Robert Smith.

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

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true helpmeet, — and that you will be travel-
lers together, take sweet counsel togeth&r, and
go up to the house of God in company; — and
unite in giving the preference to the Lord's

tork and service at all times and on all occa-
ons. I know the advantage of such a union;
ly mother and I were united in desire to
serve the Lord, above all and before all ; and
in this union we were often concerned to en-
courage and strengthen one another in dedi-
cation of heart.

Thy dear John's letters I have received ;
he seems to think I am slack about writing;
but he mistakes, — in these remote places
where I have been, tliere is rarely any oppor-
tunity of conveying letters ; Friends are scat-
tered very wide, and far back in the woods.
There are also many people of other societies
in similar situations, whom the Lord seems
to be peculiarly visiting: — many have been
added to our Society by convincement, espe-
cially in these back settlements, and several
have requested to be received, who are situ-
ated several hundreds of miles from any set-
tlement of Friends.

As to the time of my return, you must keep
in the patience ; give me up freely^ and pray
for my preservation. If I am but favoured to
finish well, — no matter when or where. I
never felt more love to you all ; yet I believe
it best to resign you to the keeping of the
Shepherd of Israel;- believing, if you are
faithful to him, He will keep you.

[About this part of his travels, John Wig-
ham gives a list of a number of places at
which he had meetings; he also slates having
attended the Quarterly Meetings at Concord
and London-grove, which were large and
satisfactory. Arriving at Philadelphia, he
says, " I attended the meetings on First-day



94



evening, and Second-day morning, and the
NoitU meeting on Tliird-day ; then crossed
the Delaware, and rode to Joseph Whitall's,
who, with his wife, received us kindly, — a
sweet young couple, fellow-travellers in spi-
rit ; my mind was refreshed in their com-
pany." No dates are supplied here. lie
afterwards enumerates thirty-one different
places which he visited, and came again to
Philadelphia. The two following letters ap-
pear to have been written during this inter-
val :— ] got'e
Hockesson, Pennsylvanin,
16lh of Eleventh moDth, 17^6.

To Barbara Cruickshank. — I received thy
acceptable lines about two weeks ago. Thy
sweet sympathetic remarks were truly revi-
ving, and no part of thy letter was more pleas-
ing, than thy sensible acknowledgment of thy
feeling of weakness, and thy desire of continu-
ing under the refining power. It is an inex-
pressible mercy to be preserved sensible of
what we are, and in whom is our strength ;
turning our attention to, and placing our de-
pendence upon, the supporting Arm of power.
I desire to be thy companion in watchfulness
and fear; — " the fear of the Lord is a foun-
tain of life, preserving from the snares of
death."

I am here hobbling along as usual : thou
knowest I am a poor weak creature ; but I
may say, in humble thankfulness, the Lord
hath hitherto helped me; so that I trust I
have been preserved from bringing dishonour
on the cause I have espoused. I cannot tell
thee rguch about the time of release from this
country, though if no new concern open, perj d:
haps I may get through the prospect no"a
before me this winter; I sometimes look at
reaching the next Yearly Meeting in London.
Philadelphia, 15th of Second month, 1797.
To his Wife. — I received my dear Eliza's
acceptable letter, dated the 3d of Eleventh
month, after a long time of waiting in sus-
pense ; the date of thy last preceding one was
in Seventh month. Whether thou hast been
so long between writing, or some letters have
miscarried, I know not, but I thought the

time very long.

I am here, through favour, pretty well in
health. I expect to leave this city on Sixth
dav, to attend three Quarterly Meetings it
the Jerseys, and hope to be clear to leave this
place after the Spring Meeting, which is to be
held the latter end of next month. I am
looking towards the Yearly Meeting in Lon-
don I but a prospect sometimes presents,
though not yet with clearness, and whether it
may die away or revive when the time comes,
I believe it is best to leave, and stand resign-
ed;— this prospect is Nova Scotia, which, if
it should be visited, will prevent my getting
home (if spared to do so) till the full or the
latter part of summer. I wish to stand re-
siuned ; — the Lord hath hitherto helped ; —
Uis goodness I must acknowled^'C, whatever
becomes of me : I cannot offer Him less than
full dedication and ohedicnce to what lie
clearly discovers to be his requiring ; and I
have a belief that He will nut condemn fur



