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THE LIFE OF ADAM CLARKE: LETTERS
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LES TERRES, DEC. 24
May every grace that constitutes the whole mind that was in Jesus be multiplied unto my dear Mary, that she may stand perfect and entire in the will of God, lacking nothing! Amen.
You once asked my opinion concerning the meaning of the phrase “the Eternal Son of God.” I gave it you, and howsoever singular, and unauthorized by Doctors, it may appear, yet I never had any reason to alter it, nor do I believe I ever shall. After having been sorely tost in beating about the common bay for anchorage, without success, I have at last, through the tender mercy of God, found it where I almost ride alone.
As long as I believe Jesus Christ to be the Infinite Eternal I AM, so long I suppose I shall reject the common notion of his “Eternal Sonship;” not only because it is an absurdity and palpable contradiction, but because I cannot find it in the Bible. On His Godhead, the foundation of the salvation of my soul is laid: every thing therefore that derogates from that, I most cordially reject. In the following extract you may see the method made use of to account for the common opinion, and make it appear without contradiction. The book from which I have made this extract, is entitled, L’Evangile Medite, par L’Abbe Giraudeau. Tom. i. Meditat. 25e. Sur Jean i. 1. “The Mysteries of the Logos (or Word) considered with respect to Himself. “1. The Evangelist St. John represents the Word in God: and first his Eternity. ‘In the beginning was the Word.’ When the world was created, the Word then existed. If it then existed in the beginning, it was before the beginning: and if it was before the beginning, it had no beginning: therefore it is eternal. “2. The Evangelist points out His subsistence as a distinct person, for he says ‘the Word was IN God;’ i. e. in God the Father, of whom it is engendered, or produced by way of understanding, or knowledge. God the Father, who is the first Person in the Divine Nature, knew himself; and formed by His knowledge, a perfect image of His substance: this is His Word, His Son, and a Person really distinct from Himself. It is the same of the Holy Ghost, (of whom the Evangelist does not speak here, because his design was only to make Jesus Christ known.) The Father and the Son love one another with an infinite love; — that love is the Holy Ghost, who proceeds from the Father and the Son by way of spiration, and who makes the third person of that adorable Trinity. “3. The Evangelist points out His Divinity, ‘The word was God;’ for there is nothing in God but what is eternal, and there is nothing in God which is not God. The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are three Persons, who have the same Nature, and same Divinity, &c. &c.”
Exotics are generally more esteemed than native productions; but though the above (especially that written in italics) has the property of exoticism to recommend it, yet I dare say you will be in no haste to incorporate it with your own creed. Would it not be better to let that sacred unfathomable mystery alone, than by attempting to define it, to run oneself into such absurdities and futilities as the above? By the Abbe’s method every man or woman may form themselves into three distinct persons. For let a man only know himself, then he has a second person; again, let him love himself and his knowledge, and then he has a third!
How much more excellent are the plain words of Scripture! — “There are Three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these Three are One.” What a piece of insanity to attempt to find out the Godhead, and to ascertain the mode of its existence! and yet this was the method the Schoolmen, and the primitive Fathers, made use of to explain the Trinity. See Chambers’ Encyclopedia, sub voce.
GUERNSEY, JAN. 23,
Last evening I arrived in safety from Jersey, after an absence of only seven days. (A few minutes after my arrival I received yours of the 12th instant, which had arrived here on the 20th.) My voyage has been useful both to my body and soul. I met with some deeply experienced Christians, compared with whom I but but a very little child. An elderly and a young woman are the most remarkable. The former seems to possess all that solemnity and majesty of Christianity; she has gone and is going through acute corporeal sufferings, but these add to her apparent dignity: her eyes, every feature of her face, together with all her words, are uncommonly expressive of the word ETERNITY, in that importance in which it is considered by those whose minds are devoted to deep reflection. To her I put myself frequently to school, during my short abode in the island, and could not avoid learning much, unless I had been invincibly ignorant, or diabolically proud. The latter seems possessed of all that cheerful happiness and pure love, which so abundantly characterize the Gospel of Christ. Peace, meekness, and joy, judiciously immingled by the sagacious economy of the Holy Spirit, constitute a glorious something, affectingly evident in all her deportment, which I find myself quite at a loss to describe. Two such I know not that I have before found: they are indeed the rare and the excellent of the earth. A summary of both characters seems comprised in this: — of the former it may be truly said, “Not grave with sternness,” — of the latter, “Nor with lightness free.”
