I have written a letter unto you.
WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): ‘How shall I be useful?’ is one of the most serious and weighty questions. ‘How shall I be useful with the pen?’ is an inquiry worthy of very careful consideration.
MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Satan hates the use of pens.
WILLIAM S. PLUMER: In considering the matter, attention is naturally called at first to [letter] writing. Letters are among the most powerful means of influencing mankind. Liberty, learning, and religion owe much to this simple method of propagating correct opinions and promoting right conduct. Some able men have probably done more good in this than in any other way…Under the guidance of inspiration, the apostles have set us examples in this kind of writing. Their twenty-one epistles are models of affectionate solicitude, tenderness, and fidelity.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): You may have read Rutherford’s Letters―I hope you have. Let it be known that Spurgeon counted Samuel Rutherford’s letters as the nearest thing to inspiration in all human literature.
WILLIAM S. PLUMER: John Newton has, perhaps, been the most distinguished in religious epistles. They are as much sought after and read as ever they were.* They have soothed many a troubled spirit, have resolved many a doubting mind, have animated many a weary pilgrim, and called back to duty and devotion many a backslider in heart.
C. H. SPURGEON: In few writers are Christian doctrine, experience and practice more happily balanced than in the author of those letters, and few write with more simplicity, piety and force.
WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): What thousands have derived repeated profit and pleasure from the perusal of these utterances of the heart! Nor ever will they cease to be found a means of grace whilst God has a church on earth.
JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): I rather reckoned upon doing more good by some of my other works than by “Letters,” which I wrote without study, or any public design; but the Lord said, “You shall be most useful by them!” and I learned to say, “Thy will be done! use me as Thou pleasest, only make me useful.”
GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Happy if we could learn this one rule: never to write a letter without something of Jesus Christ in it; for, as Matthew Henry observes, if we are to answer for idle words, much more for idle letters; and if God has given us pens, especially if he has given us “the pen of a ready writer,” it will be happy if we can improve our correspondence for His glory and one another’s profit.
WILLIAM S. PLUMER: No reflecting man can doubt that the destiny of many, both for this world and the next, is much affected by this simple means…And we are often surprised, on examining the papers of very humble people, to find how many precious letters they have received and treasured up.
MRS. SUSANNAH SPURGEON (1832-1903): It is marvelous to me, as I survey the yearly packets of letters which are now such precious treasures, how my husband could have managed, amidst the bustle and excitement, of foreign travel, to have written so much and so often…Sometimes, as an unexpected gladness, he would post two in one day, that I might be comforted concerning him…I have said that the letters were “illustrated,” but I think illuminated would be a better word to use; for, looking at them after these many years, with overflowing eyes, the little sketches seem to bear a rainbow light within them, and to sparkle with colours which only a devoted love could have blended. They remind me of the patient care bestowed upon the Psalters and Missals of the Middle Ages, when the hand of some pious man toiled day after day to decorate the vellum pages.
C. H. SPURGEON: Some of you could write letters for your Lord and Master. To far-off friends, a few loving lines may be most influential for good…Again, you may be the means of conversion by a letter you may write. Many of you have not the power to speak or say much; but when you sit down alone in your chamber you are able, with God’s help, to write a letter to a dear friend of yours.
GEORGE MÜLLER (1805-1898): I wrote letters to some of my former companions in sin.
C. H. SPURGEON: Oh! I think that is a very sweet way to endeavour to be useful…Paper and ink are never better used than in soul-winning. Much has been done by this method. Could not you do it? Will you not try?
*Editor’s Note: We highly recommend to our readers the purchase of the Letters of John Newton, published by the Banner of Truth Trust. Every Christian should have this book in his or her library, and inexpensive used (and sometimes new) copies usually can be found at Abebooks.com. Other books with very similar titles may show up in your search results, so make sure you find that exact title, and that the copy is one of the Banner of Truth Trust paperback editions (1960, 1965, or 1976).