Hertford, 29 July 1842.
Dear Mrs. Oakley,
I have been long occupied many ways, or I should have written sooner. My head has been bowed clown with many and grievous burdens unfitting me for everything except confession and prayer, and never till I came into these deep waters did I so well know the power, extent, and efficacy of God's grace. You and I have no ground to despair; our condition has often called us to put this to the test, and to our utter surprise, we have found the Lord when we least expected him. In this valley of humiliation we often fear the worst and conclude the Lord has forgotten to be gracious, and that his mercies are clean gone for ever, and while we are thus concluding he is pleased to bring some comfortable word to our heart, that assures us he will not leave us in our trouble, nor be otherwise than afflicted in all our afflictions. This brings in an inexpressible sense of his kindness, and works in us an acceptance of the punishment of our sins, and makes us put our mouths in the dust before him with astonishment at his tender care and mercy towards us.
How the Lord stood by you during all the years in which your husband was unable to render you any assistance! His eye was upon you both for good; and Mr. Oakley's end proves that the Lord never forgot him, but preserved him to that appointed time in which He appeared for his comfort, bringing him safely to Jesus Christ, and enabling him to finish his course with joy. This ought always to encourage us. Nothing is too hard for the Lord. He will bring his people into the fire, and into the water; none shall escape, neither shall they be hurt; for the Lord will not finally leave them there, but will bring them out into the wealthy place. The valley of humiliation is a safe and fruitful place, and nothing is more dangerous than independence of God. If not well immersed in the furnace we should soon become independent; our lamps, like those of the foolish virgins, would be found without oil, and so go out when most needed. I must bear testimony to the truth of God's faithfulness; no trouble but there is some comfort to be found in it. I have never fallen into any sorrow, but it has pleased God to make it in the end a godly sorrow that works repentance unto life, and brings in some sweet tokens that the Lord Jesus Christ is my Friend. This encourages me to bring my troubles to him in the sweet confidence that I shall eventually profit by them. He that seeks to attain to eternal life without the cross will never attain to it: no cross, no crown; but as your tribulation abounds, so will your consolation. In all my troubles I have never found the Lord a hard master, but he is pleased continually to be paying me sweet and comforting visits to prop up my sinking spirits, and to give me clearer and brighter evidences of my eternal interest in Christ Jesus. It is thus he makes us fruitful, and the graces of humility and self-abhorrence are found in exercise, which are profitable to the church of God, and to us in the training of our families, and in all our engagements in life.
I long to see you all once more, but find no way open for that purpose; and I dare not go before, but had rather follow close after the Lord, and watch his leadings; then I may hope for his blessing. May it please God greatly to comfort your heart, and abundantly to make up the loss you sustain in not hearing the Gospel, nor enjoying much of the sweet and comforting communion of saints. May he give you much spiritual life and light, that you may finish your course in peace, and find an abundant entrance "into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
Yours &c. J. B.