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TO RICHARD REYNOLDS.
My dear Friend,
MANCHESTER, 8th Mo. 15, 1809.
I sometimes wonder that there should be any such thing as self-righteousness in the world; or that any should think they have any claim, from merits, to rewards. But we have both cause humbly and gratefully to acknowledge, that mercy and goodness have followed us all the days of our lives, and, I have confidence to believe, will be continued to us for ever. Let us, then, contend for this faith, and possess our souls in patience. We have both had many trials, in passing through this vale of tears, and many mercies to acknowledge; and I humbly hope and pray, that He who hitherto hath helped us, will continue to be with us, and finally give us an inheritance in His everlasting kingdom.
I am thy affectionate friend,
9th Mo. 11, 1809.
I received thy letter, and should be glad if I might be enabled to say any thing in answer to it, that might contribute to thy comfort and instruction. It is written in the Scriptures, "ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss:" "hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name.” The first petition, in that prayer which our blessed Lord taught his disciples, is, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done;" when the heart is thus humbled in submission, so as to make a sacrifice of its own will to the will of God, all complaints are over; and to that state of mind, every dispensation is sanctified, whether it be sweet or bitter, darkness or light, "all things work together for good." But, until our wills are thus subjected, it is in vain we look for peace. It is not the clamorous importunity, travail, and labour of the natural man, to be favoured with Divine consolation and peace, that will be heard or answered; but the prayer that arises from the sensible operation of the Spirit of God in the heart, will never be sent empty away; for, as its prayer is, that the will of God may be done, whilst preserved in that submission, it never can complain, because it is His blessed will to deal with us in
that way, which He, who knoweth all our wants, as well as weaknesses, sees to be best for us. Surely He knows best what to give, and what to deny, in order to subject the creaturely will, that His holy will may be done in us and by us, that He alone may rule whose right it is.
Go to meetings in a child-like state of mind, (the infant child does not make its choice of this or that, but is wholly dependent, being unable to do any thing for itself,) and when there, have no dependence at all upon any thing thou canst do for thyself, but endeavour to gather into a meek, patient resignation, trusting in the mere mercy of God in Christ Jesus, in Him who suffered for us without the gates of Jerusalem, and spiritually reveals himself in the hearts of all men.
believing in Him, and gathering to Him, as thou endeavourest to possess thy soul in patience, there is no possibility of thy missing that eternal salvation, of which Jesus is the author; for He hath said, "him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out." In all thy buffetings, afflictions, and conflicts, look to Him for help, on whom help is laid, and who is "touched with the feeling of our infirmities;" for there is salvation in no other name.
It is strange thou shouldst ask, what we are to understand by the grace of God, or what is meant by our coming to Christ. In every sense of the word, thou hast great cause to know what the grace of God is, both as it stands for the favour of
God, and a principle of holiness in the soul; and surely, thy long and ardent solicitude, to obtain peace and a resting-place in God, cannot leave thee ignorant what is meant by coming to Christ, who is both the peace, the rest, and sabbath of the soul; whose blood, outwardly shed, and divine life and nature from Him, inwardly renewed, are the changing and salvation of the soul.
Do not give in to curious inquiries and reasoning about this or that; but abide in the simplicity, and in the patience, and never suffer the enemy to lead thee to doubt this most certain truth, that all the dispensations of God, which thou hast passed through, or art now under, are administered in unerring Wisdom, and are adapted, by that Wisdom, to accomplish thy complete redemption.
Being an entire stranger, I do not know how proper it may be for me to say, that to be pretty constantly employed in any way useful, according to thy ability, would make time less tedious, and the attempts of satan less grievous. Improper, distressing, and wandering thoughts, will not, I think, long afflict those who are usefully employed, and turn away from them. We can no more help wandering thoughts, than we can prevent the birds from flying over our heads; but we can prevent them from making nests in our hair.
With desires for thy comfort, and peace in God, through an humble, patient submission and resignation to Him, I am thy respectful friend, JOHN THORP.
TO RICHARD REYNOLDS.
My dear Friend,
MANCHESTER, 4th Mo. 23, 1810.
I know that, with all the comforts we can have in this life, old age has infirmities and wants which the consolations of this world cannot relieve: and therefore, we look forward in humble hope to a better life and country, where our enjoyments will be both permanent and complete. I look upon my dear friend as near the celestial shore, and moving towards it under the auspicious conduct of the Captain of our Salvation; and with greater certainty, because under the influence of that awful fear, which keeps the heart clean.
The removal of dear Deborah Darby, however others may view it, to me affords a comfortable reflection; she had fought a good fight, she had finished the work that was given her to do, and is no doubt now entered into that rest which is glorious. With regard to the Church's loss, I dare say nothing; we know who it is, that of "stones can raise up children unto Abraham," who can work by many or by few, with or without instruments. We may safely leave the work, the great work of redemption, to Him who hath the power, and to whom belongs the glory, evermore. JOHN THORp.