August 8, 1806.
I WAS sorry to hear last week that thou hast been so ill, because no sickness of a saint is a single affliction. The whole army of corruptions take advantage of such times; for Satan is a present, a very present plague in every time of trouble, and musters up all his legions to obscure, confound, and perplex the soul, when God is about to purge the branch. But in these trying times we see the devil and his malice; corruption and all its works; and the holy law of God; and the bondage it genders. But, as soon as the gentleness and meekness of Christ operate, we see the better king, the better crop of grace, and the better covenant; and by these means are we taught to distinguish the old from the new.
There is a needs be for a fire in Zion, and a furnace in Jerusalem. God will build up the throne of his dear Son to all generations, and you know that his throne is in Zion, and it is charity that edifieth, buildeth up, or raiseth an edifice. And he promises to circumcise our hearts to love him. When love waxes cold his throne totters, and the subject is halting or wavering betwixt two. The furnace is, to purge this dross; and when his delivering and renewing power is felt the soul melts, kisses the rod, submits to his will, confesses his just deserts, and embraces him again with the most cordial affection, begging it may never be so again. But as long as there is desperate wickedness in the heart, so long the fire must remain in Zion, and the daily cross be borne by all that will follow the Lamb. Body and soul are both God's work, but sin is not. Body and soul, even to the hairs of the head, shall be saved, for these are given to Christ; and of all that is given to Christ, it is God's will that he should lose nothing, but raise it up at the last day. Sin is of the devil; and shall and will return upon the head of the author of all rebellion and apostasy. His violent dealings shall fall upon his own pate. To root out this is the work of the Lord; and this is the good work begun in us, which is to be performed in the day of the Lord Jesus, when the body shall rise in the image of the second Adam, and that of the first man be defaced, blotted out, and done away; when death in its sting, the law and its curse, the devil and his rage, the grave and its victory, shall be swallowed up of life, and immortality be all in all. And all the time that the dross is within, the furnace must be expected; but "Let patience have its perfect work," and peace shall be upon Israel.
W. H. S.S.