A Conquered Rebel

Dear Friend,

I hope this will find you in the sweet enjoyment of the love and favour of a covenant God, which alone is worth living for. As for myself, I must say, that the days of darkness are many; long nights, with short intervals of light, I appear destined to have. But these things teach me that it is not my hold of Him that preserves me, but his paternal love alone which secures me first and last. My parent's arms, and not my own, are what hold me fast. I often wonder when I find my soul following hard after him through such mazes, and contradictious, and terrible mortifications. Give up I cannot, though wearied I am, and still press on I must, for I feel the exhortation of Christ stick by me, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate." O what strivings of soul and longings of heart there are at times in the bosom of an elect sinner to draw near to the strait gate; but how sweet it is to enter in and find a Saviour able to save a hell-deserving sinner to the "very uttermost." O! that "very uttermost" has been a sweet word to my sinking heart many times. "The exceeding riches of his grace;" "the exceeding greatness of his power;" "the deep that coucheth beneath;" "underneath are the everlasting arms;" "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and for ever;" "I am the Lord, I change not" - on these immortal, immoveable fixtures, rests my hope of enduring unto the end. If these could fail, I should soon be in the state of the damned in hell; but, blessed be God, this is a sure foundation. I have tried it again and again, for I believe the Lord never had such a base, stubborn, obstinate, dissatisfied, rebellious wretch in all his family, and sometimes when he owns me, after some of my ungodly tricks, and persuades my heart that in spite of all I am still his child, (O my dear brother, you know something of my feelings,) it seems to me that there is not a devil nor a lost soul in hell that is half so black or so unworthy of the notice of God, much more of his everlasting love. This is a path no Arminian nor Antinomian ever trod, for they cannot conceive how such a soul can hate sin, and at the same time believe it will never damn him. No, they cannot. This is one of the stumbling stones to them. But the soul that has felt His sweet kisses has the heifer to plow with. There appear to be many of the family that never had such killing sights of a slaughtered Saviour; no, they never have proved such rebels against the good hand of their Father; but with me every little denial of the thing I wanted has caused my heart to heave with that daring rebellion, that could a profound infidel look in and see it, it would shock him to the centre. And yet, after such feelings, the Lord has shown me, and I have believed, that those things I was so mad after, and which I could have wished to have, even at the expense of damnation, that the possession of them would have been to my harm, and would not have answered the purpose for which I wanted them; yet, when again in this state, I have been as bad as ever. O what long forbearance has the Lord shown to some of his Jonahs! It is well for us, my brother, that the Lord is slow to anger, or he would long ago have said, "Let the rebel have his will, I can bear with him no longer; he has worn me out, let him shift for himself; he is determined for hell, let him go." O, would it not serve us right? Could we endure such ways? No, we could not. But, blessings on his head, he has won our hearts by his love, and by his kisses brought us to sweet obedience. I do long at times to lay this vile body down, and sweetly embrace him without a clog; but there are moments when I feel his embraces. I have to travel long without feeling a ray of light, and sometimes think how my religion will stand the test of death; for my unbelief is so great, that I doubt everything, and sometimes fear I shall go to hell after all. O! this is trying work, but it is the work which I am in; it is feeling that his sweet embraces can allay my fears and satisfy my soul. I do dread the things that attend me in life, and it is when I feel his love that I long to lay me down and die in order to find eternal rest; but while I am in this life, I do hope the Lord will of his mercy preserve me from such a spirit of rebellion. Whatever be his will concerning me, a path of tribulation I do expect, but the things which make my path tribulated I do not expect, for they are of such a nature as to make me wonder whether mine is the path of the just. It seems to me that my heart opposes every step of the way the Lord leads me, and I often think that if I were led any other way, I could better see it to be a path of tribulation; but to be shut up in a cold cell, without light or a cry for it, with a hard heart and no warm desires for the communications of the Spirit; dissatisfied with the world and all that is in it; hating myself for my destitution; peevish with everything and everybody, this makes me ten times more miserable. O how I hate myself, when a feeling of this kind arises, and I beg of the Lord to seek me and bring me out of this miserable spot, for I tell him I would live to his honour, as one that is born of God; I would draw near to him with my whole heart; but O how it grieves me to come before him with no heart, no warm desires, no saying unto me, "Seek ye my face;" but I appear as one shut out from the enjoyment of the one I love. But the Lord has shown me how these are working for my good. It makes me highly prize the least warm feeling in my heart towards him, and it teaches me that every good and every favour comes to me through Jesus' blood, and no other channel, and these things touch me to the very heart, to unite with the ransomed throng, giving praise unto him that hath loved us.

Yours in much affection,

J. M. B.