Letter

Scope and Content

From John Woodcock in Stockton to an unnamed correspondent. In accordance with his request, Woodcock is sending this account of his experiences. About twenty-three years ago, he received the 'pardoning love' of God and in general has felt constant peace ever since, 'but not seeing the necessity or not feeling it, effectually in my heart ... I went on from day to day, looking for it at some distant period.'

In 1779 Richard Burdsall came to preach and Woodock heard him with much profit. When the sermon was ended, Woodcock wanted to converse with Burdsall, 'but a person got placed by him full of talk and seemed to prevent my desire. I was tempted to go away and several times went towards the door, but still returned again; however, after waiting about an hour, I interrupted them and desired Dicky to relate his experience which he did ... viz the manner of his justification was very moving, having no-one to instruct him and only heard two gospel sermons in five years, but when he gave an account of his sanctification, my soul was inflamed with desire for the blessing, and especially when he spoke of John Clark of Seacroft near Leeds being the instrument of his feeling sanctification by faith.'

Woodcock has been acquainted with Clark for ten years 'and believes he walks worthy of what he possesses.' Burdsall encouraged Woodcock with many pieces of scripture - every word went to his heart. For the next fortnight, Woodcock strenuously sought the blessing, but without success. One day Woodcock's correspondent brought a Mr Taylor with him and he proved a great blessing to Woodcock's soul. Taylor told him that the Lord would give him the blessing, 'but I could not lay hold of the promise, although he mentioned many precious promises of the Word of God after spending about two hours with you after preaching. I went home ... and wrestled with the Lord on my knees for about an hour or two, and several times it came to my mind "I will be thou clean", but I was afraid to believe that promise was for me.'

John Fletcher's "Last check to Antinomianism - An address to improper believers" proved a great blessing to Woodcock and he could certainly join with Fletcher 'in saying after a firm and lasting faith, restless, resigned for God to wait'.

On 10 December Richard Thursby came to preach and afterwards conversed about the work of sanctification by faith with John Nelson and Woodcock. They agreed that 'now is the accepted time, and now is the hour of salvation.'

Woodcock asked Thursby to pray and he did so with such feeling that Woodcock's soul was on fire. He could then truly say that the promise was indeed for him and then he received the gift as promised. Spiritual matters are discussed in detail.