[To Miss S.] London, 7 February 1841

My dear Friend,

It pleases God that his people shall be called to fight, and not to play. He will teach them, not always with the rod and the furnace, but often with the sweetest and most endearing tenderness and kindness that can be impressed on the heart of man, how to be good soldiers and to endure hardness. I am often greatly depressed, fearing the worst of evils, and especially lest the hand of God should signally go out against either me or my family. In my mourning and manifold confessions the Lord softens my spirit, and by a few words, such as, "Fear not," he looks so kindly at me, that I find nothing left for me to do but to fail flat in the dust before him, and in this my abject condition, entreat his mercy; and instead of rebukes and reproach, I find the sweetest tokens of his love. The lessons this teaches me are, to keep no secret from him; to trust in him at all times more freely; to feel assured that the heart shall live that seeks God; and to believe that all the temporal affairs of his people are as much the object of his notice and care as the spiritual. "Not a hair of your head shall perish." I found this very sweet yesterday, and while it was fresh on my spirit, I so firmly believed the truth as to be enabled to cast all my care upon the Lord. And though it quickly gathers again, yet by the mercy of God these lessons are not learnt entirely in vain; for day and night unceasingly I am led to watch the movements of the Lord within, and how far he will condescend to clear my way, that hope may abound, and that his hand may be seen towards those he has committed to my charge. For my soul and the souls he has given me I would gladly seek his thee, that we may be bound in the same bundle of life with the Lord my God [1 Sam. xxv. 29].
I do not see how spiritual life can be kept up without this spiritual anxiety. Many of my sweetest evidences of Christ's everlasting love to my soul have sprung out of these concerns; and I think this is walking with God. The Lord said of Abraham, "I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord to do justice and judgment" [Gen. xviii. 19]. This is what I pray for night and day; and though (like Abraham in the case of Ishmael) I may not find it fully accomplished, yet to discover some token of God's favour is an inconceivable mercy, and has a very peculiar general effect, so that we do not become like the salt that has lost its savour.

Yours in the Lord, J. B.

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