« FöregåendeFortsätt »
bringeth salvation, are not only beyond the power of our fallen nature, but contrary to its tendency; so that we can have no desires of this kind till they are given us from above, and can for a season hardly bear to hear them spoken of, either as excellent or necessary.
I am, &c.
My Dear Madam,
September 17, 1776, We are much indebted to
kind thoughts of us. Hitherto I feel no uneasiness about what is before me; but I am afraid my tranquillity does not wholly spring from trust in the Lord, and submission to his will, but that a part of it at least is derived from the assurances Mr, W. gave me, that the operation would be neither difficult nor dangerous. I have not much of the hero in my constitution; if in great pains or sharp trials I should ever show a becoming fortitude, it must be given me from above. I desire to leave all with him, in whose hands my ways are, and who has promised me strength according to my day. : I rejoice that the Lord has not only made yoų
desirous of being useful to others in their spiritual concerns, but has given you in some instances to see, that your desires and attempts have not been in vain. I shall thankfully accept of the commission you are pleased to offer me, and take a pleasure in perusing any papers you may think proper to put into my hands, and offer you my sentiments with that simplicity which I am persuaded will be much more agreeable to you than compliments. Though I know there is in general a delicacy and difficulty in services of this kind, yet with respect to yourself I seem to have nothing to fear.
I have often wished we had more female pens 'employed in the service of the sanctuary. Though few ladies encumber themselves with the apparatus of Latin and Greek, or engage in voluminous performances.; yet in the article of essay-writing, I think many are qualified to succeed better than most men, having a peculiar easiness of style, which few of us can initate. I remember you once showed me a paper, together with the corrections and alterations proposed by a gentleman whose opinion you had asked. I thought his corrections had injured it, and given it an air of stiffness which is often observable when learned men write in English. Grammatical rules, as they are called, are wholly derived from the mode of speaking or writing which obtains amongst those who best understand the language; for the language must be supposed established before any grammar can be made for it: and therefore women who, from the course of their education and life, have had an opportunity of reading the best written books, and conversing with those who speak well, though they do not burden themselves with the formality of grammar, have often more skill in the English language than the men who can call every figure of speech by a Latin or Greek name. You may be 'sure, Madam, I shall not wish your papers suppressed, merely because they were not written by a learned man. Language and style, however, are but the dress. Trifles, however adorned, are trífles still. A person of spiritual discernment would rather be the author of one page written in the humble garb of Bunyan, upon a serious subject, than to be able to rival the sprightliness and elegance of Lady M. W. Montague, unless it could be with a
view to edification. The subjects you propose are important; and with respect to sacramental meditations, and all devotional exercises so called, I perfectly agree with you, that to be affecting and useful they must be dictated rather by the heart than by the head; and are most likely to influence others, when they are the fruits and transcripts of our own experience. So far as I know, we are but scantily provided with specimens of this sort in print, and therefore I shall be glad to see an accession to the public stock. Your other thought of helps to recollection on Saturday evenings, is, I think, an attempt in which none have been beforehand with you. So that, according to the general appearance, I feel myself disposed to encourage you to do as you have purposed. On the other hand, if I meet with any thing, on the perusal of the papers, which in my
may seem to need alteration, I will freely and faithfully point
I can almost smile now, to think you once classed me amongst the Stoics. If I dare speak with confidence of myself in any thing, I think I may lay claim to a little of that pleasing, painful thing, sensibility. I need not boast of it; for it has too often been my snare, my sin, and my punishment. Yet I would be thankful for a spice of it, as the Lord's gift, and when rightly exercised it is valuable; and I think I should make but an awkward minister without it, especially here. Where there is this sensibility in the natural temper, it will give a tincture or cast to our religious expression. Indeed I often find this sensibility weakest where it should be strongest, and have reason to reproach myself that I am no more affected by the character, love, and sufferings of my Lord and Saviour, and my own peculiar personal obligations to him. However, my views of reli
gion have been such for many years, as I supposed more likely to make me be deemed an enthusiast than a Stoic. A moonlight head-knowledge derived from a system of sentiments, however true in themselves, is, in my judgement, a poor thing: nor, on the other hand, am I an admirer of those rapturous sallies which are more owing to a warm imagination, than to a just perception of the power and importance of Gospel-truth. The Gospel addresses both head and heart; and where
it has its proper effect, where it is received as the word · of God, and is clothed with the authority and energy of
the Holy Spirit, the understanding is enlightened, the affections awakened and engaged, the will brought into subjection, and the whole soul delivered to its impression as wax to the seal. When this is the case, when the affections do not take the lead, and push forward with a blind impulse, but arise from the principles of Scripture, and are governed by them, the more warmth the better. Yet in this state of infirmity, nothing is perfect; and our natural temperament and disposition will have more influence upon our religious sensations than we are ordinarily aware. It is well to know how to make proper allowances and abatements upon this head, in the judgement we form both of ourselves and of others. Many good people are distressed and alternately elated by frames and feelings, which perhaps are more constitutional than properly religious experi
I dare not tell you, Madam, what I am; but I you
what I wish to be. The love of God, as nianifested in Jesus Christ, is what I would wish to be the abiding object of my contemplation; not merely to speculate upon it as a doctrine, but so to feel it, and my own interest in it, as to have my heart filled with its effects, and transformed into its resemblance; that with
this glorious exemplar in my view, I may be animated to a spirit of benevolence, love, and compassion, to all
be primarily fixed upon him who has so loved me, and then, for his sake, diffused to all his children, and to all his creatures. Then, knowing that much is forgiven to me, I should be prompted to the ready exercise of forgiveness, if I have aught against any. Then I should be humble, patient, and submissive under all his dispensations; meek, gentle, forbearing, and kind to my fellow-worms. Then I should be active and diligent in improving all my
powers in his service, and for his glory; and live not to myself, but to him who loved me and gave
I am, &c.
My Dear Madam,
Nov. 29, 1776. I am persuaded you need not be told, that though there are perhaps supposable extremities in which self would prevail over all considerations, yet in general it is more easy to suffer in our own persons, than in the persons of those whom we dearly love; for through such a medium our apprehensions possibly receive the idea of the trouble enlarged beyond its just dimensions; and it would sit lighter upon us if it were properly our own case, for then we should feel it all, and there would be no room for imagination to exaggerate.
But though I feel grief, I trust the Lord has mercifully preserved me from impatience and murmuring, and that, in the midst of all the pleadings of flesh and blood,