Cheerful Piety

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
~ 2 Corinthians 9:7

But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
~ 1 Timothy 5:4

If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
~ James 1:26-27

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
~ 1 Corinthians 13:4

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
~ Ephesians 4:32

And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
~ Mark 12:41-44

Cheerful Piety, by John Berridge.

June 1, 1792.

Who has more cause to be cheerful than the real Christian? who has Almighty God for his Father, Jesus Christ for his elder Brother, the Holy Spirit for his Sanctifier, and heaven for his eternal home, when time shall be no more.

CHEERFUL PIETY.

LETTER I.

TO THE REV. MR. B.

Dear friend, with a melancholy pleasure, and at the same time selfabasement, I heard your lectures on man’s heart as fallen by original apostacy, and the dreadful epidemical disease of sin, which has spread itself over the whole soul, Isa. i. 5, 6. When you dissected and anatomized the heart of man as before and after conversion, you went into the private closet of my heart, and the underground vaults, where you have dug up some of the bones of the old man, that have long lain rotting there.

Here is the general exchange for corruption, Mark vii. 21; here the world and the devil often meet together; here they correspond, trade, and traffic; and Satan well knows this is the best place for vending his contraband goods, having so many friends that court the heart, and recommend his wares, viz. vain thoughts, worldly imaginations, evil and impuré sensations, earthly affections, inordinate desires, ambitious views, high mindedness, riches and sinful pleasures, or Pharisaical righteousness, moral confidence, unscriptural hopes, formal sanctity, uncovenanted mercy, &c. &c.

Satan takes a turn round these walks, and pays his compliments (if I may so say) to the inmates of my soul, who are his good friends, every day, aye, every hour; he tries all ways find out the constitutional sin, or what the Apostle calls, my most easy besetting sin, Heb. xii. 1. He has baits for all sorts of corruptions, and he endeavours to time his assaults. Sometimes he bids good-morrow to one lust or corruption, sometimes to another, and so makes his cruel visits from one place of the soul to another all day long, and never bids good night; for even when I go to bed he lays down with me, and sometimes in my sleep he haunts and awakes me. If I go into my closet, in order to lock myself up from a busy world, this impertinent intruder, the devil, will break in there too, without asking me leave; and so in the family, and even in the sanctuary, the house of God, I am dogged by this roaring lion, 1 Pet. v. 8; Rom. vii. 21. Sometimes he snatches the preached word from me in a way of forgetfulness; sometimes presents other objects to my view, and sometimes would have me make an ill use of it, by misapplying it. Sometimes I pray as if I was praying to a wooden god, without a proper sense of his divinity and omniscience, and so only word it with God. By the way, I would not charge the devil with more than is his just due, for I know my own corrupt heart sometimes invites Satan to come in, and has often entertained and bid him welcome.*

Oh, how I ought to be humbled, that I have so often fetched a chair for Satan the tempter to sit down in, while he has entertained himself upon the lusts and affections of my soul; and has he not had the insolence sometimes to tempt me to sin from the aboundings of grace? 0 horrid injection ! And sometimes such cogitations have worked upon the imagination and the heart in and under ordinances. What power Satan’s temptations have had, and how often the seeds of sin have sprang up, and blossomed, and budded, and brought forth fruit, to my sorrow as well as shame, I cannot express ; but I would open the matter with soulabasement to the eye of Him who looks down into my heart, and sees all the workings of iniquity within me.

Respecting what you are now upon, it is pleasing to find experience answers experience, as face to face in a glass, Prov. xxvii. 19. There is a prodigious alliance formed by the empire of hell, the god of this world, and by unbelief, with all its train of sins, in the heart of every natural man, and the unrenewed part in every true believer; this is the threefold cord that is not easily broken; this is the grand alliance, Sir; thus the case stands; and on these accounts my soul has often bled; afraid of myself, afraid of the devil, afraid of every one, and sometimes afraid even of my God, Job xxiii. 15, 16. I have sometimes had hopes that grace had enthroned itself in my heart, and I have had, as it were, a cessation from corruption; at least in some branches; the war has seemed to be at an end almost, and I have often sung a funeral song of victory over (as I thought) a dead corruption; but Satan has called up all his forces, and fired again, and with his fire-balls has set the whole city of my soul into a flame, and there has been a resurrection of the monster sin again.
———————-
Footnote:
* Alas! how often do even the best of Christians tempt the devil to tempt them.

