January 10, 1781. My Dear Child,
I TELL many of my friends abroad, that my time is so much taken up, they must not expect me to write to them ; and yet I have offered to begin a new correspondence with you, though you are in the same house with me. I would have you take notice, and I believe you will, of this,lamong manyother circumstances by which, as occasions offer, I take a pleasure in showing you that I dearly love you, and long to contribute every thing in my power to your improvement and to your satisfaction ; and I persuade myself the hope I form of a suitable return of love and attention from you, will not be disappointed. The Lord, in his good providence, gave you to me, as a gift, and committed you to me as a trust; at the same time, he gave me a great love for you: and whatever we do for those we love, we do with pleasure.
I thank you for your letter of yesterday. It encourages me to hope that the gracious Saviour is knocking at the door of your heart. 1 doubt not but you write what you think and feel, yet there is more meaning in your expressions, than either you or I can fully comprehend. You are, as you say, a sinner ; a young sinner, and yet a great sinner. It is not your case alone, we are all born in sin ; but to be sensible that you are a sinner, is a mercy afforded but to few children at your age. May the Lord keep the persuasion alive your heart. But the word sinner includes so much, that a whole long life will hardly suffice to give you a full sense of it.— Thus much I hope you know already, that a sinner needs a Saviour ; and that Jesus is the Saviour of all sinners that seek him. I commend you to him ; if he has taught you a little, he will teach you more. Put yourself simply into his hand, and wait patiently his time ; he works powerfully, but for the most part gently and gradually. You know the sun does not break out upon us all at once in the dark night ; there is first a glimmering dawn in the sky, which gives us notice that he is coming, and prepares us for his appearance. By degrees that faint light grows brighter ; we see clearer and far
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ther ; it becomes broad day, and after that the sun rises.
Your part is to pray to him, to hear his word, and to listen with attention when you hear it preached. I trust you will find your light increase, and your difficulties abate : I wish you to be as cheerful and easy as possible. Cheerfulness is no sin, nor is there any grace in a solemn cast of countenance.— On the other hand, I would not have you light or giddy with levity ; it will hurt your own spirit, and, hinder you from the pursuit of what in your serious moments you most desire. I know your natural spirits are changeable ; sometimes they are highly volatile : I would have you correct them by thinking you are a sinner. Sometimes you are grave enough; but if you feel uneasy, then try to think what a Saviour you read of. Be sure you do not indulge a hard thought of him, as though he were severe, and stern, and ready to take advantage of you. Form your ideas of him from the accounts the evangelists give you, that he was meek and lowly when upon earth, full of compassion and gentleness, ready to pity, to heal, to help, and to teach all who come to him; and they will tell you that he had in particular a great love for children. He tells you so himself. You read how he took them in his arms, put his hands on them, and blessed them. When you think of this, shake off gloomy thoughts, speak to him in your heart, and say, Lord bless me too.
One of the best methods of keeping free from uneasy, troublesome thoughts, at least of lessening them, is to be always employed ; strive and pray against indolence, look upon it as a hurtful, yea, a sinful thing. Read in English and French, write and work. Your mamma and I will be both willing you should diversify these employments as may be most agreeable to your own inclination ; but we wish not to see you idle. Now is the time of life for you to acquire useful knowledge, that you may make yourself agreeable, and that you may be useful and qualified to fill up that station in the world which the Lord may allot you. I will gladly assist you as much as I can, in what falls under my department ; but you know I have but little time.— God has -given you a good capacity, and therefore the less assistance will be necessary, if you are not wanting to yourself. You may depend on our doing what we can to make you happy. If we seem to cross your wishes sometimes, or not to comply with your desire, you may be sure we have some reason for it. You shall go out with us, as often as we think it will be proper and right; and we shall not leave you at home for our own pleasure, but because it would not be good for you to be too much abroad. We expect and hope you will be ruled by a hint or a Word; and then you will find us studious in contriving how to make every thing as agreeable as possible to you. Because you desired a letter soon, I have written thus much, although I had other things to do, and it is preaching morning. I shall hope for a letter from you very much ! The Lord bless you.
I am, my dear child,
Your affectionate father.