Barbados Letter by Thomas Chalkley, 1724, Quaker
THOMAS CHALKLEY: A LETTER TO ELIZABETH LEVIS AND JANE FENN
Source: The Life of Jane Hoskins. In: Evans, William & Evans, Thomas, eds. Friends' Library. Philadelphia: Joseph Rakestraw, 1837, Vol. I, pages 469-470
Transcribed by Terri England, 2002.
Frankfort, 1st of twelfth month, 1724-5
My dear friends,
Elizabeth Levis, and Jane Fenn,
Understanding by our friend, Grace Lloyd, that you have proposed your intention of visiting the few Friends in the island of Barbadoes, and the you meet with some discouragement inwardly and outwardly, it is in my mind to comfort and strengthen you in so great and good an undertaking, and honourable work, as is the cause of Christ, who, for our sakes, crossed himself abundantly beyond expression, more than is possible for us to do for his sake, or for the sake of his people, whom we may so entirely love, as to lay down our lives for his sins and their sakes. But what are our lives to the life of the only begotten Son of God? And truly, we must give them up often, if we have the cause of souls at heart; and the he often gives them to us again, glory to his holy name for ever! As Christ said, He that will save his life, shall lose it, and he that will lay down his life for my sake and the Gospel, shall find it; which reacheth your case in this undertaking. And, indeed, some of our lives, in our own sense, are hardly worth mentioning, considering the cause of Christ.
And, dear children of our heavenly Father, I may, through some good experience, truly inform you, that there is much openness in many people on that island, and good encouragement I have had, first above, in my visiting the people there; though, true it is, the inhabitants, too generally, are luxurious, and much given to vanity; yet I have this seal in my heart, that the Lord hath a seed in that place who desire to serve him, and that seed will surely join with you in your exercises, and you will be comforted one in another, and in the Lord. And that there are differences among them, is also true; but they have the more need of being visited by such, who are, through their wise conduct and restoring disposition, likely to heal those breaches which are, or may be among them. Some, indeed, have gone among them have done hurt, by a rash and turbulent management, and by so doing, have rather made the breaches wider, than by a meek and living, as well as lowly disposition, lessened their differences and healed them.
And, tender friends, though it may seem hard for you in several considerations, to give up to go to sea, and also to divers who love you and are nearly related to you, know ye, and such so concerned, that the Lord is stronger than the noise of many waters and than the many waves of the sea. And I really believe that you, as well as my soul, with all the servants of Christ, will experience it to be so, as David did, whose words they are.
I remember the words of our great Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, when he sent forth his servants to preach his Gospel; "I send you forth as lambs among wolves." No question but you, like innocent lambs, before your return, if it please God to give you to us again, may meet with the wolf's spirit, or the spirit of the beast, in some among whom you travel; then will the counsel of Christ, added to his commission, be good for you to keep close to: "Be ye wise as serpents, but innocent or harmless as doves."
And, dear maidens, as your cross is great, you being two innocent young women, in giving up your names to cross the sea , which I know is a great trial, the seamen, to generally being rude, dissolute people; so your crown will be great also. I have know that by keeping near to Christ and his truth and power, there hath been a wonderful reformation sometimes in several of those rude seamen; and some have bee so far convinced, as to be exceeding kind, and to speak well of Friends and their conversation, when it has been coupled with the fear and wisdom of God. When I have gone to sea, I always found a religious and Christian concern upon me, for the poor sailors, the good effects of which have been much more than I may speak of; but give this little hint for your encouragement and information.
Well, dear souls, if you go, I believe the Lord will go with you; and sure I am, that my spirit will also go along with you, which will not hurt you, if it do no good. And although my exercises and tribulations of late have been very great, both spiritual and natural, yet my very heart within me affects the cause of Christ, according to the best of my understanding; and I heartily wish well to all my fellow labourers, who are faithful, painful servants of Christ, and disinterested, except as to the interest which they desire in Christ and his kingdom, for the sake of which, they love not their lives unto death.
I must now take leave, after putting you in mind to remember you poor friend and brother, when before the throne you supplicating the Father of mercies in secret, even as my heart is tenderly bowed and broken into tears on your behalf at this time, The Lord be with you, and sanctify the present exercise and concern that is upon you, and you to himself, with all the faithful lovers and followers of the Lamb, "through his word, whose word is truth." I am you friend and brother, in the fellowship of the Gospel of Christ Jesus, our great Lord and Good master; and blessed are those, who, by their fearing to offend him, manifest him to be their Master, and by their honouring manifest him to be their Lord.