A BRIEF MEMOIR
WITH PORTIONS OF THE
LETTERS, AND OTHER REMAINS,
LATE OF BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND.
"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."—PHIL. 1. 21.
The first edition of this volume appeared in England in 1855, where it was printed for private circulation only. Many expressions of the interest that has been felt in its perusal, and of the value that has been attached to the record it contains, have reached the editor and the family of the departed. Several applications to allow its publication in America have also been received; and, after serious consideration, the editor feels that he ought not to withhold his consent.
In order that it may be more interesting and worthy of the largely-extended circulation that it is now likely to obtain, additions have been made, and particulars inserted, which a greater lapse of time from the occurrence of the events narrated, seems now to permit. A slight thread of biographical notice has also been introduced.
But it is not to this part, which merely serves to render the volume more complete, by enabling the reader to understand the circumstances by which the writer of the Diary was surrounded, but to the Diary itself, that the editor desires to commend attention, believing that those who enjoy to trace the operations and effects of Divine grace on the heart will find much that is interesting and valuable therein, and that the young may reap instruction and encouragement from the spiritual history of one who early and earnestly sought the Lord.
WILLIAM SOUTHALL, JR.
EDGBASTON, BIRMINGHAM, 2d mo. 12th, 1861.
Eliza Southall, wife of William Southall, Jr., of Birmingham, England, and daughter of John and Eliza Allen, was born at Liskeard, on the 9th of 6th month, 1823.
As she felt a strong attachment to the scenes of her childhood, and an interest in the people among whom she spent the greater part of her short life,—an attachment which is evinced many times in the course of her memoranda,—it may interest the American reader to know that Liskeard is an ancient but small town in Cornwall. The country around is broken up into hill and dale, sloping down to the sea a few miles distant, the rocky shores of which are dotted with fishing-villages; in an opposite direction it swells into granite hills, in which are numerous mines of copper and lead. There is a good deal of intelligence, and also of religious feeling, to be met with among both the miners and fishermen, Cornwall having been the scene of a great revival in religion in the time of John Wesley, the effects of which have not been suffered to pass away. A meeting of Friends has been held at Liskeard from an early period in the history of the Society; but, as in many other country places in England, the numbers seem gradually to diminish, various attractions drawing the members to the larger towns. Launceston Castle, so well known in connection with the sufferings of George Fox, is a few miles distant.
The family-circle, until broken a few years before her own marriage by that of an elder sister, consisted, in addition to her parents, of five daughters, two of whom were older and two younger than Eliza. Her father was long known and deservedly esteemed by Friends in England, and her mother is an approved minister. John Allen was a man of sound judgment and of liberal and enlightened views, ever desirous of upholding the truth, but at the same time ready to listen to the arguments of those who might differ from him in opinion. Moderate and cautious in counsel and conduct, firm, yet a peacemaker, he was truly a father in the Church. For many years he took an active part in the deliberations of the Yearly Meeting, and was often employed in services connected with the Society. He was known to many Friends on the American continent, from having visited that country in 1845 by appointment of the London Yearly Meeting. He was the author of a work entitled "State Churches and the Kingdom of Christ," and of several pamphlets on religious subjects. He died in 1859.
John Allen retired from business at an early age; and a prominent reason for his doing so was that he might devote himself more fully to the education of his daughters, which was conducted almost entirely at home. Having a decided taste for the ancient classics, he considered that so good a foundation of a sound education ought not to be neglected. The same might be said of the older history and literature of his own country, including its poetry, in which he was well read; but he fully encouraged his pupils to become acquainted also with the better productions of the day, to the tone of which their younger minds were more easily adapted. Nor was education confined to direct instruction in the school-room. In a little memoir of John Allen, published in the "Annual Monitor," we read, "In the domestic circle, the tender, watchful care and sympathy of the parent were blended with the constant stimulus to self-improvement of the teacher; and the readiness to sacrifice personal ease and convenience, in order that he might enter into the pursuits and amusements of his children, was united with an unremitting endeavor to maintain a high standard of moral and religious feeling. Thus by example as well as by precept did he evince his deep concern for their best welfare. As years passed on, his cordial sympathy with their interests, and his anxiety as far as possible to share his own with them, gave an additional power to his influence, not easily estimated." Such were the simple and natural means of education employed. The aim was true enlargement of mind; and the desire was carefully instilled that the knowledge acquired should be valued for its own sake, not as a possession to be used for display. At the same time, care was taken not to destroy the balance between the intellect and the affections, so that, whilst the growth of the mental powers was encouraged, domestic and social duties should not suffer, and habits of self-reliance should be formed. From earliest childhood the great principles of Christianity were instilled into the opening minds of the children; and when the reflective powers had come into operation, their reasonings were watched and guided into safe paths. In this object, as in all the pursuits of her children, was the loving influence of a watchful mother gently felt. Thus by the united love and example of the parents were the affections of the children directed to a risen Saviour; and it is the aim of this volume to show, principally from records penned by her own hand, how one beloved daughter grew in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord, until it pleased Him to take her to Himself.
