London, 4 April 1843.
Dear B. B.
I am truly happy to find that the daily cross is so sanctified to you as to be the means of communicating spiritual life. It is this that the Lord makes use of to teach me to pray. You and I know what self-will means, and our secret intentions of bringing about our vain speculations; but a wiser eye has been over us to put a stop to these vanities. If "the power of God and the wisdom of God" had not been on our side we should have made shipwreck of all long ago. The Apostle Paul proves that unless we bear about in the body "The dying of the Lord Jesus," we cannot make it manifest that "the life of Jesus" is in us. What is very mysterious to the wisdom of the flesh is that no spiritual life can be found in us but in the conflict against all the natural craving and desires of the flesh. This daily dying to all that we naturally desire is no small cross; nevertheless the Apostle calls it "our light affliction which is but for a moment," and says that it "worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen" (including all the things which we think desirable for the flesh), "but at the things which are not seen," that is, the invincible power of God which makes all things work together for our good; and if we are enabled to look at this, the daily dying by crucifixion will be one of the blessings discovered to us for our safety and well-being. [2 Cor. iv. 8-18.]
What you write is true. Where Christ is found, there is the cross. Spiritual life maintained in the soul is so discordant to the religion of the day that we must be hated and scorned by all sorts who have not the Spirit of God in them. I am also sure that they cannot understand that mystery which you name - "Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord." This truly signifies a twofold death; death to all created vanities, as well as temporal death; the blessedness of which consists in the sting of death being removed, which is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. Oh the toiling and fruitless labours of a legal spirit for a false rest Whereas he that obtains the blessing above spoken of has the sweet testimony of the Spirit in his conscience that his rest is provided for in Christ Jesus.
And now, my friend, when the Lord thus gives us these sweet things, he then usually puts us into the furnace to show us how they will constantly stand the fire. I have been so foolish at times as to think and say to myself, Surely this will be the last trial; surely now I may escape; and after this sweetness and power of the Saviour's love and tender care I shall not so readily lose sight of that gracious drawing of the Spirit which has won my best affections. And perhaps while I am contemplating all this, I open the Bible and read, "I am the true Vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, HE PURGETH IT, that it may bring forth MORE FRUIT." In those low places, fearing I have lost my way, the Lord has often showed me, and does now show me, that he purposely brings us low to deal with us not as servants, but as friends, "Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth; but I call you friends, for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." And what things does he hear from the Father? He hears him say, and in the furnace often repeatedly tells us, that if we were of the world we should be without the cross, but because he has chosen us out of the world (and in the furnace of affliction) therefore the world hates us. When the Comforter comes he clears all these matters, and testifies to our consciences that this death and tribulation is the straightforward road to eternal life. [John xv. 1, 2, 15-19.]
Your faithful friend in the Lord, J. B.