You are excellent at ideal realization, I leave you to indulge it here in respect of both persons, without being much afraid of its running into the excessive.
I do not intend to write a Treatise on Conscience, and those other punctilios connected with it: I desire you to supply my lack of service: I know you are capable enough unless your health forbids. For my own part, I am well assured I shall never make an author: were there no other reasons, my ideas flow too quick for the slow process of black upon white. The thought, therefore, I entirely relinquish. What I spoke to you relative to the Eternal Sonship” of the Almighty’s Fellow, is not a slight opinion with me, but a deeply graven sentiment. I have read some of the strongest reasonings of the Schoolmen and the Fathers of the church on this head, but their finest hypotheses appear so unmeaning, trifling, and futile as to afford no satisfaction to a sincere inquirer after essential truth. I believe that which we discover of this glorious truth is the opinion which Eternity will exhibit only in greater degrees, and with more abundant evidence. It appears to me that the Arian and Socinian schemes, cannot only be strongly combated, but effectually overthrown, by a firm adherence to, and judicious inferring from, these propositions. As Arianism, &c., abounds now, I think the Church of God has much need of a Treatise of this kind: were I equal to the task it should soon appear in the world; but here I must stop, finding much reason to adore my gracious Maker, notwithstanding he has not given me adequate abilities.
I expect, according to your intimated promise, a whole book of “Detached Thoughts” from you when I see you. It has been winter with my genius for some time past: hardly the germs of happy thought on important topics have been apparent. I find I cannot create genius, though I can obliterate or at least stupefy it: but however this may be, I find it possible to love, fear and obey an astonishingly kind and merciful God. Surely his name deserves all the praises heaven and earth can yield, for his longsuffering tenderness towards me, who am — God knows what!
You ask me, “Cannot you join with me in sympathetic bearing of Mr. _____’s trouble?” i. e. for the loss of his amiable wife. I really think he who has lost an amiable pious wife, (such I believe Mrs. _____ was) has sustained the greatest loss he could on this side eternity next to the loss of his God, if he had one: and that it is a duty to mourn with those who mourn, I cordially allow. “Well then, will you not sympathize with Mr. _____?” I must be assured first that he mourns before I can mourn with him. But I have strong reasons to induce me to believe that he mourns not, though the wife, the friend, and more than friend, is dead! You are perhaps surprised. Take the following extract from a letter from one of the excellent of the earth, who I know is incapable of lying or exaggerating. “The day after I received your letter, Mrs. _____ died: we expect that Mrs. _____ will soon leave us, as it is likely that Mr. _____ and she will soon be married.” Seeing this is the case, I ask, is the present connection, and a mourning for death’s last inroad, compatible? Is there any room for you or me, think you, to bear a “sympathetic part” in sorrows that no longer exist? I deplore her not: she is taken away from the evil (that is likely) to come! Let us catch her mantle!
You cannot be too much in earnest for full salvation, therefore continue pleading the “Promise of the Father” for it is yea and amen to you, the blessing is as free as the air you breathe, — the willingness of God to fulfill his promise to you infinitely exceeds my description and your conception: I know unbelief will either assert the contrary, or raise some difficulty, but don’t give ear to it, remember, “Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees, And looks to that alone; Laughs at impossibilities, And cries, It shall be done.” Salvation by faith is a more simple plain easy doctrine, than one in a thousand imagines. That complexity and difficulty in which it is generally viewed, keep numbers from going up at once to possess the good land. I allow, so long as mystical divinity is consulted, the promise of His coming must be looked upon as exceedingly distant, as that only breathes “a long work will God make upon the earth;” but the word of faith by the gospel says the kingdom of God is at hand: yea, the means of receiving it is in thy heart, and in thy mouth. In short, looking on it as distant, will make it distant: whereas, believing it as near, will bring it near.
