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and tell of His wonders in the deep, who is a God, infinite in power, wisdom, and love; whose
mercy endureth for ever," and of whose lovingkindness there is no end.
I desire the increase and establishment of thy health, and in order to it, I wish thee to take as much exercise, within and without doors, as thou art capable of without weariness; and let nothing prevail, to induce thee to deny thyself of any quantity or quality of food that may best nourish and sustain thy body.
I am with much affection, real regard, and love unfeigned, thy friend in the fellowship of gospel love,
To FRANCES DODSHON.
My dear Friend,
Manchester, 6th Mo. 17, 1779.
I cannot with ease omit this opportunity of communicating a few lines to thee, to acknowledge the receipt of thy letter; and be assured, no want of true friendship for thee, nor inattention to the subject, has been the cause why I have not answered it sooner; but chiefly because I have nothing to say, which has not in substance at least been already said. My faith and hope,
and all my feelings concerning thee, when clothed with a right mind, being invariably the same; and because I am abundantly persuaded, that however, in thy own apprehension, thou mayst seem to stand in need of compassion and help from the least of the flock, yet I know that He, who made and supports all worlds, and all beings; with whom not only all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are, but also all power in heaven and on earth, is thy Shepherd, thy Saviour, thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
With regard to the distressing probations of thy present state, I have only to say, I pray in faith that thou mayst be supported under and to the end of them all; that the gracious design of the Almighty may be fully answered concerning thee. What I feel at any time of concern for thee, is on account of thy present suffering ; for I have no fear or doubt at all with respect to the issue of thy present conflicts. Nay, verily, when I have read over thy letters, those which bave been most replete with lamentation and fear, so far have I been from feeling any degree of discouragement on thy account, that my faith has often been raised to a degree of assurance, that there was no one in a safer state. My Father is greater than all," said the adorable Jesus, concerning those whom the Father had drawn unto and given Him, "and none can pluck them out of my Father's hand."
Is the cause of thy present suffering a painful uncertainty whether it originateth in mind or body; whether on thy own account as an evildoer, or in a state of union with the holy, suffering seed, filling up what remains of the afflictions of Christ, for His body's sake, which is the Church? whether purely a dispensation from the Almighty, for thy more perfect purification, or the weight of His judgments for former offences? or whether arising only from natural causes in the constitution of the human frame? is the clear, distinct knowledge of these things at all veiled or hid from thyself or others? why is it so? Doth not Infinite Wisdom know it, and cannot He reveal it? What is the reason, then, why He doth not do it? why, surely, because it is best it should be concealed, just in the manner and degree it is. O that thou couldst but cast, without intermission, all caring and anxious solicitude, concerning these things, upon Him who careth for thee; and think of nothing but the most perfect submission and resignation to the will of God, whether in suffering or reigning with Him. Now, I verily believe this is thy desire and concern, and therefore I am persuaded that, however thy trial may be permitted to continue or increase; though the furnace should be heated seven times hotter than it ever yet hath been, yet shalt thou be brought forth but with so much greater purity, without so much as the smell of fire having passed on thy garments.
Oh the unspeakable safety of this resigned, humble, trusting, depending state! and truly the fitness and necessity of it, are equal to its safety : for what are we, and what have we to boast of but our abundant infirmities? Beset then as we are, in this state of probation, from within and from without, what can the willings and runnings of the creature avail? or what have we to trust in, to rely or depend upon, but upon God who showeth mercy? and that mercy is CHRIST JESUS. I commend thee then, with myself, my dear friend, into the arms of this Everlasting Mercy, for safety, keeping, and preservation; for He is, (thou hast hitherto experienced it to be so, and thou wilt do to the end,) that salvation which God hath appointed "for walls and bulwarks;" and the more thou art weakened and reduced, as to thy own strengh, the more will His strength be magnified in thy salvation. And I have to believe, and liberty to express it, that the more thou art emptied and humbled, the more abundantly thou shalt be filled with His glory and presence, who is thy life. The deeper thou descendest into suffering and humiliation, the higher shalt thou rise in dominion, with thy suffering, glorified Redeemer; for, as said the apostle, "If we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him."
It is in my heart therefore to say, Be careful for nothing; but in every thing, by prayer and
supplication, let thy wants be made known unto God; cast all thy care npon Him, both with regard to soul and body, time and eternity, and He will be every thing to thee thou standest in need of, according to the riches of His mercy in Christ Jesus. And, indeed, I see it clearly with an eye of faith, that the Lord, the glorious Lord, both is and will be unto thee, wisdom, righteousness, and strength; thy sword, thy bow, thy battle-axe, thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. I know He is on thy side, encamped round about thee;" and though a thousand fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand," thou shalt be preserved as Mount Sion that cannot be moved. My soul is exceedingly humbled, in thankfulness to the God of all grace, for that, in adorable condecension, He hath vouchsafed to fill my heart at this time, for thy sake no doubt, with such a degree of faith and hope concerning thee, as I am not able to express ;—thanksgiving and praise be to Him therefore.
It has several times struck my mind, whilst I have been writing, and a degree of sympathy has been raised in my heart with thee, that thy present humiliation, and comparative uselessness in thy own apprehension, in respect of former service, affect thee with a generous concern, on the church's account, wherein, to be sure, the number of upright labourers is small; but know, my dear friend, nay, thou dost know it, that the work