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To the same.
I CAN never miss an opportunity of assuring you that I am, with fervency of affection, your friend and brother, and that I am right happy to find you my fellow labourer, may you continually see the good seed you are honored with the privilege of sowing, taking deep root downward, and bringing forth much fruit upward, to the praise of his name, who hath called you to be a witness to that truth, which hath been delivered by the mouth of all God's, holy prophets, ever since the world began. I congratulate you that you have at length passed a happy Christmas, and that in your elevated transports, so many sensible friends have participatedmay their numbers still increase, and may you, with your increasing flock, feeding in the rich pasture of the good shepherd, go on from strength to strength, until you shall arrive where you shall no more hunger nor thirst. Yes indeed, your subject was truly glorious-pity it should ever be thought old. We are, however, rapidly hastening to that world, where it will be ever new. Go on, my friend, you will in no wise lose your reward, but you will have frequent need to put up the prayer of the disciples, Lord, increase our faith.
I have often told you I am not a ready writer-I wish for my own sake I were. I hardly think my scripture expositions would be of any use to you; you will find abundantly more satisfaction in receiving divine intelligence directly from the fountain head, from the source of light and life. However, I sincerely wish our friend's poetical paraphrase of the fourteen first chapters of Isaiah were in print-I have never seen any thing more excellent. I am glad you continue to love your hearers. I wish their rock may never cease to flow, nor they, as beloved of their God, ever cease to slack their thirst with its pure refreshing waters. I wish I could so believe, as never to make haste, and so stand still as to behold the salvation of my God. You are still wondering that I do not write, that I do not write copiously; but when once I conceive highly of any person, and view him as my friend, and I must conceive very highly of any person,
whom I do view in that character. When I think I have made, or rather when I think my merciful benefactor has kindly indulged me with an addition to my chief treasure, I tremble lest I should sink in the esteem of such a friend. I repeat, I never was designed for a writer, if I am any thing I am a speaker, and I really think I ought not to leap the barriers, which seem to be the handy work of nature. Yet it is grateful to hear you address me as your very dear friend, and if I do not respond, you will not continue thus to write. I have frequently written to and once thought I had very dear friends in that town, indeed I think so still; but if we had our residence in the same place, we should not even then be near in every sense, yet my heart loves them, and it gives me no small satisfaction to know assuredly that we shall be very near, in every sense, when we meet in the kingdom of our Father.
I had almost come to a determination to close up my letter bag for your town, for you must know I have long since viewed friendly epistles in much the same light as a miser does his gold, and like him I have gotten a number of canvass bags to contain them, but I have once more opened my bag for and I expect from you a
considerable addition to my treasures.
I am exceedingly glad you are still determined to avoid that peace destroying subject, politics; and I wish all your connexions were willing to make the same resolution. I bless God you are so well able to rise superior to the insults of a misjudging world, and that you are blessed with a disposition to treat with humanity, the unhappy beings who study to render you miserable. Indeed we can afford to regard our enemies with an eye of lenity, we can afford to be benevolent, uniformly benevolent, when we turn our eyes to an assured prospect of a future, permanent, and undisturbed repose. Indeed the felicity immediately resulting from our reversionary expectations, exceedingly outweighs every species of trial that we can possibly endure, while travelling through this strange land. No doubt the covenant is in all things well ordered and sure. But alas! there are times, while my lips pronounce this truth, that my heart reproaches me for feeling a complaining temper of mind.
How strangely sounds the apostolic admonition, when we consider to whom it was addressed-That it should be necessary to caution the first christians not to suffer as murderers or thieves, as to that of busy bodies, in other men's matters. This is an error which I suppose was always extremely natural. Would it not be well to consider the propriety of classing these crimes together?
You say you have never yet suffered as a christian, but justly observe, you are not sure you never shall; for your consolation I am sure you will; not for living godly in the antichristian sense of the word; very few I believe ever suffered on that account; on the contrary, if you will live godly in yourself you will be so far from incurring the hatred of all men, that you will be admired by all men, for although all men have not this godly life, yet all men hope to have it, and expect no salvation without it; nay, in general, salvation is expected consequent thereon. Hence they universally agree to worship this idol that is set up; yea, both those who think they have this godliness in themselves, and those who acknowledge they have it not..
But if you will live godly in Christ Jesus, our divine master assures us you must suffer persecution. God in mercy give us in patience to possess our souls ; may we still look forward to that glorious immortality that was prepared for us, from before the foundation of the world.
