A Letter To Thomas Godwin – August 31st, 1849
My dear friend, Thomas Godwin
I was so poorly on Saturday night, and coughed so much during the night, that I almost despaired of being able to preach at all. I was sharply tried, for as I seemed to see the Lord’s hand so plainly in my going to Lakenheath, it would have been very trying and mysterious if I could not preach, and I knew it would not only be a disappointment to the congregation, but would open the mouth of my enemies. I got up, however, and when soon after breakfast the gigs and vehicles came pouring in, I felt I must preach, or at least make the attempt, come what would. I think if ever I looked to the Lord alone for strength and help, I did that morning. When I went up to the chapel it was so crowded I could scarcely get through to the pulpit. I read and prayed very short, and my cough kept interrupting me, so that I quite dreaded the sermon; but when I came to preach I found my voice strengthened, and I was mercifully helped through, beyond my expectation in every sense of the word.
There were people there from twenty miles’ distance, and the number of the vehicles very far exceeded that at Allington. I preached again in the afternoon, and my voice seemed clearer and stronger than in the morning. The people were standing back nearly as far as the trees, and yet my voice seemed able to reach them. On Tuesday evening I preached again to a full chapel. I came home on Wednesday. Tiptaft preached for me on Thursday, but I was so unwell I could not go out to hear him. I preached, however, on Lord’s-day here twice, and had so good a congregation that I thought there was some mistake, and that there was an impression Tiptaft was to preach.
I hope I may one day see clearly why many painful things have been permitted. I think, indeed, I am getting more light upon them. The Lord has delivered me from some very trying temptations, and seems of late to be drawing me nearer to Himself. When we are under guilt and condemnation, all things seem against us, and there is a fleeing when none pursues. All things in providence and in grace have a veil over them, and we see nothing clearly. But as the Lord draws us out of these feelings by drawing us nearer to Himself as the God of all grace, light begins to dawn upon the soul, and many perplexities are cleared up. It is a blessed thing to be drawn out of the world and things hateful and evil, by tasting that the Lord is gracious. It is the power of sin which needs breaking, and this can be only by being brought under the power of grace.
I have had many trials, afflictions, persecutions, and temptations; and I hope these have all worked together for my soul’s profit. It is not often at the time that we see the good of our trials and afflictions. But what poor useless beings we would be without them — a burden and a nuisance to the children of God!
I was thinking the other day that there were only two things really worth living for; to be blessed ourselves, and be made a blessing to others.
Without this, what is life?
To eat so many pounds of bread and meat, drink so many tumblers of water, sleep so many hours — is this life?
But to be blessed and made a blessing, to have the hope of immortality in one’s bosom, and for some of God’s children to bless the Lord that we ever lived — this is worth living for, and dying for too.
Let us live twenty years longer, it will only be the old scene over again, and we with less strength to bear it. The world, sin, and Satan will not change. But if by living we are made instruments in the Lord’s hands of spiritual good to His people, this will be a blessing for eternity. This may reconcile us to our trials, if through them we are made a blessing to the heirs of glory.
Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.
J. C. P.