Robert Smith.

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

. (page 118 of 154)
Online LibraryRobert SmithThe Friend : a religious and literary journal (Volume 16) → online text (page 118 of 154)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

minds, on questions which concern Ihe very
foundations of the truth ; we can hardly be

mistaken in believing that some crisis is ap-
proaching (though it may be but slowly) in
the long-continued conflict between truth and

How important is it, in the present day, that
our religious Society should be found main-
taining Its position in the Christian church !
Far be it from us to judge harshly of others,
or to indulge in a spirit of vain-glory over
them. We have enough in our own weak-
nesses to humble us ; and we ought carefully
to watch over our own spirits, lest what may
appear grievous errors in the doctrine or prac-
tice of other Christians, should be viewed by
us with self-congratulation.

But if we rightly consider our past history
and present condition, we shall find abundant
cause for commemorating that Divine love
and compassion, which have hitherto guided
and sustained us.

Other Christian communities have more or
less depended upon human means for their
support. 'I'he church of England has her
endowments, her colleges, her beneficed cler-
gy, her dignities, her titles of honour, and the
support of the state ; other bodies of professing
Christians have likewise their colleges, their
regularly trained and apprenticed ministers,
and voluntary contribution of money for their
maintenance. But we have used none of these
things. We have no establishments for the
training of our ministers, nor do we pay them
for their services. It has been our principle
from the first, that they should follow the ex-
hortation of the aposlle to the gospel ministers
of the early church. " I have coveted no
man's silver, nor gold, nor apparel : yea, ye
yourselves know that these hands have minis-
tered to my necessities and lo them that were
with me. I have showed you all things how
that so labouring ye ovght to support the
weak, and to remember the words of the
Lord Jesus, how he said, it is more blessed
to give than to receive." Acts xx. 33, 3^.

Our worship has been conducted with the
utmost simplicity. We have met together in
silence, without the allurement of music or
chanting, without any arrangement for stated
preaching, or slated prayer, or to please the
taste of the multitude ; but desiring to have no
other object in view than the solemn worship
of Him who loves to be worshipped in spirit
and in truth.

Our numbers have been diminished by a
constant exercise of strict discipline. Where
would Ihe Church of England be, if the same
were enforced within her borders; if a digni-
fied Christian testimony were pronounced
against all the drunkards, gamblers, swearers,
dishonest, profane and immoral persons, and
those who are habitually addicted lo vain
sports and places of diversion, (not to mention
the multitudes who are concerned in the
making and bearing of arms,) who now swell
the numbers of her professed members?

Had a mere human reasoner, two centuries
ago, ventured to predict with certainty, that
our existence would be as ephemeral as that
of Ihe many sects that rose and disappeared
during the time of the Commonwealth, he
would not have wanted arguments to make his
prediction appear probable. But (notwith-


standing all our weakness) we have been gra- 1
ciously preserved without need of those out-
ward helps and human contrivances, that have
been so necessary lor the support of other
fabrics less simply founded. And can we
believe that we have been preserved in vain ?

There has seldom been a period since the
rise of our Society, when there was a louder
call, or greater encouragement, for the right
advocacy of our Christian principles. As far
as respects our own country, one great work,
the abolition of Negro Slavery, has been
achieved ; but we have still to lament its con-
tinuance in other parts of the world. While
we may rejoice in believing that the principle
of peace is making a silent progress in many
minds, we cannot think upon our national atro-
cities in India and the East, and the congratu-
lations wasted by parliament upon those who
conducted the wars, without being convinced
how much, yet remains to be done. And if
we consider the questions which are agitating
the Church of Scotland, or those distracting
the National Church of this country, we can-
not but earnestly desire that the freeness and
fulness of the gospel were more clearly under-
stood, and a living testimony more generally
borne, to the reality and continuance of spi-
ritual gifts in the church, by the administra-
tion and government of her holy Head — the
Apostle and High Priest of our profession.

May we be enabled to maintain these blessed
truths in the meekness of wisdom, and seek to
be found individually engaged in our own
sphere of allotted duty, and so follow on to
know the Lord, that we may yet more abun-
dantly realize the fulfilment of His precious
promise, " This people have I formed for
myself, they shall show forth my praise."