It is a delightful thought, that the world is not to be overcome by us, therefore we dare be of good cheer, when we hear the Redeemer say, I have overcome the world. Yet how does this appear to the eye of sense? not at all; hence it is by faith we have peace with God; by faith that we can be of good cheer. Did I not say we had reason to cry out with the disciples, Lord, increase our faith. How very easy it is to draw conclusions from our own feelings. Are you not, you ask, at liberty to go when and where you please? Very fine; but I pray you now take a view of my liberty, with respect at least to body and estate. My body has long been a prisoner, although in some sort a prisoner at large. Those disorders which must at last subdue have not only laid hold of my decaying frame in its out works, but have also taken possession of the citadel; yet perhaps these troublesome foes have only taken up their winter quarters in my territory; the main body at least, may decamp on the coming of the summer, and I may thus be able to surmount the difficulties of a journey to which I look forward with no very pleasing sensations. Both my mind and body are debilitated by inaction, and I am convinced I ought to be about my master's business.
But now for my estate. It is true I have not the mortification to reflect I have sunk my estate, except my selling my horse and spending the money may be considered in that light. I am neither able to purchase another horse, nor to keep him if I had one. This
is another reason, why I cannot go where and when I please. Alas! my friend, could I always remain young and in perfect health, and continue itinerating, I might do very well. You think, and you have reason to think, that professing friends do not act consistent with their character; but you can still possess a degree of independence, but for myself, alas! I feel I am dependent; would to God I could feel my dependence only on him. But, why am I in this thorny path? What led to it? O, my liberty! Now if I had health, and horse, and money, I should perhaps go where and when I please; but without either of these, where is my liberty?
"But how are you to take your proposed journey?" I expect soon to have better health, as I told you just now. A friend is to furnish me with a horse; and as to money, I have hope that I shall gather as much on the way, as I shall scatter. No, I cannot go where and when I please; I can wish, perhaps ; but there, so it is, and so I suppose it must be. I wonder if our superiors, while labouring in our Lord's vineyard, found superior treatment. I want very much to know, how they were supported, and what treatment they received from their adherents? I am strongly inclined to believe, that great as they were, their sufferings were as great as ours. Positively, I am ashamed to complain; every thing considered, I am much better circumstanced than a person in my character ought to have expected; and, for the people, if compared to human nature at iarge, although individuals have been pronounced alike in every age, yet it appears to me they are as much better in this age, than they were seventeen hundred years ago, as—as—as— O, I do not know, seventeen hundred times better, for any thing I know to the contrary, at least, if we are to pay any regard to history. Nor are professing Christians an exception. If the present race of men be not good, yet, I repeat, they are not by many degrees so bad as those to whom we advert; and I verily believe, if the people to whom Paul preached in Corinth and many other places, were as well known to us, as those to whom we administer, allowing for the advantages they derived from the disadvantages they laboured under, from the persecuting wolves among whom they dwelt, and from the extraordinary gifts of the Holy-Spirit, which were in that day conferred; I really believe, I say, without these advantages, the former when contrasted with the latter, would suffer by comparison. But when we look at the picture drawn by the impartial historian of the Christian world, in the second or third century! O, my friend, can we wonder at the growth of infidelity?
I wish I had immediately complied with your request relative to the ten virgins; my difficulties augment by delay; yet I think I shall attempt it on certain conditions, however, but not by your son; I have ot now leisure, and besides, I do not wish to have so much the advantage of you in the writing way, by rendering my communications so much more copious than yours. I am determined, in the traffic of friendship, to make no allowance for quality; quantity is all, and on this principle, the balance is all in my favour. Your son looks finely; he has been hospitably treated by the foe; thus hath kind providence rendered unto you abroad, in the person of this amiable son, those acts of kindness which you have shown to the stranger and the prisoner at home. How condescendingly indulgent is the God from whom we receive every thing, every good which we enjoy, when he encouragingly and soothingly says, "Whoso giveth to the poor, lendeth unto the Lord, and look what he layeth out shall be paid unto him again." Look, hath he not paid you again? But, you will say, you had previously received abundant compensation, inasmuch as it is more blessed to give than to receive; nor am I inclined to dispute this point with you.
The account you give me of these same modern Christians is, I confess, truly pleasing; and not the less for being unexpected. It is like my friends, that is all; and they are the gift of my everlasting Friend. Their expressions of affection toward me, are but the outward and visible sign of what is infinitely more valuable than silver or than gold, at least, in my estimation; they give assurance of that disinterested, that sacred friendship, enkindled by a love for that truth, which our common Saviour hath commissioned me to proclaim. May God, all-gracious, bestow upon each of my friends, as the best recompense they can possibly receive, still higher, still brighter views of that love of God, a perfect knowledge of which, passeth understanding. May they drink deeper and deeper of the soul-satisfying waters, that flow from the wells of salvation. Tell those dear friends, I cannot now visit them, but bid them look forward to that era, when distance shall no longer separate the family of man.
Some of my connexions affirm, the sabbath is not to them a day of rest! Whenever this is a truth, I am furnished with a subject of serious regret. When the sabbath is not a day of rest, it must be indeed tedious. O, that Christians were as wise in their generation, as the children of this world! they would then hold this