To Dr. Burton [4]

October 10, 1735.

DEAR SIR, -- I have been hitherto unwilling to mention the grounds of my design of embarking for Georgia, for two reasons,---one, because they were such as I know few men would judge to be of any weight: the other, because I was afraid of making favorable judges think of me above what they ought to think; and what a snare this must be to my own soul I know by dear-bought experience.

But, on farther reflection, I am convinced that I ought to speak the truth with all boldness, even though it should appear foolishness to the world, as it has done from the begin­ning; and that, whatever danger there is in doing the will of God, He will support me under it. In His name, therefore, and trusting in His defense, I shall plainly declare the thing as it is.

My chief motive, to which all the rest are subordinate, is the hope of saving my own soul. I hope to learn the true sense of the gospel of Christ by preaching it to the heathen. They have no comments to construe away the text; no vain philosophy to corrupt it; no luxurious, sensual, covetous, ambitious expounders to soften its unpleasing truths, to recon­cile earthly-mindedness and faith, the Spirit of Christ and the spirit of the world. They have no party, no interest to serve, and are therefore fit to receive the gospel in its simplicity. They are as little children, humble, willing to learn, and eager to do the will of God; and consequently they shall know of every doctrine I preach whether it be of God. By these, therefore, I hope to learn the purity of that faith which was once delivered to the saints; the genuine sense and full extent of those laws which none can understand who mind earthly things.

A right faith will, I trust, by the mercy of God, open the way for a right practice; especially when most of those temptations are removed which here so easily beset me. Toward mortifying the desire of the flesh, the desire of sensual pleasures, it will be no small thing to be able, without fear of giving offense, to live on water and the fruits of the earth. This simplicity of food will, I trust, be a blessed means, both of preventing my seeking that happiness in meats and drinks which God designed should be found only in faith and love and joy in the Holy Ghost; and will assist me---especially where I see no woman but those which are almost of a different species from me--to attain such a purity of thought as suits a candidate for that state wherein they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

Neither is it a small thing to be delivered from so many occasions, as now surround me, of indulging the desire of the eye. They here compass me in on every side; but an Indian hut affords no food for curiosity, no gratification of the desire of grand or new or pretty things: though, indeed, the cedars which God hath planted round it may so gratify the eye as to better the heart, by lifting it to Him whose name alone is excel­lent and His praise above heaven and earth.

If by the pride of life we understand the pomp and show of the world, that has no place in the wilds of America. If it mean pride in general, this, alas ! has a place everywhere: yet there are very uncommon helps against it, not only by the deep humility of the poor heathens, fully sensible of their want of an instructor, but that happy contempt which cannot fail to attend all who sincerely endeavor to instruct them, and which, continually increasing, will surely make them in the end as the filth and offscouring of the world. Add to this, that nothing so convinces us of our own impotence as a zealous attempt to convert our neighbor; nor, indeed, till he does all he can for God, will any man feel that he can himself do nothing.

Farther: a sin which easily besets me is unfaithfulness to God in the use of speech. I know that this is a talent entrusted to me by my Lord, to be used, as all others, only for His glory. I know that all conversation which is not seasoned with salt, and designed at least to administer grace to the hearers, is expressly forbid by the Apostle, as corrupt communication, and as grieving the Holy Spirit of God; yet I am almost continually betrayed into it by the example of others striking in with my own bad heart. But I hope, from the moment I leave the English shore, under the acknowledged character of a teacher sent from God, there shall no word be heard from my lips but what properly flows from that character: as my tongue is a devoted thing, I hope from the first hour of this new era to use it only as such, that all who hear me may know of a truth the words I speak are not mine but His that sent me.

The same faithfulness I hope to show through His grace in dispensing the rest of my Master's goods, if it please Him to send me to those who, like His first followers, have all things common. What a guard is here against that root of evil, the love of money, and all the vile attractions that spring from it ! One in this glorious state, and perhaps none but he, may see the height and depth of that privilege of the first Christians, 'as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things.'

I then hope to know what it is to love my neighbor as myself, and to feel the powers of that second motive to visit the heathens, even the desire to impart to them what I have received--a saving knowledge of the gospel of Christ. But this I dare not think on yet. It is not for me, who have been a grievous sinner from my youth up, and am yet laden with foolish and hurtful desires, to expect God should work so great things by my hands; but I am assured, if I be once fully converted myself, He will then employ me both to strengthen my brethren and to preach His name to the Gentiles, that the very ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God.

But you will perhaps ask: 'Cannot you save your own soul in England as well as in Georgia ?' I answer,--No; neither can I hope to attain the same degree of holiness here which I may there; neither, if I stay here, knowing this, can I reasonably hope to attain any degree of holiness at all: for whoever, when two ways of life are proposed, prefers that which he is convinced in his own mind is less pleasing to God and less conducive to the perfection of his soul, has no reason from the gospel of Christ to hope that he shall ever please God at all or receive from Him that grace whereby alone he can attain any degree of Christian perfection.

To the other motive--the hope of doing more good in America--it is commonly objected that 'there are heathens enough in practice, if not theory, at home; why, then, should you go to those in America ? ' Why ? For a very plain reason: because these heathens at home have Moses and the Prophets, and those have not; because these who have the gospel trample upon it, and those who have it not earnestly call for it; ' there­fore, seeing these judge themselves unworthy of eternal life, lo, I turn to the Gentiles.'

If you object, farther, the losses I must sustain in leaving my native country, I ask,--Loss of what ? of anything I desire to keep ? No; I shall still have food to eat and raiment to put on--enough of such food as I choose to eat and such raiment as I desire to put on; and if any man have a desire of other things, or of more food than he can eat, or more rai­ment than he need put on, let him know that the greatest blessing which can possibly befall him is to be cut off from all occasions of gratifying those desires, which, unless speedily rooted out, will drown his soul in everlasting perdition.

'But what shall we say to the loss of parents, brethren, sisters--nay, of the friends which are as my own soul, of those who have so often lifted up my hands that hung down and strengthened my feeble knees, by whom God hath often enlightened my understanding and warmed and enlarged my heart ?' What shall we say? Why, that if you add the loss of life to the rest, so much the greater is the gain; for though ' the grass withereth and the flower fadeth, the word of our God shall stand for ever.' Say that, when human instruments are removed, He, the Lord, will answer us by His own self; and the general answer which He hath already given us to all questions of this nature is: ' Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left father, or mother, or lands, for My sake, but shall receive an hundredfold now in this time with persecutions, and in the world to come eternal life.'

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