Letter by John Love, D.D.
Dr John Love (1757-1825), says the Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology, was born
at Paisley, studied at Glasgow University, served as minister of the Presbyterian congregation at Spitalfields, London
(1788-1800) and of Anderston Chapel of Ease, Glasgow (1800-25). A leading Evangelical in the Church of Scotland, he was
one of the founders of, and a leading publicist for, the early foreign missions movement. His Memorials, published
posthumously, were regarded as a model of deep but forthright evangelical devotion. Lovedale, in South Africa, was named
Dear Sir, — I ought to take it very kindly that you are pleased to make any inquiry after such a one as I ought to reckon
myself. It is no great humility for me to think that I and my preaching deserve to be buried in oblivion and infamy, that
is, with regard to what I am in myself, and what of my preaching comes properly from me.
However, it is no part of true humility to speak evil of what is wrought by the Spirit of God in us or by us. I wish
I had much more of that kind to speak of than I have; which I might have if it were not my own perverseness and unbelief.
It is the sad effect of unbelief to prevent Christ's doing many mighty works.
So far as I can judge, it does not appear that the Lord is at present using me as an instrument of doing great execution
as to the work of conviction and conversion. The principal effect of my present labours seems to be with regard to some
of the people of God, in their instruction, direction, and consolation, particularly in perplexed and distressed cases.
But I think, so far as I am an instrument at all regarded by the Lord, He is rather preparing and polishing me than using
me. Though He has such bad materials to work upon in me, that it seems to require more pains at His hand than is taken
with some, the more that this is the case, the greater glory will appear in Him who is the great artificer in the kingdom
of grace, who is able of stones to raise up children to Abraham; nor is it in vain for a poor creature to wait upon Him
in that empty, hungry, distressed way in which it is ordinary for me to wait upon Him. He, with whom we have to do, is
one who brings the blind by a way that they know not, and who makes darkness light and crooked things straight. And, though
it is a great thing to us, yet it is not also a great thing in His eyes in a short time to make rich compensation (I mean
not in the way of debt but of grace) for the on-waiting of many years.
I do not think it presumption to comfort myself with such expectations, as that, though I may be allowed to seem to toil
long to little purpose, yet He may train me up for being at length used as an instrument in an acceptable time, when the
wind of the Spirit shall blow with more apparent quickening power than at present, and when trembling at the word of God
shall not be so much out of fashion as it now seems to be.
The Lord can soon give such a draught of souls as will be matter of astonishing triumph through eternity. Surely it is
worth while to wait long upon the possibility of this, and, with such hope, "in the morning to sow our seed and in the
evening not to withhold our hand".
I have said enough as to myself; I acknowledge myself obliged to have a deep concern for the success of the gospel in
your hands, and am desirous of acting much more up to this obligation in the way of earnest prayer than the wretched prevailing
of spiritual death frequently will allow.
None ought more especially to thank God through Jesus Christ than I, for the ample treasures of sin-conquering and fruit-producing
It will be good news to hear of there having been much of the presence of God with you at your sacramental solemnity,
which will probably be over before this comes to your hand.
I humbly beg to be remembered in your prayers.
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