LETTERS of J.C. Philpot (1861)
January 11, 1861
My dear Friend, Mr. Parry—You will be desirous, I have no doubt, to hear how I am this severe weather. I may well call it severe, for we have not had a winter for some years during which the thermometer has been so low; and at present there does not seem much prospect of an alteration. I am thankful, then, to say, that though I feel the cold, yet I am quite as well as I could possibly expect, and, indeed, I may say, much better than when I saw you last at Cirencester. I preached last Lord's-day in the morning, and think that I could have stayed for the afternoon had I not made arrangements to come home. The weather was so extremely severe that we had not our usual congregation; still there were quite as many as could be expected, considering that very many of our friends come out of the country, and no doubt they felt a little uncertainty whether I would be out to preach in consequence of the extreme severity of the weather. . . .
You know that for many years I have taken an interest in agricultural matters, not only as having friends among the tillers of the soil, but as feeling its general importance to the whole country. It has struck me, therefore, that this severe frost may be mercifully sent to dry and pulverize the hard clays after they have been so saturated with last year's continual dripping; so that if the Lord be pleased to give us a suitable spring, and a warn and dry summer, we may see the benefit of what now pinches our frames, chills our blood, and nips our fingers.
What a deep fund of unbelief and infidelity there is in the heart of man, ever ready to start up like a wild beast from its lair and seize hold of any coming forth of the life of God in the actings of faith! I have sometimes thought that it is scarcely possible for any among the living family of God to have a heart so full of unbelief and infidelity as I carry in my bosom. But I know this, that the grace of God, and the grace of God alone, is able to subdue it. My wonder is, not that all do not believe, but that any do; it is not the multitude of unbelievers which surprises me, for this I know all men are, but that any should, by the power of God, have their unbelief subdued and overthrown, and the grace of faith communicated and kept alive in their bosom.
We are entered upon another year. The last, as you will remember I said in the pulpit when I was at Allington, was an eventful one, and we do not know what circumstances lie hidden in the bosom of 1861 to make it even more eventful than 1860. We are no longer young. Our families are growing up around us; they are the generation that is pushing us out of our place, as a young healthy shoot pushes off and displaces a decaying one. We feel, and that more deeply and more sensibly every day, that we are passing away out of this time state; and when we look around, what is there abiding? for we all seem like the passengers by a railway, all of whom are journeying by the same means of conveyance, and though each drops off from the train at different stations, yet all eventually come to a terminus where they leave the line. As then we see and feel that all is passing away, what a mercy it is if we can look beyond this vain scene to that which abides forever and ever! "We have no abiding city here," is a lesson which the Lord writes upon the heart of all His pilgrims; and as it is more deeply engraved upon their bosom, and cut into more legible characters, they look up and out of themselves to that City which has foundations, of which the maker and builder is God.
You, no doubt, feel something of this from day to day, and so far as you do, it will keep you from looking forward too anxiously to, or thinking too much of, the house which they are building for you at Allington. It is very blessed when we can use the favors of God in providence without abusing them; can see His kind hand in the gift and not make an idol of it; can bless Him for His providential mercies, and yet feel that without Himself they are not only worthless but miserable. How many have lived all their lives in beautiful houses, have never known a day's hunger, have eaten of the fat and drunk of the sweet all the days of their life, have lain down at night in a luxurious bed, where they have felt neither cold nor frost; and yet at last when their mortal existence has come to a close, have made their bed in hell!
When I say this, I may add that I sincerely hope that you may have a comfortable house, that your life may be spared long to live in it, and health be granted that neither house nor life may be a burden. But with all that, I wish for you, and I wish for myself, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, with which we may be clothed when the earthly house of this tabernacle is dissolved and reduced to its native dust. Even the troubles and trials which we meet with in the way are so far made blessings as they become thorns to prevent us settling down in our nest and counting our days as the sand. How often the very circumstance on which we most set our heart is made to be the source of the keenest trial! And how many have built houses, and either not lived to go into them, or have soon yielded up their breath when they have taken possession of them.
