A Letter to You
James Smith, 1864
My Dear Friend,
Will you excuse the liberty, which a desire to spread the knowledge of the Savior, and to benefit your immortal soul — have led me to take in thus addressing you. We are exhorted in the divine Word, to "watch for souls," and to "preach the Gospel to every creature." That Gospel, is good news sent directly from God's loving heart to us. It informs us . . .
that we are lost sinners,
that we need a Savior,
that God has provided the very Savior we need,
that the Lord Jesus has obeyed the holy law, and offered an infinitely meritorious sacrifice to divine justice for our sins — and is now both able and willing, to save all who "come unto God by him."
The salvation which is in Christ — is just what lost
sinners need. It comprises . . .
a righteousness which will justify your person,
grace which will sanctify your nature,
and a title to everlasting life.
But this salvation will never be received or enjoyed by
any person, until . . .
convinced of sin,
concerned to escape from the wrath of God, and
made heartily willing to be saved in God's own way.
We shall never put on the righteousness of Jesus — until we have put off our own.
We shall never wash our souls in the fountain which he has opened for sin and uncleanness — until we discover that we are filthy in God's sight, and loathsome in our own sight.
We shall never accept the free pardon which is offered us — until we realize that we are guilty and exposed to eternal damnation.
Nor shall we ever seek the promised Holy Spirit, to produce in us that holiness, without which no one can see the Lord — until we feel our need of His gracious influences, and desire to experience His sanctifying operations.
Now, as religion is a great reality, as it is something "known and felt," will you allow me very affectionately to ask: Have you ever experienced it? Have you sought and obtained the pardon of all your sins? Have you renounced your own righteousness — that you may depend on, and be found in, the righteousness of Christ? Have you pleaded with God, that he would give you his Holy Spirit? And have you "received the Holy Spirit?" Do you understand the Scriptures, when they speak of "passing from death unto life?" Of "being born again, not of corruptible seed — but of incorruptible, by the word of God which lives and abides forever?" Of "receiving the atonement?" Of being "in Christ Jesus?" Of Christ "living in us?" Of "living in the Spirit, and walking in the Spirit?" Of "dwelling in God," and "God dwelling in us?"
Many people imagine that they are Christians, and consequently safe for eternity — without knowing anything of these things. They mistake the "form of godliness," for "the power." They are satisfied with "a name to live — while they are dead." Is it possible that this may be your case? Is there any doubt upon the point? Would it not be well to examine the matter closely?
The Apostle says, "Examine yourselves whether you are in the faith. Don't you know that Christ is in you — unless you are reprobates?" This is very solemn language, and it should be carefully attended to. A mistake on such a subject is most fearful; it may be corrected now — but if we die under such a fatal mistake, it can never be corrected. Once lost — we are lost forever; and if we should be lost, through neglecting the great salvation; or through taking it for granted that we are safe, without thorough investigation; it will be sad — very sad!
Multitudes, it is to be feared, are just in this dreadful case. What if you should be? What if you should die in this state? The bare supposition is dreadful! And yet it is possible. I beseech you therefore to examine into the matter, and to do so at once. There is no time for delay. There is no reason for delaying the matter for one day — one hour. Ask your conscience then with all seriousness, as in the presence, and beneath the eye of God, who searches the heart: Have I been thoroughly convinced of my lost and ruined state, as a sinner before God? Have I confessed my sins before God in private, and pleaded for the pardon of them in the name of, and on the ground of the atonement made by, his beloved Son? Have I obtained peace with God through the blood of his cross? Is my nature renewed by the Holy Spirit? Do I thirst, pant, and pray to be made holy, because God is holy? Do I hate sin? Do I live above the world? Do I walk with God? Can I say with the Apostle John, "Truly my fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ?"
These are deeply important inquiries. They enter into the very vitals of real religion. We must know something of their meaning, and that our experience tallies, if we are true Christians. If they are strange things to us — then we are strangers to God. We are destitute of true godliness. We are living without God in the world.
And if we presume that we are safe, while we are strangers to the pardon of sin, peace with God, or evangelical holiness; there can be little ground to question whether the god of this world has not blinded our minds. And lest this should be the case, to prevent the possibility of it — from a pure desire for your present and everlasting welfare, these few lines are addressed to you.
But, if you really worship God in the Spirit, if you rejoice in Christ Jesus, if you have no confidence in the flesh, if you walk with God in peace and holy fellowship — then we joy and rejoice with you, and bless God on your behalf. You are in Christ, and it is both your privilege and duty, to unite with us in endeavoring to spread abroad the savor of his knowledge in every place; to place the truth before those who are strangers to it, and endeavor to win them over to the Savior.
Time is flying! Eternity is approaching! We shall soon be
summoned to stand before the judgment seat of Christ — and be either
acquitted, commended and rewarded; or (fearful alternative) be condemned,
sentenced, and banished from the presence of God! May we "seek the Lord
while he may be found," "make our calling and election sure," "laying up in
store for ourselves a good foundation against the time to come, that we may
lay hold on eternal life." 1 Timothy 6:19. May the Lord, the Holy Spirit,
accompany the reading of these few lines, sent out of love to your soul, and
with a view to his glory, with his effectual benediction — and may the grace
of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you!
Yours in Christian love.
P.S. If each Christian who reads this letter, would copy it, and send the copy by post to some person to whom it may appear to be suitable, it may do good. The copies of it may be multiplied thus to any extent, and each sending it to their own relations, or acquaintances — it would be sent where otherwise it would never go. Besides which, many would read a letter thus sent, who would not read a printed tract. Dear reader, try this!