Being attacked from so many quarters there was little view of my lingering long, especially as I had been slowly wasting for some months before. The people were greatly alarmed, and proclaimed a day of fasting, prayer, and weeping, to snatch their poor preacher from the grave. Their sorrow caused me to feel: — for myself, I could neither weep nor repine; but I could hardly forbear the former on their account. — The Doctor, on his second visit, found that I was severely attacked by the jaundice; and so took the cure of that first in hand: but withal observed that I should not regain my health properly, nor be free from bilious complaints, till I resumed my former method — of riding. Through much mercy, I am now much mended: my cough is almost entirely removed; and my doctor has this day informed me that my tawny disorder begins to abate. I am now only confined to my room; but am very much enfeebled. Indeed, I am little else (considered abstractedly from my spirit) than a quantity of bones and sinews, wrapt up in none of the best colored skins. But this also has, and will, work together with other providential dispositions for my good.
When I was almost at the worst I opened my Septuagint on the <199101> 91st Psalm, and on the three last verses, which are much more emphatical than the English, particularly the middle clause of the 15th verse: “I am with him its affliction.” Glory be to God my Saviour, I found it to be so! O, may I to eternity be in deep humility at His feet, recognizing the immenseness of His mercy, and the utter, utter unworthiness of the subject on which it has wrought so many miracles, truly expressive of its own unconfined benignity! Do you wish to know how I was taken care of during my sickness? I indeed lacked nothing that could be procured; nor was there any difficulty to procure persons to set up with me day or night: yea, I had much favor in the sight even of the Egyptians. May the good Lord to eternity reward them for what they have done for His unworthy servant.
GUERNSEY, MAY 22,
You will easily see by the place of date that I am arrived: and, (to the honor of my gracious God be it acknowledged) in perfect safety. On the 19th I wrote to you from Southampton, which I hope you have duly received. Saturday the captain informed me that he intended to sail the next morning; in consequence of which I got myself in readiness and sent my trunk aboard. As eight was the hour fixed for embarkation, several persons, Dissenters, &c., entreated me to give them a sermon before I departed, for which I should have time enough if I began at half past six. I consented, and a good company, for the time and place, met. The Lord was with me, and gave much liberty to expose, and power to shake the sandy foundation of spiritual stillness, consisting of hopes, trusts, conjectures, and possibles, on which several had been building their expectation of glory.
The good Lord quickened the people much, and though my work was done at the expense of almost every particle of my strength; yet was I sufficiently repaid in finding that any good was done. Well it was, that our sailing was postponed till two o’clock, as I was quite unwell, and consequently incapable of going. But at that hour I embarked, being escorted to the boat by several serious Presbyterians, who had heard me preach, and who wished me more blessedness than their tongues were capable of expressing. The wind was a little against us; but as there was a good breeze, and our vessel an excellent sailer, we soon lost sight of Southampton, and next day by noon were abreast of Cape la Hogue, in Normandy. Here we were obliged to cast anchor in about thirty-four fathom water, having a strong tide against us, and scarcely a breath of wind to carry us forward. When the tide served we weighed anchor, and stood on our course; but made very little progress, the breeze being so scant and small. At last we got to the Island of Sark, three leagues from Guernsey, where we thought we should be obliged to anchor all night, the tide in our favor being almost exhausted, and the wind changed to right a-head. What a mortification! to be thus detained on sea in sight of our lodging? In these circumstances some were seriously calling, — Blow precious breeze.
