A Letter To Thomas Godwin – May 12th, 1848
My dear friend, Thomas Godwin.
I am much as I was in health, and do not seem to gain much strength at present. I still continue to preach once on the Lord’s-day, and for the last three weeks have also spoken here on Thursday evenings. The friends at Oakham all seemed to hear well on Lord’s-day. The day was fine, the congregation large, and I was enabled a little to speak on some vital things.
My dear friend, we must plough pretty deep, if we are to get at the heart and conscience. Skimming the ground over will not do; but to be learning every day how vile we are is trying work.
My preaching seems shut up into a narrow compass—sin and grace. I can assure you that when I was laid aside I seemed to have lost completely the power of preaching, and felt as shut up spiritually from a door of utterance as I was naturally. This made me a better hearer, for so far from thinking I could preach better than the ministers who supplied for me, I actually felt that I could not preach at all; and according to my feelings had not ten words to say upon any text, good or bad. I cannot describe how entirely all preaching gifts, if I have any, were as much taken away as if I had never opened my mouth, and I felt that even were I better in health, I could not get into a pulpit. I think I can see now this was not a bad thing for me, for when I heard Thomas Godwin and others, I was not measuring my abilities with theirs, and thinking how the great “I” would handle the text, but I really felt I could not preach at all, even as to words and gifts, much more power and savour.
But I think I may tell my friend that since I have been able to stand up a little in the Lord’s name I have not always been shut up, and have sometimes gone beyond the time when for my poor body’s sake I ought to stop.
Last Lord’s-day morning I felt such a vile sinner that I could hardly help telling the Lord He would do right if He stopped my mouth. But it was not so, as I believe I may say without boasting (and how can such a vile sinner boast?), that I was well heard that day, and that the friends seemed melted and blessed.
Oh that God’s mercy and goodness would constrain me to live to His glory, would overcome that raging love of sin that so ensnares and captivates me, and make me and manifest me a Christian indeed!
I cannot, oh, I cannot subdue and mortify my pride, and lust, and unbelief, and infidelity, and a thousand other monsters that, like the beast in Daniel’s vision, are opening their mouths and saying, “Arise, devour much flesh.”
Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.
J. C. P.