Dear child,

Which cries over all the world, and beyond all the pleasures, pomp, and vanity therein, for the enjoyment of the light and countenance of God, fear thou not, neither be thou discouraged, because of the violent assaults of the enemy, who seeks to draw thee into the carnal reasonings of thy spirit, and in it to kindle a fire to thyself, and causes thee to walk in the light of the sparks that thou hast kindled, (and this thou hast at the hand of the Lord in thy going from his counsel) thou lies down in sorrow, few knows thy great distress, but to the Lord it is known, and them that has walked the same paths.

Oh, thou dear and afflicted soul, who lives in the deep sense of the working of the evil one in thy mind, and many times is ready to say, “Never was any like unto me, neither any sorrow like unto my sorrow.”; In this languishing, despairing, mourning of thy soul, all things is made bitter to thee, as the waters of Marah; thus art thou driven from all comfort, as a child without a father, and a desolate widow without a husband, and as a stranger that no eye pitieth… For in thy own sense, and feeling, thou walking in the sparks thou hast kindled, in carnal reasonings, thou discerns not anything but wrath, horror, misery and distress, on every side…
Oh, thou Child of the morning of the pure eternal day of the God of Israel, hearken no longer to the enemy, who saith, “There hath none traveled where thou art, nor none drunk of the cup thou art drinking.”  He is a liar who goes about to destroy thy precious soul!

In the word of the Lord God, I declare unto thee, I [have] drunk the same cup, with my faithful Friends, who are born of the royal Seed, every one in their measure have traveled in the same path, and hath endured the same temptations, and walked in the light of the same sparks, and lain down in sorrow, in the sense of the same misery, as thou mourns under this day.
No longer lend an ear to the enemy, and the thoughts of thy heart. Arise!  Arise, in the light of the covenant, and stay thy heart, and the Lord God he will throw down the enemy of thy peace, destroy the carnal reasonings of thy mind, put out the fire that thou hast kindled, and he will deliver thee forth of the horrible pit, and set thy feet upon the rock of ages, and thou shalt tread down the enemy of thy soul, in the sensible feeling of the [compassionate] love of the Father, who will manifest himself to be a father to the fatherless in thee and a husband to that mournful widow, and a comfort to that immortal Babe that mourn[s] in thee, in the uprightness of thy heart, to do the will of the living God.
So in the power of his might stay thy heart, and tread upon all doubts, fears, despairing thoughts, questionings, reasonings, musings, imaginations, and consultings. Arise over them all in the light of Christ!  He will lead thee into the banqueting-house of the pleasure of our God, where thou shalt sit down with me, and all the redeemed of my Father, who art born of the immortal Seed, and have passed through great tribulations, and washed our garments, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore do we now stand before the throne of God, praising him day and night in his holy temple; and this shall be the portion of thy cup if thou diligently hearken to the counsel of the Lord, which calls thee to trust in him, he will embrace thee in the arm of his love, and thou shalt praise his name forever.
God Almighty in his Light and Life raise up thy Soul, and establish thy heart in his Counsel, steadfastly to wait his Power to lead thee (in the Cross) out of all unbelief, and cause thee to lie down at rest, in obedience to his will, where thou shall drink the cup of the salvation of God forever.
Farewell,
WD
From the Spirit of the Lord, given forth in York Castle [prison]  the 23rd of the 3rd Month, 1661.

BD Note:  Slightly edited for readability

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3 thoughts on “ Let this go abroad amongst all the afflicted and wounded in spirit.  A letter from William Dewsbury

  1. I feel the truth of this, and it is, in fact, my experience of late. Here’s the question: do I seek out Friends who recognize that much of the so-called Light is mere sparks, or do I work with the (much larger group) who THINK they are minding the Light but (and I know I’m being judgmental here, so I say this with much trepidation) are only following their own sparks?

    Or is there a way to do both?

    The task of bringing forth the kingdom of God in this secular and off-the-rails-Evangelical world is hard enough; how do I bring the kingdom of God to my fellow Quakers? [Oh, my, that sounds so arrogant!]

    Well, even as I look at what I have typed, I think I have some answers. It is time to visit, one-on-one, and ask my Friends if they have found their soul’s rest, or are they still crying out for it. If the latter, I have some words of Penington and my own experience to share.

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    1. You can wind yourself into quite the tailspin with self doubt. “Am I really following the light or am I following sparks of my own kindling?” The light of Christ that enlightens every one that comes into the world speaks with the unmistakable authority of the Creator. If you are waiting in this light of Christ and being prompted by this light of Christ, you can trust that if you are mistaken, the light will correct you. See George Fox’s To All That Would Know the Way to the Kingdom for a discussion of how this works.

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