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LETTERS MENTIONED IN MEMOIR OF THE LAST ILLNESS
OF M. N-
BY MR. JAS. BOURNE. DEAR FRIEND IN THE LORD, -I am not suffered to forget you, though I sometimes fear the issue of your case, as well as yourself. But, when the Lord brings to my view the marked evidences that belong to His children, I cannot but see them in you and hope for you. Those marks that are seen in God's elect, are the image of conformity to Christ. He was poor and needy, sorrowful, lowly, ineek, and unspeakably humble, always afflicted, tempted, dying daily for His people; and as He in our nature was made perfect through suffering, so are we made to follow Him. Now, consider that the greatest work under heaven, is the work that is carried on by the Lord upon the hearts of His people, in order to fit them for that high and glorious station He has designed for them in Christ. We by nature are like the raw and shapeless materials, such as wood and stone, of which houses are framed; but they require skilful workmen and an experienced builder, to fit them for the intended use. Now, if those stones or other materials had rational faculties, would they not, when tormented with saws, hatchets, and hammers, and other terrible instruments, I say, would they not conclude that both the builders and their workmen intended their destruction ? This is exactly your case, but you ought rather to conclude that God intends to make you an habitation for Himself, because He takes such pains with you, by convictions and reproofs, by washing and cleansing, and other terrible means, to answer His gracious purpose. “Cast not away your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward,” for “He that shall come, will come, and will not tarry." Remember that the Lord doth not look at anything in you as a procuring cause, to show you His favour; neither your sins, nor your moral goodness, can hinder or promote your salvation, « The Lord delighteth in mercy; for He will have mercy, and not sacrifice." I say, give Him no rest; cry, shout, and call upon Him continually. Our cases are desperate, and none can save us but Christ; therefore look unto Him, and be saved. Satan tempts you to look at your sins, working doubts in you about your election and reprobation, and he mightily endeavours to frustrate all the means that are used in your behalf, as if your condemnation would only be the greater. The devil knows that you have faith, and he tries to direct your faith to the threatenings only, that you might be swallowed up of despair, but he industriously hides all the promised blessings belonging to you and to me, who do really believe in the justice of God, tremble at His word, fear of coming short of His salvation, and hate our sins. And now, my dear friend, I commit you unto Him “who is able to save us to the uttermost," and remain,
Yours in the Lord,
J. F. B. From the Writer of the first Letter. DEAR Miss N-1, I have been thinking of you this morning, and cannot but feel for your loss of the public means, which I am about to enjoy. I have been greatly burdened last night and this morning with many fears and misgivings; but, thinking of your case and many others, I began to consider I must not lie down in my sorrow, but must, by some
means or other, cry to God to plead my cause ; for I perceive nothing so bad for my soul, as to sit down in such a place, and judge my own cause, cast and condemn myself to everlasting destruction, and all without the word of God. This, I am taught, is a sad act of presumption, and taking the prerogative out of God's hand, and placing myself in His throne ; so that I dare not go on any further in this way, but turn suppliant and beg for my life, that He would hear my prayer. I tell Him that my enemies are mighty within and without, and that unless Jesus Christ, the Captain of my salvation, fights for me, I am gone for ever. Here I entreat with all my heart that He would not suffer me to faint or grow weary, and, like those miserable creatures whom the disciples told to hold their tongues, I cry the more, till Christ in compassion inquires into my case, and gives a sweet and satisfactory answer of peace. You appear to be on the brink of eternity, and therefore let me entreat you to be in earnest, which I cannot think you are, till you leave off to judge yourself. All judgment belongs unto God. I have laboured long at this fruitless toil, but found no relief-I should not have written, if I had not this morning prevailed ; when in a state of the most abject confession and self-loathing, the Lord received me into His bosom, where every kind word was spoken to me that could assure me of His love and favour, and that He never would leave me, nor forsake me. So I pray that the Lord would lead you in the same way to this happy-resting-place.
Yours in the Lord, J. B.
