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Omega, the true God and eternal life. On in the flesh, met with your approbation. the contrary, alas ! alas! my guilt and grief | This doctrine is, in my view, the great foundare, that my thoughts of him are so faint, so ation-stone upon which all true religion is infrequent, and my commendations of him so built; but, alas ! in the present day, it is the lamentably cold and disproportionate to what stumbling-stone and rock of offence, upon they ought to be.
which too many, fondly presuming upon I know not whose letters are rapturous, their own wisdom, fall and are broken. I but I wish mine were more so; not that I am am so far from wondering that any should a friend to ungrounded sallies of imagina- doubt of it, that I am firmly persuaded none tion, flights of animal passions, or heat with can truly believe it, however plainly set out light. But it would be amazing to me, forth in scripture, unless it be revealed to were I not aware of human depravity, of them from heaven, or, in the apostle's words, which I consider this as one of the most that “no one can call Jesus Christ Lord, but striking proofs, that they who have any good by the Holy Ghost." I believe there are hope of an interest in the gospel salvation many who think they believe it, because do not find their hearts (as Dr. Watts ex- they have taken it for granted, and never presses it) all on fire, and that their very attentively considered the difficulties with looks do not express a transport of admira- which it is attended in the eye of fallen tion, gratitude, and love, when they consider reason. Judging by natural light, it seems from what misery they are redeemed, to impossible to believe that the title of the what happiness they are called, and what a true God and eternal life should properly beprice was paid for their souls. I wish to be long to that despised man who hung dead more like the apostle Paul in this respect, upon the cross, exposed to the insults of his who, though he often forms and compounds cruel enemies. I know nothing that can obnew words, seems at a loss for any that viate the objections the reasoning mind is could suitably describe the emotions of his ready to form against it, but a real convicheart. But I am persuaded you would not tion of the sinfulness of sin, and the state of object to the just fervour of scriptural devo- a sinner as exposed to the curse of the holy tion. But this holy flame can seldom be law, and destitute of every plea and hope in found unsullied in the present life. The tem- himself. Then the necessity of a Redeemer, per, constitution, and infirmities of indivi- and the necessity of this Redeemer's being duals will mix more or less with what they almighty, is seen and felt, with an evidence say or do. Allowances must be made for which bears down all opposition; for neither such things in the present state of infirmity, the efficacy of his atonement and intercesfor who can hope to be perfectly free from sion, nor his sufficiency to guide, save, prothem? If the heart is right with God, and tect, and feed those who trust in bim, can sincerely affected with the wonders of re- be conceived of without it. When the eyes deeming love, our gracious High-priest, who of the understanding are opened, the soul knows our weakness, pities and pardons what made acquainted with and attentive to its is amiss, accepts our poor efforts, and gra- own state and wants, he that runs may read dually teaches us to discern and avoid what this truth, not in a few detached texts of a is blameable. The work of grace, in its first dubious import, and liable to be twisted and stages, I sometimes compare to the lighting tortured by the arts of criticism, but as interof a fire, where for a while there is abund-woven in the very frame and texture of the ance of smoke, but by and by it burns clear- Bible, and written, as with a sun-beam, er and clearer. There is often, both in let- throughout the principal parts both of the ters and books, what might be very well Old and New Testament. If Christ be the omitted ; but if a love to God and souls be shepherd and the husband of his people umder the leading principle, I pass as gentle cen- the gospel, and if his coining into the world sure upon the rest as I can, and apply to did not abridge those who feared God of the some eccentric expressions, what Mr. Prior privileges they were entitled to before his somewhere says of our civil dissensions in appearance, it follows, by undeniable consethis land of liberty,
quence, “ that he is God over all, blessed
for ever.” For David tells us, that his shepA bad effect, but from a noble cause.
herd was Jehovah; and the husband of the I am, &c.
Old Testament church was the Maker and God of the whole earth, the Holy One of Israel, whose name is the Lord of Hosts, Psalm
xxiii. 1; Is. liv. 8, with xlvii. 4. I agree LETTER II.
