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fails to afford. But considering the distance of our situations, and the variety and multiplicity of our respective engagements, &c. &c. these communications cannot reasonably be expected, to be as frequent, as friendship and affection would wish. We are, I am confident, respectively, sincerely disposed to do much more, and better, in this case, as well as in many other instances, than we find curselves able actually to per. forin. May it not then suffice, as a kind of general, standing apology, for those delays which occur between the receipt and the answer of a letter; that these we would not allow, if they could be well avoided ?
Three weeks have now passed, since your favour, above noticed, came to hand. It had been long expected; and though not in itself short, yet it seemed to be much too soon read through, and through again. Notwithstanding, what I have hinted on the subject of apol. ogizing, I feel as if I could not help telling you, that I have been prevented, from attempting an earlier acknowledgment of it, partly by a pressure of business, which is generally the case, in a more than usual degree, about the commencement of the year; and partly by indisposition ; but for these circumstances, I should, long ere this, have undertaken to thank you, for your long and excellent letter; and to reproach you for your unkindness, in withholding it so long from us ; though, I am sure, that you do not deserve a word of rebuke on this account. Friendship, however, usually expecting too much, provides for itself many disappointments ; and then feels a curious kind of sweet revenge, in blaming those whom it most tenderly loves, for inflicting the pains which it suffers, from its own faults and follies.
During the long intervals, which take place between the periods of writing and receiving letters, our spirits are often with yours, participating in the remembrance of seasons past, in the feeling of present circumstances, and in realizing the prospect which the light of heaven presents to christian faith, not only through the checkered, contracted landscape of this mortal life, but into the boundless scenes of eternity, of a blessed and glorious immortality. What a privilege and satisfaction, that, though far absent in body, we may yet be present in spirit, beholding and sharing each other's state and interests, temporal, spiritual, and eternal ! and that, especially, we may in the name, and through the mediation of our common Lord and Saviour, meet at the throne of grace, and there seek and obtain mercy and grace for each other, as well as for ourselves, according to our several circumstances of want, of duty, and of trial, in the course of our pilgrimage towards that rest, which remaineth for the people of God; into which no sin, or sorrow sball follow them; and in the enjoyınent of which, all their capacities and desires, shall be filled with all the fulness of God! That we may meet you and others, who have been and are most dear to you, in that blessed world, to review, in the light of glory, the scenes of earth and time, of provi. Jence and grace, and to rejoice and triumph together, in the perfections, the works, and the praises, of God our Saviour for ever. Pray for us, with the peculiar tenderness and fervor of christian love; and pray for us, without ceasing.'
Your description of the solemn and interesting scene of Mr.P's ordination to the gospel ministry, in order to his becoming connected, in the pastoral relation, with the church, in which your late worthy and dear husbaud, for a number of years, exercised his ministry so faithfully and zealously, so honorably to himself, and so usefully to his people, and from the labours of which he has been removed to the joy of his Lord, is worthy of your heart, and of your pep; and has excited in the hearts of your friends here, emotions of sympathy, serious and tender in their nature, somewhat correspondent, though, in their degree, they may be much inferior, to your own. It is not at all surprising, that such a solemnity should have been, at once, " pleasant and mournful to your soul.”. By a spirit of piety and sensibility like yours, and circumstanced as you were, both the pleasant and the mournful impressions naturally produced by the occasion, must bave been deeply felt indeed; while contemplating, on the one hand, the desirable privileges and hopes, to which the bereaved church was thus restored; and while, on the other hand, dwelling on the affecting recollection of past events, which had called them and you to mourn together. May the same blessed Lord and Saviour, who, when he calls bome one and another of his faithful servants, that they may enter into his joy, still provide for his church a succession of pastors and teachers, be still found by you, the husband of the widow, and the father of your fatherless children, and by his gracious presence and abundant consolations, fill the great void, which his holy bereaving hand, with the wisest designs and for the most salutary purposes, has made in your affectionate heart, and in your dearest social comforts !
Vain wish! yet I cannot help wishing, that I had been present, to see what you saw, and to hear what you heard, on that solemn and tender occasion. Such an assemblage of the worthy and pious ministers of Christ, and of devout worshippers, and engaged spectators and bearers ; such serious and interesting transactions, such instructive, impressive discourses, and such excellent, affecting, elevating psalmody, as you describe, would I am sure, have afforded a very peculiar gratification to my feelings, and might, I hope, have contributed something to my spiritual improvement. So many people, thronging the courts of the Lord's house, and engaging in the exercises of his worship, with attentive minds, and so many of the cordial friends of Zion, and especially of the faithful brethren in the gospel ministry, uniting with christian love and zeal, and harwony in their efforts to promote each other's edification, and to build up the church of Christ, and advance its peace and prosperity; how pleasing, how animating the scene, to every heart which loves the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, and which prefers the success of his cause, the triumphs of his cross, to its chiefest earthly joy! There are, I trust, many hearts here, which would rejoice in witnessing such a scene, in all its solemn delightful circumstances, if Providence should furnish the peculiar occasion ; and, in beholding, on more ordinary occasions, the like evidences and fruits of brotherly love, and of the communion of churches, as well as of individual christians. But for such affec. tionate, profitable and sweet fellowship in the gospel, even in proportion to the smaller number of ministers and christians here, we seem, at present, rather left to sigh and pray, than to hope with any high degree of cheering anticipation. Oh, happy families, societies, and churches, and associations of ministers, with whom the God of love and peace, condescends to dwell! And
since he appears so evidently to have honored your branch of his church with the distinguishing tokens of his favour, and manifestations of his presence, especial. ly while engaged in so eminently serious and interesting a transaction, as that of forming a connexion with a pastor, whose ministrations, inay most deeply and extensively affect their spiritual and eternal concerns ; with what consoling reflections, and animating hope, should you all now adopt, and sing to his praise, the words which his own spirit has indited for you! “ For a small moment, have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a lit. tle wrath I hid my face from thee, for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I bave mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.”* May the endearing union that has now taken place between the worthy pas: tor and the worthy people of his charge, be long continued, with mutual affection and satisfaction, and be still, and more and more, crowned with the smiles and the blessings of the adorable and gracious Head of the church, to the glory of his own name, and to the present great benefit and comfort, and the future, everlasting joy, of all concerned! It is truly pleasing to hear of the appearances of "a solemnity on the minds of some of the dear youth among you, and of some of them hav. ing recently embraced religion.” Such appearances, are, alas! rarely indeed seen among us, at present; although we have reason stil to be thankful for some consoling tokens, that our Lord has not yet forsaken this part of his Zion. A few, and but a few indeed, compared with some former seasons, have, during the summer and fall past, been added to our church. We
Isaiah, liv. 7, 8.