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MY DEAR MADAM,
March 12, 1774.
My heart is full, yet I must restrain it. Many thoughts, which crowd my mind, and would have vent were 1 writing to another person, would to you be unseasonable. I write not to remind you of what you have lost, but of what you have, which you cannot lose. May the Lord put a word into my heart that may be acceptable; and may his good Spirit accompany the perusal, and enable you to say with the apostle, that as sufferings abound, consolations also abound by Jesus Christ! Indeed I can sympathise with you. I remember too the delicacy of your frame, and the tenderness of your natural spirits; so that were you not interested in the exceeding great and precious promises of the gospel, I should be ready to fear you must sink under your trial. But I have some faint conceptions of the all-sufficiency and faithfulness of the Lord, and may address you in the king's words to Daniel, "Thy God, whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee." Motives for resignation to his will, abound in his word; but it is an additional and crowning mercy, that he has promised to apply and enforce them in time of need. He has said, "My grace shall be sufficient for thee and as thy day is, so shall thy strength be." This I trust you have already experienced. The Lord is so rich and so good, that he can by a glance of thought compensate his children for whatever his wisdom sees fit to deprive them of
If he gives them a lively sense of what he has delivered them from, and prepared for them, or of what he himself submitted to endure for their sakes, they find at once light springing up out of darkness, hard things become easy, and bitter sweet. I remember to have read of a good man in the last century, (probably you may have met with the story,) who, when his beloved and only soù lay ill, was for sometime greatly anxious about the event. One morning he staid longer than usual in his closet; while he was there, his son died. When he came out, his family were afraid to tell him, but, like David, he perceived it by their looks; and when upon enquiry they said it was so, he received the news with a composure that surprised them. But he soon explained the reason, by telling them, that for such discoveries of the Lord's goodness as he had been favoured with that morning, he could be content to lose a son every day. Yes, madam, though every stream must fail, the fountain is still full and still flowing. All the comfort you ever received in your dear friend was from the Lord, who is abundantly able to comfort you still; and he is gone but a little before you. May your faith anticipate the joyful and glorious meeting you will shortly have in a better world! Then your worship and converse together will be to unspeakable advantage, without imperfection, interruption, abatement or end. Then all tears shall be wiped away, and every cloud removed; and then you will see, that all your concernments here below, (the late afflicting dispensation not excepted,) were appointed and adjusted by infinite wisdom and infinite love.
The Lord, who knows our frame, does not expect or require that we should aim at a stoical indifference under his visitations. He allows, that afflictions are at present not joyous, but grievous;
yea, he was pleased when upon earth to weep with his mourning friends when Lazarus died. But he has graciously provided for the prevention of that anguish and bitterness of sorrow, which is, upon such occasions, the portion of such as live without God in the world; and has engaged that all shall work together for good, and yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness. May he bless you with a sweet serenity of spirit, and a cheerful hope of the glory that shall be shortly revealed!
I intimated that I would not trouble you with my own sense and share of this loss. If you remember the great kindness I always received from Mr. T— and yourself, as often as opportunity afforded, and if you will believe me possessed of any sensibility or gratitude, you will conclude that my concern is not small. I feel likewise for the public. Will it be a consolation to you, madam, to know that you do not mourn alone? A character so exemplary, as a friend, a counsellor, a christian, and a minister, will be long and deeply regretted; and many will join with me in praying, that you who are most nearly interested, may be signally supported, and feel the propriety of Mrs. Rowe's acknowledgement,
Thou dost but take the dying lamp away,
We join in most affectionate respects and condolence. May the Lord bless you and keep you, lift up the light of his countenance upon you, and give you peace! I am, &c.
MY DEAR MADAM,
April 8, 1775. I HAVE long and often purposed waiting upon you with a second letter, though one thing or other still caused delay; for though I could not but wish to hear from you, I was far from making that a condition of my writing. If you have leisure and spirits to favour me with a line now and then, it will give us much pleasure; but if not, it will be a sufficient inducement with me to write, to know that you give me liberty, and that you will receive my letters in good part. At the same time, I must add, that my various engagements will not permit me to break in upon you so often as my sincere affection would otherwise prompt me to do.
I heartily thank you for yours, and hope my soul desires to praise the Lord on your behalf. I am persuaded that his goodness to you, in supporting you under a trial so sharp in itself, and in the circumstances that attended it, has been an encouragement and comfort to many. It is in such apparently severe times that the all-sufficiency and faithfulness of the Lord, and the power and proper effects of his precious gospel, are most eminently displayed. I would hope, and I do believe, that the knowledge of your case has animated some of the Lord's people against those anxious fears which they sometimes feel when they look upon their earthly comforts with too careful an eye, and their hearts are ready to sink at the thought. What should I do, and how should I behave, were the Lord pleased to take away my desire with a stroke? But we see he can supply their absence, and afford us superior comforts without them. The gospel