Page images

now feel, since I am advanced more in years, that I might not survive the greenness of my youth; that I might not become more lax, lukewarm, and indifferent, than I was "in the day of mine espousals.” And, indeed, I can say, to the glory of His name, who lives for ever, that my love to God, and to my brethren, has not been on the decrease. No, no! my soul was never more ravished with one of His looks, with one chain of His neck, whom my soul increasingly esteems “ the chiefest among ten thousand," and “ altogether lovely.” Never, never, had religion so many charms, that I do many a time think, when the vision of light is a little opened in my view, that if I never had before, I should not then hesitate a moment, but endeavour to give up all for eternal life.

Now, my dear friend, that what I have written here is likewise descriptive of thy religious situation, I feel strongly disposed to believe; and therefore it is in my heart to say, let us thank God, and take courage; let us lift up our heads in hope, that He, who has been our morning light, will be our evening song; and though, in our progress

through this wilderness, we should meet with tribulation, (for 1 have been instructed to believe, there is no outward situation exempt from trials,) yet it is the privilege of the dependant children of our Heavenly Father, that they know Him to be their sanctuary. This state of things is a compound of good and evil; Gall and Wormwood are deeply mingled in the cup we all have to drink, though not perhaps in like proportion; but let us receive our respective portions as coming from His hand, who will make it a cup of blessing to His children. We have the authority of Holy Writ to say, “in all their afflictions He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saveth them.” Oh! what condescending language is this :“ When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burnt; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee."

Thus, whatever be the permitted dispensations of suffering, of any who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity; however such may, at

seasons, be divested of strength, and clothed with sackcloth; though such should have to pass through deep and fiery trials, yet shall they be preserved; the Lord, in whom they trust, will be with all these ; will sanctify the dispensations, and, in his own time, bring deliverance; will clothe with the strength of salvation; will take off the sackcloth, and clothe these with gladness. So that, for the encouragement of the upright and sincere, whose hands, I know, are many times ready to hang down; yea, to the whole Israel of God, it may be said as formerly, “There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in His excellency on the sky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the Everlasting Arms."

Please present the salutation of my love to thy wife. I shall only add the desire which I feel, that the Divine blessing may attend thee; and oh! that it might please the God of blessings to bless all thy children. I am thy affectionate friend,


Letter XXX.


Manchester, 4th Mo. 26, 1796. My dear Friend,

It is now more than twelve months since I received thy kind letter, though there has not passed one month, perhaps not one day, in which I have not affectionately remembered thee; and thou wouldst long since have had a reply to it, if I had thought thou hadst stood in need of any instruction or help from me. If the enemy has gained any advantage by my silence, either against thee or me, I am sorry for it; but I believe thou hast been too long acquainted with his devices, to be in much danger from that quarter. The very poor account thou hast given me of thy own situation, did not at all surprise me; it was just such a one as I should have expected from thee; the humble state of thy mind, added to its great sensibility, under the humiliating, gradual process of regeneration, disposeth to such feelings and such fears. I believe there are many of us,


[ocr errors]

were it not that we are sometimes favoured for the sake of others, that would have much the same account to give of ourselves. I will transcribe for thee a few lines from an ancient, pious writer, and which I would have thee admit as an answer to all thou hast said of thyself: “ This I do impart unto you " in all sincerity, out of a true Christian zeal “ from my fountain gifts and knowledge; 66 and I do not extol or set up myself, but I "speak brotherly to your mind, to stir you

up, and to comfort you, that you should “not think the yoke of Christ to be heavy, ct when oftentimes the external man doth 66 cloud the internal, that the poor soul “ mourneth, for its image, which yet is pu“ rified, and truly begotten, and brought “ forth under tribulation, and the cross of “ Christ. It is even so with me, and other 6 Christians besides. Think not strange at “ it. It is very good when the poor soul is “in combat, much better than when it is 66 imprisoned, and yet playeth the hypocrite, 6 and maketh devout shows. It is written, 6 that all things shall serve for the best to

them who love God. Now, when the


« PreviousContinue »