The Tribulatory Path
A Letter To a Friend – By John Warburton
I received your letter, and was glad to hear from you. You seem to be about the old spot, needy as ever, and not out of the reach of the gunshot of the devil; and it seems the old man is still alive, and makes you to know that he dwells in the house; and I believe he will while the tabernacle stands.
But what an unspeakable mercy, he will never trouble you after, for the kingdom that you are bound for is out of the reach of sin and the devil, ever to disturb or molest. But think not that you are to pass through this world without difficulties, both from within and from without; for the Word declares, “In the world ye
shall have tribulation;” for as sure as ever you are a partaker of Christ, you must be a partaker of his afflictions; and what a blessing; for if a partaker of his sufferings you must be of his glory. I can assure you I have not done with the path of tribulation for I find the way very rough, crooked, and thorny; and
sometimes am quite at a stand, and know not what to do, nor which way to take. For, if I look within, all is misery, sin, and wretchedness; and without, nothing but crosses and trials of every description; and if I look into the Bible, all is sealed up, and there is no access at a throne of grace.
These things, my friend, are trying work to the mind. They bring a poor soul to know his standing is not in himself, and heartily to confess it is of the Lord’s mercies he is not consumed. And what a mercy it is that his compassions fail not in the midst of all our unbelief, and the dreadful depravity of our hearts. The word is gone out of his mouth, and shall not return unto him void: “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn” (Isaiah 54:17); and, “I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known; I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16.)
My friend, what if the way is rough and crooked, we have a wonderful guide; and though we are not to go out with haste nor by flight, yet the Lord will go before us, and our God will be our rereward; and every fresh deliverance brings fresh honour to God, and fresh comfort to our souls.
I hope God will keep you (in every path you have to tread) much in prayer, for his kind hand to lead, help, guide, and protect you in all calamities, whether it is for body or soul; for there is not one cross, however painful; not one dart from hell, however dreadful; not one blow from either saint or sinner, however mortifying; not one frown from God, however discouraging; but what is guided by Infinite Wisdom, and is really needful for you to have; for, “If need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations; that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6, 7.)
My dear friend, what are our sorrows and troubles compared with the sorrows of our God and Saviour?
Look at Gethsemane’s garden. See the Son of God sweating drops of blood for such devils as you and poor me. Condemned at Pilate’s hall; led to Calvary’s cross, like a “lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth;” and there he hung till he had finished transgression, and made an end of sin; and bless his dear Name, he said, “It is finished; and bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:80.)
O that the dear Comforter may often lead you to see a soul-humbling, sin-killing, devil-conquering, world-vanquishing, heart-ravishing, and God-glorifying sight.
My friend, when we get here, what are our troubles?
They are light afflictions indeed, which are but for a moment. You have been favoured with this sight, and you know a little what it is; and, bless the Lord, he will favour you with it again; for he that has delivered, doth deliver, and will yet deliver.
Be strong, then, in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, for “God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” out of his fulness; and very soon we shall have done with this miserable world, and be for ever with the Lord.
I must tell you I am not offended with your writing, but am thankful for every letter you send. Be so kind as to give my love to Mr. B_____, and tell him we have received the ______, and it gives very good satisfaction.
Next week I leave Trowbridge for Manchester, and, perhaps, may be two or three months before I get home again.
Yours in love,
Trowbridge, May 12th, 1819.