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At length, and without farther apology for my silence, I sit down to ask
you fare? Af flictions, I hear, have been your lot; and if I had not heard so, I should have taken it for granted : for I believe the Lord loves you; and as many as he loves he chąstens. I think you can say afflictions have been good for you, and I doubt not but you have found strength aocording to your day; so that though you may have been sharply tried, you have not been overpowered. For the Lord has engaged his faithfulness for this to all his children, that he will support them in all their trials : so that the fire shall not consume them, nor the floods drown them, I Cor. x. 13; Isa. xliii, 2.
If you can say thus much, cannot you go a little further, and add, in the Apostle's words, “ None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear. I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me; yea, doubtless, I count all things loss and of no regard, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for when I am weak, then I am strong ?” Methinks I hear you say, God, who comforteth those who are çast down, has comforted my soul, and as my troubles have abounded my consolations in Christ have abounded also. He has delivered, he does deliver, and in him Į trust that he will yet deliver me. Surely you can set your seal to these words, The Lord help you then to live more and more a life of faith, to feed upon the promises, and to rejoice in the assurance that all things are yours, and shall surely work for your good.
If I guess right at what the name of Jesus is precious to you, and this is a sure token of salvation, and that of God. You could not have loved him, if he had not loved you first. He spoke to you, and said, “Seek my face,” before your heart cried to him, “ Thy face, O Lord, will I seek.” But you complain,
But you complain, “ Alas! I love him so little.” That very complaint proves that you love him a great deal : for if you loved him but a little, you would think you loved him enough. A mother loves her child a great deal, yet does not complain for not loving it more; nay, perhaps she hardly thinks it possible. But such an infinite object is Jesus, that they who love him better than parents or child, or any earthly relation or comfort, will still think they hardly love him at all; because they see such a vast disproportion between the utmost they can give him, and what in himself he deserves from them. But I can give you good advice and good news : love him as well as you can now, and ere long you shall love him better. O when you see him as he is, then I am sure you will love him indeed! If you want to love him better now while you are here, I believe I can tell you the secret how this is to be attained: trust him. The more you trust him, the better you will love him. If you ask farther, How shall I do to trust him? I answer, Try him: the more you make trial of him, the more your trust in him will be strengthened. Venture upon his promises; carry them to him, and see if he will not be as good as his word. But, alas! Satan and unbelief work the contrary way. We are unwilling to try him, and therefore unable to trust him; and what wonder, then, that our love is faint, for who can love at uncertainties?
If you are in some measure thankful for what you have received, and hungering and thirsting for more, you are in the frame I would wish for myself; and I desire to praise the Lord on your behalf.—Pray for us. We join in
love to you.
I am, &c.
August 17, 1776. It is indeed natural to us to wish and to plan; and it is merciful in the Lord to disappoint our plans, and to cross our wishes.
ur wishes. For we cannot be safe, much less happy, but in proportion as we are weaned from our own wills, and made simply desirous of being directed by his guidance. This truth (when we are enlightened by his word) is sufficiently familiar to the judgment; but we seldom learn to reduce it into practice, without being trained awhile in the school of disappointment. The schemes we form look so plausible and convenient, that when they are broken we are ready to say, What a pity! We try again, and with no better success : we are grieved, and perhaps angry, and plan out another, and so on : at length, in a course of time, experience and observation begin to convince us, that we are not more able than we are worthy to choose aright for ourselves. Then the Lord's invitation to cast our cares upon him, and his promise to take care of us, appear valuable; and when we have done planning, his plan in our favour gradually opens, and he does more and better for us than we could either ask or think. I can hardly recollect a single plan of mine, of which I have not since seen reason to be satisfied, that, had it taken place in season and circumstance just as I proposed, it would, humanly speaking, have proved my ruin; or, at least, it would have deprived me of the greater good the Lord had designed for me. We judge of things by their present appearances, but the Lord sees them in their consequences: if we could do so likewise, we should be perfectly of his mind; but as we cannot, it is an unspeakable mercy that he will manage for us, whether we are pleased with his management or not; and it is spoken of as one of his heaviest judgments, when he gives any person or people up to the way of their own hearts, and to walk after their own counsels.
Indeed, we may admire his patience towards us. If we were blind, and reduced to desire a person to lead us, and should yet pretend to dispute with him, and direct him at every step, we should probably soon weary him, and provoke him to leave us to find the way by ourselves if we could. But our gracious Lord is long-suffering and full of compassion: he bears with our frowardness, yet he will take methods both to shame and to humble us, and to bring us to a confession that he is wiser than we. The great and unexpected benefit he intends us, by all the discipline we meet with, is to tread down our wills, and bring them into subjection to his. So far as we attain to this, we are out of the reach of disappointment : for when the will of God can please us, we shall be pleased every day, and from morning to night; I mean, with respect to his dispensations. O the happiness of such a life! I have an idea of it; I hope I am aiming at it; but surely I have not attained it. Self is active in my heart, if it does not abso