[To the Rev. B. G.] London, 29 May 1841.
My dear Friend,.
There is nothing more common, in an early profession of religion, than for the enemy to watch the constitutional or besetting sin, and to work upon that, and if' possible in some way or other, to enforce the absolute necessity of being found in the full exercise of it, covered with the name of godly fear.
For instance, if I am naturally indolent, the enemy will soon impress me (but all in a wrong aspect) with such truths as these - I can do nothing; I cannot quicken my own soul; I must wait God's time; I must not be impatient. Thus the poor creature, before he well knows his right hand from his left, has these shades put upon his conscience to hoodwink him in every proceeding in life; and he is so bewildered as not to see nor to suspect the snare.
Waiting upon God is a very active principle, and so is waiting for him; and he that waits in the Spirit will leave no stone unturned till he is fully satisfied the Lord is directing him. Would you know who is the man that is not actuated by godly fear, and makes not God his refuge? It is he who sits still, and vainly imagines that matters will come right, and makes no use of God's appointed means. Such an one not only meets with disappointment, but is surrounded with spiritual death, darkness, and confusion of mind; and is not aware of its being the consequence of that slothful inactive spirit which binds him down to the earth.
As it respects your friend Mr. D., I look upon it there is a double necessity that he should unceasingly seek the Lord that he would unfold the mystery of his providence now. This seems to be a peculiar turn in life with him, and a wrong step might mark his future life with much bitterness and sorrow; therefore he should deeply lay it to heart. The enemy is very busy; the issue none knows but God. If he makes the Lord his refuge, he will be carried safely through all his difficulties. He will find that God "hath determined the times before appointed," as well as the bounds of our habitation; and for this purpose has declared that we shall seek the Lord, and feel after him, and find him; and in that exercise (however painful), understand that he is not very far from us [Acts xvii. 26, 27].
It is sweet to know that the Lord's people are his portion and inheritance; therefore "when he separated the sons of Adam, he fixed the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel." Though he finds us "in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness," he leaves us not as he finds us, but leads us about by various dispensations, and instructs us and keeps us, and never takes his eye from us. But remember, as the eagle with its young, so he stirs up our nest (there is no such thing as being still or inactive), he fluttereth over us, taketh us on his wings into many terrible dispensations; but in his wisdom he never leaves us, nor will, until he teaches us "to suck honey out of the rock and oil out of the flinty rock." [Dent. xxxii. 8-13.]
Tell your friend to be cautious. It is a great salvation; he knows not how great; for eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor can the heart conceive what God "hath prepared for him that waiteth for him." It is a great thing to be a lost sheep of the house of Israel; to such the Saviour is sent, and such shall find him. Tell him also to lay to heart the honour of God and of his cause, that he may bring no reproach upon either the ministers or the people of God, either by odd ways, singular proceedings, inconsistent indolence, or any of such faults - a list too long to name.
If the conscience be tender, there will be a due regard to these things, and the footsteps of God's providence will be narrowly watched. Wherever we can trace his marks, there (like Standfast) we shall covet to step, and nowhere else. The Apostle says, "immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood." "Not my will, but thine, be done." In these exercises we perceive the coming and going of the Lord, his smiles and frowns; and when sin is charged home upon the conscience, either in exceeding or falling short, we hasten to the fountain opened, and have no rest till the pardon is procured. Thus by the various circumstances of outward things the Lord causes the inward and spiritual life to grow and increase.
I hope your friend will tenderly attend to these things; I am sure he will find his advantage in so doing. It will keep him from what the wise man says, "By much slothfulness the building decayeth, and by idleness of hands the house droppeth through." With the sincerest good wishes for him, I remain,
Yours affectionately, J. B.