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nicate from himself as your occasions require. months as I find it. Whether I write more 0, it is a great thing to be strong in the frequently or more seldom, the love of my grace that is in Christ Jesus! but it is a hard heart to you is the same, and I shall believe lesson: it is not easy to understand it in the like of you ; yet, if it can be helped, I theory, but when the Lord has taught us so hope the interval will not be so long again far, it is still more difficult to reduce our on either side. I am glad that the Lord's knowledge to practice. But this is one end work still flourishes in your parts, and that he has in view in permitting us to pass you have a more comfortable prospect at through such a variety of inward and outward home than formerly; and I was pleased witł. exercises, that we may cease from trusting the acceptance you found at S which in ourselves, or in any creature, or frame, or I hope will be an earnest of greater things. experiences, and be brought to a state of I think affairs in general, with respect to this submission and dependence upon him alone. land, have a dark appearance; but it is comI was once visited something in the same fortable to observe, that, amidst the aboundway, seized with a fit of the apoplectic kind, ings of iniquity, the Lord is spreading his which held me near an hour, and left a disor- gospel, and that though many oppose, yet in der in my head, which quite broke the scheme most places whither the word is sent, great of life I was then in, and was consequently numbers seem disposed to hear.
I am going one of the means the Lord appointed to bring (if the Lord please) into Leicestershire on me into the ministry; but I soon perfectly Friday. This was lately such a dark place recovered. From the remembrance Mrs. as you describe your country to be, and much
has of what she then suffered, she knows of it is so still; but the Lord has visited three how to sympathize with Mrs. B— in her of the principal towns with gospel-light. I share of your trial. And I think dear Mr. have a desire of visiting these brethren in
- some years since had a sudden stroke the vineyard, to bear my poor testimony to on a Christmas day, which disabled him from the truths they preach, and to catch, if I may, duty for a time. To him and to me these a little fire and fervour among them. I do turns were only like the caution which Philip not often go abroad; but I have found a little of Macedon ordered to be repeated to him excursion now and then (when the way is every morning, “Remember thou art a man.” made plain) has its advantages, to quicken I hope it will be no more to you, but that you the spirits and enlarge the sphere of observashall live to praise him, and to give many tion. On these accounts the recollection of cause to praise him on your behalf. Blessed my N journey gives me pleasure to this be God we are in safe hands: the Lord him- day; and very glad should I be to repeat it, self is our keeper; nothing befals us but but the distance is so great that I consider it what is adjusted by his wisdom and love. rather as desirable than practicable. Health is his gift, and sickness, when sancti My experiences vary as well as yours: but fied, is a token of love likewise. Here we possibly your sensations, both of the sweet may meet with many things which are not and of the bitter, may be stronger than mine. joyous but grievous to the flesh; but he will, The enemy assaults me more by sap than in one way or other, sweeten every bitter storm, and I am ready to think I suffer more cup, and ere long he will wipe away all tears by languor than some of my friends do by from our eyes. O that joy, that crown, that the sharper conflicts to which they are called. glory which awaits the believer! Let us keep So likewise in these seasons, which comparathe prize of our high calling in view, and press tively I call my best hours, my sensible comforward in the name of Jesus the Redeemer, forts are far from lively. But I am in geneand he will not disappoint our hopes. ral enabled to hold fast my confidence, and
I am but just come off from a journey, am to venture myself upon the power, faithfulweary, and it grows late; I must therefore ness, and compassion of that adorable Saviour, break off. When you have leisure and strength to whom my soul has been directed and ento write, oblige me with a confirmation of your couraged to flee for refuge. I am a poor, recovery, for I shall be something anxious changeable, inconsistent creature; but he about you.-I am, &c.
deals graciously with me; he does not leave me wholly to myself; but I have such daily
proofs of the malignity and efficacy of the sin LETTER V.
