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TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
Huntingdon, July 16, 1767.
passionate temper, will be more ready, perhaps, to to assist us with his inquiries. It is probable we excuse me, in this instance, than I can be to ex-shall stay here till Michaelmas. cuse myself. But in good truth, it was abominable pride of heart, indignation, and vanity, and deserves no better name. How should such a creature be admitted into those pure and sinless mansions, where nothing shall enter that defileth, did not the blood of Christ, applied by the hand of faith, take away the guilt of sin, and leave no spot or stain behind it? Oh what continual need have I of an almighty, all-sufficient Saviour! I am glad you are acquainted so particularly with all the circumstances of my story, for I know that your secrecy and discretion may be trusted with any thing. A thread of mercy ran through all the intricate maze of those afflictive providences, so mysterious to myself at the time, and which must ever remain so to all, who will not see what was the great design of them; at the judgment seat of Christ the whole shall be laid open. How is the rod of iron changed into a sceptre of love!
YOUR wishes that the newspapers may have misinformed you are vain. Mr. Unwin is dead, and died in the manner there mentioned. At nine o'clock on Sunday morning he was in perfect health, and as likely to live twenty years as either of us, and before ten was stretched speechless and senseless upon a flock bed, in a poor cottage, where (it being impossible to remove him) he died on Thursday evening. I heard his dying groans, the effect of great agony, for he was a strong man, and much convulsed in his last moments. The few short intervals of sense that were indulged him he spent in earnest prayer, and in expressions of a firm trust and confidence in the only Saviour. To that strong hold we must all resort at last, if we would have hope in our death: when every other refuge fails, we are glad to fly to the only shelter, to which we can repair to any purpose; and happy is it for us when, the false ground we have chosen for ourselves being broken under us, we find ourselves obliged to have recourse to the rock which can never be shaken; when this is our lot, we receive great and undeserved mercy.
Our society will not break up, but we shall settle in some other place; where, is at present uncertain.* Yours, W. C.
TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
MY DEAR COUSIN, THE newspaper has told you the truth. Poor Mr. Urwin being flung from his horse, as he was going to his church on Sunday morning, received a dreadful fracture on the back part of the scull, under which he languished till Thursday evening, and then died. This awful dispensation has left an impression upon our spirits, which will not presently be worn off. He died in a poor cottage, to which he was carried immediately after his fall, I THANK YOU for so full an answer to so empty about a mile from home; and his body could not an epistle. If Olney furnished any thing for your be brought to his house, till the spirit was gone to amusement, you should have it in return; but him who gave it. May it be a lesson to us to occurrences here are as scarce as cucumbers at watch, since we know not the day nor the hour Christmas. when our Lord cometh!
Olney, June 16, 1768.
I visited St. Alban's about a fortnight since in The effect of it upon my circumstances will person, and I visit it every day in thought. The only be a change of the place of my abode. For I recollection of what passed there, and the conseshall still, by God's leave, continue with Mrs. quences that followed it, fill my mind continuUnwin, whose behaviour to me has always been ally, and make the circumstances of a poor tranthat of a mother to a son. We know not yet sient half-spent life so insipid and unaffecting, where we shall settle, but we trust that the Lord, that I have no heart to think or write much about whom we seek, will go before us, and prepare a them. Whether the nation is worshipping Mr. rest for us. We have employed our friend Haweis, Wilkes or any other idol, is of little moment to Dr. Conyers of Helmsley in Yorkshire, and Mr. one who hopes and believes that he shall shortly Newton of Olney, to look out a place for us, but
at present are entirely ignorant under which of the
On the fourteenth of October following, the Society was three we shall settle, or whether under either. I settled in the town of Olney in Buckinghamshire, of which have written to my aunt Madan, to desire Martin the Rev. Mr. Newton was curate.
stand in the presence of the great and blessed God. | Happy are you, my dear friend, in being able to I thank him that he has given me such a deep discern the insufficiency of all it can afford to fill impressed persuasion of this awful truth, as a and satisfy the desires of an immortal soul. That thousand worlds would not purchase from me. It gives a relish to every blessing, and makes every trouble light.
