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IV. To LADY KENMURE
MADAM, — I have longed exceedingly to hear of your life, and health, and growth in the grace of God. I entreat you, Madam, let me have two lines from you, concerning your present condition. I know you are in grief and heaviness; and if it were not so, you might be afraid, because then your way would not be so like the way that our Lord saith leadeth to the New Jerusalem. Sure I am, if you knew what were before you, or if you saw some glances of it, you would, with gladness, swim through the present floods of sorrow, spreading forth your arms out of desire to be at land. If God have given you the earnest of the Spirit, as part of the payment of the principal sum, ye have to rejoice; for our Lord will not lose His earnest, neither will He go back, or repent Him of His bargain. If you find, at some time, a longing to see God, joy in the assurance of that sight (although the sight be but like the pass over, that cometh about only once in the year), peace of conscience, liberty of prayer, the doors of God’s treasury opened to the soul, and a clear sight of Himself, saying, with a smiling countenance, ‘Welcome to me, afflicted soul’; this is the earnest which He giveth sometimes, and which maketh glad the heart; and is an evidence that the bargain will hold. But to the end ye may get this earnest, it were good to come in terms of speech with God, both in prayer and hearing of the word, for the Christ that saveth you is a speaking Christ; the church knoweth Him by His voice (Song of Solomon 2.8), and can discern His tongue amongst a thousand. When our Lord cometh, He speaketh to the heart in the simplicity of the Gospel.
I have neither tongue nor pen to express to you the happiness of such as are in Christ. When ye have sold all that ye have, and bought the field wherein this pearl is, ye will think it no bad market; for if ye be in Him, all His is yours, and ye are in Him; therefore, ‘because He liveth, ye shall live also’ (John 14.19). ‘Father, I will that those whom Thou hast given Me be with Me when I am, to behold My glory that Thou hath given me’ (John 17.24). Amen, dear Jesus, let it be according to that word. I wonder that ever your heart should be cast down, if ye believe this truth. I and they are not worthy at Jesus Christ, who will not suffer forty years trouble for Him, since they have such glorious promises. But we fools believe those promises as the man that read Plato’s writings concerning the immortality of the soul: so long as the book was in his hand he believed all was true, and that the soul could not die; but so soon as he laid by the book, he began to imagine that the soul is but a smoke or airy vapor, that perisheth with the expiring of the breath. So we at starts do assent to the sweet and precious promises; but, laying aside God’s book, we begin to call all in question. It is faith indeed to believe without a pledge, and to hold the heart constant at this work; and when we doubt, to run to the Law and to the Testimony, and stay there. Madam, hold you here: here is your Father’s testament — read it; in it He hath left you remission of sins and life everlasting. If all that you have in this world be crosses and troubles, down-castings, frequent desertions and departures of the Lord, still He purposeth to do you good at your latter end, and to give you rest from the days of adversity. ‘It is good to bear the yoke of God in your youth.’ Turn ye to the strong hold, as a prisoner of hope. ‘For the vision is for an appointed time, but at the last it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it: because it surely will come, it will not tarry.’ Hear Himself saying, ‘Come, my people (rejoice, He calleth you), enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, till the indignation be past.’ Believe, then, believe and be ye saved: think it not hard, if ye get not your will nor your delights in this life; God will have you to rejoice in nothing but Himself. ‘God forbid that ye should rejoice in any thing but the cross of Christ.’ Grace, grace be with you. The great Messenger of the Covenant preserve you in body and spirit.
Yours in the Lord
ANWOTH, Feb. 1, 1630
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