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favourable acceptance of them, if alone, might I hope I do not write too late to meet you have the latter effect; but alas! I feel myself at Bath. I pray that your health may be so very defective in those things, the import- benefited by the waters, and your soul comance of which I endeavoured to point out to forted by the Lord's blessing upon the ordiothers, that I almost appear to myself to be nances, and the converse of his children. If one of those who say, but do not. I find it any of the friends you expected to see are much easier to speak to the hearts of others still there, to whom we are known, and my than to my own.

Yet I have cause beyond name should be mentioned, I beg you to say, many to bless God, that he has given me some we desire to be respectfully remembered to idea of what a christian ought to be, and I them. Had I wings I would fly to Bath hope a real desire of being one myself; but while you are there. As it is, I endeavour to verily I have attained but a very little way. be with you in spirit. There certainly is a A friend hinted to me, that the character I real, though secret, a sweet, though mysterihave given of C, or Grace in the full ear, ous communion of saints, by virtue of their must be from my own experience, or I could common union with Jesus. Feeding upon not have written it. To myself, however, it the same bread, drinking of the same fountain, appears otherwise; but I am well convinced, waiting at the same mercy-seat, and aiming that the state of C is attainable, and more to at the same ends, they have fellowship one be desired than mountains of gold and silver. with another, though at a distance. Who But I find you complain likewise; though it can tell how often the Holy Spirit, who is appears to me, and I believe to all who know equally present with them all, touches the you, that the Lord has been peculiarly gra- hearts of two or more of his children at the cious to you, in giving you much of the spirit same instant, so as to excite a sympathy of in which he delights, and by which his name pleasure, prayer, or praise, on each other's and the power of his gospel are glorificd. account? It revives me sometimes in a dull It seems, therefore, that we are not competent and dark hour to reflect, that the Lord has in judges either of ourselves or of others. I mercy given me a place in the hearts of take it for granted, that they are the most many of his people; and perhaps some of excellent christians who are most abased in them may be speaking to him on my behall, their own eyes: but lest you think upon this when I have hardly power to utter a word ground that I am something, because I can for myself. For kind services of this sort, I say so many humiliating things of myself, I persuade myself I am often indebted to you. must prevent your over-rating me, by assur- 10 that I were enabled more fervently to ing you, that my confessions rather express repay you in the same way! I can say, that what I know I ought to think of myself, than I attempt it; I love and honour you greaty, what I actually do. Naturalists suppose, and your concernments are often upon my that if the matter of which the earth is mind. formed were condensed as much as it is We spent most of a week with Mr. Bcapable of, it would occupy but a very small since we returned from London, and he has space; in proof of which they observe, that a been once here. We have reason to be very cubical pane of glass, which appears smooth thankful for his connexion; I find but few and impervious to us, must be exceedingly like-minded with him, and his family is filled porous in itself; since in every assignable with the grace and peace of the gospel. I point it receives and transmits the rays of never visit them but I meet with something light; and yet gold, which is the most solid to humble, quicken, and edify me. Oh! what substance we are acquainted with, is but will heaven be, where there shall be all wbo about eight times heavier than glass which love the Lord Jesus, and they only; where all is made up (if I may say so) of nothing but imperfection, and whatever now abates or inpores. In like manner, I conceive, that in- terrupts their joy in their Lord and in each herent grace, when it is dilated, and appears other, shall cease for ever. There at least I to the greatest advantage in a sinner, would hope to meet you, and spend an eternity with be found to be very small and inconsiderable, you, in admiring the riches and glory of reif it were condensed, and absolutely separated deeming love. from every mixture. The bighest attain We join in a tender of the most affectionments in this life are very inconsiderable, ate respects.--I am, &c. compared with what should properly result froin our relation and obligations to a God of infinite holiness. The nearer we approach to him, the more we are sensible of this.

