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Israel, “ whom
ye will serve;" and then, according to the advice of David, let us “serve Him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind. “ If any man will come after Me,” said the blessed Jesus, “ let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me."
Dear friend, though I had no particular engagement, yet I think, in abundance of goodwill, I had freedom to say thus much, being, at least part of it, what hath been frequently impressed on my mind with invincible conviction, to wit, the necessity of being altogether redeemed from the world, and all that is in the world, in order that we might follow our blessed Lord in the regeneration. This, with my love, is all at present from thy real friend,
P. S.--I should be glad to hear from thee when thou hast freedom. I would not that we should forget one another, especially when we are most sensible of good.
To FRANCES DODSHON.
Manchester, 5th Mo. 10, 1775.
My dear Friend,
Feeling some degree of liberty, and the spring of good-will opened, I take this opportunity to assure thee of the unfeigned regard which I feel for thee, and for thy preservation and further growth and establishment in the blessed truth; and that thou mightst be happily enabled and disposed to watch and keep thy garments, that so neither heights nor depths, nor things present. nor to come, might be permitted to beguile thee of thy reward, or separate thee from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus
; and indeed, I have an evidence of the sincerity of thy heart, and uprightness of thy disposition, to bear, to do, and to suffer all things, and to follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. “Lord,” said Peter, “I am ready to go with Thee both into prison and to death.” Peter was full of zeal, and he loved more than his fellows; but, alas! when the time of trial came, he was not able to bear those abasing seasons of humiliation and baptism unto suffering and death, which, in the course of Divine Wisdom and Counsel, were appointed to our Holy Leader; and to all such, in a certain degree, who will follow Him in the regeneration.
“ Let this mind be in you,” saith the apostle, “ which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name.”
Now, that which seems most in my view, and which I do most deeply and frequently, both for myself and thee wish, is, that we might patiently, and with resigned, devoted hearts, receive and submit to every dispensation of Divine Providence, however they may be directed to reduce, to humble, and to abase: if they lead again into Jordan, that so our flesh may become as the flesh of a little child, or into the furnace, that so the dross may be thoroughly purged from the silver, let us endure them; and when the dross is purged from the silver, “there shall come forth a vessel for the Finer.” Oh that we might patiently, willingly, and passively endure every preparative operation, every mercifully renewed turning of His holy hand; that so self might indeed become of no reputation, and we, according to His holy purpose, be formed vessels to His praise.
To FRANCES DODSHON.
12th Mo. 12, 1776.
In some degree of that love, wherein the living have a fellowship which neither time, distance, nor death, can interrupt or dissolve; wherein such a union and sympathy is experienced, that at times we cannot help rejoicing with them that do rejoice, and weeping with them that weep: in the renewed movings of this love and life, hast thou of late often been brought to my remembrance; at which times there have been raised and presented to my mind some remarks and observations, which I think I have at least liberty to offer to thy consideration.
When that frequently deeply-humbled and tried servant of the Lord, the royal psalmist, was favoured with the renewed streams of that river, whose source is Everlasting Love, whereby the whole heritage of God is at times watered and made glad ; when his feet were set on a Rock that was higher than he, and the new song was put into his mouth ; at these seasons he thought that his mountain stood strong, and said, in his prosperity, he should never be moved; yet, afterwards, the Lord saw meet to permit that he should be so far tried, that he concluded himself forsaken, and in
this humble, plaintive language, queries, “ Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will He be favourable no more ? Is His mercy clean gone for ever? doth His promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious ? hath He in anger shut up His tender mercies ? ” Having thus, in the heights and in the depths, experienced preservation and deliverance, this righteous man was instructed to serve the Lord with fear, and to rejoice with trembling; and having witnessed the sufficiency of the Almighty arm, so repeatedly stretched out for his deliverance and protection, he was enabled to say, “ Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me.” And therefore, when the Lord saw meet to hide His face from him, and suffer fresh probations to attend him, we find him availing himself of that mercy he had so often experienced; and though he felt deeply at times, and was greatly dejected, yet his faith was so strengthened in Him who had raised him from the sheepcot to be His servant, (and though his house was not so with God, yet He had made with him an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure,) that he could thus address himself in times of deep probation : Why art thou cast down, O my
soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance and my God.”