« PreviousContinue »
LETTER LXXI. ,
To the same.
I sEND you, my dear William, a poem, which I think will please you, and I snatch a moment, although upon a journey, which I am on the wing to prosecute, to tell you that I feel for you very sensibly. I behold you still carelessly walking in very slipfiery filaces, and I do most earnestly beseech you, to look well to your feet. God all gracious preserve you, from the power of your spiritual foe. I think you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. I think you will never be able to forget those evangelical truths, of which you first caught a glimpse in Pagee's wigwam. Tell me, William, do you not think one hour past in such heavenly enjoyments, is worth an age of forbidden fleasures. Pleasures, did I say, ah how falsely named, of what misnomery is this bad, this deceived world, guilty! I know you are greatly embarrassed, I know you are ready to ask, what shall I do? Ah ! be advised, be advised by a heavenly teacher, and this is the matter of his counsel. If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth liberally, and upbraideth not. You cannot but remember our last conversation, I have often revolved it in my mind, and I am still of opinion, you cannot do better, than pursue the plan we then considered. May God almighty give you strength to pursue his pleasure, in all things. My love to Mary, and the lovely infants. It will please me to hear frequently from you, for be assured you will always be near, and dear, to the heart of your ever faithful, &c. &c. &c.
To a Lady.
Ir my amiable correspondent retains the same benign
disposition toward me, which in defiance of painful indisposition, dictated the letter before me, she will be at no loss to account for my long silence, she will not attribute to me either ingratitude, or neglect, but friendship, directed by candour, will become a powerful pleader in my favour.
Emboldened by this hope, however presumtuous it may appear, I set down, at this late period, to render you my unfeigned thanks for this last, as well as for every other favour. How soothing to a person, who has so many opportunities of estimating the value of friends, by their loss, is the language of this consolatory epistle. I have often, in the words of Doctor Young, spoken of friends, as my chief treasure, and like other misers possessed of treasure, I enjoy it with fear and trembling. Repeated assurances, therefore, of esteem, friendship and respect, are, to a mind susceptible as mine, a rich and necessary solace.
You cannot, my dear lady, be under obligations to me, I know to what you advert, but are we not equally obliged to our faithful Creator, our merciful Redeemer, for giving us the teaching of his spirit; that we may know the things that are bestowed upon us, by the God who made us? God has freely given life to the world in his Son, our Saviour. But the adversary blinds the understanding of individuals, that he may keep them in misery, and under his power, as long as he is able; which will be until death and hell shall deliver up the dead, which are in them, and he, and his delusions, are cast into the lake of fire. .
Suffer me then, my dear Madam, to repeat, are we not equally obliged to our heavenly Father, who having hidden from the wise and prudent, the things that make for their peace, hath, according to his sovereign pleasure, revealed them to us. Not unto us then, not unto us, but unto his name be all the glory. You are so kind as to express solicitude respecting my health. I am not well, I assure you, nor do I expect uninterrupted health, until I am permitted to take my departure from this distempered state of things.
You unite with me in lamenting the demise of captain BDear man, his departure is sensibly felt by many, particularly by his bereaved kindred, but thanks to redeeming love, our loss is his unspeakable gain. With all our sorrows, we sorrow not as those who are without hope. Thanks be to God, in our risen Saviour, we have a hope which is full of immortality. If any man sin, this Saviour is an advocate, a righteous advocate with the Father. But while, on his behalf, we give thanks to God, for that precious blood which we know cleanseth from all sin, we cannot, while confined to the body, but mourn for ourselves. For my own part, I feel so much for his dear family, that I hardly dare think of myself. Yet he was to me, a faithful, steady friend; I loved the man, and how numerous soever my professing friends and acquaintance, I assure you, Madam, friends of his complexion, are thinly sown. However, when I am robbed by death, or by the grand adversary, of those I so greatly love, I can still sing of mercy, as well as of judgment; for on these occasions I am constrained to turn about, and to look with a single eye, on that never-failing friend, of which blessed be his name, neither the grand adversary, nor death can ever rob me. In this friend, I am, dear Madam, with affectionate compliments to your family, your obliged friend, &c. &c.