THE fku;nd.



when the matter is not made clear.
I feel for thee and sympathize with thee in
thy exercises, which I know have been many;
but my dearest, seeing we unite in acknow-
ledging the Lord's goodness, Int us continue
to put our trust in Him, and follow on to do
His will, as well as we know how. Our pil-
grimage is passing over, it will not be long;
— let us keep the recompence of reward in
view ; — if we can only attain to a quiet habi-
tation at last, all these conilicls will be for-



Here (at Philadelphia) I attended meetings
almost every day, and in company with
Martha Routh, visited twenty-four schools,
and had some satisfactory times with the
children. Attended Abinglon Quarterly
Meeting, and returned to the city. Paid a
comfortable visit to eighteen young women,
who had formed themselves into a society for
the education of black girls:— they lake it
by turns, two or three at a time, and teach
them reading and writing, from six till nine
o'clock in the evening : they have about
seventy scholars, chiefly grown up. Visited
another society of young women, twenty-five
in number, who make it their business to
search out and relieve the poor : they beg
from the rich, some of whom give liberally ;
and in this way they distribute several hun-
dred pounds a year. They meet once a
week to settle their accounts, and confer
together about objects. I was with them at
one of their weekly meetings, much to my
satisfaction.

Loft Philadelphia to attend the Quarterly
Meetings of Woodbury, Bucks, and Burling-
d then returned to the city, and
'attended the Spring General Meeting [of
Ministers and Elders,] and three Monthly
Meetings which succeeded.



JOHN DAVIS.

(Coiilinued from page 870

I now began to consider what business I
must commence for the maintenance of my-
self and my wife. My capital not exceeding
sixty pounds, I feared to enter upon my own
trade. [A confectioner it is believed. — Ed.]
In a little while I heard of a Friend who
wanted a foreman in that line. On speaking
to him, I found the work was very difierent
to what I had been accustomed, and I thought
it much too mean for me to accept. I there-
fore felt unwilling to engage. Friends were
very h.ving to me in this matter, and they
liesired me to make trial of the occupation ;
which I did, and discovered that the greatest
hindrance to it had been the pride of my i
heart. I was made willing to submit, this be-
ing the day of the Lord's power. I made no
positive bargain with my employer ; ho was
to give me what he thought I deserved. .\f-
ter I had been about six months in this situ-
ation, the Lord brought down that lofty domi-
neering spirit, so that I was made submissive
even to tlie boys of the place, and willing to
do the meanest work, although I had two or



three men under me, and was capable of man-
aging the highest deparluicnt. My mislrtss
did not proless with Friends, hut was loving
towards them. I was mindful never to go
from business without her permission, except
I went to meetings: and so pailicular was I
(in this point, that 1 durst not go home before
my usual time, even though I had nothing to
do. I was as much concerned for the inter-
sts of my employer, as if the business had
been my own; which often made nie admire
the excellence of Truth, so truly (as kept to)
does it teach all of us our duties in every sta-
tion of life, and make us a comfort and hap-
piness to each other — a qualification which is
too much lacking in the world. The Lord
showed me that justice was a first lesson of
piety ; and by degrees I saw that he required
1 should practice it, by paying my creditors
what I owed, notwithstanding I hey had seve-
rally given me a discharge vvhen I relinquish-
ed housekeeping. The sum owing was nearly
forty pounds ; and many were the reasonings
I had against paying it out of my small stock,
thinking 1 should be better able at a future
day — that doing so now would leave me pen-
n3less — and much more of this nature ; so that
whilst I had clearly seen my duly, I had nearly
so far neglected it, as to persuade myself it
was not required of me. So easy is it for
men, by carnal reasoning and disobedience, to
lose the sense of conviction, and then cover
themselves by saying they see no harm in this
or the other wrong thing. But in a little
lime, I began to want thai sweetness, comfort,
and satislaclion I had inwardly enjoyed when
found in the way of well-doing ; and instead
thereof, trouble was upon me. The Lord led
me to look into myself, and there to inquire
the reason ; when He was pleased to condes-
cend to show me clearly it was His will I
should pay these creditors at this time; and
for the rest I should trust in Him, casting my
care upon his goodness. In his strength I
was enabled to put this into execution. I got
the money out of my wife's hands, and appoint-
ed niy creditors to meet me at a house, near
where the debts were contracted. There they
brought their accounts, and I paid them in
full, by which means I almost emptied my bag.
I told them they might be glad 1 had become
a Quaker, otherwise they had never been
paid ; and the Lord gave me much peace in
this affair.

