[To S. H., of Snailbeach, Shropshire.] London, 3 April 1843.
Dear Friend in the Lord,
I was truly glad to see your letter, and was much comforted and encouraged by it. I perceive my friend knows the path of tribulation as well as I do, and I am made to acknowledge at times with all my heart the absolute necessity of it. Without this sharp work we have a heart to believe any lie, hear any false doctrine, and give the right hand of fellowship to all sorts. But the furnace of sanctified affliction brings all down in a low place, so that we are made really to feel that none but Jesus can do helpless sinners good; and that nothing but that truth which the Holy Ghost applies can be received with healing efficacy in a broken heart. I should advise you to take heed both how you hear and what you hear. There is much danger of being misled; our hearts will more rapidly receive a lie than the truth. Nevertheless, in reading the word of God and in prayer and watching thereunto, you will find that the Lord will direct you safely, and preserve you from the fatal errors that are round about you.
I have had many changes since I saw you, and am often so cast down as to he ready to give all up, but in these low places he helps my infirmities in prayer, and causes hope to abound; his word is often very sweet, and comes with such saving power as to bring me up out of all the low depths of misery I fall into. My heart is very much impressed with the cases of you all, and though I am old, yet I feel a great and anxious desire to see you all again, and set forth the riches of the Saviour's grace to poor, unhappy, afflicted, broken-hearted sinners. The Lord can make use of the feeblest means, and often does, to confound the wisdom of those who think themselves wise.
If you were not troubled on every side, you would never find any suitableness in the Saviour. It is to the troubled soul he gives rest. I have always found the sweetest relief in the lowest places. There is no trouble that can come upon the children of God but it is said, "there is an end, and thine expectation shall not be cut off." Men may talk like fools, and tell us it is our duty to believe; but when the Spirit convinces us of our unbelief, then we perceive this unbelief is like gates of brass and bars of iron, and none can remove it but he who convinces us of it. And I am sure it is not in my power to repent though I would give ten thousand worlds to do so. I am taught that it is the gift of God in Jesus Mist. "Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." Those who talk so lightly of these low places, you will find (if you watch them) they are those who wallow in sin, and whose consciences are lashing them all the day long for their sin; but if you and I are east down (let the cause be what it may) we know we must come in confession and prayer to the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness, and never rest till Jesus Christ comes by the Spirit, and applies those healing streams with divine power to our wounded consciences. Then our frames and feelings, as they call them, are too heavenly to make light of, for we are lost in the contemplation of Christ's sovereign mercy to us the most wretched sinners. It is because the men that talk with you know not the Spirit's work that they advance such errors, if possible to bring you into bondage; but I truly hope better things of you, that I shall yet see that the Lord manifests his love and mercy to you so that it may be known and read of all men, and that your spirit may be preserved from the universal error of the day.
Remember me kindly to your fellow miners J. P. and R. 0., and let them read this letter.
Yours faithfully, J. B.