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must therefore contract my homily. Aflic-, will of God under our trials, if we did not feel tions evidence to ourselves, and manifest to them. He who knows our frame is pleased others, the reality of grace. And when we to allow, that afflictions for the present are not suffer as christians, exercise some measure of joyous, but grievous. But to them that fear that patience and submission, and receive him he is near at hand, to support their spirits. some measure of these supports and supplies to moderate their grief, and in the issue to which the gospel requires and promises to sanctify it; so that they shall come out of the believers, we are more confirmed that we furnace refined, more humble, and more spihave not taken up with mere notions; and ritual. There is, however, a part assigned others may be convinced, that we do not us; we are to pray for the help in need; and follow cunningly devised fables. They like- we are not wilfully to give way to the imwise strengthen by exercise our graces. As pression of overwhelming sorrow. We are our limbs and natural powers would be fee- to endeavour to turn our thoughts to such ble if not called to daily exertion ; so the considerations as are suited to alleviate it; graces of the Spirit would languish, unless our deserts as sinners, the many mercies we something was provided to draw them out to are still indulged with, the still greater use. And, to say no more, they are honour- afflictions which many of our fellow-creatures able as they advance our conformity to Jesus endure, and above all, the sufferings of Jesus, our Lord, who was a man of sorrows for our that man of sorrows, who made himself intisakes. Methinks, if we might go to heaven mately acquainted with grief for our sakes. without suffering, we should be unwilling to When the will of the Lord is manifested desire it. Why should we ever wish to go to us by the event, we are to look to him for by any other path than that which he has grace and strength, and to be still and know consecrated and endeared by his own exam- that he is God, that he has a right to dispose ple? especially as his people's sufferings are of us and ours as he pleases, and that in the not penal; there is no wrath in them; the exercise of this right he is most certainly good cup he puts in their hands is very different and wise. We often complain of losses; but from that which he drank for their sakes, and the expression is rather improper. Strictly is only medicinal to promote their chief good. speaking, we can lose nothing, because we Here I must stop; but the subject is fruitful, have no real property in any thing. Our and might be pursued through a quire of pa- earthly comforts are lent ns, and when recallper.-I am, &c.
ed, we ought to return and resign them with thankfulness to him who has let them remain so long in our hands. But, as I said
above, I do not mean to enlarge in this strain; LETTER VI.
I hope the Lord, the only Comforter will
bring such thoughts with warmth and efficacy August – 1778. upon your mind. Your wound, while fresh, MY DEAR MADAM,– Your obliging favour is painful; but faith, prayer, and time will, of the 22d from B which I received last I trust, gradually render it tolerable. There night, demands an immediate acknowledg- is something fascinating in grief: painful as ment. Many things which would have of it is, we are prone to indulge it, and to brood fered by way of answer, must for the present over the thoughts and circumstances which be postponed; for the same post brought an are suited (like fuel to fire) to heighten and information which turns my thoughts to one prolong it. When the Lord afflicts, it is his subject. What shall I say? Topics of con- design that we should grieve; but in this, as solation are at hand in abundance; they are in all other things there is a certain moderafamiliar to your mind; and were I to fill the tion which becomes a christian, and which sheet with them I could suggest nothing but only grace can teach; and grace teaches us, what you already know. Then are they not by books or by hearsay, but by expericonsolatory indeed, when the Lord himself mental lessons: all beyond this should be is pleased to apply them to the heart. This he avoided and guarded against as sinful and has promised, and therefore, we are encou- hurtful. Grief, when indulged and excessive, raged to expect it. This is my prayer for preys upon the spirits, injures health, indisyou: I sincerely sympathize with you; I poses us for duty, and causes us to shed tears cannot comfort you; but he can; and I trust which deserve more tears. This is a weephe will. How impertinent would it be to ing world. Sin has filled it with thorns and advise you to forget or suspend the feelings briars, with crosses and calamities. It is a which such a stroke must excite! Who can great hospital, resounding with groans in help feeling! nor is sensibility in itself sinful. every quarter. It is as a field of battle, Christian resignation is very different from where many are falling around us continualthat stoical stubbornness, which is most easily ly; and it is more wonderful that we escape practised by those unamiable characters whose so well, than that we are sometimes wounded. regards centre wholly in self; nor could we We must have some share; it is the unavoidin a proper manner exercise submission to the able lot of our nature and state. It is like
wise needful in point of discipline: the Lord of what is transacting in his mind! Thus I will certainly chasten those whom he loves, have encouraged my hope. But the best though others may seem to pass for a time satisfaction of all, is to be duly impressed with impunity. That is a sweet, instructive, with the voice that says, “ Be still, and know and important passage, Heb. xii. 5. 11. It that I am God.” These words direct us, is so plain, that it needs no comment; so full not only to his sovereignty, his undoubted that a comment would but weaken it. May right to do what he will with his own, but to the Lord inscribe it upon your heart, my dear all his adorable and amiable perfections, by madam, and upon mine.--I am, &c. which he has manifested himself to us in the
Son of his love.
