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When in such a state, God knows, I have many times taken some of your writings to see if you have described the state I was in; and I as often find, let me be in ever so perplexed a condition, some of them have so exactly described it, and thrown such a light on my path, that I could not help exclaiming, God bless the man, God bless the man! Blessed be the Lord for raising up such an able minister of the New Testament! O Lord, if it be consistent with thy heavenly will, send forth many more such, that shall be able to take up the stumblingblocks out of the way of thy people. Your Saints' Seedtime' has been much blessed to me, and also The Heavenly Workfolks;' your description of their daily pay is very precious. The sermon I heard you preach from these words, "Ye are clean through the word I have spoken unto you; abide in me and I in you," was very delicious fare indeed to me; but was I to attempt to describe it I should come far short; it is better felt; but the apostle Peter sweetly describes it in his first chapter.
It is but seldom that I hear any of the ministers in this neighbourhood, except the one I told you of that was intimate with Mr. Tanner of Exeter, for I have found by experience that I lose by them; for if I have any savour of divine things on my mind when I go, I am sure to lose it all under such, so that I have avoided them for some years. It is now about thirteen or fourteen years ago that I first heard you, at which time I tra
velled to London on purpose, having previously read some of your writings; and, blessed be God, I have more or less found a sweet union to you ever since, which I never felt towards any other person living except Mr. T. who is now at Sunderland; at which time you was an interpreter to me indeed, having preached from these words, "If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand," &c. &c. the sweet effects were as mentioned at the beginning of this, which I often want to enjoy; but the day of prosperity and the day of adversity are set one against the other. When I observe the presumptuous confidence of professors in general, how sweet does every humbling dispensation appear; and I can truly bless the Lord for his chastening rod, finding it to have been so much for my good, for it may be truly said of me that I was rushing with haste to eternal destruction when the Lord was pleased to stop me; and though I fought against it, yet he did not leave me until I was brought as an humble suppliant to his feet, and received of his word.
I beg you will excuse the length of this, and grant me an interest in your prayers; and if you can spare a few minutes, a line or two would be most thankfully received. If a kind Providence should direct your way into these parts again, there are a few I believe starving for the bread of life, and would be very glad to hear you. I hope my dear friend T-'s visit was not in vain; there
are some in this town that long to hear him again. May the Lord bless you indeed, and preserve you in health and strength of body for many years. That you may in the face of all your enemies stand in his strength, spread forth the savour of his name, and be still increasingly useful in calling poor sinners out of darkness into God's marvellous ight, is the earnest prayer of,
Your much obliged and affectionate
To P. B.
THE contents of yours rejoiced my heart, and strengthened my hands; evil report and good report falls to my share daily; the former counteracts my consequence, the latter animates my hope. "The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart," when faith discovers invisible realities; "and a good report maketh the bones fat," when attended with the witness of conscience. I find by daily experience that Satan and his adherents are no enemies to blind zeal, to feigned faith, to a form of godliness, nor to external reformation; they have
no objection to the ministry of the letter, nor to a splendid profession under it. Satan's spoiler, and the hypocrite's vexation, is the spirit of life in the soul; and this we know, that man is alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in him, because of the blindness of his heart. The Spirit of life is the springing well and the flowing brook which works the sting of death and the sentence of it out of the conscience, and the fear of death and its appendages out of the mind; and is the fountain of life, and of all blessings, and all blessedness that ever came down from the father of lights to the children of men. All heat from natural affections, however moved and stirred up by gifts, fluency, zeal, or oratory, is nothing else but sparks of our own kindling; every spiritual gift that is not fed with spiritual life, must die, being nothing but a sound. Life keeps the conscience tender, and makes it susceptible of every injury offered to it, either by sin or by error. It is the quickening operations of the Spirit that kills us to the vanities of this world, and gives us all our appetites, cravings, longings, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, after the bread and water of life, and after communion and fellowship with the Son of God. Without life the appetite of man is vitiated; he cannot relish or savour the things of God, but those that be of men. We see not a few that fade and wither away, who once looked green and flourishing; and this must be the case where there is no union with
the true vine, for the branch cannot bear fruit of itself. There is in this union momentary support, the Lord is our strength; there is a continual communication of all sorts of grace from the Lord's fulness; there is a repeated anointing with fresh oil from the unction of the Holy One, who is anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows; and there is a being watered every moment with the quickening streams of the fountain of life: these, my dear friend, are the things that must keep our leaves green; and under these influences we shall bring forth fruit in old age, to shew that God is upright.
W. H. S. S.
END OF THE FOURTEENTH VOLUME.
Printed by T. Bensley,