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paid me more kindness and respect, than a much bet-
Brother and Servant,
P.S. I do not see whom it can offend, or how any shall disapprove of it, if you will appoint a fast throughout your bounds, to entreat a blessing on the seed committed to the ground, and for the other grave causes that are still the same they were the last year, and the urgency of them no whit abated, but rather increased : but in this I prefcribe nothing, but leave it to your discretion, and the direction of God.
The two following Letters were written to Persons
under Trouble of Mind.
Christian Friend, Though I had very little vacant time for it, yet I would have seen you, if I could have presumed it might have been any way useful for the quieting of your mind; however, since I heard of your condition, I cease not daily, as I can, to present it to Him, who alone can effe&ually speak peace to your heart; and I am confident, in due time, will do so. It is he that Nilletb the raging of
the sea; and, by a word, can turn the violentest storm into a great calm. What the particular thoughts or temptations are that disquiet you, I know not; but whatfoever they are, look above them, and labour to fix your eye on that infinite goodness, which never faileth them, that, by naked faith, do absolutely rely and rest upon it, and patiently wait upon Him, who hath pronounced them all
, without exception, blessed that do so. Say often within your own heart, Though he say me, yet will I trust in him ; and if, after some intervals, your troubled thoughts do return, check them ftill with the holy Pfalmift's words, Why art thou caft, down, O my foul? &c. If you can thoroughly sink yourself down, through your own nothingness, into Him who is all, and entirely renouncing your own will: embrace that blest and holy will in all things, there, I am sure, you shall find that rest, which all your own distempers, and all the powers of darkness, shall not be able to bereave you of. I incline not to multiply words; and indeed other advice than this I have none to give you. The Lord of peace, by the sprinkling of the blood of his son Jesus, and the sweet breathings of the great Comforter, his own Holy Spirit, give you peace in himself. Amen.
Madam, Though I have not the honour to be acquainted with your Ladyship, yet a friend of yours has acquainted me with your condition, though I confess the unfittest of all men to minister any thing of spiritual relief to any person, either by prayer or advice to you; but he could have imparted such a thing to none of greater secrecy, and withal of greater sympathy and tender compassion towards such as are exercised with those kinds of conflicts; as, having been formerly acquainted with the like myself, all sorts of sceptical and doubtful thoughts, touching those great points,
having not only past through my head, but some of them have for some time fat more fast and painfully upon my mind; but, in the name of the Lord, they were at length quite dispelled and scattered. And oh! that I could love and bless Him, who is my deliverer and strength, my rock and fortress, where I have now found safety from these incursions; and I am very confident you shall very shortly find the same; only wait patiently on the Lord, and hope in him, for you shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance; and it is that alone that can enlighten you, and clear your mind of all those fogs and mists that now possess it, and calm the storms that are raised within it. You do well to read good books that are proper for your help, but rather the shortest and plainest, than the more tedious and voluminous, that sometimes entangle a perplexed inind yet more, by grasping many more questions, and answers and arguments, than is needful : But, above all, ftill cleave to the incomparable spring of light and divine comfort, the Holy Scriptures, even in despite of all doubts concerning them ; and when
your thoughts in disorder, and at a loss, entertain nó dispute with them, by any means, at that time, but rather divert from them to short prayer, or to other thoughts, and sometimes to well chosen company, or the best you can have where you are ; and at some other time, when you find yourself in a calmer and serener temper, and upon the vantage ground of a little more confidence in God, then you may resume your reasons against unbelief, yet so as to beware of casting yourself into new disturbance; for when your mind is in a sober temper, there is nothing so suitable to its strongest reason, nothing so wise and noble, as religion; and believe it is so rational, that, as now I am framed, I am afraid that my belief proceeds too much from reason, and is not so divine and spiritual as I would have it; only when I find (as in some measure through the grace of God I do) that it hath VOL. II.
some real virtue and influence upon my affections and track of life, I hope there is somewhat of a higher tincture in it; but, in point of reason, I am well assured, that all that I have heard from the wittiest atheists and libertines in the world, is nothing but bold revery and madness, and their whole discourse a heap of folly and ridiculous nonsense : for, what probable account can they give of the wonderful frame of the visible world, without the fuppofition of an eternal and infinite power, and wisdom and goodness, that formed it and themselves, and all things in it? And what can they think of the many thousands of martyrs in the first age of Chriftianity, that endured not simple death, but all the inventions of the most exquifite tortures, for their belief of that most holy faith; which, if the miracles that confirmed it had not persuaded them to, they themselves had been thought the most prodigious miracles of madness in all the world ? It is not want of reason on the fide of religion that makes fools difbelieve it, but the interest of their brutish lufts and diffolute lives makes them wish it were not true; and there is the vast difference betwixt you and them; they would gladly believe less than they do, and you would also gladly believe more than they do: They are sometimes pained and tormented with apprehenfions, that the doctrine of religion is or may be true; and you are perplexed with suggestions to doubt of it, which are to you as unwilling and unwelcome, as these apprehensions of its truth are to them. Believe it, Madam, these different thoughts of yours, are not yours, but his that inserts them, and throws them, as fiery darts, into your mind; and they shall assuredly be laid to his charge, and not to yours. Think you, that infinite goodness is ready to take advantage of his poor creatures, and to reject and condemn those, that, against all the affaults made upon them, desire to keep their heart for him, and to acknowledge him, and to love him, and live to him. He made us, and knows our
mould, and, as a father, pities his children, and pitie them that fear him ; for he is their father, and the tenderest and kindest of all fathers; and, as a father pities his child when it is fick, and in the rage and revery of a fever, though it even utter reproachful words against himself, shall not our deareft Father both forgive and pity those thoughts in any child of his, that arise not from any wilful hatred of him, but are kindled in hell within them? And no temptation hath befallen you in this, but that which has been incident to men, and to the best of men; and their heavenly Father hath not only forgiven them, but in due time hath given them an happy issue out of them, and so he will assuredly do to you; in the mean time, when these assaults come thickest and violentest upon you, throw yourself down at his footstool, and say, "O God, Father of mercies, save me 66 from this hell within me. I acknowledge, I adore, “ I bless thee, whose throne is in heaven, with thy “ bleffed Son and crucified Jesus, and thy Holy Spi
rit, and also, though thou slay me, yet will I trust " in thee : But I cannot think thou canft hate and “ reject a poor soul that desires to love thee, and * cleave to thee, so long as I can hold by the skirts " of thy garment, until thou violently shake me off, " which I am confident thou would not do, because “ thou art love and goodness itself, and thy mercies “ endure for ever.” Thus, or in what otker frame your soul shall be carried to vent itself into his bofom, be assured, your words, yea, your silent fighs and breathings shall not be loft, but shall have a most powerful voice, and ascend into his ear, and shall return to you with messages of peace and love, in due. time, and, in the mean time, with secret supports, that you faint not, nor fink in these deeps that threaten to swallow you up. But I have wearied you, instead of refreshing you. I will add no more, but that the poor prayers of one of the unworthiest caitiffs in the world, such as they be, shall not be