London, 21 November 1840.
Dear Mrs. Tims,
I am often greatly surprised at the changes I find; and especially at the great distress that often comes suddenly upon me even in one day. I sometimes meet such a sweet encouraging gale from the everlasting hills, that I am ready to believe "I shall never be moved." Yet how soon this deceitful heart of mine is led astray; and before I feel the guilt contracted I am far removed from the simplicity I felt perhaps but an hour before. Then arises a secret suspicion whether I am at all under the teaching of the Spirit; and the enemy takes every advantage to further the calamity by many proofs which he invents as infallible tokens of hypocrisy. These are the things which make me mourn, and search deeply into the word of God, to see if any saints have been exercised in the same way; and I find they all sing of mercy and of judgment.
How well David seemed to begin in the name of the Lord to fight Goliath, and what discouragement he endured from his brethren! The victory he obtained by the wonderful mercy of God procured him the notice of Saul, and he was raised to great honours; but soon we hear of Saul casting his javelin at him through jealousy, if possible to counteract what he knew to be the purpose of God. Though Saul again restored him outwardly to favour many times, and gave him his daughter in marriage, yet he pursued him continually. This is the true picture of every one that is in earnest for the kingdom, and on whom the Lord has in any degree manifested his purpose of mercy. If it were possible, our grand adversary would put a final close to all our mournful seeking, by bringing us under some untoward dispensation that should seem to threaten any purpose of God towards us for mercy or salvation.
Solomon, who was a man of peace, and to whom the Lord so abundantly manifested his favour, soon showed how outward prosperity carries the heart away. None were ever so wise as Solomon, and none in Scripture seem to have acted so foolishly as he respecting his wives and their gods, who turned away his heart, to the destruction of his kingdom.
These things show that the Lord is a minute observer of our ways; and it is no small token of living faith to tremble at his judgments. The fear of his uplifted hand is a continual exercise to me, knowing that my heart is foolishly carried away with idols. Nothing but the Spirit, as "the candle of the Lord searching the innermost parts of the belly" will cause this trembling: but when once the alarm is struck within, I find no rest till the Lord conies with some favourable token of his mercy to me and mine. Such as fear God are subject to these painful changes; but I am also quite sure that a mournful watchful spirit will work its way out of them all. Many strange things occur from quarters never thought of, which involve us in inextricable labyrinths, and are so managed by the enemy as to preclude all power of helping ourselves. This is his craftiness to catch the unwary; but through mercy the snare is discovered, and we find the way out, not by carnal reason, but by a simple cry to the Lord. When we feel ourselves most unworthy of help and mercy, and in the lowest place, then we find an open door. Hope revives, patience is found, and something of quietly waiting brings up the rear; and to our surprise the Lord draws near and tells us we are more than conquerors through him. O how sweetly this breaks the heart, and makes us see the wisdom of God in the trial, as well as his power, faithfulness, lovingkindness, and tender mercy, in the deliverance out of it. Thus we get honey out of the carcase of the lion, and the places that threaten the greatest sorrow are productive of the sweetest evidences of eternal life begun.
Yours faithfully in the Lord, J. B.