Robert Smith.

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

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NO. 12.



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From Old Humphrey's " Thoughts for the Thoughtful."

When we look around us with an humble
and inquiring spirit to obtain knowledge, there
are few, if any, of God.'s works which will
not afford lessons of useful instruction.

During last autumn, I was walking abroad
with a (Jliristian friend; and we passed
through several corn-fields, when the wheat
was full in the ear, but not ripe. It was of a
grateful green colour, and waved to and fro,
as the wind passed over it, like the billowy
surface of the sea. The stems were very
high, and the crop appeared abundant.

Such a scene brings many a Scripture sub-
ject to the mind of a Bible reader. He thinks
of the famine in the land of Egypt, when for
seven years there was " neither earing nor
harvest ;" of the sheaves that stood up and
made obeisance to the one in the midst, as
they appeared in Joseph's dream ; of the dis-
ciples plucking the corn as they walked
through the corn-fields on the Sabbath day ;
of Ruth gleaning in the fields when Boaz
gave commandment to his young men, say-
ing, " Let her glean even among the sheaves,
and reproach her not : and let fall also some
of the handfiils of purpose for her, and leave
them, that she may glean them, and rebuke
her not ;" of the seed sown in good ground,
which brought forth fifty and an hundred fold;
and of that fearful warning wherein it is said
of the Lord of glory, that he will " gather the
wheat into his garner; hut the chaff he will
burn with fire unquenchable." Luke ill. 17.
The curn-field was surrounded on all sides
with meadow and pasture land, and fine elm
and oak trees ; so that, with the exception of
here and there a farmer's homestead, we
could see nothing but the sky above us, and
the grateful green fields, while silence reigned
around. How different was such a scene
from the high houses, the thronged path-
way, the crowded carriages, and the con-
tinual rumbling and rattling of Cheapside,
which we had so lately left.

As we passed through the field, my com-
panion began to pluck some of the wheat
ears. He brought half a dozen of them to
me, and I much admired them for their

beauty and fulness ; but, when he told me to
press the grains of wheat, I found that they
contained nothing but a thick juice, of a dark
blue colour. Soon after, we met two good-
looking farmers, each of them holding a hand-
ful of the very same kind of ears.

The truth was, there was a smut in the
corn ; and my companion and the two farm-
ers knew, by the appearance of the ears,
which were good, and which were filled with
smut. In a little time, I, too, was able to
distinguish the difference between the sound
ears and those that were smutted. The lat-
ter generally appeared as good, and in some
instances, better than those around them ; but
the practised eye could discover in them a
slight tinge of blue or purple.

This little incident called forth a train of
reflections in my mind, strengthening my
opinion, that most, or rather all, of God's
works may afford us lessons of instruction.
For a moment, I likened mankind to a wheat-
field : I looked on human beings as the stems
of standing corn; some holding up their heads
proudly above their neighbours ; some beaten
down to the very ground by the storm which
had passed over them, and others rustling and
bustling, to and fro, as the gale of interest or
passion blew.

But it is not the high ear in the corn, nor
the low ear, neither is it the ear that is being
blown about, that I wish to speak of. Some-
thing may be got from all these ; but what
can be got, or what can be hoped for, from
the ear that is smutted ? The rest of the corn
will ripen, and the smutted corn will appear
to ripen also; but its dark juice will only dry
up to a nauseous fillhy powder, as black and
as hilter as soot. The smutted corn is like a
hypocrite, it appears to be what it is not. As
the smutted corn is in the wheat-field, so is
the hypocrite among mankind.

Whether you know any hypocrites or not,
it is very necessary to know that " the joy of
the hypocrite is but for a moment ; " yea, that
his " hope shall perish," and that his " trust
shall be a spider's web." Job viii. 13, 14 —
XX. .•).

If you look around you in the world, you
will find that those who are upright and
honest, are willing to make known what they
are, while those who are designing and dis-
honest, take great pains to hide what they
are; and the reason is plain: for the better
we know an honest man, the more anxious
are we to have dealings with him; but the
better we know a rogue, the more careful are
we to avoid him.

The ignorant quack pretends to be a wise
doctor : he boasts of the cures he has per-
formed, and of the sovereign virtue of his
worthless physic ; he hides his real charucter.