Oh, pity me, all you combatants in the field of battle! that know the force of temptation, and are haunted, as I am, with these ghosts continually. The devil sometimes gets me down and buffets me with the sin that most easily besets me, and then turns accuser, and brings railing accusations against me; and if he cannot keep me from a throne of grace, he makes me go limping and halting there, afraid to open my mouth; and sometimes I can only hold up my hand at the bar and cry, Guilty! guilty!

And now, Sir, let me ask you, is this balm in Gilead for an old stinking sore, as well as for a constant running one? a sore that I thought had been healed long ago, but breaks out again and again with its bloody issue. Is there a physician? what, for such a nauseous, defiled, stinking, as well as weak and sin-sick soul as mine? I truly need a physician within as well as without; Christ and his blood and righteousness to justify and acquit, and the blessed Spirit to sanctify and cure the inward diseases of my soul; for what would it avail a condemned malefactor, to be pardoned and acquitted of his crimes, if he had the jail distemper upon him, and was to die by it?*

Indeed God never justifies but he sanctifies. Election is God’s mark to know his own children by. Calling and sanctification are our marks,† by which we come to know that we ourselves are his elected children. Oh, then set forth the work of the Spirit in a rebellious will, a blind understanding, a hard heart, a stupid conscience, and vile affections; renewing
———————-
Footnote:
* The real Christian desires to be freed from the love and power of sin, as well as from the guilt, condemnation, and punishment due to it.

† Not of our own procuring, but the work of God’s love, grace, and Spirit on the soul.

and sanctifying all these powers, and so proving it to be truly the work of God and not of man. This gospel sanctification I need and earnestly desire; and if you could help me in the present prospect, of the eye of Christ scanning the hidden parts of man, it would be doing a good piece of service, not only to me, but perhaps to many others who may be in the same case. Dear Sir, may you be helped to lay open the inward powers of the soul and the deceitful arts of the body, for the alarming and rousing the stupid and careless, and for the search and enquiry of every real Christian, both with regard to the principle, growth, and activity of grace, or the decays and witherings of it; what interest God has in the heart, and how much sin and Satan have; * what advances heaven-ward, or what loitering, backslidings, or falls there are found too often in the way to glory.

I am, Dear Friend, yours, &c.

LETTER II,

TO THE REV. MR. B. DEAR FRIEND, I PERCEIVE, by some hints in a late discourse, the rough draught of the portrait of my soul has reached your hands; the lines perhaps were strong in many parts, but yet imperfect. This I call its fellow; but alas! were I to write whole volumes upon the subject, they would still be but small sketches.

To anatomize my own soul, and point out the irregular. There is no heart so perfectly renewed by the grace of God, but has and will have, as long as it is on this side the grave, more or less of inward corruption. This made the Apostle Paul groan, being burdened, and to cry out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Rom. vii. 24. …turnings and windings of a deceitful heart, is beyond my skill.* Satan is always beating and hunting the powers of my soul; watching what will start next, whether pride, sensuality, covetousness, worldly pleasures, &c. and whatever sins they are, he will be sure to strike in and follow. How often has the soul gone hand in hand with Satan in chase for pleasures, till it has been even tired, and then what fruit has it produced but sorrow and shame?

† Some Christians find many more stumbling-blocks in their way than others; but all have their trials, temptations, and hindrances, of one kind or another, either from sin, Satan, and the world, or their own deceitful hearts; which should excite them constantly to watch and pray, that they may be enabled to press forward in spite of all opposition, and at last come off as more than conquerors through him that hath loved them.

