To MY MUCH-ESTEEMED FRIENDS IN THE FELLOWSHIP OF CHRIST, the altogether lovely, the only hope of our ruined and helpless souls, and of all the ends of the earth — a fearful, faint-hearted, and groaning soldier of the faith, sendeth greeting.
I am sick of the briers and thorns of the wilderness, and sigh for the abominations that I see, and groan for the abominations that I feel, and for the infirmities of body that daily oppress me. I greatly regret that, though I am sick of earth, I am not on the wing for heaven in my affections as I would; but seem rather clogged and bemired with the bird-lime cares, and sad and sinking cumbers, than charmed and gratified with the fading and scentless flowers of this poor, sickly, and dissolving world. I do long to love him whom it is lawful to love, and whom we cannot love too much; and whose love will see to it that nothing is lost for him; not even life itself, though that great sacrifice should be made for his honor. I know that a drop of his pardoning, peace-seeking, and heaven-anticipating love shed abroad in the heart, can make the wheels of the mind run smoothly in obedience; line and underlay the heaviest cross, and make it as wings to fly with towards the eternal rest. But why doth he, who is love itself, deny such sweet indulgence? Because he seeth not as man seeth. Such hard and slippery hearts as ours do not learn the long hard lessons of our ruin and misery, and guilt and vileness in a day or two; neither doth he reckon by our tables; a thousand years with him are but as one day; and all our burdened pilgrimage, though bonds and afflictions everywhere awaited us, and hunger and want of all things and daily killing were essentials of our cross; such heart-breaking loads are, in the decision of his wisdom and his love, but 'light afflictions, are but for a moment.' He brought blessed Paul to this judgment, and he can easily bring us there. Oh, I do earnestly wish to be brought there, in my right mind! but I am almost continually practiced in the school of my infirmities, and sorely feel them night and day. I have just completed another journey of fifty-two days, and about eight hundred miles. I reached home on Friday night; found my all-gracious God had taken care of all in my absence, and he had shown me distinguishing mercies abroad; and my friends rallied round me the next Lord's day, though I had tried their attachment by a seven weeks' absence.
The measures of our rulers, in the admission of the Catholics to a share of our government influence, lie with peculiar weight upon my heart.* I believe we have every reason to calculate on a share in their plagues. The sworn servants of Antichrist we have thus taken by the hand, and will give them influence and emoluments to strengthen their diabolical interests, and eat out the vital parts of all our national good. O how true is that which is written, 'Their watchmen are dumb dogs, lying down, loving to slumber! 'And our only security is, that Catholics will be hypocrites, and inconsistent with themselves. But I have long been in despair about our national affairs; the abominations of the national church; the crying sins of pride, oppression, injustice, and deceit in dealings; contempt of God and his word. The lukewarmness, worldly conformity, carnal affections, and bitterness of the little remnant that know better are truly alarming. 'Shall not I visit for these things?' saith the Judge of all the earth. 'O that I had in the wilderness a lodge of wayfaring men!' But 'God will be a refuge for the afflicted, a refuge in time of trouble;' (Ps. 9) and his children shall have a place of refuge. O for grace to walk uprightly! The great secret of true religion, I am persuaded, is uprightness,— however weak in faith, or poor in knowledge, or tried in circumstances, 'walking in truth; 'keeping the Lord's way and the Lord's words; seeking to know his will — keeping his precepts diligently — this is safety; 'them that honour me, I will honour.' O for grace to walk in our houses in a perfect way — to walk as Abraham before God, courting his inspection of all we do, with a 'Search me, 0 God, and try me, and lead me in the way everlasting!'
I heartily wish you directing, comforting, and keeping grace; expectation of multiplying troubles, profit by them, and deliverance from them.
There is a little tract, lately published in London, at sixpence, or less, called 'The Signs of the Times,' which I think well worth reading. Should you order one or more, order of A. Panton, Oxford Street. It is a fine specimen of the old Presbyterian zeal against Popery. I wish we and our children were better read on the subject of Popish persecution, — the Reformation, and its now despised blessings, — Popish errors and delusions, their discovery and confutation, &c. Some united effort ought to be made by sound Protestants to remove this evil. I wish my purse equaled my wishes and knowledge of books on these subjects. Popish zeal may whet Protestant zeal.
My love in Christ, very heartily, to yourselves.
Leicester, June 10, 1827. THOS. HARDY.
*'This was the Duke of Wellington's and Sir Robert Peel's Bill for the Emancipation of the Roman Catholics, passed in April, 1829. — ED.'