Page images
PDF
EPUB

LETTERS

TO MISS P

LETTER I.

wards us.

If we were blind, and reduced to desire

person to lead us, and should yet August 17, 1776. pretend to dispute with him, and direct him It is indeed natural to us to wish and to at every step, we should probably soon weary plan, and it is merciful in the Lord to disap- him, and provoke him to leave us to find the point our plans, and to cross our wishes. For way by ourselves if we could. But our grawe cannot be safe, much less happy, but in cious Lord is long-suffering and full of comproportion as we are weaned from our own passion: he bears with our frowardness, yet wills, and made simply desirous of being di- he will take methods both to shame and to rected by his guidance. This truth, when humble us, and to bring us to a confession we are enlightened by his word, is sufficiently that he is wiser than we. The great and unfamiliar to the judgment, but we seldom learn expected benefit he intends us, by all the disto reduce it into practice, without being trained cipline we meet with, is to tread down our a while in the school of disappointment. The wills, and bring them into subjection to his. schemes we form look so plausible and con- So far as we attain to this, we are out of the venient, that when they are broken we are reach of disappointment, for when the will ready to say, What a pity! We try again, of God can please us, we shall be pleased and with no better success; we are grieved, every day, and from morning to night, I and perhaps angry, and plan out another, and mean with respect to his dispensations. O so on : at length, in a course of time, ex- the happiness of such a life! I have an idea perience and observation begin to convince of it: I hope I am aiming at it, but surely I us that we are not more able than we are have not attained it. Self is active in my worthy to choose aright for ourselves. Then heart, if it does not absolutely reign there. the Lord's invitation to cast our cares upon i I profess to believe that one thing is needful him, and his promise to take care of us, and sufficient, and yet my thoughts are prone appear valuable; and when we have done to wander after a hundred more. If it be planning, his plan in our favour gradually true that the light of his countenance is betopens, and he does more and better for us than ter than life, why am I solicitous about any we could either ask or think. I can hardly thing else? If he be all-sufficient, and gives recollect a single plan of mine of which I have me liberty to call him mine, why do I go not since seen reason to be satistied, that had a-begging to creatures for help? If he be it taken place in season and circumstance about my path and bed; if the smallest, as just as I proposed, it would, hunanly speak- well as the greatest events in which I am ing, have proved my ruin, or at least it would concerned are under his immediate direction; have deprived me of the greater good the if the very hairs of my head are numbered; Lord had designed for me. We judge of then my care (any farther than a care to walk things by their present appearances, but the in the paths of his precepts, and to follow the Lord sees them in their consequences. If openings of his providence) must be useless we could do so likewise, we should be per- and needless, yea indeed sinful and heathenfectly of his mind, but as we cannot, it is an ish, burdensome to myself and dishonourable unspeakable mercy that he will manage for to my profession. Let us cast down the load us, whether we are pleased with his manage- we are unable to carry, and if the Lord be ment or not; and it is spoken of as one of his our shepherd, refer all and trust all to him, heaviest judgments, when he gives any person Let us endeavour to live to him and for him or people up to the way of their own hearts, to-day, and be glad that to-morrow, with all and to walk after their own counsels. that is behind it, is in his hands.

Indeed, we may admire his patience to It is storied of Pompey, that when his

friends would have dissuaded him from put But while he gazes with surprise, ting to sea in a storm, he answered, It is

The charm dissolves, the vision dies,

"Twas but enchanted ground: necessary for me to sail, but it is not neces

Thus, if the Lord our spirit touch, sary for me to live. O pompous speech, in The world, which promised us so much, Pompey's sense! He was full of the idea of A wilderness is found. his own importance, and would rather have

It is a great mercy to be undeceived in died than have taken a step beneath his sup, time; and though our gay dreams are at an posed dignity. But it may be accommodated end, and we awake to every thing that is diswith propriety to a believer's case. It be- gustful and dismaying, yet we see a highway comes us to say, it is not necessary for me to through the wilderness, a powerful guard, an be rich, or what the world accounts wise; to infallible guide at hand to conduct us through; be healthy, or adınired by my fellow-worms; and we can discern, beyond the limits of the to pass through life in a state of prosperity wilderness, a better land, where we shall be and outward comfort;—these things may be, at rest and at home. What will the difficul. or they may be otherwise, as the Lord in his ties we meet by the way then signify? The wisdom shall appoint, but it is necessary for remembrance of them will only remain to me to be humble and spiritual, to seek com- heighten our sense of the love, care, and munion with God, to adorn my profession of power of our Saviour and leader

