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Letter to R.W. Thompson PDF Print E-mail
Written by R.W. Thompson   


ASHLAND, MO., August 12, 1886

 Elder R.W. Thompson, Dear Nephew, and as I hope Brother in Christ:  Time in its sturdy march is carrying us off “one by one” to our eternal home, and in a few years we that now live will rest with our fathers, from the sorrows and trials of this life.  Sixty years ago the second Sunday in last May I was baptized by my father with twelve others, and for fifty-seven years, in my blundering way, I have been trying to preach Christ and him crucified, as the only “name given under heaven, among men whereby we must be saved.”  When but a boy I trust God gave me to see that I was a lost and justly condemned sinner, without hope and without God in the world.  I then say that salvation had to be by grace, free, sovereign, unmerited grace, or I was lost forever; and my sixty years’ experience has confirmed me in the truth that salvation is of the Lord, and that if I am a saint and a child of God, it is “by the grace of God I am what I am.”  I know that if grace had not interposed and changed the affections and desires of my heart, I never would have chosen God, for I loved sin and the company of sinners; but I know such a change has been wrought in the feelings and affections of my heart, that the things I once loved I now hate, and the things I once hated I now love.  This change I know I have felt; I can not for one moment call it in question.  If I was as sure that I am a Christian as I am that I have felt this change, I should never have another doubt or fear, and if I knew that it was grace, and not some human influence or instrumentality that had caused the change, I feel that I should be satisfied.  But, O what gloomy seasons I have passed through when I could see no evidence that I was a vessel of mercy.  I have laid for hours on my bed and wept when all around me were silent in sleep, and with aching heart repeated the verse over and over again,--

 “’Tis a point I long to know,
Oft it causes anxious thought,
Do I love the Lord or no?
Am I his or am I not?”

And then would I cry, “Lord, decide this doubt for me.”  But the doubt would remain, and the gloom would grow thicker and darker.  O, did ever a Christian feel thus?  Prayers and tears could bring no relief.  I would repeat the hymn, “Amazing grace,” but there was no grace there for me, and then the hymn, “Grace ‘tis a charming sound,” but there was nothing to charm or comfort my poor soul.

For the last two weeks I have been shut up in “Doubting castle,” and if I would read, or sing, or pray, sin was mixed with it all, and I could find no comfort or resting place for my weary soul.  I would travel back over my sixty years’ experience but could find nothing in it to give me rest or hope.  I would think of the happy seasons I have passed through when God was reviving Zion, and of the hundreds of happy souls I have baptized, but it would bring no comfort to me.  I would repeat that precious old hymn, “How firm a foundation,” over and over, and would weep and mourn but could get no comfort; and last night I went to bed in this sad state, but could not sleep, and without waking any one I got up, and took my seat out on the porch, and while the lightning was flashing, and the thunder roaring, and the hail and rain rattling on the roof over me, I felt a gloom, a storm within, I know not how to express it, but if any have been in this dark place they know what I mean, and can sympathize with me.  My wife came out to me and we talked about the rain falling on the parched ground, but this poor parched, thirsty soul of mine could feel no refreshing shower.  After returning to my bed, these words passed through my mind,-- 

 “Jesus can make a dying bed,
Feel soft as downy pillows are.”

The cloud was gone.  Jesus the sweetest name ever lisped by mortal tongue, our hope in life, our joy in heaven!  O the sweetness of that name no tongue can tell, it soothes the sorrows of the soul, it calms the troubled mind, it gives rest to the weary and heavy laden, it is food and strength to the hungry and faint.  O, he is all the poor sinner needs; wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.  If he is mine I am rich, and all the powers of earth and hell can never harm me or separate me from his love,--

“O to grace how great a debtor,
Daily I’m constrained to be,
Let thy grace, Lord, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering soul to thee.”

Let the troubled soul take comfort, “For ye know the grace of God, how that he that was rich became poor that you through his poverty might be rich.”

Yours in hope of a blessed immortality,


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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.