It has come into my heart to send you a little scribble on Job. May the meditation refresh your soul. May the Lord keep our souls, by the Holy Ghost, simply and preciously in the power of the truth, in this busy, intellectual day. The case of Job is quite one of every day observation, the principle of it we all understand. He was a man, I judge, who had a true evangelical knowledge of God, but his faith was weak in meeting the discipline of his heavenly Father.
Severe losses and crosses came upon him, and who of us will say, that he would have stood so hard and sudden a shook? In mind, body, and estate, he was tried at the same moment. Bereavement of health, family, and comforts, he knew all together, and the desertion and scorn of the world instead of its honour and flattery. What could much aggravate this? And who of us would have stood it, even as he did, for the seven days? But at length the weakness of faith and the impatience of nature sadly betrayed themselves. But it needed much wisdom and grace to meet a believer in such a state. "One of a thousand" it needed. But he was visited by three of a very poor and ill-instructed class. They evince themselves to be of the Lord's people, for they come and mourn with this His servant, when all the world beside was refusing him. But their standing in the light of the mind of God was low indeed, and therefore all that they could apply to the case of Job only made bad worse. But in what do they betray this ill-instructed state of their souls? Here again, I judge, we have something of every-day recurrence, for the mistakes of these three are as common as is the impatience or weakness of Job. They counted much on religion in a worldly way. They reasoned, as though it were true, that honesty is the best policy, that righteousness gets its sure advantages in this world, and, therefore, that all the present sorrow and trouble of their friend was the proof of some secret unconfessed iniquity.
They drew also from themselves, deeming that they were men of experience and of observation, and had been much favoured with divine light. And they seem to make their own attainments, as they deem them to be, the great standard; so that poor Job's reputation had no chance at all in their hands, nor had his answers or words any countenance at all, if they would not stand the test of their experiences, or abide the measure of their rules of judging. They were familiar also with the traditions of the elders, treating them with the same respect that they did their own experiences and observation. These they cite against Job as determining the case, deeming it folly to suppose that the claims of antiquity could yield to anything he could possibly say. In these ways their minds were much corrupted. Principles like these had been their masters. There was a great religious reverence for God without, that is quite clear. Job himself could not speak abstractedly of God in more self-renouncing style than they, or with deeper expressions of religious fear. But the springs within were all polluted by the principles I have noticed. There was a worldly leaven, and a leaven of spiritual pride, and a leaven of traditionary knowledge, defiling all the exercises of their souls, and debasing all that issued from them. What could a poor believer, tried to the uttermost by the strong hand of his heavenly Father, and sinking through weakness under the pressure, do in the conflict and collision of such minds as these? "Miserable comforters are ye all," were gentle words, words that we might expect to hear from Job, till his soul had been taught and strengthened by the Spirit of God.
There is, however, one feature in this tremendous conflict which I would more particularly notice.
According to their view of the worldly advantages of true religion, or that honesty is the best policy, Bildad, in chapter 18, insists, that as "the light of the wicked is put out," Job must not suppose that in his case any exception will be allowed. He is not to judge that for his sake "the Rock shall be removed out of his place;" in other words, that the general divine plan will be abandoned through any special favour or respect to him. All this plainly telling Job, that as he was now so great a sufferer, he must be a hypocrite, for it is only the light of the wicked that is thus put out.
Now, however weak Job's faith may have been, the whole book and history show us that he had a good conscience. And these things are, morally, very different. We are not extenuating his faults. His fainting under the rebuke of God was very sad; his anger and murmuring were grievous. But still the testimony of his conscience was with him, and not against him. It was not true that he was a hypocrite. It was not true, as these worldly minded men of religion would have it, that he was hiding some sin. A good conscience he had not put away. And it was their great mistake, and it is any one's great mistake, to assume that there can be no affliction to a saint but of a penal or judicial character.
