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once enlivened it, may still remain. I wish I could affirm, that none who were otherwise competent judges of a revival, have been prevented by their prepossessions from rejoicing in what God has wrought amongst us.

But I fear it has been otherwise, and that a spirit of prejudice and party discovered itself upon the occasion, which proved hurtful to some good men. When I I think of the abilities and characters of some dissenting ministers, I cannot but, ascribe the little visible success they meet with, in some measure, to their unwillingness to acknowledge a work of God in which they themselves were not employed. Their exceptions were not wholly groundless. A lively zeal for the glory of God and the good of souls, in persons whose judgments were not fully ripened by observation and experience, did not secure them from incidental mistakes and blemishes. These were easily seen, and eagerly noticed. A desire of being free from the least suspicion of giving countenance to the unguarded, though wellmeant sallies of active spirits, seems to have led some of your ministers into a contrary extreme ; and their public discourses, though solid and judicious compositions, lost ihat animation in delivery, which is, in some degree, necessary to engage attention, and to keep up an auditory. Thus, while preachers much inferior to them, for learning and general knowledge in divinity, have bad crowded assemblies, the pleasure with which I have heard some of your most eminent ministers has been often abated, by observing that the number of hearers has been much smaller than the number of pews in the place. I must therefore confess, that one consideration which deterred me from joining the Dissenters, was, a fear, lest the love of peace, and a temper rather compliant, might insensibly betray me into an over-cautious spirit, damp my zeal, or divert it into a wrong channel, and thereby prevent the success at which I aimed. I rather chose to unite with those people whom I thought the most likely to maintain and encourage what little fervour I possessed ; and where I saw the most evident tokens of a power from on high accompanying the public ministrations. And as I had my reasons likewise for not being an itinerant, a regular and stated charge in the established church engaged my preference.

My fourth reason the last I think it necessary to mention) being railer a point of experience, must depend chiefly upon my own testimony, and therefore, I need not enlarge much upon it. Superadded, however, to those which I have already stated, it greatly contributed to give full satisfaction to my mind : I mean, the proofs I had that the Lord, BY THE OPENINGS AND LEADINGS OF HIS PROVIDENCE, pointed out to me the situation in which I was to serve him. The first explicit notice I gave of my desire to enter the ministry, was to an intimate friend in your denomination, nearly six years before I was ordained. In the course of this interval, I made, and I received, a variety of applications and proposals ; but every thing failed, and every door by which I sought admission remained shut against me. I have already observed, that this state of suspense gave me leisure to examine the subject of church-government more closely, and that the result of my disquisitions was the gradual and, at length, the complete removal of the difficulties and exceptions I had at first hastily imbibed against the establishment. At length the Lord's time came ; then obstacles, apparently insurmountable, suddenly and unexpectedly disappeared. Then I learned the reason of former disappointments. My way had been mercifully hedged up with thorns, to prevent me taking a wrong course, and to keep me waiting until the place and service of his own appointment were prepared and ready for me. The coincidence of many circumstances, which I cannot explain to another, gave me a very comfortable sense of the Lord's guidance. I received ordination in the church of England, with a ranpopopia, with wind and tide (if I may so speak) in my favour, with the most pleasing disposition of outward events, and the most assured persuasion in my own mind, that I was following the call, and doing the will of God; of which I had at that time little more doubt than if an angel had been sent from heaven to tell me so. Nor have I hesitated upon the point a single hour, from that day to this.

I think you will not be sorry to find I am drawing towards a close. Indeed I should be ashamed to have written so mach merely on my own account. I began this ideal correspondence with you about seven years ago. More than one half of it was then written in a few weeks; but I felt a reluctance to proceed, because it seemed to be so much my own affair. But I have frequently thought since, that something upon the subject, writteix in a moderate and friendly spirit, (which it has been my prayer and endeavour to preserve,) might, by the Lord's blessing, be a mean of promoting candour and benevolence among those who, whatever else they differ in, have one Lord, one faith, one hope. A desire of being instrumental in so good a work, bas at length prevailed on me to revise what I had begun, to add what I thought furtber necessary for completing my design, and to send it abroad. I cannot give you particular reasons why I have not done it sooner, or why I do it now. Our times, plans, and parposes are under a superior guidance and direction, which it is our duty and our privilege always to acknowledge, though we cannot always distinctly discern it. I shall be happy if the event shall

I prove that I have been led to choose the fittest time, and to offer a word in season. They who love and preach the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, whatever name they bear among men, and whatever body of people they are united to, are engaged in one common canse ; they are opposed by the same enemies; their severest conflicts and their sweetest comforts are derived from the same sources; and they will ere long meet in the same kingdom of glory, and join in the same songs of eternal praise, to Him who sitteth upon the throne, and to Him who redeemed us to God by his blood. How desirable, then, is it, that, while we live here, we should be at peace amongst ourselves, and live in the spirit of that love (the only infallible mark of our being truly the servants of Christ) which seeketh not its own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, but beareth, hopeth, and believeth all things !

