A NARRATIVE OF THE EARLY LIFE, TRAVELS, AND GOSPEL LABORS OF JESSE KERSEY, LATE OF CHESTER COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
Taken from Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Chapman, 1851.
This Document is on The Quaker Writings Home page
Chapter 4: Voyage to Liverpool--Travels in England and Ireland--Return home--Reflections---Visit to Philadelphia--Reflections--Journey to the South, to visit Slaveholders--Visit to Philadelphia. (Part 2)
After the decease of my companion, being invited to the city of Philadelphia by some of my acquaintance, I went there, and commenced a small tea store. But a few months convinced me that I could not stand upon any thing like a reasonably independent footing there. After weighing things in my own mind, I felt that I might retire, and endeavor to gain such a state of inward confidence and quietude, as appeared to me particularly desirable in advanced life. I accordingly left the city and returned to Chester County, where the time passed pleasantly along without my being much engaged in any way.
1832, 11th. mo. 20th.--I am now in the habitation of my kind friends, Mordecai Hayes and wife, who have generously accommodated me with a comfortable home. Being therefore free from all worldly cares, an opportunity was furnished to consider what may be the duties to be fulfilled in the evening of life.
This day I attended the Western quarterly Meeting, which proved to be a time of deep suffering without any way opening for my being relieved. According to my feelings, the members of Society in this place are in a weak state, and it is not unlikely that it may not be long before some painful circumstances will occur among them. In the course of the proceedings of this Quarterly Meeting, I perceived there were those that would be likely to sow the seeds of discord, and thus produce further cause of trial and suffering to the living and upright.
Reflecting upon the subject of the ministry among us, and the solemnity which should always attend a living gospel exercise of it, I am convinced that we have appearances in that weighty work which have not the baptizing power of Truth attending them. Such communications always have a tendency to lessen the character of preaching. It would be much better if the meetings of Friends were held in silence, than to be burdened with lifeless communications. It is truly to be desired that Friends may never become ashamed of their silent meetings, and spiritual worship. In such opportunities of solemn silence, the sincere mind may witness a deepening in the root of Divine life.
I am often deeply impressed with considerations on the awful nature of the change that is every day drawing nearer and nearer. And although, on looking back over many years of my life, I may say that much of my time has been devoted to the great cause of universal righteousness: yet I am very sensible that during part of the time I have justly been numbered among the weak members of the church. But at no time since I have been concerned for the cause of Truth, has my soul wilfully turned away from my God to follow other beloveds, however in some things I have wandered from the true ground of safety, by endeavoring to obtain relief to a weak tabernacle through wrong means. But through the ever adorable help of the Almighty, I have been tenderly cared for, and helped over all my trials and sufferings, for which I have great cause to worship and to praise his ever excellent name. While I am sensible that I am deeply indebted to Divine Goodness for his many favors and blessings from my childhood up, yet I feel that there is a constant necessity for great watchfulness, and care lest I should fail to inherit the promises.
About the beginning of the year 1833, I attended a meeting at Center, and found my way open to deliver a clear and living testimony to the simplicity and purity of the gospel spirit; and to declare my belief that at this day it is powerfully operating upon the souls of many people; and that the great Father of mankind by his spirit is gathering home to himself sons and daughters from among all the families of the earth. It was a comfortable view in which I had to rejoice, and in thankfulness of heart reverently to worship, praise, and adore the blessed Giver of every good and perfect gift. Friends were also seriously exhorted to mind their calling; and by improving their time and talents, thus become prepared for the awful change that awaits us all; remembering the apostolic counsel to use" all diligence to make their calling and election sure, before they go hence and are seen of men no more."
I also attended Kennett Monthly Meeting, held at Marlborough. In this opportunity my mind was largely opened in a stream of gospel love, and much important matter flowed to those present. To one state I was led to speak with great solemnity; under an impression that the time was near a close with the individual, and the work behindhand; and that if the present invitation of Divine grace was not embraced there might never be another call extended. The youth were also tenderly urged to turn their backs upon the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh; that so the precious talents they received might be occupied and improved to the honor and glory of the great Giver, and to their everlasting peace and comfort.
In the 4th month, 1834, I attended our Yearly Meeting, held in Philadelphia. At the opening of one of the sittings it came before me to remark, that I took it for granted that we were not assembled to do our own, but the Lord's work. Hence, it was necessary that we should individually learn practically to understand the sublime testimony of one of the Lord's prophets, where he says, "Unto us a child is born,--unto us a son is given and upon his shoulders the government shall rest." I further remarked that it was only as we came to understand his government, that we knew him to be the wonderful Counselor,--the mighty God,--the everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. I could say from my own experience, that as I was careful to wait in the life and power of the Divine gift,--way was made to know what to do, and what to leave undone; and, indeed, that every communication called for by the light-and spirit of Truth, had the baptizing power of Truth to witness to its heavenly nature;--and pure, evangelical peace flowed as a consequence.
During the course of this Yearly Meeting, I felt my mind much impressed with a strong persuasion that there was a great want of deep inward retirement, and humble waiting upon the Head of the Church of Christ, that we might witness the government to rest upon his shoulders, and know his blessed light to enlighten us, and to furnish sound judgment on all the cases and subjects brought before us.
About the middle of the week, in the evening, I had a solemn and blessed meeting with a large number of the colored people, in their meeting house on Lombard street. The company sat in great stillness and quietude, and the time did not seem tedious to them.
On fourth day morning I was at Green street meeting, which was large, and in the early part it seemed to be very solemn: but I thought much of this solemnity was lost before it closed. This appeared to me to be the consequence of too much preaching. There were a number who spoke before me, and six after I sat down. In the afternoon, John Livingston, a Friend from Baltimore, opened and spread before the Yearly Meeting some very interesting remarks on the great subject of education. He stated that it began with our beginning, and ended only with our lives--that from the cradle to the grave we were learning. Our first impressions were received in the nursery, and all the subsequent events that we met with, had their influence in forming our characters. Hence, the importance of being taught an early subjection of our wills, so that the rational powers might be kept free, and all improper prejudices avoided. By having our minds and habits tightly formed and disciplined to the cross of Christ, we became fitted for taking a useful part in the great concerns of the church. He also held up the view that just in the same proportion as the whole system of our education was governed by the perfect principle of Truth, we were rendered and made up a body competent to the fulfilment of the duties of our time. On closing his remarks it was evident that "words fitly spoken had a powerful effect."
The 26th of the 1st month, 1835, I set out on a visit to the meetings composing Abington and Bucks Quarters. In the evening I arrived at Philadelphia where I was met by Samuel West, who was to accompany me in the journey
28th.--Had an appointed meeting at Byberry, which was large. In this opportunity, I was led to speak of the state of the ministry, and particularly to urge the necessity there was for those who thought they were called to this weighty service, to mind the right time to close, and not continue speaking until all were wishing them to sit down. It was also observed as a painful circumstance to the hearers, when a minister continued speaking and there was no life nor power attending;--and if a Friend should, in this or any other respect, give occasion of concern, it was always right to stand open to the counsel of those who should be so kind as to speak to him on account of his mistakes. And it was further remarked, that any one who should appear to be hurt or offended because he was spoken to by a friend, could not be on sound and safe ground. This meeting ended much to my satisfaction; and we rode to Isaac Parry's the afternoon following.
29th.--Had a meeting at Horsham, in which my mind was much exercised, from a sense that the pure gift of God's spirit was not submitted to as should have been the case by some who knew the precious influence of it. Next day we had a large and blessed meeting at Plymouth. The great and important work of man's redemption and salvation, was livingly and powerfully illustrated. The solemnity that was felt gave ample evidence that the minds of many present were deeply impressed with the importance of the testimony.
