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20/04/2011 / Test All Things

A Letter To Joseph Parry – January 4th, 1859

My dear friend, Joseph Parry.

Since I last wrote to you I have been very unwell; indeed, I have been confined to my bed for the last ten days.

One thing is certain, that all who are journeying heavenward are passing more or less through a path of trial, suffering, and exercise; and I need not tell you how the weak and coward flesh shrinks from the weight of so heavy a yoke. I find it often difficult to know what good I get from the cross; and you know there is such a thing as grinding a fool in a mortar. I hardly know at times whether I am that fool who has been so often ground, or whether I have learned anything to profit. But I think I can say this; if I ever have learned anything worth knowing, or got anything worth keeping, it has been through the furnace. That is the place where no self-righteousness, vain confidence, or fleshly faith can stand. They are like putting a piece of lead into the fire, which melts as soon as it feels the flame. But truth, salvation by grace, the blood of the Lamb, and the work of the blessed Spirit upon the heart, will stand the hottest flame, and shine all the brighter for it. I feel much convinced in my own mind that nine-tenths of what is considered to be religion is worth nothing; and I believe that you have come much to the same conclusion. How many forms, rites, and ceremonies, which are thought so highly of, sink into rottenness and death when they are viewed in the light of the Spirit; and perhaps an opposite temptation springs up, which is to think almost too little of the means.

My illness has very much thrown back my meditated publication upon the Sonship of Christ, and I hardly know when I shall be able to take it up again. A good part of the address was written in bed, and most of the sermon No. 22, which has just come out, was revised there also. I understand that they have an increasing sale, and that the publisher has been obliged frequently to reprint the back numbers.

Our friend — would tell you how many of the ministers who have been thought men of truth are entangled in the error of denying the eternal Sonship of the adorable Redeemer. How much we are sunk into the state which Mr. Huntington foresaw as coming upon the churches—and those who live will probably see matters get worse and worse. To deny vital fundamental truths is the first step to apostasy; for when men get indifferent to the truth of God, and view vital truths as mere opinions, the next step from this indifference is to depart from them; and as they go on, they get from bad to worse, until the truth is altogether given up, and error after error greedily drunk in.

There are two things for which a child of God should cry most earnestly; one is to be kept from evil, and the other to be preserved from error. Some are more tempted to one, and some to the other; but both are equally dreadful traps of Satan, and indeed I hardly know which is the worse of the two; but how we see in the New Testament times the prevalence of both in the churches! See what characters there were as drawn by the pen of Jude, and again what erroneous men as depicted by the pencil of holy John. Now I believe we have just such characters in the churches, only they are covered over with a decent profession. What need we have to be ever upon the watch-tower, to be studying the Word of truth, and to be begging of the Lord to give us His Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth, to make and keep our conscience alive and tender, and grant us everything which is comprised in the prayer of Jabez. With every kind wish for the New Year,

Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.

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