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shall see the Lord without a vail, and serve so well; the reason is, that they are accushim without distraction. The Lord, by his tomed to carry burdens, and by continual providence, seconds and confirms the declara- exercise their shoulders acquire a strength Lions of his word and ministry. Much we suited to their work. It is so in the christian read and much we hear concerning the empti- life; activity and strength of grace is not ness, vanity, and uncertainty of the present ordinarily acquired by those who sit still and state. When our minds are enlightened by I live at ease, but by those who frequently his Holy Spirit, we receive and acknowledyo meet with something which requires a full what his word declares to be truth; yet if exertion of what power the Lord has given we remain long without changes, and our them. So again, it is by our own sufferings path is very smooth, we are for the most part we learn to pity and sympathize with others but faintly affected with what we profess to in their sufferings; such a compassionate believe. But when some of our dearest disposition, which excites our feelings for friends are taken from us, the lives of others the afflicted, is an eminent branch of the threatened, and we ourselves are brought low mind which was in Christ. But these feelings with pain and sickness, then we not only say, would be very faint, if we did not in our exbut feel, that this must not, cannot, be our perience know what sorrows and temptations rest. You have had several exercises of this mean. A fHictions do us good likewise, as kind of late in your family, and I trust you they make us more acquainted with what is will be able to set your seal to that gracious in our own hearts, and thereby promote word, That though aftlictions in themselves humiliation and self-abasement. There are are not joyous, but grievous, yet in due sea abominations which, like nests of vipers, lie son they yield the peaceful fruits of righteous- so quietly within, that we hardly suspect they ness. Various and blessed are the fruits they are there, till the rod of affliction rouses them: produce. By atiliction prayer is quickened, then they hiss and show their venom. This for our prayers are very apt to grow languid discovery is, indeed, very distressing; yet, ard formal in a time of ease. Afliction till it is made, we are prone to think ourselves greatly helps us to understand the scriptures, much less vile than we really are, and cannot especially the promises, most of which being so heartily abhor ourselves, and repent in dust made to times of trouble, we cannot so well and ashes. know their fulness, sweetness, and certainty, But I must write a serinon rather than a as when we have been in the situation to letter, if I would enumerate all the good fruits which they are suited, have been enabled to which, by the power of sanctifying grace, are trust and plead them, and found them fulfilled produced from this bitter tree. May we, in our own case. We are usually indebted under our several trials, find them all revealto atiliction as the means or occasion of the ed in ourselves, that we may not complain of most signal discoveries we are favoured with having suffered in vain. While we have such of the wisdom, power, and faithfulness of the a depraved nature, and live in such a pollutLord. These are best observed by the evident ed world; while the roots of pride, vanity, proofs we have that he is near to support us self-dependence, self-seeking, are so strong under trouble, and that he can, and does, within us, we need a variety of sharp dispendeliver us out of it. Israel would not have sations to keep us from forgetting ourselves, seen so much of the Lord's arm outstretched and from cleaving to the dust.—I am, &c. in their behalf, had not Pharaoh oppressed, opposed, and pursued them. Alictions are designed likewise for the manifestation of our sincerity to ourselves and to others.
