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ON OCCASION OF THE DEATH OF HIS OWN SON.
My dear Friend,
Leicester, Feb. 28, 1814. I am greatly obliged to you for your kind and consolatory letter, replete with those topics whence alone true consolation can be deduced. The stroke has been very severely felt by us both, but certainly most by dear Mrs. Hall. She was doatingly fond of our lovely boy. For my own part, I was not at all aware my affection for him was so strong, until he was removed from us : my anguish was then great. It seemed to me as if I felt more on this occasion than I should at the loss of either of my others. This feeling, I suspect, was delusive, and arises from our being incapable of estimating the strength of our attachment to any object till it is removed. I was disappointed in his being a boy; for, [recollecting] my own extreme and portentous wickedness, I fancied there was something in the constitution of boys peculiarly tending to vice, and adverse to their spiritual interests. I had also remarked that females seemed much more susceptible of religious impressions than men. On these accounts I trembled for his salvation, and did not feel that gratitude for the blessing vouchsafed me which I ought. I suspect I greatly displeased God by my distrust of his goodness, and that he saw it meet to adopt this
method of chastising me. May it be sanctified as a means of making me humble, heavenly, and submissive. It is a very solemn consideration, that a part of myself is in eternity; in the presence, I trust, of the Saviour. How awful will it be, should the branch be saved, and the stock perish!
Pray for me, my dear friend, that this may not be the case; but that I may be truly sanctified, and permitted to walk in the fear of the Lord, and in the consolations of the Holy Ghost.
Mrs. Hall has been very ill, occasioned in a good measure by the shock she has received, but is better. She is looking forward, with considerable anxiety, to her confinement, which she expects in less than three months. She is so extremely weak and delicate, that I have very painful apprehensions respecting the issue. My wish and endeavour is, to leave her, myself, and my dear children, in the hands of God. But how difficult it is to do so! Let me, once more, entreat an interest in your prayers.
My dear Sir,
Leicester, Feb. 3, 1815. I am much concerned to hear of your disorder in your eyes : it is, indeed, a great affliction, and demands the exercise of much submission to the
wise Disposer of all events. I am afraid it has had, and will have, a great effect in depressing your spirits. Remember, my dear brother, the Lord means to do you good by all his several dispensations. He has already given you his Son; and how “shall he not with him freely give you all things ?” He has conferred upon you spiritual discernment and heavenly light: how infinitely more important than the “light of the body," which in all eyes must soon be darkened! I hope, however, if it is a cataract, you may get relief: that is a disease which, I understand, has frequently been cured. Say, then, my dear friend, with David, “ Why art thou thus disquieted within me? I shall yet praise him who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” It will be, and has been, my habitual prayer, that you may be strengthened, comforted, and relieved.
With respect to the reviewing Mr. —-'s sermon, I must be excused. I have entirely done with reviewing: it is an occupation, of all others, I dislike, and shall entirely give it up. If you wish me to publish, you should never wish me to review; for you are not aware what a serious interruption it is. I compose very slowly; and what I have written in the Review has been a very great interruption. I have read Mr. — 's sermon with much pleasure ; it is judicious, serious, and affecting : but I am well aware how extravagantly his friends at ----- have always overrated his talents; and were I to review, and express myself
in such terms only as the occasion would justify, I should mortify, instead of gratifying. In truth, reviewing, at the request of particular friends, is a snare for the conscience. I never wished any person to review for me.
TO THE REV. DR. FLETCHER OF BLACKBURN,
NOW OF STEPNEY.
Leicester, Feb. 21, 1815. I duly received the five-pound bill which your friend has been so kind as to appropriate to the Baptist Mission. He may depend upon its being faithfully applied to the purpose for which it is intended; and you will be so good as to thank him in my name for it.
I most sincerely beg your pardon for not having replied to your kind letter: the truth is, not sitting down to reply to it immediately, the impression I had upon my mind afterwards was, that you did not wish or expect me to reply. I recollected only that it contained a pretty pressing remonstrance with me for not publishing more; a subject on which I have often been urged much to my concern and vexation. It pains me, my dear Sir, to be condemned and reproached upon a subject which is sometimes a source of more internal uneasiness than is generally supposed. I am far from being satisfied with my own conduct in this particular, but know not how to remedy it. It is not indolence, I can truly say, which prevents me; but a certain fastidiousness and difficulty of being pleased, which really rises to the magnitude of a mental disease.
I feel myself, in all my performances, so short of that standard which I have formed in my own mind, that I can truly say, I contemplate my little productions with a kind of horror. If I could dismiss this feeling, I should much oftener try the patience of the public. That what I have written meets with your approbation cannot fail to encourage me; it is “ laudari a viro laudato;" but permit me to express my surprise, that you should express yourself in terms so extremely disproportioned to my merits.
I shall be happy to hear from you, whenever you are disposed to write; and remain, Dear Sir, with high esteem, Your affectionate Friend,
TO THE REV. DR. FLETCHER.
Leicester, May 26, 1815. With respect to Mr. Fuller's last moments, I have very little to communicate. His complaint was of a nature that left him very little opportunity of conversing with ease and composure. He was