LETTERS of J. C. Philpot (1869)
January 8, 1869
My dear Mr. Copcutt—You speak in your letter of a sermon by the late
Mr. M'Kenzie. He was indeed a very gracious godly man, and was for several
years co-editor with me in conducting The Gospel Standard. He died in
the year 1849, comparatively a young man, was much esteemed by the church of
God as a minister of truth, and was taken away, as appeared to us, just in
the midst of his usefulness, making a very good end, and leaving behind him
a cherished memory.
Mr. Tiptaft was indeed a most remarkable man, and
my memoir gives but a very imperfect account of the life of self-denial,
separation from the world, devotedness to the work of the ministry, nobility
and liberality of mind, which he displayed ever since I first knew him. It
is remarkable how the Lord owned and blessed his ministry. No man in my day
was so much owned, both to the calling of sinners, and the consolation of
saints. He was not highly gifted as a minister in the ordinary sense of the
term; but what he spoke was with authority and power, as what he knew for
himself by divine teaching and spiritual experience; and it was so backed
and confirmed by the power of his life and his upright godly walk. He was
thus a striking instance that it was not by might, or by power, that is of
the creature, but by the Spirit of the Lord of Hosts, that all real work is
done. What is effected by mere eloquence only touches the flesh and
passes away; but what God does in the soul by the power of His grace is
saving and permanent.
I would like you to see some of the back volumes of
The Gospel Standard, published now many years ago, as there are many
papers, letters, obituaries, etc. in them which are very edifying.
Yours very sincerely,
J. C. P.
January 27, 1869
My dear Friend, Mrs. Peake. . . In all who truly fear God and believe
in His dear Son; in all in whose hearts the blessed Spirit is graciously at
work, both to bring down and raise up, lay low in their own eyes and make
Christ precious, show the evil of sin, give them repentance for it, creating
a love for true holiness and spirituality of mind, with meekness,
simplicity, sincerity, tenderness, brokenness of heart, and contrition of
spirit—I say, where the blessed Spirit is thus at work, there and there only
will there be true union in the solemn things of God. True union lies deep,
and its foundations are out of sight. There is nothing in it earthly or
carnal; and as what is earthly and carnal in us ever floats, so to speak, at
the top, everything truly spiritual, holy, and gracious, being weighty and
solid, lies at the bottom.
If you will examine your heart, as seeing light in
God's light, you will see that the best part of your religion lies the
deepest. No man therefore can know anything of the mysteries of true
religion and the secrets of vital godliness, who is not well brought down in
his own soul. And thus a Christian, to his wonder and surprise, finds that
the lower he sinks in himself, the more that he is abased, humbled, and
brought down in his soul before the Lord, the nearer he is able to approach
Him. In this way a sight and sense of our dreadful sins, the evils of our
heart, the iniquities which are more in number than the hairs of our head,
when attended with a feeling of the infinite forbearance of God, His tender
mercy in Christ, the riches of His superabounding grace, the depths of His
wondrous love, are made most profitable.
Until we are really humbled and brought down before
God, with a view of His mercy and grace in Christ Jesus, we cannot bear to
deal honestly with ourselves, or for others to deal honestly with us. It is
our pride, our self-righteousness, our presumption, and our hypocrisy, our
double dealing with God and our own consciences, which make us shrink from
being searched by His Word and the light of His Spirit. As long as a man
stands in his own strength or goodness, all the curses of God's law strike
at him as a sinner; but when he falls flat, as it were, on his face,
confessing his iniquity, loathing himself in his own eyes for his baseness,
and looking up in faith, hope, and love to the Lord of life and glory, as
putting away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, then all the storm is ceased,
and the blessings, promises, and mercies of the Gospel fall upon his soul
like the still small rain and the refreshing dew.
And as these mercies enter into his heart, they bring
forth in him every Gospel fruit. Prayer, and sometimes praise,
spirituality of mind, love to the Lord and His truth, earnest desires to
walk in His fear and live to His praise, separation in heart and spirit from
an ungodly world, an understanding of the heavenly meaning of the
Scriptures, and a stretching forth of the cords of love and affection toward
the dear family of God—these and other fruits spring up and grow in the
heart which is truly brought down by grace.
On the contrary, where the evil of sin is little seen
or felt, where there is no abasement of spirit or humility of mind
before the Lord, as being so utterly vile, and no corresponding sense of the
infinite mercy and goodness of God, there religion for the most part is only
in name. In that soil pride, self-righteousness, presumption, hypocrisy,
worldliness, carnality, and covetousness, a spirit of strife and contention,
a name to live when dead, a trifling with God and conscience, an indulgence
of secret idols, and walking in many things which are highly displeasing to
the Lord, will be found rife and strong.
Be not afraid therefore, dear friend, of seeing the worst
of yourself. You have not seen half or a tenth part, I may say a hundredth
part, yet. With all your experience of many years, and all the sight and
sense which you have had of the evil that is in you, you have really seen
and known but little of what a fallen sinner is in the sight of God. Indeed
none of us could bear to see it. The sight would sink us into
despair, unless specially held up by the power of God.
But I would say to you and to all my friends in the Lord,
be not afraid of sinking too low in your own eyes. Dread presumption, pride,
self-righteousness, vain security, a dead assurance, and empty formality;
but covet sweet humility, brokenness of heart, contrition of spirit,
tenderness of conscience, spirituality of mind, meekness, and quietness; and
above all things covet earnestly precious manifestations of the Lord to your
soul, sweet glimpses of His Person and work, and breakings in of the light
of His countenance, and of what He is in Himself as the Son of God, and as
the Mediator between God and men, the risen and glorified Intercessor, who
is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by Him.
The Lord means to teach us that grace is grace,
and that we can be saved in no other way. It is a lesson easy to learn in
word, but to know it in its blessed reality and truth is no such easy
matter; for it can only be known by knowing experimentally the depths of sin
and guilt out of which it saves. When then we are being led down into these
depths, there seems to be little before the soul but ruin and despair. It
does not see that this sight and sense of sin is a needful preparation, to
know what grace is and what grace can do; but when grace is manifested in
its fullness and its super-aboundings, then the wonder is that grace so
rich and free should ever be extended unto, or should ever reach, a soul so
vile. . . .
Yours very affectionately in the truth,
J. C. P.
My dear Friend, Mrs. Clowes—I have felt desirous to send
you a few lines of affectionate sympathy on the recurrence of the mournful
day which took from you the delight of your eyes; and though I would not
wish to encourage you in feeding that sorrow which often works death, yet
would I wish to feel for you and with you under the weight of your
distressing bereavement. How rapidly has time passed away since that dark
and gloomy day, and I trust that it has mitigated the keen edge of your
sorrow, though the only true balm is to be found in those sweet consolations
which can bear the soul up under the heaviest load. As I trust the keenness
of your sorrow has been thus mitigated, you will be able to see with clearer
eyes, and to feel with more abounding and abiding gratitude the unspeakable
mercy that your late dear husband left behind him so sweet a testimony of
his saving interest in the precious blood and righteousness of our gracious
Lord. This is an enduring consolation when you can realize it by faith, and
is the best remedy against all murmuring and rebellion under the painful
Great and many are your mercies if you could but clearly
see and realize them. How many poor widows have deep providential trials
from which you are exempt. How afflicted others are in body or mind, and how
many godly women have no clear evidence that their husbands died in the
Lord. Nor are you without some sweet testimonies and gracious visits of the
Lord to your soul, all which are or should be matter of thankfulness and
Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.
March 1, 1869My dear Friend—I much fear lest, if I do not
send you a few lines, you will think there is some reason why I have been so
long silent, beyond being prevented by my usual work. But somehow or other,
I have been more than usually occupied of late, and have only just now
obtained a little release. You have sometimes said that my work is like a
woman's work, ever beginning and never ending—and so I still find it, until
sometimes I feel quite weary, and would be glad to lay it down, could I
conscientiously do so. Every now and then also I get a testimony that my
labor is not in vain in the Lord. This encourages me still to go on while it
is day—for the night comes when no man can work.
Many years have rolled over our heads since we first met;
and as regards myself, having had at various times so much illness, I begin
to feel infirmities of advancing life, and must expect to find them
more and more. Still upon the whole, I have been brought through the winter
thus far, without suffering any attack of my illness; yet have been a good
deal confined to the house, which I find suits me better than going out of
doors when the weather is cold. . . .