. O how the gospel, and to yield submissively to his shall we then admire, adore, and praise him, disposal, in whatever way, whether of service when he shall condescend to unfold to us the or suffering, he shall be pleased to call me to beauty, propriety, and harmony of the whole glorify him in the world: it is not necessary train of his dispensations towards us, and give for me to live long, but highly expedient us a clear retrospect of all the way, and all that whilst I do live I should live to him. the turns of our pilgrimage! Here, then, I would bound my desires, and

In the mean while, the best method of here, having his word both for my rule and adorning our profession, and of enjoying my warrant, I am secured from asking amiss. peace in our souls, is simply to trust him, Let me have his presence and his Spirit, and absolutely to commit ourselves and our wisdom to know my calling, and opportuni- all to his management. By casting our burties and faithfulness to improve them; and as dens upon him, our spirits become light and to the rest, Lord, help me to say, What thou cheerful; we are freed from a thousand anxwilt, when thou wilt, and how thou wilt.—I ieties and inquietudes, which are wearisome

to our minds, and which, with respect to events, are needless for us, yea, useless. But though it may be easy to speak of this trust,

and it appears to our judgment perfectly LETTER II.

right and reasonable, the actual attainment

is a great thing; and especially so to trust DEAR MADAM,—What a poor, uncertain, the Lord, not by fits and starts, surrendering dying world is this! What a wilderness in one day, and retracting the next, but to abide itself! How dark, how desolate, without the by our surrender, and go habitually trusting light of the gospel and the knowledge of through all the changes we meet, knowing Jesus! It does not appear so to us in a state that his love, purpose, and promise, are unof nature, because we are then in a state of changeable. Some little faintings perhaps enchantment, the magical lantern blinding none are freed from; but I believe a power us with a splendid delusion.

of trusting the Lord in good measure at all

times, and living quietly under the shadow Thus in the desert's dreary waste, of his wing, is what the promise warrants us By magic power produced in haste, to expect, if we seek it by diligent prayer;

As old romances say,
Castles and groves, and music sweet,

if not all at once, yet by a gradual increase. The senses of the trav'ller cheat,

May it be your experience and mine.-I And stop him in his way.

am, &c.

am, &c.

LETTERS

TO

THE REVEREND MR. B

LETTER I.

yet be no more affected with them! Indeed,

I have reason to be upon ill terms with myJanuary 27, 1778. self! It is strange that pride should ever find DEAR AND REVEREND SIR,—I call you Dear any thing in my experience to feed upon; because I love you, and I shall continue to but this completes my character for folly, style you Reverend as long as you dignify vileness, and inconsistence, that I am not only me with that title. It is, indeed, a pretty poor, but proud; and though I am convinced sounding epithet, and forms a striking con- I am a very wretch, a nothing before the trast in the usual application. The inha- Lord, I am prone to go forth among my felbitants of the moon (if there be any) have low-creatures as though I were wise and perhaps no idea how many Reverend, Right good. Reverend, and Most Reverend, sinners we You wonder what I am doing; and well have in Europe. And yet you are reverend, you may: I am sure you would, if you lived and I revere you, because I believe the Lord with me. Too much of my time passes in liveth in you, and has chosen you to be a busy idleness, too much in waking dreams. temple of his presence, and an instrument I aim at something; but hinderances from of his grace.

within and without make it difficult for me I hope the two sermons you preached in to accomplish any thing. I dare not say I London were made useful to others, and the am absolutely idle, or that I wilfully waste medicines you took there were useful to your much of my time. I have seldom one hour self. I am glad to hear you are safe at home, free from interruption. Letters come that and something better. Cheerful spring is ap- must be answered, visitants that must be reproaching: then I hope the barometer of your ceived, business that must be attended to. I spirits will rise. But the presence of the have a good many sheep and lambs to look Lord can bring a pleasanter spring than after, sick and afflicted souls, dear to the April, and even in the depth of winter. Lord; and, therefore, whatever stands still,

At present it is January with me, both with these must not be neglected. Amongst these in and without. The outward sun shines and various avocations, night comes before I am looks pleasant, but his beams are faint, and ready for noon; and the week closes, when, too feeble to dissolve the frost. So is it in according to the state of my business, it should my heart; I have many bright and pleasant not be more than Tuesday. O precious, irbeams of truth in my view, but cold predo- recoverable time! () that I had more wisdom minates in my frost-bound spirit, and they in redeeming and improving thee! Pray for have but little power to warm me. I could me, that the Lord may teach me to serve tell a stranger something about Jesus that him better.—I am, &c. would perhaps astonish him: such a glorious person! such wonderful love! such humiliation! such a death! and then what he is now himself, and what he is to his people!

