70: An Epistle to the Dear Lambs of My Heavenly Father’s Fold

Dear babes and tender lambs of my heavenly Father’s fold,

It is in my heart this morning to visit you with a few lines, in the sweet Love of my heavenly Father, truly sympathizing with you in your afflictions, exercises, and sore travel, which—my very dear and tender Friends, brethren and sisters born of the immortal Seed and Word of God—you go through on account of the great degeneracy, declension, and apostacy that is got in and [has] spread itself over almost all the congregations of Friends everywhere, for aught I can understand.

In this long time of peace and plenty, a loose, libertine, careless spirit has got into the congregation. Some are centered in their great possessions, so are buried in the earth that way, as with thick clay. Some of these are ministers and elders, but sleepy deadweights and very great burdens in meetings [for worship]. [These] especially [have] a false and forward ministry, which intrudes into [spiritual] things which they know not, but [is in] what they know naturally as brute beasts, and [they] are vainly puffed up in a fleshly carnal mind.

With such our meetings [for worship] are often annoyed and disturbed, whose voices being that of the stranger—which I very well know, dear lambs, you cannot follow or join with. For they are fitly compared to the unclean beasts, which muddled and dirtied the pure Water with their feet. Such as these [are] in our Meetings, when gathered together and the true sheep and lambs of Christ’s fold are drawing near the Fountain of eternal Life with sweet breathings and prayers that the pure Well might spring up in them to the refreshing of their weary souls and traveling spirits, which are often heavy laden and with grief go mourning on their way because of the abomination of the times.

And if the blessed Fountain seems to open and spring [up] although but a little, in steps the prodigal with his unclean feet and so fouls the Water. And maybe the [blessed] current is stopped, but he catches a portion perchance in an unclean vessel to spend on harlots in riotous living. Up he starts to preach, when it’s not required of him or her. And here the offering is not nor cannot be accepted by the true Seed. Then Cain is wroth and his countenance falls, then Abel must be slain. [In the congregation,] the true Seed [is] oppressed and kept in bondage, and the false birth reigns and bears rule with great authority, seemingly, to the carnal mind.

But the pure, humble, meek and lowly precious Seed of the government [and] kingdom and true heir of God, and joined heirs with Christ, sits very still and quiet, waiting for the blessed little River that makes glad the whole city, habitation, congregation, or church of God to rise higher and higher, not to the ankles, knees and loins only, but as a River that cannot be forded or passed through.

And here you dear babes, children of the Kingdom, drink many times until your vessels can hold no more, and yet are afraid to stand up when required, for fear of doing harm or standing in the way of others which you prefer [to stand up]. But dear babes and children of the most High, beware I beseech you of this error, and mind your holy Guide in all your approachings before him. Let our eye be single to him [so] that our whole bodies may be filled with Light, that we may see Glory, and feel the Life of the dear Lamb of God, to lead us and guide us in all our duties and services he may be pleased to require of us. And we need not fear being deceived by the enemy’s transformations neither within [n]or without, for [God’s] grace is sufficient for us in time of need, as our eyes are single towards him and him alone for advice, counsel, and strength at all times. Glory endless is with him.