Poor Mr. M—, no doubt, promised himself many years of enjoyment in his new house; but the Almighty Disposer of events had ordered it otherwise, and while He allows a Sally Durnford, and a Nanny Benger to creep on to the extreme verge of life, mows down in the prime of his years the father of a family, and the possessor of the finest farm, perhaps, in your county. What lessons such things would teach us if our eyes were more open to see, our ears to hear, and our hearts to feel their solemn import! But I am well convinced that however enlightened our judgments may be, it must be the immediate power of God to lay these things with any real weight and profitable influence upon the heart.
I am sorry to hear so unfavorable an account of poor Mrs. T—. May the gracious Lord condescend to support her mind under her bodily affliction, and, above all, to give her a blessed token for good, and a sweet testimony of her interest in the love and blood of the Lamb. This may be delayed, as it was with poor Mrs. C—; but delays are not denials, and God is faithful to His promises, as well as to His own work of grace upon the heart. He will never despise the work of His own hands, but will graciously perfect that which concerns His people. And what can concern them so deeply as the salvation of their immortal soul? What are all concerns to this grand concern? If that be right, how can anything else be wrong? If that be wrong, how can anything else be right? She has lived to an advanced period of life, has no anxiety about leaving children behind her to battle with a rough, ungodly world; and her only earthly tie, besides the natural clinging to life which all have, is a kind and affectionate husband. So that if the Lord be but once pleased to smile upon her soul, and give her a testimony of His pardoning love, she may look up out of her affliction and say, "Lord, now let you your servant depart in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation."
You will find more and more, if your life be spared, that there will be a gradual dropping off of your members; and you may expect well-known faces gradually to disappear from the pews. But the Lord is able to give you fresh accessions, both of members and hearers, and thus fill up your number, and, it in yes be, put fresh life and feeling into your midst. May He do this if it be His will for His great name's sake.
In speaking about the future, I feel myself compelled to do so with a great degree of hesitation. Still, it is necessary, for the sake of others as well as one's self, to make arrangements for the coming summer. I think, then, if life be spared, and health be given, of going to London for the last three Lord's-days in June; and in that case I would like, if spared, to come on to Allington for the first three in July. I would be glad to give you four Lord's-days, but I fear I shall not be able, as having been so often laid aside, I feel it necessary not to be away so much from home.
Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.
March 1, 1861
My dear Friend, Mr. Grace—I am sure that the friends at Oakham will have great pleasure in receiving the word of grace and truth from your lips, and may the God of all grace come with you there to bless your own soul, both out of the pulpit and in it, and to make the word a blessing to His people. There are remarkable instances sometimes of the Lord's special grace at such opportunities. Often a servant of God has gone in His providence to a strange place, and the Lord has directed a special word on such an occasion to someone's heart, who then either for the first time heard the truth, or, if not so in the letter, heard it for the first time then with power. Our dear friends Gadsby and Warburton were much blessed in this way, going as they did from place to place. A blessing often rests upon the servants of God in this way, of which they never hear. Indeed, the Lord in mercy often hides from them the good they do, lest they should be puffed up by it and think themselves something when they are nothing.
It would seem a great blessing if the Lord would raise up more ministers to feed the churches; for, indeed we may say "the harvest is great and the laborers few." Everything looks very dark and gloomy just now. This sad error has infected very many, and its advocates seem more and more bold and daring. But the Lord reigns. He can and will maintain His own truth. It has always met with the greatest opposition, and yet it has come out triumphant over all. Grace be with you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.
April 12, 1861
My dear Friend, Mr. Grace—We shall be happy to see you to dine with us, and I hope we may have the sweet presence of the Lord in our mutual communication. There is a meeting together for the better and a meeting together for the worse, and usually when it is not for the one it is for the other. There is such a thing as canalizing each other's mind, and with God's help and blessing there is also a spiritualising of it. Paul desired to come to Rome that he might impart unto the people a spiritual gift, not only to the end that they might be established, but that he also might be comforted together with them by the exercise of their mutual faith. Those who feared the Lord in ancient times "spoke often one to another;" and the Lord graciously heard and put them down in the book of His remembrance. There is very little real spiritual conversation in our day; and one would hardly think that people had heaven much in their hearts who have the things of heaven so little in their lips. It is a sad mark of the cold and lifeless state into which the Church of God has sunk, that while there is so much bitterness and strife there is so little real union and love. It is said of Naphtali that "he gives goodly words;" but why? Because he was "satisfied with favor and full with the blessing of the Lord;" for though many years separated the blessings pronounced upon him by Jacob and Moses, yet he was the same character in the eyes of each, as instructed and inspired by the Holy Spirit. I hope that you may come up from Brighton with Naphtali's experience as "a deer let loose," and may give goodly words both at Oakham and Grantham.
Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.
May 3rd, 1861
My dear Friend, Mr. Tanner—I have no doubt that you have been expecting for some time an answer to your kind and affectionate letter. Indeed, my own conscience has not been slow in reminding me of my neglect. But in this, as in many other instances, to will has been present with me, but how to perform that which was good I found not. You are well aware how much occupied my time is, and what a hindrance in the way of work is a weak tabernacle. Thus the combination of these two things—much to do and little strength to do it, has a great tendency to throw one's work sadly into arrear.
I am sorry to say that just now I am laboring under one of my chest attacks which prevented me preaching here last Lord's-day, and will prevent me preaching on the one now approaching. Still, as I am mending, I hope it may please the Lord soon to restore me to my former work. I sometimes think I will make no more engagements to go from home, as it is often a matter of uncertainty whether I shall be able to fulfill them. Still, hitherto, the Lord has helped me, and though occasionally I have been obliged to disappoint expecting friends, yet upon the whole I have been strengthened in my work far beyond all my expectations; and this encourages me not to give up until absolutely compelled. . . . I hope that our mind when we are under any sweet influence from above, is led up into higher and more blessed things than anything which time and sense can afford.
There is something very peculiar and very distinct in the operations of the blessed Spirit upon the heart. Those who know nothing of divine things by divine teaching are easily satisfied with a name to live and a mere form of godliness; but this will not and cannot satisfy any one who really possesses the life and power of God in his soul. But what different people we are– according to the influence of the flesh and the influence of the Spirit! and how we find these two principles ever opposing and conflicting one with another! But how totally different they are in their origin, nature, and end! How I look around sometimes and see how people are lost and buried in the poor vanities of this earthly scene, without perhaps one desire heavenward! How they all seem to live as if man were but like a beast whose life was forever finished when death cut the thread! How totally thoughtless about their eternal state and their fitness to stand before a holy, just, and righteous God!
On the other hand how exercised is a Christian, sometimes nearly all day long, with divine realities—sometimes up and sometimes down, sometimes full of unbelief, and sometimes able to believe with a loving heart; sometimes as dark as midnight, and sometimes favored with divine light in his soul; sometimes as dead and lifeless as though he were altogether dead in sin, and sometimes feeling the springing up of divine life like a brook. But there is one thing which I seem to see and feel, that is—how little any one, even the most highly favored, really sees or knows of the kingdom of God. No doubt in this time state very little can be really seen or known of it; but even so far as faith is privileged to enter into the things revealed in the word of truth, how little comparatively is seen, felt, and known. What deep mines of truth there are in the word of God which seem at present not broken up or brought to view, I mean so as to become coined into money for the enriching of the soul. And how we need the blessed Spirit to break up for us these rich mines, and thus to dive us an inheritance of these deep treasures!
But I am sure that we require a spiritual mind to understand and enjoy the word of God, and that is the reason why it is so little prized, believed in, and loved. We need a subjection of mind to the word of truth, what the Scripture calls the "obedience of faith," that we may take it, in the simplicity of a childlike spirit, as our guide and rule, as our instruction and consolation, as bringing eternal realities near to our minds, and lifting us up into a vital apprehension of them. But as we attempt to do this, there ensues a conflict, so that we cannot do the things that we would. Unbelief, infidelity, reasoning objections, strong suspicions, subtle questionings, spring up in the mind; and sometimes rebellion, blasphemy, hardness of heart, and desperate enmity against what is revealed, so that in the dust of battle all believing views seem lost, and all the soul can say is, "I am full of confusion." My friend, I believe, is no stranger to these conflicts, and no doubt finds them a maul upon the head of pride and self-righteousness, as well as giving him the tongue of the learned and enabling him to speak a word in season to him who is weary.
I do think that an unexercised minister is little else but a plague and a burden to the living family of God. The people want their exercises entered into and the work of the Spirit traced out upon their heart; and not only so, but with that life, power, and freshness which alone spring from the soul of the minister being kept alive in the path of trial and temptation. When we were together we used sometimes to exchange thoughts upon these subjects, and I believe we saw for the most part eye to eye upon them.