Others whistling to invite it; some chafing and others striving (as they called it) “to make the best of a bad market.”
I proceed to give you some account of my company: — We had on board a captain of the army, a lieutenant of a man of war, some other military officers, and some gentlemen so called. I might almost stop here, as a few inferences deduced from well known premises, would give my dear Mary a tolerable estimate of the “men and their conversation.” Let it suffice to say we had at first some swearing, which, by the grace of God, I reproved: by and bye they began, (though on the Sabbath) to sing songs, as if it had been their Easter Tuesday. This I immediately remonstrated against, which brought on a long altercation, in which the Lord enabled me to confound the whole of them: for the present they desisted; but again they renewed their singing with double vigor. I stepped up to the quarter-deck, on which they were assembled, and charged the principal of them — “in the name of the living God to be silent,” adding, “I will not suffer such profanation of the Lord’s-day.” He stopped and asked me, “What authority I had for acting as I did? and who I was?” I answered, “I am a servant of Jesus Christ, and the authority by which I prohibit your breach of the Sabbath, I have from God.” Singing tempers were soon abandoned; and I was apparently brought into several dangers without fearing any. Glory to Christ, He kept me meek, fearless, and as bold as a lion. The consequence was, being confounded they were obliged to be calm, and their bacchanalian songs so effectually stopped, that the devil had not the honor of a single verse during the remainder of the Sabbath. I kept my authority the whole voyage, and continued, with affectionate boldness, (God abundantly helping me) to reprove all their vices. I plainly see that the feeblest servant of God may be, (if faithful) an instrument of preventing (at least) a multitude of iniquities, and showing forth the honor and glory of God before men, which will be either to their conviction or confusion according to the use they make of it.
SEVEN MILES BEYOND WARMINSTER
My Dear Mary, Mr. Slade has no doubt informed you that I was disappointed of a place in the stage, by its being uncommonly full. I was quite willing to have returned toT_____, providing I could have had a passage next day ascertained: but this the coachman told me he could not promise, as every place for the next day was already bespoke. A cart for Sarum was standing at the door of the inn, just ready to depart: I agreed with the proprietor and embarked; but the extreme noise, and only a cord across to lean my back against, rendered the ride rather disagreeable. Does my dear M. desire to know how my feelings are? What did I say when I departed? Was it that “a separation from the Lord would be only worse?” I say so still: though between the present, and the above separation, there is no parallel, yet this I think is the next to it. You thought you should be obliged to preach to me. And suppose you had begun, what would you have exhorted me to? Why “Do not murmur nor repine.” I do neither. “Do not love inordinately.” I th ink I can here plead not guilty. Nevertheless my sensations have been truly poignant. Had I an arm cut off by a very slow process, might I not feel much pain, and yet not transgress? “Nature unreprov’d might shed a tear.” There might be “sorrow without sin.” Is there not more than an arm severed from me at the present? There is. And could I not as soon divest myself of muscles and nerves, as not feel?
Salisbury, 9 o’clock, P. M. — Fatigued enough I arrived at 7 o’clock. — After I left you I felt rather a sudden alteration in my mind: a gloomy resignation (tolerably good in its kind) took place, and was “fast reared” by a stoical insensibility. In these circumstances I remained, till, about a mile and a half out of town, I met with Father Knapp: — his appearance awakened in my (almost senseless) spirit some of the most tender sensations: I shook hands, but could not speak to him. I passed on, — grieved a little, — looked upwards, — and was once more calm. I strove to look a little into futurity, to spy out, if possible, even a probable prospect of a return, which might be a means of present consolation: but this my kind God absolutely refused to indulge me in; — not permitting me to see a hairs breadth beyond that indivisible point, which makes the present in time: and thus I continue: my soul, filled with embryo somethings, which it cannot express, nor hardly conceive, struggles out, Thy will be done! I am now so fatigued and exhausted that I am able to write no more tonight.
