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Conversion work, my good friend, is little known in our days; it is entirely God's work upon the heart, and makes us new creatures in Christ Jesus, forming us a people for himself, that we may shew forth his praise; changing a vessel of wrath into a vessel of mercy; and not only casting the devil out of our hearts, and destroying his works; but it comprehends also Christ's taking possession of them by his Spirit, and setting up and establishing his kingdom there, which is a kingdom of grace, that shall reign through righteousness unto eternal life; so that neither the corruption of our hearts, nor the temptations of the devil, shall ever be permitted to prove our ruin. And 0, what a strong consolation is this to every heir of promise, to every one of Christ's sheep! But that, which is generally called conversion in our days, differs much from the Bible account of it.--Did you ever read, in the word of God, that Satan is divided against himself? I trow not. But would it not be so if he was to tell a person that he was a hypocrite, that his religion was superficial, and that he had neither part nor lot in the matter? It would seem so according to reason, setting aside divine revelation, I think. The wisest step he could take, I should suppose, would be to tell such a one how great a saint he was, and what a favourite of heaven; how sure of that glory that is to be revealed. In this way he would act becoming himself, and hid fair to keep a person in carnal security and false peace, and so lead
him quietly on the broad way into destruction : while the other manner of working would be the very means to lead him to self-examination and calling upon God, which is the only way to get deliverance from his power; and in this manner his kingdom would be brought to desolation.But, let him act whichever way he will, he prores God's account to be true, namely, that “he is a liar;" for, if he tempt the saint to believe that he is a hypocrite, or a sinner to believe himself a saint, in either case it is a lie; whereby we see plainly that his testimony is not to be depended upon, and so God declares; “ When he speaketh a lie he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar, and the father of it,” John vii. 44. Since this is the case, he is not the true witness; therefore what he says ought not to be taken notice of.
I know that he preaches many sermons to God's people, and delivers many prophecies concerning them, which proves what the wise man says, that “ Every fool will be meddling.” However, there is a promise that God will bruise Satan under our feet shortly. Did you ever take notice of this passage ?—“ Blessed is the man that en- · dureth temptation, for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life," James i. 19. As also this?" Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth,” Hleb. xii. 6. So that here we see a blessing in temptation, and love in chastisement and scourging. This among us appears a strange thing: we
should naturally think that nothing but displeasure or wrath was there; but it is one of God's ways in shewing his favour, and manifesting his love; and where these things are not, such are to this day under both his curse and his wrath; because you see he scourgeth every son that he receiveth; and in another place he says, “ But, if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons,” Heb. xii. 8. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things!
God will, more or less, answer all his people in the secret place of thunder by terrible things, but in righteousness: and, as the psalmist says, however sorely we may be broken in the place of dragons, and covered with the shadow of death, yet God will, in his own appointed time, make darkness light before us, and crooked things straight. The enemy shall not always triumph, and taunt us with, “ Where is now thy God?” God will surely turn our mourning into dancing; he will put off our sackcloth, and gird us with gladness, to the end that our tongue, which is our glory, may sing his praise, and not be silent. It is written, “ He that believeth shall not make haste;" and, lest we should run too fast, get puffed up with pride, and so fall into the condemnation of the devil, the Lord is pleased often to put us in fetters, and give us a load to carry, as Paul says ; “ Lest I should be exalted above measure, through the abundance of the revelations, there was given
to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan sent to buffet me.” For the removal of this he besought the Lord thrice, and at last obtained a glorious answer; “My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness," 2 Cor. xii. 7, 8, 9. This thorn was not removed, but then he had strength equal to his day communicated, which was all the same; for it makes no difference whether a weak person carry a load that is light, or a strong person one that is heavy; the one will feel just as comfortable under it as the other. And wonderful it is, but not more só than true, that the Lord carries both his people and their burdens; and therefore it is that no ene'my can prevail, and that they all arrive in safety at that land which is very far off.
You will oblige me greatly by letting me hear from you as soon as convenient; and in the mean time believe me to remain, in truth and sincerity,
Your willing servant, for Christ's sake,
London, Aug. 1, 1801.
Beloved of God, sanctified by God the Father, preserved
in Christ Jesus, and called to be a saint: Peace be multiplied. Amen.
On the fourteenth of last month I duly received your letter, and thanked God for it with all my heart. You and I may well say, with Paul, and to God's honour, that “ It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to saye sinners, of whom we are chief,” 1 Tim. i. 15. When I so shortly replied to your first letter, and in such a singular manner, I have no doubt but you were rather surprised and disappointed. The cause was twofold: first, though you went pretty clearly down into the horrible pit, where all are raised to hope, and from whence all are saved and delivered, yet you did not come so clearly out from thence as I could have wished; and therefore to obtain more particulars concerning this point was the cause of my putting several of those questions to you. The second thing that induced me so to reply was, there were some things noticed which appeared to tally or agree with my own experience; upon which ground I also proposed other ques.