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vicinity, it would give me much pleasure to see; but the bustle and hurry of London are little suited to my taste.
But my times are in the hand of God; and my chief solicitude, if I do not greatly deceive myself, is to please him in all things, who is [entitled] to all my love, and infinitely more than all, if possible; and who is, indeed, my “covenant God and Father, in Christ Jesus." I do not at all regret my past afflictions, severe as they have been, but am persuaded [they] were wisely and mercifully ordered. I preach most sabbaths, though at no one place statedly, and have found considerable pleasure in my work. I have little or no plan for the future, but endeavour to abandon myself entirely to the divine direction. All I have to lament is the want of more nearness to God, and a heart more entirely filled with his love, and devoted to his service. Pray let me hear from you often : a letter from you never fails to give me a high degree of pleasure. Please to remember me affectionately and respectfully to Miss Wilkinson, and to Mr. Wilberforce, should you see him, and to Mr. Beddome's family, in all its branches.
I am, dear Sir,
ROBERT HALL. Present my kind respects to Mrs. Phillips.
TO THE REV. DR. COX.
Enderby, April 26, 1807.
The lukewarmness of a part, the genteeler part of congregations, with respect to vital religion, is matter of grief to me. Many have the form of religion, while they are in a great measure destitute of the power of it. With respect to the excuses that this class are ready to make for neglecting private meetings, it might not be amiss to urge them to inquire, whence the indisposition to devote a small portion of their time to religious exercises arises. If it spring from a secret alienation of heart from devotional exercises, or from a preference to the world, it affords a most melancholy indication of the state of the mind. It is surely a most pitiful apology for declining such services, that they are not commanded by the letter of the New Testament. Whoever says this, virtually declares that he would never give any time to religion, unless he were compelled. The New Testament is sparing in its injunctions of external or instrumental duties. But does it not warn, in a most awful manner, against the love of the world; enjoin fervour of spirit, deadness to the present state, and the directing all our actions solely to the glory of God? How these dispositions and principles can consist with an habitual reluctance to all social exercises of religion, except such as are absolutely and universally enjoined, I am at a loss to determine. If the real source and spring of the neglect of devotional exercises, whether social or private, be an estrangement from God, and attachment to the world, the pretences by which it is attempted to be justified only enhance its guilt.
With respect to the doctrine of election, I would state it in scripture terms, and obviate the antinomian interpretation, by remarking that man, as man, is said to be chosen to obedience, to be conformed to the image of his Son, &c., and not on a foresight of his faith or obedience; as also that the distinction betwixt true believers and others is often expressly ascribed to God. “ Thou hast hid these things.”_" To you it is given not only to believe,” &c. “ As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” As the doctrine of election, however, occupies but a small part of the New Testament revelation, it should not, in my opinion, be made a prominent point in the christian ministry. It is well to reserve it for the contemplation of christians, as matter of humiliation and of awful joy; but, in addressing an audience on the general topics of religion, it is best perhaps to speak in a general strain. The gospel affords ample encouragement to all : its generous spirit and large invitations should not be cramped and fettered by the scrupulosity of system. The medium observed by Baxter and Howe is, in my opinion, far the most eligible on those points.
On the other subject you mention,* I perceive no difficulty; none, I mean, to embarrass the mind of a minister. On a subject so awful and mysterious, what remains for us but to use the language of scripture, without attempting to enter into any metaphysical subtleties, or daring to lower what appears to be its natural import? A faithful exhibition of the scripture declarations on this subject must be adapted, under a divine blessing, to produce the most awful and salutary effects. With best wishes for your welfare, I am, dear Sir, Yours affectionately and sincerely,
TO THE REV. DR. RYLAND.
Leicester, Dec. 28, 1808. I hope you continue to enjoy much religious prosperity. The only comfortable reflection, in the present state of the world, is the apparent increase of the kingdom of Christ. His glory, his gospel, his grace, are, I hope, considerably advancing: and how little are all the revolutions of kingdoms, when compared to this? We should rejoice in every event which seems to
* That of future punishment, I presume.-Ed.
tend to that issue; and, on this account, I am more than reconciled to the recent intelligence from Spain. I long to see the strong-holds demolished, and “every thing that exalteth” brought into subjection to Christ. How deep an infatuation blinds the counsels of Great Britain! How fatal may we fear the intimate alliance of this country with the papal power, which the vengeance of God has marked out for destruction! May the Lord bring good out of evil, and “ fill the whole earth with his glory!"
I am now removed to Leicester, and find my situation, on the whole, very comfortable. The people are a simple-hearted, affectionate, praying people, to whom I preach with more pleasure than to the more refined audience at Cambridge. We have had, through great mercy, some small addition, and hope for more. Our meetings in general, our prayer-meetings in particular, are well attended. For myself, my mind and body are both much out of order; awful doubt and darkness hanging on the former, and much affliction and pain in the latter: let me, dear brother, entreat an interest in your prayers.
I am, my dear brother,
ROBERT Hall. P. S.--In gratitude to God, and to my dear companion, I must add, that marriage has added (a little to my cares,) much to my comfort, and that I am indulged with one of the best of wives.