LETTER II. What a sun! what a shield! what a root ! what a life! what a friend! My tongue can

April 28, 1778. run on upon these subjects sometimes; and DEAR SIR,— I was not much disappointed could my heart keep pace with it I should at not meeting you at home; I know how be the happiest fellow in the country. Stupid difficult it is to get away from creature! to know these things so well, and are seen in the street after breakfast. The

if you

horse-leech has two daughters, saying, Give, from the brooks, and bushes, and birds, and give: the cry there is, Preach, preach. When green fields, to which you had lately access ! you have told them all, you must tell them Ofold they used to retire into the deserts for more, or tell it them over again. Whoever mortification. If I was to set myself a mowill find tongue, they will engage to find derate penance, it might be to spend a fortears. Yet I do not blame this importunity, I night in London in the height of summer. wish you were teased more with it in your But I forget myself: I hope the Lord is own town; for though, undoubtedly, there with you, and then all places are alike. He are too many, both at N- and here, makes the dungeon and the stocks comfortwhose religion lies.too much in hearing, yet able (Acts xvi;) yea, a fiery furnace, or a in many it proceeds from a love to the truth, lion's den. A child of God in London seems and to the ministers who dispense it. And I to be in all these trying situations: but generally observe, that they who are not Jesus can preserve his own. I honour the willing to hear a stranger (if his character is grace of God in those few (comparatively known,) are indifferent enough about hear- few, I fear) who preserve their garments ing their own minister.

undefiled in that Sardis. The air is filled I beg you to pray for me. I am a poor with infection, and it is by special power creature, full of wants. I seem to need the and miraculous preservation they enjoy wisdom of Solomon, the meekness of Moses, spiritual health, when so many sicken and and the zeal of Paul, to enable me to make fall around them on the right hand and on full proof of my ministry. But, alas! you the left. May the preserve you from may guess the rest.

the various epidemical soul-diseases which Send me “ The way to Christ.” I am will- abound where you are, and be your comfort ing to be a debtor to the wise and unwise, and defence from day to day. to doctors and shoemakers, if I can get a hint, Last week we had a lion in town. I went or a Nota Bene, from any one, without re- to see him. He was wonderfully tame; as spect to parties. When a house is on fire, familiar with his keeper, as docile and obeChurchmen, Dissenters, Methodists, Papists, dient as a spaniel. Yet the man told me he Moravians, and Mystics, are all welcome to had his surly fits, when they durst not touch bring water. At such times, nobody asks, him. No looking-glass could express my Pray, friend, whom do you hear? or, What face more justly than this lion did my heari

. do you think of the five points ? &c. &c.—I I could trace every feature: as wild and

fierce by nature, yea, much more so; but grace has in some measure tamed me. I

know and love my Keeper, and sometimes LETTER III.

watch his looks that I may learn his will.

But, oh! I have my surly fits too: seasons

July 7, 1778. when I relapse into the savage again, as MY DEAR FRIEND, -I know not that I have though I had forgotten all.--I am, &c. any thing to say worth postage, though perhaps, had I seen you before you set off, something might have occurred which will not be found in my letter. Yet I write a line,

LETTER IV. because you bid me, and are now in a far, foreign country. You will find Mr.

July 13, 1778. man to your tooth, but he is in Mr. W MY DEAR FRIEND, -As we are so soon to connexion. So I remember venerable Bede, meet, and as I have nothing very important after giving a high character of some con- to communicate, and many things occur temporary, kicks his full pail of milk down, which might demand my time, I have no and reduces him almost to nothing, by add- other plea to offer, either to you or myself, ing, in the close, to this purpose : “ but, un- for writing again, but because I love you. happy man, he did not keep Easter our I pity the unknown considerable minister, way.' A fig for all connexions, say I, and with whom you smoked your morning-pipe. say you, but that which is formed by the But we must take men and things as we find bands, joints, and ligaments the apostle them: and when we fall in company with speaks of

, Eph. iv. 16, et alibi. Therefore, I those from whom we can get little other venture to repeat it, that Mr. though good, it is likely we shall at least find occahe often sees and hears Mr. W and i sion for the exercise of patience and charity believe loves him well, is a good man; towards them, and of thankfulness to Him and you will see the invisible mark upon his who hath made us to differ. And these are forehead, if you examine him with your good things, though, perhaps, his occasion spiritual spectacles.

may not be pleasant. Indeed, a christian, if Now, methinks I do pity you: I see you in a right spirit, is always in his Lord's melted with heat, stifled with smoke, and school, and may learn either a new lesson, or stunned with noise. Ah! what a change how to practise an old one, by every thing

am, &c.

