Robert Smith.

The Friend : a religious and literary journal (Volume 16) online

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pause, stand collected from every object that
can gratify or delight the sensual part ; labour
diligently to assemble all the powers and facul-
ties of the soul, that they may be sanctified
by Him who gave them. I believe there is
no useless, dead, inactive member in the
church of God ; and those who can thus
assemble the collected attention of a redeemed
mind, devoted to the Divine will, these have
an undoubted right, from the highest authori-
ty, to call a holy convocation. " We can do
nothing against the truth, but for the truth,"
was the language of some formerly, who had
indeed sanctified an acceptable fast. I most
desire that those who, perhaps, cannot be so
active in promoting this glorious cause among
the sons of men, as some who are called into
more eminent stations in the church, may, by
a circumspect care, over all their words and
actions, see that they do nothing against the
truth. " Call a solemn assembly, gather the
people." How scattered are many of the
members of this quarter; scattered, indeed,
as sheep without a shepherd ; dispersed up
and down in the dark vale of insensibility and
forgetfulness ; many upon the barren moun-
tains of an empty profession ; lost to all reli-

gious fellowship ; unacquainted with that holy
union in which is the bond of peace. How
many are the careless I have met with
amongst you, who, alas ! it may be said,
" care for none of these things." O ! you
elders, who might have been as pillars in the
Lord's house, you delegated shepherds, who
might have adorned the first ranks in the ar-
mies of our Israel, if you had not sitten down,
and taken up a rest short of those glorious
abodes which are prepared for them who
steadily persevere in the line of Divine ap-
pointment, to you the call is, " gather the
people." Am I my brother's keeper? Let it
suffice for me, that I look to myself and that
my own family is in tolerable order, is a lan-
guage that too much prevails. But, oh ! that
you had the cause of God more at heart ; that
you were more engaged to gather the people ;
that you might, with a fatherly care, overlook
those whose minds resemble the barren desert,
the uncultivated wilderness ; that you might
comfort and encourage those who tread the
gloomy scenes of an adverse allotment, as it
were cut off from every joy, and alive to every
painful sensibility. How would it comfort
many of these, if an experienced Friend was
now and then to drop into their families, and
at times speak a word in the openings of
Divine wisdom, suitable to their states ! I be-
lieve it would be a great means of gathering
the people. Why should your care be cir-
cumscribed within the narrow limits of your
own families, although they might be well
regulated ; but you might be more extensively
useful, if thus engaged in the care of the
household of God. I am persuaded that the
Divine Being would be over you, and a bles-
sing would attend' your labours. It is not a
time for us to dwell unconcerned in our ceiled
houses, when the house of God lies waste.
We have many of us the same tender connec-
tions as you. I, myself, have the same en-
dearing attachments as some of you ; the
same ties of domestic love, as some of you ; not
less attentive to every relative and social duty,
than some of you ; my nature is not harsh,
my principles much less so; yet I am made
willing to leave all to come and labour with
you ; if so be I might be instrumental to rouse
any to a more arduous pursuit of their ever-
lasting interest : and I can freely acknowledge
with humble thankfulness, that I never more
fully experienced my peace to flow as a river,
never could with greater joy, say, " Return,
O my soul, to the place of thy rest, for the
Lord thy God hath dealt bountifully with
thee," than when I have been thus engaged,
in extensive private labours; visiting the sick,
reviving the sorrowful, encouraging the dis-
consolate, strengthening the weak, watching
over, and carefully admonishing the giddy,
ncautious j'outh ; and I doubt not but you
would have the words of peace in your own
bosoms, if, as heads of the Society, you were
more often thus employed in endeavouring to
gather the people.

Sanctify the congregation, assemble the

elders." I have been deeply concerned to see

some of the elders so deficient in filling the

ne of Divine appointment ; if they were

more concerned to assemble under the holy



influence of lliat power in which they should
move, they would, many of them, be com-
manded to " blow the trumpet in Zion." But
I know of no state harder to speak to, more
ditficult to reach, than that of an elder,
whose mind is overgrown by the earthly

" O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of
the Lord." I do not recollect any other
instance, in sacred writ, where attention is de-
manded in a similar manner; O earth, earth,
earth, thus thrice repeated, plainly signifying
the great difficulty there is, in reaching to
those, who, as it were, are buried in the earth,
whose minds are fixed in it.

