« FöregåendeFortsätt »
21st. We were at Wilmington, where I had been, and suffered in silence, some time past. Notice being now given of our intention of being here, it was a large crowded meeting, and the doctrines of truth were opened in my mind in great clearness, and utterance being graciously afforded, it was indeed a highly favoured day. I could write much of this heavenly meeting, but all centres in the mercy, favour, and loving kindness of the Lord, without whom we are altogether helpless and cannot move to profit. Oh! how comfortable! how unspeakably consolating it is to our souls, when we are admitted within the vail, and swallowed up in the luminous presence of our God! This is truly “joy unspeakable and full of glory;" a blessed and ineffable communion! a transporting earnest, or foretaste of the joys to come. Oh! that all mankind would believe in and press after these divine enjoyments ; this heavenly participation of the love of God, which neither tongue nor pen is able to set forth to the full. But, alas! too many are faithless and unbelieving, ready to think this is all imagination and enthusiasm. But, Oh! if they could come to the blessed enjoyment, their doubts would soon vanish, and their souls would be established in a blessed confirmation, as on the rock of ages; and anchored in a living trust and confidence in God, and a lively hope of everlasting life.
At this meeting I had to bear testimony to the continuation of divine inspiration, and that there can be no true gospel ministry without it ; that those whose hour is always come, or who are always ready, however they may work themselves up, heat and warm themselves and others, by the sparks of their own kindling, and, like the priests or prophets of Baal, be ever so vehement, yet can they never, without divine inspiration and assistance, profit the people. But that those who wait for, and move only in this, will always in a greater or less degree, reach the witness of truth in the hearts of the people. Their words will be attended with a lively savour, far beyond the mere sound of voice, even though, (as the natural understanding and bodily organs are made use of to express the prospects and openings of the mind,) they may not always deliver themselves with strict accuracy and propriety. But as their sense and meaning
are felt, and attended to by the hearers, it is perceived to be with authority, and not as the scribes, that they speak.
Though I knew not there were any teachers of that sort who are always ready, in the meeting, I afterwards heard that there were several Baptist preachers present, who do not even profess to wait for divine aid in their preaching to the people, but appoint a time and fall to speaking, &c.
Thus the Lord enabled me, as I waited for his openings, to bear pertinent testimony against such as wait not for his influence, but run, and he hath not sent them. Oh! it is good to keep close to the divine opening, and to be or do nothing without it; nor yet afraid to move in it, and declare faithfully what is opened, and commission given to utter, leaving the service and event to the Lord.
We had three comfortable opportunities in Friends' families in this place, one of which was with our ancient friend and elder in the church, John Perry, and his daughter, they living together. He had been in New England, where I saw him, on a religious visit, in company with our since deceased friend David Ferris, but now was very ill, and I thought unlikely to continue long. Truth was in good dominion while we were together, wherein doctrine and supplication were livingly owned by the inshinings of the divine presence.
Sixth-day, 22d. William Jackson went home, intending to meet me again in a few days. Hugh Judge and several others from Wilmington attending, we had a precious meeting at White Clay Creek. My soul was deep in suffering for a short time; but the power of him who is the resurrection and the life eminently arising, the gospel was livingly preached in demonstration and clearness; the youth persuaded; the faithful encouraged; and the lukewarm warned and reproved. Many minds were reached and much tendered, and my own soul comforted and rejoiced. But here I may note a trial that attended my utterance, very different from that kind of exercise wherein it seems difficult to find the stepping stones; for here my heart was so full, and my cup so overflowed, that I could scarce keep so deliberate as to express myself to my own relief and satisfaction, until after standing a short time, I sat down and waited to get more com
mand of myself; when, standing up again, through a careful stepping along, I had great peace and consolation in this day's service: praised be the Lord !
Seventh-day, 23d. We had a truly blessed opportunity in a meeting at Hockessin, where truth eminently favoured us, and opened divers important doctrines and states; which states were livingly spoken to in truth's authority, to the tendering many minds; may it be to their lasting benefit and instruction. These four last meetings were in the government or state of Delaware, and in the county of New Castle. After this last meeting, we went to see our ancient friend Thomas Carleton, in his eighty-eighth year, who had been in New England in the service of the gospel, having been esteemed a living minister of Christ. He was, though confined at home, in a tolerably comfortable state of health; cheerful in mind; and seemed to retain a good savour of truth, being glad to see us and we him.
