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THE REVEREND DR.
of the land of promise. I cannot say my
prospect is greatly clouded by doubts of my
April 17, 1776. reaching it at last ; but then there is such a DEAR SIR,—By this time I hope you are languor and deadness hanging upon my both returned in peace,
and happy together in mind, that it is almost amazing to me how your stated favoured tract; rejoicing in the I can entertain any hopes at all. It seems, name of Jesus yourselves, and rejoicing to if doubting could ever be reasonable, there see the savour of it spreading like a precious is no one who has greater reason for doubtperfume among the people. Every day I ing than myself. But I know not how to hope you find prejudices wearing off
, and doubt, when I consider the faithfulness, more disposed to hear the words of life. grace, and compassion of him who has The Lord has given you a fine first-fruits, promised. If it could be proved that which I trust will prove the earnest of a Christ had not died, or that he did not plentiful harvest. In the mean time he will speak the words which are ascribed to him enable you to sow the seed in patience, leav- in the gospel, or that he is not able to make ing the event in his hands. Though it does them good, or that his word cannot safely not spring up visibly at once, it will not be be taken; in any of these cases I should lost. I think he would not have sent you if doubt to purpose, and lie down in despair
.. he had not a people there to call; but they I am, &c. can only come forth to view as he is pleased to bring them. Satan will try to hinder and disturb you, but he is in a chain which he cannot break, nor go a step farther than he is
LETTER II. permitted. And if you have been instrumental to the conversion of but a few, in
July 15, 1776. those few you have an ample reward al MY DEAR SIR, I begin with congratula. ready for all the difficulties you have or can tions first to you and Mrs., on your safe meet with. It is more honourable and im- journey and good passage over the formiportant to be an instrument of saving one dable Humber. Mrs. has another river soul than to rescue a whole kingdom from to cross (may it be many years before she temporal ruin. Let us therefore, while we approaches the bank) over which there is earnestly desire to be more useful, not for- no bridge. Perhaps at seasons she may get to be thankful for what the Lord has think of it with that reluctance which she been pleased already to do for us; and let felt before she saw the Humber; but as her us expect, knowing whose servants we are, fears were then agreeably disappointed, and and what a gospel we preach, to see some she found the experiment, when called to new miracles wrought from day to day, for make it neither terrifying nor dangerous, indeed every real conversion may be ac- so I trust she will find it in the other case. counted miraculous, being no less than an Did not she think, the Lord knows where immediate exertion of that power which I shall be, and he will meet me there with made the heavens, and commanded the light a storm, because I am such a sinner? Then to shine out of darkness. Your little teles- how the billows will foam and rage at me, cope is safe. I wish I had more of that and what a long passage I shall have, and clear air and sunshine you speak of, that perhaps I shall sink in the middle, and never with you I might have more distinct views | set my foot in Hull. It is true, I am not
so much afraid of the journey I go by land, if we have caught prizes, we owe it not to though I know that every step of the way our own skill, much less to our deserts, but the horses or the chaise may fall, and I be to his goodness. I am, &c. killed; but how do I know but he may preserve me on the road on purpose to drown me in the river ? But behold, when she came to it all was calm, or what was better,
LETTER III. a gentle, fair breeze, to waft her pleasantly over before she was aware. Thus we are
September 4, 1776. apt perversely to reason ; he guides and
MY DEAR SIR,— -Poor little boy, it is a guards me through life; he gives me new mercies, and new proofs of his power and mercy indeed that he recovered from such a
formidable hurt. The Lord wounded and care every day; and therefore, when I come the Lord healed. I ascribe, with you, what to die, he will forsake me and let me be the the world calls accident to him, and believe sport of winds and waves. Indeed the Lord that without his permission for wise and does not deserve such hard thoughts at our good ends, a child can no more pull a bowl hands as we are prone to form of him. But of boiling water on itself than it could pull notwithstanding we make such returns, he the moon out of her orbit. And why does is and will be gracious and shame us out of he permit such things? One reason or two our unkind, ungrateful, unbelieving fears is sufficient for us; it is to remind us of the at last. If, after my repeated kind recep uncertainty of life and all creature-comtion at your house, I should always be teas- forts; to make us afraid of cleaving too ing Mrs.