From tile some.

An Address of the London Quarterly Meeting on the
attendance of Week-day Meetings.

At a Qiiarttrhj Meeting for London and

Middlesex, held the il'th uf Twelfth month,


The committee appointed to visit our
Monthly Meetings, brought in a minute on
the subject of the attendance of meetings for
worship in the middle of the week, which,
being road and considered, this meeting unites
therewith, and directs that copies of it be for-
warded to our respective Monthly Meetings.
The minute is as follows : —

" The committee of the Quarterly Meeting
appointed to visit the I\[onlhly Meetings, has
had its attention turned, in an especial man-
ner, to the circumstance of the smallness, very
generally, of our meetings for worship in the
middle of the week, and would be glad to con-
vey to their Friends some sense of their concern
on the occasion.

" Whilst feeling much sympathy for those
whose situation renders it dinicult for them to
make arrangements for the regular attendance
of these meetings, they arc deeply impressed
with a sense of the importance of the duty,
' not to forsake the assembling of ourselves
together' at all the times appointed for the pub-


lie worship of Almighty God. The apostle
in writing to the Romans urges upon them, by j
the touching consideration of the mercies of
God, that they should present their bodies a
living sacrifice ; and in addressing the He-
brews, he declares, that he that comelh to
God must believe that He is, and that He is
a rewnrder of them that diligently seek him. ]

" Did we heartily and practically accept
these truths and gospel motives, did we ade-
quately feel that it is only through the mercy
of God in Christ Jesus, that we can be deliv-
ered from the bondage of corruption, and
translated into the glorious liberty of the chil-
dren of God, our hearts would be so filled with
gratitude and love to Him, that we should not
yield a scanty and reluctant service, but should
rejoice in His worship. There would then be
found no remissness or negligence in giving
proof of our allegiance to Him by the diligent
discharge of so obvious a duty. It is an awful
consideration that He with whom we have to
do, can either bless or withhold his blessing ;
and, O ! that it might be brought home to
every one, rightly to estimate the blessing of
Him who holds alike at his disposal the dew
of heaven and the fatness of the earth !

" It is very important for all not only occa-
sionally, but constantly to attend their Week-
day Meetings, and especially for those who are
heads of families to make a point of being at
their own rather than another. Thus, may it
be hoped, will their example in this respect
be made to bear powerfully upon those who
are placed under their care ; and we believe
that, if this practice were uniformly adopted,
they would have often to partake together
with their families of that spiritual nourish-
ment which is as essential to the health of
the soul, as outward food is to that of the

" We would also tenderly advise such as
have the charge of others, and who may them-
selves be punctual in their own attendance of
meetings, to be willing to make a sacrifice, in
order to set those under their care, whether
clerks, apprentices, shopmen, or in whatever
capacity they may be, at liberty for the per-
formance, at the times appointed, of this
solemn duty of Divine worship.

" There are, probably, some of our young
men, especially, to whom the regular attend-
ance of Week-day Meetings may appear a
thing almost impossible, unless at a consider-
able sacrifice of their temporal interests; but,
we believe, that, could they be prevailed with
to be faithful to their God in this respect, way
would often be made for them with their em-
ployers, whether members of our Society or
not, and they would have abundant cause to
commemorate His goodness to their souls,
acknowledging that, even as regards outward
things, he had provided for them, and had not
withheld his blessing on their faithfulness.
Many who in assembling with their Friends in
the middle of the week for the purpose of
Divine worship, have had to press through a
crowd of dlfRcultios and discouragements, have
also had, in tenderness and gratitude, to feel
that these seasons have been in an especial
manner crowned by the favour and the life-
giving presence of their Lord, enabling and

strengthening Ihum to go on their way re-

"It is therefore in our hearts very earnestly
and aH'eclionately to invite and encourage our
dear Friends who are much occupied with the
cares of this life, or who have to apply closely
to business for the support of I heir families,
regularly to withdraw themselves from these
cares, and in humility of soul to wait upon
God in our Week-day Meetings. In thus
breaking off from their temporal pursuits they
would, we doubt not, be often refreshed with
heavenly good, and in resuming their outward
callings, the leaven of the Christian spirit
would mark their intercourse with their fel-
low-men, and they would become examples of
the apostolic admonition, not to be slutliful in
business ; but fervent in spirit ; serving the

