[To C. G.] Pulverbach, 18 June 1844.
My dear Friend,
The Lord dwells in the thick darkness to bring down the lofty imaginations of the foolish; but that Babel is not so quickly brought down as light and trifling professors imagine. You can scarcely meet a young person now that is not in a giggling profession of religion. They go about with their pockets full of scriptures to give to others they meet that are just like themselves, and talk about this or that great preacher, and the glorious spread of religion, and the marvellous accounts from abroad. But a broken heart, an afflicted conscience, or a feeling of the desperate narrowness of the way, is never spoken or thought of; and such as are troubled with those things are not worthy to be admitted into their devout societies.
O how have I been tried, cast, and condemned by such as these. Once I thought my heart would break on account of this treatment; and often said at the beginning of my soul-trouble, What, shall I never more be received? Must I be shut out for ever? But when the Lord began to immerse me in the furnace of affliction, I then found some other employment than mourning over my departed friends. In searching and hearing the word I perceived the Lord chose his people in the furnace of affliction; I also found that the smooth path was a slippery one, and began to see it would be most awful to be left in an empty profession that did not bring its possessor out of the spirit of the world, and only flattered the soul into a vain belief that all was right. I saw many entangled there who were never brought out, but perished in the snare. This in a measure reconciled me to the cross, and made me to dwell alone, and feel the necessity of begging for "the Spirit of grace and supplications;" and that gift has always been attended with a measure of light which has shown me that those whose "strength is firm" are in a dangerous place; that pride and false confidence compass such about as a chain, and that they speak loftily; but that "it is good for me to draw near unto God." [Psa. lxxiii.]
This has often been a sort of hidden help to me before I have come clean out of my troubles; and for that reason I would recommend to others to cry unceasingly to the Lord under all circumstances whatsoever, as I do myself. It is sure not to be in vain. The various evils of pride, obstinacy, rebellion, and temper, would have carried me away if the Lord had not plunged me into repeated furnaces, and by them humbled me in the dust, and so overpowered me that I could scarcely so much as look up, but only smite upon my breast and say "God be merciful to me a sinner."
These have been some of the exercises that have led me to be in earnest to be healed in the right way, and have made me to forget my father's house; and these also are some of the things that bring a caution not to claim anything beyond what the Lord has in his sovereign mercy freely bestowed. I have long laboured under the weight of various crosses, and must labour under some as long as I live. I find them crosses indeed, and very galling and humbling to my proud heart; but when I enter into the sanctuary I then understand that they are to cause me to die to this world and its vanities, and to seek more spiritual life in Christ. Had I no weight I should not so earnestly seek for intercourse with the Lord; nor should I know what the Apostle writes to the Ephesians, that through Christ "we have access by one Spirit unto the Father." There is no way to this but through fire and water, and having the whole false foundation thoroughly removed. O how awful do I see the profession of the day, and how evident it is that there is no life nor virtue in it! Let our difficulties be what they may, we had better pray that our wounds may be probed to the bottom, rather than falsely healed. Our great mistake is always in looking for some temporal rest, when the Lord intends nothing but a spiritual rest; and this often raises a quarrel in our minds, and we are sure to suffer; but if we are enabled to fall flat before him, and are made honest in seeking for a better rest, then the quarrel ceases, the Lord draws nigh, and we perceive that IN HIM WE HAVE PEACE, though in the world and all created things we find nothing but tribulation.
Yours &c. J. B.