with suspicions of her good- close to pretty toys, which are so precariwill, and should tell every body I saw, that I verily believed the next time I went to vanish, and to lead us to a more entire de
ous, that often while we look at them they see her she would shut the door in my face, pendence upon himself; that we might neand refuse me admittance, would she not be ver judge ourselves or our concerns safe grieved, offended, and affronted? Would from outward appearances only, but that the she not think, What reason can he assign Lord is our keeper, and were not his eye for this treatment? He knows I did every thing in my power to assure him of a wel upon us, a thousand dangers and painful
which we can neither foresee nor come, and told him so over and over again. prevent, are lurking about us every step, Does he count me a deceiver? Yes, he does : I see his friendship is not worth pre- Men are but children of a larger growth.
ready to break in upon us every hour. serving ; so farewell
. I will seek friends How many are labouring and planning in among such as believe my words and actions. the pursuit of things, the event of which, if Well, my dear madam, I am clear, I always they obtain them will be but like pulling believed you; I make no doubt but you will scalding water upon their own heads. They treatme kindly next time, as
must have the bowl by all means, but they the last. But pray, is not the Lord as
are not aware what is in it till they feel it. worthy of being trusted as yourself, and are
I am, &c. not his invitations and promises as hearty and as honest as yours? Let us therefore beware of giving way to such thoughts of him as we could hardly forgive in our dearest friends, if they should harbour the like
LETTER IV. I have heard of nothing of Mr. Pyet,
July 7, 1777. but that he is in town, very busy about that SIR,- I have had a letter from your miprecious peace of furniture called a wife. nister since his arrival at I hope he May the Lord direct and bless his choice. will be restored to you again before long, In Captain Cook's voyage to the South Sea, and that he and many of your place will resome fish were caught which looked as well joice long in each other. Those are favoured as others, but those who ate of them were places which are blessed with a sound and poisoned : alas for the poor man who catches faithful gospel-ministry, if the people know à poisonous wife! There are such to be and consider the value of their privileges, met with in the matrimonial seas, that look and are really desirous of profiting by them; passing well to the eye, but a connexion but the kingdom of God is not in word, but with them proves baneful to domestic peace, in power. I hope those who profess the and hurtful to the life of grace. I know gospel with you will wrestle in prayer for two or three people, perhaps a few more, grace to walk worthy of it. A minister's who have great reason to be thankful to him hands are strengthened, when he can point who sent the fish, with the money in its to his people, as so many living proofs, that mouth, to Peter's hook. He secretly in the doctrines he preaches are doctrines acstructed and guided us where to angle, and, cording to godliness; when they walk in
mutual love; when each one, in their seve | Lord. Then we come forth with pleasure, ral places, manifests an humble, spiritual, and our service is our delight, and we are enand upright conduct; when they are chris- couraged to hope for an increasing blessing: tians, not only at church, but in the family, But if the people in whom we have rejoiced the shop, and the field; when they fill up sink into formality or a worldly spirit; if they their relations in life, as husbands or wives, have dissensions and jealousies among themmasters or servants, parents or children, ac- selves, if they act improperly, and give the cording to the rule of the word; when they enemies occasion to say, There, there, so are evidently a people separated from the would we have it: then our hearts are woundworld while conversant in it, and are careful ed and our zeal damped, and we know not to let their light shine before men, not only how to speak with liberty. It is my heart's by talking, but by acting as the disciples of desire and prayer for you, that whether I see Christ; when they go on steadily, not by fits you, or else be absent from you, I may know and starts, prizing the means of grace, with that you stand fast in one spirit and one out resting in them: when it is thus, we can mind, striving together for the faith of the say, Now we live, if you stand fast in the gospel.-I am, &c.