а

's

lic sees or hears, provided he does not wil. called Methodists, but neither do my dimenfully tread upon forbidden ground. If he sions exactly fit with them. I am somehow were constrained to spend a day with the disqualified for claiming a full brotherhood poor creatures in the common side of New- with any party. But there are a few among gate, though he could not talk with them of all parties who bear with me and love me, what God has done for his soul, he might be and with this I must be content at present. more sensible of his mercy by the contrast But so far as they love the Lord Jesus, I de. he would observe around him. He might sire, and by his grace I determine (with or rejoice for himself, and mourn over them, without their leave) to love them all. Partyand thus perhaps get as much benefit as walls, though stronger than the walls of Pafrom the best sermon he ever heard. bylon, must come down in the general ruin,

It is necessary, all things taken together, when the earth and all its works shall be to have connexion more or less with nar- burnt up, if not sooner.—I am, &c. row-ininded people. If they are, notwithstanding their prejudices, civil to us, they have a right to some civility from us. We may love them, though we cannot admire

LETTER V. them, and pick something good from them, notwithstanding we see much to blame. It

July -, 1778. is, perhaps, the highest triumph we can ob MY DEAR SIR,—I was glad to hear that you tain over bigotry, when we are able to bear were again within a few miles of me; and I with bigots themselves. For they are a set would praise the Lord, who led you out, and of troublesome folks, whom Mr. Self is often brought you home in safety, and preserved very forward to exclude from the compre- all in peace while you were abroad, so that hensive candour and tenderness which he you found nothing very painful to embitter professes to exercise towards those who dif- your return. Many go abroad well, but refer from him.

turn no more. The affectionate wite, the I am glad your present home (a believer prattling children, listen for the well-known should be always at home) is pleasant; the sound of papa's foot at the door; but they rooms large and airy; your host and hostess listen in vain: a fall or a fever has interkind and spiritual; and, upon the whole, all cepted him, and he is gone far, far away. things as well as you could expect to find Some leave all well when they go from them, considering where you are. I could home; but how changed, how trying the give you much such an account of my usual scene when they come back! In their abhead-quarters in the city ; but still London sence, the Lord' has taken away the desire is London. I do not wish you to live there, of their eyes with a stroke, or perhaps ruffians for my own sake as well as yours; but if the have plundered and murdered their family Lord should so appoint, I believe he can in the dead of the night, or the fire devoured make you easy there, and enable me to their habitation. make a tolerable shift without you. Yet I Ah! how large and various is the list of certainly should miss you; for I have no evils and calamities with which sin has filled person in this neighbourhood with whom my the world! You, and I, and ours escape heart so thoroughly unites in spirituals, them: we stand, though in a field of battle, though there are many whom I love. But where thousands fall around us, because the conversation with most christians is some- Lord is pleased to keep us. May he have thing like going to court; where, except the praise, and may we only live to love and you are dressed exactly according to a pre- serve him. scribed standard, you will either not be ad Mrs. - has been very ill, and my heart mitted, or must expect to be heartily stared often much pained while you have been abat. But you and I can meet and converse, sent. But the Lord has removed his hand; sans contrainte, in an undress, without fear she is much better, and I hope she will be of offending, or being accounted offenders for seen in his house tomorrow. I have few a word out of place, and not exactly in the trials in my own person; but when the pink of the mode.

Lord afflicts her, I feel it. It is a mercy that I know not how it is: I think my senti- he has made us one; but it exposes us to ments and experience are as orthodox and many a pain, which we might have missed, Calvinistical as need be; and yet I am a sort if we cared but little for each other. Alas! of speckled bird among my Calvinist bre- there is usually an ounce of the golden calf, thren. I am a mighty good Churchman, but of idolatry and dependence, in all the warm pass amongst such as a Dissenter in prunello. regard we bear to creatures. Hinc ille On the other hand, the Dissenters (many of lachrymæ! For this reason, our sharpest them I mean) think me defective, either in trials usually spring from our most valued understanding or in conscience, for staying comforts. where I am. Well, there is a middle party, I cannot come to you: therefore you must

« PreviousContinue »