MON PLAISIR, OCTOBER 19,
My Dear M., Through the great mercy of my gracious God, I am landed once more in Guernsey. May His great name be blessed forever! I wrote to you from Alderney a letter, bearing the two-fold dates of the 16th, and 17th, instant; in which I informed you of my arrival there, on the evening of the 15th, and the dangers which (through the aid of God) we escaped. I need not here recapitulate or particularize what in that epistle I have said, as I hope you will receive it safely ere this can come to hand. At present I can add but a little, being almost worn out by the severe fatigues through which I have been lately led. You must, therefore, excuse the few lines which give you little other information than that of my arrival. However, I will endeavor to add a little by way of supplement to the other Journal Accounts, all of which I hope you have safely received. Wednesday being too stormy to attempt to sail for Guernsey, I had the opportunity of preaching once more to a people prepared to receive the Word of Life.
God was truly with me, and much I err if conviction and persuasion did not accompany the words He enabled me to speak. The gracious Lord has made an inroad here on the kingdom of Satan, which I humbly hope shall be retained with increasing advantage. Thursday, the 15th, came, and with it brought a tempest from NW. I had been forced almost to believe (notwithstanding the narrow escape for my life between Cowes and Yarmouth, and the tooth-skin delivery in getting to Alderney) that my difficulties were not all yet at an end: Wednesday night I could not rest well, notwithstanding my former fatigue; my busy spirit foreboding something to which I could not give a name, kept all the avenues of my senses unlocked. I got up, and after having taken a little breakfast, I was summoned to the pier to sail for Guernsey. I set off accompanied by some friends who came to escort me to the port, where I found the vessel waiting only for me. Truly it blew a hurricane; but the captain was determined to sail. We were badly manned before, but now it was much worse, as one of our sailors having got ten shillings, was determined not to stir till he had drunk it out. We loosed out from the pier-head, and got under sail; but although we had two reefs in our main sail, the sea ran so high, and the wind was so boisterous, we soon found our vessel had more canvass than she could live under: we were in consequence thereof obliged to lie to, that we might take down our weather jib sheet, and put a small one in its place. I had taken a stand at the bulk-head, from whence I had the opportunity of seeing every thing around me. And what think you I saw clearest? Why the awful aspect of death impressed on every thing. A sensation, unusual to me, sunk my soul as to the center of the earth, or bottom of the abyss. “Alas! thought I, and am I indeed afraid of death? Is this the issue of matters with me? Lord Jesus, into thy hands I commit my spirit! on the infinite merit of thy blood I rest my soul!” Immediately all was calm: and this enabled me to take a full look at death, who was shortly to pass by in dreadful port. The sailors being unhandy, the weather jib sheet was long in setting, and the vessel during the time, was wearing towards a range of dreadful rocks. The sea continuing to run high, and the wind blowing fiercely, brought us so much in leeway, that the vessel would not answer the helm, but drove among the rocks. In a few moments all was commotion! exertion! and despair! and a cry more dreadful than that of fire at midnight, issued from all quarters, “Cut away the boat! get ready the boat! the vessel is lost! the vessel is lost!” The people on the pier (for we were not far distant from it) seeing our danger, and believing our shipwreck inevitable, got out a boat with four strong men to try to save the lives of the passengers and sailors. At this solemn crisis, fell, pallid despair, had miscreated every face: — with the utmost safety I believe I may aver, scarcely a particle of courage or equanimity remained in any, save in a captain of regulars, and your A. C. Through the grace of God my soul was quite unmoved: I waited like the captain to meet my fate with firmness: nor did my countenance or actions betray any anxiety or carking care. In the moment, when a dreadful rock within two or three yards of our lee bow, gave us every thing to dread, and took away the last grain of hope, God, who sits above the water-floods, by an unseen arm hove the vessel to leeward: she passed the rock as within a hair’s-breadth, answered once more her helm, and from the lip of eternity we escaped into the pier! O Lord God! how marvelous are thy doings in the earth! and how dost thou manifest thy wonders in the mighty waters! “The sea has now confessed thy power, And given me back to thy command; It could not, Lord, my life devour, Safe in the hollow of thy hand.” I cannot help saying something here by way of eulogium on the brave military captain. His great presence of mind, his action, and his courage, showed him to be a great man: and had he vital religion, I am persuaded, a greater (in his profession) perhaps Europe could not boast of. His name is Hanfield, I think of the 22nd regiment. I must say, it was nothing to my honor, that I stood in the trying time with courage: it was the grace of Christ, and that only which enabled me to turn my eyes undaunted on the tomb, the watery tomb. To God only wise and gracious, be the eternal glory ascribed, through Christ Jesus! Amen.