The swindler puts on a smooth face, bar-
gains for goods, and talks about prices, jingles
the money in his pockets, and promises pay-
ment the moment they are delivered, though
he never purposes to pay a farthing.

The impostor ties up his leg, or his arm, or
pretends to be blind, that he may ask for
charity with more success. All these, like
hundreds of others, are in disguise; they are
deceivers, counterfeits, hypocrites. They are
not what they seem to be ; they are smutted
ears in the corn-field of mankind.

It is bad enough to see hypocrisy around
us ; still worse to notice it in the same house
with us ; but worst of all to have it in our own
bosoms. How is it with you? Is all right
within doors? Are you sound at the core?

To be a hypocrite in the common affairs of
life, is bad and base ; but to be a hypocrite in
holy things is truly terrible. How severely
did the Saviour rebuke hypocrisy! "Woe
unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites !
for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which
indeed appear beautiful outward, but are with-
in full of dead men's bones, and of all unclean-
ness I Even so ye also outwardly appear
righteous unto men, but within ye are full of
hypocrisy and iniquity." Matt, xxiii. 27, 28.

How vainly does the hypocrite persuade
himself that he is not known ! Dissemble as
much as he will ; deceive as successfully as
he may, there is still a shade of difference
between him and those he counterfeits, which
may be observed by some of the quicksighted
among men ; but, even if he escape the eye
of man, how shall he escape the all-discerning
eye of God ?

He who knows the secret thoughts, who
tries the heart and the reins, can distinguish
at a glance the good grain from the smutted
corn. Happy is he who can say with godly
sincerity, " I have chosen the way of truth."
" Search me, O God, and know my heart :
try me, and know my thoughts, and see if
there be any wicked way in me, and lead me
in the way everlasting." Psa. cxix. 30. —
cxxxix. 23, 24.

We left the corn-field ; and no doubt before
this the wheat has been cut down by the
sickle. It has been gathered into the garner,
or piled in the stack-yard ; but wherever it
may be, the smutted ears are valueless, and,
indeed, as I was informed, would prove inju-
rious even to the good wheat. The scythe of
death will soon cut us down : the upright in
heart will be as wheat ; the hypocrite as the
chaff which the wind driveth away. How
fearful then the words of holy writ : " He
will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather
his wheat into the garner; but he will burn
up the chaff with unquenchable fire." Matt,
iii. 12.


THE FaiE.\D.

For ■' The Friend."

The follnwing extracts are made from " A
Popular Treatise on Vegetable Physiology"
— published in London by tlie " Society lor
the Promotion of Popular Instruction," and
lately republished in this city by Lea and

Vitality of Seeds. — The seeds of most
plants are endowed with a remarkable power
of preserving their vitalitj' for an almost un-
limited time, if they are placed in circum-
stances which neither call their properties
into active exercise, nor occasion the decay of
their structure. The conditions most favour-
able for this preservation will evidently be a
low or moderate temperature, dryness of the
surrounding medium, and the absence of oxy-
gen. If all these be supplied in the most
favourable manner, there seems no limit to
the period during which seeds may retain
their vitality, — that is, their power of per-
forming their vital operations, when |)laced in
the proper circumstances. And even if
moisture or oxygen be not entirely- excluded,
the same etfect may result, provided that the
temperature be low and uniform. Thus the
seeds of most plants may be kept for several
years, freely exposed to the air, provided they
are not exposed to dampness, which will
cither cause thera to gerujinate or to decay.
Some of those which had been kept in seed-
vessels of plants preserved in the herbarium
of Tournefort, a French botanist, were found
to retain their fertility after the lapse of nearly
a centur)'.

Instances are of no unfrequent occurrence,
in which ground that has been turned up,
spontaneously produces plants different from
any in their neighbourhood. There is no
doubt that in some of these cases, the seed is
conveyed by the wind, and becomes developed
only in spots which afford it congenial soil.
Thus, it is commonly observed that clover is
ready to spring up on soils which have been
rendered alkaline by the strewing of wood-
ashes or the burning of weeds, or whicli have
had the surface broken and mixed with lime.
But there are many authentic facts which can
only be explained upon the supposition that
the seeds of the newly-appearing plants have
lain for a long period imbedded in the soil, at
such a distance from the surface as to pre-
vent the recess of air and moisture ; and that,
retaining their vitality under these conditions,
they have been excited to germination by ex-
posure to the atmosphere. The following
possesses considerable interest.

