Anne Dutton's Letters on Spiritual Subjects
My Dear Brother in Christ,
Grace unto you, and peace be multiplied. May the God of all grace reward you with the more abundant displays of His love—His free, undeserved, rich and endless love!
Oh, my brother, I am surely the most unworthy of love from God, of any that ever found grace in His sight. Hell, the hottest hell, is my desert! Oh, what a sinner am I! The sin of my nature, that deluge of filth and guilt which overspread all my parts and powers as soon as quickened in the womb, and in which I was born—together with my actual sins, my going astray from the womb, when I did nothing else but sin—until mighty grace laid hold of me! These sins of mine I saw, when the Lord opened my eyes, did deserve the damnation of hell—and I wondered at the infinite forbearance of God in allowing me to live so long out of hell, when I was such fit fuel for everlasting burnings! And I could have justified Him if He had sent me down to the pit the next moment.
But oh, behold, I was a vessel of mercy; and therefore the Lord made known unto me the riches of His glory, not only in sparing, but in pardoning mercy also. He not only spared me from hell, but forever delivered me from going down to the pit by the ransom which He had found—by His own Son, to bear my sin, to be made a curse, and to die for me! By this mighty ransom—this infinite price of the life of the Son of God laid down for my redemption, did the God of all grace let me go free. And oh, the riches, the exceeding riches of His grace, which He then displayed, in the forgiveness of all my sins through the Lamb's blood! Where sin had abounded grace did much more abound!
Oh, how freely did my heavenly Father receive me, a poor prodigal, when under His own drawings I came to Him by Jesus Christ! He did not upbraid me with my vile transgressions, nor deal with me in wrath according to my sins—but graciously opened His arms and let me into His bosom—His heart's love—no more to be separated from His love, nor to fall out of love's arms forever! No! having loved me with an everlasting love, and thus manifested His love through the slain Lamb, He resolved to love me forever—that He would never cast me off, nor cast me out of His free love for all that I had done.
Oh, astonishing! That abundant pardon which my heavenly Father then granted, and I received, carried in the bosom of it not only the forgiveness of my past and present sins, but of my future sins also—of all my transgressions, even to my life's end. He forgave me all trespasses—resolved to be merciful to my unrighteousness and to remember my sins no more. He took away my filthy garments and clothed me with change of clothing—put a ring on my hand and shoes on my feet—set me with Him at His table—made a feast for me of the flesh and blood of His own Son—and rejoiced over me with singing! Oh, the heights, depths, lengths, and breadths of grace!
And with this wondrous love of God He melted my hard heart, revived my dying soul, put a new song of joy and praise into my mouth, and drew me to give up myself unto Him, to be entirely His forever. Oh, then I said I would not transgress, when He had thus broken my yoke and burst my bonds, and brought me into liberty—the glorious liberty of the sons of God!
But ah! I have not rendered to the Lord according to all the great things which He has done for me, but have ill-requited Him for all His kindness. I am indeed bent to backsliding from God, and have dealt very treacherously with my gracious Father. I see, to my shame and grief, the seeds of all sin in my vile heart—a hell of iniquity there! I feel that my carnal mind is enmity, entire and irreconcilable enmity, against God—and such are the ebullitions of this unsearchable deep, this horrid fountain, that I am frequently struck with amazement that I am not sent down to hell—that my life is not among the unclean—that so vile a sinner has not a portion among the damned, in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone!
Ah, not because I do not deserve a place there am I spared—but because Jehovah will be gracious unto whom He will be gracious, and show mercy on whom He will show mercy. Oh, if the love of God was not free, sovereign, and independent of my goodness—which as the morning cloud and the early dew quickly passes away—I would perish still, and sink into the pit with the additional weight of 'abused kindness'.
Oh, my sins, since the Lord manifested His love to me, I see to be of a greater guilt, a deeper dye, than all that I was guilty of before I knew the Lord, or rather was known of Him. And these, in a special manner, break my heart and humble me before the Lord, when He breaks in upon my soul with the displays of His infinite favor.
For lo! the love of God and the blood of Christ are depths that infinitely surpass and swallow up all my sin! Oh, what are my vast, numberless, aggravated transgressions, to the boundless depth of Jehovah's love—to the infinite merit of the blood of the Son of God? Here, through the blood and righteousness of Jesus, grace reigns and triumphs gloriously over all my abounding sin. It not only began to reign thus in the first glorious displays thereof made to my poor soul when just ready to perish, but it reigns still—and will reign on in its infinite, majestic state, until all my sins, which are now pardoned, shall be fully subdued and utterly destroyed out of my nature—until all sin and death are swallowed up in the victory of eternal life to the praise of its own glory. Oh, glorious grace!
Thus, my dear brother, according to this grace has my God hitherto dealt with me. He has followed me with His kindness, His rich, free, everlasting kindness. And thus He will deal with you. According to His own heart has He done, will He do, great things for you; and not according to 'your worthiness'. Your God did not wait for your goodness before He fixed His love on you, nor seek it as a motive thereof—but from His own free heart took all His motives from within Himself to love you. And therefore they must needs be strong and invariable like Himself, who is the Lord that changes not.
And this great, free, and invariable love of God was fixed upon you in the Beloved of His Soul, who is Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever. So that, as long as God's love abides, which is as permanent as His being; as long as Christ endures, who is the same, and whose years fail not; and as long as Christ stands in the love of God for you, and you stand in the love of God in Him—so long will Jehovah love you!
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