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TO ROBERT VALENTINE.
MANCHESTER, 8th Mo. 15, 1782.
My dear Friend,
Understanding thou art likely to be at Kendal on first-day next, I could not with ease let slip the opportunity of writing, first to inform thee we got safe home the evening of the day we left thee; and I think I may safely add, we were favoured to return in some degree of thankfulness, under the covering of Divine peace.
We were much pleased, nay more than pleased, to hear thou hadst a satisfactory meeting with friends at Leeds. What can we say to these things! God only is wise, and all that He does is right. Oh! that we may carefully endeavour after that perfect degree of resignation, that not only bows in submission to every dispensation of Divine Providence, but that can in every thing give thanks.
I think I know so well, my very dear friend, the Rock whereon thou standest, and its sufficiency to support; the humility, simplicity, and dedication of thy heart to be, to do, to bear, and suffer all things according to the will of God, that it seems to me almost unnecessary to endeavour to express that desire and encouragement which I feel in my heart for thee, that thou mayst
steadily persevere therein, even to the end. But I am not altogether ignorant of the devices of the enemy, nor of the deeply proving exercises which attend thee in the course of thy ministerial labours and sufferings amongst a backsliding and rebellious people; and I know something, yea, more than language can express, of those most trying, most humiliating seasons, wherein the mind is divested of its strength and comfort, and is suffered to feel, in an ineffable manner, its own weakness and misery. When I consider these things, my dear friend, together with thy advanced age, bodily weakness, the perilousness of the present times, thy distance from thy near connexions, and the unfeeling state of those who, many times, are thy attendants from place to place; when my mind hath been baptized into sympathy with thee in feeling these things, my heart within me hath been humbled on thy account; but yet I neither see nor feel the least room for despondency; on the contrary, my heart is filled with faith and encouragement for thee.
We know Him in whom we have believed; that infinite mercy, power, and love, are with Him, and that He is able to keep those who have committed themselves unto Him. What a blessedness there is in casting our care entirely upon Him! I fully believe, I can hardly help saying, I know thou dost this, and that therein thou wilt be safe, and infallibly experience, to thy ever
lasting comfort, that He, the Lord God Almighty, who raised thee up to be His servant, and called thee from a distant land to labour in this part of His vineyard, will not only support thee in His service, and bless the work in thy hands, but will assuredly be to thee both sword, and bow, and battle-axe; thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
I hope thou wilt not be offended at the liberty I have taken to write these things; I have copied them, as carefully as I have been able, from the present feelings of my heart.
I should be glad of one line from thee, but I know thou writest with much difficulty; however, I hope, when it is well with thee, thou wilt remember me. My wife, brother Thomas Cash, and Margaret Cooke, unite in dear love to thee, with thy affectionate loving friend,
TO RICHARD SHACKLETON.
MANCHESTER, 10th Mo. 28, 1782.
My dear Friend,
I confess that, in my own opinion, I have trespassed too much on thy charity and patience, in having so long deferred to acknowledge the
receipt of thy very kind and welcome letter, dated 2nd Mo. 24th.
I was pleased, nay obliged, by thy communicating to me so freely, seasonable intimations and just remarks respecting the nature and support of our discipline; they are my own sentiments; I wish to pay suitable attention to them, but may confess I have need often to have the pure mind stirred up, that I may both see and practise that which is required.
I suppose thou hast met before this time with thy brave old countryman, Robert Valentine. He laboured, with great fervency and uprightness, amongst us in this place, and some of us particularly were much comforted by his company. Martha Routh and I rode nearly 200 miles to accompany him to some meetings in Yorkshire; and indeed I must say, that his zeal, uprightness, and honesty, in rendering to all their due, without partiality, without hypocrisy, or respect of persons, were really comfortable, instructive, and edifying; and the more so, because I have sometimes been afraid these excellent virtues have been too much wanting, even where they ought to have shone with the most distinguished lustre. As Robert spent eight or nine days in Manchester, he can tell thee any thing thou wantest to know about us, perhaps better than I can. You have got Ruth Fallows too, I understand, amongst you, an excellent servant; and Sarah Grubb,
whom I love in the truth, is now on her way with her husband to your National Meeting. Ireland seems to be much favoured in this way; I wish fruits may arise equal to the cultivation.
I will not trouble thee with any account of my poverty and weakness; how insignificant I seem to myself, or how mere a cipher in society. No matter for this; I think I can say in truth, I envy no man's lot. I wish for no greater, higher, or other place in the divine harmony, than that which unfailing Wisdom would form me for; and so that I may be happy enough to gain an establishment here, I neither ask nor desire more.
Perhaps it may be as well for me to conclude here; for though I could write much, what need. is there of it to one who knows where all the treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge are hid! and where to wait to have them opened, and necessary instruction sealed! I wish, abové every thing, for myself and for thee, that we may frequently enough retire here, and dwell here; for only here is real edification known, and wisdom and ability are received to do the will of God.
In a degree of the Heavenly Father's love, I often remember thee, and therein I wish to be remembered by thee for good; in some measure whereof, at this time, I salute thee and thy family, wishing your prosperity in the best things, and an abundant increase of heavenly riches. From thy truly affectionate friend, JOHN THORP.