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man, so long as he is a selfish earthly minded creature, must be deprived of his true life, the life of God, the spirit of heaven in his soul; then how is the face of things changed; for then, what life is so much to be dreaded, as a life of worldly ease and prosperity ? what a misery, nay, what a curse, is there in every thing that gratifies and nourishes our self-love, self-esteem and selfseeking ? On the other hand, what a happiness is there in all inward and outward troubles and vexations, when they force us to feel and know the hell that is hidden within us, and the vanity of every thing without us : when they turn our self-love into self-abhorrence, and force us to call upon God, to save us from ourselves, to give us a new life, new light, and new spirit in Christ Jesus.
O happy famine ! might the poor prodigal have well said, "which by reducing me to the necessity of asking to eat husks with swine; brought me to myself, and caused my return to my first happiness, in my father's house."
Now, sir, I will suppose your distressed state to be as you represent it; inwardly, darkness, heaviness, and confusion of thoughts and passions ; outwardly, ill usage from friends, relations and all the world; unable to strike up the least spark of light or comfort, by any thought or reasoning of your own.
O happy famine, which leaves you not so much as the husk of one human comfort to feed upon! For my dear friend, this is the time and place for all that good and life, and salvation, to happen to you, which happened to the prodigal son. Your way is as short, and your success as certain, as his was, You have no more to do than he had. You need not call out for books and methods of devotion : for, in your present state, much reading, and borrowed prayers, are not your best method.
All that you are to offer to God, all that is to help you to find him to be your Saviour and Redeemer, is best taught and expressed by the distressed state of
Only let your present and past distress make you feel and acknowledge this two-fold great truth: first, that in and of yourself, you are nothing but darkness, vanity and misery. Secondly, that of yourself, you can no
more help yourself to light and comfort, than you can create an angel. People, at all times, can seem to assent to these two truths, but then it is an assent that has 'no depth or reality, and so is of little or no use. condition has opened your heart, for a deep and full conviction of these truths. Now give way, I beseech you, to this conviction, and hold these two truths in the same degree of certainty, as you know two and two to be four; and then my dear friend, you are, with the prodigal, come to yourself; and above HALF YOUR WORK
Being now in the full possession of these two truths, feeling them in the same degree of certainty, as you
feel your own existence, you are under this sensibility to give yourself absolutely and entirely to God in Christ Jesus, as into the hands of infinite love : firmly believing this great and infallible truth, that God has no will towards
you, but that of infinite love, and infinite desire to make you a partaker of his divine nature ; and that it is as absolutely impossible for the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to refuse you all that good, and life, and salvation, which you want, as it is for you to take it by your own power.
O, sir, drink deep of this cup; for the precious water of eternal life is in it. Turn unto God with this faith ; cast yourself into this abyss of love ; and then you will be in that state the prodigal was in, when he said, I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son; and all that, will be fulfilled in you, which is related of him.
Make. this, therefore, the two-fold exercise of your heart: Now, bowing yourself down before God, in the deepest sense and acknowledgement of your own nothingness and vileness ; then, looking up to God in faith and love, consider him as always extending the arms of his mercy towards you, and full of an infinite desire to dwell in you, as he dwells in the angels in heaven. Content yourself with this inward and simple exercise of yonr heart, for a while; and seek, or like nothing in any book but that which nourishes and strengthens this state of Here, my
Come unto me, says the holy Jesus, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. dear friend, is more for you to live upon, more light for your mind, more of unction for your heart, than in volumes of human instruction. Pick up the words of the holy Jesus, and beg of bim to be the light and life of your soul : Love the sound of his name ; for Jesus is the love, the sweetness, the meekness, the compassionate goodness of the Deity itself; which became man, that so men might have power to become the sons of God. Love, pity, and wish well to every soul in the world; dwell in love, and then you dwell in God: hate nothing but the evil that stirs in your own heart. Teach
your heart this prayer till your 'heart continually saith, though not with outward words :: “holy Jesus, meek Lamb of God! Bread that came down from heaven! Light and life of all holy souls ! help me to a true and living faith in thee. O do thou open thyself within me, with all thy holy nature, spirit, tempers, and inclinations, that I may be born again of thee; and be in thee a new creature, quickened and revived, led and governed by thy holy spirit." Yours in all christian affection,
July 20. My dear worthy Friend, Whom I heartily love in the unity of the spirit of Christ. Your long letter I received some time the last month, and read with much pleasure. For, long as it was, I did not wish it to be shorter., I bless God for that good and right spirit, which breathed in every part of it. As it required no immediate answer, and you left me to my own time, so I did not intend to write till last week; but by accidental affairs, bave been hindered from complying with my intention till now.
