Letters to Thomas Robinson
Your situation is indeed important, and the Lord has greatly honored and favored you. It is one of your greatest mercies that He preserves in you a sense of your own weakness, and of the snares attending popularity. I am far from joining with those friends, who have suspected you of unfaithfulness or cowardice. On the contrary, I am thankful that the Lord has tempered your zeal with gentleness and prudence; without which I am persuaded your usefulness would have been greatly precluded, and, perhaps, your post hardly tenable. I hope the hasty censures of those, who cannot (at a distance) be proper judges either of your conduct or circumstances, will not make you uneasy. Wait a while, and they will readily retract them, if they know and love the truth.
May God preserve us from a prudence founded upon the maxims of the world, and influenced by the fear or favor of man. But Christian prudence is a grace of the Spirit, very useful and ornamental; and many well-meant designs have sadly miscarried for want of it.
The providential turns in my life have indeed been very remarkable; yet I can readily allow you to think your own case no less extraordinary, because you are acquainted with your own heart, and are a stranger to mine.
Alas! the most marvelous proofs of the Lord's patience and goodness to me are utterly unfit for publication; nay, I could not whisper some things into the ear of a friend. It has been since my conversion, and not by what happened before it, that I have known the most striking instances of the vileness and depravity of my nature. My heart has been continually producing new monsters! I have good reason to believe, that it is still comparatively an unknown territory to me; and that it contains bottomless mines, depths, and sources of iniquity in it, of which I have hardly a more adequate conception, than I could form of the fishes that are hidden in the sea, by taking a survey of the fish-market at Billingsgate.
But oh! wonderful, transporting thought! He, before whom its most retired recesses lie naked and open, can and does bear with me! How wonderful is it, likewise, that notwithstanding all these floods of abomination, He has been pleased to keep me outwardly, so that I have not been allowed to make any considerable blot in my profession before men, since He was pleased first to number me among His children. But truly I have nothing to boast of. I may well say, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is exceedingly abundant."
I believe most who are called by grace can recollect former periods of life, when they felt something of the workings of God's Spirit within them, and they derive instruction from them afterwards; yet I conceive these impressions are for the most part different, from that great radical and instantaneous change which takes place in the moment of regeneration — when a new and truly spiritual light is darted into the soul, and gives such perceptions as we were before unacquainted with.
All that is known, or can be done before, seems preparatory only, like the taking away the stone from the grave of Lazarus; the sinner remains dead in trespasses and sins — until the voice of the Son of God is heard; then the dead hear, obey, and live!
Please to give my respects to Mr Ludlam. I trust and pray, that the Lord will reveal to him, and bestow upon him, the pearl of great price; and then I am sure he will account all other acquisitions but dross, in comparison of the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord! What you say of his brother rejoices my heart. May the Lord confirm your hopes, and make him a happy and successful laborer with you in the Gospel.
We retain a grateful sense of the kindness we received at Leicester. Please to give our affectionate respects to all who received us for the Lord's sake. May grace be with you, and with all who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity around you; and may you see their numbers increase daily. Cease not to pray for us, and believe me to be.
Your affectionate and obliged servant and brother,
Olney, Oct. 2, 1775
My Dear Sir,
I think the last news I had of you was by Mr Rennard. We were glad to hear that you were well, and Mrs Robinson better than when you wrote. The Lord is gracious. The afflictions which He sends to prove our faith — bring with them new proofs of His faithfulness. He supports, He sanctities, He delivers. Trials excite prayer, prayer hastens relief. Relief produces praise, and encourages us to pray again. "Because He turned his ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live." Psalm 116:2
The Antinomians, I remember your letter mentioned, are troublesome neighbors; but the Lord will make them useful to you. They will help you to take heed to yourself, your doctrine, and your flock, and will constrain you (though I trust it was your purpose) to try everything which you mean to deliver from the pulpit by the unerring Standard. It is not pleasant, but it is safe and profitable, for a minister to know, that among his hearers there are some scheming ones who are waiting to wrest his words. Had we none but friends to speak to, we might become careless and superficial, and think they would accept all you preached without comparing it to the Scriptures; but enemies make us look about us. I trust the Lord will help you simply and patiently to declare the truth, which I believe is a far better way of refuting error, than by expressly engaging in controversies against it.
I hope I shall think of you on Tuesday, when I understand you are to preach the Visitation Sermon. This service was certainly of the Lord's appointment, as it seems to cross the usual rule of confining it to beneficed clergy. May He fill your heart and mouth, and make it a blessed season of grace to many.
May grace and peace be with you, and may the Word of the Lord from your mouth be a seed of life to many; that you may see Leicester, lately a wilderness, flourish like a garden of the Lord's planting.
I am, my dear Sir, your affectionate Friend and Brother,
Olney, May 3, 1776
The operation I went through in October succeeded very happily. And the Lord made the time of my confinement at London so comfortable in every respect, that I do not consider that affair in the number of my trials.
Something much more painful awaited me on my return home: I was wounded much deeper in the person of Mrs Newton, who, the third night after we came from London, was instantaneously attacked with a very alarming nervous disorder in her head. Six weeks, or thereabouts, we were in great distress; then the cloud began to clear up; the Lord relieved in answer to prayer. And I hope we shall have cause to praise Him both for both wounding and healing. However, though she is comparatively well, there is still something of the illness remaining for the exercise of faith, prayer, and patience. We long to be able to say from our hearts, "it is the Lord, let Him do as seems good to Him." He is gracious, and ten thousand mercies, with which we are encompassed daily, are witnesses and proofs that He delights in our prosperity, and that we are never in heaviness without a need be for it. Lord, help us to believe that all shall work together for good, and enable us to yield ourselves to You, as clay into the hands of the potter!
My removal to Hull was in suspense for six or seven weeks. This likewise was a time of trial. I hope I was enabled to be simple in it. I had much to feel and fear, if I left Olney, but seemed willing to sacrifice all, if the Lord called me. I thought I was going. I consented to go. My testimonials were sent to London, and I followed them. But the intense united prayers of my dear people prevailed. Then the Lord was seen in the Mount — it was His doing, and marvelous in their eyes, and in my own.
The griefs, anxieties, and searching of hearts, which this dispensation occasioned, will not, I hope, be soon forgotten. I trust the Lord will sanctify it, to quicken us to a more lively sense of our privileges, and greater diligence in the improvement of them. Perhaps few people are more desirous, than I am afraid, of advancement and exaltation. Here the Lord brought me, here He has blessed me; I have an affectionate few who are dear to me, and, I am persuaded, dear to Him. I ought to be willing to leave them at an hour's warning, if such were His will. But otherwise I cannot wish it.
I might have a more certain, or a larger income in another place: I might have a finer title; be called Mr Vicar, or the Rector. I might have wiser, finer, or richer people about me; but in all these things I see more of snares or of thorns, than of real comforts.
The most seducing plea with me, is that of greater usefulness; and there is something in my heart which, while I feel myself sadly negligent, and unprofitable in my present place, seems very ready to promise, that I would be wondrous wise, zealous, and faithful, in a post of much greater difficulty.
But I have reason to suspect deceit in these fair pretenses. To the Lord's praise, and not my own, be it spoken, I am not wholly unuseful here; and besides a little that is going on at home, I have what we call connections, which are tolerably extensive, considering who I am. These have been many years in forming, and if they were broken, and I transplanted into a far distant place, perhaps my honor's usefulness might lose as much one way as it gained another. In a word, I am thankful, not merely for avoiding much pain and trouble which I would have known, if I had gone from hence — but that I am perfectly satisfied my continuance here is agreeable to the Lord's will, and have therefore a good hope that He will surely bless me to my people, and to others yet uncalled. For I see to live in His will is to truly be blessed. No great matter where, or how, or what — just so that His will may be done, and His name glorified in me, and by me.
Should He be pleased to show me that He would have me go,
I hope He will enable me to leave this place as cheerfully as I would go
from a prison. But until then it is the place of my choice, and if I may but
enjoy His presence, and see the flock committed to me thrive under my
ministry — I shall be well content to have it written upon my grave-stone
(if a grave-stone would fall to my lot), he lived and died the pastor of
Olney. Time and paper fail. Our love to Mrs Robinson, and all friends. Pray
for us, that we may come in peace and safety, and for an exchange of
Yours, in our dear Lord,
Your letter, which came last night, sets off post today for Lord Dartmouth, and I have added one of my own, in which I have said, perhaps, full as much as becomes me, on my views of the importance of the case. I have likewise acquainted another friend with the affair, who, if he sees it expedient and proper, will, I doubt not, readily back my application.
This is all I can do, and this, if it is the Lord's will that you succeed, will suffice. It is our part to use with simplicity and dependence the means He puts into our hands, and then the event and outcome belong to Him. Before we stir a step in the business, we know very well, that the next presentation to St. Mary's, or to St. Martin's likewise, were determined long before we were born, or the churches built, yes, before the ground on which they stand was formed!
On Monday I expect to be at Northampton, to bring our child home from school. All other days from this present date I expect to be at home till Monday, June 13th, when we go to spend the week at Bedford. We shall be very glad of a peep from you, though but a peep. And we would like to peep upon you at Leicester, but know not when we can have that pleasure. But the pleasure of loving you, and wishing you all prosperity, I can and shall possess, maugre absence and distance, as likewise the pleasing persuasion that you love us.
Though seemingly poor, I am rich. Two branches of my riches are — my people and my friends. As to my people, I could pick out about a hundred, whom, considering their love to me, and the Lord's love to them, I cannot honestly value at less than £1,000 apiece. Then, in friends, I am rich indeed. They are so many I could not readily make out an exact list of them; and so kind and so dear that I know not what value to fix them at. Let those who live to themselves, and love none but themselves, be henceforth accounted poor.
