« PreviousContinue »
motive that entered into them will be brought to light. Wishing you, dear brethren, all prosperity, and that you may be “ stedfast in that day,” I subscribe myself yours, &c.
Robert Hall, Jun.
TO THE REV. ISAIAH BIRT, PLYMOUTH.
Cambridge, Feb. 5, 1791. I have frequently thought it is something remarkable, that you and I have had an intimate acquaintance for many years, and yet that we have scarcely exchanged a letter. Our frequent occasional interviews have formerly rendered this less necessary; but now that I shall probably be settled in a distant situation, and an opportunity of seeing each other may seldom occur, I cannot satisfy myself without requesting a stated correspondence. You will excuse my earnestness to solicit this, when you recollect that it is the effect of that fixed and well-founded esteem I always did and always shall bear you. I will communicate to you, not the incidents of the day or of the week, for my time at present slides away without incident, but the inward sentiments of my heart, and the trifles, serious or gay, that spring up there; happy if I can imagine for a moment I am conversing with you as we did in the days of yore, when, without care or sorrow, we sauntered in the fields near Bristol. Ah, happy
days, never to return again! I am at present at Cambridge, in the element of peace at least, if not of happiness; and indeed, after the tumults of strife and din of parties, quiet itself seems happiness.
Perhaps you may wish to be informed of some particulars relating to my present situation. It is, on the whole, happy. The people seem very harmonious, and much united to me. I could wish their sentiments were more orthodox, though the far greater part of them are sufficiently so. They who are not, seem very ready to hear cool, dispassionate reasoning, on the other side of the question. I have tried their pulse several times since I have been here. On the first sabbath of my arrival, I preached in the morning on Heb. ix. 13.-“ How much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God,” &c.—an entirely controversial sermon in defence of the atonement. I had the satisfaction of finding few, very few, who did not acknowledge the justice of my reflections, and that they who were not convinced were not displeased. I should be happy if Providence should make me an humble instrument of withstanding the dangerous errors that are in vogue, and of preventing or lessening their growth at least, in the place where Providence may appoint my lot. I intend very soon to preach a sermon professedly on the divinity of Jesus Christ. This and the atonement, I am more and more convinced, lie at the foundation of the true system of vital religion ; nor will sinners ever be converted to God by a ministry that excludes them. I hope I am not censorious; but I am persuaded that much of the liberality so much talked of is rather a fashionable cant than any genuine candour of heart. At present I am a boarder; and shall continue so, in case I should stay here, for some time. I have free access to all the libraries gratis, by means of acquaintance in the University. Pray write soon, very soon. I am yours affectionately,
ACCEPTING THE PASTORAL CHARGE OF THE
BAPTIST CHURCH AT CAMBRIDGE.
To the Church lately under the pastoral care
of Mr. Robinson:
I am truly sensible of the honour you have done me, in inviting me to the pastoral office amongst you. I am convinced of my inability adequately to discharge its arduous duties; but, relying on your candour, and the hopes of superior assistance, I will attempt it to the best of my power, and beg an interest in your prayers, that my endeavours for your spiritual improvement may be succeeded, and that I may be able to
commend myself to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
ROBERT Hall. Cambridge, July 23, 1791.
TO MISS WILKINS,
AFTERWARDS MRS. FYSH, OF CAMBERWELL.
I hope you will excuse the liberty that friendship dictates, of sending you these lines. The interest you possess in the affections of
friends, and their solicitude for your happiness, render it impossible they should hear of your affliction, without deeply sympathizing with you. Among these I beg leave to have the honour of classing myself; and though least, not last. I was the other day at Mr. W- 's, and was informed you still continued extremely indisposed. I immediately determined to take the liberty of writing, to express my esteem and sympathy. I upbraid myself heavily, for not having snatched an opportunity of seeing you before I left Bristol; and had I foreseen the prolongation of your illness, I certainly would not have omitted it. From me, who have suffered so much, it would be unpardonable, if distress of every kind did not extort a tear; much more, when the sufferer is a friend, whose virtues and talents
I respect and admire. This world is, indeed, a scene of suffering; and it ought, in some measure, to reconcile us to our lot, that, in feeling distress, we strike chords in unison with the whole universe. Adversity is capricious in its times and seasons; but its visitations, sooner or later, never fail. In some, it overwhelms the first hopes of life, so that they no sooner begin to taste felicity in prospect, than they are crossed with hopeless disappointment: others it permits to advance farther, waits till they spread the foundations of happiness deep and wide, that, just when they have nearly finished the superstructure, it may overwhelm them with a more extensive desolation. Some are racked with pains and agonies of body; and others are preys to disappointed passions and blasted hopes, wasted with devouring regrets, and sick at heart with melancholy retrospects; wishing in vain they could arrest the wings of time, and put the current of life back. Of all these classes, every individual thinks his misfortunes the greatest. For the same reason, we are never at loss to hear our own voice, be it ever so slender: the cry of a pierced heart sounds shrill in the solitary ear of the sufferer. Since we cannot essentially meliorate, let us endeavour to allay, our anguish by moderating our expectations. I am persuaded, all we can reasonably hope for, on this side the grave, is tranquillity; not the insensibility of a statue, but the placidity of a well-informed mind, relying on the promises and the cheering prospects