« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
siring, like the doubting disciple Thomas, to place our fingers in the very prints of the nails. But we may recollect that even this state of mind, which required strong evidence, was not despised nor rejected by the blessed Master; for he condescended to it, and granted the evidence desired; but that it was a low state, compared with that to which he was leading his followers, is evident from his expressions; “Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Unto this more advanced state all are called; and although a fear of dishonouring the cause of Truth by running before the guide, may be a state of mind acceptable in the Divine sight, yet, may it not have too much place when it operates as a reason for preferring a lower place, even when bidden to go up higher?
In recalling the animating and strengthening effect produced on my own mind yesterday, by the ministry of our dear friends from a distance, I have been led to regret that any who feel themselves called to go on these errands of love, should from any cause plead excuses. Although it appears to be consistent with the designs of Infinite Wisdom, that the poor instrument should not always know that his dedication to his Master's will has produced any good effect on others, yet of one truth we are always certain, that that Wisdom does nothing in vain. There is another consideration which I have thought, if felt. as it ought to be, would do much toward purifying
the motives of those who often humblingly feel, that 1 it is to purchase peace of mind that they are made
willing to leave all and go forth; and that is, the greatness and the glory of the cause in which they are engaged. What though they think themselves to be poor
and feeble instruments, shall they feel too feeble-to do His bidding, who has promised to be strength in their weakness? Oh! my beloved friend, I would that I might animate thee with a sense of the dignity attached to every station in the church of Christ.And although thou may feel thine to be comparable but to that of a door keeper, yet is it not enough that he has condescended to make use of thee, in the advancement of his own great and glorious cause of truth and righteousness? I have desired that we may not, when called to any duty, content ourselves with doing as little as may entitle us to the wages, but with zeal and love for the cause, endeavour to do the best we can. This state of mind is surely not inconsistent with the deepest self-abasement. A noble and dignified zeal was the prominent characters istic of one who declared • that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing."
I felt the last time I saw thee hardly sufficient strength to encourage thee to faithfulness; but since then while mingling a little in feeling with thee, my own heart was somewhat animated and strengthened, and I thought an evidence was felt that the great Head of the church was leading thee in his own way toward that experience alluded to in scripture, when "the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun sevenfold, as the light of seven days." We are commanded to work while it is day: and although labour is performed with more cheerfulness and alacrity in a bright and sunny day, than in a dark and cloudy one, yet Divine goodness always dispenses light enough to distinguish it from the night: and, to pursue the analogy furnished by the outward creation;—although there may be so long a season of clouds and gloom, that were it not for a full trust in his providence we should almost despair of seeing the sun again, yet is not this season of clouds ever the forerunner of verdure and fruitfulness? I believe the more our minds are led to meditate in the “law of the Lord,” the more we shall see of the perfect wisdom of his government;that he has instituted laws, the rewards and penalties attached to which accord with the nature of those laws; and that these are immutable. The reward annexed to the right exercise of our spiritual and intellectual faculties, is their strength and enlargement--did we accustom ourselves to expect nothing more than this, we should never be disappointed. But in a recollection of the peace and joy experienced after the first few steps in the right path, and which we must be well aware were greatly disproportioned to any act of obedience taken or performed principally to escape from suffering, we fall into the error of supposing that this sensible feeling of Divine approbation is the reward annexed to every
act of obedience. Whereas, did we take a more rational view, we should see in it only an evidence of Divine bounty and liberality, thus alluring a weak and doubting soul to embrace the means of its own restoration to happiness. I would therefore encourage to an active co-operation with the smallest manifestations of that gist, which points out the right occasions for the exercise of every mental faculty; seeking no reward but that which is inseparably connected with this exercise. Were this our daily and hourly concern we should be prepared to receive with humble gratitude, as gifts not wages, that joy. and rejoicing which is sometimes dispensed no doubt to cheer us on our way.
SIXTH MONTH, 1839.
A JOURNAL Of the Life and Travels of BENJAMIN FERRIS, son
of David Ferris, of Wilmington, Delaware.
I was born at Wilmington, in the county of Newcastle upon Delaware, the 8th of the 5th mo., 1740. My parents, David and Mary Ferris, were of the people called Quakers, and some of the first settlers in Wilmington. I was sent to school while quite young, and continued going for several years.
About the seventh year of my age, I remember once, on a certain occasion, I rashly made use of the sacred name; for which I felt great remorse and uneasiness. I mention this circumstance as a testimony of the early visitations of the Lord, and the efficacy of his inward appearance: for, though I escaped reproof from man, yet the inward conviction I felt was an effectual caution to me against repeating the like crime.
I also remember about this time, that my father took my sister and me into his counting room, and told us there was a God in heaven who constantly watched over us, and observed our ways; and that we were accountable to him. He also informed us there was a heaven, into which all good men and good children would enter, with peace unspeakable, and live there forever. He also told us there was a
place of torment, where all the wicked and evil doers, and such as told lies and said bad words, would have woe and misery without end. This showed his tender and early care over his children; and it had some good effect to make me more careful afterwards not to tell lies, nor say bad words;—practices which too much prevailed at schools; to check and prevent which, requires the watchful care of parents and tutors: and I am fully persuaded, their pious endeavours for restraining from such practices, and their care to inculcate and encourage the principles of virtue, would often be aided by the secret working of the spirit of Truth in the tender minds of children.
I have many times thought, that the right education of childen is a subject of much greater importance than many seem to imagine. It is in their tender years that the seeds of virtue or vice usually take root; and it is the duty of those concerned in this important charge, to use their utmost endeavours to nourish the former, and to prevent or root out the latter.
About the ninth year of my age, I went to New Milford, in Connecticut, with my cousin David Ferris; where I tarried with my relations about six months. After my return, I again went to school
for a time; but, being desirous to go to Philadelphia 949
to learn Latin, my father consented. It was needful to have some clothes made, and, as I was going to a city to live, I wanted them made in the fashion; that is, with cross pockets to my coat; but my father would by no means agree to it. I record this as a testimony of his steadfastness in this respect. If there was more religious concern and greater firmness in parents on the subject of plainness, it might