And such a thought is, I believe, offensive to the mind of God, quite contrary to His revealed way. "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." This is His common way, and this was His way with Job, that He might make him partaker of His holiness. It was not because He loved Job the less, or found in Job an unsound conscience, that the Chaldeans and Sabeans, the wind and the fire, were allowed their way against him.
The moment there was cause for the Lord (may I say) to vindicate His own principles, and also His servant (Job not having put away a good conscience, had not of faith made shipwreck), the Spirit enables him here, and the Lord entitles him, to make a full and glorious confession of faith (Job 19), a confession which embraces the person, office, and work of Christ, and his full assurance of his own personal interest in all that, as a believer or one of God's elect. And in the certainty of all this, he warns his accusers to take care, for that it was a serious thing to meddle thus, as they were now doing, with one of the flock of God.
The Spirit seems to give a deep tone to this confession. A man with a bad conscience may still, in the effrontery of wretched nature, be bold to confess a sound creed. But there will be nothing of the Spirit's unction or light in all that. It will not commend itself as the ready utterance of a soul that has, and knows it has, its warrant in God under the seal of the Spirit. But this confession from Job breaks forth in that character. It comes to us with a seal upon it. It comes from a heart that was full of the truth through the Spirit. And thus it is a witness to us, that if the "good conscience" be not "put away," "faith" need not be "shipwrecked." (1 Tim. 1) For this is a divine principle; and, moreover, it answers Bildad to his face, that there is another way of accounting for the afflictions of the righteous than by assuming that they are hiding some way of iniquity. And, thus, the principles of God, the principles of His words, as well as the person of His poor, weak but upright servant, are blessedly vindicated before the adversary and accuser.
And I cannot but add another thing that shows itself in the progress of this wondrous and valuable book. Elihu, for a long time silent, at length speaks. And in this we observe the modesty and yet holy confidence of one who has consciously the Spirit in him and with him. He waits till "years" had spoken, fully allowing that "years" should know wisdom and speak of understanding. But he finds it far otherwise. Their answers to Job, making only bad worse, had proved this. Then Elihu speaks, not as they had done, from himself, as from his experiences or observations of his own, neither from the dictates of the ancients, or in simple subjection to any authority, however venerable, of man, but from the Holy Ghost. His silence had owned what was due to "years," or to the elders, or the ancients. He did not in pride, or in an insubordinate, revolutionary spirit, refuse the claims which naturally they might put in. But he would not sacrifice the truth or the rights of the Spirit to any one, and if the elders spoke not according to truth, they were not to be regarded. If the carnal intellect, however consecrated by years, or church place and authority, finds not out the path of understanding, Elihu will not give flattering titles or bow before it.
All this reads our souls a deep and blessed lesson. "Let God be true, but every man a liar." A false humility is not to lead us to bow to carnal authority, however venerable in the esteem of the world. A true humility will hinder our drawing from ourselves. These three practised the first but not the second, for they were blindly led by tradition or Church-authority, and also were wise in their own conceits: they drew both from the ancients and from their own experiences. But Elihu was led of the Spirit, apart from both, and the Spirit ever uses the word of truth and ever teaches us accordingly, forcing its holy path onward after God, through every resistance from the false lights both of men and of our own hearts. Job, however, was to be rebuked. He was suffering, but he traced this suffering up to the mere good pleasure or sovereign will of God. He did not justify God in these sufferings. For God does not willingly afflict. He has a purpose in all that He does or allows to be done. Job, therefore, was to be rebuked. And Elihu does rebuke him. He stands for God and God's goodness against all that Job had said; and though Job insisted that, as touching this life, it was vain to serve God, for all were equally subject to sorrow, and God made no difference; yet did Elihu insist that there was profit in waiting on the Lord. And the voice from the whirlwind confirms all this judgment of Elihu, and Job is humbled and restored.
