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come hither speedily. Be sure to bring Mr.
LETTER VII. B— with you. I shall be very glad to see him, and I long to thank him for clothing
October —, 1779. my book. It looks well on the outside, and MY DEAR FRIEND,— Your letters are always I hope to find it sound and savoury. I love welcome; the last doubly so, for being unex the author, and that is a step towards liking pected. If you never heard before of a line the book. For where we love, we are gene- of yours being useful, I will tell you for once, rally tender, and favourably take every thing that I get some pleasure and instruction by the best handle, and are vastly full of can- whenever you write to me. And I see not dour: but if we are prejudiced against the but your call to letter-writing is as clear as man, the poor book is half condemned before mine, at least when you are able to pat pen we open it. It had need be written well, for to paper. it will be read with a suspicious eye, as if I inust say something to your queries about we wished to find treason in every page. I 2 Sam. xiv. I do not approve of the schoam glad I diverted and profited you by call-lastic distinctions about inspiration, which ing you a speckled bird. I can tell you, such seem to have a tendency to explain a way the a bird in this day, that wears the full colour authority and certainty of one half of the of no sect or party, is rara avis ; if not quite Bible at least. Though the penmen of the so scarce as the phenix, yet to be met with scriptures were ever so well informed of but here and there. It is impossible I should some facts, they would, as you observe, need be all of a colour, when I have been a debtor express, full, and infallible inspiration, to to all sorts; and, like the jay in the fable, teach them what the Lord would have sehave been beholden to most of the birds in lected and recorded for the use of the church, the air for a feather or two. Church and amongst many others which to themselves Meeting, Methodist and Moravian, may all might appear equally important. perceive something in my coat taken from However, with respect to historical passthem. None of them are angry with me for ages, I dare not pronounce positively that borrowing from them; but then, why could any of them are, even in the literal sense, unnot I be content with their colour, without worthy of the wisdom of the Holy Ghost, and going amongst other flocks and coveys, to the dignity of inspiration. Some, yea many make myself such a motley figure? Let of them, have often appeared trivial to me; them be angry; if I have culled the best but I check the thought, and charge it to my feathers from all, then surely I am finer than own ignorance and temerity. It must have any.-I am, &c.
some importance, because I read it in God's book. On the other hand, though I will not
deny that they all may have a spiritual and
mystical sense (for I am no more qualified to LETTER VI.
judge of the deep things of the Spirit, than
to tell you what is passing this morning at August –, 1778. the bottom of the sea ;) yet if, with my preDEAR SIR,- If the Lord affords health, if sent modicum of light, I should undertake to the weather be tolerable, if no unforeseen expound many passages in a mystical sense, I change takes place, if no company comes in fear such a judge as you would think my inupon me to-night (which sometimes unex- terpretations fanciful, and not well supported. pectedly happens,)- with these provisos, Mr. I suppose I should have thought the Bible S and I have engaged to travel to complete, though it had not informed me of on Monday next, and hope to be with you by the death of Rebekah’s nurse, or where she or before eleven o'clock.
was buried. But some tell me that Deborah In such a precarious world, it is needful is the law, and that by the oak I am to unto form our plans at two days' distance, with derstand the cross of Christ: and I rememprecaution and exceptions, James iv. 13. ber to have heard of a preacher who discoverHowever, if it be the Lord's will to bring us ed a type of Christ crucified in Absalom hang. together, and if the purposed interview be for ing by the hair on another oak. I am quite nis glory and our good, then I am sure no- a mole when compared with these eagle-eyed thing shall prevent it. And who in his right divines, and must often content myself with wits would wish either to visit or be visited plodding upon the lower ground of accoinmoupon any other terms? 0! if we could but datior, and allusion, except when the Newbe pleased with his will, we might be pleased Testament writers assure me what the mind from morning to night, and every day in the of the Holy Ghost was. I can find the gospel year.
