Jan, 8, 1810.
I HAVE been confined with a bad cough, cold, and fever, almost a fortnight; but am somewhat better at present. This world never was intended to be our rest, our home, nor our inheritance; he therefore, that has the most of this, has by far the worst share. God tells us, and faith assures us, that there is "a better and more enduring substance." And, for my part, I must say that every thing that I see in God's light serves to sicken and deaden my soul to this world. My own depraved nature, the awful state and carnal enmity of the world, the miserable and dead state of the generality of professors, their hatred to the power of godliness, and a full persuasion of the reality of the future inheritance, having been experienced in the first fruits, these help to crucify us to this world. And I have often noticed that God does not hurl a hoping soul out of the world as out of the middle of a sling, 1 Sam. xxv. 29; but unpins their tabernacle by slow degrees, making them weary of life, and so bowing their wills, that they desire to depart at the appointed time that he wills them to depart. Soul troubles and bodily infirmities are the common lot of all pilgrims, and are dealt out by weight and measure. By these trials are sins discovered, and by trials sanctified are sins purged.
Souls at ease put far away the evil day, while souls in trouble consider their latter end; hence Wisdom tells us that days of mourning are better than days of feasting, for "by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better." And I am sure of this - the more they suffer in the way, the less in the end. No small share of furnace work has fallen to my lot; and the bitterness of the wounds has taught me to admire the balm. Trials are not intended for food, but for physic; and the more bitter the drugs, the better for the stomach. The paschal lamb was to be eaten with bitter herbs, and every banquet upon Christ by faith is attended with the same sauce; "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit," and inbred corruptions oppose every grade. But every grace is an incorruptible seed, which lives and abides for ever - such as light, life, peace, rest, filial fear, faith, hope, love, joy. - These the devil hates, and corruptions oppose; and they are often obscured by darkness, confusion, legal bondage, and the assaults of Satan; but they cannot be lost, being God's treasure in the heart, and must therefore reign; for God knows, and carefully distinguishes his own crop; "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit," says Christ, "and that which is born of the flesh is flesh;" as you read in the third of John.
This, Mary, is the real religion of Christ, which makes the church all glorious within and his righteousness imputed makes her so without. Salvation, or the pardon of sin, is the heavenly virgin's lamp, Isai. lxii. 1. God's pardoning love is the fire that feeds the lamp, Song viii. 7. And the. joy of the Spirit is the oil that feeds the fire, Isai. lxi. 8; Prov. xiii. 9. These are the things which accompany salvation; and I have no doubt but at certain seasons you have felt, experienced, and enjoyed them all. They are often hidden from my eyes, and. not one of them fully enjoyed; yet I know that I have had them in full possession; and, being the empire of Christ in the soul, God, scripture, faith, and conscience, all agree in this, that the grace of God cannot be lost.
W. H. S. S.