A Letter To Thomas Godwin – October 18th, 1847
My dear friend, Thomas Godwin
Knowing that I am poorly, you will not expect a long letter from me. Still I will (D.V.) try and write a few lines.
As regards my health, I am much the same; if anything, perhaps, a little better. But all serious afflictions of the lungs are in themselves so perilous, as well as uncertain, that I cannot say much about my health. My mind much fluctuates upon this point. Sometimes I feel as if my race were run, and at other times I think I may recover. The Lord has brought me through some severe illnesses, and can bring me through this if it be His gracious will. I am very sure I deserve, as well as need, very heavy strokes. Gentle taps are not enough for me; nor, indeed, will heavy stripes do me any good unless in a special manner sanctified and blessed.
At present I can see but two fruits of my affliction — 1. Chastisement, and that deeply deserved; and 2. A deliverance thereby from a temptation which has long beset me, and caused me some groans and tears. When I say “a deliverance,” I mean in a good measure, for the tail of the torch burns yet. I cannot say much about the dealings of the Lord with me during this illness, as I have felt generally stupid and hard; but the other day my heart was in some measure melted and softened toward the Lord in my walk, which is, you know, a sweet feeling while it lasts, makes all afflictions bearable, takes away the strong heart, fills the eyes with tears, and the heart with tenderness, meekness, patience, resignation and love.
I understand that some of ____’s hearers are rejoicing at my illness, and expressing their hopes that my mouth is forever stopped. This is no new thing. Psalm 41:8 has been much in my mind, and I have sometimes breathed forth the cry, “Raise me up that I may requite them,” not with anger and evil, but with what will grieve them more, declaring the goodness of the Lord to my soul.
But is it not a horrid spirit, and one to be found almost only in professors?
Who have slandered and persecuted me most, the world or professors?
As a proof, the Stamford Mercury last week, mentioning my illness, spoke of me with kindness and respect; while those who profess so strict an adherence to the precepts of the gospel seem almost as if they thirsted for my blood.
I am glad you felt so at home at Allington. I believe it was mutual, for friend Parry mentioned how well you were heard, and what power and savour there was with the word. I have myself had most peculiar feelings in that pulpit, such as I have rarely had elsewhere, and much resembling what you describe — tender and soft, and a liberty of heart as well as of lip. I felt quite rejoiced there was such a mutual feeling at Allington, as I have a love and union to both, and I have thought sometimes I knew more of each and felt more towards each than they perhaps to one another. I mean more in a way of intimacy and friendship, for you were never brought much together.
Amid all the strife and confusion, what a mercy to feel a little real love and union to any of the Lord’s family!
I feel convinced that there cannot be this without real soul humility. Pride, self-esteem, and self-righteousness are brothers and sisters with strife, jealousy, and enmity.
Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.