1757 (undated)

Anne Steele, [Broughton], to Mary Wakeford, [Andover], undated.

I long to see and converse with my Amira, perhaps the more because I find it, at present, impracticable to reach her. It is, however in my power to talk a little on paper (I wish you were able to reply) but what shall be the Subject? the little cares & trifling amusements of Time?—no—for we are borderers on Eternity.—The declining year, as well as my weak state of body, reminds me that all things are tending to their dissolution. Where are all the flowery beauties which adorn’d the lively Spring? And where the ruddy fruits which fill’d the lap of Autumn? The Gardens have resign’d their lovely ornaments & the Trees their vegetable wealth: even the leaves their late verdant robes are fading away with every blast, and soon will leave their owners naked and to appearance dead. Winter is coming, cold, joyless Winter!—no fragrant blossoms shall embalm perfume the air, no lively songsters warble from the spray: nor Autumn shall embrown the ripening field, nor paint the blushing fruit. All the scene abroad will be comfortless and desolate!—But let us reflect that in this universal devastation of the charms of nature, the revolving year is bringing on their certain renovation. Again the blooming Spring shall display her flowery beauties; again the Summer Sun shall ripen the various productions of the Earth, again the fields and orchards yield their autumnal stores. The Laws of Nature are unalterably fixed, and still the changing Seasons shall return at their appointed period, ‘till that tremendous hour when the Angel of God shall swear by him that liveth for ever & ever that “there shall be Time no longer.” To the truth of this we yield our full assent without the least hesitation. But why, my dear Amira, while we see his Almighty hand, and confess & adore the God of Nature & Providence, why are we so slow of heart to believe what he hath revealed as the God of Grace? Hath not the word of Truth assured us that “this mortal shall put on Immortality[”]? Hath not the Lord of Life himself said, “He that believeth in me, tho’ he were dead yet shall he live”? nor has he only given the inviolable promise of future Life, he assures his faithful followers that this blessed, this eternal Life is actually begun, “He that believeth on me hath everlasting Life.” Everlasting Life begun in those precious seeds of vital Grace & Holiness which his own hand hath implanted in their hearts; and which, under his benign influences, spring up & make some real, tho’ faint & perhaps almost imperceptible advances towards maturity; that full maturity to which they shall certainly rise when transplanted to their native Clime; and bloom forever fragrant in the Paradise of God. Yes my dear Amira, as surely as that Almighty Friend lives, on whose all-sufficient merits perfect Righteousness & precious Promises we fix our only hope; so surely shall those who believe in & depend upon him, live with him in the mansions of Eternal Joy: for he hath said “Because I live ye shall live also. Sooner shall the Sun forget his annual round and leave the Earth to everlasting Winter: sooner shall universal Nature sink into Chaos than the word of Truth shall fail. Let us hearken, with the most affectionate gratitude hearken to the kind encouraging words of our dear Redeemer, “Let not your hearts be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me.” We believe in the God of Nature and Providence; O may we believe with a more steady & cheerful affiance in the God of Grace! in his immutable Word, in his beloved Son our Omnipotent and ever gracious Saviour!—How desirable a blessing in Faith in lively exercise! What a divine support under present afflictions or apprehended sufferings! By this was David enabled to say “Tho’ I walk thro’ the vally [sic] of the shadow of Death I will fear no evil for thou art with me.” Let us pray, pray earnestly for our selves and each other Lord increase our Faith. O that the prayers of her friends for my dear Amira may be graciously answered! and O that our great Mediator’s infinite merits & prevailing intercessions may prove for you divine supports, heavenly consolations in every painful hour in every time of need! and may you long be continued a blessing ^to your friends^ & to your dear little ones may yr heart experience & yr Life confess the Love of Jesus & ye powerful influences of his Grace when this wish breathes to heaven for yr self & yr friends remem[ber] your affectte Silviana

Text: STE 3/13/vi. Steele Collection, Angus Library, Regent's Park College, Oxford. No address page. For an annotated version of this letter, see Timothy Whelan, gen. ed., Nonconformist Women Writers, 1720-1840 (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2011), vol. 2, ed. Julia B. Griffin, pp. 291-92. This letter is written after 1755, for reference is made to Wakeford’s “dear little ones,” referring to William and Samuel, her two sons at that time. Most probably it is c. 1757.