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have grace to be faithful. But I have rambled. I meant to tell you, that on Sunday afternoon I preached from Why will ye die? Ezek. xxxiii. 10, 11. I endeavoured to show poor sinners, that if they died it was because they would, and if they would they must. I was much affected for a time: I could hardly speak for weeping, and some wept with me. alas! I can no more draw a tear, or a relenting thought, than from a mill-stone.
I am, &c.
My Dear Friend,
Nov. 27, 1778. YOU are a better expositor of Scripture than of my speeches, if you really inferred from my last that I think you shall die soon. I cannot say positively you will not die soon, because life at all times is uncertain; however, according to the doctrine of probabilities, I think, and always thought, you bid fair enough to out
The gloomy tinge of your weak spirits led you to consider yourself much worse in point of health than you appear to me to be.
In the other point I dare be more positive, that die when you
will die in the Lord. Of this I have not the least doubt; and I believe you doubt of it less, if possible, than I, except in those darker moments when the atrabilarious hurnour prevails.
I heartily sympathize with you in your complaints ; but I see you in safe hands. The Lord loves you, and will take care of you. He who raises the dead can revive your spirits when you are cast down. He who sets bounds to the sea, and says, ,
Hitherto shalt thou
come, and no further,” can limit and moderate that gloom which sometimes distresses you. He knows why he permits you to be thus exercised. I cannot assign the reasons, but I am sure they are worthy of his wisdoin and love, and that you will hereafter see, and
say, He has done all things well. If I was as wise as your philosopher, I might say a great deal about a melancholy complexion ; but I love not to puzzle myself with second causes, while the first cause is at hand, which sufficiently accounts for every phenomenon in a believer's experience. Your constitution, your situation, your temper, your distemper, all that is either comfortable or painful in your lot, is of his appointment. The hairs of your
head are all numbered : the same power which produced the planet Jupiter is necessary to the production of a single hair, nor can one of them fall to the ground without his notice, any more than the stars can fall from their orbits. In providence, no less than in creation he is Marimus in minimis. Therefore fear not; only believe. Our sea may sometimes be stormy, but we have an infallible Pilot, and shall infallibly gain our port,
I am, &c,
My Dear Friend,
Feb. 23, 1779. ON Saturday, and not before, I heard you had been ill. Had the news reached me sooner, I should have sent you a line sooner. I hope you will be able to inform ine that you are now better, and that the Lord continues to do you good by every dispensation he allots you. Healing and wounding are equally from
In this way
his hand, and equally tokens of his love and care over
I have but little affliction in my own person, but I have been often chastened of late by proxy. The Lord, for his people's sake, is still pleased to give me health and strength for public service; but when I need the rod he lays it upon Mrs. ****. I have felt much, without being disabled or laid aside. But he has heard prayer for her likewise, and for more than a fortnight past she has been comfortably well. I lay at least one half of her sickness to my own account. She suffers for me, and I through her. It is indeed touching me in a tender part. Perhaps if I could be more wise, watchful, and humble, it might contribute more to the re-establishment of her health than all the medicines she takes.
I somehow neglected to confer with you about the business of the fast-day. The last of my three sermons, when I had, as I expected, the largest congregation, was a sort of historical discourse, from Deut. xxxii. 15.: in which, running over the leading national events from the time of Wickliff, I endeavoured to trace the steps and turns by which the Lord has made us a fat and thriving people, and in the event blessed us beyond his favoured Jeshurun of old, with civil and religious liberty, peace, honour, and prosperity, and Gospel-privileges; how fat we were when the war terminated in the year 1763, and how we have kicked, and forsaken the rock of our salvation of late years. Then followed a sketch of our present state and spirit as a people, both in a religious and political view. I started at the picture while I drew it, though it was a very inadequate representation. We seemed willing to afflict our souls for one day, as Dr. Lowth reads Isa. lviii. 5. But the next day things returned into their
former channel : the fast and the occasion seemed
presently forgotten, except by a few simple souls, who are despised and hated by the rest for their preciseness, because they think sin ought to be lamented every day in
Who would envy Cassandra her gift of prophecy upon the terms she had it, that her declarations, however true, should meet with no belief or regard ? It is the lot of Gospel-ministers, with respect to the bulk of their hearers. But blessed be the grace which makes a few exceptions! Here and there one will hear, believe, and be saved. Every one of these is worth a world; and our success with a few should console us for all our trials.
Come and see us as soon as you can, only not tomorrow, for I am then to go to T**** My Lord, the great Shepherd, has one sheep there, related to the fold under my care. I can seldom see her, and she is very ill. I expect she will be soon removed to the pasture above. Our love to Mrs. B****.
Believe me yours, &c.
My Dear Friend,
April 23, 1779. MAY I not style myself a friend, when I remember you after an interval of several weeks since I saw you, and through a distance of threescore miles ? But the truth is, you have been neither absent nor distant from my heart a day. Your idea has travelled with me : you are a kind of familiar, very often before the eye
my mind. This I hope may be admitted as a proof of friendship.
I know the Lord loves
you know it likewise: every affliction affords you a fresh proof of it. How wise his management in our trials ! How wisely adjusted in season, weight, continuance, to answer his gracious purposes in sending them! How unspeakably better to be at his disposal than at our own! So you say; so you think; so you find. You trust in him, and shall not be disappointed. Help me with your prayers, that I may trust him too, and be at length enabled to say without reserve, What thou wilt, when thou wilt, how thou wilt. I had rather speak these three sentences from my heart, in my mother tongue, than be master of all the languages in Europe.
I am yours, &c.
My Dear Friend,
August 19, 1779. AMONG the rest of temporal mercies I would be thankful for pen, ink, and paper, and the convenience of the post, by which means we can waft a thought to a friend when we cannot get at him. My will has been good to see you; but you must accept the will for the deed. The Lord has not permitted me.
I have been troubled of late with the rheumatism in my
Mine is a sinful, vile body, and it is a mercy that any part of it is free from pain. It is virtually the seat and subject of all diseases; but the Lord holds them like wild beasts in a chain under a strong restraint; was that restraint taken off, they would rush upon their prey from every quarter, and seize upon every limb, member, joint, and nerve, at once. Yet, though I am a sinner, and though my whole texture is