Mary Dudley

The Life of Mary Dudley, Including An Account Of Her Religious Engagements and Extracts From Her Letters. London: The Editor (Elizabeth Dudley), 1825, pages 15-17.

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July 29th, 1772.

"My very dear and worthy friend,

For once I can say, the receipt of a letter from you has given me inexpressible pain; I am therefore constrained to address you in this manner, before we personally meet, as I fear my spirits would not enable me so freely to speak as to write the undisguised feelings of my heart. I believe the apprehension of my valuable friend and father arises from a tender affection for an unworthy worm; of the sincerity of which he has only added a fresh and convincing proof. Whether I may give weight to or dissipate your fears, the most unreserved declaration of my sentiments will determine. Your reviving in my remembrance the many favours I have received from the liberal hand of mercy, since my connexion with our dear friends, is kindly proper; I think I have some sensibility of the love of GOD towards me in this respect, and, esteem that memorable hour when I heard the gospel trumpet among them the happiest of my life. Yes, my dearest sir, my heart burns while I recollect the attraction of heavenly grace! the many, the innumerable mercies since then received, I desire with thankfulness to acknowledge; and which, unless the spirit is separated from the gracious Author, cannot be forgotten. "Beware of striking into new paths," says my revered friend. Much, very much, should I fear exploring any of myself, or taking one step in so important a point, without the direction of Him, who is emphatically called, ' Wonderful/ Counsellor!' To His praise be it spoken, He has given me the desire to be guided by Him; and I humbly hope, in obedience to this Holy Teacher, I have at some seasons lately attended the Quakers'. Meeting, but not at the time of our own worship, except Sunday evenings, when, with truth I say, the excessive warmth of the room was too much for me to bear. I am obliged to testify, the LORD has clothed His word delivered there with divine power, for which the heart of my dear father will rejoice, since

          Names, and sects, and parties fall,
          And thou, 0 Christ, art all in all !

With regard to silent meetings, I apprehend their authority may be known by the power they are attended with. I have not been at such, yet in my own experience find the unutterable prayer to be the most profitable, and am led much into what is so beautifully expressed in one of our hymns.

          The speechless awe that dares not move, 
          and all the silent heaven of love.

I long to be more internally devoted to that GOD, who alone is worshipped in spirit and in truth; and find, in order to keep up a spiritual intercourse, there must be a deep, inward, silent attention, to the secret intimations of divine love, for which my inmost soul aspires to Him, who has promised to fulfil the desire of them that seek him; and is this, my dear Sir, "stepping out of the way?" Surely it cannot, while I find a peace that passeth all understanding. Can this lead me to think slightly of my old teachers ? Oh! could my heart be opened to my friend, he would see far other characters imprest. Will this teach me to neglect my meetings? I esteem them great privileges where, not custom, but a sincere desire for GoD's glory is our principle of action. What further can I say to my honoured friend, after disclosing so much of that heart which holds him in most affectionate and respectful love. I can only add the request, that he would join me in that emphatic prayer to the GOD of all grace, "Thy will be done ;" to which an attention and obedience will, I trust, divinely influence his very unworthy, but gratefully affectionate,