Robert Smith.

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

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proceeds with his narrative.]

Twelfth month — After the Monthly Meet-
ing at Richmond, I attended an appointed
meeting the following day ; thence proceed-
ed to Hopkinton, Westerly, South Kingston,
New Meeting House. First-day, was at a
meeting on an island, called Connanicut, after
which crossed to Rhode Island, and attended
the afternoon meeting at Newport; lodged at
Jonathan Green's. Second-day, was at Ports-
mouth meeting on the north end of the island,
where were a large number of Friends : there
was but little given me to communicate
among them, and the preceding meeting at
Newport was held altogether in silence.
Here I was glad to meet with Rebecca
Wright ; and on Third-day was favoured with
her company to a meeting at a place called
Tiverton on the Main ; after which I rode to
Jeremiah Austin's.

Fourth-day. — Had a meeting at Little
Compton, where I again had the company of
Rebecca Wright, as a fellow-labourer: a
large number of people attended, among
whom was a presbyterian minister and most
of his flock : it was, through Divine mercy, a
pretty open time. After meeting, the minis-
ter came and very respectfully offered me his
hand, and invited me to his house. Rode to
New Bedford, where I met with a kind recep-
tion ; the Friends seemed glad to see me, and
to some of them I felt nearly united. The
receipt of a letter at this place from my be-
loved Mary R , and one also from P.

Wing, were strengthening and reviving to my
poor mind.

llth and 12th of Twelfth month.— Attend-
ed the Quarterly Meeting, and on the 13th
rode to Rhode Island, where my mind was
bound to visit families ; in which my beloved
friend, Isaac Layton, was my companion.
There were 120 families on this island and
at Connanicut ; and visiting these, kept us
engaged till the 7th of First monlh, 1795.

8lh of First month. — I went thence to the
Quarterly Meeting at Swansea, where I met
with my beloved sisters, Martha Roulh, Re-
becca Wright, and Lydia Rotch. We were
favoured to rejoice together in gospel fellow-

After attending this Quarterly Meeting, I
proceeded under a weiohly concern of mind
to Longplain, finding that to obtain peace, I
must visit the families there, and not only
those of our Society, but also a number who
had gone with Timothy Uavis, and set up a
separate meeting. The exercising, painful
labour that I had among them, will not, I
believe, bo easily forgotten. The Lord in

mercy, in the extending of His power, favour-
ed nie with ability to clear myself; and I trust
many of them were left in some degree hum-
bled and broken down.

On Fourth-day, went to Cushnet week-day
meeting; and the following day returned to
that at Longplain, where I was favoured con-
siderably to relieve my mind. The aforesaid
Timothy Davis, a preacher among the Sepa-
ratists, and many of his adherents were at the
nieeting; and their slates being through holy
help clearly spoken to, it ended, 1 think, to
the satisfaction of those rightly disposed.
When the meeting was over, a judge named
Spooner sent a message, requesting me to go
and see him ; I did so, and had a favoured
time in a religious opportunity in his family;
they were kind and respectlUl, and their
minds seemed softened.

I wrote a letter to Timothy Davis, exhort-
ing him to humble himself, and return to the
Lord and His people. I went the same eve-
ning to Cushnet, and on Sixth and Seventh-
days visited families, and attended their meet-
ing on First-day. On Second-day, I went to
Poneganset Monthly Meeting; — returned to
New Bedford, and attended their Monthly
Meeting on Third-day, the 19th of First

After this time, I was much tried, for want
of clearness of prospect, as to my future
movement; and when some light did appear
thereon, I found some difficulty in becoming
willing to yield to my impressions of duty :
my mind was drawn towards Nantucket. I
had already been there, and besides M. Routh
and R. Wright were there, and reason sug-
gested that they were sufficient.

I stayed at Bedford over Fourth and Fifth-
days, and on Sixth-day f thought the way was
a little opened to go to Poneganset and Slo-
curn's Neck. Joseph Austin went with me,
and we appointed a meeting at the latter
place on Seventh-day : a good many people
attended. The Lord favoured me with strength
to discharge myself pretty fully, and the meet-
ing ended to satisfaction.