Illness has often been made a profitable season to my soul. The Lord knows best how to deal with us, what burdens to lay upon our back, and through what afflictions to lead us to His heavenly kingdom.
Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.
May 15, 1861
My dear Tiptaft,—It is not often that you have been at Allington at this season of the year. I hope that these warm sunny days, and the green leaves spreading themselves over the trees, are emblems of a better season, and represent the springing up of life and feeling in your soul and in your ministry in Wilts. Winter is no pleasant season either for body or soul, and though I have written a sermon to prove that it comes before harvest, yet I cannot say that it is a season which I like, either in nature or in grace. But as in nature it is necessary to break the hard clods and prepare the earth for spring showers and May sunshine, so, I believe, it is necessary in grace to break to pieces the hard clods of the heart that there may be a suitable soil for the seed of life to spring up and grow. Few things are more mysterious to a Christian than the revivings of the work of grace upon his soul. Judging from myself at times all feeling religion seems lost and gone. At such seasons one wonders how the scene will end. But the Lord does from time to time revive and renew His work upon the heart, and there is a fresh acting of faith, hope, and love, with every other grace and fruit of the Spirit. I believe it to be a very good and a very needful thing to have the soul well and continually exercised on the things of God. I hope I can say for my part that eternal things are ever uppermost in my mind, either in a way of exercise or else in some actings of faith upon the blessed Lord.
You have, perhaps, heard that I was not able to preach for two Lord's-days; but, through mercy, I was permitted to get out again last Lord's-day. I preached twice, and administered the ordinance afterwards, and did not feel worse, except a little extra fatigue. I hope, therefore (D.V.), to go to Leicester on Friday. As I disappointed them last September I would have been sorry to be obliged again to fail in keeping my engagement. . . .
We live to see great changes, not only in men's affections but in men's opinions. It is good amid all changes, without or within, to have the heart established by grace, and not like children to be tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine. It is a mercy to be in any way delivered from looking to man and to be enabled to look to the Lord as our all in all. I am very sure that I never got any good from looking to man, whether saint or sinner. If we expect much from our friends we are almost sure to be disappointed. In our greatest straits they can do us no good, for they cannot give us the light of God's countenance, or apply any sweet promise to the soul.
Thus, though I wish ever to walk in love and affection with my friends in the Lord, yet I never want to put them in the place of Christ or to look to them for what I know they cannot give me. And, as regards my enemies, I desire to bear all their attacks and their calumnies, knowing that it is my contending for the truth that stirs up their enmity.
I had a few lines the other day from my sister. She names in it that a minister, with whom you were preaching in Devon thirty years ago, was breaking up in constitution, and says of himself that he is looking for his 'great change'. She says that when she heard him preach last she felt convinced that if she were taught of the Spirit so was he, and she believed that it would be well with him when called away. . . . People look to us as leaders in the same way as the soldiers look to their officers. And if they see us wavering and undecided, what a discouragement it is to them, and what confusion it is likely to create! So, for my own comfort, and for the sake of others, I feel myself obliged to stand separate from many people who I dare not say are destitute of the life of God in their souls. It seems very plausible to be united to all who love the Lord Jesus Christ, and so, in fact, we internally are if we have any measure of His love in our heart. But as to walking in outward union with some, how is it possible to do so with any degree of consistency? But this they consider so narrow-minded, so bigoted, so exclusive, and to manifest such a proud and self-righteous spirit. Unless the trumpet gives a certain sound, who is to prepare himself for the battle?
I want no new doctrines, nor any new religion, as I want no fresh Bible and no new Lord; all I want is to live more daily in the sweet enjoyment of them, and to manifest more of their power in heart, lip, and life. We are no longer young; life is, as it were, slipping from under our feet; and, therefore, I desire to spend the rest of my days, be they few or many, in serving the Lord, walking in His fear, enjoying His presence, preaching His gospel, contending for His truth, and living to His glory. It is a poor life to live to sin, self, and the world; but it is a blessed life to live unto the Lord. I only wish that I could do so more and more; but I have to find that the good I would I do not, and the evil I would not that I do.
