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Can it be matter of wonder, that those who believe the gracious words of their Redeemer should be impatient to get home? Yet I agree with you, we had better quietly wait, and patiently hope for the bliss that shall be revealed; and, believe me, I endeavour thus to do.
I have, I confess, much cause for gratitude, and very little cause for murmuring and complaining. I frequently ask myself this question: Why should a living man complain? I am, since Jesus Christ suffered death upon the cross, a living man, an heir of everlasting life, not a subject of death. My body, indeed, will fall asleep, and my soul, my immortal soul, will pass through the valley of the shadow of death, where I can have no evil to fear certainly not; for in the Redeemer I am a living man; and in the valley of the shadow of death, this Redeemer will be with me; his rod and his staff will guide and comfort me. Such are the reflections by which the mind, under the teaching of the Spirit of truth, is exercised.
I pray God to bestow upon you every thing that he sees best for you, both for time and for eternity. Adieu, my valued friend.
I am ever your gratefully affectionate, &c. &c.
To the same,
MY VERY DEAR FRIEND,
Although I have recently written you a very long letter, yet I cannot forbear again addressing you with information, that through the good will of him who dwelt in the bush, I am still blessed with clear and cloudy dispensations; I am still alternately tasting the pleasing sweets, and wholesome bitters of life. Thus doth the physician of value administer to our infirmities. So great, however, is my folly, that, were it in my power, I would put aside the bitter, and receive only the sweet enjoyinents of existence, though I am well persuaded I should satiate; that left to
myself, I should destroy myself. O, my brother, what a mercy that we are under the care of a Being most wise, most good, who will not leave us to the imagination of our own hearts. That like a beneficent and tender Father, he will do for us what he sees is best for us, however reluctant, however refractory we may be. It is in the dark night of affliction, that we are most sensible of the advantages of the candle of the Lord shining upon us. In the bright sunshine of prosperity, who ever adverts to the glimmering of a candle? A friend in adversity is a rich treasure ; but it is in adversity we are made glad by the discovery of a never-failing Friend; and it is this, which maketh the house of mourning, so much better than the house of feasting. It is this, which makes God's children, each for himself, feelingly say, It was good for me that I was afflicted. Affliction is for the human soil, the best manure; it enriches and renders it fruitful.
How is it with my friend? You have been in this school of ad. versity ; what is your proficiency? There are some scholars more dull than others; I hope your progress is rapid ; if so, you will not long continue a pupil. The last letter you favoured me with
heart bleed for you. You had been sowing in tears; is it now seed time, or are you now reaping in joy? I trust you remember that seed time and harvest succeed each other, and that you will remember that the reaping in joy is subsequent to the tearful sowing.
I have frequently been much delighted while contemplating the order of our Saviour, in the formation of all things. I say with the order of our Saviour, because I do not know any God but him, by whom all things were made.
Observe, I pray you, the order, “and the evening; and the morn. ing, were the first day,” and so on to the seventh. Not as we are accustomed to express ourselves, the morning, and the evening. In this arrangement, the evening would have been last, and night, eternal night, would have closed the scene. Not so the Spirit of truth- The evening, and the morning, saith God, by the Spirit of truth. The morning is the last period, and it will be without a cloud. I wound, saith the Lord, and I heal; I kill and I make alive ; thus healing and life are events subsequent to wounding and death. Blessed be God, the sentence is not reversed; death, never-ending death, would then have been our portion; heaviness may endure for the night, but joy coineth in the morning. What, though it be still
night with my friend? What, though your night be dark and long? Yet hath not your Saviour given you a song in the night? Have you not been able to say, “Although I walk in darkness and have no light, yet will I trust in the name of the Lord, and stay on the God of my salvation ?" Yes, my brother, God will bring you into his light, and make his goodness pass before you. Assuredly, all things shall work together for good.
Yes, I believe your affection for me, originates in your affection for the sinner's Friend, in whose name I spake unto you; and it is, therefore, right precious to my soul.