I do indeed read these characters in this book with much interest, and it is for our profit to note them. For such things have their claim still. The authority of antiquity, the worldliness of religious profession, or that godliness is gain, and the force of one's own spiritual light and experience, are found themes with men still, and harass much the hearts of wayfaring children of God. These are the flesh and fleshly pretensions, though in different forms. But "let God be true, and every man a liar," our souls should still say, as Elihu in principle said. Nothing should stand with us if the truth be touched. We are debtors to the Spirit in us to assert His rights, though naturally we may be ready to take the lowest place, and let "years" speak, as Elihu did.
And there is still another thing I would notice. Job was more simply and genuinely evangelical than his friends were. The truth of the gospel in his soul was not corrupted, as it was in theirs, though he was impatient under the rebuke of God, and uttered the fruit of that impatience against Him. But he held the faith and a good conscience. And these differences are dealt with at the end. His friends are owned of God then. That is true and happy. But they have to submit to God, and to own the great principle of the gospel which they had been corrupting--that is, to bring their victims in sacrifice as poor guilty ones, and thus to confess that all their hope was in the simple value of that Redeemer and His blood to which Job had made confession. Job, on the other hand, for his faith was sound, had not to repent in that particular. He was to humble himself under the mighty hand of God, and to love his brethren, to "pray for his friends." But he was not called on to learn the gospel itself more perfectly, as his friends were. They had not spoken of God the thing that was right, as he had, therefore they were commanded to go to the brazen altar, and there learn the doctrine of the blood. He had only to bow his head to the rod. And all this was the healing of their souls. Jot and his friends were all restored, though differently, according to the different errors, which the course of the history had disclosed, as we have seen.
12, Herbert Place, Dublin, October 4, 1842.
I have received both your kind and welcome letters, my dear sister, grieved to hear that dear Charlotte had been so seriously ill. The Lord bless her abundantly. He has laid her aside; but He has deeply introduced her to the heart of His people. And your dear mother so ill also.
I have a good deal in MS. on the Canticles, and just enclose some meditations which were lying here, copied out by some one; they appear generally correct, but I have not read them over. I do not see any moral value in determining whether the rock or the water out of the rock only followed through the desert. I would not much entertain the enquiry. I believe that Galatians 3: 27 more fixed my judgment as to baptism than any Scripture, for it told me that baptism was the intelligent act of a believer, the personal act of one's own faith, so to express it. I do not see in 1 Peter 3: 21 anything to give the mind a pause. For while it owns that the answer which the conscience is enabled to give, when it reads and receives the value of the resurrection of Jesus, is the great thing, still it implies the putting of a believer's body under water. It seems to me to take that as the granted form of the ordinance.
We have been here all the summer, but in wonted tender mercy we have generally been very well.
I heard of beloved Mr. S . . . . having been at Hereford. Ah, dear sister, how conscious the soul is of its own leanness. "My leanness, my leanness," how unfeignedly may the heart utter, and the richer, simpler grace of others oft brings this to view.
Farewell, my dear sister, believe me, ever yours affectionately in our Lord Jesus,
J. G. B.
February 11, 1843.
MY VERY DEAR SISTER,
Your most kind and welcome letter has remained some weeks unanswered. But since I got it, we have all moved over to Clifton, 5, Richmond Terrace. Several circumstances have led to this, and we are here, please God, for a month, but I have no present prospect of going farther into England. It was not a sister but a cousin we lost some weeks ago. She was united with the Brethren, and died in sweet assured peace. I have indeed, dear sister, been happy in the knowledge of our dear and honoured brother. His simple zeal and confidence in Jesus, humbles me much, and the services he has been doing in the blessed Master's cause. But the recollection that "the small and great stand before God," comes to relieve the heart pressed by the sense of our comparative barrenness. I trust all the dear brethren in Exeter are happy together and individually walking in communion with the Lord. My love to them.
I remember my happy little visits to you, beloved sister, and am thankful that the Lord has put it into our hearts thus at times to say a word to each other on paper. I was sitting with dear . . . . yesterday. Her sister's decline is very gradual. This post has brought me a long letter from dear . . . . at Demerara. But I have not yet read it, beyond the just seeing that he appears, in the Lord's mercy, to be in health.