" Little, indeed, is it that we can do to
manifest our love and allegiance to that gra-
cious God who hath given us richly all things
to enjoy, and who, in the aboundings of his
long-sutTering kindness and love towards his
poor, fallen, helpless, creature man, has pro-
vided for him the means of escape from the
wrath to come, and who is ever ready and
willing to give the Holy Spirit to them that
ask Him. May considerations such as these
sink deeply into every heart, and lead us in
contrition of feeling to the daily inquiry, How
much owest thou unto thy Lord? — Then truly
shall we not only be diligent in the attendance
of our religious meetings, esteeming it a high
privilege thus to present ourselves before Him,
but shall be animated to run with alacrity of
soul in all the ways of his commandments."

" Signed on behalf of the committee held
the 26th of the Twelfth month, 1842.

" JosiAH FonsTEH, Clerk"

From the same.

The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost,

whom the Father icill send in my name, He

shall teach you all things, and bring all

things to your remembrance, whatsoever 1

have said unto you. — John xiv. 26.

The following testimony to the privilege of

attending the public worship of Friends, and to

the effectual teaching of the Holy Spirit,

which may be known in their silent meetings,

is borne by a pious member of the established


" Frequently prevented, from the delicate
state of her health, from attending the publio
means of grace, which were at some distance
from her, Anne used occasionally, at such
times, to retire to a Quaker's meeting-house.
In the silence of their worship, she often felt
the presence of that .Minister, whose visits can
alone make any means of value to the soul,
and who sometiines speaks most powerfully
to the heart — ' In secret silence of the
tiiind.' "

She thus writes on April 15, 1821 : —
" At a silent meeting, this morning, my
mind was occupied in considering the work of
the Spirit. The text which first led me to
consider this subject, was the one I had fixed
upon for my text for this day. Luke xi. 13.

' If ye then, being evil, know how to give
good gifts unto your children, how much more
shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spi-
rit to them that ask him.' f was graciously
enabled to collect in my mind almost all, or
at least the principal, texts which relate to
this subject. I found that I had not properly
considered the infinite importance of the aid
of the blessed Spirit. I have lived too much
in a state of sinful independence. I have
sought to enter by the door, and to open it,
but I have too often forgot the ' Porter.' (John
X. 3.) I desired to know and become acquaint-
ed with gospel truth, but I have loo much
attempted to discover it, by study and exami-
nation, and but slightly regarded the words of
Jesus, ' The Spirit of Truth shall guide you
into all truth.' (See also 1 Cur. ii. 9 —
16.) I have desired to become acquainted
with the meaning of the Scriptures, and to
have more spiritual knowledge of them, as
being they which testify of Jesus; yet I have
not sufficiently considered of whom the Sa-
viour spake, when he said, ' He shall testify
of me.' (John xvi. 14.) I have wished for a
more extended knowledge of myself, and of
the finished work of Jesus, both as a Saviour
and a Conqueror ; though alas ! I looked not
to the Convincer of sin: of the everlasting
righteousness and finished work being made
sure, by the resurrection and ascension of
Christ Jesus our Lord, of the conquest of
Jesus upon the cross over satan, and the judg-
ment of God against sin, and his hatred to it,
most strikingly experienced in the great
transaction of Calvary. Most earnestly did I
wish to have a clear understanding of the
surety, both in his work and person ; but
though the words have been often in my
mouth, they were but faintly impressed on my
heart, that no ' man can call Jesus, Lord, but
by the Holy Ghost.' I have often lamented
my worldliness and uselessness, whilst the high
motive for separation and activity was scarcely
dwelt upon. ' What ! know ye not that your
body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is
in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not
your own V