LETTER VIII. When faith endures the fire, we know it to be of the right kind; and others, who see
1774. we are brought safe out, and lose nothing Tre very painful illness which Mrs. but the dross, will confess that God is with us so long endured, had, doubtless, not only preof a truth, Dan. iii. 27, 28. Surely this pared you to expect the news of her disinisthoughi should reconcile us to suffer, not sion, but made you more willing to resign only with patience, but with cheerfulness, if her. You are bereaved of a valuable friend; God may be glorified in us. This made the but life in her circumstances was burdensome; apostle rejoice in tribulation, that the power and who can be sorry to consider her now as of Christ might be noticed, as resting upon freed from all suffering, and possessed of all him, and working mightily in him. Many happiness? But, besides this, I trust the Lord of our graces, likewise, cannot thrive or show has favoured you with an habitual sense of themselves to advantage without trials, such the wisdom and propriety of all his appointas resignation, patience, meekness, long-ments; so that when his will is manitested suffering. I observe some of the London by the event, you are enabled to say, “All purtere do not appear to be very strong men, is well.” “I was dumb, and opened not my yet they will trudge along under a burden mouth, because thou didst it.” She is but which some stouter people could not carry gone a little before you; and after a few more
changes, you will meet her again to un-| his name may forbid our fear, though we shall speakable advantage, and rejoice together see and confess we have been unprofitable before the throne for ever. There every servants. There shall be no condemnation tear will be wiped away, and you shall weep to them that are in him; but surely shame
The Lord could have prevented and humiliation will accompany us to the the cause of her great sufferings; but I very threshold of heaven, and ought to do so. doubt not he afflicted her in wisdom and I surely shall then be more affected than I mercy: he could easily have restored her to am now with the coolness of my love, the health; but the time was hastening when he faintness of my zeal, the vanity of my heart
, purposed to have her with him where he is, and my undue attachment to the things of that she might behold his glory, and have all time. O these clogs, fetters,, vales, and the desires he put into her heart abundantly mountains, which obstruct my course, darken satisfied. Precious in his sight is the death my views, slacken my pace, and disable me of his saints, and every circumstance is un- in service. Well it is for me that I am not der the direction of infinite wisdom. His under the law, but under grace. sovereignty forbids us to say, Why hast thou To-morrow is the Sabbath. I am usually done this ? and his love assures us that he glad when it returns, though it seldom finds does all things well. I have lost a friend me in that frame of mind which I would delikewise. I believe I may say few persons sire. But it is my happiness to live amongst not immediately related to her, could value many who count the hours from one ordinance her more highly than myself; and though of to another. I know they pray that I may be late years I could not have the pleasure of a messenger of peace, and an instrument of her company, it was a constant satisfaction good to their souls; and I have cause to hope to me to know I had such a friend.
their prayers are in a measure answered. For Mr. T -'s sickness and death followed their sakes, as much as my own, I am glad to immediately upon this stroke. I doubt not go up to the house of the Lord. O that in but you have been much affected with this watering others, I may be also watered my. dispensation likewise. But here again we self! I have been praying that to-morrow have the same stronghold to retreat to: the may be a day of power with you and with us, Lord has done it. What a pleasing prospect and with all that love Jesus in sincerity; that of increasing usefulness is now interrupted! we may see his glory, and taste his love in How many will mourn his loss! Yet we are the sanctuary. When it is thus, the Sabbath sure the work which the Lord had appointed is a blessed day indeed, an earnest of heaven. him was finished. They who loved his mi-There they keep an everlasting Sabbath, nistry, and were profited by it, are left, appa- and cease not night or day admiring the rently destitute; but Jesus, the good Shep- riches of redeeming love, and adoring him herd, is able to take care of his own, and will who washed his people from their sins in his fulfil his promise to them all. He has said, own blood. To have such imperfect commuVerily they shall be fed.
nion with them as is in this state attainable in We have had trying and dying times here; this pleasing exercise is what alone can make half my time almost has been taken up with life worth the name. For this I sigh and visiting the sick. I have seen death in a variety long and cry to the Lord to rend the vail of of forms, and have had frequent occasion of unbelief, scatter the clouds of ignorance, and observing how insignificant many things which break down the walls which sin is daily are now capable of giving us pain or plea- building up to hide him from my eyes
1 sure, will appear, when the soul is brought hope I can say, my soul is athirst for God, near to the borders of eternity. All the con- and nothing less than the light of his councerns which relate solely to this life, will then tenance can satisfy me. Blessed be his be found as trivial as the traces of a dream name for the desire; it is his own gift, and from which we are awakened. Nothing will he never gives it in vain. He will afford us then comfort us but the knowledge of Jesus a taste of the water of life by the way; and and his love; nothing grieve us but the re-ere long we shall drink abundantly at the membrance of our unfaithful carriage to him, fountain head, and have done with complaint and what poor returns we made to his abund- for ever. May we be thankful for what we ant goodness. The Lord forbid that this receive, and still earnestly desirous of more thought should break our peace! No, faith in | -I am, &c.
