A Letter To William Tiptaft – March 26th, 1849
My dear Tiptaft
I consider poor Mrs. C.’s case a very trying one, and one very difficult indeed to pronounce any decided opinion upon. Say, for instance, that we gave it as our decided advice that she should stay away from chapel; that would seem shunning the cross. Say, that we advised her still to go, and she should lose her life in consequence, painful reflections might be cast upon us. Such dreadful brutality we rarely hear of—indeed, I might say, such murderous proceedings. I think, however, there is a decided difference between doing evil and forbearing to do well. Thus, I think, she might resolutely deny to go to church, whatever the consequence. There, I think, my mind is pretty clear. But whether she might not abstain for a season, during his present dreadful madness, I might call it, from going to chapel, is another matter. Christians, when persecuted in one place, might flee to another. Here was an allowed declining persecution by flight; but, on the other hand, God, we know, can make a way of escape even by people persevering to go. Look at D___, how her husband stood with a knife at the door the morning she was to be baptized, to stab her, and how she crept out at the window, was baptized, and how all was overruled, as we hope, for his eventual good.
A note which fell into my hands this morning gives an account of a poor woman much in Mrs. C.’s situation. I think much must depend on the state of her mind; what she feels led to do, what promises the Lord has applied to her soul, what faith and strength she has in exercise, how her own conscience is exercised in the matter. It is so hard to lay down rules of action in these matters, for what one can do another cannot. Peter, who once denied his Master, could afterwards be crucified with his head downwards. Nicodemus comes first by night, and afterwards goes boldly into Pilate’s presence. Elijah flees before Jezebel, and then meets Ahab in Naboth’s vineyard. David kills Goliath, and then flees before Absalom. Thus, good men act differently as faith is weak or strong; and we would not counsel any man to walk on the waves unless we knew he had Peter’s Master near, and Peter’s faith in exercise. Thus I feel slow to offer advice, or give counsel in this painful and difficult matter. We feel, however, encouraged to hope the Lord will appear for her from the promise He has given her.
We had a church meeting here yesterday. Two candidates were fully received, Miss B, and Mrs. L. They were both well received, but the latter particularly. Oh, with what sweetness and power did she speak! I never myself was so melted with hearing an experience, and I am sure there was not a dry eye among us. I did not know I had such a hearer. She has been, and is, a most deeply-tried woman; bodily pain, until lately, deep poverty, and soul trouble have sunk her very low; but lately she has been so much blessed in her soul, especially yesterday fortnight and the following Tuesday. Besides this lately, she was much blessed in her soul some years ago. I do not think we ever had a candidate before the church so much in the present savor of things. Others may have as good an experience, but they did not come before the church in the savour, blessedness, and power of it. It seemed quite to encourage me in the work; she could speak of what she had felt under this and that preaching, and how it abode with her and what it did for her, so clearly and sweetly. She has great trials about coming to chapel, having opposition at home, and an afflicted body. She has been a hearer eight or nine years.
R. S. has been blessed again in her soul. She thought she was dying, but had no fear. She has a great desire to see you. Some of the friends, I think J. C. among them, have seen, and think well of her.
Mrs. L.’s testimony has much encouraged us all. I felt I would not care for the speeches of a hundred enemies if the Lord would condescend so to bless the word.
If spared, I hope to baptize the three candidates (D.V.) April 8. Mrs. L. spoke of how she heard you on baptism. What a power there is in true religion, and what can be compared to it! but how it is got at only through trials and exercises! My heart cleaves more and more to the power. All without is worthless — a mere tithing of mint, anise, and cummin. Mrs. B. speaks highly of Mrs. L.’s consistency.
Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.
J. C. P.