LETTER IV. While we only hear of God as it were by the ear, we seem to be something; but when,

October 28, 1777. as in the case of Job, he discovers himself MY DEAR MADAM,–What can I say for more sensibly to us, Job's language becomes myself, to let your obliging letter remain ours, and the height of our attainment is, to long unanswered, when your kind solicitade abhor ourselves in dust and ashes..

you to write? I am ashamed

fur

of the delay. You would have heard from cause we are not perfect, then he fights, not me immediately, had I been at home. But only against our peace, but against the hoI have reason to be thankful that we were nour and faithfulness of our dear Lord. Our providentially called to London a few days righteousness is in him, and our hope debefore the fire; so that Mrs. was mer- pends, not upon the exercise of grace in us, cifully preserved from the alarm and shock but upon the fulness of grace and love in him, she must have felt, had she been upon the and upon his obedience unto death. spot. Your letter followed me hither, and There is, my dear madam, a difference bewas in my possession more than a week between the holiness of a sinner and that of an fore my return. I purposed writing every angel. The angels have never sinned, nor day, but indeed I was much hurried and en- have they tasted of redeeming love; they gaged. Yet I am not excused : J ought to have no inward conflicts, no law of sin warhave saved time from my meals or my sleep, ring in their members; their obedience is perrather than appear negligent or ungrateful. fect; their happiness is complete. Yet if I I now seize the first post I could write by be found among redeemed sinners, I need since I came home. The fire devoured not wish to be an angel. Perhaps God is twelve houses, and it was a mercy, and al- | not less glorified by your obedience, and, not most a miracle, that the whole town was not to shock you, I will add by mine, than by destroyed, which must, humanly speaking, Gabriel's. It is a mighty manifestation of have been the case, had not the night been his grace indeed, when it can live, and act, calm, as two thirds of the buildings were and conquer in such hearts as ours; when, thatched. No lives were lost, no person in defiance of an evil nature and an evil considerably hurt, and I believe the contri- world, and all the force and subtilty of Satan, butions of the benevolent will prevent the a weak worin is still upheld, and enabled not loss from being greatly felt. It was at the only to climb, but to thresh the mountains; the distance of a quarter of a mile from my when a small spark is preserved through house.

storms and floods. In these circumstances, Your command limits my attention at the work of grace is to be estimated, not present to a part of your letter, and points merely from its imperfect appearance, but me out a subject. Yet, at the same time, from the difficulties it has to struggle with you lay me under a difficulty. I would not and overcome; and therefore our holiness willingly offend you, and I hope the Lord does not consist in great attainments, but in has taught me not to aim at saying hand spiritual desires, in hungerings, thirstings, some things. I deal not in compliments, and and mournings; in humiliation of heart, poreligious compliments are the most unseemly verty of spirit, submission, meekness; in corof any. But why might I not express my dial admiring thoughts of Jesus, and desense of the grace of God manifested in you as pendence upon him alone for all we want. well as in another? I believe our hearts are indeed these may be said to be great attainall alike destitute of every good, and prone ments; but they who have most of them are to every evil. Like money from the same most sensible that they, in and of themselves, inint, they bear the same impression of total are nothing, have nothing, can do nothing, depravity'; but grace makes a difference, and and see daily cause for abhorring themselves, grace deserves the praise. Perhaps it ought and repenting in dust and ashes. pot greatly to displease you, that others do, Our view of death will not always be alike, and must, and will think better of you than but in proportion to the degree in which the you do of yourself. If I do, how can I help Holy Spirit is pleased to communicate his it, when I form my judgment entirely from sensible influence. We may anticipate the what you say and write? I cannot consent moment of dissolution with pleasure and dethat you should seriously appoint me to ex- sire in the morning, and be ready to shrink amine and judge of your state. I thought from the thought of it before night. But you knew beyond the shadow of a doubt, though our frames and perceptions vary, the what your views and desires are; yea, you report of faith concerning it is the same. express them in your letter, in full agree- The Lord usually reserves dying strength Inent with what the scriptures declare of the for a dying hour. When Israel was to pass principles, desires, and feelings of a chris- Jordan, the ark was in the river; and though tian. It is true that you feel contrary prin- the rear of the host could not see it, yet as ciples, that you are conscious of defects and they successively came forward and apdefilements; but it is equally true that you proached the banks, they all beheld the ark, could not be right if you did not feel these and all went safely over. As you are not things. To be conscious of them, and hum- weary of living, if it be the Lord's pleasure, bled for them, is one of the surest marks of so I hope, for the sake of your friends and grace; and to be more deeply sensible of the people whom you love, he will spare you them than formerly is the best evidence of amongst us a litile longer; but when the growth in grace. But when the enemy time shall arrive which he has appointed for would tempt us to doubt and distrust, be- your dismission, I make no doubt but he will

