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COPY OF A LETTER FROM A TRIED
MINISTER TO А SISTER IN THB
would be ashamed to be so utterly unlike his Lord. What! the naster always a man of sorrows and ac
quainted with grief, and the servant Dearly Beloved Sister in Jesus,
always happy and full of comfort ? I have often thought What Jesus despised, reproached, of writing to you, but have been hin- and neglected, opposed and betrayed, dered by my labours, sorrows, and and his people admired and caressed? severe trials, that I soinetimes cry He living in the want of all things, out, Why is his chariot wheels su and they filled with abundance ; he long in coming." But it is the Lord, sweating blood for anguish, and they let him do what seemeth him good. strangers to distress? How unsuitFor if I am in tribulation it is for able would these things be to set the sake of his dear children, there- forth, the conformity of members to fore I desire to say, not my will, their head. How much better to be but thine be done.” May the good called to the honour of filling up the Lord help me to send you a word in measure of his sufferings ; for it is season, for to himn I look to direct well the servant be as his master. A my thoughts and make them a bless- cup was put into his hand on our acing to your soul. I perceive by your count and his love engaged him to letter you are still in the school of drink it for us. The which it conthe cross, learning the happy art of tained he drank wholly himself, but extracting real good out of seeming he left us a little affliction to taste, evil, and to grow tall by stooping. that we might pledge him, and reThe world, the flesh, and the devil member how he loved us, and how are a sad plague in this school, but much more he endured for us than he grace makes the Spirit willing to will ever call us to endure for him. learn by suffering, yea, it cares not Again, how could we live without what it endures, so that sin may be sufferings manifest the nature and mortified and Jesus made precious to truth of gospel grace? What room the soul, Surely when we see the should we then have for patience, most spiritual and highest taught of submission, meekness, and forbearthe Lord's children so often in heavi- ance, and readiness to forgive. If ness through manifold temptations, we have nothing to try us, either and when we consider how dear he from the hand of the Lord, or from loves them, and also what he has the hands of wicked men, under the done and prepared for them, we may cloak of religion ; I have always take it for granted, that there is a found a white devil worse than a needs be for their sufferings; for it black one. A christian without triwould be easy for his power to make als would be like a mill without wind their whole life in this world, from or water; the contrivance and design the hour of their conversion to their of the wheel-work within side would death a continual course of satisfac- be únnoticed and unknown, withtion and comfort, without any thing out someting to put it in motion from to distress them from within or with without. Nor would our graces grow out. But if it were so, should we unless they were called into exercise. not lose many advantages ? In the The difficulties we meet with, not first pace we should not be very con- only prove, but through his grace, formable to our head, nor be able to streng:hen the graces of the Spirit. say, he was so are we in this
If a person was always to sit stiil world." I believe a child of God without making use of his legs or
I think your
arms, he would probably wholly lose will not let us rest upon any. By the power of moving his limbs at degrees our desires take a nobler last, but by walking and working, he flight, and can be satisfied with becomes strong and active. So in a nothing short of himself; then we long course of ease the powers of the long to depart, and to be with Christ, new man would certainly languish, which is far better.
nd the soul would grow indolent, experience is generally of the fearful cowardly, and faint, therefore the doubting cast, such souls however Lord appoints his children such dis- the Lord has given a particular charge pensations as make them strive, and to his real ministers to comfort : he struggle, and pant after himself. knows our infirmities, and what tempThey must press through a crowd, tations mean, and as a good shepherd, swim against a stream, endure hard- expresses a peculiar care and tenderships, run, wrestle, and fight, and ness for the weak of the flock. But thus their strength grows in these how shall I attempt to comfort you ? exercises. By these things likewise Surely by not strengthening a mistake they are made more willing to leave the to which we are all liable, by leadpresent world to which we are prone ing you to look into your own heart to cleave, too closely in our evil for which you will never find there; hearts, when our path is very smooth. something in yourself whereon to Had Israel enjoyed their former ground your hopes, if not wholly, yet peace and prosperity in Egypt, when at least in part: rather let me enMoses came to invite them to Ca- deavour to lead you out of yourself, naan, I think thay would hardly have let me invite you to look to Jesus only. listened to him. But the Lord suf- Should we look for light in our own fered them to be brought into great eyes or in the sun? Is it indwelling trouble and bondage, and then the sin distresses you ? then I can tell news of deliverance were more wel- you, Jesus died for sin and sinners, come, yet still they were but half that his blood and righteousness are willing, for they carried a love to the of infinite value, that his arm is alflesh pots in Egypt with them into mighty, his compassions infinite, and the wilderness. We are like them, his promises yea and amen. Do
