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30/01/2013 / Test All Things

A Letter To A Friend – April 24th, 1846

My dear Sir,

Few greater afflictions can befall the people of God than the removal of a faithful and beloved pastor. It generally happens, if he has been long going in and out before them, at his decease the candlestick is removed with him; I fear that this may prove to be the case at _____ with the spiritual hearers of the late Mr. _____.

Affection and respect cannot be transferred to a successor as easily as a pulpit, and even if truth be preached, the ear has become so habituated to a certain mode of stating it, that even a gracious man has to contend with difficulties and, I many almost add, prejudices, who follows a much-esteemed minister.

I am sorry to hear of your trial. I feel so many evils daily, and sometimes hourly, working in my heart, and see so many traps and snares laid for my feet in every direction that my wonder is, not that any fall, but that any stand; no, I am confident that all must fall were it not for everlasting love and almighty power, “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.”

Like yourself, I have been much puzzled by men and things in the professing world; but where I find a great assurance and unwavering confidence, unaccompanied by godly fear, and the other fruits and graces of the Spirit, I cannot receive it; I therefore set it down for presumption or delusion. The Blessed Spirit is not the author of confusion inwardly or outwardly; where He works faith He works sorrow for sin, deadness to the world, tenderness of conscience, brokenness of spirit, humility, simplicity, sincerity, meekness, patience, spiritual affections, holy and heavenly desires, hope and love toward the Lord and His people. Where we see, then, these fruits and graces of the Spirit lacking, or sadly deficient, there we must conclude that faith, the root from which they all grow, is lacking or deficient likewise.

There are no freaks in the kingdom of heaven. I mean such as have ‘little hearts’ and ‘large heads’, active legs and withered hands, nimble tongues and crippled arms; such freaks are more fit for a traveling circus than the Church of the living God.

Little things, or rather such as are so called by dead professors, for nothing can truly be called little which God does for the soul, and what is wrought in the heart and conscience by a divine power, far excel all great and high ‘speculative notions’. To fear God, to tremble at His word, to be little and lowly in our own eyes, to hate sin and ourselves as sinners, to pour out our hearts before the Lord, to seek His face continually, and to lead a life of faith and prayer, to be dead to the world, to feel Jesus at times precious, to behold His glorious power, atoning blood, and justifying righteousness, and dying love by the eyes of living faith—these realities are almost despised and overlooked by many great professors in our day; but they will stand when pretensions to greater things utterly fall. It seems to me a day of small things generally in the Church of God. We may therefore usually suspect greater things, unless they are attended by strong evidences of their being of heavenly origin, as well as accompanied by the fruits and graces of the Blessed Spirit.

I fear with you that the gospel sun is set at _____, it was so at Providence Chapel, London, when Mr. Huntington was removed. A minister whose years are prolonged generally buries his best people, and the others mostly follow him; the rest are often dispersed by providential dispensation, and their places are filled with those who knew not Joseph; then truth declines in purity and power, until place and people at last become like the salt which has lost its savor, fit only for the ash-heap. I hope this may not prove to be the case at _____, but it is the history of many places where truth was once preached in purity and power.

Remember me affectionately to the friends, and believe me,
Yours sincerely, for truth’s sake,
J. C. P.

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