« PreviousContinue »
EPISTOLARY CORRESPONDENCE, &c.
To Phebe Field, Gloucester.
Providence, 30th of 10th month, 1774.
By this opportunity I may just inform thee, that since I last saw thee, I have often had to remember thee, with earnest desires for thy everlasting welfare, and that thou mayst be favoured with strength, willingness, and engagement in the depth of humility, to follow the light, wheresoever it leadeth. And Oh! that the things of this world may not hinder thy advancement heaven-ward. The danger is so great, that I believe many well-inclined persons, not knowing or thinking themselves in any very imminent danger, have thereby been entangled in that which hath made a lamentable separation between God and their precious souls. But I heartily wish thou mayst escape this, and all other enchanting things, and be preserved through all difficulties, and through the tribulations which all those must endure, whose garments are washed and made white in the blood (the life) of the lamb.
Think not, my friend, that thy trials are harder than others. The path which our blessed leader trod to glory, and in which all must follow him that will be his, was such as made him “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." And if thou feelest poverty, and want, and sorrow, murmur not, nor think it strange. The Lord knows what is best for thee, and that he will deal out to thee. Thou must expect he will lead thee in the way he hath led the rest of his flock. And thou mayst depend on him, that when he hath sufficiently humbled thee, and thou art made willing to give up all, and serve him in truth and
integrity, he "will give thee beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness," and he will be "thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." So to him I commend thee, hoping thou wilt serve him faithfully, and gain an admittance into his kingdom of glory, there to rejoice in beholding his face forevermore. So wisheth thy sincere friend,
To a Friend.
Feeling, in the aboundings of my Heavenly Father's love, a renewed and earnest engagement for the eternal welfare of that part in thee which must endure beyond the grave, I am inclined to acquaint thee with the travail of my soul, and breathings of my spirit, to the eternal Fountain of all good, on thy account. For, indeed, the consideration of thy state, hath, at times, drawn tears from mine eyes, whilst the desire of my heart hath been, that thou mightest come to know, in this the day of thy visitation, the things that belong to thy peace; before they may be hid from thine eyes. Oh! that thou knew how to prize the unspeakable favour, vouchsafed thee in this tender visitation, and would improve it to the glory of him who hath called thee, and to the salvation of thy own soul.
But, alas! while I have been contemplating the merciful kindness of a long-suffering God, and those ravishing delights, which nothing but disobedience deprives thee of, I have had to view the many difficulties and discouragements, yea, and the allurements, with which the adversary of all good, disturbs and confuses the minds of such as are desirous of travelling out of his territories, and of being redeemed from under his dominion. When I have thought on these things, a fear hath possessed my mind, lest, for want of a thorough resignation, the enemy should prove too hard for thee. But when I have considered the unlimited power of him who inhabits eternity, and dwells in the light, and who is able to remove mountains, and divide the
seas, I have had a secret hope that by his unremitted strivings, he would prevail with thee to forsake all, and follow him; to come out and be separate from, and not touch the unclean thing; that so he might receive thee.
Oh! how I have lamented and mourned, to see the unhappy condition of many of the visited of our God, who, notwithstanding the holy call, are not willing to desist from partaking of the unclean thing, with the children of a dissipated age. Be not offended at the sorrows I have felt on account of the captivity of those, whose happiness I greatly desire: but bow down thine ear and hear, and obey the voice of him, who comes not to bring peace on the earthly mind, but a sword. Submit thy neck to his yoke, and thy shoulders to his cross. Suffer the operation of his refining fire, and purifying soap. Dwell under the discipline of his holy rod; and learn to give up thy whole heart to him, and to esteem his reproach, greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, having respect unto the recompence of reward; remembering, that if thou lovest any thing more than Christ, thou art not worthy of him, according to his own doctrine. Therefore, consult not with flesh and blood, neither stand gazing at the hardness of the way; but cast thy care upon him who hath called thee; and give up to his call. He will enable thee to answer the requirings thereof, and to run the way of his commandments with delight. But if thou lookest at this, that, and the other difficulty, and goest to reasoning against the conviction in thy own mind, thou wilt thereby drown its voice, and run thyself into confusion, and perhaps, lose all sense of truth.
Oh! arise, arise! and trim thy lamp, and provide therein the oil of the kingdom, by standing open to receive from him who is ready to communicate, but in his own way, the way of the cross. Hast thou not stood dallying long enough to know, that that will never do the work? If so, I beseech thee, now, at length, be engaged to work out thy salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God that worketh in thee; and would, didst thou but cleave close to his workings, work both the will and the deed, but not without thy consent: for thou must be a coworker with him, if ever thou knowest a resting in and with him. Oh! I entreat thee, do not overlook the way and means,