London, 12 November 1841.
Dear Mrs. Oakley,
It is now long since I heard of you. I have as usual been in much affliction, but not left without a Comforter. My daughter H. has again been very ill for six weeks, and has sometimes given us reason to fear she would not recover. The Lord was near to her in her extremity; though at times she greatly deplored his absence, her unceasing cries moved him to compassion, and she declares and proves that nothing can separate a broken-hearted sinner from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. I have often thought, if anything could do so, my foolish backsliding heart would; but there is mercy with him that he may be feared.
The time of affliction is often a time of desertion and darkness, attended with much fear and oppression of spirits, and we cannot tell how or in what way we shall ever get out of our trouble; fears run very high, and hope runs very low; we see the beginning of God's judgments, but who can fathom them or see the end? Who would have thought that all that long and toilsome affliction of Mr. Oakley's was the right and only way the Lord chose to take to bring him finally to his spiritual senses, and give him such a beautiful entrance into the heavenly kingdom? Such thoughts as these stop my lips from uttering perverseness, while something seems to say, Wait patiently; quietly hope; and you shall see the salvation of God. I have lately stood as it were in this place, almost pulled to pieces with fear, yet I could not help crying, "If thou art pleased, O Lord, to trample me under foot, thou art nevertheless infinitely righteous and just." When the Lord brought me to this point, then he showed me his marvellous lovingkindness, and all contention ceased.
Let our troubles be what they may, it shall not prove vain simply to bring them to the Lord. I have been often brought to the utmost extremity; but when all my own hope and strength and every refuge was gone, then the Lord appeared. This is not a fable, but a reality that comforts the soul in all its tribulation, and will be found to be strong as death. So Mr. Oakley found it, and so shall you and I certainly find it.
Yours &c. J. B.