« PrécédentContinuer »
Your husband may wonder that I write to you and not to him; tell him I must follow the fashion, and it is become customary in our days for preachers to creep into houses, and lead captive silly women, and I must not appear to be singular indeed I wish I could take a few more of these foolish ones, led away with divers lusts and pleasures as I was, and bring them into the same captivity with myself; they would then never more wish to enjoy their former freedom so long as they live in this world. I am still as sick, both of Sodom and Egypt, as I ever was. My face is steadfastly set Zionward, or toward mount Gilead; nor shall I ever rest till I get to my heavenly Father's home. This is what I have in view, and thither am I bound; but the poor vessel at present goes against both wind and tide; nevertheless it is a vessel of mercy, secured from shipwreck, furnished with a good anchor; and I am fully persuaded that I shall reach the port, in spite of every adversary. There have been deep plots and strong combinations laid and held against me; but my God has in honour bound himself to mar them all; "No weapon formed will prosper." He blasts all their measures, breaks all their purposes, and confounds and confuses them, till they are split into various factions already, and at daggers drawn against each other; and conscience is at war with them all, and
their countenances witness against them. So true is the word of our dear Lord, that, "if a man abide not in the vine, he is cast forth as a branch and is withered, and men gather them; that is, men gather them into their wicked counsel and wicked company, and they are burned at last; which is and will be evident enough here.
A letter, lately sent by two god-fearing men at P. respecting W. contains such things as my eyes never saw. I believe in my soul that he is now at his wit's end, and that God will make him manifest to all; and, though his affair hath been a hard task to me, yet in the end it shall purge the church and the world of so damnable an impostor. My face is set as a flame against all such; and I know that I shall not be ashamed. -Now, Mary, I shall drop you, having spent time enough chatting to an old woman, and speak a word to your betters.
Brother H. how do you do? Your sickness or health of soul will ever be according to your looks. Which way do you look? Is God before you as an angry God and a consuming fire; or is he before you as a reconciled God, shining in the face of Jesus Christ? If the former be the case, fear and torment drive you; if the latter, love and mercy draw you. The former view is in a broken law, the latter is in the everlasting gospel; the former makes sin abound
yea, strengthens it, and makes our chains heavy; the latter subdues sin, works with power, and enlarges the soul. The former blinds the eyes, and contracts the old vail; but by the latter "we with open face behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord, and are changed into the same image from glory to glory." The former works wrath in us, and all manner of concupiscence follows; the latter is attended with the soul-dissolving power of dying love, and purifies the heart. Hence the command, "Look unto me and be saved;" and again, "looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith." In the blessed face of Jesus, God shines in all his glory, grace, mercy and goodness. The Lord give you this sweet believing view, and the fairest face among ten thousand to look, that you may "see the king in his beauty, and the land which is very far off!" The Lord be with you both! Amen and amen, says your willing servant in Jesus,
Dec. 29, 1796.
Dear Sister in Christ Jesus our Lord,
I WISH YOU and your spouse much of his soul
satisfying presence at this season of the year, and that neither you nor yours, me nor mine, may serve him as the innkeeper at Bethlehem did-I mean, lodge him in the stable. To listen attentively to his voice is to have him in an obedient ear; to covet him earnestly, and to hunger and thirst after him, is to have him in our desires, and "the desire of a man is his kindness." To love to speak of his name and his praise, is to extol him with one's tongue; to look to him wishfully, earnestly, and to long after him, is to captivate him with our looks;
Turn away thine eyes from me, for thou hast overcome me; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes." To fear offending him, and to be tender of his honour, is to have him always before our eyes; to fly to him as our advocate, under every accusation of Satan or our own heart, is to have him at our right hand; "He shall stand at the right hand of the poor to save him from those that condemn his soul." But to embrace him in love and hearty affec
tion, is having him to lie all night betwixt our breasts, or to have him in our heart as "the fairest among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely." This, my dear sister, is his resting place for ever; "Here will I dweil," saith he, "for I have desired it;" and, as the spouse speaks, his desire is towards me.
But where is my poor sister got? Her letter is not dated from the hill Mizar. It is neither from mount Tabor, nor the valley of Baca. She is neither rejoicing in the banqueting house nor weeping by the waters of Babylon. Mary seems to be in a pet, or under some provocations of anger or jealousy; at least it conveys something of this sort to my feeling. Is she in one of her former fits of unbelief? Is she sick of love? Is she suffering in those fires of jealousy which have a most vehement flame? Or is she under desertion? "A woman grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God: fear not, for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt remember the reproach of thy widowhood no more; for thy maker is thy husband, the Lord of hosts is his name, the God of the whole earth shall he be called." I do not know where thou art, nor how it is, that my pen runs on like the poor Shunamite's ass when she was riding to Carmel, while death was in possession of her son behind, and hope in the prophet before. "Drive