31st.--At a meeting at Upper Dublin, I felt much on account of a spirit of unbelief in the Divine gift to man. It came before me to show that every man stood in need of a guide to conduct him safely through time; that those who accepted the reason of man, as this all sufficient guide,--must be mistaken because it was not capable of looking into the future: but this, a competent guide should do. Many other proofs occurred at the time, going to show that the doctrines of a divine revelation, was the only rational doctrine on which to place our unlimited confidence, as a safe guide to conduct us through all the trials and difficulties of life. The meeting ended with much solemnity. After dining at Spencer Thomas's, we rode to James Paul's and lodged. Next day, we attended Abington meeting, and had a large and very interesting meeting at Frankford, at three o'clock in the afternoon. In this opportunity my mind was opened into some very clear views of the work of man's redemption: showing that it consisted of a full and perfect submission of the animal spirit in man, to the light and power of "the word of God;"--and that those who had experience of this found indeed that "the word of God is quick and powerful--dividing asunder between soul and spirit." That is, the soul being set at liberty from the state of thraldom, in which it had been held, as the consequence of living "after the flesh,"--had the opportunity given to it to rule and govern the lower nature in man; and thus attained to a state of perfect freedom. But if, when it was thus visited and aided it chose to return to the fleshy desires and inclinations,--it thus became again plunged into bondage; and by living after the flesh, it must die to all the heavenly and spiritual powers, and be lost in the vortex of sin and misery. The meeting was a favored one, and closed in the life. After which we rode to Thornton Walton's and lodged.
2d mo. 2.--Had a meeting at Bustleton, under some disadvantages for want of better accommodations; but, keeping patiently to the openings before me had the satisfaction to witness a blessed solemnity together. After this I attended Abington Quarterly Meeting, and had a meeting at the Billet, or Hatborough, on sixth day. On seventh day bad a meeting at Montgomery Square; in which I felt engaged to show, that as the great business of man's salvation was purely spiritual, it was impossible for outward or elementary means to accomplish the work. Hence, water baptism and all other material dependencies were rejected. The meeting ended under a satisfactory feeling of solemnity, and I retired to the habitation of our friend Joseph Foulke with a thankful heart.
8th.--We were at Gwynedd meeting; in which I felt my mind extremely barren and poor. But by waiting in spirit upon the great Helper of His people, way opened to become clear in a testimony to the value of the "unspeakable gift." In the afternoon we rode to Norristown, where a large gathering of people assembled, and I had an open and blessed opportunity. Much solemnity prevailed, and it appeared that many minds were reached. Next day we had a meeting at Providence, which, though small, was a comfortable season. A number of the Seventh Day Baptists was present, and requested that I would have a meeting with them. On consideration, I felt easy to accede to the proposal, and the day following had a solid and instructive opportunity with them. Thence we rode to John Foulke's, at Richland.
12th.--Attended Richland meeting, which ended with a satisfactory evidence that we had been favored together. On sixth day we rode to Allentown, and had a very interesting meeting there. Many present seemed to be brought to a state of serious reflection, and much solemnity covered the assembly. The next day we had a blessed meeting at Easton. In this opportunity I found the way open to show the nature of the great work of redemption. When the meeting closed, we had cause to admire the goodness of our holy Helper in condescending to be both mouth and wisdom, tongue and utterance. In opening the doctrines which came before me, I was particularly led to show, that the sons of the morning did speak only the things that they knew; and that Paul was taught the doctrine which he preached by revelation only.
16th.--Had a meeting at Plumstead in the morning, and another in the evening at Doylestown. Both of these were solid and edifying opportunities. In the afternoon of the day following I had a religious opportunity with the children of Martha Hampton's school; and lodged at John Watson's. Next day attended Buckingham meeting, and I found it to be a laborious opportunity. The weight of my concern was principally toward those who had been visited with the dayspring from on high,--but who had not been faithful to the light with which they had been blessed. In their case I was led into much serious expostulation, and had a hope that the labor would not be lost. But the meeting was closed, as I thought, too soon. It felt to me as if more time ought to have been spent in a retired state--but, closing as it did, the true point of solemnity was not gained.
19th.--I was at Solebury meeting; wherein my mind was opened into a clear view of the work of man's salvation; and the testimony delivered had a solemnizing effect. In the evening I attended a large gathering at New Hope. In this opportunity my mind was opened in a remarkable manner, in explanation of the great work of the salvation of the soul of man. When I had closed, a young woman arose and proceeded at considerable length; but it was evident that the solemnity was leaving the meeting. I felt very tender of the young woman, and was much tried with the circumstance. At length, I spoke to her, and desired that she would try to come to a close; mentioning that it was a serious thing to disturb the solemnity of..the meeting. She tried to go on, but found she could not, and therefore sat down.
On the 20th, I had a large and laborious meeting at Wrightstown, in this opportunity I was led to show that all gospel-ministry was the fruit of the Divine power and wisdom, and that no human acquirements can ever produce a single gospel minister. It was a blessed meeting; but on recurring to my feelings there, I am still impressed with sadness. Although I was led to speak on the subject of the ministry with great plainness, yet it seemed to me as though the proper effect of the concern was not produced. But this must be left: and a kind of preaching may continue to be suffered, which is out of the pure guidance of the Divine Spirit.
Next day, had a meeting at Makefield. It was large, and in it the doctrine of Divine revelation was opened, and shown to be the true and only principle upon which the true church has always been grounded and built. It was a satisfactory meeting, and ended well. In the afternoon, we rode to Newtown and lodged at Joseph Brigg's. Here we had the company of our kind friend, Edward Hicks. During the evening our conversation was interesting, embracing some of the leading doctrines of Christianity, in which we could see eye to eye.
22d.--Attended Newtown meeting, where I found the way open to deliver a plain testimony to the power and wisdom of the "unspeakable gift" to man. My confidence was renewed in the universal operation of this Divine Spirit. It appeared to me that in the progress of this principle, many would be gathered from off the mountains of an empty profession, to the living experience of the power and government of the ever blessed Spirit of Truth. Next day I was at a meeting at the Falls; and therein felt my mind opened into a general view of the nature of man, and of the great work of his redemption from under the influence and power of his own animal spirit:--showing that this could only be perfected by the aid of the word or spirit of God. The testimony appeared to have a deep and solemn effect upon the minds of many present. After sitting down a short time, I felt a weight of concern to hold up to the view of the others present, the vast importance of the duties to Which they were called in regard to their tender offspring ;--showing that as they had the opportunity of making the first impressions upon them, it was of great consequence that they should make no other than correct impressions upon their tender minds. In the conclusion of this meeting, I felt thankful for the aid that I experienced in discharging my duty among the people.
On the 24th, had a meeting at Middletown, which ended in the life. The next day I attended the Quarterly Meeting of Ministers and Elders, at Wrightstown, and the day following that, for business; both of which were satisfactory to me. The 27th, had a meeting at Pennsbury, and in the evening had a large and interesting meeting at Bristol. The doctrine delivered in this opportunity appeared to make a deep impression. After I sat down, a short but lively testimony was borne in concurrence with what had been delivered. The meeting then sat for some time in a satisfactory, solemn silence.
On first day the 1st of 3d month, in the morning, attended Byberry meeting in company with George Hatton. In the afternoon was at Holmesburg. Our meeting at this place was much crowded, and many had to stand; yet there was no disposition to move until the close. I had great occasion thankfully to adore the great Shepherd of the sheep, for the abundant aid furnished in this memorable meeting. It was a season in which I was led to point out the nature of the operation of the all-powerful gift of God to man, and particularly to dwell upon the vast importance of the redemption of the soul from under the influence of the natural or animal spirit. It appeared to me, that in the doctrine which Paul preached, he had the same view of the nature of the saving power of the word of God, that I was led to open to that assembly. As this meeting was chiefly composed of other societies. I was also led to remark, that as the glorious light of Truth opened upon the minds of the people, women would come forth in the ministry, as they had done in the primitive church;--that the religious rights and privileges of females had been acknowledged only where the true doctrines of the gospel have been embraced,--these privileges being best understood by those who best understand the gospel spirit.