with more confidence in the history of Sarah Pray for a blessing upon our coming toge- and Hagar, than in that of Leah and Rachel; ther. It would be a pity to walk ten miles though, without Paul's help, I should have to pick straws, or to come with our empty considered them both as family-squabbles, revessels upon our heads, saying, we have found corded chiefly to illustrate the general truth, no water.-I am, &c.
that vanity and vexation of spirit are incident
to the best men, in the most favoured situa- | fore us. We knew not that there was a Sun tions. And I think there is no part of Old- of righteousness, and that he would dawn, Testament history from which I could not and rise, and shine upon our hearts. And as (the Lord helping me) draw observations that the idea of what we see now was then hidden might be suitable to the pulpit, and profitable from us, so at present we are almost equally to his people : so I might, perhaps, from at a loss how to form any conception of the Livy or Tacitus. But then with the Bible stronger light and brighter prospects which in my hands, I go upon sure grounds: I am we wait and hope for. Comparatively we are certain of the facts I speak from, that they in the dark still: at the most, we have but a really did happen. I may likewise depend dim twilight, and see nothing clearly; but it upon the springs and motives of actions, and is the dawn of immortality, and a sure prenot annuse myself and my hearers with sage and earnest of glory. speeches which were never spoken, and mo Thus, at times, it seems, a darkness that tives which were never thought of, till the may be felt broods over your natural spirits ; historian rummaged his pericranium for some but when the day-star rises upon your heart, thing to embellish his work. I doubt not you see and rejoice in his light. You have but, wire you to consider Joab's courtly days as well as nights; and after a few more conduct only in a literal sense, how it tallied vicissitudes, you will take your flight to the with David's desire, and how gravely and regions of everlasting light, where your sun graciously be granted himself a favour while will go down no more. Happy you, and he professed to oblige Joab: I say, in this happy I, if I shall meet you there, as I trust view, you would be able to illustrate many I shall. How shall we love, and sing, and important scriptural doctrines, and to show wonder and praise the Saviour's name. that the passage is important to those who are Last Sunday, a young man died here of engaged in studying the anatomy of the hu- extreme old age, at twenty-five. He laboured man heart.-I am, &c.
hard to ruin a good constitution, and unhappily succeeded; yet amused himself with the
hopes of recovery almost to the last. We LETTER VIJI.
have a sad knot of such poor creatures in
this place, who labour to stifle each other's October 27, 1778. convictions, and to ruin themselves and asMY DEAR FRIEND, I have been witness sociates, soul and body. How industriously to a great and important revolution this is Satan served! I was formerly one of his morning, which took place while the great- most active under-tempters. Not content est part of the world was asleep. Like with running the broad way myself, I was many state revolutions, its first beginnings indefatigable in enticing others; and had my were almost undiscernible; but the progress, influence been equal to my wishes, I would though gradual, was steady, and the event have carried all the human race with me. decisive. A while ago darkness reigned. And, doubtless, some have perished, to whose Had a man then dropped, for the first time, destruction I was greatly instrumental, by into our world, he might have thought him- tempting them to sin, and by poisoning and self banished into a hopeless dungeon. How hardening them with principles of infidelity; could he expect light to rise out of such a and yet I was spared. When I think of the state? And when he saw the first glimmer- most with whom I spent my unhappy days ing of dawn in the east, how could he pro- of ignorance, I am ready to say, I only am mise himself that it was the forerunner of escaped alive to tell thee. Surely I have such a glorious sun as has since arisen. not half the activity and zeal in the service With what wonder would such a new comer of him who snatched me as a brand out of observe the bounds of his view enlarging, and the burning, as I had in the service of his the distinctness of objects increasing from one enemy. Then the whole stream of my enminute to another; and how well content deavours and affections went one way; now would he be to part with the twinklings of the my best desires are continually crossed, stars, when he had the broad day all around him counteracted, and spoiled, by the sin which in exchange! I cannot say this revolution is dwelleth in me; then the tide of a corrupt extraordinary, because it happens every morn- nature bore me along, now I have to strive ing; but surely it is astonishing, or rather it and swim against it. The Lord cut me would be so, if man was not astonishingly short of opportunities, and placed me where stupid.
