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TO THE REV. JAMES PHILLIPS, HAVERFORDWEST.
My dear friend,
Cambridge, June 7, 1799. How could you suspect for a moment that I wished to dissolve my friendship with you, a friendship which I have always esteemed a distinguished honour and happiness ? No, my dear friend. My long silence is indeed inexcusable; but impute it to any cause, and you will do me more justice than by suspecting my diminution of regard. My aversion to letter-writing you are well acquainted with. I formed many resolutions to surmount it : but, in the moment of trial, am baffled. I sincerely sympathize with you in the loss of your child ; but, my dear friend, do not suffer your spirits to sink. Remember the tenure on which all human enjoyments are held, the wisdom and sovereignty of their great Author, and the gracious promise afforded to true christians, that “ all things shall work together for good to them that love him.” Remember the many blessings with which a kind Providence still indulges you. Ought you not to rejoice that your affectionate companion in life is spared; and that, though your child is snatched from your embraces, he has escaped from a world of sin and sorrow? The stamp of immortality is placed on his happiness, and he is encircled by the arms of a compassionate Redeemer. Had he been permitted to live, and you had witnessed the loss of his virtue, you might
have been [reserved] to suffer still severer pangs. A most excellent couple in our congregation are now melancholy spectators of a son dying, at nineteen years of age, by inches, a victim to his vices. They have frequently regretted he did not die several years since, when his life was nearly despaired of, in a severe fever. “Who knoweth what is good for a man all the days of this his vain life, which he spends as a shadow ?”
Many interesting scenes have occurred since our interview. About six months
About six months ago, I was attacked by a violent fever; and, in my own apprehensions, for about two days was on the borders of eternity. I never before felt my mind so calm and happy. Filled with the most overwhelming sense of my own unworthiness, my mind was supported merely by a faith in Christ crucified. I would not for the world have parted with that text, “ The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin." I never before saw such a beauty and grandeur in the way of salvation by the death of Christ, as on that occasion. I am fully persuaded the evangelical doctrines alone are able to support the mind in the near views of death and judgement. May you and I be more and more grounded in a conviction of their truth, and acquainted with their power! It is to these doctrines the revelation of Christ is chiefly indebted for its efficacy in the hearts and lives of men.
TO THE REV. JAMES PHILLIPS.
My dear Friend,
Cambridge, Feb. 14, 1801. I have long purposed to write to you, and should have done so, but from that unhappy reluctance to writing which is almost a part of my nature. I hope you will do me the justice to believe it did not arise from any abatement of love and esteem. But a truce to apologies.
I am heartily glad to find you have preached at Clapham, where I hope you will find much to comfort
you in the opportunity of doing good; for we can be truly happy but in proportion as we are the instruments of promoting the happiness of others. From what little I have heard of the people, you will meet kind and respectful treatment; but there will be much to damp your zeal, against which, I doubt not, you will be upon your guard. You will have pleasing society; and the vicinity to London has many advantages. May we, my dear friend, “ work while it is to-day, for the hour is shortly coming when we can work no longer.”
Mr. Hill, by whom you sent your letter, just called in the morning, but could not make any stay. He seemed an agreeable, sensible man. If you should see Mr. Rowland Hill, present my christian respects to him, though unknown, and assure him it would give me uncommon pleasure to
see and hear him at Cambridge, and that I shall think myself much honoured by hearing him preach in my pulpit. I went into the vestry and spoke to him, about two years ago, in Surrey Chapel; but he did not recollect me, and I felt a reluctance to make so free as to mention my name, and therefore only mentioned you as a common friend, and retired. He is a man for whom I ever entertained a very high esteem.
Whatever a misjudging world may say, such men as these will “ shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever.” May my soul, though at a humble distance, be admitted among them! I have just been reading with very great pleasure, and I hope some profit, Orton and Stonehouse's Letters to Stedman. They contain most excellent prudential, moral, and religious instruction ; devout, liberal, rational, yet fervent piety, of the stamp of Doddridge, who is now my prime favourite among divines. If you have not seen them, they will richly repay your perusal. Dr. Stonehouse and Miss More both lived at Bristol at the time I resided there; and yet such was my extreme folly, I never took any means of becoming acquainted with either of them, which might very easily have been done. “ Surely I have been more brutish than any man.” What opportunities of knowledge and improvement have I lost, and have now reached the meridian of life, and am but a child ! I may adopt, with more propriety than any man that ever lived, the prayer-.“ Remember not the sins of my youth.”
What strange news is this of Mr. Pitt's leaving the ministry? I am glad of it, though I suppose the men that succeed will persist in the same measures. But a schism in the cabinet bodes ill for the permanence of the party; so that I hope the present change is only a prelude to one more important. The present ministry can surely never be permanent. We must have peace, or we are inevitably and speedily ruined. But I hate politics, and have not read a paper above twice these nine months; so that you must not suppose I am very profound on these subjects.
You have heard, no doubt, of the death of poor Mr.
He departed this life, Monday sennight, at -- He was at dinner at Mr. and was taken with a second apoplectic fit betwixt the two courses, and expired in about two hours. He never spake, except the moment after he was seized; when, in answer to Mrs. —'s inquiry, he said he was poorly. Poor man! he had very little happiness in life, and his last years were very unhappy. No spirits, no exertion, no usefulness ! I sometimes think it is a mercy I was not “ a gentleman parson;" for, with my natural indolence, the temptations of that character would have completed my ruin. “ Let us work, my dear friend, while it is called to-day.”
Pray, have you heard any more about the design of the government to suppress village-preaching