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this body abounds in wisdom and prudence, and when we behold it, and observe the several parts contributing in his hand unto the beauty of the whole, we cannot forbear crying again, "O! the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom "and knowledge of God." When deductions from this principle present themselves, rivers and streams spring out of the sacred fountain in summer and winter: but when I observe my lowness and poorness of spirit, and when chips and splinters of the cross flying about touch me, I feel gloominess, peevishness, and fretfulness, and the barometer of the mind falling as in a misty morning and a rainy day; I am suspicious of a radical defect in my experience of the power of christianity, and toss out and in the hard words, fool, and beast, and blockhead, and devil itself. O! the importance of a stedfast faith in the divinity of the Saviour of the world, and the efficacy of the blood of the everlasting covenant, shed for many, and sufficient for all.
Though beating along the coasts of the dead sea, where multitudes wreck themselves; I hope you are in sight of a port divine, and after casting anchor within the vail, are waiting the signal to land, and to hear the voice from the throne, "Come up hither." Wishing to suffer, and to rejoice with them who call on the name of the Lord Jesus, and assuring my self of their good wishes, I am, Reverend dear Father, yours, &c. ALEX. SHANKS.
A LETTER, to a Person seemingly Dying.
IN dying, the Lord our righteousness is a very present help. "Fear not; for I am with thee, and will help thee; "yea I will help thee. Fear not, little flock, it is your "Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom! The "Kingdom! What a gift is the kingdom!" where righte ousness, peace, and joy reign; and where every subject, redeemed with blood and crowned with life, is made a king and priest to God. "Fear not; I am the first and the last. "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive "for evermore, amen; and have the keys of hell and of "death." Oh! for a power of faith to believe his words.
Engraved as on eternal brass,
The mighty promise shines;
The champion, unbelief, will rise against us; but we are taught to knock it down with the power and faithfulness of the speaker, and to deny whatever it says against his mercy, truth, and love.
While beating about the mouth of the harbour, in sight of the shore of eternity, dying believers are liable to fear; but they ought to consider, if their fearfulness be not more occasioned by weakness of body than want of faith; and that they have to deal with a father who knoweth the frames of his children, and who remembereth that they are dust. "Behold, I lay in Zion a corner-stone, elect, "precious; and he that believeth on him shall not make "baste." Here is the foundation of faith, and hope, and joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Upon this foundation I wish to rest while I live, and when I must die; looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life,
Challenges of conscience for sin committed, and duty neglected, and time mispent, often throw a gloom over the mind, and raise a storm in the heart. But, blessed be God for this cordial, "If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." Hoping that the Lord will not leave you destitute of his mercy and truth, and wishing to remember you while you need to be remembered, I am, as usual,
JEDBURGH, April 21, 1797.
The following is part of a letter which was written to one, originally a member of his congregation, who, after travelling, along with her husband (who belonged to the army,) to various parts of the British dominions, obtained with him, in the evening of life, a comfortable settlement in Great-Britain,
AFTER the fatigues and inconveniencies of travelling; after the noise of camps and garrisons, the pleasures of rest will have a strong relish. An altar of gratitude is, I hope standing in your dwelling place, and sacrifices of praise offered daily to him who preserved you by sea and land, and who at last hath given you an house in Great-Britain, within the kingdom of his dear Son. A voice, how
ever, is saying, this is not your rest. Here the best houses are temporary huts, which the hand of industry raises, and the vanity of wealth beautifies and fills. But here conveniencies are calls to gratitude, and opportunities to help forward our preparations for an house not made with hands, and a rest remaining for the people of God. * ***
So much did he value social worship in the family, that, although those who occasionally lodged with him were under the necessity of going away by six, or even four in the morning, he was always up before them, and called them to worship before their departure.
He was habitually serious, but not gloomy; modest, but not mean; always dignified, but never assuming. By reason of long habits of close study, he was rather disposed to silence in company; sometimes, however, he could indulge in innocent pleasantry, and interest himself deeply in certain conversations. Cautious and prudent in his whole deportment, it is not saying too much, to affirm that he weighed almost every word before he spake it, and almost every action in his intercourse with mankind before he performed it.
He was (what that society to which he belonged has always professed and shewn itself to be) loyal to the king, and zealously attached to the good laws of the realm.
