« PreviousContinue »
To the Rev. Mr. HUNTINGTON.
MY DEAR SIR, Do you suppose that I have forgotten you? This, I am sure, can never be the case, if it was only for what I can get from you. I received your last favour in due time, though I have been so long before I acknowledged it. Sometimes I am declining somewhere, I know not where. I get into a sad labyrinth, hedged up in a wilderness, where I can hear nothing, see nothing, but mope about, and grope like the blind for the wall, and have no power to write, to think, nor so much as to pray; there is nothing dismal in this world, or in the world to come, but what I fear will come upon me, and then conclude if I did belong to the Lord it could not, nor would not be so; then again some unexpected relief, such as little indulgence in prayer, when I can pour out my complaints, and reflect on my baseness and awful rebellion; I begin to think how abominably vile I have acted, and how merciful the Lord has been ; and ought not I to bear all this, and much more, from him, without murmuring and repining, and let his Sovereign Majesty do with me as seemeth good in his fight? I am sensible that I have no claim upon him; I have for. feited his favour, and that for evermore, if he was to deal with me according to his justice. I am tempted, at times, to nibble at his sovereignty; but the scriptures presently shut my mouth. What astonishes me as much as any thing, is the unexpected enlargement I find sometimes in the pulpit, and that when I have been the whole day in fecters, and not a word opening in the Bible; this, at times, meekens and melts my heart much, but I am sure to have it that night; for the devil has kept me awake the greatest part of the night, and harasses me in a dreadful manner, and if I fall aneep he terrifies me with dreams, so that I really have sometimes been tempted to let him alone for fear of him ; but the next time the Lord gives me power, I have at him as bad as ever..
I can see your last clear enough, and I think I. can lee your delign in writing it; which was, to let me know that I am not to expect that the old man will either be killed or mended. I believe that he is incurable, and I think the devil dwells in him ; and, I am sure, I hate' them both with a perfect hatred, yet I have their company day and night; but it is forely against my will. Your case and mine, Sir, differ widely—“ perfect love,” you say, « has cast out the fear of death, and keeps it out.”
This I believe with respect to you, and can see it clear enough agreeable to the word of God, but it is not so with me; if I had but this, I should fear nothing. I long for another epistle; for, under God, these are the means that bring me along, if I am coming along at all.
It is true, my dear friend, I did think that I was out of sight and out of mind; or, at least, the same devil that told you that I should write to you no more, bore the same lying testimony at Paddington. God knows how sorely I long after you in the bowels of Christ, and how thankful I am for every viqtation of God to you. I have long indulged this confidence, that the Lord hath a great work for you to do, and he is fitting thee for it. The knowledge of sin and the law, of self and of Christ, of hypocrites and of
saints, faints, of profession and poffeffion, is absolutely necessary to every one that is a workman, who does the work of an evangelist, and who rightly divides the word of truth, and makes a difference between the clean and unclean, the vile and the precious. I know the Lord is with thee, thou art holpen with a little help; hope works against despair, and counterbalances it, and we are saved by hope. Faith has got a fast hold of him; this is plain, by the violence used by sin and Satan against it; neither of which can make faith relinquish her hold; she will overcome the world by the Spirit's assistance, and by the help the brings from the Saviour ; who will ever honour faith, because faith always honours him, and excludes all boasting from the creature, by leading the finner to rest alone in the finished work of our great Deliverer. Against this reliance alone on Jesus proud nature argues and brings forth her strong reasons; at this she spurns, rebels, and opposes herself, till her strength is exhausted, and the soul is bewildered, confounded, and befooled, infomuch that the finner becomes a mystery and a riddle to himself, and knows nothing as he ought to know; and when this clay is taught to lay passive in the hand of the potter, it is moulded into another veffel, as it seemeth good to the potter to make it.
I wonder not at thy unexpected enlargement in the pulpit ; for when we enter upon this work selfdebaled, we are sure to be exalted; when many
silent groans, tears, and petitions, have been poured out in secret, we are rewarded openly; when we appear self-emptied, his fulness is sufficient, and we find that our sufficiency is of God; in our weakness his strength is made perfect; and when we appear dumb men, in whose mouth are no reproofs, then it is" son of man, when I want thee to speak I « will open thy mouth;”-a door of utterance is given, the Spirit of our heavenly Father speaketh in us, and we ourselves are astonished, both at the matter, the manner, the fluency, and the fortitude. When we have been thus indulged, and we leave off full of power and energy, then we expect to cut a greater figure the next time; and, in this con fidence, we are minded to go unto them; and if we are furnished with a text, and some tolerable views into it, this heightens our zeal, braces and equips us, and at it we go, full of self, self-dependance, and self-sufficiency. In the first prayer we find that we are more mighty in self than we are in word; and though the text and the heads be given out with some degree of boldness, yet when we come to explain them, that lock of hair wherein our great strength lay is cut off, we shake ourselves, but it is nothing but a sham or a banter, and the Philistines themselves can see it. Our heads of discourse are half loft, for Satan has stole two parts out of three of that which we committed to memory. Soon after we lose sigirt of the text, and then every