You will see the new house at Allington rising upon the ruins of that which you saw burning. I hope, when our dear friends move into it, it may be consecrated by the Lord's presence.
Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.
June 17, 1861
My dear Friend, Mrs. Peake—I think I never came to London weaker in body and soul than this time. I much dreaded yesterday, and would have almost written to Mr. Brown to take my place. But I never found the promise more true, "As your day, so shall your strength be," for I was brought through most comfortably in body and soul, and preached to a large and most attentive congregation with a strength of voice surprising to myself, and in the morning had sweet liberty of soul. On Saturday I could scarcely, from lumbago, walk round Mr. C—'s garden, and yet stood up for nearly three hours, at two periods yesterday, without much pain or inconvenience. As there were a great many strangers and friends from the country my non-appearance would have been a disappointment. "Bless the Lord, O my soul."
I hope you are enjoying not only the refreshing sea-breezes, but a sweet gale of heavenly grace from off the everlasting hills. Poor Mrs. — has much felt this painful dispensation. May it be sanctified to the sufferers. It is sad when the pruning knife gives the branch no fruitfulness. But we need all our afflictions. You are not the only sufferer among the family of God. 1 Tim. 5:5 well describes "a widow indeed."
Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.
June 20, 1861
My dear Friend, Mr. Tanner—Once more am I in this great metropolis, being, through infinite and most undeserved mercy, spared to proclaim again salvation by grace in Gower Street pulpit. It is about twenty-five years since I first opened my mouth in London, and I have but once or twice since then failed to come up every year; but I think I never in all those years so much felt my weakness in body and soul as on the present occasion. When the train which brought me up was passing through the last tunnel, I could have wished it was taking me out of London instead of bringing me to it. But the Lord was better to me than all my fears, for I was scarcely ever brought more comfortably through. "Strength made perfect in weakness" has long been my experience, and so I found it then.
I had been suffering for more than a week with an attack much as that I had at your house, so that I could scarcely walk a hundred yards without pain and labor; yet I was enabled to stand up in the pulpit, so that few would have seen that anything ailed me. Is not this wonderful? and to whom does the praise belong but to the Lord? I never expect to be free from trial, temptation, pain, and suffering of one kind or another while in this valley of tears. It will be my mercy if these things are sanctified to my soul's eternal good, and the benefit of the Church of God. I cannot choose my own path, nor would I wish to do so, as I am sure it would be a wrong one. I desire to be led of the Lord Himself into the way of peace, and truth, and righteousness, to walk in His fear, live to His praise, and die in the sweet experience of His love. I have many enemies, but fear none so much as myself. O may I be kept from all evil and all error, and do the things which are pleasing in God's sight, walk in the light of His countenance, be blessed and be made a blessing. Our days are hastening away swifter than a runner; soon with us it will be time no longer, and therefore how we should desire to live to the Lord, and not to self!
My dear friend, I do not feel able to preach twice at Cirencester on July 25th, and should prefer 6:30 p.m., as I think we should have more people in the evening, and I rather prefer that time of day. The Lord's-day at Abingdon generally much tires me, and so do my labors at Allington; then there is (D.V.) the Calne anniversary on the 30th. I shall be pleased to stay at your house (D.V.) from the Tuesday until the Friday, and renew our friendly and affectionate communion.
Yours affectionately in the truth,
J. C. P.
September 19, 1861
My dear Friend, Mr. Crake—The obituary, concerning which you have written to me in your usual kind and affectionate way, has just been forwarded to me. When I first cast my eye over it I thought it would do for the wrapper, but when I came to examine it a little more carefully, and especially when I read the closing scene, I felt that the body of the work was a more fitting place. Most of our readers much prefer a good obituary to be placed in the body of the work than put upon the wrapper, as the type being smaller and the paper less clear, there is often some difficulty in reading it; besides which, the wrappers are lost when the work is bound. But if placed in the body of the work some delay must occur before it can appear. Perhaps you will explain this to the aunt of the deceased, intimating at the same time that we shall hope to insert it as soon as our space admits.