To the westward of Stirling (Scot.) there
is a large peat-bog, a great part of which has
been flooded away, by raising water from the
river Teith, and discharging it into the Forth,
— the object of this process being to lay bare
the under-soil of clay, which is then culti-
vated. The clergyman of the parish was on
one occasion standing by, while the workmen
were forming a ditch in this clay, in a part
which had been covered with fourteen feet of
peat-earth; observing some seeds in the clay
which was thrown out of this ditch, he took
Ihcm up and sowed them ; they germinated,

and produced a .species of Chrysanthemum.
A very long period of years must have pro-
bably elapsed, whilst the seeds were getting
their covering of clay ; and of the time ne-
cessary to produce fourteen feet of peat-earth
above this, it is scarcely possible to form an
idea, but it must have been (in the natural
course of things) extremely great.

The following circumstance, which occurred
about thirty years ago in the State of Maine,
is, perhaps, still more remarkable. Some
well-diggers, when sinking a well, at the dis-
tance of about fort)' miles from the sea, struck,
at the depth of about twenty feet, a layer of
sand; this strongly excited curiosity and in-
terest from the circumstance that no similar
sand was to be found any where in the neigh-
bourhood, or any where nearer than the sea-
beach. As it was drawn up from the well, it
was placed in a pile by itself; an unwilling-
ness having been felt to mix it with the stones
and gravel which were also drawn up. But
when the woik was about to be finished, and
the pile of stones and gravel to be removed, it
was found necessary to remove also the sand-
heap. This, therelbre, was scattered about
the spot on which it had been formed, and
was for some tiuie scarcely remembered. In
a year or two, however, it was perceived that
a great number of small trees had sprung
from the ground over which the sand had been
strewn. These trees became, in their turn,
objects of strong interest ; and care was taken
that no injury should come to them. At length
it was ascertained that they were beach-
plumb trees ; and they actually bore the
beach-plumb, which had never before been
seen, except immediately upon the sea-shore.
These trees must, therefore, have sprung up
from seeds which had existed in the stratum
of sea-sand pierced by the well-diggers; and
until this was dispersed, in such a manner as
to expose thetn to the air, they remained in-
active. " By what convulsion of the ele-
ments," adds the narrator, " they had been
thrown there, or how long they had quietly
slept beneath the surface of the earth, must
be determined by those who know very much
more than I do."

Perhaps the most remarkable instance on
record, as presenting satisfactory proof of the
lapse of at least 1600 or 1700 years, is one
related by Dr. Lindley. " I have now before
me," he says, " three plants of raspberries,
which have been raised in the gardens of the
Horticultural Society, from seeds taken from
the stomach of a man, whose skeleton was
found thirty feet below the surface of the
earth, at the bottom of a barrow,* which was
opened near Dorchester. He had been buried
with some coins of the Emperor Hadrian."
Corn-grains enclosed in the bandages which
envelope the mummies, are said to have occa-

• These barroujs, as they are termed, arc larg^c
mounds of earth, which arc very common on the
downs alonjr the south coast of England. They arc
evidently artificial, not natural ; and when dup into,
arc usually fonnd to contain human remains, with pnl-
tery; weapons, &.c. Hence tl.ey are evidently buri:!-
places ; and as a large number of them arc (rcnerally
found together, they soem to have been ciccltd on
fields of battle, to contain the bodies of the slain.

siotially germinated, though most of them
seem to have lost their vitality. There is
nothing improbable in the fact ; but as the
Arabs, from whom the mummies are com-
monly obtained, are in the habit of previously
unrolling them in seaich of coins, A;c., it is
not always certain that the seeds which have
sprouted were really at first enclosed with the

Light from Plants. — There are few in-
stances in which light \s evolved from living
plants; but these few are very curious. Many
flowers, es|!ecially those of an orange colour,
such as the sun-flower, marigold, nasturtium,
&.C., have been seen to disengage light in
serene and warm summer evenings, sometimes
in the form of sparks, sometimes with a
steadier but more feeble glow. Light is also
emitted by certain species of fungi, especially
those which grow in moist and warm places,
where light is entirely excluded, as in the
depths of mines. The light is perceived in
all parts of the plant ; but chiefly in the young
white shoots. It ceases if the plant be de-
prived of oxygen, either by being placed in a
vessel from which the air has been exhausted,
or in some other gas ; and it re-appears when
the plant is restored to air. No luminousness
is perceived after the death of the plant. It
would seem probable, therefore, that this
extraction of light is in part connected with
that conversion of oxygen into caibonic acid,
which takes place very rapidly in flowers, and
in the whole substance of the iungi, and which
maybe regarded as a sort of slow combustion.
An evolution of light has also been observed
to take place from dead and decaying wood of
various kinds, particularly that of roots; and
also from fungi whilst decomposing. This cor-
responds with the luminousness ol certain ani-
mal bodies after death.

