Willingly Embracing a “Dark Providence”

Willingly Embracing a “Dark Providence”

In a recent research trip, I read and enjoyed this letter from one Independent congregation to another. Perhaps you will enjoy it, too.

“31 July, 1732

The church of Christ at Stainton to the church of Christ in Limestreet in London, sendeth greeting.

Whereas you have been pleased to call the Reverend Mr. John Atkinson, our Pastor, to the office of a teaching elder amongst you, and he hath accepted that your call, we beg leave to tell you in all humility, that we fear our loss in his removal will not easily be made up. It appears to us a dark providence, oh that the Lord in his abundant goodness would brighten it up to us.

The soundness of his doctrine, and the inoffensiveness of his life, hath not only been instructive and directive unto us, but also hath given a check to the erroneous and profane around us. However, being persuaded that he hath a prospect of being much more serviceable in his Master’s work among you, than he could be here with us, we do at your desire dismiss the said Mr. John Atkinson from being a member with us, unto you the church of Christ in Limestreet London, and do heartily recommend him to that special blessing of the Lord, and sincerely wish him much success amongst you. May you be a mutual blessing to one another.

And seeing we have thus denied ourselves, to serve our Redeemer’s interest among you, we hope you will affectionately remember us at the throne of grace, and be helpful to us in our deficiency to support the gospel amongst us.

We have fixed upon a minister, that we hope is likely to preach the truths of the gospel unto us, and to adorn them with an holy life and conversation. His name is Mr. John Kirkpatrick, a Schoolman. He is to come to us in a little time. We humbly desire you would please to stand up for us at the congregational fund, and allow us, if you think fit, something besides from your own stock. Whatever it is, we will be thankful. We remain your brethren in Christ.”