[To Mr. Nunn.] Croft Castle, Leominster, 25 June 1841.
My dear Friend,
I have been very anxious to have some especial token of the Lord's approbation and blessing on my journey and employment here. In reading Psalm xxxvi. I Was surprised to find my spirit soften, and the Lord draw near; and when I came to these words, "he abhorreth not evil," I paused, and presently a great sweetness came into my heart; my soul was filled with self-abasement, and I felt the witness of the Spirit that God had made me to abhor evil, and that that was the cause of my present manifold fears. This power continued, and the following words suited my feelings, "Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds: thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou preservest man and beast." I cannot express my feelings, and how I desired to acknowledge with all my heart the goodness and faithfulness of God to me. This left a very great awe upon my spirit, which led me to consider what the Saviour says, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil," which we are sure to fall into, if we are led into temptation.
Afterwards I opened the Bible upon these words, in Deut. vii. - "Thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God." O what an awe attended the reading, and what fear lest I should grieve the Spirit of God; and yet with it a beautiful sense of the mercy and favour of God in Christ Jesus. I felt a sweet acquiescence in what the Lord there shows us, namely, that he did not set his love upon anything in us, for we are but the essence of sin; and when I came to these words - "but because the Lord loved you," they filled me with unutterable astonishment and praise. O what holy awe and fear I felt all this time, and grief at myself for what I am, have been, and shall be! I was led to be very earnest in prayer that the Lord would preserve my spirit, and keep alive his fear in my heart, and continue to give me that holy light and sweet unction in reading his word; for there it is he reveals himself in justice and righteousness, and judgment and mercy. Then it continues, "because he would keep the oath which he had sworn, . . . hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondmen," that is from the bondage of sin unto the glorious liberty of the Gospel. I felt a sweet caution upon my spirit, attended with much savour, as I continued reading, "If ye hearken to these judgments, and keep them, and do them, the Lord thy God . . . will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee;" and so on to the end of that chapter. All this has been an inexpressible comfort to me, yet leaves a very great awe upon my spirit, and causes many prayers that I may not lose the sweet power I find in reading the word.
It is a sweet consolation in pain or sickness to feel that the Lord knows all our troubles. The very thought of the words "IF NEED BE" [1 Peter i. 6] stills my repinings, and makes me to ponder the cause of my manifold exercises; and I find they are not only to humble me, but also to teach me to listen to what the Lord says - "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldst see the glory of God" This leads me to consider in what way the glory of God should be manifested in my affliction. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit, which is profitable both in the church of God and in my family. Again, if my affliction be sanctified, I shall tenderly regard every part of God's word, and shall consider nothing is quite as it should be, if sin has any dominion. Affliction, if not sanctified, makes me imperious and not to be controlled, petulant and angry. Such things fill me with inconceivable fear; and if charged with them I cannot sleep, lest the Lord should take vengeance of my inventions. Many confessions are made, and many mournful and almost hopeless cries are put up, and not until the Lord draws nigh can I rest. When he comes and breaks my heart, then a little child may lead me; and this is a discovery of the glory of God, and the way in which it works in my heart.
I often think of you all, and know some amongst you have prayed for me. I never felt a greater need. Remember me to Mrs. Nunn; I hope she is much in earnest, and has good tokens of the Lord's favour; for he says he will come as a thief in the night.
Believe me yours affectionately, J. B.