Temperature of Trees. — It has long been
observed that the interior of large trunks pos-
sesses a temperature more uniform than that
of the surrounding air ; being cooler than the
atmosphere in summer, and warmer in the
winter. There are at least two causes of this
occurrence. Wood is a slow conductor of
heat ; thus, if a piece of slick, and a rod of
iron of equal sizes have one end heated in the
fire, the farther end of the stick will be nearly
cold, whilst that of the iron is too hot to be
handled. Farther, the conducting power of
wood is still less across the grain (or through
the stem) than tvith the grain (or along the
stem ;) so that changes in the external air
will not readily affect the centre of a large
trunk; and, accordingly, it is found that the
larger the trunk on which the observation is
made, the greater is the difference between
its state and that of the air. The other leason
is, that some motion of the sap takes place
even in winter; and the fluid taken up by the
roots principally comes from a depth in the
ground, at which, from the bad-conducting
|)ower of the .soil, the temperature is nearly
uniform throughout the year.

Sensitirc Plants. — If the leaves of the
common wild-lettuce be tfiuched, when the
plant is in flower, the part will he covered
with milky juice, which is forced out by the
contractiun of the cells or vessels beneath.



For " The Friend."

(Continued from page 85.)

Second-day, rode to Halfmoon Valley, to a
Friend's house ; had a meeting next day at
Warrior Mark Valley, where there is a con-
siderable settlement of Friends ; it was com-
forting and encouraging. We ne.xt lodged at
Daniel Pennington's, and had a meeting at his
house ; then went si.xty miles to Dennis's
creek, a wildernt-ss journey, in many places
only a foot path, and that a very rough one ;
but we were favoured to get along safely to
William Conworthy's, where we were kindly
received ; the family, which is a prelly large
one, have the mark of discipleship. We
attended their meeting on First-day; on the
following day, had a meeting in Bedford
court-house ; after which, rode back to Wil-
liam Conworthy's, attended their meeting
on Fourth-day, and then |)roceeded to Miller's
tavern, among the Alleghany mountains.

The ne.Kt day's ride was twenty-six miles
to James M'Graw's; then attended Seweetly
meeting ; and so to Providence, Fairfield, and
Frankford. We have had a long journey
through woods and wilds in abundance, yet
not without some satisfaction; though many
of these settlers are very ignorant of what
they profess: yet the Lord is in mercy fo
lowing them, and some are listening to H
voice. May the visitations of His love prove
effectual for their gathering unto Christ, the
true Shepherd.

Went from thence to Fallowfield and West-
land, where we met with an ancient friend.
Zachariah Farrington, from Wilmington ; he
seemed to enter into the state of the meeting,
and had considerable oppenness in communi-
cation, but it did not relieve me. At the close
of the meeting, 1 gave intimation that I
thought of attending their next week-day
meeting ; so I went to Redstone, and returned
to Westland, and on to Centre. The Red
stone settlement, as this Monthly Meeting is
called, seems to me to have more of the for
than the substance; however, when I consider
that most of them who generally come here,
are wanderers from mere worldly motives
without regard to the honour of Truth, I ad-
mire the goodness of a gracious God in fol-
lowing them. Some are brought under a
right concern, and seem to be deeply sensible
that the seed of the kingdom is depressed
under a worldly spirit. May the Lord
strengthen them I

I next went to Union and Sandy C/eok-
Glade, over the Laurel Hills; so crossed the

count I often feel sorrowful, and am frequently late years; and from this cause, several of

mountains to Frankford, sixty-one
where I had a meeting ; none of our Society
living there : had meetings also at Banegard-
en, and a number of other places. At Lam-
peter, the week-day meeting was very small,
and I have reason to believe that great defi-
ciency in the attendance of week-day meetings

Friends in these

parts ;


worldly spirit is too prevalent among parents,
who, though they attend themselves, leave
their children at home employed about their
business, and thus neglect the spiritual inter-
ests of their precious charge. On this ac-

e.xercised in close labour with them.