As I am not a Sadducee; the account you
give of the music which entertained you on LETTER VII.
the road does not put my dependence either
upon your veracity or your judgment to any November - 1778. trial. We live upon the confines of the in. MY DEAR MADAM,—Your obliging favour visible world, or rather perhaps in the midst raised in me a variety of emotions when I of it. That unseen agents have a power of first received it, and has revived them this operating upon our minds, at least upon that morning while perusing it again. I have mysterious faculty we call the imagination, mourned and rejoiced with you, and felt is with me not merely a point of opinion, or pain and pleasure in succession, as you di- even of faith, but of experience. That evil versified the subject. However, the weight spirits, can, when permitted, disturb, distress, of your grief I was willing to consider as a and defile us, I know, as well as I know that thing that is past; and the thought that you the fire can burn me. And though their inhad been mercifully supported under it, and terposition is perhaps more easily and cerbrought through it
, that you were restored tainly distinguishable, yet, from analogy, I conhome in safety, and that the time of writing clude that good spirits are equally willing, and you were tolerably well and composed, made equally able, to employ their kind offices for joy upon the whole preponderate, and I am our relief and comfort. I have formed in more disposed to congratulate you, and join my mind a kind of system upon this subject, you in praising the Lord for the mercies you which for the most part I keep pretty much enumerate, than to prolong my condolence to myself; but I can entrust my thoughts to upon the mournful parts of your letter. Re- you as they occasionally offer. I apprehend peated trying occasions have made me well that some persons (those particularly who acquainted with the anxious inquiries with rank under the class of nervous) are more which the busy poring mind is apt to pursue open and accessible to these impressions than departed friends. It can hardly be other- others, and probably the same person more wise under some circumstances. I have so at some times than others. And though found prayer the best relief. I have thought we frequently distinguish between imaginary
allowable to avail myself to the ut- and real (which is one reason why nervous most of every favourable consideration; but people are so seldom pitied,) yet an impresI have had the most comfort, when I have sion upon the imagination may, as to the been enabled to resign the whole concern agent that produces it, and to the person that into his hands, whose thoughts and ways, receives it, be as much a reality as any of whose power and goodness, are infinitely su- the sensible objects around him; though a perior to our conceptions. I consider, in by-stander, not being able to share in the such cases, that the great Redeemer can perception, may account it a mere whim, and save to the uttermost, and the great teacher suppose it might be avoided or removed by can cornmunicate light, and impress truth, an act of the will. Nor have any a right to when and how he pleases. I trust the power withhold their assent to what the scriptures of his grace and compassion will hereafter teach, and many sober persons declare, of triumphantly appear, in many instances, of this invisible agency, merely because we persons, who, on their dying beds, and in cannot answer the questions, How? or Why? their last moments, have been, by his mercy, The thing may be certain, though we canconstrained to feel the importance and reality not easily explain it; and there may be just of truths, which they did not properly under- and important reasons for it, though we stand and attend to in the hour of health and should not be able to assign them. If what prosperity. Such a salutary change I have you heard, or which, in my view, is much frequently, or at least more than once, twice the same, what you thought you heard, had a or thrice, been an eye-witness to, accompa- tendency to compose your spirit, and to encounied with such evidence as, I think, has been rage your application to the Lord for help, at quite satisfactory. And who can say such a the time when you were about to stand in change may not often take place, when the need of especial assistance, then there is a person who is the subject of it is too much sufficient and suitable reason assigned for it enfeebled to give an account to by-standers at once, without looking any farther. It
would be dangerous to make impressions compared with what we shall obtain. To exa rule of duty; but if they strengthen us, change a dungeon for a palace, earth for heaand assist us in the performance of what we ven, will call for no self-denial when we stand know to be our duty, we may be thankful for upon the threshold of eternity, and shall have them.
