Stoke Newington, 20 September 1841.
Dear William Morris,
I cannot help hoping that the Lord has said to you as he did to Simon, "I have somewhat to say unto thee." I think his voice has been long and loud upon your heart. It will be your mercy to cry for understanding, that you may know that God is infinitely just, and shows his displeasure and wrath against you in a broken law. The misery, guilt, and disquietude you feel, is the proof of this. But I cannot help hoping that the Lord would not have showed you this, if he had meant to destroy you. Let nothing dishearten you from coming to Jesus Christ. Be often alone, and tell him all your troubles, and especially your fears, your sins, and all the hindrances you feel that prevent you from coming as you seem to wish and want.
If your heart is so disposed, do not let anything keep you from this sort of seeking, for the Psalmist says, "Your heart shall live that seek God." Do not believe anything to the contrary; and if anything present itself to hinder you from seeking, be sure to take heed, and suffer not the hindrance to take place. Beg of God to strengthen you through all opposition, and not suffer you to rest till you know that he has pardoned your sin. You cannot get out of his hands; he has you a safe prisoner; but "there is mercy with him, that he may be feared." Take heed, watch and see; if the Lord condescend to give you any encouraging hope, do not let the things of time and sense damp it, but be diligent in reading his word. Oh! my friend, eternity is a vast and awful thing, and to have no hope on the brink of eternity is terrible; therefore give the Lord no rest, but pray unceasingly that he would look with mercy and compassion upon your soul.
I cannot think that your going to your room to pray will be in vain; for I must hope that it is done under a feeling sense of want: then watch and see if these prayers fall to the ground. I trust not. Some hope will be gathered; some prospect of help to counteract despair. Jesus Christ is the friend of the friendless; and "when we were without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly," that repentance unto life might be manifested.
I have no doubt your former profession secretly covers you with shame; I trust also this shame is the effect of the light of life that discovers the hypocrisy. Be sure not to cover your sins, but confess; and see if hope will not spring up where you least expected; nay, even where you were almost ready to give all up. Abraham had no ground to hope, but he against this did hope, and obtained, and was therefore called the father of the faithful. The Lord delights in all such as hope in his mercy. Can you for one moment suppose this? If you say, Yes, then does not this very thought comfort and encourage you? and is not this then a token of better days, and as if the Lord had not altogether forgotten to be gracious? The invitation is very strong - "Come unto me ALL ye that labour and are heavy laden" (under trouble, sickness, or anything, heavy laden with sorrow), "and I WILL GIVE YOU REST."
Is there nothing in all this that is acceptable to you? Do you find no relish for it? If you do, make it manifest by continual and unceasing prayer, for you are in a place that needs the utmost mercy; all refuge seems taken from you, and all prospect of worldly relief; but Christ the good Physician knows how to administer the oil and wine, to soften and comfort under the most deadly complaint, and turn the shadow of death into the morning [Amos v. 8].
Your faithful friend, J. B.