[from Memoirs of Bishop Hildesley]
Northampton, Oct. 12, 1749.
Rev. and dear Sir,
How shall I sufficiently thank you for the candour, condescension, and friendship, you have been pleased to express to me, in that very obliging letter which the last post brought me ? Straitened as I always am for time, I could not persuade myself to delay acknowledging it by „ the first opportunity. Accept, I beseech you, the tribute of a grateful heart, which finds itself sensibly cheared by such kind expressions of your regard, from your poor fellow-servant ; who does not esteem you the less his brother, nor feel the less of a fraternal love to you, on account of any diversity of forms, and, what are called, party-distinctions. But I rejoice to be assisted and supported by gentlemen of your character and station, in my cordial, though feeble endeavours, to spread the spirit of true, catholick, vital Christianity ; and to root out, as much as possible that sour leaven of bigotry and faction, which is under all denominations too ready to insinuate itself, to the dishonour of our great master, and the lamentable detriment of his family. But, blessed be God ! I hope it begins to be expelled ; and many excellent persons in the establishment, as well as of the separation, have shewn so amiable a disposition to unite in bonds of mutual respect and friendship, while diversity of forms continues, that I look upon it as a happy proof of the prevalency of real religion, in some considerable degree, and a blessed omen of its more abundant prosperity.
I think it a great honour to my writings, to have been approved by so ingenious and worthy a person as Mr. Hildesley ; an honour, which I desire to lay down, with all humble gratitude, at the foot of HIM, from whom every capacity of service, and every instance of acceptance and success proceeds.
When I consider-I speak it from my heart, how very much inferior I am, in all kinds of knowledge and furniture, to many of my cotemporaries, among different bodies of men, I have often wondered at the kind reception my writings have experienced, in one place and another; and have been astonished to observe the hand of Providence raising up friends and patrons to them, where I could not at all have expected or imagined it. You, dear Sir, are one instance of this. There are others, in the established church at home, and some abroad, in Holland and Germany, as well as in our plantations ; and this to such a degree, as to have produced, what no man ever less dreamt of,-eleemosinary editions of some, and translations of others. And, if I know my own heart, it is not from the little vanity of having an insignificant name repeated sometimes by I know not whom, but from better principles, that this has been, and is, the joy of my heart, and a great encouragement to go on with my endeavours, such as they are. And oh, that divine grace may take occasion to glory itself, in the weakness and unworthiness of the instrument ! In this view, my generous Friend, for so I will presume to call you, I earnestly intreat your prayers ; and will detain you no longer, than while I answer that part of yours, in which you are so good as to inquire, what I have written, and what I am now about.
The pieces, of any fine, that I have published, are, the three volumes of the Family Expositor ; Four Sermons on Education ; Seven to Young Persons ; Ten on the Power and Grace of Christ, and Evidences of the Gospel ; Ten on Regeneration ; The Rise and Progress of religion ; and the Memoirs of Colonel Gardiner : Translations of all which are (chiefly by means of one man, who till of late never saw me,) either published in some foreign language, or ready for the press.
To these have been added the following detached pieces ; several of which are now out of print, and probably will continue so : Free Thoughts on the State of the Dissenting Interest ; Three Letters to the Author of " Christianity not founded on Argument ;" Two Sermons or. Salvation by Grace; Single Sermons, or Tracts on the following Subjects, viz. The Funeral of Colonel Gardiner, and of Mr. Norris, the last, on Enoch's Translation - The Death of Children The Care of the Soul ; Against Persecution The Character of a Gospell-Minister, at Mr. Johnston's Ordination; The Evil of neglecting Souls, at Kettering ; Charge at Mr. Tozer's Ordination; Ditto at Mr. Jennings's; Fast Sermon at the beginning of the Way; Thanksgiving for the Retreat of the Rebels; Thanksgiving for the Peace; Letter to Soldiers ; Sermon on compassion to the Sick ; Account of Mr. Steffe's Life; Funeral Sermon for Mr. Shepherd ; Christ's Invitation ; Speech at Mr. Newman's Grave ; Serrnon on the Fire at Wellingborough ;. and Principles of Religion, in Verse, for the Use of Children. And I will venture to mention to you, " Two Letters to the Protestants of the United Provinces just at the crisis of their affairs, which were published in Dutch and French, but never in English. Perhaps I never, wrote any thing with so much effect as the former of them.
As to works now in hand, the chief, beyond comparison, is, The three last volumes of the Expositor; the first copy of which is prepared, and, should I die, would probably be printed., having been reviewed and corrected by me ;. though I intend to transcribe it, and hope to have finished the fair copy of the first volume, that is, the fourth of the work, by Midsummer;
in the large, and I persuade myself, very happy society under your care. And I conclude with assuring you that, should Providence ever bring you into these parts, your company would be esteemed a great favour, by,
Reverend and dear Sir,
Your affectionate, though unworthy Brother, and much obliged humble Servant,
I shall always be glad to hear of so kind a friend ; but hope you will pardon me, if, amidst my various engagements, I prove, as I do to the bet friends I have in the world, a very bad correspondent.