a clearer view than we have now of the vaYou have taken leave of your favourite nity of what is passing from us, and the glory trees, and the scenes of your younger life, of what is before us. The partial changes we but a few years sooner than you must have meet with in our way through life are dedone, if the late dispensation had not taken signed to remind us of, and prepare us for, place. All must be left soon; for all below the great change which awaits us at the end is polluted, and, in its best state, is too scanty of it. The Lord grant that we may find to afford us happiness. If we are believers mercy of the Lord in that solemn hour.-) in Jesus, all we can quit is a mere nothing, I am, &c.
TO MRS. T
David, he perceived it by their looks, and
when, upon inquiry, they said it was so, he
March 12, 1774. received the news with a composure that MY DEAR MADAM, -My heart is full, yet I surprised them. But he soon explained the must restrain it. Many thoughts which reason, by telling them, that for such discrowd my mind, and would have vent, were coveries of the Lord's goodness as he had I writing to another person, would to you be been favoured with that morning, he could unseasonable. I write, not to remind you of be content to lose a son every day. Yes, what you have lost, but of what you have, madam, though every stream must fail, the which you cannot lose. May the Lord put fountain is still full, and still flowing. All a word into my heart that may be acceptable, the comfort you ever received in your dear and may his good Spirit accompany the pe- friend was from the Lord, who is abundantly rusal, and enable you to say, with the apos- able to comfort you still ; and he is gone but tle, that as sufferings abound, consolations a little before you. May your faith anticialso abound by Jesus Christ. Indeed, I can pate the joyful and glorious meeting you sympathize with you. I remember, too, the will shortly have in a better world. Then delicacy of your frame, and the tenderness your worship and converse together will be of your natural spirits; so that, were you not to unspeakable advantage, without imperfec. interested in the exceeding great and preci- tion, interruption, abatement, or end. Then ous promises of the gospel, I should be ready all tears shall be wiped away, and every to fear you must sink under your trial. But cloud removed; and then you will see, that I have some faint conceptions of the all-suffi- all your concernments here below (the late ciency and faithfulness of the Lord, and may afflicting dispensation not excepted,) were address you in the king's words to Daniel, appointed and adjusted by infinite wisdom “ Thy God, whom thou servest continually, and infinite love. he will deliver thee.” Motives for resigna The Lord, who knows our fraine, does not tion to his will abound in his word; but it is expect or require that we should aim at a an additional and crowning mercy, that he stoical indifference under his visitations. He has promised to apply and enforce them in allows, that afflictions are at present not joytime of need. He has said, “ My grace shall ous, but grievous; yea, he was pleased, when be sufficient for thee;" and "as thy day is, upon earth, to weep with his mourning so shall thy strength be.” This, I trust you friends when Lazarus died. But he has have already experienced. The Lord is so graciously provided for the prevention of that rich and so good, that he can, by a glance of anguish and bitterness of sorrow, which is, thought, compensate his children - for what- upon such occasions, the portion of such as ever his wisdom sees fit to deprive them of. live without God in the world; and has enIf he gives them a lively sense of what he gaged that all shall work together for good, has delivered them from, and prepared for and yield the peaceable fruits of righteousthem, or of what he himself subritied to en- ness. May he bless you with a sweet sedure for their sakes, they find at once light renity of spirit, and a cheerful hope of the springing up out of darkness, hard things be- glory that shall shortly be revealed. come easy, and bitter sweet. I remember I intimated that I would not trouble you to have read of a good man in the last cen- with my own sense and share of this loss. tury (probably you may have met with the If you remember the great kindness I always story,) who when his beloved and only son received from Mr. T- and yourself, as lay ill, was for some time greatly anxious often as opportunity afforded, and if you will about the event. One morning he staid believe me possessed of any sensibility or longer than usual in his closet; while he gratitude, you will conclude that my concern was there, his son died. When he came out, is not small. I feel likewise for the public. his family were afraid to tell him, but, like | Will it be a consolation to you, madam, to
know that you do not mourn alone? A cha-their seal to this, not only in theory, when racter so exemplary as a friend, a counsellor, all things go smooth, but practically, when a christian, and a minister, will be long and called upon to pass through the fire and deeply regretted ; and many will join with water, then his grace is glorified in them me in praying, that you, who are most nearly and by them: then it appears botn to theminterested, may be signally supported, and selves and to others, that they have neither feel the propriety of Mrs. Rowe's acknow- followed cunningly devised fables, nor amused ledgment,
themselves with empty notions; then they Thou dost but take the dying lamp away,
know in themselves, and it is evidenced to To bless me with thine own unclouded day. others, that God is with them of a truth. In We join in most affectionate respects and this view a believer, when in some good condolence. May the Lord bless you and measure divested from that narrow selfish keep you, lift up the light of his countenance disposition which cleaves so close to us by upon you, and give you peace. I am, &c. nature, will not only submit to trials, but
rejoice in them, notwithstanding the feelings and reluctance of the flesh. For if I am
redeemed from misery by the blood of Jesus, LETTER II.
