A Letter To Mrs Pinnell – July 27th, 1860
My dear friend, Mrs. Pinnell.
I much regret that I shall not be able this time to accept your kind invitation to come to Westwell, as I must reach home by August 10th. I would otherwise have had much pleasure in once more visiting you all, and renewing our friendship and spiritual communion. The time of the year naturally reminds you of that solemn scene which I witnessed when poor John passed away from this valley of sickness and sorrow, to be at rest on that happy shore where sin no more defiles, and pain of body or mind are alike unknown. Viewing the peculiar severity of the past winter and spring, his poor dear father’s long and trying illness, the incurable nature of John’s disease, and the sweet hope you entertain of his eternal salvation, could you have wished him a longer stay here below? And as to the manner of his death, though solemn to the spectators, it was not painful to him, and was much more speedy, as well as easy, than a more lingering mode of departure. When faith can look through and beyond the dark cloud of sight and sense, it sees mercy and goodness in those things wherein the unbelieving heart does but murmur and rebel. But whose voice should we listen to? That of sense and nature, which always disbelieves and opposes the way, word, and will of God; or that of faith and grace, which believes, and submits, and speaks well of the Lord and His dealings?
With many trials, you and dear Mr. Pinnell have had many mercies. In fact, your very trials have been among your mercies, and if not, the very chief of them, have made a way for the choicest to be made manifest. “The Lord tries the righteous.” Their trials are as much appointed them, as that righteousness in which they stand, and whereby they are justified. And if the Lord Himself tries them, then the nature, season, duration, and all attending circumstances of all their trials, are determined for them, selected by infinite wisdom, decreed by unalterable purpose, guided by eternal love, and brought to pass by almighty power. To believe less than this is secret infidelity, and will always issue in murmuring, rebellion, self-righteousness, and self-pity. But with faith (at least when in exercise), there will be submission and resignation to the will of God, and clearing of Him, and so condemning ourselves.
Still, nature will feel and carnal reason will work, and then under their wretched influence, there will be a going over the same useless and miserable ground. “Why this, why that? Why was dear John not spared as a prop to the family? Why cut down like a flower, when other young men are going about in full health and strength?” So reasons, so murmurs nature, and then comes self-pity and that worldly sorrow which works death. May you and dear Mr. Pinnell be graciously delivered from all such subtle attempts of the flesh to wrest the scepter of sovereignty from the grasp of Jehovah, and to say to Him when He exercises it contrary to our fleshly will, “What are You doing?”
Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.