To Philomela in the King's Dale
Dear Sister in Christ,
Yours came safe to hand; and I have considered it, and I will by no means say that the Lord God of Israel had no hand in the work described in your narrative. But this I must confess, that evangelical repentance, which to my view is essential to salvation, is not in the account. The new wine was put into an old bottle; and, where this is the case, pride will burst the bottle, and the wine will run out, and the old bottle must perish. I mean, that your joys were not received into an humble, broken, and contrite heart. God hath promised to give us a new heart, as well as a new spirit; and, when the new wine is put into a new bottle, both are preserved. However, the stony heart shall be taken away, and it shall be destroyed, u well as the other parts of the body of sins, for our old man was crucified with Christ; and, under the operation of the Spirit's renewing power, the body of sins shall be put off.
Repentance is twofold; legal and evangelical. The former is extorted by fears, terror, and torment, and is always attended with hard thoughts of God, and self-pity. This is all the repentance that can be produced in us under the law, where we have nothing berets our eyes but our own sins, and a sin-avenging God. Evangelical repentance is drawn forth and flows out under the sweet operations of pardoning love, and is attended with a believing view of him whom we have pierced, and with mourning for him; and this is accompanied with a justifying of God, and sympathizing with and condoling a suffering Saviour, and with self-abhorence: and so it is written, "From all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you; a new heart will I give unto you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and then ye shall remember your own evil ways, which were not good; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities when I am pacified toward you." God appearing pacified, and we filled with self-loathing, is the finishing work when God brings a soul into covenant with him. He accepts us in the beloved; the atonement applied purges us from our filthiness; and God shines pacified, reconciled, and well pleased in the face of Jesus Christ. All repentance but this needs to he repented of, but this never does; for Christ is exalted to give this repentance to Israel, and the forgiveness of sins; and this repentance is unto life, and is attended with purifying faith. The very text that was sent to you informed you that the humbling rod, and the bond of the covenant, were wanting in your experience. The rod of God is smiting us with terrors, horrors, flashes of divine anger, reproofs, rebukes, the lashes of conscience, bitter reflections, and smiting us with the application of the threatenings and sentence of a broken law, and with the sore buffetings of Satan, and the killing stings and remorses of guilt. To come into the bond of the covenant is to have the love of God shed abroad in our heart by the Holy Ghost given unto us. The work on you seems to me to be very much like that of Hezekiah, much joy and confidence. And no wonder; for at that time he knew nothing of the plague of his own heart; but, when God shewed him this, his joy, confidence, and hopes, all sunk together: "I said, I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world: he will cut me off with pining sickness; from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me," Isa. xxxviii. 11, 12. And, indeed, nothing will hide pride from our eyes but an abiding sense of our own depravity, and of the super-abounding and undeserved mercy of God in Christ Jesus to us. May this religion ever rest with thee and me. So praysThy friend and servant in Christ Jesus,