with you, madam, that among the many at
tempts which have been made to prove and February 16, 1776. illustrate the scripture doctrine, that the FaMY DEAR MADAM,— It gave me great com- ther, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, are one fort to find, that what I wrote concerning the God, there have been many injudicious, undivine character of Jesus, as God manifest | warrantable things advanced, which have
perplexed, instead of instructing, and of | hit upon that which was most suitable; and which the enemies of the truth have known extempore preachers may sometimes hope how to make their advantage. However, for a little allowance upon this head from the there have been tracts upon these sublime more candid part of their auditory, and not subjects, which have been written with judg: be made offenders for an inadvertence, which ment and an unction, and, I believe, attended they cannot perhaps always avoid in the with a blessing. I seem to preter Mr. Jones's hurry of speaking. With respect to the apbook on the Trinity to any I have seen, be- plication of some passages in the Old Testacause he does little more than state some of ment to our Lord and Saviour, I hold it safest the scripture evidence for it, and draws his to keep close to the specimens the apostles inferences briefly and plainly; though even have given us, and I would venture with he has admitted a few texts, which may, per-caution, if I go beyond their line; yet it is haps, be thought not quite full to the point; probable they have only given us a specimen; and he has certainly omitted several of the and that there are a great number of pasmost express and strongest testimonies. The sages which have a direct reference to gosbest and happiest proof of all, that this doc- pel-truths, though we may run some hazard trine is true in itself, and true to us, is the in making out the allusion. If St. Paul had experience of its effects. They who know not gone before me, I should have hesitated his name will put their trust in hin: they to assert, that the prohibition, “Thou shalt who are rightly impressed with his astonish- not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn,' ing condescension and love, in emptying was given, not upon the account of oxen, but himself, and submitting to the death of the altogether for our sakes: nor should I, withcross for our sakes, will find themselves un out his assistance, have found out that the der a sweet constraint to love him again, and history of Sarah and Hagar was a designed will feel a little of that emotion of heart allegory, to set forth the difference between which the apostle expresses in that lively the law and gospel covenants. Therefore, passage, Gal. vi. 14. The knowledge of when I hear ministers tracing some other Christ crucified, like Ithuriel's spear, re-allusions, I cannot be always sure that they moves the false appearance by which we push them too far, though perhaps they are have been too long cheated, and shows us the not quite satisfactory to my judgment; for it men and the things, the spirit, customs, and may be, they have a farther insight into the maxims of the world, in their just light. meaning of these places than myself. And I Were I perfectly master of myself and my think scriptures may be sometimes used to subject, I would never adduce any text in advantage, by way of accommodation, in po proof of a doctrine or assertion from the pul- pular discourses, and in something of a difpit, which was not direct and conclusive; ferent sense from what they bear in the because, if a text is pressed into an argument place where they stand, provided they are to which it has no proper relation, it rather not alleged as proofs, but only to illustrate encumbers than supports it, and raises a sus- a truth already proved or acknowledged. picion that the cause is weak, and better Though Job's friends and Job himself were testimonies in its favour cannot be obtained. mistaken, there are many great truths in Some misapplications of this kind have been their speeches, which, as such, may, I think, so long in use, that they pass pretty current, stand as the foundation of a discourse. Nay, though, if brought to the assay, they would I either have, or have often intended, to be found not quite sterling : but I endeavour borrow a truth even from the mouth of Satan, to avoid them to the best of my judgment. “Hast thou not set a hedge about him?" Thus, for instance, I have often heard (Rom. Such a confession extorted from our grand xiv. 23,) “Whatever is not of faith is sin," adversary, placing the safety of the Lord's quoted to prove, that without a principle of people, under his providential care, in a very saving faith, we can perform nothing accept- striking light. able to God: whereas it seems clear from the I perfectly agree with you, madam, that context, that faith is there used in another our religious sensations and exercises are sense, and signifies a firm persuasion of mind much influenced and tinctured by natural respecting the lawfulness of the action. constitution; and that, therefore, tears and However, I doubt not but the proposition in warm emotions on the one hand, or a comitself is strictly true in the other sense, if parative dryness of spirit on the other, are considered detached from the connexion in no sure indications of the real state of the which it stands; but I should rather choose heart. Appearances may agree in different to prove it from other passages, where it is persons, or vary in the same person, from directly affirmed, as Heb. xi. 6; Matth. xii. causes merely natural: even a change of 33. In such cases, I think hearers should be weather may have some influence in raising careful not to be prejudiced against a doc- or depressing the spirits, where the nerves trine, merely because it is not well sup- are very delicate ; and I think such persons ported; for perhaps it is capable of solid proof, are more susceptive of impressions from the though the preacher was not so happy as to | agency of invisible powers, both good and
evil; an agency which, though we cannot | with the apparatus of Latin or Greek, or enexplain, experience will not permit us to gage in voluminous performances, yet, in deny. However, though circumstantials rise the article of essay-writing, I think many and fall, the real difference between nature are qualified to succeed better than most and grace remains unalterable. That work men, having a peculiar easiness of style, of God upon the heart, which is sometimes which few of us can imitate. I remember called a new birth, at others a new creation, you once showed me a paper, together with is as distant from the highest effects of na- the corrections and alterations proposed by a tural principles, or the most specious iinita- gentleman whose opinion you had asked." I tions which education or resolutions can pro- thought his corrections had injured it, and duce, as light is from darkness, or life from given it an air of stiffness, which is often death. Only he who made the world can observable when learned men write in Engeither make a christian, or support and carry lish. Grammatical rules, as they are callon his own work. A thirst after God as our ed, are wholly derived from the mode of portion, a delight in Jesus, as the only way speaking or writing which obtains amongst and door; a renunciation of self and of the those who best undersand the language, for world, so far as it is opposite to the spirit of the language must be supposed established the gospel; these, and the like fruits of that before any grammar can be made for it; and grace, which bringeth salvation, are not only therefore women, who, from the course of beyond the power of our fallen nature, but their education and life, have had an opporcontrary to its tendency; so that we can have tunity of reading the best-written books, and no desires of this kind till they are given us conversing with those who speak well, though from above, and can for a season hardly bear they do not burden themselves with the for. to hear them spoken of, either as excellent mality of grammar, have often more skill in or necessary.-I am, &c.
