Dear Hannah, — I confess I have been very negligent in not writing to you before this. I have spent some time this evening in trying to find your last letter, but I cannot find it. You are not forgotten by me. I hear by Mrs. Slee that your health is not good. Perhaps you will find it advisable to give up your place; but in all your ways acknowledge Him who has fed you hitherto, and he will direct your steps. "Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established." (Prov. 16:3) He was the end from the beginning, and is the best of "counsellors," (Isa. 9:6) and encourages us in all things, by prayer and supplications, to let our requests be made known unto God. They who are enabled to embrace his dear Son have a privilege known only to sons. He gives them power to plead with him, and his answer is a token that he accepts them in the Beloved.
I have but little time to write, for four days are occupied in procuring food for my flock. I can say that what I set before others I feed upon myself. There is no food that satisfies my soul but the Lamb of God. I thank him I know that he is an all-sufficient portion, and nothing else is.
How are you going on? Do you find refreshings from the Lord? He is everywhere; and if you find him, you are at home; you are at rest, be where you will. This world is a sea of trouble; "but in me," the Lord says, "you shall have peace." Indeed, I know it to be true; for he gives me many sweet intimations of his love, of his nearness to me, so that I walk with him in peace. Christ is the wonderful medium between the Lord and us. This is "the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory." If we look into it, it is transforming. We are changed into the same image, from glory to glory. We experience the truth of the prophet's words: "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." The Holy Spirit shows him to our enlightened understanding, and while he does this, spreads his sanctifying influences through the faculties of the soul. I consider what I was born for. I came into this world according to the determinate predestination of God. I was preserved in my state of unregeneracy by him who preserves his elect. I was called according to the determinate counsel of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. He has been with me in many changes, and has brought me through many sore trials. His end and aim is to bring me to himself. The perplexities of this world would cast me down, did I not know his well-ordered covenant, in which his love, his wisdom, his power, his care, his pity, are so conspicuously realized. I have found him, or rather he has found me, a lost sheep, but one of his, therefore known to him. He kindly supplies all my wants, and has done so in a most remarkable manner. He told me in 1805 to "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you;" and he has graciously fulfilled his holy promise.
The Lord's people are a peculiar people, and have peculiar privileges. They are not dealt with as others: "Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable and I have loved thee; therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life." (Isa. 43:4) All their mercies are special, covenant mercies from him who says, "I will be their God, and they shall be my people." Seek communion, dear Hannah, with this blessed Friend of sinners. Say unto Wisdom, which is Christ Jesus our Lord, "Thou art my sister, and call understanding thy kinswoman." Consider him in the relation of a husband to whom you are married, who has paid the immense debt which you contracted before marriage, and which he honorably paid. The Holy Spirit will, in answer to your prayers, manifest him to you; and then you will say with David, "One thing have I desired of the Lord; that will I seek after, to behold (or rather gaze upon) the beauty of the Lord."
How happy are we who can come up out of the wilderness of this world, leaning upon our Beloved.
Mr. L., one of our members, has been dead some months. He died in peace, and pleasantly disappointed the fears of some. He was laid up for a long time, that he might consider, ponder his path, and turn to the Lord; and after a dreary night the day came. The Lord will be waited upon and waited for. Be not weary. His love will warm and encourage you.
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." The sufferings of God in our nature are a wonderful mystery of love. How near are we brought to God by the death of his Son! What a true Jacob's ladder is he! What a union between God and us by that incarnate mystery. I have sweet thoughts about it at times; and when he is hidden I am not at home.
Mrs. S. is in her usual health, and has some refreshings at times; but you know how weak she is, and how low she has been brought. There is a great variety in the household of faith, — a great diversity of experience. Susan is very happy, and very lively and cheerful.
Yours, dear Hannah, in the Lord Jesus, our only Friend,
Cranbrook, July 5th, 1849. HENRY BIRCH.