Proceeded to Robert Moore's at Sadsbury,
who with his valuable wife received us kindly;
and their precious daughters seemed to have
pleasure in performing many kind offices for
us. I felt so weak and unworthy, that I had
not faith to have a meeting appointed for me ;
so I stayed two days to attend their First-day
meeting, which, through merciful help, proved
a reviving and strengthening time. Taking
a few more meetings on my way, I arrived
at Philadelphia, to attend the Yearly Meeting.
'" Lean do no less than commemorate the
Lord's goodness to me ; for though often
very low, and in my own eyes the most un-
worthy servant ever sent on such an errand,
yet the Lord has graciously helped me along
from place to place ; and though I cannot
record extraordinary times of favour in meet-
ings, which some have enjoyed, yet I trust
the cause, though weakly supported, has not
been dishonoured. I humbly thank my God,
that he has, from time to time, renewed faith
and strength to endeavour to do what I appre-
hended to be his will ; nor do I at this time
ask for more than light to see, and ability to
perform it.

Twenty-fourth of Ninth month, 1796.—
The Yearly meeting which commenced this
day was graciously owned, and I hope it
proved a profitable time to many.

Philadelphia, 24th of Ninth month, 1796.

To Ann Christ}'. — I am come here to
attend the Yearly Meeting, which begins to-
day. I have had a long mountainous jour-
ney this summer, in a newly settled countryJ
over the Alleghany mountains ; and through
favour have got along pretty well : the wealh
er has not been so oppressively hot, as in the
preceding summer, and, consequently, I am
not so much reduced, and feel pretty well in
health. I must acknowledge I serve a good
Master ; who, notwithstanding my many
vveaknessos, condescends to be a present help
in the needful time. I can write encou
agingly to thee, to dedicate thy heart and all
to Him, and to serve Him faithfully in the
way of His requirings: — He will be thy
helper in every trial.

After the Yearly Meeting at Philadelphia
was over, I proceeded to the Yearly Meetina
at Baltimore, accompanied by Ebenezer Cres"
son, his precious sister Sarah, and Catharine
Haines, in a carriage ; taking several meet-
ings by the way. The Yearly Meeting was
satisfactory, as were also a meeting on First-
day morning at Baltimore ; and one in the

milesf -afternoon appointed for the black people.

Had the company of the aforesaid Friends
to three meetings. At West Nottingham, I
parted with Sarah Cresson, and Catharine
Haines, and accompanied by Ebenezer Cres-
son, went to East Nottingham, Sassafrax and
several other meetings ; they were small as
to those professing with Friends, but the
neighbours of other religious societies attend-
ed, so as nearly to fill the houses ; and strength
was afl^jrded to minister to those assembled.
A few solid Friends remain in those parts,
but their number has greatly decreased of

he meetings seem likely to be discontinued.
We were refreshed both in body and mind,
at the house of Susanna Matthews, a widow,
who delights to wash the disciples' feet ; may
the Lord reward her labours of love.

[It appears he was at New York in the
Eleventh month, 1796, from which city he
addressed a letter — ]

New York, Cth of Eleventh month, 1796, .
To his daughter, Jane Cruickshank. —
Thou hast so often been the companion of
my mind, in something like a sympathy with
thine in conflict, that 1 feel willing to tell thee
my belief, that it is the Lord's way of work-
ing, to prepare the ground, to make it pro-
ductive of fruits to His honour, — to turn and
overturn it, and burn up the weeds. Now,
my dear child, do not be too much discour-
aged under the operation, — or think when
thou art plunged into pits, that thou will never
get out again. I know there are dispensa-
tions to pass through, during which we can
discover no profit that can arise out of them,
because of the darkness that surrounds; but
when the light again breaks forth, we can
say, the Lord's way is a great deep, and in it
marvellous mysteries are discovered. May
thy trust be in Him, and thy heart devoted to
Him ; and He will never leave thee. My dear
John, thy beloved husband, will, I trust, be a

Online LibraryRobert SmithThe Friend : a religious and literary journal (Volume 16) → online text (page 34 of 154)