You will perceive from the date that this was written
yesterday, before I received your kind letter this morning. When I saw your
handwriting, I made quite sure that your letter would be to scold me for my
long silence; but with your accustomed kindness and affectionate feeling,
you do not take the whip in hand, as I may say I deserve. Forgive me this
I am glad to hear, for various reasons, that you are
going from home for a short time, and to preach at Hastings and Brighton.
The change will, I hope, be made a blessing to you, in removing that low
fever which, no doubt, springs from your present damp locality; and the
seaside is just the place for you. I am glad also that you are going to
Hastings among Mr. Fenner's people. Though I never knew him or them, yet I
have long felt much union of spirit with them, as a people who have so long
contended for the power of vital godliness. I understand they hang together
very comfortably. They much wished me to go down among them after Mr. F.'s
death, not so much to preach to them, but as desirous to see and converse
with me face to face, knowing me so well by my writings. I hope the
Lord will be with you and bless you and them together.
Poor White's illness is a great trial to the friends at
Brighton. I felt convinced, when I saw him here, from his appearance, that
he was consumptive, and I have little expectation of his eventual recovery.
Like many others similarly afflicted, he may ebb and flow, be sometimes
better and sometimes worse—but to my mind, he is not a man long for this
world. I hear a good account of his ministry, which makes it all the more
trying to the people. I was thinking this morning what a trial it would be
to the people here, if our dear friend Covell were laid aside from the
ministry; and since I have been a hearer, I can enter more into the
privation which is felt by a church and people, who are deprived of the
benefit and blessing of a feeling, experimental, godly ministry, by the
death or removal of their esteemed and beloved minister. I find his ministry
edifying and profitable; sometimes very searching, and sometimes very
encouraging. He seemed all alive last Lord's day morning, and I think I
never heard him more earnest and fervent in prayer, though I have had more
feeling under it.
I shall be glad to see you and your dear wife also on
Friday, as we do not often meet now, and time is passing away quickly with
us. We are all, through mercy, pretty well in health, and my two boys
We unite in love to yourself and your dear wife.
Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.
March 3, 1869
My dear Friends in the Lord, Mrs. Peake and Miss Morris. . . Among
the trying and painful parts of our experience, we have to learn the dryness
and deadness of our souls when not under any felt divine influence, and that
at such seasons, if we attempt to speak or write upon the things of God,
barrenness and death seem to rest upon all that proceeds from us. Truly our
gracious Lord said—"Without Me you can do nothing." He is and ever must be
everything in us, as well as everything for us, and everything
to us. Without His divine communications we can neither pray, nor
read, nor meditate, with any faith in living exercise; and therefore as all
our springs are in Him, and as all communication from Him is through faith,
the suspension of His gracious influences through the Spirit leaves us dark,
barren, dry, and as if dead. But what a mercy it is for those who have an
interest in the love, and blood, and grace of the Son of God, that He
changes not, but rests in His love, is of one mind and none can turn Him,
and is the same yesterday, today, and forever!
When we take a review of all the temptations, trials,
sins, backslidings, wanderings, and startings-aside that we have been guilty
of, all the hard thoughts, peevish and rebellious uprisings, with all the
sad unprofitableness, backwardness to good, proneness to evil, determination
to have our own will and way, and all that mass of inconsistency which
sometimes seems to frighten us in the retrospect, lest we be deceived
altogether—I say, when we look over these things, what reason we have to
cling close to the precious blood and righteousness of the Christ of God,
that we may find in Him a refuge from our sinful, vile, and guilty
It seems sad that, after so many years' experience of the
goodness and mercy of God, and after all we have seen, known, tasted, felt,
and handled of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus, of His suitability,
beauty, blessedness, grace, and glory, we should still find so much sin,
carnality, unbelief, infidelity, and every other evil, alive and lively
within. How it shows the depth of the Fall, and the incurable corruption of
our nature, that neither time, nor advancing years, nor bodily infirmity,
nor any other change of circumstances can alter this wretched heart, turn it
into a right course, or make it obedient and fruitful; but that like the
barren heath, no cultivation can bring out of it either flower or fruit.
But on the other hand, what a rich and unspeakable mercy
it is for those who are born of God, that they are possessed of a new and
divine nature, in which there have been planted, by an Almighty hand, the
precious graces of faith, hope, and love, with everything which can qualify
and make them meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.
Perhaps, as we advance in life and become established in
the truth, we see and feel more clearly and distinctly the difference which
separates these two natures, and look with almost equal surprise on the
dreadful depravity of the one, and the spiritual character of the other,
groveling in the one in all the dregs of earth, and I might say, all the
sins of hell, and rising up in the other to all that is holy, heavenly, and
good. Mr. Huntington says that he was three men, though but one coalheaver—(1)
as a man—(2) as having an old man—and (3) as having a new man. This witness
is true. We have our natural body, which often makes us sigh under the
sicknesses and infirmities which attend it—then there is that corrupt nature
which has so long been, and still is, such a plague; and then there is that
new and divine nature, we trust, which is born of God, and which sins not,
dwelling as it does in the midst of sin and corruption.
Now as the natural body is sustained by food, and our
corrupt nature is fed and strengthened by all that is evil, so the new man
of grace is sustained by the pure truth of God, and especially by
communications of grace and life, out of the fullness of the blessed Lord.
It is to Him that the new man of grace looks, listens to His voice, hears
His word, delights in His Person and work, longs after the visitations of
His presence and the manifestations of His love, and oh, how at times it
longs for, presses after, and cries out for His visits, "Oh, when will You
come unto me!" And how gladly, as Hart says, would it entertain Him and give
Him the best room!
But how soon again all these earnest desires and
pressings forward seem to droop and die; and our wretched heart again
grovels in the dust, just as if there never had been, nor was one grain of
grace or one spark of divine life. How earnestly at times do I desire and
pray for the Lord to rend the veil, break in with His own most blessed and
glorious light, and come Himself into my heart in His risen power and glory.
There is much truth in Mr. Hart's words and the connection, "We pray to be
new-born, and know not what we mean".
But what an unspeakable mercy it is for us, that the Lord
changes not as we change, and that He views us, not as standing in all our
rags and ruin, all our filth and folly, but in the Person of His dear Son,
in whom He is ever well pleased.
I desire to commend you both, with all whom we know and
love in the Lord, who worship among you with your dear pastor and his wife,
the deacons and members of the church, to the Lord.
Yours very affectionately in Him,
J. C. P.
April 19, 1869
My dear Friend, Mr. Tips. . . I dare say you have not forgotten your
visit to Stamford, and what you saw and heard there, though we were not able
to converse so much as we could have done, if we had understood one
another's language. But I hope we understood a better language, even the
language of Canaan. I have no doubt you have had your share of trials and
afflictions since we parted, and I hope that they have been blessed and
sanctified to your soul's spiritual good. It is through much tribulation
that we enter the kingdom of God, and many are the afflictions of the
righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. This makes all the
difference between the afflictions of the righteous and of the ungodly,
that to the one the afflictions are a blessing, and to the other a curse;
for they soften the heart of the one, and they harden the heart of the
other. In the case of the righteous, they instrumentally bring forth prayer
and supplication to the Lord, and wean the heart from the world; but in the
ungodly they only produce sullenness, self-pity, and rebellion.
What a mercy it is to have a God to go to, and to
know that we have a merciful, sympathizing High Priest at the right hand of
the Father, who is touched with a feeling of our infirmities, and is able to
save to the uttermost all who come unto God by Him. When we look at the
majesty, holiness, justice, and purity of God, and seeing light in His
light, see also our own sinfulness and depravity; when we think of the
numerous, yes innumerable, sins and crimes which we have committed in
thought, word, and deed; when we see also our helplessness and inability to
save or deliver our souls from the wrath to come, the sight and feeling
of all these things is enough to sink our souls into despair!