I could do but little mischief; but had my Such strangers once were we. Darkness, abilities and occasions been equal to my gross darkness, covered us. How confined heart, I should have been a Voltaire and a were our views! And even the things which Tiberius in one character, a monster of prowere within our reach we could not distin- faneness and licentiousness. “O to grace guish Little did we then think what a glo- how great a debtor!" A common drunkard rious day we were appointed to see; what an or profligate is a petty sinner to what I was. unbounded prospect would ere long open be- \ I had the ambition of a Cæsar or an Alexan
der, and wanted to rank in wickedness / any more than the stars can fall from their among the foremost of the human race. orbits. In providence, no less than in creaWhen you have read this, praise the Lord tion, he is Maximus in minimis. Therefore for his mercy to the chief of sinners, and pray fear not; only believe. Our sea may some that I may have grace to be faithful.—But I times be stormy, but we have an infallible have rambled. I meant to tell you, that on pilot, and shall infallibly gain our port-I Sunday afternoon I preached from Ezekiel am, &c. xxxiii. 10, 11, “Why will ye die ?" &c. I endeavoured to show poor sinners, that if they died, it was because they would, and if
LETTER X. they would they must. I was much atiected for a time: I could hardly speak for weep
February 23, 1779. ing, and some wept with me.
MY DEAR FRIEND, -On Saturday, and not alas ! I can no more draw a tear, or a re- before, I heard you had been ill. Had the lenting thought, than from a mill-stone.—1 news reached me sooner, I should have sent
you a line sooner. I hope you will be able to inform me that you are now better, and
that the Lord continues to do you good by LETTER IX.
every dispensation he allots you. Healing
and wounding are equally from his hand, and November 27, 1978. equally tokens of his love and care over us. MY DEAR FRIEND,—You are a better ex. I have but little affliction in my own person, positor of scripture than of my speeches, if but I have been often chastened of late by you really inferred from my last that I think proxy: The Lord, for his people's sake, is you shall die soon. I cannot say positively still pleased to give me health and strength you will not die soon, because life at all times for public service, but when I need the rod is uncertain; however, according to the he lays it upon Mrs. — In this way I doctrine of probabilities, I think, and always have felt much, without being disabled or thought, you bid fair enough to outlive me. laid aside. But he has heard prayer for her
The gloomy tinge of your weak spirits led likewise, and for more than a fortnight past you to consider yourself much worse in point she has been comfortably well. I lay at least of health than you appear to me to be. one half of her sickness to my own account:
In the other point I dare be more positive, she suffers for me, and I through her. It is that die when you will, you will die in the indeed touching me in a tender part. PerLord. Of this I have not the least doubt; haps if I could be more wise, watchful, and and I believe you doubt of it less, if possible, humble, it might contribute more to the rethan I, except in those darker moments when establishment of her health than all the me the atrabilious humour prevails.
