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to be so; and upon my enemies, though they con- try and shrewdness of argument, those passages tinue such. The deceitfulness of the natural in the scripture which seem to favour the opinion; heart is inconceivable. I know well that I passed but still, no certain means having been afforded upon my friends for a person at least religiously us, no certain end can be attained; and after all inclined, if not actually religious; and what is that can be said, it will still be doubtful whether more wonderful, I thought myself a Christian, we shall know each other or not. when I had no faith in Christ, when I saw no As to arguments founded upon human reason beauty in him that I should desire him; in short, only, it would be easy to muster up a much greatwhen I had neither faith nor love, nor any christ- er number on the affirmative side of the question, ian grace whatever, but a thousand seeds of rebel-than it would be worth my while to write, or yours lion instead, evermore springing up in enmity to read. Let us see, therefore, what the scripture against him. But blessed be God, even the God says, or seems to say, towards the proof of it; and who is become my salvation, the hail of affliction, of this kind of argument also I shall insert but a and rebuke for sin, has swept away the refuge of few of those which seem to me to be the fairest lies. It pleased the Almighty in great mercy to and clearest for the purpose. For after all, a disset all my misdeeds before me. At length, the putant on either side of this question is in danger storm being past, a quiet and peaceful serenity of of that censure of our blessed Lord's, 'Ye do err, soul succeeded, such as ever attends the gift of not knowing the scripture, nor the power of God.' lively faith in the all-sufficient atonement, and the As to parables, I know it has been said, in the sweet sense of mercy and pardon purchased by the dispute concerning the intermediate state, that they blood of Christ. Thus did he break me, and bind are not argumentative; but this having been conme up; thus did he wound me, and his hands troverted by very wise and good men, and the pamade me whole. My dear cousin, I make no apo-rable of Dives and Lazarus having been used by logy for entertaining you with the history of my such to prove an intermediate state, I see not why conversion, because I know you to be a Christian it may not be as fairly used for the proof of any in the sterling import of the appellation. This is other matter which it seems fairly to imply. In however but a very summary account of the mat- this parable we see that Dives is represented as ter, neither would a letter contain the astonishing knowing Lazarus, and Abraham as knowing them particulars of it. If we ever meet again in this both, and the discourse between them is entirely world, I will relate them to you by word of mouth; concerning their respective characters and circumif not, they will serve for the subject of a confer-stances upon earth. Here, therefore, our Saviour ence in the next, where I doubt not I shall remem- seems to countenance the notion of a mutual ber and record them with a gratitude better suited knowledge and recollection; and if a soul that has to the subject.
perished shall know the soul that is saved, surely Yours, my dear cousin, affectionately, W.C. the heirs of salvation shall know and recollect each
In the first epistle to the Thessalonians, the se TO MRS. COWPER.
cond chapter, and nineteenth verse, St. Paul says,
What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing ? MY DEAR COUSIN,
April 17, 1766.
Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus As in matters unattainable by reason, and un- Christ at his coming ? For ye are sur glory and revealed in the Scripture, it is impossible to argue our joy.' at all; so in matters concerning which reason can As to the hope which the apostle has forined only give a probable guess, and the scripture has concerning them, he himself refers the accomplishmade no explicit discovery, it is, though not im- ment of it to the coming of Christ, meaning that possible to argue at all, yet impossible to argue to then he should receive the recompense of his laany certain conclusion. This seems to me to be bours in their behalf; his joy and glory he refers the very case with the point in question-reason is likewise to the same period, both which would reable to form many plausible conjectures concerning sult from the sight of such numbers redeemed by the possibility of our knowing each other in a fu- the blessing of God upon his ministration, when ture state; and the scripture has, here and there, he should present them before the great Judge, and favoured us with an expression that looks at least say, in the words of a greater than himself, 'Lo! like a slight intimation of it; but because a con- I, and the children whom thou hast given me.' jecture can never amount to a proof, and a slight This seems to imply that the apostle should know intimation can not be construed into a positive as- the converts, and the converts the apostle, at least sertion, therefore I think we can never come to at the day of judgment; and if then, why not any absolute conclusion upon the subject. We afterwards ? may indeed reason about the plausibility of our See also the fourth chapter of that epistle, verses conjectures, and we may discuss, with great indus- 13, 14, 16, which I have not room to transcribe.
