LETTER - TO THE SAME.
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My dear L.,
You have a scruple about the wondrous lives of the fathers in the deserts, because in such contrariety to his character, who went about doing good.
But if you only consider what you have said of them yourself, that the reading of their lives, at “once struck you with the deepest devotion, and made you think what a noviciate you were in the love of God,” you would have reason enough to place them amongst the faithful, and true disciples of him, who went about doing good. For what greater good, than to do that to others, for so many ages, which they have done for you? They are not written to raise an emulation in you, to copy after them; nor is there any reason to think, that their story is not much exaggerated. But be that as it will, it is certain, they were the salt of the world for that time, and that the good providence of God blessed his church with them.
They are not for you to read, but as it were en passant, or for a little change of air, and their particularity of life no more concerns you, than that of John the Baptist.
God’s last dispensation to the world, is the opening the ground, and mystery of all things, to which every blindness, and vanity, and strife of human life must, sooner or later, be forced to give up itself.
The children of this dispensation have no occasion to look backwards. It is like learning your A B C, when you are called and qualified to read.
Be not too fond of abstemiousness, nor too much attached to a milk diet; let nothing be a reason for your doing, or not doing anything of this kind, but the health and strength of your body. As soon as you are able to bear a stronger diet, I would have you by all means to use it. There is no more harm in getting strength from good food, than from sound sleep. And this kind of diet, is only to be used as a remedy for a time.
Dear Soul, Adieu.
Feb. 9, 1754.