As what I write to you is to appear in print, I think it proper to add, for my own sake, that my whole intention will be fulfilled by the publication. I do not mean to enter into controversy ; and, therefore, if these letters, contrary to my wish, should raise me an opponent, and give occasion to an answer, I shall not think myself bound to reply ; unless I could be convicted of such wilful misrepresentation, as would render it my duty to ask pardon of God, and of the public.

I commend you and yours to the blessing of our Lord, and remain,

Your affectionate Friend.
March 1, 1784.

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FOURTEEN LETTERS

TO

THE REV. DR. ****.

LETTER I.

REVEREND SIR,

September 6, 1768. The prospect of corresponding with you, gives me great pleasure, as I know you will kindly dispense with my neglect of forms, and bear with me and assist me, while I simply communicate such thoughts as may occasionally and without premeditation occur, currente calamo. Amongst a thousand mercies with which I am indulged, I often distinctly enumerate the use of the pen, and the convenience of the post ; but especially that the Lord has given me so many friends amongst those who fear his name, without which, in my present sequestered situation, the pen and the post would be useless to me, (for I know but one subject on which it is much worth my while either to read or to write.) I hope you will not be angry with me for my promptness in adding your name to my list of such friends.

I had a safe and not unpleasant journey home, though the roads were disagreeable enough. But the pleasure of my visit would have made me amends, had the difficulties of the way been greater. You have been often in my thoughts since I saw you, and the topics of our conversation have not been forgotten. The patience with which you heard me differ from you, and the dispassionate desire you expressed to search out truth for its own sake, affected me much. Such a disposition is to me a sure evidence of the finger of God; for your learning, your years, and your rank and character in the university, would have the same effect on you, as the like considerations have on too many, if the grace of God had not taught you that notwithstanding any distinctions and advantages which are admired amongst men, we are all naturally upon a level as to the perception of divine truths ; and can receive nothing that is valuable in the sight of God, unless it be given us from heaven.

When we begin to know ourselves, and to feel the uncertainty and darkness which are inseparable from our fallen nature, how comfortable and encouraging is it to reflect that God has given us his infallible word, and promised us his infallible Spirit to guide us into all necessary truth ; and that in the study of the one, and in dependence upon the other, none can miss the way of peace and salvation, who are sincerely desirous to find it. But we are cautioned to keep our eye upon both ; aud the caution is necessary, for we are too prone to separate what God hath joined together, Isa. viii. 20. i Cor. ii. 10, 11. What strange mistakes have been made by some who have thought themselves able to interpret Scripture by their own abilities as scholars and critics, though they have studied with much diligence. A signal instance was the celebrated Grotius. And many more modern might be named. I remember when I was once talking with the late Dr. T**** upon an important point of doctrine, and several arguments he used made no impression upon me ; he told me at last that he had collated every single word in the Hebrew Bible seventeen different times, and that it would be strange indeed if he had not found the point I was speaking of, had it been really there. But unless our dependence upon divine teaching bears some proportion to our diligence, we may take much pains to little purpose. On the other hand, we are directed to expect the teaching and assistance of the Holy Spirit only within the limits, and by the medium of the written word. For he has not promised to reveal new truths, but to enable us to understand what we read in the Bible : and if we venture beyond the pale of Scripture, we are upon enchanted ground, and exposed to all the illasions of imagination and enthusiasm. But an attention to the word of God, joined to humble supplications for his Spirit, will lead us to new advances in true knowledge. The exercises of our minds, and the observations we shall make upon the conduct of others, and the dispensations of God's providence, will all concur to throw light upon the Scripture, and to confirm to us what we there read concerning ourselves, the world, and the true happiness revealed to sinners in and through Jesus Christ. The more sensible we are of the disease, the more we shall admire the great Physician ; the more we are convinced that the creature is vanity, the more we shall be stirred up to seek our rest in God. And this will endear the Gospel to us; as in Christ, and in bim only, we can hope to find that righteonsness and strength of which we are utterly destitute ourselves.

I observe in many news-papers, the attestations of persons who have been relieved in diseases, by the medicines which they have tried, and therefore recommend to others from their experience. Innumerable cases might be published to the honour of the great Physician; none more memorable, perhaps, than my own.

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