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I HAVE been sometime hoping to hear from you, but Mr. was here last Saturday, and informed me that you were ill, or had been so very lately. This intelligence prompted me to write as soon as I could find leisure. I think the Lord has seen fit to visit you with much indisposition of late; I say he has seen fit, for all our trials are under his immediate direction, and we are never in heaviness without a need-be. I trust he does and will give you strength equal to your day, and sweeten what would be otherwise bitter, with the essence of his precious love. I hope soon to hear that you are restored to health, and that you have found cause to praise him for the rod.
How happy is the state of a believer, to have a sure promise that all shall work together for good in the end, and in the mean time a sure refuge where to find present relief, support, and protection! How comfortable it is, when trouble is near, to know that the Lord is near likewise, and to commit ourselves and all our cares simply to him, believing that his eye is upon us, and his ear open to our prayers. Under the conduct of such a Shepherd we need not fear; though we are called to pass through fire and water, through the valley of the shadow of death, he will be with us, and will shew himself mighty on our behalf. It seems almost needless to say, that we were very happy in the company of --: the only inconvenience was, that it renewed the pain it always gives me to part with them. Though the visit was full as long as I could possibly expect, it seemed very
short. This must be the case while we are here: our pleasures are short, interrupted, and mixed with troubles: this is not, cannot be our rest. But it will not be always the case; we are travelling to a better world, where every evil and imperfection shall cease; then we shall be for ever with the Lord, and with each other. May the prospect of this blessed hope set before us, revive our fainting spirits, and make us willing to endure hardships as good soldiers of Jesus Christ! Here we must often sow in tears, but there we shall reap in joy, and all tears shall be wiped
from our eyes for ever. I hope the conversation
of friends whom I so greatly love and honour, afforded me not only pleasure but profit; it left a savour upon my mind, and stirred up my languid desires after the Lord. I wish I could say the good effect has remained with me to this hour: but, alas! I am a poor creature, and have had many causes of humiliation since. But, blessed be God! amidst all my changes I find the foundation stands sure, and I am seldom or never left to doubt either of the Lord's love to me, or the reality of the desires he has given me towards himself; though when I measure my love by the degrees of its exercise, or the fruits it produceth, I have reason to sit down ashamed, as the chief of sinners, and the least of all saints. But in him I have righteousness and peace, and in him I must and will rejoice.
I would willingly fill up my sheet, but feel a straitness in my spirit, and know not what further to say. O for a ray of divine light to set me at liberty, that I might write a few lines worth reading, something that might warm my heart and comfort yours! Then the subject must be Jesus; but of him what can I say that you do not know! Well, though you know him, you are glad to hear
of him again and again. Come, then, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. Let us adore him for his love, that love which has a height, and depth, and length, and breadth, beyond the grasp of our poor conceptions; a love that moved him to empty himself, to take on him the form of a servant, and to be obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; a love that pitied us in our lost estate, that found us when we sought him not, that spoke peace to our souls in the day of our distress; a love that bears with all our present weakness, mistakes, backslidings, and shortcomings; a love that is always watchful, always ready to guide, to comfort, and to heal; a love that will not be wearied, cannot be conquered, and is incapable of changes; a love that will in the end prevail over all opposition, will perfect that which concerns us, and will not leave us till it has brought us perfect in holiness and happiness, to rejoice in his presence in glory. The love of Christ! it is the wonder, the joy, the song of angels, and the sense of it shed abroad in our hearts makes life pleasant, and death welcome. Alas! what a heart have I, that I love him no better! But I hope he has given me a desire to make him my all in all, and to account every thing loss and dross that dares to stand in competition with him. I am, &c.
1769. I FOUND this morning among my unanswered letters one from you, but I hope I left it among them by mistake. I am willing, however, to be on the sure side, and would rather write twice than
be too long silent. I heard of your being laid on the bed of affliction, and of the Lord's goodness to you there, and of his raising you up again. Blessed be his name! he is all-sufficient and faithful; and though he cause grief, he is sure to shew compassion in supporting and delivering. Ah! the evil of our nature is deeply rooted and very powerful, or such repeated, continual corrections and chastisements would not be necessary; and were they not necessary, we should not have them. But such we are, and therefore such must be our treatment; for though the Lord loves us with a tenderness beyond what the mother feels for her sucking child, yet it is a tenderness directed by Infinite Wisdom, and very different from that weak indulgence which in parents we call fondness, which leads them to comply with their children's desires and inclinations, rather than to act with a steady view to their true welfare. The Lord loves his children, and is very indulgent to them, so far as they can safely bear it, but he will not spoil them. Their sin-sickness requires medicines, some of which are very unpalatable; but when the case calls for such, no short-sighted intreaties of ours can excuse us from taking what he prepares for our good. But every dose is-prepared by his own hand, and not one is administered in vain, nor is repeated any oftener than is needful to answer the purposed end. Till then, no other hand can remove what he lays upon us; but when his merciful design is answered, he will relieve us himself, and in the mean time he will so moderate the operation, or increase our ability to bear, that we shall not be overpowered. It is true, without a single exception, that all his paths are mercy and truth to them that fear him. His love is the same when he wounds as when he heals, when he takes away
as when he gives: we have reason to thank him for all, but most for the severe.
I received a letter from you, which mentions dear Mrs.'s case, a very trying one; but in this likewise we see the Lord's faithfulness. Our own experience, and all that we observe of his dealings with others, may convince us that we need not be afraid to entrust ourselves and our dearest concerns in his hands; for he can and will make every thing work for good.
How little does the world know of that intercourse which is carried on between heaven and earth! what petitions are daily presented, and what answers are received at a throne of grace! O the blessed privilege of prayer! O the wonderful love, care, attention, and power of our great Shepherd His eye is always upon us; when our spirits are almost overwhelmed within us, he knoweth our path. His ear is always open to us; let who will overlook and disappoint us, he will not. When means and hope fail, when every thing looks dark upon us, when we seem shut up on every side, when we are brought to the lowest ebb, still our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. To him all things are possible; and before the exertion of his power, when he is pleased to arise and work, all hindrances give way and vanish like a mist before the sun. And he can so manifest him to the soul, and cause his goodness to pass before it, that the hour of affliction shall be the golden hour of the greatest consolation. He is the fountain of life, strength, grace, and comfort, and of his fulness his children receive according to their occasions: but this is all hidden from the world; they have no guide in prosperity, but hurry on as they are instigated by their blinded passions, and are perpetually multiplying mischiefs and miseries to themselves; and in adversity they have