Beloved of God!
YOUR savoury, simple, and honest epistles came safe; but I am a man in much business; and therefore have been silent to thee, though thou hast not been so to me. I bless my God, the dear Redeemer of my soul is still with me, and hath caused much of his goodness to pass before me; and my faith hath had work enough to follow after, and to wonder at his goodness to the children of men. The life of faith is a mysterious faith: by faith in Christ's obedience we are made just; by faith in his blood we come out of the pit wherein is no water; by faith in his arm we are made strong; by faith in his love we are made free; by faith in his fullness we are supplied; and by faith in his victory we overcome the world. The business of faith is to go to market, to go on messages, and to fetch necessaries. Wine and milk must be bought without money and without price; but, if we mix not faith with the word, we get neither.
Every message sent to heaven must be carried by faith; "whatever you ask believing ye shall receive." Strength, comfort, peace and joy, must all be brought in by faith. Faith is an excellent beggar, and all that she gets she gives to the soul. "I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." All medicines are brought in and brought home by the same hand; "Believest thou that I am able to do this? Yea, Lord. Then according to your faith be it unto you." Go in peace, and be whole of thy plague. The business of faith is to be before us, and before hand with every thing: it is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen. It is by faith we walk and not by sight; what we do not believe to be true we dare not receive; what we believe to be wrong we dare not do; and in the ways that we are sure are perverse, there we dare not go. If unbelief and carnal reason be consulted before faith, we halt and hobble; and as soon as faith works we go all that ground over again. If sin or guilt be committed, or contracted, there is a stand, a stop, a let in our pilgrimage, till faith deals with the atonement; then we "make straight paths for our feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; let it rather be healed." If we get shut up in legal bondage there is no coming forth, nor going on again, till faith works by love no gratitude to God, till we believe this, and that every trial shall work together for good. Faith's business is to see things that are invisible, and realize them; to obtain and apply promises; to embrace Christ, and to call in love to admire and adore the object embraced. Faith sweeps the house, purifies the heart, and gives Christ a residence and a throne there; "that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith." Faith fixes her eyes on the King in his beauty, and on that land which is very far off; and tells us that we shall in due time arrive there. "He that believeth shall be saved." Faith is as busy in the heart as a bee in the hive, and is very fond of flying about when the Sun of righteousness arises and shines. The promises are the comb, and the sweetness in them the grace, blessings, and comforts, promised therein: and faith squeezes them into the soul, which makes the little book sweeter than honey. The promises are the breasts, and faith milks first one, and then runs and fetches another, and squeezes that out; this is milking Zion's breasts of consolation, till we are delighted with the abundance of her glory. Thus the new-born babe feeds upon, and craves after, the sincere milk of the word. Honey and milk shall every one eat that is left in the land. After the banqueting is a little over, faith extends our views, and makes us see afar off. She likewise feeds us with knowledge and understanding; as the faith of God's elect, she feeds us with election, predestination, and the secret purposes of God, his covenants, counsels, his faithfulness, truth, and the immutability of his perfections, and so leads us to live upon strong meat, to feed on more distant views, prospects, and upon future glory. Fare thee well, peace and truth be with thee; so prays
W. H. S. S.