Your judgment has failed you in nothing, but in thinking your letter would be disagreeable to me; or that my answer was deferred on that account. Every creature has my love; but persons of your spirit kindle in me
every holy affection of honour and esteem towards them. Love with its fruits of meekness, patience, and humility, is all that I wish, for myself, and every human creature: For this is to live in God, united to him, both for time and eternity.
have done with error, scruple and delusion, consider the Deity (as I have said) to be the greatest love, the greatest meekness, the greatest sweetness; the eternal unchangeable will to be a good and blessing to every creature ; and that all the misery, darkness and death, of fallen angels, and fallen men, consists in their having lost this divine nature. Consider yourself, and all the fallen world, as having nothing to seek or wish for, but by the spirit of prayer to draw into the life of your soul, rays and sparks of this divine, meek, loving, tender nature of God. Consider the holy Jesus as the gift of God to your soul, to begin and finish the birth of God and heaven within you, in spite of every inward or outward enemy. These three infallible truths heartily embraced, and made the nourishment of your soul, shorten and secure the way to heaven, and leave no room for error, scruple, or delusion. The poverty of our fallen nature, the depraved workings of flesh and blood, the corrupt tempers of our polluted birth in this world, do us no hurt, so long as the spirit of prayer works contrary to them, and longs for the first birth of the light and spirit of heaven.
All our natural evil ceases to be our own evil, as soon as our will-spirit turns from it; it then changes its nature, loses all its poison and death, and only becomes our holy cross, on which we happily die from self, and this world, into the kingdom of heaven.
I much congratulate you on your manner of prayer; so practised, it becomes the life of the soul, and the true food of eternity. Keep in this state of application to God, and then you will infallibly find it to be the way of rising out of the vanity of time, into the riches of eternity.
Do not expect or look for the same degrees of sensible fervour.---The matter lies not there.-Nature will have its share, but the ups and downs of that are to be overlooked.--Whilst your will-spirit is good, and set right, the changes of creaturely fervour lessen not your union
with God. It is the abyss of the heart, an unfathomable depth of eternity within us, as much above sensible ferrour, as heaven is above earth; it is this that works our way to God, and unites us with heaven. This abyss of the heart, is the divine nature and power within us, which never calls upon God in vain, but whether helped or deserted by bodily fervour, penetrates through all outward nature, as easily and effectually as our thoughts can leave our bodies, and reach into the regions of eternity.
I am, with hearty prayers to
Your truly affectionate
Friend and servant,
My dear I am greatly rejoiced at your expressing so feeling a sense of the benefit of prayer; and hope you will every day be more and more raised to, and united with God, by it.
I love no mysterious depths, or heights of speculation, covet no knowledge, want to see no ground of nature, grace, and creature, but so far as it brings me nearer to God, forces me to forget and renounce every thing for him, to do every thing in him, and for him : and to give every breathing, moving, stirring intention and desire of my heart, soul, spirit and life to him.
It is for the sake of the spirit of prayer, that I have endeavoured to set so many points of religion in such a view as must dispose the reader, willingly to give up all that he inherits from his fallen father, to be all hunger and thirst after God, and have no thought or care, but how to be wholly his devoted instrument, every where, and in every thing, his adoring, joyful, and thankful servant,