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than the return of morning light. Our safety and preservation is in dwelling near him, and endeavouring often to get inward and feel him present with us. This brings a holy, awful covering over our minds, in which the fear of the Lord so abounds, as well as his love, that we are preserved in safety and peace;which is a state I love and much desire.
In the absence of my wife in Truth's service, I have many times had to remember that saying, I will be a father to the fatherless, and a husband to the widow.* And I have felt so much of that inward, precious sweetness which Christ gives to his faithful followers, while my wife has been from home, that I have been convinced beyond a doubt that she was in the way of her duty, and I have been thankful that I so freely gave her up. There is great need of faithful labourers among us in this day; and my desire often is that I may be found faithful; for there is a work for us all to do, and it is as we abide faithful that we are enabled to perform it: for those of clean hands shall grow stronger and stronger. 2nd month 3rd, 1775.
Peter Yarnall's letter to Benjamin Sharpless
New York, 12th mo. 22nd, 1783. Dear and honoured parents,t-I have not been without a feeling and sympathy with you in your
This, though often cited as a scripture text, is not found in the bible. Perhaps the nearest to it is this expression of the psalmist: “A father of the fatherless and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.”
+ Peter Yarnall married their daughter Hannah, a younger sister to Benjamin, Joshua, Isaac and Rebekah Sharpless, aforementioned. Peter was out on a religious visit when this letter was written.
advanced stage of life: and though it has been my lot often to experience low, stripping seasons, yet I have felt a degree of love and sweetness flowing towards your habitation; under which precious influence, you have been brought very near to me, and a wish has often been exercised that the everlasting Arm may be your stay and support; so that when outward strength may fail, and the trials which attend this probationary scene present, you may experience a retreat under the shadow of the Divine wing,-a safe pavilion for the Lord's heritage, the angel of his presence being round about them. And may the dear children whom I love with affection, endeavour to make your steps easy on the present stage, by a life of obedience and piety, moving under the banner of the Prince of peace and joined to the flock of Christ's companions. By this means they will be preserved in that innocence and simplicity which results from bearing the cross of Christ that crucifies all inordinate desires and pleasures.
I have travelled under much pain and exercise of spirit by reason of many halting between two-opinions, or preferring the tinsel glory of this world to a portion in the ever blessed Trụth; or wandering in the labyrinths of doubt and disappointment, for want of an early sacrifice to the calls and invitations of our gracious Shepherd, who would amply reward with a crown of everlasting life. Yet, through his adorable mercy, there is a remnant in many places who are desirous of being weaned from the breast of this world, and to derive all their consolation from the Divine source of all good.
Dear mother, as thou art a woman of sorrows and well acquainted with grief, remember him that "trod the wine-press alone,” who is able to sweeten all thy bitter cups, and become thy evening song. He that is mighty hath done for thee great things; holy and reverend is his name! and as we are enabled to possess our souls in patience, he will effect his glorious purpose, and receive the praise of his own works.— I conclude in near love and affection, your son,
Extracts of Letters. It is not out of my abundance, dear, that I offer any thing to thee; for, having seated myself to address thee, I feel little qualification but that of affectionate interest;—and I believe this would not have been sufficient to overcome the mental indolence (for I can call it by no better name) which makes me shrink from communing with my friends in this way, but that I wished to express my grateful sense of thy kind remembrance. Thy note was more than “a drop of cold water," it was a draught, grateful and refreshing; and on reading it, my heart was raised in desire that He who alone has the power, would pour into thy heart the oil of gladness, animating and strengthening thee to run with patience the race set before thee, keeping the prize in view. There is a poverty of spirit, which is the experience even of the most faithful, and which is no doubt wisely dispensed, that the christian virtues of faith and perseverance may not be without their exercise;--for, as a dear friend once observed, I believe in the hearing of both of us," It is an easy matter to walk in the path of duty, when the light of the Lord shines brightly upon it, and his strength supports us at every footstep.” But were this always the case, where would be the exercise of faith and perseverance? And it is an evidence of the wisdom and goodness of our heavenly Father, that this light and strength are (I believe) more eminently vouchsafed in the outset of the christian's course, when the road being rugged and the feet unpractised in walking therein, it seems more peculiarly necessary. And I would say to thee, my dear friend, that when on looking round thou canst perceive that thy feet are still in the narrow path, although they may seem to advance but slowly and the prospect has little that is pleasant, yet walk on cheerfully; the green spot and the gushing spring may be nearer than thou supposest:—and there are many such, did we but press on until we arrive at them.
Allow me, my beloved friend, to revive a declaration which I have felt to be impressive and applicable to both of us: “ The Lord loveth an early sacrifice;” not only that which is made in early youth, but that obedience which is yielded to the first openings of light upon the mind. The duty of a faithful servant to an earthly master may teach us a lesson:with the dawn of day, he rises at the well known call of his master and prepares himself for labour; when the increasing light enables him clearly to distinguish objects, he goes forth to his allotted toil, with a cheerful alacrity, inspired by the freshness of the morning; 'trusting, that as he serves a kind master, his hours of rest and refreshment will be provided. Thus, his work keeps pace with the day, and at night how sweet is the rest which he enjoys!
Although there has been no expression of it, yet often of late has the feeling of encouragement flowed sweetly towards thee; earnestly desiring that thou mayst continue to pursue a calm and steady but still onward course, and submit cheerfully to every dispensation; believing as I do, that a blessing is in store for thee, even that which thou hast learned to desire above all others; the blessing of a mind wholly governed by the Divine influence.
I have often thought of the allusion thou hast sometimes made to thy being unable to retain much of the instruction derived from books. May not this be designed to teach thee that the strength and enlargement of the mental faculties depend less upon additions to the store of knowledge, than upon the faithful exercise of those faculties? Though there is no particular feeling that thou art remiss in this exercise, yet I would affectionately encourage thee to imitate the wise merchant who grows rich by the active employment of his capital, rather than the miser who accumulates by adding to his useless hoard,
There is perhaps no comparison in scripture more frequent, than that in which the christian is represented as treading a path wherein are many stages of advancement. In the beginning of our progress, there seems to be a necessity that the evidence attending the Divine requirings, should be strong enough to overcome the repugnance that is felt to entering on a path new and untried. But as we advance in the experience, that these requisitions simply followed always lead to peace, there is then a necessity that we should be governed by pure love;-—that, loving and watching for his appearing, we should be prepared to obey his gentlest intimations, without de