Your command limits my attention, at present, to a part of your letter, and points me
out a subject. Yet at the same time you lay me under a difficulty. I would not willingly
offend you, and I hope the Lord has taught me not to aim at saying handsome things. I deal
not in compliments, and religious compliments are the most unseemly of any. But why might
I not express my sense of the grace of God, manifested in you as well as in another?
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I believe our hearts are all alike, destitute of every good, and prone to every evil.
Like money from the same mint, they bear the same impression of total depravity: but
grace makes a difference, and grace deserves the praise. Perhaps it ought not greatly
to displease you, that others do, and must, and will think better of you than you do of
yourself. If I do, how can I help it, when I form my judgment entirely from what you say
and write? I cannot consent that you should seriously appoint me to examine and judge of
your state. I thought you knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, what your views and desires
are; yea, you express them in your letter, in full agreement with what the Scripture
declares of the principles, desires, and feelings of a Christian.
It is true that you feel contrary principles, that you are conscious of defects and
defilements; but it is equally true, that you could not be right if you did not feel these
things. To be conscious of them, and humbled for them, is one of the surest marks of grace;
and to be more deeply sensible of them than formerly, is the best evidence of growth in grace.
But when the enemy would tempt us to doubt and distrust, because we are not perfect, then he
fights, not only against our peace, but against the honour and faithfulness of our dear Lord.
Our righteousness is in Him, and our hope depends, not upon the exercise of grace in us,
but upon the fulness of grace and love in Him, and upon His obedience unto death.
There is... a difference between the holiness of a sinner and that of an angel. The
angels have never sinned, nor have they tasted of redeeming love; they have no inward
conflicts, no law of sin warring in their members: their obedience is perfect; their happiness
is complete. Yet if I be found among redeemed sinners, I need not wish to be an angel. Perhaps
God is not less glorified by your obedience, and not to shock you, I will add by mine,
than by Gabriel's. It is a mighty manifestation of his grace indeed, when it can live,
and act, and conquer in such hearts as ours; when, in defiance of an evil nature and an
evil world, and all the force and subtilty of Satan, a weak worm is still upheld, and enabled
not only to climb, but to thresh the mountains; when a small spark is preserved through storms
In these circumstances, the work of grace is to be estimated, not merely from its
imperfect appearance, but from the difficulties it has to struggle with and overcome; and
therefore our holiness does not consist in great attainments, but in spiritual desires, in
hungerings, thirstings, and mournings; in humiliation of heart, poverty of spirit, submission,
meekness; in cordial admiring thoughts of Jesus, and dependence upon him alone for all we want.
Indeed these may be said to be great attainments; but they who have most of them are most
sensible that they, in and of themselves, are nothing, have nothing, can do nothing, and
see daily cause for abhorring themselves, and repenting in dust and ashes.
Our view of death will not always be alike, but in proportion to the degree in which
the Holy Spirit is pleased to communicate his sensible influence.We may anticipate the
moment of dissolution with pleasure and desire in the morning, and be ready to shrink from
the thought of it before night. But though our frames and perceptions vary, the report of
faith concerning it is the same. The Lord usually reserves dying strength for a dying hour.
When Israel was to pass Jordan, the Ark was in the river; and though the rear of the host
could not see it, yet as thev successively came forward and approached the banks they all
beheld the Ark, and all went safely over. As you are not weary of living, if it be the
Lords pleasure, so I hope, for the sake of your friends and the people whom you love, He
will spare you amongst us a little longer; but when the time shall arrive which he has
appointed for your dismission, I make no doubt but He will overpower all your fears,
silence all your enemies, and give you a comfortable, triumphant entrance into his kingdom.
You have nothing to fear from death; for Jesus, by dying, has disarmed it of it's sting,
has perfumed the grave, and opened the gates of glory for his believing people. Satan, so
far as he is permitted, will assault our peace, but he is a vanquished enemy: our Lord
holds him in a chain, and sets him bounds which he cannot pass. He provides for us,
likewise the whole armor of God and has promised to cover our heads himself in the day
of battle, to bring us honourably through every skirmish, and to make us more than
conquerors at last.
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