The Lord has given us the best riches even in a temporal view. For methinks there are hardly any temporal pleasures so called, worth a wise man's thoughts, but so far as they are connected with love and friendship. And when these are spiritualized, and doubly endeared by the grace and salt of the Gospel, then we have the best of the good which this life can afford.
But, oh, to be rich in faith, and to have such a friend as Jesus, who will stand by us when all fail, and live for us when all die; to be savingly interested in the fullness of Him who fills all in all! Creatures, when He blesses them to us, are rich streams — but he himself is an ocean of riches! Let us love, and sing, and wonder; let us rejoice and praise; let us pant and long for His presence; let us spend and be spent in His service, for He is worthy.
Mrs Newton has been often ailing — afflicted with frequent pains in her head; but I trust all is sent in love, and all is sweetened with many mercies, reliefs, and supports. In defiance of flesh and unbelief, my soul desires to stand to it — that He does all things well. Our hearty love to Mrs Robinson and all our Leicester friends — that part of my riches which lies in your town is often upon my thoughts. I have not time to repeat their names, but I remember them all. If you do not peep at us soon, I hope you will write. The Lord prosper and bless you!
I am, affectionately yours,
Olney, May 28, 1778
My Dear Friend,
I must try to send you a line by way of remembrance; and as Mrs Robinson will tell you how it is with us in general, I need say the less. We were glad of an opportunity of seeing her again at Olney, and hope the Lord will guide her and our friends home to Leicester in peace, and give you a comfortable meeting again.
St. Mary's, it seems is still in suspense; but the event when made known will be certainly right. It is a comfort to be sure of this beforehand. I am inclined to think the Great Lord of all will incline the Lord Chancellor to give it you. If it should be so, I shall rejoice and congratulate you, because I shall have no doubt but your presentation to it comes from on High. If it shall prove otherwise, I shall endeavour not to sigh and say, 'What a pity!' because in that case I shall have as little doubt, that it was upon the whole better for you to miss it.
I can reason and judge pretty well, in the affairs of other believers, and rest satisfied, that, if they love and serve the Lord, all their concerns, even to the number of their hairs, are admirably adjusted by Infinite Wisdom and love to their best advantage.
But the application of my own principles to my own concerns is quite a different thing. Often I find myself sadly awkward at it. But I can do it, when the Lord enables me. If I could do it always alike, I would perhaps forget that the power was wholly His, and dream of some sufficiency in myself. Therefore it is a mercy, that I am at times left to feel my own weakness. For I would never believe that I am half so vile or so weak as I am — merely by being told it, or by reading my character in the Scripture — if I did not actually find it so by experience. The Lord, who knows my frame, graciously deals with me accordingly. He will not lay a load for a giant, on a child's shoulders. Therefore my trials are comparatively small; if I had more faith, perhaps He would appoint me greater trials. But as small as they are, under the smallest of them I would faint without His supporting hand.
I feel some desire to visit Leicester, and have some thoughts of asking God's permission to come to you — if we all live to the Spring. But why should I look so far forward? How many unforeseen events will take place, before the cheerful Spring returns! He knows them all, though I do not. And if it be His will to lead me to Leicester, He will appoint the time and prepare my way. To Him I wish to commit, resign and entrust all. How lightly would we live, if we could cast all our cares upon Him! I preach enough upon this subject to others to make me ashamed of myself, and, if He were strict to mark what is amiss, to condemn me out of my own mouth.
I shall hope to hear from you before long, and then I shall be a letter in your debt. Dinner is coming; business of that importance you know often makes us suddenly shut up our books and lay aside our papers; it now constrains me in much haste to subscribe myself,
Your affectionate friend and servant,
Olney, October 22, 1778
My Dear Friend,
My hymn-book is at length finished and packed off for London. While this service was in hand, and the nearer it approached to a conclusion, it was some weight upon my mind, and my desire to be quite done with it daily increased. Now I can attend to my correspondents a little. Your letter, though among the last I have received, will be among the first that obtains an answer, because I love you, and feel myself much interested in your affairs, and because I choose to keep you in debt as much as possible, that I may please myself with the expectation of hearing from you again.
The difficulties which attend your entrance upon St. Mary's will be a gentle exercise for your faith and patience. The circumspection, wisdom, and meekness, which you will ask and obtain from the Lord (for those who ask receive), will gradually surmount them. Some of your opponents will be shamed, and some, I trust, converted. Fight on manfully; the weapons which I am persuaded you will choose to employ in your warfare, will infallibly assure you the victory.
It is no wonder, if some of your parishioners are offended and mortified at present. Satan, without doubt, is greatly so — his dominion in Leicester, is shaken; and if he has any influence remaining, either in town or corporation, he will avail himself of it, against you, as much as possible. But though he may rattle the chain in which the Lord holds him, and stretch to the end of it, he cannot break it; and with all his bustle, he shall be forced to do you unwilling service. I wish to help you with my prayers.
The advice and directions which you are so humble to ask for, I am not quite so proud as to offer. Nor is any person capable of advising you, who is not perfectly acquainted with the circumstances in which you move. But I greatly approve of your determination to weary your opponents out, rather than come to a close engagement with them. I hope you will soon have a party among them. If the Lord enables you to fix an arrow of conviction in their hearts, it will spoil their disturbing you.
I rejoice that you account St. Mary's, with all its abatements and incumbrances, a very great living. If you did not, you would not be worthy of it; but as you do, I have little doubt but that you will find it so. As to temporals, for every shilling that is withdrawn, the Lord can easily give you two. Where you gain the heart — the purse will follow so far as is necessary. He will make churls kind, and misers generous — rather than you shall lack what He sees necessary and suitable for you. While He helps you to do His business — you may confidently depend on Him to take care of yours.
Mrs Newton has been indeed ill again and again since you were here; and though, at present, tolerably well, her health is very precarious. I bless the Lord, though the flesh rather flinches when touched closely in a tender part — my mind is, upon the whole, composed and resigned to His wise and gracious will, and has shown me the propriety and importance of the truths kindly suggested in your letter. It would be better that my tongue would cleave to the roof of my mouth, than that I would be left to dishonor my ministry, by impatience or despondence under His afflictive dispensations.
I dare not promise for myself, for I am unstable as water. I do rely upon Him to strengthen me according to my day. I propose Him to others as an all-sufficient good — and as such, I hope, to find Him for myself. After having lived together with much comfort, surrounded with mercies for more than twenty-nine years — we must expect changes, as life verges towards a decline. She joins me in love to you and Mrs Robinson, and to all my dear Leicester friends, whom I have not left room to enumerate — but they are all upon my mind.
Believe me to be affectionately yours,
Olney, Feb. 17, 1779
My Dear Friend,
This letter is to inform you of the Lord's goodness in leading us home in safety to dinner on last Saturday, as we proposed, and giving us the comfort of finding all well on our return. My people spoke with comfort and thankfulness of the supplies I procured for them in my absence, and will be very glad to see you and Dr Ford hereafter.
One of the horses fell between your town and Harborough, but through mercy we received no damage; and the Lord was so good, that Mrs Newton, who often fears without any apparent cause, was composed and very little hurried, when danger was to me very visible — for we were going apace, the driver lost the reins of one of the horses out of his hand, and it was almost miraculous that he could exert himself, so as to recover it and stop the other horse. Had he gone on a step or two further, the carriage must have inevitably been tipped over. We were out and in again in a few minutes, and pursued the rest of our journey without any alarm.
Our late visit to Leicester has furnished us with much matter of thankful recollection, both to the Lord and to our friends, who were so kind to us for His sake. We repeat our thanks to you and to them all. I have many reasons to wish for such another opportunity and holiday in future, if I am spared; and whenever I can stir abroad, if left to my own choice, it would be no wonder if I would always give a preference to Leicestershire.
I am now getting into my old track by degrees, for I cannot recover it all at once. It is a mercy, that, notwithstanding the kind treatment I meet with abroad, I always feel a pleasure at returning home. This is my place, and here I love to be; but this is owing to the Lord's goodness; otherwise I would soon grow weary of it, and imagine something desirable in a change.
Though the Lord was very gracious to me when with you, and did not put me to shame, my spirit was generally dry and dissipated. Excursions and a change of objects have their use at times; but retirement is, upon the whole, best for the inward life. I know not how I could stand it long, to live in a continual bustle; though, if I were called to it, the Lord could support me. But I have reason to be thankful for my present lot. I wish I could more feelingly assure you that I am so.
Mr Collins left word, that he was much pleased with his call here. The people were likewise glad to hear him, though in some points I believe he is rather above them. From the account I hear, he seemed to preach his own experience; spoke well of the privilege and effects of the indwelling of the Spirit of God, but had little to say of the exercises of those who feel themselves burdened with indwelling sin. We beg you to remember us affectionately to our friends. Please to remember that you are a letter and a long visit in my debt. Pray for us.
Believe me to be affectionately yours,
Olney, May 14, 1779
In the first place, to ease my mind, I beg you will plead with Mr Ludlam for my pardon in not having yet returned his papers. Tell him that journeys, visits, Mrs Newton's repeated illness, etc. etc., have quite engrossed me since my return; beg him to ascribe my seeming negligence to any cause but a lack of respect and attention to him, and add, that in a little time I hope to find leisure to send him my thoughts.
Thank you for your letter; I am always glad to hear from you and Leicester. A large piece of my heart is there, and I wish to be thankful both to the Lord and His people, for the kindness we have received there.
