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And before his death, which was in June, 1750, their number was considerably enlarged; and both women and men (for the most part young persons) had shewn great concern about salvation. But I think the principal work began immediately upon his death,which begat a visibly anxious distress upon the whole town. I judged a sermon requisite upon such an occasion. The blessings of the Spirit were very remarkably with the providence and the word : for quickly after, the numbers which applied to me daily were so large, that I was obliged to rent (for more convenience) two rooms at a distance from my lodge ing, being a boarder, wherein to see them. For this year past, having an house of my own, I see them at home.
I know nothing particular in this work, except it may be, that the far greater part have been brought to the acknowledgment of the truth in a very gentle way. Very few have been struck into terrors: though some have. The most have been impressed with a sort of mournful uneasiness; and have been brought to Christ in a sorrowing kind of way. Yet I have reason to believe that their convictions have been deep, since, of the multitudes which have drawn back, I cannot find above one or two who have been able to shake them quite off. Possibly it may be added to this, that they are importunately carried out after inward holiness, striving against indwelling sin. Known only to God are all his works: yet in general we can guess at the reasons of such singularities, admiring the wisdom and goodness of God. May not the gentleness of this procedure, and its tendency, be in a correspondence of the Spirit with the manner of preaching? Mine hath been a display of the law and the gospel; holding forth the promises of the one and the threatenings of the other: and the corruption of nature, and the necessity of a new heart as the great fruit and evidence of faith in Jesus Christ, have been in the fullest manner explained and insisted on.
Sometimes the pourings out of the Spirit seem to have been suspended, and we have lain under a lamentable coldness; till the falling away, of some hath provoked the zeal of others, and we have been blessed with fresh influences. From too probable reasons, I am inclined to charge these declensions upon my own want of fortitude and resoluteness in opposing the torrent of vice, and the influence and faces of some great ones who live among us. In which I am the more confirmned from bence, that such decays we have not suffered in any considerable degree, since we have more boldly made profession of ourselves in the lately erected society. Yours truly,
Dr. Gibbons to Mr. Darracott. Reverend and dear sir, Though I have delayed answering your letter, yet the delay has not arisen from any thing like an intention first to interrupt, and then to conelude our correspondence. Your correspondence is such as breathes of heaven; and how much do I want of heavenly breath, that my poor dying spark may be quickened and inflamed! Believe me, sir, that I am a strange composition ; something I trust like the divine life I do feel, but how is it damped, clouded, and depressed by creature-attachments, and violent tendencies to mortal, if not to sinful objects! Of-late I have been greatly afflicted. My pulpit, where I trust I have found some divine enlargement and pleasure, has been a place of terror and distress to me. Foreign, impertinent, and even worse thoughts than these have broke in upon my mind while I have been praying, and preaching, and have seemed as if they would be uttered, and thus has my mind been thrown into confusion and horror, when it should have been all divine attention and devotion. Through mercy, last Lord's-day, I was something better, but I need help; help me then, my friend, with your prayers. I believe a nervous complaint in my head may contribute its part towards this affliction; but I have been ready to think that the enemy of souls, and of all righteousness has a concern in this disorder, and that he may possibly make weak nerves the place where he erects his gloomy banners, and whence he shoots off his fiery darts. I design to go into the country in a little time, and to make use of the cold bath. Oh! that I may be able to derive a spiritual benefit from this affliction.
Mr. Benjamin Forfit to Mr. Darracott. Dear and reverend sir, I received your kind letter, and rejoice in that superiority of mind which you express above the transitory events of a fading world, and the felicity you enjoy in the sense of the divine love and goodness. I cannot but think that spirits born of God, and preparing for his glory may well be contented with any state of being here, which the wisdom and love of their heavenly Father sees fit for them, especially if he so far honours them as to make them the instrumento of his praise. I confess when I see Christians, who profess their hopes of a heavenly happiness, repining and complaining under the tolerable inconveniences of life, or pursuing the wealth or pleasures of the world with eager and unsatisfied desires, it gives me a narrow idea of their knowledge either of God or themselves : a little portion of the world will satisfy the real wants of nature; and I am sure nothing but the infinite eternal good can be a suitable happiness to the immortal spirit of man. Through the divine grace I trust the language of my heart is,
I envy not the rich man's wealth,
Or pine to see his store;
With what I hope for more.
I am not for a voluntary poverty, because the bounties of Providence may be so beneficially applied to the relief of others, but I have often thought a low estate honourable, as it is the nearest conformity to the condition of our blessed Lord and Master here upon earth; and who would not rejoice in any degree of similitude to à pattern so divine, and a person so dear! But I must forbear, lest I should contradict by my practice, what I profess by my pen. If my long silence needs an apology, my good friend will please to accept this, that he would have been troubled with an epistle sooner, had I any opportunity of tendering him any service therein, and any religious reflections which my correspondence could produce, are doubtless rendered needJess by the superior possessions of his own mind.
As to the books for the poor you mentioned, I find myself prevented at present in that piece of service by our friend Mr. Cruttenden. Permit