Dear Friends and Brethren, unto whom the salutation of my love reacheth.
In all your meetings together to do service for the Lord, his truth, and people and to see that good order be kept in the churches of Christ, wait diligently to be endowed with power and wisdom from above, which is pure and peaceable, that by the same you may be guided to judge of and determine all that you have committed to your trust and charge, whether in things spiritual or temporal. Thus good order, the blessed unity, and fellowship that stands in the one Spirit may be preserved amongst you and every one may have right done them, and true judgment in the power and wisdom of God may be set upon the head of that which is unruly, stubborn, and rebellious. For take notice that every one who professeth to be a member of the body, or of the meeting, where things are to be done in unity, according to order, and settled and agreed to by the ancient and elder brethren of the church of Christ, every such an one ought to be subject and condescending one unto another in things which are already settled and established as to church order, and not any one to say in this or the other, "I would be left to my freedom and liberty."
Let all seriously consider that if every one of you, when met together, should be of this mind would not this tend to lay aside and break all order, rule, and fellowship as it is already settled according to truth in our men and women's meetings, as seen meet in the wisdom of God? Yes, surely it would. Wherefore I cannot but say unto you for the clearing of my spirit that care be taken to keep up the good order settled in the church, notwithstanding some in their particular judgment be against it. I speak in tenderness, for the good and preservation of all who love good order and unity with the people of God, beware every one of reasoning above the simplicity of the truth, for the apostle warned to take heed that you be not betrayed from the simplicity that is in Christ, as the serpent beguiled Eve.
Dear brothers and sisters, be ye all careful to keep low and near the Lord, and then you will be kept near and dear one unto another, and the Fountain of life and Divine wisdom will be opened unto you, and the streams thereof will run plentifully among you, which will make all your meetings and undertakings sweet and comfortable in the wisdom and power of God and in the heavenly fellowship of his Spirit. All the disorderly, unsubjected, and unruly will be judged and cast out from among you.
Wherefore, dear Friends, keep close together, as a body fitly framed together in unity, so shall nothing be lacking. For we need not to want anything amongst ourselves that may tend to strengthen us against the enemy within or his instruments without. For the enemy is strong and subtle and they are many, all seeking to devour and break us asunder, which all the powers of hell and death shall never be able to do, as our care is to keep close together. Let your continued care and mine be that nothing upon any account may be given way to that may tend to do any hurt or make any breach amongst ourselves. But as the Lord hath honored us with his truth above many, to his praise and glory and our comfort be it spoken, he hath preserved us in unity and sweet communion together for many years.
Oh! that we may still be concerned as one man, of one heart and mind, to continue and persevere unto the end, in that in which we have begun and thus far are preserved, living to God, zealous for his name, truth, and glory. Through our careful settling and steadfast abiding upon the rock and living root that bears us, we may bring forth fruit more abundantly through the fresh springs of life which will spring afresh into us, in and through Him, who is the fountain of all our mercies, blessings, favors, and preservations so that living praises in our hearts and mouths in our assemblies may rise to the Lord in a sense of life, being broken and tendered before him, to bless, praise, and magnify his holy and honorable name, for our preservation in his truth near to himself, and in love and unity one with another; which is the travail and living concern and prayer of your brother, that you may be so kept and preserved for ever, unto the end, Amen. Known to you by the name of
From my prison-house in Carlisle, in Cumberland, the 29th of the Third month, 1684.