I wish Mr Griffin happy in his new situation. I am glad that Mrs Palmer is released from her poor body; happy soul, how little does she now care for the designs of France and Spain! Nor need we ourselves; for the Lord reigns, and therefore His people may rejoice. Yet things look dark. Oh! for a spirit of wrestling prayer among His children! I trust still that though He may humble our pride, He will not give us up to the will of our enemies.
Your intended meeting is too far distant for me to join, further than by my prayers that a blessing may be among you. Indeed, I am not without difficulties about such meetings; it requires much grace and prudence, to keep either from trifling or wrangling in them. There will be some difference of views and sentiments when a number come together, and self in one view or other will try to intrude. A meeting, when one minister is thought so much superior to the rest, in grace, wisdom and experience, that he might have some weight as a ruler, would be best. And perhaps the superior clergy may be jealous of Methodists associated as a kind of synod — when they might visit occasionally by twos and threes without giving umbrage. However, I hope to be with you in spirit on 28th July, and shall be obliged to you for an account of your proceedings when you return.
Mrs Newton is often ailing, and of course often pretty
well. The Lord deals gently and graciously with us, and affords us intervals
of relief, and a thousand mercies to mitigate our crosses. I write in great
haste; we unite in affection and thanks to you and Mrs Robinson, and all our
I am, most affectionately yours,
Olney, 2nd June, 1779
My Dear Friend,
You have doubtless thought me tardy, but your friendship has, I hope, contrived some excuses for me. For about seven weeks, suspense kept me silent, and afterwards I had little leisure. The caveat was a good thing; it gave me time for reflection, it put the affair more immediately and directly in the Lord's hands, and thereby the event confirmed my mind that the removal was His will and call.
I was instituted the 6th instant, inducted the 8th, and preached my first sermon on the 19th, from "Speaking the truth in love." It was only a short introductory discourse, addressed immediately to the parishioners — written and read, and is now in printing, that that I may send a copy to every house in the parish. I am told it was in general well received by them from the pulpit, and seemed to abate the formidable apprehensions, which, from report, many of my new parishioners had entertained of me.
Hitherto my entrance has been remarkably easy; the secretary, the bishop, the curate, who is head grammar-master of Christ's hospital, the lecturer, the churchwardens — all extremely civil, so far as I have had concern with them. My clerk is a man beloved by the parish for his deportment, and he is likewise a believer, a man of humility, experience, and prudence. How thankful ought I to be to the Lord, for preparing me such a person! The vestry-clerk, who is an attorney, is a serious man likewise. I am told of four or five other serious people within my precinct, but have not yet conversed with them.
My charge consists of the united parishes of Mary Woolnoth and Mary Wool-Church. Both together do not contain (as I am told) 140 houses. I am placed in the midst of the money-changers, stock-brokers, and stock-jobbers; mostly people of opulence, at least of show, and hardly one pauper family resident. I conceive my attention and care to be primarily due to my parishioners, so far as they will admit me among them as a minister. But the church-doors will be open to all, and those who choose not to attend will make room for others.
The congregations have been indeed but thin hitherto; perhaps if the Lord is pleased to visit us with His presence, there may be people enough on any part of the day to keep one another warm without the fires.
St Mary Woolnoth is at present unstable; for the stated preaching is only on a Sunday morning, and the Friday morning before the first Sunday in the month. I shall not make any hasty alteration, but when I get footing and we come to know one another a little, I hope to add perhaps a lecture on Sunday evening, and another on Wednesday forenoon. I say, perhaps, for I would avoid as much as possible setting out upon a pre-conceived plan of my own.
I hope the Lord will guide me, open my way, and show me what He would have me to do. For this, I doubt not, I shall have your prayers.
I thought these little particulars might please or amuse you. Give our love to all our dear friends, with thanks to the Mr Ludlams for their letters, which I shall acknowledge under my hand when I am a little more settled. Mrs Newton was remarkably well while we were in London, which was a great mercy to us both: since our return, she has been poorly with a great cold, but is I hope getting better.
Many things have, under the Lord's permission, occurred to abate my reluctance to leave Olney; and when I thought Mr Scott would follow me, I seemed quite happy. But they unaccountably opposed the man whom they ought to have received as an angel. Most of them are now very sorry, but their sorrow is too late; and whom Mr Browne will appoint, as yet we know not. I thank you for your last letter. We were glad to hear of Mrs R's. happy delivery, and join in love to you both. My apprehension respecting the meeting of ministers was not properly my own, but communicated to me by Mr Berridge many years ago, when I proposed to him such a meeting in these parts; I still think there is some reason in them; but the Lords blessing will prevent all ill consequences; may He always meet among you.
I am, most sincerely, yours,
December 1779, Olney
My Dear Sir,
I hope Mr Moore will breakfast with us tomorrow, for as yet I have only seen him at church. Thank you for two addresses to Leicester. I purpose sending four copies of my first address in St. Mary Woolnoth, for you will perceive it deserves not the name of a sermon.
I left Olney, January 14th. It was hard work when it came to the point. Mrs Newton followed me the 2nd February, and our goods came up the 23rd March, since which time we have been in a habitation of our own; so that the old connection is quite terminated, and the business of removal, which appeared so formidable in prospect, is completed.
We take up our work and burdens in large parcels, and load our spirits with the whole at once, but the Lord mercifully divides them, so much for every day; and could we confine the thoughts of the day to the things of the day, we would skip on more pleasantly than we sometimes do.
I sometimes flatter myself with a hope, that I have now but one more move to make; yet I check myself; why should I care whether I am here or there, provided I am in the Lord's service and have the Lord's presence? Shall a worm — a compound of sin and dust — dare, or even wish, to choose for itself? The earth is the Lord's; and if He is with me, what does it matter whether I live by the Thames, or the Ganges, or the Ohio? whether I am fixed to one spot like a cabbage, or whether I traverse the sea and the dry land? Home with Him is everywhere.
Such thoughts are pretty enough upon paper, but are not so easily realised and reduced to practice when the occasions offer; at least, I fear, not by me. My soul cleaves to the dust; I love ease and convenience; and though there is that in me which aims to say, "Not my will, but Yours be done," there is something within me likewise which mutters very different language. But whither have I rambled?
I meant to tell you that we have a very tolerable house in Charles-square, Hoxton — an airy situation, within sight of trees and cows. Compared with London, it is a sort of Olney — but compared with Olney, it is a London. I am a full mile, or nearly a mile-and-a-half, from my church, which, so far as exercise is wanted, may be an advantage. But I suppose Mr Self will not over admire it, in very bad weather, or in dark winter nights.
I think, through the whole history of my chequered life since I knew the Lord, though I have been not without trials, yet the pleasing has been more predominant than the painful. And thus my present house and the whole of my new situation, though not without ifs and buts, is in the main agreeable.
Though my attachment to Olney was very strong, and my inclination wedded both to the place and the people, I never felt a moment's hesitation or regret for accepting Mary Woolnoth. Many things concurred before and at the time, to show me that the hand and will of the Lord was in it — and many things have happened since to confirm me in the persuasion. I feel the loss of woods and fields and birds and rural walks and scenes — but these are not means of grace; the Lord alone could support me in my late retired post — and He is able to support me in more public life. I can have but a few years more to spend upon earth; since the Lord has brought me hither, I am now willing to hope, that as my sphere of service is now much more extensive — He will make me more useful.
One mercy is, that I find myself perfectly at home in Mary Woolnoth pulpit, and am helped to speak as plainly to the great folks, as I formerly did to the little ones. I believe too many of the principal people are disgusted and keep aloof; some, however, attend; and, considering the greatness of the change they have met, and the short time they have been used to it, we get on as smoothly as could be well expected. The congregation on Sunday is larger; and I expect it will be much larger, if I prefer myself to be Sunday Evening Lecturer, as I believe I shall when the days are long enough to preach without candles. I have already a lecture on Wednesday morning, when I am pretty well attended for a young beginner. As Mr Romaine preaches on Tuesday morning and Mr Foster on Thursday, and people cannot be always hearing sermons, it must be some time before I can expect a great number. We are, however, a sort of medley, as I am known to be rather of a peaceful turn, and not very dogmatic about less essential matters — some of all parties, Church and Dissenters, Whitfieldites, Wesleys, Moravian, sit very quietly together.
But enough of myself and Mary Woolnoth. I now make a transition to Mary Leicester, and my good friends in that quarter. I propose to give your address (that which is complete) to Lord Dartmouth when I see him; I think it is a pity that the modesty of his vicar should preclude him from a sight of it. I would confirm to him what I have told him more than once, that I believe, in procuring the living for you, he very essentially served the cause of the Gospel. I trust the Lord will sanctify the afflictions in your family, and enable you and Mrs Robinson to praise Him, whether He gives, spares, or takes away.
Our love to all our kind friends. I have no prospect of visiting them soon, yet hope for that pleasure in good time, if our lives are spared. When I get a little to rights and to settle my papers, I expect to find letters from the Mr Ludlams which I have not yet answered, and hope to find time to write to them both. But my connections are now so diversified and extended, that I am afraid from henceforth I shall be but a poor correspondent; but in the course of the year I hope to send abroad some letters from the press, and all my good friends may consider them as addressed to themselves.
You have probably heard of a strange sort of book in favor of Polygamy, which has been some time in the press, and I fear will soon be published. All the remonstrances to the author to suppress it seem but as straw and stubble and rotten wood. I fear it will give much offence and do much harm. How many things do we see and hear which should engage us to pray with David, "Hold me up — and I shall be safe!" The Lord forbid we would presume or depend upon gifts, abilities, or past zeal or past services. If these things could have kept my poor friend, he would have stood firm, and not have been left to so gross an infatuation as has seized him.
Ah! we live in an enemy's land, we tread upon enchanted ground, and breathe an infected air! Without the supporting power of God and the preservatives of the Gospel — we would surely faint and fall.
My dear wife's health is variable, but she has not been so ill as to be confined; at present she is pretty well. We believe you will continue to love us and to pray for us. With love to you and Mrs Robinson, Miss Boys, and all friends,
I remain most sincerely and affectionately yours,
Charles-square, Hoxton, April 3, 1780
My Dear Friend,
You certainly do not quite deserve a line, but I will get one ready because I love you. I have seen several people from Leicester of late; they all tell me Mr Robinson is well, but none of them brings me a letter from him.
However, I believe you have thought of us now and then of late; and you will be glad to hear that the Lord supported and preserved us during the late commotions, and that we are at present safe and well. Indeed it has been a time of trial, I believe those who had most faith were best off; for myself I have reason to be thankful that I had some, though I wished for more. I seemed to be not greatly afraid for myself, but I was anxious for my dear, for Sally and Peggy, and our child just coming up from Northampton. Now I think faith, when it is hearty and stout, will enable us to commit and entrust our all to the Lord, as well as our persons. My faith is not what it should be; but I am thankful that I have some, though but as a grain of mustard seed.
The papers which you read render it unnecessary for me to be particular. The scene has been dreadful, yet trivial in comparison of what was designed. If the Lord had not interposed seasonably, if help had been delayed a few hours longer — I doubt not but London had been in ashes from end to end. The sudden rise of the fire, its rapid progress, and the immediate effectual stop put to it when in the height of its rage, were all extraordinary. The stop seemed like putting an extinguisher over a candle — almost instantaneous.
The rioters were twice in our square, and threatened to come again, and they seemed bent upon pillage and devastation without distinction.
Lord George Gordon's unhappy appointment of a meeting in St. George's Fields (the consequences of which I believe and hope he was not aware of), gave occasion to enemies and emissaries to mix with those whom he invited, many of whom I doubt not went in the simplicity of their hearts. But the better sort of people retiring gradually from the crowd, and the other sort increasing it, it was in a few hours changed into a very dangerous body, and gained strength and advantage by the strange panic which prevailed everywhere, so that the smallest parties of the rioters met with no opposition. Enough of this. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed.
Mrs Newton bore the shock better than I could have hoped. We find the Lord can give strength according to the day. The sight of the terrible fires kindled up every night was shocking and distressing; but we were upheld, and all pretty well now. What is yet before us we know not, but the Lord has given us good cause, as to praise Him for what is past, so to trust Him for what is to come.
I hope you and Mrs Robinson are well. For some time past
I have had but little leisure or relish for writing. You will hardly hear
from me again for nothing. Letter for letter must be the terms. Your
writing therefore will be the best proof that you are still willing to
receive letters from your affectionate friend and servant,
Charles Square, June 17, 1780
My Dear Friend,
Welcome from the sea shore! Were you not pleased while there? There is something grand and solemn in the situation. The expanse of water, the breaking of the surges, awaken a kind of enthusiasm — a true enthusiasm, indeed, if our hearts take fire and rise from the survey of the objects around us to the contemplation of their Author. To feel Him near and puny mortals withdrawn, to have all still within and no noise without but the dashing of the billows upon the strand — oh! how would I like a walk of an hour or two on such a spot in such a frame!
Indeed, I long for the rural, the retreat — the mountain, the woods, or the beach, anywhere that I might rove about for half a day without being seen. Here I am watched and crowded and pestered with the noises, the littlenesses, the follies and the absurdities of men — of men, women, and children, for they all act from the same principle, though upon a different scale.
However, notwithstanding this sally, I wish you to understand (for it is to the Lord's praise) that I am quite satisfied and happy (considering what I am, and what a world I live in) with my new noisy situation. I find, when He pleases, that I can be alone in a crowd. And I am sure, were I in the deepest solitude, I would have a crowd with me and in me — unless He were pleased to keep them off. Let us not listen to the murmurings of self-will, which is so ready to suggest we could place ourselves better, at least more pleasantly, than He has placed us. It is false. The path of duty, the spot where I ought to be — is and must be the best spot in the whole creation for me. To think otherwise is to dishonor that Infinite Wisdom and Goodness which condescends to direct our steps.
I know little more of the parish of Mary Woolnoth, than I do of Mary Leicester. I have no persecution to boast of. The parishioners give me no trouble, and some of them attend. But as I told them in my first sermon, I would not intrude myself — and as they have not yet invited me, I have no access to their houses, except three or four serious families. I wish to pray for them, and wait the Lord's time. Perhaps this winter may bring us to a better acquaintance. In summer they are much out of town.
The church is well attended, and, so far as I can judge, I have never been favored with more pulpit liberty than since my removal to London. I am sowing in hope — and beg you to help me in watering the seed by prayer.
My congregations are made up from all parts, and of all sorts — almost as many different names attend my preaching as of nations when Peter preached — (Acts 2). And with me, likewise, they all seem to hear, as each in their own tongue, the wonderful works of God. They sit quietly, and if I bear hard upon them all in their turns, they all in their turns seem pleased. I have more than a few of Mr Wesley's people, some in my own parish, who seem excellent people indeed — and we agree as well as if we were of the same length and breadth to a hair.
In a few weeks you will see advertised my "Cardiphonia, or the Utterance of the Heart, in two volumes." I shall order a small parcel to Leicester, and shall beg Mr Robinson, the two Mr Ludlams, and Dr Ford to accept a copy as a token of the author's love. These letters, I hope, my correspondents will accept in the lieu of new ones; for henceforward I shall be able to write but few and short. I have but little leisure time here, and have something else in view for the press, if the Lord helps me to bring it forth. But if I mean to print — then correspondence must be much abridged. So that when my friends want a letter from me, they must take up the book and read one.
May He speak to our hearts, who can affect them as He pleases! All others speak in vain, until He puts in a word of His own; then disputes are presently settled.
You and I are agreed about the Pro-Association. I believe they meant well; that is those who had any meaning; for I am persuaded not a few were like the assembly in Acts 19. But they were wrong in their principle and manner.
True religion depends on the Lord for protection, needs not carnal weapons, nor encourages persecution in any mode or degree. The Lord poured awful contempt on their misguided zeal, in permitting them to be what they little designed — the immediate occasion of such outrages as will stain the annals of our history.
I am glad of good news from you; I trust the Lord will bless you more and more, that you shall see the work made broader and deeper — the lines lengthened and the stakes strengthened. But we must not expect every blossom will set and abide, and become fruit. We have much encouragement; and the things we would prevent if we could, should not distress us over much. The Lord has told us beforehand what to expect. The parable of the sower and of the tares are in the Scripture, and the Scripture cannot be broken.
We join in Love to you and Mrs Robinson, and all friends, who are not named for lack of room. I think, when I say all, I do not forget one — I love to recollect the kindness I have received in Leicester.
I am your affectionate friend,
16 September, 1780
My Dear Friend,
Should I apologize now, it must be for troubling you so often — but I will use the privilege of a friend and write when I please, hoping you will write when you can. I shall be glad to hear that it is well with you in heart, house, and congregation. May the Lord bless you abundantly, and all His ministers in Leicestershire, in the occasional and additional services of this season.
The precise and immediate design of this letter is to inform you, that Cardiphonia in two volumes is upon the eve of publication. I do not know the author so well, as might be expected from the long acquaintance I have had with him — but I am sure he loves you. He means to trouble you with a bundle of his books, out of which he begs your acceptance of a set — and that you will present a set to the Mr Ludlams and Dr Ford. The rest, if they meet with purchasers, he would entreat you to dispose of for him. He has other good ends in Leicester to whom he would properly tender a couple of volumes as a mark of his gratitude. But the truth is, the kind friends the Lord has given him in town and country are so numerous, that a whole printing would little more than suffice, to make such an acknowledgment to them all. He is therefore obliged to treat them in general all alike, and almost entirely to confine his presents to his dear friends and brethren in the ministry.
The sun has almost traveled through the Zodiac since I took leave of Olney, and have been resident in London. It has been a year of mercy. The mountains of difficulty and trials, which my imagination started at in the prospect of entering upon a sphere of service so very different from what I had been accustomed to — proved but mountains of snow, which the Lord's power melted down before me.
Though my message has not been so generally acceptable and interesting to the parishioners as I could wish, I have met with no trouble, nor even with any unkindness among them. I have attempted no needless innovations, such as I deemed necessary were easily approved. Our hearers are numerous, respectable, and attentive. My health has been uninterrupted, my strength (for public services) seems not at all impaired; and, so far as I can judge, the Lord affords me here upon the whole, as much liberty and acceptance as in any former time of my ministry. I have not the same opportunity of knowing in what instances he is pleased to make me useful, as when I lived at Olney — but I have reason to hope I do not labor in vain.
Mrs Newton has likewise been favored with better health, but still she is indisposed. In a word (for sheets would not contain particulars) God has been very gracious to us. Help me to praise Him.
If, after so many delays, the printers, etc. have made, I may still place any dependence on what they say, I may suppose the books will sent off by the end of next week. When you have received them, and want a letter from your old friend — you may turn to the shelf and read one. Suppose it addressed to yourself, and possibly it may be much to the purpose as anything I could write new.
