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CORRESPONDING LETTER

OF THE SHAFTSBURY ASSOCIATION. 1803.

DEAR BRETHREN: Amidst the carnage of war, the revolutions of empire, the spasms of contending parties, the jarring interests and turbulent passion of infuriated men. which have deluded the world in confusion, it has been the privilege and delight of the saints, that they have a God to apply to in every time of needy God, who has been a present help, a refuge from the storm, a strong tower, a munition of rocks, and a hiding. place.

This all-puissant Jehovah, self-glorious in his nature, and independent in all his works, has not confined his glory to the heavens, nor his goodness to the angels of light; but the inhabitants of this world have largely received of the fulness of his grace. Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly. He who has the high heavens for his throne, and the earth for his footstool – before whom all the nations of the earth are as drops of the bucket, or small dust of the balance, in infinite condescension and boundless love, receives and protects every broken heart and contrite spirit; and, for their encouragement, has given them many precious promises, by which they are made partakers of the divine nature. If these foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? The saints have an omnipotent God on their side, who has promised, with an oath, to be a God unto them, and bless them. With an Almighty Friend, they may triumph over all their mighty foes, and say, “We will not fear what man can do unto us.”

Brethren, while the world is emblazoning the virtues of valor, policy and industry, in agriculture, mechanism, and science, we, who are not of the world, wish to treat those virtues as the pigmy valor of game-cocks, the policy of bees, and the industry of ants; and display the noble valor of a Christian, to resist Satan, conquer sin, and destroy error; to be wise in the policy of Christ's kingdom, and industrious in the vineyard of the Lord: that what part soever we are called upon to act in the civil department, we would always esteem the high calling of God, in Christ Jesus, infinitely paramount.

We are not disposed to eulogize the period in which we live, as the only day of light, reason and liberty; nor to despise the pittance of time allotted us, as worse than former days; for the same contest between truth and error, right and wrong, which has been in the world from the beginning, still exists. But it is truly pleasing to the children of light, to consider that all the error and wrong of creatures, can never destroy the truth and righteousness of the Creator.

The day in which we live, is neither dark nor light; not the darkness of sin, superstition and idolatry, nor the clear light of heaven; but at “evening time it will be light;” at the evening of life, as it respects individuals, and the evening of the world, as it applies to all the saints, – then it will be light without darkness.

In some of our churches there have been painful trials, since the last meeting of our association; others have escaped such trials; while some have received showers of heavenly grace.

It is with pleasure we receive your messengers, minutes and letters, from time to time, being confident such a procedure tends to edify the whole body; and, on our part, we shall pursue the same measures, for similar purposes.

Since our last meeting, one of our ministerial brethren (elder Nathan Haskins, of Savoy,) has departed this life. Help, Lord! for the godly man ceaseth. We hope, however, that our loss is his gain.

Brethren, farewell. May a gracious God preserve us from every evil, and bring us, at last, into the full enjoyment of himself, through a blessed Mediator. Amen.

Elder John Leland

The Writings of The Late Elder John Leland
Published originally in 1845
Pages 271 – 272