Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

upon ourselves, but the other should ever be fixed on him who stands in the relation of Saviour, Husband, Head, and Shepherd. In him we have righteousness, peace, and power. He can control all that we fear; so that if our path should be through the fire or through the water, neither the flood shall drown us, nor the flame kindle upon us, and ere long he will cut short our conflicts, and say, Come up hither. " Then shall our

grateful songs abound, and every fear be wiped away.” Having such promises and assurances, let us list up our banner in his name, and press on through every discouragement. A

With regard to company that have not a savour of the best things, as it is not your choice, I would advise you (when necessary) to bear it as a cross: we cannot suffer by being where we ought to be, except through 'our own impatience; and I have an idea, that when we are providentially called amongst such (for something is due to friends and relations, whether they walk with us or no), that the hours need not be wholly lost: nothing can pass but may be improved; the most trivial conversation may afford us new views of the heart, new confirmation of Scripture, and renew a sense of our obligations to distinguishing grace, which has made us in any degree to differ. I. would wish when you go amongst your friends, that you do not confine your views to getting safe away from them without loss, but entertain a hope that you may be sent to do some of them good. You cannot tell what effect a word or à look may have, if the Lord is pleased to bless it, I think we may humbly hope, that while we sincerely desire to please the Lord, and to be guided by him in all things, he will not suffer us to take a journey, or hardly to make a short visit, which shall not answer some good

.

purpose to ourselves or others, or both. While

your gay friends affect an air of raillery, the Lord may give you a secret witness in their consciences; and something they observe in you, or hear from you, may set them on thinking perhaps after you are gone, or after the first occasion has entirely slipped your memory; Eccles. xi. 1. For my own part, when I consider the power, the freedom of divine grace, and how sovereign the Lord is in the choice of the instruments and means by which he is pleased to work, I live in hopes from day to day of hearing of wonders of this sort. I despair of nobody: and if I sometimes am ready to think such or such a person seems inore unlikely than others to be brought in, I relieve myself by a possibility that that very person, and for that very reason, may be the first instance. The Lord's thoughts are not like ours: in his love and in his ways there are heights which we cannot reach, depths which we cannot fathom, lengths and breadths beyond the ken of our feeble sight. Let us then simply depend upon him, and do our little best, leaving the event in his hand.

I cannot tell if you know any thing of Mrs. **** In a letter I received yesterday she writes thus:“ I am at present very ill with some disorder in my " throat, which seems to threaten my life; but death

or life, things present or things to come, all things are mine, and I am Christ's, and Christ's is God's. O glorious privilege! precious foundation of soul-rest

and peace, when all things about us are most trou"blous! Soon we shall be at home with Christ, where sin, sorrow, and death have no place; and in the

mean time our beloved will lead us through the wil- derness. How safe, how joyous are we, may we be, “ in the most evil case!"If these should be some of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

you and I,

the last notes of this swan, I think them worth preserving. May we not with good reason say, Who would not be a Christian? The Lord

The Lord grant that madam, and yours and mine, may be happy in the same assurance, when we shall have death and eternity near in view.

I am, &c.

LETTER II.

My Dear Madam,

Sept. — 1764. YOUR welfare I rejoice in; your warfare I understand something of. St. Paul describes his own case in few words, “Without were fightings, within were 66 fears.”

Does not this comprehend all you would say? And how are you to know experimentally either your own weakness, or the power, wisdom, and grace of God, seasonably and sufficiently, afforded, but by frequent and various trials? How are the graces of patience, resignation, meekness, and faith, to be discovered and increased but by exercise? The Lord has chosen, called, and armed us for the fight; and shall we wish to be excused ? Shall we not rather rejoice that we have the honour to appear in such a cause, under such a Captain, such a banner, and in such company? A complete suit of armour is provided, weapons not to be resisted, and precious balm to heal us if haply we receive a wound, and precious ointment to revive us when we are in danger of fainting. Further, we are assured of the victory beforehand; and, what a crown is prepared for every conqueror, which Jesus, the righteous Judge, the gracious Saviour, shall place upon every faithful head with his own hand! Then let us

not be weary and faint, for in due season we shall reap. . The time is short; yet a little while, and the struggle of indwelling sin, and the contradiction of surrounding sinners, shall be known no more. You are blessed, because you hunger and thirst after righteousness; he whose name is Amen, has said you shall be filled. To claim the promise is to make it our own; yet it is becoming us to practise submission and patience, not in temporals only, but also in spirituals. We should be ashamed and grieved at our slow progress, so far as it is properly chargeable to our remissness and miscarriage; yet we must not expect to receive every thing at once, but wait for a gradual increase; nor should we forget to be thankful for what we may account a little, in comparison of the much we suppose others have received. A little grace, a spark of true love to God, a grain of living faith, though small as mustardseed, is worth a thousand worlds. One draught of the water of life gives interest in, and earnest of, the whole fountain. It becometh the Lord's people to be thankful; and to acknowledge his goodness in what we have received, is the surest as well as the pleasantest method of obtaining more. Nor should the grief, arising from what we know and feel of our own hearts, rob us of the honour, comfort, and joy, which the word of God designs us, in what is there recorded of the person, offices, and grace of Jesus, and the relations he is pleased to stand in to his people, Psal. xxiii. 1. Isa. liv. 5. Cant. v. 16. John, xv. 15. 1 John, ii. 1. John, xv. 1. Jer. xxiii. 5. 1 Cor. i. 30. Matt. i. 21-23. Give me leave to recommend to your consideration Psal. Ixxxix. 15—18. These verses may be called the Believer's Triumph: though they are nothing in themselves, yet having all in Jesus, they may rejoice in his name all the day. The Lord enable us so to do! The joy of the Lord is the strength of his people; whereas unbelief makes our hands hang down, and our knees feeble, dispirits ourselves, and discourages others; and though it steals upon us under a semblance of humility, it is indeed the very essence of pride. By inward and outward exercises the Lord is promoting the best desire of your heart, and answering your daily prayers. Would you have assurance? The true solid assurance is to be obtained no other way.

When young Christians are greatly comforted with the Lord's love and presence, their doubts and fears are for that season at an end. But this is not assurance; so soon as the Lord hides his face they are troubled, and ready to question the very foundation of hope. Assurance grows by repeated conflict, by our repeated experimental proof of the Lord's power and goodness to save; when we have been brought very low and helped, sorely wounded and healed, cast down and raised again, have given up all hope, and been suddenly snatched from danger, and placed in safety; and when these things have been repeated to us and in us a thousand times over, we begin to learn to trust simply to the word and power of God; beyond and against appearances; and this trust, when habitual and strong, bears the name of assurance ;-for even assurance has degrees.

You have good reason, madam, to suppose, that the love of the best Christians to an unseen Saviour is far short of what it ought to be. If your heart be like mine, and you examine your love to Christ by the warmth and frequency of your emotions towards him, you will often be in a sad suspense whether or no you love him at all. The best mark to judge, and which he has given us for that purpose, is to inquire if his

1

« FöregåendeFortsätt »