Pulverbach, 14 May 1844.
My dear E.,
I was pleased to find that you obtained power from the Lord to receive instruction and caution. You know that I have been in many a warfare, and also many dangers. This was the cause of my fears respecting you; and real affection towards you made me doubly anxious that you might not be entangled in any snare before you were aware. Even this scripture is left us to ponder - "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of." I am sure that until the Holy Spirit of God comes and convinces me of many things, I am totally unaware that they will be found in me. "The heart is deceitful above all things" none can fathom it; but when the Spirit discovers some of its depths, the very sight turns all our gaiety and light love into corruption, and we cannot help sinking under it. It is God's design that we should, or else our religion would be without SALT. We should like to brush the moon with our feathers, but the Lord chooses to lower our topsails; and it is our mercy to stoop under his mighty hand, and soberly consider that when he says, "I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction," he means what he says. Let us therefore unceasingly cry to him to be with us in the furnace, as he was with the three children in the days of Daniel.
The Lord never has any 'purpose of destruction in his dealings with those who fear him; but the finer the metal. the hotter must be the furnace. Lead does not require the same heat as gold; and if we would be the latter, to the glory of God and our eternal salvation, we must expect the means which he has appointed in his word. "If ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." All the means which the Lord has graciously appointed for us are for the express purpose of teaching us to die to this world, and to the world within us. This is a painful and lingering death. It disappoints all our fleshly prospects, and leaves nothing in view to our fleshly minds but death, death, death. So it really seems if Christ is beclouded but if we can attain to a sweet sense of his dying love, then we can sweetly die with him, and find that we also rise with him into a better life, even divine and spiritual. While this is enjoyed we are willing to nail our old man to the cross, and rejoice in the conquest Christ has made.
This is a life which is of no esteem in the world, but we who are in a measure partakers of it find it a reality; and it is safe from destruction, because it is "hid with Christ in God;" yet it is always to be found by us in times of great extremity, and is only hidden from our enemies, so that (as our old friend Mr. Dore says) the devil cannot get at it to destroy it.
I hope, my dear child, you will be a source of spiritual comfort to me, and that the Lord will give you a heart to receive with meekness the engrafted word. That in all your afflictions you may find that the Lord himself is afflicted, and that the angel of his presence may encamp round about you, is the sincere and daily prayer of
Your affectionate father, J. B.