A Letter from the Late Mr. Symons of Bristol
My dear Friend,
I have the pleasure to inform you and all my dear friends in the Lord at S— that I and my daughter arrived at home in safety on the 29th of September, being much benefited in health, for which I feel thankful to the God of my every mercy, and also for the help afforded me in dispensing the word of life among you, which I trust was not altogether in vain in the Lord.
It will rejoice, my heart to hear that it has been as bread cast upon the waters, which shall he seen after many days, and as good seed sown in good ground, prepared by the good Spirit, watered with the dew from off the everlasting hills, causing it to bring forth abundantly to the praise, and the honour, and the glory of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. As long as I live in this world, it will gladden my heart to hear that you grow in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour, in the glory of his person, and in the names, titles, offices, and characters which he bears for his redeemed sons and daughters, who are adopted into the Father's family, and constituted heirs of the grace of life, and for whom mansions of eternal glory are prepared. "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." These characters are every one complete in Christ; and for each of you to put your hearty "Amen" to it, you will need the Holy Spirit to bear witness with your spirits that you are the children of the living God; and if you are thus favoured, faith and a good conscience will bear witness also. But to this mark of the prize of your high calling, I know that you all have not as yet attained. It is well if you are enlightened with the light of the living to see yourselves in your true colours, in the light of faith, as altogether depraved, filthy, and abominable; you will then loathe yourselves in your own sight, repent as in dust and ashes, and cry. to the Father for mercy, to the Saviour for cleansing, and to the Spirit to take of the things of Christ and show them unto you. It is well if you are walking by this rule of faith; if so, there is no danger of your being contented with a name to live whilst you are dead, like those who have only a nominal faith, giving their assent and consent to the letter of truth, but who are at the same time destitute of the power, having merely a form of godliness, from whom all that are truly taught of God must turn away. A servant of the Lord may for a time settle on his lees, but he cannot stay there. The main branch of divine teaching is the knowledge of good and evil; and we shall generally be kept alive to the one or the other. How very mysterious, and at the same time how very powerful are the Lord's methods of teaching his people the mystery of iniquity, all of which are very painful, but at the same time very profitable; and so it is in his teaching them the knowledge of good, in leading them into the mystery of godliness, which contains the wonders of redeeming love, every part of which is very pleasing and very profitable. And you who have been taught these things are assured that you know no more of either one or the other than the Lord himself hath taught you, for as one is higher than heaven, so the other is deeper than hell. It is a great mercy for you and for me that the Spirit of truth, which convinceth of sin, doth guide into all truth, both of grace and of sin, whereunto you have already attained. May the Lord help you to walk by the same rule, and to be mindful of these things; "Be not high minded, but fear."
When I was with you I said that you were below the even place, and wherever this is the case, there will be a want of discernment to distinguish between that which is of the flesh and that which is of the Spirit, that which is of ourselves and that which is of the Lord, particularly in religious exercises, in which Satan will gain advantage, and cause us sometimes to attribute that which is of himself to the Lord, and that which is of the Lord to himself. I know what it is to be far oft and also what it is to be brought nigh; in the former situation, a round of fleshly performances will frequently quiet the accusations of conscience, but can never satisfy the craving wants of a needy spirit; but in the latter state there is a friendly intercourse kept up between the Lord and our souls; we walk with Christ and he with us through the day, and at night we lie down to rest in him who saith, "Fear not, for I am with thee." This way of walking by faith in and with the Lord will keep us, in the day of adversity, from murmuring, complaining, rebelling, and fretting against him; it will arm us with such armour of proof as will enable us to stand against the wiles of the devil, keep the world in its proper place, and enable us sweetly to contemplate the utter destruction of the old man of sin; and in the day of prosperity we shall be kept humble, neither sacrificing to our own drag, nor burning incense to our own net but glory in ascribing all glory to God and the Lamb, to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
May the Lord cause past events of a trying nature to work together with those that have been more pleasing for your good. Farewell; you stand by faith; the Lord keep you from falling, and at last, with your unworthy servant, present you faultless before the throne of his divine Majesty with exceeding great joy. Amen.
Yours in the Lord,
Bristol, Nov. 24, 183O.
NOTE. The Memory of the late Mr. Symons is embalmed in the hearts of some of our readers in the West of England. We never saw him in the flesh, but have frequently conversed with some who sat under his ministry. He was an officer in the Excise, and preached first at Marlborough, Wilts, and in the latter end of his life at Bristol, paying occasional visits to Bath. His ministry has been described to us as having been of a very searching, discriminating, and experimental character. To pull down all refuges of lies, and allow no rest short of a revealed and manifested Saviour was, we understand, the leading feature of his ministry. "The memory of the just is blessed;" and holding him therefore in affectionate esteem, we feel a pleasure in presenting to our readers the above letter, and hope shortly to insert another from his pen which has been forwarded to us for that purpose. - Eds.