Baptist's aphorism, John iii. 27. “A man
can receive nothing, except it be given him
Nov. - 1775. from heaven." I well know, that the little MY DEAR MADAM,—Too much of that im- measure of knowledge I have obtained in patience which you speak of, towards those the things of God, has not been owing to my who differ from us in some religious senti- own wisdom and docility, but to his goodness. ments, is observable on all sides. I do not Nor did I get it all at once; he has been consider it as the fault of a few individuals, pleased to exercise much patience and longor of this or that party, so much as the effect suffering towards me, for about twenty-seven of that inherent imperfection which is com- years past, since he first gave me a desire of mon to our whole race. Anger and scorn learning from himself. He has graciously acare equally unbecoming in those who pro- commodated himself to my weakness, borne fess to be followers of the meek and lowly with mistakes, and helped me through inJesus, and who acknowledge themselves to numerable prejudices, which, but for his be both sinful and fallible; but too often some- mercy, would have been insuperable hinthing of this leaven will be found cleaving derances: I have therefore no right to be anto the best characters, and mixed with honest gry, impatient, or censorious, especially as I endeavours to serve the best cause. But have still much to learn, and am so poorly thus it was from the beginning; and we have influenced by what I seem to know. I am reason to confess that we are no better than weary of controversies and disputes, and dethe apostles were, who, though they meant sire to choose for myself, and to point out to well, manifested once and again a wrong spi- others, Mary's part, to sit at Jesus' feet, and rit in their zeal, Luke ix. 54. Observation to hear his words. And, blessed be his and experience contribute, by the grace of name! so far as I have learned from him, I God, gradually to soften and sweeten our spi- am favoured with a comfortable certainty: I rits; but then there will always be ground know whom I have believed, and am no for mutual forbearance and mutual forgive- longer tossed about by the various winds and ness on his head. However, so far as I may tides of opinions, by which I see many are judge of myself, I think this hastiness is not dashed one against the other. But I cannot, my most easily besetting sin. I am not in- I must not, I dare not contend; only, as a deed an advocate for that indifference and witness for God, I am ready to bear my simlukewarmness to the truths of God, which ple testimony to what I have known of his seem to constitute the candour many plead truth, whenever I am properly called to it. for in the present day. But while I desire I agree with you, that some accounted to hold fast the sound doctrines of the gospel, evangelical teachers have too much confined towards the persons of my fellow-creatures, themselves to a few leading and favourite I wish to exercise all moderation and benevo- | topics. I think this a fault; and believe, lence. Protestants or Papists, Socinians or when it is constantly so, the auditors are de Deists, Jews, Samaritans, or Mahometans, prived of much edification and pleasure, all are my neighbours, they have all a claim which they might receive from a more judiupon me for the common offices of humanity. cious and comprehensive plan. The whole As to religion, they cannot all be right; nor scripture, as it consists of histories, prophemay I compliment them by allowing the dif- cies, doctrines, precepts, promises, exhortferences between us are but trivial, when I ations, admonitions, encouragements, and believe and know they are important; but I reproofs, is the proper subject of the gospelam not to expect them to see with my eyes. ministry; and every part should in its place I am deeply convinced of the truth of John and course be attended to; yet, so as that, in
every compartment we exhibit, Jesus should thoughts and intents of every heart; must be the capital figure; in whom the prophecies have his eye always upon them, his ear alare fulfilled, the promises established; to ways open to them, his arm ever stretched whom, in a way of type and emblem, the out for their relief; that they can receive nomost important parts of scripture history thing but what he bestows, can do nothing have an express reference; and from whom but as he enables them, nor stand a moment alone we can receive that life, strength, and but as he upholds them : admitting these and encouragement, which are necessary to make the like promises, with which the word of obedience either pleasing or practicable. And God abounds, reason must allow, whatever where there is true spiritual faith in the difficulties may attend the thought, that only heart, and in exercise, I believe a person he who is God over all, blessed for ever, is will not so much need a detail of what he is able or worthy to execute this complicated to practice, as to be often greatly at a loss plan, every part of which requires the exerwithout it. Our Saviour's commandments tion of infinite wisdom and almighty power; are plain and clear in themselves; and that nor am I able to form any clear, satisfactory, love which springs from faith, is the best or comfortable thoughts of God, suited to casuist and commentator to apply and en- awaken my love or engage my trust, but as force them.
