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LXV. To LADY BOYD, on the loss of several friends

MADAM, — Impute it not to a disrespective forgetfulness of your Ladyship, who ministered to me in my bonds, that I write not to you. I wish that I could speak or write what might do good to your Ladyship; especially now when I think we cannot but have deep thoughts of the deep and bottomless ways of our Lord, in taking away, with a sudden and wonderful stroke, your brethren and friends. Ye may know, that all who die for sin die not in sin; and that ‘none can teach the Almighty knowledge.’ No man can say ‘What does Thou?’ It is true that your brethren saw not many summers; but adore and fear the sovereignty of the great Potter, who maketh and marreth His clay-vessels when and how it pleaseth Him.

The under-garden is absolutely His own, and all that growth in it. His absolute liberty is law-abiding. The flowers are His own. If some be but summer apples, He may pluck them down before others. Oh what wisdom is it to believe, and not to dispute; to subject the thoughts to His court, and not to repine at any act of His justice? He has done it: all flesh be silent! It is impossible to be submissive and religiously patient, if ye stay your thoughts down among the confused rollings and wheels of second causes; as, ‘Oh the place!’ ‘Oh the time!’ ‘Oh if this had been, this had not followed!’ Oh the linking of this accident with this time and place! Look up to the master motion and the first wheel. ‘How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!’ His providence halteth not, but goeth with even and equal legs. Yet are they not the greatest sinners upon whom the tower of Siloam fell. Was not time’s lease expired? and the sand of heaven’s sand-glass, set by our Lord, run out?

And who can tell what thoughts of love and peace our Lord has to your children? I trust He will make them famous in executing the written judgments upon the enemies of the Lord, and that they shall bear stones upon their shoulders for building that fair city that is called ‘The Lord is there’ (Ezek. 48.35). Therefore, Madam, let the Lord make out of your father’s house any work, even of judgment, that He pleaseth. What is wrath to others is mercy to you and your house. It is faith’s work to claim and challenge loving-kindness out of all the roughest strokes of God. Do that for the Lord which ye will do for time: time will calm your heart at that which God has done, and let our Lord have it now. What love ye did bear to friends now dead, seeing they stand now in no need of it, let it fall as just legacy to Christ.

And, since ye will not alter upon Him who will not change upon you, I durst, in my weakness, think myself no spiritual seer if I should not prophesy that daylight is near, when such a morning-darkness is upon you; and that this trial of your Christian mind towards Him (whom you dare not leave, howbeit He should slay you) shall close with a doubled mercy. It is time for faith to hold fast as much of Christ as ever ye had, and to make the grip stronger, and to cleave closer to Him, seeing Christ loveth to be believed in and trusted to. The glory of laying strength upon one that is mighty to save is more than we can think. That piece of service, believing in a smiting Redeemer, is a precious part of obedience. Oh what glory to Him to lay over the burden of our heaven upon Him that purchased for us an eternal kingdom! O blessed soul, who can adore and kiss His lovely free grace!

The rich grace of Christ be with your spirit.

ST ANDREW, Oct. 15, 1640

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