Bolney, 13th January, 1803.
My dearly beloved Friends in the Lord,
I wish Grace and Peace to be with you, together with Faith and Hope, Life and Love.
As for bodily health or strength, worldly peace or prosperity, gains or profits, riches or honours, favour or affection, kindness or civil treatment from this world, let it not be once expected nor once mentioned among you, as becometh saints: for these things are not in the covenant, they are no part of the better inheritance; for these things are seen, but the great reward is not seen; these are temporal, but the portion is eternal. But is there no better reward for present services even in this life than temporal things? O yes! His favour is better than life itself, and his countenance as a cloud of the latter rain, which often distils precious drops, which serve to soften the clods, and prepare it for the reception of the word of life, which sinks down deep, and takes root after it has been made soft with showers. Let us glory in our infirmities, for these keep us from confidence in the flesh; let us glory in reproaches, for these keep us from having fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness; for he that is a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Let us triumph in our bodily afflictions, for when "the outward man decays, the inward man is renewed day by day:" and even bodily pains are intended to eject us out of this earthly house, that we may be admitted into our house that is from above; where "the inhabitants shall no more say, I am sick." And, seeing we have, such hope, what have we to fear, seeing our whole work is to cleave to Christ, to follow peace, and to endeavour to please conscience? And how can we be poor that have God for our portion? This is not our rest, because it is polluted; this is not our home nor our dwelling place; and we are called strangers, pilgrims, and wayfaring men. We know we have turned the corner, gained the summit, and are going down the hill: the valley of the shadow of death is at the bottom; then comes the river Jordan; and on the other side is the chief mountain, the fountain of life, and the everlasting hills; on the top of which this world will. look like the drop of a bucket, and all its formidable inhabitants as grasshoppers, and as the dust of a balance - less than nothing, and lighter than vanity! O my sweet ones, the joy of my heart, and the crown of my rejoicing in that day! set your hearts on this heavenly country, where we shall see our best Beloved, and enjoy each other's company and conversation for evermore. Nothing terrible; no lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall be found there; the lion's den will be far removed from the heavenly mansions; the sumptuous glutton and hungry Lazarus shall be separated by an infinite chasm, and over that gulf they shall never pass. And what is our life but a vapour? And what is our time in this world but a span long, or an handbreadth, and all the world but a bubble?
A young professing woman in this place, upon the eve of marriage, died yesterday; but our match is for ever, and in this no dissolution nor disappointment.
To James, Peg, and the piccaninny.
W. H. S.S.