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like good old Simeon, been graciously favoured to see the Lord's Christ, thou wilt, like him, I have no doubt, in the time appointed of God, be dismissed from thy stewardship in peace.
The time of my continuance here draws fast to a conclusion, and though I hardly know whether I have been instrumental of any good in my generation, in the stewardship to which I have been appointed; yet I do know I have many times, in great mercy, been strengthened to do the best I could; and, notwithstanding all the weaknesses or deviations from rectitude, which may at any time have marked my conduct through life, I do not wish to have my time to live over again, for fear I should not do better.
I was almost afraid, by thy answer to my last, that thou hadst conceived I meant to speak something highly of my own religious attainment. I had no view like that; I have no cause to think so, or to speak so; I know too well what I am, and from whom all good comes.
I meant only to express myself with gratitude, and to magnify His mercy, who hath helped me hitherto; and in the continuance of whose holy help, I was and am strengthened to confide. And surely I have cause to magnify His mercy, and to speak well of His glorious name, who hath been my Shepherd from infant years, and whose rod and staff will, I humbly hope, continue to be the support and comfort of my declining years.
I am, in true love, in which my wife unites, thy affectionate friend,
To John BevANS.
Manchester, 5th Mo. 16, 1806. My dear friend,
It is very pleasant to be remembered by our fellow-travellers to the heavenly country, and to salute and be saluted by such on the way. I have so long survived the spirit and disposition to controversy on
on religious subjects, and have observed so little benefit derived from them, that it hath afforded me some satisfaction to see that friends bave not been hasty to answer every weak apostate scribbler, who has dared, through ignorance or presumption, to deny the fundamental truths of our holy religion.
Many, also, of the unbelieving professors of Christianity, have sought to draw friends into disputation and wrangling, on subjects which (though they are most surely believed by the sincere Christian,) are beyond the stretch of the human intellect to comprehend. Such are the controversies about what is called the Trinity, and the doctrine of the atonement. Much injury hath been done, and much loss sustained by the discussions which have been printed on these subjects, human reason affirming, and human reason denying, in equal ignorance of these stupendous and mysterious subjects. Perhaps all that is necessary for us to know, or that mankind are capable of receiving, stand in their best state of manifestation, as they are revealed in the Holy Scriptures.
May that Mercy by which we were early visited, and which hath graciously followed us hitherto, vouchsafe to be with us now in our declining years, and that we may happily experience Him, who condescended to be our morning light, and the stay of our youth, to be our evening song, and the staff of our old age; that through the continuance of His holy help, we may accomplish the work which may be given us to do, to the praise of Him who hath called us, and our own everlasting peace; that when the time of reckoning shall come, we may be numbered amongst the “ good and faithful.” From thy affectionate friend,
To RICHARD REYNOLDS.
MANCHESTER, 8th Mo. 21, 1806. My dear Friend,
Thy letter of the oth instant I received duly. It was seasonable, and very acceptable ; and so far as I am capable of being comforted by a letter, I was comforted by it. But, however kind and skilful the application, wounds must have time to heal. I hope I do not murmur; I want no arguments to convince me that the “ Judge of all the earth” will certainly “do right;" I wish to be thankful for the inestimable favour I have received from Him, in giving to me a most faithful and affectionate wife for thirty-one years; one singularly fitted to be a help meet to me; for, I believe I am very safe in saying, that a life more exemplary, in filling up, with unremitting diligence, every duty belonging to her humble station, hath never yet, nor ever will be found. We have both reason to be satisfied, nay thankful, that in the loss of our faithful companions, the loss is only our's; their's is the gain. I do not therefore sorrow as those “ who have no hope;" I have no doubt but that, through the unfailing mercy of our Heavenly Father, and the atonement and intercession of the ever-blessed Jesus, our dear departed wives, according to their measure, will be fixed in their respective stations of eternal blessedness.
At seasons, I can bless the name of Him, who lives for ever, for what He hath given, and for what He bath taken away; yet I feel my
loss almost continually, and very often all my prospects seem clouded, and every view of the future here is gloom and shade. Much of this does not appear to others, and I am mostly favoured with an humble degree of holy quiet, a measure of that peace which the blessed Master gives to those who believe and trust in Him. Thy remembrance of me, at such a time as this, was very kind; it was, indeed, a genuine, grateful fruit of that friendship which hath long subsisted between us, and which, I hope, will last for ever. I shall be glad to hear of the re-establishment of thy health ; but whether we are permitted a longer or shorter stay in these earthly tabernacles, I do sincerely desire we may be preserved under the direction and keeping of Israel's Shepherd, and then all will be well.
Priscilla Hannah Gurney's remembrance of me was very acceptable. I wish the remembrance of my love to be presented to her. At home or abroad, I trust she is in the Master's service, doing all the good she can ; yet a little while, and that encouraging declaration will be accomplished in her experience, that the righteous live for evermore;