[To his Daughters H. P. and H.] Leominster, 3 July 1841.
My dear Children,
In this latter period of my life I begin to see some of the fearful places where I stumbled and fell, and also some of the immeasurable and free grace which restored me; but I find that my backsliding heart, continually prone to wander, is the cause of those perpetual blows and rebukes which overtake me; and though all of them have been much mixed with mercy, they have left me so sore that I dread another stroke. I think this is God's design that I may deeply lay to heart what an evil and bitter thing it is to sin against God, for he will surely take vengeance of the sins of his people. This sort of exercise, sanctified, will produce godly fear, which, like a sentinel, will keep the heart in the midst of temptation, and let no strange thing pass through without strict examination, confession, and pardon. It is in consequence of my having been so exercised that I write to you; first, to warn you of places of danger, and caution you to stand aloof and, secondly, to encourage you to believe that you shall find in this exercise that nothing is too hard for the Lord, though everything is too hard for us, if we presume to manage it according to the wisdom of the flesh. If you are diligent and watchful in all these places, you cannot tell how hope, under the worst appearances, will counteract despair and despondency. Living at a distance from the Lord always produces a looking at the things that are seen; and it pleases the Lord to put a canker-worm at that root, and then murmuring and repining are sure to follow, and these are not the fruits of the Spirit.
If your lives are spared, still you cannot long have the privilege of the present ministry; therefore take heed that it proves fruitful. It is a sad mark when the ministry is unprofitable; you may be sure that you have in some way offended Him who has sent both the messenger and the message; therefore search this out by confession and prayer, and never rest till the Lord appears again in the public ordinances; and be sure to pray for and seek the peace of spiritual Jerusalem.
If you are enabled steadily to watch and pray for wisdom and discretion in your daily conversation, you will find that the Lord Jesus Christ. is faithful to his word, and not only will he fit you for everything to which he appoints you, but the peace of God will rule in your hearts, and a sweet communion be kept up, together with those evidences that accompany salvation. Thus what God has so sweetly joined together, let not the flesh, nor a fleshly walk in independence of God, put asunder. Be sure diligently to seek and cherish unity, so that no fleshly attachment shall supersede that which is divine. If jealousies appear, be sure to take them with mournful confession to the Lord, and never rest till you can in his strength accomplish this word - "In honour preferring one another." Be cautious how and where the spirit of the world creeps in, for it will make its inroad by all the faculties and senses we possess, and in so subtle a manner that we are often deeply entangled in the snare before we feel the danger. Be always suspicious and jealous of yourselves, and remember God's testimony - "The heart is deceitful above all things," beyond what you can conceive. If there be the least lowering upon your spirit, do not begin to consider from what quarter it conies, or whether it be a temptation, but be sure to spread it before the Lord, for he alone can help. If the enemy can tempt you to reason, or to mend it by a stricter observance of many things, you are already in the snare. Christ says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life;" so that all the ways that the naturally wise and prudent use lead only to death.
May the Lord multiply mercy toward you, and not suffer you to live in the spirit of the world, and all your days be unprofitable to the church of God. May shame cover your faces at the thought of such a thing, and make you much hi earnest to maintain a good conscience toward God in all things. So prays
Your affectionate father, J. B.