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clog your admission with difficulties. I would not have you hide your profession, or to be backward to speak for God; but avoid what looks like preaching, and be content with being a learner in the school of Christ for some years. The delay will not be lost time; you will be so much the more acquainted with the Gospel, with your own heart, and with human nature: the last is a necessary branch of a minister's knowledge, and can only be acquired by comparing what passes within us, and around us, with what we read in the word of God.
I am glad to find you have a distaste both for Arminian and Antinomian doctrines;-but let not the mistakes of others sit too heavy upon you. Be thankful for the grace that has made you to differ; be ready to give a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear; but beware of engaging in disputes, without evident necessity, and some probable hope of usefulness. They tend to eat out the life and savour of religion, and to make the soul lean and dry. Where God has begun a real work of grace, incidental mistakes will be lessened by time and experience; where he has not, it is of little signification what sentiments people hold, or whether they call themselves Arminians or Calvinists.
I agree with you, it is time enough for you to think of Oxford yet; and that if your purpose is fixed, and all circumstances render it prudent and proper to devote yourself to the ministry, you will do well to spend a year or two in private studies. It would be further helpful, in this view, to place yourself where there is Gospel preaching, and a lively people. If your favourable opinion of this place should induce you to come here, I shall be very ready to give you every assistance in my power. As I have trod exactly the path you seem to be setting out in, I might so far perhaps be
more serviceable than those who are in other respects much better qualified to assist you. I doubt not but in this, and every other step, you will entreat the Lord's direction; and I hope you will not forget to pray for, Sir, your affectionate friend, &c.
Jun. 7, 1767.
I MUST beg you (once for all) to release me from any constraint about the length or frequency of my letBelieve that I think of you, and pray for you, when you do not hear from me. Your correspondence is not quite so large as mine, therefore you may write the oftener: your letters will be always welcome; and I will write to you when I find a leisure hour, and have any thing upon my mind to offer.
You seem sensible where your most observable failing lies, and to take reproof and admonition concerning it in good part; I therefore hope and believe the Lord will give you a growing victory over it. You must not expect habits and tempers will be eradicated instantaneously; but by perseverance in prayer, and observation upon the experiences of every day, much may be done in time. Now and then you will (as is usual in the course of war) lose a battle; but be not discouraged, but rally your forces, and return to the fight. There isa comfortable word, a leaf of the tree of life, for healing the wounds we receive, in 1 John, ii. 1. If the enemy surprises you, and your heart smites you, do not stand astonished as if there was no help, nor give way to sorrow as if there was no hope, nor attempt to heal yourself; but away immediately to the throne of
the great Physician, to the compassionate High Priest, and tell him all. Satan knows, that if he can keep us from confession, our wounds will rankle; but do you profit by David's experience, Psal. xxxii. 3—5. When we are simple and open-hearted in abasing ourselves before the Lord, though we have acted foolishly and ungratefully, he will seldom let us remain long without affording us a sense of his compassion; for he is gracious; he knows our frame, and how to bear with us, though we can hardly bear with ourselves, or with one another.
The main thing is to have the heart right with God: this will bring us in the end safely through many mistakes and blunders: but a double mind, a selfish spirit, that would halve things between God and the world, the Lord abhors. Though I have not yet had many opportunities of commending your prudence, I have always had a good opinion of your sincerity and integrity: if I am not mistaken in this, I make no doubt of your doing well. If the Lord is pleased to bless you, he will undoubtedly make you humble; for you cannot be either happy or safe, or have any probable hope of abiding usefulness, without it. I do not know that I have had any thing so much at heart in my connections with you, as to impress you with a sense of the necessity and advantages of an humble frame of spirit: I hope it has not been in vain. O! to be little in our own eyes! this is the ground-work of every grace; this leads to a continual dependence upon the Lord Jesus; this is the spirit which he has promised to bless; this conciliates us good-will and acceptance amongst men; for he that abaseth himself is sure to be honoured. And that this temper is so hard to attain and preserve, is a striking proof of our depravity. For are we not sin
ners? Were we not rebels and enemies before we knew the Gospel? and have we not been unfaithful, backsliding, and unprofitable. ever since? Are we not redeemed by the blood of Jesus? and can we stand a single moment except he upholds us? Have we any thing which we have not received; or have we received any thing which we have not abused? Why then is dust and ashes proud?
I am glad you have found some spiritual acquaintance in your barren land. I hope you will be helpful to them, and they to you. You do well to guard against every appearance of evil. If you are heartily for Jesus, Satan owes you a grudge. One way or other he will try to cut you out work, and the Lord may suffer him to go to the length of his chain. But though you are to keep your eye upon him, and expect to hear from him at every step, you need not be slavishly afraid of him: for Jesus is stronger and wiser than he; and there is a complete suit of armour provided for all who are engaged on the Lord's side.
I am, &c.
Oct. 20, 1767.
A CONCERN for the perplexity you have met with, from objections which have been made against some expressions in my printed sermons, and in general against exhorting sinners to believe in Jesus, engages me to write immediately; otherwise I should have waited a little longer; for we of removing to the vicarage, and I believe this will be
are now upon the point
the last letter I shall write from the old house. I shall chiefly confine myself at present to the subject you propose.
In the first place, I beg you to be upon your guard against a reasoning spirit. Search the Scriptures; and where you can find a plain rule or warrant for any practice, go boldly on; and be not discouraged because you may not be clearly able to answer or reconcile every difficulty that may either occur to your own mind, or be put in your way by others. Our hearts are very dark and narrow; and the very root of all apostasy is a proud disposition to question the necessity or propriety of divine appointments. But the child-like simplicity of faith is to follow God without reasoning; taking it for granted a thing must be right if he directs it, and charging all seeming inconsistencies to the account of our own ignorance.
I suppose the people that trouble you upon this head are of two sorts: 1st, those who preach upon Arminian principles, and suppose a free will in man, in a greater or less degree, to turn to God when the Gospel is proposed. These, if you speak to sinners at large, though they will approve of your doing so, will take occasion, perhaps, to charge you with acting in contradiction to your own principles. So it seems Mr. **** has said. I love and honour that man greatly, and I beg you will tell him so from me; and tell him farther, that the reason why he is not a Calvinist, is because he misapprehends our principles. If I had a proper call, I would undertake to prove the direct contrary; namely, that to exhort and deal plainly with sinners, to stir them up to flee from the wrath to come, and to lay hold of eternal life, is an attempt not reconcileable to sober reason upon any other grounds than those doctrines which we are