I have a pulpit in which I would be glad to see and hear you. You need not trouble yourself to bring any written sermons. We join in love to Mrs Robinson. I must extend my love and best wishes to all who love the Lord in Leicester. Grace and peace be with you, and with your affectionate friend and servant,
Charles Square, Hoxton, London
December 27 1780
You now have my book, Cardiphonia; and, consequently, as I can write little new, I am not bound to write at all; yet, because I love you, I will send a line of thanks for your two last letters. I believe you will not hereafter complain of my devoting too much time to letter-writing; for it is but seldom I can get two hours, or even one hour, to myself. I had more leisure at Olney in one week, than I have now in six weeks. This series of engagements I hope is providential, and not of my own seeking. I know not that I either make visits or receive visitants, but in what appears to me a way of duty; but I am indeed very much abroad, and when at home, seldom alone, so that writing, and even reading, is much abridged. I am continually upon the expense, preaching and prating, and so little time for seeking supplies in the methods usually included in the term study, that I may seem in danger of bankruptcy. I compare my change of life to the case of Israel. I ploughed and sowed while it was practical. But in this situation, if the Lord did not feed and supply me as with manna immediately from Himself, I must starve. He is so gracious, that though my present course is so very different from what I was long accustomed to (for in Olney I had six or eight hours in a day quite to myself), yet I seem not under any disadvantage as to public service.
As London, from end to end, is my parish — for I have some friends or connections in all the opposite corners — so London is my study and closet likewise. I am often searching for a text, or trying to ruminate upon one, when I am squeezing through the crowds in the streets. How finely Mr Self has slipped in for a subject! But he shall retire. I only chiefly mean to bear witness for your encouragement, to the Lord's faithfulness and goodness, in suiting His help to our situation.
I would have supposed, if you had not told me, that you have trials at Leicester likewise. But the Lord, like His emblem the sun, is equally near in all places; and He is equally mindful of those whom He has taught to look to Him. Your child (like a green-house plant) is safely housed out of the reach of storms.
Your leg I hope is better. The hurt you received led you to acknowledge the Lord's goodness, that it was no worse, and that it was so soon healed. It reminded you of your need of His help, and furnished you with a proof of His mercy in answering prayer. The inconvenience, I trust, is quite removed. The benefit, I hope, will remain, when not even the scar can be perceived.
I sent you a few 'Fast sermons,' which I hope you received. You may please to distribute them as love tokens, among my friends and yours, at your discretion. A few single sermons are hardly worth the trouble of a sale.
I sent one (or rather two) to the Bishop of London, and received a short handsome letter expressing thanks and approbation. May the Bishop of Souls make them useful — and then I shall be glad they were printed.
May the good Lord keep us from error, and teach us by the examples before our eyes, how little we are able to keep ourselves.
A cold has brought a rheumatism into my arm that was dislocated. The pain is seldom off, and seldom violent, not worth mentioning. When Mrs Newton is ill, I feel something worse than the rheumatism; but she is pretty well, and I have nothing at present to complain of but an evil heart. We join in love to all our good friends. I wish to peep at you this summer; but whether I shall, or when, is in the Lord's hands, and He has not cleared the way yet. If I come, I trust it shall be at the night-time, and come I must, if He pleases to send me. Pray for us.
I am most affectionately yours,
Hoxton, March 27, 1781
My Dear Friend,
When there is a willing mind, the intention I hope will be accepted — if ability would is lacking.
It is a mercy that all our movements are under a superior direction, and that, if we can resign ourselves to be guided by Him, He will so forward or overrule our purposes, by the secret influence of His providence, as to be where He, to whom all events and consequences are known, sees it best upon the whole we would be. If He has anything for me to do or to receive at Leicester, He will open my way thither; if duty appoints otherwise, I must pray for grace to say, "Not my will, but Yours be done."
There is no doubt, but the first servants and followers of our Lord loved each other dearly, and would have been glad to have spent much of their time together; but His service, which was dearer and more important to them than their own personal gratification, would not admit of it. I suppose, after the apostles went forth upon their public work, they seldom saw each other: they were dispersed East, West, North and South. But He was equally near and with them all. And if they met not upon earth, they soon met in Heaven, and have been happy ever since. There we likewise hope to be united with each other; with them and with Him, in a manner unspeakably better than anything we can form a conception of. I shall try to comfort myself with this thought, if I would be prevented visiting you.
I remain, very sincerely, your affectionate friend and
Charles Square, Hoxton, June 2, 1781
Your letter found me at Olney on Wednesday, and came with me hither yesterday. I would have waited till I could answer more at large, but that when you desire my opinion, I ought not to delay.
The Lord was merciful to us in our excursion; we met with nothing that could be well called a cross. Mrs Newton had not one bad day while abroad. I think she has not been so well for an equal space of time, these four or five years past. We had much pleasure in visiting old friends, and I hope some tokens of the Lord's presence amongst us. My not visiting Northampton and Leicester was rather a baulk, but I clearly saw I could not do it without leaving the path of duty.
I have heard in general of trials at Leicester, but know not the particulars. I am glad to hear from you that they are subsiding. I trust the Lord will give you wisdom and patience. I think it has been lately discovered, that a little oil will smooth the sea to a considerable extent, even in stormy weather. Thus, gentleness and meekness in a minister, will, by degrees, soften or overcome very boisterous opponents. You will ask, and the Lord will give you, the prudence which is profitable to direct, and the event shall be to His glory and your own comfort. Some who have opposed will I hope see and own their fault, and others be ashamed and put to silence. Difficulties, if encountered in faith and in a right spirit, will confirm our characters and increase our usefulness. If Mr Self can but be snubbed and prevented from putting in his oar, all will be well.
We are very glad to hear Mrs Miles is recovering: we send our love to her and Mr Miles; I hope the Lord will give them a resignation to His will in all things. Indeed He does all things well, and faith can say so and abide by it, in defiance of the cavils of sense. Love to Mrs Robinson, Mr Moore, Wheatley, the Mr Ludlams, and all in their houses. We long to see you in London: I wish we had all of us together magnetism enough to draw you to us, provided it be the Lord's will.
I am most affectionately, yours,
Charles Square, June 30, 1781
My Dear Friend,
I saw Mr Wheatley at church on Wednesday (it does me good to see a friend from Leicester), and as he has promised to call upon me, I will try to get a letter ready to send by him. Your last letter has lain too long by me, but I cannot help it. This is a hurrying-place, and I am a poor manager of time.
I know what I ought to feel, when you say my letters make you ashamed of yourself. They ought to make me much more ashamed. I form some judgment by the kindness of my friends of what I appear to be; but I best know what I am; I trust I am not a hypocrite. Surely I dare not write to you, if I were not conscious of a desire to be the Lord's only, and to serve the Lord only — but alas! alas! indeed I "have not attained!" I love the truth, and I love to declare it, and sometimes my earnestness in the pulpit may make the hearers think I am somebody. I have a tolerable idea of the Christian character, and it is my delight to delineate it. But could you compare Mr Newton in the pulpit with Mr Newton in his retirement and in himself — you would startle and exclaim, "Nothing was ever so unlike itself!" Well, I believe it must be so in some measure — while, like the prisoners of Mezentius, I am chained to a dead body. But I hope the time will come, when I shall no longer drag the loathsome corpse of a depraved nature about with me. Ah! what a loathsome sight; what a cadaverous smell haunts me now in every place! I believe, if the Lord was pleased to increase my little exercise of grace tenfold, I would be ten times more out of conceit with myself than I am at present.
This is a poor subject — let us change it, and drop a thought about Jesus. In Him we have wisdom, righteousness, peace, power, and salvation. Grace abounds in Him more than sin can abound in me, and His compassion is fully adequate to my case. With Him there is plenteous redemption, therefore I will trust and not be afraid. The more vile I — the more glorious and wonderful will He be in saving me to the uttermost. I wish to be humbled under a sense of sin, to strive in His strength and means against it; and then to be willing to be nothing, that He may be all in all.
Lord D_'s choice of a successor to Mr Stillingfleet has been universally approved. I hope the event will still exceed the expectation. Mr Elton will have a large field for service and usefulness; but I think he will meet with exercise for faith and patience. There are many wise curious good-for-little professors in that neighbourhood. If he has anything to learn, he will find more than a few, who will think themselves qualified to teach him. But he will find wheat as well as tares, and some spots of good ground intermixed amongst almost every possible variety of soil which the good seed can fall upon. Such at least is the general character West Bromwich bears. I chiefly speak from report. I never preached there but once.
The pamphlet I mean to send with this, though printed, is not for publication. A few of them only were taken off from the press. You know I am moderate as to church matters, and therefore will the less wonder that some dissenters would apply to me for the plan of an academy. I can honestly assure you, that, though I am not a high churchman, I could not easily become a dissenter, except I was to set up a new denomination of my own; for I think I see almost as much of the true spirit of high church amongst the dissenters as anywhere else. Mr Bull of Newport, who I think comes the nearest to my Utopian idea of a tutor, is the only person I know among them, able or willing to carry such a plan as mine into execution. I know not but he may be called to attempt it. There are thoughts of such a thing — the outcome is in the Lord's hand.
I bless God I feel myself to be where I ought to be — in the Establishment and in London. The Lord has afforded me many comfortable evidences that He led me hither, and many encouragements since I came.
Poor Mr Scott! The seeds of the evils which tease him at Olney were sown before I left it. I believe they grew faster by Mr Page's watering than they might have otherwise done; but had I stayed there much longer, I must have reaped the crop. But Mr Scott likewise knows the Lord placed him in his post, and hopes to get good by it. I think that there will either be a new work take place in Olney, or the minister they have dared to treat with so much disrespect and unkindness, will be removed by and by.
