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A SHORT HISTORY
In the following allegorical representation of the exercise of a seeking, inquiring mind, much instruction is held forth. When Jesus spake in parables, the depth of his meaning was not at first comprehended by those who listened only to the outward simile, or narrative—but as they pondered his sayings in their hearts, with sincere desires after truth, light arose and gave a deep instructive understanding of the object of the parable. So to sincere inquiring minds, even an allegorical description of the arduous travail of soul from what is called a state of nature to a state of grace, may furnish instruction, and excite to obedience and faithfulness, in following that “ light which lighteth every man coming into the world.”
It has been supposed that Stephen Crisp, one of the primitive Friends in England, wrote this short history of a long travel.' It is true, that to some of the old copies the initials, S. C., are annexed; but there were other Friends to whom these letters might apply. The author, probably, did not wish to divert the reader's attention from the state of his own mind, by considering it merely as a history of the mind of the writer, and therefore prudently concealed his own name, that so the reader might, as in a glass, view himself, and be instructed to keep his eye single to the Light, the alone sure guide.
To the youth of the Society of Friends, whose profession and peculiar privilege is to walk in the “narrow lane, well hedged on both sides,” by the excellent discipline established amongst us, it is important to watch carefully, and keep their mental eye to the Light, so as not to be allured into the “ many by-lanes and ways" that may to the unwatchful appear to be “almost as straight forward" as the right way.
A lesson of deep and very important instruction, is also impressively held up to the view of those who, having got into the outward court, are resting satisfied, and appearing to lead pleasant lives, and seeming not to want to go any further. While yet, the Light, if duly attended to, would lead them into the inner courts of the Lord's house, and strip them of their " old garments," clathing their minds with the “clean linen, pure and white, which is the righteousness
of saints.” Thus, they would then become qualified for more useful. ness in the church, and more heavenly enjoyment and peace in their own souls.
This Essay has several times been printed, but it is believed an. other impression of it, in the pages of the Miscellany, may be the means of more widely diffusing the benefits of its instructions and admonitions.
In the days of my youth, when I lived at home in my father's house, I heard many people talk of the house of God; and that whosoever did attain to get into it, did enjoy all manner of happiness, both in this world and that which is to come. great desira kindled in me, if it were possible, to get into the house; yet I knew not where it was, neither did they who talked of it; but they had heard the report, and they reported what they had heard. There were also some books, that had been written by men who had been in that house; which books did declare much of the joy and felicity they had in the house. These books I got, and read them over and over; 'which did much strengthen my belief in the truth of the reports: yet by no means could I tell which was my way. But so ardent were my desires, that I thought myself willing to forsake my father's house, my country, and all, and travel any where, wherever my legs would carry me, so that I might find this house.
· And upon a time, as I was breaking my mind to a friend of mine upon this subject, he readily told me, there were men appointed in every place to guide those who were willing to go thither, and it was their business, and they had nothing else to do. When I heard this I was comforted, and desired him, if he loved me, to bring me acquainted with one of those men. He told me he would; which he did. When I came to treat with the man, I let him know the fervent desire I had to get to the house of God, of which I had 'heard such excellent things; and that I understood he was one appointed to guide any thither, who were willing to go, and to persuade people to go, who were not willing. He very readily answered, and told me, it was his business to guide any thither who were willing to go; and if I would comply with his terms, and follow him, he would lead me thither. I asked him, what his terms were. He said the way was long, and would lead him from his home, and I must bear his charges, and something over: to all of which I agreed.
So we set forward on our journey, early in the morning; but before we had gone one whole day's journey, I saw my guide sometimes stand still, and look about him, and sometimes he would pull a little book out of his pocket, and read a little to himself; which made me begin to mistrust, that he knew the way no better than 1. However, I said nothing; but went on following him several days journey aftér this manner; and the farther we went, the more my guide was at a loss. Sometimes he went a little on, and then would look about him, and turn another way, and sometimes right back again for a while, and then turn again. So my suspicions grew very strong, and I began to be in great anxiety of spirit, but said little to him about it.
But one day, as we were travelling along, we met with a man that took notice of my sad countenance, and tired condition. And he spake very kindly to me; “Young man,” said he, whither art thou bound?” And when I began to tell him something
of my travel, he desired me to sit down upon the grass, in a shady place, and discourse a little about my journey: and so we did, and I told him how things had gone with me to that very hour. Whilst I was telling him my story, my guide fell asleep; at which I was not sorry, for thereby I had the more freedom to discourse with the man; and when I had told him all, he pitied me; and withal, told me, to his certain knowledge, this guide of mine had never been at the house, neither did he know the way to it, but as he had got some marks of the way, which he had received, as I or any other may do; and, if I followed him all my days, I should be never the nearer to it, and should find at last, I had spent my time, money and labour to no purpose.
This discourse did so astonish me, that I was at my wits end, and did not know what course to take. The man seeing what an agony I was in, began to comfort me, and told me that the house I sought was much nearer than I was aware of; and if I would forsake that guide, and follow him, he would soon bring me in sight of the house. “And,” quoth he, “I am one that belong to that house, and have done so several years. And whereas," said he, “thu art to bear his charges, and give him money besides, I will assure thee, it is not the manner of the guides that belong to this house of God, to take money for guiding people thither. I myself have been guide to many a one in my time, but never took one penny
of them for it." By this time, you must think within yourselves, how my drooping spirits were comforted; a new hope sprang up, and a resolution to forsake my wandering guide, and to follow this new one.
Upon which I awaked my guide, and told him my mind, and paid him what I had agreed for, and advised him never to serve any poor soul as he had done me: for I see, said I, thou knowest not the way, but as thou hast learned about it in some book. If book-learning would have served my turn, to find this famous house, I needed not thee, nor any body else to guide me to it; for there are very few who have written experimentally of it, but I have read them diligently: but now I have met with a man that I judge has more experience of the way than thou hast, and I am resolved to go with him; and if thou wilt honestly confess thy ignorance, and go along with us, come and weleome; one guide will serve two travellers, as well as one in the way. But I could not persuade him; so I left him to take his own'way as he pleased.
I now set forward with my new guide pretty cheerfully; and he entertained me with a good deal of discourse by the way. As he went on in pretty smooth paths, and without stopping, he told me, in a short time we should come in sight of the house; which made my travel easier. He also told me something of the rules and orders of the house, at which I was not at all discouraged; for I considered God was a God of order, and I doubted not but there were good orders in his house, to which I was willing to submit. And as we were thus travelling along, he of a sudden spake to me, saying, “Yonder is the house.” At which I was exceeding glad; for now I thought I had not spent my labour in vain. The nearer we drew to it, the more my joy increased; and when I came in view of it, I pleased myself extremely with looking at it, and viewing the towers