Thank you my very good friend for your letter of May 27th, and for the ready compliance with my wishes, which it announces. Forgive me for suspecting that you might have lost your spiritual appetite; mankind are prone to change, it is God alone who is immutable.
You say true, false friends are no loss; too much of the seed of the enemy still remaineth, blessed be the Saviour of men who will, in his own time, and manner, exterminate this ruinous growth of weeds. No, my friend, thanks to the Father of mercies, his spirit is not departed from his poor, rich servant; the spirit of my God is an abiding witness, which witnesseth with my spirit, to the truth of the divine testimony, and I think my being able to content myself without the feather, to which you advert, is a corroborating proof thereof. Neither am I circumstanced as was Saul, nor do I recollect any particular command of our Saviour, with which I have refused to comply. I am not lamenting the loss of any gourd, under whose spreading foliage I took shelter from the scorching heat. Blessed, forever blessed, be our divine shadow, from the heat; I have long since been convinced of the inefficacy of all temporal, temporary gourds; and I have, with full purpose of heart, taken refuge underthe healing wings of the sun of righteousness. Had the evil spirit dispossessed the good spirit, it is not the arrival of Mr. S. nor the friend who promised to accompany him, could exorcise the fiend. I should be constrained to say, miserable comforters are ye all : however, I need not, I cannot say, how much pleasure a sight of the friend to whom I am writing would afford me. You wish you were both a wit and a poet; you are, or I am very much deceived, what is infinitely before either, you are an honest man; and one of the greatest wits and poets of the last century assures us, “that an honest man is the noblest work of God.” Your advice is good, and it is doubly recommended as coming from you. But as to my Master, I know him too well, and am too happy in his service, ever to wish to run away from him. It is not in his service, which is perfect freedom, we encounter distress; it is not with his commands, which are never grievous, that we are ever burdened. When we groan, being burdened, it is with the body of sin and death, from which we shall, in God’s own time, most certainly be delivered I do assure you, it gives me much pleasure to hear you express yourself so strongly respecting your unalterable attachment to the everlasting gospel; and I can hardly conceive it possible you can omit any opportunity of hearing the Saviour's name spoken well of You say, and I believe you, that the gospel trumpet is seldom sounded in your ears; but you have been blessed with the mes
sage of peace, twice in one day—accept my congratulations; your preacher was once a virulent opposer of God, our Saviour; surely, you will miss no opportunity of attending upon his labours. Are your inquiries relative to the ten virgins for yourself? I believe not. However, thus I have considered this parable. The kingdom of heaven is likened unto ten virgins; observe, it is not the ten virgins are likened to the kingdom of heaven. He, Jesus, took upon himself the likeness of sinful flesh ; it was not we assumed the likeness of the divine Nature. Five of those virgins, to whom the kingdom of heaven was likened, were wise, and five of them were foolish. Thus was the kingdom of heaven likened to the foolish, as well as to the wise. They all slumbered, they all sleft together; at midnight there was a cry made. What was the cry? The bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. At midnight, when darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people; when vision ceased among the Jews, and the Gentiles were without God in the world, then was heard the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand; and the wise men spread the alarm. Then all those ten virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps; both Jew and Gentile were roused ; but the difference soon became visible : Five had oil in their vessels, with their lamps, and, by consequence, cntered in ; the other five, or other half of the kingdom of heaven, were shut out. Thus, Jesus Christ teashes us, in this very striking parable, what was then the situation of Jew and Gentile. How they sustained one character in every particular, except the oil, the possession of which, entitled five to the epithet, wise, and placed them in the light; while the want of this oil kept the other half in outer darkness. The vessel is the memory; the lamp is the understanding; the oil is the light of the spirit. How perfectly correspondent the figure. Thus the gospel was offered to the Jews; but shut up in darkness, they had no oil in their lamps; they could not, therefore, discern this glorious dispensation; they could not sce the things which made for their peace; their lamps were gone out. And, said the Apostle, as you judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. The gospel was promulgated to the Gentiles; they had light, oil in their lamps. The Jews once had light, (to them pertained the prophets and the promises,) but their lamps are gone