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LETTER OF LOVE
THAT BLESSED EVERLASTING WAY OF TRUTH AND RIGHTEOUSNESS
NOW TESTIFIED UNTO BY THE PEOPLE OF THE LORD CALLED
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.
Published in the Year 1669.
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 bowed-down spirits, I am constrained by the Eternal Unction, which we have received from on high, to visit you in tender bowels of love un feigned; 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 did 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 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 borne 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 quickening 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, tried, and troubled spirits, in good measure fixed and anchored 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 lusts, committed in our ignorance: for the overflowing scourge of the Almighty will be upon the back of the backslider, and his swift 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 persuasions 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 woe 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 persuaded 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 stayed 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 be 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 re. bellion, but woes and tribulations from the hand of the just God, world without end? Neither let us enter into many reasonings with the opposers; for that is the life God's power
is revealed to slay with the two-edged sword: for it is 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 ourselves, 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, whom 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 itself, deter us from our holy constancy; but, as the faithful ancients did of old, through deserts, wildernesses, and solitary places, in 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 wait and abide ; so shall we feel the powerful operation of God's Holy Spirit, to the more complete 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 he parted from, (as the pleasures, cares, and customs of the world, that'stand in the fallen nature, and only nourish the same, but crucify 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 ad. versary, 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 yourselves with the holy remnant amongst whom we first received our blessed convincement. Oh! 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 in 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, gaits, dealings, and salutations, as religion and worship, to this vain adulterated and apostatized 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,
oh ! 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 whatsoever 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 quickening power raised Jesus in thousands from the dead, bless, accompany,
preserve us over all trials and tribus lations, unto his eternal habitations of rest and glory."
Your brother and fellow-traveller in the kingdom and patience of Jesus our Lord,
Carberry, in the county of Cork, the 19th of the 12th month, 1669.