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lect Quarterly meeting, as a minister; but thought myself very unequal to the weighty business, fearing I should some day drop off. But the Lord dealt graciously with me, putting a trumpet into my mouth, like a ram's horn (if I may so compare it) and, as it were, constraining me to blow the same; though seemingly at the loss of all my worldly honour. Yet I may truly acknowledge, that as I have endeavoured to be faithful, to the best of my understanding, he hath rewarded me a hundred-fold. Therefore, let all be encouraged honestly to serve the Lord, their Redeemer; for surely, on account of his abundant mercies, he is eternally worthy. Amen.
1761. This year I purchased a farm, and removed into Newton township, nearly opposite the city of Philadelphia, still a member of Haddonfield monthly meeting. Here also, I met with discouragements, both within and without. I was considered a minister, but not as one using enticing words; for I believed the demonstration of the spirit (if I was not mistaken) led me to use plain dealing.
About this time, I became engaged, with other exercised brethren, to plead for liberty to the black people who were held in bonds of slavery among our fellow-members. These we visited from house to house, particularly in the parts near us. This labour, at that time, went hard with some who held slaves, and who thought it would cause uneasiness between them and their black servants; and so would scarcely permit us to perform the visit. I saw it was the Lord's work, and that in performing it we had need be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." Truth opened our way to proceed much in this manner;—first to sit down in silence with the whole fam
ily, and not to let our communications give the blacks any knowledge of our business with those who held them. But when the other parts of the family withdrew, we pleaded with the master and mistress, and Truth favoured us to do it in a way that gave general satisfaction. I thought I never felt a greater reward than in pleading the cause of those poor, injured, captive people.
After this, another trial came on me. It seemed as if the cries of the slaves in the West-India islands reached my ears both day and night, for several months; in an especial manner when I partook of things procured through their labour. At length, I did believe it was required of me, not to use any longer such articles as I deemed the fruits of their toil. Many supposed that in this respect I was going too far, they thinking we might use what we bought and paid for; and some were not clear of casting reflections on me for my singular conduct. But being convinced that my peace was concerned herein, I tried in simplicity to bear all I met with, in christian patience, until many of my opposers saw it, and the testimony appeared to spread to my admiration. Sometimes, though in much weakness, I had faith to believe this concern would spread thro' all the opposition of mankind; for the Lord, as a righteous judge, has power over all. This helped to support me in my feeble seasons.
I was little in the ministry, and often led in such a rough manner, it was hard for me to open my mouth in that way; and I suppose it was as hard for some to bear it. I tried to make as little suffice as I well could do; which was, sometimes, too little for my own peace. An ancient Friend once feelingly
dropped some hints to me, which were strengthening: but my trials were so uncommon, I thought it best humbly to look to my heavenly Master for help and counsel; having to testify against many things which were generally approved of, even among brethren and sisters who were my esteemed friends. This caused my way to be exceedingly difficult.
Although I was thus led by precept and example, I was much reproached by some on account of my testimony against war, because I could not pay my money in a way which I believed was to defray, in a measure at least, the expenses of shedding human blood. This exercise came on me in the year 1756; at the time a bloody war subsisted between France and England.
A number of our young men being drafted as soldiers to go on an expedition, some of the inhabitants concluded to open a subscription for money to hire volunteers in their stead. This seemed plausible, even to some under our profession, and a number were taken therewith: but when it was proposed or demanded of me, I felt a scruple, and told then, if on considering the matter, I could be free to pay money for such a purpose, I could hand it forward. On this occasion I had none to confer with; but it was opened clearly to me, that to hire men to do what I could not, for conscience's sake, do myself, would be very inconsistent. This led me, in deep humility, to seek for wisdom to guide me rightly; and I found it best for me to refuse paying demands on my estate, which went to pay the expenses of war: and although my part might appear but as a drop in the ocean, yet the ocean, I considered, was made up of many drops.
Thus I had to pass through reproach, because I had enlisted under his banner who declared his kingdom was not of this world, or else his servants would fight. When my goods were taken to answer demands of a military nature, (which I was not free to pay voluntarily) and sold perhaps much under their value, some would pity me, supposing it likely I should be ruined. Others would term it stubbornness in me, or contrary to the doctrine of Christ,concerning rendering to Cesar his due. But as I endeavoured to keep my mind in a state of humble quietude, I was favoured to see through such groundless arguments; there being nothing on the subject of war, or favourable to it, to be found in that text. Although I have been willing to pay my money for the use of civil government, when legally called for; yet have I felt restrained by a conscientious motive, from paying towards the expense of killing men, women and children, or laying towns and countries waste. Through all my trials in these cases, my wife encouraged me to be faithful, saying, “If we suffer in a right spirit, we shall obtain that peace which the world can neither give, nor take away.”
I found, when closely attentive to the pointings of the true Light, I was enabled, at times, to pray for my opposers and persecutors, and to magnify the name and power of God. So let all be encouraged to hold on their way, who are given up to serve him in sincerity. In this situation, no weapon formed against them shall prosper. After these trials, some of my greatest opposers in time came to own my testimony, and great was my peace in having attended to my tender scruples; yet I had still many baptizing seasons to pass through.
I cannot see how to reconcile war, in any shape or colour, with the mild spirit of christianity; nor that devouring disposition, with the peaceable, lamblike nature of our blessed Saviour. It seems to me we might as well suppose, theft and murder do not contradict his royal law, which enjoins the doing unto others as we would have them do unto us.
Whilst these storms on account of my peaceable principles, were permitted to continue, I endeavoured to keep close to the heavenly Light within. But afterwards, I was told, it was concluded, that as I gave myself up very much to the service of Truth, it was not proper I should be troubled on account of military demands; and I understood my name was erased, or taken from their list.
My tongue is too short to set forth thy goodness towards me, O my God. Let living praises and thanksgiving be rendered unto thee; for thou art worthy forever. And may every thing in me be brought low, and continue to be humbled before thee!
About the year 1762, the Lord was pleased to turn my mind, under its various exercises, to consider the vanity and loss of time, which is taken up in the dying of different colours, materials, and the cloth intended for making our garments, &c. Some serious thoughts which have occurred to me on this subject, in the discoveries of Light, if I am not mistaken, -I am willing, in simplicity and diffidence, to write down, and leave; so that they may be read and pondered hereafter by such as may have opportunity of seeing and perusing the account of my exercises. The substance of what seemed to open on my mind, perhaps may be gathered by attentively considering the following queries and sentences: