« ZurückWeiter »
the person into your converse, as in another case, 1 Tim. v. 2, with all purity; that is, at no unfitting time, in no unfitting place, manner, or other circumstance; as it will not be desired, so neither ought it to be granted. Your end herein is to be the same with his ; your next end, that you may be acquainted with each other's temper and disposition ; especially that you may feel the pulse of each other's soul, how it beats towards God, and his works and ways. As the agreement is in that, accordingly will be much of the sweetness and comfort of the condition.
"As to the calling, estate, and other things of that kind, I am glad you know, and am more glad you have espoused, Mr. Allein's Six Principles, which are the same in practice, and are of as great use and influence, as Mr. Perkins's Six Principles in doctrine, and therefore hold to them. If height and fulness in the world were the things that would make us happy, those who have them would be the happy people; but it is not so. It shall be my endeavour, as far as I can, to inform myself how things are in those matters, that there may be no mistake on either side, and then to do as there shall be cause. You will remember one thing, which you have often heard from me in others' cases, though never in your own, and that is, to keep yourself free from all engagements by promise, till the time come when it shall be thought proper, by mutual consent, that I contract you, which will be time enough for you to do that. To how many hath the not observing this rule been a snare! We are truly thoughtful for you, you may well believe, but must not be too thoughtful. Unto God we must, and do commit our way in it, and so must you yours; Casting all our care upon him, for he careth for us. We have hitherto found his contrivances best, not ours. I am glad you have so worthy a friend as Mrs. M. K. to unbosom yourself to, and to help to advise you, and pray for you. I told your brother when I thought it would be convenient you should come home. If he has not opportunity of sending you then, we shall soon after, God willing, send for you. Our love and blessing is to him and our daughter, and to your dear self, having confidence in you in all things, 2 Cor. vii. 16 ; but it is through the Lord, Gal. v. 10, that you will act as I have counselled you."
The biographer of this holy man observes :
“He never aimed at great things in the world for his children, but sought for them, in the first place, the kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof. He used to mention, sometimes, the saying of a pious gentlewoman, that had many daughters; * The care of most people is, how to get good husbands for their daughters; but my care is to fit my daughters to be good wives, and then let God provide for them.' In this, as in many other things, Mr. Henry steered by that principle, that a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things that he possesseth. And it pleased God so to order it, that all his children were disposed of into circumstances very agreeable both for life and godliness. He was greatly affected with the goodness of God to him herein, without any forecast or contrivance of his own.”
We live in a world of changes : nothing here is abiding ; even the pages of this little book suppose the young reader to be passing through various scenes. Former connexions are passing away, and new connexions are forming. “Our fathers, where are they ? and the prophets, do they live for ever?” Where are those who fostered her infant years? Where are the instructors of her childhood? Where the ministers who first spoke to her the word of God? Where the companions of her childish studies and sports? Where the friends of her youth? Where the dear familiar faces that once formed the wide unbroken circle round the fireside of home? Some have passed into eternity: some are scattered here and there, and entirely lost sight of; or, in consequence of distance of abode, and new connexions and engagements, are only met in transient and occasional intercourse. In some instances she has witnessed, perhaps experienced the breaking up of families by death, or providential removals; the lifting up of some who were once struggling with
adversity and penury; and the setting down of others who a few years ago were rolling in affluence, or, at least, possessed of competence, and surrounded with comforts. Instead of having far to seek for examples of such vicissitudes, we may rather ask, Where is the family that has not known changes ? Surely these things have not happened by chance, neither have they been permitted without some special design for the instruction and improvement of those who have witnessed, or have been exercised by them. Let them not be suffered to pass by unregarded, but endeavour, dear young reader, to gather up the instructions they are designed to convey. Among other lessons they certainly suggest the following:
1. They teach us to acknowledge the hand of God in all the changes that occur, whether prosperous or adverse. “ Thou openest thine hand, we are filled with good. Thou hidest thy face, we are troubled. Thou takest away our breath, we die, and return to our dust." "Shall there be evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it?"
“ If light attends the course we run,
'Tis He provides those rays;
When darkness clouds our days."
For want of this kind of consideration, worldly people, in time of prosperity, are filled with vanity, presumption, and false confidence ; and in time of adversity they sink into murmuring, rebellion, and despondency, fret themselves at their circumstances, or, filled with anger and envy, dash one against another, to mutual destruction.
Oh, it is a delightfully quieting consideration, and one that tends to maintain the balance of the spirit in all conditions—" It is the Lord : let him do what seemeth him good. What He does, must be right; be it mine to submit to and devoutly to improve all his dispensations." This principle actuating the heart, will enable its subjects in time of prosperity, while they gratefully enjoy the gifts of God, to let their moderation be known unto all men ; and in times of adversity, in patience to possess their souls.
2. The vicissitudes we witness and experience should teach us to moderate our expectations from worldly things, and not to depend on the continuance of present enjoyments or agreeable circumstances, but rather to expect and prepare for changes. In natural things, even while summer lasts, there are occasional variations of temperature, and boisterous storms, to remind us that we should prepare suitable garments and shelter against the inclemency of winter; and in tempo. ral affairs, so much of change is marked on all below, that it is the height of folly to set our hearts upon them, and to say in our prosperity, We shall never be moved. " Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” Wilt thou set thine heart upon that which cannot satisfy ? for worldly things are but as “broken cisterns, which can hold no water.” Those who have been longest and most eagerly drawing from them, most painfully know that they yield but “vanity and vexation of spirit.” “ For what is your life? It is even a