Here the apostle comforts them under their afflic- nurture of the holy Spirit has produced such a tion for their deceased brethren, exhorting them plentiful harvest of immortal bliss, was as a grain Not to sorrow as without hope;' and what is the of mustard seed, small in itself, promising but little hope by which he teaches them to support their fruit, and producing less ? To recollect the vaspirits ? Even this, "That them which sleep in rious attempts that were made upon it, by the Jesus shall God bring with him.' In other words, word, the flesh, and the devil, and its various triand by a fair paraphrase surely, telling them that umphs over all, by the assistance of God, through they are only taken from them for a season, and our Lord Jesus Christ ? At present, whatever that they should receive them at their resurrection. Our convictions may be of the sinfulness and cor
If you can take off the force of these texts, my ruption of our nature, we can make but a very dear cousin, you will go a great way towards imperfect estimate either of our weakness or our shaking my opinion; if not, I think they must go guilt. Then, no doubt, we shall understand the a great way towards shaking yours.
full value of the wonderful salvation wrought out The reason why I did not send you my opinion for us: and it seems reasonable to suppose, that, of Pearsall was, because I had not then read him; in order to form a just idea of our redemption, we I have read him since, and like him much, espe- shall be able to form a just one of the danger we cially the latter part of him; but you have whet- have escaped; when we know how weak and frail ted my curiosity to see the last letter by tearing it we were, surely we shall be more able to render out : unless you can give me a good reason why 1 due praise and honour to his strength who fought should not see it, I shall inquire for the book the for us; when we know completely the hatefulness first time I go to Cambridge. Perhaps I may be of sin in the sight of God, and how deeply we partial to Hervey for the sake of his other writings; were tainted by it, we shall know how to value the but I can not give Pearsall the preference to him, blood by which we were cleansed as we ought. for I think him one of the most scriptural writers The twenty-four elders, in the fifth of the Revelain the world.
Yours, W. C. tions, give glory to God for their redemption out
of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and
nation. This surely implies a retrospect to their TO MRS. COWPER.
respective conditions upon earth, and that each
remembered out of what particular kindred and MY DEAR COUSIN,
April 18, 1766.
nation he had been redeemed; and if so, then sureHaving gone as far as I thought needful to jus- ly the minutest circumstance of their redemption tify the opinion of our meeting and knowing each did not escape their memory. They who triumph other hereafter, I find, upon reflection, that I have over the beast, in the fifteenth chapter, sing the done but half my business, and that one of the song of Moses, the servant of God; and what was questions you proposed, remains entirely unconsi- that song? A sublime record of Israel's deliverdered, viz. "Whether the things of our present ance, and the destruction of her enemies in the state will not be of too low and mean a nature to Red Sea, typical no doubt of the song which the engage our thoughts, or make a part of our com- redeemed in Sion shall sing to celebrate their own munications in heaven.'
salvation, and the defeat of their spiritual enemies. The common and ordinary occurrences of life, This, again, implies a recollection of the dangers no doubt, and even the ties of kindred, and of all they had before encountered, and the supplies of temporal interests, will be entirely discarded from strength and ardour they had in every emergency amongst that happy society; and possibly even the received from the great deliverer out of all. These remembrance of them done away. But it does quotations do not indeed prove that their warfare not therefore follow that our spiritual concerns, upon earth includes a part of their converse with even in this life, will be forgotten; neither do I each other; but they prove that it is a theme not think that they can ever appear trifling to us in unworthy to be heard even before the throne of any the most distant period of eternity. God, as God, and therefore it can not be unfit for reciproyou say in reference to the scripture, will be all in cal communication. all. But does not that expression mean, that being But you doubt whether there is any communiadmitted to so near an approach to our heavenly cation between the blessed at all; neither do I reFather and Redeemer, our whole nature, the soul collect any scripture that proves it, or that bears and all its faculties, will be employed in praising any relation to the subject. But reason seems to and adoring him? Doubtless however this will require it so peremptorily, that a society without be the case; and if so, will it not furnish out a social intercourse seems to be a solecism, and a glorious theme of thanksgiving, to recollect. The contradiction in terms; and the inhabitants of rock whence we were hewn, and the hole of the those regions are called, you know, an innumerapit whence we were digged ? To recollect the ble company, and an assembly, which seems to time when our faith, which under the tuition and convey the idea of society as clearly as the word
itself. Human testimony weighs but little in mat-sover all our present connexions. For my own ters of this sort, but let it have all the weight it part, this life is such a momentary thing, and all can: I know no greater names in divinity than its interests have so shrunk in my estimation, since Watts and Doddridge; they were both of this by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ I became opinion, and I send you the words of the latter:- attentive to the things of another, that, like a
Our companions in glory may probably assist worm in the bud of all my friendships and affecus by their wise and good observations, when we tions, this very thought would eat out the heart come to make the providence of God, here upon of them all, had I a thousand; and were their date earth, under the guidance and direction of our to terminate with this life, I think I should have Lord Jesus Christ, the subject of our mutual con- no inclination to cultivate and improve such a fuverse.'
