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101

GOD

THE GUARDIAN OF THE POOR,

AND

THE BANK OF FAITH.

LETTER I.

TO THE SPARROW ALONE.

Beloved in the Lord Jesus,

Believing in my heart that the good hand of God has been revealed in you, and that his providence is observed by you; and having long had a most intimate acquaintance with, and a most cordial affection for, your lovely family, to whom I have reason to believe God has made me in some measure useful; and knowing that you are stationed at a distance from the main stock of the family, and in a barren land, where no water is; and being too remote from the breasts of consolation to pay attendance at the nurseries; I have determined with myself to send these displays of divine providence to you, hoping, under God, they may supply that lack of service which the distance between you and Bethel forbids in the common course of the ministry.

I know that neither you nor yours are, or ever were, reduced to such a state of indigence as myself; nevertheless, the long acquaintance that I have had with you, and the soul-union I have felt in your company, together with the pious grief I have seen manifested by you in others calamities, and your joy of countenance at the report of their deliverance, convinces me of the certain indwelling of a spirit of love and meekness in you, enabling you to weep with them that weep, and to rejoice with them that rejoice. In this confidence, and with these motives, I send these things to you, hoping they will be neither unpleasant nor unprofitable.

Moreover, as I have kept no diary of one single providence, and have nothing to trust to but a treacherous memory, which seldom refunds what is intrusted with it, especially mine, which begins of late sensibly to fail, unless it should please God to bring back what has elapsed for more than sixteen years; I am more inclined to pen the matters down in epistles to you, than to sit down and write a volume off hand, because I shall have more opportunity between the times of writing to consider and recollect the facts; besides, I can redeem time for an epistle, when I cannot for a large pamphlet. What I request, my beloved friend, of thee, is to lay them up carefully, and together, as I send them, in case they should, in some future period, be called for to be scattered from the press.

Among all my acquaintance in rural life, I

know of none whose mind is so free from incumbrance, and whose heart is less engaged and less entangled in the affairs of this life, than yours, and therefore you are the more at leisure to attend to and keep this charge. And as you acknowledged to me that you gained ground in the path of life by retirement, reading, meditation, and prayer, I hope these remarks will add strength to your feet, prospects to your sight, encouragement to your hope, and divine love to your heart.

Adieu. S. S.

WHEN I laid the foundation of the chapel I was twenty pounds in debt for the necessaries of life; and when I had finished it I was in arrears 1000l. more; so that I had plenty of work for faith, if I could but get plenty of faith to work: and while some deny a providence, providence was the only resource I had. I had forty-seven pounds per annum ground-rent, and almost fifty pounds per annum for interest, a large chapel, and a small congregation; and those who lent me the money a poor, industrious people, and weak in faith, being but young in the ways of God; and there were plenty of hypocrites in Zion to tell them that all who had a hand in that chapel would burn their fingers. If God sends Moses and Aaron to preach, Satan sends Jannes and Jambres to oppose: and if Zerubtabel and Joshua begin to build, Sanballat and Tobia are raised up to discourage them. And here I must bring in a circumstance which is truly laughable: a gentleman who had for some time frequented Margaret street Chapel, and to all appearance he was a very penitent hearer, as he was generally bedewed with tears; but whether they were tears of misery from a sense of sin, or tears of gratitude from a sense of pardon, I knew not; but I have been convinced since that they were neither. This good gentleman came to us when the chapel was in building, and hearing the builder

say that he should want some window sills, and some columns to stand in the cellar to support the ground floor, he generously offered his service to go into the country to buy them, as he had formerly been in the wood way himself. This kind offer was gratefully accepted; and another gentleman offered him his horse to go on. He accordingly received his orders of the length of the columns, the size of the heart at the small end, and that they must be the ground ends of young trees, able to support the weight they were intended to bear. So off he went, and in a day or two returned, and informed several of

my

friends that he had saved me three pounds by the journey; which to me was something considerable. Soon after his return the timbers came, but by no means fit for the purpose they were designed, being only the limbs of large oaks, small, and not one straight among them. The builder appearing disgusted at them, ordered the carter to reload them and take them home to his awn house,

which he accordingly did. The builder then went over the water and bought a fine, large, straight stick, at the price of nine pounds, and intended to cut it into proper lengths, and quarter it; which, when our kind friend saw, he got a cart and brought his materials back again, and threw them down on the premises, which rathered hindered than helped us.

He then delivered the bill to me, which, to the best of my remembrance, was five pounds seven shillings, which, with the three pounds that he had saved me by the bargain, made them worth eight pounds seven shillings. I offered to pay his bill, and to make him a present of the timbers if he would accept it, but he would not, nor could we use it; so that this good man's favours became a hinderance rather than a help. At last I resolved to have them valued, and sent for a timber merchant, who attended me to value them: he valued them at two guineas; but thinking the gentleman might undervalue them through partiality to me, I sent for an entire stranger, who was a timber merchant also, and he fixed their price at forty shillings. Upon this my good friend took the materials away, and for this price he sold them, clearing much less for himself than he saved

But to return to my subject. These were the difficulties I had to surmount; and for three years together I lost ground, for Satan waylaid me in a path which I knew to be charity. My bowels were moved to extricate from debt a man that I took to be a fallen saint, nor could all the inward

me.

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