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we were joined in marriage; and to my astonishment, I was more easily weaned from my old associates than I had expected. But I was greatly indebted to the Lord my saviour, and found I had a great work to attend to, as he might enable me, in return for his manifold mercies to me, an unworthy creature.
We first settled on a poor farm, near Mount Holly; where I had some discouraging prospects, fearing I should not pay my rent.
I found I must labour hard to accomplish things reputably; and by using my hammer and trowel with industry, I did make out; but was often under inward exercise that no man knew of. I frequently sought retirement in lonely places. Sometimes my wife sat with me in silence, shedding our tears together, when no words were spoken, and pouring out our prayers to a gracious God, in secret. The wrong customs into which I had been introduced, I found were deeply rooted, and not to be overcome but through Divine aid; for my own resolutions, being weak, were soon frustrated. The righteous judgments of the Lord because of my transgression of his holy law, were upon me, so that my natural rest was often prevented. I saw that nothing short of a full surrender to the Divine will, could procure me peace with my Almighty helper; and that my sins must be purged away, and my heart cleansed, through the operation of the fire of his word, and my transgressing nature must yield to the flames thereof.
I then came to see in the true light, that newness of life was called for;--that I must speak the truth from my heart; and use the plain scripture language of thee and thou to a single person, even when in
the company of my former associates. This, which some account a small matter, appeared at that time like parting with a right hand, or a right eye; but I clearly saw that the Lord, who had been merciful to me during my long transgression, must have the sole government in my heart; and that my conduct and conversation hereafter must be agreeable to the standard of his holy will. I had a hard struggle with my old task-master, the enemy of souls, whom I had long served. O Lord, grant that this may be a warning to others, to escape the snares of satan; and that many may be induced to give up to thy service in the morning of life.
In the days of my sorrow for sin, I fully believed there was in God alone, a rest for the righteous; and no true rest in any other way, than through obedience to his holy requirings. He will be to his obedient children as the shadow of a mighty rock in a weary land; but weary of sin we must be before we can obtain shelter here. I became sensible that if I was fully given up to the Lord's requirings, his power would sufficiently aid me in withstanding the strongest assaults of my enemy. I therefore began to submit in earnest for him to sway his sceptre, and to have the government of me in all things; endeavouring to be more and more conformable to his holy requirings, even in small things, or what by many are accounted so. Thus, the yoke of my dear Saviour became gradually more easy, and his burden light. His ways appeared, in truth, to be ways of pleasantness, and his paths, peace. My love to my God increased, and the glory of the world became stained in my view. I became like a pilgrim who has no inheritance here; and I accounted no
time lost which was spent in religious meetings, waiting on the Lord.
Having many deep baptisms inwardly, and combats without, the time between meetings seemed to be long; feeling great occasion for my strength to be often renewed. I found it my duty to attend our meetings on other days of the week, as well as first-days. And as I had sometimes taken by-ways when I went to those called week-day meetings, because I was ashamed to let my zeal on that account appear to the view of some,- I now thought it most proper to go on the open road, and to endeavour to bear the cross in all things wherein I found the honour of the good cause to be concerned. This exercise became easy in time, as the Lord by his life-giving presence increased my faith in him; and my soul was frequently refreshed thereby in a wonderful manner, as I became more fully obedient.
After continuing two years as a tenant, and passing through sundry trials, my father gave me a house and lot in Mount Holly, whereunto I removed. Here, at that time were several babes in Christ, and also some fathers; namely, our valuable friends, John Woolman, Josiah White, and William Jones. These were men of experience; several others spoke a few words, at times, in our religious meetings, of whom I was one of the hindermost; for it appeared to me almost like death to give up in obedience to that intimation which I believed required me to speak in that way. I had a foresight, in that which might be called a time of prosperity, that I should have a lonely way, if not an almost untrodden path to walk in, if I was strictly obedient to what I believed required of me.
1757. In this year I removed to a house and lot which I purchased, near to John Woolman's dwelling. It appeared as much as I could do to keep my head above water: the current of wickedness and corruption seemed strong, and I, like a little vessel, easily tossed and driven, if the anchor hold of faith should fail. Yet some of us, at seasons, as tried children of our heavenly Father's family, could feelingly speak of his goodness one to another, in plucking us as brands from the burning; having been as the offscouring of all things. This seemed applicable to my case in particular. I wanted now to be what the Lord would have me to be, and to become in all things conformable to his will. In order whereunto, however hard to flesh and blood, I found my own honour must be laid low, and the creaturely will which would plead for a little liberty in this and that, must be subdued. For I saw that it was impossible to love both the world and my holy Redeemer;—that to be born of believing parents will not do the work, any more than formerly to be of Abraham's seed, without doing the works of Abraham;—that I must serve God for myself, through the immediate aid and influence of his spirit;---and that neither education nor tradition would avail in his sight, but that all things must become new, and all things of God. Although I had set out for the land of promise, my trials, at times, seemed like having the red sea before me and the Egyptian army behind me. Those also that were without, caused me to fear lest I should some day bring a reproach on the blessed Truth, and so perhaps think I had better never to have set out.
Thus, for some years, I seemed as one struggling
in the wilderness of this world; yet at times was graciously permitted to partake a little of the hidden manna, which kept my soul alive unto God, and enabled me to love the brethren. I believe
Saviour was often nearer to me than I was aware of; and, even in the hour of temptation, preserved me out of the hands of those who watched for my halting. Are not those who are as instruments of our adversary, one in nature with himself, when striving to turn the righteous from the right way? A sense of a disposition like this, in some, was very trying to me, when I had but newly engaged in what I believed to be the Lord's cause. But I could scarcely reconcile myself to become a minister; as it seemed to be like taking me out of my element, and causing me to be plunged into the deeps. To think of preaching to those with whom I had once rioted in folly, seemed to be like death. I also dreaded the consequence of giving out, or finching, lest in his displeasure because of further disobedience, my God should cause a final separation from his favour. This, I thought, would be terrible in the day of account, and I was made willing to endeavour to stand for his cause, if his holy help was granted me, for I knew that, without Divine assistance, I could do nothing to advance the work of righteousness, or procure peace to my own mind.
In the year 1759, I came to live within the compass of Haddonfield meeting, having the unity of my friends at Mount Holly; and believe I was favoured to keep my way Sion-ward; for when the Lord puts forth, he goes before, and fights the battles of his devoted servants, to his own honour and their benefit. Here I was recommended to the se