August 10, 1783. My Dear Child,
"VANITY of vanities !" saiththe preacher. —" How vain are all things here below !" saith Dr. Watts ;—and you and I and your mamma, may say so likewise ; for we all counted upon meeting last Sunday : we listened at the door, and peeped out of the window, but no Betsy came. When we heard by Miss ——— that you were well, we were satisfied. Now we will venture to expect you next Sunday. Indeed, it is not amiss that you should now and then meet with a balk, that you may learn, if possible, not to count too much on what to-morrow may do for you ; and that you may begin to feel the impossibility of being happy any further than your w^ is brought into submission to the will of God. In order to this, you must have your own will frequently crossed ; and things do and will turn out, almost daily in one'way or other, contrary to our wishes and expectations. Then some people fret and fume, are angry and impatient; but others who are in the Lord's school, and desirous of being taught by him, get good by these things, and sometimes find more pleasure in yielding to his appointment, though contrary to their own wills, ftian they would have done if all had happened just to their wish.
I wish my dear child to think much of the Lord's governing providence. It extends to the minutest concerns. He rules and manages all things ; but in so secret a way, that most people think he does nothing, when, in reality, he does all. He appointed the time of your coming into the world; and the day and hour of your coming from Highgate to us, depends upon him likewise : nor can you come in safety one step of the road without his protection and care over you. It may now seem a small matter to you and to me, whether you came home last Sunday, or are to come home next Sunday ;. but we know not what different consequences may depend upon the day : we know not what hidden danger you might escape by staying at Highgate last Sunday. The Lord knows all things ; he foresees every possible consequence, and often what we call disappointments, are mercies from him to save us from harm.
If I could teach you a lesson which as yet I have but poorly learned myself, I would put you in a way that you should never be disappointed. This would be the case if you could always form a right judgment of this world and all things in it. If you go to a blackberry-bush to look for grapes you must be disappointed ; but then you must think yourself, for you are big enough to know that grapes never grow upon brambles. So if you expect much pleasure here, you will not find it; but you ought not to say you are disappointed, because the Scripture warned you beforehand to look for crosses, trials, and balks every day. If you expect such things, you will not be disappointed when they happen.
I am your very affectionate. Vol. II. C