Dec. 6, 1808.
MY dear friend's epistle came safe to hand, whereby it is plain that he has gained by trading. I have often thought, and am still of the same mind, that all our crosses and trials are to accomplish a twofold work; the one. to bring us low, to hide pride from our eyes, and to set us down at the Lord's feet; the other to empty us of self, and give us an appetite, which prepares us to receive a better fulness. A high look the Lord will not suffer, but he dwells with the humble. He blesses the poor and needy, but punishes those that are settled on their lees. Faith, hope, and love, appear the plainer, and shine the brighter, when the dross and tin are removed; and I have often wondered to see how fast this base metal collects again; but the Lord's "fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem;" and there are always some vessels under the fiery operations. But, blessed be God, I know that I and my friends get on, or we should not meet with so many crosses, and so much tribulation; and it is as true that God has renewed a right spirit within us, or else the devil, the world, heretics, hypocrites, carnal Pharisees, and letter preachers, would not show such desperate envy, hatred, and malice, as they do. Enmity is to them an "evident token of perdition;" and to be hated of such an evident token "of salvation, and that of God."
Sin, my brother, is our leprosy; pardon is both our cleansing and our cure. Christ is both fountain and physician; and where this is the case, "God is the health of our countenance, and our God." These are the blessings of the better covenant. Pardon of sin is God's lamp; love to a sin-pardoning God is our fire; joy from a purged conscience is the flame; and, as God remembers our sins no more, our lamp cannot go out. All gifts, all zeal, all towering faith, fleshly hopes, dissembled love, head light, and natural joy, must die; for, when sudden fear awakens conscience, and a sense of guilt covers with shame, the enmity rising up, all joy goes out, and then an angry Judge, instead of a blessed Bridegroom, is expected.
My love to all the seed royal.