« ПредишнаНапред »
you with it; (though I remember a person in Lone don once told me that the Friends do not suffer their children to read such writers). For my own part, I embrace truth wherever I meet her; though at the same time, like your worthy predecessor, Isaac Penington, I should like to strip her of all her false colourings and ornaments in which she is too often decorated. Hervey in his Theron and Aspasio, speaking on the peculiar fitness in the difference of persons ; or as it respects God choosing an heritage for his people, and assigning a condition to each of his servants, observes “ there is a great variety, yet perfect uniformity. Some he calls out to a course of distinguished labours; they make an illustrious figure in the world (like the cedars which stand conspicuous on the top of Lebanon). Others he consigns over to obscurity ; like the prophets whom good Obadiah hid in the cave; and are styled his secret ones. (Psal. lxxxiii. 3.) (or, like the violets which lie con. cealed at the foot of a briar). St. Paul was eminently qualified for busy scenes, and the most extensive service:-his ministry—amidst the most renowned and populous cities. Whereas the beloved John, being less fit to bustle among a crowd is sent unto the une frequented solitary island; there to indulge the flights of heavenly contemplation.” But as it res, pects myself, it may, for a while, perhaps, be the will of the Almighty that I may be like Job, of whom it was said, he “shall have thorns in his paths; have the dunghill for his seat; and be exposed as a mark to all the arrows of tribulation !" (p. 132, vol. 3.)
As to the perfect uniformity amongst the great variety of professing Christians of the present day, I must confess, I see but little of it (as may be seen in the sequel). I will allow, indeed, there is much propriety of reason, and more of religion in the determined will of God, in the assigning the several conditions of life of his people; but I cannot altogether allow, indeed, the determined will of God in choosing me for good and happiness, and refusing my mother, or sister, or any other, and consigning them to eternal misery! I mean, I cannot allow of God's determined will,-election and predestination,-in the manner in which some now hold it. My reason I may perhaps have to give more particularly hereafter.
Again, that our faith may be tried, if not shaken, is the lot of most professing Christians. In no case, among my many trials, do I recollect one more afflictive than a pecuniary disappointment I have lately experienced; and which, being attended with peculiarly distressing circumstances, was almost more than my human nature, unassisted by divine grace, could have borne ; especially as it occurred at a time when I was extremely solicitous for a small loan, towards defraying the expenses of printing this work, as well as for some domestic purposes. This was enough to overwhelm any delicate mind,-one who desires to provide things decent in the sight of all men, and considers it degrading to human nature to be reduced to extreme penury, and be obliged to expose their affairs to the world!
This, I say, was, and is the greatest trial, struggle, and conflict between feeling and conscience, nature and grace, I can remember myself ever to
omdiet between foeling and conscience
have sustained. To love our enemies, to do good to and pray for them that hate us and despitefully use us, is no easy task to human nature; and to forgive our enemies, truly to forgive them, is no less hard a task. Although there are “mercies of loving kindness” mixt with this trial of my faith, I do find it hard to flesh and blood (particularly as human reason and law offer their services to remove the difficulty) to say from the heart, on behalf of those who have so deeply wounded me, “ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!”*
* Since I made these remarks, I am not only particularly encouraged to reduce to practice the above principle, but also happily confirmed in the foregoing extracts and remarks, by a short and pertinent discourse delivered by an esteemed, and I believe worthy teaching minister of your Society, poor old Martha Bions (on first day last, fifth month, 28th, 1815), “widow," of the church, I think too, indeed and in truth, in a few words on Joshua, of whom it is said, “ he and his house had chosen to serve the Lord," whatever Baal and his priests, the wise ones of the world, might think and say of us; she concluded, on the great and marvellous things which he did, and were done for him, by saying, that “ miracles are not ceased : ” “ it is no less a wonder, and a miracle, that human nature should be made able to love their enemies; do good for evil; bless them that curse and despitefully use and persecute us.” And I felt an uni. on of sentiment, not less so is it, to be able to say, “ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!"
I cannot help observing here, that I consider this testimony of your esteemed teaching minister, and the witness of my own conscience, as highly favourable to this publication : yes ; nearly equivalent to the submitting of it for correction and (patronage, or) sanction of " the Morning Meeting." Though, let it be understood, I do not immediately object to such a rule of obedi. ence by those who are owned and treated as members of your Society.
This occurrence, however, placed me in a trying situation ; and I began to think that unless “ the Almighty worked a miracle on purpose," as it were, I should not be able to get this work printed. But ah, my soul ! why despair? “Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth ?” saith the Lord. And shall I receive good at the hand of God, and not evil? Well, my soul! praise the Lord, and speak good of his name. I know not what good may come out of this furnace work; neither do I know “ what is laid up for them that love him," and that “ love Christ's appearance in the heart.”—The cattle upon a thousand hills are his; the earth, and the fulness thereof.
This trying situation calls to my mind the days which are past, when I first (as the world term it) “ turned Quaker;" rather, when I began to reduce to practice the principles and doctrines of Jesus Christ, as held forth by your Society, called Quakers; and in which I may say I endured “a fight of afflictions." Oh, the conflicts between feeling and conscience, nature and grace! How unwilling to become “a fool for Christ's sake!” Rejected, in a measure, by those who were particularly dear to me; and despised by my acquaintance! How many are the times when I remember turning out of the public streets (in London) into some more private, to give vent to my tears—to my exercised soul! Ready to cry out, “ Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me! nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done!"—Ah, my dear Friends, when we are brought thus experimentally to pray, we are not far from
the kingdom of heaven; or, as your Society hath it, "the kingdom of heaven is within us." :
i But I am aware some may say, as it respects this recent trial, that " I bring it upon myself;" at least, “I am accessary to it, iby not going to law;" and besides, “the Quakers go 'to law.” I shall not stop here to examine the propriety of your Society going to law, as consistent with your peaceable and patient suffering doctrine of profession; I have not much doubt that if I go to law I might get some redress : but I wave “common law” in this matter, and desire to submit to a higher tribunal-to my adversary's own conscience, in an appeal to the great Arbiter of all men's thoughts and actions. “ Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life!” “I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? No, not one that shall be able to judge between his bre. thren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.". I Cor. vi. 1, 2, 3. 5, 6. . . . . . 10
You, my dear friends, will permit me, in arguing this case, (if not remind you) to adopt the language of a very learned critic, and I presume very worthy member of your Society, though in a different case, yet on the same ground of faith and obedience.