A LETTER TO THE COUNTESS OF HUNTINGDON
by Henry Venn
The only return I can make your Ladyship for the very tender sympathy you show for me in my present trial is prayer to Him who has already made so much use of you as an instrument, that He would do so more and more. Six places I have been most cordially invited to, but I know my soul would receive a blessing under your roof, as it has again and again. I am now a living witness of the truth you so strenuously maintain, and of the necessity of that truth in our miserable condition here below. Did I not know the Lord to be mine; were I not certain His heart feels even more love for me than I am able to conceive;
were this evident to me, not by deduction and argument, but by consciousness, by His own light shining in my soul, as the sun’s doth upon my bodily eyes, into what a deplorable condition should I have been now cast! I have lost all that I could have wished for myself, in the partner of my joys and my cares; lost her when her industry, ingenuity, and tender love and care of her children were all just beginning to be perceived by the two eldest girls, and to strike them with a sense of the excellency of such qualities. I have lost her, when her soul was as a watered garden, when her mouth was open to speak for God, and He was blessing the testimony she bore to a free, full, everlasting pardon in the blood of Jesus. Nevertheless, I can say, “All is well, Hallelujah, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth; at all times, and in all things, let Him do with me as seemeth Him good.” Were there no Holy Ghost now to strengthen me mightily; were there nothing more than a dependence on the word of promise, without an Almighty Power to explain, impress and apply it, how would my hands hang down, and my knees be so feeble, that I should faint and fail under the weight of the cross! But, on the contrary, I abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost given unto me. I rejoice in tribulation, from the experience I now have, more than I possibly could in a less severe trial. The Man of Sorrows is to me as rivers of water in dry places, and gives songs in the night. My gracious Lord sent me a preacher immediately after my loss. She was a poor and most afflicted widow; sick in body, with two helpless children almost destitute of raiment, and upon my asking her how she did, she said, “O sir, since you have been away, I cannot tell you how much my Saviour has done for me. I have lost the sight of one eye since you left; I have got better light than the sun can give me; I feel myself so sinful, and Him so full of love to me, that
I am happy, and only beg of you that I may not be carried to the workhouse, to be amongst so many people, because I feel, by being alone as I am, I can enjoy the love and presence of the Lord more abundantly. But, if you think it proper I should go, I can go in faith and cheerfulness.” The weighty manner in which she said this, and the look of her countenance, was indeed such as I think I never saw. It was as if she saw the Lord, and He was attending to every word that came out of her mouth. This was a sermon to my heart, and as seasonable as the rain upon the mown grass.
I see that it is necessary that ministers should be touched in the most sensitive part, so that, knowing something of the trials of God’s people, and the comforts He imparts to them, we may be able to comfort them with the same comforts wherewith we have been comforted of God.