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I do not know; I endeavour to do a little at it every day, but am a slow hand.
From several quarters I am given to understand my preaching at Plymouth and Dock gave general dissatisfaction. This intelligence gives me no particular concern, being conscious of my upright intentions; but if it arose, in any degree, from the practical complexion of my addresses, I am sorry, as it indicates a tincture of that antinomian spirit which threatens to deluge the church.
I am, dear Madam,
TO MRS. TUCKER. Dear Madam,
Shelford, Feb. 14, 1804. In truth I had almost despaired of the honour of ever hearing from you any more : it was therefore no small gratification to me, to be indulged once more with a sight of your handwriting. I sincerely sympathize with you, my amiable friend, in the heavy loss you have sustained, in being deprived of so excellent a father, who must have been endeared to you in no ordinary degree, not only by the ties of nature, but by the peculiar tenderness and affection he ever displayed through an intimate and almost uninterrupted intercourse of a long series of years. I know, by experience, the pang which the loss of an affectionate parent produces, though under circumstances which possibly might render the blow somewhat less severe than that which you sustain. For many years previous to the death of my most excellent father, my situation had permitted me but little opportunity of intercourse, which, though it did not in the least impair my esteem or reverence, probably diminished that tenderness and vehemence of attachment, which virtuous children never fail to feel towards the deserving parents with whom they reside. Allowing, however, for this difference, I well know the desolating, the withering sensation, which pervades the heart on the loss of an affectionate father. We feel, with a conviction as instantaneous as lightning, that the loss is irreparable,—that the void can never be supplied, and that, however many amiable and excellent friends we may have left, there is none who will so naturally care for our souls. I can most easily conceive, therefore, and most tenderly sympathize with the sorrow which so great a blow must inflict on so tender a heart. The aids of reason and religion may inspire resignation; but nothing but the torrent of time will wear away the traces of sorrow, and leave in the heart a tender and not an afflicting remembrance. It is needless, to a mind so vigorous as yours, to recall to your remembrance the many sources of gratitude which remain in the midst of your affliction, and the great alleviations which accompany it. You will reflect, I am per
suaded, with gratitude, on the great number of years your dear father was spared to you; you will remember the moral impossibility of his continuing to enjoy, at so advanced [an age], many additional years of happiness on earth; and, what will afford you the truest consolation, you will follow him within the veil, and contemplate him resting from his labours, and sitting down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God. How infinitely indebted, my amiable friend, are we to that gospel which gives us everlasting consolation, and a good hope through grace! May he, who alone has immediate access to the heart, calm every agitation, and solace every disquietude of your breast! My excellent friend will not, I am persuaded, abandon herself to immoderate sorrow. I trust, at least, you will be extremely upon your guard against indulging that luxury of grief, as it has been termed, which, however congenial to the extreme sensibility of your temper, would disqualify you alike for happiness and duty. Your domestic station will, happily for you, afford that occupation and diversion to your thoughts, which will have a powerful tendency to moderate the excesses of grief.
I am, dear Madam,
My dear friend,
Shelford, March 11, 1804. I deeply sympathize with you in the great loss you have sustained by the decease of your most excellent wife. It is a stroke which will be long felt by all her surviving friends; how much more by a person with whom she was so long and so happily united! There are many considerations, however, which must occur to your mind, in alleviation of your distress. The dear deceased had long been rendered incapable, by the severity of her affliction, of enjoying life ; and a farther extension of it would have been but a prolongation of woe. Much as her friends must regret her loss, to have been eagerly solicitous for her continuance here would have been a refined selfishness, rather than true friendship. She was spared for the kindest purposes; to exemplify the power of religion in producing a cheerful resignation to the will of God, through a long series of suffering, to a degree which I never saw equalled in any other instance. There was the faith and patience of the saints. Her graces were most severely tried, and surely never did any shine brighter. The most active and zealous services in religion could not have yielded more glory to God than the dignified composure, the unruffled tranquillity, and the unaltered sweetness, she maintained amidst her trials. O, my
dear friend, let the image of her virtues be ever impressed on your heart, and ever improved as an incentive to that close walk with God which laid the foundation of all her excellence. To have had an opportunity of contemplating the influence of genuine religion so intimately, and under so interesting a form, is a privilege which falls to the lot of few, and is surely one of the most inestimable advantages we can possess. That she was spared to you so long ; that her patience continued unexhausted amidst so severe a pressure; and, above all, that you have so well-grounded an assurance of her happiness, must fill you with a grateful sense of the divine goodness. This state is designed to be a mingled scene, in which joy and sorrow, serenity and storms, take their turns A perpetuity of either would be unsuitable to us. An uninterrupted series of prosperity would fill us with worldly passions. An unbroken continuity of adversity would unfit us for exertion. The spirit would fail before him, and the souls which he hath made. Pain and pleasure, scenes of satisfaction and sorrow, are admirably attempered with each other; so as to give us constant room for thankfulness, and yet to remind us that this is not our rest. Our dear and invaluable friend has entered into the world of perfect spirits, to which she made so near an approach during her continuance here. To a mind so refined, and exercised in the school of affliction, so resigned to the divine will, and so replete with devotion and benevolence, how