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this will find you recovered from the hurry of spirits you must have been thrown into, and that both you and your papa are composed under the appointment of him who has a right to dispose of his own as he pleases; for we know, that whatever may be the second causes and occasions, nothing can happen to us but according to the will of our heavenly Father. Since what is past cannot be recalled, my part is now to pray, that this and every other dispensation you meet with, may besanctified to your soul's good; that you may be more devoted to the God of your life, and have a clearer sense of your interest in that kingdom which cannot be shaken, that treasure which neither thieves nor flames can touch, that better and more enduring substance which is laid up for believers, where Jesus their Head and Saviour is. With this view you may take joyfully the spoiling of your goods.
I think I can feel for my friends; but for such as I hope have a right to that promise, that all things shall work together for their good, I soon check my solicitude and ask myself, Do I love them better, or could I manage more wisely for them, than the Lord does ? Can I wish them to be in safer or more compassionate hands than in his ? Will he who delights in the prosperity of his servants afflict them with sickness, losses, and alarms, except he sees there is need of these things? Such thoughts calm the emotions of my mind. I sincerely condole you ; but the command is to rejoice always in the Lord. The visitation was accompanied with mercy. Not such a case as that of the late Lady Molesworth's, which made every one's ears to tingle that heard it. Nor is yours such a case as of some, who in almost every great fire lose their all, and perhaps, have no knowledge of God to support them.
Though our first apprehensions were for you, we almost forgot you for a moment, when we thought of your next door neighbour, and the circumstance she was in, so unfit to bear either a fright or a removal. We shall be in much suspense till we hear from you. God grant that you may be able to send us good news, that you are all well, at least as well as can be expected after such a distressing scene. If what has happened should give you more leisure or more inclination to spend a little time with us, I think I need not say we shall rejoice to receive you.
I am, &c:
MY DEAR MADAM,
Sept. 3, 1767 The vanity of all things below is confirmed to us by daily experience. Amongst other proofs, one is the precariousness of our intimacies, and what little things, or rather what nothings, will sometimes produce a coolness, or at least a strangeness, between the dearest friends. How is it that our correspondence has been dropt, and that after having written two letters since the fire, which removed you from your former residence, I should be still disappointed in my hopes of an answer? On our parts I hope there has been no abatement of regard; nor can I charge you with any thing but remissness. Therefore, waving the past, and all apologies on either side, let me beg you to write soon, to tell us how it is with you, and how you have been supported under the various changes
you have met with since we saw you last. I doubt not but you have met with many exercises. I pray that they may have been sanctified to lead you nearer to the Lord, the fountain of all consolation, who is the only refuge in time of trouble, and whose gracious presence is abundantly able to make up every deficiency and every loss. Perhaps the reading of this may recall to your mind our past conversations, and the subjects of the many letters we have exchanged. I know not in what manner to write after so long an interval. I would hope your silence to us had not been owing to any change of sentiments, which might make such letters as mine less welcome to you. Yet when you had a friend, who I think you believed very nearly interested himself in your welfare, it seems strange, that in a course of two years you should have nothing to communicate. I cannot suppose you have forgotten me; lam sure I have not forgotten you ; and therefore I long to hear from you soon, that I may know how to write: and should this likewise pass unanswered, I must sit down and mourn over my loss.
As to our affairs, I can tell you the Lord has been and is exceedingly gracious to us : our lives are preserved, our healths continued, an abundance of mercies and blessings on every side; but especially we have to praise him that he is pleased to crown the means and ordinances of his grace with tokens of his presence. It is my happiness to be fixed amongst an affectionate people, who make an open profession of the truth as it is in Jesus, and are enabled in some measure to shew forth its power in their lives and conversation. We walk in peace and harmony. I have reason to say the Lord Jesus is a good master, and that the doctrine of free salvation, by faith in his name, is a doctrine according to godliness; for through mercy I find it daily effectual to the breaking down the strong holds of sin, and turning the hearts of sinners from dead works to serve the living God. May the Lord give my dear friend to live in the power and consolation of his precious truth!