A Letter To A Brother In Christ – April 18th, 1867
Dear Friend in the Truth, Mr. James Davis,
Your handsome rug and the two muffs came safely to hand on the second of this month, and we beg to express our thanks for them; one of the muffs I have given to my dear wife, and my daughter begs to thank you very kindly for thinking of her and for sending her so pretty a present.
Your last kind letter came to hand this morning. I am always sorry that anything should appear in the Gospel Standard which can stumble any mind or hurt the feelings of any child of God, especially when it has any reference to the glorious Person of our adorable Lord. There certainly is no evidence that the blessed Lord ever actually wrought with His own hands, nor is it implied in the expression, “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” which was but the expression of scorn and contempt in the mouth of the ungodly; and I am sure anything that in the least degree touches upon the holy humanity of our gracious Lord makes one who loves His name to shrink, and, as you say, shudder lest anything should be said derogatory to Him.
I am fond myself of Berridge’s “Hymns,” but there are many expressions in them, as in his other writings, of which I by no means approve. When, therefore, I edited, in 1842, his “Songs of Zion,” though I did not feel warranted to alter much, yet I struck out some expressions or omitted some verses of which I could not altogether approve. But, dear friend, where shall we find anything like perfection in the creature? or any writer in whom there will not be expressions that we cannot approve of? I am very sure that I have written things, especially in times past, or rather dropped expressions, which I would not do now; and I dare say sometimes when you think of expressions that you yourself have made use of, you have had to wish that you could recall them. Indeed James tells us that “if any man offend not in word the same is a perfect man,” which, I am sure, neither you nor I ever profess or expect to be.
I am glad that the Lord does at times encourage you still to go on speaking in His name. He accepts what a man has, and does not look for great gifts in setting forth His truth. A few broken words, which He is pleased to apply to the soul with a divine power, will be made a lasting blessing when all wordy eloquence falls to the ground like water spilt. The great thing is to have a single eye to the glory of God, a love to His dear people, and to know experimentally the things contended for. All the saints of God have to a certain extent the same teaching, the same experience, and the same feelings. Some indeed are more blessed and favoured, but all in their measure are led into the same precious truth in the same blessed way. When, therefore, they hear a servant of God contending for those divine realities of which they have felt the life and power, it often sweetly revives the work of grace upon their heart, and encourages them to hope and believe that they are rightly led and taught. But you justly observe that the chief thing is to have the inward witness, and I am well satisfied that there is no real satisfaction without it. The lack of this makes many a poor child of God sigh and cry, and when he gets it makes him rejoice.
I am sorry to find from your last letter that you are complaining of your chest. I thought that in your beautiful climate you had not those illnesses in the chest which we have in this damp, foggy country.
I am sorry to hear Mrs. C. is not well; please give her my love. How is Aquila? I wish the Lord would send you a real servant of His, but I have little hope of it. We are fast losing our best men here, and none are raised up to take their place. What a world it is of sin and sorrow! Oh to be saved from it and out of it with an everlasting salvation!
Yours affectionately, in the Truth,
J. C. P.