[To a Friend ] Chelmsford, Sept. 1834.
I cannot tell you with what awe I ponder over your case, and see in it the reality of God's word. O how my foolish heart flattered itself for many years that peace, peace, was all that I should know! I stopped my ears and blinded my eyes to God's denunciations against this sin of our nature, and I thought that I should somehow escape in a measure what the Lord continually told me out of his word, where he speaks of rebukes and chastenings as amongst the strongest tokens of his love. "Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man" [Prov. xxx. 2]; and this was the reason why I almost sunk into despair when the rod was laid on my foolish back, not considering what I want now to remind you of - "Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of death." And again, "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin" [Rom. vi. 3-6].
What is the conflict that you have now long laboured under, but the crucifixion here spoken of? You and I have found it a painful lingering death, which must be laboured under while we remain here below. The Apostle tells us of the necessity of dying daily. Do we not in this sad case find the world and all created things diminish in value, and the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and glory, increase in value and desirableness? Crucifixion reduces us, with all our lofty thoughts, to dust; it breaks our bones of conceited strength. O how deeply has the Spirit of God convicted me of this at times! If ever I have learnt these truths, it has been by this crucifixion. Never lose sight of these precious words, for I well know the force of them - "AFTERWARD it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby" [Heb. xii. 11].
This chapter [Rom. vi.] cuts very close; I read and tremble, I pray and confess, and know most truly that it is God's word. There can be no rising newness of life, but first through this terrible crucifixion. I have need of all the encouragement to prop up my trembling heart; and having found the truth of it, I long to tell you that this which has happened to you is no strange thing, but the direct way to glory. "If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him;" and "Being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life."
I have been lately reading the first sixteen chapters of Ezekiel, and have great cause to admire the riches of God's grace to me in making me tremble at almost every line. If it pleases the Lord to take us in hand now, what a mercy! How many are left with untempered mortar about them until the judgment day! When we are brought to the bar of God at midnight, when no mortal eye sees, and the sentence of death is upon our souls, then indeed are our idols thrown to the moles and to the bats, and the cry of the Publican only suits us - "God be merciful to me a sinner." How often have you and I found hope to abound in these low places! Then let us not be weary nor faint in our minds; ye shall reap in due season; for I know the Lord brings abundance of good out of all these seeming evils.
Yours &c. J. B.