Letter IX
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From A Collection of Letters by Gerhard Tersteegen (1697-1769)



Dearly beloved friend in the grace of God;


     Your short letter by a friend, I have duly received, and was gratified by it; and although my time is limited, I will write something in reply, as you request, and as God shall enable me.

     I repeat, therefore, my last admonition: love, and exercise yourself more than ever in solitude, in prayer, and in self-denial. Solitude is the school of godliness. You are called - think what grace! - to social converse with God; you must therefore, by all means, avoid all unnecessary converse with men. This is particularly needful, whilst we are still so weak; we must escape from the enemy, and not come too near the view of the world and the creature, in order that we may not lose sight of the nearness of the Creator; and that the world may not dazzle, overcome, and again take us captive. We ought not to look too much at the creature, that thus we may gradually lose the remembrance of it, and fondness for it, and become truly strangers, whose walk is solely with God in heaven.

     Love prayer! Let prayer be your constant occupation from morning till night. Let your heart and desires continually hold converse with God, in heartfelt simplicity; for his delights are with the children of men. Reflect often, and if possible, incessantly, with feelings of love and reverence, on him, on his presence, and his perfections, and often offer up your heart, with all that you have and are, and all your ability to him, in spirit and in truth, as cordially and sincerely as possible. If through weakness or unfaithfulness, you forsake this exercise, which is so incredibly useful and beautiful, all you have to do is, meekly and heartily to begin again ; and do not be weary of it, although in the beginning, you may not find any great advantage from it, or make any rapid progress in it.

     It is not true, that such a mode, of life is difficult; it is easy and pleasant to the spirit, and becomes in due time, like a heaven upon earth. A little patience and courage alone are requisite. With reference to express and particular seasons of prayer and recollection, you are already acquainted with my sentiments. Be faithful likewise in this respect, nor suffer yourself to be kept from it, by any objections, which reason may urge, or by the slothfulness of nature.

     Self-denial makes prayer easy, and prayer again lightens self-denial. Be glad when an opportunity offers, of denying your own will or pleasure, or any other matter, be it what it ma^, for the Lord’s sake. Act in holy opposition to your depraved nature in all things, and even in the smallest matters, declare determined war against it. The more the flesh is under restraint, the more liberty and delight is experienced by the spirit, in living with God, and in God, in its true element. Examine often to what it is, to which you are the most attached; mortify this first, and sacrifice it courageously, in order that you may devote your whole heart, love, and desire to God, in virgin chastity. Be faithful to the smallest convictions of your spirit, and if a thousand impediments arise in your corrupt, natural, and carnal will, turn from them with the renewed will of the mind, which God has given you, and which no power in hell is able to constrain. In this manner you hold converse with God, and God with you; and he will deliver you in his own due time, from every fetter. Flee, in particular, youthful lusts, which so much obscure the mind, and remove us from God. Our bodies ought to be a pure temple for the Lord.

     Break through, my dear friend, in every particular, especially in that matter, of which we lately conversed together. Do not wait a moment. God, in this instance, requires a willing sacrifice from you, and will not let you rest, till you give him your complete and sincere consent.

     I repeat it: do not let yourself be persuaded that the service of God is disagreeable, difficult, and impracticable; rather represent it to yourself as a beautiful, pleasant, and through divine grace, easy life, which it in reality is to the spirit, when rightly commenced in God’s name.

     May He, our gracious Lord, who of his great mercy has called you and me to it, give us all that is necessary, most faithfully to follow his calling! Concluding with which, I remain,


Your affectionate friend.