Leominster, 22 July 1841.
Dear Mrs. Clark,
I am ashamed to say how little I lay to heart, in comparison with what I ought to do, the condition in which God has placed me by a revelation of his dear Son in me with all his saving benefits. I was this morning struck with great awe in reading these words in Acts vii. - "Put off thy shoes from thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." I considered where I stood in Christ Jesus; this is holy ground. God has placed me as a standard bearer in my line of things; then put off fleshly vanity; and self in all directions. This holy place can admit of no co-partner with the Lord in his mighty work. When Moses saw complete redemption in Christ Jesus, and appeared as if he wanted to understand that naturally which was only to be discovered to the spiritual understanding, God cautioned him and said, "Put off thy shoes." And though it moved Moses with great fear, yet here the Lord renewed his covenant that he had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and promised him a deliverance, which should be accompanied with many tokens of God's favour. But this is never to be forgotten - "The place whereon thou standest is holy ground." No presumption can be admitted here; God is holy, and nothing that is unclean, or defileth, or loveth or maketh a lie, can enter into his presence. The Lord said, "Certainly I will be with thee," and "Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you."
This is what I am continually exercised about, and when cross providences and difficulties arise I begin to fear that the great I AM has not sent me, and I forget how much opposition and many difficulties Moses met with, and that the Lord himself says, "I am sure the king of Egypt will not let you go;" yet would the Lord bring them out of the affliction of Egypt unto a land flowing with milk and honey [Ex. iii.]. I say, though I have proved the truth of this a thousand times, yet upon every fresh trial this great I AM seems far from me, and I keep looking one way and another to find some fleshly means of obtaining spiritual ends. These shoes are harder to cast off than at first sight appears. Then I consider where this great I AM has placed me, and the ground I stand upon in the sight of God, in the church, in my family, and in the world, and what need I have of the Lord's most Holy Spirit so to guide me and keep me in his holy fear, as that my spirit in all these shall agree and harmonize, and I not appear in two characters; for it can only be in this divine and spiritual agreement that the work can be proved to be of God, and will be received by his afflicted children.
I am much struck with the effect that all those strange things which the Lord wrought had upon Moses. He says at last, under a feeling of his abject and low condition, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant; but I am slow of speech, and am of a slow tongue." But here the Lord helps our infirmities and shows us that the weak may say they are strong. For in order to stop all objections and fears he said "Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say" [Ex. iv. 10-12]. This has opened my mouth many times, and I think it has also guided my pen.
These are the things that should keep me constantly sensible of the holy ground on which I stand, and give me peculiar spiritual care and watchfulness that that which is lame be not "turned out of the way," but that every such thing be healed, by the application of the blood of sprinkling. How often have I been asked, "Who made thee a ruler and a judge?" I can but reply, The Lord has done all that has been rightly done, and has made me often to tremble at the sight of what he has done, the many wonderful and miraculous escapes, as it were, from the wrath of an angry God, the marvellous and narrow escapes from despair; the pit has seemed to open its mouth upon me, as it did lately upon poor; he as well as I have found it a holy place, and that no fleshly confidence could abide. In these places we appear to stand naked before God, and are in much awe, not knowing which way the scale will turn. O how self is put off, as a filthy cloth! How deformed and ugly we are forced to acknowledge ourselves, while thus we behold and acknowledge the infinite justice, righteousness, and holiness of God in terrible majesty! Here we see vanity written upon all created things, and learn to know their full value; that is, less than nothing and lighter than vanity. But how soon the scene in a measure changes! Yet by the power and mercy of God it leaves a savour upon the spirit, so that whenever Egypt is presented as desirable, there immediately springs up a forbiddance, and a recollection of the terrible things we have passed through, and the sweet deliverances the Lord in infinite mercy has wrought for us by the way. How it brings to mind certain turning points, when all hope was gone, and then the Lord came. I well remember many such seasons. How can I but bless and praise the Lord with heart and soul for such marvellous mercies! All but gone; and carried from thence into the third heaven of his superabounding mercy! I must again repeat, THIS IS HOLY GROUND; therefore "what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness!" and I especially in my present position where I am separated from the people of God; and yet must bear testimony to the work of God upon my heart by walking in his fear.
From yours in the Lord, J. B.