that dwelleth in me, as ought to cover me
with shame and confusion of face, and make
March 14, 1775. me thankful if I am permitted to rank with MY DEAR FRIEND,—I thought you long in the meanest of those who sit at his feet. writing, but am afraid I have been longer. That I was ever called to the knowledge of A heavy family affliction called me from his salvation, was a singular instance of his home in December, which put me out of my sovereign grace; and that I am still preserved usual course, and threw me behind-hand in in the way, in defiance of all that has arisen my correspondence; yet I did not suspect the from within and from without to turn me date of your last letter was so old by two aside, must be wholly ascribed to the same
sovereignty: and if, as I trust, he shall be that my desire is sincerely towards him, that pleased to make me a conqueror at last, II choose no other portion, that I allowedly shall have peculiar reason to say, Not unto serve no other master. When I told our me, not unto me, but unto thy name, O Lord, friend lately to this purpose, he wonbe the glory and the praise !
dered and asked, “ How is it possible that if How oft have sin and Satan strove
you can say these things, you should not be To rend my soul from thee, my God! always rejoicing ?" Undoubtedly I derive But everlasting is thy love,
from the gospel a peace at bottom which is And Jesus seals it with his blood.
worth more than a thousand worlds; but so The Lord leads me in the course of my it is, I can only speak for myself, though I preaching to insist much on a life of commu- rest and live upon the truths of the gospel, nion with himself, and of the great design of they seldom impress me with a warm and the gospel to render us confor:nable to him in lively joy. In public, indeed, I sometimes love; and as by his mercy nothing appears in seem in earnest and much affected, but even my outward conduct remarkably to contra- then it appears to me rather as a part of the dict what I say, many who only can judge by gift intrusted to me for the edification of what they see, suppose I live a very happy others, than as a sensation which is properly life. But, alas! if they knew what passes in my own.
For when I am in private, I ain my heart, how dull my spirit is in secret, and usually dull and stupid to a strange degree, how little I am myself affected by the glo- or the prey to a wild and ungoverned imarious truths I propose to others, they would gination; so that I may truly say, when I forin a different judgment. Could I be my- would do good, evil, horrid evil, is present self what I recommend to them, I should be with me. Ah, how different is this from senhappy indeed. Pray for me, my dear friend, sible comfort! and if I was to compare mythat now the Lord is bringing forward the self with others, to make their experience pleasing spring, he may favour me with a my standard, and was not helped to retreat spring-season in my soul; for indeed I mourn to the sure word of God as my refuge, how under a long winter.-I am, &c.
hard should I find it to maintain a hope that I had either part or lot in the matter. What
I call my good times are, when I can find LETTER VI.
my attention in some little measure fixed to
what I am about, which, indeed, is not always
April 16, 1772. nor frequently my case in prayer, and still MY DEAR FRIEND,—I hope the Lord has seldomer in reading the scriptures. My contracted my desires and aims almost to the judgment embraces these means as blessed one point of study, the knowledge of his truth. privileges, and Satan has not prevailed to All other acquisitions are transient and com- drive me from them; but in the performance, paratively vain. And yet, alas! I am a slow I too often find them tasks, feel a reluctance scholar; nor can I see in what respect I get when the seasons return, and am glad when forward, unless that every day I am more they are finished. O what a mystery is the confirmed in the conviction of my own heart of man! What a warfare is the life of emptiness and inability to all spiritual good. faith, at least in the path the Lord is pleased And as, notwithstanding this, I am still to lead me! What reason have I to lie in the enabled to stand my ground, I would hope dust as the chief of sinners! and what cause since no effect can be without an adequate for thankfulness that salvation is wholly of cause, that I have made some advance, though grace. Notwithstanding all my complaints, in a manner imperceptible to myself, towards it is still true that Jesus died and rose again, a more simple dependence upon Jesus as my that he ever liveth to make intercession, and all in ali. It is given me to thirst and to is able to save to the uttermost. But, on the taste, if it is not given me to drink abun- other hand, to think of that joy of heart in dantly; and I would be thankful for the which some of his people live, and to comdesire. I see and approve the wisdom, grace, pare it with that apparent deadness and want suitableness, and sufficiency of the gospel- of spirituality which I feel, this makes me salvation; and since it is for sinners, and I mourn. However, I think there is a scripam a sinner, and the promises are open, I tural distinction between faith and feeling, do not hesitate to call it mine. I am a grace and comfort; they are not inseparable, weary, laden soul; Jesus has invited me to and perhaps when together, the degree of come, and has enabled me to put my trust in the one is not ofien the just measure of the him. I seldom have an uneasy doubt, at other. But though I pray that I may be ever least not of any continuance, respecting my longing and panting for the light of his pardon, acceptance, and interest in all the countenance, yet I would be so far satisfied, as blessings of the New Testament. And, to believe the Lord has wise and merciful rea. amidst a thousand infirmities and evils under sons for keeping me so short of the comforts wnich. I groan, I have the testimony of my which he has taught me to desire and value conscience when under the trial of his word, more than the light of the sun.I am, &c.
