[To M. G.] London, 4 April 1843.
My dear Friend,
How true it is that when the Saviour first comes to reveal himself to a poor sinner, he finds him dark, ignorant, and helpless. It is quite as much so with us as it was with the woman of Samaria. Her convictions were very secret, but the Lord found means of searching her heart, and brought her to the acknowledgment of her need of a Saviour. O what pains he is set forth as taking to instruct her, and how slowly she comprehended the truths he opened to her! Does not this show us what need we have of patience towards others, and always to bear in mind, "Be not high-minded, but fear?" Though thou standest, it is by faith, and thou art yet open to all manner of temptations. No doubt the Lord conveyed to that woman (and to you by the same word) that spiritual thirst which is there spoken of, and something of a discovery that Christ was the well of living water which alone could satisfy that thirst. He also discovered to her (and does daily discover it to us) that God is a Spirit, and they that worship him aright must have the teaching of the Spirit to know how to approach unto him; and that there will be found in the heart so prepared by the Holy Ghost a godly simplicity and sincerity, which will not be natural but divine. This especial work of the Spirit upon the heart brings in the kindness, pity, and compassion of the Saviour, because the Spirit maketh intercession for us according to the will of God, and according to our deep necessities. Here begin a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and an ardent seeking to know him more fully; and to our great surprise in various dispensations he shows us his tender care, and gives us a spiritual perception of his drawing nigh; and while we are wondering and pondering whether all our searches and researches are really of God, he whispers, "I that speak unto thee" (in all these various changes) "AM HE." [John iv].
The Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, testifies of these things; Christ does not leave us comfortless, but comes unto us; and these visits, every now and then, though transient, satisfy us of that he said - "I am in the Father, and ye in me, and I in you." This making their abode with us is the earnest of the future inheritance, and is maintained in the heart through faith which works by love, and the Comforter opens our eyes, ears, and understandings to all the various circumstances of his wonderful undertaking of our wretched cases. How often have I been heavy laden and very sorrowful (as I now am), yet the recollection of many sweet things the Lord has spoken upon my heart brings in a measure of peace and much patience. I acknowledge I feel a conflict between the flesh and the spirit, and I sometimes am at a pause to say which is prevalent, but these sweet endearing words seem to turn the scale - "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you." As if he said, Remember, I have often told you that you shall have many changes; but keep your eyes up steadily to me, and you shall always in due time find relief. [John xiv. 15-29.]
It is thus we gain that sweet knowledge of the Lord. He manifests his mercy and love to us under our dreadful fears and misgivings, and so counteracts all our miseries that we are made under the marvellous displays of his lovingkindness and tender mercy to cry out "My Lord and my God!" The power that attends this brings in sweet peace, and we learn more clearly that all fullness is in him for the express purpose of filling our emptiness. He is also the Rock that will never give way; if it were not so, I must have sunk long since. A daily cross lies heavy upon me, and nothing but the sweet and powerful manifestations of Christ's love to my heart, repeated afresh, keep me steadily and unceasingly crying to him, and are the means of my lot being maintained.
I sincerely hope you will continue to meet together on the Lord's day. Beware of decays.
Yours &c. J. B.