But, Sir, in order to my decyphering the combined forces of sin, hell, and the world, against me, you have justly opposed the threefold grand alliance that is for every believer, viz. Father, Son, and Spirit. True; but the query still remains, Can such a one as you be in alliance with the King of Heaven, or bear the image and stamp of the Lord Jesus? Where is the consistency? I want to know the worst of myself. I own a spark of real grace shall be kept alive, let the wind of temptation blow ever so high and strong, or the waves of temptation beat ever so hard, true grace shall be victorious; this is a matter of comfort, to find a smoking ember under a load of ashes.

There may be, indeed, two men in one person, the old and the new man, flesh and spirit, Rom. vii. 15. 21, 22, 23. So upon a medal there may be on one side the image of the devil, rebellion, slavery, lust, and tyranny; and on the other side, the effigy of a good prince, loyal subjects, peace and plenty, and the enemies’ hearts trampled upon as conquered. This I think a lively representation of the case, and it would be a happy turn, could I make it out so to my own soul.

I want to see the divine image carved more legibly on my heart. I am sure I see the picture of the devil strong enough there.

I do not so much fear the allied army of the prince of the world, and the world itself, under the command of its captain-general, the devil, as I fear the rebellion in my own bowels, the restless monster sin within me.

Civil wars are the most shocking and the most fatal ; besides, my soul is the seat of wars and conflicts, and you know, Sir, what havoc is made usually in such places.
———————-
Footnotes:
* Well might the Prophet say, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Jer. xvii. 9.

† Where there is true grace implanted in the heart, there will be desires for its increase.

I know all the powers of the enemies (let the devil call them invincible if he will) cannot harm me, were it not for inbred foes. It is the corruptions within me, not the contagion of commerce without me, which I fear, or the bloody armies around me; it is that unruly rebellious regiment of banditti within my heart, my lusts, appetites, and passions, that I fear will destroy me.* It is I that inféct myself, and therefore it is my daily prayer, Lord, deliver me from myself! This is always a part of my litany, and sometimes the first voice of my retired ejaculations.

Indeed, Sir, this is an unnatural rebellion, to be in arms and in conjunction with one’s own inveterate foes, who are aiming at my heart’s blood. What, fight against myself ? Yes, so it is; flesh against spirit; the unrenewed against the renewed; sin against grace. Indeed I have proclaimed war in the name of the King of Heaven, against the States-General of Hell (so far as it is in league with Satan) and against the potentate of sin; but to tell you the times, how often I have been foiled and beat, or raised the siege, or been wounded, or had a limb shot off, or been trepanned or taken prisoner, I know not; but I can never sign a truce, and I am determined through grace, if I die, to die sword in hand.

I must own I have sent out a hue and cry many times after the traitors, and have sometimes hoped I had secured some of them. I have had them in prison and in fetters, perhaps for weeks and months together, and they have been brought out to several courts of judicature, particularly the court of conscience, but that is partial. There have been bribes at times, and not sufficient chastisement; but at other times there have been very severe rebukes, and conscience has condemned the vassals to run the gauntlet with horror, doubt, and despair. The charges of the court of conscience have been read aloud; terrible peals have been rung, and the chains of hell have rattled on the ear. Though sometimes conscience has given the verdict on the side of grace, at other times there has been an arrest of judgment, and a citation before the Lord Chief Justice of the King’s Bench of Heaven; and though the wretch deserves no hearing, as being outlawed
———————-
Footnote:
* A Christian’s worst enemies are those of his own house. | The christian life is a warfare all the way through: he only that endureth to the end shall be saved. Matt. x. 22.

yet, to the honour of the grace and mercy of the sovereign, the criminal is brought to the bar; and though there is no room to say anything but Guilty ! yet every plea that can be made in his favour is heard; how they were drawn in by some of the clans of hell, perhaps forced, as it were, against the settled judgment of the soul ; and perhaps, through weakness and infirmity, could not get out of the way, or from ignorance of the crime, or from extenuation of the guilt, or from being hurried away into the service of the invader without so much as giving time for a cool thought. And sometimes the poor soul has been like a galley slave, wishing for deliverance from the bondage of corruption, and crying out of the load and fetters of sin, and saying with him of old, Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name, Psa. cxlii. 7.

