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sweeten your cross, and either in kind or in kindness make you good amends. Wait, pray, and believe, and all shall be well. A cross we must have somewhere; and they who are favoured with health, plenty, peace, and a conscience sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, must have more causes for thankfulness than grief.Look round you, and take notice of the very severe afflictions which many of the Lord's own people are groaning under, and your trials will appear comparatively light. Our love to all friends.
I am, &c,
June 3, 1777. It seems I must write something about the small-pox, but I know not well what: having had it myself, I cannot judge how I should feel if I were actually exposed to it. I am not a professed advocate for inoculation ; but if a person who fears the Lord should tell me, I think I can do it in faith, looking upon it as a salutary expedient, which he in his providence has discovered, and which therefore appears my duty to have recourse to, so that my mind does not hesitate with respect to the lawfulness, nor am I anxious about the event; being satisfied, that whether I live or die, I am in that path in which I can cheerfully expect his blessing, I do not know that I could offer a word by way of dissuasion.
If another person should say, My times are in the Lord's hands; I am now in health, and am not willing VOL. II.
to bring upon myself a disorder, the consequences of which I cannot possibly foresee. If I am to have the small-pox, I believe he is the best judge of the season and manner in which I shall be visited, so as may be most for his glory and my own good; and therefore I choose to wait his appointment, and not to rush upon even the possibility of danger without a call. If the very hairs of my head are numbered, I have no rea to fear that supposing I receive the small-pox in a natural
way, I shall have a single pimple more than he sees expedient; and why should I wish to have one less ? Nay, admitting, which however is not always the case, that inoculation might exempt me from some pain and inconvenience, and lessen the apparent danger, might it not likewise, upon that very account, prevent my receiving some of those sweet consolations which I humbly hope my gracious Lord would afford me, if it were his pleasure to call me to a sharp trial? Perhaps the chief design of this trying hour, if it comes, may be to show me more of his wisdom, power, and love, than I have ever yet experienced. If I could devise a mean to avoid the trouble, I know not how great a loser I may be in point of grace and comfort. Nor am I afraid of my face; it is now as the Lord has made it, and it will be so after the small-pox. If it pleases him, I hope it will please me. In short, though I do not censure others, yet, as to myself, inoculation is what I dare not
If I did venture, and the issue should not be favourable, I should blame myself for having attempted to take the management out of the Lord's hands into my own, which I never did yet in other matters, without finding I am no more able than I am worthy to choose for myself. Besides, at the best,
inoculation would only secure me from one of the innumerable natural evils the flesh is heir to; I should still be as liable as I am at present to a putrid fever, a bilious cholic, an inflammation in the bowels, or in the brain, and a thousand formidable diseases which are hovering around me, and only wait his permission to cut me off in a few days or hours; and therefore I am determined, by his grace, to resign myself to his disposal. Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, (for his mercies are great,) and not into the hands of men.
If a person should talk to me in this strain, most certainly I could not say, Notwithstanding all this, your safest way is to be inoculated.
We preach and hear, and I hope we know something of faith, as enabling us to intrust the Lord with our souls; I wish we had all more faith to intrust him with our bodies, our health, our provision, and our temporal comforts likewise. The former should seeni to require the strongest faith of the two. How strange is it, that when we think we can do the greater, we should be so awkward and unskilful when we aim at the less! Give
friend. I dare not advise : but if she can quietly return at the usual time, and neither run intentionally into the way of the small-pox, nor run out of the way, but leave it simply with the Lord, I shall not blame her. And if you
And if you will mind your praying and preaching, and believe that the Lord can take care of her without any of your contrivances, I shall not blame you : nay, I shall praise him for you both. My prescription is to read Dr. Watts, Psalm cxxi. every morning before breakfast, and pray it over till the cure is effected. Probatum est.
my love to
love to your
My Dear Madam, LET what has been said on the subject of acquaintance, &c. suffice. It was well meant on my side, and well taken on yours. You may perhaps see that my hints were not wholly unnecessary, and I ought to be satisfied with your apology, and am so. The circumstance of your being seen at the playhouse has nothing at all mysterious in it, as you say you have not been there these six or seven years; it was neither more nor less than a mistake. I heard you had been there within these two years : I am glad to find I was misinformed. I think there is no harm in your supposing, that of the many thousands who frequent public diversions some may, in other respects, be better than yourself; but I hope your humble and charitable construction of their mistake will not lead you to extenuate the evil of those diversions in themselves. For though I am persuaded that a few, who know better what to do with themselves, are, for want of consideration, drawn in to expose themselves in such places; yet I am well satisfied, that if there is any practice in this land sinful, attendance on the playhouse is properly and eminently so. The theatres are fountains and means of vice; I had almost said, in the same manner and degree as the ordinances