It was striking me much last evening, how the discovery of the Book of the Law in the days of Josiah has a distinct voice in it, in the way in which his heart was moved by it. He had been serving the Lord according to his light previously, but when he had the book read to him, he began to serve Him in a new spirit and with increased intelligence. (Something in this like Cornelius. See Acts 10) He rent his own garment then. He took the place of a sinner, in a spirit that he had not done before, and then he also makes the word, and not his own religious thoughts, the rule of his doings. So will it be with the faithful Israel in the latter day, I believe. Josiah's heart became much exercised, when he heard the book of God, and so will theirs when they return to that from the vanities and traditions which have now so long occupied and deceived the nation. There may be previously, as in him, a following of the light as far as they know it, but when they recover the word, when the oracles of God become their care and meditation, their souls will get onward as his does. Psalm 119 will be their experience and utterance just at that time.
But the judgment against the nation is not to be changed by all this. Josiah, as the faithful one, will be spared, but the decreed judgment goes on. So in the latter day. The nation will be judged; the convicted, believing, obedient remnant will be spared.
Farewell, my dear sister. Ready and thankful shall I be to get another little word from you, whenever disposed to write. The Lord be with your spirit; and with united love from all,
Believe me, ever your affectionate brother,
J. G. B.
5, Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol.
March 9, 1843.
Another little word came from you, my very dear sister, with a full welcome. I should be glad to be among the dear brethren in Exeter and its neighbourhood again for a season, and to pay you now and then a little visit, as I was wont to do, for my own comfort; and it may be so ere I return, please God, to Dublin. But I do not as yet see the way before me, and I have engagements here that, I suppose, will keep me next week. I will send your little letter to . . . . who will be glad to read it, as I have been.
I enclose a little scribble, but expressing a thought that was refreshing my mind a day or two since. I have had this impression from the Epistle of Jude, that the Holy Ghost is summarily and rapidly glancing at the corruption that was to manifest itself in the progress of the history of the dispensation under the forms of "the way of Cain," "the error of Balaam," "the gainsaying of Core." The first being false religion, or the leaven of self-righteousness, coupled with hatred of the poor self-renouncing remnant, who trust, like Abel, only in the blood of Jesus, and walk in real godliness. The second being a sounder form of religion, real prophetic truth or correctness as to the mind of God, but coupled with worldliness, and a subjection to the powers of the kingdom for reward. The third being a more hold and infidel scorning of all that is divinely sacred, and a setting of oneself up in the place of God's dignities. And there is order in these forms of corruption: for the first rather gave character to the earlier times, and the dispensation will close, doubtless, when the pattern of Core be fully copied.
Accept united love, dear, dear sister, for dear mother and sister also. The Lord be with your spirit for rich comfort. I hope to spend part of tomorrow and Saturday in Bath, and to be at Trowbridge for Sunday. My love to dear . . . . and all the brethren. I do not ask you to write to me save as your desire and your strength may lead you.
Believe me, ever your affectionate brother,
J. G. B.
June 18, 1843.
MY BELOVED SISTER,
A . . . . O . . . . tells me of your being near him, so that it enters my heart to give you a few lines by way of remembrance; and surely the remembrance is pleasant. Oh! that our bond one to the other, and the bond of all saints together, may be, more than it is, in the bowels of Christ Jesus. There is far too little of this. "What think ye of Christ, is the test to try both your state and your scheme." Thus sang one of the children of Zion in his lovely simple songs some 40 years ago, and I pray that the echo of that music may soften and form our hearts together. We have got into the high regions of thoughts, and the warmer, calmer air of affection is like to be deserted or contemned as something over which we have soared in our prouder search after loftier objects. The more is the pity, dear sister. Israel was warned to remember their beginnings even to the end: "That thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life." And so surely are we. (Heb. 3: 6-14.)
