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frequently informed of your health: they join in wishing you much success in your work, and every other desirable blessing, with,
My, dear Sir,
Another congratulatory epistle from his muchvalued friend Mr. Williams, of Cardigan, shall be inserted—somewhat hesitating about Free Communion, yet he leans to the liberal side, and indulges in expanded views of Christianity. Though a magistrate, he was a minister of the Gospel, possessing, if I may judge from his numerous letters to Mr. Richards, good sense, great benevolence, and unaffected piety.
D EAR FRIENn, Cardigan, Jan. 8th, 1777.
Your friendly letter from Lynn gave me pleasure and entertainment: to hear your situation to be so agreeable, and the various other anecdotes, could do no otherwise. Provide Noe has remarkably favoured you in the connexions you have formed, and the lines you have hitherto trod in. Go on and prosper. The objection I should have to your situation would be the preaching three times a day to the same auditory. There are few people equal to it, so as to keep up the sacred flame in its purity. Novelties may please for a time; but when familiarized, we grow indifferent, or, at least, formal. The interest of minister and people should be mutual in the great article of edification and comfort. The two last are always connected, The account you give of the state of religion in your vicinity is truly lamentable: yet it is to be hoped that God has his hidden ones among the multitude. He had seven thousand in Israel when there seemed to be a general defection from the God of Jacob I believe you and I would differ much respecting our sentiments of Mixed Communion. I know not well how to tolerate a person in judgment a Baptist, and yet in practice the contrary ! Here candour has no handsome excuse to make : even age, and the most delicate constitution, are mere frivolous excuses, when the commands of our Lord are positive. A cordial submission to his institution never injured the most delicate, or proved fatal to the oldest. Besides, there is no peril in the delay to a favourable season, or immorality in preparing the water adequate to the constitution of the subject. I would rather suspect that there is something more at bottom; that which divines call shame or unbelief. LovE is of a very convincing and compelling nature; where it reigns, it overcomes all difficulties, withstands all carnal arguments, and makes all crooked straight before the willing. But on the other hand, when a person is fully satisfied in his own mind, and his conscience leads him in favour of Pardobaptism, his spirit, his temper, and conversation, agreeable to the Gospel of Christ; and no other church, near, of his mind, sound in the fundamentals or essentials of true Christianity; I say such a person proposing himself for communion, as a regular member, I should have no demur or hesitation about it: leaving him to stand or fall to his own master, as the great Lord of Conscience, respecting his judgment concerning ordinances! There are, and have been, many great and excellent pious Protestants, who differ from us respecting the mode and subject of baptism, who, notwithstanding, have been the great lights and some of the principal ornaments of our religion. However Christians, as Christians, differ one from another in sentiment, and from some early imbibed prejudices, are shy one of another; yet as members of the same invisible head, and of the mystical body, they have communion one with another—eat of the same spiritual meat, and all drink the same spiritual drink. I never did read any thing on the subject, and do believe if I was, that nothing would have sufficient weight with me to alter the judgment I have formed to myself. You may be in a like situation: however, I could wish that Christian candour and forbearance might in the present case prevail, and not to mention a view to a greater degree of usefulness under the peculiar circumstances of your connexion and situation, as well as the influence it might have with those now of a contrary mind. Such a situation would have its trials, and requires much prudence D
and discretion: and what state does not f—If your ministry is owned either for conviction or edification, you should follow where Providence leads. It is some time since I saw your Mother, but have heard of her welfare since. Religion, as to its outward aspect, seems to wear the same face :— no great additions. I suppose you have heard of the removal of Mr. Harrys, of P. Pool; Mr. Davies, Swansea, and your predecessor at Lynn. There is a fever that now much prevails and carries off many. I do not recollect any among your acquaintance within my knowledge. It is felt pretty severe in this town. We have at this time a hard frost, much snow, and very cold; it may be a natural means of purifying the air, and destroying the embryo of infectious disorders. It is not determined who will succeed at Swansea: Mr. Phillips, of Caerleon, is talked of Our new place of worship was opened here in April, and hath continued ever since to be well attended. What success may attend the word, time will evince. It is very commodious, and it is become a kind of fashion among many to be hearers. I have less spare time than ever, having no other assistant than Thomas Henry to answer the various engagements in town and country. However, he is a useful, humble, and acceptable man. It is a busy world, and the scenes around us in the natural, moral, political, and religious world, present different images, and often trying to our spirits. We are ever pursuing after some object or other, which either escapes our delusory sight, or if grasped gives fresh occasion to discontent and disappointment. How infinitely happy are those souls who have God for their portion, and Christ for their friend : and what a heart-felt pleasure to have his image formed and impressed within, and its blessed effects, a perfect peace, calmness, and self-government. But, alas! how imperfect—how short we fall of true happiness How ready we are to fall in love with ourselves, and admire deformity and pride on wretchedness and poverty.
I have not had the pleasure of seeing any of Mr. Robinson's publications. I doubt not but that they are pleasing, accurate, and edifying. But I observe, in general, that the works of geniusses are not calculated for the multitude, or generality of Christians. Razors are not fit weapons for blocks and rough timber. In studying accuracy, elegance, and polite literature, great care should be taken we do not lose the savour and sweetness of pure and undefiled religion. The enticing words of wisdom, or excellency of speech, may please the ear, create admiration, and raise us into consequence with the many; whilst the heart is cold, and unaffected, the manners uncorrected, and the affections running after the sounding brass or tinkling cymbal l—There has lately been a mission set on foot into N. Wales: three or four parties have led the way, and I hope opened a door for more to follow. They have so far succeeded as to have many doors open; crowds