THE REVEREND MR. R
true when properly explained, they are very
liable to be misunderstood. To say nothing January 16, 1772. of Mr. Hussey (in whose provisions I have DEAR SIR,- It is true, I was apprehensive frequently found more bones than meat, and from your silence that I had offended you; seasoned with much of an angry and selfbut when your letter came, it made me full important spirit,) I have observed passages amends; and now I am glad I wrote as I did, in other writers, for whom I have a higher though I am persuaded I shall never write to esteem, which, to say the least, appear to you again in the same strain. I am pleased me paradoxical, and hard to be understood; with the spirit you discover; and your bear- though, perhaps, I can give my consent to ing so well to be told of the mistakes I pointed them, if I had such restrictions and limitaout
you, endears you more to me than if tions as the authors would not refuse. But you had not made them. llenceforward I plain people are easily puzzled. And though I can converse freely with you, and shall be know several in the Supra-lapsarian scheme, glad when I have the opportunity.
at whose feet I am willing to sit and learn, As to your view of justification, I did not and have found their preaching and converoppose it; I judge for myself
, and I am wil. sation savoury and edifying; yet I must say, ling others should have the same liberty. If I have met with many, who have appeared we hold the Head, and love the Lord, we agree to be rather wise than warm, rather positive in him, and I should think my time ill em- than humble, rather captious than lively, and ployed in disputing the point with you. I more disposed to talk of speculations than only meant to except against the positive experience. However, let us give ourselves manner in which you had expressed yourself. to the study of the word and to prayer: and My end is answered, and I am satisfied. In- may the great Teacher make every scripdeed, I believe the difference between a tural truth food to our souls. I desire to judicious Supra-lapsarian, and a sound Sub- grow in knowledge, but I want nothing lapsarian, lies more in a different way of ex- which bears that name, that has not a direct pressing their sentiments than is generally tendency to make sin more hateful, Jesus thought. At the close of Halyburton's In- more precious to my soul; and at the same sufficiency of Natural Religion, he has an time to animate me to a diligent use of every Inquiry into the Nature of Regeneration and appointed means, and an unreserved regaril Justification, wherein he promises a scheme, to every branch of duty. I think the Lord has in which, if I mistake not, the moderate of shown me in a measure, there is a consistent both parties might safely upite. I have used sense running through the whole scriptures, the epithets judicious and sound, because, and I desire to be governed and influenced as I acknowledge, some of the one side are by it all: doctrines, precepts, promises, warnnot quite sound, so I think some on the other ings, all have their proper place and use; and side are not so judicious as I could wish; I think many of the inconveniencies which that is, I think they do not sufficiently advert obtain in the present day, spring from sepato the present state of human nature, and the rating those things which God hath joined danger which may arise from leading those together, and insisting on some parts of the who are weak in faith and judgment, into word of God, almost to the exclusion of the inquiries and distinctions, evidently beyond rest. the line of their experience, and which may I have filled my paper with what I did not be hurtsul: because, admitting them to be intend to say a word of when I began, and I
must leave other things which were more you (if you like it) may sing with us.
Let upon my mind for another season. I thank us take courage; though it may seem maryou for saying you pray for me. Continue vellous in our eyes, it is not so in the Lord's that kindness; I both need it and prize it.—I He changes the desert into a fruitful field,
and bids dry bones live. And if he prepare our hearts to pray, he will surely incline his ear to hear.