God who created us for the enjoyment of himself, has determined in mercy that it shall fail us here, in order that the blessed result of all our inquiries after happiness in the creature may be a warm pursuit and a close attachment to our true interests, in fellowship and communion with Him, through the name and mediation of a dear Redeemer. I bless his goodness and grace, that I in the desire after better things, than are to be have any reason to hope I am a partaker with you devoted to destruction. May he enable us both found in a world polluted with sin, and therefore to consider our present life in its only true light,
SIR Thomas crosses the Alps, and Sir Cowper, for that is his title at Olney, prefers his home to any other spot of earth in the world. Horace, observing this difference of temper in different persons, cried out a good many years ago, in the true spirit of poetry, how much one man differs as an opportunity put into our hands to glorify from another! This does not seem a very sublime exclamation in English, but I remember we were taught to admire it in the original.
him amongst men, by a conduct suited to his word and will. I am miserably defective in this holy and blessed art, but I hope there is at the bottom of all my sinful infirmities a sincere desire to live just so long as I may be enabled, in some poor measure, to answer the end of my existence in this respect, and then to obey the summons, and attend him in a world where they who are his
My dear friend, I am obliged to you for your invitation: but being long accustomed to retirement, which I was always fond of, I am now more than ever unwilling to revisit those noisy and crowded scenes which I never loved, and which I now abhor. I remember you with all the friend-servants here shall pay him an unsinful obedience ship I ever professed, which is as much as I ever entertained for any man. But the strange and
uncommon incidents of my life have given an entire new turn to my whole character and conduct, and rendered me incapable of receiving pleasure from the same employments and amusements of which I could readily partake in former days.
I love you and yours, I thank you for your continued remembrance of me, and shall not cease to be their and your
Affectionate friend and servant, W. C.
for ever. Your dear mother is too good to me, and puts a more charitable construction upon my silence than the fact will warrant. I am not better employed than I should be in corresponding with her. I have that within which hinders me wretch
edly in every thing that I ought to do, but is prone to trifle, and let time and every good thing run to waste. I hope however to write to her soon.
My love and best wishes attend Mr. Cowper, and all that inquire after me. May God be with you, to bless you, and do you good by all his dispensations; don't forget me when you are speaking to our best friend before his Mercy-seat. Yours ever,
N. B. I am not married,
TO MRS. COWPER.
MY DEAR COUSIN,
TO MRS. COWPER.
I HAVE not been behindhand in reproaching| myself with neglect, but desire to take shame to myself for my unprofitableness in this, as well as in all other respects. I take the next immediate MY DEAR COUSIN, Olney, August 31, 1769. opportunity however of thanking you for yours, A LETTER from your brother Frederic brought and of assuring you, that instead of being sur-me yesterday the most afflicting intelligence that prised at your silence, I rather wonder that you, has reached me these many years. I pray to God or any of my friends, have any room left for so to comfort you, and to enable you to sustain this careless and negligent a correspondent in your heavy stroke with that resignation to his will, memories. I am obliged to you for the intelligence which none but himself can give, and which he you send me of my kindred, and rejoice to hear gives to none but his own children. How blessed of their welfare. He who settles the bounds of and happy is your lot, my dear friend, beyond the our habitations has at length cast our lot at a common lot of the greater part of mankind; that great distance from each other; but I do not there- you know what it is to draw near to God in prayer, fore forget their former kindness to me, or cease and are acquainted with a Throne of Grace! You to be interested in their well being. You live in have resources in the infinite love of a dear Rethe centre of a world I know you do not delight in. deemer, which are withheld from millions: and
incline his ear, and give an answer of peace! I
TO THE REV. J. NEWTON.
