October 5, 1807.
I AM but so so. Yesterday being ordinance day, it almost exhausted the doctor's strength: am this day therefore lying on my oars to recruit; and it came suddenly in my mind to send a line to my friend; from which impulse I conclude matters are at a low ebb with you. I have been for some time past watching the motions, actings, goings out, and returnings of faith. When my mind is serene, calm, and composed, and conscience in undisturbed peace, then faith goes forth and works among the invisible realities of the world to come; she fetches back past experiences, past providences, and past deliverances; and this encourages and animates the soul. She looks within, and the heart is fixed; she looks around, and the blessings of providence and grace environ her about. "With favour wilt thou compass them as with a shield." But, as soon as Satan begins to move (which he is sure to do when the Author of all real peace seems to withdraw), then he puts fresh vigour into his inbred corruptions. He calls up unbelief and carnal reason to assist her. He stirs up enmity, legal bondage, and slavish fear, to assist them. Then comes on the old, dismal, gloomy veil, to obscure every evidence and every token for good. At such times as these it may truly be said, "Where is your faith?" I observe that at such times she stays at home, to prop up and support the heart; to, hold fast and keep carefully what we have got: and I have at times wondered to feel how firm the heart has remained, while the seven-fold storm has beat on the mind and head. "He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord." At such times faith eyes the most suitable promises, and waits the deliverance: and, although brow-beaten and borne down by unbelief, yet she is felt at the bottom, maintains her hold, and keeps possession; and, as soon as any ray appears, or any refreshing distils on the soul, faith purifies the heart of all the rubbish that has appeared to overwhelm her, and then goes forth again in the dances of them that make merry. And thus faith reigns, and overcomes the world, and all that is in the world. While the trial of faith (that is, the appearance of its being genuine, the feeling power of it, and the victory it obtains) is more precious than gold, though it be tried with fire. Faith is God's gift; it has life in it; the Spirit plants it, and waters it; and by trials it gathers strength, and increases in stature and activity; and it shall not fail, but shall prevail; for "the just shall live by his faith." God bless the butcher; so says the grazier.