First-day. — Attended the meeting at Pone-
ganset in the morning; in the afternoon rode
to New Bedford to attend the meeting there ;
and still feeling constrained to go to Nan-
tucket on the 2d of Second month, I embarked
on board the packet, and landed there next
day. Here I found dear Martha and Rebecca
in the same situation, as I had been in on the
other side of the water. Martha told me that
her way had been quite shut up, and though
she had been willing to visit families, and had
mentioned it in meeting, yet she had now no
freedom to proceed. I told her the state of
my own mind, and that I thought we must
imdertake the family visit together, which,
accompanied by R. VVright, we accordingly
began next day. The Lord was pleased to
own and encourage us in the service ; but after
visiting a few families, Rebecca finding, as
she said, that it was not her business, left us :
we parted in tender love and fellowship, de-
siring each other's preservation. We were
sometimes accompanied by William Rotch,
sometimes by Elizabeth or Lydia ; we were
helped onwards from time to time, and have

great cause for thankfulness to the Lord, who
was our strength and our dependence.

Sherburn, Island of Nantucket,

IGth ol Second month, 1795.

To his son, A. Wigham. — I can thankfully
tell thee, that, through mercy, I have been
favoured, since my arrival in this land, with a
better state of health, than when I left Eng-
land ; I have only been stopped from travelling
one afternoon on account of illness. I have
no certain companion in the ministry, now
one, and then another ; though it did seem
desirable, when I first landed to have met
with a Friend imder a similar concern to
mine ; but none has yet been provided, though
I have not been without company. The Lord
hath hitherto been my helper; I have lacked
nothing ; — if He be graciously pleased to con-
tinue His preserving and supporting power
to abilitate to do His will, it is all I desire
or ask.

I often remember thee, as well as the rest
of my dear children, with strong desires for
your preservation, not only in the inno-
cency of children, but that as you grow in
years you may grow in grace, from stature to

My dear , dwell deep ; — feel after the

life: — don't be content with a superficial con-
formity, to moral rectitude, but feel after the
pure substance of religion ; that makes and
keeps the heart clean.

After going through the families [upon the
island.] and attending both their Monthly
Meetings, we felt our minds clear ; and on the
23d of Third month, embarked in the packet,
accompanied by many Friends going to the
Quarterly Meeting at Sandwich. Landed at
Woodshole, from whence William Rotch in-
tended to drive Martha Routh and Lydia
Rotch in a wagon with two horses. I had
purposed to go by water to New Bedford,
where my horse was ; but the boat having run
aground, and seeming likely to be detained all
night, I concluded to accompany them, and
send for my horse to meet me at Sandwich.
At this, I\l. R., and especially dear Lydia,
seemed much pleased ; and the latter pleasant-
ly remarked, as she was stepping into the
wagon, " I have got my wish :" — but to her
no small mortification, one of the horses re-
fused to go ; and we were all obliged to give it
up for that night, and wait to procure another
horse next morning. They remained at the
inn, and I relumed on board the packet, where
I slept comfortably. When the tide rose she
was got off, and about ten o'clock we arrived
at New Bedford, where my Friends and I
were mutually glad to meet ; reciprocal love
united us.

Twenty-fifth. — Left New Bedford in com-
pany with a number of Friends going to the
Quarterly Meeting, and arrived at Paul
Wing's in the evening. To this family I
felt united, and we were mutually glad again
to see each other : as " iron sharpencth iron,
so doth the countenance of a man his friend."

Attended the Quarterly Meeting at Sand-
wich, and also their meeting for worship ou
First-day, which occupied instill the 30th;
and after having a few more meetings on my


way, on the 3d of Fourth month, 1 attended
Lougplairi Montliiy Meeting, to which Tiuio-
thy Davis sent an acknowledgment, expressing
much desire for a reconciliation. Tlie Lord
was pleased to own us, — Truth prevailed, and
the opposing spirits were restrained, so that
every thing passed off quietly. I was trnly
thankful, for it had been cause of great con-
cern to me ; and Friends were comforted in
the hope, that this painful broach would be
satisfactorily made up. After meeting, 1
parted with dear Martha and Lydia, who set
out to New Bedford that evening. We had
been nearly united in gospel labour at Nan-
tucket, and the meetings since. I was now
left without any companion ; but the best of
companions was near to afford me support.