dicines she takes. I heartily sympathize with you in your I somehow neglected to confer with you complaints; but I see you in safe hands. about the business of the Fast-day. The
The Lord loves you, and will take care of last of my three sermons, when I had, as I exyou. He who raises the dead, can revive pected, the largest congregation, was a sort your spirits when you are cast down. He of historical discourse, from Deut. xxxii. 15, who sets bounds to the sea, and says, in which, running over the leading national “ Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further," events from the time of Wickliff, I endeacan limit and moderate that gloom which voured to trace the steps and turns by which sometimes distresses you. He knows why the Lord has made us a fat and thriving peohe permits you to be thus exercised. I can- ple, and in the event blessed us beyond his not assign the reasons, but I am sure they are favourite Jeshurun of old, with civil andre worthy of his wisdom and love, and that you ligious liberty, peace, honour, and prosperity, wili hereafter see, and say, He has done all and gospel-privileges: How fat we things well. If I was as wise as your philo- when the war terminated in the year 1763, sopher, I might say a great deal about a melan- and how we have kicked, and forsaken the choly complexion; but I love not to puzzle Rock of our salvation of late years. Then myself with second causes, while the first followed a sketch of our present state and cause is at hand, which sufficiently accounts spirit as a people, both in a religious and for every phenomenon in a believer's ex- political view. I started at the picture while perience. Your constitution, your situation, I drew it, though it was a very inadequate your temper, your distemper, all that is either representation. We seemed willing to afflict comfortable or painful in your lot, is of his our souls, for one day, as Dr. Lowth reads appointment. The hairs of your head are Isa. lviii
. 5. But the next day, things reall numbered: the same power which pro- turned into their former channel: the fast duced the planet Jupiter is necessary to the and the occasion seemed presently forgotten, production of a single hair, nor can one of except by a few simple souls, who are des. them fall to the ground without his notice, pised and hated by the rest for their precise
ness, because they think sin ought to be | vile body, and it is a mercy that any part of lamented every day in the year.
it is free from pain. It is virtually the seat Who would envy Cassandra her gift of and subject of all diseases; but the Lord prophecy upon the terms she had it, that her holds them like wild beasts in a chain, under declarations, however true, should meet with a strong restraint: were that restraint taken no belief or regard ? It is the lot of gospel- off, they would rush upon their prey from ministers, with respect to the bulk of their every quarter, and seize upon every limb, hearers. But blessed be the grace which member, joint, and nerve, at once. Yet, makes a few exceptions. Here and there though I am a sinner, and though my whole one will hear, believe, and be saved. Every texture is so frail and exposed, I have enone of these is worth a world, and our success joyed for a number of years an almost perfect with a few should console us for all our trials. exemption both from pain and sickness. This
Come and see us as soon as you can, only is wonderful indeed, even in my own eyes. not to-morrow, for I am then to go to T But my soul is far from being in a healthy My Lord, the great Shepherd, has one sheep state. There I have laboured, and still lathere, related to the fold under my care. I bour, under a complication of diseases; and, can seldom see her, and she is very ill. I but for the care and skill of an infallible expect she will be soon removed to the pas- Physician, I must have died the death long ture above. Our love to Mrs. B ago. At this very moment my soul is feverish, Believe me yours, &c.
dropsical, paralytic. I feel a lees of appetite, a disinclination both to food and to medicine;
so that I am alive by miracle: yet I trust ] LETTER XI.
shall not die, but live, and declare the works
of the Lord. When I faint, he revives me
April 23, 1779. again. I am sure he is able, and I trust he MY DEAR FRIEND,—May I not style myself | has promised to heal me; but how inveterate a friend, when I remember you after an in- must my disease be, that is not yet subdued, terval of several weeks since I saw you, and even under his management! through a distance of threescore miles ? But Well, my friend, there is a land where the the truth is, you have been neither absent nor inhabitants shall no more say, I am sick. distant from my heart a day. Your idea has Then my eyes will not be dim, nor my ear travelled with me: you are a kind of fainiliar, heavy, nor my heart hard. very often before the eye of my mind. This, I
One sight of Jesus as he is hope, may be admitted as a proof of friendship.
Will strike all sin for ever dead. I know the Lord loves you, and you know it likewise: every affliction affords you a fresh May it cheer us under all our present uneasy
Blessed be his name for this glorious hope ! proof of it. How wise his management in feelings, and reconcile us to every cross. our trials! How wisely adjusted in season, The way must be right, however rough, that weight, and continuance, to answer his gra- leads to such a glorious end. cious purposes in sending them! How un
O for more of that gracious influence, speakably better to be at his disposal than at which in a moment can make the wildernessour own! So you say, so you think, so you soul rejoice and blossom like the rose! I find. You trust in him, and shall not be dis: want something which neither critics nor appointed. Help me with your prayers, that I may trust him too, and be at length enabled itself, whether I read it in Hebrew, Greek,
commentators can help me to. The scripture to say without reserve, What thou wilt, when French, or English, is a sealed book in all thou wilt, how thou wilt
. I had rather
speak these languages, unless the Spirit of the Lord these three sentences from my heart, in my is present to expound and apply. Pray for mother-tongue, than be master of all the lan
No prayer seems more suitable to me guages in Europe.—I am yours, &c.
than that of the psalmist: “Bring my soul
I am, &c.