you though we say this world is vain and hesitate at embracing the promises of sinful, we are too fond of it, and the gospel, where you read that they though we hope for true happiness are addressed to those who mourn, and only in heaven, we are often well con- who hunger and thirst after rightetent to stay longer here ; but the ousness, and who are poor in spirit. Lord sends afflictions, one after ano- You cannot but be sensible that a ther to quicken our desires, and to gracious God has begun to work these convince us that this cannot be our dispositions in your heart ? If you rest, it is polluted. Sometimes, if we say, that though you do at times drive a bird from one branch of a tree, mourn and hunger, and you are afraid he will hop to another a little higher, you do it not enough or not aright. and from thence to a third: but if This sort of reasoning is very far from we continue to disturb him, he will the spirit and language of the gospel, at last take wing and fly quite away. for it is grounded on a secret supposiThus when we are forced from one tion, that in the forgiveness of sins, creature comfort, we perch upon God has respect to something more another, and so on : but the Lord than the atonement and meditation mercifully follows us with trials, and of Jesus, namely to previous good qualifications in a sinner's heart, sume, nor the floods drown theni. which are to share with the blood of As the great Head of the church ho Christ in the honour of salvation. is washing the feet of his disciples, The enemy deceives us in this matter digging and purging his garden, the more easily, because a propensity pruning his trees, awaking the north to the covenant of works is a part of wind, beating his spices, snuffing his our natural depravity. We are poor, candles, trimming his lamps, trying lost, vile, guilty creatures, in and of his gold, refining his silver, purging ourselves we are ten thousand times the dross, removing the rubbish, demore vile and sinful than we can pose scending in a cloud, and stripping us -sibly conceive, there is not an evil of self-admiration which is idolatry-done under the sun but we have the and all this is in covenant love. I root of it in our hearts. Depend upon hope you find the name and grace of it, none can know the depth of the Jesus more and more precious, his depravity that is in our hearts. But promises more sweet, and your enif we experimentally know that we joyment of them more abiding, with must perish without Christ, and feel a deep sense of your own weakness our need of him, and believe “He is and unworthiness, so as to feel you able to save to the uttermost, all are not worthy of the least of God's that come unto God by him, we mercies ; at the saine time to have a know enough to warrant us to cast firm persuasion of the Lord's all-sufour souls upon him, and not dis- ficiency to support, supply, comfort honour when we do so by fearing and guide you to the end of your that he will disappoint our hope. journey, then you will enter the rest We want more faith to trust him, that remains for the people of God. greater submission to his will, a liv. You owe your growth in divine things ing upon him, as he is set forth, to his blessing upon these afflictions, leaving all with him to manage for which he has appointed for you and us, and to favour us with the presence sanctified to you. I am at present of the Holy Ghost in his saving of- in myself cold, dry, bárren, sick and fices, as a spirit of revelation in our sorrowful," but this is my comfort in understanding, as a spirit of power my affliction, for with thy word, o on our will, as a spirit of faith in our Lord, thou hast quickened me." I heart, as a spirit of love in our affec- have the promise of being watered tions, as a spirit of light in our judg- every moment, but my unbelief often ment, as a spirit of peace in our con- tells me, this is not done: if it was, science with his constant operations, I should not be so barren and unas a spirit of supplication enabling fruitful, however, " He knoweth the us at all times to draw near to God. way that I take, and when he hath I have heard that severe afflictions tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” have been your lot, and if I had not But I hope I shall lose some of my htärd it, I should have taken it for drogs and tin, for if I do, the gold granted to be true, for I believe the will shine the brighter, But amidst Lord loveth you, and as many as he all the circumstances of outward and loveth, he rebukes and chastens. I inward trouble, there is this consolathink you can say, afflictions have' tion for the christian's heart, 'which been good for you, and I doubt not cannot be taken away, namely, “The but
you have found strength equal to foundation of God standeth sure, your day, for the Lord's faithfulness the Lord knoweth them that are his." is engaged for this to all his dear so that they are safe, when the world children, to support them in all their and all things in it falls to destructrials, so that the fire shall not con- tion, they shall be preserved and
shall shine forth in the regions of bliss his Lord.” But I hope through the for ever--the Lord himself is their doing and dying of Jesus I shall soon keeper now, and will be their glory enjoy the best of blessings in its and glorifier for evermore.
eternal bloom in a brighter and better Oh, what a glorious prospect is world, when the winds of scandal this to look forward to amidst all shall howl no more, the tumultuous the darkness, sin, and sorrow of an waves and the roaring billows of evil world we have to pass through complicated grief shall distress my to our Father's “house, not made tempest-tossed mind no more for ever. with hands, eternal in the heavens.” I have been building my nest too Oh, what consummation, what joy much in the tree of creature-friendwithoutsorrow! Life here is noth- ship, but the storm has blown it ing in that view nor all the trou- down, and I am glad to embrace the bles of life, for death vanishes with rock, I am wet with the showers from its terrors before the faith and hope the mountains of trouble, but I find of the radiant scene.