gitive business. Yet friendship is necessary to Thus, my dear cousin, I have spread out my our happiness here; and built upon christian prinreasons before you for an opinion which, whether ciples, upon which only it can stand, is a thing admitted or denied, affects not the state or interest even of religious sanction-for what is that love of our soul. May our Creator, Redeemer, and which the Holy Spirit, speaking by St. John, so Sanctifier, conduct us into his own Jerusalem; much inculcates, but friendship? the only love where there shall be no night, neither any dark- which deserves the name; a love which can toil, ness at all; where we shall be free even from in- and watch, and deny itself, and go to death for its nocent error, and perfect in the light of the know-brother. Worldly friendships are a poor weed ledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ. compared with this: and even this union of spirit Yours faithfully, W.C. in the bond of peace would suffer, in my mind at
least, could I think it were only coeval with our
earthly' mansions. It may possibly argue great TO MRS. COWPER,
weakness in me, in this instance, to stand so much
in need of future hopes to support me in the disHuntingdon, Sept. 3, 1766.
charge of present duty. But so it is, I am far, I MY DEAR COUSIN,
know, very far from being perfect in christian love, It is reckoned, you know, a great achievement for any other divine attainment, and am therefore to silence an opponent in disputation; and your unwilling to forego whatever may help me in my silence was of so long a continuance, that I might progress. well begin to please myself with the apprehension You are so kind as to inquire after my health, of having accomplished so arduous a matter. To for which reason I must tell you, what otherwise be serious, however, I am not sorry that what I would not be worth mentioning, that I have lately have said concerning our knowledge of each other been just enough indisposed to convince me that in a future state has a little inclined you to the not only human life in general, but mine in partiaffirmative. For though the redeemed of the Lord cular, hangs by a slender thread. I am stout shall be sure of being as happy in that state as in- enough in appearance, yet a little illness demolishfinite power, employed by infinite goodness, can es me. I have had a severe shake, and the buildmake them; and therefore it may seem immaterial ing is not so firm as it was. But I bless God for whether we shall or shall not, recollect each other it with all my heart. If the inner man be but hereafter, yet our present happiness at least is a strengthened day by day, as, I hope, under the little interested in the question. A parent, a friend, renewing influences of the Holy Ghost it will be, a wife, must needs, I think, feel a little heartache no matter how soon the outward is dissolved. He at the thought of an eternal separation from the who has in a manner raised me from the dead, in objects of her regard; and not to know them when a literal sense, has given me the grace, I trust, to she meets them in another life, or never to meet be ready at the shortest notice to surrender up to them at all, amounts, though not altogether, yet him that life which I have twice received from him. nearly to the same thing. Remember them I think Whether I live or die, I desire it may be to His she needs must. To hear that they are happy, glory, and it must be to my happiness.I thank will indeed be no small addition to her own felicity; God that I have those amongst my kindred to but to see them so will surely be a greater. Thus whom I can write without reserve my sentiments at least it appears to our present human apprehen- upon this subject, as I do to you. sion; consequently, therefore, to think that when any other subject is more insipid to me than ever we leave them, we lose them for ever, that we my task was when a schoolboy; and I say not this must remain eternally ignorant whether they, that in vain glory, God forbid! but to show you what were flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone, par- the Almighty, whose name I am unworthy to mentake with us of celestial glory, or are disinherited tion, has done for me, the chief of sinners. Once of their heavenly portion, must shed a dismal gloom he was a terror to me, and his service, Oh what a
weariness it was! Now I can say I love him, and have something very like a filial one for her, and his holy name, and I am never so happy as when I her son and I are brothers. Blessed be the God speak of his mercies to me.
of our salvation for such companions, and for such Yours, dear cousin, W.C. a life; above all, for a heart to like it.
