A Letter To Joseph Parry – December 3rd, 1860
My dear friend, Joseph Parry.
You will probably have seen by The Gospel Standard that I have been in some measure restored from my late illness; but it is a great trial to me, and no doubt to the people also, that I should be so weak and tender; for it makes my preaching so uncertain, and has such a tendency to scatter the congregation. Were I in the full enjoyment of health and strength, and above all, were the Lord to favor me with His presence and blessing, I would not lack a congregation either here or at Oakham; and indeed I might say, if I were favored with the strength of body enjoyed by so many ministers, I would, as far as I can judge, find hearers in other places. But no doubt there are wise reasons why I should not be thus made use of; for we know, however dark and mysterious things may appear to our mind, the Lord cannot err in His dealings with His children. It is my earnest desire that my long affliction may be deeply blessed, not only to my own soul, but for the good also of others; and that will throw a blessed light upon the whole path from beginning to end.
You may depend upon it, that in my solitude—for I spend most of my time alone—many thoughts pass through my mind, with many exercises on various things. I have thought sometimes that there are few temptations, and especially inward temptations, that I have not experienced and been exercised by; and I have felt and found in them that none but the Lord Himself can deliver me out of them, or overrule them for my spiritual good. When we are passing through various temptations, we cannot well speak of them; but when we are in some good measure delivered from them, then we can trace them out and speak of them as things painfully known. I am well convinced that no man knows anything to any real profit, except what he is taught in his own soul. All true religion must be gotten from the Lord, and that only will stand which He Himself has wrought with a divine power in the heart. This, I trust, was shown me many years ago, and impressed upon my heart, so that I have never been able to take up for myself or preach to others, any religion but that which comes down from above, from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
And I believe also that true saving religion must be got in the furnace, and for the most part through trials, temptations, and afflictions. At any rate, I am sure that such a religion not only shines brightest, but wears best, and lasts longest. Nor indeed have I any union or communion with any other religion, though I could only wish I had more of it in my own soul.
I am sorry to hear so sad an account of poor Mrs. T. I do hope that the Lord may appear for her, and bless her with some manifestation of His pardoning love. It is a mercy that she is delivered from trusting in her own righteousness, and is enabled, however dimly, to look to the atoning blood, finished work, and glorious righteousness of the blessed Lord. I have often thought what sweet and blessed words those were which dropped from His sacred lips when upon earth, which I need not quote at length, for you will find them in John 3:14-16.
It is not our knowledge, or wisdom, or gifts, or abilities, or usefulness, or anything of the kind that can save us, but looking unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and being blessed with a living faith in Him. Many a poor creature who has scarcely been able to say anything during life, and been seemingly outshone by great professors of religion, has received that into his soul, dropped into his heart as it were from the mouth of God, which has saved him with an everlasting salvation; while the other has sunk into eternity without hope. So I would encourage every poor, tried, tempted soul still to look, and still to long, still to seek, and still to knock until the Lord appears; for it is in this way that deliverance is obtained, Christ revealed, mercy manifested, and pardon sealed upon the heart.
Oh that I could be, both as a Christian and as a minister, what I see and feel a Christian should be; for I feel to come sadly short of even my own standard of one or the other! There is a general complaint of the low state of things in the church of God. But if ever there be a revival out of it, I am well convinced through what means, as an instrument, that revival must come. It must be through a pouring out of the blessed Spirit upon the ministers. It was so on the day of Pentecost; for the disciples were bidden to tarry at Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high; and we find that it was through this power being then given them, that God wrought in the hearts of His people.
I was glad to hear that poor old Sarah Giddings is so favored. She is another testimony that your prayer under the apple tree was accepted. Surely we can both look back to my coming to Allington as a marked event in our lives, for we have known both the dead and the living to have testified that the blessing of God rested upon my testimony in the little chapel. It is not a little temporary excitement, or what is called hearing well, that proves a ministry to be owned of God; but that it abides in the heart, stretches through life, and reaches down to the very swellings of Jordan. I hope I can say, to the praise, honor, and glory of God, that some of those who have been blessed, either in hearing my voice or in reading my sermons, have borne upon a dying bed their testimony that God had blessed the word to their souls.
I am sure I feel in myself one of the most unworthy of all men, that the Lord should condescend to speak in, by, and through me to the hearts of His people; but I know that He will send by whom He will send, that He chooses His own instruments, works in His own way, and does His own will. Oh that He would bless and favor my soul with His manifested presence, keep me in His fear all the day long, sanctify to me all my trials and afflictions, bless me in life, be with me in death, and land me safe in a happy eternity!
I hope that those who follow you may never sell the truth out of the chapel, and that they would rather convert it into cottages than let error come within the doors.
My daughter is still at Leicester. I miss her, as I find her very useful as a secretary. I told her, when she accepted the office, that she would find it no easy task; and I believe she has proved my words to be true, though nothing can exceed her kindness and readiness to help me in my correspondence and occupation in carrying on the Standard. As a specimen of the work which she had to do, I dictated a letter to a Scotch minister, which filled six sheets of the largest-sized note paper. Several friends wish me to put it in The Gospel Standard, and I think I probably shall do so. It is on the subject of the law NOT being a believer’s rule of life. Our friend William Tiptaft invited him to preach at Abingdon, and there he got into conversation with him and J. Kay upon the subject of the law; and the Scotchman was so shocked by the views which were expressed by our friends on the subject, that he fairly took flight and would not preach, though engaged to do so. He wrote in consequence to Tiptaft upon the subject, but could get no answer from him. So at last he wrote to me several long letters, begging most earnestly for answers. So I was compelled to take up the subject, though I could scarcely afford the time. And when I had written it, it struck me it might do for The Gospel Standard; as many children of God who are sound in the truth, though they cannot explain their own views, and can understand them when they are put forth by others; and as those friends who saw the letter wished me to put it into the Standard, it seemed to concur with my own feelings, and therefore I probably shall do so.
Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.