Robert Smith.

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

. (page 50 of 154)
Online LibraryRobert SmithThe Friend : a religious and literary journal (Volume 16) → online text (page 50 of 154)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


the state of a meeting, or of an individual, and
yet it may not be our duty to allude to it, till
we receive the intimation so to do. If thou,
my dear friend, move on in this safe way, thou
wilt thrive and grow, and deepen in expe-
rience ; and thy offerings in the ministry, will
continue to be precious and sweet, and afford
the enjoyment of true peace. Although thou
mayst and will have thy plunging, frying
times ; yet He, to whom thou lookest in hum-
ble dependence, will be an anchor steadfast
and sure. It is also necessary, when we do
feel the clear intimation to speak, that we be
faithful to it, and not put it by, even though
it may be something disagreeable to ourselves;
else we shall offend our Lord, and weaken our
own souls.

Aberdeen, 6th of Fifth month, 1811.

To — . I have not been

hasty in answering thy letter, though it was
truly acceptable. That love which waxeth
not old, remains fresh with me, with desires
for thy preservation and prosperity in every
good word and work. I feel thy kindness in
mviting us to the Yearly Meeting ; but our
day for travelling seems nearly over.



THE FRIEiND.



133



It alFords us satisfaction that we have not
spared ourselves whilst ability was enjoyed;
and that now, through infinite mercy, we have
no disposition to call the Lord a hard master,
but we can set our seals to that great truth,
that He is unspeakably good, and has helped
us far beyond our desert. My hearty good
wishes arise for those concerned brethren and
sisters who attend the Yearly Meeting : —
may you be strengthened and comforted by
the fresh feeling of the uniting bond of har-
monizing love : that you may be one another's
joy in the Lord, and enabled renewedly to
praise Him ; for, verily, He hath often shown
himself good to Israel, notwithstanding all our
backslidings.

First of First month, 1812.— This day be-
gins a new year. O Lord! from this time
preserve me in exact conformity to thy will,
without spot or blemish. I have long, thou
knowest, been desirous to serve Thee with
acceptance ; but I have been a poor, frail,
imperfect being. O ! blot out my imperfec-
tions, gracious God ! for thy dear Son's sake;
and enable me henceforth to serve thee better.
Destroy, O ! destroy every fibre of selfish-
ness; that what I am, I may be in Thee
alone. Amen !

Second month 1st, 1812. — I have been ru-
minating upon the excellency of love, of which
God is the inexhaustible fountain: it appears
clear to my mind, that in its nature and
ground, it is always the same, but flows forth
differently to different objects: — to God in
humble reverence and adoration ; — to good
men in sweet uninterrupted unity ; — to the
distressed and afliicted in sympathetic tender-
ness ; — to the wicked and ungodly in mourn-
ful pity: and it manifests these feelings to
God by desiring and endeavouring to do His
will ; — to good men by a care not to interrupt
the union; — to the distressed and afflicted by
endeavouring, according to ability, to relieve
them ; — to the wicked and ungodly, by pa-
tiently bearing their insults, and praying that
they may be made better answerable to the
apostle's description, bearing, hoping, and en-
during all things. There is something that
(Some men call love, that deserves not the
name ,• having its foundation in a desire of the
esteem of others, which largely flows forth to
such as feed this desire by flattery; but
should this be withdrawn or neglected, and
friendly reproof or admonition administered in
its stead, it manifests its spurious character
by angry resentment, and shows that it is not
Christian love, but idolatry of self.



Aberdeen, 24th of Second month, 1812.

To — . It would be indeed

pleasant to me, as thou mentionest, to sit be-
side thee, and that we might commune
together in the freedom of friendship, which
I fully believe is reciprocal : but this we can-
not expect to be often indulged in, if ever any
more. But there is a comfort in feeling the
circulation of love flowing from the°true
source and fountain of it, in which there is
no change, and to which distance is no im-
pediment ; and, if we are but favoured to keep
our habitations in the Truth, nothino- can
separate us. I feel bodily infirmities increas-



ing, and am content that it should be so. It is
in the course of nature that this should be the
case, — and the Lord's will is incontrovertibly
best ; may nothing in me ever — even as much
as wish to oppose it.