TO MISS D
the feeble imitations of them which men can
produce gain universal applause. August 1772. If you and I could make self-moving draMY DEAR MISS,— The Lord brought us gons and elephants, what would it profit us? home in peace. My visit to was Blessed be God, that he has given us some agreeable, and I shall often think of it with glimpses of his wisdom and love, by which pleasure, though the deadness and dryness our hearts, more hard and lifeless by nature of my own spirit a good part of the time I than the stones in the streets, are constrain. was there proved a considerable abatement. ed and enabled to move upwards, and to I am eager enough to converse with the seek after the Lord He has given us in his Lord's people, when at the same time I am word a greater treasure than all that we backward and indisposed to communion with ever beheld with our eyes, and a hope which the Lord himself. The two evils charged shall flourish when the earth and all its upon Israel of old, a proneness to forsake the works shall be burnt up. What will all the fountain of living waters and to trust to bro- fine things of men's device be worth in that ken cisterns (which can do me no good un- day? less he supplies them,) run through the whole I think the passage you refer to in Mr. of my experience abroad and at home. A justly exceptionable. His intention is few drops of grace in my fellow worms en- good, and the mistake he would censure very dear them to me exceedingly. If I expect dangerous, but he might have explained himto see any christian friends, I count the self more clearly. I apprehend he and you hours till we meet, and promise myself great do not mean the same thing by being in the benefit; but if the Lord withdraws his in- dark. It is not an uncomfortable, but a fluence, the best of them prove to me but careless frame which he would censure. They clouds without water. It was not, however, who walk in darkness and see no light, and wholly so with me all the time I staid with yet are exhorted to stay themselves upon God my friends, but I suffer much in learning to (Isa. 1. 10,) are said to hearken to the voice depend upon the Lord alone. I have been of his servant. Though they cannot see the at this lesson many a long year, but am so Lord, they are seeking and mourning after poor and dull a scholar, that I have not yet him, and waiting in the use of means, and made any tolerable progress in it. I think warring against sin. Mr. had another I received some instruction and advantage set of people in view, who trust in the nowhere I little expected it; I mean at Mr. tions of gospel-truth, or some past convictions Cox's Museum. The efforts of his ingenuity and comforts, though at present they give no amazed me, while at the same time I was evidence of spiritual desires, but are worldly struck with their insignificance. His fine in their spirit and conversation; talk of trustthings were curious beyond all that I had ing in the Lord; account it a weakness to any idea of; and yet, what are they better doubt of their state, and think all is well bethan toys and amusement, suited to the taste cause they profess to believe the doctrines of of children! And notwithstanding the va- grace. In a word, it is the darkness of sin riety of their motions they were all destitute and sloth against which his observation is of life. There is unspeakably more wisdom pointed. Or if, indeed, he meant more than and contrivance in the mechanism of a but- this, we are not obliged to believe him. Reterfly or a bee, that flies unnoticed in the member your privilege; you have the Bible fields, than in all his apparatus put together in your hands, and are not bound to follow But the works of God are disregarded, while books or preachers any farther than what
they deliver agrees with the oracles of truth. mit the day-light into a room, they cannot We have great reason to be thankful for the supply the want of it. When the day is instructions and writings of spiritual men, gone, windows are of little use: when the but they are all fallible even as ourselves. day returns, the room is enlightened by thern One is our master, even Christ : what he again. Thus, unless the Lord shines, I cansays we are to receive implicitly; but we not retain to-day the light I had yesterday; do not owe implicit subjection to the best of and though his presence makes a delightful our fellow-creatures. "The Bereans were difference, I have no more to boast of in my. commended that they would not take even self at one time than another; yet when it is the apostle Paul upon trust, but searched the dark, I ain warranted to expect the return of scriptures to see whether these things were light again. When he is with me, all goes
May the Lord give us a spirit of hu- on pleasantly; when he withdraws, I find 1 mility and discernment in all things!—I can do nothing without him. I need not
wonder that I find it so, for it must be so of course, if I am what I confess myself to be, a poor, helpless, sinful creature in myself.
