October 16, 1801.
Dear Brother in the Lord Jesus, grace and peace be multiplied through the great, the glorious, and only Mediator.
I HAVE had a bad cold, which I believe I caught in Mr. H.'s barn. A cold in the head is bad; a cold in the stomach is worse; but a cold in the heart is worst of all. At the dedication of the tabernacle a. fire fell from heaven and consumed the burnt offering: that fire, by the order of God, was never to go out - the incense and the lamps; the one was to be burnt, and the other lighted, at that holy fire. Hence. priests were to wait and watch day and night, that the flame of God might not go out; and the poor Gibeonites hewed the wood to feed the hallowed fire. But, when the living tabernacle was to be dedicated, and to stretch out her cords and curtains, the Holy Ghost, in a cloven tongue, came upon the first stones in the holy city, and kindled the sacred blaze; they, with this divine heat, purged Jerusalem with the spirit of judgment and with the spirit of burning. They kindled a smoke in the smoking flax, and the cloud of incense went up; so that upon all the dwelling-places of mount Zion a cloud rested by day, and the flame of holy fire by night; for upon all the glory God appointed this defence. Jealousy was another spark from this holy fire. The Lord went forth as a mighty man, and stirred up jealousy like a man of war; till he stirred up the blind ones to follow him in a way that they knew not. Zeal is another ingredient of this most holy flame: it is a composition of indignation at the works of Satan, revenge against sin and all opposition, attended with fervent love and undaunted fortitude. These things made them not only burning and shining lights, but also a flaming fire. By the fire of his Spirit, and by the word of God, which is the Spirit's sword, did God begin his last battle with the Jews. By fire and by sword, did he plead with all flesh, and the slain of the Lord were many. Hence the awful declaration of war: "For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire; for unto us a child is born." Wherever this holy fire comes, if the light be hated, and the heat resisted, the fire of wrath enters: he believes not, and the wrath of God abides on him. Hence "the Light of Israel is for a fire, and the Holy One for a flame:" and it burns and devours his thorns and his briers in one day. Isaiah x. 17. These are the fuel, the other the fire; and blessed be God who has brought us to love both the light and the heat. "Did not our hearts burn within us while he communed with us by the way? "
Dear friend, adieu! May this flame never go out! all besides is strange fire; but this live coal comes from the altar of burnt offering. God bless thee.
W. H. S.S.