" Gather the children." — You that have the
rising youth utider your care, let me call upon
you, let me entreat you to — gatiier the chil-
dren. Gather them from all the bewitching,
enticing allurements of the world ; gather
their attention to that of God in their own
minds. O, how have 1 secretly mourned to
see the poor children so sorrowfully neglected,
so uninstructed, so much estranged from that
holy. Divine principle, which would exceed-
ingly beautify and enrich them: but, alas!
how few parents are rightly qualified to teach
their children the law of Divine love ; to instil
into their tender minds proper sentiments ; to
cultivate upon them those impressions which
would be of everlasting advantage; and if the
children, when tlie gracious visitation of the
Father of Mercies moves upon their hearts,
warming and animating them with the love of
virtue, raising the secret sigh, and begetting
desires after heaven and holiness : I say, if
the children should then ask the negligent
parents, what is this secret something which
I feel? this principle which impresses my
mind with the love of virtue 1 what is it? what
value shall I set upon it? How then can you
give them suitable instruction? You cannot
teach them obedience to its sacred dictates,
when your own example speaks a language
quite the contrary. O, why should the sea-
monster be brought against you ? " The sea-
monster draweth forth the breast to her young,
but the daughter of my people is become cruel
as the ostrich in the wilderness, that leaveth
her eggs in tlie sand, and considereth not that
the foot of the passenger may crush them."
The daughter of my people hath left her ten-
der offspring to the uncertainty of being acci-
dentally benefitted, or, I should rather say, to
the mercy of God, unasked, unsought ; ex-
posed to all the dangers of a dreary wilder-
ness, unaided, unassisted by the care of a
natural parent, " the tongue of the sucking
child cleavelh to the roof of its mouth for
thirst; the children ask bread, and there is
none, in many families, to break it." They
want to be nourished by the sincere milk of
the word, but alas! "the daughter of my
people is become cruel." O you parents, you
delegated shepherds, what account will you
have to give when the Lord of the whole earth
ariscth to make inquisition for blood ? Bear
with me, my daughters and friends; flattery
and smooth tales may please fools, but they
will not please Him whom I desire to serve in
the gospel of his Son. All that is within me
IS moved while I thus earnestly expostulate

with you, on behalf of the dear children ; suf-
fer me to entreat you, for God's sake, for your
own soul's sake, and for the sake of the cause
of Truth.

" Gather the children, and those that suck
the breasts." Those who are filling themselves
with the world's consolations, with the intoxi-
cating pleasures and amusements of a degener-
ate age, wean them from these delights, gather
them to the knowledge of themselves, to a
sense of the mercies that are offered them by
the Great Author of Mercies ancient and
new. " While thy servant was busied hither
and thither, the man made his escape," was
the vain excuse of the officer, to whose cus-
tody a certain captive was committed with the
charge, "Take care of this man till I come,
and if thou let him go, thy life shall go for
his life." No plea of other engagements, nor
even want of ability to discharge our duly
towards our offspring, will stand us in stead,
if, when the Almighty queries with us, " What
hast thou done with those lambs I left under
thy care in the wilderness, those tender off-
spring I gave thee in charge?" we have,
tlirough neglect, through unwalchfulness, suf-
fered him or her to go, but we shall most cer-
tainly stand accountable for his or her life. I
said want of ability, because I assuredly be-
lieve that want of ability will be so far from a
palliation of our crime, that it will rather in-
crease our condemnation. Can we plead want
of ability to Him who is always ready to fur-
nish us with it, if we are but willing to receive
it at His hand ? I am of opinion, with respect
to many of our youth, that if they had been
properly instructed and carefully watched
over ; if they could have seen the beauty of
holiness shine in the example of their parents,
they would not have gone out so widely as
they have. O, you parents of both sexes, an
important duty is required of you. Example
your children in the practice of piety. Ex-
mple speaks louder than precept ; its influ-
ence is far more extensive ; and while on the
one hand you are excited to a faithful dis-
charge of your duly towards them, by the
certain hope of a glorious reward; so, on the
other hand, the powerful ties of natural afl'ec-
tion, the warm solicitude for the happiness
of those you love, must stir you up to dili-
gence in the work and service appointed you.
" Gather the children." — If, after your at-
tentive care has been employed for their pre-
servation, if, after the forcible voice of exam-
ple, you have called them to the perfecting of
holiness in the fear of God, they will go, they
will turn aside, into the by-ways and crooked
paths of sin and iniquity ; they mnst stand by
their own choice. You will have redeemed
your own souls, and will be found in your lots
at the end of time. A ponderous crown awaits ;
you will close your eyes and open them to the
boundless fruition of unmixed joy, in a happy
eternity. We do sometimes with sorrow,
observe the unwearied labours of a parent's
love, bestowed without the desired effect ; it is
mournful to see children pierce with bitter-
ness and anxiety the breast that has been their
support in their infantile years; to fill that
eye with sorrow, that has dropt over them the
tear of maternal tenderness : it is a cruel thing

