« AnteriorContinuar »
heed to the light that shined in their hearts, in order to lead, guide and preserve them in safety and peace. In the history of the rise and progress of Friends in Ireland, a valuable work, though little read, the progressive steps of the reformation from that dark, bewildered state, are faithfully pointed out. It is cause of gratitude to consider how many valiants were raised up to testify against the gross errors that had crept into the church during the times of darkness and disobedience. But these faithful testimony-bearers were almost always sure to do this at the hazard of their lives. Even as many of the prophets and apostles of old did suffer martyrdom, so did these reformers, with thousands if not millions of their followers.
Now it can be nothing short of the hand and arm of Almighty Power that hath begun and carried on the great work of the reformation thus far, through all the opposition of envious and wicked men. It appears to have been the settled, firm belief of many of the most enlightened instruments, that the Lord will carry on this great work further and further, through and over all opposition. Even among the first reformers there were those who were favoured to see, foretell and prophesy of the still greater and greater breaking forth of the light of the gospel. John Rutty, in his Diary, mentions the prophecy of Jerome of Prague, as follows; “ A new people shall be raised up, that shall renounce the glory of this world, and seek after the cultivation of the inward man. They shall have ministers raised up amongs themselves, and elders and other officers in the church. They shall grow and flourish in the Truth; whilst those of human invention shall consume away like a moth.” This did, in a wonderful manner, come to pass in and soon after the days of George Fox. Many, many indeed very powerful ministers were raised up; and even boys and girls of from nine years old, to fourteen, fifteen and twenty years,became as sons of thunder that made the earth to tremble and shake. Samuel Bownas takes notice of a prophecy of William Dell, where he says he would appeal to the next generation, but especially to that people whom God hath formed, and shall form by his spirit; seeing they have the Anointing for their teacher, and the Lamb to be their light. In the work called Bromley's Way to the Sabbath of Rest, the prophecy of doctor More, in his preface to the Mystery of Godliness, is quoted as follows: “There shall be--there shall be, most certainly, a time when the sun of righteousness being risen, Egyptian mists and darkness shall be dispersed;when all the filth and dross of the church shall be consumed and purged away by the ardour of Divine love;--when all barbarity of manners, and filthy superstitions and idolatries, shall be sent into the lake of fire and brimstone;-when, finally, Calvinism, Lutheranism, Popery, and whatever other distinctions (there may be] shall be melted down into one (which shall be instead of all) truly catholic and apostolic Philadelphianism. Which times that God would hasten, and thereto incline the hearts of christian princes and people, ought to be the servent desire and prayer of all good men."
Again, Robert Barclay, at the conclusion of his Apology, says, “ Though we be few in number, in respect of others, and weak as to outward strength, which we also altogether reject; and foolish, if com.
pared with the wise ones of this world ;-yet, as God hath prospered us notwithstanding much opposition, so will he yet do, that neither the art, wisdom, nor violence of men or devils shall be able to quench that little spark that hath appeared; but it shall grow to the consuming of whatsoever shall stand up to oppose
it. The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it! yea, he that hath arisen in a small remnant, shall arise and go on by the same arm of power, in his spiritual manifestation, until he hath conquered all his enemies, until all the kingdoms of the earth become the kingdom of Christ Jesus.” William Penn says, “God is and will be with his people in this holy dispensation we are now under; and which is now amongst us, unto the end of days. It shall grow and increase in gifts, graces, and power and lustre; for it is the last and unchangeable one; and blessed are your eyes, if they see it, and your ears if they hear it, and your hearts if they understand it; which I pray that you may, to God's glory, and your eternal comfort.” So Richard Jordan lately said, “it was his faith and belief, that as long as there were men on the earth, there would be some professing and maintaining our principles, or the principles of Truth."
In the 4th month, I was so poorly I could not attend our monthly meeting, but was informed that two young growing ministers were there, and had lively and acceptable service. See how they are raised
here one and there another! H. Haines lately returned from a religious visit to New England, and says there is great scareity of bread in some parts of that country; rye, three dollars a bushel, and very scarce, so that some families
have lived for weeks together without bread. Observe the alarming calls in our land. “Abroad the sword devoureth, at home it is as death."
An old proverb says, “ Plenty makes dainty;" and again, “ The full soul loathes the honey comb." It is said the christians formerly, when under their greatest sufferings and persecutions, were most favoured with Divine power and the influence of heavenly goodness: but, after they became relieved from suffering, and were tried with peace and plenty, they soon lost ground in religion. The primitive christians said, prosperity was a very intoxicating thing, and few brains were strong enough to bear it. Our first Friends suffered great persecution; and much labour and concern was exercised by many of them in soliciting the rulers and powers of the earth for their release and enlargement. But, at length, when that was obtained, and prosperity smiled upon them, one of the most noted among them left this testimony: “Not all the persecutors, open apostates and enemies we have ever had in the world, ever have done us the hurt that prosperity has done.” So that it appears, outward ease and prosperity have proved a great trial upon religion and virtue; and hence the charge formerly given is worthy of our watchful attention: “When thou hast eaten and art full, then beware lest thou forget the Lord.” And again: “ Beware lest your hearts deceive you,
be drawn aside after other gods."
25th of 4th mo. Heard of the death of Thomas Scattergood, of Philadelphia; an eminent, worthy minister; generally beloved, and of unblemished character. Such was his love for the Truth, and for his fellowcreatures, that he once said it seemed sometimes as if
he could run from one end of the continent to the other to tell what the Lord had done for his soul.
Moses West, in his treatise on mixed marriages, says, “ The loss of peace of mind is the greatest of all losses.” So, on the other hand, the gaining, or obtaining of peace of mind, or peace of conscience, is the greatest of all blessings, and all will find it to be so, when he that rides the pale horse approaches. Were this enough considered, how could people stay at home from their religious meetings, or go there in a state of ease, indifferency, or lukewarmness; when so great a treasure is at stake as peace of conscience! A certain author says, respecting the cares and things of this world, " These things are now sunk into such mere nothings that I have no name little enough to call them by: for, if in a few days or hours I am to leave this carcass to be buried in the earth, and find myself, either forever happy in the favour of God, or eternally separated from all light and peace, --can any words sufficiently express the littleness of every thing else? The greatness of those things which follow after death, makes all that goes before it sink into nothing. Had I now a thousand worlds, I would give them all for one year more; that I might present unto God one year of such devotion and good works, as I never before so much as intended. O my friends! a careless life, unconcerned and inattentive to the duties of religion, is so without all excuse, so unworthy of the mercies of God,-such a shame to the sense and reason of our minds, that I can hardly conceive a greater punishment than for a man to have to reflect upon it, as his own case. 6th mo. 8th. “Little children, keep yourselves