I would be very sorry if you thought that the union in heart and spirit which, I trust, has existed between us for so many years, were weakened by time or distance. There are not many, speaking comparatively, with whom I have a real union of spirit; but where it has been once formed, it is not with me lightly broken. Of course lack of communion will to a certain extent diminish, but it never will break asunder a union which the Spirit has once created, and at my time of life new friends are not easily made, nor new friendships entered into. I hope, among the evidences which I possess of being a partaker of the grace of God, is love to those who love the Lord, and, opposed as I am by so many enemies, I feel to cleave all the more earnestly to real friends. I have long felt that, with all the minor differences which often divide the living family of God, that their union is far deeper than any circumstances which can arise to cause disunion. No doubt Satan is continually at work to separate even chief friends by working upon the corruptions of our nature, and filling the mind either with suspicions or stirring up miserable jealousies. May we have grace to resist Satan in this matter, and to cleave in affection to those with whom we have felt any spiritual union, or with whose religion we have found any inward satisfaction!
Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.
November 26, 1861
Dear Friend, Mr. Hoadley—I am glad that you still bear in affectionate remembrance, and I trust in some measure in soul profit, what I was enabled to deliver in your hearing at Gower Street Chapel. I always think that it is a sign of hearing to profit when there is an abiding of the word in the heart. Our blessed Lord says, "Abide in me and I in you;" and again, "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you," John 15. Now this shows that there is no real fruit unless there be an abiding in Christ, as His words abide in us. It is this abiding of the word in the heart which makes it take root downwards and bear fruit upward. It is indeed very blessed when, as the apostle speaks, "The word of Christ dwells in us richly in all wisdom," Col. 3:16; for it is through His word applied with power to the heart that Christ makes Himself known and precious.
I wish I could give you any information or any counsel concerning which you have written to me. Mr. W— is quite a stranger to me both personally and by report, and therefore I am not able to say one word about him, good or bad. But this I know, that the true servants of God are very scarce, and that it is very easy for a man to profess a certain line of truth, just to serve a purpose of his own, when he is not acquainted with it experimentally, or indeed may be secretly opposed to the power of those very truths which he professes to hold. Nor do I know any servant of the Lord whom I could recommend. Perhaps, however, Mr. Brown, an old friend of mine, formerly of Godmanchester, but now residing at Brighton, might be enabled to come for a Lord's-day or so, as he has no fixed place at present, and supplies sometimes at Pell Green and the Lower Dicker.
I do not see that you need condemn yourself for taking a part in the service of God when you have no preaching. Somebody must do so, who fears the Lord and who can in public call upon His name. As long as you do this with a single eye to the glory of God, and with a desire for your own soul's profit and that of the people, there can be no just ground of accusation against you; and if you find reading the sermons profitable to your own soul, and the people feel the same, I would not advise you to give it up, but go on with it, as the Lord gives you grace and strength. I cannot now add more. The Lord guide and keep you.
Yours affectionately in the truth,
J. C. P.
November 27, 1861
My dear Friend, Mr. Crake—I am much obliged to you for the very interesting letter of Mr. M— which you have kindly sent me. I have read it with much pleasure and interest, and would much like to insert it in the Gospel Standard, if Mr. M— has no objection.
I have not yet been able to look over the obituary sent me at the same time, but shall hope to do so when I can get a little quiet leisure. I believe Mr. Gadsby intends to enlarge the Gospel Standard wrapper in the coming year; and in that case there will be more room for various things which seem hardly worth a place in the body of the work. I find it to be a matter of great difficulty, and one that requires both much grace and much judgment, how to carry on the Gospel Standard most for the glory of God and the profit of His people. I am well convinced that its influence has been great, and I have no doubt for much good. It has opened a way for bringing before the Church of God much that otherwise would have been altogether lost. Many sweet and savory letters of departed saints, and many obituaries of those who lived and died in the fear and love of God, have been preserved and brought before the saints of God; and we may well hope that the blessing of God has rested upon such testimonies. It affords also a kind of rallying point for the scattered saints of God throughout the land, who from time to time find their experience described and their views of truth which have been taught them by the Holy Spirit sweetly confirmed. We live, too, in a day full of error and evil, so that we need some one to lift up the voice for truth in its purity and power. I feel myself indeed very unfit and very unworthy to conduct such a work; but, as hitherto the Lord I trust has helped me and given me strength according to my day, I hope to go on still in His name if the Lord spare my life and give me the needful grace and strength.
