A Letter from the Late Daniel Herbert
I duly received your kind letter, which I must confess I felt myself at a loss to answer in any way congenial to the feelings of my mind; but as you, my dear Sir, wish me to write unreservedly, I shall avail myself of your injunction. Know then, my kind friend, that the very morning on which I received your favour, I had secreted myself in an out-house, and was pouring out my soul, where no eye could see and no ear could hear but my heavenly Father. I was praying in the language of the poor Canaanitish woman, "Lord, help me," and I was favoured with such sweet nearness and sensible communion with my precious Jesus that I was led to cry, "O my God, I know thou wilt do something for me." I felt persuaded that help would come, but from whence or from whom I could form no idea. But O, what shall I say? when I returned to my little room, I that instant received your letter, the perusal of which filled my soul so full of what I call sweet gratitude that I was glad to unload my soul with the luxury of a tear. Charge me not with weakness; I so evidently saw my Father's kind hand in leading you and others to such an act of benevolence to a poor forlorn old stranger, that I am ,convinced of the truth of your remark, that it is God that dictates, and God that answers. It is God who appoints the means, and God who makes the means to answer his designs; and the same God who gives grace will crown that grace with glory. I most sincerely thank you, my dear Sir, and others of my kind friends, but have no returns to make except my prayers and good wishes; yet I dare say that verily you will have your reward. If you ask me how and when, I answer that, though I. am no merit-monger, I firmly believe that every act under the immediate influence of the eternal 'Spirit of God will be had in everlasting remembrance, and that your kindness to me will be acknowledged at that day when you shall hear the adorable Jesus say unto you, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry, and ye gave me meat, I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink, I was a stranger, and ye took me in." And you will be led to ask, "Lord, when did I do all this?" And what will be the answer? " Inasmuch as ye did it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me." I think you will allow that God can never forget his own work, and that it was the work of God to go down, even to S— to raise me up. Surely it is the Lord's doing, and I know my S—, has done it. While I write, I am thinking that it is more than probable that my friends sometimes say one to another, "I wonder what this old H— was, and what he is now." O my dear friends, to give you but an epitome of my chequered life would tire me to write it, and tire you much more to read it; suffice it, therefore, if I just drop you a hint. In my early days I was led to know that Christ was the Saviour, and I a sinner. When about twenty years of age I went to London, where I lost all my religion, except that immortal seed which God had sown in my heart, like the well of water springing up into eternal life. After I left London, I married and settled in business, and was prosperous for many years, until my proud heart began to boast of independence, and then God sent leanness into my soul. And O what a bargain! In the time of my prosperity, pretended friends buzzed about like bees in summer; but alas! I found the friends of the world to be like summer brooks, dried up when I most needed them. But perhaps, my dear Sir, you are ready to say, How do you live now? Ask the dear prophet Elijah how he lived when his brook dried up, and when be was forced to ask the poor widow for a draught of water and a morsel of bread; and she, nearly as poor as himself, answered, "As the Lord liveth, I have but a handful of meal in a barrel, and a small cruise of oil;" yet this, with God's blessing, was enough. Just so with me; my little stock of meal and oil has not totally failed to this day. And though my God has been pleased to pull me down from prosperity to adversity, yet the Lord has enabled me to rejoice in tribulation, and to bless him for the cross. And why? perhaps you will ask. Because I now experience the joy of trusting in him, and living upon him; now I can see his hand in all the blessings I receive from day to day; and I most sweetly see it in the kind remembrance of me by my friends at S—. Besides all this, I can bless my God for enabling me to say, "I know in whom I have believed;" "I know my Redeemer liveth." I know the Son of God has come; I know what he has come for; I know he has finished transgression and made an end of sin; I know he has paid my ransom price, and has made my salvation as secure as the throne of Jehovah.
I hope I have said enough to enable you to see how it is with me. There are many things which. I could wish to inform you of, but I must forbear, as I fear I have already tired you with my long, unpolished epistle. I have nothing to do with the world, and the world has nothing to do with me. With the professors of the world, especially those of my own town, I have very little correspondence. I am a kind of outcast among them, because I have for many years endeavoured to exalt a precious Christ, and, in their estimation, to sink the sinner too low.
I must now conclude, and I cannot do it more congenially with the feelings of my own heart than by wishing you Aaron's sweet benediction; "The Lord bless thee and keep thee; the Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and be merciful unto thee; the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace." - I am, with real Christian affection, yours in eternal bonds,
Sudbury Suffolk, 1828.