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TO THE REV. JAMES PHILLIPS.
My dear friend,
Leicester, Sept. 1, 1809. Whether I owe you a letter, or you me, I cannot say; but this I know, that it seems a long time since I heard from you. My affection for you renders me uneasy under so long a silence, and makes me anxious to hear how you go on. The last letter you favoured me with gave me a pleasing account of your religious prosperity : your prospects, in this respect, are, I hope, brighter and brighter. Among the very elegant and polite part of your audience, you are too well acquainted with human nature to flatter yourself with much success; but you have been honoured as the instrument of drawing a considerable number of the poor and of the middling classes to a place where they had no thought of attending before. Here you will, in all probability, find your most favourable soil. I am sure you will cultivate it with care; and hope you will, under the blessing of God, reap an abundant harvest.
Were we but more strongly and abidingly impressed with the value of immortal souls, with what godly simplicity, what earnestness, and what irresistible pathos, should we address them! Perhaps the inequality of the effect produced by different preachers, is to be ascribed more to the different degrees of benevolent and devotional feeling, than to any other cause. Job Orton remarks, in his Letters, that he knew a good man of very slender abilities, who was eminently useful in the conversion of souls; which was, in his opinion, to be ascribed chiefly to the peculiarly solemn manner in which he was accustomed to speak of divine things.
I had hoped to have seen you during the summer, at Leicester, which would have been a very high gratification, as I know not when I shall reach London. I have no spirits for such an undertaking: my complicated afflictions have left me but half a man. The apprehension of mingled society, of being exposed to various sorts of company, is too formidable for me at present to surmount. I am severely and habitually afflicted with my old complaint: but have I any room to murmur?
I am happy in my domestic connexion, being blessed with an affectionate, amiable woman, and a lovely little girl, about five months old. My dear wife enjoys a better state of health than for some time past; and the dear infant is quite well. We have lately enlarged our place of worship, and have the prospect of its being well filled. I hope we experience some little of the presence of the Lord in the midst of us. I beg to be most respectfully remembered to Miss Wilkinson, and to thank her for her very kind congratulations and good wishes on my marriage. Remember me also most affectionately to dear Mrs. P-, and to all inquiring friends; and pray let me hear from you very soon.
I am, dear Sir,
TO EBENEZER FOSTER, ESQ. CAMBRIDGE.
Manchester, Nov. 4, 1809.
I write this from Manchester, to which your letter was sent from Leicester. I am obliged to you for it. It gives me much pleasure to hear of the very flourishing state of the congregation ; though I am concerned at the poor account you give me of Mr. Chase's health. I hope he will be speedily restored, and be continued as an extensive blessing among you. The prosperity of the kingdom of Christ is the most delightful object a real christian can contemplate. May he speedily take “ upon himself his great power and reign.” I cannot but indulge the belief, that real christianity is increasing in the world; and that what we perceive of this kind, at present, is but the dawn of a more glorious era, which will shortly arrive. The convulsed state of the world, and the limitation of popish power, announce the speedy accomplishment of prophecy, in the triumphant establishment of the kingdom of Christ. Wherever the gospel is preached, there is a disposition, unknown in former times, to attend upon it.
Poor M——! he has finished his career.
When we look back upon those who have been too much addicted to the love of the world, what a dream, what a vanity does it appear; how unworthy the supreme pursuit of a creature who is hastening to his final account! May we, my dear Sir, be preserved from this fatal snare, and possess as though we possessed not.
TO THE REV. JOSIAH HILL.
Leicester, Jan. 23, 1810. I thank you for your kind letter.
kind letter. I am happy to hear you are so comfortably settled, and that God has provided you with a suitable companion, with whom I wish you may enjoy many years of felicity. As to the proposal you are so good as to urge, of my visiting Pembrokeshire next summer, it will be quite impracticable. I have one summer excursion in view already; and a visit to so remote a part would occupy far more time than it would be proper for me to be absent from Leicester. I have had, in a manner, a new congregation to form; so that any considerable absence is attended with serious inconvenience, as the people are, as yet, by no means compacted and
consolidated. I consider it as the first duty of my life well to cultivate my own field, which is such, at present, as demands all my care; which, I may say, with humble gratitude, it rewards, the Lord having, in various instances, set his seal to my poor labours. The congregation which I serve consists mostly of the poor, many of whom are, however,“ rich in faith ;” so that I can truly say I never found so much encouragement in my work as since I have been here. The effect of time, and of spirits broken by a series of afflictions, has been to make me very reluctant to travelling. Nothing but the claims of absolute duty can surmount that reluctance. My ambition is to spread the savour of the knowledge of Christ in the connexion where I am placed, content to leave the more enterprising and brilliant career of an evangelist to persons of more active and ardent minds. It would give me much satisfaction to meet my dear friend Phillips anywhere, and more especially under your hospitable roof. That pleasure, however, I must postpone till I go to London, or until he will favour me with a visit in Leicestershire. I shall be always happy to see you, and to hear of your success and prosperity in your great work. Of this you say you can speak nothing at present. The congregation, I fear, from the character of its former pastor, has sunk into a very lethargic state. It will be your study and ambition, I am persuaded, to awaken them, and to recall them to the power of that