This Document is on The Quaker Writings Home Page.

Upper Freehold, 10th mo. 23, 1799.

My dear William, - Indeed thou art very near to my heart. I once thought it would be too great a trial to me, that either of my children should go to sea. Many afflicting ideas were painted in case it so happened: yet, strange it is that I should consent to thy going. I considered thee as on a brink, unsettled, and full of youthful ardour. Idleness lays such an one open to many dangers; a nd in some respects I hoped it would be for thy good. Reason said, let him go: then again, what! leave his native soil, his family and his friends! to be turned out into the wide world, young and inexperienced! forego his religious society and lose his claim thereto! these and many more, born down the scale with weight and anxiety.

What I have felt, my son, neither words nor pen can paint or describe. All the consolation that calmed my mind on thy behalf, was, that I knew there was an almighty, overruling Father in heaven, who supporteth and upholdeth all things. My prayer was to him, if consistent with his will, to be thy guide and thy preserver in all thy ways. Yes, my son; he will preserve thee unblemished from an impure world, if thou art willing to be so saved. Take heed, therefore, that thou love not the world, nor the things that are therein: for if we love the world, the love of the heavenly Father is not in us. Ought not the Lord, the God whose immensity is unfathomable, and his mercy infinite, whose goodness and kindness to frail sinful man is abundant, to claim all our love, our adoration and praise. For he that formed the eye, can he not see? and also the ear, cannot he hear, and know all the actions and bent of the hearts of his creatures? and will he not recompense them according to their deserts? yes; surely. Therefore, my son, devote a little of thy fleeting time to serious meditation, that thou mayest become acquainted with thine own heart, - for there the immortal seed lies hid. - The pearl of great price, the seed of the kingdom, is hid in the earthly mind; but not being enough desired and sought after, it is not kept from growing up in thee, but worldly thoughts and pleasure? We love the present world, and so do not seek the kingdom of heaven which is declared to be within us.

Beware, my son, that thou quench not the spirit, nor despise the strivings of the immortal Witness, which moves in thee to produce a new birth, that would bring forth in thee a new manner of life; a life of holy living, and fruits of righteousness, the end of which brings us peace and joy and a humble confidence of being a child of God.

Happy, thrice happy are those who through faithfulness attain to this knowledge. Though storms arise, it cannot be shaken; though the sea lift up its waves, and the winds blow as from the four corners of the earth, they shall life up their heads in hope above them all. Trials are permitted for our refinements; for the righteous are tried as in fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of adversity. Bear with my serious strain, my son. Seriousness becomes dependant mortals. We are commanded to prove all things, and to hold fast that which is good. Mayst thou, my dear son, do so, is the fervent wish of thy affectionate mother.

Mind thy business steadily like a sober, honest, solid man. Beware of trusting unprincipled men, and let a righteous principle be thy foundation, - then will peace rest on thy attainments. I wish thou mayst flourish, and rise to be a beautiful flower or plant in our garden; so that through thee the name of a Woodward may be deservedly respected. Be steady, punctual to thy word, and think twice before thou speaks once. Do not be wild, vain or flighty; but keeping the true medium. O William, I want thee to be an accomplished man; and the way to become such is to mind the Truth; it will make thee an example for others to admire and to follow. Thy mother hath endeavoured to direct thy infant steps, and guard thee from falling into wrong paths: and where I have fallen short, may I be forgiven. My intentions have been pure, however sullied by adverse occurrences. Deep have been my provings in my progress through life, when the torrents of adversity have borne down and nearly crushed my natural reason; yet I could say as in the language of Jonah, "Out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice." When I remember these things, I am bowed as in the dust, acknowledging the gracious dealings of Almighty wisdom, in calling, leading and preserving me through the wilderness, when clouds and darkness, and even the floods which the dragon cast forth to drown the birth of good desires, beset me round. These good desires were begotten by the powerful principle of Truth in my heart; but that which is at enmity with the good would draw down the affections to earth, or (?) settle the mind at ease. So that there is need always to watch and to pray without ceasing, in order to witness Divine approbation.

I fear that nature is on the decline, and my faculties weakening; therefore I want the help of my dear children to watch my steps, lest I stumble and fall. Let us take heed, my son; and so run as to obtain a glorious crown at last, that we may join the host of holy spirits made perfect through suffering.

Dost thou go to Friends' meetings? or hast thou quite thrown off the esteem thou ought to have for thy mother's profession, and which should be thing also. O William, seek true wisdom. It is a glorious ornament. May blessings from beneath, and blessings from above, be showered down on thy head, who art thus separated from thy brethren, and from thy affectionate mother,

Increase Woodward.