But when we see by the eye of faith what a Savior God has
provided for poor lost sinners in His dear Son, what a mighty Redeemer,
ever-loving Advocate, and all-prevailing Mediator, then it raises up sweet
hope and blessed encouragement, and the heart goes out after this divine
Mediator in faith and love as feeling how suitable, how precious He is to
those who believe. We thus learn that there is no salvation but by sovereign
grace; that the Son of Man came to seek and to save those who are lost. We
are very unwilling to see, much more to feel ourselves to be sinners—but it
is only as sinners that we can be saved, for "this is a faithful saying and
worthy of all acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save
Yours in Christian affection,
J. C. P.
April 21, 1869
My dear Friend in the Lord, Mrs. Peake—The tidings contained in your
letter of the removal of Mrs. Prentice from this valley of tears were
somewhat sudden, but not altogether unexpected, for your last kind
communication prepared me to anticipate such a change. It would indeed be
a blessed exchange for her, for her sufferings during the last few years
have been great and complicated; and perhaps she was not constitutionally
able to bear suffering as some can who are similarly afflicted. I consider
her, viewing what God did for her soul and the circumstances under which it
was done, as one of the most remarkable instances of the power of God that
have come under my personal observation. My memory is not what I may call a
verbal one, which I have often regretted; that is, I cannot distinctly
remember the exact words of a conversation related to me; but if I could do
so, the relation which she gave me of the dealings of God with her soul
would indeed be very marked and memorable. I have always considered her
deliverance as the greatest that I ever heard with my own ears, and for
clearness and power very little short of what was given to Hart and
Huntington. But it was something to this effect—she was in very deep
distress of soul, and went into a dark closet where she threw herself flat
upon her face. All of a sudden, the dark closet was lighted up as if with a
heavenly glory; she looked up astonished at the sight, and it seemed to her
as if she saw God the Father sitting upon His eternal throne, and He spoke
to her these or similar words—"You cannot be saved by the works of the law.
Outside of my dear Son, I am a consuming fire; but for His sake I have
forgiven you all your sins, past, present, and to come, and you shall be
with Me forever; live to My glory." This is the substance, and I think very
near the exact words. I need not tell you what a wonderful revolution they
wrought in her soul; but what seemed to make almost the deepest impression
was the words, "Live to My glory", for there she found the great difficulty,
and her inability except by special grace. But it made, and kept, her
conscience tender, and was ever set before her as the guiding rule of her
I think it was after this that she got so dreadfully
entangled in legal bondage through sitting under a legal ministry, that she
almost lost sight of this great deliverance. I believe it was about this
time that my sermons first fell into her hands, and one of them, I think it
was Winter before Harvest, was the means of bringing her out of this
legal bondage. I have heard her say that the first time she read it, it
seemed to her as if a light from heaven shone upon one special page, and
from that was reflected into her heart. So blessed was this sermon to her
soul, and so fond was she of it, that she carried it in her bosom until it
was quite worn out. I have seen it, and tattered it was. She had no idea
that the writer was alive, but thought he had been dead many years ago, and
to use her expression, was with Abraham. Through her master's son, who I
believe heard me in London, she learned that the writer was still alive, and
that there were more sermons to be had by him. Some of these she somehow
procured, and finding they were preached at Eden Street sent me a letter
directed there, which somehow reached me.
I cannot go through the remarkable steps in providence
whereby she came first to Stamford, and then under my roof; but Mrs. W. knew
all the circumstances and could tell you, and very probably remembers much
of her experience which I have forgotten. Like most others she had her
defects and failings, and these often obscured the work of grace; but
taking her as a gracious character, I consider that there are few among you
who were so well and deeply taught in the things of God, or who knew so much
of the power and reality of the thing she professed. I had much union of
spirit with her, and believe I can say I never heard her drop a word on the
things of God which was not commended to my conscience. As regards spiritual
things we never had a jar, and she always treated me with great respect and
affection. But you know, as well as most, that generally there are trying
circumstances when master and servant both profess, and we hope possess, the
truth and fear of God. I have heard her say however, that she found it
profitable to her soul to be under my roof, and though I dare hardly add it,
that my example was good for her soul. . .
I enclose a letter of Mr. Parry's, which you will hardly
understand, from not knowing the people of whom he speaks. I am utterly
unworthy, and ever was, of such a favor and such a distinction; but I would
lie if I did not believe that God had wrought by me, and at one period very
specially. This is the time of which Mr. Parry speaks, when I first went to
Allington. There was a power put forth at that time inferior, I admit, but
almost similar to that shown at Oakham when William Tiptaft first preached
there, and the effects of that power are visible to this day, though nearly
thirty-four years ago.
Yours very affectionately in the truth,
J. C. P.
May 31, 1869
My dear Friend, Joseph Parry—I have reason to believe, from all I
have heard, that the obituary of the Wilds has been generally well received.
What people want is something real, something genuine, something that they
can depend upon—and you will find that, for the most part, it is not great
things which comfort and encourage the people of God, but that peculiar line
of trials and exercises every now and then lightened up and delivered from
by the Lord's appearing, such as is marked out in the obituary. There is
also some biography connected with the spiritual part which always gives an
interest to obituaries, and when connected with the experience throws a
light upon it.
I am not surprised that you look back sometimes to those
former days going on for 34 years ago, when certainly there was a marked
power attending the word at Allington. Besides those whom we remember with
so much affection, some of whom you have named in your letter, there were
doubtless others powerfully wrought upon, of whom we knew little or nothing;
for the work was not confined to a few years, but was spread over many at my
annual visits, when we used to have such gatherings from all parts. I have
had, and still have, many exercises both about my personal standing and my
ministry; but I cannot doubt that the Lord has wrought by me, and indeed on
several occasions in a very marked way. I have often thought of the words of
the great Apostle, 1 Cor. 9:27, latter clause; and indeed, but for sovereign
and superabounding grace, should find it so. I often tell the Lord what a
theme of thankful praise, what a debt of eternal gratitude, I shall owe Him
for saving my soul. People say, but I can more than say, I am sure that
no greater sinner will enter heaven.
Mr. Hazlerigg was here on Wednesday evening, and preached
from Phil. 3:10, 11. I am glad to say that I heard him very sweetly. He
preached not only a very able, but a very experimental and faithful, sermon;
indeed, a superior sermon, and with a good deal of real vital experience,
and such things as I could set to my seal were not only sound Gospel truth,
but the real feelings of a living exercised soul. It happened to be what is
called the Derby day, and the cab which I ordered did not come until 7:20,
so that I only got in after he had begun prayer, in which I thought him very
nice. He called in the afternoon, when he spoke of the late Mrs. —, and was
well persuaded of her safety. He visited her in her illness, and said that
on one occasion when he left her, she had spoken with so much brokenness,
contrition, and with such sweetness upon the dealings of God with her soul,
that, to use his expression, "he had never left a sick room more exhilarated
or persuaded of the reality of the work." We both felt that what once looked
well in her had been sadly buried by prosperity, &c., but, as he remarked,
the Lord would not let her enjoy this world—for she had little else but
bodily suffering, and I believe at the last very great. I understand that on
one occasion she was so blessed that, not being able to sing herself from
weakness, she had her maids into her room and made them sing for her. What a
sovereign God is, and how, as poor Mrs. Wild said to Mary, the work of the
Lord upon the soul can never be extinguished, however weak it may seem for a
time to appear. . .
Yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.
June 3, 1869
My dear Friend in the Lord, Mrs. Peake—I have been so much occupied
with preparing for publication my little work on the Advance of Popery,
that I have scarcely found time to attend to my private correspondence.
This must plead my excuse for not taking earlier notice of your kind and
interesting letters. I have now however nearly finished it, and hope to be
able to get it out before the end of the month. It has cost me some time and
trouble, as I had both to re-write some parts and re-arrange others; and
after all, having been written at various times and in detached articles, I
fear it will be found to lack unity of thought and language, as well as
arrangement, and to have too much repetition.
I have received several communications like your own,
requesting me not to abridge the sermons, and therefore I feel bound to
listen to what seems to be the general feeling and voice of its readers. The
Lord works by whom He will work, as He sends by whom He will send; and thus
if His gracious Majesty is pleased to make use of my printed sermons for His
people's good and His own glory, what can I say? I did not commence their
publication, nor have I derived the slightest profit from them. All the
labor that I have bestowed upon them, in revising and preparing them for the
press, has been on my part wholly gratuitous, so that I have received
nothing for my trouble, but the pleasing thought of their being made
profitable to the church of God, which is far better pay than all that gold
or silver could bestow.
