[To the Rev. B. G.] Pulverbach, July 1844.
My dear Friend,
How difficult it is to find courage to speak the truth, and yet to let our moderation be known unto all men! If it were not for the humbling and softening visits of the Lord I should never find out where to make a stand. I am very much exercised with the exceeding great ignorance of the people here. Some who are best informed have the least heart-work; and some whose words are smoother than oil, have war brewing in their hearts. I see others with two faces, one as if set Zionwards, and another seeking favour with all parties for gain. I am much in earnest to see how far spiritual life is maintained in my own soul, and how often the sweet returning favour of God is enjoyed. In so much only as I find this, can I be persuaded that the Lord is at work amongst us somewhere, and that his hidden ones will one day come to light. Often sorely harassed with fears, greatly cast down, lest I should be found to walk in pride, I am led to watch my secret thoughts; and if there be a willing assuming of anything to myself, I immediately fear the hand of God will be upon that. The Lord has put a godly jealousy upon my heart, from the long dread I have lain under. My various difficulties and trials have left an alarm upon my spirit which I do not wish to erase, for it often makes me keenly alive to danger, where formerly I never expected any. Pride, conceit, lightness, or vanity of any sort, I know full well will be visited with the rod of God, and in a way most cutting to the flesh. Every fresh discovery by the Spirit of God, brings to light my ignorance of the hidden deceit of my heart, and opens a fresh fountain of iniquity. Oh, the sinking sight! Can ever God dwell here? I only find that he really does, by the humbling effect, the mourning and godly sorrow that follows, and the divine and spiritual caution that it leaves upon the heart, and the many secret blushes before God, because of my ignorance of what is really at work in that old man within.
O that men were wise, to consider these things and understand them! For it is said, "the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and that there is none shut up or left." So it always is with the poor trembling sinner that falls under the rod; but there is another word for those that are hardened under any discovery of sin - "If I whet my glittering sword, and my hand take hold on judgment, I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me." They who have feared this latter judgment, and felt the danger of its lighting upon them, know what it is to have the wrath of God in a broken law brought home into their consciences. It is this that drinks up the spirit, and leaves a covering of sackcloth upon all created things, which nothing can remove but the almighty power of the Lord Jesus Christ, assuring the poor soul of the Father being well pleased and satisfied with the ransom which his eternal Son has paid, and which the Spirit now applies. How few I find here that know the divine power of these things! How many go on heedlessly in their profession, thinking that God is altogether such an one as themselves! Oh! how the wretched end of these is smothered up, and they are laid in the grave, and a lying stone is put upon them to harden those who are hastening on their way to the same awful destruction!
If you manifest but the least spark of the true fear of God, you shall be hated and marked as deservedly an outcast, whom none need regard, and for whom no respect or value shall be shown.
It is easy to say we do not care for this, but if we belong to God, he will take care that these things shall occur at a time and under circumstances that shall make us both to feel and to care; for it is his design to humble us by such things, and to lower our assumption of being something. He will knock on the head our mighty importance, and though he chooses Moses to lead the people to the promised land, yet if Moses exceed his mission the Lord will show that he can take the people there without his help. Indeed he will make us all to feel that in reality we are nothing; and woe be to the man that will break through that order, and seek to establish himself as somebody. This has been the ruin of thousands of both preachers and private professors. O may the Lord preserve us and make us willing to give him all honour, glory, and praise for ever and ever!
Yours &c. J. B.