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Woborne Abbey, April 20, 1684. Believe me, good doctor, I find myself uneasy at reading your short letter of the eighth of April, before I had answered yours of the eleventh of March. I have several times taken a pen in my hand to do it, and I have been prevented by despatching less pleasing business first; and so my time was spent before I came to that which I intended to perform before I laid away the pen.
The future part of my life will not, I expect, pass as I would choose. Sense has been long enough gratified; indeed so long, that I know not how to live by faith : yet the pleasant stream that fed itnear fourteen years together, being gone, I have no sort of refreshment, but when I can repair to that living Fountain whence all comfort flows. I am undone, irrecoverably 80, as to my temporal desires and concerns.
Time runs on; and usually wears off some of that sharpness of thought inseparable from my circumstances : but I cannot experience such an effect, every week making me more and more sensible of the miserable change in my condition. But the same merciful Hand which has held me up from sinking in extreme calamities, will, I verily believe, do so still, that I faint not to the end in this sharp conflict, nor, by discontent, add sin to my grievous weight of sorrows. You observe, I doubt not, that I let my pen run too eagerly upon this subject : indeed it is very hard for me to restrain it; especially when I am writing to those who pity my distress, and would afford me relief any way in their power. I am glad I have so expressed myself to you, as to induce you to continue the course you have begun with me, by setting before me plainly my duty of every kind.
I entertain some thoughts of going for a few days to that now desolate Stratton, where I must expect new and sorrowful reflections at the first, it being a place where I have lived in sweet and full content; considered the condition of others, and thought none deserved my envy: but I must pass no more such days on earth. However, places are indeed nothing: where can I dwell that his figure is not present to me? Nor would I have it otherwise : so I resolve that shall be no bar to the acquitting of any obligation upon me. The 'immediate one, is the settling, and indeed the giving up of the trust which my dear lord had from my
sister. Fain would I see that performed, as I know he would have done it had he lived. If I find I can do as I desire, I will, by God's permission, infallibly go; but not to stay more than two or three weeks: my children will remain here, who shall ever have my diligent attendance ; therefore I shall hasten back to them.
I take, if I do go, my sister Margaret; and I believe lady Shaftsbury will meet' me at Stratton. This I choose, as thinking that persons being there, to whom I must observe some rules, I shall be induced to restrain myself, and to keep in better bounds my wild and sad thoughts.--Blessed be the good prayers of others for me; they will, I hope, help me forward towards the great end of our creation. I am most cordially, good doctor,
Your ever mournful,
Woborne Abbey, Oct. II, 1685. Now I know where to find you, good doctor, (which I do by your letter written at my cousin Spencer's,) you will be sure to hear from me, who am not ashamed to be on the receiving hand with you. What am I that I should say, Why is it not otherwise ? No, I do not ; nor do I grudge or envy you the pious and ingenuous pleasure you have in it. My part in this world is of another nature. I thank you, sir, (God must give you the recompense,) you instruct me admirably how to overcome, and to make the application from Rev. iii. 12. The great thing is to acquiesce with all one's heart in the good pleasure of God, who will prove us by the ways and dispensations which he sees best. Who can tell his works from the beginning to the end? But who can praise his goodness more than wretched I, that he has not cut me off in anger, who have taken bis chastisements so heavily, not weighing his mercies in the midst of judgments! The stroke was of the fiercest kind surely: but had I not then a reasonable ground to hope, that he whom I loved as I did
my own soul, was raised from a prison to a throne ? Was I not enabled to shut up my own sorrows, that I increased not his sufferings by seeing mine? How were my sinking spirits supported by the compassion of excellent and wise Christians, who, without ceasing, admonished me of my duty, instructed, reproved, and comforted me! You know, doctor, I was not destitute ; and I must acknowledge that many, like yourself, with devout zeal and great charity, contributed to the gather.
ing together of my scattered spirits, and to the subjecting of them to such a submission as I could obtain under so astonishing a calamity. And further, God has spared me hitherto the children of so excellent a friend, given them hopeful understandings, and very traetable and sweet dispositions; has spared my life, in usefulness, I trust, to them; and, as I am to linger in a world I can no more delight in, has given me a freedom from bodily pain to a degree I scarcely ever knew. This calls for praises, in which my dead heart is not exercised; but I bewail my-infirmity. He who took our nature, and felt our infirmities, knows my weakness, and the sharpness of my sorrows.
I know not if you have heard that some unlooked-for accidents in my family bare hurried me into new trouble. A young lady, whom my uncle Ruvigny brought with him, falling ill of the small-pox, I removed my children to Bedford-house, then followed myself, for the quieting of my good uncle's mind, who would have it so: thence I brought my little tribe down to Woborne ; and when I heard how fatal the young Hady's distemper was, I returned to Bedford-house, to take my last leave of as kind a relation, and as zealous and tender a friend, as ever any body had. To my uncle and aunt, the death of their niece was an inexpressible loss, but to herself it was the contrary: she died, as she had lived, a pattern to all who knew her. As her body grew weak, her faith and hope grew strong: she comforted her comforters; edified all about her ; and magnified the goodness of God, that she died in a country, where she could in peace, give up her soul to Him who made it. What a glorious thing, doctor, it is to live and die as she did! I heard my uncle and aunt say, that in the seven years she had been with them, they never could tax her with a failure in piety or worldly prudence; yet she had been roughly attacked, as the French Gazettes will tell
have leisure to look them over. I keep them together; and I will send them to you.
Your much obliged servant,
Woborne Abbey, Nov. 27, 1685. As you profess, good doctor, to take pleasure in your writings to me, from a desire to promote my welfare, so do I in receiving them as testimonies of your regard for me, both in my worldly and my spiritual concerns; and I need not waste my time nor yours to tell you they are very valuable to me. You say things sometimes, by which I should think you seasoned, or rather tainted, with being so much where compliment or praise is best learned: but I conclude, that what one heartily wishes to be in a friend, one is apt to believe is 50; and I endeavour to have a true not a false title to the least virtue which you are disposed to attribute to me.
If I could contemplate the conduct of Providence in the manner you do, it would give me ease indeed, and no disastrous events would much affect me. The new scenes of each day make me often conclude myself very void of temper and reason, that I still shed tears of sorrow and not of joy, that so good a man is landed safe on the happy shore of a blessed eternity. Doubtless, he