Nor need I be over-much discouraged, since LETTER II.
the Lord has promised to help those who can
do nothing without him, not those who can
Muy 4, 1773. make a tolerable shift to help themselves. Methinks it is high time to ask you how Through mercy he does not so totally withyou do, to thank you for your last letter, and draw, as to leave me without any power or to let you know, that though necessity makes will to cry for his return. I hope he mainme slack in writing, yet I can and do often tains in me at all times a desire of his prethink of you. My silence has sometimes been sence; yet it becomes me to wait for him owing to want of leisure; and sometimes with patience, and to live upon his faithfulwhen I could have found leisure, my harpness, when I can feel nothing but evil in has been out of tune, and I had no heart to myself. write. Perhaps you are ready to infer, by In your letter, after having complained of my sitting down to write at last, that my harp your inability, you say, you converse with is now well-tuned, and I have something ex- many who find it otherwise, who can go traordinary to offer: beware of thinking so, whenever they will to the Father of mercies lest you should be sadly disappointed. Should with a child-like confidence, and never return I make myself the subject, I could give you without an answer, an answer of peace. If at present but a mournful ditty. I suppose they only mean that they are favoured with you have heard I have been ill: through an established faith, and can see that the mercy I am now well. But indeed I must Lord is always the same, and that their right farther tell you, that when I was sick I was to the blessings of the covenant is not at all well; and since the Lord has removed my affected by their unworthiness, I wish you illness, I have been much worse. My illness and I had more experience of the same priwas far from violent in itself, and was greatly i vilege. In general, the Lord helps me to sweetened by a calm submissive frame the aim at it, though I find it sometimes difficult Lord gave me under it. My heart seemed to hold fast my confidence. But if they speak inore alive to him then than it has done since absolutely with respect to their frames, that my cough, fever, and deatness have been they not only have something to support removed. Shall I give you another bit of them under their changes, but meet with no a riddle, that, notwithstanding the many changes that require such support, I must changes I pass through, I am always the say, it is well that they do not live here; if same? This is the very truth: “In me, that they did, they would not know how to pity is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing;" so us, and we should not know how to underthat, if sometimes my spirit is in a measure stand them. We have an enemy at humble, lively, and dependent, it is not be- that fights against our peace, and I know not cause I am grown better than I was, but the one amongst us but often groans under the Lord is pleased to put forth his gracious warfare. I advise you not to be troubled by power in my weakness; and when my heart what you hear of other folks' experience, but is dry and stupid, when I can find no pleasure keep close to the written word, where you in waiting upon God, it is not because I am will meet with much to encourage you, worse than I was before, but only the Lord though you otten feel yourself weary and sees it best that I should feel as well as say heavy laden. For my own part, I like what a poor creature I am. My heart was that path best which is well beaten by once like a dungeon, out of the reach of day, the foot-steps of the flock, though it is and always dark: the Lord, by his grace, not always pleasant, and strewed with has been pleased to make this dungeon a flowers. In our way, we find soune hills, room, by putting windows in it; but I need from whence we can cheerfully look about not tell you, that though windows will trans- lus; but we meet with deep valleys like
wise, and seldom travel long upon even bearance towards his own people (whose sins ground.--I am, &c.
being committed against love, and light, and experience, are more aggravated than others) is astonishing indeed. But oh! may the times
past suffice to have grieved his Spirit, and LETTER III.
