March 8, 1783. My Dear Child,
IT would please me if I could either visit you or write to you, or both, every week. But it cannot be ; I am behindhand with every body. Yet I think I send you six letters for one. You stare at that; but if you please to count the lines in one of your epistles, and the letters in every line, and then compare it with one of mine, you will find that you receive many more words and letters than you return.
You sometimes intimate that you are afraid of death ; and I wonder not at it. For you are a sinner, but I hope to see you a believer, and then you will not greatly fear it, while it is at a distance ; and whenever it comes very near, you will not fear it
at all. Mr. is gone, and so is Mr. ——,
and neither of them was more afraid of death than you would be afraid of a coach that should stop at the gate to take you home to us. Jesus died to make death safe and comfortable to us. Balaam was not a good man, but he spoke well when he said, " Let me die the death of the righteous." Make that prayer for yourself; it is a good one, though short. Entreat the Lord to number you amongst the righteous, that you may live their life; then your death will be like theirs. The Scripture in many places speaks of the righteous and the wicked, as two characters which divide and comprehend all mankind ; and yet it tells us that there is nona righteous, no not one—that is, there are none righteous by nature : sinners are made righteous by the grace of God. The grace of God teaches them to understand what they read of a Saviourr and of their own need of a Saviour. When they put their trust in him, their sins are forgiven them for his sake ; and when they rightly consider his love to them, his dying for their sakes, they learn to love him, and they who love him, must and will hate what is evil; they learn to resemble him, and study to please him ; and thus they are not only accepted as righteous in the Beloved, but they are really made so ; the love 'of righteousness is implanted in their hearts ; they believe what the Lord says, they heartily strive to obey his commands, to avoid what he forbids ; they place their happiness in his favour, and in doing his will. They cannot but speak of their Saviour, and what he has done for them ; they love to hear others speak of them, and they love to hear those ministers who preach concerning him ; but their religion does not all consist in talking and hearing ; they are upright, gentle, and loving; they imitate Him who went about doing good. The evil tempers of self-will, impatience, pride, envy, anger and malice, are put away • they cannot allow themselves in such things ; if they feel the rising of such things in their hearts, they are grieved and ashamed, and are glad to fly to the throne of grace for mercy and help against them. On the other hand, they no longer seek pleasure in the vanities and follies of the world ; they have better things to mind. These trifles they lay aside ; as we forsake, when we grow up, the play-things which pleased us while we were children. But you must not expect all this at once. Look at a great tree-; an oak, for instance. How tall it is ! how wide its branches spread ! and if you were to dig, you would find it has deep and wide-spreading roots in proportion! Yet this great tree sprang from a little acorn 5 but not like a mushroom in a single night: it has been years in growing, and had you watched it every day, you would hardly have perceived that it grew at all. May I not hope that there is at least a little seed of a gracious desire already put in your heart ? If so, may the Lord, who alone could plant it, water it with his blessing, and cause it to increase ; if not, it is my daily prayer, that it may be sp ; and I hope it is your prayer for yourself. I pray that you may live and die with the righteous : it is said of them, They have hope in their death ; and that when they see him approach, they shall say, " O death, where is thy sting!"
Your mamma and I love you dearly, and hope we shall always have reason to love you more and more. ^
I am your affectionate.