Letter XIII

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

To a Noble Lady

 Beloved sister, according to the high vocation of grace;


     Although I am weak and faint, as it respects the body, yet the love of Christ constrains me to testify with a few lines, that your ladyship’s letter of the 8th of November, last year, proved very refreshing to me, and has been often answered by me in spirit.

     Blessed be God, who in Christ Jesus, has granted us fellowship with him, and with one another, irrespective of, and contrary to all our deserts! At present, and as often as the Lord reminds me of it, I desire, as one that is poor in himself, to receive out of the near and open fullness of God, when I cordially wish my esteemed sister all advancement in the life of God, and all delight in the God of love. I am persuaded also, at all times, of a similar spiritual fellowship on the part of your ladyship.

     The longer I live, the more I see and experience, that no one is good but God alone: that which he is and does in us, alone makes us holy and happy. Mankind perceive and regard what is external and material, and respect appearances; but their judgment is seldom according to truth, because there are very few works that are done in God. It is true, God has infinite patience with us in our mixed state; yet still, it is a great mistake to regard anything as good besides God, and he that does so, is not yet in the truth. We must make room for God, or more properly speaking, God must himself make room in us; for our wretchedness is so great, that when we escape from ourselves in one place, we find ourselves again in another place, in the very same thing. We are altogether miserable and besotted; ornamenting and beautifying is of no avail; the whole mass is corrupt, we must be led out of ourselves by God, into God. No one is good but God alone; and he that truly sinks and loses himself in him, becomes good through him, were he otherwise ever so bad.

     O that every poor sinner beheld, with us, this open sea of infinite goodness, which is so near us in Jesus Christ! How would they plunge themselves into it, and find a cure for all their ills! There are, however, many, who still feeling themselves, must bitterly complain, saying, “How weary I am of myself, and yet I am still obliged to bear with myself. People say, forsake thyself ! but I cannot find the gate.”  But here is the point: he that has not properly felt himself has not properly forsaken himself. We must experience, that of ourselves we are unable to do it, in order that in this respect, likewise, the glory may be given to God. God himself must heal and sanctify us, and will do so, but not without affliction. This, in my opinion, is the origin of that real but rare resignation and endurance, to which no one perhaps attains, without suffering and mortification, although it be a source of life and heavenly peace. O Lord ! when shall we no longer be an hindrance to thee and to ourselves! And when wilt thou become all things in us, yea all in all? Be so eternally! Amen.

     I will not offer any apology; I write with simplicity as it flows from the pen. I desire again to salute your ladyship and all your noble family in the name of Jesus; and remain through grace,


Your ladyship’s weak fellow-servant in the Lord.