« PreviousContinue »
To Mr. T
BELOVED OF GOD,
Peace and truth be with thee.
Thy simple narrative arrived safe, and in the perusal of it I found a medley of sweets in it, and a medley of feelings in my own soul which accompanied the reading of it. I wondered, I admired, I grieved, I wept, and at times laughed quite out; I said, in my heart, this vessel hath made many tacks, spent much time in failing, and for ten years did not run one knot toward the desired haven, which is so commodious to winter in. However, we are glad to find that Jonah is got safe to land: you and I, my son, are subject to many epidemical disorders which require many bitter potions, and much physic. Stiff necks, and stony hearts; perverse wills, and obstinate minds; the leprosy in the blood, and the plague in the heart-these require much probing, and a deal of medicine, and all little enough to restore us to health and keep us alive. Thou hast got a large track to look back upon,
plenty of room for reflection, and a vast compass of this world to explore; one continued scene of preservation, and the innumerable deliverances of an unknown God, muft at times be a soul-humbling conlideration to thee, and is a confirmation of that wonderful passage-preserved in Christ Jesus, and called. However, I will be bold to say, that thou haft been more roughly handled on shore than ever thou wert at sea; no captain, that ever thou failedft with, ever treated thee with that cruelty that thou haft experienced from the buffetings of thy old master the devil; all the lashes of the cat were but feabites, when compared to the chastisements and scourges of God; nor any dangers at sea so perilous as that of hovering upon the brink of the bottomless pit, with a guilty conscience, and under the curse of God: I know thou wilt agree with me in this. What pains, what patience, what long-suffering and long-forbearance, what watchfulness and tender care; does the Almighty exercise in behalf of poor crawling worms of the dust, who are such enemies to him, such infamous rebels against him! But his decree is sure, his eternal love is fixt, and the price of our redemption is paid, and we must be brought to know it, to feel it, and to enjoy it, that we may be melted, purified, and humbled, and that our God may be glorified.
It is true, had all these thy sufferings been in defence of the gospel, it had been an honour, and thou wouldest have borne, even on thy back, the marks of the Lord Jesus, but, alas, thou wast buffeted for thy faults; but even this hath worked for good, for we have had our fill of this vain and miserable world, and, whatever opportunity we may have to return, I believe we shall never desire to go back.
Worldly prosperity is seldom a furtherance of the good work within; if it was, God would not keep the generality of his people so poor as he does : a. state of absolute dependance on him is best for us, though proud nature doth not like to submit to it. It makes us industrious, watchful, and furnishes us with many petitions at the throne of grace; it makes his mercies sweet, and excites gratitude for the least favour; and, while the Almighty causes his goodness to pass before us, we see our signs, and many tokens for good, which encourage faith, and cause us to abound in hope ; and, as he hath promised us every needful supply, and hath put temporal as well as spiritual blessings into his covenant and in his promise, and hath appointed Christ heir of all things pertaining to this life and to that which is to come, our portion is safest in his hand, and he shall choose our inheritance for us : he hath not intended to give us our good things in this life, he hath provided some better thing for us, a treasure in the heavens, where no moth corrupts, where no thief approaches; therefore, having food and raiment, be therewith content, for we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
Be not entangled with acquaintances, nor suffer thyself to be brought into bondage by any one that makes a profession of religion, let him be who he may. There are but few, comparatively speaking, who know either law or gospel in the power of them; they know neither the goodness nor the severity of God; they can neither sing of mercy nor of judg. ment. It hath often been a grief to me to see a young believer, just verged out of darkness, running after every one he can find that makes a profession: one robs him, another wounds him, another stumbles him. If such were to be still and quiet, keep themselves to themselves, and observe the Lord's work with them, and what passes between their own souls and him, pay attention to his voice and watch his visitations, compare spiritual things with spiritual, his word with his work, and give all diligence to make their calling and election sure, we should not have so many halcing and doubting believers as we have; but they let the best opportunity nip, and then the time comes, when they desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and they shall not see it. Such simple souls are often ensnared by the worst of hypocrites, they look up to one who appears to have great light, and they see with his eyes, and go by his light, and what he says is sure to be gospel; another appears to be all faith and, fervour, and they rest upon his arm; by and by this shining light falls into error, and the supposed strong believer discovers nothing but rash presumption ; and then their right
eyes must be plucked out, and their right hands cut off: and how halt and maimed does such a poor soul feel himself to be; how is he staggered and stumbled; how enfeebled and discouraged is he, and how strongly do his natural affections bias him. Thus poor David fared when Abithophel, his counsellor and companion, was given up to Satan; and Paul, when
Alexander and Demas turned their backs upon him; but God never forsook them. And truly our fellowship is with the Father and the Son Christ Jesus, who will be with us through evil report and good report, and to hoary hairs and old age will he carry us. O that we may walk humbly with him! walk with him in peace and equity, and he shall shine upon our path, direct our steps, and pluck our feet out of every net. There is none like the God of Jeshuron, who rideth upon the heavens in our help, and in his excellency on the skies. The eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms; he shall thrust out every enemy from before us, and shall say, Destroy them. To his protection I commit thee, and under his shadow may thy trust be, till every calamity be overpast. Amen and amen, says thy willing servant in Christ Jesus,