Letter to a Pastor
Key Thought: The only theory I value is the Holy Ghost!
August 3, 1851
Dear Brother: You will excuse my delay in answering your letter, when I tell you that for the past six weeks I have scarcely had time to eat or sleep.
I received it with hearty satisfaction, and have never ceased to pray for you and your congregation. Well do I know of the trials and difﬁculties you mention, for I, too, have battled, but I also know that you will overcome. As a ride it is not the outward circumstances, but the heart which makes these difﬁculties; when the heart is changed, so also the circumstances. But how shall I give you advice? I cannot in a letter, nor can it be done after a theory. I am so thoroughly an enemy to theory, that I believe wrong is vanquished when separated from theory. The only theory I value is the Holy Spirit.
With strength given by the Holy Spirit, strict attention to the Word, driven by love of Christ, seeing in every soul one whom Christ bought with His blood, who belongs to Him, and whom we must win for Him; this I believe is the true way of life.
Preach regardless of anything but God’s Word. Rebuke the sins and godlessness of the land-owner and farmer, which he may have or not; the sins and godlessness of the day laborer, which he may have or not; let them take offense or not, or receive it or not; the Word will never return void.
Hold Christ before them in His cruciﬁxion and His glory, and pray fervently for the Holy Spirit.
Make not your sermons, but pray them upon your knees, and, if the people are dormant, wrestle with God for the souls of men. Offer your time, strength, comfort, convenience, all, all for the soul’s welfare of your fellow creatures.
Make the Word of God clear, whether upon belief, keeping the Sabbath holy, the gospel, law or precepts, without regard to results. All must bow to God’s Word, and no circumstances can prevent it. Therefore, I pray you, preach no word that you do not yourself live up to; avoid all that savors of the world; call all by its right name, that people can grasp the meaning; keep it simple as possible, that it may not go over their heads.
In pastoral visits and by sick beds have no theory; neither consider you your prayers, God will give you the power, and what He gives is good.
Hold a Bible hour, with prayer and song. In Mechlenburg there is on Sundays much time, and the people upon the streets and from public houses may come through that means; but have all as simple as possible.
If you can, come and stay with me two days. You will be heartily welcome, and I could say more in that time than in twenty letters. If you cannot, then write to me and I will gladly answer, only you must wait, as the date shows.
I have no time to write more. God command thee, dear fellow-laborer.
In cordial love, Yours,
L. Harms, Pastor.