Church Street, Paddington, 1797.
THY kind and affectionate epistle came safe to hand, and I thank thee for it. Jesus, my sister, "received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them." The word of reconciliation can never be applicable but to enemies, and it is only conscious rebels that want a pardon. They who have never at any time transgressed God's commandments have no need of a Mediator. It is true, we are all at a great distance from God; but the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin, and makes us nigh to him, who were afar off by wicked works. It is the Lord's frown of displeasure that makes us go mourning in heaviness; but "his anger endureth but a moment, and in his favour is life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." Come, Nanny, be of good cheer, old girl, we shall never seek his blessed face in vain. He may frown, appear shy, and at a distance; he may rebuke, reprove, chastise, chide, and contend, and yet have an everlasting love to us in his heart. So he formerly appeared and discovered himself to me - so formidable, so dreadful, and in such terrible majesty, that I concluded nothing but death must follow; but "by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of our spirit; so he will revive us and cause us to live." Certainly, Nanny, he will never take us in hand for nothing; he will not search our hearts, and try our reins, and wound our souls, and humble our proud hearts, and give us an appetite for the bread of life and righteousness, and then suffer us to perish for the want of these things. This is not his usual way of dealing with poor sinners. Christ was anointed and sent, not to break the bruised reed, nor to quench the smoking flax; not to destroy the broken-hearted, nor to load with additional pains them that are bruised; but the reverse of all this, and that my soul knoweth right well.
I am at present mending apace, and long once more to see his Excellency, and my dear brothers and sisters at Lewes; all of whom my soul loves; and for whom, and whose welfare, many earnest cries, tears, and prayers, have been put up by the poor despicable Coalheaver. I am much better of my cold and fever; but am very nervous, weak, and feeble: and the weather is damp, and unfavourable to an old weather-beaten tabernacle, the cover of which is old and threadbare, and the lines and cords strained, stretched, and much untwisted. But, when the main standard is unsettled, and all the cords give way, when the canopy tumbles to the ground, he that inhabits it departs without interruption. The body is a temple of the Holy Ghost, and the purchase of a dear Redeemer's blood; the trophy of his victory, which he has taken as a spoil from the jaws of Satan, from the destruction of sin; and it must be restored from the king of terrors (death), when death shall be swallowed up of victory, and the grave restore its spoils. "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory" At which time the devils shall appear in chains, and both death and sin shall prey for ever upon the first author of evil, and upon all such as have fought and died in alliance with the prince of darkness. O Nanny, be of good cheer; those, who in thought, desires, heart, and affections, go to Christ under a deep sense of their need, will never be cast out, nor lose any thing, for he shall raise it all up at the last day. - When the same powerful voice, that awakens and alarms our souls in time, shall alarm, awaken and quicken our mortal bodies in the great day; then all that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and come forth.
The Lord bless thee and keep thee! My love to the good man of the house; - and to all the venerable peeresses, who sat in judgment at B- , the culprit acknowledges their lenity with gratitude.
W. H. S. S.