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pleasure. This is not their home, here they have no continuing city; they are travelling through the wilderness, to the city and mansions purchased and prepared for them by their Saviour, and must be made holy before they can enter in. They have many corruptions to be mortified; errors to be corrected in their estimation of men and things. Carnal, proud, hard, stony hearts, to be made spiritual, humble, tender, resigned, and loving. Then shalt thou remember all the way by which I led thee; to prove thee, and try thee; to shew thee what was in thy heart, that I might do thee good in thy latter end. Besides, all suffering is not the immediate punishment of sin in the individual sufferer, nor for his exclusive profit: it is evident, from Scripture, there is suffering for the benefit of the body of Christ; His Church, of which, (I think,) all have some share. God has wise ends to answer by all the suffering of his creatures, and especially of the members of his body. The apostles rejoiced in this, and so ought we. If we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him. Paul-I fill up, in my flesh, that which is behind, of the sufferings of Christ, for his body's sake, which is the Church. Now, my dear friend, let us take a look at your real individual situation, as a suffering member of a suffering body; a suffering body, because a corrupt body, requiring bleeding, blistering, &c. &c. Take a view of the Saints of God in history, sacred or profane, and compare your own individual suffering with theirs, great as it is; I am apt to think, it will not rise to mediocrity. I could expatiate on this subject, from what comes every day within my own knowledge. The Lord is working in this way all around me: but of that another time. In your own case, try for a moment to shut out of
view, every thing without your own family: what you once were, what you once possessed and enjoyed; also, what your friends possess and enjoy at this present time: detach yourself from all. What was yours, is gone; what you calculated upon, is also gone set all aside, and consider yourself a sinner, saved from destruction by grace; in a state of purgation, and preparation for happiness, on a pilgrimage with thousands of others, your fellow-saved sinners, through the wilderness, to that inheritance which was purchased for you at such a price. Your Saviour is your Leader, Protector, Provider, also your Physician, and the Physician of the whole body, perfectly acquainted with the constitution, disposition, temper, &c. of every individual. He has made provision for each, all the journey through, and given security that none shall suffer real want. Bread and water is promised; nothing beyond these, though in general he gives more; to each he gives a portion in hand, to some for a day, some for a week, some for a year, which they calculate upon with more or less probability: none with certainty. Your portion is for a year; take a view of those whom you know, one with another, I am apt to think, the Lord has still given you mediocrity. Look at the ordinary provision he makes for the ministers of his Gospel : most of them with a flock of children; many of those in the country have five hundred dollars, some four hundred, some three hundred, generally ill paid. The Lord puts a blessing in it, he makes it go far-the garden produce, the cow, they do what their hands find to do, and get along: so will he do with you, my dear. He will put you upon methods of industry and economy: your one chicken divided in six parts, with a little bit of pork,
with the fruit of God's blessing on your industry in the garden, shall both taste sweet, and satisfy for the time. Try to be thankful; Moses said of the manna, This is the bread which the Lord your God giveth you. Pray and watch against dwelling on the plentiful tables of others; and when bidden to a feast, take your portion, and say, this is from the Lord for the time. Do not let a thought of misery or wretchedness dwell upon your mind. O no, God is good; you shall not want. O what sweet meals have I, and my children made on hot potatoes, nicely boiled and cracked, with salt-not merely content, but they tasted good and savoury. There are peculiar pleasures in a life of that kind. You shall yet sing of it.
Now, my dear friend, I have done with what I had to say on this head. I have had great fears of wounding, lest you should reckon me among Job's friends: but you call me mother, and it is required of a mother to be faithful. I now leave it with the Lord. We are delighted to find you girding up the loins of your mind, and setting about active duty. Let us meet at a throne of Grace, and look to the course the Lord marks out for us.
TO MRS. G-Y.
MY DEAR MADAM,
I HAVE just parted with my dear afflicted friend P.; she left it in charge to me, that I should write to you in the time of your affliction. Surely, I would do any thing, whatever, that I thought might alleviate either her, or your, distress. But there are cases, to which God alone can speak; afflictions which he alone.
can console. Such are those, under which the sufferer is commanded to be still, and know that he is God. He never leaves his people in any case; but sometimes shuts them up from human aid. Their grief is too great to be consoled by human tongue or pen.
Such I have experienced. I lost my only son; I neither know when, nor where; and for any thing I know, in a state of rebellion against God. Here, at my heart it lies still; who can speak to me of it? neither can I reason upon it. Aaron held his peace. Old Eli said, It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth good in his sight. Samuel, in his turn, had his heart wrung by his ungodly son. David lamented over his beloved Absalom: but it availed him nothing. Job's sons and daughters were all cut off in one day; himself laid down in deep sore bodily affliction; his friends sat seven days and seven nights without opening their mouths, because they saw his affliction was very great; and if they spoke, it was to aggravate it: and when God himself spoke, he gave him no reason for his dealings, but charged him with folly and madness. Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty, instruct him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it. Then he calleth his attention to his own meanness, and imbecility, but it was still in a way of sovereignty; and after he laid his hand on his mouth, and his mouth in the dust, confessed himself vile, and became dumb before him; abhorring himself, and repenting in dust and ashes, instead of the splendid catalogue of virtues enumerated in chapter xxix. and complaints in chapter x. which I make not the least doubt were true, as far as human virtue can reach but if God charge even his angels with folly, sha!! man, corrupt, self-destroyed man, plead merit before God?
But, my dear friend, I do not find in all God's bible, any thing requiring us to look at, far less acquiesce in, the final destruction of any, for whom we have prayed, pleaded, and committed to him, least of all our offspring, whom he has commanded us to train up for him. Children are God's heritage. I do not say he has given us any promise for the obstinately wicked; but when cut off, he only requires us to be still, to hold our peace. I do not think he takes hope from us. God has set limits to our faith for others; our faith must not rest in opposition to his threatenings. We must believe that the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all that forget God; but he hath set no bounds to his own mercy; in that glorious plan of redemption, by which he substitutes his own Son, in the room and stead of sinners, he has made provision for the chief of sinners: and can now be just and consistent, while he justifies the ungodly who believe in Jesus. Short was the time between the thief's petition and the promise of salvation; nay, the petition was the earnest of it. The same was the case with the jailor; though less positive the assertion; yet, I think the publican had the earnest in his petition also. Now, instead of labouring to bring my mind to acquiesce in the condemnation of my child, on the supposition of its being for God's glory, (which I no where find required, but from some of your New England divines,) I try to be still as he has commanded; not to follow my child, to the yet invisible world; but turning my eyes to that character which God has revealed of himself to the plan of redemption-to the sovereignty of God in the execution of that plan, to his, names of grace, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin; while he adds, and that will by