I am glad that you, as well as others, have read with
such interest and feeling the account which I have been enabled to give of
the Wilds. They were indeed most worthy and excellent people, so honest and
sincere in word and deed, so afraid of presumption and hypocrisy, and so
deeply tried and exercised in almost every way—body, soul, family, and
circumstances. I would think there was scarcely a trial or temptation, come
from what quarter it may, which poor Mrs. Wild had not some experience of.
But perhaps the account of her trials and sufferings, which I have recorded
in The Gospel Standard, may be made a means of comforting and
encouraging others who are called to walk in the same path of tribulation.
She was a very sensible woman, and if I may say so, was very much attached
to me and my ministry; indeed much more so than I could publicly mention.
It is at Allington as at Oakham—the old wine is better
than the new. Though there are still many gracious people in that church and
congregation, there is not now the life and power that there was in years
past, nor the gatherings from all parts which there used to be in my former
annual visits. But it seems to be everywhere the same—there is a gradual
declension of the life and power of godliness. The work of grace upon
the people is not so deep, clear, or decided, nor is the power of the Lord
so present to heal as in days gone by. And I fear it will go on getting
worse and worse until, according to the prophecies of the last days, men
will have the form of godliness while they deny the power thereof.
The way of the cross is hateful to flesh and blood, and
therefore a smooth easy path securing, as they think, the benefits and
blessings of salvation without self-denial, mortification of the flesh,
painful exercises, and many trials, is eagerly embraced and substituted for
the straight and narrow way which leads unto life. And by this, or some
other deceit of the flesh or delusion of the devil, all would perish in
their sins, unless the Lord had chosen a peculiar people in the furnace of
affliction and predestinated them to be conformed to the image of His dear
Son, here in suffering, and hereafter in glory. They, like all the rest,
would gladly, as far as the flesh is concerned, stretch themselves on a bed
too short, and wrap themselves up in a covering too narrow, and thus make a
covenant with death and hell that they might be disturbed by fears of
But this the Lord will not suffer, and therefore lays
judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet, and then they find
that they have made lies their refuge, and under falsehood have they hidden
Now until this covenant with death and hell is broken up,
there will be no view by faith, no being brought unto or building upon the
foundation which God has laid in Zion, even that stone, that tried stone,
that precious corner-stone on which the church is built. We may thus bless
the Lord for every conviction, pang, trial, exercise, sorrow, distress, or
temptation, which may, so to speak, uncase us of our self-righteousness and
hypocrisy, and bring us to cleave to the rock for need of a shelter. And
this not only at first, as if when peace was obtained by faith in the Son of
God there were no more convictions of conscience or distress of mind to be
undergone, but it was through more or less the whole of the divine life, one
may say, to its very close.
I have been reading lately, and indeed read most
evenings, Bourne's weighty letters, and I find them profitable, as pointing
out so clearly the way of tribulation with its benefits and blessings. I
would like you and your dear sister to read sometimes these truly
experimental letters, and believe you would find them instructive and
profitable. They and Huntington's Posthumous letters are, with the
Scriptures, my chief reading. . . .
Yours very affectionately in the truth,
J. C. P.
June 11, 1869
My dear Friend, Mrs. Kershaw—I am sorry to find from a letter just
received from Mr. Gadsby, that dear Mr. Kershaw is gradually sinking into
the arms of death. But oh, what a mercy and a blessing it is for him and for
you, and may I not add, for all his friends and the church of God, that he
is so favored in his soul, and that the blessing of God rests like the dew
upon the branch! It is indeed a fitting crown to his long and laborious
life, a sealing testimony of the Lord the Spirit to the precious truths
which he has so long preached, and a confirming evidence that the Jesus,
whose name, blood, righteousness, and dying love he has so long labored to
exalt, is now smiling upon His aged servant before He takes him home to
Amid all your present cares and anxieties, and the
fatigue of nursing the dear invalid, I could not ask you to drop me a line
how he is, but if S. J. would but write me a few words I should feel much
obliged. Truly she said in her note to Mrs. Gadsby that his removal will be
an indescribable loss to you and her. But oh, my dear friend, what a blessed
thing it is for you to have such a testimony on his behalf! And though when
the stroke comes, you may feel as if it were tearing body and soul asunder,
and may sadly mourn your desolate state after so many years of wedded
happiness and spiritual union, yet it will be a sweet balm to your bleeding
heart, that he whom you so long and so justly loved is forever with his dear
Lord. Please give him my Christian love. We have always walked in love and
union for many years, and no cloud has ever come across our communion with
Yours very affectionately in the truth,
J. C. P.
June 18, 1869
My dear Friend in the Lord, Mr. Tips. . . It is indeed a wonderful
mercy to have divine life communicated to the soul, to have any living faith
in the Lord Jesus Christ, any hope in God's mercy, or any love to Him who is
the altogether lovely, or any affection to His people as bearing His image
and belonging to Him. This hope, faith, and love the Lord seems to have
given you, my dear friend; and it is because He has wrought these graces in
your heart by a divine power that you love His truth, His ways, His Word,
and those who faithfully preach and write it. It never was an honor that I
sought, to be made a blessing to His people by my sermons and writings; but
it was the Lord's will, and the Lord's work. Nothing belongs to me but
sin and shame. I have no good works to plead, but on the contrary, have
to confess my sins, which have been great and grievous, and have no hope but
in the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, which cleanses us from all
sin. Most probably we shall never meet again on earth, but it will be the
greatest of all our mercies to arrive safe on the heavenly shore; and I am
very sure that it must be the free, rich, and superabounding grace of God
which alone can bring us there. We live in a world of sin and sorrow; our
wicked hearts are continually entangling us in sin and evil. It is very easy
to depart from the Lord, but very hard to return to Him. Repentance,
reconciliation, pardon, and peace are the free gifts of His grace, and
indeed, it is a mercy that the Son of Man, who is the Son of God, came to
seek and to save those who are lost. . . .
Yours in the love of the Truth,
J. C. P.
June 24, 1869
My dear Friends in the Lord, Mrs. Peake and Miss Morris. . . I took
the whole morning service at Gower Street last Lord's day, and was
comfortably brought through, feeling life and liberty, both in prayer and
preaching. From Isaiah 4:2, 3 I meant at first to take also verse 4, but
found on meditating on the subject, that it was, so to speak, covering too
much ground. The reporter was there, and thus you will (D.V.) see what I was
enabled to preach. I may perhaps take verse 4 another day, as there is much
deep experimental truth in it, if I could bring it forth. I was tired and
exhausted afterwards, but this is only what I must expect. I had reason to
be thankful that I scarcely coughed the whole time, and my voice was clear
Mr. Kershaw is on his dying bed, but to use his own
words, "as full of heaven as he can hold." It is a fitting termination to
his long, laborious, and godly life. I send you some letters which will tell
you how he is or was, both in body and soul. He has a strong constitution,
but I greatly doubt whether he will be here many days.
Mr. Garner is supplying at Gower Street. The friends
admire his kind feeling toward me in not being jealous, because I take a
service as if over his head. I told the people Lord's day morning that he
had been a hearer and transient member of mine for several years, and had
always shown me great esteem, respect, and affection, and that I could
therefore, without hurting his feelings or wounding his dignity, take his
place, but that there were very few ministers to whom I could even propose
such a thing.
I hope I may come among you in the fullness of the
blessing of the Gospel of Christ. But do not look to me, or you will
surely be disappointed. The Lord is a jealous God. I fear you will see
me weaker in body, as I have never really got over the attack I had last
September, and the cold wet Spring has robbed me of my grand tonic—my walks.
My daughter Sarah, who is at Plymouth, gives a poor account of Mrs. Isbell;
she reads to her twice daily and is, I doubt not, a comfort to her. My
sister has found a blessing in my Meditations on 1 Pet. 1, especially
about the incorruptible inheritance, and has had them read three or four
times to her. With kind love to all my dear friends,
I am, yours in the Lord,
J. C. P.
July 19, 1869My dear Friends in the Lord,—You will be desirous to hear how I
am and how I was brought through my labors yesterday. It was very hot and
the congregation large, but on the whole I was brought comfortably through.
My texts were, Jude 20, 21, Jer. 17:7, 8. Mr. Ford, the recorder, was there
both times. I felt dry and shut up in the morning, but was more at liberty
in the evening. I slept but little from fatigue and heat, but on the whole
am pretty well today, and have had a nice refreshing walk. I preached at
Stamford from Heb. 4:1, and spoke much of what the rest was, "my rest,"
that is, God's rest, what it was to come short of it, either for a time
only, or fully and finally. There was a good congregation, and great
attention paid to the discourse. I felt liberty in speaking, and had some
solemn feelings which, I think, showed themselves in the sermon. I would
like you to have heard it.
