August 13th, 1773
My dear Sir;
We are always glad to hear from you, because your paper is perfumed with the name of Jesus. You speak well of Him, and you have reason, for He has been a good friend to you. I likewise am enabled to say something of Him; and I trust the chief reason why I would wish my life to be prolonged is, that I may employ more of my breath in His praise. But, alas! while I endeavour to persuade others, that He is the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely, I seem to be but half persuaded of it myself;
I feel my heart so cold and unbelieving. But I hope I can say this is not I, but sin that dwelleth in me. Did you ever see my picture? I have it drawn by a masterly hand. And though another person, and one whom I am far from resembling, sat for it, it is as like me as one new guinea is like another. The original was drawn at Corinth, and sent to some persons of distinction at Rome. Many copies have been taken, and, though perhaps it is not to be seen in any of the London print-shops, it has a place in most public and private libraries, and I would hope in most families. I had seen it a great many times before I could discover one of my own features in it; but then my eyes were very bad. What is remarkable, it was drawn long before I was born, but, having been favoured with some excellent eye-salve, I quickly knew it to be my own: I am drawn in an attitude which would be strange and singular, if it were not so common with me, looking two different
and opposite ways at once, so that you would be puzzled to tell whether my eyes are fixed upon heaven or upon the earth; I am aiming at things inconsistent with each other at the same instant, so that I can accomplish neither. According to the different light in which you view the picture, I appear to rejoice and to mourn, to choose and refuse, to be a conqueror or a captive. In a word, I am a double person; a riddle: it is no wonder if you know not what to make of me, for I cannot tell what to make of myself. I would and I would not; I do and I do not; I can and I cannot. I find the hardest things easy; and the easiest things impossible; but while I am in this perplexity, you will observe in the same piece a hand stretched forth for my relief, and may see a label proceeding out of my mouth with these words,Â—”I thank God, through Jesus Christ, my Lord.” The more I study this picture, the more I discover some new and striking resemblance, which convinces me that the painter knew me better than I knew myself.
Give my love to Mr. ****. He has desired a good work; may the Lord give him the desires of his heart. May he give him the wisdom of Daniel, the meekness of Moses, the courage of Joshua, the zeal of Paul, and that self-abasement and humility which Job and Isaiah felt when they not only had heard of Him by the hearing of the ear, but saw His glory, and abhorred themselves in dust and ashes. May he be taught of God, (none teacheth like Him,) and come forth an able minister of the New Testament, well instructed rightly to divide and faithfully to distribute the word of truth. In the school of Christ, (especially if the Lord designs him to be a teacher of others,) he will be put to learn some lessons not very pleasant to flesh and blood: he must learn to run, to fight, to wrestle, and many other exercises, some of which will try his strength, and others his patience. You know the common expression of “a jack of all trades.” I am sure a minister had need be such an one; a soldier, a watchman, a shepherd, a husbandman, a builder, a planter, a physician, and a nurse. But let him not be discouraged; he has a wonderful and a gracious Master, who can not only give instructions, but power, and engages that His grace shall be sufficient, at all times and in all circumstances, for those who simply give themselves up to His teaching and His service.
I am sincerely your’s,