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May that Mercy and Goodness, my dear friend, by which thou hast been visibly followed, and preserved from the intoxicating influence of prosperity and affluence, continue to prepare and fill thy heart with redeeming Love, and enable thee more and more to increase in “bags which wax not old," "eternal in the heavens." I am thy affectionate friend,
To RICHARD REYNOLDS.
MANCHESTER, 8th Mo. 15, 1787. My dear Friend,
I think I should not do justice to the book of letters which thou wast so kind as to lend me, and which I now return, if I did not acknowledge that my heart was affected in reading several passages in it. The author's dedication, and upright zeal and jealousy for the glory of God, and for the ever blessed Jesus, felt precious to my heart. I do think, there is no one, who has a spark of goodness in him, who can read her work without some benefit; and though I think her piety exceeded her religious understanding, I have no manner of doubt concerning her, and all such as she was, under every name, but that they are numbered among the children of God, and have their lot among the saints.
Do not think, my dear friend, I am recommending books too highly. Every thing is good in its place; but I wish for thee, as for myself, that we may have in our possession the truth itself, and that we may wait (that best of exercises) to feel when it shall please the Lord to replenish our hearts with that light and virtue which come from Him, the mysteries of His kingdom opened in ourselves. The Lord Almighty would, in great mercy, by various means, prepare us for, and engage us to seek after, those Divine communications from Him, the Fountain itself, wherein
are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Thus we should experience another kind of teaching, and another kind of knowledge, than that which books or outward instruction can furnish us with.
I long, my dear friend, that we may grow and increase in the knowledge and experience of that Divine communication, from the Fountain of Divine intelligence, and with one another in Him, which standeth in no need of the medium of words or writing, and in which the communion of saints doth eternally consist.
Under some measure of the influence of the Heavenly Father's love, I sincerely wish thy prosperity in the best things, and remain thy affectionate friend,
To RICHARD SHACKLETON.
MANCHESTER, 12th Mo. 25, 1787. My dear Friend,
With all who, like thee, have leisure and talents at command, the common apology for delay in writing—the want of opportunity, is likely to meet with little credit; and yet, if that has not hindered me from communicating to thee by letter, what I should often have rejoiced to have spoken to thee, if present, I cannot tell what has. Dear Rebecca Wright used to acknowledge another impediment, and say she was too proud to write, intimating that her performance did her no honour. I do not know if pride has much influence over me in these respects; but 1 do believe it operates very differently on different minds, with regard to writing, and may, for ought I know, have worse consequences in prompting some to write, than others to be silent. I have no view, however, to discourage communications of this kind, when the streams are not impure. For my part, I freely confess, it affords to me a highly grateful and pleasing satisfaction ; and the want of an opportunity to enjoy and cultivate it, where I see a disposition homogeneous to my own, is not the least or lightest of the crosses I endeavour patiently to bear.
My feelings and sentiments of friendship are much above my outward condition; and though I do not murmur, I am almost tempted to it, when I consider what opportunities it deprives me of enjoying in the company of my dearest friends, and how little I can help those in distress, for whom I feel the deepest sympathy. Think of this, and be thankful, you whose lot is in a southern land; yes, and let me consider it, and be thankful too, as appointed by Him who only is wise. For these light afflictions are but for a moment; and truly my mind is frequently raised above them, looking forwards in hope, towards that blissful state, when all the baneful shackles of mortality shall be put off, and the children of the kingdom meet in Him, who is the centre of unity, beyond the limits of time and space, no more to be separated.
My youngest child died whilst I was in London, and my wife did not choose to bury her until my return, which hastened my departure from thence, and deprived me of the opportunity of taking a satisfactory farewell of my friends.
The candlesticks were to be made of pure gold, of beaten work. I am sure I never saw more need in my life, that they should be made of beaten work, that they may bear tossing and hammering, without being broken or spoiled. And oh ! how necessary it appears to me, that
there should be an increase of skill, care, and necessary qualifications, in those who may be considered as snuffers or hammers. I cannot express the pain and jealousy that fills my mind, with respect to this class in our Society; there is so much want of bowels, sympathy, and of that love that edifies, that I really fear, instead of being like pillars, waymarks, and standardbearers, supporting the hands that are ready to hang down, they are, in too many places, as dead weights in our assemblies; and, like the false and idle shepherds formerly, are more solicitous to fill themselves with the bread that perishes, than the flock with that which nourishes the soul up unto eternal life.
Well! my dear friend, in proportion to the pain and suffering I sometimes feel, on account of the elders I have thus described, who, like the fruitless fig-tree, do but cumber the ground, I rejoice in those who are alive, and labouring for, and measurably possessing, those qualifications which enable them to discharge the important duties of their office, to their own peace and the edification of the churches. Oh! the almost infinite service such might, nay would be of, if they were but enough devoted, did but enough dwell under the efficacious influence of that love, in which Christ died for us. How would this quicken us to diligence, and enable us to labour for the good of