A Letter To Thomas Godwin – August 4th, 1848
My dear friend, Thomas Godwin
We arrived here safely, through mercy, on Tuesday evening, and found my mother looking pretty well. Friend D. is supplying at the chapel, but is not very well attended. I was there last evening, but there were very few hearers. Truth is pretty much fallen in the streets, as regards these three towns, with a population more than eighty thousand.
It seems strange that there should be so little concern about their never-dying souls, until we feel what careless hardened wretches we ourselves are, except at times and seasons when eternal things lie with weight and power on our consciences. When my poor soul gets a little revived out of its dark and dead state, I wonder at my own previous state of carnality and worldliness.
I need not then go far to find the cause of all men’s carnality and carelessness, for where would I not, and where, indeed, do I not get when the Lord does not revive my poor dark soul? If we had no gracious dealings from the Lord, either in judgment or mercy, we would soon be a great deal worse than the professors whom we are so loud to condemn. A sense of these things stops my mouth, and makes the stones drop out of my hands, which, in times past, I have been ready enough to throw at others.
I cannot say what I would not do, or what I would not be, were I left to myself; for I never hear of evil or error committed by professor or profane which I do not find working within my heart, and a great deal worse too; for no man ever did, or ever could, carry out in word and act what our imagination can breed and sit upon until hatched, like a serpent upon its eggs. It is a mercy when our eggs are crushed before they are hatched, for, depend upon it, an adder would come out of every one of them!
What a mercy it is to have our hard hearts softened and blessed at times, and to hate and abhor those vile things which at other times our fallen nature so lusts after!
What a paradox are we!
What a bundle of contradictions!
We love what we hate, and hate what we love; we follow what we flee, and flee what we follow. Sin is our sweetest, and sin is our bitterest morsel; God is our greatest friend and most dreaded enemy. But I must not run on with my contradictions, or I shall fill up my sheet with them. You have got both the riddle and the key locked up in your heart.
As there was a very great attendance at Allington I was induced to preach twice on Lord’s-day. I think I never saw the chapel so crowded. It was, I think on the whole, my best day; but I have not been much favoured at Allington this time. I had so many outer-court hearers that they seemed almost to stifle any soft or tender feeling; and I was several times led rather to hammer away at Wiltshire profession than feed the lambs.
I am much as I was in health. That great blessing, good health, I never expect to enjoy again. I only could wish that my various trials, exercises, and afflictions were more blessed to my soul, but I have lived to prove that nothing but almighty grace can do the soul good.
Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.
J. C. P.