This meeting was the closing of my public labors in this journey. On looking back calmly over the visit, and taking a retrospective view of the meetings I have attended, I think I may say that in almost, if not quite every instance I have witnessed the most powerful ability furnished that I have ever experienced at any time of my life. Nor do I think that I ever before knew more of the sympathy and unity of my friends. I have therefore cause to say, "Return, O my soul, to the place of thy rest, for tho Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee."
The following letter, having reference to the preceding journey, may be properly introduced here. It was dated 9th of 3d mo., 1835.
Dear Friend:--I have several times since my return home recurred to thy request that I would write to thee. After I had gone through my visit and retired from the field of action, it seemed as though I was unfit for anything but to be retired and quiet. And this continues to be much the state in which I am landed. I may say, however, that at no time of my life have I felt a stronger solicitude, that the pure principles and doctrines of the Christian religion might be rightly understood and honestly embraced, than since I have been released from the late arduous journey. Were this the case the world over, the human family would feel that they were all one happy brotherhood; and kindness and harmony would reign from sea to sea, and from the rivers to the ends of the earth. Convinced I am, that all which has yet been known of the brightness and glory of God's redeeming power, would be but as the twilight of morning compared with a meridian sun. Yes, my dear friend, if the souls of mankind were emancipated from the miserable dominion of the animal spirit, and perfectly united with the Word of life, a new order of things would be introduced. Instead of being bound down by pride and prejudice, every faculty would be brought to the clearness of the light of Truth; and all the creation of God would be seen as the product of unlimited power and wisdom. In this heavenly enjoyment of the blessed works of Omnipotence, being ourselves a part of the same, we should freely admit, that the one-half had never been told us of the perfection of his order and government.
To see my fellow creatures muddling along in this world, the slaves of every passion, and blindly expecting to improve their happiness by heaping up the treasures of the earth, is a circumstance which sometimes almost overpowers every faculty, and I feel as if I could say to my great and benevolent Creator, How long, O thou of infinite power and majesty, wilt thou suffer thy erring and transgressing creatures thus to put darkness for light,--evil for good, and misery for happiness? Shall the human family who are the declared objects of thy redeeming love, never rise above their present corrupted and sorrowful condition? Yes, my dear friend, the great Shepherd of the sheep is doubtless secretly and powerfully acting his own blessed part;--and many shall come from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south, and sit down with his gathered host in the heavenly kingdom.
But it seems to me, that in aid of this glorious work, the time is coming when the female part of society will be brought out into the exercise of the pure and glorious gift, to the edification and comfort of the lambs of the flock. I think too, that I can see in the all-powerful progress of the Holy Spirit, there will be a still more effectual shaking of all formal professors and professions,--that those who have been attempting to promote the Lord's work in their own will and wisdom, will be removed out of the way,--and all that tends to darken the counsel of God in the souls of the people, and to lead to a dependence upon outward and elementary means, will be understood to number among the ministers of anti-Christ.
Having this faith I feel abundantly convinced that the society of Friends are in a very responsible station. We have been brought to a more full and clear profession of a belief in the inward revelation of God to the souls of men, than any other class of Christian professors. Hence, it must be expected that we should demonstrate the correctness of our principles by our practice. But if on the contrary, we should show to others, that with all this profession we are living in the gratification of the carnal mind, and are fulfilling the lusts of the flesh,--it may be said to us. You of all the families of the earth have t known, and you will I punish.
But, my dear friend, from what I have seen and felt, I cannot think otherwise than that an important body are coming forth from among our beloved young people, who, seeing the beauty and excellency of the Christian path, will be in earnest to walk in it. I am, however, often concerned for these, lest they should be led off by false lights and visionary opinions. If they were brought to understand that the great work of the soul's redemption can only be perfected by yielding obedience to the Holy Spirit, and that it is the teaching of this Spirit which calls us to stand separate from the improper indulgence of the animal spirit,--they would soon see into the glorious consequence of their obedience to all its impressions and calls of duty.
I have also been led, in my retired moments, to admire the clear and perfect understanding which our worthy predecessors had, of the nature of the gospel dispensation. We find them coming out from under a formal ministry, and bearing a faithful testimony against it. They fully believed, that all true ministry was the fruit of the divine gift of God to man; and that, as this gift was freely given, so those who received it were freely to minister, as they should be led by it. But they were aware, that no man could command the movements of this divine and all-sufficient principle. They that were furnished with it, were to wait upon it, and minister only when and as they should be thereunto moved by it. Hence, they were led to sit down together in silence, that they might wait upon God to put them forth, and not run or speak in their own wills. This state of silent waiting was found to be profitable for every one to enter into, because therein every individual was furnished with an opportunity secretly to worship God in the spirit, according to the qualification received of him at the .time. Our predecessors also were enlightened to see, that Prayer, in order to be acceptable to God, must be dictated by his own blessed spirit immediately moving thereunto. Hence all those forms of prayer which were commonly used among other professors, were to them little better than mere idolatry. So also in regard to the custom of singing. They could not believe that the matter expressed with a musical tone of the voice, was rendered any more acceptable to God from the mere sound of words so modulated; and therefore they rejected all those outward forms of music and singing in their solemn meetings; preferring a silent introversion of mind in sincerity of heart, and an inward spiritual devotion,--to all outward and formal acts. Not only as related to their solemn meetings, did they leave the customs of other professors; but when these called the scriptures the word of God, and held it as their belief that none could be saved unless they were furnished with the book,--Friends knew and declared that the scriptures taught very different doctrines. Indeed it is admirable with what clearness their minds were opened on all important subjects; so that they seemed to be alive to everything that militated against the advancement of the pure and righteous principles and testimonies of the gospel of Christ. Trusting in and following the same holy guide, I am persuaded that we of the present time, may in like manner perform the work of our day,
On seventh day the 11th of 4th month, 1835, I attended the Yearly Meeting of Ministers and Elders, at Philadelphia. It was, in the morning, a meeting of some comfort, and light seemed to shine Upon it. In the afternoon Elisha Dawson laid before us his concern to visit some parts of Europe, which was generally united with.
Next day I attended the meeting at Cherry street. It was a very crowded assembly, and in it my mind was opened in a view of the nature of the gospel ministry; as also into some very clear ideas of the way and work of man's redemption.
The 19th of the 10th month, 1835, I left home in company with Isaac Haynes in order to visit Friends at their Yearly Meeting in Baltimore, on the way we attended West Nottingham meeting which was small; also had a satisfactory opportunity with the inhabitants at Conewingo Bridge. Thence we proceeded on to Baltimore and lodged at Enoch Clapp's. On first day, the 25th, I was at a meeting on Lombard street. In this opportunity I was led to show the agreement in the doctrine of the Savior and the apostle Paul, his minister to the gentiles.
In attending the several sittings of the Yearly Meeting, I thought they were favored opportunities. At the close, I had an evening meeting, which was a blessed season of favor. On my way homewards, I was present at meetings at Little Falls and Deer Creek, to my satisfaction--the latter was a blessed and heavenly meeting.
On the 19th of the 8th month, 1836, I left my home and rode to Darby, where I lodged at the house of my old friends, John and Rachel Hunt. They are both advanced in life, but are warm in their love to Friends, and they possess clear and intelligent minds. Next day I went to the city, and spent the evening in the company of the widow and children of my late friend, doctor John Moore.
