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06/01/2013 / Test All Things

A Letter To Thomas Godwin – December 30th, 1850

My dear Friend, Thomas Godwin

You must not measure my feelings towards you by the frequency of my letters. Letter-writing to me is usually quite a task; unless there is something which I much wish to communicate, I go to it as a schoolboy to his homework. But I have felt for the last few days desirous to drop you a few lines.

I hope on the whole we had a pretty good day yesterday. I felt a little of the spirit of prayer on Saturday evening, and I trust we had a good morning. One of the friends, with whom I have a good union, told me afterwards what a spirit of prayer she had had through the week, that we might have the Lord with us yesterday, and she had found her prayer answered.

Our old friend at Trowbridge says, when he is shut up, the friends often hear him best. That however is not my experience, nor do I think it is yours. When I have some life and feeling in my soul, I generally find it is so with the Lord’s people; and when I am dark and shut up, they are often so too. At those seasons I can get into nothing and describe nothing, and therefore how can I reach their hearts and consciences? The well is deep, and I have nothing to draw with; and then what water is there for minister or people?

I do hope there is some little work going on here. One candidate was well received, and we have two others coming forward, whom I feel some union with.

At Stamford too, I had more life and feeling on the 22nd—more than I have had since I came home. I told the friends I hoped it might be the dawn of a better day; that was the meaning, if not the words. I am, I hope, also somewhat better in health, and have less irritation about my chest. The Lord is good, if we could but trust Him.

You are, I dare say, exercised about your Liverpool engagement. Well, you don’t know what you are going there for. It is not the seen, but the unseen, whom the Lord often blesses—some poor creature, cut up with sin and sorrow, who has neither pew nor seat, place nor name, among the great folks. Look at our large towns, Sheffield, Birmingham, Bristol, etc., what a state they are in. The only time I ever was at Liverpool, and heard preaching, there were less than twenty present, that was on a week evening. But there may be scattered individuals, who may creep in, whom you don’t know. I believe you would sooner be going among our friends in Wilts.

To by far the greater part, the Gospel, it is to be feared, is but the savour of death unto death. I am more and more convinced of this. We, who know a little of ourselves, need not wonder that men are what they are.

What are we ourselves when left to our fallen nature?

When I have felt my own carnality and aversion to spiritual things, I have ceased to wonder at the general ungodliness…

Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.

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