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17/12/2010 / Test All Things

A Letter To Mr Grace – November 10th, 1863

My dear Friend, Mr. Grace,

Circumstances are always occurring to prevent that free and frequent communication with our friends which we desire in order to maintain with them friendly and brotherly communion. Sometimes we lack the time and sometimes the inclination; sometimes engagements to preach or traveling, with its various hindrances, prevent our sending the intended letter, and I for my part am sometimes deprived of the ready aid of my secretary, without whom I do not now often write letters to my friends. Please then to accept these apologies for my delay in communicating with you by letter.

We would have been glad to see you here, had you been able so to have arranged it; but the King’s business must always take precedence, and supersede everything else. I am glad that you have found an open door at Helmsley, and that you feel encouraged to go into that distant and almost unknown region. It is in grace sometimes as in nature—new, fresh soil gives better and healthier crops than that which has been so much worked. I was struck with your expression of “breathless attention.” That is not a feature often seen in congregations which have long heard the word of life; though, I believe, in such places at least where the Lord manifests His presence and His power, there generally is a good share of solemn attention if the preacher has anything really worth hearing.

Ministers sometimes complain of the lack of attention in their hearers when the fault is in themselves; for who cares to hear a cold, dry, dead sermon which is merely a repetition of what has been heard over and over again? All preaching and all hearing that really profits the soul, must be of the Lord. I feel for myself an increasing desire that the word might be blessed. Life is passing away and the shadows of evening are being stretched out. I desire, therefore, that during the time when I may be allowed to preach and write, the blessing of God may rest upon my labors more abundantly than it ever yet has done. Both of us have had our threatenings, and may be looking forward to the time of being laid up or laid aside. May we work then while it is day, for the night comes when no man can work.

Yours affectionately in the Lord,
J. C. P.

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