In looking at the prospect of religious service now before me, I have been brought into deep feeling, and very sensibly impressed with a conviction of my incapacity (as a man) for the undertaking. But, believing that I am called, now in advanced life, to make this sacrifice, I humbly hope that as my mind is centered in the great Head of the church, I may be helped through; so as in no instance to dishonor the great cause of Truth. In considering the obligations that I am under to the bountiful Giver of every good and perfect gift, I have thought they are indeed truly great; and it is my sincere desire now in the evening of life, to follow with integrity every opening of duty clearly pointed out, that so the work of my day may be honestly and faithfully performed.
21st.--I have attended three meetings to-day. In that held at Cherry street in the morning, I felt the way open to deliver a short testimony to the power and certainty of the gift of the spirit. At the close of this opportunity, my mind was deeply affected, under a sense of the weakness which was felt in consequence of a multitude of words, without the baptizing power of Truth being witnessed to reign over all.
In the evening, I was again tried with two long sermons that left me very poor and in suffering. I have said in my heart, gracious God, how is it that thy poor servant should be thus stripped, and left as it were under the power of death itself! Surely, there must be a cause: and if it is in me, oh! help me to do all that is necessary, for its removal. And now, as I am going out in thy service, grant, O Lord, that my eyes and my understanding may be kept open;--so that I may see and know all that is required,--and that do, and no more. Let not thy servant fall into the mistake of attempting to minister, to gratify the ears of the people. Oh! preserve me in the life and light of thy own blessed Spirit;--that so, all that I may say or do, may be to thy honor, and that all my selfish nature may he laid in the dust. For thine is the power and the glory, and the honor of all thy own great and blessed works,--and to us belongs nothing but blushing and confusion of face.
From Philadelphia, I went to the house of my kind friend Joseph Briggs, at Newtown, Bucks county. Poverty of spirit was my attendant, nor could I, for a season, feel as if I was competent for anything. It seemed: as though there was not anything for me to rejoice in or to be glad about. I know it is a great attainment in all conditions to be contented. The apostle Paul knew what it was to suffer want, and also to abound; and he had gained the ground of content, both in poverty and when he abounded. If this happy state can be gained by one, then surely it may be by another. To be able to endure all things, and keep the everlasting patience, is very desirable. By cherishing a state of resignation, much may be done; and without it all that we can have is of but little value.
While I was at Newtown, I felt the way open to attend Burlington Quarterly Meeting, held at Mount Holly. On getting into the town I thought it right to appoint a meeting with the inhabitants generally: and accordingly it was held, and proved .to be a solemn and blessed opportunity. The Quarterly Meeting was also satisfactory: but a proposal to open the shutters near the close was trying to me, and I excused myself and withdrew. The meeting had been furnished with extensive communication before, and it seemed to me out of time to attempt anything more at that period. After returning to Newtown, I made ready to prosecute my journey to New York State; and on 2d day the 6th of 9th month, I arrived in the city of New York, in the evening.
On fifth day, I attended Purchase Monthly Meeting, and the next day, that at Shapaqua, which was a precious opportunity. In the afternoon I made a visit to William Carpenter, who appeared to be fast going to the house appointed for all the living. The evening was passed in pleasant and instructive conversation at the house of Samuel Sutton where we lodged.
On sixth day, the 9th, I was at Croton meeting, where qualification was furnished to deliver a clear and plain testimony to the pure and unchangeable Truth. Next day had a meeting at Salem.
On first day the 18th, I was at Saratoga meeting, which was an instructive opportunity. The subject of communication was the great mercy of God in granting to his rational creation the gift of his holy spirit.
On fifth day the 22d, I was at Pittstown meeting, which was small. In the afternoon we returned to Troy, and I felt my mind released, with a comfortable evidence that I might return from these northern parts. Next day we came to Albany; and I attended the meeting of Friends, but found a Concern to have an appointed meeting there in the evening: which was a satisfactory season. After this we went back to Troy, and after attending the funeral of Robert Barton, had an evening meeting there.
Notwithstanding much poverty of spirit was my attendant in this journey, yet I have been helped through much to my own comfort and relief; and have great cause humbly to admire the mercy and goodness of the great Shepherd of his flock.
During this journey it was remarkable to me to find my way was generally very open: and though some of the meetings were small, they were all instructive and blessed opportunities.
After my return home, a concern arose to visit some meetings, appoint some, westward, as far as Huntington. I set out in company with Charles Buffington, and had an interesting meeting at Strasburg; thence to Lampeter--and one at a house intended for general use, about eight miles northward. Thence to Lancaster, Yorktown, Newberry, Lisborn, and Lewisburg, where I had meetings to the relief my own mind. We then rode to Warrington and were entertained at John Walter's. The meeting at Warrington seemed like a poor concern: but at Huntington, we had a large and interesting meeting. During our stay here, we lodged at Joel Garretson's. At a village called Petersburg, I had a large and blessed opportunity, and another at a place called Berlin. Thence we returned to Yorktown and had an evening meeting, in which way opened to hold up to view the difference between a mere formal profession of religion, and a living experience of its redeeming effects.
On the 5th of the 8th month, 1837, I went to Philadelphia in order to attend the Quarterly Meeting there, and appoint some meetings, as way might open. On first day morning we had a solid and instructive meeting at Cherry street. In the evening, my mind was livingly opened in the pure stream of the blessed go, of Christ; and it appeared to me that many present were brought under the baptizing power of the spirit of Truth. Great solemnity prevailed, and the meeting ended in a very satisfactory manner. Next day, in the Quarterly Meeting of Ministers and Elders, I was thankful to feel my mind calm and peaceful; and it was no small satisfaction to meet with a number of Friends from different parts of the country. I also had a meeting at Green street, which was one of those blessed opportunities in which the power of Truth was felt to be in dominion. On third-day evening I had another favored meeting at Spruce street.
During the time spent in Philadelphia, my mind was led to take a view of the condition of many Friends in that place; and it appeared to me that it was far from being a desirable one to a sincere humble-minded man. Their children are much exposed to many dangers and temptations--and many of the heads of families, having to gain the means of subsistence by trade and commerce, are often involved in great trials from the changes and fluctuations that are frequently taking place. They do not therefore enjoy that quietude of mind, and exemption from many difficulties, which is or may be attained in a way of living attended with fewer wants and less exposure to temptations. Hence, I have become persuaded, that it is often a great mistake on the part of those who are brought up in the simplicity of a country life,--to change their residence and remove into these large cities, more especially when they engage largely in those kinds of business with which they are little or not at all acquainted. Indeed, it is very doubtful whether any one entering largely into business, can go through with all that (in the present mode of doing things) seems in some sort necessary to be done in conducting business in the city, without more or less swerving from correct principles, and departing from the duty of doing to others as they would be done by.
9th. I left the city and went to Darby, where I was kindly accommodated at the house of my old friend Rachel Hunt. On first day I attended Darby meeting, which did not seem to me to be so lively as it had been in former days;--several of the old and valuable members having been removed by death. On second and third days, I was at the Quarterly Meeting held at Concord. The opportunity was one of much solemnity, in which I had an open time, and the meeting appeared to be a profitable and instructive season.
On fifth day the 17th, I was at an appointed meeting at Kennett. Here I was led to show that Christianity was not only a religion of Divine origin, but that it was also a religion of universal application. But if the formalities that priestcraft had attached to it, were to be credited, this would destroy the universality of its character. But the blessed Jesus had declared that we were not to follow any of the lo heres, or lo theres; because the kingdom of heaven was within. It was evident also, that our early Friends maintained this view, and wisely rejected all external ceremonies,--declaring that the grace of God (which, according to the testimony of Paul, was universally bestowed) was an all-sufficient means of salvation; and therefore no other means were necessary. This doctrine they have handed down to us, free from all mistake or difficulty,-- reuniting as they did with all the apostles and primitive believers, in maintaining the sublimity and dignity of the blessed gospel that is preached in every creature.
