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know, and what it is impossible that any mere man can teach her, she will know hereafter, when, as it is written, all shall be taught of God-May the Almighty vouchsafe to hasten this blissful period.
And so you are at last persuaded that the cause in which you are engaged is the cause of God. How much is contained in this avowal, and yet how long doth the carnal mind oppose this conviction? Yes, if we be sure of any thing, we are sure this cause is of God. Doth not the apostle somewhere say, speaking of the great first cause, Of him are all things? But while we are assured the cause of truth is indeed the cause of God, how little beside this, do we, or can we know, and how little beside this need we know. They who knew most, knew but in part, but they pressed on to perfection, which they found when they entered into the joy of the Lord.
Suffer me again to inquire, are any of your hearing friends so satiated, that they are ready to pronounce the best property of a sermon, its brevity; and to value a preacher more for the fewness of his words, than for the magnitude of his discoveries? Should you ever reach this era of mortification, endeavour to indulge them in this respect; a weakly body will not thrive by much feeding. Indeed, I have sometimes thought, that in the present state we are better capable of enduring a great deal of evil, than a great deal of good. Sparing diet agrees best with our constitution in more particulars than one. It is a considerable portion of time before children are able to bear strong meat, and even when they are, their health in a great measure depends on the quantity as well as quality of the food they receive. I will essay to bear this fact in mind. The spirit, while tabernacled in clay, sympathizes with, and greatly resembles the body.
Since I last wrote to you, I have seen, and conversed with the Rev. Mr. I admire him much; his conduct and expressions evince one of the best hearts I have known. I have conceived a very strong affection for him, and to the confusion of the enemies of the gospel of God our Saviour, a very large number of respectable hearers have seen him and your friend enter the pulpit together. Mr. sang, and addressed the throne of grace, and, by his request, I preached. A greater part of his congregation are enemies to me, because, in their judgment, I do not sufficiently expatiate upon inward holiness; for, although they call themselves
Universalists, yet Christ is not sufficient for them; but I have preached to their preacher in private, and I have the satisfaction to pronounce, that he receives the grace of God with avidity.
I have this morning heard a very melancholy piece of intelligence. Poor Mrs. C. has lost her husband; I feel sensibly for the poor lady, especially in her present situation. Her parents too, I know they are children of affliction; yet this stroke will deeply wound them, for we rarely become invulnerable to the shafts of adversity. Surely it is strange we are so easy in life, as we generally are, considering on how precarious a tenure we hold our temporal enjoyments. We are every moment liable to be deprived of all that can render existence tolerable, and yet we laugh, sing, eat, and sleep, as if we were beyond the reach of fate; and our consolations immortal! And is not this a mercy; for we are thus rendered tranquil, almost as much, as if we held our possessions upon a durable grant? But one fact is still more unaccountable, that when these heavy calamities overtake us, unexpectedly overtake us, thus acquiring additional weight, although at the instant, we conceive it impossible to survive the deprivation, yet pass a few hours, and lo, the wounds made by calamity are, almost without our consent, quite closed! Well, well, this also is right. I often think of the word of the Lord, In this world you shall have tribulation but in me you shall have peace; and again, We live by faith, and not by sight.
We do not expect tribulation in the coming state, why should we expect peace in this? No, this is not our rest; peace abideth not in this world; and hence, sighs may sooner fail, than cause to sigh. Yet, although every day produceth its quantum of evil, we appear as if not content therewith, and are therefore anticipating evils we may never see. It is here, I conceive, that the word of our Redeemer appears as an apple of gold, in a picture of silver.
Take no thought for the morrow-but in this particular, as in every other, we are constrained to acknowledge, his thoughts are not as our thoughts. Jesus is continually directing, and we continually neglecting. Alas! for us, we are our own tormenters! When shall we be able to cease from men, and find ourselves where we properly belong, in him?
A friend of ours is suffering from pecuniary losses, and as the pains and pleasures of my friends are in some sort my own, I am under a necessity of sorrowing with him-Yet we can say, What
is this world? It is not worth a thought! gold and silver-nothing more than white and yellow dirt! A candidate for a blessed eternity elated or depressed on account of the gathering or scattering of such paltry stuff! Thus we talk, while the despoiler is at a distance, and thus we may talk, when calamity, pecuniary calamity, comes home to us; but who does not know how possible it is for the fine feelings, and the fine speeches made upon these occasions, to be diametrically opposite to each other. In short, pride makes us wish to possess much of this world. "What shall we have," said the poor fellows who left their little all; and pride makes us wish to appear, as if we were above being affected by such trifles! and pride frequently obliges us to torture invention for arguments to keep us in countenance, even with ourselves-In short, we are poor imbecile creatures.
