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19/10/2010 / Test All Things

A Letter To Mrs Peake – March 22nd, 1866

My dear Friend, Mrs. Peake.

It will be no disappointment to me if I am not the person to open the new chapel. Indeed, I was not aware until lately that any such thought or plan was entertained by the friends. Whoever opens it and whenever opened, may the presence of the Lord fill the house, and thus a gracious token be afforded of His approbation.

I am sorry to learn that Mr. Knill is suffering from a bad cold. He labours hard in the ministry, and will find, as others have found before him, that so much continuous exertion, with all the trials and exercises attending the ministry, tells upon the bodily strength. Most of our labourious ministers have been men of large frame, wide and deep chests, and much bodily strength — such were Huntington, Gadsby, Warburton, and Mr. Kershaw. Our dear friend also, William Tiptaft, was a strong-made man, broad and sound in the chest. Oh what a blessing health is, and what a trial is the lack of it! How it has crippled me nearly every day of my life for many years, though I have been spared already to live longer than many once expected! I have also been favored with much activity of mind — and if I have not been able, like many of my brethren in the ministry, to go about preaching the Word, yet with my pen I have laboured hard, and perhaps never harder than at the present time.

The older I get, and the more I see and feel the solemn importance of the truth of God, the more do I desire and seek to put forth nothing by mouth or pen which is not instructive or profitable to the souls of men; nor did I ever more, if so much, desire to keep very closely to the Word of inspiration, and to advance nothing which is not in the fullest harmony with the Scriptures. I have read them a good deal this winter, and find them more and more full of holy wisdom and heavenly instruction. All I want is to believe them with a stronger faith and more sensibly, warmly, closely, and affectionately embrace the gracious and glorious truths revealed in them. It is for lack of this faith, simply to receive what God has revealed, that they are read for the most part with so little profit; unless they are mixed with faith, as the apostle speaks (Heb. 4:2), they cannot profit the soul. I am now reading the earlier chapters of Isaiah, the beginning of Leviticus, and the Epistle to the Colossians, studying them as far as I can in the original, and seeking to enter into the mind and meaning of the blessed Spirit in them.

If we read the early chapters of Leviticus with an enlightened eye, how much there is in them to illustrate the one great sacrifice of our gracious Lord. In Him we see the burnt offering as offering Himself without spot to God, the sin offering as bearing our sins in His own body on the tree, the trespass offering as especially applicable to sins of commission, and the grain offering as representing Him to be the food of our souls. Christ is the sum and substance of the Scriptures. Without Him they are a dead letter, full of darkness and obscurity; but in and with Him they are full of light and blessedness.

The apostle says—”Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (Col. 3:16), by which, I suppose, he means the word which testifies of Christ, and holds Him forth to our faith, and hope, and love. This is to dwell in us, not to be a passing visitant, but an abiding householder, and that “richly”, so as to supply richly every need, and “in all wisdom”, so as to make us wise unto salvation, and be ever guiding our thoughts, words, and ways. But oh, how short of all this do we come, our house being rather like an inn or a London lodging-house, with all sorts of guests, and all better lodged and better cared for, than the owner and master! Nothing more shows our desperate case by nature than the open doors and windows of our house, giving admission day and night to all manner of rackety guests, who care for nothing but their own convenience and enjoyment.

I am glad to learn that dear Mr. Keal has taken so much to reading the writings of the immortal Coalheaver. I have often felt that no writer knocks the pen more out of my fingers than that wonderful man. And there is this great advantage in his writings, that though full of divine thought, they do not require any strong exercise of our mental faculties. Thus many can read Huntington who cannot read such writers as Owen, Goodwin, and Charnock. His great gift is opening up a living experience, in which he excels in clearness, fullness, and variety, and I may add in savor and unction, all other writers that I am acquainted with. He also throws great light upon the Scriptures, for no man ever had a greater knowledge of them, or a clearer insight into their spiritual meaning.

Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.

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