Dependence on Christ-God's Prescriptions
- London, Aug. 19, 1775.
... I went yesterday into the pulpit very dry and
heartless. I seemed to have fixed upon a text, but
when I came to the pinch, it was so shut up that I
could not preach from it. I had hardly a minute to
choose, and therefore was forced to snatch at that
which came first upon my mind, which proved 2 Tim. i.
12. Thus I set off at a venture, having no resource
but in the Lord's mercy and faithfulness; and, indeed,
what other can we wish for? Presently my subject
opened; and I know not when I have been favoured with
more liberty. Why do I tell you this? Only as an
instance of His goodness, to encourage you to put your
strength in Him, and not to be afraid even when you
feel your own weakness and insufficiency most
sensibly. We are never more safe, never have more
reason to expect the Lord's help, than when we are
most sensible that we can do nothing without Him. This
was the lesson Paul learnt, to rejoice in His own
poverty and emptiness, that the power of Christ might
rest upon Him. Could Paul have done anything, Jesus
would not have had the honour of doing all. This way
of being saved entirely by grace, from first to last,
is contrary to our natural wills; it mortifies self,
leaving it nothing to boast of, and through the
remains of an unbelieving, legal spirit, it often
seems discouraging. When we think ourselves so utterly
helpless and worthless, we are too ready to fear that
the Lord will therefore reject us; whereas, in truth,
such a poverty of spirit is the best mark we can have
of an interest in His promises and care.
How often have I longed to be an instrument of
establishing you in the peace and hope of the Gospel!
And I have but one way of attempting it, by telling
you over and over of the power and grace of Jesus. You
want nothing to make you happy, but to have the eyes
of your understanding more fixed upon the Redeemer,
and more enlightened by the Holy Spirit to behold His
glory. O! He is a suitable Saviour! He has power,
authority, and compassion, to save to the uttermost.
He has given His word of promise, to engage our
confidence, and He is able and faithful to make good
the expectations and desires He has raised in us. Put
your trust in Him; believe (as we say) through thick
and thin, in defiance of all objections from within
and without. For this, Abraham is recommended as a
pattern to us. He overlooked all difficulties; he
ventured and hoped even against hope, in a case which
to appearance was desperate; because he knew that He
who had promised was also able to perform.
Your sister is much upon my mind. Her illness grieves
me; were it in my power, I would quickly remove it.
The Lord can, and I hope will, when it has answered
the end for which He sent it. I trust He has brought
her to us for good, and that she is chastised by Him
that she may not be condemned with the world. I hope,
though she says little, she lifts up her heart to Him
for a blessing. I wish you may be enabled to leave her
and yourself, and all your concerns, in His hands. He
has a sovereign right to do with us as He pleases; and
if we consider what we are, surely we shall confess we
have no reason to complain; and to those who seek Him,
His sovereignty is exercised in a way of grace. All
shall work together for good; everything is needful
that He sends; nothing can be needful that He
withholds. Be content to bear the cross; others have
borne it before you. You have need of patience; and if
you ask, the Lord will give it: but there can be no
settled peace till our will is in a measure subdued.
Hide yourself under the shadow of His wings; rely upon
His care and power; look upon Him as a physician who
has graciously undertaken to heal your soul of the
worst of sicknesses, sin. Yield to His prescriptions,
and fight against every thought that would represent
it as desirable to be permitted to choose for
yourself. When you cannot see your way, be satisfied
that He is your leader. When your spirit is
overwhelmed within you, He knows your path; He will
not leave you to sink. He has appointed seasons of
refreshment, and you shall find He does not forget
you. Above all, keep close to the throne of grace. If
we seem to get no good by attempting to draw near Him
we may be sure we shall get none by keeping away from
I am, &c.
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