Letter

Scope and Content

From Otley to [Mary Fletcher in Madeley]. Although Ritchie has not heard from Fletcher since she [Ritchie] wrote from Kirkstall, she is sure that Fletcher will not mind her intruding on her precious moments with this letter.

Fletcher asked concerning Brother Ripley. [Possibly a relation of the prominent lay Methodist John Ripley (1751-1825) .] He is no longer here – he died on December 12th ‘crying with his latest breath “The blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sin…” There is no doubt that Ripley went through much affliction since he came here from Leeds, yet he never complained but rather blessed God for all and often beseeched those around him to seek after perfect love. Ripley said a great deal to Brother Clark a few days before he died, asking him to tell [John] Wesley and the preachers that he died a witness of full salvation. ‘He begged much of those who acted in a public character to cry aloud, proclaiming to the people a full free and present salvation. On the day he died, Ripley called all his children together and counselled them one by one ‘then turning to his poor wife who stood weeping by him, he said “Woman why weepest thou?” She replied “Because the Lord is taking away my husband.” He answered “He is not taking away thy saviour…He will be with thee, fear not.” He then solemnly commended his wife and six children to that God whose love and guardian care he had so richly experienced…’

Ripley was buried on Friday December 17th. Large numbers attended the funeral and Mr Peacock preached the sermon from verses 12 and 13 of Revelation. [There were two itinerants active at this time with the surname Peacock – John and Christopher. Neither was stationed in Leeds or adjacent circuits and it could have been a local preacher who gave the sermon.] Hundreds could not get into the preaching house and attendance at worship has been very good since the funeral. They hope that Brother Ripley will be an instrument for good in death as he was in life. He was always swift to visit the afflicted and gave freely to the poor.

Spiritual matters are further discussed in detail.

They hear that a new edition of the works of Voltaire [pen name of the French philosopher Francois Marie Arouet (1694-1778)] is about to appear. Many have asked if [John] Fletcher could not prevent this publication or could he not lift his pen to counter the ‘modern infidelity so hurtfully conveyed in these works’.