London, 14 May 1843.
Dear Mrs. Thaine,
I must reply to yours in a few words to express my gladness at hearing that has found such relief in her trouble. I would observe what Hart says, not to dishearten - . but the words are these, "From that moment the conflict begins." We generally feel a hope, when the Lord appears for us and we perceive that the blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed us from all sin, that now the conflict has ended. I believe I was (by the mercy of God) brought out into the sweetest and clearest liberty that a poor prisoner could know, but it was not long before this sweet liberty was tried, and I was again brought to the utmost extremity of despair; yet even there the Lord appeared, and from those depths set my feet upon the Rock of ages by these inexpressibly sweet words, Thou shalt return in the power of the Spirit; and as you write, I heard the words in so low a whisper that at first I did not know them to be from the Lord, but they were increased seven times, till the power was such that I walked in the sweet and uninterrupted joy of them for six weeks. Since I first knew the Lord, I have been taught many lessons, which before I had not in the least learnt; and the Lord has no way of teaching his people effectually but in the furnace (and my proud heart needed it more than most); yet by the mercy of God I have lost nothing in trouble but what might well be spared, and I trust I have by the divine teaching gained many useful and profitable lessons.
This morning my family reading was from the words, "The needy shall not alway be forgotten" [Psa. ix. 18]; and I found a precious key to them in Isaiah xliv. "Remember these, O Jacob and Israel, for thou art my servant, . . . thou shalt not be forgotten of me." While pondering what the first words, "Remember these," could mean, something seemed to say, Begin the chapter. There I saw God's eternal choice of his people; and the words, "I will help thee; fear not," came with inexpressible power and sweetness, and melted my heart. Then, "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty;" I felt my need of this, and the water of life flowed abundantly into my heart; "and floods upon the dry ground;" here also I had the witness of both within myself, that is, both the dryness and native barrenness of my heart, and also the floods of God's mercy and favour to me in Christ Jesus, which satisfied and refreshed my weary soul. But further, "I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring." This filled me with the sweetest hope, but I must forbear upon that subject. The comfort still continued as I read, "Fear ye not, neither be afraid; have I not told thee from that time, and declared it? ye are even my witnesses." Then for many verses there is a description of idols and how they are made, and the Lord declares they "shall not profit." I told my family that these were the vanities of youth and vain speculations of men, which never produced anything but spiritual death; as Mrs. R. said lately, when I reminded her of her early profession, hard upon forty years ago, "It was that light, foolish, and vain profession, and that inattention to the faithful ministry in my young days, that has brought all this misery and darkness in my old age now; and I am made to mourn and be ashamed." As I proceeded it was as if the Lord said, "Remember these," that is, all the wills and shalls I have left on record in this chapter, when you come into trouble; and though there may be a need for trouble and heaviness, yet still "thou art my servant and shalt not be forgotten of me." Also remember that though "I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions," and though "I have redeemed thee," yet many "liars" and "diviners" within and without will seek to blur this work, and will often cause a thick cloud to cover the spirit; but I will frustrate these, and confirm and perform "the counsel of my messengers" (that is, a faithful ministry), so that all "decayed places" shall be raised up again and again. And what seemed to crown the whole was that the Lord, who will do this, saith to every deep place of misery and despair, "Be dry." Blessed be God, I have found this repeatedly in my pilgrimage; as the Saviour said, "Peace, be still," and there was a great calm.
May the Lord instruct you all in this mysterious path of life; and be assured that where spiritual life is found, there will eternal life most certainly follow.
Yours &c. J. B.