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To the same.
HIS morning is very gloomy; it exhibits a picture of the scene, which the distresses of my friends in this town open before me. How often am I reduced to the necessity of exclaiming, I am sick of life. It is a very melancholy thing, that as we get more weary, the road is worse. I envy none, but those who are on the threshold of this world. In this number is Mrs. O.; her infant died last evening, and we momently expect her exit. God is very gracious to this poor child; her love of life was strong; her affection for her husband and children bound her to earth. It was the bitterness of death to leave them, and she dreaded the separation as much as did David, and other children of the Most-High. The unbelieving adversaries, by whom we are surrounded, who as an adulterous generation, are ever asking after a sign, greedily listen to the words of a dying Christian, that they may be furnished with materials for reproach, and occasion to blaspheme the name by which we are called. But this dear, departing saint, in her most disturbed moments, has repeatedly affirmed, "that her mind was in perfect peace respecting futurity." She knew her Creator, her Redeemer too well, to expect to find an enemy in him; she never had a single doubt of happiness hereafter; her distress originated in her reluctance to quit her little family; but she fervently prayed, that she might be delivered from this reluctance, and calmly resigned to the good pleasure of her God.
This devout prayer is at length answered, and she now waits as patiently, and hopes as quietly for the salvation of her Redeemer, as any dying person on whose departure I have ever attended. This is indeed the Lord's doings, and it is marvellous in our eyes, In such circumstances how desirable, how beautiful is death, or rather the moment in which we are to commence denizens of a new and improved state of existence !
Some of my friends have partially said, "I bring a blessing with me." Well, to some individuals there is a sense in which this
affirmation may be true, when I am made a distinguished instrument of promulgating his gospel, whose testimony is replete with blessings, whose doctrine drops as the rain, whose speech distilleth as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass. Such has been the effect of the gospel of God our Saviour, upon our expiring friend! It hath refreshed her once drooping mind, and given her strength to sustain the conflict with nature, and resolution to submit with cheerful patience to the dissolution of every earthly tie.
I am pleased to hear you have visited B, accompanied by our friend; I am not surprised at the conduct of the worshippers of anti-christ, they act in character. Would to God, we could, on every occasion, act in character, we should then never fail to adorn by every movement, the doctrine of God our Saviour. I am happy to learn, that the good man to whom you advert, has repeated his visits to S- and that his audience were so large and so attentive. There is a strange mixture in this worthy man, and I cannot but lament it. He certainly sometimes blows the gospel trumpet, but, alas, it is always with an uncertain sound! I think it is beyond a doubt, that he sows the same field with different sorts of seed. He is assuredly an advocate for Universal Salvation, but, as it appears to me, not upon Christian principles. This is, I repeat, a matter which occasions me great sorrow of heart. Were he acquainted with the ministry of reconciliation, he would, I think, be an able minister of the New-Testament. Could, I say, this dear man but once see that God in Christ, or the divine in the human nature is the reconciliation of the world, and that in consequence of the iniquities of all the stray sheep being laid on the good shepherd, and he as the just one bearing the sins of the world, that he might take them away, so that as God, he may with propriety say, “Behold I see no spot in thee." Could he behold this guiltless Lamb of God, thus encompassed with the iniquties of his heels, suffering the death which is the wages of sin, that by his suffering he might eventually annihilate sin, so that those who are taught of God, might see no more of the punishment as the effect, than God does of sin as the cause: In fine, could he be brought to see there was no God but the Saviour, nor sin but what he bore in his own body on the cross, nor punishment but what he suffered when the chastisement of our peace was upon him, by whose stripes we are
healed, he would then with true apostolic zeal, labour to turn his hearers from darkness to light, that they might thus see, and consequently rejoice in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them. free.
But he will know as much as our Saviour sees proper to teach him. I will, however, attend to the hints you have given, and when he visits me I will converse with him as freely and as impressively as I am able. I really feel a very warm affection for the good man, and from my soul I wish to see him in the way of peace. As to his manner, with which the new lights are so much pleased, I do not think there is any thing so very disagreeable in that; and if his matter were really gospel, perhaps this manner of his, might be really advantageous by drawing the attention of some of our blind brethren, who are pleased with such sounds. Whatever you may think of it, I am sure I know but little; but this little I am always ready and willing to communicate. I know but this, that Jesus is a complete Saviour; this is my enduring, my exhaustless theme, and I fervently unite with you in supplicating the divine Being, to guide us into the way of truth, and to keep our minds steadfastly fixed on him, who is our hope. I rejoice to learn, that your mind is so greatly enlarged and refreshed by your labours on the Sabbath day. Wretched indeed would our circumstances be, if we did not feel our subjects, and know that our hearers sometimes felt them too.
