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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
our brethren! But, for want of this, how indifferent we become with regard to others! or, if otherwise, however active, if not under the influence of Divine love, it is but like fruits brought forth in the shade. Oh! the beauty and benefit of words fitly spoken, and in season. "As an
ear-ring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear." Thus, my dear friend, thou, who art called into this line of labour in the vineyard, and hast received suitable qualifications for the work, being also providentially disentangled from the cares of this life, "Be sober, be vigilant." "Whatsoever thy hands find to do, do it with thy might." "Cast thy bread upon the waters." Be not discouraged at the appearance of things. "He that observeth
the wind shall not sow,
and he that regardeth the "In the morning sow thy
clouds shall not reap."
seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand; for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good."
Thy friends here are tolerably well in health, except dear Martha Routh, who at present is but poorly as to the body; the other part of the compound in that good woman, is, I believe, always improving. John Routh and his sister visibly grow older, but still move a little about; she (I hope both of them) seems wisely attentive to improve the golden sands, that so her measure
may be completely filled up. Through great mercy, we live in true unity, which I hope will never be broken.
Believe me to be invariably, thy sincere and affectionate friend,
more desirous, for the same reason that I hoped, and still hope, thou wilt be there; I find freedom, and that, I trust, after having maturely considered it, with a desire to do right, to communicate to thee what passed in my mind, long before I knew or expected that would have happened which prevents me.
It hath not been usual with me to think beforehand of the affairs likely to come before such a meeting; but the mention made by the friends of of the application of a certain person to be admitted a member of our Society, occurred again and again to my mind, and connected with it the parable of the "leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole
was leavened." It was hidden; but its operation, though secret, was gradual and progressive, till there was a total assimilation. "Till the whole
was leavened," the process was from within to without; the exterior part was the last affected, the last whose appearance was altered; but though the last, it was as completely changed as the rest; "the whole was leavened."
This seemed to convey instruction to my own mind, as setting forth the prior necessity of an inward change, for the proper regulation of the outward deportment. I thought, too, it might be applied not improperly to the case, nor, perhaps, unprofitably to the consideration of the party alluded to. I do not doubt his having been sensible of the secret influence of the Divine principle in his own conscience, or that his judgment has been measurably convinced by the testimonies he has heard borne to the truth, as professed by us as a people. I as little doubt the sincerity of his desire to be considered as one believing in the same principle, and desirous to walk by the same rule; but, rather than he should desire a premature admission, I hope he will not be offended, if I recommend to his serious consideration, whether there is yet that thorough conviction, that perfect harmony of faith and practice, as would justify the conclusion that "the whole" is leavened for, as he that believeth will not make haste, so a waiting for the right time, when perfect
unity will be experienced, will not retard his growth in the truth, nor lessen the tender regard of his friends towards him, or the peace of his own mind.
I desire to be as brief as possible. I have nothing but good-will in my heart towards him, and if, under the influence of that Wisdom which alone, in such cases, is profitable to direct, friends shall admit him a member of the Society, I shall freely give him the right hand of fellowship, and desire to be his companion in the regeneration and in newness of life. JOHN THORP.
TO FRANCES DODSHON.
My dear Friend,
MANCHESTER, 4th Mo. 1st, 1788.
The accounts I have heard of the return of thy former affliction in this advanced period of thy life, is indeed affecting, but what shall we say? shall the thing formed say unto him that formed it, "Why hast thou made me thus?" No, God only is wise in all his dispensations; and to his humbled children will bless and sanctify them all, and fulfil in their experience that which his servant has declared, that "all things work together for good to them that love God."