Page images

It gave us much pleasure to hear, that both of the letters which you acknowledge, and to which you have made such ample returns, had got seasonably to hand. And could you not have told us so, sooner than you did ? But, all circumstances considered, we cannot think of blaming you; for we know that it is in your heart to write when you can ; and we have only to wish, that in this case, and in many other instances, you and we could better do what we would: although, I suppose, that we all see abundant cause for complaining of ourselves, that we are often and often, far from being willing and ready, in a proper degree, to do the good which may be within the power of our hand. What views must they have of themselves, who think that they can merit heaven itself by the goodness of their hearts, and by their good doings? Happy they, who are so poor in spirit, as to see and feel, that to them Christ is all! With what transporting pleasure will they hereafter cast their crowns of glory at his feet, and triumph in his praise, who has done all for them, who has bestowed all upon them, and whose joy will constitute their happiness for ever!

Ere this, it is hoped, that you have received payment of the bill, which you mention as having been safely conveyed in my last letter. The remarkable success which has attended the undertaking, of publishing a volume of your late dear busband's sernions, is highly gratifying to your numerous friends here, as well as to those nearer around you. It seems to be, indeed, much to be regretted, that the edition had not been extended to 2,500, instead of being limited to 2,000 : as there is such good ground now for believing, that, within a reasonable space of time, the whole of

[ocr errors]

the first mentioned number might have been disposed of. But is it not probable, that in due time there may be a call for a second edition ? In the mean time, there is great reason for thankfulness, that so large an edition as that which has been actually printed, has been for the most part subscribed for, and that the remainder are likely to be disposed of so soon.

In this the be. nevolent and the pious must be disposed to rejoice, not only on account of the particular benefit resulting from this circumstance, to the widow and the fatherless; but in the view of the still greater good, so extensively diffused through the community, by the publication of 80 large a number of these valuable discourses. With great truth I can assure you, that I think them really excellent sermons; composed in a style of simplicity, congenial to that of the scriptures, and enriched with scripture truths, exhibited in a manner well adapted to enlighten the understanding, to impress the heart, and to promote the improvement, the comfort, and the salvation of the soul. It will, no doubt, be peculiarly grateful to the feelings of your heart, which must long cherish the most affectionate remembrance of a most worthy husband; as it has been very pleasing to me, to find, that


very numerous subscribers to those sermons in Charleston, many persons, whom I reckon among the best judges of evangelical preaching, that are to be found here, have expressed a cordial, and warm approbation of them. Hence, although they at first subscribed, chiefly from love to you, now they feel a double gratificațion, as they meant to serve a friend, and in doing that, have secured a still greater benefit to themselves. When I consider these sermons as prepared generally for a stated course of preaching,


without any view to the press, and as printed from the manuscript, as it was thus left by the author, I cannot but view them, as reflecting great honor upon his memory. Had they passed under the deliberate review, and polishing hand of the writer, before they were published, they might perhaps have appeared to greater advantage in the eye of the critical reader ; but I doubt whether they would have been at all more pleasing and acceptable to the pious heart.

Although we have no business with wishing for any thing but what the Lord wills; yet our natural affections, which want a great deal of guiding, restraining, and sanctifying grace, to set, and to keep them right every day, have been daily prompting us to wish that we could see you where you are, and your worthy friends with whom you are surrounded ; and as we could not hope to stay long with you there, then, to wish that you were with us here ; and that here you would abide, and feel yourself at home : so far at least, as pilgrims may be allowed to feel themselves at home, on earth. With what painful pleasure are the interesting hours which we have spent together, now recollected, often and often, in the course of every day that passes ! With what heartfelt pleasure would they be renewed, if the wise and good providence of our God, would permit! Now what is this but the very spirit of selfishness in us ? For our judgement tells us, that it is much better, all circumstances considered, for you now, to be where you are. How strange, how inconsistent, (but what inconsistencies cannot the human heart reconcile ?) that we should really wish you an evil, an acknowledged evil, while we persuade ourselves that ve are cherishing for you, the tenderest affection, of

the new,

the purest friendship! Well is it for you, that your blessed Lord and Saviour loves you infinitely better than we do, and orders, and does every thing concerning you, and for you, just as he does, because he loves you ! Since then He sees it best, that we should not now enjoy the pleasure, and the improvement to be found in your society and conversation; we desire to bow to his wise disposal, and to be thankful for the satisfaction, which he allows us, of still numbering you among the very dearest of our friends; of maintaining a constant correspondence with you by letters; and of hearing so frequently, and so particularly, of the many,

and fresh evidences and fruits of the loving kindness, and tender mercy of the Lord, with which you are favoured, under all the trials, which his wisdon has appointed to you. The Lord appears indeed, to be dealing with you, as he does with those whom he loves, with a peculiar affection. Having adopted you into his family, and given you an interest in all the bigh and distinguishing privileges of the children of God, he added to the rich blessings of bis grace, one of the most precious and desirable favours of bis providence, when he gave you, for the friend of your bosom, the most intimate companion of your soul, one who was a fellow heir with you of the grace of life, and eminently qualified to be your counsellor and comforter, to share, and to relieve you of, at least half, the load of all your troubles, and to partici. pate and to double all your joys, on the journey to that everlasting rest, which remains for the people of God. You were highly pleased, and happy, very happy, with this gift of your Father's love': and unconscious of your error, and even inattentive, perhaps, to the

wide difference between gratitude and idolatry, you were gradually raising the worthy, the beloved partner of your joys and sorrows, too near the place in your heart, which you had consecrated to the Creator, and w bich he alone is entitled and qualified to fill. The creature whom your erring affections were prone to idolize, your Father loved unspeakably better than you could ; and having accomplished in him the work of his grace, and enabled him to finish with acceptable fidelity, the work which was given him to do, he was in great mercy, received to glory. For you, it was necessary that you should be further purified in the furnace of affliction ; that thus your affections might be refined, and prepared to be filled more entirely with the fulness of God, and that thus you might be fitted to exhibit a brighter example of the christian temper and character, and to enjoy in an higher degree, the

peace which the Saviour bestows ; but which the world, which creatures, cannot give. You were therefore af. ficted, severely affticted ; and your faith, much more precious than gold which perisheth, having been tried as by fire, has been found unto praise, has appeared to the praise of its Divine Author, to your own increased comfort, and to the proportionably greater benefit of others, who have looked to you for an example ; and your soul, deeply humbled, and submissively accepting correction, as justly and mercifully inflicted, for its idolatrous attachment to the creature, bas felt itself compelled by an happy necessity, and constrained by a sweet influence of grace, to return to its rest in the Lord, and to trust and hope, and rejoice in a manner more worthy of your christian character, in Him, as your refuge and your portion in the land of the living,

« PreviousContinue »