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a messenger of peace, and an instrument of good to their souls; and I have cause to hope their prayers are in a measure answered. For their sakes, as much as my own, I am glad to go up to the house of the Lord. O that in watering others I may be also watered myself! I have been praying that to-morrow may
and with us, and with all that love Jesus in sincerity; that we may see his glory, and taste his love in the sanctuary! When it is thus, the Sabbath is a blessed day indeed, an earnest of heaven. There they keep an everlasting sabbath, and cease not night or day admiring the riches of redeeming love, and adoring him who washed his people from their sins in his own blood. To have such imperfect communion with them as is in this state attainable in this pleasing exercise, is what alone can make life worth the name. For this I sigh and long, and cry to the Lord to rend the vail of unbelief, scatter the clouds of ignorance, and break down the walls which sin is daily building up to hide him from my eyes. I hope I can say, My soul is athirst for God, and nothing less than the light of his countenance can satisfy me.
Blessed be his name for the desire: it is his own gift, and he never gives it in vain. He will afford us a taste of the water of life by the way; and ere long we shall drink abundantly at the fountain-head, and have done with complaint for ever. May we be thankful for what we receive, and still earnestly desirous of more.
I am, &c.
My Dear Miss,
August - 1772. THE Lord brought us home in peace. My visit to
was agreeable, and I shall often think of it with pleasure; though the deadness and dryness of
my own spirit, a good part of the time I was there, proved a considerable abatement. I am eager enough to converse with the Lord's people, when at the same time I am backward and indisposed to communion with the Lord himself. The two evils charged upon Israel of old, a proneness to forsake the fountain of living waters, and to trust to broken cisterns (which can do me no good unless he supplies them), run through the whole of my experience abroad and at home.
A few drops in my
fellow-worms endear them to me exceedingly. If I expect to see any Christian friends, I count the hours till we meet; I promise myself great benefit; but if the Lord withdraws his influence, the best of them prove to me but clouds without water. not, however, wholly so with me all the time I staid with my
friends; but I suffer much in learning to depend upon the Lord alone : I have been at this lesson many a long year; but am so poor and dull a scholar, that I have not yet made any tolerable progress in it. I think I received some instruction and advantage
where I little expected it; I mean at Mr, Cox's Mu
The efforts of his ingenuity amazed me, while at the same time I was struck with their insignificance. His fine things were curious beyond all I had any idea of; and yet what are they better than toys and amusements, suited to the taste of children! And notwitlistanding the variety of their motions, they were all destitute of life. There is unspeakably more wisdom and contrivance in the mechanism of a butterfly or a bee, that flies unnoticed in the fields, than in all his apparatus put together. But the works of God are disregarded, while the feeble imitations of them which men can produce gain universal applause. If you
and I could make self-moving dragons and elephants, what would it profit us? Blessed be God, that he has given us some glimpses of his wisdom and love! by which our hearts, more hard and lifeless by nature than the stones in the street, are constrained and enabled to move upwards, and to seek after the Lord. He has given us in his word a greater treasure than all that we ever beheld with our eyes, and a hope which shall flourish when the earth and all its works shall be burnt up. What will all the fine things of men's device be worth in that day?
I think the passage you refer to in Mr. **** justly exceptionable. His intention is good, and the mistake he would censure very dangerous; but he might have explained himself more clearly. I apprehend he and you do not mean the same thing by being in the dark. It is not an uncomfortable, but a careless frame which he would censure. They who walk in darkness and see no light, and yet are exhorted to stay themselves upon God, Isa. I. 10. are said to hearken to the voice of his servant. Though they cannot see the Lord, they
are seeking and mourning after him, and waiting in the use of means, and warring against sin. Mr. **** had another set of people in view, who trust in the notions of Gospel truth, or some past convictions and comforts; though at present they give no evidence of spiritual desires, but are worldly in their spirit and conversation; talk of trusting in the Lord; account it a weakness to doubt of their state, and think all is well, because they profess to believe the doctrines of grace. In a word, it is the darkness of sin and sloth, not the occasional darkness of an exercised soul, against which his observation is pointed. Or if, indeed, he meant more than this, we are not obliged to believe hiin. Remember your privilege; you have the Bible in your hands, and are not bound to follow books or preachers any farther than what they deliver agrees with the oracles of truth. We have great reason to be thankful for the instructions and writings of spiritual men, but they are all fallible even as ourselves. One is our master, even Christ : what he says we are to receive implicitly; but we do not owe implicit subjection to the best of our fellow-creatures. The Bereans were commended that they would not take even the apostle Paul upon trust, but searched the Scriptures to see whether these things were so. May the Lord give us a spirit of humility and discernment in all things.
I am, &c.
May 4, 1773. METHINKS it is high time to ask you how you do, to thank you for your last letter," and to let you know, that though necessity makes me slack in writing, yet I can and do often think of you. My silence has been sometimes owing to want of leisure; and sometimes, when I could have found leisure, my harp has been out of tune, and I had no heart to write. Perhaps you are ready to infer, by my sitting down to write at last, that my harp is now well tuned, and I have something extraordinary to offer : beware of thinking so, lest you should be sadly disappointed. Should I make myself the subject, I could give you at present but a mournful ditty. I suppose you have heard I have been ill; through mercy, I am now well. But indeed I must farther tell you, that when I was sick I was well; and since the Lord has removed my illness, I have been much worse. My illness was far from violent in itself, and was greatly sweetened by a calm submissive frame the Lord gave me under it. My heart seemed more alive to him then than it has done since my cough, fever, and deafness have been removed. Shall I give you another bit of a riddle, that, notwithstanding the many changes I pass through, I am always the same? This is the very truth: “In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth "no good thing;” so that if sometimes my spirit is in a measure humble, lively, and dependent, it is not I am grown better than I was, but the Lord is pleased to put forth his gracious power in my weakness : and when
my heart is dry and stupid, when I can find no pleasure in waiting upon God, it is not because I am worse than I was before, but on!y the Lord sees it best that I should feel, as well as say, what a poor creature I am. My heart was once like a dungeon, out of the reach of day and always dark: the Lord by his grace has been pleased to make this dungeon a room, by putting windows in it; but I need not tell you, that