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Last Letter from Ireland.
14th of 11th month, 1793. Dearly beloved parents, (all three,)
brothers and sisters, relations and friends, I am now at Ballitore, twenty-cight Irish miles from Dublin, and I suppose undoubtedly entered five days into the small-pox; the eruption began yesterday, and is very greatly increased to-day. I am very agreeably attended by physicians and the kindest of friends. I believe this is, on several accounts, one of the most favourable situations for having this disorder, in the nation, but my physicians are apprehensive that it will not prove the most favourable kind, nor perhaps of the most unfavourable. My distress of body, through extreme difficulty of breathing, &c. has, for a short space of time, been almost equal to any thing I can suppose human nature capable of, but, (it is now half-past' nine at night,) this has been a very comfortable day; and just now, and for several hours past, I have been almost as easy as at any time in my life; I think certainly never more so in mind. I feel no kind of alarm; but the issue is certainly very doubtful. I feel easiest to address you in this manner, principally that you may know that my mind enjoys a fulness of that which removes beyond the reach of all sorrow, but I have some other matters also to mention. I made my will very directly after the decease of my much beloved wife; it is now easy to my mind, and I desire it may be faithfully executed. I have steadily desired my dear father Anthony would lend what advisory aid he well can, in regard to the government of my dear children, both in temporals and spirituals. They are placed so that I have been pretty easy, but I could wish them to get a little more learning than some of them are at present in the way of; and although I do not wish much of the world's polish, yet it is at this awful moment my desire, that they may not be brought up with much rusticity; for this, I believe, has not very often contributed either to civil or religious usefulness.
There is scarce any thing that makes longer life desirable, but to finish the field of religious labour, which I had hitherto
mostly thought was not yet done, especially with regard to digesting my Journal and some other writings. Indeed, it has often felt as if I should probably die in debt to the world, if I did not even make some considerable additions upon some subjects that may have been thought a little peculiar to myself, but which, I still believe, are as strictly in the very life and essence of the gospel, as I believe any truth whatever; there is not the least scruple in my mind about them. I trust I as firmly believe in the divinity of Christ, as any man living ; but I have no more belief that there are two divinities, than two Gods. It is altogether clear to my mind, that that one divinity actually became the seed of the woman, and bruised the serpent's head, as early as any man ever witnessed redemption from sin, and is one in the head and all the members, he being like us in all things, except sin. My only hope of eternal salvation is on this ground; nor do I believe there has ever been any other possible way of salvation, but that of a real conception and birth of the divinity in man.
It is not now a time to enlarge; there are several sketches of this doctrine in my Journal, and several other very unfinished little essays.
On the ocean I wrote over about a quire of paper, which I believe is now in my trunk, at John Elliott's, which I was ever a good deal doubtful whether some parts of it, not par ticularly upon these points, were not more in a way of abstruse reasoning, than might be best for a Friend to publish. Be that as it may, I am very apprehensive, that most of my writings are far from properly digested, and some of them, I believe, might be a good deal better guarded. Our views of things do not usually open all at once; it is so in the individual, it is so in the world. Things have hitherto been gradually evolving, and it may be consistent with Infinite Wisdom, that such a progression should always continue. At the present day, things are considerably ripening, and I have not the least doubt, that, before a great while, a bighway will be opened through kingdoms and nations, where darkness has long reigned, for the publication of the everlasting gospel, in its true life and authority; and as what is revealed in the ear, is in due time to be declared on the house-top, I have little or no doubt, that the true doctrine of Christ will be much better understood than has hitherto been generally the case. I may possibly be restored to contribute my small mite toward it. In this and all things else, I am not sensible of any wish, but that the divine will may be done. I think some parts of my Journal abound too much with a repetition of similar exercises, services, trials, and favours, when on religious visits. In this respect I have steadily had an intention of making very considerable abridgments ; several other things also, in the Journal, require a very careful review. I have no wish any thing of mine should appear in print, but from a probability of usefulness. I have thought a considerable part of the Journal might be, in some degree, useful to some minds ; but I submit all to the careful inspection, correction, and determination of my friends.