I suppose you got my last letter from Clifton. Give my love to dear Mrs. . . . ., and ask her if she got mine also, enclosing a sweet extract from a brother's letter. My dear Mary is but ill today. Indeed, her feebleness is much greater than when you saw her: but faith simple and sure, blessed be His name. Accept all our love. The good Lord keep and bless you, and believe me,
J. G. B.
I do not know whether mother and sister be with you.
Christian love to them and to dear . . . ., when you see her.
October 14, 1843.
MY BELOVED SISTER,
Dear Mrs. . . . has told me that you have been again more poorly than usual, and as the remembrance of you is always pleasant to me, so do I desire to give you this little token of it now, and to express our united hope in the Lord that He will abundantly be with you in the sensible joy of His favour, which is better than life.
I hope dear mother and sisters are well, and we would all be remembered in Christian love to them. My dear Mary still retains, we think, something of the benefit she got from her being in England a little, but the poor limbs are still very, very feeble. She rests, however, dear sister, in the constant calm of faith, knowing that all shall be well, and His mercies are sure and abundant every morning. Dear Mrs. . . ., many a happy little visit I paid to her last spring, and knew some of the exercises of her heart. And little, to be sure, did we then count on the path the hand of her heavenly Father was purposing for her. But, it is well.
My love to dear . . . . and others near you, beloved. I wrote to dear . . . . about a fortnight since. We have all need to cultivate the deeper sense of the Lord's presence, and also the joy that springs from the blessed, simple fact of redemption, and the divine love and glory displayed in it. You ask me if I still hold the hope of the Lord's coming as that which is most immediate to us. Yes, dear sister. I have not yet learnt that He has put anything as necessarily delaying our going to meet Him. Much may happen, I am sure. But He had made, I believe, nothing necessary. I would rather have the letting thing of 2 Thess. 2 undetermined. Perhaps we have all been somewhat wrong in suggesting what it is, for the Spirit seems to leave it as a secret. But that rather confirms the thought that the Spirit has not revealed anything as necessarily delaying our being caught up. We may have to meet the stake or the lion's den. I do not deny that. And in the principle of our calling we are to court a martyrdom. But necessity in that shape is not laid on us. And I still judge that we are with the Lord before the prophetic action of the Apocalypse begins. May we, however, dear sister, be patient with one another, and let our union be more and more in the bowels of Christ Jesus, and that, too, with all saints, and not in favourite points of truth. Dear Mr. . . . . left us on Thursday. He has been among all the brethren in the country, I may say. Farewell, my dear sister. I enclose a little meditation for some quiet hour. The Lord be with your spirit, and believe me,
Your ever affectionate brother,
J. G. B.
December 4, 1843.
MY DEAR SISTER,
It is always grateful to me to have a little communication with dear Charlotte; and tell her, with my Mary's love and mine, how truly we hope she may soon be able to use her pencil again. The good hand of the Lord has dealt peculiarly with her. But His grace and Spirit have dealt blessedly. May you all be kept, in His mercy, unto His kingdom, which grows nearer day by day.
Your mention of the early chapters of Genesis led me to sit down and put my view of them on paper, which I now send you in its rough form. There was much grace and full brotherly love at the meeting of Liverpool. This rather marked it than power; though dear Mr. . . . .'s preaching was truly edifying and comforting. But it is not, dear sister, our stock of knowledge which we need to have increased, but that stock to become more active and lively in our souls, to stir itself there, and make itself a quickening mass, giving character to our minds more and more. Our christian love to your dear mother, and to the dear . . . . I was very glad again to see him, as I did at Liverpool. To dear Miss K . . . give my true christian love also. A little communication with her is also so pleasant. I hope dear . . . . still continues well.
I am sure it is desirable for the soul to enquire after heaven from the Scriptures, to be musing on the notions which they give us of what it is--to cherish them in our hearts, and turn them over in our thoughts. How far, my dear sister, does the imagination hinder or help this? But we want every help to make our religion a religion of delight and of affection, so as to counteract the strong currents of natural delights and desires.