" When harassed by the temptations of
satan, received into my evil heart by over-
whelming torrents of vain thoughts, why did
I not call to mind Isa. lix. 19? ' When the
enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of
the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.'
Never did these truths appear in such a strong
light to me as this morning, in the solemn
silence of a Quaker's meeting. Oh, that I
could, from this period, live a new lile — a life
of sweet, humble dependence ! May this day's
reflections be not the reflections and thoughts
of a day, but the foundation of a life of activity
and of intercourse with God. I quite dread
the passing away of these reflections ; for,
self-ignorant as I am, I know enough to fear
lest this night should be their burial-place, and
to-morrow morning's light bring with it a train
of idle vanities. But, O, thou glorious Spirit !
whose offices I have hitherto slighted, vainly
pufled up with self-conceit, and a too confident
reliance on ray own powers, ' ^en the enemy
shall come in like a flood, do thou lift up the
standard (of the cross) against him.' ^Testify


of Jesus,' ' glorify him' to my inmost soul,
' convince of sin, righteousness and judg-
ment.' ' Lead me into all truth by those
Scriptures which testify of him,' and enable
me in thought, word and action, to ' call Jesus,
Lord.' Oh I impress deeply on my mind, that
thy temple should be ' a house of prayer, and
not a den of thieves. Amen.' " — Memorials
of Tico Sisters, pp. 94, &c.

For " Tlie Friend."

The first query so frequently recited in our
meetings has this language : " Are Friends
clear of sleeping?" &c. And the Discipline
page 85, thus admonishingly showeth : " It is
the sense and judgment of this meeting, that
where a drowsy spirit appears upon any of the
members in our religious meetings, they may
be laboured with for their help; and where it
is given way to, that Quarterly, Monthly, and
other meetings, should be cautious of employ-
ing such in the weighty services of the Dis-

Now I would ask, how can any of our mem-
bers hear and read these things, and know the
fervent and honest concern of the body on this
subject, and yet not take the only elieclua
means to rescue themselves from such a bond-
age of spiritual disgrace and soul hindcrance :
even though the means be those which the
holy and beneficent Author of our religion,
has pointed out in the language, " This kind
goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." Not
forgetting also the consolation, in that he say-
eth, " Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name I
will do it." " Ask and ye shall receive." " If
ye have faith as a grain of mustard-seed, ye
shall say unto this mountain, be thou removed
and cast into the sea, and it shall obey you."
Is not he who declared himself the guardian
of the sparrows, and the numberer of the hairs
of our heads ; he who cast out devils, healed
the sick, restored the lepers, who went about
doing good to the bodies and souls of men in
the early days of his church, as effectual and
medical now to the removal of all these our
souls enemies and spiritual maladies? Will he
not, as he is rightly sought unto, condescend
to our help, and lift up a standard against the
enemy of our peace and welfare in this temp-
tation also ? Oh ! my brother or my sister,
who hast been persuaded by this subtle sensu-
alist to believe, that it is a constitutional weak-
ness and disease, from which thou canst not
be redeemed or cured, be persuaded in the
love of the gospel, which should be dearer to
us than our natural lives, to make a stand ; and
query in the light of the Lord, with his ability
if yet mercifully vouchsafed, whether such a
state of stupor and dullness can be compatable
with the will, — have any part in the worship,
— or be tolerated by the purity of him who
declareth, that "They who worship the Father
must worship him in spirit and in truth." Can
this be a part of the spirituality and holiness
of which we are thus apostolically admonish-
ed. (See 1 Cor. iii. 16, 17, and vi. 19, also 2
Peter iii. 14.)

Now if we feel no disposition to sleep, or to
inertness in our worldly business, — in our asso-


ciations and bargains with men, — how can we
reconcile the giving way to sense and sloth,
and not keeping the watch, thus showing the
spirit we are of, in the unspeakably greater
relation in which we stand to God, — an in-
dwelling and communion with the great
Author, the omniscient and just Sovereign
and Disposer of our precious soul's eternal
destiny. When our dependence upon him is
so absolute, our obligations to him so infinite,
can we so neglect, or sleep away the precious
moments especially appointed for drawing
near unto Him in spirit; and, as for our lives,
our eternal lives, craving and begging in the
ability which he giveth, with the longing
soul's deep earnest, for that bread and water
of life, that can alone nourish its famished and
wholly dependent energies ! I crave that we
may more awake to this soul's immortal nour-
ishment, improvement and progression ; and
let nothing deter from the anxious and ever
ardent wrestling and praying, even as with
Jacob, through a whole night of spiritual dis-
tress, for the desired peace and blessing, even
that which preserveth from temptation, and
only maketh truly rich, by keeping us alive
unto God.

