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work. You can never be too bold in believing, provided you aspire still after new degrees of faith, and do not use your faith as a cloak for sin. The Lord despises not the day of small things; only beware of resting in small things, and look for the seal and abiding witness of God's Spirit, according to the following direction.
Restless, resign'd, for this I wait,
For this my vehement soul stands still.
As to deep sights of the evil of sin, the more you go on the more you will see Christ exceeding lovely, and sin exceeding sinful: Therefore look up to Jesus, as a vile and helpless sinner, pleading his promises; this is going on, and trust him for the rest.
With respect to myself, in many conflicts and troubles of soul, I have consulted many masters of the spiritual life; but divine mercy did not, does not, suffer me to rest upon the word of a fellow-creature. The best advices have often increased my perplexities; and the end was to make me cease from human dependance, and wait upon God from the dust of selfdespair. To him, therefore, I desire to point you and myself, in the person of Jesus Christ. This incarnate God receives weary, perplexed sinners still, and gives them solid rest. He teaches, as no man ever taught; his words have spirit and life; nor can he possibly mistake our case. I am, Madam,
Your fellow-servant in the patience and kingdom of Jesus,
To Miss Ireland.
MADELEY, Dec. 5, 1768.
MY DEAR AFFLICTED FRIEND,
I HEAR you are returned from the last journey you took in search of bodily health. Your heavenly Father sees fit to deny it you, not because he hateth you, 'for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth,' but because health and life might be fatal snares to your soul, out of which you could not escape, but by tedious illness, and an early death. Who knows also, whether by all you have suffered, and still suffer, our gracious Lord does not intend to kill you to the flesh and to the world, and both to you? Besides, our hearts are so stupid, and our insensibility so great, that the Father of our spirits sees it necessary to put some of his sharpest and longest thorns into our flesh, to make us go to our dear Jesus for the balmy graces of his Spirit.
I believe some are driven out of all the refuges of crafty and indolent nature, only by the nearest and last approaches of that faithful minister and servant of Christ,-Death. Of this I had a remarkable instance no later than last Monday, when God took to himself one of my poor afflicted parishioners, a boy of fifteen years of age, who was turned out of the infirmary two years ago as incurable. From that time he grew weaker every day by the running of a wound; but his poor soul did not gather strength. In many respects one would have thought his afflictions were lost upon him. He seemed to rest more in his sufferings, and his patience under them, than in the Saviour's blood and righteousness. Being worn to a skeleton, he took to his death-bed; where I found him the week before
last, with his candle burning in the socket, and no oil seemingly in the vessel. I spent an hour in setting before him the greatness of his guilt in this respect, that he had been so long under the rod of God, and had not been whipt out of his careless unbelief to the bosom of Jesus Christ. He fell under the conviction, confessed that particular guilt, and began to call on the Lord with all the earnestness his dying frame would allow. This was on the Wednesday; and on the Wednesday following, the God who delivers those that are appointed to die, set one of his feet upon the rock, and the next Sunday the other. He had chiefly used that short petition of the Lord's prayer, Thy kingdom come;' and spent his last hours in testifying, as his strength would allow, that the kingdom was come, and he was going to the King; to whom he invited his joyful, mournful mother to make the best of her way after him. Five or six days before his death, my wicked, unbelieving heart might have said, To what purpose hath God afflicted so long and so heavily this poor worm? But the Lord shewed, that he had been all that while driving the spear of consideration and conviction, till at last it touched him in a sensible part, and made him cry to the Saviour in earnest. And who ever called upon him in vain? No one. Not even that poor indolent collier boy, who for two years would not so much as cross the way to hear me preach. Yet how good was the Lord! because his body was too weak to bear any terrors in his mind, he shewed him mercy without. The moment I heard him pray and saw him feel after a Saviour, my fears on his account vanished; and though he had not been suffered to testify so clearly of God's kingdom, yet I should have had a joyful hope that God had taken him home.
Like the poor youth and myself you have but one enemy, my dear friend,—an indolent, unbelieving heart; but the Lord hath driven it to a corner, to make you cry to him, who hath been waiting at the door all these years of trouble, to bring you pardon, peace, and eternal life, in the midst of the pangs of bodily death:
Jesus is his name. Salvation and love are his nature. He is the Father of eternity;-your Father of course. All the love, that is in Mrs. Ireland's breast, is nothing to the abyss of love, that is in your Creator's heart. A mother may forget her sucking child; but I will not forget thee,' says he, to every poor distressed soul that claims his help.
O fear not, my friend, to say, I will arise and go to this Father, though I have sinned greatly against heaven, and in his sight. Lo, he rises, and runs to meet and embrace you. He hath already met you in the virgin's womb; there he did so cleave to your flesh and spirit, that he assumed both, and wears them as a pledge of love to you. Claim, in return, claim, as you can, his blood and Spirit. Both are now the property of every dying sinner, that is not above receiving, by faith, the unspeakable gift.
Your father has crossed the sea for you ;-Jesus has done more: He hath crossed the abyss that lies between heaven and earth, between the Creator and the creature. He has waded through the sea of his tears, blood, and agonies, not to take you to the physicians at Montpelier, but to become your Physician and Saviour himself; to support you under all your bodily tortures, to sanctify all your extremities, and to heal your soul by his multiplied stripes. Your Father has spared no expence to restore you to health; but Jesus, who wants you in your prime, hath spared no blood in his veins, to wash you from your sins, write your pardon, and seal your title to glory.
O my friend, delay not cheerfully to surrender yourself to this good Shepherd. He will gladly lay you on the arm of his power, torn as you are with the bruises of sin and disease, and will carry you triumphantly to his heavenly sheepfold. Look not at your sins, with-out beholding his blood and righteousness. Eye not death, but to behold, through that black door, your gracious Saviour, saying, 'Fear not, O thou of little faith; wherefore dost thou doubt?' Consider not eterv, but as the place where you are going to enter
with the Bridegroom of souls, and rest from all your sins and miseries. View not the condemning law of God, but as made honourable by Him, who was a curse for you, and bore the malediction of the law, by hanging, bleeding, and dying on the cursed tree, in your place. If you think of hell, let it be to put you in mind to believe, that the blood of God incarnate hath quenched its devouring flames. If you have no comfort, mistrust not Jesus on that account; on the contrary, take advantage from it to give greater glory to God, by believing, as Abraham, in hope against hope. And let this be your greatest comfort, that Jesus, who had all faith and patience, cried out for you in his dying moments, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' As your strength will bear exertion, and his grace apprehended will allow, surrender yourself constantly to him as the purchase of his blood, and invite him earnestly to you, as a poor worm, perishing without him. In this simple, gospel way, wait the Lord's leisure, and he will comfort your heart. He will make all his goodness to pass before you here, or take you hence to shew you, what you could not bear in flesh and blood, the direct beams of the uncreated beauty of your heavenly Spouse.
I hope you take care to have little, or nothing else mentioned to and about you, but his praises and promises. Your tongue and ears are going to be silent in the grave;-now, or never, use them to hear and speak good of his name. Comfort your weeping friends. Reprove the backsliders. Encourage seekers. Water, and you shall be watered. Death upon you, makes you, through Christ, a mother in Israel. Arise, as Deborah. Remember the praying, believing, preaching, though dying thief: And be not afraid to drop a word for him who openeth a fountain of blood for you in his dying tortured body. Suffer, live, die, at his feet, and you will soon revive, sing, and reign in his bosom for evermore. Farewell in the Conqueror of death, and Prince of Life.