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CONCLUDING ADDRESS TO THE READER, ES,
PECIALLY TO MEMBERS OF THE SOCIETY
The foregoing I have written in consequence, of a belief, that many in the society of Friends are too little acquainted with the nature of our profession; also, with a prospect that strangers might be informed, without much reading, what we believe, and not be left to form opinions of the society from the reports they may hear, or from the ministry alone. Because, in either case, the means for a correct judgment would be insufficient. From the labours of those engaged in the ministry, it would not be reasonable to expect a minute explanation of the doctrine of Friends in each particular. case. Their service is much more frequently to speak, to the states of the people, and to call home the mind to the light of Christ within, than to, offer extensive doctrinal testimony. It may be thought by some, that the society have already a sufficient number of explanatory treatises, and that any thing further is unnecessary. But I believe that on deliberate examination, this.
will not be found to be the case, though there are many valuable works extant. I feel partičularly concerned that the rising generation may be drawn off from the deceptive glitter of the world, and that early attention may be given to their religious improvement. In consequence of this concern, my thoughts have been often exercised. In the course whereof, I have been led to take into view some of the disadvantages under which they labour; and it. has appeared to me, that the young and tender minds of children are often injured for want of proper religious weight in parents. Early in life, their attention is open to observe the conduct of parents; and if they see there is want of regularity, that parents are sometimes amiable and pleasant, and at others fretful and illnatured, this tends to produce. difficulty to them, and they are at a loss to know how to conduct, so as to obtain approbation. But if; as they advance in years, the shepherd of souls should visit their tender minds by the word of his grace, which I have no doubt is the case' at a much earlier period than many are aware of, they should then find that their parents were not subject to the divine principle, it must be a cause of stumbling, and thus the mind may be
rctarded in its progress from earth to heaven, The dispensations of divine love which are shed over the young minds, lead into love and affection for all around them; and when they are in this precious state,. how must they be shocked, if for some trivial act, which may be the effect of want of judgment, they should be addressed in passion. And yet this is what all parents of children are liable to, unless they are themselves brought under the divine go vernment. That I have seen that while it is a beautiful and interesting task, it is a very im. portant one, to educate and bring up children in the nurture and admonition: of the Lord; nor do } believe that any can perform this duty as they ought to do, who are not subject to the light of Christ. And I have often thought, that if parents were more heavenly minded, their children would be less hardy, and more passive to them and among their friends, than. is the case with many in, our day.. The truly, awakened and dedicated mind, may often find. occasion to shed the tear of sorrow. over the children of this generation. But I am of the opinion, that if we lived in the humility and reverence before God which our holy profeso sion, calls forg. we should have greater access
to the throne of his grace, and the life and power of the gospel would spread in our families. He who was the friend of faithful Abraham would clothe us with greater aue thority and qualification to command those of our household. And our precious offspring, beholding the solemnity and sweetness of our spirits, would feel an early and dutiful attachment to us; they would not be difficult to command, but would be led into obedience by the concurrent operation of our divine guide, who is ever willing to assist us in every duty which he is requiring at our hands. He is able to meet with our children when they are in their retired places, and if we were wit: nesses for him, would make our conduct instrumental to awaken his light and truth in their souls. But in the present state, how many who are parents have been unfaithful, and turned their attention to an outside religion fulfilling the works of the law, which never made the comers thereunto perfect, caree ful to lay a fair foundation in the world, and to lay up treasure on earth; very industrious and frugal, plain in living and plain in manner, but enemies to the cross of Christ, not scholars in his school, and therefore not qualified to in
struct their children ; but their spirits being in the world, their conversation relates to it; for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. When the rising generation are educated under these circumstances, and the cons versation they daily hear is bounded by temporal concerns, the effect must be to obstruct the growth of the seed of the kingdom of heaven in them; and it afterwards seems to require something like a miracle to bring their minds back to the principle we profess. If in our religious meetings they are sometimes spoken to in the demonstration and power of the spirit, they find, on their return home, that they are soon landed in the same round of subjects and conversation. Thus the Lord's work is re. tarded in its progress in the souls of the youth, and many of them grow up but with little religious concern about them. It appears to me, therefore, that the day calls for an awakening testimony to be borne among the people, both among the professors and others : and I am often put in mind of the instruction given to the disciples. “Then saith he unto his dis ciples, the harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few. Pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvests that he will send forth