Dear Brother, I here send you a few lines, according to promise, and am happy to say that I am at present out of that place where hope never cometh, which is a great mercy. I have been very unwell in body since I last saw you, but ten times Worse in mind. My poor mind is at times so harassed, that I scarcely know what I am about. I told you how well I heard Mr. K—, at Croydon, and what comfort I got under him. I lost all my sins, and all my debts, and all my doubts, and all my fears; so that I was, as it were, out of myself and quite another man altogether, in my feelings. This sweet frame of mind lasted for a day or two afterwards, and could say with the psalmist, " How sweet are thy words to my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth." But alas! my friend, it all vanished away; my sins returned, and my fears came fresh upon me with such a weight that it broke me down to the earth; again my harp was hung upon the willows: " My harp is turned into mourning, and my organ into the voice of them that weep. I go mourning without the sun, because of my sin." I am not fit to Join with the people of God, and the world hates me. I am a companion to owls, and a brother to dragons, in my feelings. I often think that I am the worst and the vilest of men that ever lived on the face of the earth. I seem to stand condemned to die, and that to all eternity. But still I sometimes hope that I am not yet cast for death, although I am condemned. I do assure you that there is no way of escape for me; for the law is holy, just, and true, and I now it; and 1 know that I have broken that law, and cannot repair it; so that there is no hope for me in that way. There must be one to stand in the gap, or else I cannot be saved. This I know feelingly, and I am as sure of it as I am of my existence. But you will say, " There is Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; he, and he alone, is the sinner's salvation; there is no other way, as there is no other name given under heaven whereby we earl be saved. You should look to him, and trust in him, and he will save you." Yes; I know all that very well. There is a great deal said about this great and blessed Jesus in our day; he is almost in everybody's mouth; he is very much talked about, but very little, I fear, known and felt in the heart savingly and experimentally. wish I could look to him and trust him, and love and praise his blessed name; but how can I look in the dark? if I do, I cannot see him. Poor Job said, " If I go backward I cannot see him; if I go forward he is not there." Then he says, " O that I knew where I might find him!" The poor man was in the dark. You see he was to poor Job what he is to you and me, the chiefest among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely. But we must see him, and we must feel his power too, and we must know him for ourselves, and our eyes must see him, I mean the eye of faith. Ah, my friend, I have proved the truth of the words of the poet, where he says,
"We sin forsake, to sin return— Are hot, are cold—now freeze, now burn."
O what a changing scene is this world! How many are our trials whilst passing through this vale of tears! None but those who feel these trials know anything about them. There is that mighty enemy the devil always trying to trip up our heels, and our weakness leans to his temptations; and there is our own deceitful and desperately wicked heart, full of all manner of evil, and a complete sink of sin, which is continually boiling up, like a corrupt fountain. I feel the truth of those words: " A man's enemies are those of his own household," so a man's foes are his nearest kin. I find it so in two senses of the word, and that bitterly too. I know it by painful experience, which is the only religion worth contending for. That religion is not worth a straw which is not felt in the heart. I have received a small note from brother W. which informed me that you were quite well, but not at home, by which I understand that you are not happy, not just where you would like to be. But if you belong to a blessed Jesus, you are just where he would have you to be, and that is a great blessing. O my friend, what a blessed God we have to do with! He is a God that loveth at all times, a wonder-working God. He has said, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee;" and what he has said he will never alter; the word is gone out of his mouth, and it will never return to him void, but it shall accomplish the thing whereunto he sent it. He has also said, "He that cometh unto me I will in nowise cast out;" and I know and am sure that if ever I am led unto him he will never cast me out, for the word has gone out of his blessed mouth; he has said, " No man can come unto me except the Father who hath sent me draw him." The love of the Father being put into the heart of the sinner, let him be the greatest sinner that ever lived, that love is so great, so rich, and so free, that it will draw the poor sinner to Jesus, for until he finds Jesus to be his friend he will find