It is almost marvellous how my strength of body and mind holds out to address you in this manner. may now just mention, that nothing will be knowingly neglected, for my comfort of body or mind, that my physicians or friends can afford; and greater cheerfulness, and even pleasure, in doing all they can, I have not met with among my nearest relations. I pray the Lord, in the riches of his grace, to reward them with flowings of his love. I suppose my love was never in a state of greater enlargement, or less tinctured with selfishness, to all my relations and friends, the world over. My desires for my children's substantial growth in the truth, and strict adherence to all its discoveries, to the close of their days, is by far the principal wish I have for them. Out of the enjoyment of a good degree of this precious inheritance, I know of nothing in this world worth living for. Ye that know it, suffer nothing, I most cor. dially beseech you, ever to divert your minds from an increas. ing and fervent pursuit after the fulness of it, even unto the measure of the stature and fulness of Christ. I once more, and perhaps for the last time, express my living desires, that my own dear father, (if living,) may know much more of an advancement into, and progress in this divine life, before he goes hence to be seen of men no more. It is now eleven, I want rest; whether I shall be able to add further is to me at present
beloved friend William Jackson had good service. Sixth-day, 8th, no way opening to go forward, we turned back, and rode about twenty-five miles towards Philadelphia, and lodged at Isaac Thomas's. First-day, 10th, we were at the meeting at Newtown school-house. Second-day, 11th, at Newtown; at both I was still closed up in silence. Third-day, 12th, we were at Haverford, with a little meeting of Friends, where, blessed be the name of the Lord, he opened the prison door, and sat my soul at liberty; counsel and doctrine flowed freely, their hearts were greatly tendered, and my soul sang praises to the Lord.
Fourth-day, 13th. Last evening we reached Philadelphia, and went this day to Pine street meeting, it being a good open time, to the rejoicing of our souls. Fifth-day, 14th, we attended Market street meeting in the city, a favoured open time, to be remembered with gratitude. Sixth-day, 15th, I had a meeting at Germantown, where I had been shut up before, my mind having often been drawn that way since my being there. This was, blessed be the God of Israel, a meeting wherein the gospel was extensively preached. Great indeed was the power and dominion of truth this day, wherein a close search was made : several other brethren having living, powerful service; and in conclusion my soul was poured forth in ardent supplication, and light and life triumphed over death and darkness. After this we had a heavenly opportunity in a Friend's family, and then returned to Philadelphia, with gladdened hearts.
Seventh-day, 16th. We attended the burial of an ancient Friend at Darby, where the Lord gave ability to preach the everlasting gospel, in the evidence and demonstration of the spirit and with power, to the comfort of many minds, and I hope to the awakening of some others; after which we had another blessed opportunity in a Friend's family, in which our souls were rejoiced together in the cementing love of God, who was graciously pleased to favour us with the manifestation of his holy presence.
First-day, 17th. The way having thus opened for me to go to Germantown, and then to Darby, as above mentioned, it now seemed clearly to open to go forward to Chester; where,
through deep wading and a living travail of soul, life rose into good dominion; though I had to labour some time, even after I stood up, under much depression of mind, looking carefully to see the way, and find the stepping stones; but the meeting ended well and truth reigned. And being desirous of another meeting in this place, one was accordingly appointed to be held next day.
Second-day, 18th. The meeting was large and highly favoured, and truth was triumphant. Third-day, 19th, we had a meeting at Chichester, where truth gave us the victory, and furnished with strength, openings, and utterance, far beyond mere man's ability, with all his boasted wisdom. The suffi. ciency and universality of the grace of God; its way of working; the absurdity and wickedness of supposing that God eternally and unconditionally ordained the destruction of multitudes; and the cessation of John's baptism, and of other symbolical observations, were doctrines that opened in the light and in the life. The power of truth was eminently witnessed, and our souls rejoiced together in the Lord.
After meeting I understood there were some predestinarians and zealous Baptists therein, which I knew nothing of in the time of my speaking what simply opened in the visions of light. Oh! it is good to trust in the Lord, and keep close to the openings which he is pleased to favour with, not leaning to our own understandings. For were we to go to guessing at the state of meetings, we should make wild work; but truth's divine openings never did, and never will, deceive or mislead us. There was a little remnant of seeking souls, to whom cncouragement flowed sweetly this day. Fourth-day, 20th, were at meeting at Centre; the fore part was painfully exercising, but after a time of ardent breathing to the Lord, I felt a small arising of life, as a small cloud like a man's hand, and in the little openings which attended it, I stood up; and in great weakness, my faith being but as a grain of mustard seed, I went on very slowly, and found hard work. But as I kept low with the seed, and carefully watched, and waited for the gradual opening, from word to word, and looked well to every step, as I advanced forward, at length truth rose into powerful dominion. It was a baptizing time, and the “ little cloud” afforded abundance of rain.