« PreviousContinue »
this means, more fully prepared, and our capacities more enlarged, for Him to take up His abode with us for ever. Now I have no doubt at all, but this will in due time become thy singularly happy and blessed experience. Oh! if I were but as fully persuaded concerning myself, that all that spiritual poverty, darkness, barrenness, and distress, which I frequently experience, would turn to the same good account; how thankful should I be! Yet I am kept above despondency; my faith and hope, through and in Divine Mercy, are preserved. I know in whom I have believed, and in whom thou hast most surely believed ; and that He is able to keep that which we have desired, and at times been enabled to commit unto Him. Amen.
In a feeling sense of the virtue, love, and sincerity of divine truth, concludes at this time, thy affectionate friend,
To FRANCES DODSHON.
Manchester, 9th Mo. 24, 1781.
My dear Friend,
Feeling at this time renewedly a considerable degree of sympathy, affection, and concern for thee, it is in my heart to visit thee with a few lines, though in truth I have not a sentence before me, nor any apprehension that I shall have any thing to say in the truth, whereof thou art not more grown and confirmed by experience; yet if happily, through the Divine blessing, I should be so directed in this letter, that it should tend in any degree to stir up the pure mind, to strengthen the hands which are ready to hang down, and to confirm the feeble knees, I know that humble thankfulness would therefore arise, as indeed it ought, to the Giver of every good and perfect gift.
In the account which thou writest me, concerning thy state, there is still much complaint of the frequent absence of that adorable Goodness, from which all real comfort and happiness can spring. This, added to thy advanced age and present arduous situation, together with some unhappy events which have lately happened in
your meeting; the consideration and feeling of these things must needs clothe thy mind with sackcloth and great distress. The occasion which has been given, by reason of the things which have happened, for the adversary to speak reproachfully, the testimony seeming to fall in the streets, deserted and betrayed by those who should have united in its support, is truly very affecting; so that indeed there seems great reason to adopt that mournful query, Lord,
what wilt thou do unto thy great Name?” or “by whom shall Jacob arise, for he is small?” Now, my dear friend, in such a situation of things as this, what can we do? Can we rebuild the walls of Sion, or restore her waste places? Can we fight the Lord's battles, and turn again the captivity of his people? Are we able to go in and out before them, to mourn skilfully ourselves, and teach the daughters lamentation? Nay, who is sufficient for these things? What then remains for us to do? what is our proper business? Why, surely, that very same thing which the great apostle adviseth, in these words: “Study to be quiet, and to do your own business.”
“It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" aright; the wrath of man (nor his zeal neither) worketh not the righteousness of God." The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.” “ “Study to be quiet,” and in peaceful, perfect submission, commit thyself wholly into the hands of Almighty God; and in His will concerning thee, rest always satisfied; for surely it is fit that He should dispose of us; that He should direct every thing that any way relates, either to our outward or inward state; because He is our Father, if we are but enough dependent on Him. He only is wise, and knows what is best for us, and what will most contribute to His glory. This is the acceptable state;
Thy will be done;" give what Thou pleasest, withhold what Thou pleasest. “Give us this day
our daily bread,” whether it be the bread of adversity, or the water of affliction; or the bread which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. “Thy will be done,” whether Thou be pleased to lift up the light of Thy countenance, and bless us with the sensible enjoyment of Thy glorious presence, wherein indeed there is life; or Thou seest it more profitable for us to be exercised in a state of barrenness, mourning, deep feeling of our own weakness, and spiritual poverty, Thy will, Thy holy blessed will be done.
Now, I do believe thou art advanced far, very far beyond me in these experiences; but yet I know what I say, and indeed I have seen, and do see, such an excellence, such necessity, such perfection, safety, and beauty, in this state of perfect, total, unreserved submission and resignation to God, more especially in spiritual things, but indeed in all things; that I am no way able to express myself in a manner equal to my views and feelings of this state; nor to recommend it according to its infinite worth; because it is here we see our own nothingness, and the ALL of God. It is here that we receive counsel and ability to perform the service of the present day, resting satisfied with His appointments and allotments, whether in public or private labour, whether in doing or suffering, according to the will of God.
God Almighty, if it be His will, gather and preserve thee here, in a state of humble trust and firm reliance on His mercy; and limit and rebuke the power of the
that he may never be permitted to bring thee into any degree of despondency.
To the keeping, guidance, and protection of the great Shepherd of Israel, I commend thee with myself, and at this time bid thee farewell. From thy loving, affectionate friend,
P. S. Martha Routh is on a religious visit to some meetings in Yorkshire. Brother T. Cash, in company with Isaac Gray, is on a visit to several of the midland counties: and William Rathbone on the same errand in the south-west ; so that the work of the Lord is going forward, and then, no matter who are the instruments, all is right that is in the Divine appointment. So that the walls of partition and opposition be brought down, no matter whether the silver trumpet, or the ram's horn, be made use of as the instrument.
I cannot well forbear just adding, that the faith and hope which I have so frequently felt concerning thee, and sometimes expressed in my letters, remain with me in as great a degree as ever; and no shadow of doubt at any time attends my mind concerning thy state, which I verily believe to be in the allotment of consummate