I desire to sympathize with you and your wife in all your troubles and afflictions. You have found the benefit of them and a blessing in them, and I trust are still realizing the power of God to support you under them and the grace and presence of the Lord to bless you in them.
J. C. P.
November 27, 1861
My dear Friend, Mr. Grace—My time this evening is limited, and I can therefore only send you a few lines to express my affectionate sympathy with you in your trials and afflictions, and my hope that at evening time there will be light. It is indeed truly distressing to see those who are near and dear to us fading like a leaf, and to have daily before the eyes such a sad and solemn testimony to the Adam fall. What but the grace of God which brings salvation can gild with light the pillow of death, and cast a ray through the dark valley of that shadow through which all must pass! I hope it may please the Lord to give you some token that poor Lydia's soul is safe before she is called to resign her last breath. O how vain and fleeting are all things here below! What is the pride and fashion and all the worldly gaiety of that town in which the Lord has fixed your abode, when viewed in the solemn light of a dying hour?
What a description has the Holy Spirit given to us of God's view of these matters in Isaiah 2, 3, and how His hand is put forth in anger against all who are found exalting themselves against Him. May our lot, living and dying, be with the saints of God whom He has redeemed with the precious blood of His dear Son, whom He has called and quickened by His grace, and to whom He has made known the blessed mysteries of His kingdom as set up in the heart by the power of the Holy Spirit. Time and life are fast passing away with us; but we hope that through distinguishing grace we have not lived altogether to sin and self, but have endeavored, very weakly, indeed, and imperfectly, yet in the main sincerely, to serve God in our day and generation, to seek the good of His people, to be blessed and be made a blessing. To live a life of faith upon the Son of God is indeed a blessing beyond all price; and such a life here will prepare for a life of eternal and unalloyed enjoyment hereafter.
I was glad to learn that upon the whole you enjoyed your visit at Leicester. I had a few lines the other day from our friend Mrs. S—, who speaks warmly and affectionately of your visit. She is one of those who are looking for the power, the dew, the unction, and savor of truth in the heart, and she is not satisfied as hundreds are with the bare letter.
I can only now add our united love and sympathy to Mrs. Grace and yourself.
Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.
November 30, 1861
My dear Friend, Mr. Godwin—I just drop you a line before I start for Oakham, as you will perhaps want to make your arrangements (D.V.) for the coming year. If the Lord gives me health and strength I am likely to be out from home a good deal next year. . . .
I received a letter the other day from the deacon of a church at —, giving a dreadful account of the conduct of a minister there. He wrote to me to ask my advice whether he should withdraw from his ministry, and my advice was that he had better do so under the circumstances, and had better meet together with a few friends by themselves for reading the word and prayer, than stand a deacon and lead the singing under such error and such evil as had come to light. I have received letters from other places expressing how the poor children of God are robbed and spoiled under these letter ministers, and bidding me still to go on to lift up my voice and pen against them. My own conviction is that very few of them have had the fear of God planted in their hearts, or know anything of Jesus Christ by any personal discovery of His person and work to their consciences. They are, for the most part, bitter enemies of experimental truth, and hate those who contend for it with a great hatred.
The letter, which I will send you some day, mentions the wrath of these men against the Gospel Standard and the editor. But I hope I can say that none of these things move me. I see where the men are, that they have a name to live when they are dead, a form of godliness while they deny the power thereof; and many of them I firmly believe are held fast in some sin, either covetousness or drunkenness, or something worse, not to speak of their enmity and malice against the saints and servants of God. It is a mercy of mercies to be separate, not only in person but in heart and conscience, from such men, and to cleave in love and affection to the real saints of God, and to all who know divine realities by divine teaching and divine testimony. I only wish that I could live more in the sweet enjoyment of the truth of God, and make it more manifest by my lips and by my life that I am in vital and unctuous possession of that truth which indeed makes free.
But I have to lament a body of sin and death which is ever striving for the mastery, and the painful recollection of many departings from the Lord makes the chariot wheels run heavily. But still I struggle on as I best can, looking up to the Lord for continual supplies of grace and strength, and having no hope nor help but in His mercy and love as made known to the soul by the power of God.
We have just lost Mrs. C., one of my hearers ever since I have been at Stamford. I did not know much of her, but Mrs. B—, was very intimate with her, and has no doubt of her safety.
J. C. P.