June 12, 1806.
My dearly beloved Friend; Grace, mercy and peace be with thee, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I KNOW that at this time thou art in the furnace, which is the common lot of all: and when we are put into that fire many dismal things are presented to our view, and the worst of conclusions are drawn and imagined: but God's aim in it is to discover to us the evils of our nature; to humble, soften, and meeken us under them; and to break the spirit, and make it contrite. The fire discovers our corruptions to the bottom; and you may depend upon this, that the remedy will go as deep as the disease; and the abounding consolations will succeed the abounding afflictions. The heart of the saint shall know its own bitterness; nor shall those who are strangers to this intermeddle with joys of the tried Christian.
The furnace, my dear friend, makes us fit temples for the Lord of hosts, who dwells with the contrite heart, and revives the spirit of the humble. And sure I am that the more we are broken and mortified under afflictions, the more shall we thrive and grow under the influence of the ever blessed Spirit of promise. Every Character that Christ bears suits none but tried souls; for those that are full lothe the honeycomb; nor have they an appetite for the bread of life, or for the righteousness of faith. The whole-hearted need no physician, nor do the wise need instruction; the lost sheep, and perishing souls, are the Lord's charge; these are the creatures of his care, and the purchase of his blood; after these he goes; while he leaves the ninety and nine in the wilderness, to feed on the provisions of Sinai and Horeb, they being only sheep in name and appearance, but not in nature, for they are not the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
My kind love to Tommy, Bessy and Fanny, and all friends. Dear Sarah, adieu Yours affectionately,
W. H. S. S.