[To his daughter E.] Hertford, 28 September 1843.
My dear Child,
I was sincerely glad to see your note, and that you felt how contrary to what is profitable is that empty visiting, let it be attended ever so much with kindness and friendly intentions. You will soon find out the impossibility of joining the world with spiritual life, and that you must in many ways deny to yourself what appear to the world great advantages.
The Lord knows our various needs, but if we belong to him he will teach us that they are not to be supplied by human prudence, but through earnest prayer to him that he would order our temporal as well as spiritual concerns. We must never lose sight of what the Lord has revealed to us, namely, "I HAVE CHOSEN THEE IN THE FURNACE OF AFFLICTION;" and while we are looking at the mournful prospect of affliction, let us not forget the great and mighty privilege of being amongst the number that he has chosen. The enemy is always trying to bend our minds towards the dark side to excite our utmost fears, and when he in any measure gains this point he so disheartens us as to make us think the Lord will have no pleasure in us. He would by all means conceal from us the utter impossibility of attaining to any true knowledge of our adoption, but in and through the furnace of affliction, as set forth in Hebrews xii. Paul especially cautions us [1 Cor. x. 1-11], "I would not that ye should be ignorant how that ALL our fathers were under the cloud, and ALL passed through the sea; and were ALL baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did ALL eat the same spiritual meat; and did ALL drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ." Therefore let us not "tempt Christ" by seeking to avoid the cross, nor let us despair of his gracious help in giving to us, in his way, a hundredfold for all the mighty losses the enemy sets before us, if we are simple sincere followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord has never made a great man of me in this world, but has been pleased to make me very little, and by his grace to know it, and to acknowledge his wisdom in it, and cordially to acquiesce; for I have seen nothing desirable arise from the attainment of outward prosperity. If I turn my heart and attention to seek for fellowship with the saints, I perceive it is only to be found amongst a poor and afflicted people; and, as I told the people this morning, the sweetest spiritual prosperity that I have found has been under the heaviest reproach, the most difficult outward circumstances, the loss of health, and affliction in my family. All these combining together have brought me very VERY low; but here the Saviour was before me; and has sweetly perfumed the path of humiliation, and made me also to partake of the heavenly fragrance of the fruits that grow in such places. Here I learned to loathe myself; here I learned to pray, and had the sweetest intercession of the Spirit; and here I found the Father's unbounded love in Christ Jesus clearly testified to my conscience by the Spirit; and abiding in this valley I found the word to be very sweet and to look at me in so friendly a manner that it made me more than satisfied with my portion. These are some few of the things the Lord will give in exchange for shadows and nothings.
Therefore, my dear child, be of good cheer. I often think of these words - "Thou shalt not be forgotten of me;" neither in sickness nor in health, neither in prosperity nor in adversity. It is no small portion to have an eternal inheritance; therefore let us be constantly thinking of our privileges, and especially mind to keep our evidences clear. Nothing will be more conducive to this point than continually watching, and being faithful to our convictions. " n the reproofs of instruction are the ways of life." Be sure you beg for a very tender conscience, and bring no blur upon your evidences; and (as Frank Jeffreys said) "Whatever beclouds or darkens around you, look to Jesus. Yes, whatever darkens, darkens, and thickens, look to Jesus. If you cannot see him, watch, and look, and follow hard after him; that is the way."
From your affectionate father, J. B.