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13/01/2013 / Test All Things

A Letter To Thomas Godwin – December 23rd, 1847

My dear friend, Thomas Godwin

I have been very poorly with the influenza, and, indeed, kept my bed nearly four days. I am now, through mercy, better, but still tender against the cold. . . In my illness I seemed to have little else but the workings of my most miserable self, with little power to read, or pray, or think upon anything spiritual or divine.

Oh what a poor, helpless, miserable wretch is man, especially when he has a burden to carry, which he can neither bear patiently, nor cast upon the only Burden-bearer!

In these seasons the question with me is, not how much grace I have, but have I one grain?

For I am very sure I can neither see nor feel one. Oh how my heart wanders, wanders, wanders from the Lord! and how unable and how unwilling to return!

And if for a few moments brought to His feet, how hard, how impossible to keep it there!

As Berridge, I think, says, “Just like an eel,” how it slips, and twines, and twists away out of one’s hands.

I had just a little touch yesterday morning from reading the account of my old favourite Hannah (1 Samuel 1). I could see how long that tried creature mourned over her barrenness, and what a long row of fine children her rival had; and what taunting looks she could aim at poor Hannah, and how the poor barren wife felt it all; and how conscience gave her many a secret lash that her barrenness was a plain proof of the Lord’s displeasure.

But where did the poor thing go but where you and I, dear friend, for many years have been obliged to go — sometimes driven and sometimes drawn?

To the mercy-seat, perhaps in her feelings for the very last time. And we know that she did not go in vain. I was glad her case was recorded in the Word of God; and have not thousands (dead and alive) felt communion with Hannah?

I am sorry to say that my younger sister, Mrs. Watts, is very poorly and in a very precarious state of health. I have great apprehensions about her.

What a world of trial and sorrow we live in!

I scarcely ever heard of greater grief than she felt at the loss of a child, about three years old, last year. She hardly had her senses for the first month. I fear it has ruined her constitution.

Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.

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