After this meeting, in company with doctor Rolf C. Marsh, I went to Moses Pennock's and lodged; and on sixth day had a large and instructive meeting at Kennet-Square. It was cause of gratitude to find in this opportunity the blessed presence of Him who promised to be to his dedicated children both mouth and wisdom, tongue and utterance. From this meeting I was kindly conveyed to Thomas Ellicott's, where I spent the time agreeably; and on first day the 20th, was at New Garden meeting in the forenoon,--and paid a visit to George Gawthrop's family in the afternoon. Next day I was at the Western Quarterly Meeting of Ministers and Elders, and the day following I attended the general meeting for business. It was a very large gathering; but it seemed to be my place to be silent. In the afternoon I went to Caln, and attended the Quarterly Meeting there on fourth and fifth days. After the close of the meeting I returned home.
On seventh day the 26th, in company with Abner Chalfant; I went, to Wilmington, and the next day I was at meeting with Friends there, near the close of which I had a short testimony to deliver.
It has been remarkable to me, that of latter time, in almost all the instances in which I have been engaged in public testimony, I have felt bound to advocate the doctrine of a measure of the Divine Spirit being given to every man to profit withal,--and to show that, according to the scriptures, this gift is universal; and therefore the means of salvation is not confined to any sect, nation, or party. By the power of this gift, the innumerable company which John saw, were gathered cut of every nation, kindred, tongue and people.
Hence it is evident that the religion of the Son of God is of universal application. But if the grace or spirit of God was not sufficient, then this religion would not be universal, and of course it could not be held to be of Divine origin. To support the doctrine of the universality of Christianity we must strip it of all the dead formalities that have been unwisely heaped upon it. This our early Friends were zealous to do, leaving us an example that we should follow their footsteps.
At half past seven o'clock in the evening, I met an interesting company of people near the Brandywine mills. In this meeting my mind was opened into a view of the freedom which is gained by coming into a state of perfect conformity to the great principle of Truth. It was clear to me that there could be no other way or means by which the prejudiced could ever be subdued. Hence, we have cause to admire the goodness of God, in giving to his creature man this" unspeakable gift." If we were deprived of the aid of this important Guide, there would be nothing left by which the great family of mankind could ever be gathered into the kingdom of heaven. Indeed, our union with God, as well as our redemption from evil, can only be perfected by the power of this precious gift.
28th.--Having felt my mind drawn in the love of the gospel, to visit the inhabitants of Newcastle, we rode there and made known our prospect. A meeting was appointed to come together at half past six o'clock in the evening: about which time we went to the court-house, and remained there about three quarters of an hour; but finding few persons attend, the meeting was closed, and I came away satisfied. Having done what I could, I felt that for the present I was clear. The next evening, I had an interesting meeting, at Wilmington. On this occasion as heretofore, I had to maintain the doctrine of a divine gift to man, and to show that if this doctrine was departed from, there was nothing permanent and certain left for the mind to rest upon.
On the 30th, I had a very satisfactory meeting near Naaman's Creek, and was kindly accommodated at the house of Joseph Baynes, an English Friend. In the evening of next day, I had a meeting about four miles from Wilmington on the way toward Philadelphia. It was a solid and instructive opportunity, in which I had to open to the people the nature of man's redemption and salvation. I was also led to request the assembly to read the instructions of Christ to his disciples on the great subject of prayer.
On the 3d of the 9th month, I attended Chichester meeting, and in the evening, had a large meeting, at Old Chester. Both those meetings were solemn and blessed opportunities; in which my mind was opened into a full and perfect view of the university of the gift of God to man,--showing that the religion of Jesus Christ must necessarily be free from all the formalities that ignorance and priestcraft have imposed upon it. Of this the proof had been given by the Son of God himself, when he forewarned his disciples and followers that many would come in his name, saying, Lo here! and Lo there is Christ; but, said he, "go ye not after them,"--for "the kingdom of heaven is within you." Now it must be evident that every Lo here, and Lo there has an outward and external relation, and cannot lead the mind to that inward fountain of Light and Life which is the consolation of the children of God.
The principal amount of my labors in the gospel in this journey thus far, has been to hold up among the people the certainty of a spiritual Guide to man. In this I have been much assisted by the plain testimonies of the scriptures that have been brought to my remembrance on the subject. They abundantly prove the truth of this doctrine. An unusual quiet has remarkably prevailed in all the meetings that I have had in this journey; and I have found my good and gracious God to be a present help in every needful time. He has been to me mouth and wisdom, tongue and utterance. To him alone be all the glory of his own blessed work. I am fully persuaded that it is his good pleasure to gather all into his holy enclosure who are willing to come to him and to be governed by his pure and holy spirit.
After this, I again attended the meeting at Old Chester, and was renewedly convinced of the necessity there was for Friends when they meet for the professed purpose of divine worship, to keep alive in a state of honest and faithful waiting on God, in order to be strengthened and edified together. In the afternoon a larger meeting came together, in which life was felt to be in dominion, and the opportunity was satisfactory. In this meeting I was led to hold up a view of the simplicity and excellency of the religion of Christ, and that its fundamental duties could be understood by every rational being, I was also fully convinced if mankind would everywhere strip the profession and promulgation of it from all monied and selfish considerations, we should soon find that all the formal obligations now contended for, would be let fall, and the common mind would center in a full conviction that the blessed gift of the Spirit or Light of Christ within, diligently attended to and obeyed, was all that is necessary in the work of man's redemption and salvation.
12th.--I had a large and very respectable meeting in a house belonging to the Baptists. After this opportunity passed, I felt thankful, because I had a comfortable evidence that all was well concluded.
It has appeared to me a melancholy circumstance that any who once knew the principles professed by our early Friends, should, like the Galatians, go back again to the weak and beggarly elements, and thus mar the great work of universal righteousness in the earth.
14th.--I had a large and solemn meeting not far from the Seven Stars tavern. In this opportunity my mind was livingly opened in the clearness and power of the ever-blessed gospel; and it appeared that many present were brought under feelings of great solemnity. I was particularly led to open the station of man in the creation, according to the appointment of infinite Wisdom,--holding up the view that the Almighty had not only formed us after his own image, but he had given us the command over the beasts of the field, the fowls of the air, the fishes of the sea, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And therefore, we have need of a divine wisdom to qualify us to act our part consistent with the important duties of our station; because, if we were governed and regulated as we ought to be, the creation at large would be happy. After this meeting I returned to my lodgings with a grateful heart. Next day, as no way opened for further public service, the time was spent in quiet contentment; being satisfied that he that believeth maketh not haste.
17th.--In the meeting at Chester, I felt concerned for the rising generation, and had occasion to deliver a short testimony,--pointing out the necessity of gaining a state of complete self-government, as well over the thoughts as over the actions; remarking that unless our thoughts were rightly regulated, we should not be able rightly to worship our Creator, as we were in duty bound to do. To gain a perfect command, is a work of serious and great magnitude, and those who engage in it will find that there is an admirable fitness in the charge given by the blessed Saviour, to "watch and pray, lest me enter into temptation."
In the afternoon I was at an appointed meeting at Providence. It was a large gathering; and way opened to speak of the universality of the Christian. religion,--and to show that the corner stone of this heavenly structure, is the manifestation of the spirit of God in the souls of men. In order to illustrate this doctrine, I mentioned the case of the conversion of Paul. This great minister to the Gentiles, when he submitted to the visitation of the spirit of God, was led minutely to consider his own condition,--and hence his mind took a view of the composition of man. In this view, he saw that we are beings composed of body, of spirt, and of soul. In his own case, he was satisfied that the soul was in bondage under the influence and power of the animal spirit; and hence it could not hold a connection with the Divine Spirit,--and was consequently subject to a spiritual death. To be redeemed from this bondage, was now the great point necessary to be gained. In considering how this was to be effected, he saw that nothing short of a divine gift could not set him free from the law of sin and death; and it was his high consolation to find that this supernatural aid was given to him,--and he calls this unspeakable gift of God (the same by which the world was made) "the Word of God." And "this," he has said" is the Word of faith that we preach." "It is quick and powerful, sharp and sharper than any two-edged sword;" and it divides in man, as he submits himself to its operation, between the precious and the vile: and thus the soul comes to possess the power to rule and govern the animal nature in man; by which means a perfect state is gained, and "the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, makes free from the law of sin and death.
