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suffer sickness and pain; go, suffer fierce and fiery temptations; go, walk in darkness, and trust
Trust me with the reason of all this; trust me with the end of all this.” Ah, my friend, trust Him! Whom should a sinner trust? If the tempter urge that you shall never be accepted ; yet is it not better even to perish while attempting to honour Him by casting yourself at the foot of his cross ?—and can you think that one, any one, ever perished so doing?
LETTER XXIV.—TO THE SAME.
I wish we could hear better accounts of
your own health ; and yet such a wish, even for our friends, must be modified and limited. Long sickness, and that too with death at the end of the prospect, has been a time of much spiritual improvment to many, and of rapid growth and development in grace. Bodily weakness and fatigue, irritability, depression,-I know that they are great hindrances; but then, on the other hand, the seriousness of the time, and that distance which the world is put at by the knowledge, or probability that the world and oneself have nothing more to do with one another; these are great advantages. I want you to set about the great work in a way that its importance demands.
Be earnest, be diligent. This is your great work, really your only one. Set about it as such. Do not waste your time on other pursuits. Self-examination; reading the Bible, and the most practical searching divinity; prayer, and praise ; surely this is the work for us all, as far as the duties of our calling allow it; and how much more for you in so precarious a state of health! Is the great work done? I beseech you, rest not in uncertainty about that. Oh, am I in a sanctified state ? Rest not, rest not, I conjure you, in a doubt about it.
LETTER XXV.-TO HIS FATHER-IN-LAW.
Guestingthorpe, August 31st, 1822. My dear Sir,
This day brings to mind that kindness and skill, which, under the blessing of God, was two years ago the means, I believe, of sparing my life; and I must not let the day pass without more particular prayer for you, and particular thanks to you. Spared life is indeed, in itself, a very equivocal good; it may be a blessing, it may be a curse; it may be a leading to repentance,
may be a heaping up of wrath against the day of wrath. To me, I humbly trust, with spared life it pleased God to give a new life. The state I was in before my illness at Eastbourne I know well; the Apostle describes it in awful words : At that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. A state dreadful to look back upon; how dreadful beyond
expression to be in! God grant that I do not deceive myself in the hope, that the next words may describe the state, into which free and rich grace alone can have brought me! But now, in Christ Jesus, ye, who sometime were afar off, are brought nigh by the blood of Christ!
What a change, if really wrought! a change, that fills heaven itself with joy, and the effects of which reach through eternity! a change, to which all earthly changes, viewed as only earthly, be they of kings and kingdoms, are yet nothing! The restoration of glory to God in another instance, and of real and eternal happiness to the creature! Real !_I am sure : it becomes all the subjects of that change to speak of the solid peace which it produces. Merriment, hilarity, pleasure, such as it was, I might know something of before ; but for real, bottomed, sterling peace,-happiness that would bear thinking and reasoning of, -I knew nothing of it. Now, I thank God, I do: it is my own sin, and shame, and strange stupidity, that I have not more; yet something of peace and joy I have; and I trust, they are the fruits of the Holy Ghost, and shall mature and ripen into perfection.
You have often had the high pleasure of prolonging life to your fellow-creatures ; not often, perhaps, the pleasurable opportunity of knowing or hoping that, by prolonging temporal life, you have been an instrument, in God's hands, of sparing for eternal life. There (I feel it more and more every day), there is the point to keep the eye fixed on. The things that are seen are temporal. Surely, to have any object whatever, the whole of which is on this side the grave, is unworthy of an immortal creature, and slighting the high hopes and privileges which the Gospel holds forth to us.
That we, my dear Sir, and all whom we love, (that includes now nearly the same circle,) may daily be looking at the things which are not seen, and our affections and desires kindling, as we look, is my earnest and daily prayer. With our best love, ever,
My dear Sir,
LETTER XXVI.--TO A FORMER PUPIL: WRITTEN
AT THE BEGINNING OF HIS LAST ILLNESS.
March 23rd, 1823. My dear J—,
I have long purposed answering a long and affectionate letter of yours, received, I am afraid, more than a year ago. I have now no longer the excuse of want of time, being confined to my room, and precluded from any public duty by a return of my former complaint, hæmorrhage from the throat or lungs. Thus it hath pleased God, for a time, at all events, perhaps for ever, to lay me by. * Thus sometimes we are taken away from the world : oh, how happy, if not in presence only, but in heart also ! But
whether so taken from it, or not--for you are, perhaps, at this very moment in the full possession and pursuit of it; that portion of it which you may think worth pursuing, worldly knowledge and worldly applause,)-yet, however that may be, the world is surely passing away from
The world passeth away, and the lusts thereof; but he that doeth the will of God,—what a contrast in the character and in his lot!-abideth for ever: I look back on what I have written, and perhaps I have written unjustly. Would to God it might be so; and that I might hear from you or of you, that you are not pursuing the world in any shape as your aim and object, but have found that there is something better to be sought after, and something better to be enjoyed even here. Yes, be assured, Thy benignity is better than the life itself! Very affectionately yours,
LETTER XXVII.-TO A FRIEND.
March 20th, 1823. My dear R
I am very thankful to be again able to write you a line. My attack was slighter this time than the last. I have had no return of hæmorrhage, and have indeed been improving every day. My mind, I am thankful to say, has been kept on the whole very peaceful: this is a great mercy; further than this I cannot say.