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TO ALL who fear and love God, in and about Made. ley : Grace and peace, power and love, joy and triumph in Christ, be multiplied to you, through the blood of the Lamb, through the Word that testifies of the blood, and through the Spirit who makes the application.
I expected I should have been with you to see your love, and be edified by your conversation, but Providence has hindered. Twice I had fixed the day of my depar. ture from this place; and twice, the night before that day, I was taken worse than usual, which, together with the unanimous forbiddings of my spiritual, temporal, and medical friends here, made me put off my journey. The argument to which I have yielded, is this, " There is yet some little probability, that if you stay here, you
† The Reader will observe, that those of Mr. Fletcher's Pastoral and Familiar Letters, which were inserted in the Narrative of his Life, by the late Rev. Joseph Benson, are here omitted.
might recover strength to do a little ministerial work ; but if you go now, you will ruin all.” However, God is my witness, that, if I have not ventured my life to come and see you, it was not from a desire to indulge myself, but to wait and see if the Lord would restore me a little strength, and add a few years to my life, that I might employ both in your service; just as a horse is sometimes kept from his owner, and confined to the yard of a farrier, until he recovers the ability of doing his master some service. I only desire to know, do, and suffer the will of God concerning me; and I assure you, my dear brethren, if I saw it to be his will, that I should give up the means of health I have here, I would not tarry another day, but take my chance, and come to my dear charge, were the parish situated ten times more North than it is.
I do not, however, despair of praising God with you in the body; but let us not stay for this to praise him. Let us bless him now; and if any of you are under a cloud of unbelief, and see no matter of praise in being out of hell, in being redeemed by Christ, crowned with thousands of spiritual and temporal mercies, and called to take possession of a kingdom of glory ; I beg you would praise him on my account, who raises me so many friends in time, who afflicts me with so gentle a hand, who keeps me from all impatience, and often fills me with consolation in my trouble; giving me a sweet hope that all things work, and shall work, together for good.
Love one another. The love you shew to one another will greatly refresh my heart. Keep united to our common head, Jesus. Pray for your infirm minister, as he does for you; and let me hear of your growth in grace, which will be health to the withering bones of your unprofitable servant,
P.S. --Medicine does not seem to relieve me; but I rejoice that, when outward remedies fail, there is one, fails ; — which removes all spiritual maladies, and will surely give us eternal life. Let me recommend that remedy to you all : You all want it, and, blessed be God, I can say, Probatum est-tried.
To the Parishioners of Madeley.
NEWINGTON, Jan. 13, 1777.
MY DEAR COMPANIONS IN TRIBULATION,
I find much comfort in my weak state of health, from my relation to my Covenant God :' And by my relation to him as my Covenant God, I mean, (1.) My clear, explicit knowledge of the Father as my Creator and Father ; who so loved the world, you, and me, as to give his only-begotten Son, that we should not perish, but have everlasting life. O my dear friends, what sweet exclamations, what endearing calling of, Abba, Father, will ascend from our grateful hearts, if we say, with St. Paul, 'He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how freely will be give all things with that capital gift !
2. I mean by my covenant relation, my relation to the adorable Person, who, with the strength of his Godhead, and the strength of his pure manhood, took away my sin, and reconciled our fallen race to the divine nature, making us capable of recovering the divine union from which Adam fell. O how does my soul exult in that dear Mediator! How do I hide my poor soul under the shadow of his wings ! There let me meet you all. Driven to that true mercy-seat by the same danger, drawn by the same preserving and redeeming love; invited by the same gospel promises,
and encouraged by each other's example, and by the example of that cloud of witnesses, who have passed into the kingdom of God by that precious door, let us by Christ return to God ; let us in Christ find our reconciled God : And may that dear commandment of his, "Abide in me,' prove every day more precious to our souls. If we abide in him by believing that he is our way, our truth, and our life; by apprehending him as our Prophet or wisdom, our Priest or righteousness, our King or sanctification and redemption, we shall bear fruit, and understand what is meant by these scriptures, “In him I am well pleased :'— Accepted in the Beloved :'-_ There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus :'- God was in Christ recon. ciling the world unto himself,' &c. O the comfort of thus cleaving to Christ by faith ; of thus finding that Christ is our all.
Love one another, my dear Brethren, I entreat you : By the pledges of redeeming love, which I have so often given you, while I said in his name, “ The body of Christ which was given for thee,- The blood of Christ which was shed for thee,” to reconcile thee to God, and to cement thee to the brethren : By these pledges of divine love, I entreat you to love one another, and the Holy Spirit is with you :' But if you plead the promise of the Father, which, says Christ, you have heard of me, he will be in you. He will fill your souls with his light, love, and glory, according to that, verse, which we have so often sung together,
Refining fire, go through my heart,
Illuminate my soul,
And sanctify the wbole.
So shall we live and die in the faith, going on from faith to faith, from strength to strength, from comfort to comfort, till Christ is all in all, to us all.
in the chapel, many were so offended, that it was with difficulty they could forbear interrupting me in my prayer, to tell me, Physician, heal thyself.' I was on the point of declining to officiate, fearing I should only give fresh offence; indeed I should have done so, had it not been for my friend Bernon, who pressed me to stand firm, representing the triumph my silence would give my enemies, &c. His reasons appeared to me so cogent, that, as your brother did not reject my assistance, I read prayers, and engaged to preach sometimes in a morning, which I have accordingly continued to do.
The same day I arrived in London, our poor friend Bernon took to his bed, as if the Lord had waited my presence to give the blow. Three days after, the fever increased, and appeared to be dangerous.
The next day, which was Wednesday, he settled his temporal concerns. Friday evening he was free from fever, and I had some hopes of his life ; but on Saturday it appeared, that the fever was the lightest part of his maa lady, and the Physician said, he would die of an inflammation in his bowels, which was the case on Monday, after an illness of eight days. I sat up with him three'nights, and saw him as often as I could by day; and blessed be God, I did not see him for a moment without the full assurance of faith. His soul was, in general, divided between the exercise of repentance and of faith in the blood of the Lamb; however, from time to time, repentance gave place to rejoicing; and when he appeared better, he expressed much fear of returning to life. Nevertheless, one day, when I was not with him, he had a conflict with the enemy of his faith, which continued an hour or two, when he came off conqueror. The violence of the fever sometimes threw him into a delirium, and that was the case some hours before his dissolution. The last words he uttered, before the strength of his disease deprived him of speech, were, “O what love, what love!” I have in my heart a clear testimony that he died the death of the just. Thus, to recompense me for the injury Satan has done me by a false friend, the Lord hath taken to himself a true one,