Mountmellick, Twelfth month, 24th, 1812.
To his Wife — I received thy acceptable
letter, dated 28th of last month. It is revi-
ving to thy poor exercised John VVigham, to
hear that thou hast faith respecting him, that
the Lord will not fail him, unworthy as he is;
and as thou hast, through mercy, a little faith
concerning me, I trust it will not fail as re-
gards thyself.

We can do no less than gratefully acknow-
ledge, that the Lord has been good to us hith-
erto ; and to encourage each other to trust in
Him, is the most we can do for each other. I
am wading along in much weakness, and can
only say, I hope I have been hitherto pre-
served from dishonouring His cause ; and that
was all I asked, at setting out.

Cork, First month 20th, 1813.

To his Son, Amos Wigham. 1 am

favoured with usual health, though I frequent-
ly feel much weariness, and sometimes con-
siderable pain ; yet it goes off again, and upon
the whole, I have got along as well as I could
expect. The Lord has hitherto been my
helper in the needful time, and I trust pre-
served me from dishonouring His cause ; and
also from time to time renewed a little grain
of faith and ability to place my dependence
upon Him. I cannot say much as to the time
of my leaving this land ; I only desire light
to discover, and ability to do His will. He is
a good master, — I desire to serve Him faith-
fully, and that you, my dear children, may he
more and more dedicated, and a willingness
wrought in you, to be just what He would
have you to be. Mind your calling, and doubt
not but He will give strength to do what He
requires. Let Him choose your stations for
you, and direct your steps; and then He will
guide you in the path of safety. The more
fully and freely you give up your own wills, in
conforiiuty to the Divine will, the less will be
your conflicts under dispensations for their
reduction ; for I apprehend, we often increase
our sufferings, by our unwillingness to be as
the passive clay in the hand of the potter, to
be formed into such vessels as he sees meet ;
and this unwillingness arises frequently from
an apprehension of our own unfitness for what
He requires. But do we not hereby show our
distrust of the all-sufficiency of His power !
He requires our passive obedience : the power
and the qualification is His gift.

(To be continued.)



Hi



THOMAS STORY.

Selections from Thomas Story's Journal.

(Continued from page }2».)

1 could not, all this time, perceive the par-
ticular matter which thus affected me, (for I
knew not of any thing I had done or said to
bring it upon myself,) till that evening, being
returned to my father's house, very solitary,
silent, and inward, there came in one Thomas



Tod, an acquaintance of mine ; who, after
some compliments of civility, (for at that time
I had not quite declined the common modes
of salutation) desired to speak with me apart;
and then told me, that he had a trial to come
on next day, concerning certain houses of his
in the town of Penrith, being the greatest part
of all he had in the world ; that one of his
witnesses to his deeds of conveyance was
dead ; another of them gone into Ireland, and
could not be had ; but I, being the third, and
having made the writings, he hoped, throuo-h
my evidence and credit, to gain his just pomt
against his unfair adversary: and desired me
to be in readiness in the morning; for the
trial was like to come on very early.

As soon as he began this relation, the Word
of Life began likewise to work in me, in a
y powerful manner; and the holy hammer
of the Lord I sensibly felt, and saw to be
lifted up upon that hardness of heart, which,
for some time, (as above) had been my state :
and it began to be broken, softened, and dis-
solved; and the sense of the love of God, in
degree, to be renewed. And then I saw
plainly, that this was the hard thing I had to
go through ; and that now was the time of
trial, wherein I must take up the cross of
Christ ; acknowledge his doctrine fully in that
point ; and openly, according to the under-
standing given me; and to despise the shame
and reproach, and other sufferings, which I
well knew would ensue quickly; or I must
forsake the Lord forever. For, denying his
doctrine, in the sense I bad now plainly°seen
it, would be a denying of himself before men;
and if I had then denied him, I could expect no
less ; but, according to his word, to have been
immediately, and forever, denied of him, and
left under that hardness of heart, and want of
the enjoyment of his Divine presence, where-
with I had been fiivoured before, and all the
dreadful consequences of a beginning so
woeful.

But, according to the advances of the word
and work of the Lord in me at that time, my
heart inclined to him. And, as my acquaint-
ance was speaking, and by the time he had
fully done, I was lurnished with a full reso-
lution to give him a plain and direct answer;
which was on this manner : " I am concerned
it should fall out so ; (for I had a real respect
for him, and saw his case to be very hard,) I
will appear, if it please God, and testify what
I know in the matter, and do what I can for
you that way ; but I cannot swear."

