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MEMOIR OF MRS. SARAH HILL,
WITH EXTRACTS FROM HER CORRESPONDENCE.
BY THE REV. DR. HANNAH.
(Concluded from page 17.) “ DECEMBER 25th, 1832," she writes to Mrs. Budgett,—to whom, also, the two following extracts are addressed,—" This is the day on which we commemorate the birth of our Immanuel. O that He may be afresh and fully formed in our hearts! And may they be opened to receive all the precious benefits which He came to insure to His people! I was led into very solemn meditation on His wondrous love in submitting to become incarnate for our salvation. This mysterious act, and all His subsequent sufferings from the manger to the cross, passing in review before me, filled my soul with astonishment, and humble gratitude, and love ; so that I seemed lost in the contemplation of that love wherewith He hath loved us, the length, and breadth, and height of which He only knows. It is indeed a mystery which angels strive in vain to know. Eternity alone can unravel it. What scenes lie before us! scenes which will open upon our delighted minds when we escape from the clay tenement, and enter into life. Blessed be God for a hope blooming with immortality! This supports me under the pressure
many infirmities, and lifts my fainting spirit up.
“ December 17th, 1833.” Having mentioned an affliction which she had recently been called to endure, she proceeds,—“My heavenly Father and kind Physician has seen it necessary for my spiritual health to administer this wholesome discipline. With filial awe I adore the hand that has so wisely, so graciously, 'chastened me for my profit ;' for such, I trust, will be the happy result,—that my mind will be so strengthened, and every grace of Ilis blessed Spirit so invigorated, that I may more than ever prove that • He doeth all things well,' and fills my soul with ripe millennial fruit, such as shall be to the praise and glory of His great name. He has favoured me with seasons of sweet refreshment during the silent watches of the night, when pain has prevailed over my weak flesh.-0, it is sweet to
VOL. VII.-FOURTH SERIES.
work for God; and even to be laid aside, if for His glory, is also sweet. What is heaven but to live in His will, and to do His pleabure ?
“January 10th, 1834. O, how good is the God we adore ! He is indeed our faithful, unchangeable Friend.' As we cannot fathom the depth of His wisdom, neither can we exhaust the fountain of His goodness and love,-a fountain that is ever flowing, yet ever full. • Its streams the whole creation reach.' Blessed be His name, it hath come to you and me. May we drink deep and deeper yet, till we are filled unutterably full! My soul has been sweetly kept in peace. I have had seasons of 'refreshing from the presence of the Lord,' by which my spiritual life has been supported, though I have not been able to attend the outward means of grace.
My heart is constantly drawn heavenward, and sighs for closer communion, but does not attain to it. I want more ardour in devotion. Then I should more fully realise the precious promises which, I know, are left upon record for my encouragement, that the blessed work of the Spirit may be perfected in my soul. I hope I shall arise and shake myself from the dust, and call more fervently on His blessed name, and be putting on my beautiful garments. I long for holiness in all its heights and depths, that I may be ready for my future home,—that holy place, where all are like Him who is 'glorious in holiness.'—0 it is sweet to live in the element of love, and for its emanations to reach to all around ! May my cold heart be filled with the sacred fire till all its dross is purged away!”
“ April 19th, 1834,”—she writes to Miss Howard, of Sunning-Hill, near Bolton,—“The reserve you complain of, my dear girl, is very painful, and must be corrected as much as possible. It is a fruit of our fallen nature, of which the adversary of our souls takes advantage to hinder us in our Christian course. He would not have us 'confess our faults one to another,' because he knows many snares would be broken by free communication with Christian friends. By steadily resisting him we overcome through the blood of the Lamb, encouraged by the testimony of those who have gone before us in the Divine life. You say you do not clearly discern what your spiritual state is. Pray that Divine light may shine upon your mind. You will then see that the Lord has begun a good work in you.