Dear Mrs . . . . . was very welcome in the midst of us, and many have lamented her departure.
The Lord be with your spirit, and believe me,
Ever your affectionate brother,
J. G. B.
Had I even Simeon's righteousness, piety, revelations, and every gift he possessed, I would, with him, (Luke 2: 25-32,) willingly forget and forsake them, living or dying, in order to exchange them for the child Jesus--Israel's only consolation. It is matter of astonishment, adoration, and delight to see how the Lord can induce us to let everything go--every thing appears so frivolous, unsatisfying, trifling, and superficial--even good and spiritual things which formerly gave much gratification, and of which we were so tenacious, but which for that very reason served only to interpose between us and God, and were injurious because they were held so fast. Jesus alone is sufficient, but yet insufficient, when He is not wholly and solely embraced.
O what a treasure it is to set aside all spiritual light and the gifts of grace in order solely to know that God is what He is! It is indeed eternal life to know Him. The desire of men to know much, even in spiritual things, is a powerful proof that they know not God in reality.
April 8, 1844.
It has given me much unfeigned pleasure, my beloved sister, to hear now and again through dear . . . . of the sustaining hand of our heavenly Father towards you and dear Harriet. Indeed I may well assure myself that this day of visitation to you is far from what nature would desire; that it touches your heart in some of its most tender affections. But I think I can say for myself that I am increasingly rejoicing in the dear elect ones of God during their journey here; for the darkness is so thick around, the abominations will so multiply, and the distracted state of those who are to be together for ever with the Lord is so apparently without remedy here, that it becomes, beloved, increasingly easy to consent to part with our dear ones in this way. We have lately taken leave of three or four sisters, sweetly finishing their course in the blessed peace of God. And it is not too much to say, that in spirit we may have happier communion with them that are gone than those that remain, for faith sees them, delivered from all that clouded or hindered here, resting and waiting with Jesus for the day of the glory. "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." How precious those words of the servant following his Lord who had before said, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." And a countless multitude are already gathered who have found it far better to have departed to be with Him. Dear Harriet, she is strengthening her brethren by witnessing the good hand of her heavenly Father upon her in the hour of nature's weakness. You know what dear Mrs. Graham said to her daughter, just as the dear child's spirit was leaving its tabernacle: "I wish you joy, my darling." How blessed an utterance that was. Give my christian love to your dear mother--may she be abundantly comforted--and love to dear Harriet herself from my Mary and me. The Lord be praised because of His grace towards her; and believe me, beloved sister,
Ever yours affectionately,
J. G. B.
How pleasant to me is the remembrance of my little visits to your sofa five years ago. Dear Sir Christopher was about that time finishing his course.
"Part of the host have crossed the flood,
And part are crossing now."
October 19, 1844.
The Lord bless you, my dear, dear sister, and if called on to take the journey somewhat more solitarily than your heart had been wont to count upon, and to know sorrows which had not come within the range of your forebodings, may His hand be with you and its well known staff. "God is His own interpreter." There is no providence by which He deals with us, that He will not interpret by and by, nor is there any promise by which He sustains and comforts, that He will not abundantly make good. There is nothing excessive in the divine descriptions. The spirit of revelation is surely under and not over the mark, though the promises are "exceeding great and precious," and the reality will rather be according to the confession of the Queen of Sheba, "the half was not told me, it was a true report which I heard in my own land." How beautifully does Luke 1 rise upon the heart, in connection with this. It has just struck me very peculiarly. I read it like a new scene of light and joy breaking in after a gloomy and wasted interval and exceeding all that had been in the earlier days or that had been promised by the prophets. There had been most surely a return from Babylon in the times of Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, and they were good times; the zeal of the servants of God, the restoration of the house and the city, the revival feasts, and the order and services of the people, made them so. But such times had been clouded. The day was overcast, yea, while it was yet but morning, a change had come, and Malachi gives us an evil account of his time, in which condition, with a bright promise to the remnant, Israel goes on till the times of the New Testament, a dreary and evil interval indeed, without one single ray as from the light of the Lord or the spirit of revelation to animate or cheer it. But though it tarry, wait for it, it will surely come, and come with a bright witness. For such is this exquisite chapter. The morning breaks. The heavens are opened as it were, and the dreary wastes of Israel are revisited. And as in the twinkling of an eye all this takes place. No special harbingers, no marvellous notices, of the coming change; but the priest is at the accustomed altar, and the people in their places according to the manner, and in the ordinary current of everyday life; the women of the land were preparing for espousals (verse 27) when suddenly the heavens open, and visitations are made alike to the temple and the cottage, to the priest and the poor unknown virgin of Nazareth.
