TO THE DUCHESSE (DOUAIRIERE) DE MONTEMART. ON BEARING REPROOF.


CAMBRAI, Atig. 22, 1708. 

.... I EARNESTLY desire that you may be at peace 
within. You know that peace can only be found in low- 
liness, and that lowliness is only real so long as we suffer 
ourselves to be abased under God's Hand, time after 
time, as He wills. The means which He most frequently 
uses are contradiction and blame from others, and our 
own inward weakness. We must learn to bear both the 
one and the other, from without and from within. We 
become really lowly when we are no longer surprised 
either at receiving censure from others, or at feeling in- 
corrigible within. Then everything overrules us like little 
children, and we are willing to be overruled ; we are 
conscious that others are right, but feel helpless in our- 
selves to amend. By this time we expect nothing of 
ourselves, and have no hope save in God ; and then the 
reproofs of others, however hard or harsh they be, 
seem less than we deserve ; and if we find them hard to 
bear, we are more inclined to blame our sensitiveness 
than to justify ourselves. So that even reproof can 
scarcely humble us, we are already so lowly. When we 
feel an inward rebellion against reproof, it shows how 
urgently we needed it, for indeed no reproof can benefit 
one unless it cuts to the quick ; so the more we feel it, 
the more necessary we may conclude it to be. 

Forgive me all my freedom, dear Duchess. God knows 
how much I love you, and how I feel for all your troubles. 
I beg your pardon if anything I have said seems harsh; 
do not doubt my affection, and do not think of me in 
the matter ; look only to God's Hand, which has used 
mine as the awkward instrument wherewith to deal you 
a painful blow. Your pain proves that I have touched 
the ailing spot Yield to God, submit unreservedly; this 
alone will give you rest and restore your tone. It is only 
what you know so well how to say to others. This is a 
weighty season, a very crisis. What grace will be poured 
out upon you, if you bear like a little child all that God 
is doing to humble you and strip you both of self-reliance 
and self-will ! I intreat you to make yourself so small 
that you may nowhere be found !

 

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