[To Mr. S.] London, 28 April 1843.
My dear Friend,
I have been for some time very much cast down on all hands, and this was one reason I could not write to you. But on Tuesday last the weight of my burden was intolerable. I was bowed down so as to fear I should never lift up my head again; but in reading these words I found some very precious encouragement, "They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine." This had a personal reference to my case, and filled my heart with peace.
Boston says it is a great mercy to have a holy and silent admiration of the dealings of God, though to us unsearchable. We are apt to arraign the divine proceedings before the bar of our pride; but if we are rightly taught we shall be led to think soberly of those mysterious providences of God that we cannot fathom. Humiliation of spirit makes all difficulties of this sort to vanish. God is ever at work to humble us all; and in whatever situation of life the God of providence has placed his people, he has certain badges of humiliation on them, whether they be noticed or not. It is therefore (he adds) our mercy, while God is humbling us, to find grace to humble ourselves under his mighty hand. The Lord has enabled me seriously to ponder the same truths, and to perceive that the valley of humiliation is very fruitful in many things that are exceedingly precious. He works in my heart at times such sweet submission and contrition, that I seem to overflow with peace, and a full acknowledgment of the wisdom and tenderness of God in all his dispensations towards me.
What you write is very true. It is easy to say, but very hard to do. It was easy for the second son in the parable to say, "I go, sir;" but he went not. To be convinced of this want of power, is a lesson the Lord is always teaching his people from first to last; nor must you be disheartened when you compare yourself with others, but rather watch and see how your heart beats towards the possession of the truth; and whether there is a flinching at the cross, and a seeking for an easy way which is not cast up in God's word. Surely if this be not the case we have good ground to hope that the Lord is gradually leading you in a safe way to a city of habitation.
We have no need to seek for trouble, but let us be downright in earnest to seek the Lord, and we shall soon see that the enemy will raise a storm out of nothing; nor will he ever cease from seeking to fill us with fears, dismay, and perplexity of all sorts, as well as to stir up adversaries on all hands to dishearten. Nevertheless the Lord says, "It shall turn to you for a testimony."
Yours faithfully, J. B.