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CHARLESTON, JULY 11, 1806. MY DEAR FRIEND, ;..
. For sometime past, I have been thinking how long it was, since I had received a letter from you. Reflecting on this subject yesterday, I began to apprebend, that I had written, or done sometbing, that had made my friendship appear to you, in a questionable shape, or at least, deserving of some correction, which you had resolved to inflict, by maintaining this long silence; which I assure you was sensibly felt by me, and at length I became, if not really bumbled, at least so much mortified, and so uneasy under it, that I had almost determined to write to you, without having previously received a line from you, and to ask, “ What is the matter with you ? or, Wherein have I offended ?”. When, lo! to day I am again favoured with a good long letter from you, dated July 5, which has cleared up my doubts, banished my apprehensions, and fully satisfied me that your heart, though it seems to have been a little moody with some of the human race, and to have had a little bickering with the world lately, has still continued to cherish sentiments of friendship, and dispositions of peace and good will, with my dear little Jane and myself. In this view, as well as in some other respects, your friendly communications, have given us both a great deal of pleasure : I am afraid to say, perhaps, more pleasure, than it would have given, if these crooked circumstances had not intervened ; for
then you might be tempted to try the same means again, which perhaps, might not succeed as well agaio. For my part, what with ordinary affairs, and some important extra business, in which I have been lately engaged, and what with an old inveterate habit of indolence, and the present relaxing heat of the weather, I have fancied and persuaded myself, that I have scarcely found time or leisure, for writing to you again, since I last wrote to you, which was, I know not when. And now, when I have taken up my pen, immediately after perusing your letter, in the hope of feeling my sluggish mind usefully influenced and animated, by a sense of your kindness, still fresh upon it. I find that it is no easy task, to muster up a few ideas, to go along with the few lines, which I am scrawling. As you have studied anatomy, and the influence of the ele, ments, &c. upon the human system, I need not here, by way of apology for myself, stay to shew, how easily the almost vertical and burning beams of the sun, at this season, may penetrate through a small mass of brains like mine ; and how soon they may scorch to cinders, the small seeds, or young shoots of thought, vegetating there, or evaporate them all into smoke and clouds. So, the less I have to say for myself, the more matter I may furnish for the employment of your ingenuity, and scientific researches, and calculations, and conclusions. And perhaps, on a similar principle, if I had only philosophical and medical, and especially chemical knowledge enough, I might account for the complexion of your letter, which is rather gloomy and querulous. In your more capacious cerebrum, fortified, with a bet. ter pericranium, the embryos of ideas, are not so easily er so soon calcined, or dissipated ; but they may have so far felt the calorific influence of the sun, as to have been excited into a considerable fermentation, marked with strong acidities, and with loud and vehement explosions of perturbed sensibility : but, when the exciting cause is removed, this irritability, or irritation rather, of the nerves of the mind, will of course subside, and there will be a great, or a sweet calm. The sooner this important change takes place, the better. And as doctors generally, or at least, frequently, are the poorest physicians for themselves; leaving you to prescribe to me, as you may find occasion : I shall now take leave to suggest a little advice, which may be useful to you. On the first day, after receiving this, on which you shall feel your spirits agitated and raised to a feverish heat, improve the first leisure hour, which you can command, and which you have a right to demand from those engagements with the world, which your situation requires, and which your religion sanctions, for the purpose of retreating to that charming shade, created by the Redeemer's banner of love, which he spreads over his friends, who are disposed to withdraw from the world, in order to enjoy communion with bim, and under which they sit with great delight : there take up the glass of faith, which you will find lying ready for your use, upon the open volume of his word of truth and grace ; and placing this before your eye, out of which you have carefully cast every beam and mote, which would obstruct its vision, look steadily, through this, towards every point of the compass around you ; and when you have taken a deliberate survey of the world, and of your fellow mortals, “ moving like shadows o'er the plain," then raise your glass towards the throne of your Lord ; and though at first you may see only clouds and darkness round about him; yet will you soon begin to perceive light shining out of darkness ; and in his light, you will see light sufficient to shew you, that he doth all things well, and that there is not a circumstance of your situation, or an event which befals you, by whatever secondary cause or agency produced, but what is ordered by infinite wisdom, and sanctified by Divine grace, to work for your good. Before you are aware, you will find, that this sweet retirement, and this interesting prospect, have cooled the fever of your mind, composed all its ruffled feelings and passions, and restored it to the enjoyment of a most desirable peace, such as the smiles of the world cannot give, nor its frowns take away ; a peace which your Lord alone can bestow, and which his ehosen and beloved friends, usually enjoy in the highest perfection, when they are most harassed and oppressed by the tribulations, which they experience in, and from the world. Probatum est.
Yes, my friend, I believe that you, and I hope that I, bave often felt its sovereign salutary efficacy. But I think it probable, that you, as I know that I often stand in need of being reminded of this blessed remedy, this genuine catholicon ; and of being urged by much and impor. tunate persuasion, to try it again, especially when we are under an high worldly delirium, and are most incapable of judging what is best for us. This, I think, has brought me out of many an obstinate fit of pouting, or of the hypo, when I was not inclined to speak to any body, unless it was in pettish language, and when I wanted nobody to speak to me, unless it was in language that would flatter my pride, or encourage me in my ill humour with the world, with which I was quarrelling, be.
cause I thought it did not treat me as well as I deserye ed. But, when I have not taken due pains to have my eye cleared of prejudice, and self-love, which always form a foggy atmosphere, or to have the glass sufficiently brightened by the application of a leaf of Divine truth, I have been obliged to look the longer, and again and again, before I could well see, that while I was not what I ought to be, all things around me were as they should be, arranged and ordered in the best manner, to impress upon my heart the lessons of heavenly wisdom, to humble me under a consciousness of my own failings, follies, and offences ; and to recommend and endear to me more effectually, the blood and righteousness, the love and grace, and friendship of the blessed Redeemer, as the singer's best friend ; and thus to do me good in the latter end. Such also, I suppose, has sometimes been your experience. From the observations, indeed, which fill a page or more of your folio letter, I suspect that many of the scenes in this path of life, which you have trodden, bave been very similar to those through which I have passed, in my pilgrimage through the wilderness of this evil world. How often has it smiled and flattered, and made the fairest promises, when it has been preparing to give the vexaation and bitterness of the most mortifying disappointments; but when aware of its deceitfulness, and refusing to trust to its friendship, we have taken the word and Spirit, and providence of God, for our guide and stay, we have then found the hostility of the world, made to minister to our welfare, and some of the keenest pains which it had inflicted, turned into our sweetest comforts. Let us then be cheered and encouraged, for the time to come. While we meet with so much