A Letter of Love
A Letter of Love to the Young Convinced, OF That Blessed Everlasting Way of Truth and Righteousness, now testified unto by the People of the Lord call'd Quakers, of what Sex, Age, and Rank soever; in the Nations of England, Ireland, and Scotland, with the Isles abroad; but more particularly to those of that Great City of London, Spiritual Refreshments, Holy Courage, and Perfect Victory from GOD the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
My Dearly Beloved Friends and Brethren,
Who have been called by the Eternal Spirit, unto an Holy Calling, out of all the Pleasures, Vanities, Customs, Profits and Cares of this perishing polluted World, unto the Pure Knowledge of the Invisible God, and JESUS in you the Hope of Glory, which to as many as Believe and Obey, is Life Eternal; and who for that Little Beginning of your Heavenly Journey, have met with Reproach, Loss, Suffering, and bitter Trials; as One among you, and a Traveller with you, and therefore deeply Sensible of your heavy Exercise, and howed down Spirits; I am constrain'd by the Eternal Unction, which we have received from on High, to visit you in Tender Bowels of Love unfeigned, beseeching you all in God's Most Holy Fear and Counsel, to stand fast, and make your Calling and Election sure, which is not (my dearest Friends) to those external and shadowy Services, that could never perfect as concerning the Conscience, in which the Worship of the Jews formerly, and of the Nations now, mostly do consist, (Carnal and Beggarly Elements indeed) but to that Law in the Heart, and Spirit manifested in the inward Parts, which is the Substance of all.
Here God is the Teacher of his People, and daily doth replenish his, with the immediate Virtue of his own Life; for God Eternal is broken forth, and by the mighty Power of his Spiritual Appearance is come, to stain the Beauty of all the Inventions of Superstitious Men, and thereby to summon all Nations, Kindreds, Tongues, and People to Judgment, for their Unrighteousness, that he alone may Reign King in the Heart, where the Devil has hitherto had Dominion, that True Religion may consist in fearing him, and working Righteousness, by the powerful Operation of the Spirit of Jesus in them, which my dearly beloved Friends, with all Singleness of Heart, let us wait to be sensible of, that through the Glorious Rising of the Pure Power of the Everlasting God, which is felt by all the Children of the Light, we may be enabled to work out our Great Salvation with Fear and Trembling: For Great and Weighty is the Work of the Almighty in this his Day of Appearance, even to adopt us Sons and Daughters of the Most High, by a Participation of his Divine Nature, that as we have born the Image of the Earthly, in Pride, Vanity, Wantonness, Avarice, and all manner of Impieties, and that whilst some of us were under great Professions, and the continual Feasting on Visible and Elementary Things; so that now we may daily Experience, through Obedience to that Pure Light and Truth in the Inward Parts, which leads to all Meekness, Patience and Purity, the Quickning of the New Man; and sensibly witness a bearing of the Heavenly Image, that so we may come to feel the Peace that passeth the World's Understanding, and our poor, tossed, tryed, and troubled Spirits in good Measure fixt and anchor'd, in the immoveable and Holy State, over all the Glories and Pollutions of the World, that so nothing may ever prevail upon us, to return into our former Ways and Lufts, committed in our Ignorance: For the over-flowing Scourge of the Almighty will be upon the Back of the Backslider, and his swist Wrath will overtake the Heart that faints by the Way; yea, better were it that such had never been visited with the Glorious Day-spring from on High, nor been Convinced by the Powerful Perswasions of the Holy Spirit, concerning the Pure Eternal Way of TRUTH, than afterwards to turn from it, and so trample the Blood of that most excellent Covenant under Foot: Yea, it will be the most dreadful of all Aggravations to their Eternal Wo and Misery.
And therefore, My Dear Friends, let us not be discomforted under all our sharp and heavy Exercises, whether from within or without; for this I am fully perswaded of, that the same Pure Principle of Light and Truth that hath appeared to give a certain discerning of our States and Conditions, and wrought a Convincement upon our Understandings, is able to give us that Succour and Support, if our Minds be but seriously stay'd thereon, as shall sanctify us throughout in Body, Soul and Spirit; and so preserve us Clean, to God over all.
And My Dear Brethren, Let us not enter into any Murmurings against the Lord, but the singly given up to know His Will and Work done in us, that we perish not, as those of Old: And in the Tender Love of Jesus Christ, I earnestly intreat you, Let us no more look back upon our Ancient Pastimes and Delights (but with Holy Resolution press on, press on) for they will steal away our Precious Souls, beget New Desire, raise the Old Life, and finally, ensnare and pollute our Minds again; and what will be the End of such Rebellion, but Woes and Tribulations from the Hand of the Just God, World without End. Neither let us enter into many Reasonings with Opposers, For that's the Life God's Power is revealed to slay with the Two Edged Sword; for tis the Still, the Quiet, and the Righteous Life, which must be exalted over all. And this I say in a Sound Understanding through the Mercies of the LORD, That Deadness, Darkness, and Anguish of Spirit, will be the End of such Disputing and Pragmatical Christians, whose Religion consists much more in Words than Works; Confessing, than Forsaking; and in their own Will-Performances, and External Observations, than in the Reformation and Conversion of their Souls to God. And finally, we our selves who have known something more of the Lord, may also reduce our Good Conditions to an utter Loss, by seeking to comprehend dubious Matters in our Understandings, and disputing about them with every Opposer, the Devil in a Way of Temptation, shall present to us; which does no Way advance our Growth and Increase in the Noble Principle of Truth.
