May 10, 1805.
I HAVE been hard at work finishing my book, which has been permitted to swell in my hands; and therefore could not spare time to correspond with any. The fan must come; heresies there must be; and they that have not received the truth in the love of it are to have itching ears, and to be turned aside to fables; and this passage is now fulfilled before your eyes. I believe the church of God never was more filled with hypocrites and errors than in the present day; but the contrary part must and shall be made manifest. But, after all, real religion lies in communion with God; it is a secret between God, Father, Son, and Spirit, and the sinner's own conscience. It consists in being made nigh to God by the blood of Christ; in being reconciled to him by the power of the gospel, called the ministry of reconciliation; and in finding access to him by faith, and under the influence of the Spirit of grace. Such go in and out, and find pasture, according as faith is or is not in exercise. And such souls are furnished with the witness in themselves; and are kept within bounds by filial fear, which has the goodness of God for its object; "they shall fear the Lord, and his goodness, in the latter days." The approbation of God, the light of his countenance, and the peace which he has ordained for us, are the inward satisfaction and support of the soul. Quickening, pardoning, and justifying grace, fixes the soul, produces a solid ground of hope, and richly secures the kingdom of God.
Be not thou carried away with strange and diverse doctrines; for "it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace." Sensible sinners are repeatedly exhorted to wait upon the Lord; and, during their time of waiting, they often renew their strength; and indeed are pronounced blessed all the time they watch and wait at Wisdom's gate. And, as "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God," so we are commanded to wait for his law. "The isles shall wait for his law." Heir is the patience of the saints. Here Satan continually hurries them; and some have said, "Let him hasten his work." Others, "Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?" Others again are thus described: "The captive exile hastens that he may be loosed, that he may not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail." "He that believes shall not make haste." Satan being a cunning adversary, he sends along a child of his in high, presumptuous confidence, under which the devil works transformed. While they waited upon God he tempted, worried, and drove them, like a devil as he is; but now he acts like an angel of light. Such leave Wisdom's gate, and the blessing - too, behind them. He sears the conscience, which makes their chains lighter. He ceases to tempt, drive, and distress, which brings a calm. He applies and works this bold presumption in them, which passes for faith; whilst the novelty of such whims- and fancies affords a cheering intoxication; and those, who never tasted the good old wine of the kingdom, desire this, which is new.
This is the work that is going on at Leicester. But it will all fail when persecution unto blood comes on, and death stares in the face. Stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
W. H. S. S.