he has been pleased to reveal himself in the You are pleased to say, “Forgive me if I person of Jesus Christ. I believe, with the transgress; I know the place whereon I stand apostle, that God was once manifested in the is holy ground.” Permit me to assure you, filesh upon earth, and that he is now manimy dear madam, that were I, which I am fested in the flesh in heaven; and that the not, a person of some importance, you would worship, not only of redeemed sinners, but of run no hazard of offending me by controvert- the holy angels, is addressed to the Lamb that ing any of my sentiments: I hold none was slain, and who, in that nature in which (knowingly) which I am not willing to sub- he suffered, now exercises universal domimit to examination ; nor am I afraid of of- nion, and has the government of heaven, fending you by speaking freely, when you earth, and hell upon his shoulders. This point out my way. I should wrong you, if truth is the foundation upon which my hope I thought to please you by palliating or dis- is built, the fountain from whence I derive guising the sentiments of my heart; and if I all my strength and consolation, and my only attempt to do so, you would soon see through encouragement for venturing to the throne the design, and despise it. There may per- of grace, for grace to help in time of need. haps be an improper manner of chiming upon the name of Jesus, and I am not for vindicat
Till God in human flesh I see,
My thoughts no comfort find; ing any impropriety; yet, could I feel what
The holy, just, and sacred Three I ought to mean when I pronounce that
Are terrors to my mind. name, I should not fear mentioning it too
But if Immanuel's face appear, often. I am afraid of no excess in thinking
My hope, my joy begins; highly of it, because I read it is the will of
His name forbids my slavish fear,
His grace removes my sins. God that all men should honour the Son as they honour the Father. Laboured explica I am, however, free to confess to you, that, tions of the Trinity I always avoid. I am through the pride and unbelief remaining in afraid of darkening counsel by words with my heart, and the power of Satan's temptaout knowledge. Scripture, and even reason, tions, there are seasons when I find no small assures me, there is but one God, whose name perplexity and evil reasonings upon this high alone is Jehovah. Scripture likewise as- point; but it is so absolutely essential to my fures me that Christ is God, that Jesus is peace that I cannot part with it, for I canJehovah. I cannot say that reason assents not give it up without giving up all hope of with equal readiness to this proposition as to salvation on the one hand, and giving up the the foriner. But, admitting what the scrip- Bible, as an unmeaning, contradictory table, tures teach concerning the evil of sin, the on the other; and, through mercy, for the depravity of human nature, the method of most part, when I am in my right mind, I salvation, and the office of the Saviour; ad-am as fully persuaded of this truth as I am mitting that God has purposed to glorify, of my own existence; but, from the exercises not his mercy only, but his justice, in the I have had about it, I have learned to subwork of redemption; that the biood shed upon scribe to the apostle's declaration, that “ the cross is a proper, adequate satisfaction man can say that Jesus Christ is Lord, but for sin; and that the Redeemer is at present by the Holy Ghost.” I am well satisfied it the Shepherd of those who believe in him, will not be a burden to me at the hour of and will hereafter be the Judge of the world; death, nor be laid to my charge at the day that, in order to give the effectual help which of judgment, that I have thought too highly we need, it is necessary that he be always of Jesus, expected too much from him myself, intimately with those who depend upon him, or laboured too much in commending and in every age, in every place; must know the setting him forth to others as the Alpha and