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06/02/2011 / Test All Things

A Letter To Joseph Tanner – January 31st, 1861

My dear Friend, Joseph Tanner.

I have sometimes wished that it had pleased the Lord to take me to Himself thirty years ago, when I was laid aside with a serious illness, from which indeed I have never fully recovered. How many sins and sorrows I would have been spared! But such was not God’s will; and if He has been pleased to make any use of me by tongue or pen since that period, I have every reason to adore His inscrutable wisdom and His matchless mercy. I little thought then that I would have to occupy the position which the Lord seems to have assigned me in His providence and grace. I never sought it, and have only been maintained in it by a connection of circumstances which seem to have combined, not only to put, but to keep me in a position from which many a time I would have gladly escaped.

Some people seem naturally fond of pushing themselves before men, which makes quiet and obscurity to be their torment; and others appear animated with a spirit of strife and contention, so that, like a sea-gull, they never seem so happy as in a storm. But I can say for myself, that peace and quiet have always been to me naturally an object of greater desire, than to occupy any prominent position, or to be engaged in contention and strife. But the fact is, that if a man, from the dictates of an honest conscience, and from the teaching of the blessed Spirit in the heart, is led to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, he necessarily becomes a man of strife. This was just the case with the prophet Jeremiah. Because he was compelled to declare what God showed him, and what he knew to be true, he therefore became a man of strife to the whole earth. He did not seek war; but it was thrust upon him by those who hated him for the truth that was in him.

I hope, my dear friend, that the Lord has led both of us to know and to believe, as well as to love, His precious truth. Having therefore this knowledge, this faith in, this love to His truth, we cannot frame to ourselves the enmity which is felt by those who are ignorant of it in its power and preciousness. It is this which stirs up the enmity of their heart; and this being the case, need we wonder at the enmity manifested by them against all who know and love the truth, and in a more especial manner against those who proclaim it by tongue or pen? I ought to be by this time pretty well seasoned to the attacks of men who oppose the truth from an ignorance of its power as experimentally felt. I do not know whether you have seen any of the late pamphlets which have been written against me by the opponents of the true and proper Sonship of our blessed Lord. As regards myself, I pay but little heed to them. The truth of God is far beyond and far above us all, whether we defend it, or whether we oppose it. The Son of God is like the natural sun, to which He is compared, as being called the Sun of Righteousness. The rays of the glorious orb of day are not impaired by the bats and owls, which hate it and flee from it into their dark caverns; nor are they heightened by the thousands of gladdened eyes to whom they are a guiding and a warning light.

In a few years, those who have advocated, and those who have opposed the highest title and most glorious name of our blessed Lord will alike have passed away; but He will still be what He ever was—the Son of the Father in truth and love. He does not need our advocacy to those who see Him by the eye of faith, any more than the literal sun needs our praise when, after a cloudy or inclement season, it shines forth brightly once more, as it has done this day. Yet are we glad, as opportunity serves, to set forth His worthy praise; and indeed cannot but do so when our heart is in any measure softened with His grace, and our lips touched with a live coal from off the altar. The tongue of mortals, and indeed of immortals, can but faintly show forth His praise; but it is our mercy to be on the side of His friends, and not be ranked among the number of His foes.

Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.

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