Feb. 5, 1800.
AM sorry to hear of your spouse's sad disaster; but "man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward." I hope he will in mercy support you, and in his good time restore her. I have written a letter to L. of which I will send you a copy. The letter you sent to Mr. 0. I have seen; and must confess they contain such confusion and blindness as my eyes never before beheld. I would advise you to have nothing to do with them; and, as for A. I would keep him at a proper distance, for I think that God will discover them soon. Let them go on, and do not interfere with them. nor say any thing about them; but cleave close to God, read his word, and call upon his name; and you will soon see them scattered in the imagination of their hearts. Nor would I suffer any of them to come to trouble me. I should forbid them my house. I am so vexed with Z.'s conduct, that I would never have any thing more to do with him, except it pleased God to bring him back, and bring him out, which is what I think you will never see, for they- are sinning with a very high hand indeed.
To call private prayer legality is dreadful. Legality, according to the common acceptation of the word among christians, is the wrath of God, and the sentence of the law working upon a guilty- conscience: but this can never be the influence of a spirit of prayer. God makes a distinction between the bondage of a quickened sinner, and the spirit of prayer that operates upon him; "they shall come after me in chains, and with supplication and bitter weeping will I lead them," Isaiah xlv. 14: compare with Jeremiah xxxi. 9.
Their prophesying of a sifting at W. and my not dying deluded and undeceived, convinces me that they are got very high; but I think they want light to see their own ignorance before they should pretend to discern what is in the womb of Providence. Nor do I believe that I am compassed about with worse hypocrites than they are; for I will never believe that any real child of God will cleave, in the bond of divine love, to any man that dares to speak against the operations of the Holy Ghost. They are certainly ascending the scorner's chair; and it is my real opinion that God will soon strip them of all their religion. I would almost as soon have a man in my house infected with the plague, as one influenced with legal pride; the former is not more fatal to the flesh than the latter is to a godly soul: and I never saw one more stuffed with it than poor H. nor is it possible to be much blinder: and I believe that Mr. L. got his bondage from him, for it is as epidemical as the pestilence; it walks and works in darkness. Let us know now and then how they go on, and whether they do not wither, and get parched; for, if a branch abideth not in the true vine, it soon gets dry; men of no grace gather them into their company, and they perish at last.
Tommy, farewell; grace and peace be with thee. So prays yours in Him,
W. H. S.S.