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09/01/2013 / Test All Things

A Letter To Joseph Parry – March 8th, 1849

My dear friend, Joseph Parry

You will be very sorry to hear that our poor friend M’Kenzie is dangerously ill. He broke a blood vessel on Saturday last, and brought up much blood, and had a return of the same on Monday. The doctor says it is from the lungs, which makes it all the more dangerous. He may not be immediately removed; but I would greatly fear the ultimate event, as such attacks generally terminate in consumption even when not quickly fatal.

The Lord, however, mercifully blessed his soul, after the first attack, with His presence, and that, after all, is everything. Our time here in this world must at the very longest be short; and what is the longest or most prosperous life without the Lord’s blessing? When we feel what vile sinners and dreadful backsliders we are, and have been, it almost makes us despair of a blessing. Indeed, we could not entertain the least hope of one were it not for free and sovereign grace — but this opens a door of hope for the vilest and worst.

How valuable, how indispensable a blessing seems to be when sickness makes death stare us, as it were, in the face!

How empty and worthless really are all human cares and anxieties, as well as all human hopes and pleasures, when viewed in the light of a vast and endless eternity!

I have not been very well of late, having suffered from my old complaint, cold on the chest. I generally suffer from it every spring, especially when the winds are cold and searching. It much confines me to the house at present; but I still go on preaching as usual. I never have been attended better since I was settled here, and especially since the weather has been dry and fine. We have many country hearers, and short days, bad weather, and dirty roads are hindrances to their attendance.

I do not see any probability of my being able to be at Allington more than the first three Lord’s-days in May. Poor M’Kenzie’s illness will make a sad gap in the supplies. He was to be at Leicester in April, and to follow me at Eden Street chapel in August. What they will do at the latter place, I know not. I would not be surprised if they should wish me to stay another Lord’s-day, and then it will be, perhaps, a question with me whether I ought not to stay in preference to coming down to Allington. When I dropped hint of coming to Allington on my way to Abingdon for August 12, I, of course, could not contemplate such an event as M’Kenzie’s illness. Ministers have to consider not merely their own feelings and wishes, but the good of the churches.

Mr. Harrison has already applied for me to help them at Leicester, and I would like to do so, if I could see my way, or procure an acceptable supply here. I find it more difficult now to leave home than ever, there being a greater unwillingness among the people that I should go from home. Churches, like individuals, are selfish, and rarely consider or consult each other’s profit and convenience.

How our friends and acquaintances seem continually falling around us! R. Dredge lies in Allington graveyard, and J. M’Kenzie may soon be numbered among the departed. Such things have a voice, could we but hear it, and be stirred up by it. It seems to say, “you, be also ready.”

But what can we do to prepare ourselves for the solemn hour?

Nothing. The God of all grace can alone, then and there, by appearing to us, and for us, enable us to say, “Come, Lord Jesus!” But it is a mercy when deep and solemn considerations about death and eternity have some effect in loosening the strong bands of sin and the world, and lead on to that spiritual-mindedness which is life and peace.

I doubt not that the low price of corn, conjoined with the bad yield, sometimes tries your mind. But you will have enough of “the thick clay,” doubtless, to carry you honourably through. And why need you covet more? We shall always have enough for needs, but never for covetousness.

Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.

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