This was so great a surprise to him, both
from the nature of his case, and confidence he
had of my ready compliance, he having had
no occasion of any suspicion of my present
condition till that moment, that he broke
into a passion, and, with an oath, or curse,
said, " What, you are not a Quaker, sure !"
But, though I had made confession to Truth
so far, in that point, and the Divine presence
sensibly returned and advanced in me; yet,
upon this, I was again silent, till clear in my
understanding what to answer in sincerity and
truth. For as no body, before that time, had
called me a Quaker, so I had not assumed the
appellation ; which, being given in reproach,
was not grateful; though the thing, in ita



134

proper sense, iiiosl delighllul. Nor did I then
see whether I had so much unity with all their
tenets, as might justify me in owning the name,
(for in the unity of Divine love and life only
I had known them) till the power of that life
of him, who forbiddeth all oaths and swear-
ing, arising yet clearer and fuller in me,
opened my understanding, cleared my way,
and enabled me thereto ; and then I said, " 1
must confess the Truth, I am a Quaker."

But, as this confession brought me still
nearer to the Son of God, his love increasing
yet more sensibly in me, so liUew ise it height-
ened the perplexity and disturbance of my
friend ; whose case thereby became more
desperate, in his own opinion. Upon which,
in an increase of heat, and expressions there-
from, suiting so obvious a disappointment, as
it then appeared to him, he threatened to have
me fined by the court, and proceeded against
with the utmost rigour of the law ; " What !
must I lose my estate by your groundless no-
tions and whims?"

But the higher my enemy arose, and raged
in this well-meaning, but mistaken man, who
thus, without design, became the instrument
of my trial, the fuller and more powerful still
was the love of God ; whose cause I had now
espoused, through his own aid, and the power
of an endless life from him, made manifest in
me. L'pon which I replied, in that calm of
mind, and resignation to the will of God, that
the life of the Son of God enables to, and
teacheth, " You may do what you think pro-
per that way ; but I cannot comply with your
request in this matter, whatever be the issue
of it." And then he departed under great
dissatisfaction, with all the threats and re-
proaches his enraged passions could suggest
to him, under a view of so great loss.

Immediately I retired into my chamber;
for, perceiving my grand enemy to be yet at
work, to introduce a slavish fear, and, by that
means, subject my mind, and bring me again
into captivity and bondage, 1 was willing to
be alone, and free from all the interruptions
of company ; that I might more fully expe-
rience the arm of the Lord, and his Divine
instructions and council, in this great concern
and exercise.

The enemy, being a crafty and subtle spi-
rit, wrought upon my passions, not fully
subjected, and more artfully applied to my
natural reason, (my understanding not being
fully illuminated) as his most suitable instru-
ment. He urged the fine and imprisonment,
and the hardships accompanying that condi-
tion, and how little help I could expect from
my father or friends ; who would be highly
displeased with me, for so foolish and unac-
countable a resolution, as they would think it ;
and also the scoffings, mockings, derision,
scorn, contempt, loss of friends and friend-
ships in the world, with such other incon-
veniences, hardships, and ill consequences, as
the enemy could invent and suggest.

During all which time, from about eight in
the evening till midnight, the eye of my mind
was fixed on the love of God ; which still re-
mained sensible in me, and my soul cleaving
thereto in great simplicity, humility, and trust
therein, without any yielding to salan, and his



THE FRIEND.

reasonings on those subjects, where Hesh and
blood, in his own strength, is easily overcome
by him. But, about twelve at night, the Lord
put him to utter silence, with all his tempta-
tions, for that season, and the life of the Son
of God alone remained in my sold ; and then,
from a sense of his wonderful work and re-
deeming arm, this saying of the apostle arose
in me with power, "The law of the Spirit of
ife in Christ Jesus, hath made nie free from
he law of sin and death."

And then the teachings of the Lord were
plentiful and glorious ; my understanding
further cleared, and his holy law of love and
life was settled in me ; and I admitted into
sweet rest with the Lord my Saviour, and
given up in perfect resignation to his holy
will, in whatsoever might relate to this great
trial of my faith and obedience to the Lord.

