A Letter from the Late Henry Fowler - 1833
My dear Sister in our common Lord,
Mercy and love be on you and yours. I have this day been informed, by Mr. H_, of the death of your son, who was with him. It is with heartfelt pleasure I learn that he died in the Lord; blessed are the dead that so die. Weep not, my dear friend, but rather rejoice that your loss is his gain, and that ere long that voice which called us by his grace will say to us, "Come up to me!" I remember that you said to me, at our last parting walk, that you often doubted whether you were the Lord's. I confess that you surprised me. I had not the least doubt of the truth of your religion, though I have had reason to doubt the reality of my own. But what a mercy it is that our thoughts alter not our state before God. That was settled by him before we were capable of acting or thinking, "before the mountains were settled, or the hills established;" and time's changes cannot alter eternal settlements. We were dear in his eyes then, or he had never endeared himself to us by so many love-tokens, nor ever sealed home full redemption upon our hearts, even the full pardon of all our sins, past, present, and to come. We groan, being burdened with sin; we feel its sad influence to be a frequent bar to our communion, and often exclaim, "O wretched man! Who shall deliver me?" This is part of our tribulation, ordained by our God to keep us little in our own eyes, and to make us sensible of the need of invincible grace to keep us every moment. God's silver must go into the refining pot, that the dross may be first discovered, and then separated, that there may come forth a vessel for the refiner. "He sitteth as a refiner and purifier of silver;" nor will he suffer his elect to remain in this or that trial longer than he sees really necessary. Israel had their time of trial in Egypt, and after that in Babylon; but God, according to his promise, brought them out with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm. The dispensations of providence and the contradictions that we feel within, often puzzle us, and confound our reason, and, for a season, bring us to a dead stand, nor have we true relief till we are favoured to see the salvation of the Lord. This is a reconciling sight to a poor, weary pilgrim, and he then would not have one thing altered, but can bless the Almighty for both the rod and the staff. But even in that land of Goshen we must not continue; it is our inn for refreshment and repose, but not our home. "This is not your rest; for it is polluted." Long repose and much divine indulgence would transform each into a Jeshurun. "But Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation."
I have, my dear friend, been more than thirty-five years in the divine life, but find I am a very dull scholar. What I seem to have well learned by much labour and sorrow, I am apt to forget again; and, as is usual with masters in earthly schools, my master puts me back again to rehearse and practise my first rules, to my no small mortification.
I doubt not that you have heard of my poor state of health. I cannot say I am yet recovered, though I hope I am somewhat better. A disorder in my head, the want of circulation in my legs and feet, a wretched heart, and the burdens of Zion, altogether form a burden under which nothing less than Omnipotent arms can sustain me. But, blessed be God! he has not left me without some sweet tokens of his everlasting love to me, which assure my heart that I shall be with the Lamb on Mount Zion at last, to behold his glory. In your present trial, my poor prayers are gone up to the throne for you, that the God of all grace may favour you with every Christ-exalting grace of the Holy Spirit, and that you may have abundant reason to say, "He hath done all things well." Peace be with you. Yours, for Christ's sake,