His visits to the sick were frequent; but he studied to be very short both in his prayer and address.
He put the greatest value upon time. At even, he arranged the plan of labour for the following day; and, in general, neither company, amusement, nor extraneous business, were suffered to derange it. He calculated upon contingencies, and kept his loins girt about and his lamp burning; so that he was seldom called to do any thing for which he was unprovided. He was always an early riser; but towards the close of his days he was little in bed, and was sometimes debarred from rest in sleep for fourteen days and nights together.
His infirmities increased, and he presented his demission to the Associate Presbytery of Kelso; his brethren received it with every demonstration of sincere regard for his welfare, and of their deep regret for the loss of his company and counsel.
After his demission, and the ordination of his successor, he preached occasionally; and it was truly affecting to see him then in the pulpit, and to hear him, in the character of a private member of the church, praying, "Lord, bless our Pastor; give him firmness of nerve, fertility of thought, readiness of recollection and expression; and may thy gospel come to us not in word but in power."
A little before his death, he gave five pounds to the Missionary Society; and said to his successor, when he gave him the money, this is the last effort I can make for the extension of the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ in the world. "There are some things in the society that I cannot approve; but were I to wait until all were of my way of thinking, nothing would ever be done."
His Bible was now his constant companion; study was still his delight; and though he was under no necessity to prepare for preaching, he studied for his own amusement. He loved all discourses and writings that were simple and scriptural. On this account, he esteemed Robinson's Scripture Characters very highly, and read it seven times over during the last year of his life.
He was struck with a palsy on the 15th of August 1799. He recovered in part; but his recollection continued broken, which rendered him unfit for conversation.
He was conscious of his approaching dissolution, and gave evidence that he was supported by the faith of those doctrines which he had long preached to others. When he was asked what was now the ground of his hope, he answered, The hope set before me in the gospel.
When supported by his successor in walking across the room, the day being uncommonly dark, and the rain descending in torrents, making the harvest an heap in the day of grief and desperate sorrow; having looked out at the window, he turned to him, and with an energy of voice and expression of countenance he will never forget, said, “Oh "what a day! It is enough to turn melancholy into deep "mourning. My mind would now be completely without "support, but for the peace of God that passeth all under"standing." His patience and fortitude under severe affiction were great. When he was asked how he did, even when the spasmodic asthma was most violent, he only
said, "A little uneasy." He had often condemned the conduct of some persons, who, when they fall into trouble, alarm the whole circle of their friends and neighbours; and work up their feelings by frequent recitals of their sufferings, when they ought to have their minds turned to nobler subjects and exercises. He now marked his disapprobation of such conduct, by his own example under complicated sufferings; for these were never once made the subjects of his discourse, or complaint.
He closed his life in short prayers, like the following: "Lord, strengthen me with all might, according to thy "glorious power, unto all patience, with long suffering and "joyfulness, for Jesus' sake. Amen."-"Lord let patience "have its perfect work, for Jesus' sake. Amen."- "Into "thy hand I commit my spirit. Thou hast redeemed me, "O Lord God of truth.". -"O Lord, enable me to leave "all, and give up with all, and come to thee, for Jesus' sake. "Amen."
On the day before his death, he looked out at the window to the garden, and to the sky, with apparent delight; and often asked, "When will Christ come in?" In the evening he grew worse; and it was indeed affecting to sec this precious son of Zion in his last struggles, when, to use his own expression, hands, and feet, and faith, were all at work. At a late hour, he said, "Lord, raise me above all my infirmities, for Jesus' sake. Amen."And about four in the morning, of the fifth of October, 1799, his prayer was answered. He died in the 68th year of his age, and the 39th of his ministry. His dust rests in Jedburgh burial-field; and that he lived much respected and beloved, and died much and justly lamented, is inscribed on the stone that marks his grave.
To the writer of this memoir he was an affectionate father in Christ; and no time nor change can efface the impression which his tender solicitude and unwearied kindness has made. Endeared to him by his many offices of friendship, and labours of love; and writing this memoir in that study where the greatest part of his life was spent, and where those spiritual feasts were prepared which delighted and nourished the souls of many; he feels what no words can describe. Such feelings, are natural, and he does not blush to avow them.