overpower all your fears, silence all your our heads himself in the day of battle, to enemies, and give you a comfortable, triumph- bring us honourably through every skirmish, ant entrance into his kingdom. You have and to make us more than conquerors at last. nothing to fear from death; for Jesus, by dy- If you think iny short unexpected interview ing, has disarmed it of its sting, has perfum- with Mr. C may justify my wishing he ed the grave, and opened the gates of glory should know that I respect his character, for his believing people. Satan, so far as he love his person, and rejoice in what the Lord is permitted, will assault our peace, but he is has done and is doing for him and by him, I a vanquished enemy; our Lord holds him in a beg you tell him so; but I leave it entirely chain, and sets him bounds which he cannot to yourself. pass. He provides for us likewise the whole We join in most affectionate respects.1 armour of God, and has promised to cover I am, &c.

LETTERS

TO MR.

LETTER I.

2. Besides this affectionate desire and rea.

diness to preach, there must in due season

March 7, 1765. appear some competent sufficiency as to gifts, DEAR SIR,—Your favour of the 19th Fe- knowledge, and utterance. Surely, if the bruary came to my hand yesterday. I have Lord sends a man to teach others, he will read it with attention, and very willingly sit furnish him with the means. I believe many down to offer you my thoughts. Your case have intended well in setting up for preachers, reminds me of my own: my first desires who yet went beyond or before their call in towards the ministry were attended with so doing. The main difference between a great uncertainties and difficulties, and the minister and a private christian, seems to perplexity of my own mind was heightened consist in these ministerial gifts, which are by the various and opposite judgments of my imparted to him, not for his own sake, but friends. The advice I have to offer is the for the edification of others. But then I say, result of painful experience and exercise, and these are to appear in due season; they are for this reason, perhaps, may not be unac- not to be expected instantaneously, but graceptable to you. I pray our gracious Lord dually, in the use of proper means. They to make it useful.

are necessary for the discharge of the minisI was long distressed, as you are, about try, but not necessary as pre-requisites to what was or was not a proper call to the warrant our desires after it. In your case, ministry. It now seems to me an easy point you are young, and have time before you; to solve; but, perhaps, it will not be so to therefore, I think you need not as yet perplex you, till the Lord shall make it clear to yourself with inquiring if you have these yourself in your own case. I have not gifts already. It is sufficient if your desire room to say so much as I could. In brief, I is fixed, and you are willing, in the way of think it principally includes three things: prayer and diligence, to wait upon the Lord

1. A warm and earnest desire to be em- for them; as yet you need them not. ployed in this service. I apprehend the man 3. That which finally evidences a proper who is once moved by the Spirit of God to call, is a correspondent opening in providence, this work, will prefer it, if attainable, to by a gradual train of circumstances pointing thousands of gold and silver: so that, though out the means, the time, the place, of actually he is at times intimidated by a sense of its entering upon the work. And till this coinimportance and difficulty, compared with his cidence arrives, you must not expect to be own great insufficiency (for it is to be pre- always clear from hesitation in your own sumed a call of this sort, if indeed from God, mind. The principal caution on this head will be accompanied with humility and self- is, not to be too hasty in catching at first apabasement,) yet he cannot give it up. I pearances. If it be the Lord's will to bring hold it a good rule to inquire in this point, you into his ministry, he has already apwhether the desire to preach is most fervent pointed your place and service; and though in our most lively and spiritual frames, or you know it not at present, you shall at a when we are most laid in the dust before the proper time. If you had the talents of an Lord? If so, it is a good sign. But if, as is angel, you could do no good with them till his sometimes the case, a person is very earnest hour is come, and till he leads you to the to be a preacher to others, when he finds but people whom he has determined to bless by little hungerings and thirstings after grace your means. It is very difficult to restrain in his own soul, it is then to be feared, his ourselves within the bounds of prudence here, zeal springs rather from a selfish principle when our zeal is warm: a sense of the love than from the Spirit of God.