In the morning I went up toward the hall
where the judges sat, expecting to be called
as a witness in the case, before mentioned ;
but, before 1 reached the place, I saw my said
acquaintance approaching me, with an air in
his countenance denoting friendship and affec-
tion ; and, when met, he said, " I can tell
you good news; my adversary has yielded
the cause ; we are agreed to my satisfaction."

Upon this I stood still in the street ; and,
reviewing in my mind the work of the Lord
in me the night before, as already related,
this Scripture came fresh into my remem-
brance, in the life of it, " It is God who
worketh in you, both to will and to do of his
good pleasure." For I was sensible it was the
Lord's doing, and accounted it a great mercy
and deliverance ; though I was, by this means,
exposed to the view and observation of all ; the
pity of many, (as they judged of my case,)
and the scoffs and censures of the baser and
more ignorant sort, which was for Christ's
sake only ; for none had any immorality to
charge me with.

This happening at the time of the assizes,
and people from all quarters there, I quickly
became the common subject of discourse and
debate. For few could believe the report,
and many came to see ; and, during the
assizes, would get together, talking and won-
dering ; and, when they happened to see me
afar off in the streets, would come in crowds
to gaze.

This usage gave me a much clearer view of
the low, mean, miserable, brutish state of
many men, than I ever had before, or could
have imagined. But I was more civilly used
by some counsellors who came the circuit
from London, among whom I had some bu-
siness.

The business of the assizes being over,
some of my acquaintance, gentlemen both of
town and country, who wished me well, ir
their own sense, thinking I had been deluded
as thev usually called it, by the Quakers, con
sulted'how to restore and reclaim me. And
several ways were proposed, especially by a
meeting, and consultation of some of the cler-
gy ; who, they imagined, might solve those
doubts I might be under, and but yet waver
ing; supposing those sentiments to be but
lately embraced by me, and I not yet settled
in tliem ; though I do not think any of them



knew what the true Quakers, or their princi-
ples were.

The clergy generally shunned me, and I
quickly observed a particular enmity in them
against nie ; though I had no more aversion
to tliem as men, than to others.

Sometime after this. Dr. Gilpin, before
n.entioned, sent his son, a coimsellor, under
whom 1 had been initiated into the study of
the law, and who still retained a great affec-
tion for me, to invite me to his house at Scale-
by Castle, and desired to see some of the
Quakers' books, supposing I had been imposed
upon by reading them ; and I sent him, as I
remember, all that I had.

Soon after I had parted with these books, I
observed a cloud come over my mind, and an
unusual concern ; and therein the two Sacra-
ments (coujmonly so termed) came afresh into
my remembrance, and divers Scriptures and
arguments, pro and con ; and then I was ap-
prehensive the doctor was preparing some-
thing of that sort to discourse me upon ; and
I began to search out some Scriptures in de-
fence of my own sentiments on those subjects ;
but as I proceeded a little in that work, I be-
came more uneasy and clouded ; upon which
I laid aside the Scripture, and sat still, looking
towards the Lord for counsel. For I consid-
ered the doctor as a man of great learning,
religious in his way, an ancient preacher and
writer too, famous in Oliver's time, and a
throne among his brethren ; and that he might
advance such subtilties as I could not readily
confute, nor would concede to, as knowing
them erroneous, though I might not be sud-
denly furnished with arguments to demon-
strate their fallacy ; and so might receive
hurt.

And then it was clear in my understanding,
that, as he was in his own will and strength,
though with a good intent, in his own sense
searching the letter, and depending upon that
and his own wisilom, acquirements, and sub-
lilty, leaning to his own spirit and understand-
ing, I must decline that way, and trust in the
Spirit of Christ, the Divine Author of the
Holy Scriptures. And as this caution was
presented in the life and virtue of Truth, I
rested satisfied therein, and searched no
further on that occasion. When I went to his
house, he entered into a discourse on those
subjects; and had such passages of Scripture
folded down as he purposed to use. And,
when I observed it, I was confirmed that my
sight of him, in my own chamber at Carlisle,
and of his work, some days before, was right ;
and my mind was strengthened thereby. But,
before he began to move upon the subject, he
dismissed every other person out of the room;
so that himself and I remained alone.



For " The Friend."
EDWAKD BROWNE.