First-day, 24th. We were at meeting at Concord, in Chester county, Pennsylvania, at which place I had before attended a Quarterly Meeting, unable then to open my mouth in a religious meeting; but now the Lord set before me an open door, which indeed has wonderfully been the case for divers meetings past, even the most so I think, since my late long spiritual imprisonment, that ever I witnessed; the enlargement of my mind, clearness of the openings, and strength of utterance, being far beyond my own expectation, and greatly to the humiliation as well as consolation of my poor exercised soul. In this meeting at Concord, I had some clear openings, and was enabled to speak to several states; among the rest, to a state of great unfaithfulness, even though great had been the divine favour from time to time extended to them. I had to sound an alarm indeed to these, and to mention the danger of their house being left unto them desolate, and the things belonging to their peace being hid from their eyes for ever; and of that awful declaration being sealed against them, unless they speedily repent and turn to the Lord, viz. “ He that is filthy, let him be filthy still." After which, a Friend standing up in the meeting, in a feeling manner called upon them to suffer the word of exhortation ; testifying that such was the state of some present, and that they had repeatedly been warned, and called upon in a very pressing, awful manner before now, by such as were outwardly utter strangers to their situation.
Second-day, 25th. We were at Chester Monthly Meeting, held at Providence, where, in the meeting for worship, I had very searching service, yet dropping a word of comfort and encouragement to an exercised seed among them. It was on the whole a good meeting. Third-day, 26th, we had a good meeting at Springfield. Fourth-day, 27th, another at Middleton; precious also, especially the last, wherein truth rose into dominion, and its doctrines were livingly and largely opened; a sisting time spoken of; better days or more reformed to succeed; and a more general spreading of the truth among the nations, to the effecting in time a cessation of wars, and the downfall of priestcraft.
Fifth-day, 28th. We had a blessed meeting at Birmingham, where I had been twice in this journey before, and quite closed up at both times, but was now highly favoured. Here dear Hugh Judge and James Robinson, who had been with me several days, left me and returned home, my beloved friend William Jackson having met me again at this meeting, in order to join me for some time longer.
Sixth-day, 29th. We had another very precious meeting at Kennet. Here I had also been twice before under deep suffer. ing, my tongue as it were cleaving to the roof of my mouth; but it was now eminently loosed, and truth reigned triumphant over all : blessed be the Lord. Seventh-day, 30th, we had a good meeting at London Grove, where I had in several meetings before been abased and bowed down in silence, even as it were bound in iron fetters. But reverenced be the name of Israel's holy Helper, I was this day made to rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of my salvation. Indeed, I don't know that the power of the word of life ever was raised higher in and through me before, than it was at this time, both in testimony and supplication.
It has been the Lord's will to lead me from meeting to meeting, in this land, in exercising silence, and to strip me, yea often to empty me, of all sense of good ; and I have endeavoured to submit to it with patience. And now, on finding I could not be easy without going over the ground again, even where I had been divers times before, and on giving up thereto, though much in the cross, I have found greater openness from meeting to meeting, (so long to continue,) I think, than ever I knew before. Indeed, my sitting in them now, even while in silence, is so different from my former, empty, barren state in these meetings, that I now feel somewhat like sitting under the pressure of a water course, the gate being largely raised, and the water flowing with great power and freedom; wherein as I have risen, and carefully uttered myself in the opening of life, truth has wonderfully arisen, and largely abilitated, to the opening of divers important doctrines; to the reaching of many states; to the tendering of many minds; and to the abundant consolation and confirmation of my own exercised soul, with many more.
First-day, 31st. We had two meetings, the first a sweet and glorious one at Bradford, where I had been once before, and now doctrine and advice flowed freely forth, to the great reaching and tendering of the people. In the afternoon we had a very laborious time in silence at East Caln, where I had before been twice; but blessed be the Lord who gave us the victory, truth at length did arise, and testimony and supplication were evidently felt to be in that which lives for ever.
Second-day, 1st of 1st month, 1787. We had a highly favoured meeting at Uwchlan, wherein truth prevailed over all, as in several others of our late eminently baptizing seasons. Oh! the heights and depths which the Lord leads his people through. May none of them ever separate us from his love. For about twenty days past I have mostly been favoured with the aboundings of truth, and the plentiful sheddings abroad of divine love in my heart, with unspeakable consolation and confirmation in the Lord. Whereas the last twenty before these, were nearly altogether days of darkness, distress, and great strippedness. Thus, hath the Lord his way in the whirlwind, in clouds, and in thick darkness, Oh ! let him do as he will with thee, O my soul! He knows best what is best for thee.
Now, though this was an high day indeed, and God's holy help and presence eminently enjoyed, yet I feel most easy to