[To Mr. Gadsby, Minister of the Gospel, Manchester.] London, 1807.
I fear you will begin to think, and that not without cause, that I have entirely forgotten you; but I have only been at home one week, and I found much to be done after so long an absence. I feel a great backwardness to write even now - I am so dark and shut up that I cannot come forth; yet there is a secret something tells me I am under the leading of God - yea, according to that word, "I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not" - and blind indeed I am, for I am groping for the wall at noonday. I have been very sharply tried in various ways since I saw you, and have been many times ready to give all up; but thanks be to God, he will not give me up; and at other times I have had the sweetest refreshings, which I cannot describe. Indeed, it may be said of me, "Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel" [Gen. xlix. 4].
This one thing is at all times a source of consolation to me - I cannot help looking back at the miserable condition I was in when the Lord Jesus Christ first espoused me to himself, made me one with him, and put a ring upon my finger, an emblem of his eternal and unchangeable love. And though in my gloomy moments I call all this into question, yet the devil has not yet made me believe it entirely a delusion. I know God hears prayer, even put up in the dark seasons, for he often gives me the desire of my heart. But the happy moments are so transient that I scarcely know what to make of it. Unbelief seems to be the only thing that prevails in my heart. O how I hate myself for it! For I would fain take my Jesus at his word, and feed thereon and grow; but instead of this, I am always getting on the sand.
I feel I have no power to quicken my own soul. He shutteth and no man openeth; he hideth his face, and we are troubled. It is sin, and nothing else, that separates God from us. O how I loathe myself on this account! But blessed be God, though "weeping may endure for a night, joy cometh in the morning." I had such a sight and sense of what I am, that it made me greatly to fear, and say, Will the Lord be gracious? Are not his mercies clean gone for ever? I began to look for some fearful thing to happen to me; but under Mr. Huntington's preaching last night the Lord broke my heart with his goodness, and I was filled with the keenest sense of my own nothingness, and of his unchangeable and everlasting love to me.
Yours affectionately, J. B.