And I beseech you My Dear Friends, let not the Fear of any External Thing overcome the Holy Resolutions we have made to follow the Lamb Christ Jesus, through all the Tribulations, Trials, and Temptations, He, and His Followers ever met withal. O let us be Valiant in God's Cause on Earth, who have but a short Time and a few Days to live. And let the Constancy of the World, to the Momentary Fashions, Pleasures, and Pollutions of it, the more ardently stir us up to express ours, for the Honour of our God against them all, who will reward us for whatsoever we bear, suffer, or part withal on his Account. And therefore, I beseech you, let neither Father nor Mother, Sister, nor Brother, Wife nor Child, House, nor Land, Liberties, nor Life it self, deter us from from our Holy Constancy; but as the Faithful Ancients did of Old, through Deserts, Wildernesses, and Solitary Places, Goat-Skins, and Sheep-Skins, endure all Torments, and Bitter Mockings in this Earthly Pilgrimage, for the Inheritance which is Everlasting.
So, My Dear Friends, let us do, as we have them for our Example; however, let us be careful to shew all due Respect to our Relations, not to be exalted, nor any Ways unruly, lest there be Just Cause taken against us, and the Blessed Truth should suffer; but in the Still, Retired, Holy, and Patient Life, this Pure Eternal Principle of Light and Truth, (as seriously and diligently waited on) certainly brings into, let us all dwell and abide, so shall we feel the Powerful Operation of God's Holy Spirit, to the more compleat redeeming of our Exercised Souls from under the Dominion of Sin, and to the giving all of us a Clearer Understanding, and Sounder Judgment of those Things that are to be parted from, (as the Pleasures, Cares and Customs of the World, that stand in the Fallen Nature, and only nourish the same, but Crucifie the Self-Denying Lord of Glory) and of the Things of God, and His Spiritual Kingdom, which are to be adhered to, that in His Pure Wisdom, which is from Above, we may be all kept and preserved, over all the Snares and Temptations of the Adversary, both on the Right Hand and on the Left.
And as one that is a Traveller in his Way, I even beseech, caution, and admonish you all in the Holy Awe of God, that you never forbear Meeting and Assembling of your selves, with the Holy Remnant, amongst whom we first received our Blessed Convincement. O! for ever let us Honour the Lord's Truth, and those who do Sincerely profess the same! But more especially, such as were in Christ before us, for this is Well-pleasing unto the Lord.
And let us beware of Lightness, Jesting, or a Careless Mind, which Grieves the Holy Spirit, that stands ready to Seal us unto the Day of our Perfect Redemption; but let us be Grave, Weighty and Temperate, keeping low in Body, as well as Mind, that in all Things we may be Examples, and a sweet Savour for the God who hath loved and called us.
And My Dear Friends, let us keep in the Simplicity of the Cross of Jesus, even in Plainness of Speech, and out of the World's flattering and deceitful Respects, for we are as well to be a Cross in our Garbs, Gates, Dealings and Salutations, as Religion and Worship, to this Vain Adulterated and Apostatiz'd Generation; so in the Pure Measure of Truth that hath been manifested to every Particular, and has Convinced us of the Unrighteousness of the World, and the Vanity and Emptiness of all its Professions of God, Christ, and Religion; O let us stand and abide! that we may feel it to be our Refuge, and Strong Tower, when the Enemy shall approach, either by inward Exercise, or outward Bonds and Sufferings, which in all Likelihood will suddenly overtake us, for the Trial of our most Precious Faith; so shall we sensibly experience that Heavenly Blood of Cleansing to stream therefrom, which only can give Remission, cleanse from all Sin, and finally purge the Conscience from dead Works, to serve the Living, Everlasting, Holy God, Almighty, Lord of Hosts, King of Nations, and King of Saints. And what soever Things are True, whatsoever Things are Honest, whatsoever Things are Just, whatsoever Things are Pure, whatsoever Things are Lovely, and whatsoever Things are of Good Report; if there be any Virtue; if there be any Praise, O let us mind these Things! And the God of Peace, that has by his Eternal Quickning Power raised JESUS in Thousands from the Dead, bless, accompany, and preserve us over all Trials and Tribulations, unto His Eternal Habitations of Rest, and Glory.
Carberry, in the Country of Cork, the 19th of the 12th Month, 1669.
Your Brother, and Fellow-Traveller in the Kingdom and Patience of Jesus our Lord,