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18/12/2010 / Test All Things

A Letter To A Sister in Christ – December 17th, 1862

Dear Madam,

I am sorry to find from your letter that your friend has suffered so much in mind from that most unhappy circumstance which you have mentioned—the suicide of a minister who she believes was made instrumental for the good of her soul. I am not surprised that she has been, and still continues to be, much exercised upon that point; but I hope that the Lord, in due time, may give relief.

I admit that it is a mysterious circumstance; but I cannot say how far the Lord does not make use of the ministry of men who themselves are not partakers of His grace. Balaam preached precious Gospel truths; and no doubt some of the truths which he preached, as recorded in the Book of Numbers, have at various times been blessed to the souls of God’s people. Caiaphas, when high priest, prophesied grand Gospel truths (John 11:49-52). So we see the Lord may make use of unconverted men to lead His people into truth; though they themselves may not be partakers of it.

I know at this present moment a very gracious woman—one who has been at times much favored of the Lord, who sat for some years under the ministry of a man who, after a long profession, unhappily committed suicide. I have not spoken with her on the subject since, as I did not wish to bring to her mind so painful a circumstance; but I have not the least doubt of her state before God, and that she would say, if she were asked, that the poor man’s ministry had been made useful to her.

I think perhaps we might make a distinction of this kind. A ministry might be made useful in opening up the Scriptures or leading the mind to see the truth, where it was not blessed in the same way as the ministry of the Lord’s sent servants, that is, to bring liberty and love into the soul. Besides which, it is often very hard to distinguish, especially in early days, between light in the understanding and gracious power in the soul.

But I trust your friend will not be left to cast away her hope, nor yield to the suggestions of despair. Let her still, as far as she can, look to the Lord, who is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by Him; and she will not look in vain. The Lord can deliver her out of all her temptations, and her being exercised with them shows that she has a tender conscience and a fear of the Lord’s great and glorious name.

I am, dear Madam,
Yours very sincerely for the truth’s sake,
J. C. P.

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