Yes, indeed, your observation is just; it is truly pleasing to see individuals making a cheerful exit, in the assured hope of a better state of existence.
Did I tell you the Philadelphians are about erecting, by subscription, a house for public worship; the introduction to which subscription paper hath a paragraph which is thus worded? "Which house shall be cheerfully opened, upon application to a committee to be chosen out of the congregation and church, to all denominations, and especially to those who teach the universal love of God, and the final restitution of all things!" Is it not, delightful to observe the declination of prejudice?
I am, as usual, yours most sincerely,
To the Same.
September 26, 1785.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
HAVE been to Oxford, where we have held an assembly truly primitive. We deliberated upon, first, a name; secondly, the propriety of being united for our common defence; thirdly, on the advantages of an annual meeting of representatives from the different societies; fourthly, on keeping up a constant correspondence by letter. Each of these particulars are to be laid before the societies represented by their delegates, and if approved, such approbation to be announced by circular letters, addressed to leading members of the several associations. Thus at present
stands the business.
I am grateful for your last very kind favour. I am exceedingly pleased with the matter it contains, and the manner in which that matter is expressed; for each of which sources of pleasure, I do most sincerely thank you. I wish you were at leisure to pen your thoughts freely as they rise, either for me, or some other friend, who would preserve them; then, perhaps, the views with which you are favoured, would neither die in thinking nor in writing; and you might be enabled to do, what I have often wished I could do, leave behind you what would oblige your friends in particular and the public in general, to say, "He being dead, yet speaketh." Thus you would continue to instruct mankind after you had taken your departure from this present world. How many now in the kingdom of our Father, still continue with us in their writings, and are by this means distinguished by a being in both worlds; a consciousness of this must augment their felicity. Do they not, as often as they reflect, that while they in heaven are tasting sublime enjoyments, they are contributing to the pleasure and profit of the world they have quitted; do they not, from this consideration, derive superior satisfaction? and are they not thus imitators of their divine Master, who, although not visible to our sight, never leaves
us nor forsakes us? I should be exceeding glad to know, that I should leave behind me writings, that would be read with pleasure and profit, by multitudes yet unborn. But, what would the greater part of readers, even of the present age, know of the writer more than the name? and whence is it, that the noblest minds have toiled merely for a name through a long succession of years?
But pride would assign a more laudable motive, and piety, in the religious walk, furnishes an honourable stimulus. Yet, still, are we really actuated by any thing more than a love of fame? How very remote are causes! how very rarely do we find out the causes of our own conduct in life; how very little do we know of others or of ourselves; yet vain man would be wise.
However, let the causes that prompt men to write be what they may, the effects are very good, and I do not know that we are called to investigate motives. For my own part, were I qualified for a writer, I should assuredly, without stopping to hunt after my motives, write on; and although my writings might not survive the writer, hope would still soothe my wishes, and I should write on; and whatever the world may think fit to say of, or do with my performances, I should be circumstanced pretty much like some of our muck-worms, who spend their whole life in gathering up riches. "If," say they, "the heirs of my wealth receive half the pleasure in wasting, that I have derived from accumulating, they will have no cause of complaint:" thus, were I able to write a book, should that posterity to whom I should bequeath the volume, obtain but a moiety of the pleasure in the use, or even in the abuse thereof, that I should as I beheld it daily encrease under my eye, their time might be abundantly more heavily passed. But, alas, the pages I shall leave will be but few! Perhaps yourself or some other kind friend, sufficiently acquainted with my sentiments, to form a judgment of what I would have said, may, when I am gone, collect some of my letters on a variety of subjects, and if I, or my sentiments, should be deemed of sufficient consequence to excite, immediately after my departure, the indignation of some eminent writer in such measure, as to engage him to draw his pen against me, who knows but encouragement may be given for printing Memoirs and Letters of the late Mr. John Murray, &c. &c.
I have been thrown into this train of reflection by a manuscript intended for the press, submitted by the author to my revision and correction. But the office of correction is a hazardous office,