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From A Collection of Letters by Gerhard Tersteegen (1697-1769)
Dearly beloved brother in the grace of Jesus Christ;
“We are the Lord’s.” From that very moment, when in sincerity of heart, we surrendered ourselves to him, we belong to him, with all that we are, and no longer to ourselves; in this view we ought always to regard ourselves, and by this we must abide, or else make as solemn a revocation, as our previous surrender; from which, may the Lord preserve us! We are his, I repeat, and God regards us as such. Yet this is not all: the mind must more entirely depart from every other object, the heart be purified from self-love, and every purpose and affection directed more purely to God alone, in order that we may become intimately united to him. For this purpose it is, that we have committed ourselves to Jesus and the guidance of his Spirit: for he is our Saviour. On our part, we have nothing more to do, than to abide with him according to the degree of our light and our state, and follow him both actively and passively.
Let your heart, and the thoughts and affections of your heart; be turned towards the ever-present God, in an unconstrained, child-like manner, but in sincerity, and truth. Follow, with an immediate but considerate consent, the impressions and inclinations he may give you, to withdraw your love, delight, and life, from every other object, and fix them solely upon him. Let him be in reality, the Lord and Master in your heart, and let your will, and all your powers be unhesitatingly obedient to him, according to the instruction, which he may from time to time impart to you. This instruction is something very different from that uncertain, anxious, and uneasy feeling, which arises from reflection and scrupulosity. The instruction or guidance of the Spirit of Jesus is an inward peaceful impression, inclination, or inward light, which leads the soul to God, and requires no consideration, but only a simple serenity and collectedness of heart. We are not taught by it any great or particular mysteries, but only that one mystery how we may die to ourselves, and live unto God. In this way, we follow the Lord in an active manner.
You follow him passively, when you receive everything that happens to you, on all occasions, mediately or immediately, with reference to body or to soul, with reverence and willingness from God himself, as something which is good and serviceable for you. To these belong the circumstances of your bodily indisposition. God knows best, my dear brother, what is good for you, and whether you can serve him better in sickness or in health. And to these appertain also, that darkness, those distressing ideas, that melancholy experience of your failings, and your incapability of forsaking yourself, wandering thoughts, and sensual desires. In all these, and things of a similar nature, you follow the Lord passively, when you suffer them in submission, and that in as peaceful a manner as possible, consenting to your own nothingness and misery, and at the same time, resting solely upon God, or resigning yourself to him, in the confidence that your salvation will come from him, in his own due time and way. The will must, however, separate itself sincerely from every suggestion and idea, which is in itself wicked and sinful. These must also be endured, but in such a manner, that the eye of God may see that you do not consent to them. We ought also to divest ourselves, as much as possible, of gloomy and constitutional melancholy, or at least not cherish it, but rather endeavor, with an artless and resigned mind, to dispel it by some means or other. The vagaries of the imagination must be borne without being followed. If we cannot avoid sensual thoughts in prayer, we must despise them, and peacefully continue in nearness to God, with our hearts inclined towards him, and for his sake, wear the crown of thorns.
God careth for you, my dear brother. Bow to his will all the day long, and what you are unable to do, suffer. The Lord will accomplish it. Let us not seek ourselves and our own advantage, in this short life, not even when serving God, but let us seek God alone. Oh if God be well-pleased, we ought gladly to suffer the deprivation of bodily and spiritual enjoyments! Everything passes away like an empty dream. God is our salvation, and in him we shall be eternally blest..
May Jesus live and glorify himself in you!