London, 23 March 1844.

Dear Mrs. Oakley,

Although I feel myself very unfit to comfort another, yet as you are often upon my mind I cannot help enquiring after you. How true is what the Saviour says - "Strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life." Everything I meet with shows it; the world within and without, the flesh and the devil, are continually seeking to betray us into spiritual death; and it seldom happens that many hours pass but some vanity or other overtakes us, and brings us into bondage. This excites our fears; and if not at once carried to Jesus Christ, "the fountain opened," then despondency and misgiving fears of all sorts take hold upon us, and we begin to dispute whether we ever knew anything aright, or shall ever find the Lord again. This unbelief the devil seeks to establish in the heart, for he knows that it will bring a heavy and black cloud upon all the good things that passed before. But here we manifest whether or not we have spiritual life; if there be life there will be a keen sensibility of danger, which will excite us to cry, and we perceive, sooner or later, the Lord comes in with this sort of encouragement - "The Lord will have mercy upon Jacob, and will yet choose Israel;" and again, "The Lord shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou vast made to serve," and in which the adversary seeks to hold thee fast; and then we are enabled most joyfully to say, "How hath the oppressor ceased!" [Isa. xiv. 1-4.]

How true I found all this today! I was full of sorrow and fear, but in reading the Lord was pleased to deliver me from the hard bondage, and give me a sweet feeling and clear view of my spiritual adoption into his family - "An heir of God, and a joint-heir with Jesus Christ." O how humbling are these visits, and how clean and clear is the wiping away of all shyness between God and the soul at such times! Then instead of " briars and thorns," the cares and entanglements of this life, there is fruitfulness to God; and his glorious Name Of PARDONING INIQUITY and DELIGHTING IN MERCY is set forth for the encouragement of the afflicted children of God. And I sincerely desire that you may be a rich partaker of the same in your solitary dwelling, where you have no faithful ministry, and seldom communicate with any who understand these precious and mysterious saving truths. Yet your dwelling is not solitary when the Lord is pleased to pay you a sweet visit; and, as Hart says,

"His presence clears the foul,
And smooths the rugged way;
He often makes the crooked straight,
And turns the night to day."

May the Lord thus comfort you.

Yours faithfully, J. B.

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