Sept. 12, 1811.
The Coalheaver, with his kind respects to his old Friend.
I HAVE of late been but poorly with a bilious complaint; and it requires but little disorder to enfeeble one who is already feeble with age. It is not common with me to be indulged with much comfort in bodily afflictions. This favour has seldom fallen to my lot, though afterwards the peaceable fruits of righteousness have appeared. But in this last shake given to the old tabernacle I could not help telling my wife that I felt my God go and come,' which led my mind most sweetly into this short text - "That they also may be one in us," John xvii. 21. And it entertained my mind the whole eight days of my confinement; so that when I came forth again I preached three sermons upon it; and, having fetched it out of the furnace, the matter was weighty, and did not savour so much of the earthen vessel as it does when we are at ease. I considered the oneness of the Divine Being, which the scripture calls "nature," Gal. iv. 3. "Essence," Exodus iii. 14; which is self existence. "Substance," Prov. viii. 21; Heb. x. 34; the Lord being our portion, and our exceeding great reward. "God- head," Acts xvii. 29; Rom. i. 20; Col. ii. 9.
The essence, nature, substance, and Godhead, are but one; "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." But in this divine nature are three persons. Christ is called the express image of the Father's person; Heb. i. 3. And so is the Son. "For your sakes forgave I it, in the person of Christ, 2 Corin. ii. 10. And the Holy Spirit can be no less, as our bodies are his temple, and he is the witness of our adoption; and what can bear witness or record but persons? These persons are distinct: the Father was not incarnate, nor the Spirit; but it was the essential Word, the Son of God, that was made flesh, and dwelt. among us. We must not confound the persons, by putting one for the other; nor divide the substance, by making a plurality of Gods. "He that loveth dwelleth in God, and God in him." He that believeth is in Christ, and Christ dwells in his heart by faith. This is coming "to God the Judge of all, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant," Hebrews xii. 23, 24. The Spirit cries, "Abba, Father;" and bears his witness to our sonship. Such "shall continue in the Son and in the Father," 1 John ii. 24. And the anointing, which teacheth us all things, and is truth, and is no lie, as it hath taught us, we shall abide in him, 1 John ii 27.
This, my dear friend, is our firm standing; this is the grand mystery, even the mystery of faith, which must be held in a pure conscience. These are our "wells of salvation," Isai. xii.
The one God is our peaceable habitation; see Psalm lxxi. 3. The Trinity are our sure dwellings, and our quiet resting places; Isai. xxxii. 18. Take the testimony of the faithful and true witness - "And now, behold, the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me," Isai. xlviii. 16. And this you may see fulfilled at the river Jordan, Luke iii. 22. Wilful erring and denying here is damnable heresy, and making shipwreck of faith, by which the vessel of mercy must sail in this broad river, Isaiah xxxiii. 21.
My hand shakes; it is badly written, but you can copy it. My love to dame.