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THIRD MONTH, 1839.
MEMOIRS OF BARNABY NIXON, Laté of Virginia, deceased; with Extracts from
his manuscript writings.
INTRODUCTION. Our worthy friend, Barnaby Nixon, left at his death a collection of memorandums relating to some transactions of his life, together with sentiments and reflections on religious subjects. From these memoranda the following extracts have been taken: and although to select and prepare them for publication, has been a work attended with some pains and difficulty, it has also been accompanied with the belief, that they may contribute to the satisfaction and improvement of religious minds. With this sole view. they are now offered to the public; in doing which, it may be proper to observe, that the author possessed but a slender education; and as his manner of expression is generally preserved, the language is frequently incorrect, as respects grammatical propriety. The transitions from one subject to another, are, in many instances, sudden: but this, from the nature of the compilation, appeared to be unavoidable.Sometimes, however, connecting or explanatory sentences have been introduced by the compiler, and sometimes summary accounts of particular passages of the author's life.
With respect to the life and character of this friend, it may not be improper to inform the reader, that he was born about the 1st month, 1752. His parents were Phineas and Mary Nixon, of Perquimons county, North Carolina; who, in the management of their children, were careful to restrain them from evil.
He was sober and religiously inclined in early life, and as he advanced in age, he grew in religious experience, and received a gift in the ministry, in the exercise of which, he manifested much sincerity and zeal. He was exemplary in the attendance of religious meetings; and in his manner of living, he was so abstemious as wholly to decline the use of flesh as an article of food. And notwithstanding we believe that this particular singularity is not generally incumbent on christians, yet as his practice was founded on conscientious scruple, and accompanied with evidences of sincerity, we doubt not, according to the judgment of the Apostle, Rom. xiv. that his sincerity was accepted in the Divine sight. And as his conduct in this respect was influenced by a full persuasion in his own mind, so he manifested a desire that others might walk by the same apostolic rule. “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind."
Although the following pages may show that the writer was deficient in literature and the command of elegant language, yet they will show what is of infinitely more importance, a life exhibiting self-denial, zeal, and persevering integrity to the end. The support with which he was evidently favoured, through some dispensations peculiarly trying, may be considered as an evidence, not only of the sincerity of his heart, but of the fatherly regard and watchful providence of Him whom he had endeavoured to serve. To conclude, he was scrupulous, zealous, and almost incessantly engaged in active services. He endured afflictions with fortitude, and when verging towards the close of life, he was enabled to look forward, with humble confidence and animating hope, to that state of being to which he was approaching.
Meeting for Sufferings, Virginia, 5th month, 1814.
In re-publishing the following Extracts and Memoirs from a copy printed at Richmond in 1814, the editors have made a few verbal corrections, and varied the arrangement of some of the essays, so as better to suit the order of the times in which they were probably written. The circulation of this valuable little Work, is thought to be very limited; and is a sufficient apology for preserving it in the pages of the Miscellany.
in qualifying as an executor to my father's will, after taking the affirmation Friends commonly use, as the law directs, I felt my inward peace so much destroyed, that my mind was brought into serious thoughtfulness on the subject: believing that a christian spirit would not require such a ceremonious form of words to bind us to our “yea” and “nay:" "for whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil.” And if those words comprehend no more than yea or nay, why should they be used? I have often been pained to see some taking the affirmation in a light, airy manner, saying, “I do solemnly, sincerely declare," without the appearance of solemnity of mind in themselves, or in those about them. The more I felt after this subject, the more I thought it would not be right for me to take it again. And, though I have been presented for refusing, yet I never was fined, neither have I ever taken the affirmation since the first uneasiness about it.
In the year 1778, he married Sarah Hunnicutt, daughter of Robert and Sarah Hunnicutt, of Prince George county, Virginia: and not long after, leaving his former residence, he settled within the limits of Burleigh meeting, among the relations of his wife. In these important transactions, it appears that he was influenced by an earnest desire to act under Divine consent, and that he apprehended he was favoured with it. That his proceedings in relation to marriage, were not conducted with that levity which is too often indulged on such occasions, appears from the following relation, which he gave: “When we sat together to converse on the subject, our minds were overshadowed with Divine love; our hearts. were softened, and our spirits contrited to the Divine will. We were sensible that the ownings of Truth were with us in our undertaking." On the subject of his removal, he said: “I believed that if I moved without Divine approbation, and settled myself where it was not my business to work, I then should wither and die as to religion: and so live and die miserable. This brought me under deep concern, day and night, in humble prostration of soul, imploring Divine counsel. At length, he that seeth in se
cret favoured me with a belief that it was his will I 11 should move,—which settled in peace. But I felt so
nearly united to Friends, and so closely attached to
the meetings where I had often been refreshed with overshadowings of that love which cements the members into one living body, that it was a close trial to be outwardly cut off, by receiving Friends' certificate, (which was readily granted to me,) and to be joined to another body of Friends, and become a member of other meetings where I had not felt this growth of harmonizing unity in Truth's cause.
I have often been much concerned to see some Friends so lightly remove their habitations; who yet profess to be led and guided by the spirit of Truth, but do not appear engaged to seek its directions; concluding that their own wisdom is sufficient to guide them in such important concerns. Can such as these feel that they are converted from the government of the spirit of this world, to the obedience of Christ, and say by their example that they are purchased by him, and now are not their own? I firmly believe that those who are truly redeemed out of spiritual Egypt into the kingdom of Christ,—as they continue faithful, move only as they are directed by Divine wisdom, in such matters of importance. For their own wisdom must be kept down, and “the wisdom which is from above” be depended on, and waited for: and then they are led and guided by an almighty and unerring hand, to advance the testimony and cause of righteousness; and are not forsaken, (I can truly say,) and left as sheep without a shepherd, to stray in wild nature over the world. Thanks be to the God of love who first loved me and brought me into his love, and enabled me truly to say, that I have often sought his favour, and to know his will, saying in secret resignation, shall I do this, or shall I for, bear? Then I have found acceptance with him, and