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here. You must not expect to see me at Crosswicks, for I am eighty-one years old, but hearty: God be praised. My love to Betsy and her husband, to yours, your father, and all other my relations. I am, my dear child and beloved daughter, your loving father,
In answer to my father's letter, I wrote thus:
Upper Freehold, 2nd of 4th month, 1772. Dear father,--Christ saith, “ blessed is he who shall not be offended in me;" and “woe to that man by whom offences shall come,” who is in any wise the cause of a brother's stumbling. Such, I believe, was George Keith, one among the many who were enemies to the cross of Christ. It is afflicting to consider how the adversary prevailed in some of the first embracers of the blessed Truth, causing them to depart from the knowledge they had once received; and, by spreading false reports concerning the good land, were a means thereby of putting a stumblingblock in their brother's way to Zion; and, by misrepresenting our principles, endeavoured to darken and suppress the growth of the gospel in the earth. But, blessed be the Author of our redemption, the great Shepherd of Israel, who is manifesting his power in upholding his people, and plucking them from the jaws of the devourer. For it is evident, if the God-in whose hands are all the kingdoms of the earth, had not been on our side, we should soon have been swept away by the torrent of opposition and persecution that fell upon us.
Thou mayst see, my dear father, that I include myself in the number of those tribulated ones; having in my measure tasted
a little with them of the enemy's wrath. But God is great and powerful, and his might is known amongst us. 'Tis he alone that leadeth Joseph like a flock, and is the supporter of his hidden ones: for the knowledge of his kingdom is hid from the wise and prudent, that are so in their own eyes, and is graciously revealed unto babes, who sincerely cry to God alone for true nourishment. His ear is ever open to the cry of the poor and destitute, and he will give them the knowledge of his ways: for we“ have an unction from the Holy One," so that we may know him that is true.
We do not deny the scriptures having been written by inspired men, as they were moved by the Holy Ghost; but we believe they are not the living, essential Word; for we read, “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Again, the scripture saith, “ The Word of God is quick and powerful, sharp, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” It is likewise said, the letter kills, but it is the spirit that quickens. Again, “ The Word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart.”? We believe that none but those who experience the same Divine teaching, can understand the true intent and purpose of God, through the scriptures. For how can we in our dark, fallen nature, without the quickening spirit that separates between the good and the vile in us,-unclothes the old man of his deeds, and prepares and redeems by his power, so that the dark vail may be done away; and thus we, being made children of the light, be
come capable of discerning the mysteries of the true Word. How can I sufficiently express the goodness of Almighty Wisdom, who of his free mercy hath given me to see, in a small measure, through the dead letter of the law!
We do not deny Christ come in the flesh, his birth, life, crucifixion and ascension,-neither did George Fox nor any that ever truly and experimentally knew Christ within them, the hope of glory.-He came a light into the world, to call men from darkness into the light of life. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” He told his disciples it was expedient for them that he should go away, in order that the Comforter might come, even the spirit of Truth: and that when he, the spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth. Observe, when he was gone from the earth, he was to send this spirit: I ask, must it not be into their hearts, by faith? And he says thus: “1 in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one." Again,“when he (the spirit of Truth) is come, he will reprove the world of sin,” &c. How is it to reprove, unless it is within? “O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee; but I have known thee,” said Jesus; 66 and these have known that thou hast sent me." Is the hand of Almighty Power shortened, that it cannot save now as it did then? and is not God unchangeable, the same yesterday, to-day, and forever?
Dear father, do read carefully the 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th chapters of John, and see how often there, as well as in many other places in the scriptures, he speaks of dwelling in them, and that he will be with them as they abide in him. In the first chapter of John, it is declared, “the Word was God. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” This light is his gift or manifestation which is given to every man to profit withal; then how can we call it a natural light, and fallible, and wanting helps. The apostle says, by nature we are all children of wrath, and of ourselves are nothing, unless the Spirit help our infirmities. I may almost say from thy expressions, that thou disbelieves Christ come in the flesh, or his dwelling in our fleshly tabernacles; for is it not written, “Ye are the temples of the Holy Ghost." And again, “ Know ye not your own selves, how that Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates.” God is a spirit; and he seeketh spiritual worshippers. If we deny the Spirit to enlighten man, and to be an infallible guide, we ought to be careful of putting constructions, lest we add to or diminish from the holy scriptures. Thou tellest me to read them, and pray to be enlightened: I will ask thee, how shall I pray? how can I pray? where shall I find ability to do it? how shall I be sensible of my wants, till that Light which lightens every man that comes into the world, discovers to me my impotency and uncleanness, and shows me what I stand in need of?
I well remember when I was about nine or ten years old, these words ran through my mind, “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it; but broad is the
way that leads to destruction, and many go in thereat." I was filled with fear and great distress, until my life became burdensome, lest I should go in the road to destruction. Then an inspeaking voice said to me, Pray to God to preserve thee. I tried to pray; I laboured but I could find no ease (being mixed with self-will) till I was taught to wait God's time, who enabled me in the true spirit of supplication, vocally to address my petitions to him, according to his will. Oh!
my dear father, that I had been faithful to what I then knew, and have known all my life since!But I rebelled against his goodness and mercy, and turned from his light in my heart, which showed me my sins, and called me out of them.
About two years ago, an awakensng alarm was sounded thus: “ I would thou wert cold or hot; but since thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.” This roused me out of my carnal ease and security, and I resolved to seek till I found my God and Saviour. I sought him earnestly in solitude, in retirement and in pray
I gave myself to searching, and inquiring by books which belonged to thy society of people, and applied myself to seek diligently for that good and acceptable thing which my soul hungered after.Much I could say concerning my inward exercises alone; for I had none of the Friends' books, nor company of such as truly followed Christ in the regeneration. But my inward exercises continued until God, by his mysterious power and working in me, taught me to cease from my own works, and to be still and silent before him. In that day of anxiety and trial, this language was clearly made known to me: Be still; and thou shalt see the salvation of God. Thus, in his own time his will was made known, power was given me to obey, and I received strength to bear the cross and follow him. None knew my exercises but the Lord alone. So I conferred not with flesh and blood; nor did I follow any leader, save Jesus Christ, who was a father to the destitute, and a supporter to my weak and tried mind.