Can acceptable incense arise unto the spi-
ritual and heart-searching Author of our
lives, and of all that we enjoy, from such be-
clouded spirits? And can life spread in our
meetings, even the hidden life of Christ, as
from vessel to vessel, when such drawbacks
are suftered to prevail ; bringing so far forth
as their influence extends, darkness and dead-
ness over the spiritual arisings, if such there
may be, of the pure seed of life, which can
alone wrestle with God ? What must be the
inference of the dear youth, and the young
convinced, when they see their elders, and
those who should be stewards and teachers of
the heavenly mysteries, thus abuse the pre-
cious privilege of social spiritual worship, —
even of Him, before whom we are enjoined
not only in meetings, but at all times, to pre-
sent our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and
acceptable unto God, as our reasonable ser-
vice ? How must it stumble them with regard
to the solemn business for which we thus
assemble ; — the awful necessity of seeking
above every other consideration, by spiritual
introversion, as hunters after eternal life, that
sanctification of spirit acceptable to God
through Jesus Christ. And with fear and
trembling, a hungering and thirsting after
righteousness, that would swallow up all the
lusts of flesh and sense, strive, as those who
feel that they have a soul to win or lose, to
work out its salvation upon which every thing
depends; and for which all else should be for-
feited, and sacrificed.

The exhortation of Christ himself, our
Divine Lawgiver, who knew all the weak-
nesses and infirmities of our humanity, should
ever be borne livingly in remembrance : —
" Watch and pray, lest ye enter into tempta-

The friendship of the world is enmity with
God ; and he who has the friendship "of the
world, has the most serious ground to appre-


bend that he cannot be in the spirit of Him,
who, though without sin, was yet crucified by
that world, of which lie is caressed and flat-

For "The Friend."

Having recently met with a few remarks on
the subject of worship, by a distinguished
member of another religious profession, I have
copied them for " The Friend," hoping they
may prove interesting to some of its readers.
It is pleasing to notice an accordance with our
doctrinal views, on the part of those belonging
toother denominations of Christians; and may
tend to encourage some to keep hold of their
faith in that, which has been long most surely
believed among us.

"The simplicity of the primitive Christian
worship, as laid down in the book of the Acts,
is worthy of particular notice and admiration.
Here are no expensive ceremonies ; no appa-
ratus calculated merely to impress the senses,
and produce emotions in tlie animal system,
• to help,' as has been foolishly said, ' the spi-
rit of devotion.' The heart is the subject in
which this spirit of devotion is kindled ; and
the Spirit of God alone is the agent that com-
municates and maintains the celestial fire;
and God, who knows and searches that heart,
is the object of its adoration, and the only
source whence it expects the grace that par-, sanctifies, and renders it happy- No
strange fire can be brought to this altar ; for
the God of the Christians can be worshipped
only in spirit and truth ; the truth revealed,
directing the worship; and the Spirit given,
applying that truth, and giving life and energy
to every faculty and power. Thus God was
worshipped in his own way, and through his
own power : every religious act thus perform-
ed was acceptable to him : the praises of his
followers rose up as incense before the throne,
and their prayers were heard and answered."
— Adam Clarke.


From Old Humiihreys " Thoughts for the Thoughtful."

The other day I unexpectedly heard a very
good, though a homely sermon under the por-
tico of a theatre in the Strand ! It was an odd
place, to be sure ; but a smart shower had
driven me there for shelter, and soon after an
old man took shelter there also, who began to
talk of the best things. " Sir," said he, " I
am eighty-two years of age, and God has gra-
ciously given me, among many mercies, the
mercy of being made sensible of his good-
ness. I remember in my boyhood hearing an
aged minister declare from the pulpit, that
when he was forty years old he considered
himself so good, that he believed the tempta-
tions of satan had no power over him ; but
when he was threescore and ten, he was
obliged to confess that satan had a bait for
old birds still. I am, Sir, as I told you,
eighty-two ; and, as the minister found at
threescore years and ten, so 1 find at eighty-
two, that I am a poor, weak, worthless
creature, totally dependent on God's good-

Online LibraryRobert SmithThe Friend : a religious and literary journal (Volume 16) → online text (page 118 of 154)