MY DEAR FRIEND, — Almost ever since I received your kind letter I have been looking for an opportunity to write to you, but sickness in my family, and sickness and death among my friends have hitherto prevented....God's people must bear a cross, and my desire is to have one of the most blessed marks of a Christian, — grace to bear it meekly, and to profit by it. It is even sweet when one can hope that the Lord will purge one's tin and dross by the afflictions. There is a needs be — of that I am persuaded — for all the trials, crosses, and burdens it pleases the Lord to exercise us with. Sometimes my wonder is that the burden is so light. I see such a foundation in my wicked nature for chastisement, and feel thus, if I am so barren, wayward, and foolish with a cross and a weight, what should I be without? Mr. Hart's words have been a comfort to me:
"Know, whom the Saviour favours much,
Their faults he oft reproves;
He takes peculiar care of such,
And chastens whom he loves."
And also a short petition in that precious little book of the late Mrs. Benson's, 'Footsteps of Mercy:' 'Never leave off to be a reprover in my heart.' O that he should, that he will, so to speak, take such pains with a wayward, unbelieving sinner, as to correct him, tell him his faults, reprove him for his sins, and over and over again condescend to show him the way of life! It is painful, but blessed work. 'Is this the manner of man, O Lord God? Then went David in, and sat before the Lord, and said, Who am I, O Lord God?' Such feelings my soul has had at times lately. It is good when afflictions meeken, humble, chasten, and make tender the spirit:
"Soften the heart by due degrees,
And make the spirit meek."
I am distressed at times by many fears of what may be in the future for me, but for the last two days David's language has been in my mind, 'I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it.' O that that might more and more be my feeling! 'Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?' According to the scriptures, he is a happy man whom God correcteth, and it is indeed blessed when we are taught to 'hear the rod, and who hath appointed it.' Since I last wrote to you my soul has been visited and favored. The day before Christmas Day I was in a very sad state of feeling, and walking up and down my room in much felt misery, when Phil. 3:8, 9, came to me with much sweetness and efficacy, and immediately I was overcome, and said, O Lord, is all this looking within, and misery because I cannot find any good, an opposition to Christ's righteousness? Then an entire going out, so to speak, of wretched, sinful self unto and into Christ's righteousness followed. O how real and sweet is the rest of the weary soul in Incarnate Deity! 'We which do believe have entered into rest.' My soul obeyed the invitation, 'Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' Just before this I had felt Isaiah 55:7 and 1:18 to be very suitable to me, who had no marks of grace to show. How full, sweet, and suitable is the word of God; how low it comes. I feel now more than ever, that my poor soul must again and again come in, as needy, naked, and undone, not as having a good, large or deep experience, but as a sensible, wounded, lost sinner, without a raft, plank or even a straw to hold on to. But how hard this is, to be receiving strength, and yet be always weak; to possess grace, and yet be poor and needy; to possess nothing, and yet have all things; to possess all things, and yet be very poor, so poor as to beg mercy every hour. Here Christ becomes 'more precious than fine gold, even than the golden wedge of Ophir.' O who can describe his glories, especially the glories of redemption!
On the first Sabbath of this month I went to the ordinance praying for a broken heart, and my petition was, I hope I may say, answered. That was a good word, 'Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.' It is, it is sweet to mourn for him, to see him weltering in blood, agonizing in death, groaning under the hidings of his Father's face. It is blessed to feel him ministering to our needy souls:
"He to the needy and the faint
His mighty aid makes known;
And when our languid life is spent,
Supplies it with his own."
He gives life out of his own abundant fullness; he puts forth his Almighty power; at times I am ready to say,
Blessed be his name, 'he came not to be ministered unto;' if he did as a condition of salvation, woe, woe to me. But O the heart- melting feeling of the Son of God in human flesh ministering life, grace, healing, comfort, strength, and mercy with his own gracious hands to such poor sinners! And when unbelief, carnal reason, and Satan would combine to make the soul put all away, he shines with glorious rays upon the benighted heart, and speaks with sweet overcoming power. . . . O the glorious scars of which Mr. Hart speaks! What peace, healing, and satisfaction they bring into the soul; through them the soul goes in and sits before the Lord; through them the soul sees rays of divine glory; in them infinite justice is fully satisfied, God is well-pleased, the law is magnified and made honorable. They are the satisfaction of eternal Deity, the life, healing, peace, and comfort of the church. I wonder not, my dear friend, at the answer the church gave to the question, 'What is thy Beloved more than another beloved? My Beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely.'
J. K. POPHAM.