The high court of judicature hears particularly the relenting groan; and the Attorney-General of Heaven has compassion enough to put in a petitionary plea for the guilty wretch whose hand is still upon the bar. But the dead warrant is come down from heaven for the execution of sin, and all the heads of the clans of hell. Mortify therefore your members which are on the earth, fornication, &c. Col. iii. 5. so if an eye or hand offend thee, cut it off.

A reprieve at last has been issued out for the soul; and the repenting rebel has gone again in pursuit of those invaders of the peace and court of grace, and the soul has laid hold of some of them, and cried out afresh for justice and revenge against these traitors in his own breast, and has laid the sacrificing knife to the throat of these brats of hell. But how often have they raised up their seemingly dying heads when on the very block, and asked for pity! and during the very execution have done much mischief, and made me bleed and groan afresh.

I hope at times they are crucifying; but crucifixion is a lingering death, and I find they have still life, which with the help of Satan their grand ally, they too often discover, and break out again ; and all I can do, is to cry out, Murder! Murder ! to the Lord Jesus.* I may truly call them murderers
———————-
Footnote:
* Happy for us, when in-dwelling sin drives us to a throne of grace, to sue for mercy to pardon, and grace to help in every time of need; well assured that praying breath shall never be spent in vain.

for they often destroy my peace and comfort: I long to see them, dead! dead! dead! I desire your prayers for the poor wounded, but

Your affectionate, humble servant, &c.

LETTER III.

TO THE REV. MR. B.

DEAR SIR, AFTER having been so free already as to disclose to you the secrets of my heart, you will not think it strange if I subjoin a third letter. There is one point more that deserves animadverting upon, and that is speculative sins, which I believe are too often overlooked by many professors, or at least very superficially regarded. If it does not amount to an outward act, it is too often passed over with silence; but truly I think there may be a committing adultery in the heart, Matt. v. 28. So the statute law of heaven runs: it is out of the heart proceeds all evil, Mark vii. 21; the seeds of it are sown there, and it takes root and grows, blossoms, buds, and brings forth fruit in the soul, and no eye but Omniscience sees it*.

How often have speculative evils been acted in the heart ! The heart has been both the adulterer and adulteress. Sin has been begotten, nursed, and bred up, and acted its part upon the theatre of the heart. How often have sinful objects been represented to the fancy by speculation? Do I speak the experience of others, or only my own? The heart can bring forth, dress up, and act the part of anything; and there has been not only an interview, but an intercourse and sinful familiarity.

There has been many a mortal blow given by revenge in the heart. This is speculative murder *, and there has been coveting a neighbour’s estate, &c., and what is this but speculative robbery? So spiritual pride shews itself in many
———————-
Footnote:
*God looks on our intentions in the same light as actions, though we may not have an opportunity of putting them in practice.

branches. When I have been enlarged in prayer, how has pride and the devil clapped me on the back and said, Well done; you have been very great to-day. How abominable is this, to attribute an enlarged frame, in any respect, to self? How often have I been pleased with flowery words and fluency in prayer more than spirituality! Again, how often have worldly objects and creature-comforts been set up in the heart; and have not the affections too frequently bowed down to them? or when a near relation, or a beloved prattling child it may be, have been called away by the superior owner, how often has the heart whispered, and the tongue been ready to blab out, You have taken away my gods, and what have I more? What is this but speculative idolatry!

