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To RICHARD SHACKLETON.
Manchester, 10th Mo. 28, 1782. My dear Friend,
I confess that, in my own opinion, I have trespassed too much on thy charity and patience, in having so long deferred to acknowledge the receipt of thy very kind and welcome letter, dated 2d Mo. 24th.
I was pleased, nay obliged, by thy communicating to me so freely, seasonable intimations and just remarks respecting the nature and support of our discipline: they are my own sentiments ; I wish to pay suitable attention to them, but may confess I have need often to have the pure mind stirred up, that I
may both see and practice that which is required.
I suppose thou hast met before this time with thy brave old countryman, Robert Valentine. He laboured, with great fervency and uprightness, amongst us in this place, and some of us particularly were much comforted by his company. Martha Routh and
I rode nearly 200 miles to accompany him to some meetings in Yorkshire; and indeed I must say, that his zeal, uprightness, and honesty, in rendering to all their due, without partiality, without hypocrisy, or respect of persons, were really comfortable, instructive and edifying; and the more so, because I have sometimes been afraid these excellent virtues have been too much wanting, even where they ought to have shone with the most distinguished lustre. As Robert spent eight or nine days in Manchester, he can tell thee any thing thou wantest to know about us, perhaps better than I can. You have got Ruth Fallows too, I understand, amongst you, an excellent servant; and Sarah Grubb, whom I love in the truth, is now on her way with her husband to your National Meeting. Ireland seems to be much favoured in this way: I wish fruits equal to the cultivation.
I will not trouble thee with any account of my poverty and weakness; how insignificant I seem to myself, or how mere a cipher in society. No matter for this; I think I can say in truth, I envy.no man's lot. I wish
for no greater, higher, or other place in the divine harmony, than that which unfailing Wisdom would form me for ; and so that I may be happy enough to gain an establishment here, I neither ask nor desire more.
Perhaps it may be as well for me to conclude here; for though I could write much, what need is there of it to one who knows where all the treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge are hid! and where to wait to have them opened, and necessary
instruction sealed! I wish, above every thing, for myself and for thee, that we may frequently enough retire here, and dwell here; for only here is real edification known, and wisdom and ability are received to do the will of God.
In a degree of the Heavenly Father's love, I often remember thee, and therein I wish to be remembered by thee for good; in some measure whereof, at this time, I salute thee and thy family, wishing your prosperity in the best things, and an abundant increase of heavenly riches. From thy truly affectionate friend,
If it were in my power to communicate to thee my motives for this address, how reluctantly I entered upon it, how willingly I would have found myself wholly excused from it, how sensible I am of the ungrateful task of administering reproof, and how little naturally I desire to be “my brother's keeper;" how much I wish to mind my own business, and heartily despise the character of being “a busy-body in other men’s matters," thou wouldst at least excuse me for giving thee the trouble of this letter: but didst thou know the power and end of that divine love which at seasons I have felt to counteract and overrule all natural reluctance, to silence all human reasoning, to baptize into a deep feeling and care for the things of others, for those things which are Jesus Christ's, the things which concern His people; His cause and His honour; how under the prevailing influence of this love,
the condition of my brethren hath sometimes been brought near to my heart, and therein an ardent travail raised for the redemption of the whole creation ; didst thou know the ineffable nature and principle of this love, thou wouldst surely open thy heart to receive whatever might be communicated under its blessed influence.
And first, it is with me to put thee in mind of the uncertainty and transient continuance of all human satisfactions. Time is short, and it remaineth, that those who have wives be as though they had none;" 6 they that buy, as though they possessed not,” and they that plant, as though they did it not; “ for the fashion of this world passeth away;" for man hath but a short time to live, his days are few, and often full of trouble; "he cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down; he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not."' Were it possible for us to secure to ourselves the full possession and gratification of all the desires of the heart and of the mind, to the latest period of existence here, the time would soon be over, and what should we do in the end thereof? But alas! how frequent