Joseph Cloud, a minister from Carolina,
going to visit Friends in tlie eastern parts of
New England, lie and 1 were desirous to join
as companions, and partly concluded to do so ;
but after attending a few meetings together,
we both felt more easy to separate fur the
work's sake, though in opposition to our per-
sonal wishes ; and two Friends whom we con-
sulted on the subject, having also thought it
best, we parted in much love, and with sin-
cere desires for each other's preservation.
He set off to Pembroke : I was again left

A few places opening in my view to have
meetings at, where no Friends resided, and
Obadiali Davis kindly offering to accompany
and assist mu ; we went to Kochester where
was a moeting-house, but none of our Soci-
ety. VVe had a pretty large gathering of
people, and, through Divine favour, it proved
an acceptable time. After meeting rode
twelve miles to a tavern called Monument,
where, next day being the First of the week,
we had a meeting in a presbyterian meeting-
house. As that day they had no preacher,
and notice having been given, a large con-
course of people attended; whose behaviour
was becoming, and some of them were affected
to tenderness. Dined at the house of a pres-
byterian, who, wilh his wife, received us with
great kindness.

Sixth. — At a meeting in the evening at
Sandwich, held also in a presbyterian meet-
ing-house ; the attendance was large, and they
seemed to me to be a people seeking after the
pearl of great price ; and, through holy help,
I was enabled to direct them where their souls
might be satisfied.

Seventh. — Proceeded to Rochester, where
nolioe was given of a meeting to be held in the
court house the following day. After a few
had assembled, a company of the higher rank
came and requested us to go the presbyterian
meeting-house, which they said was close by,
and would accommodate us better. 1 should
have preferred remaining in the court-house,
but the people were so urgent, that I thought
it best to yield to their wishes, and complied.
It was, through mercy, a satisfactory time.
Though I have often had the use of the meet-
ing-houses belonging to other religious soci-
eties, yet I prefer a town hall, or any other
public building, when it can be procured.
There is a difference, however, between this
country and Old England; their meeting-


houses here are at the disposal of the people,
land they do not seem to be under any iLar of
j offending their ministers in granting them to
Friends or others; and in proposing a meet-
ing, I have frequently left it to themselves to
ap|)oint the place, that I might not bring
Friends under obligation.

These public meetings have been upon the
whole very awful to me, feeling so very inad-
equate to such undertakings; and 1 have often
thought, that if the people knew how poor
creature I am, few would attend ; and I ha
at times been ready to conclude in my ov
mind, that if this was over, I would take ca
not to venture again : nevertheless, the Lord's
power has, from time to time, made me wil-
ling to yield to the inanifestalions of duty, and
I trust so helped me in the needful time, that
the cause of Truth has not suffered ; and it
He continue so to do, I cannot but admire His
condescension, and humbly praise Him to
whom alone all praise is due.

Twenty-third. — Reached Meadowsburgh,
having had many meetings at different places
on my way thither; and after meeting there,
still accompanied by my kind friend Ohadiah
Davis, I rode, a good deal tired to Elijah Jen-
kins's, hoping to get a good rest; but I was
kept awake most part of the night, by an exer-
cise about having a meeting at a village we
had passed, about five miles hack, where there
is no Friends' meeting. Li the morning I
yielded to it, seeing no other way to obtain
peace. I mentioned the subject to my com-
panion and the Friends of the house, who
thought it might be arranged ; and we accord-
ingly set out after breakfast, and on reaching
the place, proposed the matter to some of the
principal people. They offered the baptist
meeting-house, which we accepted, and ap-
pointed a meeting at five in the afternoon.
Through Divine favour my mind was greatly
relieved : some of the people expressed much
satisfaction with the opportunity, and I felt
humbly thankful to the Father of mercies;
indeed I can never feel sufficiently thankful for
His condescending goodness to a poor un-
worthy creature.

Since I undertook this eastward journey, I
have had several large meetings, attended by
many of other religious societies, which fre-
quently caused me to feel great fear, lest I
should do any thing to dishonour the cause of
Truth ; but the Lord has hitherto helped me,
and often in His unspeakable love caused the
gospel message to flow forth freely to the
people, and contrited many hearts by His
power. May His name be ever praised,
honoured, and adored ; and may I become
more and more devoted to do His will I

VVe have found here and there among
Friends a little remnant of true travellers,
though great carelessness is too prevalent ;
but the Lord is at work in the hearts of the
people, calling home the wanderers, — and is,
I believe, preparing himself instruments among
the youth, for whom my mind is often deeply
baptised, and sometimes I am engaged to
minister to their encouragement. May the
Lord be pleased to strengthen them, is often
the earnest prayer of my heart. Stayed over
Firsl-day at Berwick.