the promises of God, which are yea and amen in threatening, by the only physician of value. I Jesus, are sufficient to answer all your necessities, doubt not he will have an interest in your prayers, and to sweeten the bitterest cup which your hea- as he has in the prayers of many. May the Lord venly Father will ever put into your hand. May he now give you liberty to drink at these wells of salvation, till you are filled with consolation and peace in the midst of trouble! He has said, when thou passest through the fire I will be with thee, and when through the floods, they shall not overflow thee. You have need of such a word as this, and he knows your need of it, and the time of necessity is the time when he will be sure to appear in behalf of those who trust in him. I bear you no more. and yours upon my heart before him night and day, for I never expect to hear of distress which shall call upon me with a louder voice to pray for the sufferer. I know the Lord hears me for myself, vile and sinful as I am, and believe and am MY DEAR FRIEND, sure that he will hear me for you also. He is the I AM glad that the Lord made you a fellow friend of the widow, and the father of the father-labourer with us in praying my dear brother out less, even God in his holy habitation; in all our afflictions he is afflicted, and chastens us in mercy. Surely he will sanctify this dispensation to you, do you great and everlasting good by it, make the world appear like dust and vanity in your sight, as it truly is, and open to your view the glories of a better country, where there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor pain, but God shall wipe away all tears from your eyes forever. O that comfortable word! I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction;' so that our very sorrows are evidences of our calling, and he chastens us, because we are his children.
March 31, 1770.
of darkness into light. It was a blessed work: and when it shall be your turn to die in the Lord, and to rest from all your labours, that work shall follow you. I once entertained hopes of his recovery: from the moment when it pleased God to give him light in his soul, there was for four days such a visible amendment in his body as surprised us all. Dr. Glynn himself was puzzled, and began to think that all his threatening conjectures would fail of their accomplishment. I am well satisfied that it was thus ordered, not for his own sake, but for the sake of us, who had been so deeply concerned for his spiritual welfare, that he My dear cousin, I commit you to the word of his might be able to give such evident proof of the grace, and to the comforts of his holy spirit. Your work of God upon his soul as should leave no life is needful for your family; may God in mercy doubt behind it. As to his friends at Cambridge, to them prolong it, and may he preserve you from they knew nothing of the matter. He never spoke the dangerous effects, which a stroke like this of these things but to myself, nor to me, when might have upon a frame so tender as yours. I others were within hearing, except that he somegrieve with you, I pray for you; could I do more, times would speak in the presence of the nurse. I would, but God must comfort you. Yours, in our dear Lord Jesus,
TO MRS. COWPER.
March 5, 1770.
He knew well to make the distinction between those who could understand him, and those who could not; and that he was not in circumstances to maintain such a controversy as a declaration of his new views and sentiments would have exposed him to. Just after his death I spoke of this change to a dear friend of his, a fellow of the college, who had attended him through all his sickness with assiduity and tenderness. But he did not understand me.
My brother continues much as he was. His case is a very dangerous one. An imposthume of the liver, attended by an asthma and dropsy. The physician has little hope of his recovery. I I now proceed to mention such particulars as I believe I might say none at all; only being a friend can recollect, and which I had not opportunity to he does not formally give him over, by ceasing to insert in my letters to Olney; for I left Cambridge visit him, lest it should sink his spirits. For my suddenly, and sooner than I expected. He was own part I have no expectation of his recovery, deeply impressed with a sense of the difficulties except by a signal interposition of Providence in he should have to encounter, if it should please answer to prayer. His case is clearly out of the God to raise him again. He saw the necessity of reach of medicine; but I have seen many a sick-being faithful, and the opposition he should expose ness healed, where the danger has been equally himself to by being so. Under the weight of
TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
May 8, 1770.