He has convinced you that you are destitute of the robe of righteousness with which our first parents were clad before the fall, and that, of course, you stand exposed to the wrath of God. Had He not in infinite wisdom and mercy devised a plan of reconciliation to His offended justice, we must without doubt have perished everlastingly from His presence, and the glory of His majesty. He has provided a Saviour for lost man. But have we received Him as such ? Have we cast the whole weight of our guilty souls upon Him? Have our hearts cordially embraced Him as the fairest among ten thousand,' and the ' altogether lovely?' Have we felt our entire need of Him as an atoning Sacrifice, and an Intercessor at the right hand of God? And are we able to say, with Thomas, ‘My Lord and my God ?' This, my dearest Sarah, is the liberty into which you are called; nor must you rest without it. Cry unto Him incessantly for that faith which will make you victorious over all the reasonings of your own mind, and all the base insinuations of your great enemy, who would not have you enter into the fold, but would make you believe that there is a lion in the way,—such as that it would be presumption in one so young as you to expect to be so blest and so happy. Various other things he will suggest to discourage you. But whatever tends that way comes from beneath ; not from the Father of lights,' but from the father of lies, who would not that any should be saved. But God would have all to be saved ; and He will save all those who come to Him, humbly confessing their own helplessness, and believing that Christ is now both able and willing to blot out all their sins for His own name's sake, and to adopt them into His favour and family. If we look at the sufferings of our blessed Lord even from the cradle to the cross, we cannot but see that they are infinitely meritorious, and that therefore our sins, however heinous, are fully atoned for. If you say that you cannot believe with that faith which brings peace into your soul, I answer, Ask it of God. It is His gift. But you must exercise it in believing His word. If He says, 'Go in peace,' “Thy sins, which are many, are all forgiven,' you must believe it on the authority of His word, which ‘is truth and no lie,' and you must abide believing, and seeking power from above so to do. Thus will you overcome the wicked one, and with the shield of your faith you will quench all his fiery darts, and give glory to God and the Lamb.”
To the same friend the subjoined communications were made :
“May 27th, 1834. I take up my pen to inquire how it is now with your soul, and to endeavour to stir up your pure and upright mind to diligence in running your Christian course : for, you are not to stand still, much less are you to look back with any lingering desire after the beggarly elements of the world, which is passing away, and on which is legibly inscribed, 'All is vanity. I believe you are in search of the supreme Good, and that you are found daily at the feet of your great Prophet, to be taught of Him more perfectly the way of life. I would have you to dig deep, and lay your foundation sure : you will not then be soon moved from it, or shaken with any wind of other doctrine which the cunning craftiness of Satan may suggest I see, from your letters, that you are convinced of the utter depravity of human nature, and of our entire insufficiency to do anything in the way of meriting favour from God. You are convinced that you are a sinner, and that your only hope of salvation is through the meritorious atonement of Jesus Christ, who has fulfilled the law in your behalf, and satisfied the demands of Divine justice, But have you so believed these important doctrines as to be made free, and now to feel the Spirit of adoption in your heart, enabling you to say, 'Abba, Father?' I think you have gone thus far ; aud I would exhort and encourage you to hold fast this beginning of your confidence' which hath great recompense of reward,' and, rather than give it up, to say, · Help Thou mine unbelief. Give me, O my Father, Thy Spirit's testimony in my heart, that I may rejoice in Thy salvation.'' Satan will probably suggest to your mind that you are presumptuous, or are deceiving yourself; and so he will strive to buffet you out of your confidence, and draw you into reasonings with himself. But you must flee to your stronghold, and lift up your heart to God to shine upon His own work, and show you precisely where you stand.—But if, ou mature and serious self-examination, you have reason to conclude that you have not so believed in Christ, not so fully cast your soul upon the merit of His sacrifice, now endeavour to do so : now cast yourself, with all your sins, on the atoning blood. Time with Him is nothing, -place is nothing. He calls only for the act of faith on your part. He beholds, wellpleased, the gracious bleeding Sacrifice; and for the sake of that Sacrifice hears and accepts the poor, guilty, self-condemned sinner who flees for refuge to that only hope set before him in the Gospel. Believe now, my dear Sarah, and you shall enter in by that door which is ever open, and which no man can shut. Here you will find solid footing; for it is the · Rock of ages. You will no longer be entangled in the mire of vain reasonings on the possibility of knowing your sins forgiven, or groundless fears of Satan's suggesting to harass and perplex your mind ; for you will know that He hath removed your sins from you as far as the east is from the west, and that they are become as a stone that is cast into the depth of the sea. This faith brings peace and joy into the mind, in the place of fears and condemnation; and while we retain our confidence we shall go on comfortably, because we know our God is reconciled to us through His dear Son. We must not expect to be free from temptation, but we must keep our faith in exercise ; for it is by faith we live,-as the Scripture saith, “The just' (that is, the justified, the pardoned) shall live by faith.' There are two grand doctrines held out to us in Scripture,—the doctrine of justification and the doctrine of sanctification. These are inimitably defined by Mr. Wesley in his Sermons and other writings on doctrinal points, which you will do well to read with prayer ; for it is well for the understanding to be informed and established in the doctrines of the Gospel, as well as for the heart to be established with grace. These two things, united, form the Christian character. We are very apt to confound them, and to think, in the beginning of our awakening and conviction, that we must be made holy before we can be accepted of God. Whereas the very contrary is the real case. We must come as guilty sinners to God for pardon for Christ's sake, and be willing to be accepted on His own terms; and it is when we have received this great blessing that the work of holiness begins, and is through life a progressive work, a being changed into His image from glory to glory. So, the earth bringeth forth first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear ;'-by which the states of the babe in Christ, the young man, and the mature Christian, are illustrated by our Lord.