« PreviousContinue »
ful witnesses for him in our places! O! it is my desire for myself and for all my dear friends, that whilst too many seem content with a halfprofession, a name to live, an outward attachment to ordinances, and sentiments, and parties, we may be ambitious to experience what the glorious gospel is capable of effecting, both as to sanctification and consolation, in this state of infirmity; that we may have our loins girded up, our lamps burning, and, by our simplicity and spirituality, constrain those who know us, to acknowledge that we have been with Jesus, have sat at his feet, and drank of his Spirit.
I am, &c.
Long and often I have thought of writing to you; now the time is come. May the Lord help me to send a word in season! I know not how it may be with you, but he does, and to him I look to direct my thoughts accordingly. I suppose you are still in the school of the cross, learning the happy art of extracting real good out of seeming evil, and to grow tall by stooping. The flesh is a sad untoward dunce in this school ; but grace makes the spirit willing to learn by suffering; yea, it cares not what it endures, so sin may be mortified, and a conformity to the image of Jesus be increased. Surely, when we see the most and the best of the Lord's children so often in heaviness, and when we consider how much he loves them, and what he has done and prepared for them, we may take it for granted that there is a need-be for their sufferings. For it would be easy to his power, and not a thousandth part of what his love intends to do for them, should he make their whole life here, from the hour of their conversion to their death, a continued course of satisfaction and comfort, without any thing to distress them from within or without. But were it so, should we not miss many advantages? In the first place, we should not then be very comfortable to our Head, nor be able to say,
“ As he was, so are we in this world.” Methinks a believer would be ashamed to be so utterly unlike his Lord. What! the master always a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief, and the servant always
happy and full of comfort! Jesus despised, reproached, neglected, opposed, and betrayed, and his people admired and caressed: he living in the want of all things, and they filled with abundance; he sweating blood for anguish, and they strangers to distress! How unsuitable would these things be! How much better to be called to the honour of filling up the measure of his sufferings! A cup was put into his hand on our account, and his love engaged him to drink it for us. The wrath which it contained he drank wholly himself; but he left us a little affliction to taste, that we might pledge him, and remember how he loved us, and how much more he endured for us than he will ever call us to to endure for him. Again, how could we without sufferings, manifest the nature and truth of gospel-grace! What place should we then have for patience, submission, meekness, forbearance, and a readiness to forgive, if we had nothing to try us, either from the hand of the Lord, or from the hand of men! A christian without trials, would be like a mill without wind' or water; the contrivance and design of the wheel-work within side would be unnoticed aud unknown, without something to put it in motion from without. Nor would our graces grow, unless they were called out to exercise; the difficulties we meet with, not only prove but strengthen the graces of the Spirit. If a person was always to sit still, without making use of legs or arms, he would probably wholly lose the power of moving his limbs at last; but by walking and working he becomes strong and active. So, in a long course of ease, the powers of the new man would certainly languish; the soul would grow soft, indolent, cowardly, and faint; and therefore the Lord appoints his children such dispensations as make them strive, and struggle,