The miscarriages of professors are griev. LETTER II.
ous; yet such things must be; how else could
the scriptures be fulfilled? But there is one
July 31, 1773. who is able to keep us from falling. Some DEAR SIR,- I received your sorrowful epis- who have distressed us, perhaps never were tle yesterday, and in order to encourage you truly changed; how then could they stand ? to write, I answer it to-day.
We see only the outside. Others who are The ship was safe when Christ was in her, sincere are permitted to fall for our instructhough he was really asleep. At present I tion, that we may not be high-minded, but can tell you good news, though you know it; fear. However, he that walketh humbly, he is wide awake, and his eyes are in every walketh surely.—Believe me, &c. place. You and I, if we could be pounded together, might perhaps make two tolerable You are too anxious, and I am too
LETTER III. easy in some respects. Indeed, I cannot be too easy, when I have a right thought that
February 22, 1774. all is safe in his hands; but if your anxiety DEAR SIR,
,-Your letter by last post surmakes you pray, and my composure makes prised and grieved me.
We knew nothing me careless, you have certainly the best of it. of the subject, though Mrs. remembers, However, the ark is fixed upon an immove- when was here, a hint or two were able foundation; and if we think we see it dropped which she did not understand, but totter, it is owing to a swimming in our heads. no name was mentioned. Seriously, the times look dark and stormy, This instance shows the danger of leaning and call for much circumspection and prayer; to impressions. Texts of scripture, brought but let us not forget that we have an infallible powerfully to the heart, are very desirable pilot, and that the power, and wisdom, and and pleasant, if their tendency is to humble honour of God, are embarked with us. At us, to give us a more feeling sense of the Venice they have a fine vessel, called the preciousness of Christ, or of the doctrines of Bucentaur, in which, on a certain day of the grace, if they make sin more hateful, enliven year, the Doge and nobles embark, and go a our regard to the means, or increase our conlittle
way sea, to repeat the foolish cere- fidence in the power and faithfulness of God. mony of marriage between the Republic and But if they are understood as intimating our the Adriatic (in consequence of some lying, path of duty in particular circumstances, or antiquated Pope's bull, by which the banns confirming us in purposes we may have al. of matrimony between Venice and the Gulf ready formed, not otherwise clearly warrantwere published in the dark ages,) when, they ed by the general strain of the word, or by the say, a gold ring is very gravely thrown over- leadings of Providence, they are for the most board. Upon this occasion, I have been told, part ensnaring, and always to be suspected. when the honour and government of Venice Nor does their coming into the mind at the are shipped on board the Bucentaur, the pilot time of prayer give them more authority in is obliged by his office to take an oath, that this respect. When the mind is intent upon he will bring the vessel safely back again, in any subject the imagination is often watchful defiance of wind and weather. Vain mortals: to catch at any thing which may seem to If this be true, what an instance of God's countenance the favourite pursuit. It is too long-suffering is it, that they have never yet common to ask counsel of the Lord when we sunk as lead in the mighty waters! But my have already secretly determined for ourstory will probably remind you, that Jesus selves; and in this disposition we may easily has actually entered into such an engagement be deceived by the sound of a text of scrip in behalf of his church. And well he may, for ture, which detached from the passage in both wind and weather are at his command; which it stands, may seem remarkably to and he can turn the storm into a calm in a tally with our wishes. Many have been de inoment. We
may therefore safely and con- ceived this way; and sometimes, when the fidently leave the government upon his shoul- event has shown them they were mistaken, ders. Duty is our part, the care is his. it has opened a door for great distress, and
A revival is wanted with us as well as with Satan has found occasion to make them doubt you, and I trust some of us are longing for even of their most solid experiences. it. We are praying and singing for one; and I have sometimes talked to upon I send you, on the other side, a hymn, that this subject, though without the lcast suspi
cion of any thing like what has happened. , them, if you were able to provide for a wife As to the present case, it may remind us all yourself, then I would say, Find a gracious of our weakness. I would recommend prayer, girl (if she be not found already,) whose perpatience, much tenderness towards her, join son you like, whose temper you think will ed with faithful expostulation. Wait a little suit, and then, with your father and mother's while, and I trust the Lord who loves her consent (without which I think you would be will break the snare. I am persuaded, in her unwilling to move,) thank the Lord for her, better judgment, she would dread the thoughts marry her, and account her a valuable porof doing wrong; and I hope and believe the tion, though she should not have a shilling. good Shepherd, to whom she has often com- But, while you are without income or settlemitted her soul and her ways, will interpose ment, if you have thoughts of marriage, I to restore and set her to rights.
