A Letter To Two Sisters In Christ – March 3rd, 1869
My dear Friends in the Lord, Mrs. Peake and Miss Morris.
Among the trying and painful parts of our experience, we have to learn the dryness and deadness of our souls when not under any felt divine influence, and that at such seasons, if we attempt to speak or write upon the things of God, barrenness and death seem to rest upon all that proceeds from us. Truly our gracious Lord said—”Without Me you can do nothing.” He is and ever must be everything in us, as well as everything for us, and everything to us. Without His divine communications we can neither pray, nor read, nor meditate, with any faith in living exercise; and therefore as all our springs are in Him, and as all communication from Him is through faith, the suspension of His gracious influences through the Spirit leaves us dark, barren, dry, and as if dead. But what a mercy it is for those who have an interest in the love, and blood, and grace of the Son of God, that He changes not, but rests in His love, is of one mind and none can turn Him, and is the same yesterday, today, and forever!
When we take a review of all the temptations, trials, sins, backslidings, wanderings, and startings-aside that we have been guilty of, all the hard thoughts, peevish and rebellious uprisings, with all the sad unprofitableness, backwardness to good, proneness to evil, determination to have our own will and way, and all that mass of inconsistency which sometimes seems to frighten us in the retrospect, lest we be deceived altogether—I say, when we look over these things, what reason we have to cling close to the precious blood and righteousness of the Christ of God, that we may find in Him a refuge from our sinful, vile, and guilty selves!
It seems sad that, after so many years’ experience of the goodness and mercy of God, and after all we have seen, known, tasted, felt, and handled of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus, of His suitability, beauty, blessedness, grace, and glory, we should still find so much sin, carnality, unbelief, infidelity, and every other evil, alive and lively within. How it shows the depth of the Fall, and the incurable corruption of our nature, that neither time, nor advancing years, nor bodily infirmity, nor any other change of circumstances can alter this wretched heart, turn it into a right course, or make it obedient and fruitful; but that like the barren heath, no cultivation can bring out of it either flower or fruit.
But on the other hand, what a rich and unspeakable mercy it is for those who are born of God, that they are possessed of a new and divine nature, in which there have been planted, by an Almighty hand, the precious graces of faith, hope, and love, with everything which can qualify and make them meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.
Perhaps, as we advance in life and become established in the truth, we see and feel more clearly and distinctly the difference which separates these two natures, and look with almost equal surprise on the dreadful depravity of the one, and the spiritual character of the other, groveling in the one in all the dregs of earth, and I might say, all the sins of hell, and rising up in the other to all that is holy, heavenly, and good. Mr. Huntington says that he was three men, though but one coalheaver—(1) as a man—(2) as having an old man—and (3) as having a new man. This witness is true. We have our natural body, which often makes us sigh under the sicknesses and infirmities which attend it—then there is that corrupt nature which has so long been, and still is, such a plague; and then there is that new and divine nature, we trust, which is born of God, and which sins not, dwelling as it does in the midst of sin and corruption.
Now as the natural body is sustained by food, and our corrupt nature is fed and strengthened by all that is evil, so the new man of grace is sustained by the pure truth of God, and especially by communications of grace and life, out of the fullness of the blessed Lord. It is to Him that the new man of grace looks, listens to His voice, hears His word, delights in His Person and work, longs after the visitations of His presence and the manifestations of His love, and oh, how at times it longs for, presses after, and cries out for His visits, “Oh, when will You come unto me!” And how gladly, as Hart says, would it entertain Him and give Him the best room!
But how soon again all these earnest desires and pressings forward seem to droop and die; and our wretched heart again grovels in the dust, just as if there never had been, nor was one grain of grace or one spark of divine life. How earnestly at times do I desire and pray for the Lord to rend the veil, break in with His own most blessed and glorious light, and come Himself into my heart in His risen power and glory. There is much truth in Mr. Hart’s words and the connection, “We pray to be new-born, and know not what we mean”.
But what an unspeakable mercy it is for us, that the Lord changes not as we change, and that He views us, not as standing in all our rags and ruin, all our filth and folly, but in the Person of His dear Son, in whom He is ever well pleased.
I desire to commend you both, with all whom we know and love in the Lord, who worship among you with your dear pastor and his wife, the deacons and members of the church, to the Lord.
Yours very affectionately in Him,
J. C. P.