and if he is now preparing me a mansion
near himself, that I may drink of the rivers April 3, 1775.
of pleasure at his right hand for evermore; MY DEAR MADAM,—I have long and often the question is not (at least ought not to be,) purposed waiting upon you with a second How may I pass through life with the least letter, though one thing or other still caused inconvenience ? but, How may my little span delay; for though I could not but wish to of life be made most subservient to the praise hear from you, I was far from making that a and glory of him who loved me, and gave condition of my writing. If you have leisure himself for me? Where the Lord gives this and spirits to favour me with a line now and desire, he will gratify it; and as afflictions then, it will give us much pleasure; but if for the most part afford the fairest opportuninot, it will be a sufficient inducement with ties of this kind, therefore it is, that those me to write, to know that you give me whom he is pleased eminently to honour are liberty, and that you will receive my letters usually called, at one time or another, to the in good part. At the same time, I must add, 'heaviest trials; not because he loves to grieve that my various engagements will not permit them, but because he hears their
prayers, and me to break in upon you so often as my accepts their desires of doing him service in sincere affection would otherwise prompt me the world. The post of honour in wars is to do.
so called because attended with difficulties I heartily thank you for yours, and hope and dangers which but few are supposed my soul desires to praise the Lord on your equal to; yet generals usually allot these behalf
. I am persuaded that his goodness to hard services to their favourites and friends, you, in supporting you under a trial so sharp who, on their parts, eagerly accept them as in itself, and in the circumstances that at- tokens of favour and marks of confidence. tended it, has been an encouragement and Should we, therefore, not account it an hocomfort to many. It is in such apparently nour and a privilege, when the Captain of severe times that the all-sufficiency and faith- our salvation assigns us a difficult post ? since fulness of the Lord, and the power and pro- he can and does (which no earthly comper effects of his precious gospel, are most mander can) inspire his soldiers with wisdom, eminently displayed. I would hope, and I courage, and strength, suitable to their situado believe, that the knowledge of your case tion, 2 Cor. xii. 9, 10. I am acquainted with has animated some of the Lord's people a few who have been led thus into the foreagainst those anxious fears, which they some- front of the battle: they suffered much; but times feel when they look upon their earthly I have never heard them say they suffered cornforts with too careful an eye, and their too much; for the Lord stood by them and hearts are ready to sink at the thought. strengthened them. Go on, my dear madam; What should I do, and how should I behave, yet a little while, Jesus will wipe away all were the Lord pleased to take away my de- tears from your eyes; you will see your sire with a stroke? But we see he can sup- beloved friend again, and he and you will ply their absence, and afford us superior rejoice together for ever.-I am, &c. comforts without them. The gospel reveals one thing needful, the pearl of great price; and supposes that they who possess this are provided for against all events, and have
LETTER III. ground of unshaken hope, and a source of
October 24, 1775. never failing consolation under every change MY DEAR MADAM,—The manner in which they can meet with during their pilgrimage you mention Omicron's letters, I hope, wil. state. When his people are enabled to set rather humble ine ihun pufi' me up. Your