Letter To The Deacons and Members of Christ’s Body Assembling at Gower Street Chapel – October 13th, 1856
To The Deacons and Members of the Church of Christ Assembling themselves for the worship of God at Gower Street Chapel, London, mercy, peace, and love be multiplied:
My dear friends,
Having taken into serious and prayerful consideration the expression of your desire that I should come among you for a season, with a view to a settlement as pastor over you in the Lord, if approved of by you, I have been obliged to come to the resolution to decline the proposal.
Two obstacles have, from the first, presented themselves to my mind, which I feel would be insuperable, unless specially removed by the Lord Himself.
1. The first is the delicate state of my health, in consequence of which I am sometimes laid aside from the public exercise of the ministry. This, which is much felt by my own people in the country, would be a serious objection in London, and with a large and more mixed congregation. Besides which, my general delicacy of health, and susceptibility to cold, would much hinder those pastoral visits, that attention to the sick, and interment, when needed, of members of the church, which would reasonably be required of a settled minister. Nor can I reasonably hope that, after so many years’ duration of ill health, it is likely to improve with advancing life.
2. But, secondly, I have felt that, after having been settled over two churches and congregations for about eighteen years, among whom I trust the Lord has blessed my labours, I could not dissolve that connection, unless I had some clear intimation that such was the will of God.
My own people, both at Stamford and Oakham, have deeply felt even the idea of my leaving them, and have expressed their apprehension that such a step might, at least at one of the places, issue in the breaking up of the church altogether.
Unless therefore I clearly saw my way, and unless the pillar of cloud went more manifestly before me than it does, I feel I could not take a step so important as that to which you invite me.
There are indeed many circumstances, both as regards you and myself, which would have made your invitation acceptable to me, had these obstacles not intervened. But I am very certain that, to undertake such an important charge without clearly seeing the will and hand of God, would issue in sorrow and disappointment to both you and myself.
I am, my dear friends,
Yours affectionately in Christ,
J. C. P.