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A Letter from Geoffrey Williams to Erroll Hulse
 

 

23 April 1970

 

My dear Erroll

 

I have heard from Pastor Pibworth and Mr Hogwood asks for my commendation of "Reformation Today".

 

I am placed in a real dilemma.  Reaction coming from friends and supporters of the Library - people of standing in Reformed circles - shows that they are far from convinced that your paper (judging from the issue to hand) is calculated to lead to peace amongst those how love the Lord.  One tendency deplored is the "blowing up" of certain great men of God accompanied by a "playing down" of other God-honoured men of God equally great and worthy in their own way and sphere.  At times criticism seems ill-judged, unfair and in one respect untrue.  Nor is it felt helpful to place in "segregation-slots" some men used of God labelled by inference "Good" and others also greatly used of God labelled "Bad".

 

My dilemma is the greater because of my close friendship with and indeed affection for yourself and the conviction that your opinions are sincere even if (in the case under consideration) the result of immature knowledge of the facts and perhaps impetuous action.

 

I may perhaps be permitted one or two thoughts born of long experience.  I am old enough to remember Mr J K Popham, under whose ministry I was instrumentally brought from darkness to light.1  To me your chart is confusing in spite of its attempt at precision but it would appear that Mr Popham is classified (included with other good men) as hyper-Calvinist and by inference one respecting whom the ground on which he stood was favourable to gross antinomianism and evil doing.2  Here is a matter of which I can speak from experience.  I am a personal witness of the holy life of this great saint and of the good witness and uprightness of the congregation.  During the years I was there no scandal sullied the deeply spiritual fellowship enjoyed, the church was packed, one after the other were brought to the Lord and in that and the churches throughout the neighbourhood "Zion" prospered.  Would to God such a prosperity were evident today whether in your  "mainstream" or any stream!  Could one possibly deduce these facts from a reading of your paper or chart?  There may have been "black sheep" or even a deceiver, as amongst our Lord's disciples, but as a body they were an example to the profession of Christianity.

 

Again, if the evil "soil of hyper-Calvinism leading to gross antinomianism" refers to that on which William Gadsby, Warburton and Kershaw stood, the aspersion needs no greater refutation than the historic fact that these men were acknowledged by both friends and foes to be of the most exemplary and upright character, and their congregations gave a witness which compares well with those of any other churches, including the congregation of Spurgeon's Tabernacle of whom I had personal knowledge as a youth.  I lived with a number to their dying hours, members of both Spurgeon's Tabernacle3 and of Strict Baptist churches, seeing some of the latter end their days as did John Warburton, when with his latest breath he cried triumphantly, "Hallelujah"!  ("With them numbered may I be, now and to eternity")

 

I have agreed to continue to support your paper as far as possible in the hope that wiser steps will help to the healing of breaches rather than the widening of them, and I pray better counsels will prevail thus enabling me to commend your efforts with a clear conscience, a procedure which I cannot but believe will make those identified with your paper feel happier and certainly those Reformed ministers and laymen who express anxiety about the statements and reflections appearing in the first issue.

 

I trust and believe that you will receive my letter in the spirit of love and in which it is sent.

 

Yours with Christian greetings.

Signed: Geoffrey Williams

 

1Fresh trophies of Grace were added constantly.  Soon after the turn of the C.19 I was privileged to hear not only Mr J K Popham but his brother Henry, John Booth, Frederick Kirby, the first President of the Library - all men mighty in preaching the Gospel of the unsearchable riches of Christ who adorned their profession.

 

2P.14, line 16 "soil of hyper-Calvinism"

 

3These Spurgeonites were brought to live with us when in sickness and died while with us.  At this time the Metropolitan Tabernacle was in decline.

 

P.S.  There is of course a hyper-Calvinism which does no credit to the great Reformer and there are Strict Baptists who do no credit to men like Gadsby and Kershaw, but of the successors of the great Spurgeon the same thing must be said (I refer to the Tabernacle and its College).

 

 

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