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He vouchsafed, in unutterable love, to draw thy soul after Him in infant years, and to reveal himself unto thee, to be the stay of thy youth, the God of thy life, and will He now forsake thee? No; glory to His name, it is not so; He is the same He ever was, when thy soul was first ravished with Him, and He became to thee " the chiefest among ten thousand." His regard, his love, the yearning of His bowels, are as much as ever towards thee; and, as He hath vouchsafed to be thy morning light, and the stay of thy youth, so will he be thy evening song, and the staff of thy old age. Endeavour then, my dear friend, to cast out all discouragements and painful doubtings, and let thy hope, thy trust, thy only expectation be from Him; and though thou mayst seem cast out from His sight, yet, let thy looking be towards His holy temple; and in His own time He will give thee the desire of thy heart, and thou shalt yet praise Him on the banks of deliverance, and tell of His wonders in the deep, who is a God, infinite in power, wisdom and love; whose “mercy endureth forever," and of whose loving kindness there is
I desire the increase and establishment of thy healthy 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 DOD SHON.
Manchester, 6th Mo. 17, 1779. My dear Friend,
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 have
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 evil-doer, 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 rea
son, 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 crea