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Tern, Nov. 24th, 1756. The Red. Mr. Jolin Wesley.
AS I look upon you as my spiritual guide, and cannot doubt of your patience to hear, and your experience to answer a question, proposed by one of your people, I freely lay my case before you.
Since the first time I began to feel the love of God Med abroad in my soul, which was, I think, at seven years of age, I resolved to give myself up to him, and to the service of his church, if ever I was fit for it; but, the corruption which is in the world, and that which was in my heart, foon weakened, if not erased those first characters, which grace had written upon it. However, I went through my studies, with a design of going into orders; but afterwards, upon ferious reflection, feeling I was unequal to so great a burden, and disgusted by the necessity I should be under to subscribe the doctrine of predestination, I yielded to the desire of my friends, who would have me to go into the army ; but just before I was quite engaged in a military employment, I met with such disappointments as occasioned my.coming to England. Here I was called outwardly three times to go into orders ; but upon praying to God, that if those calls were not from him, they might come to nothing, something always blasted the designs of my friends; and in this, I have often admired the goodness of God, who prevented my rushing into that important employment; as the horse into the battle. I never was more thankful for this favour, than since I heard the gospel in its purity. Before I had been afraid, but then I trembled to meddle with holy things; and resolved to work out my salvation privately, without engaging in a way of life, which required fo much more grace and gifts, than I was conscious I possessed; yet, from time to time, I felt warm and strong desires, to cast myself and my inability on the Lord, if I should be called any more, kulowing that he could help me, and shew his strength in my weakness ; and these desires were increased, by foine little success, which attended my exhortations and letters to my friends.
I think it necessary to let you know, Sir, that my patron often desired me to take orders, and said, he would soon help me to a living; to which I coldly anfwered, I was not fit, and that besides, I did not know how to get a title. The thing was in that state, when about six weeks ago, a gentleman, I hardly knew, offer. ed me a living, which in all probability, will be vacant soon; and a clergyman I never spoke to, gave me of his own accord, the title of curate to one of his. livings. Now, Sir, the question, which I beg you to decide is, Whether I must and can make ule of that title to get into orders ? For, with respect to the living, were it vacant, I have no mind to it; because, I think, I could preach with niore fruit in my native country, and in my own tongue. .
I am in fufpence; on one side, my heart tells me, I must try, and it tells me so, whenever I feel any degree of the love of God and mad ; on the other, when I examine, whether I am fit for it, I so plainly see iny want of gifts, and especially, of that foul of all the labours of a minifter, love, continual, univerfal, flaming love ; that my confidence disappears; I accuse myself of pride to dare to entertain the desire, of supporting one day the ark of God, and conclude, that an extraordinary punishment will, sooner or later, overtake my rashnels. As I am in both of these frames successively, I must own, Sir, I do not fee which of these two ways before ine, I can take with safety; and I shall gladly be ruled by you; becaule, I trust, God will direct you in giving me the advice, you think will best conduce to his glory, which is the only thing I would have in view in this afair. I know how precious your time is, and desire no long answer,-persilt, or forbear, will fatisfy and influence, Reverend Sir, your unworthy fervant, I. F.
London, May 26th, 1757. The Rev. Mr. John Wesley.
IF I did not write to you before Mrs. Wesley had asked me, it was not, that I wanted a remeinbrancer within, but rather an encourager without. There is, generally, upon my heart such a sense of my unworthiness, that I foinetimes dare hardly open my moutii before a child of God; and I think it an unspeakable honour to stand before one, who has recovered something of the image' of God, or sincerely seeks after it. Is it poflible, that such a sinful worin as I lould have the privilege to converse with one, whose foul is sprinkled with the blood of my Lord! The thought amazes, confounds me, and fills my eyes with tears of humble joy. Judge, then, at what distance I must see myself from you, if I am to much below the least of your children; and whether a remembrancer within fuffices to make me presume to write to you, whose fhoes I ain not worthy to bear.
I rejoice that you find every where an increase of praying souls. I doubt not but the prayer of the righteous hath great power with God; yet I cannot believe, that it should hinder the fulfilling of Christ's gracious promises to his church. He must, and certainly will come, at the time appointed; for he is not Nack, as some men count Nackness; and although, he would have all to come to repentance, yet, he has not forgot to be true and just. Only he will come with nore mercy, and will increase the light, that fall be