I was quite comfortably lodged and well waited upon, and
treated with the greatest kindness and affection.
Many thanks, dear friends, for your kindness to me and
mine. The Lord repay it a hundredfold into your own bosom. I am not sorry
for my visit, and the friends here tell me how much better I am looking.
J. C. P.
July 27, 1869My dear Friends in the Lord,—I received and have acted on your
kind orders for the books to the three places, which will no doubt be
executed with the usual care and punctuality.
I was helped through last Lord's-day, though the heat was
great and the congregations large; my texts were, Rom. 6:21-23, Ezek. 34:15,
16. The recorder was there both times. I cannot say much about the sermons,
but they were listened to with great attention. We had a collection for the
Aged Pilgrim Friend Society, and raised, I think, about £47. I contrasted
the lowliness of some of the collections with the liberality of others, and
named my dear people of Oakham as standing third or fourth on the list. The
secretary told me that in some of the Church of England collections the
'operating expenses' swallowed up the whole or nearly the whole amount.
Dear Rebecca! I felt much for and with her, and could
weep with those that weep—at least in some measure. How much better her
state than a dead calm. I cannot add more as I have to preach this evening,
and expect a large congregation.
The Lord bless you both with much of His manifested
presence and love.
Yours very affectionately in Him,
J. C. P.
August 6, 1869My dear Friend, Mrs. Peake—We had, I trust, a good day at
Calne Anniversary on Wednesday. The large chapel which was lent to us was
thronged with people, and the collection for the Aged Pilgrim Friend Society
was £30 12s. 4d., reduced by necessary expenses to £27 17s. 6d. Mr. Taylor
preached an able and faithful sermon from Micah 6:8. I had preached from the
same text at Gower Street this visit, and W—, who heard both sermons, said
how much we ran in the same track. I preached from my old text, part of Jer.
15:19, and had some life and liberty. My texts here on Lord's-day were, John
16:33, Exod. 33:15, 16. It was generally considered a good day, one of the
best we have had at Allington for some time. I may, D.V., preach from the
texts in London—so that they may be published, as I had some sweet thoughts
and feelings on and in them. I seemed to see, as I never saw before, the
connection between our dear Lord's overcoming the world—and the path of
Tell dear — that, in overcoming the world, the Lord has
overcome all in it, therefore her bodily tribulation, which He
holds in His hands as a conquered foe and lets out just enough of its power
to afflict but not overwhelm.
Such a desire was expressed at Calne for the publication
of my "Meditations on the Ephesians," that I think of doing so. I found the
same feeling in London.
Yours in love,
J. C. P.
August 27, 1869My dear Friends in the Lord,—In reply to the kind inquiry I am
thankful to be able to say that through mercy I am recovering from my late
attack, which indeed was brought on more by fatigue and over-exertion than
from taking cold. As then I have obtained a little rest, it has been blessed
to my relief. I need not tell you that it is a great trial to me to be again
obliged to disappoint the friends who in various places were looking forward
in expectation of once more hearing my voice. It was, however, so widely
made known that I could not come to Abingdon, that there was not so much
disappointment there. The chief difficulty is how my place is to be supplied
at Gower Street on so short a notice. . . .
I wish I could send you a favorable account spiritually
to counterbalance what I have said of myself naturally; but I have felt very
flat and lifeless during this last visitation, with more peevishness and
fretfulness under the weight of the cross than last year, when there seemed
to be much more life and feeling under its pressure than now. This lack of
divine support and the movements of divine life, makes me less able to bear
the cross with submission to the will of God. It also very much spoilt my
visit at Allington, for I could neither walk nor talk, and spent most of my
time alone after the first fortnight. It teaches me, however, my dependence
for every spiritual movement upon the Lord, and that without Him I can do
I preached only on two Lord's-days at Allington; but they
were days to be remembered, especially the first, and the blessing of God
upon the word was somewhat remarkable from its being so generally felt by
the spiritual part of the congregation. The second Lord's-day was very wet
and cold, and I preached twice, with my chest in pain, and was much
exhausted afterwards. But I believe it was a good day for the people, as my
mind was much weighted and solemnized by the load I was carrying. I feel
thankful I have reached my own home; though in this large town, we are
almost as quiet and as retired from noise as if we were far in the country.
Yours very affectionately in the truth,
J. C. P.
September 16, 1869My dear Friend in our gracious Lord, Mrs. Peake—I feel
much obliged to you and your dear sister for the kind and affectionate
wishes and prayers for me; but I must say that I feel also utterly
unworthy of your kind opinion of me, for I think if you knew me such as I
see and know myself to be, it would alter your judgment. Still, if the
Lord is pleased in His sovereign grace to make use of me in any way for the
good of His Church and people, to Him be all the glory.
The obituary in this month's Gospel Standard is
certainly a very marked instance of the power of sovereign grace. Dr. D., of
the "Gospel Magazine," was so blessed in reading it that he wrote to me a
letter which you will see in our next number. Surely it is very gracious of
the Lord, and shows His tender care over His people that He should give the
Gospel Standard, with all its infirmities, such acceptance and such a
wide circulation among those who fear His name. Our Lord said, "That which
you have spoken in the ear in closets, shall be proclaimed upon the
housetops." And thus letters like those of Miss V., and the experience of E.
W., come abroad and reach the ears and hearts of thousands.
I am sorry to say that I still continue very poorly, and
do not seem to shake off my illness or to regain strength. It appears as if
there was some irritation going on which makes me very short-breathed, and
at times feverish. But C., who listens very carefully to the sounds of my
chest, thinks it is gradually subsiding. At my age, and after so many
attacks of the same illness, I must naturally expect slower returns to
convalescence. I was enabled to get through my sermon for Mr. Ford before it
came on, and the obituary for Gospel Standard, which I could hardly
have attended to otherwise. One trying effect of illness is that it weakens
the mind as well as the body, impairs the power of close thought and
attention, and but for special help seems also to weaken faith and waiting
on the Lord.
Had my visit to Oakham been deferred to this month, it
would have been impossible for me to come among you. There was, therefore, a
mercy so far that I was enabled to visit you at a more favorable season, and
when I was better and stronger.
I was much pleased to hear that Mrs. S. had been blessed
lately in hearing our dear friend Mr. K. It was what she had much longed and
prayed for, but felt that it was not in her power nor his to bring the
desired blessing. I have much union with her in the things of God, and much
admire her general spirit, singleness of eye, and spirituality of mind. I
wish there were more like her; but God is able to raise up, both at Oakham
and Stamford, a fresh crop when the present shall have been gathered into
His garner. But no man having drunk old wine immediately desires new, for he
says the old is better; and I do not think we shall ever feel the same union
with the new as we have had with the old members and saints, so many of whom
are now gone home.
Yours very affectionately in the Lord,
J. C. P.
September 29, 1869Dear Friend in the Truth, Mr. W. Harrodine—I can only send
you a few lines in answer to your kind and interesting letter. I remember
very distinctly your speaking to me in Gower Street vestry, for I was struck
with what you said about hearing Mr. Pym speak of praying over the Bible,
and what conviction it wrought in your mind. I have frequently thought that
Mr. Pym's last few letters contain some of the sweetest and clearest Gospel
truths that I know; he had such clear and blessed views of the Person,
glory, and work of Christ as are rarely met with, but which found a blessed
response in my heart. Of all the Church of England ministers in these last
days who preach the truth, I think he was the clearest, soundest, most
separating and experimental.
But I must now answer your two questions—1. As regards
the sermon which I preached at Gower Street from Heb. 10:35-37; it was not
taken down, nor do I remember at this moment whether it is to be found in
any other of my sermons published by Paul or Justins. 2. As regards my
health, it is not very strong at this present time, as I have had an attack
lately of my old illness, a kind of chronic bronchitis, which has pulled me
down a good deal, and made me very susceptible of the least external cold.
