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TO THE REV. JAMES PHILLIPS.
Fishponds, Feb. 15, 1806.
Since I have been here, another stroke has befallen me, under which my heart is bleeding. This is the death of my dear and only brother, two years older than myself, who died about ten days since, without a moment's warning. He was reaching something from the chimney-piece, and instantly dropped down, and expired. He had been for some years truly religious, so that I entertain pleasing views respecting his eternal state, which is my only consolation. I feel poignant regret at not having treated him with more tenderness. I longed to have an opportunity of convincing him of the ardour of my affection; which makes me feel most painfully, that in losing him, I have lost the human being, of all others, the most dear to my heart. I hear a voice, in this most affecting providence, speaking to me aloud, “ Be thou also ready.” I follow the dear deceased in his mysterious journey, and seem to stand on the very boundary that divides two worlds from each other, [while the] emptiness and vanity of every thing besides (God), is deeply impressed on my heart. My hopes, of an earthly kind, are extinguished. I feel my emptiness; but, O, I long to be filled.
To be convinced of the vanity of the creature is, I know, the first step to happiness: but what can this avail,
unless it be succeeded by a satisfying sense of the fulness and all-sufficiency of God! Through mercy, my health is perfectly restored.
TO THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, OF THE BAPTIST
PERSUASION, IN CAMBRIDGE.
ON RESIGNING THE PASTORAL CHARGE.
My dear Brethren,
Leicester, March 4, 1806. A succession of afflictive dispensations has brought me to the resolution of resigning the pastoral office, which I have for a considerable number of years exercised among you.
I cannot reflect on the numberless and decisive proofs you have afforded me of your attachment during that period, without the warmest gratitude ; nor think of a final separation, without regret. No people ever received the ministerial services of their pastor with more candour; or evinced, on every occasion, a greater solicitude to contribute to his happiness. It is not necessary to dwell at large on the circumstances which have determined me to relinquish the situation I have so long held. They are partly local, in the strictest sense of the word, and in part arise from my recent illness, which suggests the propriety of suspending the ministerial functions for the present.
The dissolution of that union, which has subsisted with such uninterrupted harmony, is the
work of Providence, whose operations are often mysterious, but always infinitely wise and gracious. Permit me, my dear brethren, at parting with you, to express the deep and unalterable sense I shall ever feel of the candour, kindness, and generosity, I have uniformly experienced at your hands. You will ever have a distinguished place in my
affections and my prayers. It is my earnest prayer, that the truth it has been my humble endeavour to inculcate among you, may take deeper and deeper root in your hearts and lives; that you may obey from the heart that form of doctrine into which you have been delivered. May our separation not be final and eternal ; but may we be so preserved and sanctified, by the influence of divine grace, that, when the transitory days of our mortal pilgrimage are concluded, we may be permitted to spend a blissful eternity together! Let me make it my earnest request, that
will be careful to choose a minister whose heart is truly devoted to God, and who is determined, like the great apostle, “to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
That your faith may increase exceedingly, and your love one towards another abound more and more, till you arrive “ at the fulness of the stature of perfect men in Christ,” and are “ presented before him unblamable in holiness," is the habitual and earnest prayer of Your late unworthy Pastor, And affectionate Friend,
THE BAPTIST CHURCH AT CAMBRIDGE TO THE
REV. ROBERT HALL.
IN REPLY TO THE PRECEDING.
Though your letter, containing your resignation of the pastoral office amongst us, had been expected, in consequence of an intimation previously communicated by you, it was received by us with deep regret; yet we trust, in the spirit of humble submission to that all-wise Providence, which has seen fit to dissolve the union that has so long and so happily subsisted between us. Be assured, you will ever hold a distinguished place in our most affectionate remembrances; nor shall we forget you in our mingled supplications at the footstool of divine mercy. We hope ever to preserve a grateful recollection of your long and faithful services. We bear you witness, that the prevailing desire of your heart, and the constant object of your labours, was to disseminate amongst us the knowledge of the true God, and of Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent; and to fit us, by divine grace, for the enjoyment of a future world. And we pray, that the important truths which you have so repeatedly and energetically inculcated, may constantly be adhered to by us. In the loss of such a pastor, we have sustained a deprivation of no common magnitude; but, while we lament the painful separation which has taken place, we desire to mingle, with feelings of sorrow on our own
account, those of sincere thanksgiving on yours. We rejoice that God has restored you; pray
that your health and strength may long be preserved ; and that He, who appoints the bounds of our habitation, will direct you to whatever place may be most conducive to your permanent health and happiness. As frequently as possible, we hope you will favour us with your friendly visits. The real and ardent friendship which subsists betwixt us, it is our sincere desire, should continue through our mortal existence, and gather fresh strengt by every future interview; and we feel no hesitation in believing, that it will survive the grave, and be perpetuated to immortal ages.
In the choice of your successor, we wish to be guided by the motives you recommend, and the principles you have so frequently inculcated; and we entreat an interest in your prayers, that the great Head of the Church will supply us with one zealous for his honour, and qualified to feed the people of his charge with the bread of immortal life.
Now, dear brother, with the greatest affection,
we commend you to God, and to the good word of his grace."
Signed at the desire, and on behalf, of the whole church, this 16th day of March, 1806.
These, and the two preceding letters to Mr. W. Hollick, will serve to correct the mistatement which has appeared in two or three periodical and other publications : “ The intervention of malady separated him from a congregation which he