Anne Dutton's Letters on Spiritual Subjects

Dear Sister,

Grace unto you, and peace be multiplied, from God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, by the blessed Comforter.

I understand that you are exercised both with affliction of body and darkness of soul, and I sympathize with you herein. But think it not strange, my dear sister, concerning the fiery trials you meet with, as if some strange thing had happened unto you. Remember the Lord has His fire in Zion, and His furnace in Jerusalem (Isa. 31:9), to refine, not to destroy His people. God sends afflictions upon His children for their good. Sin and Satan indeed aim at our destruction herein, but God bounds their rage and overrules their malice to issue in His own glory and our salvation.

The design of Sin and Satan is the destruction of our graces as well as of our persons, and therefore they blow up the fire of affliction to the utmost, and would continue it until we are consumed. But "Hold," says the Lord, "My children are my gold, precious in my esteem, and they must pass through the fire to be refined, but not lie there until they suffer loss."

And therefore, when we are in the furnace our God sits by to see that the fire be not too hot, nor continued too long upon us, as the refiner watches his gold, manages it while in the furnace, and takes it out thence when it is fully purified. "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver." Malachi 3:3

Well, then, my dear sister, since you are one of those who are precious in the sight of the Lord you must pass through the fire of affliction, but since it is the Lord's fire, which He has appointed, which He manages, and which he will restrain at His pleasure, trust yourself in the hands of your infinitely wise and gracious Refiner and you shall come out of it both with present and eternal advantage. This affliction, as an instrument in the hand of God the Almighty agent, is at work upon you, and for you, to exercise and increase your graces here, and to prepare you for your future crown. Therefore, endure the trial, for, "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." James 1:12

But it may be you will say, "Aye, if I was sure I was one that loved God, I would patiently wait for and expect a happy outcome, but I am afraid lest I should deceive myself, deceive others, and at last come short of that rest which remains for the people of God."

As for these your fears, and ten thousand more of a like nature which may arise in your heart in a time of darkness, they are altogether groundless, and though they may rob you of your comfort they cannot rob you of your safety in Christ, nor of that inheritance which is reserved for you in Heaven. No, blessed be God, you are still just where free grace set you; God has fixed you in His Son, and laid you, by faith, upon Him, the Rock of Ages; and now your salvation stands as immovable as the rock on which it is founded. The rain may descend, the floods come, and the winds blow, all kinds of afflictions and temptations together may beat vehemently against your faith of safety in Christ, but your security in Him shall never fall, because founded upon a rock which is able to bear the greatest weights which are laid upon it, and to secure the building from all danger in the greatest stress of weather which can possibly befall it. The rock of immutability is still beneath you, and unless Christ could sink, the salvation of your soulóthat leans upon Him can never fall. You may fall as to your frames, but you can never sustain one shake as to your state. No, "The foundation God has laid in Zion is a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation, and he who believes on Him shall not be confounded" (Isa. 28:16, 1 Peter 2:6). And now, let all the objections be brought out that all the legions of devils and armies of corruptions combined can raise against the salvation of that sinner that looks unto Christ for life, and down they must fall before the grace of this promiseóGod's word shall stand, to the eternal salvation of that soul and the confusion of all its enemies!

Into His arms I commit you, earnestly desiring that happy morning of Divine favor which shall arise upon your soul when the short night of your present weeping is over; Christ will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and "your joy shall no man take from you." And meanwhile, though clouds and darkness cover you, commotions and tempests shake your mind, yet all is clear as to your state in the upper region of Christ's love!