Perhaps you will be surprised at what follows. Though we but a few moments before, escaped destruction, yet the desperate captain of the vessel would go out again! I thought, “seeing God has saved my life from going down into the pit, it would be tempting his providence to go out again with them, I will therefore take a boat and go immediately to shore.”
But I again thought, “Will it not reflect dishonor on the religion I profess, and the sacred character I bear I if all go out again, and I stay behind, will it not be reported, the Methodist Preacher was afraid of death; his boasted spiritual evidences of salvation did not free him from its power? ‘Tis granted, it may be so: in the name of Jesus! I will once more venture!”
Perhaps my dear M. may be induced to say, “The reasoning was absurd, and the action condemnable.” Well, be it so: but out I went, and what I suffered during the passage, my pen cannot describe. — Every minute and sometimes oftener, the sea washed over the vessel, the violent agitation made me sick, almost unto death; and vomiting till the blood came, was but a part of what I suffered: — but of this dreary tale I shall say no more.
The things that a person buys dear are generally more prized and better regarded, than those that come cheap. I think I have not yet paid your full price, though the part I have borne is known only to God. If it be possible to get you under value, I would say, Lord, excuse me from paying more! I landed on St. Peter’s pier, before five o’clock, P. M., and found a people nearly as glad to see me as I was to feel myself on terra firma again. I went to the post office, and got yours of the 6th inst., I was surprised to find no more seeing I had written so many.
When I began this epistle I did not purpose to write the half of what I have written; being at present so worn-out and so unwell. See what God has done for me, and praise Him in my behalf.
MON PLAISIR, NOV. 25,
Last evening I received your very welcome epistle, bearing date the 20th instant, which came in good time, and for which I most affectionately thank my dear Mary. The temptations, relative to your welfare, which I have lately gone through, (though in a measure healed by the receipt of the present) yet have left a solemn impressed scar on my spirit. Perhaps it was my waking solicitude which induced me to dream some time ago, that I had received an epistle from sister B____y, informing me that my Mary was no longer an inhabitant of the earth; and enclosed was an oration which had been delivered at her funeral, part of which I still perfectly remember. Even in sleep how capable is the soul of being distressed! What think you I then felt? and what think you I felt even when the visionary cause of my distress had fled away before opened eyes, and recollected senses? — Truly my soul can say that, the falsity of my dream was more precious to me than the whole globe, had it been in my possession. But the impressions left upon my mind by this miserable vision, did not vanish as speedily as the thing itself. What a mercy is it to be kept from the vagaries of an unreasoned spirit, and the influences of the Spiritual Wickednesses in the night season! Indeed so perplexed have I been of late with similar matters in my sleep, that at whatever time I awoke in the night, I have thought it better to arise at once, than to put it in the power of my enemies to perplex me any farther. Another reason for this perhaps was, I have enjoyed but imperfect health at least for eight days past, which derangement of bodily organs, afforded my spirit an opportunity to employ itself in such unfriendly fancies; or rendered it less capable of resisting those malevolent beings which walk the earth unseen. Yet, hitherto could he come, but no farther: blessed be God! Satan cannot exceed his chain. I dare say my dear Mary would be willing to know particulars relative to the last mentioned affair. On the 18th instant, (not knowing my weakness, and having a very large attentive congregation, and being willing to speak for eternity,) I exceeded my time, and hurt myself much: I have not yet got the better of it, but I think I shall strive against myself and commit less errors of this kind in future, than I have hitherto done. Again, as the winter comes on, and the time for walking is uncomfortable, I abide in the house, and this lack of exercise injures me not a trifle. It is true, I have many trips to and from town, but these do not contribute much to my bodily welfare, as they are taken generally before day, and after night, which are the seasons I preach at. I know not really how I shall prevail on myself to make an amendment here; having entered so deeply into the spirit of study, every moment seems precious, and the day too short for the work I appoint it. I really can not spare time even to write to several of my friends to whom I am in epistolary debt! no one but my Mary, stands a pleasing candidate for a single letter, and to her I can write as I used to speak: it being the only substitute for the conversation of which I am now deprived.