The plain language being my present exer-
ciie, an occasion oflt;red for a trial of my faith-
fulness, as follows. A poor man came to de-
sire I would go with him to a parliament man
of my acquaintance, to do him justice in a
matter of which I had some knowledge; and
I was willing to serve him, but was under a
slavish fear as regarded my appearance. How-
ever I went, crying in my heart for preserva-
tion in faithfulness; and when I knocked at
the door, he (who had known me so well)
came himself to it ; but the change in my habit
and demeanour so surprised him, he scarcely
knew me. I looked simply at him, asking
' how he was ;' and after he had expressed his
wonder- he inquired of me my business, which
I related ; when he would have cxcu.-.ed him-
self. But I, knowing he had heard how I



THE rillEND.



91



Again, in the flower of the berberry, if the
base of the stamen be touched with tlie point
of a pin, the filament or stalk will bend over,
so as to strike its top against the style or
central pillar of the flower. This movement
is connected with the process of fertilization ;
and it must be frequently caused by the con-
tact of insects, which thus assist in that func-
tion. There is a curious New Holland plant,
named Stylidium, sometimes cultivated in
green-houses in this country, which has a tall
column rising from the centre of its flower,
and consisting of the stamens and style united ;
this usually hangs down over one side of the
flower ; but if it be touched ever so lightly, it
starts up with a jerk, and rapidly swings over
to the opposite side.

One of the most interesting of all the vege-
table movements, however, is that displayed
by the Sensitive plant (Mimosa pudica.) This
is a Leguminous plant of the Acasia kind,
which has its leaves very much subdivided
into leaflets. Wlien spread out in the sunshine,
they present no peculiarity of appearance ;
but at night they fold together as in sleep,
more completely perhaps than the leaves ol
any other plants. If, when expanded, one of
the leaflets be slightly touched, it will close
towards its fellow; the neighbouring leaflets
will presently do the same ; the vein upon
whicii these are set will bend downwards, and
meet the one on the opposite side of the mid-
rib; the midrib itself will afterwards bend
down upon the stem ; and, if the plant be in a
very irritable condition (from its functions
being in a state of great activity) the other
leaves are sometimes aftected in a similar
manner.



Insanity. — There are 17,181 insane per-
sons in the United States; and the estimated
number of those who become so annually, is
5,719. There are sixteen insane asylums in
the country, containing something less than
2,000 patients, and receiving almost 1,200
annually.



Steam Poirer of Great Britain. — A new
English publication — the Tablet of Memory
— estimates, from authentic data, that the
steam power in constant employment in Great
Britain is equal to five hundred millions of
men! It is almost incredible, at the first
glance, and yet, on reflection, there is nothing
improbable ia it.



For •■ The Friend."
THE TIMES.

(Continued from page 8?.)

The whole scope of the Christian religion,
and the example of its Divine author and his
primitive followers, is adverse to the grandeur,
the gaiety, the friendships, and the riches of
this world. Our blessed Lord, who " had not
where to lay his head," declares, " My king-
dom is not of Ibis world ;" and they who,
through submission to the regenerating- and
sanctifying power of his blessed Spirit, expe-
rience his kingdom set up in their hearts, are



" redeemed from the earth." Their hopes
and affections are placed upon the durable
riches and righteousness of heaven, and as
strangers and pilgrims, seeking another and
belter country, they are diligently employed
in making their calling and election sure.
Sensible that their time and talents are the
Lord's, and not their own, their primary con-
cern is to occupy them in his cause and to his
glory, not in pursuing the perishing things of
this life. As stewards of the manifold grace
and blessings bestowed by a gracious God,
they desire to hold them in subserviency to
his will, and under a daily and solemn sense,
that ere long they must " give an account of
their stewardship." What diligence — what
watchfulness — what seriousness — what a
shaking, and keeping, loose from the entangle-
ments of the world, does a due consideration
of these things beget. And how every day as
it fleets away is closely examined, to see if it
has been passed in the Divine fear and coun-
sel ; and the heart narrowly scrutinized, lest
lukewarmness and earthly mindedness creep
in, and some other beloved steal its affections
away from Him, who is " the chiefest among
ten thousands, and altogether lovely."