How have pride and covetousness worked themselves up sometimes into a coach and six; aye, into a palace.* Really, Sir, I am ashamed of these inward masquerades. The heart will turn into any shape. Well may it be said to be deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. This is still a black picture ; but in a distant prospect. I sometimes hope at the closing hour, when I shall exchange worlds, Jesus will help me to lay hold of every sinful serpent that has long twisted round my soul, and keeps me company all my pilgrimage; and enable me, by the hand of faith, to hold them up to crying out, Behold the heads of traitors, which shall never come to life again! Oh! what a joyful shout shall I give when I shall feel these vermin drop off.>

At times I am ready to hope the gloomy territories of the grave are almost ready for me, that I may lay down this body of sin upon the block for everlasting execution. Oh! when shall these clogs and fetters be knocked off, and the dark and gloomy walks of this vale of tears turned into bright and peaceful realms.

Dear Sir, these have been black letters for your aspiring soul to read ; though I do not question but you have found something of these combats yourself, and therefore can pity and sympathise with a poor, weak, wounded, shall I call
———————-
Footnote:
* Pride and covetouşness have no bounds; the more they have, the more they want.

> By faith the Christian is enabled to conquer every foe, and shall at death come off more than a conqueror.

myself, brother soldier. You have your enemies, I doubt not, and can trample upon them. I congratulate you on your victory, though not yet a complete conquest, through the Captain of your salvation. I would fain bear a part in shouting salvation and honour, glory, and power, to the conquering Saviour, Rev. v. 13. Herode triumphantly to glory, after he had obtained a complete conquest over sin, death, and hell, and dragged the monsters at his chariot wheels; he then gave Satan such a blow that he has not recovered since, nor ever will.

From hence I fetch all my hope. If ever I am saved, it will be, I am well assured, by mere grace and almighty all-conquering power. Eph. ii. 8. Alas I what has such a depraved, polluted, and corrupted miscreant as I to reckon upon, why mercy and grace should be exerted in my salvation, but free, rich, sovereign grace? This will be the topic of the eternal songs of redeemed souls. And what, Sir, if such a poor, weak, weather-beaten, tost, tempted, and almost shipwrecked vessel as I, should, at last, land safely on the shore of everlasting rest?. Sure you would strike up a new song to see me harbour in the heavenly port; if you are there before

And what, if such a poor, weak stripling as I should come off a conqueror, and more than so, over an armada of enemies, from sin, death, and hell? And what, if you should meet me in the peaceful realms above, with my robes washed in the blood of the Lamb, and a palm of victory in my hand ? Perhaps you may know me by my scars; but even every one of these will be a set off to the freeness, sovereignty, and unchangeableness of the love of God; the worth and efficacy of the dear Redeemer’s merits ; and the power and prevalency of the almighty and ever blessed Spirit. The burthen of my song will be, Grace! Grace! if ever I reach the heights of Zion. I bless the Lord, since the first essay I wrote to you,

I have found some new recruits from the inexhaustible magazine; the brave general has got the field, and is keeping off the enemy, and I trust has given a renewed blow to all the confederate troops that are in league against me; and I firmly believe that I shall be an overcomer through the blood of the Lamb. As I have experienced some special advantage from the study of the old man and all his cursed artillery with the powers of the infernal kingdom, and this world, with all its bewitching sweets, I would earnestly recommend soul-study, devil-study, and the snares-of-the-world-study, to every christian friend. Commune with your own heart daily, Psalm iv. 14; beware of Satan’s devices; and be ever on the watch, lest you enter into temptation; for though the spirit may be willing, the flesh is weak. Matt. xxvi. 41.

But it may be, dear Sir, while I have been giving you some of the living sorrows of my heart, I have ript it open, in order to examine the entrails of the soul with more freedom than you have met with before; but either I have a worse heart than any other, or there are many counterparts in the experience of others. Indeed, I sometimes think I am by myself; and if ever I get to heaven, I shall be truly a wonder there. Psalm lxxi. 7. I shall be as an eternal monument set up to the honour of divine grace, and the inscription upon me will be this: A black hellish brand plucked out of the burning, now made, through rich mercy, a pillar, to stand for ever in the temple of God.

Wishing you the prosperous gales of the Divine Spirit, and all success in your sacred work,

I am, dear Sir,
Sincerely and repeatedly, yours, &c.

—————-

LETTER IV.