for a child to mingle gall and wormwood in
the cup of a parent descending to the grave !
Let such be assured, that their own portion of
gall and wormwood will be doubly increased
thereby, in the solemn hour of just retribution.
But O, beloved youth, I earnestly desire that
you may never thus widely deviate from the
paths of rectitude. It is on you the hopes of
the present age must shortly devolve; may
you wisely choose an early submission to the
holy discipline of the cross of Christ, that you
may come up as an army for God. Consider
the uncertainty of thy slay here : consider
the important business of life, and let the love
of every unprofitable delight be swallowed up
in the arduous pursuit of glory, honour, im-
mortality, and eternal life. We are daily
instructed by the powerful, eloquent, language
of mortality. Death invades all ranks, snatches
those of all ages from the busy stage of life.
She who was yesterday surrounded with nup-
tial joys, must to-morrow be confined within
the cold enclosure of the silent grave.

" Let the bridegroom go forth of his cham-
ber, and the bride out of her closet." Let
the young, the joyous, and those who are in the
bloom of life, leave every thing which tends to
retard their progress towards the city of the
saints' solemnity : let them relinquish their
most exalted satisfactions, rather than neglect
to lay hold on the joys of God's salvation,
which are unutterably more desirable than all
the sin-pleasing gratifications that this world
can bestow.

" Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord,
weep between the porch and the altar." 'Ihis
should not be confined to those only whose
mouths may be opened publicly amongst you,
for it belongs to all those who preach to others
by the regularity of a godly life and conver-
sation. Although we are favoured with a
living ministry of Divine appointment, who
dare not fill the ears of men with a repetition
of unfelt truths, nor amuse them with the un-
profitable productions of an empty mind, but
are concerned to discharge themselves faith-
fully as stewards of the mysteries of God, yet
let them be joined by all those that mourn for
the desolation of Zion, by all who wish
" peace within her walls, and prosperity with-
in her palaces." Let us " weep between the
porch and the altar, saying. Spare thy people,
O Lord, and give not thy heritage to reproach,
that the heathen should rule over them :
wherefore should they say among the people,
where is their God?" If we were thus uni-
tedly engaged in the behalf of our Israel, it
may be that the Lord will again be jealous
over his land, with an holy jealousy : for I
cannot think that a people whom He has raised
by His invincible power, and so signally placed
His name amongst, were ever designed to be
only the transient glory of a couple of centu-
ries. I am still revived by a secret hope of
better times, when our Zion shall again put
on her beautiful garments, and in her, and
with her, shall arise judges as at the first, and
counsellors as at the beginning. Let us weep
between the porch and the altar; let us inter-
cede for the people, that the land may yet be
spared. The gracious ear of our heavenly
Father is still open to the supplications of his



