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science, there are, I think, good rules mentioned to assist the Christian in discovering, whether an impression of a text upon his mind be from the Holy Spirit, or from Satan. When he is satisfied that the impression is from the Holy Spirit, his next inquiry should be, What may be the Spirit's intention in bringing this promise to his remembrance, and in impressing it with life and power on his mind? He may be sure it cannot be to furnish him with any new ground of faith, or in the least to encourage him to make the impression itself any part of his warrant for applying that promise, as if the warrant afforded him by the Divine record were deficient, and needed to have additions made to it; but to direct his attention to that promise, as one peculiarly suited to him in his present case ;-to encourage him not only to apply and trust it, upon the warrant of the direction of it, and of all the other promises of the everlasting covenant, to him as a sinner of mankind in the Gospel offer, but to persevere in pleading it with a promising God. It is intended, I apprehend, to excite and encourage him to apply that promise to himself, not by itself, but in connexion with all the absolute promises of the new covenant; and, upon the warrant of its being directed in offer to him, to trust cordially and confidently that the compassionate Saviour will perform it and all the other promises of salvation to him in particular: and when he trusts that God his Saviour will perform it to him, to plead it with him; to plead it in the confidence of faith, not on the ground of the impression that has been made of it, but on the ground of the direction of it in the offer, and of the faithfulness of God pledged in it.
"Thus far, I think, an exercised Christian may go, if the promise impressed is in reference to his own case, and suitable to it. But if a promise is powerfully impressed, either on his own mind, or on that of a Christian friend, for another person, how nearly soever related to him, all, I humbly apprehend, that he can safely do is, to believe it on the ground of the veracity of God in his record, and to take encouragement from the impression,-provided he be satisfied that it is from the Holy Spirit,-to persevere in pleading that it may be performed to his friend; and if he be favoured with enlargement, and with grace to persevere long in pleading it and other promises for his friend, he may, I apprehend, take encouragement from this, to trust that it will sooner or later be fulfilled to him. I say, he may be encouraged by the -impression of it to continue instant in pleading it.
though a Christian cannot warrantably believe for another, yet he ought constantly to pray for him. There is one promise especially, whether it be impressed on his mind or not, that a believing parent may warrantably take, and trust, and plead in behalf of his child, namely, the promise to Abraham, Gen. xvii. 7,-That Jehovah would be a God to him, and to his seed after him. The apostle Peter told the Jews, that this great promise was not only to them and their children, but to all that are afar off; that is, to us Gentiles, and our children. As then, in the dispensation of the Gospel, this promise embraces the children of believing parents, along with themselves, they may freely take and plead it in behalf of their offspring, and conclude that such exercise is warrantable."
There is no reason to think that his correspondence was extensive, but rather that it was confined chiefly to a few individuals in whom he felt a more particular interest, or who wished and asked his advice, or to whom, when visited with affliction, he thought it his duty to tender his expressions of Christian sympathy, and offer the words of spiritual direction and comfort. And with what tenderness and judgment he could, and did, on such occasions address them, will be sufficiently evidenced by the contents of a letter written to a bereaved widow, and which, like that given above, cannot fail to be perused with gratifying interest by many of his surviving friends. May it prove a word in season to others also who may peruse it, as containing much that is fraught with suitable instruction to all, not only who partake of the same chastisement, but who specially belong to God's afflicted ones.
66 I was much concerned to hear of your late heavy affliction, and desire heartily to sympathise with you upon your loss of a pious and affectionate husband. Your loss is indeed great, but it is his great gain, and I doubt not but it will be your's too. Our Divine Redeemer never suffers any of his people to be losers at his hand, but determines that as they gain ground in sanctification they shall be gainers even by
And, therefore, the holy psalmist saith in one place, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted;" and in another, "Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, and teachest out of thy law." As no affliction befals the Christian but is light in comparison of what he deserves, so his light affliction, which is but for a moment in comparison of an eternity of torment, worketh for him a far more exceeding and an eternal weight of glory, and in the meantime worketh the peaceable fruit of righteousness. I hope you are enabled to see that this is the kind hand of a Father, and not the cruel hand of an enemy, and that instead of repining, you desire not only to acquiesce in the sad dispensation, but even to approve of the Lord's way with you, saying, Good is the will of the Lord, in faithfulness hast thou afflicted me.
