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set you and me at variance. We unite in love to you. The Lord is gracious to us, &c.
I am, &c.
1776. I DO not often serve your letters so, but this last I burnt, believing you would like to have it out of danger of falling into improper hands. When I saw how eagerly the flames devoured the paper, how quickly and entirely every trace of the writing was consumed, I wished that the fire of the love of Jesus might as completely obliterate from your heart every uneasy impression which your disappointment has given you.
Surely when he crosses our wishes it is always in mercy, and because we short-sighted creatures often know not what we ask, nor what would be the consequences if our desires were granted.
Your pride it seems has received a fall by meeting a repulse. I know self does not like to be mortified in these affairs; but if you are made successful in wooing souls for Christ, I hope that will console you for meeting a rebuff when only wooing for yourself.. Besides, I would have you pluck up your spirits. I have two good old proverbs at your service : “ There is as good “ fish in the sea as any that are brought out of it;” and " If one won't another will, or wherefore serves the “market?” Perhaps all your difficulties have arisen from this, that you have not yet seen the right person;
if so, you have reason to be thankful that the Lord would not let you take the wrong, though you unwittingly would have done it if
Where the right one lies hid I know not, but upon a supposition that it will be good for you to marry,
may venture to say,
Ubi ubi est, diu celari non potest.
The Lord in his providence will disclose her, put her in
your way, and give you to understand, This is she. Then
forward with wheels and wings, and have cause to say, his choice and time were better than your own. Did I not tell you formerly, that
if you would take care of his business he will take care of yours? I am of the same mind still. He will not suffer them who fear him and depend upon him to want any thing that is truly good for them. In the mean while, I advise you to take a lodging as near as you can to Gethsemane, and to walk daily to mount Golgotha, and borrow (which may be had for asking) that telescope which gives a prospect into the unseen world. A view of what is passing within the vail has a marvellous effect to compose our spirits, with regard to the little things that are daily passing here. Praise the Lord, who has enabled you to fix your supreme affection upon him who is alone the proper and suitable object of it, and from whom you cannot meet a denial or fear a change. He loved you first, and he will love you for ever; and if he be pleased to arise and smile upon you, you are in no more necessity of begging for happiness to the prettiest creature upon earth, than of the light of a candle on Midsummer noon.
Upon the whole, I pray and hope the Lord will
sweeten your cross, and either in kind or in kindness make you good amends. Wait, pray, and believe, and all shall be well. A cross we must have somewhere; and they who are favoured with health. plenty, peace, and a conscience sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, must have more causes for thankfulness than grief. Look round you, and take notice of the very severe afflictions which many of the Lord's own people are groaning under, and your trials will appear comparatively light. Our love to all friends.
I am, &c.
June 3, 1777. It seems I must write something about the small-pox, , but I know not well what: having had it myself, I cannot judge how I should feel if I were actually exposed to it. I am not a professed advocate for inoculation; but if a person who fears the Lord should tell me, I think I can do it in faith, looking upon it as a salutary expedient, which he in his providence has discovered, and which therefore appears my duty to have recourse to, so that my mind does not hesitate with respect to the lawfulness, nor am I anxious about the event; being satisfied, that whether I live or die, I am in that path in which I can cheerfully expect his blessing, I do not know that I could offer a word by way suasion,
If another person should say, My times are in the Lord's hands; I am now in health, and am not willing
way of dis
to bring upon myself a disorder, the consequences of which I cannot possibly foresee. If I am to have the small-pox, I believe he is the best judge of the season and manner in which I shall be visited, so as may be most for his glory and my own good; and therefore I choose to wait his appointment, and not to rush upon even the possibility of danger without a call. If the very hairs of my head are numbered, I have no reason to fear that, supposing I receive the small-pox in a natural way, I shall have a single pimple more than he sees expedient; and why should I wish to have one less? Nay, admitting, which however is not always the case, that inoculation might exempt me from some pain and inconvenience, and lessen the apparent danger, might it not likewise, upon that very account, prevent my receiving some of those sweet consolations which I humbly hope my gracious Lord would afford me, if it were his pleasure to call me to a sharp trial? Perhaps the chief design of this trying hour, if it comes, may be to show me more of his wisdom, power, and love, than I have ever yet experienced. If I could devise a mean to avoid the trouble, I know not how great a loser I may be in point of grace and comfort.
and comfort. Nor am I afraid of my face; it is now as the Lord has made it, and it will be so after the small-pox. If it pleases him, I hope it will please me. In short, though I do not censure others, yet, as to myself, inoculation is what I dare not venture upon.
If I did venture, and the issue should not be favourable, I should blame myself for having attempted to take the management out of the Lord's hands into my own, which I never did yet in other matters, without finding I am no more able than I am worthy to choose for myself. Besides, at the best, inoculation would only secute me from one of the innumerable natural evils the flesh is heir to; I should still be as liable as I am at present to a putrid fever, a bilious cholic, an inflammation in the bowels, or in the brain, and a thousand formidable diseases which are hovering round me, and only wait his permission to cut me off in a few days or hours: and therefore I am determined, by his grace, to resign myself to his disposal. Let me fall into the hands of the Lord (for his mercies are great), and not into the hands of men.
If a person should talk to me in this strain, most certainly I could not say, Notwithstanding all this, your safest way is to be inoculated.
We preach and hear, and I hope we know something of faith, as enabling us to intrust the Lord with our souls: I wish we had all more faith to intrust him with our bodies, our health, our provision, and our temporal comforts likewise. The former should seem to require the strongest faith of the two. How strange is it, that when we think we can do the greater, we should be so awkward and unskilful when we aim at the less! Give my love to your friend. I dare not advise: but if she can quietly return at the usual time, and neither run intentionally into the way of the small-pox, nor run out of the way, but leave it simply with the Lord, I shall not blame her. And if you will mind your praying and preaching, and believe that the Lord can take care of her without any of your contrivances, I shall not blame you: nay, I shall praise him for you both. My prescription is to read Dr. Watts, Psalm cxxi. every morning before breakfast, and pray it over till the cure is effected. Probatum est.