The Profit of the Furnace
Dear friend in the furnace,
I was sorry to hear at Grove that you were so poorly that you could not get out to the meeting, nor come over to Grove to see us. I hope that you are better. I should be glad to hear that you were well, both in soul and body, if it were the will of God, to which we must submit, though we often rebel and resist His will in trouble. He is God, and will maintain His government, be our wills ever so perverse; and it is right that He should, and make us bow to it too. God cannot do wrong; He is a Rock; His ways are perfect, and without iniquity or crookedness. I wish, if your affliction must abide, that Christ may show you that He sits at the furnace in love, to see that you are not hurt thereby, but melted down into gratitude and love to Him that says, “When thou passest through the fire, I will be with thee; no evil shall come nigh thee, nor plague touch thy dwelling.” A sanctified furnace is better than unhallowed prosperity, many a soul-humbling lesson has been learned therein. “The more they were afflicted, the more they grew.” It is said that the more the palm-tree is loaded, the more uprightly it grows; the more true faith is pressed, the gaster hold it will take: “Thou He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” It is God’s work in the soul, both as Author and Finisher; therefore it cannot die, nor yet sink, though there be a needs be for it to be tried. He that gives it will keep it alive, though but like a spark in the beacon. While Christ is full, supplies cannot fail; while God the Spirit stands engaged to take the things of Christ and show them to us, the work must go on. If it depended more or less on us, we might, we must be overcome. But God, who has called you, is faithful, “who also will do it;” that is, what He has promised never to leave, but keep and supply every need, according to His riches in glory, by Christ Jesus.
But you may say that there were never was such a poor wretch as you. All God’s children are as poor, as weak, and as vile; for not one of them has any thing from self but sin. The more sensible we are of our vileness, and humbled under it, the better; for then the complaint cannot come against us: “Thou sayest, I am rich, increased in goods, and have need of nothing;” for we need all things which God, as a God of grace, can give to save the soul, to keep by the way, to work in us to will and to do, to bear the cross, to submit to trouble, to quicken when doll, to give a spirit of prayer, to answer the same, to help to praise Him for it when enjoyed, to trust His providence, to trace His hand, and to give us glory at last.
I wish, friend, that you may not be discouraged at the things you are called to pass through, as Christ has said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation; but in me ye shall have peace.” It is the way; it must be so. God hath settled these things before they come to us, and orders them when they do come. That they all may have a tendency to lead you to live more out of self and in Christ, is my desire. “Be thou faithful unto death,” and the crown of life will make amends for all which you have passed through here. May God help you to say, “The Lord is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever,” and you will not take harm. Peace and truth be with you, in the love of God, the grace of Christ, and the communion of the Holy Spirit.
So prays, yours in love,
Leicester, June 14, 1822.