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03/02/2011 / Test All Things

A Letter To William Tiptaft – May 15th, 1861

My dear Tiptaft,

It is not often that you have been at Allington at this season of the year. I hope that these warm sunny days, and the green leaves spreading themselves over the trees, are emblems of a better season, and represent the springing up of life and feeling in your soul and in your ministry in Wilts. Winter is no pleasant season either for body or soul, and though I have written a sermon to prove that it comes before harvest, yet I cannot say that it is a season which I like, either in nature or in grace. But as in nature it is necessary to break the hard clods and prepare the earth for spring showers and May sunshine, so, I believe, it is necessary in grace to break to pieces the hard clods of the heart that there may be a suitable soil for the seed of life to spring up and grow. Few things are more mysterious to a Christian than the revivings of the work of grace upon his soul. Judging from myself at times all feeling religion seems lost and gone. At such seasons one wonders how the scene will end. But the Lord does from time to time revive and renew His work upon the heart, and there is a fresh acting of faith, hope, and love, with every other grace and fruit of the Spirit. I believe it to be a very good and a very needful thing to have the soul well and continually exercised on the things of God. I hope I can say for my part that eternal things are ever uppermost in my mind, either in a way of exercise or else in some actings of faith upon the blessed Lord.

You have, perhaps, heard that I was not able to preach for two Lord’s-days; but, through mercy, I was permitted to get out again last Lord’s-day. I preached twice, and administered the ordinance afterwards, and did not feel worse, except a little extra fatigue. I hope, therefore (D.V.), to go to Leicester on Friday. As I disappointed them last September I would have been sorry to be obliged again to fail in keeping my engagement. . . .

We live to see great changes, not only in men’s affections but in men’s opinions. It is good amid all changes, without or within, to have the heart established by grace, and not like children to be tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine. It is a mercy to be in any way delivered from looking to man and to be enabled to look to the Lord as our all in all. I am very sure that I never got any good from looking to man, whether saint or sinner. If we expect much from our friends we are almost sure to be disappointed. In our greatest straits they can do us no good, for they cannot give us the light of God’s countenance, or apply any sweet promise to the soul.

Thus, though I wish ever to walk in love and affection with my friends in the Lord, yet I never want to put them in the place of Christ or to look to them for what I know they cannot give me. And, as regards my enemies, I desire to bear all their attacks and their calumnies, knowing that it is my contending for the truth that stirs up their enmity.

I had a few lines the other day from my sister. She names in it that a minister, with whom you were preaching in Devon thirty years ago, was breaking up in constitution, and says of himself that he is looking for his ‘great change’. She says that when she heard him preach last she felt convinced that if she were taught of the Spirit so was he, and she believed that it would be well with him when called away. . . . People look to us as leaders in the same way as the soldiers look to their officers. And if they see us wavering and undecided, what a discouragement it is to them, and what confusion it is likely to create! So, for my own comfort, and for the sake of others, I feel myself obliged to stand separate from many people who I dare not say are destitute of the life of God in their souls. It seems very plausible to be united to all who love the Lord Jesus Christ, and so, in fact, we internally are if we have any measure of His love in our heart. But as to walking in outward union with some, how is it possible to do so with any degree of consistency? But this they consider so narrow-minded, so bigoted, so exclusive, and to manifest such a proud and self-righteous spirit. Unless the trumpet gives a certain sound, who is to prepare himself for the battle?

I want no new doctrines, nor any new religion, as I want no fresh Bible and no new Lord; all I want is to live more daily in the sweet enjoyment of them, and to manifest more of their power in heart, lip, and life. We are no longer young; life is, as it were, slipping from under our feet; and, therefore, I desire to spend the rest of my days, be they few or many, in serving the Lord, walking in His fear, enjoying His presence, preaching His gospel, contending for His truth, and living to His glory. It is a poor life to live to sin, self, and the world; but it is a blessed life to live unto the Lord. I only wish that I could do so more and more; but I have to find that the good I would I do not, and the evil I would not that I do.

You will see the new house at Allington rising upon the ruins of that which you saw burning. I hope, when our dear friends move into it, it may be consecrated by the Lord’s presence.

Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.

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