Anne Dutton's Letters on Spiritual Subjects
My Dear Sister in our precious Lord Jesus,
I compassionate you in the affections of Christ; and oh, that the Lord by me would strengthen your weak hands, and say to your fearful heart, Fear not! As to the fear which abides in you, "lest you have not true faith," consider that the Lord has convinced you of your lost state by nature, of the insufficiency of your best performances to help or save you, and has revealed His dear Son in you, as the only remedy, the city of refuge, for a perishing sinner to flee unto, where only the soul can be safe. And have you fled to Christ now, or have you not? Some refuge or other your soul certainly has, else you could have no peace from your pursuers—from the curses of God's righteous law which stand in His book against sinners, from His strict justice which is out against lawbreakers, from the devil, who has the power of death, and from that fearful storm of God's vindictive wrath which in fire and brimstone and a horrible tempest is to be rained down upon the wicked at the approaching terrible day of the Lord. There is no soul that is convinced of its danger in these respects but sees that it needs a refuge, and for conscience-peace, to a refuge the soul runs.
Of refuges for sinners, there are but two—self and Christ—the man's own obedience, or the obedience of the Son of God. The refuge of self has two parts—purposed repentance and religious performance. To the first, his design to amend his ways, or to his "Lord, have mercy on me," at last the profane sinner flies, and there he hopes to be safe. To his good intentions, his prayers and alms, his knowledge and practice of God's revealed will, the pharisaical sinner runs, and there, as in his house, he rests secure and fearless of danger.
But self, the man's own obedience, in both these its parts, is a refuge of lies, a deceptive, delusive refuge. And the storm of God's indignation shall overflow this hiding place, and sweep away the miserable souls that are found therein into the abyss of endless misery. There is but one refuge more for sinners, and that is Christ, the Person and obedience of the Son of God. And this is a refuge of God's providing, and of His revealing, a safe, a sure, a complete, a glorious, an everlasting refuge. And into it every sinner that sees his need of it runs. "Oh," says such a soul, "I would not be found out of Christ for a thousand worlds." And if this is your case, my dear sister, you, even you, have fled unto Christ for refuge, and are entered into Him as your hiding-place, where you are and shall be forever safe from the wrath to come.
And the desire of your soul after Christ, you soul's motion unto and into Him as your resting-place, is true faith—the faith of the operation of God, the faith of His elect, precious faith, whether you are assured of this or not. It is one thing to have true faith, and another thing to know that the faith we have is true and saving. For though the soul cannot be without the knowledge of its own acts, that it does look to Christ as the only Savior, and flee to Him for all salvation, yet it may not know that these acts are true and saving acts of faith, because the trembling sinner, from the greatness of his sins and unworthiness, may fear that Christ will not receive and save him, and that the motions of his soul towards Christ are not true and saving faith.
And the doubting believer may think that if his faith in Christ were right, surely his love to Him would be greater, that he should have more strength against corruptions and temptations, etc. Whereas if the soul looks, if it comes, if it flees as a lost sinner to the great Savior, He will never cast out such a soul, but most certainly save it to the uttermost; and there can be no looking, coming, fleeing unto Christ that is wrong, whatever Satan and unbelief suggest. If the soul looks, if it comes, if it flees to Christ, the all-sufficient Savior, as a lost sinner, for all salvation in and through Him, the soul looks, comes, and flees unto Christ aright, and these its acts of faith are true and saving, whether it knows them to be such or not.