Letter XV

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

To ****


     It is more and more apparent to me, that God loves your soul, and has his eye particularly directed towards you, to aid and preserve you, and gradually to lead you to place your life and delight alone in him, and in the unconditional and voluntary submission to the whole of his divine will. To this tend all your sufferings and troubles; and from this arises, chiefly, all your vexations, and the disrelish and indifference towards divine things, because the life of self sees its end approaching, and still does not believe that its fate is so fully decided, and that the sentence will be executed, without mercy. I conjecture also, that there are sometimes, seasons, in which a little hope is given to it, which makes it feel still more severely, when the hand of divine love again nails it to the cross, and leads it whither it would not.

     But let your depraved nature know, once for all, that the heaven-born spirit, and the will of the spirit, will no longer take its part, nor be on terms of intimacy with it. No, my dear brother, let us expect no more life, comfort, or pleasure from that quarter, nor grasp it when it presents itself; for in reality, we have no need of it. Let us only be planed down, endure the cross a little longer, and in believing expectation, give unto the true and faithful God the glory, and soon a very different, solely-satisfying life, comfort, and delight will be perceived, and impart itself to the soul; a life, a quarter of an hours enjoyment and experience of which, is sufficient to counterbalance a hundred years of waiting and suffering. In due time, everything, which was previously so difficult, will be easy, and that which before presented itself to us as a profound abyss, and as something unattainable, will be found close at hand, and become natural.

    Everything depends upon God’s free mercy, the impartation of his influences, and the operation of his grace. Receive it therefore, consent to all that God works in you, and the attractive influence he gives you to experience, and follow this impulse, but only as far as its strength extends: then suffer, be submissive, and wait. God gives us both to will and to do according to his good pleasure; but he often imparts the will, yes, and a sincere, cordial, and fervent will too, long before he gives the power to do, or attain the wished-for object. This is painful, but at the same time a purifying humbling pain. We must eventually experience, that it is not of him that willeth; the mercy of God must grant the blessing: tis not our will that must seize it: for the will to do, appears sometimes to fall off, like the blossom from the tree, and to sink into a holy resignation, that room may be made for the fruit itself.

     Be of good courage, my dear brother; I cannot think otherwise, than that the Lord leads you; endure with him to the end, as quietly as you can. Do not regard yourself too much, however difficult it may be to avoid it. The Saviour had incomparably more to endure, in order to redeem us, and still he bears our burdens. O let us love him, for he has first loved us! I desire particularly to be cordially remembered to your dear old father: may Jesus visit, refresh, and strengthen his heart with his grace and love, that his old age may be in this life, an infancy and commencement of an eternal life! Amen, Jesus!