Leicester, Oct. 31, 1800.
My dear Sister in Christ Jesus,
I RECEIVED yours, and the keep-sake, on Saturday evening last: but had not time in town to acknowledge the receipt of them. I thank you, but am sorry for the needless expense, as times are hard, and the pockets of God's children seldom overladen with that treasure which constitutes a portion in this life. I hope to turn the trinket into a Galeed, or a pillar of memorial, to be in future a witness against me or a monitor to me, if I should forget thee when I am indulged with sweet access to the throne of grace. The impulse you have been for some time under, that your faith would be tried; is I, think, a lesson from the anointing which is from above. God the Holy Ghost is not only to guide us into all truth; but he .is to shew us things to come; which inward teaching is true, but not always perceived, nor attended to till the calamity comes on, or is over; "The thing which I greatly feared (says Job) is fallen upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. I was not at ease, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet, yet trouble came." Genuine faith will abide the fire, but untried faith is not to be depended on. God's word, as well as God's Spirit, witnesseth that bonds and afflictions abide the saints. To be previously alarmed is to be equipped beforehand; that, as the fool in the gospel laid up goods for many years, so should we, in times of indulgence, lay in a stock of prayers against future desertions; "And now also, when I am old and grey-headed, forsake me not (saith the psalmist), thou God of my salvation." To listen to the warning, to be instructed by it, and to be much in prayer to God before the trial comes on, quenches the fiery furnace before we are cast into it. The fear, trouble, and great distress of Jacob at the report of Esau's approach with four hundred men, were ten times worse than the meeting of him; for instead of killing Jacob he kissed him; but then Jacob had wrestled and prevailed both with God and man; and had obtained a promise of complete victory in answer to his prayer before he ventured himself over the river Jabbok. My dear sister knows how to make the application.
Moreover, forget not that God is a present, a very present help in time of trouble; "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; and, when thou passest through the fire, the flame shall not kindle upon thee." Thou hast his word with thee; let that be thy comfort, thy counsel, and thy meditation, in the course of thy pilgrimage, and then thou mayest take the same to be thine inheritance; for "truth shall be settled in heaven, and mercy shall be built up for ever," in the promised glorification of all the elect of God.
Again, as thou hast mentioned to me something of thy distress, on account of thine inbred corruption and evil tempers, let me counsel my dear sister upon these things. It is the law, the moral law, and nothing else, that discovers these things; "By the law is the knowledge of sin," "When the commandment came sin revived and I died." And evil tempers are stirred up by the same; "the law worketh wrath." Looking to that, striving to keep it, cleaving to it, and labouring under it, bring the wrath revealed in it upon us, and this stirs up our enmity against God. Walking in the faith of Christ, and looking to him, changes us into his image. Looking to the law, like the Galatians, is going wrong; "The foolishness of man perverteth his way," says Solomon, "and his heart fretteth against the Lord." Legal bondage, and the fear of death and wrath, all come from a broken law; even as a man who has. robbed, killed, or done violence, is never safe, never easy, because the laws of his country are against him: therefore look to the Saviour, cleave to him, and abide in him; "He that abideth in me bringeth forth much fruit."
Farewell, my dear sister; the God of all grace be with thee and thine. So prays thine affectionate friend and brother in the Lord Jesus Christ,
My love to the Captain.