Do you wish to be acquainted with my studies? And shall I make an open confession to you, and thereby subject myself to your censure? I would just say, I yet pursue my old, and have made some additions to my former plan. French certainly must not be entirely forgotten; I know not but that meets with injustice: the Septuagint I cannot persuade myself to relinquish; how can I, seeing my esteem for it rather increases: the writing of occasional notes I must continue, though perhaps none will think them worth reading but myself. Another kind of writing which in general employs all my brains, shares not a small part of my time: — farther, occasional reading and translating, take up some more, and the book which I have to translate for Mr. Wesley, (which I have not yet begun) must come shortly, and this I think will hardly leave me time to take my food.
Again, — “What! more yet!” O yes, Philosophical Researches have not a slender part of the day and night. It appears, my dear Mary, that my spirit has lately go t more latitude and longitude than it ever had before: the earth does not now content it, though it knows but a trifle of that, it must needs understand the heavens, and call all the stars by their names.
Truly I do find an ability for speculations of this kind, which I never had before: but I am shackled, — perhaps it is well so, — I have not glasses to perform the lucubrations I would. I own, my dear Mary, this may be an error, I freely own it to you: will your tenderness for me permit you to reprove me sharply, if you see I am wrong? But shall I speak a word for myself? I would then say; I do indeed find this is not a barren study to my mind; my soul is thereby led to the Framer of unnumbered worlds, and the omnipotency of my Redeemer appears illustriously stamped on the little out of the almost infinite, which I am able to view. I stand astonished at the amazing wisdom, power, and goodness of our excellent God, which I now more particularly discover impressed on every thing that falls within the little sphere of my understanding. Did I not find it to have this effect, I could not in conscience pursue studies of the kind. Yet do not think, my dear, that I speak thus, in order to prohibit the censures I seemed at first to invite; not at all. On the contrary, I would suggest the following, to give you room for censure if you deem it applicable, viz. “May there not be more simple methods found out, which have a directer tendency to cultivate the soul, than some of these I pursue?” Truly I can say, my soul’s most earnest wish is to live to Him who died and rose again for me.
O, my Mary! what do I owe Him! His long-suffering with, and mercies to me, almost stupefy my soul, when in reflection. JESUS! be Thou the center to which my soul shall incessantly gravitate! yea more, let it come more particularly into contact, and rest in Thee for ever and ever! Amen.
MON PLAISIR, DEC. 2,
It is strange to see how times change; — last winter I had in general a Congregation made up of several of the most reputable persons in the Island: — to keep me among them, they offered to provide handsomely for me: — their kind offer I again and again rejected: — however, they continued to hear, believing I spoke the words of truth and soberness, and as they phrased it, “In the best manner they had ever heard.” — “Pity it was that I could not be permitted to preach in the Church at least every Sunday.” However, this, like all things “under the Sun,” must have an end.
