Page images
PDF
EPUB

regard it; for they refuse to walk in his judgments, neither will they have any of his reproofs.

Man is left free to choose for himself, good or evil, and he hath the power of acting therein: but then he must partake of the fruits of his own labour. If men will be purchased by satan's temptations, and give themselves up to be the servants of sin,-pleading for continuing in sin,-saying that there is no probability of overcoming the evil powers in this world; how can these expect to have any ability to release themselves from those evil powers, under which they have suffered themselves to be bound!

The first month is nearly run out in the year 1807, and I am almost helpless, waiting for my change.

Here this worthy friend brought the account of his life and exercises to a close, about two weeks before his decease. Under the sore afflictions which were permitted to attend him, he was much favoured with tranquillity of mind and resignation to the Divine will. He continued to manifest a tender concern for his friends and fervent attachment to the cause of Truth, and frequently requested opportunities of silence with his family and friends who came to see him. On these occasions he was often enabled to administer suitable admonition and counsel, and was several times engaged in vocal supplication in a very remarkable manner. At one time as he was lying quietly composed, he said to a friend who was near him, “ I seem to hear the harmonious sound of songs of love."

Thus supported by an invisible hand, and animated by the prospect before him, he approached that awful period, and departed this life the 13th day of the 2nd month, 1807, aged about fifty-two years.

138

A SHORT ACCOUNT OF JAMES RIGBIE,

of Deer Creek in Maryland. Some circumstances in the chequered life of the subject of this Memoir, appear worthy of preservation for the benefit of others. It has been reported that in the earlier part of his life, he was a military character, and held the office of a commander of troops in the time of the French and Indian war.While in this employment, it is said he attended a meeting of the society of Friends, in which a testimony was borne to the truths of the gospel. It would seem that this had a powerful effect on his mind and that his judgment was convinced of the inconsistency of war; for it is stated that he immediately resigned his command in the army, -attended Friends' meetings, and in a short time united himself with thém by being received into membership. He came forth in public testimony, and his gift was acknowledged in the order of discipline. Being faithful, he grew in the exercise thereof, till he became a dignified minister of the gospel. The following letter appears to have been written while he stood in unity with Friends.

To Jemima Tomlinson, Bensalem, Bucks county,

Pennsylvania.

Deer Creek, 5th of 1st month, 1763. Dear Sister,—The perusal of some lines thou wrote thy sister, occasioned a near sympathy with thee, so that thou had no cause to enjoin her not to show them. As I trust I know her principles in the near and unbroken union that hath hitherto subsisted and I hope ever will, through Divine favour,-I am persuad

ed she will never expose her friend to the censure of any one. I am so far from casting a smile of contempt on thy performance, from the incorrectness of it, that it created a nearer sympathy for thee than before. We are not all alike in our attainments: as we differ in stature and physiognomy, so likewise in our dispositions, circumstances and exercises,-thro' this vale of tears. Many of us mortals preserve a cheerful countenance when we are exceedingly bowed under exercise of mind, to a discouraging degree. But here is the cheering thought, infinite Purity beholds all his people; their trials are not hid from him. However separated from him they may appear to be in their own sight for a season, he best knows how to deal with them. If we are, through his goodness, raised to behold his life-giving presence, and to feed at his table, it is to teach us faith, hope and confidence, with humble waiting. When he is pleased to withdraw himself, and hide from us, it is that we may remember the time of feeding, and not take flight in a winter season. It has this happy his travelling children; they tread back their steps, turn over the leaves of their lives, and view them with the narrowest scrutiny, to see what will stand the test: and when we find something wrong, then let us implore his forgiving goodness whose arm is open

wide to receive us:--and although we find not sudden relief, let us not depart thence, but wait in patience, for His time is the best time.

We never relish food better than after a time of hunger-mayst thou make the happy application. From thy affectionate brother-in-law,

JAMES RIGBIE.

effect on

To Henry and Jemima Tomlinson, Bensalem.

Deer Creek, 25th of 11th month, 1778. Dear Brother and Sister,With the salute of love, these may inform you we got safe home, after being hindered near a week in Philadelphia, through the indisposition of my wife, and found our family all well-through undeserved mercy we so continue, and hope the same for you; and that in the enjoyment thereof we may be truly thankful. We have often had you in our remembrance in a measure of that love which is better felt than expressed, and much desire its continuance and increase: never was there more need than in this dark and cloudy day, both in church and state. Oh! the need, great need indeed of Abrahams to intercede, and Moses's to stand between the living and the dead—at times to drop a tear between the porch and the altar: of which 'number I trust there is a small remnant here and there. May that remnant be increased from one to ten, and so to a thousand times ten thousand, until the inheritance of the wicked be laid waste; and righteousness, peace and joy in the Lord, more and more be introduced. Such a day, it is lawful and christian to hope for: and whilst the surges of boisterous and raging waves are rolling, may the God of our lives preserve us and you from swerving this way or that. But let us have our eye single to the alone worthy object,-ceasing from a dependance on man; for stability thereon is not to be found; but in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength. Our dear love is to yourselves, sister, and cousins, from self, wife, and household, Your truly affectionate brother,

JAMES RIGBIE.

But, at length, through unwatchfulness, and for want of keeping his mind in meekness and lowliness, James let in a disposition of self-confidence, and therein was induced to undervalue the judgment and opinion of his concerned friends. Being unwilling to take their counsel, or submit to their christian endeavours for his restoration,-a breach of unity was produced, and the harmony of brotherly feeling was interrupted, to the grief of the honest-hearted, and the stumbling of the weak. He remained under this cloud of darkness for some time; but the merciful Shepherd of Israel did not suffer him to perish in this wilderness state. There was a ground of sincerity in his mind; and when left by his friends as having wandered into a far country, he came to himself, and felt the desire of returning to the bosom of society. He saw his error, and the light of Christ again shone in mercy on his contrited soul. He sought reconciliation with his God, and with his former friends. The acknowledgment which he wrote and spread abroad, evinces the sincerity of his heart. It is a noble testimony to the Truth. It is worthy of preservation for the encouragement of others who have wandered from the path of self-denial and the unity of the brethren, and become sensible of their deviation. It evinces the excellency of the apostolic exhortation, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” When James Rigbie thus came down from his state of selfexaltation, when he humbled himself and confessed his fault in sincerity, he found the arms of his friends open to receive him, he found their hearts open to pray for him, and he was again restored to unity and fellowship with his brethren. His acknowledgment was as follows:

« PreviousContinue »