Dec. 10, 1797.
WELL, sister Betty, you have given me a long account of a very bad heart. It is God alone who searches, tries, and discovers it, and makes us feel the plague of it, and know its evil thoughts: and all this work is to prepare and Make us fit objects for the great Physician, who loves to take desperate cases in hand, that he may exercise his pity and his skill where they are most wanted, and thereby secure the heart, affections, praise, and thanksgiving, of the patient to himself: "I wound and I heal, saith the Lord." We must be stript, Betty, and be brought down and humbled, which is the worst part of all the work; and it is by the wrath, terrors, bondage, and condemning power of the law, that this work is done; and "blessed is the man whom God chastens, and teaches him out of his law;" for "every one that hath heard and hath learned of the Father cometh unto-me" saith Christ, "and he that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out." And when such a hunger and thirst are created in the soul after Jesus, as that nothing but himself can satisfy, the soul is moved out of its place; it is out of the flesh, and on the road to Christ. Thus God met the prodigal half way, as soon as he was perishing with hunger. Besides, thou wilt find, if thou art diligent in reading and in prayer, that the further thou goest on in this way of seeking him, the brighter discoveries wilt thou have; for those that follow Christ shall not abide in darkness, but they shall have the light of life. Many promises will drop into thy mouth to plead, and into thy heart to prop it up; his garments will emit their fragrance more and more, as thou approachest him, and will smell of myrrh, aloes, and cassia; and every word. he speaks will make his blessed mouth more and more sweet. This, together with the savour of his good ointments, and a few words in due season when thou art weary, will make him "the fairest among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely."
Come, Betty, take courage, be of good cheer, receive no denial; but pray, and faint not; set thy cap at him; God has given him for a husband to poor sinners, and all other lovers are little worth. A longing, wishful eye, a craving heart, and a deep sense of need, when nothing will satisfy but himself, are sure to overcome him. He cannot stand out; he must yield; he must submit, according to his own promise; "They shall find me when they shall seek for me with all their heart." And sure I am that not a jot or tittle of his word shall ever pass away unaccomplished or unfulfilled. Those little respites, and drops of comfort and joy, which thou speakest of, are foretastes of greater things; you may call them Gad, for a troop cometh; there are more behind. Our path is to shine more and more, and we are to go from strength to strength.
I hope to hear that thou gettest worse and worse; sick, sorry, languishing, faint, tired, weary, and determined to give all up; sick at heart, and dying for love: for, when our strength is all gone, when sick indeed, and wretched, then we shall hear the voice of the Son of God,. and live. Besides, these human lovers are rivals to Christ; for, when the soul is seeking him, they sometimes stand in the way, and are ready to carry off the thoughts and affections too much from him, who calls for the whole of our heart, having the greatest right to them, and who is alone worthy of it. But from all our filthiness, and from all our idols, he will cleanse us, and give us a new heart and a new spirit; the former shall love him, and the latter shall glorify him. I suppose by this time you are keeping the feast of tabernacles, and brother O. is with you. I wish you may keep it seven days. God bless thee!
W. H. S. S.