London, 16 March 1841.
My dear W. B.,
I must tell you again, You are in the strong hand of God, and he will take care that you shall not escape. You are ready to say, Why should I be here so long? I reply, Would you be like a fool brayed in a mortar? [Prov. xxvii. 22]. Then remember,
I am in hopes your trouble will prove to be that which God calls "Jacob's trouble" - different from all other trouble; divine; spiritual; which, though it turns man to destruction, yet has eternal life as its issue. This is brought about by the wonder-working power of God, and is attended with ten thousand changes.
O how often am I brought to the very brink of giving all up but my judgment being enlightened, I perceive I can gain nothing by that; therefore I continue to cry, and find relief in the end. This day I have been comforted in the meditation of these words - "Thou hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy" - which fury is in a broken law, fastening the sentence of death upon the conscience; but God says, "I am the Lord thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roar" - (at times with great fury) - "I have covered thee in the shadow of my hand . . . . and say unto Zion, Thou art my people" [Isaiah li. 12-16]. Ah! (say you) this was spoken to Zion. Yes; and it was also spoken to me, who am a poor, weak, cast down, afflicted person, with no more ground of hope than you. The Lord is no respecter of persons; but all that call upon him in sincerity, will and must find the truth of his word.
Are there not times and seasons in which a ray of light shines with truth and clearness upon your soul, and though it be but transient, conveys for the time the testimony of God to the sincerity of your spiritual pursuits, and counteracts the despairing feelings that assail you? This testimony of God is the sweetest foundation of hope, and brings in eternal life as the end of that feeble faith which is so often hidden.
Be sure you do not trifle with your profession of religion; you have light enough to know the difference between the professor and the possessor. The former abounds everywhere, and ends in everlasting disappointment; but one grain of godly fear will carry you through all your troubles, however great or long. It will always prove a fountain of life, and bring up the sinking spirit from the depths of hell. It is a part of the divine nature which the Lord imparts to his broken-hearted children. I have found this grace wrap round my very soul, to buoy me up, when everything else seemed quite gone. It is a rich treasure, that will make us put up with poverty, sickness, and disappointment in all shapes it will allow God to choose our inheritance for us, and teach us to say, "He hath done all things well."
But mind, while we live on earth, we shall possess two natures and that which is, and always was, corrupt, will not be patient, resigned, humble, but the contrary to all this. Yet the new nature will conflict with these evils, and will not submit to be domineered over by them. It will so cry, and fight, as to bring in the promised help of the Lord, and thus manifest the secret power and efficacy of this divine and heavenly grace, called THE FEAR OF GOD.
So faint not, my dear friend; the battle will be hot and sore but "wait thou on the Lord, and he shall save thee." The victory is sure in him; and though carnal fear and terrors run high, yet I, with you, must look at the Captain of our salvation, his strength and power, his willingness, his lovingkindness and tender mercy and if he but return one look toward us, we shall certainly find that one look contains ETERNAL LIFE. Bless his holy Name, I have often found it so; so did Mrs. G., and so will you. It is this that so endears the Saviour to us. We know no grief so great as offending him, and yet how treacherous our hearts are! Do not give up; you will never find another such friend; you will say - "My beloved is the chiefest among ten thousand;" "yea, he is altogether lovely." My daily prayer is that you may come to the full possession of this rich treasure.
Your affectionate friend, J. B.