"That incomparable Redeemer, to whom you have intrusted all your concerns, is so wise that he cannot err in sending you too little affliction in this valley of tears, and so loving, that he will not err in sending too much. Though you might have had a sinful, He has a sovereign hand in this trial, and, therefore, it is both your duty and your interest to look rather upon the heart and hand that afflict you, than on the affliction itself. He holdeth every bitter cup to you with his own gracious hand, and takes care that not the least drop of poison shall be mingled with it. There is a great difference, you know, between a cross and a curse. "What son is he whom the Father chasteneth not?" and yet every child of God is redeemed from the curse of the law. Christ's cross is better than the world's crown. The worst things of Christ are far better than the best things of this world. As you are warranted to take a cross out of no hand but Christ's, so every cross which you are called to take up shall serve to render you more and more conformable to him; and the heavier any particular cross is, it will render the conformity the greater. Our Heavenly Father loves his children, and as an evidence of it, loves to see them conformed, in as many instances as is possible, to the image of him who is the Son of his love. I am persuaded you desire to have no objections at being made conformable to Him who loved you and gave himself for you, however sensibly you must feel the weight of this heavy dispensation.
"He hath given you this promise, that when you pass through the waters he will be with you, and through the floods they shall not overflow you, and that when you walk
through the fire you shall not be burned: neither shall the flame kindle upon you. And as I doubt not but you have taken this, among the other precious promises of the everlasting covenant, as the ground of your hope, you may venture to believe that it will be fulfilled to you according to your necessity. This water cannot drown you, this fire cannot burn you, because of the faithfulness and good will of of Him who dwelleth in the bush. You know what reconciled Eli to his severe trial, "It is the Lord, and therefore let him do what seemeth him good." When you are satisfied that it is the Lord, your own covenant God who is afflicting you, then you may be sure that though he can send a dark dispensation, he cannot send a hurtful one. He cannot send any one but what is best for you at the time it is sent. He chastens not for his pleasure, but for your profit, and therefore as he afflicts not willingly, you may rest satisfied that he did not send this fiery trial till he saw that you could not have been so happy without it. How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! His ways at present are no doubt very dark to you; clouds and darkness are round about him; but give him his own time and he will explain himself to your entire satisfaction, and let you see that you could not have wanted a single bitter ingredient in any cup of suffering that ever he presented to you. Perhaps you may think this trial peculiarly afflictive, and that if it had been of another nature you would more easily have borne it; but you are in the hands of that heavenly Physician who cannot possibly mistake your case, but will prescribe that very remedy which of all others is fitted for you. He saw that no other affliction would be so conducive to the health of your soul at present, as this one. He is a God of judgment, blessed are all they who wait for him !"
Simplicity of manners, and godly sincerity of principle and conduct, were the pleasing and attractive features of his personal and private character. Mingling little with the world, and almost entirely secluded from its general society, he knew almost as little, from his own observation, of its men and habits, as if he had not lived in it at all. Retired and unassuming, he sought no place of outward distinction among his brethren, and was scarcely known to
the public, except when they heard of his name as a diligent and faithful minister, or of his writings as a sound and instructive divine. His closet and his library were his chief delight,-except when called to visit the house of mourning, and to which he was ever ready to repair,-in the one and in both entering into frequent and devout communing with himself and with God; and diligently labouring, by reading, and meditation, and prayer, to become more fully instructed himself in the "doctrine of the kingdom," that he might be able to teach more perfectly the way of God to others,-" bringing out of his treasure things new and old," for their establishment in the knowledge and faith of the Gospel. Nor did any one more uniformly and consistently practise the three duties which he constantly and invariably inculcated on all around him, viz. to redeem time,-to hate and forsake sin,—and to love and follow after holiness. Of Dr Colquhoun, indeed, it may with truth be said, appealing to his people and to all who knew him, as the great apostle of the Gentiles did of himself to the believers at Thessalonica, that "as allowed of God to be put in trust with the Gospel, even so he spoke; not as pleasing men, but God who trieth the heart; for neither at any time used he flattering words, nor of men sought glory; but was gentle among them, even as a nurse cherisheth her children; and that they were witnesses, and God also, how holily, and justly, and unblameably he behaved himself among them that believed; knowing how he exhorted and charged every one of them, as a father his children, that they would walk worthy of God, who had called them unto his kingdom and glory." In like manner, no doubt exists, that there is a goodly few, who, through the accompanying grace of the Holy Spirit, had cause also to thank God without