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them, until it became a custom. But it appeared to me, that I must leave others to feel, judge and act for themselves in the way in which they find solid peace; and that my continuing to shave my beard. would require a more substantial reason than that which is founded only on prevailing custom. It
seemed to me probable, if not most likely, that our blessed Saviour and his immediate followers did wear their beards; and if so, I concluded their example might be followed by christians; and that without giving just occasion to be treated as offenders, by their brethren.
Sometimes I was ready secretly to query after this manner: Must all bow to custom? Is there no better rule to go by? If not, we are all wretched beings, indeed! But, blessed be the Lord, he has given one much better; even the inward manifestation of his good Spirit, or the grace which Paul was told was sufficient for him, even when he was sorely buffeted. I have been endeavouring, in simplicity, to attend to this grace, and obey it, for several years past, through good report and evil report: and in relation to wearing my beard, I did believe obedience to what I apprehended my duty, was called for at my hands, though I might offend some in so doing. Great offence was taken by a number of my fellowmembers; bitter reflections were uttered, and false reports spread. But there was a remnant who sympathized with me in my trials, which was some encouragement to me. These were not offended at the simplicity of my beard; although they did not see their way to forego custom, by refraining to shave their own.
They also stood by me in many solid conferences which were held on this account;
so that some who appeared as mine adversaries, could not have their desire against me. I was fully convinced that my best way was to lay low, and let all the tempests beat, or pass over me. I had, in other trials, witnessed this truth, "The foundation of God standeth sure;" and that there is a refuge for humble souls, notwithstanding the strong will of man in others may be permitted to afflict the body for a sea
Some who could not find sufficient occasion against me otherwise, when I had a concern to travel in the service of Truth, raised objections on account of my singularity, and stopped my getting a certificate.Yet they owned me as a useful minister at home, and alleged that their objection was in relation to my beard, and that if I would shave it, they would think well of my travelling as proposed. Although I was willing to go on the Lord's errand, if it might be done consistent with the order established amongst us,-yet, situated as I was, I believe that He whom I desired to serve, accepted the will for the deed.As I was not restrained from conforming to the custom of shaving, in order to obtain favour with men, and thereby lose my peace of mind,-so I was made easy under this trial, though feeling my situation to resemble that of a prisoner, or one measurably in bonds for the sake of maintaining a conscience void of offence towards God; by whose arm of almighty power my head was borne up through all, so that I could praise his holy name. And as I kept in the patience, I found his yoke was easy and his burden light, and that his paths were pleasant, in which I had peace.
Although a spirit, unfit (as I believe) to judge in
his cause, hindered my going forth in God's service for a time; yet my case became known far and near; insomuch that some who had never seen me, felt so much sympathy as to induce them to come and see me; and thus found things were agreeable to the sensations they had of me when in their own houses. These visits were comfortable, and seemed like meeting with acquaintances: and I did believe, that though I might be hidden as in the cleft of a rock, yet if favoured to keep my place, my service would not be lost. I was also made sensible that the lofty would be brought from their seats, by the power of the Most High. Blessed be his holy name.
I wish to write with proper caution. For, notwithstanding it may be permitted for fallible man to be forward in judging the conscience of another, and some of my opposers I have preferred to myself, from an apprehension that they had nothing to do in regard to these singular testimonies; yet I sincerely wish all such not to judge or censure those who have, lest they be found fighting against a superior power. My love for the brethren hath helped to steady me in my deepest trials; and I have found the contents of that christian lesson needful to be observed, namely, "Bless them that curse you; and pray for them that revile and persecute you." My soul desires feelingly to recommend this to all the tribulated ones, every where,-of whatsoever name, nation, or colour they may be. If we humbly seek to stand in our allotments, and to be faithful to manifested duty, love will surely harmonize the true disciples together, and nothing will be found to hurt or destroy in all God's holy mountain.
About the year 1791, I understood a law was made for raising money to defray the expenses of war, by means of a duty laid on imported articles of almost every kind. This duty, I believed, was instead of taxing the inhabitants, as had been done some time before. I had felt myself restrained, for thirty or forty years, from paying such taxes; the proceeds whereof were applied, in great measure, to defray expenses relating to war: and, as herein before-mentioned, my refusal was from a tender conscientious care to keep clear in my testimony against all warlike proceedings. When the matter was brought under my weighty consideration, I could see no material difference between paying the expenses relating to war, in taxes, or in duties.
Although for several years past, I had made very little use of goods imported from foreign countries, because of the corruption attending the trade in these things; yet, on hearing of this duty, and considering the cause of its being laid on imported goods, my mind was much exercised. I saw clearly that the blessed Truth stood opposed to all wars and bloodshedding; teaching us to do unto all as we would have them do unto us. Though I had much refrained from using imported goods, in general; yet, as I was frequently engaged in travelling in the service of Truth, I saw great difficulty, as I thought, in refraining from the use of salt; as people generally used it in almost every kind of food.
On this subject my mind was again led into deep exercise; but as I endeavoured to apply, as at the footstool of my heavenly Father, for counsel and preservation upon the right foundation, I was made sensible, that it would be better for me to live on
bread and water, than to balk my testimony. I likewise believed he would not lead me forward, though in an uncommon path, without giving me strength to maintain my ground, as I humbly put my trust in him. I therefore thought it right for me to make a full stand against the use of all things upon which duties of that kind were laid. Since which, I have to acknowledge, my way has been made much easier than I looked for. Blessed be the Lord my Redeemer: He hath renewed my faith and confidence in him, and hath preserved me hitherto ;-he hath not left me to the will of those who waited for my halting; but hath given me victory through patient suffering; insomuch that people appear more loving towards me now, than ever, and bear my plain doctrine much better than formerly. I can, with thankfulness, say, I love the brethren, with mankind universally, and the Lord above all. Let his great name be praised and magnified forever and ever. Amen, saith my soul.
In the year 1793, I was brought under exercise and weighty considerations on account of unrighteousness greatly prevailing; by which, it appeared to me, that our country was in a wretched state. I thought it resembled a troubled sea, or boiling pot; and sensations like these often attended my mind: Oh! how do fermenting contentions prevail in various forms; and a dividing, parting spirit spread like a stream of muddy waters! In numerous instances, are not pride and ostentation publicly manifested? Are not the proud called happy, and the workers of wickedness set up? even while the poor and needy too often are suffering by that which re