The helps I have received, however, have not always been of a material nature. So heavily burdened was I by reason of the pressure of business cares one day that I felt I could not attend to it any longer. I therefore left the works, shut my office, and set out for home, with a feeling of hopelessness and despair. I simply could not carry on any longer. It seemed as though the Lord had left me, and just then I cared not what became of me or my business. Prayer seemed to be of no avail, and evidently mine was but the prayer of the hypocrite which is an abomination to the Lord. When in the Woodbridge Road, about half-way home, I stopped, for I thought a voice spoke to me with the words: “Yet will I look once more upon Thy holy temple.” Instantly a little hope sprang up, and I turned back, remembering that my case could not be more desperate than Jonah’s, and he was delivered out of his trouble.
I well remember one evening when Mr. J. H. Gosden was preaching. His text was “Let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another” (Galatians vi. 4). I had for some time feared that my temporal troubles were God’s visitations for my sins and presumption, my preaching was wrong, and it seemed to me that probably I was also deceived as to my religion and the work of God on my heart. Let those live on past mercies who can; I was never able to do so. When “He holdeth back the face of His throne, and spreadeth His thick cloud upon it” (Job xxvi. 9) only one thing will comfort a living soul, and that is to have things made over to him again. He may say: “Though He slay me yet will I trust in Him”, and at the same time feel that God must make an end of him, and that justly. These things will try a person’s faith, of what sort it is. Mr. Gosden knew nothing of my case, but that evening, as he spoke, a solemn power rested upon his word as he traced out my path in detail. He confirmed me as to God’s work in my soul, confirmed me in my preaching, and confirmed me in my path in providence. As I came out of the chapel I felt a solemn awe upon my spirit, and I marvelled that any man could be led to speak so minutely of the path I was then walking, and of my painful exercise.
Another special season was when our pastor, Mr. Wiltshire, was made very helpful to me. I was peculiarly tried in respect of past mercies and deliverances. I could see a natural cause for
everything that had happened. It was suggested to my mind that it was not God who had wrought these things for me, as they would have come to pass in the natural course of events even if I had not prayed about them or looked to God for help. Indeed, I was in such confusion that I was ready to conclude there was nothing in religion, and the term “vital godliness” was only a theological term, while the spiritual experience was a matter of temperament and fleshly emotion. His text was from I Samuel xxiii. 16: “And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David in the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.” He was much helped in opening up the text, and drew from it such spiritual exposition that I ever afterwards regarded him as one who had that evening come down into my wood of darkness and doubt and strengthened my hand in God.
‘Extract from “Waymarks”, the autobiography of the late Mr. W. Pay of Norwich. “Waymarks” (10/- paper back, 12/6d. blue cloth), from Mr. 0. G. Pearee, 15a Park Avenue South, Harpenden, Herts.)