The suddenness and the brilliancy of all this is very blessed. And how it tells us, beloved sister, that the distance of heaven from earth is nothing, when the due season comes for bringing them into communion. The ladder is a short one that will reach from heaven to earth by and by. And in this chapter we get a sight of it for a moment, or a sample of some of its happy services. Here the angels of God are ascending and descending. Gabriel enters, without wrong, into the place of the priests, and stands even at the right side of the altar. He does not take the high style of the Angel-Jehovah, and ascend in its flame; nor does he, like Jesus-Jehovah, speak of himself as greater than that temple, but being a heavenly one he enters without trespass upon the place of the priest. But so does he enter without reluctance into the place of the poor unknown Nazarene. The earth may not be so prepared to receive such visitations, as heaven is to make them, but Gabriel has for both Zechariah and Mary the same healing and gladdening word "fear not." And joy, the most satisfying joy, diffuses itself everywhere, old men and maidens, young men and children, join in the millennial dance; Mary, and Elizabeth, and the child in the womb, and Zachariah, in their several ways attest their joy, and in principle all creation is lighted up in gladness. Here is more than earlier days had known, or voices of prophets foretold. Ezra and Nehemiah had never had such days of heaven upon earth as these, nor had Malachi told the remnant of such tastes of soul-satisfying joy as Elizabeth had when she saluted Mary, and as Mary had when she uttered her song of praise. He had indeed said that they that feared the Lord spake often one to another and thought on His name together, but now in the hearts and on the lips of such a remnant the gladdening light of the Spirit is shed, and the triumphant strains of the Spirit are poured forth. And the suddenness, dear sister, as well as the brilliancy of all this! Who was calculating on a bit of all this the day before? And then the ease with which heaven visits the earth when the due time comes. No reserve in coming side by side with the highest; no reluctance in coming side by side with the poorest and meanest. The ladder stretches its ample foot across the length and breadth of the land, and down to every point of it "abundant entrance" is administered to the angels in the heavens above. All these features of this communion attract me, dear sister. Would that the soul could wait more in the joy and patience of faith for the great original of all this, for that millennial day, when the ladder shall thus be raised, and the heavens after this pattern shall open on the earth again, when the passage downward shall be thus in full ease and brilliancy again, and if the receivers of the joy that is brought be made so happy by it, what shall be the happiness of them who bear it to them, and who in their measure shall experience the divine prerogative, and know that "it is more blessed to give than to receive." May your heart greatly rejoice, dear sister. He will interpret the doings of His hand, and will outdo the sayings and promises of His prophets. May He graciously hold you up while you are passing the dreary interval. I have not heard from dear sister . . . . for some time. Tell her so, with my love in the Lord, and give the same to dear Mr. N. and his house, the . . . . and others.