But all these things I desire to take as so many warnings that my race will
soon be run; at present my mind seems very dark, but I am still looking up
to the Lord that He would shine upon my soul and dispel every dark cloud of
I cannot add more this evening; but wishing you the
enjoyment of every new-covenant mercy,
I am, Yours affectionately in the truth,
J. C. P.
October 15, 1869Dear Friend in the Lord, Mr. James Churcher—I had not
heard of the removal of your late partner in life until the receipt of your
kind and affectionate letter. You have indeed sustained an irreparable loss,
but you have the sweet satisfaction of knowing that she is with that dear
Lord whom she believed in and loved while here below. I will, as far as my
health and time admit, look over any account which you may send to me of the
Lord's dealings with her in providence and grace. I shall then be able to
form a better judgment how far it may be desirable to insert it in the
Gospel Standard. You can, if you like, write copiously, though I think
for the most part that a concise account is preferable, as many things which
may appear of importance to relatives may not appear so to general readers,
and it is difficult to abridge and suppress a long account, not only as
requiring judgment and giving trouble for the pen, but also as breaking the
links which often connect the whole into one chain. Though, therefore, I
have said you might if you like write copiously, yet if you could compress
the best parts of her life and experience into a smaller compass it would be
desirable. In fact, most writers are too lengthy and verbose, and spoil what
is really good by mixing up with it what is of little value; for it is in
writing, and indeed in religion and in everything else, that what is most
valuable is most scarce, and lies usually in a very small compass.
Give my love to all the friends with whom you stand in
Yours affectionately in the Lord,
J. C. P.
October 20, 1869
My dear Friends in the Lord, Mrs. Peake and Miss Morris—You will
perceive from the handwriting that I have got back my junior secretary, and
very glad we all are to welcome her home after her long absence; nor could I
have spared her so long had it not been for the sake of my poor invalid
sister, to whom she was a great comfort in reading to her out of the Word of
God, Bourne's Letters, etc. She is quite confined to her bed, and says that
she has little wish to live. She has at times been much favored with the
presence of the Lord, and taking her experience throughout, has known more
of His gracious visitations, applications of the Word with power, marked
answers to prayer, etc. than many have enjoyed. She has not indeed much to
live for, though much attached to her relatives and taking great interest in
I have just finished my G. S. work and revising
the sermon, and generally feel for two or three days afterwards a need of
almost absolute rest. The mind, and its organ the brain, will not endure
more than a certain amount of labor, and to go beyond that sooner or later
is sure to wear upon it. I have, so to speak, conserved my mind for many
years, never pushing it beyond a certain point, and then by exercise, or
rest, or sleep, endeavoring to fit it anew for fresh labor. By doing this,
and the blessing of God resting upon it, I have been enabled to do a great
deal of work, and to do what I have done carefully and thoughtfully, without
which nothing can be really well done. I am sure, my dear friend, you can
sympathize with me in this, as your own mind being so much occupied is often
jaded and worn out and needs rest.
But of all rest the best is that when we can rest where
God rests—in His dear Son; to cease from our own works and rest wholly and
solely in the blood and righteousness and finished work of the blessed Lord.
And how graciously and tenderly He invites us to do so! (Matt. 11:28, 29).
We are often poor restless creatures, looking here, and there, and
everywhere, but to Him who has said—"O Israel, you have destroyed yourself,
but in Me is your help!" And we well know that all the rest and peace that
we ever have got in times past, or get now, is by believing our interest in
Him, and in what He has done and suffered to save poor sinners from death
and hell. How suitable He is to all who from sheer necessity cleave to Him,
and find at times a blessed sweetness in looking to Him and leaning and
hanging upon Him!
There often is, for a long time, a contention in the soul
against God's way of salvation, either from self-righteousness or gloomy
despondency. We are unwilling sometimes to see the worst of ourselves, or to
believe we are as bad as Scripture and conscience tell us; and then again,
when some light shines into the mind to show us what we are, the greatness
of our sins, and the dreadful nature of sin generally, then it seems as if
there was scarcely ground for hope. Sometimes unbelief, or infidelity, or
impenitency, or rebelliousness, and various other startings-up of the carnal
mind stand as obstacles to salvation, which nothing can remove but the power
of the Lord subduing the heart into faith and repentance. When then we can
come out of our wretched selves and receive God's salvation as a free gift
of His unspeakable and superabounding grace, then, and then alone, is there
rest and peace.
I have been obliged rather to curtail my Meditations,
as I wished to finish the chapter by the end of the year, and shall
therefore have to pass over much that otherwise I should like to unfold at
greater length. But it is not well to tire readers, for long meditations are
like long sermons, which weary when they should edify.
My little work on Popery is, on the whole, going off
pretty well. There have been some favorable reviews of it, one of which, in
the Morning Advertiser, I send herewith, and as I think you do not
see the Gospel Magazine, I will also send that. . . .
Yours very affectionately in the Lord,
J. C. P.
October 25, 1869
My dear Mr. Copcutt. . . I added to your order one or two books which
you had not named, and instead of sending you Berridge's Christian World
Unmasked, sent you the whole of his works, as I thought you would find
them interesting. Though there is a great deal of quaintness and almost
levity in most of his writings, he was a man well taught in the things of
God, and a burning and shining light in his day and generation. His Songs
of Zion I consider peculiarly valuable as containing so much true
Christian experience, and unfolding both sides of the question—I mean what
we are by nature, and what we are by grace, with the varied phases of the
life of God in the soul. They were written during various illnesses, when he
could not get out to do his beloved work of preaching the Gospel—and though
they were written out of his heart, and have proved such a treasure to the
people of God, yet he himself thought so little of them that he was minded
again and again to throw them into the fire.
England has no such men now as appeared in that day; for
we are sadly sunk in all that pertains to vital godliness, and I fear much
resemble the state of that church of which we read, that it had a name to
live but was dead. The most active men in the Church of England, or the
Established Church, are the Ritualists, who in fact are disguised or rather
undisguised Papists, and who would very gladly join the Church of Rome, if
they could be received on equal conditions, or take their preferments with
them. But I think there is almost more danger to be apprehended from a small
but powerful party, called the Broad Church, but who in fact are secret
infidels, as doubting the inspiration of the Scriptures, the miracles, the
prophecies, and everything in the Word of God of a supernatural kind. These
men avail themselves of every discovery in science, to oppose thereby the
Word of God as a divine revelation; and as infidelity is deeply rooted in
the human heart, and their views and arguments are very plausible, there are
very many no doubt who are deeply tainted with this infidel spirit, who for
various reasons dare not give full expression to their inward sentiments. In
fact, true religion is as much a matter of divine inward revelation as the
Word of God of divine outward revelation; and thus where there is no
spiritual work of God's grace in the heart, there is no real means of
proving the Word of God to be His inspired revelation. But it is impossible
for an enlightened mind and a believing heart not to see that the historical
and supernatural parts of God's Word are so blended and intertwined that
they must stand or fall together. And indeed, I may say that the same
spiritual light which discovers the emptiness and hollowness of a mere
ceremonial religion, such as Ritualism, discovers also the fearful character
of infidelity—and thus the Christian finds no rest except in believing God's
testimony in the Word, and through the Word in his own heart. But I almost
forget that I am writing a letter and not an essay, though as you are
surrounded by the same or similar evils, you may perhaps find something not
uninteresting in the above remarks. . .
You ask me if I know when Mr. Huntington's first wife
died. I do not know, though I have often tried to obtain it from his works.
She never rose with him, if I may use the expression, but always continued
in mind and manner an uneducated woman. He, on the other hand, was one of
nature's gentlemen, and in advanced life quite courteous and dignified.
I was at Stadham from the year 1828 to 1835, preaching
there and at Chislehampton, a village near. I have had hearers there from
eighteen different parishes, counted as such, besides others probably
Mr. Abrahams made a good end. He was sound in the truth,
especially on such grand points as the Trinity, the Sonship of Christ, etc.
He suffered a good deal in his last illness, but was much supported and
often spoke of the wondrous grace of God in bringing him, a poor Jew, from
Poland to this country, and calling him to a knowledge of Himself.
I have just published a little work on the Advance of
Popery, consisting chiefly of articles which have appeared in The
Gospel Standard, but partly rewritten, and much rearranged. It is
selling pretty well; but there is a general apathy in this country about
the advance of Popery, which seems likely much to favor its progress. It
is coming in chiefly through the medium of the Established Church, hundreds
probably of its ministers being deeply infected with it. . . .
