October 83, 1783. My Dear. Child,
When I showed my last letter to your mam. ma, I thought she looked as if she was almost unwilling I should send it; but she did not say so, and therefore it went. She is unwilling to give you pain, and so am I. But I persuaded myself you would take it (as I meant it) as a proof of my love. Now and then I must-gently give you a word of advice, but it will always fee much more pleasing to me to commend than to find fault. Your welfare is very near my heart, and I feel a warm desire that your behaviour, in every respect, should be such as to engage the esteem and affection of all who know you. I remember when you were a little girl at Northampton school, I once told you, in a letter, that when the Lord in his providence, sent you to my care, I received you as his gift ; and in the pleasing hope of being an instrument in his hand of doing you good, I found such affection for you, that I would not part with you for your weight in gold. And though you are much heavier now than you were then, I can say the same still.
Mrs. W had been ill some days before I
heard of it, and then I was told she was at the point of death. This information, with some hindrances and difficulties in the way, prevented my going to ——— ; so that I did not see her. She was an old and kind acquaintance, and though of late years I was not often in her company, I feel that I have lost a friend whom 1 loved. Such is the state of this world. If we live long in it, we must expect to see our friends drop off one after another, as the leaves at this season of the year fall from the trees. But the pain which Christians feel at parting with their Christian friends, is alleviated by two considerations : first, that now they are gone, they are much more happy than they could be here ; and secondly, we hope ere long to be with them again, and to share in their songs and joys before the throne of God. This, my dear child, is the desire of my soul for you, that while you live, and when you die, you may be the Lord's. Nothing but this will satisfy me. And for this I often pray. My thoughts and prayers are often employed for you, when perhaps you are asleep. I cannot make many very particular requests.for you, because I hnow not what is best for you; but when I pray that you may have wisdom and grace to seek and know the Lord, and that he shall be graciously pleased to be your Saviour and Shepherd, and the guide of your youth, I am sure I do not ask amiss. I have a cheerful hope that he will put you among his children, guide you through this wilderness world by his counsel, and afterwards receive you to his glory ; and that he sent you to me, that you might have the benefit of those means of grace and instructions, which by his blessing will be effectual to make you wise unto salvation.
Though he alone can work in you to will, and to do according to his good pleasure, yet there is something incumbent on you. He has said, ** They " who seek me, shall find me." You must therefore seek him ; and he is not far from you. He is about your bed, and about your path. Yea, he is still nearer. I hope there are seasons when you can perceive him knocking, as it were, at the door of your heart. Do not you at times perceive something within you bearing witness to the truths of his word : warning you of the evil of sin, reminding you of death and eternity, and stirring up your desires towards himself? At such times you may be sure the Lord is near. He made the heart, and he knows how to affect it. Such warnings and calls from his good Spirit, I can recollect when I was a child younger than you ; I can remember getting into corners by myself, and praying with some earnestness, before I was eight years old. Afterwards, alas ! I proved rebellious. I cast off his fear, and would have my own way ; and thereby I plunged myself into abundance of sin and misery. But I hope you will be more obedient. Think of him as you can j make a point of praying to him in secret, remembering that when you are nSost alone, he is still with you. When you pray, endeavour simply to express your wants and feelings just as if you were speaking to me. Fine words and phrases, some people abound in ; but true prayer is the genuine language of the heart, which the Lord understands and accepts, however brokenly expressed. The woman of Canaan only said, " Lord help me 1" The publican's prayer was almost as short, " God be "merciful to me a sinner :" and both were heard.
The Bible, or the New Testament, is frequently used at school, as a school-book; and children often think no more of it than just to read their appointed lesson. But I hope you will consider it as God's book, and when you take it in hand, open it with reverence, and read with attention, as you think you - would if you expected to hear him speak to you with an audible voice from heaven. The plainest and most affecting part of the Bible, is the history of our Saviour in the evangelists ; read it often, that you may be well acquainted with it. I pray him to enable you to understand what you read. Surely when you read who he is, what he did, what he suffered, and what he has promised- to poor sinners, you will, you must, love him! And if you once love him, you will study to please him. The Lord bless you. Give our love to your governess, and all friends.
Believe me to be your very affectionate.