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I can go through my stated duties. I am ready to suspect, that the complaint under which I have so long laboured is intended to “ weaken my strength by the way,” and, at no great distance, to bring me to “the house appointed for all living.” The pain is almost incessant, and often so violent as to put my patience to its utmost exercise. * I have now for many weeks been under the necessity of taking seventy or eighty drops of laudanum every night, and am often obliged to rise and repeat the draught before I can procure any rest. It appears to me preposterous to think of coming to London in such a situation. I can scarce ever sit up an hour together; lying down is my constant position. I consulted some judicious friends on the subject of your proposal, and, above all, made it my business to seek direction from the Fountain of wisdom. The result was, that I came to a determination to suspend the affair upon the state of my health about the time my engagements, in the event of compliance, were to commence. Providence, by having placed me in my present circumstances, appears to have decided the affair; and in that decision I perfectly acquiesce. My mind is, to say the truth, relieved from a considerable weight; for nothing but a fear of neglecting a possible opportunity of doing some little good, could have reconciled me for a moment to the proposal you, I am persuaded with the best intentions, were pleased to make.
* See pp. 300, 301, of this Volume.-Ed.
The appearance of vanity and self-consequence attached to it, always presented itself as a most formidable obstacle; but this I had made up my mind to surmount, reposing, in the midst of much sinister [interpretation,] on the rectitude of my intentions, and my conscious desire of complying with the leadings of Providence. You, my dear Sir, have been actuated, I doubt not, in this affair, by a solicitude to promote the interest of religion, as well as by motives of the truest friendship, as far as concerns myself; and you will not fail to [reap] the satisfaction which arises from the possession of such sentiments. For the trouble you have been at in making the necessary arrangements, you will be so good as to accept my sincere acknowledgements. With truest affection and esteem, I remain, dear Sir, Yours constantly,
TO THE REV. JAMES PHILLIPS.
My dear Phillips,
Leicester, April 16, 1812. I was extremely gratified to hear once from you again : and if you knew how much pleasure it yields me to receive a letter from you, I flatter myself you would indulge me oftener. I have little to communicate that will be interesting to
you, but could not let so affectionate an epistle lie by long unanswered. My state of health, I need not tell you, has long been extremely ill : it appears to me as if my constitution was breaking up; and I have little doubt, unless my malady takes a favourable turn, it will, ere it be long, reduce me to the dust. I am not better than my fathers : I am deeply conscious I am corrected less, yea, infinitely less, than my iniquities deserve. I hope I am more anxious to see my heavy affliction sanctified than removed. Whether it would be best for it to be removed, may well be doubted : of the admirable benefits arising from sanctification, both in time and eternity, there can be no doubt. I presume the Lord sees I require more hammering and hewing than almost any other stone that was ever selected for his spiritual building, and that is the secret reason of his dealings with me. Let me be broken into a thousand pieces, if I may but be made up again, and formed by his hand for purposes of his mercy. I see more and more of the unspeakable blessedness of being made like God, and of becoming partaker of his holiness. I see it, I say, but I do not attain; or, at least, in so unspeakably small a degree, that I have every moment reason to be abased, and “repent in dust and ashes.”
My ministry continues, through mercy, to be considerably blessed in awakening sinners. I cannot but hope the church and congregation are in a very promising state. We are in perfect harmony, and we have frequent additions. Last Lord's day sennight I baptized thirteen, and others stand ready. Blessed be the Lord! My strain
of preaching is considerably altered; much less - elegant, but more intended for conviction, for
awakening the conscience, and carrying home truths with power to the heart. Our congregation is plain and serious, with a sprinkling of genteel people; but none in the church: and, indeed, if any saving fruit has been reaped from my ministry, it has been almost entirely among the middling and lower classes.
Yesterday we had our second jubilee anniversary of the Bible Society for Leicestershire, a happy, harmonious meeting, with one little exception ; On the church side, several clergymen spoke ; but no dissenter. I augur the most glorious and important consequences from the Bible Society. I have just finished the perusal of Mr. Scott's answer to Bishop Tomline. He has demolished the bishop entirely. I find but little in Mr. Scott's views against which I can object. It is somewhat loosely written, but full of argument, instruction, and piety. There is a trait of egotism in the good man which had better been avoided. He quotes almost entirely from his own works. It is well for the bishop his rank excuses him from replying to it. He would make a miserable figure. I thank you for your favourable opinion of my discourse. It is flat; but if it be in the least adapted to do good, I ought to rest satisfied. I am much
rejoiced to hear of your intention of visiting Leicester. You must spend a sabbath with me. I heard Mr. — twice, [as he passed] through Leicester: he is a young man of some talents, of a good deal of brilliancy, but miserably defective in simplicity. I am afraid a vicious taste is gaining ground, both among preachers and hearers : all glare and point, little to the understanding, and nothing to the heart. But my paper admonishes me to close, with my best respects to Mrs. Phillips, Miss WMr. and Mrs. Beddome, &c., in which Mrs. H. joins me. I remain, my dear Sir, Your affectionate and constant Friend,
EXTRACT OF A LETTER TO MRS. ANGAS,
Leicester, May 8, 1812. Though I have nothing particular to communicate, I knew not how to let Mrs. 0. proceed to Newcastle without dropping a line to acknowledge your kind letter, and present my gratitude for the interest you are pleased to take in my welfare. The esteem of the pious and excellent of the earth, I always consider as a very distinguished privilege; though the possession of it is not unmingled with mortification at the VOL. v.