How remarkably did our primitive worthies
realize the blessedness of this state, and show
forth in their devoted lives a practical illus-
tration of that saying of the apostle, "Brethren
the time is short : it remaineth that they that
have wives be as though they had none ; and
they that weep as they that wept not ; and
they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not;
and they that buy, as though they possessed
not ; and they that use this world as not
abusing it ; for the fashion of this world pass-
eth away."

One of those excellent men, writing of the
early days of our favoured Society, says :
" When the Lord first called and gathered us
to be a people, and opened the eyes of our
understandings, we saw the exceeding sinful-
ness of sin, and the wickedness that was in the
world ; and a perfect abhorrence was fixed in
our hearts against all the wicked, unjust, vain,
ungodly, and unlawful part of the world in all
respects.

" We saw that the goodly and most lawful
things of the world were abused and misused;
and that many snares and temptations lay in
them, with troubles and dangers of divers
kinds, of which we felt the load ; and that ice
could not carry them and run the race the
Lord had set before vs, so cheerfully as to
win the prize of our salvation.

" Wherefore our care was to cast off" this
great load and burden, viz. : great and gainful
ways of getting riches, &;c. ; and to lessen our
concerns, that we might be ready to answer
Christ Jesus, our Captain, who had called us
to follow him in a spiritual waifare, under the
discipline of his daily cross and self-denial.
Then the things of this world were of small
value with us, so that we might win Christ;
and the goodliest things thereof were not near
to us, so that we might be near the Lord ; for
the Lord's truth outbalanced all the world,
even the most glorious part of it.

'J'hen great trading was a burthen, and
great concerns a great trouble. All needless



things, fine houses, rich furniture, and gaudy
apparel, were an eye-sore. Our eye being
single to the Lord, and to the inshining of his
light in our hearts, this gave us the sight of
the knowledge of the glory of God, which so
affected our minds, that it stained the glory of
all eaithly things, and they bore no mastery
with us, either in dwelling, eating, drinking,
buying, selling, marrying, or giving in mar-
riage. The Lord was the object of our eye,
and we were all humble and low before Him,
self being of small repute. Ministers and
elders walked as good examples, that the flock
might follow their footsteps as they followed
Christ in the daily cross and self-denial."

It is to this blessed condition we must be
restored, if we answer the gracious design of
the Almighty respecting us, and escape the
infliction of punishment yet more heavy and
severe. It is to bring us back to this, that the
Lord is lifting up his rod and shaking it over
us. May we listen to his voice, lest his anger
smoke against us. ' You have I known of all
the families of the earth, and you will I pun-
ish.' We have had many advantages ; innu-
merable blessings have been poured with a
liberal hand around us; and where much is
given, much will be required. Let every one
then look to himself, and solemnly inquire how
far he is deficient in rendering unto the Lord
the tribute which is his due. I write not in
the spirit of censoriousness or crimination, but
as one who is conscious of deficiency, and with
a sincere desire not only to stir up my brethren
and sisters, but to be earnestly engaged my-
self, " to stand in the ways and see, and ask
for the old paths, where is the good way, and
walk therein ; that we may find rest for our
souls."

But while we deplore the existence among
us of that disposition which is greedy of
wealth, and delights in great business, in
fine houses, and showy furniture, and in the
honour and friendship of this world ; let not
those who are in a sviall way of trade, or
who observe the testimonies to simplicity and
moderation, think that they are secure from
the dangers of a worldly spirit. Far from it.
An avaricious, hoarding disposition is often
found in persons whose gains are very small,
and hardly earned; and the grand deceiver
persuades some to think that because they get
but little money, and work hard for it, it is
not a great sin in them to love it, to hoard
it up, and to nurse it, so as to make the
most of it. Here, a sordid, grasping spirit
takes possession of the mind, which leads per-
sons to pinch and save at every turn, in order
that they may have the more to add to the
heap ; and sometimes it goes so far as to in-
duce its miserable victims to deny themselves
the necessaries or reasonable comforts of life,
and then cloak their parsimony tinder the pre-
tence to moderation and self-denial. Moder-
ation and self-denial are indispensable Chris-
tian virtues, and fiugality when joined to
benevolence and liberality, is highly com-
mendable ; but we cannot doubt that such a
spirit as I have described is an abomination in
the sight of heaven. " Love not the world,
nor the things of the world," is an injunction
equally applicable to the rich, the poor, and



