A Recovered Letter Concerning our Responsibilities

10, Ashgrove, Harrogate, March 1st, 1883.

Beloved Friend,

Since our return from a recent mission into Kent and Sussex I have had the brethren very much on my heart before the Lord. I feel the moment to be solemn and critical in the very highest degree. I have a conviction that our God will graciously bless and use the brethren, if only they walk in lowly dependence, earnest devotedness, and true separation of heart to Himself. But there are many hindrances both to personal progress and also to freshness, unction, and spiritual power, in our public reunions.

Now I want all who really care for the interests of our Lord Jesus Christ to unite in earnest prayer to God that He will graciously manifest Himself in blessing and power in our midst; that He will remove every hindrance, every stumbling-block, every root of bitterness; that He will, by the ministry of His Spirit, lead the brethren into such a condition of soul that He can use them as His instruments in blessing to His beloved people throughout the various organizations of Christendom. I cannot but feel that we have signally failed in our responsibility to these latter.

We have not gone after them in the tender affections of the heart of our Lord Jesus Christ; and when they have looked at us - looked into our private life, and at our public assemblies - instead of being attracted, they have been stumbled, and repulsed.

True, they have the Bible in their hands, in their houses, and in their public congregations; and hence they are responsible to receive its holy teaching, and to bow down to its divine authority in all things. But does this in any wise touch our side of the question? Most certainly not. We profess to hold the most precious and glorious truths that ever fell on mortal ears. But how have these truths acted on the heart and conscience? How have they shown in our private life and in our public assemblies? Must we not own that we have sadly failed to meet the claim of the beloved lambs and sheep of the flock of Christ scattered on the dark mountains and desolate moors of Christendom, without spiritual instruction, not knowing the things which are freely given to them of God? Alas! alas! we cannot deny it, and I feel persuaded that all this will have to be felt and owned in the presence of God, if we are ever to be used as His channels of blessing to the precious members of the body of Christ throughout the length and breadth of the professing Church. Let us then bow down before our God in true self-judgment and humiliation; let us earnestly cry to Him to revive His blessed work in our midst. May He graciously cause a deep, full, rich wave of spiritual blessing to roll over the whole Church of God, that so there may be an earnest, whole-hearted band of worshippers, watchers, and workers gathered out to wait for His Son from heaven. May I ask you, beloved friend, to pass this on to any praying souls you may know?

I am not printing this appeal, neither am I calling any public meeting. I want nothing which might wear the aspect of excitement, demonstration, or human effort, from which I increasingly shrink. I simply desire that this word of exhortation may pass from place to place and from heart to heart in the power of the Spirit of God, and I confidently await the result. Our God is the Hearer and Answerer of prayer - blessed for ever be His holy name!

I will only add, in conclusion, that never was the Church of God - the body of Christ - so dear to my heart, or the work of the gospel more profoundly interesting.

I count on your hearty fellowship in the object of this letter, and remain, my beloved friend, Most affectionately yours in Christ, C. H. Mackintosh.