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16/04/2011 / Test All Things

A Letter To Joseph Parry – January 17th, 1860

My dear friend, Joseph Parry.

I was very sorry to hear of Mrs ____’s alarming illness. I do hope that it may please the gracious Lord to raise her up, for she would be very much missed among you, from her kindness and liberality; but if such be not the will of God, I do hope that the Lord may be pleased to reveal a sense of His love and mercy to her soul. We have deep and daily proof that it is not a ‘mere profession’ which can save or bless the soul—and that there must be that ‘divine work’ upon the heart and conscience, whereby the soul passes experimentally from death unto life. It is not for us to decide how much or how little grace and faith are necessary for salvation, nor how clear and full a hope of confidence it may be blessed with. But we know that the Lord must communicate some sense of His goodness and mercy to take away the guilt of sin, and the doubts and fears that haunt the mind. It is a very great point to be made spiritually sincere before God; to be convinced of sin by the Holy Spirit; to have some experimental discovery of the Lord Jesus Christ to the soul, so as to raise up a living faith, hope, and love in Him. I think I know what true religion is or should be, and I think I can recognize it where the blessed Spirit has wrought it by His own divine power. There are those whom I know, of whose grace I have not the least doubt; and there are others of whom I dare not say that they do not possess the grace of God, but it has not been so manifested to my conscience as to remove all doubt about it.

You may depend upon it that when illness is very severe, the poor soul needs divine support, which often consists in keeping it simply to rest upon the faithfulness and mercy of God, without any of that earnestness and activity of spiritual feeling which many people look for. You have often been much and deeply exercised in your own soul about your state and standing before God, and have at times sunk very low through doubt and fear. But the Lord has from time to time been very gracious to you, and given you some manifestations of His love and mercy which have cheered and revived your cast-down spirit. This experience, both of judgment and mercy, makes you look for it in others who profess the truth, and has taught you the emptiness and worthlessness of a mere profession.

If the Lord has shown these things in any measure to our consciences, we cannot but contend for them. We may lament our own wretched coldness, deadness, and darkness in the things of God, and may see and feel ourselves very far from the enjoyment of the precious truths which we profess; but at the same time we cannot join hand in hand with those who we feel are out of the secret, and are satisfied with a name to live while dead. . . .

As we get older we may expect to see greater and greater changes. Old friends will drop off by death; we shall ourselves, if spared, begin to feel more and more of the infirmities produced by illness and old age.

We seem to live in very trying times, when we may expect great changes, and perhaps great calamities in the church and in the world. How grievous it is to see error so spreading, and minister after minister drinking it in. How few faithful experimental men of God there are, and in what a state for the most part are the churches of truth!

In the providence and grace of God, I have become fixed in a very important and responsible position, for which I need the continual supplies of His grace. I consider that The Gospel Standard is a very important work, as having so wide a circulation among the churches, and I could wish it filled with the life and power of God, so as to exercise a divine influence wherever it goes. Besides which, my sermons are much read and sought after, and these I wish to be impregnated with the life, and power, and grace of God, so as to reach men’s hearts and consciences.

Time with us all here must be short, and we should do what we can to serve our day and generation; to live as far as we can to the glory of God and the good of His people, and not lead useless, selfish, unprofitable lives, as if money were our god. All Christians have their place in the mystical body, and their place to fill in the church of God. You have yours, as connected with the Cause of truth at Allington; to bear and forbear, and to manifest our love to the Lord and to His people in various ways, as I believe you do.

Yours affectionately,
J. C. P.

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