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my dependence either upon your veracity or your judgment to any trial. We live upon the confines of the invisible world, or rather perhaps in the midst of it. That unseen agents have a power of operating on our minds, at least upon that mysterious faculty we call the imagination, is with me not merely a point of opinion, or even of faith, but of experience. That evil spirits can, when permitted, disturb, distress, and defile us, I know, as well as I know that the fire can burn me: and though their interposition is perhaps more easily and certainly distinguishable, yet, from analogy, I conclude that good spirits are equally willing, and equally able, to employ their kind offices for our relief and comfort. I have formed in my mind a kind of system upon this subject, which for the most part, I keep pretty much to myself; but I can intrust my thoughts to you as they occasionally offer. I apprehend that some persons, (those particularly who rank under the class of nervous,) are more open and accessible to these impressions than others, and probably the same person more so at some times than others. And though we frequently distinguish between imaginary and real, (which is one reason why nervous people are so seldom pitied,) yet an impression upon the imagination may, as to the agent that produces it, and to the person that receives it, but as much a reality as any of the sensible objects around him; though a by-stander, not being able to share in the perception, may account it a mere whim, and suppose it might be avoided or removed by an act of the will. Nor have any a right to withhold their assent to what the Scriptures teach, and many sober persons declare, of this invisible agency, merely because we cannot answer the questions, How? or Why? The thing may be certain, though we cannot easily explain it; and there may be just and important reasons for it, though we should not be able to assign them. If what you heard, or, (which, in my view, is much the same,) what you thought you heard, had a tendency to compose your spirit, and to encourage your application to the Lord for help, at the time when you were about to stand in need of especial assistance, then there is a sufficient and suitable reason assigned for it at once, without looking further. It would be dangerous to make impressions a rule of duty; but if they strengthen us and assist us in the performance of what we know to be our duty, we may be thankful for them.
You have taken leave of your favourite trees, and the scenes of your younger life, but a few years sooner than you must have done, if the late dispensation had not taken place. All must be left soon; for all below is polluted, and in its best state is too scanty to afford us happiness. If we are believers in Jesus, all we can quit is a mere nothing, compared with what we shall obtain. To exchange a dungeon for a palace, earth for heaven, will call for no self-denial when we stand upon the threshold of eternity, and shall have a clearer view than we have now of the vanity of what is passing from us, and the glory of what is before us. The partial changes we meet with in our way through life are designed to remind us of, and prepare us for, the great change which awaits us at the end of it. The Lord grant that we may find mercy
of the Lord in that soleinn hour.
I am, &c.
MRS. T ****
My Dear Madam,
March 12, 1774. My heart is full, yet I must restrain it. Many thoughts which crowd my mind, and would have vent, were I writing to another person, would to you be unseasonable. I write not to remind you of what you have lost, but of what you have, which you cannot lose. May the Lord put a word into my heart that may be acceptable; and may his good Spirit accompany the perusal, and enable you to say with the apostle, that as sufferings abound, consolations also abound by Jesus Christ. Indeed I can sympathize with you. I remember too the delicacy of your frame, and the tenderness of your natural spirits ; so that, were you not interested in the exceeding great and precious promises of the Gospel, I should be ready to fear you must sink under your trial. But I have some faint conceptions of the all-sufficiency and faithfulness of the Lord,
in the King's words to Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.” Motives for resignation to his will abound in his word; but it is an additional and crowning mercy, , that he has promised to apply and enforce them in time of need. He has said, “My grace shall be sufficient for thee; and as thy day is, so shall thy strength be.” This I trust you have already experienced. The Lord is so rich and so good, that he can by a glance of thought compensate his children for whatever his wisdom sees fit to deprive them of.
If he gives them a lively sense of what he has delivered them from, and prepared for them, or of what he himself submitted to endure for their sakes, they find at once light springing up out of darkness, hard things become easy, and bitter sweet. I remember to have read of a good man in the last century, (probably you may have met with the story,) who, when his beloved and only son lay ill, was for some time greatly anxious about the event. One morning he staid longer than usual in his closet; while he was there his son died. When he came out his family were afraid to tell him, but, like David, he perceived it by their looks; and when upon inquiry they said it was so, he received the news with a composure that surprised them. But he soon explained the reason, by telling them, that for such discoveries of the Lord's goodness as he had been favoured with that morning, he could be content to lose a son every day. Yes, Madam, though every stream must fail, the fountain is still full and still flowing. All the comfort you ever received in your dear friend was from the Lord, who is abundantly able to comfort you still; and he is gone but a little before you. May your faith anticipate the joyful and glorious meeting you will shortly have in a better world. Then your worship and converse together will be to unspeakable advantage, without imperfection, interruption, abatement, or end. Then all tears shall be wiped away, and every cloud removed; and then you will see, that all your concernments here helow, (the late afflicting dispensation not excepted) were appointed and adjusted by infinite wisdom and infinite love.
The Lord, who knows our frame, does not expect or require that we should aim at a Stoical indifference under his visitations. He allows, that afflictions are at present not joyous, but grievous ; yea, he was pleased when upon earth to weep with his mourning friends when Lazarus died. But he has graciously provided for the prevention of that anguish and bitterness of sorrow, which is, upon such occasions, the portion of such as live without God in the world; and has engaged, that all shall work together for good, and yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness. May he bless you with a sweet serenity of spirit, and a cheerful hope of the glory that shall shortly be revealed.
I intimated, that I would not trouble you with my own sense and share of this loss. If
If you remember the great kindness I always received from Mr. T**** and yourself, as often as opportunity afforded, and if
you will believe me possessed of any sensibility or gratitude, you will conclude that my concern is not small. I feel likewise for the public. Will it be a consolation to you, madam, to know, that you do not mourn alone? ? A character so exemplary as a friend, a counsellor, a Christian, and a minister, will be long and deeply regretted; and many will join with me in praying, that you, who are most nearly interested, may be signally supported, and feel the propriety of Mrs. Rowe's acknowledgment,
Thou dost but take the dying lamp away,
To bless me with thine own unclouded day. We join in most affectionate respects and condolence. May the Lord bless you and keep you, lift
up of his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
I am, &c.