John Kay - To a Friend in Deep Soul Trouble
My dear Friend,
Being left by myself, (brother T— having gone this morning,) I am induced to pass a trifle of time in writing a line to you in memory of our affection, and out of sympathy and love towards you in the hurricane you have been passing under. Depend upon it, my friend, we shall all find it, as we advance onward in life, a serious and dreadful thing to be supernaturally religious; a serious and dreadful thing to the flesh. The whirlwinds and hurricanes loosen the pins that fasten our first Adam tent; they scale off some of the moss that grows over the walks of our mind.
Let not any one comfort you with false comfort. Let the wounds lie open. When God lays open our wounds, and keeps them raw, the effects are admirable. Now all men, bad and good, cry "peace" when God attacks us; but this, my friend, is not the way. "If we endure chastisement" is the word. Stand fast, my beloved! do not let the false doctors cure you with their "old wives' fables." Say like our brother David of old, "But if he thus say, I have no delight in thee, behold, here am I; let him do to me as seemeth good unto him!" (2 Sam. xv. 26.) I can assure you that I have nearly as good as told God, before now, to strike me dead on the spot if I were not a good man. This brings to bear the doctrines of election and reprobation; the immutability of God; the excellence of his perfections; the glory of his character; and the nobleness of his decrees! For God will not cast away a perfect man finally. (Job viii. 2O.) No. But he will cast away all paper-made, chaffy Christians; for "the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous." (Ps. i. 6.) O my God! these things, through grace, cure us of our presumption. These things, through grace, make us seek the breasts of true consolation. These things make us stand fast. For to subvert a man in his cause the Lord approveth not. (Lam. iii. 36.) The excellent medicines God is giving you will work well. If you are a hypocrite, you have a better opinion of God than to wish him to accept you. And though you have, as I have, loads of hypocrisy cleaving to you; yet if you have one serene ray of true godliness, it will glimmer through the rubbish and revive you. "As for God, his work is perfect." The doctrine of election cuts deep when personally applied. O what scum we have that wants taking off us! O what villany of double-mindedness we have! O what worldly maxims left! O what slow scholars we are! We are handy at evil, and awkward towards good! We love the shell of religion, but we hate the juice and kernel of it. We love to trifle with God, but we do not love to come to points with him. We love to be in a mist, but we shrink at the open sunshine. What devils we are. We are in and out, off and on, anything or nothing; carrying two faces, loving two masters, loving free will and Divine sovereignty, adoring self and God, squinting at self and peeping at Him! We are a mass of contradictions, contraries, and odds and ends!
O my dear friend! I have found afflictions good for me; they have skinned me alive; for we are, in some degree, all wolves in sheep's clothing. May God rip the skin off us! but I expect it will smart. But it is better to get to heaven with one eye, than having two to reach hell. The doubleness of our eye is cleansed by affliction. May God bless you! May he induce you to ask, "Is there not a cause?" may he enable you to be faithful in the lessons God thus, like iron, screws into you in your trial! May equity characterize your walk with God more when you come out of the furnace! What peace is melted thus into us through the furnace of affliction! May God charm your mind with the superiority of heaven to earth! May beauty anti gladness be the result. of your being thus thrown in the dust! O my friend! we have little idea What God has laid up for us; what goodness, what joy! This affliction will cleanse your eyes to see more of it. Humility will be increased. Earthly-mindedness, with its leaden weight of magic, alluring charms, and dizzying brightness, will be more thrown off. The King will shine more in his brightness beyond the grave to you, and you will pluck the garland from the jaws of ruin
But let no one skin over your wound to heal slightly, my friend.
Abingdon, March 3, 1841.