Eternity with shelter, hope, and solid rest in Jesus all its height and depth appears only and his finished work. The Lord à boundless ocean of liberty, light, very frequently makes the evil deand love, to which every moment is vised against us by Satan and his carrying on the soul and for which emissaries answer many valuable purthe soul is led to pant after, like the poses, and so wisely manages those thirsty hart for water brooks, and the things which appear to be the greatnearer it approaches, the more glori- est evils to be the greatest advantage ous it appears! Oh, my gracious to us, and to effect his own glory in God, what hast thou prepared for some mysterious way. them that love thee? It hath not under every dispensation is to lay entered into the heart of man to con- passive in his hand, to believe in his ceive. This is all we can say, we love and to be humbled before him, shall see him as he is, and be like and wait for his delivering hand. him. I appear at present to be like Our covenant God has marked out one forgotten and out of mind by our path in love and in infinite wismost of those who professed to love dom, and though the hand of God me for the truth's sake; but it is may lay heavy upon us in deep afnothing new for the chief butler to.flictions and the dispensations of diforget God's Josephs; I believe novine providence may be very dark, one in this day of empty profession and our trials very severe, it is a has ever been treated with more mercy to know, to believe, and to be cruelty than I have by professed enabled to rest on the staff of divine teachers of the gospel and rich faithfulness, ever bearing in mind empty professors, and what has made that the grand design of every trouit more painful is, that those who ble and conflict is to answer the purshould have stood by me if they have poses of the divine glory, and ultinot joined the camp of the enemy, mately to bring us to himself, to they wink at their sin and are in cor- great nearness and conformity to respondence with them and have Christ, and to everlasting bliss. 2 Cor. treated me with neglect and silent iv. 17, 18. The gardener takes but contempt, because my enemies are little notice of that tree he intends rich but I am poor, so like my Mas- to cut down. He never manures, ter I am despised and rejected of prunes, waters or defends it, but he men; “ but, it is well the servant does all these things to his own planbe as his Master, and the disciple as tation. We live in a dying world ; a few more rising and setting suns will years, during which time she has been settle all. The storm will then be greatly tried by the unnatural conover, and we shall be where the wick- duct of her cruel husband. ed will cease to trouble us, and our It appeared she had been accustomweary souls will be for ever at rest. ed from her youth to read the Scrip
tures, and in the more advanced Storm after storm is black with ill, And thunders rattling make me start ;
stages of her history was privileged Wave after wave come dashing still,
to live in families where the name of And burst their foain upon my heart. Jehovah was feared, and his Sabbaths
and ordinances regarded, but alas, as Oh! that my ship was safe on shore, Lodg'd in the port where Jesus is;
she said, without the least spiritual Where neither winds nor waters roar.
advantage to her ; however, it pleasAnd all the tides are tides of bliss.
ed the Lord to aflict her, with a very But while my ship is doom'd to ride,
painful and dangerous disorder; she And beat on life's tempestuous sea ;
was brought indeed to the very gate My floating ark may Jesus guide,
of death, and was sinking to all huAnd pilot and sheet anchor bo'.
man appearance under the most fearful The way to heaven 'tis through the wave,
of all diseases, the loss of reason; The cold bieak sable tide of death ;
previous to my visit, she had been But be who shields tbrough life will save,
confined three months to her room, When the grey pilgrim yields his breath. a great portion of which to her bed, Yea thong! he die beneath a shed,
requiring attendance night and day ; While pain and misery strive to scare ;
in addition to bodily pain was much Kind angels stall sustain bis head,
tried in mind by a discovery of her And Christ himself speak comlort there. state as a lost and ruined sinner, and Give my christian love to your
felt as if involved in the thickest darkhusband, I never expect to see you ness, all hope of recovery was taken any more in this world, but I trust I away, and so awfully sinful did she shall in a better, to part no more for appear in her own eyes, that she ever, till then, farewell
, yours' in the verily thought the pit of eternal bonds of love in Jesus.
misery was already open to receive her, and would soon realize all the horrors of the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched ;
from this time she grew worse, as it OUT OF THE FIRE.”
regarded her bodily complaint, but My beloved Sister,
was greatly relieved in mind by the As I know you are anx- very seasonable visitation of the ious to become acquainted with the Lord's presence, which enabled her effects that follow upon my visits to to believe she was saved in the Lord the sick and the dying, I hasten to with an everlasting salvation. This inform you the one I attended last blessed frame of mind was of short duraevening was a case preguant with the tion, for Satan, the determined enemy deepest interest, and will be remem- of the children of light took advanbered byįme with feelings of praise tage of the peculiar nature of her and thanksgiving, seeing so great an complaint, and by his secret influhonour has been conferred upon one ence led her to doubt and question so utterly unworthy, as to be em- the reality of all her past enjoyment ployed by my heavenly Father to and to conclude she was still in the gall communicate a blessing to one of his of bitterness, and in the bonds of distressed and afflicted children; the iniquity ; in this distressed state I person I refer to is a young woman found her when I first visited her ; who has been married but a few her soul was indeed cast down by
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