A Letter To Thomas Godwin – April 1st, 1867
My dear Friend, Thomas Godwin – I understand that you and Mrs. Godwin saw poor Mrs. Healy on your way to Leicester, and found her much altered. When we received the tidings of her death—though in some sense it came as a shock, as such tidings always do, yet I felt it to be a merciful release. There was nothing before her in this life but suffering and pain; and as one had a good hope of her eternal safety, no one who loved her could wish her to continue in her house of weakness and suffering. It was a kind providence that she had her father’s house in which to spend the last days of her widowhood, and so kind and attentive a nurse in her sister Emma, who has much risen in my estimation from her unwearied devotedness to her suffering sister.
Mr. and Mrs. Keal would doubtless feel the stroke; but I have often observed that, in old persons, the natural feelings are a good deal blunted, and that they bear the loss of relatives with much less sorrow than those who are younger. My desire and prayer for them both is, that the Lord would sanctify the affliction to their souls’ good. They must shortly follow; and it will be their mercy if the Lord would brighten their evidences, and manifest Himself more clearly unto them, before He calls them hence. We know their great kindness, liberality, and hospitality to the Lord’s saints and servants; and how they have borne the heat and burden of the day, and stood by the Cause with unabated firmness for so many years. Now if the Lord would but shine into their souls in their latter days, what a strength and comfort it would be, both to the people and to those like us, who have received from them so many proofs of kindness and affection.
We think of bringing out a little memoir of poor Richard, as a little memento of him; and I think it will be well received. It will contain his experience, which appeared in The Gospel Standard last year, and the letters to his wife, which our friend Mrs. Peake has put together, and which have appeared, and will appear also in the G. S. He was a man well taught in the things of God, tender in conscience, liberal in heart, and circumspect in life. We have at various times had a good deal of conversation upon spiritual things; for he would come up to me in my little study at Oakham, and there we would often compare notes upon the precious things of God. We saw much eye to eye in the precious truth, and if we did not meet on every point, we never jarred nor disputed, as he always treated me with great respect and affection, and knew well how much I was attached to him. He had a great esteem and affection for you, as your ministry had at various times been blessed to his soul—and when he was first brought under deep spiritual trouble, he felt as if he must come and see you, that you might give him some encouragement.
He was also very fond of our friend the late William Tiptaft, and in many points much resembled him. I little thought, when I made him my executor, that I would survive either him or his wife. But oh how many heartier and stronger men have I seen removed from this vain scene; and I am still spared, who have held my life in my hand, as it were, so many years, and known so much of bodily affliction! My desire is to live to the Lord all the days that still remain to me in this lower world, to walk more in His fear, enjoy more of His presence, and be more spiritually-minded, which I know from experience is life and peace. My chief trouble is the recollection that I have not walked more in the fear of God, but have been so often entangled in the snares spread for my feet. I do earnestly desire to know more of a broken heart, a contrite spirit, a tender conscience, and a humble mind, with sweet visitations of the Lord’s love, and the rich manifestations of his superabounding grace. It is my mercy that I am not settled upon my lees, or at ease in Zion; but find my soul for the most part kept alive in the things of God in prayer and supplication, in reading His holy Word with sweetness and savor, and passing my time much alone in the exercise of it on divine realities. . . .
Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.