the English language than the nien who can call every figure of speech by a Latin or Greek name.
You may be sure, madam, I
shall not wish your papers suppressed, merely LETTER III.
because they were not written by a learned
man. Language and style, however, are September 17, 1776. but the dress. Trifles, however adorned, are MY DEAR MADAM,—We are much indebt- trifles still. A person of spiritual discerned to you for your kind thoughts of us. ment would rather be the author of one page Hitherto I feel no uneasiness about what is written in the humble garb of Bunyan, upon before me; but I am afraid my tranquillity a serious subject, than to be able to rival the does not wholly spring from trust in the sprightliness and elegance of Lady M. W. Lord, and submission to his will, but that a Montague, unless it could be with a view to part of it at least is derived from the assur- edification. The subjects you propose are ances Mr. W. gave me, that the operation important; and, with respect to sacramental would be neither difficult nor dangerous. I meditations, and all devotional exercises so have not much of the hero in my constitu- called, I perfectly agree with you, that to be tion: if in great pains or sharp trials I should affecting and useful, they must be dictated ever show a becoming fortitude, it must be rather by the heart than by the head, and given me from above. I desire to leave all are most likely to influence others when they with him, in whose hands my ways are, and are the fruits and transcripts of our own exwho has promised me strength according to perience. So far as I know, we are but my day.
scantily provided with specimens of this sort I rejoice that the Lord has not only made in print, and therefore I shall be glad to see you desirous of being useful to others in their an accession to the public stock. Your other spiritual concerns, but has given you in some thought of helps to recollection on Saturday instances, to see that your desires and at- evenings is, I think, an attempt in which tempts have not been in vain. I shall thank- none have been beforehand with you. So fully accept of the commission you are that, according to the general appearance, I pleased to offer me, and take a pleasure in feel myself disposed to encourage you to do perusing any papers you may think proper as you have purposed. On the other hand, to put into my hands, and offer you my sen- if I meet with any thing, on the perusal of timents with that simplicity which I am per- the papers, which in my view may seem to suaded will be much more agreeable to you need alteration, I will freely and faithfully than compliments. Though I know there point it out. is in general a delicacy and difficulty in ser I can almost smile now, to think you once vices of this kind, yet, with respect to your classed me amongst the Stoics. if I dare self, I seem to have nothing to fear. speak with confidence of myself in any thing,
I have often wished we had more female I think I may lay claim to a little of that pleas. pens employed in the service of the sanctuary. ing, painful thing, sensibility. I need not Though few ladies encumber themselves boast of it, for it has too often been my
snare, my sin, and my punishment. Yet I any. Then I should be humble, patient, and would be thankful for a spice of it, as the submissive under all his dispensations, meek, Lord's gift, and when rightly exercised, it gentle, forbearing, and kind to my fellowis valuable; and I think I should make but worms. Then I should be active and dilian awkward minister without it, especially gent in improving all my talents and powers here. Where there is this sensibility in in his service, and for his glory, and live pot the natural temper, it will give a tincture to myself, but to him who loved me, and gave or cast to our religious expression. Indeed himself for me.--I am, &c. I often find this sensibility weakest where it should be strongest, and have reason to reproach myself that I am not more affected by the character, love, and sufferings of my
LETTER IV. Lord and Saviour, and my own peculiar personal obligations to him. However, my
November 29, 1776. views of religion have been such for many MY DEAR MADAM,—I am persuaded you years, as I supposed more likely to make me need not to be told, that though there are perbe deemed an enthusiast than a stoic. A haps supposable extremities, in which self moonlight head-knowledge derived from a would prevail over all considerations, yet in system of sentiments, however true in them- general it is more easy to suffer in our own selves, is in my judgment a poor thing; nor, persons than in the persons of those whom on the other hand, am I an admirer of those we dearly love; for through such a medium rapturous sallies, which are more owing to a our apprehensions possibly receive the idea warm imagination than to a just perception of the trouble enlarged beyond its just diof the power and