I have had many anxious thoughts about taking
orders, and I believe every new convert is apt to TO MRS. COWPER.
think himself called upon for that purpose ; but it
has pleased God, by means which there is no need MY DEAR COUSIN, Huntingdon, Oct. 20, 1766.
to particularize, to give me full satisfaction as to I am very sorry for poor Charles's illness, and the propriety of declining it; indeed they who hope you will soon have cause to thank God have the least idea of what I have suffered from for his complete recovery. We have an epidemical the dread of public exhibitions, will readily excuse fever in this country likewise, which leaves behind my never attempting them hereafter. In the it a continual sighing, almost to suffocation; not meantime, if it please the Almighty, I may be an that I have seen any instance of it, for, blessed be instrument of turning many to the truth in a priGod! our family have hitherto escaped it, but such vate way, and I hope that my endeavours in this was the account I heard of it this morning. way have not been entirely unsuccessful. Had I
I am obliged to you for the interest you take in the zeal of Moses, I should want an Aaron to be my welfare, and for your inquiring so particularly my spokesman. after the manner in which my time passes here. As
Yours ever, my dear cousin, W.C. to amusements, I mean what the world calls such, we have none; the place indeed swarms with them, and cards and dancing are the professed business
TO MRS. COWPER. of almost all the gentle inhabitants of Huntingdon. We refuse to take part in them, or to be accessaries MY DEAR COUSIN,
March 11, 1767. to this way of murdering our time, and by so doing To find those whom I love, clearly and strongly have acquired the name of Methodists. Having persuaded of evangelical truth, gives me a pleasure told you how we do not spend our time, I will next superior to any thing that this world can afford say how we do. We breakfast commonly between me. Judge then, whether your letter, in which eight and nine; till eleven, we read either the the body and substance of a saving faith is so eviScripture, or the sermons of some faithful preach- dently set forth, could meet with a lukewarm reer of those holy mysteries ; at eleven we attend Di- ception at my hands, or be entertained with indifvine Service, which is performed here twice every serence! Would you know the true reason of my day; and from twelve to three we separate and long silence ? Conscious that my religious prinamuse ourselves as we please. During that inter- ciples are generally excepted against, and that the val I either read in my own apartment, or walk, or conduct they produce, wherever they are heartily ride, or work in the garden. We seldom sit an maintained, is still more the object of disapprobahour after dinner, but if the weather permits ad- tion than those principles themselves; and rememjourn to the garden, where with Mrs. Unwin and bering that I had made both the one and the other her son I have generally the pleasure of religious known to you, without having any clear assurance conversation till tea-time. If it rains, or is too that our faith in Jesus was of the same stamp and windy for walking, we either converse within doors, character; I could not help thinking it possible that of sing some hymns of Martin's collection, and by you might disapprove both my sentiments and practhe help of Mrs. Unwin's harpsichord make up a tice; that you might think the one unsupported by tolerable concert, in which our hearts, I hope, are Scripture, and the other whimsical, and unnecesthe best and most musical performers. After tea sarily strict and rigorous, and consequently would we sally forth to walk in good earnest. Mrs. Un be rather pleased with the suspension of a correswin is a good walker, and we have generally tra- pondence, which a different way of thinking upon Felled about four miles before we see home again. so momentous a subject as that we wrote upon, was When the days are short, we make this excursion likely to render tedious and irksome to you. in the former part of the day, between church-time I have told you the truth from my heart; forgive and dinner. At night we read and converse, as me these injurious suspicions, and never imagine before, till supper, and commonly finish the evening that I shall hear from you upon this delightful either with hymns or a sermon, and last of all the theme without a real joy, or without prayer to God family are called to prayers. I need not tell you to prosper you in the way of his truth, his sanctithat such a life as this is consistent with the utmost fying and saving truth. The book you mention cheerfulness; accordingly we are all happy, and lies now upon my table. Marshal is an old acdwell together in unity as brethren. Mrs. Un- quaintance of mine: I have both read him and win has almost a maternal affection for me, and I heard him read with pleasure and edification. The