Next day I was at a meeting at Springfield, where it seemed to me as if the true solemnity of feeling could not be gained: and I believed it was owing to a want of religious concern on the part of many present. The meeting, however, ended to my satisfaction. The day following, I was at a meeting at Haverford. It was smaller than I had expected; and I felt for awhile as though I should not be so clear of the neighborhood as I could wish; but when the meeting closed, my mind was free from any further engagement in that place. In the afternoon we rode to Merion, and lodged at the house of some young Friends of the name of Bowman.
20th.--I went to Manayunk, and made some attempt to have a meeting with the inhabitants. For a time it seemed doubtful whether an opportunity could be had with the people. It appeared that much had been done to prejudice their minds against us. We were accused of being disciples of Thomas Paine, and of course, infidels. It was said one of their ministers had made this charge. It seemed therefore the more necessary to make an effort to see the people together. At length a place was obtained for holding a meeting, which came together in the evening, and was a time of great favor; and it seemed to me as I was spreading before them what had opened upon my mind, that all their prejudices were removed, and I left them satisfied for the present.
21st.--This morning we parted with our kind friends, John Thomas and wife, and paid a short visit at Paul Jones's. After which we dined with an English Friend, George Greaves, and at four o'clock had an interesting meeting at Merion Square. The next day we had a meeting at a place called The Gulf: but few persons attended, and I found afterwards that some were prejudiced against meeting in the house,
Rested on the 23d; and the day following being first day, we were at Merion meeting, It was large, and proved to be an opportunity of great solemnity. I had some fears lest it might be injured by unnecessary additional communications,--but upon the whole I felt satisfied. In the afternoon we were present at a large and interesting meeting at Radnor. In this meeting I was led to mention the testimony of the apostle Paul, that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, but they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." To illustrate the meaning of this text, I took notice of the natural man, and pointed out that his knowledge was obtained through the means of his corporeal senses; and however accurate he might be in the occupancy or use of those senses, as they were not adapted to the knowledge of spiritual objects,--so they could never embrace those of a spiritual character. I was satisfied in the conclusion that this meeting had been a blessed opportunity. In the after part of the day we went to the house of Isaac Leedom and lodged there.
In a retrospect of my past life, many have been the trials and exercises through which I have passed; and it is cause of deep felt gratitude now in the evening of my day, to find nothing in my way, and that my mind enjoys an unbroken confidence in the tender mercy of my God. Oh! how sweet are the incomes of his peace! and how powerful is the gathering arm of his love! I have known this in an eminent degree in the assemblies of the people; and not only so, but I have witnessed the truth of the apostle's testimony, that "there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit." But great watchfulness and care are necessary, in order that we may at all times keep the cravings of our animal nature in subjection.
In the early part of the 10th month, I went to Philadelphia, and put up with my friend William Lindsay. On thinking of what my duty was in the city, the first clear opening was to appoint a meeting for the inhabitants of Kensington. But on some Friends going to get a place suitable for a meeting to be held in, no room could be had for that purpose. The concern remaining with me, at length on further search a large school room was obtained, and on first day evening, the 8th of the 10th month, I met a large company at that place. They were very solemn during the time I was engaged in speaking among them, and for some time after I sat down. The opportunity was quite satisfactory, and closed much to the relief of my mind. After the meeting had ended, several of the people assembled desired that they might have another meeting, and said that if I would admit of it they had no doubt the meeting house would be filled full of people. I told them that for the present I was released, but if a concern should return, I would make another appointment, so I left them.
9th of the month and second of the week, I paid a number of visits among my friends, and in the evening went out of town, and was agreeably entertained at the house of my friend Joshua Longstreth. He had lately returned from England, and as I also had been in that country, it was interesting to us to spend some time in conversing about Friends there. It was evident from his account that great changes have taken place since my visit among them, and that the society is on the decline in that land.
10th.--I returned to the city and spent the day making a number of social visits among my acquaintance. In the evening I was present at a meeting held in Spruce street meeting house. It was an opportunity that I hope will be long remembered to profit. Next day I attended Cherry street meeting; and was sorry to see so few of the members present. In the evening I had a large and solemn meeting at Green street. Here I was led to open the nature and effects of the ministry, of the apostles, and to show that they did not speak of things that they knew not, but of those things that they saw, and felt, and heard. They were therefore not of the number that spake of other men's experiences so much as they did of their own.
I then rode to the house of my kind friend Joseph Briggs at Newtown, in Bucks county, and was at their meeting on first day: which was a comfortable opportunity. After which, in company with Joseph Briggs I paid a visit to my friends in New York, and was present at several of their meetings much to the comfort of my own mind, and to the satisfaction of those present. But the most memorable opportunity was on first day evening the 22d of 10th month. In this meeting my mind was livingly opened and I was engaged to call the attention of the assembly to the great concern of the redemption of the immortal soul. I was also led to take a view of many of the evils that were common in that large city--and to show the people that their theaters and various other places of amusement were an offence in the divine sight.
After attending the meeting at Rose street, I felt that I was at liberty to leave the city, and return with my friend Joseph Briggs to his house. From thence I proceeded on my way to Baltimore, where I arrived on sixth day, the 27th of 10th month; and was comfortably accommodated at the house of my kinsman John Marsh. This Friend has for many years resided in Baltimore. He and his kind family are amply furnished with the means and the disposition to make their guests comfortable and happy. On seventh day, I had the satisfaction of meeting with many of my old friends who came to attend their Yearly Meeting. It was cause of gratitude to be present with so many honest minds, and to witness their condescending conduct in attending to the duties of society. It was clear to me that they had a good Yearly Meeting, and were prepared to return home thankful that they had been together. During my stay in Baltimore, I was present at several public meetings for worship, which were also attended by a number of the citizens of the place, and they were favored opportunities. On the 4th of 11th month I left Baltimore and returned home.
I am convinced that the apostles and early professors of Christianity embraced the only powerful principle upon which not only the promulgation but the life of the Christian religion depends; that principle was and is the measure of the Spirit of God which is given to every man to profit withal. By this, that great minister to the Gentiles, to wit, Paul, was governed in all his labors in the gospel of Christ; and by this he knew that the gospel was the power of God unto salvation to all them that believe. But this power to which he earnestly recommended his brethren, he was afraid would be deserted by professors, even in his time; and he therefore admonished them to "Walk in the Spirit." And when speaking of his own labors among them, he says, "And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." He had understood that some of them were saying, "I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas." He saw that such were going from the Divine life, and regarding the outward polish and glitter of testimonies, rather than the pure power of the gospel; and therefore he was afraid of such lest he had bestowed upon them labor in vain.
Hence it is evident that a departure from the life and power of Christianity, was early manifested. By degrees this party spirit spread and more and more led away the professors, until they lost all confidence in the Truth of the doctrine of a divine gift to man, and denied the truth of divine revelation. Thus, they represented the Great Jehovah as a changeable being,-granting to one age the light of his spirit, and withholding it from another. And having concluded that revelation had ceased, and no further light was to be expected, they soon thought themselves wise enough not to need it.
