« PreviousContinue »
nant of works is a part of our natural depravity. Depend upon it, you will never have a suitable and sufficient sense of the evil of sin, and of your share in it, so long as you have any sin remaining in you. We must see Jesus as he is, before our apprehensions of any spiritual truth will be complete. But if we know that we must perish without Christ, and that he is able to save to the uttermost, we know enough to warrant us to cast our souls upon him, and we dishonour him by fearing that when we do so he will disappoint our hope. But if you are still perplexed about the high points of election, &c. I would advise you to leave the disposal of others to the great Judge: and as to yourself, I think I need not say much to persuade you, that if ever you are saved at all, it must be in a way of free and absolute grace. Leave disputes to others; wait upon the Lord, and he will teach you all things, in such degree and time as he sees best. Perhaps you have suffered for taking things too much upon trust from men. “ Cease from man, whose breath is “ in his nostrils." One is your master, even Christ. Study and pray over the Bible; and you may take it as a sure rule, that whatever sentiment makes any part of the word of God unwelcome to you is justly to be suspected. Aim at a cheerful spirit. The more you trust God, the better you will serve him. While you indulge unbelief and suspicion, you weaken your own hands and discourage others. Be thankful for what he has shown you, and wait upon him for more : you shall find he has not said, “ Seek ye my face” in vain. I heartily commend you to his grace and
I am, &c.
AT length, and without farther apology for my silence, I sit down to ask you how you fare? Afflictions, I hear, have been your lot; and if I had not heard so, I should have taken it for granted : for I believe the Lord loves you; and as many as he loves he chastens. I think you can say, afflictions have been good for you, and I doubt not but you have found strength according to your day; so that though you may have been sharply tried, you have not been overpowered. For the Lord has engaged his faithfulness for this to all his children, that he will support them in all their trials; so that the fire shall not consume them, nor the floods drown them. 1 Cor. x. 13. Isa. xliii. 2.
If you can say thus much, cannot you go a little further, and add, in the apostle's words, “ None of “ these things move me, neither count I my life dear. “ I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of “ Christ may rest upon me, yea, doubtless, I count “ all things loss and of no regard, for the excellency of “ the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for when “ I am weak, then I am strong. Metlinks I hear you say, God, who comforteth those who are cast down, has comforted my soul, and as my troubles have abounded, my consolations in Christ have abounded also. He has delivered, he does deliver, and in him I trust that he will yet deliver me. Surely you can set your seal to these words.
The Lord help you then to live more and more a life of faith, to feed upon the promises, and to rejoice in the assur
ance that all things are yours, and shall surely work for your good. If I guess right at what passes
your heart, the name of Jesus is precious to you; and this is a sure token of salvation, and that of God. You could not have loved him, if he had not loved you first. He spoke to you, and said, “ Seek my face,” before your heart cried to him, * Thy face, O Lord, will I seek.” But you complain, “ Alas! I love him so little.” That very complaint proves that you love him a great deal : for if you loved him but a little, you would think you loved him enough. A mother loves her child a great deal, yet does not complain for not loying it more; nay, perhaps she hardly thinks it possible. But such an infinite object is Jesus, that they who love him better than parents or child, or any earthly relation or comfort, will still think they hardly love him at all; because they see such a vast disproportion between the utmost they can give him, and what in himself he deserves from them. But I can give you good advice and good news: love him as well as you can now, and ere long you shall love him better. see him as he is, then I am sure you will love him indeed! If you want to love him better now while you are here, I believe I can tell you the secret how this is to be attained : trust him. The more you trust him, the better you will love him. If you ask farther, How shall I do to trust him ? I answer, Try him: the more you make trial of him, the more your trust in him will be strengthened. Venture upon his promiseś; carry them to him, and see if he will not be as good as his word. But, alas! Satan and unbelief work the contrary way. We are unwilling try him, and therefore unable to trust him; and what
O when you
wonder, then, that our love is faint, for who can love at uncertainties?
If you are in some measure thankful for what you have received, and hungering and thirsting for more, you are in the frame I would wish for myself; and I desire to praise the Lord on your behalf. Pray for us. We join in love to you.
I am, &c.
August 17, 1776. IT is indeed natural to us to wish and to plan, and it is merciful in the Lord to disappoint our plans and to cross our wishes. For we cannot be safe, much less happy, but in proportion as we are weaned from our own wills, and made simply desirous of being directed by his guidance. This truth (when we are enlightened by his word) is sufficiently familiar to the judgement; but we seldom learn to reduce it into practice, without being trained awhile in the school of disappointment. The schemes we form look so plausible and convenient, that when they are broken we are ready to say, What a pity! We try again, and with no better success: we are grieved, and perhaps angry, and plan out another, and so on : at length, in a course of time, experience and observation begin to convince us, that we are not more able than we are worthy to choose aright for ourselves. Then the Lord's invitation to cast our cares upon him, and his promise to take care of us, appear valuable; and when we have done planning, his plan in our favour gradually opens, and he does more and better for us than we could either ask or think. I can hardly recollect a single plan of mine, of which I have not since seen reason to be satisfied,