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07/02/2011 / Test All Things

A Letter To Mrs Peake – February 15th, 1860

My dear Friend, Mrs. Peake.

We have been both, and still are, in the furnace of affliction, and it is this whereby we learn to sympathize with those who are afflicted. The blessed Lord Himself, as the great High Priest over the house of God had to learn sympathy with His afflicted people by being Himself “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;” and there is no other way whereby we can sympathize with Him and with each other.

Since I have read the letters which your late beloved husband addressed to you before and after your marriage, I can more see and feel what a bereavement you have had by losing him. Knowing how much in many things you outwardly differed, I did not know, or rather did not sufficiently bear in mind, how closely you were united in heart and affection naturally, or in mind and spirit spiritually. But his correspondence with you has shown it me as I never saw it before, and I must say I much admire the general tenor of his letters to you, and considering how you stood toward each other, and the strength of his natural affection, I have been struck with what I may call the purity which breathes through his letters, and the absence of much that might naturally have been expected in a correspondence of that kind. It has much raised my esteem of him as a man who lived and walked much in the fear of God. And considering how hastily many of them must have been written, and their number, I have been surprised at their variety and the uniform goodness of style and expression in one who had received so little education. No doubt I look upon it with a more favourable eye than would be the case with a stranger; but I do think when the work comes out it will be well received by the friends and valued as a memorial of their departed friend.

If I expressed my surprise at your being present at the meeting when the distribution was made, it was not that I felt any measure of disapproval. I was rather glad that you were able to be present, but feared you would be too much overcome to do so. No doubt, for a long time, perhaps even to your dying day, you will feel your loss, for there is something singularly “desolate” in the case of a widow from whom her earthly prop has been removed; but I have no doubt you will see mercy in the end. In reading the experiences of some of the most afflicted, and yet the most favored of the Lord’s people, I have observed that many were widows. If I remember right, Lady Kenmure, to whom Rutherford was so much attached in the Lord, and to whom he wrote some of his choicest letters, was a widow. Writing to her in one of his letters, Rutherford, who himself was a widower, has these words, “And albeit I must, out of some experience, say the mourning for the husband of your youth, be by God’s own mouth the heaviest worldly sorrow (Joel 1:8), and though this be the weightiest burden that ever lay upon your back, yet you know if you shall wait upon Him, who hides His face for a while, that it lies upon God’s honor and truth to fill the field and to be husband to the widow.” I have used his words as being so much more forcible and expressive than my own; and it much corresponds with what you yourself have said about the void made by your bereavement, which you feel none but the Lord can fill. If you wish to read the whole letter you will find it Letter 19, Second Part.

I feel very grateful to my dear friends at Oakham who have borne so kindly and considerately with my absence from them, and not murmured at the lack of preaching. Here they have been more favored, as there has been only one preaching Lord’s-day since my illness when they have been altogether without a minister.

Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.

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