August 28, 1779. ink, and paper, and the convenience of the MY DEAR FRIEND,—I want to hear how post, by which means we can waft a thought you are. I hope your complaint is not worse to a friend when we cannot get at him. My than when I saw you. I hope you are easier, will has been good to see you, but you must and will soon find yourself able to move about accept the will for the deed. The Lord has again. I should be sorry, if to the symptoms not permitted me.
of the stone you should have the gout superI have been troubled of late with the rheu- added in your right hand, for then you would matism in my left arm. Mine is a sinful, I not be able to write to me.
We go on much as usual, sometimes very to you, and hoped to have sent you a long poorly, sometimes a little better: the latter letter; when, behold! I could not get at any is the case to-day. My rheumatism continues, paper. I am now waiting for a peep at Mr. but it is very moderate and tolerable. The B at his lodgings, who came to town Lord deals gently with us, and gives us many last night; and I shall write as fast as I can proofs that he does not afflict willingly. till I see him.
The days speed away apace: each one I feel for you a little in the same way as bears away its own burden with it, to return you feel for yourself. I bear a friendly symno more. “Both pleasures and pains that are pathy in your late sharp and sudden trial. I past are gone for ever. What is yet future mourn with that part of you which mourns; will likewise be soon past. The end is com- but at the same time I rejoice in the proof ing. O, to realize the thought, and to judge you have, and which you give, that the Lord of things now in some measure suitable to is with you of a truth. I rejoice on your acthe judgment we shall form of them when we count, to see you supported and comforted, are about to leave them all! Many things and enabled to say, He has done all things which now either elate or depress us, will well. I rejoice on my own account. Such then appear to be trifles light as air. instances of his faithfulness and all-sufficiency
One thing is needful: to have our hearts are very encouraging. We must all expect united to the Lord in humble faith ; to set hours of trouble in our turn. We must all him always before us; to rejoice in him as feel in our concernments the vanity and unour shepherd and our portion; to submit to certainty of creature-comforts. What a merall his appointments, not of necessity, because cy it is to know from our own past experience, he is stronger than we, but with a cheerful and to have it confirmed to us by the expeacquiescence, because he is wise and good, rience of others, that the Lord is good, a and loves us better than we do ourselves; to stronghold in the day of trouble, and that feed upon his truth; to have our understand- he knoweth them that trust in him. Crea. ings, wills, affections, imaginations, and me- tures are like candles, they waste while they mory, all filled and impressed with the great afford us a little light, and we see them ex. mysteries of redeeming love; to do all for tinguished in their sockets one after another. him, to receive all froin him, to find all in him. But the light of the sun makes amends for I have mentioned many things, but they are them all. The Lord is so rich that he eaall comprised in one, a life of faith in the Son sily can, so good that he certainly will give of God. We are empty vessels in ourselves, his children more than he ever will take away. but we cannot remain empty. Except Jesus When his gracious voice reaches the heart, It dwells in our hearts, and fills them with his is I, be not afraid; be still, and know that I power and presence, they will be filled with am God; when he gives us an impression of folly, vanity, and vexation. I am, &c. his wisdom, power, love, and care, then the
storm which attempts to rise in our natural passions is hushed into a calm; the flesh con
tinues to feel, but the spirit is made willing. LETTER XIV.
And something more than submission takes
place, -a sweet resignation and acquies
Oct. 26, 1779. cence, and even a joy that we have any thing MY DEAR FRIEND,—Being to go out of which we value, to surrender to his call.town to-day, I started up before light to write I am yours, &c.