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19/10/2010 / Test All Things

A Letter To Joseph Parry – June 20th, 1866

My dear friend, Joseph Parry.

It seems to be your lot never to be free from your affliction for any long time. This is painful for the present, and not very encouraging for the future. But what can we say to these things? If we believe that all things are arranged by infinite wisdom and eternal love, and can believe our own interest in these wise and gracious arrangements, it will reconcile us to the severe dealings, though so trying and painful to the flesh. But I am well convinced that we may see and believe all this as a matter of doctrine, and yet be utterly unable to take any comfort from it, or obtain any rest in and by it. Our head believes one thing and our heart feels another. Nothing then but the almighty power of the Lord in a way of support, and His goodness and mercy in a way of experimental feeling, can reconcile our poor fretful wayward minds to the weight of a daily cross.

And what adds to it is continual fear of doing or neglecting something which may bring on an attack of any illness to which we are subject; so that we seem to move about in a kind of trepidation, fearing lest this cold wind, damp day, or some such circumstance may bring on what may be an attack. Through mercy, I do not usually suffer from pain, even when I am most ill; but to feel the weakness produced by it is in itself a suffering, and since I have known myself what the feeling of bodily weakness is, I have much sympathized with those of the dear family of God who suffer from great bodily weakness, and much more so when pain is added to it. It must have been very trying to you to have been laid up when Mr. H. was with you.

I am thankful to say that I am, through mercy, somewhat better in health, and am going to make the attempt of preaching at Gower Street next Lord’s day. I go up in much weakness and with many fears; but I know that the Lord can make His strength perfect in the one, and graciously dispel and disperse the other. I have often gone up to London weak and feeble, and yet been mercifully strengthened, and left London stronger and better than when I entered it. There is something in the dry air at this time of the year which suits me there. But be it so or not, I must look higher and trace the good hand of the Lord in giving me strength according to my day. I felt for the deacons at Gower Street, and the church and congregation generally, as they have such difficulty in getting Supplies; and my being unable to go last month much put them about on account of the shortness of the notice. I hope to be under the roof of my dear friends Mr. and Mrs. Clowes. I expect to see my good old friend every year more aged.

But we must expect that others, like ourselves, feel the pressure of advancing age and infirmity. Nor need we wish ever to live in this miserable world. The grand thing is to have a good hope through grace, and to be blessed, when our appointed time comes, with dying faith in dying moments, and be carried safely through the dark valley of the shadow of death. It is a mercy in many respects that the time and mode of our dismissal is hidden from our eyes. Thousands who have dreaded the last stroke have found, when it came, it was not a stroke of wrath, but one of tender love, and longed to be gone before the thread of life was cut. I am very sure that nothing short of sovereign superabounding grace, pure mercy, atoning blood, and dying love can meet our case, silence doubt and fear, open the gate of heaven, close the door of hell, and make the grave sweet.

I was struck with a passage that I met the other day in good Dr. Owen – “I know not how others bear up their hearts and spirits; for my part, I have much ado to keep from continual longing after the embraces of the dust, and shades of the grave, as a curtain drawn over the rest in another world.” We have stood sometimes over the grave of a departed friend, and have thought within ourselves, here is a rest for his poor worn-out body—here will it be safely kept until the resurrection morn. Someone, perhaps, may think or say the same thing over us.

Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.

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