Jane Attwater to Mary Steele, c. summer 1775.
[...] & be it our whole desire to act at all times in due conformity to his will –
I am glad to see you so justly considering y t y e situation Let not any of these things my dear young Friend discourage you in but know yt for wise Ends God suffers whatever is to be. Were we to see perfection on Earth we should not so earnestly desire after yt happy abode where Imperfection pains ye heart no more. Here is not our resting place for ’tis polluted. Therefore let these disagreeable circumstances wch has lately happened & to wch you have not been a stranger – animate you & me to be more circumspect in our conduct, teach us to learn more self censure, to be more dilligent in examining what has been our sins yt has help’d to bring this judgment on us all & may ye consequences be yt we may be more humble & more holy towards God as well our fellow creatures. May our Lives all ways teach wt our lips or pens dictate.
Glad to see you so justly considering ye place in wch it has pleased God in his providence to put you. I doubt not & earnestly hope it will be for your lasting advantage. You could not have selected a more suitable part of divine writ yn yt Be dilligent in Business & fervent in spirit serving ye Lord. Where these meet indeed it is most commendable & desireable. The hand of ye dilligent maketh rich & God blesses ye labors of ye honest & industrious & inables ym to do for him what he fill their hearts with a desire of doing, so far as its consistent with their Good.
You complain of Lukewarmness with too great reason I believe all may adopt yr complaint. As for myself I have too much. Indifference prevails even at best & what yn is my worst seasons – you tell me of my improving my priviledges. I am sorry I wish to be inabled to live much in a little time, to walk holily & humbly with my God, to be an humble Instrument in his hand, to promote his Glory. But I am deficient in every. I find daily sin vanity & folly arising in my heart & wn I would do good evil is present with me. Beg you to make no apologies in your next for your letter, did not need ym. Write when you have time or Inclination to enter into a conversation with a Friend & you have not
time to an opportunity to personally converse with those who can talk with you in a manner yt wd be much more to ye purpose yn it is in my power to do – I shall be always ready to lend you my poor assistance & should sincerely rejoice could I be ye means of ye least service in affording you any aid to persue yr journey Heavenward & ascribe all ye glory to God to whom It is only due – may I still be remembered by you & each of my dear Friends who surround ye throne of Grace yt we may be meetend for yt Glorious Inheritance & at last have an abundant entrance into [Reconc]iliation there – offered to us to you & I humbly hope to me the unworthiest of ye unworthy. Yn if we are inabled thus to do may approach God as our Father, our father by adoption as well as by creation & preservation & under this endearing this fillial Character we may address him at all times in every distress. Come to our heavenly father & pour forth our sorrows before he with paternal regard will hear answer & forgive, will pity our Infirmities, remembering we are but dust. He will view us as heirs & joint heirs with Christ, make all things to work together for good and as Jesus our Glorious mediator has willed so does God will yt where Christ is we shall be also – are we my Friend so happy to be interested in ye peculiar love of God thro’ Jesus Christ, what yn have we to fear? Nothing – all is yours – tho’ ye prospects before us are truly gloomy, tho’ wars & rumours of wars are sounding in our ears & tho we fear there is too much reason to dread nearer approaches of horror will erelong be our unhappy case, yet if we are those yt are built on ye rock Christ Jesus, sheltered in this ark of ye covenant, we need not fear. Tho’ ye tempestuous waves of sorrow & ye fiery dart of persecution should beat against us yet our foundation standeth sure nor shall not be moved. May we lay those things to heart, repent & mourn for our numerous sins wch we as individuals have added to ye mountainous heap of national iniquities – & remember & obey ye exhortation given, prepare to meet thy God O Israel – the unhappy divisions amongst nations & what is still worse amongst Churches is a loud call for ye judgment of God to be poured down upon us. We are not aware of our dreadful nature; ye latter is & how does Satan ye busy adversary of souls[ix] yet fresh adversary over many at such a season how ready is he with his various insinuations to lay such things as stumbling blocks in ye way of some & as very great discouragements to others. May we be all of a more meek humble & peaceable spirit, have more of yt amiable spirit of ye perfect pattern of Holiness. Yn these wd not be as they are for God is Love – & seeing ye evil of these things may it deter us fm giving ye least sanction to any evil in our hearts – fly every sin as ye procurer of bitter evils & be ever on our watch against every spiritual foe. We have ye utmost need to put in practice continually our Lords exhortation, watch & pray yt ye enter not into temptation. Think whenever we are going to pursue any new step wither this is consistent with ye will of God, ask his guidance & direction for knowing our own frailty. We must confess of ourselves we can do nothing.
Joy of our Lord is ye wish of your unworthy but sincere
Text: Attwater Papers, II.B.2.(i.); ; for an annotated edition of this letter, see Timothy Whelan, ed., Nonconformist Women Writers 1720-1840 (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2011), vol. 3, pp. 266-68. The beginning portion of the letter has been torn away. The letter was written after the death of Steele’s uncle in 1775.