It was out of this state of the professing church, that all the superstition and folly took place, which continued during the dark ages of the apostasy. Such were the effects of leaving the first principles embraced in the Christian church, and following those notions that were suited to the pride and folly of the natural man. Thus, it appears that the decline of Christianity and the reign of a dark night of apostasy, were the fruits of a departure from the light of Christ; for, had the professors of the Christian religion kept subject to this divine gift, the church never could have gone so entirely into a state of darkness and error as it did.
Therefore I have felt concerned to warn the society of Friends against entering upon this descending ground and downward course. Friends in England departed from our profession, when they joined with those of other religious denominations for the purpose of spreading the scriptures among the eastern nations. When I was in England I saw the impropriety of members of our society associating with others in that work, and mentioned to them, that if they felt a religious concern for spreading the Bible, they might be the people that were qualified to perform that service. But that I could not believe it was right for them to join with others in that business; especially when it was well known that the people of England acted upon principles which those who should receive the book, could not believe were consistent with its doctrines. In these associations, Friends were soon exposed to the danger of balking those precious testimonies, in maintaining which our predecessors suffered so deeply.
As a religious society, all the duties we are called to fulfil in advancing the work of righteousness in the earth are to be fulfilled as acts of obedience, on our part, to the light of the spirit of God. But many of our parents are apparently joining with those who are acting their part in what are called works of reform, under the guidance of the natural understanding; for, among the people at large, the necessity for any higher principle to govern or influence, than the natural faculties of man,--is not admitted, Therefore when Friends join with them and attend their meetings, they cease to maintain a state of humble dependence upon the gospel power, and expect to be sufficiently wise of themselves.
Thus, as there is a joining with that subtle spirit of specious reasoning, which is cursed above every beast of the field, they will fall away from the true and safe standings and lose the precious heavenly qualification to know the voice of the true Shepherd from the voice of the stranger. But if Friends keep to the true Guide and inward Director, they cannot be permitted to join with any in promoting religious concern, who do not believe in the influence of the Divine Spirit as a necessary qualification for every good work.
I am aware that these will be considered as narrowminded sentiments. But when we look at the profession which Friends have made, and see that while they abide in this profession and living principle, the world must come to them;--and that, if they leave this ground and go to others, it almost amounts to a certainty that the testimonies we are called to support, of the reality of the divine gift to man must fall. Hence we may see that there is great danger of the pure principle being deserted, by those who are connecting themselves with such as do not think of waiting for any better light than their own rational powers.
The 1st of the 4th month, 1839, I attended Buckingham Monthly Meeting. In it my mind was deeply affected on account of the existence of a disorganizing spirit among Friends, which if not checked will sooner or later divide the society. I took occasion to remark that I had never known a society that had embraced a higher profession than we did; nor was it possible for any to profess higher. But the business was, to live agreeable to the profession,--which I feared was not the case with too many. It is a sorrowful fact, that many who are brought up among Friends, seem to understand but little about the principles or testimonies of Truth.
During this week I attended a marriage, and the entertainment though sufficient, was the most moderate that I ever met with; for the drink was only water.
13th.--At meeting at Buckingham; and while I was quietly looking toward the end of life, my mind was brought under the humbling power of the gospel; and by its blessed influence I was led to deliver a testimony to the importance of following after those things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. It was a satisfactory meeting; and the afternoon was spent in writing a letter to my only child.
14th.--This morning my mind was turned to the great Fountain of all good, and I felt thankful for his providential care over me. I could see that though I was numbered among the poor of this world, yet I might say that having nothing I possessed all things necessary to my comfort and happiness. It appeared to me to be a great privilege to be free from all the causes of worldly care and anxiety now in the evening of life.
O my good and merciful Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I wish to fulfil every thing that is required of me; and there is no power nor wisdom that can guide me, but thine alone. Through a long life I have been supported and kept by thee, and therefore I have ample cause at all times to confide in thee, the alone helper of thy people.
16th.--Awaking this morning, after a night of irregular sleep, I found all within was peaceful and quiet. It was a satisfaction to find, that even while sleeping no evil principle had led the mind away from the adorable Fountain of life and salvation. I have known times when the mind, during sleep, has been drawn away, and submitted to do things that were not right. It grieved me much, and I have on awaking rejoiced to find it was only a dream. It seems to me, however, that the mind may grow up to such a happy state, as, sleeping or waking, always to resist evil.
17th.--Our meetings here are often seasons of trial. The living must feel the state of the meeting, nor can they expect often to rise above it. Sometimes it seems like having a table spread in the presence of enemies.
19th.--My prospect is in favor of returning to Chester county; but as a poor pilgrim on earth, I know not where I may be accommodated, having no fixed residence, and no means by which to secure one.
O my gracious God, grant me patience and resignation to wait the appointed time until my change come. Thou knowest all my lonesome hours, and unavoidable gloomy feelings. Ah! my gracious God! thou art my only company; and when I can feel thy living presence, all is well. In going now to the great city, O Father of lights and of spirits, condescend to be with me and keep my life pure by the word of thy grace, that so I may neither say nor do any thing to grieve thy Holy Spirit. It was my joy and my comfort, when in the morning of my days I was turned from the follies of the world; and now in the evening of my time, I can look to the end in full confidence that I shall not be a cast-away. O holy Father, my soul can now praise thy excellent name, and rejoice in thy salvation. Glory and honor, and thanksgiving and praise belong to thee now and for ever; for thy promises are all fulfilled; and no one ever trusted in thee and was confounded. Thou art the strength of thy people, and their exceeding great reward.
On the 31st of the 1st month, 1840, I left my present home in company with Joseph S. Walton, with the view of performing a visit in the love of the gospel to Friends in New Jersey. We proceeded on to Darby, and lodged at Rachel Hunt's. The evening was spent in pleasant and instructive conversation; and I could but admire the lively and happy disposition of this ancient Friend. Next day we rode to Woodbury, and were accommodated at the house of William Cooper. The day following we attended Woodbury meeting, which was large, and it appeared to be mercifully owned by the prevalence of a blessed solemnity. The doctrine preached seemed to meet the witness for Truth in the hearts of the people, and I felt a hope that it was not in vain. With great clearness of mind I was led to treat of the confidence of the apostle Paul in his own case, when he said he had fought the good fight, and that he had kept the faith, and had finished his course, and that henceforth there was laid up for him a crown of righteousness, which God the righteous Judge would give him; and not him only, but to all those who loved the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ. In allusion to the conversion of this great minister, I was led to give an instructive view of the component nature of man,--and particularly to show that Paul considered the animal nature in man as the vessel of dishonor,--and that those who lived in the gratification of the appetites and passions of this nature, would fail to fight the good fight of faith, and consequently be unprepared for the Divine acceptance.
In opening those views, it was evident that the meeting was deeply interested. I saw that there was an energy and dignity in the gospel, that could not be equaled by any imitation of it.
Third of 2d month.--We were at Upper Greenwich meeting. It was not very large; but in spreading before them some views that I received of the nature of man, and the work of his redemption from under the dominion of his animal nature, I felt convinced that it had a happy and solemnizing effect. I remarked that the little leaven spoken of in the parable, was his in three measures of meal; and why three was the number mentioned, had been a subject of some consideration. It however appeared to me to correspond with the apostle Paul's view of the component nature of man, which consists of three parts--body, spirit, and soul. It appears that the judgment of the apostle was, that the Divine Principle, which he calls the Word of God, was capable of completing the reformation of man. He saw that this Word was "quick and powerful,"--that it divided between soul and spirit ;giving to the more noble part--to the immortal soul-the power to govern the animal passions and appetites; and thus leavening the whole man into its own perfect character. Having explained the doctrine of man's redemption upon those principles, it was satisfactory to find a happy solemnity spread over the meeting. After meeting we rode to Abel Robins' and lodged there.