children, and I believe He will yet be jealous tian concern of this worthy watchman, till
over his land, and pity his people. The time! grace shall have somewhat prevailed on this
approaches when the grand dasher in pieces subject, over the bias which education, with-
wiil more and more come up amongst us; and, out a distinct reference to the pointings of
may all who are broken by him, wait to be I Truth therein, may have rivetted on the mind :
healed by the arising of his love. I shall not ! and, above all, till he comes himself more into
live to see it, but 1 live in the faith, and I 'the narrow and circumspect way which this
believe I shall die in the faith, that the Lord I faithful servant trod ; and which the obedience
of hosts will yet beautify the [)lace of his feet ; that is of faith in Christ must ever lead into :
that our Zioii will yet become an eternal ex- a way which few enter (Matt. vii. 14) and
cellency, and Jerusalem the praise of the walk in, because of its spirituality and straight-
whole earth. Let us weep between the porch iness. But let us ever remember, that while
and the altar, for the Lord will yet be jealous! the news, changes, and things of the world,
over his land, and pity his people. The bowels! will aflbrd neither amusement, beguilement,
of Adorable Condescension yet yearn over bis j nor pastime in an eternity where "the
children, with all the tenderness of a father's i righteous scarcely are saved," — the habits,
love. Uow shall I give thee up, Ephraim ? desires, lusts and dispositions, on the other
how shall I deliver tliee, Israel .' how shall 1 hand, which we cultivate and live in here, will
make thee as Adniah ? how shall I set thee as be the death-mantle, the judginent-metting

Zeboim? By this moving garb of that immortal essence, which must

and pathetic language, the Father of the ' pass to the world of spirits to receive the just

Universe mduces you to return to the arms of
mercy ; and, if we who are placed as watch-
men m Zion, faithfully discharge the trust
reposed in us, we shall be made instrumental
in gathering the scattered and dispersed sheep,
from the east, and from the west, from the
north, and from the south, to the Great Shep-
herd, to the one sheep-fold, and finally obtain
admittance into those glorious mansions,
where the morning stars join in singing hal-
lelujahs, and where the sons of God forever
shout for joy.

Now, unto the king, immortal and invisible,
the only God, be honour and praise forever
and ever.

For •' The Friend."
" Ephraiin hath mixed himself amnng the people."

The example of so many in our Society,
with some of its elders, is so calculated to
influence their children, and the rising gene-
ration who may be associated with them, on
the subject of reading the public papers, even
to making it a regular practice, that it may
not be amiss to revive, through the columns of
" The Friend," the exercise of one herein,
whose love and fidelity to the cause of Truth,
and unyielding faithfulness to his Divine Mas-
ter, can hardly help having endeared him to
every candid mind that has had the opportu-
nity of reading and knowing his e.xtensive and
spiritually instructive labours of love in the
gospel of Jesus Christ. Let him who, from
the inveteracy of habit, and the love of this
species of indulgence, is tempted to exclaim
after reading it, — this is but Thomas Shilli-
toe's opinion, — be induced to suspend his judg-
ment, till having sat down and carefully and
honestly inquired of that which vvitnesseth in
every breast when duly sought unto, whether
they are of Truth or no? and whether the
prevailing weakness, worldliness, scattering
and desolation that have come upon our Soci-
ety may not be more or less owing to this
sensual outlet, and dissipating habit, whenever
it is much indulged. For it is a solemn
truth, that neither in a less nor greater extent,
the large nor the minute, can we duly, purely
and conscientiously serve two masters. Let
him defer condemning the precepts and Chris-

reward for the deeds done in the body. For
as death leaves, judgment finds; and in the
grave there is neither labour nor device. The
omniscient Lord, who hath called and exam-
pled us wholly to follow him, as " the one
thing needful" in regeneration and newness of
life, — " to glorify him in body, soul and spi-
rit," — and, " whatever we do, to do all to the
glory of God," will then render unto every
man in the spiritual balances of the sanctuary,
according to his work. Who, while in his
most excellent sermon on the Mount, he testi-
fied, that he that heareth these sayings of
mine, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a
wise man who built his house upon a rock,
against which the closely besetting elements
beat in vain ; also, on the other hand, com-
pared such as heareth these sayings, yet doeth
them not, to the foolish man on the sandy
foundation, which could not withstand the
pouring tempest, but fell with a great destruc-
tion. To which parable the exhortation may
be subjoined: — "He that hath ears to hear
let him hear."