It is not in man that walketh to direct his
own steps; and it is an unspeakable favour,
that, through a close and steadfast attention to
the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the good man
experiences all his steps to be ordered of the
Lord. In the case of the truly upright and



consistent Christian, tliis " Divine ordering"
regulates not only his Spiritual concerns, but
the every day routine of his outward affairs is
carried forward with a watchful and constant
regard to that wisdom which is from above.
He knows well that the daily avocations of life
have a powerful influence upon his mental
condition and feelings ; that they mutually act
and react upon each other, and that any devi-
ation from the path of strict rectitude iti one,
will produce a correspondent effect upon the
other. Impressed with this conviction, he is
daily and hourly exercised in watchfulness and
fear before the Lord, that his heart may be
right in the Divine siglit, and that all his
outward transactions may be entered upon
and conducted with a decided and settled re-
ference to the will of God. Hence, when
prospects which promise temporal advantages
or enjoyment are presented, the test to which
he brings them is not whether his worldly
prosperity, or gratification, or grandeur, will
be enhanced by embraciiig them, but whether
it will promote the hon(Jur and glory of his
Divine Master, by doing his will, and advan-
cing his own soul in holiness and humility.
Thus he is often exercised in the path of self-
denial and cross bearing, even in things,
which, viewed according to the wisdom of
this world, are not only innocent but laudable;
though when brought to the decision of the
unflattering witness for Truth, they are rank
ed among thoss which "are not expedient"
for the lowly disciple of a crucified Saviour.
The wise and prudent among men may laugh
at and despise this narrow way, and reason
very plausibly in favour of greater latitude,
but woe unto that soul which lends an ear to
such suggestions, and chooses for itself a
broader and easier path. There are many
instances on record of those, who, having
through mercy, known something of the work
of true religion, and been brouglit to sit un-
der the teaching of Christ Jesus the Lord,
have for a season walked with delight in
this narrow but safe path of the daily cross,
by which the pride and loftiness of the human
heart have been, in good measure, humbled
and brought down, and preservation in peace
and settlement been experienced. But for
want of close watchfulness, letting the mind
out after the riches, or grandeur, or friend-
ships and pleasures of the world, they have
grown weary of the cross ; have departed
from the heavenly guide, and gone out into
things which have proved very hurtful, and
gradually led them into a dark and bewil-
dered condition, in which they have scarcely
been able to discern good from evil. In this
lamentable state, they have been ready to call
in question, and even to ridicule those tender
scruples, which in better days were raised in
their minds respecting many parts of their
conduct, concluding they were whims and
notions ; and can even go so far as to sneer
«t,those who, having kept their integrity, and
held fast their allegiance to their Lord and
Saviour, dare not do other than walk conform-
ably thereto. Such as these, having rejected
the Heavenly Pilot, and chosen to take the
management into their own hands, are often
left to prosecute the voyage of life, unaided



THE FRIEND. ,oe

by Him who only can control the winds and But it is not in the power of any man to
waves, and bring the ship in safety to her preserve himself— however great his natural
destined haven; and many are the sorrowful endowments, or spiritual attainments, this is
instances in which they have been dashed to a blessing which God alone can bestow, and
pieces on the rocks, or stranded on the sands he grants it to the humble and fervent pray-
of their own folly, as beacons to warn succeed- ers of all his watchful and depending children,
ing voyagers of the dangers of attempting to who trust in Him alone, atid lean not to their
steer tlieir own course. Such an example is own understanding.

the case of Edward Browne. j In the year 17^4 Edward Browne lost his

It appears from the narrative which has valuable wife; and getting from under this
come into my hands, that he was a native of watchful and depending state, he became
Cork, in Ireland, and went from thence to ;" disobedient to the heavenly vision," in
Sunderland, in England, to serve his appren-. which he had been given clearly to see the
ticeship. During this period, through the things which belonged to his soul's peace, and
tendering visitations of the love of God, he for a season was enabled to pursue them. He
was induced to take heed to the Light of | now let out his mind after worldly greatness
Christ in his conscience, whereby he was pre- j — became ambitious of doing a large business,
served out of evil, and strengthened to walk, — and entangled himself with temporal affairs
as a good example to his associates and ac- that proved too heavy for him, by which he
quaintances. Having served his time reput-iwas involved in losses and disappointments,
ably, and being about to return to Ireland, the ' and finally became a bankrupt. In his bewil-



Online LibraryRobert SmithThe Friend : a religious and literary journal (Volume 16) → online text (page 50 of 154)