no resting place: "In the world ye shall have tribulation, but in me ye shall have peace. It is vain for us to think of peace in this world, for I know that we shall not have it. God is not a poor mortal man, saying one thing and meaning another: " He spike, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast." He has said, " These are they that came out of great tribulation; " consequently, they must have been in great tribulation before they could come out of it. " Have I spoken," says the Lord, " and shall I not bring it to pass?" To be sure he will. My friend, we read, you know, in the word, that this is not our rest, it is polluted; but how do we know that it is polluted? Why, when we see ourselves as the word describes us to be, poor polluted creatures from head to foot, having no soundness in us; when we can say feelingly with the apostle, " I know that in me, that is, in my flesh; dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not; for that which I would do I do not, but that which I would not do that I do. 1 find a law in my members warring against the law of my mind.' You see his mind was to do good, but he found so much pollution within that he could not do the things that he would; and so do I, for if I could live as I list, I would be blessing and praising God all day long; I would shout aloud for joy; I would bless his dear name for his loving-kindness and tender mercy to me. But you see we have such a body of sin and death to carry about with us, which is such a burden, that it makes us go groaning, and mourning, and hanging down our heads. But the apostle comes to this conclusion at last: " So then, I with the mind serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of .sin." I am convinced that every sinner must be brought down and humbled very much, and made to see and feel his weakness, helplessness, and inability to do anything really good, in and of himself, before he can from his heart and soul adopt the language of the apostle; yet I believe thousands utter it with their lips who never felt it in their hearts. I am persuaded that God will make all his people know him, and will cause them to fall at his feet, and, from the very feelings of their heart, cry out, " God be merciful to me a sinner." Every child of God will learn from experience that he is a sinner, and will feel himself to be the vilest of the vile; for the Lord has said, "They shall all know me, from the least to the greatest;" and what he has said shall surely come to pass: " Once have I spoken, and I will not lie unto David."
My friend, we must be weaned from every breast of consolation that this world can give, before we shall rightly fly into the arms of Jesus. I have learned by painful experience, during the last fifteen years that I have been travelling this chequered path, what it is to grapple with flesh and blood. O what hard work it is for our old nature to part with all its comforts, and to find in every sweet a snare! and what hard work it is to go grovelling along in the dark for years, when everything seems to be against us, both spiritual and temporal! This has been my experience, and you, my dear brother, are not altogether unacquainted with it. It is indeed hard to feel the hidings of God's face, to have no comfort at home or abroad, night or day; to have a body of sin to carry about with us, and a great burden of debts on our backs, being afraid to meet any one on the road, lest he should be a creditor; to go to a throne of grace and find no access, thinking that we have not a friend in the world, and fearing that God has cast us off foe ever, and that he will be favourable no more. Whilst in this state, I have gone and thrown myself down where no eve could see me but the eye Of God, and tried to pour out my corn-. plaint before him, but have returned again with my burden heavier than before. Poor David knew something of this when he said, " My prayer returned to my own bosom." And what is worse than all, is, that our hearts are as full of rebellion as they can hold against a good and gracious God. But, blessed be his name, he has said, " I will see you again, and your joy shall be full, and that joy no man taketh from you." O what a blessed sight, when we see him look at us again What a blessed look he gave poor Peter, and unbelieving Thomas; it made him cry out, " My Lord and my God." When he shows us his face through the lattice, one glimpse of his love convinces us that he is not gone for ever. O blessed be his dear name, he comes leaping and skipping over the mountains of our sins! he takes away all our doubts and all our fears, all our debts and all our troubles, and makes us new creatures in Christ. Blessed be the name of our dear Lord for his loving-kindness and tender mercy to us poor sinful creatures. O that his praise may sound from pole to pole! " O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men!"
Wishing you every covenant blessing, with much of the Lord's gracious presence, I am, yours in gospel bonds,
A POOR TRIED PILGRIM.
April 15, 1843.