I WAS rejoiced, my dear brother, at the reception of yours, because you adopted the best method in all the world. Carnal reason and human contrivances contribute nothing to our good, nor to God's honour. You read of one in the scriptures, a king, who in his sickness sought not to God, but to the physicians. This is written to his dishonour, and he went on till his bowels fell at his feet. But we have a God to go to; and "who (says Moses) have God so nigh to them as the Lord our God is to us, in all things that we call upon him for? "When stung with fiery serpents, all that looked to the brazen one lived. When the plague broke out, then stood up Phinehas with an offering, and so the plague was stayed. So at the waters of Marah, when the thirsty souls could not drink them because they were bitter, (being an emblem of afflictions, and of the heart knowing its own bitterness under them) then Moses was directed to a tree - a type of the human race. And he was to cut a stick from it; which, in the figure, was the rod from the stem of Jesse, that, when cast into the waters, healed them, and they drank thereof. It was the water that was healed. But pray take notice what God says to them, and how wonderfully he places the words. Read the fifteenth chapter of Exodus, and see where the healing is applied; "I am the Lord God that healeth thee."
Follow up this profitable and honourable calling, for this branch of godliness is great gain. When the intercourse is open, when the door of hope and gate of life are displayed, when a throne of grace is accessible, when indulgencies are granted to us, these are our court and levee days, when the King of kings sees company, and receives our addresses, considers our cases, and redresses our grievances. At other times, with respect to our feelings, it seems otherwise; seeing we are commanded to knock, that it may be opened unto us. Some have complained that he keepeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it; and others have said, "When I cry and shout he shutteth out my prayer." By all which it appears that there is such a thing as entering by the door, which is Christ, and of going in and out, and finding pasture. But whether the door appears shut or open, and whether we get in or are kept out, according to our apprehension of things, let us be sure to be found waiting at his gates, and watching at the posts of his doors; for he that findeth him finds life, and they are not to be put to shame that wait for him. Sometimes we are kept out, and at a distance, when others go in and out in our sight smiling, while we hate their souls and their smiles too. This is to provoke us to jealousy, the flame of which is the same in us as the summer fly is to bullocks, which is sure to move them: and, if any thing short hell will move us, jealousy will. Sometimes afflictions are sent on the body, to keep the world from destroying the soul, and to give us leisure to cast up and settle our books, and to see what conscience has filed against us. Sometimes we are clogged with corruption and temptation, which is laying us in the stocks by the heels. This kept Paul from pride, and Hezekiah from carnal security. Sometimes we are shut up in the dark hole; "He brings us into darkness, but not into light." This teaches us to prize the light of Ms countenance, and makes it more precious when the eyes again behold the sun. At other times we are shut up, and cannot come forth. This makes us cautious and careful how we use our liberty, and teaches us to prize it, and to distinguish between law and gospel, and shews us the workings .of both. All these, besides feasts and fasts, melting indulgences and cold neglects, have been appointed for me, and many such things are with him.
Excuse haste, roughness, and all blunders, for the King's business requires haste.
Ever yours in the Lord Jesus,
W. H. S.S.