My eyes long to see you in London, for I have little hope of seeing you in Leicester. I could show you some excellent people here. We have some in our congregation at Mary Woolnoth, whom I deem first-rate Christians; and I like them not the worse for not being all of one color. I know not any one point, in which I have greater hopes of usefulness, than in battering down the separation walls, which so often hinder the people of God from seeing and knowing each other. Methinks I see them shake, methinks I see them totter; I long to see them fall, like the walls of Jericho, flat down to the ground! Many of my hearers have mutually wondered at each other and thought, 'How did you come here? I never expected you would bear to hear a Calvinist. I little thought of seeing Mr Such-a-one within the church doors.' Sometimes these strangers get acquainted. One has told me — If it is Calvinism that you preach, I can hardly see wherein we differ. Another has found out to his great surprise, that an Arminian may be a Christian, and so on.
I endeavor to keep all Shibboleths, and forms, and terms of distinction out of sight, as we keep knives and razors out of the way of children. If my hearers had not other means of information, I think they would not know from me, that there are such creatures as Arminians or Calvinists in the world. But we talk a good deal about Christians, about the Savior of sinners, how strongly they who know Him are bound to love and serve Him, and how fervently they who love Him ought to love one another.
My dear wife is not without her ailments; but upon the whole pretty well. We join in love to Mr and Mrs Robinson, to all our old friends with you. Do not forget Mr and Mrs Ludlam, and Mr and Mrs Confrater.
I am, much and always yours,
Aug. 16, 1782
My Dear Friend,
I owe you thanks for two letters; part of the second, with Mr M_'s comment upon it, has affected me greatly. A journey at this time would be quite impracticable, and perhaps just now rather more improper than writing.
I apprehend there could be no impropriety in your averring that you could not conceal from me a matter of such importance, and in which you knew my friendship interested me so much. It might be inconvenient, if a suspicion would arise that I had my intelligence from any person here, and this consideration alone restrains my pen.
After all, the business most properly lies with you. Your vicinity and friendship and example give you advantages, which I doubt not your prudence and tenderness will make the best use of. I take it for granted that you have been there already, that you have admonished, pleaded, advised and encouraged, as the case requires, with all gentleness and with all faithfulness — Galatians 6:1. My heart aches, in a manner bleeds. Ah! poor place! Ah! poor friend! Ah! my other poor friend, what must she feel! What must the serious, what must the profane say? May the good Lord watch me and you and all of us.
Few of us, perhaps, have shown more zeal, more unselfishness, more apparent simplicity in the good cause than our friend. And now to be enticed into the toils of the enemy, and led forth like Samson shorn and bound, to make the Philistines sport — how awful!
Oh! my Lord, keep me. I adore and wonder that I have been kept; that I stand, for surely I am not wiser or better than some who have fallen. Oh! how would this reconcile us to every cross that the Lord is pleased to appoint, since for aught we know, all may be but just enough to prevent us showing to all the world what is in our hearts. What we commonly call crosses may be deemed comforts, compared with this heaviest of all trials — to be left to build up what we have laboured to pull down, and to pull down what we have built up. If the love of our Lord is awake in our hearts, shall we not choose (if there was no other alternative) to be bereaved, to be disabled, to be even buried alive, rather than willingly to forsake or retard the good work, to grieve the hearts of the godly and open the mouths of the wicked.
This unexpected news, which at first struck me like a thunder-clap, is as it were still sounding in my ears, and is present to my thoughts all the day. I know not that I ever was so affected, so astonished with anything of the kind. For this comes home to me. It is not a stranger — but my friend, my companion; how often have we taken sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in company! Yet I hope, I trust to see a happy return, and glad shall I be if the Lord honors you as an instrument in effecting it. What a service will you then do to the church, what a comfort will you prove to me!
I congratulate you and Mrs Robinson on the accession of a new daughter, and that she has happily been brought through another crisis. May your child be the Lord's child — may all your children taught of Him. It well repays parents for their broken nights, their cares, trouble and expense — when they are honored as instruments in bringing their children up for the Lord.
What queen of France was it, whose lot historians so admire, in that she was the daughter, the wife, the mother and the sister of a king? That is, very possibly, she was nearly related to a lion, a wolf, a bear, and a fox in human shape. Poor distinction! I envy not her honors. But to be a child and a parent of an heir of glory is an honor indeed. Where will many kings of the earth hide their heads, when many believers shall stand forth with joy and say, 'Here am I, and the children You have given me.' Such I hope will be your honor.
The Lord has given us likewise another daughter. My dear wife's only and beloved sister, Mrs Cuningham, a two weeks ago fell asleep in Jesus. Last year bereaved her of a husband and her eldest daughter; she was near upon the point of leaving Scotland to come and live with us — but the Lord appointed otherwise, and His appointments are right. She is now with Him whom here she served and loved.
Her only surviving child is with us; she nearly pairs with another, being about twelve years of age — a sweet girl; but a fever has taken hold of her, and, though she has not at present any severe symptoms, we cannot confidently say, 'This sickness is not unto death;' the probability seems on the other side. The Lord can restore her; and if it be right and for the best, He will. There I wish to leave it.
I have no access to my parishioners, except the few who knew the truth before I came among them. I account my willing hearers my parishioners, live where they will. And after the addresses which I have sent to the others, I do not think I am bound to force myself upon them, nor that it would probably answer any good end if I did. I consider them as those who are without, until they let me know they wish to see me.
Your spiritual complaints and difficulties are mine; and I believe every minister, who is faithful and useful has the like.
My Utopian plan was not of my own propounding. I was desired to give my thoughts for the plan of a dissenting academy. I am debtor to church and dissenters, to all names among whom the Lord has a people. Yet I believe many of the students will prefer the church line (under the present tutor), and I conceive a way will be opened for such. If not, let them be dissenters or Methodists, provided they are wise, faithful and useful.
Our love to Mrs Robinson, Miss Boys, and all friends.
I am, most sincerely yours,
May 22, 1783
My Dear Friend,
I think to send you a few lines and a frank by Mr Moore, that you may have no excuse for not writing to me.
The letter which you returned to me I transcribed, and sent a few days afterwards. I have had no answer; but I do not repent writing; neither friendship nor conscience would permit me to be silent. I have only now to pray and wait. I trust a time will come, when you and I shall again be in some request. But it must be in the Lord's time, which, like the tide, can neither be accelerated by the contrivance or power of man beforehand, nor resisted when it comes. Till He is pleased to work — nothing can be done; when He will work — none can hinder it.
Oh! what reason have we to watch and pray? Alas! what deceitful hearts! what a subtle enemy! Gifts, services, or past sufferings, are but cobweb defences against him. If we presume to trust in these, he will be too hard for us; but if we are sensible of our own weakness, and our eye, hope, and desire are towards Him, who is alone able to keep us from falling — then we shall stand. But who can well help trembling for himself, when he thinks of the past characters of some, who, after having run well a good while, have been so shamefully hindered? Let us watch, but still remember, that, "except the Lord keeps the city — the watchmen wake but in vain."
We have seen Olney and Bedford lately, but could get no further downwards. I think things are rather better at Olney than they were, but they are still likely to be a scattered people. A friend of mine there has the best intentions, and is well qualified for an important post; but he seems to have a certain tenaciousness of spirit, which does not quite so well suit Olney. He is a good shepherd to the stout and healthful part of the flock, and while they continue so. But to bring back that which has been driven away, to bind up the broken and to strengthen the soul, requires not only fidelity, but patience, tenderness, and a certain kind of skill, which is usually the fruit of long experience and exercise within, and of much observation of what passes without. I said both to him and to them, what I thought was likely to do good, and I must leave the outcome with the Lord.
I had an intermitant fever at Bedford, so that, during the ten days I stayed there, I was almost wholly confined to the house. But it was a pleasant time; I was in good quarters; my mind was at peace, and I had no pain. The Lord's blessing on the bark stopped it, and I have had no return since. Your friends can speak as witnesses, that I am fat, well, and in good spirits. I mostly preach three times on Sunday, and with no more inconvenience than formerly; but l am doubtless going down hill, though as yet hardly sensible of the descent.
My situation continues in all respects very comfortable. I have scarcely any outward trial as a minister, but many comforts and encouragements — a valuable select acquaintance, who are Christians indeed, and with such only have I any intimacy. Mr Bates (whom perhaps you know, at least his character), Mr Foster, Mr Cecil, and myself formed a society, which began with the new year. We are at present seven members, and by our laws are not to exceed nine. We meet once a two weeks for religious conversation, usually on a proposed subject. I seem already to have reason to consider my relation to this society, as one of the greatest personal privileges I possess. Would you ever see your path clear to spend a little time in London, I would like to know it a two weeks beforehand, that I might propose your admission as a visitant, for none can be admitted for a single evening, but upon ballot. And no person not a member can be admitted at all, if he resides in London. But a friend from the country we could sometimes receive, if there was time to propose him.
My talking time is expired. I can only add our love to Mrs Robinson and all friends — to Mr and Mrs Ludlam, Mr and Mrs Confrater, Miles, etc. etc.
I am sincerely and affectionately yours,
Hoxton Square, Sept. 25, 1783
My Dear Brother,
I lend you the enclosed frank, but you must not keep it long. I shall want to have it back as soon as convenient, and as soon as you have time to put a good sizeable letter into it. I want to hear as much in detail as you please — how it is with you in heart, house, and church. I hope you will be able to tell under each of these heads — 'All is well, considering where and what we are.' With such a limitation I can tell you — All is well with us. Goodness and mercy accompanied us through the last year, and are still with us. Trials we have had and have — they are needful, they constitute one branch of our mercies, but it is the smaller branch, for our comfortable dispensations are more numerous, if I except the trials which arise from the naughtiness of my own heart.
