Dec. 13, 1811.
DEAR Mary's epistle was duly received. But my hand shakes with age, and I have no new commandment to write until thee, but an old commandment, which we have from the Father, and the whole of it is briefly comprehended in this saying, - that we should believe in his dearly beloved and only begotten Son, and that by believing we might have life through his name. This is the message that we have heard of this sweet and holy One. I have further to tell thee that this just One is a near kinsman of ours, one of our next kinsmen, who divorces us from the killing law, espouses the desolate widow, redeems the mortgaged inheritance, and raises up the name of the dead upon it, by spreading the skirt of his spotless righteousness over the condemned and disconsolate soul. In this way we become his. Having . discharged our debts by a ransom, and purged our sins by sacrifice, he supplies us with the oil of joy, swaddles us with the girdle of truth, and his skirt becomes our bridal robe: in this way we become his; by this wooing he wins our whole heart, and kills us to all but himself; and, when he has gained full possession, and cleansed us from all idols, by his all-conquering love, and filled us with heaven itself - then away he goes, and leaves us as mere machines, without life or motion, as a prey to all devils, corruptions, oppressors, impostors, hypocrites, calumniators, and persecutors, that we may know, by sad experience, what banishment from God and hell torments are! and sure I am that I have often had my belly full of this sort of hell.
But there will be an end to this misery of miseries, and to this world, which is the sinner's-portion and our bane; - a world wherein the devil reigns and rules; to whom his children pay implicit obedience, and in whose works they boast, exult, and triumph, all the day long, till, by a sad translation, they find that "the wages of sin is death." And here we must look to the balance of the sanctuary, and weigh both the duration of time and the substance of eternity. But this is already done to our hands, as Paul says: "Our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
Tell the Captain that I hope he will obtain leave to eat plum-pudding with us this Christmas. But charge him, in my name, never to ask leave of absence from the Captain of our salvation, for without him D. can do nothing.