To the pelican of the wilderness and the owl of the desert, grace, mercy, and peace be multiplied from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. These are days when, I suppose, the word of the Lord by his servant begins to be precious. Thou hast been a close follower of me to this day, and I believe art joined to me in heart and affection, though I have, as yet, brought you no farther than the wilderness of Sin. The promised land lies, by the appointment of God, beyond the river Jordan. Thither our Forerunner is for us entered, but not before he had tasted of the wilderness and desert. It is equally the appointment of God that we should have the same passage; but, like the Israelites of old, you cannot bear the wilderness that leads into it, and I know of no one that ever could. There is nothing therein that comforts, delights, or satisfies. Perverseness, rebellion, pride, and unbelief have abundance of exercise; but these things must all be felt before they can be complained of, and complained of before they can be relieved. "Call upon me," saith God, in the time of trouble, I will deliver thee." But herein we are deficient; we are vexed, harassed, afflicted, tormented, but do not oftentimes find in our hearts to call. This, like everything else, must be his own work, and as such, sooner or later, must appear. "They shall call upon my name, and I will hear them." It is he that does it. By his own Spirit he declares to us his name. His name is in Jesus Christ; there he has put it. In him he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great mercy, but till he has made this manifest, he is felt as the direct contrary; not gracious, but a debtor to us; not merciful, but hard; not slow to anger, but burning with wrath; not of great mercy, but severe and implacable. When his name appears, we find we can draw near to him; for by the Spirit we have access to the Father through Jesus Christ. The sinner is then encouraged to deal boldly with him; but you are fast bound in unbelief, and encompassed in darkness, fearful, doubting, and distrusting; your sins cause your heart to fail; self-righteousness cleaves close to you. You are not yet come to the very last mite. The adversary is yet in the way with you, and an adversary this righteous law will always be, till we have nothing to pay, and then there is a Surety provided, that we be not cast into prison, and there die and rot without recovery.
But you have been many years establishing yourself in a form of righteousness out of your own stock, and have had a long course of working for God. Self has been highly esteemed in your own eyes; and this is not easily put down nor done away. Such foundations and such buildings are so strongly rooted and fastened in the flesh that it requires a strong hand and a long time to demolish them. And this I think is the reason why poor Goody is tumbled about so much in the mud and mire. Wouldst thou fly away towards heaven? Remember that thy wings must be covered with silver and thy feathers with gold. The dross and tin must be purged away. The work is indeed great, but I believe will, in God's own time, be accomplished. Wait then upon him; he has encouraged us to do so, and he has declared we shall. The isles shall wait for his law. And there are those who having done so, have cried, "Lo, this is our God, we have waited for him!" The isles, mind that; not the firm land, but the isles, those that are cut off from strength and stability, and are exposed to the waves and billows of the sea, encompassed by them on every side. These isles shall wait. I believe God is cutting you off, and beating upon you; but you have not yet had enough of it. Can you read this and understand it?
W. J. BROOK.