In journeying thus far, I find the duty to be solemn and weighty. When I enter the meeting-houses, and see such numbers of people assembled at my request, I am conscious that I have no treasures in store for them, and that I myself am a poor dependent being. This has a tendency to introduce the mind into a state of deep humility. But hitherto I have found the gracious promises of my God fulfilled--that he would be mouth and wisdom, tongue and utterance.
4th.--We were at Mullica Hill meeting. In this opportunity it was occasion of gratitude to be again favored with the needful qualification to advocate the cause of righteousness. The minds of Friends were directed to the unspeakable gift of God. This gift was spoken of as being the great regulating principle that would, if followed, complete the work of man's redemption and salvation.
There are times when the poor servant feels as if he had nothing at his command. But when we are weak, we should not forget that even then the Shepherd of his flock is strong, and that he can command even the very stones of the street to break forth into singing. So that there is no necessity to look forward with any anxiety about the future, but wisely leave all to the government of the Holy Head; nothing doubting the sufficiency both of his wisdom and power to govern and direct all things according to his own blessed will.
6th.--Had a solemn meeting at Woodstown. In this opportunity my mind was livingly introduced into a view of the mercy of God, as manifested in the case of the poor man who fell among thieves. It appeared to me that in this passage we were furnished with an admirable proof of the goodness of God to his finite creature man. It was evident that this man was on his way to the city of corruption; but notwithstanding this was the case, Divine kindness followed him, and a way was made for his restoration.
In the course of my testimony, it was encouraging to witness the prevalence of a precious solemnity; and I felt my mind drawn forth in deep solicitude for the salvation of the inhabitants of this neighborhood. So another meeting was appointed for to-morrow. We lodged at Thomas Davis's, who has lately been affected with palsy on his left side. He appeared to be in a happy and gathered state of mind.
7th.--I was present at another large meeting at Pilesgrove, or Woodstown. In this opportunity I was led to show that Friends have been wrongfully charged with denying the divinity of Christ. I thought it was right for me to deny this charge, and to inform the assembly that we believe that all the wondrous works performed by the blessed Jesus were accomplished by the immediate power of God. And as this was the fact we were prepared to unite with the apostle Paul in the confession, that "to us there is but one God, by whom and for whom are all things." When an individual submits to be regulated and governed by the gift of the Spirit of God, there is a change perfected in his case, and he becomes another kind of being: and from living in the ferocity of his animal passions, he now embraces the lamb-like nature. And that state being gained, it stands as the atonement for all the sins that are past.
On the 8th we rode to Salem and lodged at Joseph Bassetts. Next day attended Salem meeting, and it was a favored opportunity. The doctrine delivered was in the demonstration of the Spirit and with power; and it was evident that the minds of many present were baptized by the dear light of the testimony of Truth. The day following we had a satisfactory meeting at Alloways Creek.
11th.--This evening I had a large meeting at Salem, in which my mind was livingly opened in a view of the spirituality of the doctrines of the Christian religion. The subjects on which I was led to speak were introduced by mentioning the testimony of the apostle Paul, that, "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned?'" In treating of this testimony I was led to show that the means of knowledge to the natural man were confined to his corporeal senses, and that these could only embrace things natural. Therefore, until we experience the spiritual senses brought into action, we must remain ignorant of things spiritual. It was evident that the communication produced a deep and solemn effect, and the meeting ended to satisfaction.
12th.--I rode back to Woodstown, and attended the Quarterly meeting of ministers and elders. It was a comfort to find in this meeting a number of valuable members who love the Truth, and with whom I felt a portion of the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Next day I was at the Quarterly meeting for discipline: and I think I have seldom, if ever, witnessed the stream of the gospel to rise higher in any meeting, than it did in this.
The 14th we rode ,to Woodbury and had a large evening meeting. In this opportunity I was favored to preach the gospel of the Son of God with much clearness; showing that the divinity of the Son was that same wisdom and power that was manifested by Jesus of Nazareth in all his wonderful works, and the miracles which he performed in the land of Judea; and that, by submitting to the death of the cross, he confirmed by his example the glorious doctrines that he had publicly preached to the people. The meeting closed much to my comfort.
16th.--I attended Moorestown meeting, and next day had a meeting at Westfield. Although the life was not felt to be in dominion at these meetings as at most of the others I have attended, yet I felt glad that I had been with them, and had received instruction. After the latter meeting we dined at William Evans'. This Friend is eighty years of age, and has a vigorous constitution.
In journeying along thus far, I have been favored with good health, and in all the meetings I have attended, it has been cause of thankful admiration to be enabled to clear my mind of every impression of duty; and I cannot doubt that so far as I have gone, it has been in conformity with the openings of Truth.
On the 18th we attended Evesham meeting. It was large, and a comfortable opportunity. Although I had a close and searching testimony to deliver among them, yet I felt convinced that the great Head of the church was with us, affording light and understanding rightly to divide the word preached in that assembly. In the conclusion I felt the inward evidence of Divine approbation. There is no outward circumstance that I meet with, that affords greater cause for gratitude, than that of being safely led through a testimony in a large assembly. It has been my privilege in the course of this journey to feel the sustaining power of Truth in every service to which I have been called.
19.--This evening we had a large and solemn Meeting at Moorstown. I have seldom felt better satisfied with any religious opportunity. There was a remarkable stillness prevailed throughout the whole time of the meeting. At the conclusion I recommended the people to read the sixth chapter of Matthew
We next had a solid opportunity with Friends and others at Rancocas; and the next day had a meeting at Upper Evesham, in which I was favored to deliver an instructive testimony. Here I was persuaded that some people were injured by a zeal for God, that was not according to knowledge; and being ignorant of the righteousness which is of faith, they were going about to establish their own righteousness. Hence, they were much employed with their prayer meetings; and in the opportunities they were full of words, and could approach the Divine Being as if he were a man like themselves. I told them if they would read the sixth chapter of Matthew, they would find much useful instruction on the subject We lodged at Caleb Shreve's, and next day went on to Mount Holly
On first day morning, the 23d of 2d month, we attended a large meeting at Mount Holly, with which I was satisfied. Next day the Quarterly meeting of ministers and elders was held, and I thought them a valuable company of Friends. On the day following, I was at the Quarterly meeting for discipline, held at Mount Holly. I next had a satisfactory meeting at Bordentown, and lodged at Aaron Ballangee's.
28th.--Had a meeting at Crosswicks. During the communication offered in this assembly, I felt that the power of the .gospel was indeed above every power.; and it appeared to me that if all who profess to be ministers of the gospel of Christ kept to the plain and simple openings of it, the credit of the ministry would stand much higher than it does at present. There is cause to lament over a ministry that is not in the life of Truth; yet there are some precious plants coming forward, who will be ornaments in their day, if they keep to the Divine gift, and are not led away by the will of man.
28th.--We were at an interesting meeting at Trenton, and next day had a meeting at Mansfield, in which my mind was opened into a general view of the true church, that was gathered by the Word of God out of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. By the same Divine principle, all the children of God, of every generation were saved. It was the word nigh in the heart, and in the mouth, and was the Word of faith which was preached by the apostles, and true believers in the primitive church. A precious silence prevailed throughout, under which the meeting closed.
3d month 3d.--We were at Haddonfield meeting, which was large, and I was
of the mind that some profitable impressions were made. Next day we attended
Camden meeting, and it proved to be a time of instruction and encouragement
to Friends. I then felt at liberty to return home. After lodging at Joseph
Kaighn's, we crossed the river, and arrived at home next day, the 6th of
the month. I felt a satisfaction in a retrospect of the journey, being persuaded
that it was a happy devotion of our time to the great work of universal
righteousness. In all places that we visited, we were kindly entertained
by our friends, and had cause to acknowledge the goodness of our holy Helper
in furnishing a clear evidence of the services into which I was called. There
is an enjoyment in the performance of Our-duty that is better felt than it
can be described.
CONTINUED IN PART THREE