[To Mr. R. Taylor.] Leominster, 10 July 1841.
My dear Friend in the path of great tribulation,
I am ashamed that I do not profit as you do in the furnace of affliction. I often think of your troubles, and know not how to pity you, but rather rejoice in that the Lord is your hope and help, and never forgets you. He is with you in meditation and prayer, and in reading his word; and though your pains may at times be very racking, yet the Lord's all-sufficiency counteracts your evils, so as to make them not evil, but good. Even in your temporal concerns, I know that the Lord will direct you, inasmuch as you make him your refuge. He never fails. No one can tell for another what shall be the line he should walk in. The Lord appoints and marks out our boundaries, and it is our mercy to mind his marks. If we were to follow the counsel of the best men we might err. They cannot fathom God's design: the Lord does not often show a man what shall be the line of things for his friend, but he is pleased to show each individual what is the course he must take; and he that tenderly regards this teaching shall never want a wise counsellor. He will often lead through seas which man cannot fathom, and especially will teach us to walk by faith, and not by sight.
I am much comforted with what you say respecting honouring the Lord with your substance and the firstfruits of all your increase. I have been greatly harassed about this, and the enemy has thrust sore at my profession altogether, because I had not so much money to give to the poor of the flock as some have. But you show me that praise for spiritual mercies, offered from a heart in spiritual liberty, is the best firstfruits with which we can honour the Lord.
There is nothing in the natural man that can rejoice when the fig tree does not blossom; but the new man sees beauty in this spiritual baptism, and knows that not only we must endure the cross and die to the world and self, but by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ rise again to newness of life. This will teach us to rejoice when Jesus lifts up the light of his countenance upon us in our sad cast-down dejected state; then we cannot but rejoice at the wonders of his love and mercy. The returning of the burden of sin is only to show us the constant need of the fountain opened. We should soon forget his favours, if his absence did not exceedingly burden us; it is this that makes us cry, "O that I knew where I might find him!" and he is not long sought, before we perceive "It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go." This is the way we are led of the Spirit and carried through all our troubles, as the children were supported in the furnace; not only the smell of fire was not found upon them, but a fresh display of the glory, power, and efficacy of God's grace was granted them, and fresh courage to hope and trust in the Lord in all future troubles, which arise one after another like the waves of the sea. This is sowing beside all waters, and our spiritual increase will be found in it.
From your faithful friend in the Lord, J. B.