June 9, 1808.
MY kind friend T. having paid Leicester so long a visit, is intended no doubt to forestal my market. But my own God says, "I will work, and who shall let it!" His secret cautions against me will only excite curiosity. Besides, my work lies among the lost sheep, and the poor and needy; while his line of business is among the better sort, who never went astray. God is the husbandman, and the elect are his husbandry. He has ever made his servants threshing instruments; the mountains must be threshed, and the hills be made as chaff. These mountains and hills are only formidable enemies, swelled with pride and high conceit; all which must and shall be brought low, either into submission to Christ, or low in despair. Such men are the fan in the Lord's hand; for, when the force of truth beats them off from the wheat, and out of the floor, the wind is to carry them away, and the whirlwind is to scatter them. They are no sooner driven from among the just, but the wind of the fan carries them away. And, being incorporated into a new body, they look for a while formidable and terrific. But the prophet says, the whirlwind shall scatter them, their bonds shall be broken, and they shall be dispersed. This is the prediction; watch the event.
How wonderfully did L. when he got into this false fire, winnow the few at Grantham; and, as soon as the accursed things were taken away, the rest abode, and have increased ever since. Friend T. has done the same at Leicester, and your union has been cemented, and has gathered strength from that hour. Truth goes before, and tells us how things shall be; while experience follows after, and sets her seal to the truth, that so we have seen it in the city of our God. Every branch in the vine, that has any grace or truth in it, shall be purged, and be kept fruitful. But every branch that has not these things shall be taken away; and when taken away, or cast forth from the 'body mystical, it withers; their joy, zeal, gifts, and abilities, soon fade, wither, decay, and die; enmity fills them with rage, when they grow into contempt; and envy at the just slays the silly one; his guilt rises up within, his countenance falls, his heart frets against the Lord; and such are driven further and further, till they stumble on the dark mountains; or, as the prophet says, "they shall be driven to darkness."
I know not when I have had so many accounts of the power of God displayed by my ministry as lately; both in town, and at Ely the last time I was there. The M.'s of Downham intend being at Grantham when I come into your parts, and then you will hear of the increase there. "The excellency of the power is of God, and not of us;" and God's power cannot be frustrated. The stronger the opposition, the higher we shall rise; and I expect that God will be with us in our intended meeting. God tells us not to fear the reproach of men, nor to "be afraid of their revilings, for the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool; but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished." In this prophecy they are compared to a garment, being all outside, all shew - outwardly righteous before men. The moth is the secret curse of God working in the self-righteous; who are compared to wool, having put on the sheep's skin, not the white linen of Christ's righteousness. The worm is the guilt of their own conscience. Read Isaiah lxvi.24; where you see the worm and the .curse of the fiery law both together. Hence, when any one tells me of some new enemy , rising up, and raging at me, I always inquire how their countenance looked while they were at it; and, if it was horrid, I always conclude that the moth and worm are already at work within; because the shew of their countenance doth witness against them, Isai. iii. 9. I have long watched this, and never shall their countenance be comely until by real repentance they return to us; "Let them return unto thee, says God; but turn thou not unto them." It is surprising what I have discerned of this moth and this worm; they have not only appeared in the countenance; but, when they begin to eat the garment, and to nibble at the wool, I have seen them working at last upon their reputation in trade, in business, in property, and in the refractory family. Zechariah sets forth the same insects, but more plainly; his is a flying roll. The book of the law written on parchment, and rolled upon wooden pins, is what is meant by the roll. The contents of the roll is the curse that goeth forth - he that steals the word of God, not being sent of him, Jer. xxiii. 30; and he swears, as the Lord liveth; swears by the living God, when he himself is dead in sin. These are the men to whom the roll comes. Him that stealeth, and him that sweareth falsely, shall be cut off, according to the roll. "It shall enter into the house of such, and consume it, with the stones thereof, and the timbers thereof," Zech. v.
So much for the moth and the worm.