I am, my dear Sir,
Yours very sincerely for truth's sake,
J. C. P.
November 5, 1869
My dear Brother in one common hope—I feel sorry to be obliged to return the
MS. which you have kindly sent me for insertion in The Gospel Standard.
I do so reluctantly, but there are various reasons which have induced me
to come to this conclusion; and I trust that I shall not, in briefly naming
then, say anything which may wound your mind or hurt your feelings.
1. And first let me drop a few remarks upon the
communication itself. I cannot at all understand, or at least see, with you
in the first case which you have brought forward as a victory over death.
The lady, whom you name as so smiling before the king of terrors, was
evidently not doing so under the smiles of the Lord, as her experience, if
it be worth the name, was but at least a faint hope in God's mercy; and I
can hardly understand how she could say, "I am very low-spirited", and
acknowledge her lack of more faith, and yet smile and almost laugh at death.
At any rate, I feel that I could not bring it before my readers as a proof
of triumph in death, whatever secret encouragement it may have administered
from other causes to your soul.
2. But apart from my objection to the insertion of this
particular article, I have other reasons which I trust will not pain your
mind when I say they have induced me to decline its insertion.
I have hitherto for many years maintained a separate position from all other
religious periodicals, and chiefly for this reason, that I have felt to
obtain thereby greater liberty in thought, word, and action. I inserted your
last communication as a matter of simple equity and justice; but if I were
to go on inserting your communications, however excellent they might be, it
would appear to many like a coalescing with you, and to do so would seem to
involve on my part a sinking of many and wide differences which still exist
between us, and would so far almost nullify, and as if stultify, not only
those differences, but much of what I have publicly said and written
connected with my secession from the Establishment.
3. I have therefore to consider also my numerous readers,
and that large body of churches of truth, including both ministers and
members, of which The Gospel Standard is the usually recognized
representative and organ, many of whom might thereby be much led to feel
that I was departing from that peculiar and separate position which I have
so long occupied, if I kept inserting pieces by editors of other magazines,
and especially of any connected with the Establishment.
At present we have each our own peculiar work to do, each
our own circle of readers, each our circle of friends and adherents; and in
that circle we can move with more freedom than if we went out of it to unite
with any other under the idea of Christian union, which often involves, if
not a compromise of principle, yet a sacrifice of freedom of action. I feel
therefore that I must not do anything which would at all imply that I am
abandoning my present ground to occupy one different from that on which I
have so long stood.
I greatly fear that I shall not succeed in conveying to
your mind my exact feelings upon this point, and that what I have written
may seem to you to spring from an unChristian narrowness of spirit, or even
an exclusive "stand-by-yourself" feeling, which is very foreign to my inmost
mind. Thus I may wish a man well in the name of the Lord, and desire that
the blessing of God may rest upon him and his ministrations, with whom on
other grounds I could not unite.
Take for instance, the late Mr. Pym, or the late Mr.
Parks. There are very few men with whom I have felt more union of soul and
spirit than with the former, some of whose letters I consider to embody in
the sweetest experimental way the precious truths of the Gospel. On such a
man, I could wish with all my heart that the blessing of God might rest,
both in his own soul and in his pulpit ministrations; but I could not unite
with him as a minister in the Establishment without falsifying all my own
experience when I was in it, and by which I was brought out of it. They,
like you, had their special work to do, and God owned and blessed them in
it. Nor would I, if I could have done so, have brought them out of the
sphere of their labors by a move of my hand, though I would not myself have
done what they did, and as you must do, by continuing ministers in it. In
their own sphere of labor they were most useful, and met with the usual
reproach of faithful laborers. As such I honored and esteemed them, though I
could not unite with them; and in a similar way, I desire that the blessing
of God may rest upon you and your ministry, both by tongue and pen, though I
could not unite with you in either.
After this, which I fear may be to you a somewhat painful
explanation, allow me to add that I am very glad to recognize in this
month's Gospel Magazine various indications which to my mind prove
that you have received much benefit from your late painful and trying
experience. I was especially glad to read what you say on page 563, upon the
Lord's servants being "called to encounter dark and dismal depths, in order
that a clearer, closer, deeper, more Scriptural line of teaching and
personal experience should be the more earnestly and perseveringly insisted
upon." It is from lack of this searching ministry that there has been so
much dead and dry doctrinal preaching in men professing truth, without that
"deep, heartfelt, experimental, testing-and-trying, probing-and-proving"
ministry of which you have so well spoken. It is surprising what a deal
of dross, hidden from ourselves, is purged away in the furnace of temptation,
and I can well sympathize with what you say at the top of page 563, where
you speak of a temptation of which I have known, and even now know, so much,
but by passing through which many years ago, I was first taught the
difference between that faith which is natural and notional, and that faith
which is the expressed gift and work of God.
Wishing you, my dear sir, every blessing of the new and
everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure, and thanking you for
your kind sympathy with me and desires for me.
I am, yours very affectionately in our gracious Lord,
J. C. P.
[NOTE. The above letter to the Rev. Doudney, editor of
The Gospel Magazine, was published in that periodical, January 1870, and
in The Gospel Standard for June, 1870. The reader will easily glean
from the letter itself the circumstances which led to its being written.]
November 22, 1869
My dear Friends in the Lord, Mrs. Peake and Miss Morris. . . I have
not yet answered our friend S.'s letter. I am very doubtful whether he can
ever reap much advantage from attempting to read the New Testament in the
original. It is a most difficult language to acquire to be of any value,
and must be learned in youth when the memory is active and strong. If he is
fond of reading and wishes to study, I would much rather recommend him to
read our great and godly Puritan writers, such as Owen, Sibbes, Charnock,
etc. But study even of these writings is often more apt to make a man
book-learned, than feed his soul and put life into his ministry. This must
have been the result of the dealings of God with his soul, a knowledge of
sin and salvation, a prayerful study of the Word of truth, and a living
under the teaching and testimony of the blessed Spirit. I have been, and
still in good measure am, a diligent student of the Word of truth in the
original languages, and a reader of the writings of godly men; but all this
I have found very insufficient in the day of trial and temptation, and of
very little benefit as regards the ministry. Nothing but the work and
witness of the blessed Spirit, through the Word of His grace, can bring any
life or feeling, power or comfort to my heart, or enable me rightly to
divide the Word of truth and speak or write effectually to the hearts of
God's people. My 'learning' therefore, such as it is, is but of little use
in seasons of affliction and trouble, to speak peace to a burdened
conscience, or assure my soul of its interest in atoning blood and dying
I am thankful to say I am pretty well in health, but much
confined to the house. Indeed I rarely get out except on the Lord's day to
chapel, which I usually do when the weather is not too cold or wet. My sons
are living in London together in lodgings, and thus the younger has the
benefit of the older's instruction, and the older the younger's company, and
as they are much united in brotherly affection it adds much to the comfort
of each. They generally come down here every Saturday, returning on Monday.
I have not heard much how the obituary of poor Mrs.
Prentice has been received, except the two letters which I forward; but I
have no doubt from my own feelings that it has made a deep impression upon
many hearts. What the people of God want is reality and truth, life and
power, simplicity and godly sincerity—not confused, indistinct, laudatory,
"cooked" accounts—but something which speaks for itself that God was in it.
It was this feature which made the account of the Wilds so acceptable, and
good old Mrs. Freeman, and the same is stamped, I think, more clearly still
on the words and experience of Mrs. Prentice. It may be a fulfillment of the
words which were spoken to her—"What you do, do to My glory." This may now
be done in the glory brought to God by her striking account of His work upon
her soul, and the letters which I insert this month.
Yours most affectionately in the truth,
J. C. P.
November 22, 1869My dear Friend, Miss Richmond—You enquire very kindly
about my health. It is, I am thankful to say, better than it often is,
though I am much confined to the house, and rarely get out except on the
Lord's-day, when, if the weather be tolerably fine, I usually manage to get
to chapel, which I feel to be a privilege as well as a benefit. It is,
indeed, my mercy, and I hope for many others also that though laid aside
from the active work of the ministry, I am yet enabled to use my pen in the
service of the Lord; and I am thankful to say that I have had many sweet
testimonies of the blessing of God resting on what I have been enabled to
put forth in His name. And I hope the Lord may enable me still to contend
earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, and still attend it
with His power and blessing.
