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To Lady Huntingdon.
MADELEY, Jan. 3, 1768.
A THOUSAND thanks to your Ladyship for the letter you were so kind as to favour me with; it relieved me, in a great measure, of the fears I had concerning your health. Blessed be our GoD who spares you to see the beginning of a new year, and to fill up the space of it with inward acts of faith and love towards Him who did not abhor the virgin's womb, and outward attempts to promote every where the savour of his knowledge. May the Child born, and the Son given, shew himself more abundantly than ever to be wonderful in his works and ways, with regard to your Ladyship's soul and projects! May you find him turning this year into a Christian jubilee wherever his providence shall direct your steps; and may your very enemies be forced to confess that the mighty God and the Prince of Peace is your sun, shield, and exceeding great reward. What this year may bring forth who knows? This, however, we know ;-all will be welcome that he shall be pleased to appoint; and nothing will befal us but by his appointment, for the very hairs of our head are all numbered. With what angelic peace and martyr-like intrepidity ought this consideration to inspire us! Oh for more faith to persevere, as seeing the invisible, as carrying this Saviour in arms of love with the sensibility of exulting Simeon! I am, through mercy, in some feeble manner penetrated with a sense of the necessity of abandoning myself to the holy child JESUS, as a worthless mite towards the reward of his humiliation. If the Word was made flesh; if the Most High exchanged his throne for a manger, his heaven for a stable, and
his transcendent majesty for the apparent feebleness of an infant: Good God, into what abyss of shame and humility should I plunge myself! Methinks, if my eyes were truly opened to see this mystery of godliness, I should instantly be dissolved into tears of astonishment and love. O pray for me, insensible me, that the Holy Ghost may teach me to sound the depths of incarnate love, or at least to lose myself in their immensity together with your Ladyship. It is an ocean without bottom. May we fall into it every moment, as insignificant drops of gall, to be absorbed in those pure and mighty waters. There the mountains of our iniquities, and the valleys of our deficiencies are more effectually covered than the highest mountains were by the waters of the flood. Our temptations, trangressions, losses, and pains are lost here like drops or showers in the sea. We are in this sea; it fills heaven and earth; and if we meet now and then in it with a dash against the rock of adversity, or a storm from the boisterous winds of temptation, it is only to make our scum go from us, as ISAIAH says. Welcome, then, even contrary winds; they are, in reality, favourable. Some will, no doubt, blow upon your Ladyship from that little point of the compass, Trevecka; but the LORD hath them in his hands; fear not, the government is still upon his shoulders. I thank your Ladyship for having recommended me to Easterbrook. I hope he will be the captain of the school, and a great help to the master, as well as a spur to the students. He hath good parts, a most happy memory, and a zeal that would gladden your Ladyship's heart. He has preached no less than four times to-day; and seems, indeed, in his own element, when he is seeking after the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He is employed every evening in the work of the LORD; and I give him the more opportunity to exercise his talent, as it appears he does it far better than I. I beg two things for him; first, that it may hold; secondly, that he may be kept humble. He would at first live upon potatoes and water; but finding it may impair his health, I have got him to table with me, and shall gladly pay his
board; he works for me, and the workman is worthy of his hire. Our young collier seems a little discouraged with regard to the hopes of his being admitted one of your students; he thinks he stands no chance, if all must be qualified as he is.—With regard to books, I am in doubt what to write to your Ladyship. Having studied abroad, and used rather Foreign than English books with my pupils, I am not acquainted with the books Great Britain affords, well enough to select the best and most concise. Besides, a plan of studies must be fixed upon first; before proper books can be chosen. Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric, with Ecclesiastical History, and a little Natural Philosophy and Geography, with a great deal of Practical Divinity, will be sufficient for those who do not care to dive into languages. Mr. Townsend and C. Wesley might, by spending an hour together, make a proper choice, and I would recommend them not to forget Watts's Logic, and his History of the Bible, by Questions and Answers, which seem to me excellent books of the kind, for clearness and order. Mr. Wesley's Natural Philosophy contains as much as is wanted, or more. Mason's Essay on Pronunciation will be worth their attention. Henry and Gill on the Bible, with the four volumes of Baxter's Practical Works, Keach's Metaphors, Taylor on the Types, printed at Trevecka, Gurnal's Christian Armour, Edwards on Preaching, Johnson's English Dictionary, and Mr. Wesley's Christian Library, may make part of the little library. The book of Baxter I mention, I shall take care to send to Trevecka, as a mite towards the collection, together with Usher's Body of Divinity, Scapula's Greek Lexicon, and Littleton's Latin Dictionary.
With regard to those who propose to learn Latin and Greek, the master your Ladyship will appoint may choose to follow his particular method. Mr. Wesley's books, printed for the use of Christian youths, seem to me short and proper, and their expence less, which, I suppose, should be consulted. Two or three Dictionaries of Bailey or Dyke, for those who learn English,
with two or three Cole's Dictionaries, Screvelius's and Pasor's, for those who will learn Latin and Greek, may be a sufficient stock at first.
The woman I mentioned died as happy, I trust, as I described her; but she remained speechless some days, through the violence of her disorder. Another I buried the same week, who died as triumphant as Mr. Janaway. God prepare us for that solemu change! Mr. Easterbrook joins me in duty to your Ladyship. We have rejoiced greatly together at the opening made by the death of Lord B-, for the spreading of the Gospel: May many enter in at that door, and especially all the relatious he hath left behind. Mr. James Stillingfleet is presented by Mr. Hill, to the living of Shawbury, 8 miles from Shrewsbury, and 20 from here. I thank the Lord for this fellow-helper. My Christian respects wait upon all that love Jesus about your Ladyship.I am
Your Ladyship's unworthy Servant,
To James Ireland, Esq.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
MADELEY, Dec. 30, 1769.
LAST night I received your obliging letter, and am ready to accompany you to Montpelier, provided you will go with me to Nyon. I shall raise about twenty guineas, and with that sum, a gracious Providence, and your purse, I hope we shall want for nothing: If the Lord sends me, I should want nothing, though I had nothing, and though my fellow-traveller was no richer than myself.
I hope to be at Bristol soou, to offer you my services to pack up. You desired to have a Swiss servant,
and I offer myself to you in that capacity; for I shall be no more ashamed of serving you, as far as I am capable of doing it, than I am of wearing your livery.
Two reasons, (to say nothing of the pleasure of your company,) engage me to go with you to Montpelier,— a desire to visit some poor Hugonots in the South of France, and the need I have to recover a little French, before I go to converse with my compatriots.
The priest at Madeley is going to open his masshouse, and I have declared last Sunday, that I propose to strip the Whore of Babylon, and expose her nakedness to-morrow. All the Papists are in a great ferment, and they have held meetings to consult on the occasion. One of their bloody bullies came to "pick up," as he said, a quarrel with me, and what would have been the consequence had not I providentially had com.. pany with me I know not. How far more their rage may be kindled to-morrow, I don't know: But I question whether it will be right for me to leave the field in these circumstances. I forgot to mention, that two of our poor ignorant churchmen are going to join the mass-house, which is the cause of my having taken up arms also. Farewell,
I KNOW not what to think of our journey. My heart frequently recoils. I have lost all hopes of being able to preach in French, and I think if I could, they would not permit me. I become more stupid every day; my memory fails me in a surprising manner.