importance of gospel-truth. mensions, and it would sit lighter upon us if The gospel addresses both head and heart; it were properly our own case, for then we and, where it has its proper effect, where it should feel it all, and there would be no room is received as the word of God, and is clothed for imagination to exaggerate. with the authority and energy of the Holy But though I feel grief, I trust the Lord Spirit, the understanding is enlightened, the has mercifully preserved me from impatience affections awakened and engaged, the will and murmuring, and that, in the midst of brought into subjection, and the whole soul all the pleadings of flesh and blood, there is delivered to its impression, as wax to the seal. a something within me that aims to say, withWhen this is the case, when the affections do out reserve or exception, “ Not my will, but not take the lead, and push forward with a thine be done.” blind impulse, but arise from the principles of It is a comfortable consideration, that he scripture, and are governed by them, the more with whom we have to do, our great Highwarmth the better. Yet in this state of in- priest, who once put away our sins by the firmity nothing is perfect, and our natural sacrifice of himself, and now for ever appears temperament and disposition will have more in the presence of God for us, is not only influence upon our religious sensations than possessed of sovereign authority and infinite we are ordinarily aware. It is well to know power, but wears our very nature, and feels how to make proper allowances and abate- and exercises in the highest degree those ments upon this head, in the judgment we tendernesses and commiserations which I form both of ourselves and of others. Many conceive are essential to humanity in its pergood people are distressed and alternately fect state. The whole history of his wonderelated by frames and feelings, which perhaps ful life is full of inimitable instances of this are more constitutional than properly re- kind. His bowels were moved before his ligious experiences. I dare not tell you, arm was exerted: he condescended to mingle madam, what I am, but I can tell you what tears with mourners, and wept over disI wish to be. The love of God, as manifest-tresses which he intended to relieve. He is ed in Jesus Christ, is what I would wish to still the same in his exalted state: compasbe the abiding object of my contemplation; sions dwell within his heart. In a way innot merely to speculate upon it as a doctrine, conceivable to us, but consistent with his but so feel it, and my own interest in it, as supreme dignity and perfection of happiness to have my heart filled with its effects, and and glory, he still feels for his people. When transformed into its resemblance; that with Saul persecuted the members upon earth, this glorious exemplar in my view, I may be the Head complained from heaven; and animated to a spirit of benevolence, love, and sooner shall the most tender mother sit incompassion to all around me; that my love sensible and inattentive to the cries and may be primarily fixed upon him who has so wants of her infant, than the Lord Jesus be loved me, and then, for his sake, diffused to an unconcerned spectator of his suffering all his children, and to all his creatures. children. No! with the eye, and the ear, Then, knowing that much is forgiven to me, and the heart of a friend, he attends to their I should be prompted to the ready exercise sorrows; he counts their sighs, puts their of forgiveness, if I have aught against | tears in his bottle; and, when our spirits, are
overwhelmed within us, he knows our path, | afflictions, when the Lord is pleased to employ
“Call upon me in the day of trouble, and i
to an Israelite, who, not having slain a man,
was in no danger of the avenger of blood.
He had a privilege near him, of which he December - 1776. knew not the use and value, because he was MY DEAR MADAM,-1 have often preached not in the case for which it was provided. to others of the benefit of affliction, but my But some can say, I not only believe this own path for many years has been so smooth, promise upon the authority of the speaker, and my trials, though I have not been without but I can set my seal to it; I have been in trials comparatively so light and few, that I trouble; I took this course for relief, and I have seemed to myself to speak by rote upon was not disappointed. The Lord verily a subject of which I had not a proper feeling: heard and delivered me. Thus afflictions Yet the many exercises of my poor afflicted likewise give occasion of our knowing and people, and the sympathy the Lord has given noticing more of the Lord's wisdom, power, me with them in their troubles, has made and goodness, in supporting and relieving, this a frequent and favourite topic of my than we should otherwise have known. ministry among them. The advantages of I have not time to take another sheet, and