Anne Dutton: Letter to the Tabernacle (1743)

The Copy of a Letter from a Friend in the Country – inclos’d in another Letter to the Printer of this Book.


April 9, 1743.


To the Society of Christians at the Tabernacle: A Friend and Servant of Theirs, Sendeth Greeting; wishing Grace and Peace, through the once Bleeding, now Reigning LAMB.


Honour’d Brethren,

            Highly have you been favour’d of the LORD! GOD’s Loving-kindness towards you has [4] been Distinguishing. He has pluck’d You as Brands out of the Burning, while others that were no worse than you, are left to be consumed in their Iniquities. He has call’d You out of Darkness into His marvellous Light, while Thousands of your Neighbours and Acquaintance are left under the Power of Darkness, under the natural Blindness of their own Minds, and the blinding Influence of Satan to walk on in the Ways of Sin towards eternal Death, with those miserable Souls, unto whom is reserved the Blackness of Darkness forever. God has reveal’d his Dear Son in You, has shewn you an heart-ravishing, soul-attracting glory in HIM and His Salvation, while Multitudes round about you, are awful Strangers to Christ, and know nothing of the SAVIOUR’s Glory, tho’ they bear his Name. God has caus’d the Light of the glorious Gospel of Christ to shine into and upon You, while many, even in this Christian Land, never knew what it was to sit under the Shine of Gospel-Grace, [5] nor to have the least Beam of it ever dart into their Hearts. Nor have you only been privileg’d with the Gospel, but with the Power of it also; God has display’d his Glories, and made bare his Arm among You, unto Conversion and Edification; while many, very many of his dear People in divers Places, are groaning under a sad Withdraw of the Divine Presence and Influence. And with this powerful Gospel, this glorious Gospel, has the Lord feasted you abundantly. He has caus’d the heavenly Manna to fall round about you, Day by Day continually. – Oh may the Lord bless and increase you more and more, with all Grace, unto all Glory! – And unto you my dear Brethren, that are sensible of your precious Privileges, I need not say, Be thankful. I know your Souls within you bless the Lord for all his Benefits. But be intreated to abound therein more and more.

            But what shall I say to Those, who despise their own Mercies? Beware, dear Souls, lest you provoke the [6] Lord to Destroy you. For I hear to my Grief, That some even of this Society, talk of withdrawing from it if they mayn’t have a settled Teacher, and one that they can benefit by, to be continually with them. Oh my Brethren is it So? Is this the Thanksyou owe for all the Lord’s Kindness, his marvellous Kindness towards you! God has rained down Manna for you so richly and constantly, that you are in Danger of loathing it. Oh watch and pray for Grace to overcome Sin and Satan, to make you meek, humble and teachable, so that a little Child may lead you; lest ere you are aware, you should be found amongst the Murmurers, the Tempters of Christ that shall surely be destroyed. If God save your Souls, my Brethren, He may destroy your Comforts, and leave you to a fruitless, useless Life, and to a dark and sorrowful Death. And assuredly so far as you sin against Christ, you will suffer Loss at the great Day of his Appearing: * The Loss of all that Praise, Honour and Glory, that Crown of Righteousness, which otherwise [7] you would have received, had you walk’d with Christ and His, in a believing, loving, self-denying, and all-serving Spirit. Oh my Brethren don’t chuse for yourselves. Let the Lord send by whom He will send, and do you meekly Hear what by them he has to say to you. God can send you a Message of Peace, and Bless the meanest Instrument to your Edification in Faith and Holiness, when others of superior Gifts, may be of little Use to you. If you had the dear Instruments always with you, that have already been bless’d to your Souls, they might not always be of the same Use to you. They would not, if you sinfully desired them, and limited the Holy One of Israel, that He must work by them, or by no other. But suppose they were willing to be with you constantly, and their Usefulness continued and increased perpetually; would you be willing to engross all the Usefulness of those dear Servants of CHRIST to yourselves? See ye not what a Publick Spirit is upon them? What Need there is of their Labours in divers Places? And [8] how greatly the Lord doth Bless them every where, to the Advancement of the Redeemer’s Kingdom, and the Destruction of Satan’s? And are you not willing that they should go out into the High Ways and Hedges, to compel poor Sinners to come in? What if you yourselves were to be Losers by their Absence, if Christ and His Church are Gainers by their Presence in other Places; would not that Gain abundantly compensate your Loss? Oh what are all ourEnjoyments, to our Lord’s Glory! If we love Him, we shall lay down all at his Feet, and rejoice in His Advancement, whatever becomes of us. – But my Brethren, you are CHRIST’s Care; He will not let you die for Want. So long as Christlives, you shall live also. Your great Shepherd will feed you, either mediately or immediately, and make you to lie down in green Pastures, beside the still Waters. Wherefore stir not out from His Fold; and you shall see His Power and Grace. And though you have been peevish Children, straying Sheep; yet return unto the [9] Lord, and He will forgive your Iniquities, and restore your Souls: For His Mercies are infinite! And His Compassions never fail! – Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in Sincerity. Amen.

                        I am, my dear Brethren,

                                    Your Affectionate,

                                                Unknown Servant,

A.    D. 



* Here the Author means all the Reward of Works, according to I Cor. iii. 15. [Lewis's note.]

Text: An Account of the Most Remarkable Particulars Relating to the Present Progress of the Gospel, ed. John Lewis, vol. 3, no. 1 (London: Printed and Sold by John Lewis, in Bartholomew-Close, near West-Smithfield, 1743), 3-9.


[1] For  Lewis's quotation, see An Account of the Most Remarkable Particulars Relating to the Present Progress of the Gospel, p. 78.


[2]  Dutton also published A Letter on the Duty and Privilege of a Believer, to Live by Faith, and to Improve his Faith unto Holiness. To the Society at the Tabernacle, in London, a Friend and Servant of theirs, wisheth Grace and Peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, appeared in Letters on Spiritual Subjects, and Divers Occasions, sent to the Reverend Mr. George Whitefield, and Others of his Fiends and Acquaintance (London: Printed by J. Hart, in Popping’s-Court, Fleetstreet: And Sold by J. Lewis, in Bartholomew-Close, near West-Smithfield; and E. Gardner, at Milton’s-Head, near Aldgate, 1745), 144-74; this is not the same letter that was read on May 30, 1743, but the style and content of both letters are indistinguishable from the typical evangelical sermon at that time.