I have a friend who has devoted himself to the ministry: he is not a novice. His judgment is sound, his experience extensive, his abilities I think considerable. He is somewhat in my former way — he has applied his leisure time to study — his application has been great and successful. He is self-taught; and though not benefitted by school education, understands the Greek Testament well, and will, I think, very soon write Latin, as well as most of the young folks that come for Deacon's orders from the Universities. I know so much of the man as to have no doubt that the Lord is preparing him for His service, and consequently I expect he will obtain orders at the right time. And I as little doubt but from his first sermon he will set out an able minister of the New Testament. His present income is about £100 per annum. He has a wife and child, and thinks himself rich. But he has nothing before-hand but faith and hope. He will not be rash, but knowing whose he is, and whom he serves, I believe, if he saw a clear opening from the Lord, he would venture to leave consequences in His hands.
Think of such a man, and if you would hear of anything suitable for him, let me know. He will not be very defective in literature, and in point of ability, knowledge, and divinity, will I believe be superior to most at the time of their taking orders. The best of all is — that humility and spirituality are the most striking features in his character. I have been intimately acquainted with him from the time of my settling in London.
I hope I have written enough to coax you to send me an
answer. My time is gone, and other things require my attention. I love you,
and rejoice in what I often hear of Leicester. We would be glad to see you
in Charles Square, and in Mary Woolnoth pulpit. Give my love to Mrs
Robinson, and all friends. Allow me to stand upon the list among your most
affectionate friends, as surely as my name is
Hoxton, Jan. 10, 1784
My Dear Friend and Brother,
Welcome from Yorkshire, and you may welcome us from Hampshire; let us unite in raising our Ebenezer of praise to our good Lord and Shepherd, who watched over our persons and concerns abroad and at home. I owe thanks for your two kind letters, the last came to me at Lymington; I have mislaid it, and therefore cannot answer every particular with certainty.
We were abroad just a calendar month, half near Lymington, half at Southampton. It was a pleasing comfortable excursion, and I hope not without usefulness to myself and others. I made some new and valuable friendships; but methinks I may say of friends, as Solomon of knowledge, "He that increases them increaseth sorrow." The pleasure of meeting is followed by the pain of parting — then we must feel for them as often as they are in any pain or trouble. Some one or other of them is dying almost daily, dropping off in succession like leaves in autumn — till we are left, if we live long, as naked trunks. Surely those who care for nobody but themselves, avoid many a pinch; but then, poor things, they know but little of pleasure — so that there is a balance. Well, I am pleased with my lot; I prefer friends and feelings — to a stoical and solitary selfishness.
I am not sorry that I published Apologia, though some of the dissenters have made more bustle about it than I expected. Some — but not all. I do not find that I have lost any friends among them by it, nor is my auditory decreased, though a great part of it consisted of dissenters. An answer has appeared, which has not hurt either me or my cause; the dissenters do not thank the author for it; he is called Dr Mayo. Another answer I am told is fabricating by your namesake at Cambridge. This will be a formidable affair; but I hope I shall be shot-proof. The truth is, I did not mean to provoke anybody, but simply to speak for myself; I did not wish them to answer, for I am not fond of being scolded at; but, through mercy, I am tolerably easy as to what they may think or say of me, while my own conscience does not bite me; and in this case it does not.
We have a new epidemical disorder spreading in London, called the Balloona-mania. On Thursday last, one man infected hundreds, I may say thousands; they only looked at him, and caught the disease. I escaped, though I saw him likewise; for I have no more desire of accompanying a balloon into the middle regions, than I had before. It was indeed a wonderful sight, but my apprehensions for the adventurer, lest he would come headlong through the air like a meteor, or be frozen to the outward edge of the atmosphere; together with my fears of the encouragement his success would give to balloon making, if he came down safe and sound, abated my pleasure.
Man is a strange creature! What invention, what industry, what resolution he possesses! He can find out anything, but the way of salvation. The love of gain and of human praise, will prompt him to more self-denial, and to risk greater dangers — than he would ordinarily be exposed to, if he aimed at the Crown of Life, and the favor of God. Yet, while he is all energy about trifles — he has no taste or desire for what is truly important. His powers show the greatness of his original, his misapplication of them, and the greatness of his depravity. His natural abilities being unconnected with true moral goodness, make him (like Satan, whom he serves and resembles) the more eminent, the more mischievous and detestable!
But, behold the love of God, He has visited such creatures and redeemed them; and there are among them those whom He has accepted as His sons and His daughters.
Our good friends, who take my letter, will tell you how it is with us in general. Our personal and domestic affairs are in a comfortable state considering what a world we live in. We have roses, but not without some thorns; but upon the whole, a favored lot. As a minister, my zeal and aim, though faint and disproportionate, are not fainter, I hope than formerly, nor am I sensible of much abatement of my power, either bodily or mental. I am heard with attention and acceptance. The church is usually full, and I have many excellent people in our auditories.
The vast to do at the commemoration of Handel, led my thoughts to begin a course of expository sermons on the several scriptural passages which compose the grand work of his Messiah; the number of sermons I suppose will be nearly forty, and the texts as they are arranged in the Oratorio, which led me through a course of evangelical divinity, if not with the logical precision of a professor in the chair, yet in a tolerable scheme of method, for one who professes to be rather eclectic than systematic.
I take notes as I go along, purposing (if the Lord is pleased to afford me light and liberty in the exposition, and to spare me to finish my plan) to publish them, and leave them to posterity as the explicit though feeble testimony of a chief sinner to the power and the grace of Christ Jesus the Lord. Assist me herein with your prayers.
We send our hearty love to you and Mrs Robinson, and all our friends in Leicester. May the Lord bless you more and more, you and your children.
I am affectionately yours,
Hoxton, Sept. 18, 1784
My Dear Friend,
It is as you say. We love each other; we would gladly meet or write often, but our Lord, to whom we both belong, has appointed us different situations and business of His, which sometimes leaves us but little leisure time to gratify our private personal inclinations. I feel that neither time, nor absence, nor silence weaken my affection for you; and I simply and readily believe, that your kindness for me is not lessened by my not seeing you, and not often writing.
However, if I mistake not, I had the last word, until this letter by Mrs Buxton brought me again in your debt. When it came, I was at Southampton. Mrs Newton went the beginning of August with our dear sick Eliza, of whom I suppose you have heard. I could not follow her until the 6th. I spent a few pleasant days there, and we all came home on the 16th; then I found your letter. Thank you for it. Our child is very poorly; but the Lord does all things well, and will, I trust do well by her. May He give us grace to praise Him for our many mercies, and submission to His will under all trials!
I finished preaching on the Oratorio in July; and all the time I can save is employed in preparing for the press. There will be fifty sermons, of which I have transcribed thirty-three. If I can get the other seventeen done in the course of the winter, so as to publish about Easter, it will be as much as I can expect. For sometimes I can scarcely write a page in a week — sometimes I can, in the same space, write two sermons, just as necessary affairs will permit. I have likewise the idea of a preface, which will be of some length; but I think the whole will be comprised in two moderate volumes.
I am glad to hear that you will have a curate on your own account, as I have often feared you would be over-worked. And I am glad likewise for myself, as it will make your coming to London more probable. My heart, house, and pulpit, will throw their doors wide open to you. You will let me know when you are coming, a little while beforehand. I shall be glad to introduce you to our Eclectic Society, which cannot be unless you are proposed at previous meeting.
Leicester is likely to be quite out of my reach. I keep no curate, supplies are difficult, traveling very expensive, if Mrs Newton and I go together, and we do not like to be separate, without an evident needs-be for it. Time was — but time flies. I am now growing oldish, and it does not quite suit me to scamper much about, and my station and service here is such, that I cannot with satisfaction to my mind, be often away from the spot, where like a sentinel I am placed. I have not been at Olney these past two years. Our dear child was sent to the salt water by the physicians, and this determined our route.
Leicester is a place to which my inclination would often travel with wings; but we must yield to the calls of duty; and the leadings of our Lord's providence. While the cloud rests, I wish to remain still — when the cloud moves, I wish to follow its motion. For I do not like the thought of traveling in such a wilderness as this world without a guide — lest if I attempt to make a path for myself, I would miss my way, and wander into thickets of unknown consequences.
I thank you for your little essay on preaching. You have stated the point with clearness and candor. Something may be said on both sides; but I think the most for extempore preaching, supposing the provisoes you mention, and avoiding what you would guard against. What we say is usually plainer, warmer, and more pointed than what we read — but the great fault is when we would make other people wear our shoes, without considering the size and shape of their feet. Let not him that speaks despise him that reads; and let not him that reads, judge him that speaks. Let each use his liberty, and allow to his brother the liberty which he claims for himself.
We join in our love to you and Mrs Robinson. The Lord bless you and your children. My love is with all who love the Lord with you. Our particular friends you will salute as usual in our name.
I am indeed, yours affectionately,
Sept. 20, 1785
My Dear Friend,
Your letter slipped out of sight (I cannot find it yet); and in the midst of my mighty businesses, slipped too much out of my memory — or you would have had an answer sooner, to one part at least. I love Leicester, the people of Leicester at least, and would be glad to visit them. But if you are asked the reasons why you do not come to London; they will pretty well apply in my case, and suggest an excuse for my not leaving it. Time was when my dear and I could step into a coach, travel all night, etc. So perhaps I could now; but she cannot, and leave her behind without a clear and positive call of duty, I cannot. She is often very poorly, and would, I know, be uncomfortable if I was at a great distance. We were once young, but now we are growing old, and cannot travel about, as formerly. The only method of travelling which would suit us is very expensive. For though through the Lord's goodness, I may say I have all and abound with respect to the line in which I move, I have not such aboundings as to authorize my diverging very much from it. Then again competent pulpit supplies for my church (on a Sunday) are not easily, or rather not at all, to be procured. And unless they were competent, I dare not move, unless my call of duty to go abroad, was evidently more important and pressing than that which requires my stay at home.
