A LETTER TO A FRIEND IN TROUBLE.
M* DteAU Madam,
THE letter we received yesterday from Mr. -, lias given us some painful feelings for you both. He says, yon are lower in your spirits than Usual. By this time, I hope, the Lord hath raised your spirits again: I wonder not that they sometimes droop. Your part is trying and solitary, affording many handles, which the enemy, if permitted, knows how to take hold of. The pressure of your troubles is farther aggravated by their long continuance. It is one thing t6 stand tolerably in a skirmish, when it is Jout a brush and away; like a hasty shower in a summer's day, which presently leaves us in full possession of the ■sun again : it is tjuite a different thing to endure patiently, when a trial lasts, not for days or months, but from year to year, when expectation seems to foil, and all our scouts return to tell us, there is no ^perceptible abatement of the waters.
But is this the way to raise your spirits? Insiead of giving you sal-volatile as I designed, I bad almost mis» taken the vial. Let us try again. Ay, this is it. Read the inscription, ** As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." tfowttider that we are often sorrowing ki such a worte as this ; but to be always rejoicing, though in the midst of tribulation, this may seem strange, but it is no more strange than true. When I want witness to this truth in open court, 1 may confidently subpoena you to confirm it.
They who would always rejoice, must derive theip joy from a source which is invariably the same; in other words, from Jesus. Oh that name! what a person, what an office, what a love, what a life,' what a death, does it recal to our minds! Come, madam, let us leave our troubles to themselves for a while, and let us walk to Golgotha, and there take a view of his. We stop, as we are going, at Gethsemane, for it is not a step out of the road. There he lies, bleeding though not wounded, or if wounded, it is by an invisible, an almighty hand. Now I begin to see what sin has done. Now let me bring my sorrows, and compare, measure, and weigh them, against the sorrows of my Saviour! Foolish attempt! to weigh a mote against a mountain, against the uerse! Thus far we have attained already, and aim to say,
Now let our pains be all forgot,
Our hearts no more repine !
Our sufferings are not worth a thought,
When, Lord, compar'd with thine.
We are still more confirmed at our next station. Now we are at the foot of the cross. Behold the Man I attend to his groans; contemplate his wounds. Now let us sit down here a while and weep for our crosses, if we can. For our crosses! Nay, rather let us weep for our sins, which brought the Son of God into such distress. Agreed. 1 feel that we, not He, deserved to be crucified, and to be utterly forsaken. Buc this is not all: his death not only shows our desert, but seals our pardon. For a fuller proof, let us take another station. Now we are at his tomb. But the stone is. rolled away. He is Hot here. He is risen. The debt is paid, and the surety discharged. Not here ! where then is He ? Look up! Methinks the clouds part, and glory breaks through—Behold a throne! What a transition-! He who hung upon the cross, is seated upon the throne ! Hark 1 he speaks! May every word sink deep into your heart and mine! He says, " 1 know your " sorrows, yea I appoint them ; they are tokens of " my love; it is thus I call you to the honour of fol" lowing me» See a place prepared for you near to " myself! Fear hone of these things: be thou faith" ful unto death, and 1 will give thee a crown of life." It is enough, Lord. Now then let us compute, let us calculate again. These scales are the balances of the sanctuary. Let us put in our trials and griefs on one side. What an alteration ! I thought them lately very heavy : now I find them light, the scale hardly turns with them. But how shall we manage to put in the weight on the other side ? It is heavy indeed: an exceeding, eternal weight of glory. It is beyond my grasp and power. No matter. Comparison is needless. I see with the glance of an eye, there is no proportion. I am content. I am satisfied. 1 am ashamed. Have I been so long mourning, and is this all the cause? Well, if the flesh will grieve, it shall grieve by itself. The Spirit, the Lord enabling me, shall rejoice, yea it does. From this moment I wipe away my tears, and forbid them to flow ; or, if 1 must weep, they shall be tears of gratitude, love, and joy! The bitter is sweet; the medicine is food. But the cloud closes. I can no longer see what I lately saw. However, / have seen it. I know it is there. He ever liveth full of compassion and care, to plead for me above, to manage for me below. He is mine) and I atri his: therefore all is well. I hope this little walk will do us both good. We
have seen wonderful things to-day ! Wonderful in themselves, and wonderful in their efficacy to compose our spirits, and to make us willing to suffer on. Blessed be God for his unspeakable gift!
Having written thus far, I made a digression to the Jews' synagogue. Though born and bred in London, I was never there before. On my return I may say, Blessed be God, not only for the gift of his Son, but for the gift of his Spirit! What a gross darkness overwhelms that unhappy people! With the holy Scriptures in their hands, how utterly are they ignorant of their true meaning ! And what multitudes of professed Christians, who can pity or smile at their superstitions, are equally though differently mistaken! Hence we have another argument for thankful submission. Supposing our life could have passed without a single trial, yet if we had lived and died ignorant of God and of ourselves, our happiness, preferable to that of the most afflicted, would have been but like the poor marks of distinction paid to a state criminal of rank who is attended to the place of execution with a parade not allowed to the vulgar, but must undergo the same punishment when he comes thither. How trivial is such a pre-eminence! What do all. past pleasures and advantages now avail the worldling who died this morning? What is the believer, who died this morning, the worse now for the trials which he met with in his path to glory ? Quite the reverse: he now sees that they were directed and adjusted to promote and secure his progress, and to shield him from still greater evils, to which he was otherwise exposed. Let us abide by the conclusion, which our judgment assures us he now makes. It will appear as plain and self-evident to us likewise, when we.shall be called to take possession of our lot in the inheritance of the saints in light. ,
If you have lately been in conflict with the enemy, I
hope this will find you praising the Lord for a new victory—If under bodily indisposition, I hope his gracious hands have already brought you health and cure, accompanied with a farther discovery of the abundance of peace and truth.
I am, Madam,