Page images

like the prayers and alms of Cornelius, go up as a memorial before God.

In a measure of that love, and desire for its increase, which believeth, hopeth, and endureth all things, wherein consisteth the communion of saints, and the resurrection from the dead, I conclude at this time; thy truly affectionate friend,


Letter XI.


Manchester, 11th Mo.5, 1780.

My dear Friend,

My mind is frequently so shut up in meetings, and after them too, (and my mouth of course,) through the absence of Divine Light, at least as to the sensible feeling and enjoyment of it in dominion, that I seem to myself often unfit to speak or write any thing on religious subjects; yet, whether in suffering or rejoicing, I have fellowship with thee, and experience no abatement of that

assurance which hath often been sealed on my mind, of the safety and blessedness of thy state; and though Infinite Wisdom is pleased still to permit close trials and conflicts to attend, yet these are but marks of filiation ; " whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth ;” those whom He is in mercy preparing to be clothed in white, He is leading through many tribulations. I remember when I was a child in

years and in religious exercises, I thought there was none so exempt from trials and troubles as those who were truly devoted to God: but I have since been otherwise instructed; and I now believe, that they who are most entirely devoted to Him, are often led into the greatest depths of suffering. This is abundantly evinced by the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and confessors of the holy Jesus, who was himself “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;" nay, he was esteemed “stricken, smitten of God and afflicted; so that, should our judgment be so far taken away in the days of our humiliation, as thus to esteem ourselves “smitten, stricken of God and afflicted,” it is no

more than what happened to our blessed Lord. But what need have I to write these things to thee? thou knowest them far better than I am able to express them, and the ground and cause have been deeply opened in thee, to wit, that every thing in us might be given up, crucified and slain, but that holy birth of life, which, in perfect submission and resignation, prays always to its Father, who is in heaven, “ Thy kingdom come, thy will be done."

It is certainly the will of God, and consistent with His goodness, so to sanctify all crosses and afflictions to His children, as to make them a means of their passing more entirely into the Divine nature ; of entering more fully into Him, who is the soul's rest and sure hiding-place forever; so that, putting their whole trust in God, they leave to His disposal all their concerns, both here and hereafter. I think I am sensible, whilst I am writing, of the ardent longing of thy soul after this state; and as fully so that it is the will of God in Christ Jesus to gather thee into it; and truly I believe, thou art far nearer to this perfect state, than many of

those whom thou preferrest to thyself, and who perhaps are little acquainted with thy depths of conflict.

I know thou makest no great account of outward crosses and sufferings. I know the distress of thy soul is the absence of thy Beloved, and Bridegroom of souls; but art thou grown therefore more indifferent about Him? are thy desires abated, or do thy longings cease ? Nay, are they not increased, and art not thou become more weaned from every thing besides Him? What then shall we say, my dear friend ? perhaps it was for this end that He has withdrawn Himself, (as to the sensible enjoyment,) that so we might become, by this means, more fully prepared, and our capacities more enlarged, for Him to take up His abode with us forever. Now, I have no doubt at all, but this will in due time become thy singularly happy and blessed experience.. Oh! if I were but as fully persuaded concerning myself, that all that spiritual poverty, darkness, barrenness, and distress, which I frequently experience, would turn to the same good account; how thankful should I be! Yet I am

kept above despondency; my faith and hope, through and in Divine Mercy, are preserved. I know in whom I have believed, and in whom thou hast most surely believed; and that He is able to keep that which we have desired, and at times been enabled to commit unto Him. Amen.

In a feeling sense of the virtue, love, and sincerity of divine truth, concludes at this time, thy affectionate friend,


Letter XII.


Manchester, 9th Mo. 24, 1781.

My dear Friend,

Feeling at this time renewedly a considerable degree of sympathy, affection, and concern for thee, it is in my heart to visit thee with a few lines, though in truth I have not a sentence before me, nor any apprehension that I shall have any thing to say in

« PreviousContinue »