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06/01/2013 / Test All Things

A Letter To Thomas Godwin – March 25th, 1850

My dear Friend, Thomas Godwin

My (lack of writing), I can assure you, has not arisen from lack of friendship and affection. Since I have had so many enemies and so many ‘treacherous friends’, I have only more valued and cleaved to my few real friends. But writing is to me a great burden generally, and thus I keep putting it off until at last conscience compels me to make the attempt. But this morning, something I hope more than conscience, urges me to drop you a few lines in answer to your kind and affectionate letter. . .

I am glad you were comfortable at Leicester. Preaching is very pleasant when the Lord is present, but when all is dark and barren it is indeed hard work. I often wish I was anything else, or that I had more grace and qualifications for it. I had but a poor day yesterday, and seemed unable to get at anything which had dew and savour in it. I have so much opposition without and within. On the one side the Pharisees, and on the other the Antinomians; who are the worse, I can scarcely tell.

And then so much opposition within, so many temptations, lusts, and follies, so many snares and besetting sins, and a vile heart, dabbling in all carnality and filth. I am indeed exercised by “sin and grace”, as you say. I liked the expression, it suited me well. Sin or grace seems continually uppermost—striving and lusting against one another. What workings, checks, lustings, sorrowings, fallings, risings, defeats, and victories. What a battlefield is the heart, and there the fight is lost and won. When sin prevails, mourning over its wounds and slaughter; when grace and godly fear beat back temptation, a softening into gratitude. Thus I keep hammering on at the old strain—soul exercise; and this sometimes meets with the experience of the poor and needy, and we see eye to eye and feel heart to heart in the things of God.

I have never wished nor cared for my sermons to be published, but if the Lord condescends to bless them, to Him be all the glory. I have never lifted up my little finger to spread or circulate them after I have corrected the proofs to prevent errors. Nor do my friends take any trouble about them more than myself. None of my people recommend them or circulate them. They are what they are; and are cast upon the waters and left to the Lord to do as He pleases with them.

Thus, if they are blessed it is of Him. And I think, sometimes, how hard the devil has been trying for years to poison people’s minds for fear any good should be done by them.

I baptized Miss N. on the 17th.

Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.

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