The next day rode to a place called Desert ;
had a meeting at five in the evening, at the
house of a friendly man, who, with his wife,
had been a baptist ; but now opens his house
to a few tender-hearted jieople, partly con-
vinced of our principles, who are not easy to
meet with the baptists or presbyterians, and
therefore assemble to worship in silence. I
had a satisfactory meeting with them, and left
them in much tenderness and love. Next
morning had a satisfactory meeting at a bap-
tist's house; thence attended meetings at
Portland and Falmouth, and afterwards went
to Windham, where I unexpectedly met with
Joseph Cloud, whom I was glad to see, my
mind being very low, and almost overcome;
hut meeting with an exercised brother a little
refreshed ine.


For •• The Friend."
Having lately met with a brief account of
some incidents in the life of John Davis, I
thought it would form an instructive and in-
teresting narrative for " 'I'he Friend," and
accordingly have made some extracts, which
I send for insertion.

The case of this Friend, adds another to
the cloud of witnesses, who, from their owa
experience, could testify to the blessed visita-
tions and convictions of the Holy Spirit in the
heart, even at a very early period of life; as
well as the happy results which flow from
giving diligent heed thereto, and walking in
that narrow, but safe and pleasant way, which
is thus cast up for the soul. He is indeed a
remarkable instance of the matchless love and
unbounded mercy of Him, who gave his pre-
cious life a sacrifice fur sinners, and who fol-
lows them by his grace, calling to and plead-
ing with them, as a tender father with his
erring child, even while they are running in

he broad rond which leads to everlasting de-
struction. While eagerly pursuing his wick-
ed courses, and hardening himself in awful
rebellion against the gracious Author of his
being, the yearnings of a Saviour's love reach-
ed forth towards his never-dying soul ; and by
the inshining of his Divine light, he was pleas-
ed to show him his miserably undone and
dangerous condition ; that the measure of his

niquitywas well nigh filled up; and if he per-
sisted in his course, the dreadful period was
at hand, when the things which belonged to
his peace would be forever hid from his eyes.
Being thus awakened, through the kindness
and mercy of God in Christ Jesus, to a sense
of his situation, and the earnest cry raised,
" What shall I do to be saved ? — Save, Lord,
I perish !" he was brought to see that the
precious blood of Christ, his propitiation and
Redeemer, was sufficient to wash away the

uilt of his past transgressions ; and that the
holy Light and Spirit of Jesus, which had

hown him his sins, had power also, as it was
followed and obeyed, to bring him out from
under bondage to them, and give him the vic-
tory over sin and temptation for time to come.
In that living faith of which Christ is the Di-
vine Author, he was enabled to lay hold on

these glorious truths, so unspeakably precious
to the awakened and truly penitent sinner ;
and following in the path of daily obedience,
bearing his cross and despising the shame, he
was enabled to go on from strength to strength,
until there is good cause to believe, he expe-
rienced " the end of his faith, even the salva-
tion of his soul."

In perusing this account of the gracious
dealings of the Lord with a wanderer from
his fold, and seeing how ability was merci-
fully vouchsafed to coaie out from the thral-
dom of sin, and to walk in newness of life, we
are led to admire and adoie the condescend-
ing goodness of a gracious and long-suffering
God and Saviour, unto whom all are invited
to come ; who is able to save to the utter-
most, to break every yoke, to subdue the
strongest passions and propensities of the hu-
man heart, and to set the captive spirit free ;
and who has graciously promised, " him that
comsth to me, I will in no wise cast out."
j\lay, then, the instance before us, animate all
to " lay aside every weight, and the sin which
so easily besets ;" pursuing, in the Divine fear,
the glorious hope set before us in the gospel,
that so we may receive the blessing promised
to tiiem that overcome.

As the narrative concludes without inform-
ing us of the circumstances of the later life of
the author, it may be proper to add, that his
Friends remark of him, " He was esteemed a
valuable elder in the church ; lived, beloved
by his friends, to a good old age, and was ga-
thered to rest, as a shock of corn fully ripe.

" He died at Winchmore Hill, and was bu-
ried in Friends' burial-ground there, in or
near the Fourth month, in the year 1744,
aged about seventy-seven years."

