should mercifully send one of you on his errands of grace, and from a means so apparently slender as a tract in your hand, given to one of his, should make the gift of it minister to the heart, to make some poor, dejected, sorrowful soul, wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus; what a source of consolatiou will arise therefrom to gladden the soul ? You, that in your own instance, know what it is to have ■passed from death to life, will best be able to appreciate the inexpressible mercy in others. What the man of Uz felt when delivering the poor from oppression, in the common providences of life, is but a faint resemblance to those finer feelings of the soul, when the Lord sends his messenger to any of his chosen ones, to be instrumental to their salvation by grace. Because I delivered (said Job) the poor that cried; and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him : the blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me; and I caused the widow's heart to sing with joy. Brethren, the Lord he will bless and prosper you in your undertaking : and then blessed will be the day when, the Lord opened a way for the diffusion of his divine truth in Cherlsey.

Do not expect, that in the great undertaking which the Lord hath inclined you to embark in this day, that you will find a perpetual calm. The surface may appear unruffled, but shortly storms and tempests will arise. The Lord describes the opposers of his truth under the similitude of a troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace saith my God to the wicked I It was the very distinguishing character which our adorable Lord gave as the criterion of the Gospel in his own day. Think not (said the Almighty speaker, who spake as never man spake) that I am come to send peace on earth : I came not to send peace, but a sword. And a Society like yours, whose professed object is, to humble the sinner and exalt Christ, is but little short to proclaim war against all the customs and manners of mankind. Look, therefore, for hostilities in every quarter ; and give a truce to none. Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost commands by the Apostle) take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. And, while the colours of your little band have for their motto Christ, and Christ only, you will be as the Church was of old, beautiful as Tirzahf comely as Jerusalem, and terrible as an army with banners.

One word more, dear brethren, beloved of the Lord ! 1 charge you, be as the Prophet on the watch tower, to see the goings of the Lord before you, and following you. One love token from the Lord; one whisper of divine favor, in blessing your labors to his people, will be more precious to all your society, who love our most glorious Christ in sincerity, than thousands of gold and silver. Farewell! The Lord Jehovah be in the midst to bless you. The blessings of Him from above, and from the deep that lieth beneath ! Blessings of the breasts of consolation in all spiritual blessings in time: and blessing-i from the womb of eternity in the everlasting covenant, ftom Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and for evermore.

Yours, dear Brethren in the Lord,