« السابقةمتابعة »
in the power of clergymen to countenance us whenever they may be disposed to it; whereas if we grow irregular, we take away that power from them."
The next letter was written for the comfort and encouragement of one of his most attached and pious correspondents, Mr. W. Rawlings of St. Columb; and the observations it contains are most worthy of the attentive consideration of every one, who desires the spread of truth amongst men, and the growth of vital Christianity in his own heart.
MY VERY DEAR SIR,
I will beg leave to put you in remembrance that Christ's kingdom is not of this world; and therefore we must not expect that it will succeed by worldly influences. Too apt many have been to fancy, that could such a leading man be brought over, his authority would prevail much; so it would to make hypocrites, for those who would be prevailed upon by his authority, it is plain could not at the same time be prevailed upon by the power of the gospel. [Yes,] my friend, Christ is able to support his church; he needs no human props to help him out; when we look for them we distrust him, and when they have been gained, it hath been soon seen, that the strictness of Christian walking hath been quickly relaxed. But while we are eagerly looking for such worldly influences, do not we mean ourselves more than Christ; to screen ourselves from the battering of tongues, and to save our interests which seem to be at stake? I believe this is commonly the case; and then I think we must be upon the brink of denying and renouncing
Christ. Let us leave him to manage his own matters. All we have to do, is to do our duty without warping; making no compliances with our own hearts. This I am sure we shall do if we be truly in the faith. Let me transcribe a passage of the sermon I have been just writing for the morrow. (2.) The second
accompanies faith is love. The believer sees the heavens opened and Christ sitting at the right hand of God; sees the wounds he freely endured for man's salvation, owns his available pleadings for sinners, confesses his dominion for ever and ever, and that in life, in death, at the judgment, and to all eternity, he is able to save. And what, hath he no esteem for, doth he set no value upon Christ? Yes truly a higher value than upon the whole world or ten thousand worlds. Christ is to him all that he can want, and infinitely more. He would not be without Christ for all the dung and trash of the earth, for so he reckons every earthly thing in comparison of him; nay he holds Jesus at so high a rate, that he cares not much what he be without, so he be not without him. Το be without ease, wealth, reputation, liberty, life, this he can endure but he cannot endure to be without Christ. He hath [parted] and doth willingly part with any of these things for Christ; he hath sold all to buy Christ. And why all this? Truly he cannot do without him; if he have not Christ he is undone, he must perish everlastingly, he can never get free of sin and Satan, he is without peace and without hope. "To you who believe," saith St. Peter, "he is precious." It is faith sets the true value upon Christ. When a man believes in him he must value him. That which
makes a man believe in Christ, makes him value too the all-sufficiency of his power and love. Where faith is, there is spiritual marriage and unity, saith St. Paul, between the soul and Christ. The soul chooses him, setting her love upon him. The longer this marriage subsists, the nearer this union grows, the better the soul is acquainted with Christ, so much the more pleased she is in him, so much the more abundantly she loves him. Is it an honest marriage in the sight of God, where there is a joining of hands and not of hearts? Such are all pretences to faith, where Christ is not valued, and loved, and preferred before the whole world.
If such hints may minister any comfort or courage, I shall heartily rejoice, being
Most affectionately yours,
My heartiest love to the dear little Dr. is very agreeable. I commend him to God's
his own prudence. He shall hear from me soon.
TO THE SAME IN DEEP AFFLICTION.
MY POOR DEAR FRIEND,
Yours indeed came near to me. It is the Lord, I said, and his ways must be mysterious to me, because I cannot fathom his infinite wisdom. They are good, though I see not how. The great difficulty is to believe them his. My dear friend, cry hard for that faith, that you may stedfastly believe it is the Lord's doing; unbelief does not allow that, and it is
not so easy as we think to believe a providence; the most rather suppose than believe it, so they get no good by God's dispensations. Are you sure, unquestionably sure, that notwithstanding all second causes, dear's disorder is from God, and that every pang and every respite of it is by his immediate direction? Gain this point, I mean obtain it by grace, and you will be self taught about the rest. You will see it a loving correction, and say, 'see God shews his kindness to me, and his displeasure at my sins;' so you will humble You will see it is a special warning, and say, 'is my interest in Christ clear? how stands my faith? and is it proved by love? You will see it is a gracious preservative, and say, 'my God saw my comforts to be dangerous, and so dashed this bitter potion into my cup.' You will see it is a needful purgation, and say, 'I wanted so severe a discipline to refine my graces and mortify my earthly affections.' Affliction cannot be received as it ought, unless we see God's hand in it, for without that, it can neither humble nor purify.
At such seasons, accusations of conscience are wont to add to the load. You must be sure to hear them, yet never to loose sight of Christ's righteousness; for Satan will be busy with your unbelief, and if yielded to, turn godly sorrow into undutiful despondency. It is alike faulty not to bear the rod, and to murmur against it.
The most trying circumstance in troubles is the uncertainty of the issue, and the delay of its coming. This puts faith and submission to the stretch in a peculiar manner, and is singularly mortifying to self
To be able to say, not only as thou wilt, but in what manner, and at what time thou wilt,' is what I earnestly beg the Lord to bestow upon you on this pressing occasion. It will mightily stay your heart. I am persuaded that now you have a special occasion given you to honour your master, and to shew forth the power of his religion to his glory, by an exemplary exercise of the silent graces of meekness, quietness, and submission.
If dear Mrs. Rawlings be alive, as I will still hope in God she shall be restored to you, I need not tell you what to say to her. Only this I will say, endeavour to help the exercise of her faith in God through Jesus, by dropping a seasonable Scripture. If she have any doubts because of a low frame, or inability to pray, or fix her thoughts, make her sensible that faith is deeper than these, and that in such a case it is the very office of faith to support her under and against them. Remember she wants help, and as is convenient, speak a promise to her.
O my dear friend, the Lord will make all work for your good. He is the kindest father, and the nearest friend. I commend you to him most importunately, being most affectionately,
Truro, Feb. 5, 1759.