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most important concern of their lives! Trifles indeed they will at last appear to be, even less than the mess of pottage for which Esau sold his birthright. How many trifle away their precious time; and at last those things which have engaged their earnest attention, will appear such trifles, that there will scarcely a name be found little enough to call them by. Then will these dwarfish triflers in religion be ready to cry out, Oh! this world! it is the merest cheat: as I once heard one say; or as Solomon said, “ Vanity of vanities; all is vanity and vexation of spirit.”
25th. At our meeting, I had a satisfactory time with the youth, on the subject of entering into the vineyard early in life, before they become contaminated with hurtful things, and settled on their lees. I told them that it was a much more favourable time to attend to the concerns of religion, than to put it off till the latter part of the day of their lives.
On the 2nd of 9th mo. our dear daughter, Esther Conrow, departed this life, of a fever. She appeared to be resigned and said she was willing to go; giving up her little babes, she said, “ The Lord sent them, and he can take care of them.” On my saying, I hoped there was not much in her
she answered in solemn manner, that it was no light matter to be prepared to die. Some of her last expressions were acknowledginents of the joy and satisfaction it was to her, that she had had care extended towards her while she was young: saying, “Oh! where should I have run to, had not care been taken of me?" Altho' it is a great loss to her dear husband and children, yet I hope and believe it is her great gain; and that she is gone out of the reach of trouble.
In the 11th month, I visited a number of meetings in Chester county, and also divers aged, infirm and afflicted people; among whom was the family of Cas
I was likewise at London Grove Quarterly and youth's meetings; both very large, and favoured with a lively ministry. Returned by way of Radnor, Haverford and Philadelphia; where I attended meetings, and visited divers of my friends, also had religious opportunities in a number of families. Although I went out, as it were, against wind and tide, yet it seemed on the journey as if I went as on eagle's wings, and had good satisfaction in the visit.
At our Quarterly meeting in the 12th month, the testimony of Truth was raised into dominion, particularly against Friends' mixing with the spirits of the people in their human policies and confusion. 1st mo. 27th, 1809. I went to see some poor
old negroes, and take them some provisions. The weather was very cold, and affected me so much, that after I got home, and sat awhile by the fire, I fainted and was very sick. But I got so much better as to be able to go to Westfield meeting on first-day, the 29th, and a precious season it was. I dont know that I ever felt more evidence of the ownings of Truth, and savour of life, at that place. I went to my sister, Rebekah Warrington's, to dine, and was almost overcome with cold, weakness and weariness; after which I was taken with an inward fever, which held about two weeks. My flesh and strength became exceedingly wasted, and I was brought very low and weak. It seemed as if my time was drawing near to a conclusion, and I was mercifully favoured with a good degree of resignation; so that the
thoughts and prospect of leaving this world did not seem very alarming to me, as at some other times.
3rd mo. 11th. Still weak and poorly, confined to my room. On looking back over my life, I see I have had a tempestuous, tossing pilgrimage; oftentimes ups and downs, in and out, hits and misses. Several times, it has seemed as if I was on the brink of irreparable ruin and destruction; and I have been ready to say, I shall one day fall by the hand of mine enemy. But again, on the other hand, I have sometimes been ready to adopt the language of David, “By thee I have run through a troop; by my God, I have leaped over a wall.” Or as that worthy minister, Thomas Scattergood 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.
I remember the first words I had to communicate in a public meeting were these: “I believe it is needful, and would be profitable, when we are thus met together, to watch against all such thoughts as we know ought not to have place in our minds.” This has often been an instructive lesson to me since; for it seems consistent with the prophet Jeremiah's exhortation, “ Wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou nayst be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?” And like the exercise of another we read of, who said, “I will not give sleep to mine eyes, nor slumber to my eye-lids, until I find a place for the God of Jacob to dwell in.” So that watching against vain, unprofitable thoughts, seems like endeavouring to prepare a place in the heart for the God of Jacob to dwell in. And I do believe, if we were earnestly engaged to watch against, and put away vain and unprofitable thoughts, when at meetings and elsewhere, better thoughts would take their place, and we should more abundantly experience that “to be spiritually-minded is life and peace.”
16th. On a further review of my past life, I see that I have ever had more need of guarding against impatience than many other people, and of learning to let patience have its perfect work in me. Yet I have been mercifully and abundantly blessed and favoured through life, in many ways: especially with respect to my children, who have hitherto been dutiful and affectionate, soberly and religiously inclined, and have not as yet brought reproach on us, nor on our society; but have been a blessing and a comfort to us. And yet, Oh! how many ways the crooked, twisting, twining serpent has to creep in amongst the nearest and dearest connexions! I find in reading the memorials of some of those worthies that are gone, that they had to meet with great trials and exercises from those who might and ought to have been a comfort, strength and support to them. But this world continues to be like a troubled sea: trials and temptations to fretfulness and impatience beset us; so that I am ready to adopt the language-Oh! when will summer come, when we can say the winter is past, the storms are over and gone; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.
In the 6th month, with the unity of Friends, I visited the families of Vincent-town meeting, about fourteen in number; in divers of which only a small part were members. I also attended their meeting on first-day, and on the whole may acknowledge I
was helped through to good satisfaction, and returned home in peace.
About the middle of the 7th month, I read much in Isaac Pennington's Works; which almost put me out of conceit of all our religion. It also increased a jealousy in my mind, lest we should be under a great deception, respecting our religious state. “Beware, said the prophet, lest your hearts deceive you, and ye be drawn aside after other gods, to worship them and to serve them.” Again, “ Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” Is not all formality in religion, a species of idolatry? nor can we keep clear of this in any other way than by keeping our eye single to the Light.
12th month 11th. I was at Haddonfield monthly meeting, where was that able minister, Richard Jordan, late of Carolina, but had moved to New England, a few years ago, as believing it his duty, and lately has removed and settled at Newton. He had remarkable service toward a gloomy, dejected, disconsolate state, such as was present, and which he pointed out in such a remarkable manner, that it seemed clear to me that it was a Divine revelation. In a very extraordinary manner he illustrated the text, “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” From which he pointed out the mixed state of things in this probationary world, and enlarged on our condition here, as a state of exile or absence from our long and native home. As he was an entire stranger, I thought I saw the excellency of silent waiting, and the greatness of the true gospel ministry. Richard also attended our Quarterly meeting, and had excellent and extensive service, being raised in great eminence