I experience great delight in attending to the word of life. I make many discoveries, in consequence of essaying to make provision for my Father's children. I am delighted when the number of hearers increase ; and I am assured that, in due time, the number of believers will also increase; but at present I am far from supposing, that the number of believers increase in proportion to the number of hearers. There are, even among our preachers, those who do not appear to understand the truth as it is in Jesus. Indeed, how can they understand him, whom they do not know? Few, among preachers or hearers, appear to be taught by that Spirit, from which the prophets and apostles received their teaching. Much confusion is consequent upon this fact; the people are perplexed; the trumpet is blown with an uncertain sound ; and there are preachers, among the people, denominated Universalists, who, ignorant of the true character of Jesus Christ, cannot agree, even in the fundamental doctrines of our holy religion. It is truly astonishing, that so few have learned that, “It pleased the Father all fulness should dwell in the character, Son ;”, that the gospel, preached by the Spirit of God unto Abraham, was true; which gospel declared, That in Christ Jesus all the families of the earth should be blessed. I trust, my brother, that you are taught by that Spirit, which taught the patriarch; and that, believing what he believed, you give glory to God; and that, thus believing with your heart, you find peace and joy; such peace, and such joy, as the world could never give, and, blessed be God, which it can never take away.
There are, my friend, too many, who talk about the Saviour and his salvation, as they converse about news, or any other subject of minor consideration ; their hearts are unaffected. With the heart, all those men who are taught by the Spirit of God, believe; and
with the mouth, they make confession unto salvation. But, that which is written shall be ultimately accomplished, they shall be all taught of God; and such who' are thus taught, will judge with righteousness, will walk uprightly, will act irreproachably, will feel happy, and will be proper subjects of that heaven, into which our Forerunner hath entered for us.
I have lately received letters from New-York, informing me that my friends, the friends of the truth of God, have purchased a meeting-house, which belonged to the Lutheran Congregation ; they have given me an invitation to remove to New-York-and their pecuniary offers are very handsome ; but my engagements in this place are solemn, they are indissoluble; while life shall remain I cannot burst asunder ties so sacred, nor do I wish to break the ties which bind me to this metropolis. Were I not established in this town, I think I should make no permanent engagements any where; I should visit my friends from place to place, according to my former custom, uniting in various parts of this country, with those who delight in contemplating the subject, which, of all others, is the most likely to give the heart to burn with the fire of divine love, that is, the opening of the scriptures. The Redeemer of men will finally bless us in this way; he, himself, will open unto us the sciptures.
When I first commenced my ministerial career, as I was decidedly not commissioned by man, and as I was not positive any more than was the Israelitish Gideon of old, that I was sent of God, I determined to take every possible method to ascertain a point so important. I was persuaded if I were, indeed, an ambassador of heaven, the God, in whose hands I was, would teach me in the same huur what I should say, that he would incline the hearts of his people to hear, and, last of all, that he would dispose those, who received the words of truth, to administer to my necessities. I was, therefore, systematically resolved to take no thought what I should say ; never to solicit for a place, in which to speak; nor to ask any individual to hear me ; and finally, I resolutely determined to take no method for procuring a pecuniary support.
It was, upon these terms, I began to promulgate the gospel of God our Saviour; and from each of these experiments, I have received an answer of confirmation. God hath never permitted me to want matter; it hath always been given me in the same hour what I should say. I have never suffered in the want of the real
enjoyments of life, and what is better than all, I have obtained a full assurance that the everlasting Father of our spirits, will perform all the good words he hath sent me to proclaim; that a crown of righteousness is reserved for me, and an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, which fadeth not away. Nay, more, my Saviour hath given me to know, that not on me only will he bestow this inherjtance, but upon all those who love his appearance; and all who know him will assuredly love his appearance; and all shall know him, from the least unto the greatest. Observe, my friend, thus runs the text, from the least unto the greatest; not from the greatest unto the least.
But, who are the least, and who are the greatest ? Our Saviour, on the mount, answers this question : “Whosoever shall break one of the least of these commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do, and teach them, the same shall be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven." But you see, my friend, this inimitable Preacher, who spake as never man spake, assures us, that both these characters are ultimately in the kingdom of heaven, because “ by grace sinners are saved.”
However, they will not be breakers of God's law, in the kingdom of heaven. The subjects of that kingdom, saith our God, shall be all righteous. Religious people, (I mean such as are religious according to the forms of this world, being under the influence of the God of this world, believe as his Spirit teacheth them. They consider the devil, and all manner of sin and abomination, as eternal; and that death and hell will consequently be eternal. But those who are blessed with a knowledge of the religion of Jesus, who are under the teaching of his spirit, know that the devil is come down, having great wrath, because he is assured he shall reign but a little while ; they know that Jesus will destroy every work of the devil; they know that death and hell shall be destroyed, and that there shall be no more pain. They know, because they believe the word of their Redeemer, that all old things shall be done away, and all things shall be made new. Well may it be said, Blessed are the people, who know the joyful sound; they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance.
I long, my brother, to know how you do, both in temporals and spirituals ; but most of all in spirituals, because spirituals are of the most consequence, even here; for in the knowledge of redeem