hope they will be regulated by a due regard
to consequences. They who set the least I am sorry you think any of whom value upon money have in some respects the you have hoped well are going back; but be most need of it. A generous mind will feel a not discouraged. I say again, pray and wait, thousand pangs in straitening circumstances, and hope the best. It is common for young which some unfeeling hearts would not be professors to have a slack time; it is almost sensible of. You could perhaps endure hardnecessary, that they may be more sensible of ships alone, yet it might pinch you to the the weakness and deceitfulness of their hearts, very bone to see the person you love exposed and be more humbled in future, when the to them. Besides, you might have a John, Lord shall have healed their breaches, and a Thomas, and a William, and perhaps half restored their souls. We join in love to you a dozen more to feed (for they must all eat;) and yours. Pray for us. - I am, &c. and how this could be done without a com
petency on one side or the other, or so much on both sides as will make a competency
when united, I see not. Besides, you would LETTER IV.
be grieved not to find an occasional shilling
in your pocket to bestow upon one or other February 3, 1775. of the Lord's poor, though you should be able DEAR SIR,—It would be wrong to make to make some sort of a shift for those of your you wait long for an answer to the point you own house. propose in your last. It is an important one. But is it not written, “ The Lord will proI am not a casuist by profession, but I will vide?" It is; but it is written again, “ Thou do my best. Suppose I imitate your laconic shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” Hastily manner of stating the question and circum- to plunge ourselves into difficulties upon a stances.
persuasion that he will find some way to I doubt not but it is very lawful at your extricate us, seems to me a species of temptage to think of marriage, and, in the situa- ing him. tion you describe, to think of money likewise. Therefore I judge, it is so far lawful for I am glad you have no person, as you say, you to have a regard to money in looking out fixedly in view; in that case advice comes a for a wife, that it would be wrong, that is, in post or two too late. But your expression other words, unlawful for you to omit it, seems to intimate that there is one transient- supposing you have a purpose of marrying in ly in view. If it be so, since you have no your present situation. settlement, if she has no money, I cannot but Many serious young women have a prediwish she may pass on till she is out of sight lection in favour of a minister of the gospel; and out of mind. I see this will not do; I and I believe among such one or more may must get into my own grave way about this be found as spiritual, as amiable, as suitable grave business. I take it for granted that my to make you a good wife, with a tolerable forfriend is free from the love of filthy lucre, tune to boot, as another who has not a penny. and that money will never be the turning If you are not willing to trust your own judgpoint with you in the choice of a wife. Me- ment in the search, entreat the Lord to find thinks I hear you think, if I wanted money, her for you. He chose well for Isaac and I would either dig or beg for it; but to preach Jacob; and you, as a believer, have warrant or marry for money, that be far from me. Ito coinmit your way to him, and many commend you. However, though the love more express promises than they had for of money be a great evil, money itself, ob- your encouragement. He knows your state, tained in a fair and honourable way, is de- your wants, what you are at present, and sirable upon many accounts, though not for what use he designs to make of you. its own sake. Meat, clothes, fire, and books, Trust in him, and wait for him; prayer cannot easily be had without it; therefore, and faith, and patience, are never disap if these be necessary, money, which pro- pointed. I commend you to his blessing cures them, must be a necessary likewise. and guidance. Remember us to all in your If things were otherwise than you represent house.—I am, &c.