Nov. 25, 1808.
The Coalheaver to old Sarah sendeth greeting, with perfect peace, and at such a time.
OLD Sarah wants a crutch, and the Doctor a back-string. Nevertheless invalids are the most capable of sympathy; the lame may prop up the lame, as well as the blind lead the blind.
I have been very rheumatic in my hips, knees, &c. But this I firmly believe, that every cross is a nail, and every inbred corruption, especially unbelief and enmity, are as hammers to drive these nails home; and these together crucify me to this world, and keep me dead to it. Not one satisfying feast, not one cheering cordial, not one sweet morsel, from the dainties of nature, or from the breasts of creature consolations, will the Lord suffer me to feast upon. He pours his bitter draughts into every cup, except the cup of salvation. And surely he must have a respect unto us, or he would not so wean us from the world, follow us up with so many bills of divorce, and watch over us with so jealous an eye.
The old marriage covenant says, "Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart;" and the new covenant says, "He that loveth his own life better than me is not worthy of me." Every cross that galls the shoulders, every nail that pierces the old man, and every thorn that gores the flesh, weakens, wounds, and cripples some member or other of the old man of sin. By these things our idols get into disesteem; and this work must go on, however irksome or painful. "From all your idols will I cleanse you." No small lot of furnace work has fallen to my share; and, although these trials have not always been succeeded with love, joy, or comfort, yet they have been followed with humility, meekness, life, and peace. The carnal mind crossed is the life of the spiritual mind; while the storms and rage of the old man precede the calms of the new. The elder must serve the younger; and he does so when his unhallowed motions make us sick of self, of sin, and of the world; and when his sore plagues drive us to prayer, and to relinquish all confidence in the flesh. We must not, my dear Sarah, look at the things which are seen, but at unseen realities. The way is mountainous, rough, and crooked, before us; but, blessed be God, it is level, smooth, and straight, behind.
I now salute old Sarah with a kiss of charity, sending two of the same sort to Fanny and Betsey, and one to Miss B. Success to the Ragman, and my kind respects to the Justice; not forgetting Mrs. S. and all the seed royal. The higher powers join with me in kind love.