of Christ upon our hearts, and a tender com

passion for poor sinners, is ready to prompt { my power. As I have trod exactly the pati. us to break out too soon ;-but he that be- you seem to be setting out in, I might so far lieveth, shall not make haste. I was about perhaps, be more serviceable than those who five years under this constraint: sometimes are in other respects much better qualified I thought I must preach, though it was in to assist you. I doubt not but in this, and the streets. I listened to every thing that every other step, you will intreat the Lord's seemed plausible, and to many things which direction; and I hope you will not forget to were not so. But the Lord graciously, and pray for, Sir,-Your affectionate friend, &c. as it were insensibly, hedged up my way with thorns; otherwise, if I had been left to my own spirit, I should have put it quite out of my power to have been brought into such

LETTER II. a sphere of usefulness, as he in good time has been pleased to lead me to. And I can

January 7, 1767 now see clearly, that at the time I would first DEAR SIR, -I must beg you once for all, have gone out, though my intention was, I to release me from any constraint about the hope, good in the main, yet I overrated my- length or frequency of my letters. Believe self, and had not that spiritual judgment and that I think of you, and pray for you when you experience, which are requisite for so great a do not hear from me. Your correspondence service. I wish you therefore to take tiine; is not quite so large as mine, therefore you and if you have a desire to enter into the es- may write the oftener. Your letters will be tablished church, endeavour to keep your zeal always welcome; and I will write to you within moderate bounds, and avoid every thing when I find a leisure hour, and have any that might unnecessarily clog your admission thing upon my mind to offer. with difficulties. I would not have you hide You seem sensible where your most observ. your profession, or to be backward to speak able failing lies, and to take reproof and adfor God; but avoid what looks like preach- monition concerning it in good part; I thereing, and be content with being a learner in fore hope and believe the Lord will give you the school of Christ for some years. The de- a growing victory over it. You must not exlay will not be lost time; you will be so much pect habits and tempers will be eradicated inthe more acquainted with the gospel, with stantaneously; but by perseverance in prayer, your own heart, and with human nature: the and observation upon the experience of every last is a necessary branch of a minister's day, much may be done in time. Now and knowledge, and can only be acquired by then you will (as is usual in the course of comparing what passes within us, and war) lose a battle; but be not discouraged, around us, with what we read in the word but rally your forces, and return to the fight. of God.

There is a comfortable word, a leaf of the tree I am glad to find you have a distaste both of life, for healing the wounds we receive, in for Arminian and Antinomian doctrines; but | 1 John ii. 1. If the enemy surprises you, let not the mistakes of others sit too heavy and your heart smites you, do not stand asupon you. Be thankful for the grace that tonished as if there was no help, nor give way has made you to differ; be ready to give a to sorrow, as if there was no hope, nor atreason of the hope that is in you with meek- tempt to heal yourself; but away immediately ness and fear; but beware of engaging in dis- to the throne of grace, to the great physician, putes without evident necessity, and some to the compassionate High-priest, and teli probable hope of usefulness. They tend to him all. Satan knows, that if he can keep us eat out the life and savour of religion, and to from confession, our wounds will tankle; but make the soul lean and dry. Where God do you profit by David's experience, Psalm has begun a real work of grace, incidental xxxii. 3—5. When we are simple and openmistakes will be lessened by time and expe- hearted in abasing ourselves before the Lori, -ience; where he has not, it is of little sig- though we have acted foolishly and ungratenification what sentiments people hold, or fully, he will seldom let us remain long, whether they call themselves Arminians or without affording us a sense of his compasCalvinists.

sion; for he is gracious; he knows our frame, I agree with you, it is time enough for you and how to bear with us, though we can to think of Oxford yet; and that if your pur- hardly bear with ourselves or with one pose is fixed, and all circumstances render it another. prudent and proper to devote yourself to the The main thing is to have the heart right ministry, you will do well to spend a year or with God; this will bring us in the end safely two in private studies. It would be further through many mistakes and blunders; but a helpful, in this view, to place yourself where double mind, a selfish spirit, that would halve there is gospel-preaching, and a lively peo- things between God and the world, the Lord ple. If your favourable opinion of this place abhors. Though I have not yet had many should induce you to come here, I shall be opportunities of commending your prudence, very ready to give you every assistance in I have always had a good opinion of your

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