May 22, 1798.
Dear Father in Christ Jesus, Grace and Peace be multiplied through our great Mediator.
I HAVE no doubt but in thy .present declining state thou findest thyself awkward and unpleasant in thy mind respecting the chapel, and the supply of it, at la. But the presence of God was not confined to the house which Solomon built, much less to Mr. G's building. God in gospel days has no palace, no temple made by human hands. The bodies of his saints are the temples of the living God. With the broken and contrite heart he will for ever dwell; and to revive the spirit of the humble, and the heart of the contrite, he will most surely manifest himself. Christ dwells in the heart by faith, and wherever there is a hope of future happiness, there is Christ to the world's end.
The building of that chapel astonished us all at first; we could only look on and wonder, but knew not what motive could move the fabricator; for nothing appeared at the opening of it but this, "Come and see my zeal for the Lord." To beat him off from that, a messenger of Satan was sent to buffet him, lest he should be exalted above measure: this brought him at first, for a little while, as it did Solomon, to go about and cause his heart to despair of all the works that he hath taken under the sun, knowing that building the temple could merit nothing. But Solomon got rid of his melancholy by the fear of the Lord; and Paul got succour under Satan's buffeting by prayer. But Saul got ease under the devil's buffetings by a tune on David's harp; and our friend has charmed his by those who are as a very lovely song, and have a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument, Ezek. xxxiii. 31, 32. But this is not casting the devil out, but giving him undisturbed possession of the palace, with all his goods in peace. Satan, having gained this, has obtained his point. All the time Satan scuffled our friend could not feed on human applause; but now the dispute is settled, the more preachers he gets to see his zeal for God, the more he is commended for his works; on this sweet morsel he feeds, and this is the daily reward of all his labours. The works are to be seen of men; "Verily I say unto you they have their reward." And thou wilt see in time what the labour of this mountain will bring forth. "We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind, we have wrought no deliverance in the earth." All real religion, my father, must lie between the Lord Jesus and our own consciences; and reading, meditating, praying, and bearing a daily cross, will, under the mercy of God in Christ, keep this up, though outward means are attended with no dew, nor the soul fed either with knowledge or understanding. "When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will pour water on him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground." This is the promise: nor will God be unmindful of his word, nor unfaithful to it. Tender my kind respects to your spouse, and to Mr. B. and accept the same, from your willing and affectionate servant in Christ Jesus,