I had not heard of the death of your dear little nephew,
nor that your school was broken up in consequence. It must have been a great
trial to you in every way, but I am glad to find that you were favored with
resignation to the Lord's will, and had some words to assure you that it was
not in anger but from His dear covenant love. How different might it have
been with you if the Lord had allowed the rebellion of your heart to rise,
and how much more it would have added to the weight of the trial! It is
indeed a mercy when we can fall into the hands of the Lord, and see and feel
that "He is too wise to err—and too good to be unkind."
I am glad to hear that you have peace and union in the
church, and that the Lord still is adding to you such as shall be saved.
With regard to my coming to Abingdon for two Lord's-days
next summer, I fear it will not be in my power to do so. Indeed, I often
think that my preaching days are over, as I have not strength for the work,
and you know that this summer I was not able to fulfill my engagement, nor
do I think it likely that I shall be able to go to Gower Street next year,
as I have done for so many years. At any rate I could not make any promise
of coming to Abingdon, though I would be very glad to see my friends there
once more. It is now many years that I have known some of them, and it is a
mercy that amid so many storms of sin and Satan, temptation and trial, we
have been able thus far to stand. None but the Lord can hold us up,
and I trust that he will do so even to the end.
I am sorry to hear of poor John Hatt's trial. How true it
is that through much tribulation we are to enter the kingdom of heaven. And
I trust that your afflicted sister at Stadham may find it so, and that her
afflictions may be blessedly sanctified to her soul's good. We unite in
affectionate love to you and with my love to all the friends,
I am, yours very affectionately,
J. C. P.
November 24, 1869
Dear Friend in the Truth—I have not been able for several reasons to reply
to your interesting and affectionate letter, and even now fear that my
answer will fall very short of any wishes, as I cannot take up the various
points which it has opened up.
But first let me notice that I am truly glad you should
have found the experience of Isabella Prentice so much commended to your
conscience, and that the blessing which my sermon Winter before Harvest
was made to her, found a response in your own. I wish you could have
heard her tell out her experience yourself, for there was something so
marked and original in her expressions, and such life and power stamped upon
them. I have usually found that, where people like her have been brought up
in total ignorance of the way of truth, that when the Lord is first pleased
to shine into their soul, it leaves a mark upon them which we do not find in
ordinary Christians in whom the light has been more gradual. And I have
observed also that those whose lot has been cast under a legal ministry, and
who have had to grope and groan under hard burdens, usually come forth into
the liberty of truth with greater clearness.
But I need not dwell on these points as no doubt you have
observed, and I may add, experienced in your own soul the truth of what I
have thus stated. I come now therefore to the point on which you have asked
my advice, that is—will it be desirable for you to attempt to study the
New Testament in the original language? Now at your time of life, with
your delicate health and your ministerial engagements, I greatly doubt
whether you could ever attain to such a knowledge of Greek as would be of
any real service to you. You might learn enough to compare passage with
passage, and this might interest you, as for instance, to discover that in 1
John 2:24, where we have in our translation three distinct words, "abide",
"remain", and "continue", it is but one and the same word in the original;
but beyond this you would not reap very much benefit, for a critical
knowledge of the language requires very great study, a powerful memory, and
a cultivated intellect. . . .
I do not wish to discourage you too much, though I
greatly doubt whether you will derive as much benefit as you anticipate.
Still you might make the trial, and if I can be of any service to you in
giving you directions how to go on, if you name to me your chief
difficulties I will endeavor to help you. Your mention of good Mr. Fowler
called to my mind what he once said to me in conversation—"Do not give up
your Greek Testament." But though I have given you what directions I could
about your study of the Greek Testament, yet I think myself that you would
derive more real benefit from studying such books as Dr. Owen's various
doctrinal and experimental works, Sibbes, and Huntington, than wasting your
time and strength on attaining a knowledge of Greek. But I need not tell you
that the Word of God, under the teaching and application of the blessed
Spirit, must be the food of your soul both privately and ministerially; and
you will find that prayerful meditation upon it, and seeking to enter into
its divine and spiritual meaning, will often sweetly feed your soul and will
fill you at times with such holy admiration of the wisdom and grace of God
in the Word of His truth, that you will say—"Your testimonies are
wonderful—therefore does my soul keep them. The entrance of Your words gives
light—it gives understanding unto the simple." And as your soul is under
these sweet impressions of the truth and power of God's word, you will
reproach yourself for not reading it more in the same way. But when you try
again so to read it and so to feel it, you will find it all gone; darkness
and confusion will cover your mind, and even a disinclination felt to reach
the Word of God at all.
I hope you may be encouraged in the work to which you set
your hand. If of God, as I hope it is, for I well remember our little
meetings at —, you will find encouragements as well as discouragements.
Do not seek for or expect great things, which are usually very deceptive,
but seek after real things, to feel the life and power of God in your own
soul, and a sweet flow of His unction and grace for the souls of others. You
will then have the satisfaction of a conscience made tender in God's fear,
and His approbation to rest upon your spirit.
Your wife is in a safe though not a happy place. The time
will come when she will say—"You have loosed my bonds".
Yours very affectionately in the truth,
J. C. P.
November 25, 1869
(This is the last letter written by Philpot.)
My dear sister—I am sorry to learn that you are so depressed both in
body and mind; but the two are probably much connected with each other, and
therefore I trust that as you obtain some relief from your present
indisposition, you may find some corresponding change for the better in your
mind and spirits. But you have lived long enough in this valley of tears,
and have also learned in soul experience, that it is through much
tribulation we enter the kingdom of God, that trials and troubles do not
come upon you without the gracious permission and are under the wise
regulation of the Lord. And it is your mercy that in times past, even if
not now, you have found Him a very present help in time of trouble, and that
He can by His presence and His power support the soul under the heaviest
Now it is a most blessed truth, whether you can lay hold
of it or not, so as to feel the comfort of it, that those whom the Lord
loves He loves unto the end, and that neither life nor death nor any other
creature is able to separate that soul from the love of God which is in
Jesus Christ our Lord. I hope, therefore, that amid all your depression of
spirits and darkness of mind, you may be able to hold fast by the
faithfulness of God. He has in times past given you many sweet promises,
manifestly answered your prayers, been with you in providence, and blessed
you in grace. Now therefore, when you are come to those days of which the
wise man says that "the grasshopper is a burden", I hope the Lord may appear
for and shine into your soul. It is an infinite and unspeakable mercy that
the work of our gracious Lord is a finished work, that He has put away sin
by the sacrifice of Himself, that our salvation is not a work for us to
perform, but that those who are saved are saved in the Lord with an
everlasting salvation. And you will find that the more you are enabled to
believe and realize this, and can look to and hang upon the Lord alone for
salvation and every other blessing, the more peace of conscience you will
feel, be more reconciled to the will of God, and have more submission to all
that He may see fit to lay upon you.
Our time in this life cannot now be long; we have
outlived the rest of our family; and whichever of us is next taken away, the
survivor will be the last. As regards this life, there is not much in it to
make us desirous to live, and yet there is a natural shrinking from death,
and even a fear how it may be with us in that solemn hour. But all we can
do is to cast ourselves upon the rich mercy, the free, sovereign, and
superabounding grace of God, and to look to the Lord to be with us in
His blessed presence, that we may fear no evil when called to pass through
the dark valley of the shadow of death.
I have no doubt that you will much feel the departure of
Captain and Mrs. S.; and much pleased indeed am I with the account my
daughter gives of his great kindness and attention to you. But it seems as
if it were the Lord's will to cut in some way or other every tie which binds
you to earth. You have lost your husband, the free use of your bodily
faculties, the society of many affectionate friends, the benefit of a Gospel
ministry, and many privileges once enjoyed; but you have not lost your God.
And if all these painful bereavements make you cleave all the more closely
to the Lord of life and glory, so as to find all your happiness, rest,
peace, strength, help, and hope in Him, you will find a blessing couched in
all these losses and sufferings. I do not often write to you; but I do not
the less feel for and pray for you, desiring of the Lord that he would bless
your soul with His presence and promises, and grant you faith and patience
even to the end.
We are very glad to have dear Sarah back, and indeed I
greatly missed her, not only on account of her usefulness in writing, but
her affectionate attentions. I am, through mercy, pretty well, but keep much
to the house, except on the Lord's day, when if the weather be tolerable I
get to chapel. We are all, through mercy, pretty well and unite in love to
yourself and our dear relatives.
Your most affectionate brother,
J. C. P.