MY DEAR FRIEND, — I duly received your two letters; the last communicating the intelligence of your dear father's death, which could not create much surprise, considering his advanced age. Are we not constrained, dear friend, to acknowledge that our God does all things well, seeing he possesses a perfect knowledge of all events that shall occur in the lives of all his people? Nay, we may go further, and add, that all things are according to his divine appointment. That beautiful hymn, 'Sovereign Ruler of the skies,' is quite to the point. And yet are we not ofttimes planning and acting for ourselves, as though all comes to pass promiscuously? I am pleased to learn that the dear Lord has granted you such seasons of refreshing under the preached word. This is indeed a privilege. Afflictions, under God's hand, prepare the heart for the reception of the incorruptible seed of the gospel. You know it is said of the Thessalonians, 'They received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.' Thus too it will be with us, when the word comes home with power. In this way we learn the faithfulness of a covenant God, and can bear testimony to the same, being witnesses. Would we then (in our right mind) seek to have our own will or way? No, but would say with the church of old, 'He shall choose our inheritance for us,' both that which pertains to the present life, as of that which is to come. O how desirable to be made as little children, willing to put our hands into our heavenly Father's hands, to be led in such a way as seemeth him good! Much of our trouble arises from our self-will. And this stubborn principle will live in us while we are in the body. 0 how good it is of the Lord to deny, as well as to grant some of our prayers! truly, 'we know not what we should pray for as we ought.' The Lord grant us more fixedness of heart and eye upon himself, so shall we be saved from much disappointment arising from trusting to creatures. Above all, dear friend, may we be blessed with a lively hope of the future inheritance, living much in sweet anticipation of the glory to be revealed in us, and to us. Contemplations of this nature deaden to the perishing things of the present life, and inspire us with ardent longing for the possession of that inexpressible bliss and blessedness in reserve for those who are 'kept by the power of God unto salvation.'
I am sorry to hear such a poor account of your dear husband's health. The weather having set in so cold, is, no doubt, against him. I trust, as the season advances, it may please the Lord to restore him to some measure of bodily health, and in addition to this temporal blessing, grant him a soul-satisfying evidence of interest in his everlasting love; such a revelation and visitation would raise him, for the time being, above all the infirmities of this mortal state. Please give him my very kind love, and say, that from what I have seen and known of him, as well as from what I have felt toward him, I have a firm persuasion of his being a 'vessel of mercy,' and the time will come, when he shall have the witness of the Holy Ghost to his adoption.
I do not despise the witness of good men, yet all is insufficient to satisfy a soul taught of God. I would be thankful to say that myself and dear wife are as well as usual. We both unite in kind love to you and to yours.
Now, dear friend, may the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob abundantly bless you and yours, and I remain, yours very sincerely,
45, Wandle Road, March 22, 1883. ROBERT P. KNILL.