92



THE FRIEND.



the middling classes ; to the man of large
concerns, and bin) wliose transactions are
bounded by narrow limits; and there is
nothing but a daily and humble walking with
God, laying our hearts open to be searched in
the narrowest corners, by the all-revealing
light of his Spirit, that can make, or keep us,
what we ought to be. Whatever our condi-
tion in life, or our profession of religion may
be, unless we are " redeemed from the earth"
in the large and comprehensive sense of the
term, our spiritual condition is eminently
perilous, inasmuch as we know not what a day
or an hour may bring forth, nor how suddetdy
the summons may be sent to us, which will
close our earthly career, and introduce us into
a state of everlasting fixedness, either in hap-
piness or woe.

I shall close the present essay with the
following sentiments of a Christian author,
the pertinence and weightiness of which, I
trust, will commend them to the very se-
rious attention of all the readers of " The
Friend :" —

" It is not uncommon for persons who once
appeared to be zealous, atiectionate, and de-
voted to God, when they come to be settled
in life, and to enter into its necessary avo-
cations, to lose all heart for religion, and
take no delight in any thing but saviwr money.
This, it is true, is not generally considered by
the world as disreputable. On the contrary,
provided we be fair in our dealings, it is reck-
oned a mark of wisdom. Men will praise
thee when thou doest well for thyself. Such
an one, say they, is a discreet man, and one
who knows how to secure the main chance.
Yet the Scriptures are very decisive against
such characters. The cares, and riches, and
pleasures of this life, are described as choking
the word, and rendering it unfruitful.

" It is worthy of special notice, that when
our Lord had warned his followers to ' take
heed, and betcare of covtetousness ;'' the exam-
ple that he gives of this sin, is not of one who
was a plunderer of other men's property, an
unfair dealer, or an oppressor of the poor; but
of ' a certain rich man whose ground brought
forth plentifully;' and whose object appeared
to be, first to acquire a handsome fortune, and
then to retire and live at ease. This also
appears to be the character which is blessed
by wicked men, but abhorred of God. A man
who deals unfairly by men, gains not their
blessing, but their curse. Men, in general,
regard only themselves: so long therefore as
any person deals justly with them, they care
not what his conduct is toward God. But it
is affecting to think that the very character
which they bless and envy, God abhors. The
decision of heaven is nothing less than this :
' If any man love the world, the love of the
Father is not in him.'

" So far is the love of this world from being
less dangerous, on account of its tailing so lit-
tle under human censure, that it is the more
so. If we are guilty of any thing which
exposes us to the reproach of mankind, such
reproach may assist the remonstrances of
conscience and of God, in carrying conviction
to our bosoms ; but of that for which the



world acquits us, we shall be exceedingly dis-
posed to acquit ourselves.

" It has long appeared to me that this spe-
cies of covetousness, will, in all probability,
prove the eternal overthrow of more charac-
ters among professing people, than almost any
other sin ; and this because it is almost the
only sin which may be indulged, and a profes-
sion of religion at the same time supported.
If a man be a drunkard, or a liar, if he rob
his neighbour, oppre;-s the poor, deal unjustly,
or be guilty of any other open sin, he must
give up his pretences to religion ; or, if not,
his religious connexions will give him up.
But he may love the world, and the things of
the world, and at the same time retain a fair
outside. If the depravity of the human heart
be not subdued by the grace of God, it will
operate. If a dam be placed across some of
its ordinary channels, it will flow with greater
depth and rapidity in those which remain. It
is thus, perhaps, that avarice strengthens and
increases with old age, when the power of pur-
suing other vices has in measure subsided."

" In the choice of settlements for ourselves,
or our children, how common is it to overlook
the immorality of a place, the irreligiousness
of the persons, or the absence of the benefits
of religious society, and meetings for Divine
worship, and direct our inquiries mainly to
temporal advantages. From the same princi-
ple, many have dealt largely in speculation,
and plunged into engagements far beyond their



Online LibraryRobert SmithThe Friend : a religious and literary journal (Volume 16) → online text (page 35 of 154)