Cricklewood, Nov. 5, 1806.
Dearly beloved in the Lord Jesus,
I AM now coining to inquire after thy welfare; as the time is coming, and now is, when the poor invalids have their diseases and disorders, their asthmas and infirmities, searched, tried, and examined by the winter damps, the east and north winds, and by the fogs and the frosts; all of which are so many warnings and ejectments before the earthly house of this tabernacle be untiled and dissolved; and, when reduced to its origin, it will be raised up again, and be clothed upon with our house which is from above. To prepare for this change, to lay up a good foundation against that day, is the most important and the most weighty business that belongs to the workmen, and to the workmanship of God in us; which is intended to quicken, to animate, and to give us spiritual affections for heavenly things; and sensations also that we may feel them, know them, be assured of their reality, and live in the enjoyment of them, and be constrained to a loving and grateful acknowledgment thereof. And these are intended to give us motion; also that we may breathe, pant, and long after them, and move towards them, as to our centre and chief good.
The feet of that soul are faith and affections: these move the soul as they feel, bear, and carry the body. Hence the saint is said to walk by faith, and idolaters to Boat and follow after their lovers; and to understand these footsteps, (called the footsteps of the flock, and a treading in the footsteps of the faith of our father Abraham) is what is meant by the feet slipping, and the steps being almost gone. The whole is nothing else but faith failing, love giving way to enmity, and the affections being alienated from God, which is, and must be, the case with all apostates, who fall not down now into trouble, nor from their first love, or from their own steadfastness, but who fall away. "He that believeth shall not make haste." He cannot put forth his own faith into action, nor can all the thundering preachers in the world drive it. Faith is the holy Spirit's work; it is a fruit or a grace of his planting; and the mind and heart are the seat, the life, and motions of it; while the acts, exercises, and workings of it depend solely upon the operations of the most holy Spirit of God. Hence faith moves by fresh discoveries or rays of light; by different changes, feelings, and sensations; and under different operations; and acts and moves from one foot-hold to another, as God is pleased to visit or make any discoveries of himself to the soul.
I have run on at an odd rate, but you will excuse