I was born at Amesbury, near Salisbury,
Wiltshire, about the year 16^7, of honest
parents, who gave ine a moderate education,
according to their circumstances ; and I can
remember, that so early as the eighth or ninth
year of my age (being then more than com-
monly inclined to evils and follies incident to
youth) the Lord followed me with His re-
proofs of that which I now know to be His
Spirit. In those days I was brought under
such sorrow, that I often washed my couch
with tears, for my tfien offences against Him.
About the fifteenth year of my age, being
visited with a sore sickness of nine months'
continuance, which brought me near death, I
had the spirit of grace and supplication poured
out upon me, though I was not then sensible
what it was that brought me under such sor-
row and repentance for my sins; yet I could
truly say, with David, " I watered tny couch
with my tears;" which I often did: and am
satisfied, that had the Lord then taken me, I
should have been in peace with Him.

About the sixteenth year of my age, I was
put apprentice by my uncle, who proposed
doing great things for me, which ho probably
would have performed had he lived; but he
was taken off by sudden death, and so I was
disappointed. I then began to apply myself
diligently to business, endeavouring to give
satisfaction to my master and mistress, who
were by profession papists; and with much


trouble and difficulty I got through my time.
So great an impression did my illness, and the
visitations of Divine love leave upon my spi-
rit, that for some years after I endeavoured to
live in the fear of God, and was often intent
on matters of religion. I began to be very
uneasy under the profession 1 then was in,
(the Church of England, so called,) thinking
the professors of it loo loose, both in principle
and practice ; and living in a Roman Catholic
family, I occasionally had some di^course with
a priest of that community, with whom I was
acquainted, and who seemed to be more strict
and religious than those of my own persuasion
generally. I was willing to ask counsel of
God in a matter of such moment as the sal-
vation of my soul, for which 1 was, at that
time, (according to my understanding,) honest-
ly concerned. Being in a strait in my mind
in this matter, after reading some books of
dispute, one night as I was going to bed, it
came into my heart to pray to the Lord in the
few following words, with more than usual
fervency of spirit, — " O Lord God ! he -pleas-
ed to show the way in which I viay worship
thee acceptably ;^' which was all I had to
s;ty. I took particular notice of this, and
further conferred with the priest, whom I
looked upon as a good man. I consented to
go to confession with him, thinking the Lord
had answered my short prayer before men-
tioned, and that now I was right. He fur-
nished me with books, and I soon became a
zealous papist, though their foolish stories and
legends did not work much upon mo, neither
was I fond of many things which they did.
Some of them seemed bigotttd, and I grew a
great disputant, thinking I was right in gain-
ing as many proselytes as I could.

Hut amidst all my zeal and performances,
as I increased in years, I increased in wick-
edness. 1 began to poison my mind with
reading plays and romances, and other bad
books, by which I was exposed to many temp-
tations, and very often fell into them. I was
disappointed in the very end for which I
changed my religion, which was to gel the
victory over the many evils I found increas-
ing in me ; and though I was more than com-
monly zealous in going to confession, and
receiving the sacrament, yet I still returned,
" like the dog to his vomit," not being bene-
fited by these lifeless performances. I would
walk alone in the porch or fields, often breath-
ing out my soul to the Lord for pardon, and
help against the flood of iniquity I saw pouring
in upon me. All did not help me to overcome,
though I am now satisfied the Lord had re-
gard to the sincerity of my heart, at that
time, which was wrought by his grace and
good Spirit. I now can remember the differ-
ence there was in my prayers, being some-
times under much tenderness of spirit, and at
others, barren and formal : and this I now
know to be the work of God, though I then
knew it not. I mention the circumstance to
set forth the love of God, to that seed of sin-
cerity and truth, which in love and mercy Ho
sows in the hearts of the children of men, to
which I desire they would all have regard,
minding the operation of it under the lowest
dispensation ; for in so doing they will have


comfort, and be brought into remembrance
before God, who delights to do good to the
children of men.

Finding all my praying, fasting, confessions,
zealous performances, and whatsoever I could
do were inefiectual to give me the victory
over the corruptions of my heart, I grew
weary of them, and began to conclude it was
impossible to attain it, and that I knew enough
of leligion to no purpose. I then hearkened
to satan, who told me secretly in my heart,

Online LibraryRobert SmithThe Friend : a religious and literary journal (Volume 16) → online text (page 27 of 154)