In conclusion, if this world be given us, and
should be considered merely as a state of pre-
paration and introduction to the next ; if we
are, or should be "strangers and pilgrims"
here, called to work out our salvation with
fear and trembling, having the promise of
another and a better country, that is an hea-
venly; — if time, as often admonishingly shown,
be awfully uncertain, and its moments incon-
ceivably precious without a well grounded and
holy hope in God, from a sense within, which
also is the gift and fruit of his Spirit, of an
establishment upon the immutable rock Christ
Jesus ; if from this spiritual witness we are
also called to know, and to be able to say upon
good grounds, "I am crucified with Christ;
nevertheless, I live ; yet not I, but Christ
livethinme:" — then it most assuredly becomes
us, above all other considerations, to strive to
become wise unto salvation ; and through hu-
mility and watchfulness unto prayer, to fulfill
that measure of labour, or of suffering, which
is the Divine will concerning us. Laying aside
every weight and hinderance, to run with dili-
gence the race that is set before us : looking
only unto, and relying upon Jesus, the author
and finisher of our faith. And thus being

engaged through the Spirit, in making our
calling and election sure, we should have re-
spect unto the prescribed way : and living a
life of self-denial, of whole dedication of heart,
with holiness unto Him who died for us,
through the power of the cross which crucifi-
eth unto the world, and the world unto us, we
should be found passing through the wilder-
ness of this world unto the revealed inherit-
ance, unassociated, connected or contaminated,
with its spirit : being not interested in its
matters, maxims or policy, further than the
guiding Spirit, " which is given to every man
to profit withal," the only saving anointing,
and unction, and power, witnesseth within us
to be right. And then dwelling in the quiet
habitation, out of the excitements and commo-
tions of either newspapers, parties or politics,
striving " to follow the Lamb whithersoever
he goeth ;" we should feel as little interest in
these things, as a traveller would in the local
disputes of a foreign country through which
he happened to be passing.

Thomas Shillitoe's remarks on this subject
above alluded to, being an extract from an
address to our Society, are as followeth : —

" Friends, let us not dare to meddle with
political matters, but renewedly seek for holy
help, to starve that disposition so prevalent in
us to be meddling therewith. Endeavour to
keep that enclosed, which will be itching to
hear the news of the day, and what is going
forward in the political circles. VVe shall
find there is safety in so doing ; it is the only
way for us to experience our minds to be pre-
served tranquil amidst all the commotions, all
turnings and overturnings that may be per-
mitted to take place when the measure of
iniquity may be filled up. I have found, that
if we sulier our minds to be agitated with po-
litical matters, our dependence becomes divert-
ed, by little and little, from the true centre
and place of safety, where perfect peace is
experienced, though the world and all around
us may speak trouble. Such as have this
dependence, will know it to be a truth fulfilled
in their own individual experience, that
' They that trust in the Lord shall be as
Mount Zion, whifh cannot be removed ; but
abideth forever;' and that as the mountains
are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is
round about his people from henceforth even
forever. Now, Friends, be willing to take up
this cross, for I have found it to be one of the
many crosses I have had to take up, and avoid
reading political publications, and, as much as
possible, newspapers; and 1 am persuaded, if
a willingness is hut manifest on our parts so
to do, suflicient help will be afforded from time
to time, to withstand this and every other
temptation of the great adversary of our peace.
I am well aware that men in trade, and some-
times those who are free from its incum-
brances, have occasion to resort to those chan-
nels of general information ; but when this is
my case, I find it safest for me, after I have
received information on the subject in ques-
tion, then to put the paper away from me. I
am aware that it requires firmness so to act,
there being something in our nature so anxious
to know what is going forward in the world ;
but, my friends, nature must be overcome by



grace, which I never found to be wanting, if
rightly sought after."

The remaining part of this excellent ad-
dress, though not directly on the present sub-
ject, has nevertheless too strong a bearing, and
is too much fraught with spiritual life and
interest, to be not in connection herewith, pre-

" I must now conclude, with expressmg the
earnest solicitude I feel, that we may each of
us be found willing to unite with that all-suffi-
cient help, which, 1 believe, yet waits our ac-
ceptance ; and suffer it so to operate in and
upon us, that we may become a people wholly
separated in heart and mind, love and affec-
tion, from every thing tiiat has a tendency to
dim our brightness, to prevent us from being
as lights in the world ; and be clothed with
those beautiful garments, which so adorned

Online LibraryRobert SmithThe Friend : a religious and literary journal (Volume 16) → online text (page 115 of 154)