Our sisters are again at Clifton, and we were obliged to bring our Johnny to the country this summer, and the change has been of more service than all medicines. I have seen dear Mrs. . . . . occasionally, but she speaks now of very soon leaving Ireland. With Mr . . . . . I continue to have full and unreserved communion; and how painful to think that this should not be the general rule, but the exception. But so it is. Partition walls are thrown up, as well as veils cast over, by the god of this world, where the blood of Jesus and the Spirit of grace would throw down and rend. Accept my dear Mary's love, and ours unitedly also for dear mother if with you. Farewell, my dear sister, the Lord greatly bless and sustain and refresh your spirit. I do not ask you to write, but I doubt not dear sister . . . . will let me hear about you and herself and others. May the assurance of His love fill your heart. No one thought more blessed than that. It is so precious that the Holy Ghost makes it of His special service to impart that assurance to the heart. (Rom. 5) May you abound in hope also longing as for the morning.
He has gathered many and will go on.
"Part of the host have crossed the flood
And part are crossing now."
And believe me, in unfeigned love,
Your brother in Jesus,
J. G. B.
May 10, 1845.
I have been waiting from day to day, my loved sister, in hopes of sending you a little book entitled "Heaven and earth," which the brethren in London have printed, as it might remind you of a letter which about twelve months ago passed between us on some of the chapters in Genesis. But as yet we have received no copies of it in Dublin, so that I am determined not to wait any longer. We had a copy of L. S.'s narrative sent to us, and a happy, affecting account it was indeed of the servant's confidence in his Lord, and the Lord's ready and sure care of His servant. In a more lively manner it reminded us of Paul in the Mediterranean than anything I ever read.
How sure I am of the sense of the loss of your dear Harriet. The Lord make it up to you in Himself, for that alone can. A dear sister, lately dying, said, that at times she found such joy in the thought of Christ, that she was compelled to leave off thinking of Him. And then when another said to her, "and what, dear Ann, do you then think of?" "Nothing," she said. I thought that answer was very blessed, and evidenced the reality of the previous precious experience. Your dear doctor, when last you wrote to me, had also fallen asleep. Lord C . . . . wrote to me about it, that the scene was most edifying, and by faith he was able to treat death as nobody. You do not mention dear . . . ., and I should be glad to hear of her, if not from her, for her remembrance is very pleasant to me. When I was in England it would have been unfeigned joy to me to have gone on to Exeter, and seen you and others; but I did not know that it was my path to be among the brethren in Devonshire. The Lord direct our hearts into the deeper affections of the Spirit, that we may be ashamed to think of union save in His truth and bowels, and afraid to pursue any enquiry or seek any knowledge apart from the power of communion with Himself. I saw Mrs. . . . . this day, and told her that I was going to write to you. Till your letter came I did not know who it was that knocked at our door to ask for her address. Her dear uncle is well, and still kind as ever, and she expects her mother here in the summer. Give our united love to your dear mother and dear . . . . How I remember my visits to you in 1839. Love in the Lord also to dear . . . . and others. I make you a present of the enclosed little MS., but I hold you my debtor in a letter, when desire and power to write be present with you. The Lord be with thy spirit, my loved sister,
And believe me, etc.,
J. G. B.
The lines in Psalm 42: 5 are very tender, and sweet, and soothing.
June 5, 1845.
I cordially welcomed again a little pencil letter some two or three months since, my dear, dear sister--for the remembrance of our little seasons together, the assurance and experience of our union and fellowship in the Lord, and the sense of the peculiar dealing of His hand with you, all help to bring the heart and the living recurrences of the mind to you. And I was glad also to hear of others around you, and with full unfeignedness you will give my love to them, and dear . . . . whom I so well remember as my companion from Exeter to Countess Weir. I did not see your brother Henry, and I suppose long ere this he has left Dublin. Mrs. . . . . is now with her dear mother in London, I suppose to remain also for some further time. Our weather has become intensely hot, and I rather think a good deal of sickness is abroad. I wonder, does it suit you, dear sister? But, surely, as you say, under all the Father's discipline, the Lord Jesus sits by your side. As a dear soul said to me at Bath, "He does not send the rod, Sir, but brings it."