Anne Dutton's Letters on Spiritual Subjects
I am glad that the Lord has made my poor letters and books acceptable, and of any use to your precious soul. May the God of all grace have all the glory. Oh, my dear friend, if the Lord will please to make anything I have written a means of helping your faith in Christ, and of drawing out your love to Him, it will be grace unknown to me, the chief of sinners, and the matter of my joy both now and in the day of Christ. Whoever be the instrument, it is the Lord's own hand that does the work, whenever any growth is added to our spiritual stature; and unto Him alone the whole glory is therefore due.
But oh, that ever the God of all grace, through Jesus Christ, by His Holy Spirit, should work upon such hell-deserving sinners as we to prepare us for glory, for the glory which He has prepared for us in heaven, and also use us as instruments in His hand for spiritual and eternal advantage unto each other on earth! Oh, what are we, or what is our Father's house, that the Lord should save us? Why was not our lot with devils and damned spirits, unto whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever? Ah! not because we have not deserved it, but because the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, is gracious to whom He will be gracious, and shows mercy on whom He will show mercy. Nothing less than free, infinite, sovereign grace and mercy can save a sinner from the depths of endless misery--to the heights of eternal glory. And blessed be God forever, His grace alone is infinitely sufficient to save the chief of sinners to the utmost; for "where sin has abounded (as the Lord knows it has woefully done in our hearts and lives), grace has much more abounded. That as sin has reigned unto death, even so grace might reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord."
Oh blessed be God for Jesus! the Savior, who was born, and lived, and died to save sinners—for Him as Christ, the anointed of the Father, to this great work; and for Christ, as our Lord, who is and who will be our King, to subdue us to Himself, and all His and our enemies under His and our feet. The boundless, inexhaustible grace of the Godhead—that vast, that endless ocean—flows gloriously to us sinners in streams of pardon and life spiritual unto life eternal, through the channel of Christ's obedience; through the active obedience of His life, and the passive obedience of His death. Oh, here it is that grace reigns! It is through righteousness. Through the righteousness of the life and death of Jesus. And here, to save sinners, grace reigns righteously, in such a way as is perfectly agreeable to the righteousness of Jehovah's nature, and to the righteousness of His holy law, both in its demands and threatenings.
Oh, here, through God's obedient Son, through His spotless slain Lamb, God can be just in justifying disobedient, polluted, all-over guilty, filthy, hell-deserving sinners—even every one that believes in Jesus! And not a soul shall die that casts up an eye of faith unto the God of all grace in Christ—that looks for life through the once dying Savior. No, Jesus died to save that soul on the cross, to save him meritoriously by His death, and now sits on the throne to save him influentially by His life. And well able is He to save to the uttermost, even all those that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them.
It was hence that the Holy Spirit was sent down into our hearts to quicken us when dead in sin, to work faith and every grace in our souls, to show us our misery, and to reveal Christ the glorious remedy, the great Savior which God has provided for lost sinners; and to enable us to look unto Jesus for our salvation, and to receive the glad tidings thereof through the free promise unto all joy and peace in believing, and all gracious influence unto all holy obedience. It is because Christ lives for us in heaven that we live a begun spiritual life on earth. And hence it is that the life of grace in us shall be maintained and increased, until it is perfected in the life of glory, or ripened into the fullness of spiritual and the glory of eternal life. Grace is a preparation for glory, and the very beginning of it in our souls; and the more the work of grace does flourish in our hearts while on the earth, the greater is our preparation for, and the nearer our approach to, the perfection and glory of the heavenly state.
And whereas the Lord is pleased to give us more grace, to increase our graces in the use of means, how diligent should we be in every duty to wait upon the God of mercy, that He thereby will increase us with all the increases of God?
Oh, my dear friend, the way to glory in all the appointed paths of duty is up hill. To be religious in truth and sincerity, and unto any growth and maturity, we are called to striving, running, fighting, wrestling, to strive against sin, to run with patience the race that is set before us, to fight the good fight of faith, and to wrestle, not only against flesh and blood (against wicked men and all their wicked ways to draw us off from God), but also against principalities and powers, against the powers of darkness, the armies of hell, who with all their might will oppose us in every step we take heavenward, in all our approaches to God and appearances for Him. And therefore, we had need take unto us the whole armor of God, and especially the shield of faith (to hold up Christ by faith), with which we shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one—of Satan, that wicked one, on whatever side he casts them at us. And a very necessary piece of a Christian's armor is that of all-prayer.
Thus, dear Sir, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and labor to walk by faith in Him and love to Him, every day, as if it was your last duty. You have no time given you to mis-spend. The Lord's redeemed are to glorify the Redeemer in the whole of their time, until they are glorified with Him in blessed eternity. Those happy souls who are the Lord's ought not to live unto themselves, but unto Him. And whatever we do in things natural, civil, or religious, in the common affairs of natural life, or in things that concern our spiritual life, we are to do all to the glory of God, as under His eye, His forgiving love and abundant goodness, to show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light; and in the views of that blessed day when our Lord of the freest grace will give rewards unto His servants according to their works. For unto those who, under the enkindling influence of His infinite love, have loved Him much and been abundant in labors for His glory in the present time, will He give and abundant entrance into His everlasting kingdom—that desirable state, where, as you said, "we shall serve the Lord without interruption, weariness, or distraction, and when we shall never again grieve Him with the least sinful thought, word, or action," but blessed with the vision of His face, and crowned with immortal glory with Christ, His saints and angels, in joy and praise unknown, we shall live to a blessed eternity!