[To Mr. D.] London, 27 September 1842.
My dear Friend,
Since I had the pleasure of knowing you I have been much interested in the account you gave of your leaving C - and L - and coming to Hertford. It is evident that God had some peculiar design in it, and you have let the whole of that dispensation pass by without coming to the right knowledge of it. I have often heard you half bemoan the spiritual darkness and decay that so quickly followed the appearance of spiritual life; but half things will not do in religion, and though you cannot quicken your own soul I fear there seems but little spiritual labour to beg of God to do it.
Abraham pursued his obedience to God's words till the knife was on the throat of Isaac, and it was then the Lord appeared, and called him the father of the faithful. Jacob was under as many difficulties as you, and I dare say felt his weakness more than you; yet he wrestled with the Angel, and would not let him go without a blessing. We also find David surrounded with all sorts of fears, and he cried unto the Lord and not only found relief in and from present trouble, but he says the Lord also gave him promises "for a great while to come." So it is said of all the fathers; they cried unto the Lord, and were delivered; they trusted, and were not confounded. I also have known many set-fast places, and am surrounded with many fears, yet the Lord encourages me to hope in his word; he is unceasingly telling me, "Men ought always to pray and not to faint;" and I am seldom long at this exercise before I am encouraged to hope, and find fresh light upon my path.
How hard it is to keep conscience honest! We shrink, and quibble, and twist things into a different light from that in which the Spirit shows them; and this brings on fear and terror, out of the abundance of which we are made to cry, "Lord, save, or I perish." This is no easy work. We say, "Search me, O God, and try me," without the least meaning or desire it should be so. You may think you pray in this way honestly, but "the heart is deceitful above all things," and you presently cry out for a little more slumber. Were you but half aware of the danger of your state you would give the Lord no rest until some change take place.
Perhaps you have not duly considered the condition in which it has pleased God to place you, a constant hearer of his word. What can be the meaning of those words - "But they made light of it" [Matt. xxii. 5]? That saying belongs not only to such as mock, but to such also as do not profit. It is God's design that in some way we should be fruitful branches; instead of which there appears an uncommon weariness in those things which the Saviour sets forth as absolutely needful to be found in his followers. Understanding in some measure what should be, but like Felix declining the word of exhortation for the present, and saying you will send for the Saviour at a more convenient season, namely, when you are more alive in soul, as you suppose. These are dangerous things; nevertheless there is mercy with the Lord, that he may be feared; and if you set your heart to seek you will surely find.
Yours &c. J. B.