these thoughts he one day broke out in the following prayer, when only myself was with him, 'O Lord, thou art light; and in thee is no darkness at all. Thou art the fountain of all wisdom, and DEAR JOE, it is essential to thee to be good and gracious. I Your letter did not reach me till the last post, am a child, O Lord, teach me how I shall con- when I had not time to answer it. I left Camduct myself! Give me the wisdom of the serpent bridge immediately after my brother's death. with the harmlessness of the dove! Bless the souls I am obliged to you for the particular account thou hast committed to the care of thy helpless you have sent me ✶ ✶
miserable creature, who has no wisdom or know- He to whom I have surrendered myself and all ledge of his own, and make me faithful to them for my concerns hath otherwise appointed, and let his thy mercy's sake! Another time he said, 'How will be done. He gives me much which he withwonderful it is, that God should look upon man; holds from others; and if he was pleased to withand how much more wonderful, that he should look hold all that makes an outward difference between upon such a worm as I am! Yet he does look me and the poor mendicant in the street, it would upon me, and takes the exactest notice of all my still become me to say, his will be done. sufferings. He is present and I see him (I mean It pleased God to cut short my brother's conby faith); and he stretches out his arms towards nexions and expectations here, yet not without me' and he then stretched out his own-and giving him lively and glorious views of a better he says 'Come unto me, all ye that are weary happiness than any he could propose to himself in and heavy laden, and I will give you rest!' He such a world as this. Notwithstanding his great smiled and wept, when he spoke these words. learning, (for he was one of the chief men in the When he expressed himself upon these sub- university in that respect) he was candid and sinjects, there was a weight and a dignity in his cere in his inquiries after truth. Though he could manner such as I never saw before. He spoke not come into my sentiments when I first acwith the greatest deliberation, making a pause at quainted him with them, nor in the many converthe end of every sentence; and there was some-sations which I afterwards had with him upon thing in his air and in the tone of his voice, inex- the subject, could he be brought to acquiesce in pressibly solemn, unlike himself, unlike what I had ever seen in another.
This hath God wrought. I have praised him for his marvellous act, and have felt a joy of heart upon the subject of my brother's death, such as I never felt but in my own conversion. He is now before the throne; and yet a little while and we shall meet, never more to be divided.
them as scriptural and true, yet I had no sooner left St. Alban's than he began to study with the deepest attention those points in which we differed, and to furnish himself with the best writers upon them. His mind was kept open to conviction for five years, during all which time he laboured in this pursuit with unwearied diligence, as leisure and opportunity were afforded. Amongst his dy
Yours, my very dear friend, with my affection- ing words were these, 'Brother, I thought you ate respects to yourself and yours.
wrong, yet wanted to believe as you did. I found myself not able to believe, yet always thought I should be one day brought to do so.' From the Postscript. A day or two before his death he study of books, he was brought upon his deathgrew so weak and was so very ill, that he required bed to the study of himself, and there learnt to continual attendance, so that he had neither renounce his righteousness, and his own most strength nor opportunity to say much to me. On- amiable character, and to submit himself to the ly the day before he said he had a sleepless, but a righteousness which is of God by faith. With composed and quiet night. I asked him, if he these views he was desirous of death. Satisfied of had been able to collect his thoughts. He re- his interest in the blessing purchased by the blood plied, All night long I have endeavoured to of Christ, he prayed for death with earnestness, think upon God and to continue in prayer. I had felt the approaches of it with joy, and died in great peace and comfort; and what comfort I had peace. Yours, my dear friend, W. C. came in that way.' When I saw him the next morning at seven o'clock he was dying, fast asleep, and exempted, in all appearance, from the sense of those pangs which accompany dissolution. I
TO MRS. COWPER.
Olney, June 7, 1770.
shall be glad to hear from you, my dear friend, MY DEAR COUSIN, when you can find time to write, and are so in- I AM am obliged to you for sometimes thinking clined. The death of my beloved brother teems of an unseen friend, and bestowing a letter upon with many useful lessons. May God seal the in- me. It gives me pleasure to hear from you, esstruction upon our hearts! pecially to find that our gracious Lord enables
you to weather out the storms you meet with, and honoured by any who would give her credit for a to cast anchor within the veil. secret intercourse of this kind with the prince of darkness.