A CONSOLATORY LETTER TO A CHRISTIAN FRIEND

UNDER SORE TROUBLE. DEAR MADAM, I HAVEj been lately much hurried; or, according to your desire, I should have wrote before; but, however, agreeable to my promise, I have endeavoured to send you a few lines, which I shall be thankful and rejoice, if they are blessed of God to your support and comfort under your present troubles.

I desire to be sensible of my own unworthiness and unfitness for anything of myself that is spiritually good; much more for so hard and difficult a task as the administering effectual consolation to a soul that groans under inward afflictions and outward troubles ; that is tossed upon the waves of Satan’s temptations and worldly disappointments. Indeed, this is the work of none other than the Divine Spirit;* it is he alone that can command a calm into a tempestuous soul, and speak peace, rest, and satisfaction in the greatest multitude of perplexities.

However, I desire most tenderly to sympathise with you, remembering that I also am, in the body, subject to the same adversities and trials, and would help you all I can to bear your burden with faith, patience, and resignation.

I grant then that your circumstances are very intricate and exercising; but let me beg of you not to construe your afflictions as the token of God’s displeasure, or a sign of your not belonging to him. That is an old temptation of Satan’s, with which he often assaults the afflicted christian ; but take the shield of faith, that you may quench the fiery darts of Satan.

Alas! crosses and afflictions are the common lot of the people of God in this world. Our Lord has told us, we shall meet with tribulation. Every saint has his own particular difficulty, temptation, and conflict to grapple with. We have need to be emptied from vessel to vessel. We are too apt to settle on our lees; too apt to be taken with the vanities of this passing world. If we are without afflictions, whereof all are partakers, then we are bastards and not sons.

How many have questioned the truth of their state and relation to God, for want of these exercises and trials. Where are the cause and matter of your fears and despondency ? Go, search the records of sacred Scripture, and see how it fared with saints in all ages; what Job, David, and Paul, yea, our blessed Lord himself, endured, and passed through in this world. Should that be an argument against your interest in God, which is the common portion of all believers here? We are now chastened, that hereafter we may not be condemned.
———————-
Footnote:
* He is styled the Comforter by our blessed Lord himself. John xiv. 26.

Ah! happy afflictions that wean us from this wretched dying world, are a means to mortify our corruptions, teach us to live more constantly by faith on Jesus Christ, and to fix all our hopes and expectations on another and better world; and for that end you should be earnest in your wrestling with God in prayer, that your trials may be all sanctified unto you; that, however, at present, they are not joyous but grievous, yet hereafter they may yield you the peaceable fruits of righteousness, according to God’s gracious promise. Heb. xii. 11.

Sanctified afflictions are a thousand times rather to be chosen than unsanctified prosperity; these may consist with, yea, are often the effects of God’s special love; he sees we want them, and he knows that they will work for our good. Do then, Lord, what thou pleasest with me, so I may but die to this world, overcome my corruptions, live more upon Christ, bring more glory to his name, and have more comfortable tastes and pledges of his love, and be often saying, the will of the Lord be done.

He is infinitely wise, and knows what is best for me; he is infinitely gracious, and will be tender of the weakest of his children; he is infinitely sovereign, and may do what he pleases with his own; the heaviest afflictions, on this side hell, are less, far less, than mine iniquities have deserved.*

Oh, boundless grace! the chastening rod of a reconciled Father might have been the flaming sword of an avenging Judge. I might now have been weeping and wailing with devils and damned spirits in hell. I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him. It is of his mercy alone that I am not consumed ; and, oh, my soul, it is but a little while, and there will be an eternal end of all thy sorrows, fears, trials, and disappointments } yet a little while, and he that shall come, will come and will not tarry; that heavenly Bridegroom who has, by his Spirit, þetrothed thee to himself, will, ere long, invite thee into his eternal kingdom, where thou wilt forget the storms and tempests, clouds and darkness, in thy passage through this wilderness world; and all shall be joy’ and peace, love and praise.
———————-
Footnote:
* The awakened sinner esteems all he meets with, short of hell, mercy.

