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tasted so freely the love of God in Christ Jesus had most abundant cause of thankfulness. And should we be surrounded by outward trials and inward temptations, have we not help more than sufficient in Christ Jesus to conquer all Oh, that I may never sink again ; but rather take courage and fight against my foes! “H. S.”
* Nov. 25.
“I have been thinking on the simplicity of faith. It appears to consist in a full persuasion that God is our reconciled Father, and in casting our souls, with all their wants, into His hands. He is represented in all the endearing characters that language can invent to excite our dependence upon Him. He upbraids us for not asking what we need, or for not asking with suitable confidence. He complains of our unbelief and hardness of heart. He desires that we petition for all we want, and assures us that all our wants shall be supplied out of His infinite fulness. He complains of our being straitened in ourselves. He declares that, if we only believe, our peace shall be as a river, and our righteousness as the waves of the sea. He informs us that many mighty things cannot be accomplished because of our unbelief. He seems anxious to expel from our nature the proneness we feel to discredit His word; and when we seem averse to give way He weeps over us. Unbelief is the evil from which arises lukewarmness. If we nourish it we are fostering in our breasts the vilest enemy of our heavenly Father, and feeding the principle from whence arises pride, self-will, covetousness, &c. We may attempt to avoid a
number of things that appear wrong, but unless we are earnest in seeking to lay the axe to the root of this evil tree all our lopping of branches will be of little avail. When we are happy in God we believe, and wonder at our former unbelief; but when sensible comfort is withdrawn do we not indulge in unbelief and hardness of heart, and thus prove that we are placing sensible comfort in the place of Jesus 2 We build upon the best gifts of heaven, instead of building upon their Giver. Need we enquire why we have so little sensible comfort, and why our minds are so frequently uneasy for want of Divine manifestations I apprehend the reason is at hand,-God cannot give them to us in abundant and constant enjoyment, because unbelief remains in our breasts, and we pervert them to the basest of purposes. Were we to live by faith alone, and venture on Christ in all the emergencies of life with equal confidence, our consolations would abound through hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Oh, that we could ever remember that we have to do with an unchangeable God! A dull day, indisposition, strong temptations, &c., may occasion an alteration in our animal spirits, and in our feelings; but do they alter the nature and attributes of the Deity ? Because we vary, must He vary also 2 Is it not our duty to exercise the same confidence in God, however we may change 2 If our eye be single, and our hearts fully fixed to follow the Lord, we shall rely every moment, with a child-like confidence. While we are not weaned from unbelief, we are frequently suffered to drag on heavily. The subject is inexhaustible. I am ashamed and grieved at the dishonour I have brought upon God by unbelief. I feel such a sweetness and satisfaction in taking God at His word, that my soul rejoices in His faithfulness, and exults in His truth. I would fain hope that my future days will be spent in living by the faith of the Son of God, who hath loved me and given himself for me. I am perfectly sure that this faith will lead to that holiness and righteousness before men which the Scriptures require. As far as I am enabled, I will endeavour to preach down unbelief, and exalt faith in the Lord Jesus; it is so glorious to God, so advantageous to ourselves, so ornamental to our profession, and so much for the benefit of mankind. I hope that the faith in our hearts will gain strength by our various exercises, and come forth like gold seven times purified. “Though it is past midnight, the weather exceedingly stormy, my fire low, my poor tottering body oppressed with cold, travelling, and other exercises, and I have three times to preach on this dawning day, as well as to travel on foot several miles, yet I would gladly write all night upon this delightful subject, if my endeared Hannah could
“You may think me obstinate and foolish, but I am not yet satisfied respecting the regulations about the teachers for our new Sunday-school. You will remember once observing ‘that if no abuses had taken place through the defects of the old system of Methodist government, that would not be a sufficient assurance that none would take place." As yet there is no barrier fixed to pre
went the most improper persons from engaging as teachers;–no notice is taken either of their abilities or of their piety. Their voluntarily entering into such an engagement may indeed be considered as a presumptive proof of their sincere desire to do good; but I cannot think it a sufficient proof of their qualifications either to teach children to read and write, or to lead them by the grace of God to heaven. I have thought of some things you said yesterday, and of your not uniting in my idea of piety being a necessary qualification for the instruction of children of four or five years old. If persons of mere outward morality, whose hearts are yet carnal, are considered as proper persons to become teachers, is there not as great a probability of their being placed with the older boys and girls as with the little children Is there that humility in the natural heart which would choose to be put at the feet of the whole school 2 I would not consider the teachers being united to any religious body as sufficient to recommend them. I would have their principles and character examined, and their abilities for the work they have engaged in noticed by some competent judge, before they are fully placed in their different classes. Can the teachers act in unison with each other if some are religious and others not? “ H. S.”
“ Dec. 29, 1797. “Do not forget that my definition with regard to teachers is, that penitents and believers are suitable for that office, to whatever sect or party they may belong. I think that some mode should be adopted to know the abilities and dispositions of those who propose themselves. As far as I can learn, all the teachers who are already named are members of our own Society, therefore I cannot see the subject exactly as you do.
“Dec. 31, 1797. “I know not a person in the world whose disposition is so suitable to mine as that of my beloved Hannah. I think our heavenly Father has in mercy brought us acquainted with each other for the best of purposes. I hope if I am not worthy the name of ‘Pliable, my dear Hannah will not merit that of ‘Obstinate ' If we can only do each other good, and be useful to mankind, God shall have the praise. “I shall conclude with observing, on this last day of the year, that, next to the blessings of Divine grace to my soul, thou art the choicest favour that earth could afford, and of which I am unworthy! “A. K.”
“Jan. 2, 1798.
“After sleeping four hours, I arose at five, and prepared for travelling to this place, (Barnsley.) The spirit of fervent agonizing prayer rested upon me. I found desires to begin a new life with the new year, and pleaded much with God to pass by whatever He had seen amiss in my former life. My cry ascended to God on your behalf. May the Lord hear, and bless On the way my spirit kept ascending to God. I found the fatigues of the past sabbath, and the inconveniences of the jour