You judge rightly of the manner in which I have been affected by the Lord's late dispensation Mrs. Unwin is much obliged to you for your towards my brother. I found in it cause of sor-kind inquiry after her. She is well, I thank God, row, that I had lost so near a relation, and one so as usual, and sends her respects to you. Her son deservedly dear to me, and that he left me just is in the ministry, and has the living of Stock, in when our sentiments upon the most interesting Essex. We were last week alarmed with an acsubject became the same; but much more cause count of his being dangerously ill; Mrs. Unwin of joy, that it pleased God to give me clear and went to see him, and in a few days left him out evident proof that he had changed his heart, and of danger. adopted him into the number of his children. For this I hold myself peculiarly bound to thank him, because he might have done all that he was pleased to do for him, and yet have afforded him neither strength nor opportunity to declare it. I DEAR JOE, doubt not that he enlightens the understandings, and works a gracious change in the hearts of many in their last moments, whose surrounding friends are not made acquainted with it.
TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
Sept. 25, 1770.
I HAVE not done conversing with terrestrial objects, though I should be happy were I able to hold more continual converse with a friend above the skies. He has my heart, but he allows a corner in it for all who show me kindness, and therefore one for you. The storm of sixty-three made a wreck of the friendships I had contracted in the course of many years, yours excepted, which has survived the tempest.
instance of your regard. I could not leave Olney, unless in a case of absolute necessity, without much inconvenience to myself and others.
TO THE REV. WILLIAM UNWIN.
He told me that from the time he was first ordained he began to be dissatisfied with his religious opinions, and to suspect that there were greater things concealed in the Bible, than were generally believed or allowed to be there. From the time when I first visited him after my release I thank you for your repeated invitation. Sinfrom St. Alban's, he began to read upon the sub-gular thanks are due to you for so singular an ject. It was at that time I informed him of the views of divine truth which I had received in that school of affliction. He laid what I said to heart, and began to furnish himself with the best writers upon the controverted points, whose works he read with great diligence and attention, comparing them all the while with the Scripture. None ever truly and ingenuously sought the truth but they found it. A spirit of earnest inquiry is the gift | DEAR UNWIN, of God, who never says to any, Seek ye my face! I FEEL myself much obliged to you for your in vain. Accordingly, about ten days before his kind intimation, and have given the subject of it death, it pleased the Lord to dispel all his doubts, all my best attention, both before I received your and to reveal in his heart the knowledge of the letter and since. The result is, that I am perSaviour, and to give him firm and unshaken peace suaded it will be better not to write. I know the in the belief of his ability and willingness to save. man and his disposition well; he is very liberal in As to the affair of the fortune-teller, he never men- his way of thinking, generous and discerning. tioned it to me, nor was there any such paper He is well aware of the tricks that are played upon found as you mention. I looked over all his pa- such occasions, and after fifteen years interruppers before I left the place, and had there been tion of all intercourse between us, would translate such a one, must have discovered it. I have heard my letter into this language-pray remember the the report from other quarters, but no other parti- poor. This would disgust him, because he would culars than that the woman foretold him when he think our former intimacy disgraced by such an should die. I suppose there may be some truth in oblique application. He has not forgotten me, the matter, but whatever he might think of it be- and if he had, there are those about him who can fore his knowledge of the truth, and however ex- not come into his presence without reminding him traordinary her predictions might really be, I am of me, and he is also perfectly acquainted with my satisfied that he had then received far other views circumstances. It would perhaps give iim pleaof the wisdom and majesty of God, than to sup- sure to surprise me with a benefit; and if he pose that he would entrust his secret counsels to a vagrant, who did not mean, I suppose, to be understood to have received her intelligence from the Fountain of Light, but thought herself sufficiently was afflicted.
* The subsequent chasm in the Letters of this Volume was occasioned by a long and severe illness with which the writer