may we be enabled from henceforth to serve
him with a single eye and a simple heart, to
1775. be faithful to every intimation of his will, and I am satisfied with your answer to my to make him our all in all! question: we are not proper judges of each Mr. has been here, and I have been other's circumstances, and I am in some with him at - since his return. We seem measure weaned from judging hastily, that glad to be together when we can. When I what would not be convenient for me, must am with him, I feel quite at home and at therefore necessarily be wrong for another. ease, and can tell him (so far as I dare tell a However, my solicitude for your welfare creature) all that is in my heart; a plain proof made me venture to drop a hint, as I was that union of spirit depends no more upon an persuaded you would take it in good part. exact uniformity of sentiment than on a uniIndeed, all situations and circumstances (sup-formity of prayers; for in some points of posing them not sinful in themselves, and doctrine we differ considerably; but I trust I that we are lawfully placed in them) are agree with him in the views I have of the exnearly alike. In London I am in a crowd; cellency, suitableness, and sufficiency of the in the country I am sure there is a crowd in Saviour, and of his right to reign without a me. To what purpose do I boast of retire- rival in the hearts of his redeemed people. ment, when I am pestered by a legion in An experimental knowledge of Jesus, as the every place? How often, when I am what deliverer froin sin and wrath, and the author I call alone, may my mind be compared to a of eternal life and salvation to all who are enpuppet-show, a fair, a Newgate, or any of abled to believe, is a sufficient ground for those scenes where folly, noise, and wicked-union of heart. In this point all who are ness most abound? On the contrary, some- taught of God are of one mind. But an times I have enjoyed sweet recollection and eager fighting for or against those points composure where I could have hardly ex- which are usually made the subject of conpected it. But still, though the power be all troversy, tends to nourish pride and evil of the Lord, and we of ourselves can do tempers in ourselves, and to alienate our nothing, it is both our duty and our wisdom hearts from those we hope to spend an eternity to be attentive to the use of appointed means with. In heaven, we shall neither be Dison the one hand, and on the other, watchful senters, Moravians, nor Methodists; neither against those things which we find, by ex- Calvinists nor Arminians; but followers of perience, have a tendency to damp our the Lamb, and children of the kingdom. fervour, or to dissipate our spirits. A com- | There we shall hear the voice of war no more. fortable intimacy with a fellow-worm cannot We are still favoured with health and be maintained without a certain delicacy and many temporal blessings. My spiritual walk circumspection, a studiousness in improving is not so smooth as my outward path. In opportunities of pleasing, and in avoiding public I am mercifully supported ; in secret what is known to be offensive. For though I most sensibly feel my own vileness and love will make large allowances for involun- weakness; but through all the Lord is gratary mistakes, it cannot easily brook a slight. cious.- I am, &c. We act thus as it were by instinct towards those whom we dearly love, and to whom we feel ourselves greatly obliged: and happy are they who are most influenced by this senti
LETTER IV. ment in their walk before the Lord. But, alas! here we are chargeable with such in
January 10, 1775. consistencies as we should be greatly ashamed THERE is hardly any thing in which the of in common life. And well it is for us that Lord permits me to meet with more disapthe Lord's thoughts and ways are above ours, pointment, than in the advantage I am ready and that he is infinite in mercy as well as in to proinise myself from creature-converse. power; for surely our dearest friends would When I expect to meet any of :ny christian have been weary of us, and have renounced friends, my thoughts usually travel much us long ago, had we behaved to them as we faster than my body; I anticipate the hour have too often done to him. He is God, and of meeting, and my imagination is warmed not man, and therefore he still waits to be with the expectation of what I shall say and gracious, though we have so often trifled with | what I shall hear; and sometimes I have bim. Surely we may well say with the had seasons for which I ought to be more prophet, “Who is a God like unto thee, that thankful than I am. It is ? pardoneth iniquity!" His tenderness and for- | when the Lord favours us