A Letter To Joseph Parry – March 19th, 1862
My dear Friend, Joseph Parry.
I am glad to find that in your illness you have not been altogether left of the gracious Lord. It is but rarely that we can see at the time itself, what benefit there is to spring out of sickness and affliction. Our coward flesh cries out for ease, we want to get better, and dread being worse; and as illness usually fluctuates, we are raised up or depressed according to circumstances. But indeed it is an unspeakable mercy when the affliction is truly sanctified to our soul’s good, when we can submit to the Lord’s will, lie passive in His hand, and know no will but His. When too, a little measure of meekness and softness is communicated, with faith and hope in exercise upon the blessed Lord, it seems to reconcile the mind to the affliction. When too we can read the Word of truth with sweetness and pleasure, are enabled to call upon the Lord with a believing heart, and are in any way blessed with that spirituality of mind which is life and peace, then we can say—”It is good for me to have been afflicted”.
All the saints of God have ever acknowledged that it was in the furnace of affliction that they learned their deepest lessons, and got their greatest blessings. Some, if not many, of the usual trials of the Lord’s people, you are in good measure exempt from; but as each must bear his cross, yours, and I may add mine also, has been bodily affliction. People who are healthy and strong may think lightly of it; but those who know what it is by painful experience, feel that it is no small an affliction, especially when it is more or less permanent. It is a good thing however, to be thus daily reminded of our latter end, and as the Apostle says, thus to die daily. It has a good effect in loosening the heart and affections from the poor perishing things of time and sense, and impressing deeply upon our minds that this polluted world is not our rest or home. We take much to uproot us, for our carnal heart strikes deep root into earthly objects—much deeper than we are aware of, until we find how closely we cleave to things which we thought had scarcely any hold upon us. James gives good advice where he says—”Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray.” You will find it a great mercy if you are enabled in your affliction to call upon the Lord; for though He may seem to hide His face and delay to answer, yet He puts the tears of His saints in His bottle, and writes their prayers in His book.
The operation of truth upon the heart is like the light of day, gradual and yet effective; or like dew and rain, which soften and fertilize the ground, we can scarcely tell how. So divine truth in the lips, or written by the pen of a servant of God, often has a very gradual influence upon the mind; but this influence, though imperceptible, is not less real, for it is due not to the man but to the truth which he proclaims, and which the blessed Spirit seals with power upon the conscience. The Lord has placed me in a position which I never sought or desired; but being in it, I do not see my way to retire from it as long as I have grace and strength to execute it. It costs me at times a great deal of mental labor, as you would see from the writing which I have monthly to produce for the Gospel Standard, and all this in addition to my ministerial labors. I wonder sometimes that my poor brain can sustain so much work, for sometimes on the Lord’s day, after two laborious services, I write a good part of the evening. Still, as strength is given me, I go on, desiring not to live to myself, but to the glory of God and the good of His people. I only wish that I could enjoy more myself of the precious truth of God, and feel more of its liberating, sanctifying influence upon my own heart, lip, and life.
Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.