No doubts and fears shall ever assault thee in that happy state ; but thou shalt dwell eternally under the immediate shinings of divine love, and shalt sing with the strongest believers, yea the highest and most glorious archangel in heaven, the wondrous mystery of redeeming grace; and the comforts and blessedness of that state of rest will be more brightened, illustrated, and endeared by all thy tears and sighings here below. The remembrance of the gall and wormwood of afflictions, will tend to sweeten the taste of heavenly enjoyments.

I pray that God may be with you, support and comfort you, with the divine consolations of his Holy Spirit, and establish you in his own due time. He is a faithful God, Deut. vii. 9; a God keeping covenant, and therefore will not lay upon you more than he will enable you to bear. 1 Cor. x. 13. If you have less of this world, may you have more of his comfortable presence. Oh, blessed exchange! And if he seems to be hiding his reconciled countenance, and suffering. Satan to buffet you, may you be supported with his everlasting arms, and have him to sustain and uphold you in every time of need.

Should you want his comfortable presence, if it be ever thus with you, remember it was so with your once dying, but now exalted Redeemer, Mark xv, 34 ; and is the servant greater than his Lord ? Shall we not joyfully tread in his steps, that we may at last be where he is? Heb. x. 34. Can, or ought we to repine, if God deals with us as he did with his own well beloved Son? The Lord help thee willingly to submit to him; and doubt not, but at the appointed time, when he sees it will be for your good, and his own glory, your heavenly Father will find you out a way to escape; he is never at a loss to bring about his gracious designs, when once his set time is come; and you should rejoice to think that he is carrying on the great work of your eternal salvation, amidst all your troubles and disappointments, and under all your outward and difficult pressures.

Oh, say then with Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him,” Job xiii. 15; though I am weak in grace, yet I will adore him for the smallest hope; though I am surrounded with terrors, I will bless him that I am out of hell; he that has begun a good work in my soul, will see it perfected.

Lord, I desire to submit unto thy will; do what thou wilt with me so that I may but bring honour to thy name, and promote my own everlasting welfare.

Oh, that you may find more of this faith and patience, hope and resignation, growing and increasing in you every day; and when once you are brought to this humble submission, and resigned temper; to this hoping, believing, waiting, and contented frame, you may be assured deliverance is at hand, even at the very door, Luke xiv. 11.

And now, oh, that you may be embraced in the arms of everlasting love, and enjoy the comforts of your pardoned state ; the Lord increase your faith, Luke xvii. 5; take from your burdens or add to your strength; and let me beg of you, once more, dear sister, not to suffer the disappointments and crosses of this world, however sore and trying in themselves, to drive from your mind the frequent and joyful forethought of what free, rich, and distinguishing grace has designed for you in a bright and better world; and is fitting and preparing you for every day you live.

Let not the hardships of your journey make you forget, but rather long for your home. Oh ! think on that heaven which neither sin, nor death, nor hell, shall ever be able to deprive you of; in which you and I, through sovereign grace I trust, shall spend the endless ages of a blessed eternity.

I remain, dear Madam,

Your affectionate, &c.

—————-

MADAM, THURSDAY last, I received a bill, conveyed by Mr. Romaine, but presented by your Ladyship, which is immediately converted into cloth for the use of lay preachers; and for their donations. I send you my hearty thanks; the Lord has promised to return it with a hundred fold into your bosom, and I believe you can trust him. I wish you had sent along with it a few minutes of your life of faith, you might then have taught me whilst you were clothing others. For, indeed, I am one of those strange folks, who set up for journeymen without knowing their business, and offer many precious wares to sale without understanding their full value. I have got a Master too, a most extraordinary person, whom I am supposed to be well acquainted with, because he employs me as a riding pedlar to serve near forty shops in the country, besides my own parish; yet I know much less of my Master than I do of his wares.

