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Letter to a Young Convert

Author
Category Articles
Date April 4, 2019

Your letter, which I received a few days ago, was most acceptable to me; it gave me no small joy, when I heard formerly of your design, and saw your rules, whereof I heartily approve. I desire to bless God that in this degenerate age when atheism, infidelity, and all kinds of wickedness abound, and especially amongst the younger sort, he of his mercy should incline the hearts of any, and you in particular, to venture out in the ways of God. You have begun well; may you still go forward in your Christian course! You will no doubt meet with solicitations from Satan, your corrupt nature, and a wicked world, to give over the enterprise, but stronger is he that is for you than all your enemies. Beware, I entreat you, of grieving the Holy Spirit, by returning to folly.

Great is the danger of backsliding; as will appear, if you consider these Scriptures: Luke 9:62, ‘No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God’; Heb. 10:36, ‘If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him’; 2 Pet. 2:21, ‘It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to depart from the holy commandment delivered to them.’

It is grace alone that establishes the heart. They that have no root, may ‘endure for a while; but, when tribulation or persecution arises, they are ready to be ‘offended.’ I shall offer some advice, which by the blessing of God, I hope, may be of use to you.

1. Study to be well acquainted with the natural wickedness of your own heart; this is a good, if not a distinguishing mark betwixt a Christian and a hypocrite:The former will trace sin to its source, but the latter only seeks to restrain his open vices, which would expose him to the world. Let your search be diligent and accurate, and cry to God that he may try your heart and reins. You now run a very dangerous part of your race; youth adds a double strength to corruption, and gives temptation great advantage.

2. Endeavour frequently to take a serious back-look of your younger years. Reflect on the many sins and follies that there stand in record against you; and cry with your whole heart to God that he may give you grace to mourn over them with real bitterness of soul.

3. You must not rest here (for a sorrow for sin, as some vainly imagine, will never atone for it) but cry earnestly to God, whom you have offended, for mercy and pardon. You have often heard of precious Christ, and his righteousness, who is daily offered to you in the glorious Gospel. O plead for a day of his power, making all of you willing to embrace him. Receive him wholly in all his offices, as your alone and complete Saviour, desiring to ‘be found in him, not having your own righteousness which is of the law, but the righteousness of God which is by faith in Christ.’ And endeavour to live a life of faith upon him; and O that out of his fullness you may be daily receiving, and grace for grace!

4. Count what religion may cost you. It is easy professing Christ in a time of prosperity; but when such days come as I have seen (and from which may the Lord ever preserve this poor land!) I am afraid that many would go back. But lay your account with the very worst that can happen, and resolve through grace to cleave to Christ, his truth and way all your days, Acts 11:23.

5. Daily read and endeavour to be well acquainted with the holy Scriptures, from which you may draw true wisdom and real knowledge.

6. Study soundness in faith; and, for this end, read sound books; make the Confession of Faith and Catechisms perfectly your own: shun the company of such as are either of unsound principles or unsuitable conversation. It was a good advice of worthy Mr Dyer, ‘Hear the best ministers: read the best books; and keep the best company.’

7. Wait close upon God in the way of his ordinances. Be frequent and fervent in prayer; and ‘in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.’ He is a faithful friend, and able and willing to help. Be often putting up heart-felt ejaculations, which may be of great use for fixing hearts when employed in the affairs of this world. Watch over your hearts in the time of duty, and pray that God may by his Holy Spirit make the Word effectual for your salvation.

8. Let your discourse be savoury, your whole conversation grave and circumspect, suitable to the profession you have made. Remember you have many eyes upon you: The wicked will have their eyes upon you, waiting for your halting, and, if you carry not suitably, will be ready to reproach the ways of God on your account; the eyes of the godly are upon you, who will rejoice to see you walking in God’s ways, and will be grieved for every slip that you make; the eye of conscience is always upon you; but above all, the eye of a holy and jealous God, to whom you must give an account of all your actions; wherefore endeavour to approve yourselves to him.

9. You are now setting out into the world in some one profession or other: Be diligent and faithful in your respective businesses. Beware of idleness and sloth, which is the mother of all vices: And let the glory of God, and your being useful in your generation be still in your view; and pray to him for success in your lawful endeavours.

These directions I give, as most necessary for you in all circumstances. I shall conclude with a few advices to you in your present situation:
First, Keep your meetings punctually. Secondly, Observe your rules strictly; and, if any thing be blame-worthy in the conduct of any member, admonish him in love. Thirdly, Be edifying in your conversation; and, for that end, always choose in your meetings, some head of divinity for discourse. Fourthly, I recommend to you humility. Be not lifted up, as if you were beyond others, since the Lord has done good to your souls: ‘What have ye that ye have not received? and if ye have received it, why are ye proud?’ 1 Cor. 4:7. Fifthly, Take heed whom you admit as members of your Society. Let them be of pious inclinations, sound in their principles, of a suitable walk, and such as will not spread what is among you, and such as are zealous for the interest of Christ.

I take your writing to me very kindly; and, if in any thing you need my advice and counsel, pray let me know, and it shall not be wanting. I conclude with the words of the Apostle, 1 Thess. 5:23: ‘The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit, soul, and body may be preserved blameless to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.’

John Bonar,
Torphichen, April 14th, 1740.

Advice for Young Believers

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    Your letter, which I received a few days ago, was most acceptable to me; it gave me no small joy, when I heard formerly of your design, and saw your rules, whereof I heartily approve. I desire to bless God that in this degenerate age when atheism, infidelity, and all kinds of wickedness abound, and […]

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    Following Jesus

    The Essentials of Christian Discipleship

    by Andrew M. Randall


    price $16.00 $14.40
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    Your letter, which I received a few days ago, was most acceptable to me; it gave me no small joy, when I heard formerly of your design, and saw your rules, whereof I heartily approve. I desire to bless God that in this degenerate age when atheism, infidelity, and all kinds of wickedness abound, and […]

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