From the same. DEAR AFFLICTED FRIEND,-Such as are accustomed to be exercised in the furnace of affliction, cannot but often feel for and think of those who are with them in the same path of tribulation. I must tell you, that I am often so cast down as to fear all is over; nor do I find my case is worse in this respect than David's : “Why art Thou so far from helping me? I cry in the day-time, but Thou hearest not; in the long night of affliction, and am by no means silent, yet I seem forgotten. We find our spiritual fathers trusted in Thee, and Thou didst deliver them.” So far I read and meditated on the 22nd Psalm, and, though much overpowered with grief, yet here my heart meekened, and I thought I heard the sound of His feet, and in reading the 5th verse I was sweetly encouraged to believe that, as they were delivered, and that they trusted in the Lord, and were not confounded, so should not I. All my fears and bondage disappeared, and I found I could never be greatly moved,
“ With such a prop, Who holds the world and all things up." I can never declare to you how precious this Friend is that sticketh closer than a brother, and declares what is incredible to our natural understandings—“ that the Lord delights in such as hope in His mercy;" and not in such as are labouring to believe He will do nothing for us, though we seek Him with all our hearts. You must often be encompassed about with fears-your situation is likely to produce them. David Trouble is near, and there is none to help”-and that his strength is dried up like a potsherd, yet he gives not up his cry, but, in all his troubles, he still prays, “ Be not far from me, O Lord, haste Thee to help me.” And, what is wonderful, we find, notwithstanding all these disheartening circumstances, his complaints very quickly turned
into praises : “Ye that fear the Lord, praise Him and glorify Him, and fear Him, all ye seed of Israel," &c., &c. May I add, “Go thou, and do likewise," and may the Lord be pleased to put His Amen to it, and then you will know, with me, that “many are the troubles of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” Groan out your dark feelings, your unbelieving feelings, and your base feelings, and tell the Lord that you can do nothing naturally but dishonour Him, yet you long to glorify Him, and that He would condescend to show you His salvation. I often think of you, I often pray for you, and would fain hear of your hoping in His mercy, but, let the conflict be never so sharp, be sure you never give up crying. By this sign you make it manifest that you have life. I am often deeply exercised, but I cannot tell you how kind the Lord is in raising up my drooping head. Sometimes I fear I shall be cast off, but, as I once told you before, so now I tell you again, that the Lord was pleased to tell me, that He hates putting away. Can you believe this ? Encourage the thought, and venture to present your petition; and watch and see whether you are rejected. The hungry soul shall be filled with good things; the poor beggar heareth not rebuke. I know not how to take leave of you; I so long to hear of your spiritual enlargement. Oh that the Lord would be pleased to give you power to lend a piece of an ear, and make you a partaker of the things herein mentioned! This would break the ice, and you soon would find a sea without bound to swim in. I am, dear madam, your most willing servant in the Lord, J. B.
From the same. I cannot but hope that the mystery of God's providence in bringing you into this neighbourhood, is beginning to unfold itself. For, being a poor lost sheep in the house of Israel, there was a needs-be that you should be brought to the fold. You have long lain in ignorance and darkness, but you have excited not a few of us to pray for your enlargement; and, by the freedom of prayer, we have gained a good hope, that the Lord is beginning to reveal Himself more fully to you as a kind and tender Father in Christ Jesus, and, though you seem so near the brink of eternity, I cannot but believe that His everlasting arms are underneath, or out of your present sight, to hold you up, until His work be more fully perfected in you. All those fears of death and judgment are suffered to come upon us, for the express purpose of making us feel our miserable condition, and to make us the more earnest to cry for a deliverance. One thing I would advise you, that is : Consider the troubles our Saviour suffered, and especially towards the latter end, the fears that assailed Him and made Him to cry and pray and groan, when He was heard in that He feared. Also what could it mean, when He said He had a “baptism to be baptized with, and how He was straitened till it was accomplished !” Now I believe He felt what you now feel, straitened in God, in a broken law. Infinite justice must be satisfied, and death is close at hand. No expiation without a sacrifice. Matters come closer and closer still, until we hear, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” I believe we must all come in our measure, to this point; but, when He said, “It is finished," and gave up the ghost, then He brought life and immortality. And you will find when Christ is revealed as a Lamb without spot slain for you, then all your fears and straitness will leave you, and you will then know that all is finished in Christ Jesus, and life and immortality will indeed be brought to you; and, instead of meditating terror, you will sing His high praises here, and long to be for ever with “ the spirits of just men made perfect." I must again entreat you not to despair, when fears assail you, but let them drive you the more earnestly to the Lord Jesus Christ, and consider His straitness for you, and that He knows how to feel for you in all your distressing thoughts ; plead without ceasing, and never give up, and see if He does not surprise you with the blessings of eternal life. May this be your happy case, is the prayer of your sincere and anxious friend, J. B.
