To his brother Israel, at Haddam.
MY DEAR BROTHER, Kaunaumeek, Jan. 21, 1743-4.
--THERE is but one thing that deserves our highest care and most ardent desires; and that is, that we may answer the great end for which we were made, viz. to glorify that God, who has given us our beings and all our comforts, and do all the good we possibly can to our fellow-men, while we live in the world: and verily life is not worth the having, if it be not improved for this noble end and purpose. Yet, alas, how little is this thought of among mankind! Most men seem to live to themselves, without much regard to the glory of God, or the good of their fellow-creatures. They earnestly desire and eagerly pursue after the riches, the honours, and the pleasures of life, as if they really supposed, that wealth, or greatness, or merriment, could make their immortal souls happy. But, alas, what false and delusive dreams are these! And how miserable will those ere long be, who are not awaked out of them, to see, that all their happiness consists in living to God, and becoming “holy, as he is holy!” Oh, may you never fall into the tempers and vanities, the sensuality and folly, of the present world! You are, by Divine Providence, left as it were alone in a wide world, to act for yourself: be sure then to remember, it is a world of temptation, You have no earthly parents to be the means of forming your youth to piety and virtue, by their pious examples, and seasonable counsels; let this then excite you with greater diligence and fervency to look up to the Father of mercies for grace and assistance against all the vanities of the world. And if you would glorify God, or answer his just expectations from you, and make your own soul happy in this and the coming world, observe these few directions; though not from a father, yet from a brother who is touched with a tender concern for your present and future happiness. And,
First, Resolve upon, and daily endeavour to practise, a life of seriousness and strict sobriety. The wise man will tell you the great advantage of such a life, Eccl. vii. 3. Think of the life of Christ; and when you can find that he was pleased with jesting and vain merriment, then you may indulge it in yourself.
Again, Be careful to make a good improvement of precious time. When you cease from labour, fill up your time in reading, meditation, and prayer: and while your hands are labouring, let your heart be employed, as much as possible, in divine thoughts.
Further, Take heed that you faithfully perform the business you have to do in the world, from a regard to the commands of God; and not from an ambitious desire of being esteemed better than others. We should always look upon ourselves as God’s servants, placed in God’s world, to do his work; and accordingly labour faithfully for him; not with a design to grow rich and great, but to glorify God, and do all the good we possibly can.
Again, Never expect any satisfaction or happiness from the world. If you hope for happiness in the world, hope for it from God, and not from the world. Do not think you shall be more happy if you live to such or such a state of life, if you live to be for yourself, to be settled in the world, or if you should gain an estate in it: but look upon it that you shall then be happy when you can be constantly employed for God, and not for yourself; and desire to live in this world, only to do and suffer what God allots to you. When you can be of the spirit and temper of angels who are willing to come down into this lower world to perform what God commands them, though their desires are heavenly, and not in the least set on earthly things, then you will be of that temper that you ought to have, Col. iii. 2.
Once more, Never think that you can live to God by your own power or strength; but always look to and rely on him for assistance, yea, for all strength and grace. There is no greater truth than this, that “we can do nothing of ourselves,” (John. xv. 5. and 2 Cor. iii. 5.) yet nothing but our own experience can effectually teach it us. Indeed we are a long time in learning, that all our strength and salvation is in God. This is a life that I think no unconverted man can possibly live; and yet it is a life that ever godly soul is pressing after in some good measure. Let it then be your great concern, thus to devote yourself and your all to God.
I long to see you, that I may say much more to you than I now can for your benefit and welfare; but I desire to commit you to, and leave you with, the Father of mercies, and God of all grace; praying that you may be directed safely through an evil world to God’s heavenly kingdom.
I am your affectionate loving brother,