Thus, my dear Eliza's case called us twice into Hampshire, but she is gone. Soon after Lady Day, we are to remove into the City, the time, hurry, and expense which this will require, renders travelling still more difficult. So that, though I would be glad to see Leicester at any time, and especially when you had a particular service for me — I must beg you not to expect me at present.
The Lord has enabled me to finish my sermons on the Messiah. They are nearly half printed off, and will, I hope, be ready for publication about Easter. My heart was much engaged about this service from the first; rather, I hope, from the thought that it might be seasonable, and by His blessing useful, than from an idea of self-importance.
But alas! too much of self cleaves to all that I do. It proved a pleasant employment, both in preaching the sermons, and afterwards in writing them out for the press. And though my interruptions were many, I was enabled to execute my task in about ten months. It will appear in two pretty large octavo volumes. For as I had the lovers of sacred music — that is, your genteel sort of folks — chiefly in view, I am obliged to print it handsomely to induce them to read.
I could not leave off with a more delightful and important subject. May the last efforts of my tongue and pen be to the praise of Him, who remembered me in my low estate. It is not likely, that at my time of life, I would attempt anything of a large size, or more than an essay or paper for a magazine or the like.
It will be well if henceforth I can redeem a little time immediately for myself, to feed upon the good Word of God, and to familiarize to my thoughts, the great transition which is before me, which cannot be very distant. I am not my own. I wish to know and follow the Lord's will today, and to leave tomorrow, and all the unknown morrows in His hand. He found me literally in a waste howling wilderness, He has led me about, placed me in a variety of situations, in all which He did me good and kept me as the apple of His eye. Every successive change He has appointed me has been to my advantage, both in point of comfort and usefulness. I degraded myself to the lowest state of wickedness and misery; but He has honored me, put me among His children, among His ministers, given me acceptance and friends, supported me under many trials, and mercifully borne with such provocations and ingratitude on my part, as are only known (well it is for me) to Him, and to my conscience. Hitherto He has helped me, and now I am old and grey-headed, I am encouraged to hope that He will not forsake me.
My dear friend, assist me to praise Him, and continue your prayers for me, that I may live to Him and for Him, to the end. That whether my remaining time is longer or shorter, it may be devoted to His service. And then I may wait, calmly, patiently and thankfully, until my appointed change comes.
I desire to thank Him for His goodness to you and yours, for all that He does for you, and by you. I have not time to enlarge more, nor can I advert to particulars in your letter, because I have mislaid it. When it comes to hand, if there is anything requires an answer, I will endeavor to write again soon. Let me hear from you when you can. We join in love to Mrs Robinson and all our dear friends at Leicester, as if named. I do not, I cannot, forget one of them, nor their kindness.
I am always your affectionate and obliged,
London, 13th February, 1786
My Dear Friend,
I have reason to be thankful that I have escaped many difficulties, which some deserving ministers have been exercised with. I have known some of them pinched with poverty, others unsettled, without employment, or tossed from place to place. My first attempts and prospects were discouraging enough; but the Lord was merciful to me. In some respects He gave me the desire of my heart, in others He did for me more than I could either ask or think, not for my righteousness, be it known unto me, but for His own name's sake.
We are now busy in the midst of a removal. My study is being moved today, and we shall be in our new house (if the Lord pleases) in the course of next week. If you will but come to London, you shall have a hearty welcome day and night.
After what I have said, you will not expect a long letter from me just at this time. Through the Lord's goodness we are pretty well: join in love to Mrs Robinson and all friends.
I think it will be a full two weeks or more, before Messiah appears; it has been printed off some weeks, but we are waiting for the index, for I think a book is but half a book without an index. Help me with your prayers, that the Lord may accompany the publication with His blessing.
I am, indeed, your affectionate friend,
Hoxton, April 13, 1786
My Dear Friend,
Congratulate me on the good news I received yesterday, namely, that Mr Robinson, of Leicester, is expected either to set out from thence, or to arrive here, on the 24th. May the Lord make his journey safe, his visit comfortable to himself, pleasant and profitable to me and to many!
I think you would like to visit our Eclectic Society. Somebody told me that you had said so much. Our next meeting will be soon, when I shall be glad to ask permission to introduce you among us on the subsequent meeting — December 8. But a fundamental statute of our Commonwealth will not allow my petition to be heard, much less granted (though we all much wish for your company), unless I can say, that I offer it by your express desire. If therefore you mean to favor us, you will please to favor me with a line before you come up.
Our long and intimate acquaintance warrant me, I presume, to hope that you will give the first preference to my pulpit. I therefore claim you for Sunday, the 30th, in the forenoon. I shall be glad likewise to hear you there on Wednesday, the 26th. But if both would not be convenient, or would be too much for me to ask, I would rather have you on Sunday.
I need not tell you, that we are under much suspense and anxiety for the welfare of our good king (George III). The reports of his death were so strong a few days ago, that we were almost forced to believe it. But through mercy he is still living. Much prayer has been made for him; and as prayer has been thus far answered, we are encouraged to hope for his recovery. I care not who thinks the case almost desperate, if the Lord God vouchsafes to hearken to the prayers of his people, "for to Him belong the issues from death." But we are short-sighted creatures; and therefore it befits us to temper our petitions and desires with that thought, "nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."
Our love to Mrs Robinson and all friends. Tell her we shall not be lacking to pray that a blessing may rest upon her, upon your family and people, and that you may be restored to her and to them, in peace, at His good time.
I am sincerely, your affectionate and obliged friend and
November 13, 1788
My Dear Friend,
I know not in what stage of our dear Betsy's illness I wrote last. She was long disconsolate, long delirious; for two or three days we did not expect her life for an hour, and more than once or twice those about her thought she was dead. But the Lord, to whom belong the issues from death, has revived her; she seems to gather strength though slowly. Death still harasses her, but she is not overpowered. She has been brought very low; and her nerves have suffered so much, that we cannot expect a very speedy recovery.
Illness and the weather prevented Mr Clarke from coming up until last Saturday. I have not yet had time to speak to him on the subject of your letter, nor am I yet determined to do it — though, perhaps, I may before he goes. I sent you his first letter to me; I now send you his last. I cannot discern the thoughts and intents of his heart; but, according to the best rules I can collect from Scripture and observation for forming my judgment of others, I cannot but judge favorably of him. I shall give him my best advice, and pray that he may be faithful and successful.
I hope, when due allowances are made for human infirmity, the exaggeration of report, and the prejudices even of good people in a narrow sphere of life, what might justly be laid to his charge will not be found very important. When I lived at Olney, one of the best women I ever knew was not a little hurt by finding me one day playing upon the German flute! So strong was the connection in her mind between music, and dancing and drinking; for probably she had never seen them separated.
Mrs Newton is pretty well; she means her love always to you and Mrs Robinson, but does not know of my writing, for I am not willing to puzzle her with the suspicions about Mr Clarke until he is fairly gone, which, now the Lord has mercifully broken the frost, I suppose may be within two or three weeks.
May the good Lord bless us all, keep us humble, faithful and diligent, and preserve our characters from the strife of tongues! Pray and praise for us.
I am, most affectionately yours,
14 January, 1789
My Dear Friend,
Soon after the receipt of your second letter, I showed them both to Mr Clarke, who was detained in Lincolnshire much longer than was expected. His looks while reading them, and his language afterwards, was such as I would expect, from a person conscious that he was unjustly charged, and who at the same time felt in his heart strong cause of thankfulness to the Lord, that the charges were not grounded.
I wished him to write to you; he promised he would. This morning he sent me the letter, and I hasten to enclose it to you.
From the first intimation you gave me, I have watched his conduct, spirit, and conversation, at least I did for a time. My friends, Mr and Mrs Neale, desired me when he came to London, to make their house his home. There he has been six weeks; they have seen him, as we say, early and late, and in various circumstances. He is much beloved and approved by the family. All our brethren, who know him, like him, particularly the eclectics; he spent one evening with us, and the question (on his account) was on the subject of the best methods of promoting the Gospel cause in the East Indies. I enclose a note he sent me the next day.
He has preached several times in London with much acceptance, yesterday for me from Psalm 119:117; and he preached not only the Truth but the Life.
Upon the whole, I cannot doubt, but Mr Clarke has been most grossly traduced in Lincolnshire — that your friend was hurt by misrepresentations.
Nor have I any doubt in my own mind, that he is a very proper person for the mission, and that Mr Browne will be very glad of him for an associate. He is a scholar, sensible, simple, humble, and of an active spirit, and seems to have a good knowledge of the human heart, and of his own.
My wife, through the Lord's goodness is nearly well, not quite strong yet, but gains strength apace. She was at church for the first time on the 8th, in the evening. I preached a thanksgiving sermon for her from Psalm 116:1,2. And last night, I preached a thanksgiving sermon for the king's recovery, from Psalm 126:3. Oh! what has God wrought! How important, how unexpected, how critical, was His interposition! and how conspicuous to all who have eyes to see! He has taken the wise in their own craftiness; they might have had their wish a month ago, if they had not been permitted to counteract their own purposes!
Tell it abroad in Leicester, that the Lord reigns; may His kingdom spread in your heart, family, ministry, and in mine. We join in sincere love to you and Mrs Robinson.
I am yours, indeed,
23rd February, 1789