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REV. MR. B****.
LETTER I. Rev. and dear Sir,
Sept. 14, 1765. When I was at London in June last your name first reached me, and from that time I have been desirous to wish you success in the name of the Lord. A few weeks ago I received a further account from Mrs. ****, with a volume of your sermons: she likewise gave me a direction where to write, and an encouragement that a letter would not be unacceptable. The latter indeed I did not much need when I had read your book. Though we have no acquaintance, we are already united in the strictest ties of friendship, partakers of the same hope, servants of the same Lord, and in the same part of his vineyard: I therefore hold all apologies needless. . I rejoice in the Lord's goodness to you; I pray for his abundant blessing upon your labours ; I need an interest in your prayers; I have an affectionate desire to know more concerning you: these are my motives for writing.
Mrs. **** tells me that you have read my Narrative : I need not tell you, therefore, that I am one of the most astonishing instances of the forbearance and mercy of God upon the face of the earth. - In the close of it. I mention a warm desire I had to the ministry: this the Lord was pleased to keep alive for several years, through a succes. sion of views and disappointments. At length his hour came, and my way was made easy. I have been here about fifteenth months. The Lord has led me by a way that I little expected, to a pleasant lot, where the Gospel has been many years known, and is highly valued by many. We have a large church and congregation, and a considerable number of lively thriving believers, and in general go on with great comfort and harmony. I meet with less opposition from the world than is usual where the Gospel is preached. This burden was borne by Mr. B**** for ten years; and in that course of time some of the fiercest opposers were removed, some wearied, and some softened ; so that we are now remarkably quiet in that respect. May the Lord teach us to improve the privilege, and preserve us from indifference. How unspeakable are our obligations to the grace of God! What a privilege is it to be a believer! They are comparatively few, and we by nature were no nearer than others : it was grace, free grace, that made the difference. What an honour to be à minister of the everlasting Gospel! These upon comparison are perhaps fewer still. How wonderful that one of these few should be sought for among the wilds of Africa, reclaimed from the lowest state of impiety and misery, and brought to assure other sinners, from his own experience, that “ there is, there is forgiveness with him, that he may be feared.” And you, sir, though not left to give such flagrant proofs of the wickedness of the heart and the power of Satan, yet owe your present views to the same almighty grace. If the Lord had not distinguished you from your brethren, you would have been now in the character of a minister misleading the people, and opposing those precious truths you are now labouring to establish. Not unto us, O Lord, but unto thy name be the glory! I shall be thankful to hear from you at your leisure. Be pleased to inform me whether you received the knowledge of the truth before or since you were in orders; how long you have preached the joyful sound of salvation by Jesus, and what is the state of things in your parts.
We are called to an honourable service; but it is arduous. What wisdom does it require to keep the middle path in doctrines, avoiding the equally dangerous errors on the right hand and the left! What steadiness, to speak the truth boldly and faithfully in the midst of a gainsaying world! What humility, to stand against the tide of popularity! What meekness, to endure all things for the elect's sake, that they may be saved ! “ Who is sufficient for these things ?” We are not in ourselves, but there is an all-sufficiency in Jesus. Our enemy watches us close; he challenges and desires to have us, that he may sift us as wheat: he knows he can easily shake us if we are left to ourselves; but we have a Shepherd, a Keeper, who never slumbers nor sleeps. If he permits us to be exercised, it is for our good; he is at hand to direct, moderate, and sanctify every dispensation : he has prayed for us that our faith may not fail; and he has promised to maintain his fear in our hearts, that we may not depart from him. When we are prone to wander, he calls us back; when we say, my feet slip, his mercy holds us up; when we are wounded, he heals; when we are ready to faint, he revives. The people of God are sure to meet with enemies, bụt especially the ministers : Satan bears them a double grudge: the world watches for their halting, and the Lord will suffer them to be afflicted, that they may be kept humble, that they may acquire a
sympathy with the sufferings of others, that they may be experimentally qualified to advise and help them, and to comfort them with the comforts with which they themselves have been comforted of God. But the Captain of our salvation is with
is upon us; his everlasting arm beneath us : in his name therefore may we go on, lift up our banners, and say,
“ If God be for us, who can be against us? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that has loved us. The time is short: yet a little while, and he will wipe all tears from our eyes, and put a crown of life upon our heads with his own gracious hand. In this sense, how beautiful are those lines :
Augusta ad penetralia. Buch. in Ps. xlii. If any occasions should call you into these parts, my house and pulpit will be glad to receive you. Pray for us, dear sir, and believe me to be
LETTER II. Very dear Sir,
Nov. 2, 1765. Your letter of the 4th ult. gave me great plea
I thank you for the particular account you have favoured me with. I rejoice with you, sympathize with you, and find my heart opened to correspond with unreserved freedom. May the Lord direct our pens, and help us to help each other. The work you are engaged in is great, and
your difficulties many; but faithful is he that hath called
who also will do it. The weapons
which he has now put into your hands are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong-holds. Men may fight, but they shall not prevail against us, if we are but enabled to put our cause simply into the Lord's hands, and keep steadily on in the path of duty. He will plead our cause, and fight our battles ; he will pardon our mistakes, and teach us to do better. My experience as a minister is but small, having been but about eighteen months in the vineyard ; but for about twelve years I have been favoured with an increasing acquaintance among the people of God, of various ranks and denominations, which, together with the painful exercises of my own heart, gave me opportunity of making observations which were of great use to me when I entered upon the work myself: and ever since, I have found the Lord graciously supplying new lights and new strength, as new occurrences arise. So I trust it will be with
you. I endeavour to avail myself of the examples, advice, and sentiments of my brethren, yet at the same time to guard against calling any man master. This is the peculiar of Christ. The best are but men; the wisest may be mistaken; and that which may be right in another might be wrong in me, through a difference of circumstances. The Spirit of God distributes variously, both in gifts and dispensations; and I would no more be tied to act strictly by others' rules than to walk in shoes of the same size. My shoes must fit my own feet.
I endeavour to guard against extremes : our nature is prone to them: and we are liable likewise, when we have found the inconvenience of one extreme, to revert insensibly (sometimes to fly suddenly) to the other. I pray to be led in