By and bye, one of these gentry stayed away; another attended less frequently — then he dropped off; — such and such did not come, therefore, I lost some more; — and so on, till hardly a soul of them came either on Sabbaths or other days. I was then as a person who had been “in honor, but continued not,” and my ministry was at last confined to “the poor, the best friends of my God!” These cleaved closely to me, and praised God that t he candlestick was yet in its place. With these I endeavored to keep on my way, and the dropping in of one now and then to Society, held up my hands. Persecutions arose, and evil reports were liberally spread abroad; this made it rather dangerous for any of my quondam friends to take any notice of me; then I was obliged fully to walk alone, but through the strength of God, I was enabled to weather every trying circumstance. Finally, as things cannot be long at a stay “under the Sun,” the time for a revolution must again take place, and the honor that I sought not, had, and lost, would, as unsought for, again return. One, — another, — and another, have ventured back, heard, — were pleased and profited once more, — brought others along with them, till at last I have all back again, with an accession of several new ones, and now I am “an honorable man;” and surely a great many good things would not be too good for me now, would I accept them. Thus you see, my dear Mary, “there is but as one day between a poor man and a rich.” It is well, it is ineffably well, to have a happiness that is not affected by the great and many changes to which external things are incident: what a blessing to be able to sit calm on the wheel of fortune, and prosper in the midst of adversity!
I trust I can say, with gratitude to God, my complaints are on the remove: and though I cannot say I feel a vast deal easier, because the natural consequence of the medicines I have taken is, to probe keenly in order to cure; yet I believe I am better; and trust, through the blessing of the Lord, to have a complete cure. Though there has been preaching in English three times since I returned, yet I have not attempted to show myself even once to the people. Yesterday, a soldier belonging to the Train, whom the Lord gave, together with his wife, sometime ago, to my feeble labors, came to see me. I have seldom seen more affection, commixed with as much of childlike simplicity as you can conceive, evidenced before. He looked in my face pitifully, and saying, “I heard you was sick,” sat down in a chair, and melted into tears. Yes; and yet he is a soldier! It is amazing, this man was a very great slave to drunkenness. One morning last summer, having got drunk before five o’clock! he some way or other strolled out to Les Terres, and heard me preach, and was deeply convinced. “What! and he drunk?” Yes. After preaching he took me by the hand, and with the tears streaming down his cheeks, betwixt drunkenness and distress, he was only capable of saying a very few words: — “O Sir, I know you are a man possessed by the Spirit of God.” He went home, and after three days’ agonies, God, in tender compassion, set his soul at liberty. His wife also set out for the same heaven in good earnest: and shortly found the peace of God; and both joined the Society, and have walked ever since most steadfastly in faith and good works. Glory! Glory be to God Most High! Blessed be the Lord, it has been a time of much good both to my body and mind. Since the 27th, on which I wrote last, the Lord has opened his heaven most benignly in my soul; and with that has given me to discover Him as one uniform, uninterrupted, eternal Goodwill, towards all His creatures. When I look into myself I am astonished that He condescends to pay me the smallest visit; but when I contemplate Him under the above attribute, my astonishment ceases, though I cannot forget myself.
Were I like Mohammed’s feigned angel, having to my lot, “Seventy thousand heads, each actuated by as many tongues, and each of the uttering seventy thousand distinct voices,” with my present ideas of the Divine Being, I should think their eternal vibrations in His praise an almost no tribute to a God so immeasurably good! And yet where am I going? I have but one tongue, and that speaks but very inexpressively, the choicest blessings of heaven are given unto me; and how, how seldom, comparatively, is it used in showing forth his excellency, or acknowledging how deep His debtor I am! O my God! what reason have I to be ashamed and confounded? But Thou wilt have mercy. Again, I discover that God can only be viewed in the above light through God made Man; i. e. manifested in the flesh; and this sets forth the Redeemer in the most amiable and absolutely important point of view. God through Him is altogether lovely! But remove this Medium, and this my beautiful system is lost in chaos in the twinkling of an eye. Glory be to God for Christ!
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