[To the same.] Hertford, 25 August 1842.
God is determined to make us feel what an evil and bitter thing it is to sin against him, and how truly our sin is the cause of our being covered with thick darkness and impenetrable confusion. It pleases him to sanctify his dispensations towards us, so as to make us die to the world and all the vanities of it, and to cut us off from all hopes that we gather in a false profession. It is a great thing to be thus LOST; we think and fear that it is final destruction. Nevertheless we perceive that God's ways and thoughts are not ours. He purposes to crucify in us the old man, and to create in us a new and living principle, called the new man, in which lie is pleased to dwell. The new cannot take place without pulling down the old; which is to us most dreadful, because our fleshly wisdom and the devil so miscolour and falsely represent the truth, that we should be brought to final despair, did not the Lord counteract it by that sweet hope you mention in your letter.
I am truly glad that you cannot rest without knowing that Christ is yours, and you are his. I trust it is his design that you should not rest, and that for this cause he suffers so many fears and misgivings to arise in your mind, that by them you may be taught to pray under a feeling sense of your need. You and I are on the confines of eternity; and what real substance can you find here that can relieve your troubled mind? None, I am sure. One kind look of mercy from the Lord makes every crook straight; and I believe his mercy to you is such that he will confound every attempt at gaining relief, except in himself. This in due time will bring you to be without strength; and when the Lord seeth that your "power is gone, and there is none shut up nor left," that is, no reserve in secret, but a complete falling down before him, then you will be surprised with a sweet revelation of his everlasting love and mercy to you. This is the way the Lord seeks and saves the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and this is the way I believe he will seek and save you. Be not disheartened; pray without ceasing; and his word will sweetly speak upon your heart, and whisper, "THIS IS THE WAY; WALK YE IN IT."
There are many terrible things that overtake the children of God, and we are apt to forget that the word says, "By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation." I entreat you to stand in awe of all the painful fears and feelings you endure, and see if they do not lead you to be very sober and tender, and have a great tendency to break the neck of that levity which so much abounds in us all. It pleases God often to bring good out of these seeming evils; therefore do not repine nor be overmuch cast down, but watch unto prayer, and see what the Lord will do for you, and what lie is all day long doing in you. If you gain not comfort all at once, yet in this sober walk yon will gain instruction, caution, admonition, reproof, and many things that may be exceedingly profitable; and the Lord will not be far off, but will one day tell you, "I know the thoughts that I think toward you, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."
May the Lord encourage you thus to hope, and you will not be disappointed world without end.
Yours &c. J. B.