Copy of letters from Miss N— in answer. DEAR SIR, -Accept my most grateful thanks for your great kindness in coming to see so poor and wretched a worm as myself. I was very sorry that the last time you were so good as to call my poor weak frame was so very much exhausted, that I was unable to move or speak. Yet I heard all your sweet conversation; and would that I could feel it in my soul! Oh that I were indeed Ruth, and cleaved solely to Christ Jesus! Yet I do desire to know and serve Him, and Him only, that He may be my All in all; but sometimes I fear lest it be only the desire of the sluggard, for I am so cold and carnal and lifeless to spiritual things; though lying on this sick bed, I find I do nothing but sin from morning to night. Oh, wretch that I am! Satan seems to have taken firm hold on me, and I see nothing but darkness around. Oh, dear sir, I feel afraid that anything I may experience is only a delusion of the enemy, and that all is false, for my heart is so deceitful, that I know not half its wickedness, and fear that the convictions I have are but natural, for I have been in this sad state so long, from being brought so exceedingly low in body by lingering illness. I cannot say I ever made much profession, for, since I was Lrought in a measure to see my state, I have been more or less in this dreadful doubting and unbelieving way. Oh, I want sure work, as Mrs. said. I have taken the liberty of giving you a short account of my poor self, as you are so kindly interested in my welfare. Dear sir, I am undeserving of the least thing. I remain, dear sir, your unworthy
M. N. From Miss N— to the Minister. DEAR SIR,-Pardon the liberty I take in addressing you. I cannot but acknowledge the gratitude I felt when I saw your sweet and encouraging letter; it seemed as if the Lord had sent it in order that I might still hope in His mercy. I had been reading a part of the 16th of Ezekiel, and the 3rd of Zechariah. I had a slight hope that the Lord would even have pity upon me, a wretched, polluted creature, and tell me to live and pull off my polluted and filthy garments, and robe me in His spotless raiment; and, when your encouraging letter came, I felt as if the Lord would graciously dispel these thick clouds of unbelief. Oh, dear sir, I am not worthy of your kindness, nor of the deep interest you have and do take for my spiritual state, and the sad consequence of your last visit did indeed grieve me. [Alluding to his having caught a severe and dangerous cold.) I earnestly trust that it may be blessed to my dark, dead soul, through Christ. I felt the goodness of the Lord, in sending His chosen servant to such a vile and depraved creature, and do pray that your petitions may not return into your bosom again, but bring forth and bud, to the honour and glory of God thy Saviour, on my behalf. Indeed, dear sir, I have cause to be most thankful for the numberless temporal mercies I daily receive from kind friends, and every comfort to relieve my bodily sufferings. I often fear that I am like the rich man in the parable, who had all the good things of this life, and none of a better: but God grant this may not be my case. Sir, I may say, if you knew my heart you would not say it is renewed, it is full of such rebellion and wanderings from God-such sin, depravity, and deceit; so that I conclude that, if I truly know the Lord, it would not be so, and I am in an awful state, so that I cannot describe my case ; yet will I hope in the mercy of God, the Saviour of His chosen. I trust the Lord will graciously restore your health, that your labours may be blessed to my dear family and my own poor soul, May the Lord still continue to lay me on your heart before the throne of grace, for “the fervent prayer of a righteous person availeth much." Oh, dear sir, sometimes I am filled with fear and dread, lest all these things should rise up against me in judgment at the last day, if I am a vessel of wrath, for greater will be my condemnation. My poor body is often very, very low and exhausted, so that I seem on the brink of eternity, not knowing whither I am going.
I remain, dear sir, your most unworthy M. F. N.
From the same to the same. DEAR SIR, AND HONOURED SERVANT OF THE LORD,—Though exceedingly poorly, I cannot refrain from writing, to acknowledge my grateful thanks for your letter, feeling I greatly needed the reproof you gave, and earnestly trust the Lord made me to feel in some measure my shame. Oh, dear Sir, I deserve much sharper rebukes! What can I say, but lay my mouth in the dust, for very confusion ? It is as you say, my heart is bound up with sin and Satan, so that I cannot receive your true and only saving Gospel message, for I am convinced that there is none other than that which you preach, for the salvation of poor souls. Oh, this vile heart of unbelief! I know not the awfulness of the sin, and indeed see not half that is in this proud deceitful heart; but pray the Lord to probe to the bottom of every disease that is in this wicked soul. I am overwhelmed, and know not what I am, and where I am, and only know that I know nothing in Divine things. Thick darkness has indeed overtaken me; the blessed word is a sealed book and a dead letter; and I know not what will become of me. “Lord Jesus, save, or I perish !” As far as I can trust to my poor heart, I think I wrote what I felt, but the reason I receive not your testimony is because of the unbelief that reigns in me.
I remain, honoured sir, your grateful and unworthy M. N.
THE RICHES, MULTITUDE, POWER, AND TRIUMPHS OF THE
AS SEEN IN THE
(Continued from page 647, Vol. XI.) ONE evening I was invited to a private meeting, with a favoured and select company. When I went I found the meeting was held in the drawing-room of a lady of great note in what is called the religious