Often is my tongue describing him as the fairest of men, whilst my heart is painting him as the Witch of Endor; and many big words I have spoken of his credit; yea, I am often beseeching others to trust him with their all, whilst my own heart has been afraid to trust him with a groat. Neither, Madam, is this all.

Such a profound ignoramus I am, that I know nothing of myself as I ought to know. I have often mistaken rank pride for deep humility; and workings of self-love for the love of Jesus. When my Master first hired me into his service, he kept a brave table, and was wondrous free of his liquor; scarce a meal passed without roast meat and claret; then my heart said, I love Jesus, and was ready to boast of it too; but at length he ordered his table to be spread with meat from above and water out of the rock, 1 Cor. x. 3, 4. This my saucy stomach could not brook; my heart thought it pernicious fare, and my tongue said it was light food. Now my love for Jesus disappeared, and I yet followed him only for the loaves and fishes, and, like a true worldling, I loved his larder much better than his person. Presently my Master detected me in a very dirty trick, which discovered the huge pride and amazing impudence of my heart. Hitherto I had been a stranger to the livery my Master gives his servants, only I knew he had many rarities, such as pearls and diamonds, and plenty to dispose of; Rev. iii. 18. Accordingly I had begged å bracelet of him, a necklace, earrings, a nose-bob, and other pretty things, which he readily parted with, being of a most exceeding generous nature,

And will it not amaze you to hear I had the vanity to fix these odd ornaments about my old face, intending to make a birthday suit to appear in at court.

Well, to be sure, while I was thus busy about mending my old rags, and putting on my pearls, &c. in comes my Master, and gives me a sudden grip which went to the very heart of me, and said in an angry tone, “Varlet, follow me! I arose and followed him trembling whilst he led me to the house of correction, Prov. iii. 12. where he first set my feet in the stocks, and stripped me of my ornaments; he then took his afflictive rod, and laid upon me very stoutly, till I cried for mercy, but he declared he would not lay aside the rod till he had scourged every rag from my back, Isa. i. 25, and indeed, he was as good as his word. Think then how amazed and confounded I must be to stand naked before him, and especially when I saw myself a leper with an Ethiopian skin, Isa. i. 6. which my rags had hitherto concealed from my sight. I kept upon my legs, though overwhelmed with my shame, till at length being almost choked with the dust and stench that came out of my rags in the beating, I fell down at my Master’s feet. Immediately the rod dropped from his hand, his countenance softened, and with a small still voice he bid me look up. I did; and then I got the first sight of his robe, the garment of salvation, Isa. Ixi. 10.

Truly, Madam, it was a lovely sight! A charming robe reaching from the shoulders down to the feet, well adapted for covering and defence; yea, excellent for beauty and glory, Exod. xxviii. 2-40. There, prodigal Jack, he said, put this on thy back, and then thou mayest shame even an angel; it was wrought with my own hand, and dyed in my own blood; wear it, and then embrace me. I thanked him and bowed.

But, Madam, I must tell you, though I do not desire you to be a confidant: when my Master opened his robe he gave me a hasty glance of his person; it was divinely sweet and glorious, and withal so exceedingly humane, that I fell in love; and now, would you think it of me, an old fool as I

I am, and swarthy as a negro, Sol. Song i. 5, 6; nothing would content me but a wedding, Jer. iii. 14; nay, I have often proposed the match to my Master, who sometimes replies, When you can leave all others I will take you. The other day having asked him, when he would take me to his bosom, he answered, when I could humbly lie at his feet; and then he has also graciously promised to set open his cellar and larder and to keep them open for me; Isa. xxxiii. 16; Matt. v. 6; Phil. iv. 13.

I am now removed out of the book of Proverbs, which I have long studied, into the book of Canticles ; but am got no further than the first chapter, verse the second: Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, I seem to want nothing now but a closer union with the dear Redeemer. The world at times, strives to divert my attention from the chief object of my affections; but my soul is ever panting after him, yea, my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God, Psa. xlii. 1, 2. Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!

The Lord strengthen your union and communion with the Prince of peace. Amen.

https://takeupcross.com
takeupcross