« ZurückWeiter »
dies almost as soon as formed; but assure him that it proceeds not from neglect of his comfort. Tell me if any body be ill, and I will write to them; though I know that he himself will kindly visit them, and one of the elders will conduct him to their habitations.”
On the illness of one of her children :
“ Mind the relation in which you stand to God. You call him Father ; you have intrusted to his love the salvation of your soul, and he expects that you should intrust to him the dearest earthly good which your heart embraces. Look up to him for the strength that is necessary to enable you to wait calmly and patiently on the dispensations of his government. Our minds are feeble ; but he can make the feeble as David, and David as the angel of the Lord. Your beloved children are infinitely more safe in his management than in yours ;-leave them there."
To his daughter Jeane Neill, whose long and severe sufferings ended in her death in November 1830, at the age of thirty-one years, he wrote frequently. Her generous devotedness to him had led her to employ, during his illness, all the resources of a heart glowing with kindness, to amuse and solace him. When her own health began to droop, he watched her with anxious fondness; and from his letters to her, after she was removed from him to situations deemed more suited to her debilitated state, we shall select some passages full of holy wisdom and tenderness; the first letter, however, was written to her during her health :
“ Salisbury Place, May 4, 1821. “MY BELOVED DAUGHTER, . “ Your letters please me much, as they discover an improved intellect in your habits of thinking and conveying your thoughts, and in every feeling of heart that a parent can desire. Continue to compose on every subject that is useful, and bid look over the essays, and correct any imperfections that he may notice. It is no small attainment, I assure you, to be able to arrange your thoughts methodically, and express them with simplicity, ease, and some measure of elegance; and it will be best attained by reading good and elegant authors, and imitating their style and manner. Dr. Robertson's language is perfectly classical, and so is Dr. Blair's. I must say that there is a sad want of scriptural doctrine in the sermons of the latter. Sermons without the atonement, the obedience of Christ, as our only meritorious title to heaven, the necessity of the in-dwelling and aid of the Holy Spirit, the value and importance of regeneration, being placed in the most prominent part, are poor and meagre things; and of these principles there is a sad want in Dr. Blair. For neatness and elegance, however, his discourses are estimable.
“ I hope you are going on in your history, and making yourself well acquainted with Bingley's Animal Biography. Mosheim's Church History it may be necessary to peruse once, to give you a general idea of the external state of the Gospel church. Read over carefully Guthrie's Geographical Grammar; and three or four times the part that treats of England, that you may have some notion of the civil constitution of your own country, and be able to understand any conversation about the rights of the king and parliament, and the rank and duties of the judges of the country. I think you have a general biography, and it were well to make yourself acquainted with the lives of the great men both in ancient and modern times, but especially those of our own country.
“ But the Bible! the Bible is the book of books! It is the inspiration of God, the record of redeeming love, the standard of morals, the foundation of heavenly hope, the highest gift of God to manexcepting only Him whose divine and mediatorial excellence forms its contents ! Read this blessed book morning and evening, treasure its stores in your mind, form your opinions of what is honourable and worthy on its estimate of conduct, build all your hopes on its promises, and let the character of the Redeemer be the model on which you form your own —it is the perfection of moral beauty and worth : lay up the promises in your memory; they will be the staff on which you must lean when the arm on which you now lean is nerveless in the grave. Value public worship highly. It is to be lamented, that we consider attendance on divine ordinances more in the light of a duty imposed than a privilege enjoyed : but surely the privilege is great of being allowed to hold intercourse with Deity, by pouring out our hearts into the ear of our Father in heaven, by listening to the communications of his grace and mercy to us poor perishing sinners, and by raising our voice in notes of adoration, gratitude, and confidence, to the author of our being, the guide of our youth, the vigour of our manhood, and the solace of our age.
“ Ever view, my dear child, wisdom's ways as ways of pleasantness. Connect internal vital religion with the health of the soul and the possession of eternal blessedness. To be a Christian, is to have Christ living in us — to be led by his Holy Spirit, who conducts us by means of the word dwelling richly in our minds, and coming into immediate contact with our understanding, our conscience, and our heart. Beware of approaching to forbidden ground: fears are the shields of life. It is always wise to keep within the boundary of right: the man who goes as far as he may, is likely to go farther than he should. Endeavour to find delight and consolation in secret intercourse with God. Pour out your heart before him. He is your Father in heaven. The sighs, the groanings, the holy breathings of his children, are sweeter than Gabriel's song in his ear. Repose unqualified confidence in his promises, and in the wisdom and goodness of his government. He hath intrusted it to the hands that were pierced for you. Dwell in your solitary hours on the matchless love of his Son; ~ love, that beat in the bosom of the babe of Bethlehem, and burnt with increasing ardour till it bled on the point of the soldier's spear;— love, that death could not extinguish, nor the glories of paradise divert from its object. Meditate till the fire burn, and its flame ascend to Him, who, for your redemption, lay in the manger, and hung on the cross.
“ In regard to the state of the family,—your dear and excellent mother and the others are in their usual way. I got, by accident, a few weeks ago, a wound in my leg, inside, a little above the ankle. Dr. Darling has arrested me, and confined me to the house, except on the Sabbath. I shall be unable to fulfil my fond purpose of visiting Hull, and lengthening out my journey to Berwick. The wound is on so dangerous a place for a person of my age, that I must stand or walk as little as possible. I need not say how much mortified I am in being obliged to abandon my plans. But He has done it,—He who does all things well. I desire to bow in silent submission to the arrangements of a Providence which is holy and gracious. But I must go up to the study. I have a passage for the lecture tomorrow that has often relieved my own mind, and, I hope, will be of use to others, Psalm lxxxix. 30—37. Ever, my beloved and dear child, your affectionate father.”
“ The Pavilion, High Harrowgate, Yorkshire,
August 11, 1825. “ MY DEAR DAUGHTER, “ You know what our divine Redeemer said to Nicodemus, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven;' that is, he cannot be a genuine
member of the Gospel church, or kingdom of heaven on earth. This new birth lies in the possession of new sentiments of the Saviour's worth, inducing us to lean on his mediation, death, and advocacy, for pardon of sin, and title to future blessedness; of new principles of religious ana moral action, by which our minds will venerate the holiness, and love the goodness, of the divine law, and imploring aid from the promised Spirit of God, put forth all their energies in yielding affectionate and cheerful obedience to that law, as the delight of the heart; of new hopes and anticipations as to the future happiness of our redeemed and sanctified natures; of new sources of enjoyment in fellowship with our Father in heaven, by meditating on his grace and love displayed in our redemption, by breathing after growing conformity to his holy image, more unqualified submission to all the arrangements of his Providence, and by habitually setting him ever before us, not as an object of slavish fear and alarm, but as a most loving and merciful Father, who withheld not from death his own Son, when our recovery made his surrender and sacrifice necessary.
“Implore of God, my beloved daughter, to create in your mind, by the powers of his Holy Spirit, those sentiments, principles, and hopes, and to open those sources of enjoyment and fellowship, and to enable you to live in the atmosphere of his gracious presence. Then you will be able to say, in the absence of your beloved relatives, • I am not alone, because the Father is with me.'
“Your intercourse with your dear mother and brothers will, I trust, be very beneficial to your soul. There are few women that possess your mother's strength of understanding, or unfeigned piety of heart. I only wish she would more frankly give you the advantage of both. I hope she will prevail on your brother to engage in both the parts of family devotion, on the evenings he is with you. It is nothing but his modesty that will hinder him ; and I think your urgency and his mother's will prevail on