[To J. S.] London, December 1843.
You have been thinking of many things since you left us, and now I would lead your mind to think especially of the work upon your own heart; and first, to return to the time when you stood godfather for the child, and what the Lord then spoke upon your heart; for then did eternal life begin to be manifest in your soul, although you did not understand it. When that impression seemed to wear away, and you walked in many things that again brought you into despair, and filled your soul with dreadful apprehensions of God's wrath against you, so as to cause you to fear you should perish for ever, even at the time you were fearing lest the rocks at Todmorden should fall and crush you as a guilty sinner, though unknown to you, it was the Spirit that helped your infirmities with groanings that could not be uttered, and led you to mutter out that piece of the Lord's prayer which through the intercession of Christ was prevalent, so as to remove for that time the dreadful despair under which you laboured. But sin still pursued and overtook you again and again, and all your miseries returned, till you came to the rails in St. Andrew's church at Hertford, and then the Lord Jesus Christ revealed himself to your understanding, so that you fully knew and felt at that time that his precious blood was shed for you. The joy of this was unspeakable; it removed all your misery and guilt, and assured your heart of eternal life and made you long to be with the Lord. This was the new birth; this was the manifestation of the love of God. In his purpose you were saved from eternity, but here you felt that purpose was sweetly made known to you. This is what you ought to listen to in your public hearing, that the ministry should clearly set forth both the anguish of the soul that labours to bring forth, and the joy of the Lord when brought forth. This agreeing with the work within is a means of great establishment.
Then, as our minister told you, you have need to learn that we possess two natures when thus born again. If we do not learn this we shall be apt to fall into much confusion. Let our joy be ever so clear, and really the joy of the Holy Ghost, yet the enemy will never rest until by some means he causes us to fall into difficulties and sin, either in thought, word, or deed; and then he will tell us that if our religion were right we should not be so entangled. When once he gets us to listen to this, he finds a thousand other things to prove we are only hypocrites, and we cannot at once understand "That which I do I allow not," but I really hate that which through the power of temptation I do; for (as the Apostle says) "In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing." I have a will to do that which is right, but I am not able to perform it. All this shows we possess those two natures, called the old man, and the new man; and these will remain to the end of our days. If you and I are kept tender, we shall by walking in the Spirit continually discern and repent of all the evil ways and thoughts that overtake us; and if in this way they are brought into confession before God, and not suffered to rule and control us, then the new man is said to prevail, and the evil is said to be no longer ours, because it is conflicted with, and fought against; and while we are enabled thus to walk we shall find our consciences not condemn us, nor will the Lord find fault with us. My dear young friend, if you are thus watchful against the pride of your heart, you will save yourself many a slip. Be sure you take the lowest room, for if you think you are somebody, or have attained to great things, you are already fallen. It is easier to fall than to get up again.
When you do by the mercy of God in some measure understand these two natures, you will also perceive the intercession of Christ as most marvellous to encourage you in prayer, and also the righteousness of Christ. When the enemy lays hard at you to show you your manifold infirmities and shortcomings, nothing can be more comforting to the distracted soul than to have faith in exercise to put on that beautiful robe in which you stand before God the Father without spot or wrinkle. Luther says, "Where these things are wanting in a church, it is gone out of the way and cannot withstand error." He further says, "Let the body watch and work, that the old man does not become wanton. Do not dance upon the ice, lest you break a bone; but put on the bridle, and walk in the spirit."
Yours &c. J. B.