[To Mrs. T.] Hertford, 4 October 1843.
My dear Cousin,
The time is fast approaching when I purpose leaving this place, and I am anxiously desirous of having the blessing of God in my going out as well as in my coming in. My subject last night was Deut. viii. 5, "Thou shalt also consider in thine heart that as a man chasteneth his son, so" (and no otherwise) "the Lord thy God chasteneth thee." I have been often made to feel this with all my heart, and it has wrought a very sweet acquiescence; for after speaking thus of chastening us, the Lord presently speaks of bringing us into "a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills." These depths and fountains in the valleys and hills produced me much to say, because of what I have often found. For in these low valleys I have sunk down into the depths of misery and hopelessness, where I expected nothing but despair; but the Holy Spirit helping my infirmities, I have been taught out of the depths to cry unto the Lord, and then I found with the Psalmist that there was forgiveness with him, and that in waiting and watching, the fountain of life opened for me; then with the Apostle I was lost in the contemplation of the love of the Lord Jesus Christ to me, so as to cry out, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"
All this is found in the valley of humiliation; and as in nature there are no valleys but have hills round about them, so spiritually hills of difficulty will surround us in these low places. I have never found trouble single-handed, but my very troubles and humiliating circumstances have laid me open to many further trials; and as in the world you must be slighted in the days of adversity, so we find that even the disciples, when the Saviour most needed their commiseration, appeared unmindful of his agony, and presently forsook him aid fled. I know the cause in myself. It was because the Lord would not suffer any to ward off the fair blow he meant to lay upon a fool's back. Nevertheless he has most mercifully healed the wound, pouring in the oil and the wine, so as to cheer my soul and fill it with a hope full of immortality; and I have in a measure found that though the Lord will pull down, root up, and plough, yet he will also plant and sow; and even through these dreadful misgivings, will cause us to "eat bread without scarceness," and to have no lack of anything. This is the way the Lord takes to do us good in our latter end.
I continued the same sweet subject this morning, and am surprised how the people can bear with me in showing the sharp work of God's chastening those whom he receives, and how this work will effectually bring us out of a vain profession, and make us earnestly seek for that communion with him, that shall comfort us in our afflictions and in a dying hour.
Yours &c. J. B.