Nov. 12, 1807,
I WAS astonished beyond measure to hear of the calamity which called you from Leicester. I thought of the fire falling upon Job's sheep and servants, and consuming all but he that bore the heavy tidings. Dame, I understand, and the children were all fled to the mountain ere the conflagration took place; and, if report be true, the presses, and other expensive apparatus, were removed from the premises which were consumed. I hope thou art insured, though. I am not. And if so, may we not say that all things work for good? for even unbelief itself has befriended you in this matter. I should be glad to have some account of your loss, and the inconvenience you have sustained.
As for myself, my Doctorship is much respected in these parts: fresh Hebrews are coming forth out of their holes; the excellent of the earth spew themselves: some come twenty, thirty, and fifty miles to hear, and by no means are they sent empty away. The flame which God first kindled in my soul extends itself both in light and heat, and will go through the land, and, like the fire on the altar of burnt offering, will never go out; and I daily see that all the sparks of blind zeal, and all the flames of eloquence and oratory, which inflame the affections of corrupt nature, die and expire before it; and my lady's men and the watermen are as much exposed as the Jewish scribes were before the Son of God. I get old, my lungs weak, and breath short: but, had I much longer to live, and strength permitted, I should greatly extend my diocese, and be somewhat like a bishop at large. The place is so crowded, that for many minutes I could. not get within the doors. But these damp places, and such a distance to walk afterwards, try my asthma and rheumatic complaints not a little. It snows now hard at Grantham. Nevertheless, I use no medicine but that of prayer: and I am embarked in such a cause, that there is no way of saving one's life but by dying in its defence. My brother cloth last Sunday sounded an alarm at church against Antinomians; but this falls upon the Holy Ghost, and he will revenge all such aspersions when he has performed his work on Mount Zion. Go where I will, I see nothing but death, except in our own line, and among the little hills, which are the daughters of Providence. They build, but God and conscience pull down; they talk and boast of fruit, but no root; they banish truth, and embrace fables; and every deceiver waxes worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
Farewell; kind love to dame, my seedsman, and Mary.
Yours in him,
W. H. S. S.