Hertford, 5 September 1837.
Dear Mrs. H.
I have been pondering upon various things that have come within my observation, and cannot help remarking that there is a necessity laid upon all that fear God, or manifest the early budding of reverence, not to seek to contrive after the wisdom of the flesh, to appease the displeasure of those about them. The weapons of our spiritual warfare must not be carnal; all such weapons would, in the end, be found to be weak, nay, rather to strengthen the measures taken against us, and enfeeble our hands in our intended purposes.
If God puts his hand upon us, our persons, our prospects, our family, and if, like Job, we find the messengers come very quickly, one after another, our mercy is to fall before him, and if possible to seek to understand what his purposes are, and to stand in awe of his judgments, and to consider that we cannot trace his footsteps. Therefore if he threatens our prospects, let the fear of God betimes lead us by all means and in all directions to stay our hands, and curtail ourselves by refraining from all vanities that we have been accustomed to. No head of a family that has either natural wisdom or integrity can complain of this; but I say the fear of God should lead us to it, though it may be against the inclination of all about us. Even a discerning and watching world will and must acknowledge the outward prudence of such a step. The same fear of God will remove all profane visitors, let the consequence be what it may; the time which used to be thus idly lost, will be spent in redeeming that which has been lost, and in training up a young family in all useful knowledge to be good members of society, as well as to understand in their measure the word of God.
If the Lord has purposes of mercy he will bring us low; and let us seek by whatever fleshly means we please to ward off our difficulties, we shall perceive eventually that we only increase them by such foolish measures. It is a great mercy to find courage to show our colours, and not to be ashamed of the cross of Christ. Communication with the people of God is a source of the growth of this courage, and will always lead the poor tried soul to press after the Lord Jesus Christ for help; and though oppressed and brought low and exceedingly despised, the Lord in due time turns the captivity, and then in our turn we rejoice in him, and admire his way of saving us. We perceive that nothing has been hurt or wounded but our pride, and this can well be dispensed with; and we find our weakness, misery, and ignorance, when brought before the Lord, is no hindrance, but rather excites his compassion; and we hear, "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee," even through all these miry places, and set thy feet upon the Rock.
If these things be disregarded, and not laid deeply to heart, and if ten thousand excuses be made, let us take heed lest our building prove "hay, straw, and stubble," which will certainly be burnt up in the day of trial, and we be gathered amongst light and foolish professors, who will build us up with "untempered mortar." Such always end in hatred and enmity to those that fear God and have manifested a great spiritual anxiety for the salvation of their souls. "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise," for "the days are evil," and seek to understand "what the will of the Lord is " [Eph. v. 15-17].
Yours &c. J. B.