Yes, I have seen your account of R, and it involves an account of yourself. You have, it seems, blushed for yourself on the present occasion, and you may have more reason thus to do, than you are at present apprized of. It was, no doubt, wrong to make up a judgment of, and conceive a prejudice against any man, merely from report; our enemies could no more; and is it not somewhat wrong, somewhat hasty, to establish your opinion of a preacher, from hearing him only once? But you conversed with him, and remember he conversed with you also. However, if your last conclusion be a fault, it is in my opinion a venial fault, and I should less blush to be convicted of a score of such faults, than in a single instance, to have made up a hasty judgment to the prejudice of a brother.
I am exceeding glad you have seen R. and that he has met with so kind a reception; such accounts as these always fill my heart with pleasure. But poor S.; I am greatly pained by his situation. Dear
man, he is very much from home in this fragile body of his. We ought not to wonder that his soul, his capacious soul, is so often disquieted: he will, no doubt, have his clear and cloudy seasons all his journey through; and perhaps, his cloudy seasons may be very, very dark, accompanied by thunder, lightening, and rain; and his clear seasons very clear, accompanied by fervid heat, which may accelerate the approach of clouds; and, no doubt, he who regulates the seasons, regulates also the luminous mind of our friend. Your flattering remarks may be very just, but it would be difficult for any one to persuade me, nay, it would be impossible for me to persuade myself of the justice of your comparison as it respects our friend S.; but we will dismiss the subject. It is well you had so pleasant a time over the ruggid road; you see, my good Sir, when the mind is in health, the body can pass over rocks, as mere pebbles; good company is, no doubt, pleasing on a journey and every where else; would we could have the felicity of associating with serious, well disposed individuals to our journey's end. It gives me pleasure to hear of one and another of my weary fellowtravellers, "being landed safe on that blest shore, where tempests rise and billows beat no more." I am happy too, that they could see their way through the valley of the shadow of death. Children, we know, are frequently affrighted by shadows, but because they were taught of God, it was therefore they feared no evil.
No, I would not be robbed of the pleasure of believing, that individuals uniting to worship the Redeemer on the road, will recognize each other when they unite with the general assembly in the worship of the same Redeemer above, for any earthly consideration. Why not? Shall we know others, and not know them? Our knowledge will increase, not decrease; and although we may know all, and love all, it does not therefore follow, that we shall forget our connexions here, or love them less-God forbid.
I am told your mind has been uncommonly exercised and embarrassed, and I am so far from wondering at the difficulties we are called to encounter, that it is matter of astonishment to me, when any, (if any there be), pass smoothly o'er life's surface.
Shaping our course over a path abounding in briers and thorns, is it wonderful that we are torn thereby? Is it not rather amazing that we pass a day or an hour exempt from suffering? Even our choicest comforts either grow on, or must, with very great difficulty, be selected from these briars and thorns. But, in fact, it
may, with strict propriety, be said of all our comforts, except such as are derived from the fountain of all true, because spiritual good, and of all comforters, beside that spirit which is emphatically styled a comforter; miserable comforts, and miserable comforters are ye all.
Yet, while smarting from frequent wounds, we are still so infatuated as to look to, and lean on, these broken reeds. For myself, I have so often done this, that sometimes, when I reap heart-felt pangs, where I had looked for soul-satisfying pleasure, I have been conscious of a kind of gloomy satisfaction, from the consideration of the justice manifested in my vexatious disappointment. Yet, I shall still say to these illusive witcheries, "Kind deceivers flatter still."
My eyes are momently turned toward my closing scene. It is true I do not know what may be my then sensations; but should the joy before me produce the same effect, with the sorrows by which I am now surrounded, I shall leap into eternity without a single regret-Yes, I too shall pass through the valley of the shadow of death, and I humbly trust that I also, even I, shall at that momentous period, be exempted from the fear of evil: and, truly my friend, I am inclined to think, that it is only on the occasion adverted to, that I shall be entirely exempted from fear.
In short, it is only on the paternal bosom we can repose with safety. The word, the oath of Omnipotence is pledged for our final happiness. Is it wonderful that we repose unbounded confidence in the word, in the oath of the God of justice, the God of truth, who knows our frames, who remembers that we are but dust, who hath compassion on the ignorant, and those who are out of the way, who bowed his heavens and came down to earth, for the sole purpose of seeking and saving those who were lost.
Please to give my love to each of our mutual friends, whom I hope and trust, we shall love to all eternity. O, may the love of God be more and more felt by them, by you, and by your ever faithful, &c. &c.