[To M. and J, G.] Leominster, 29 June 1841,
My dear Friends,
Although I have been so silent of late, yet I have not been an insensible observer of your various conflicts, temptations, and afflictions. I would desire deeply to impress upon your minds the NEED for the fiery trial; and that you may not think it strange, the Lord has kept on record, from Genesis to Revelation, innumerable instances of his people's afflictions and their deliverances out of them. We know not how great sinners we are, nor can we conceive how infinitely wise and just God is. His judgments are an unfathomable deep, and we see not how far in his infinite wisdom he may go; this calls for great humiliation on our part.
Abel lost his life, though he obtained the favour and approbation of God. Abraham found no deliverance, till the knife was at the throat of his son. This is the time of extremity. Jacob must be driven about for twenty years before he could hope for the fulfilment of the promise, and on the first opening of the door for his escape he is threatened by his brother; yet through all his complicated difficulties the Lord proved faithful. One would have thought that Joseph's first trial of being cast into the pit might have sufficed, but God knows there is a need for continual and repeated trouble to keep our proud hearts dependent upon the Lord. Such were Joseph's troubles that every new trial fitted him for greater honours; and ours also, if it please God to sanctify them, will yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness. Moses, though the meekest man, and one with whom the Lord spake face to face, yet in the trial muttered perverseness and went beyond the orders God had given him, for which thing the Lord would not suffer him to go into the promised land; nevertheless we find that though the displeasure of the Lord was manifest in this, his end was unutterable peace; thus God mingles mercy with his judgments.
What shall we say of Job? God says, "Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth?" yet he must be tried; and the manifold afflictions laid upon him, brought him down to a very low ebb, and manifested many things in his heart which before he did not expect to find; nor did the Lord cease to contend till he was made not to pity, but mourn, and to abhor himself, "and repent in dust and ashes." Some of our friends suspect that there must be something wrong when continued affliction, poverty, or sickness, abide upon us; and certainly there is some truth in the suspicion. I believe Job's self-righteous spirit was one cause why the Lord contended; and you and I have much pride and ignorance which the Lord will not overlook.
One affliction and no more we perceive will not suffice. We, like the Apostle, are troubled on every side; but these afflictions will be light, if we are enabled with the eye of faith to look at the things that are eternal. What makes the misery is perpetually looking at the things that are seen; we cannot suppose there can be an end; we reason, and set things down, as coming to pass, which God has designed never shall come to pass; also we draw out lines for the accomplishment of our ends, where God never moves; and we get sadly confounded and sink into despondency. This is always the issue of natural and fleshly wisdom; for God will confound it. Joseph little thought that the direct road to be chief and governor of all Egypt lay through the pit whence the Midianites drew him.
but wonders he will yet perform in behalf of his afflicted people. It is yet left on record, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"
Salvation is a great thing, and your eyes and hearts must be more set upon the heavenly inheritance; and when you are enabled to give up the treasures of Egypt, then you will find no end of the sweetness and power of the unsearchable riches of Christ. "Be sober, be vigilant;" for your adversary the devil is seeking to devour you with fear and despair. Jesus Christ is stronger than all that oppose. Cleave closely to him, and you will find your safety there. Use the Psalmist's prayer perpetually, "Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort;" and may the Lord bless you.
I remain yours affectionately, J. B.