doctrines he maintains are, under the influence of I think Marshal one of the best writers, and the the spirit of Christ, the very life of my soul, and most spiritual expositor of Scripture, I ever read. the soul of all my happiness: that Jesus is a pre- I admire the strength of his argument, and the sent Saviour from the guilt of sin by his most pre- clearness of his reasonings, upon those parts of our cious blood, and from the power of it by his spirit; most holy religion which are generally least underthat, corrupt and wretched in ourselves, in him, stood, even by real christians, as masterpieces of and in him only, we are complete; that being the kind. His section upon the union of the soul united to Jesus by a lively faith, we have a solid with Christ is an instance of what I mean, in and eternal interest in his obedience and sufferings, which he has spoken of a most mysterious truth to justify us before the face of our heavenly Father; with admirable perspicuity, and with great good and that all this inestimable treasure, the earnest sense, making it all the while subservient to his of which is in grace, and its consummation in glo- main purport of proving holiness to be the fruit and ry, is given, freely given to us of God; in short, effect of faith. that he hath opened the kingdom of Heaven to all I subjoin thus much upon that author, because, believers. These are the truths which, by the though you desired my opinion of him, I remember grace of God, shall ever be dearer to me than life that in my last I rather left you to find it out by itself; shall ever be placed next my heart, as the inference, than expressed it as I ought to have throne whereon the Saviour himself shall sit, to done. I never met with a man who understood sway all its motions, and reduce that world of ini- the plan of salvation better, or was more happy in quity and rebellion to a state of filial and affec- explaining it.
W.C. tionate obedience to the will of the most Holy.
These, my dear cousin, are the truths, to which by nature we are enemies—they debase the sinner,
TO MRS. COWPER. and exalt the Saviour, to a degree which the pride
Huntingdon, April 3, 1767. of our hearts (till Almighty grace subdues them) is MY DEAR Cousin, determined never to allow. May the Almighty You sent my friend Unwin home to us charmed reveal his Son in our hearts continually more and with your kind reception of him, and with every more, and teach us to increase in love towards him thing he saw at the Park. Shall I once more give continually, for having given us the unspeakable you a peep into my vile and deceitful heart? What riches of Christ ! Yours faithfully, W. C. motive do you think lay at the bottom of my con
duct when I desired him to call upon you? I did
not suspect at first that pride and vain glory had TO MRS. COWPER.
any share in it; but quickly after I had recom
mended the visit to him, 1 discovered in that fruitMY DEAR COUSIN,
March 14, 1767.
ful soil the very root of the matter. You know I I just add a line by way of Postscript to my am a stranger here; all such are suspected characlast, to apprise you of the arrival of a very dear ters, unless they bring their credentials with them. friend of mine at the Park on Friday next, the son To this moment, I believe, it is matter of speculaof Mr. Unwin, whom I have desired to call on tion in the place, whence I came, and to whom I you, in his way from London to Huntingdon. If belong. you knew him as well as I do, you would love him Though my friend, you may suppose, before I as much. But I leave the young man to speak for was admitted an inmate here, was satisfied that I himself, which he is very able to do. He is ready was not a mere vagabond, and has since that time possessed of an answer to every question you can received more convincing proofs of my sponsibility, possibly ask concerning me, and knows my whole yet I could not resist the opportunity of furnishing story from first to last. I give you this previous him with ocular demonstration of it, by introducing notice, because I know you are not fond of strange him to one of my most splendid connexions; that faces, and because I thought it would in some de- when he hears me called “ That fellow Cowper," gree save him the pain of announcing himself. which has happened heretofore, he may be able,
I am become a great florist, and shrub doctor.' upon unquestionable evidence, to assert my genIf the major can make up a small packet of seeds tlemanhood, and relieve me from the weight of that that will make a figure in a garden, where we opprobrious appellation. Oh pride! pride! it dehave little else besides jessamine and honey-suckle; ceives with the subtlety of a serpent, and seems to such a packet I mean as may be put in one's fob, walk erect, though it crawls upon the earth. How I will promise to take great care of them, as I will it twist and twine itself about, to get from ought to value natives of the Park. They must under the cross, which it is the glory of our Chrisnot be such however as require great skill in the tian calling to be able to bear with patience and management, for at present I have no skill to good will. They who can guess at the heart of a spare.
stranger, and you especially, who are of a com