Eliza Southall possessed a mind of no common order; and hers was a character in which simplicity and strength, originality and refinement, were beautifully blended: diffident and retiring, she was best appreciated where she was known most intimately.
In very early life she manifested an unusual degree of mental power. When quite a little child, her earnest pursuit of knowledge was remarkable: she delighted in her lessons, and chose for her own reading a class of books far beyond the common taste of children.
Her ardent, impulsive nature was, to a beautiful degree, tempered and softened by a depth of tenderness and intensity of feeling, together with a warmth of affection, which bound her very closely in sympathy, even as a child, with those around her.
These sweet traits of natural character were so early blended with the unmistakable evidences of the fruit of divine grace in her heart, that it would be difficult to point to any time in her earliest childhood when there was not an earnest strife against evil, some sweet proof of the power of overcoming grace, and some manifestation of love to her Saviour.
Her own words sweetly describe her feelings in recalling this period:—"When I look back to the years of my early childhood, I cannot remember the time when the Lord did not strive with me; neither can I remember any precise time of my first covenant. It was the gentle drawing of the cords of his love; it was the sweet impress of his hand; it was the breathing in silence of a wind that bloweth where it listeth."
The following instances of the serious thoughtfulness of her early childhood are fresh in her mother's recollection. On one of her sisters first going to meeting, Eliza, who was younger, much wished to accompany her; saying, "I know, mamma, that R—— and I can have meetings at home; but I do want to go." Being told that her going must depend upon her sister's behavior, Eliza ran to her, and putting her arms round her neck, said, most earnestly, "Do, dear R——, be a good girl and behave well." The dear child's desire to attend meeting was soon gratified; and that morning she selected, to commit to memory, Jane Taylor's appropriate hymn on attending public worship, especially noticing the stanza—
"The triflers, too, His eye can see, Who only seem to take a part; They move the lip, and bend the knee, But do not seek Him with the heart,"—
saying, earnestly, "Oh, I hope I shall not be like those!"
At another time, whilst amusing herself with her toys, she asked, "Mamma, what is it that makes me feel so sorry when I have done wrong? Directly, mamma: what is it?" On her mother's explaining that it was the Holy Spirit put into her heart by her heavenly Father, she replied, "But how very whispering it is, mamma! Nobody else can hear it." "Yes, my dear," said her mother; "and thou mayst sometimes hear it compared to a 'still small voice, and then thou wilt know what is meant." She answered, "Yes, mamma," and then continued to amuse herself as before.
The first remembrance of Eliza retained by one of her younger sisters is that of sitting opposite to her in the nursery-window while she endeavored, in a simple manner, to explain to her the source and object of her being. To the same sister she afterwards addressed some affectionate lines of infantile poetry urging the same subject, commencing,—
"Look, precious child, to Jesus Christ."
The missionary spirit which filled her young heart was also evinced by her desire to possess a donkey, that she might distribute Bibles in the country places round about; and this was afterwards spoken of as the ambition of her childhood.
Together with the cheerful sweetness of her disposition, there was an unusual pensiveness, a tender care for others, which was most endearing, and often touching to witness. One day, perceiving her mother much affected on receiving intelligence of the decease of a valued friend and minister at a distance from home, Eliza evinced her sympathy by laying on the table before her some beautiful lines on the death of Howard. On her mother asking if she thought the cases similar, she said, "Not quite, mamma: J—— T—— was not without friends."
So earnest was her anxiety for the good of herself and her sisters, that, when any thing wrong had been done, her feelings of distress seemed equally excited, whether for their sakes or her own. After any little trouble of this sort, her mother often observed her retire alone, and, when she returned to the family-group, a beaming expression on her countenance would show where she had laid her sorrows. Sometimes in her play-hours she would endeavor to prepare her two younger sisters for the lessons which they would receive from their father, and, when the time came for her to join in giving them regular instruction, she entered into it with zest and interest.
Many hours were spent during the summer in the little plots of ground allotted to herself and sisters out of a small plantation skirting a meadow near the house, and many others in reading under the old elm-trees which cast their shade over the garden-walk.
The spare moments during her domestic occupations which she was anxious not to neglect were often beguiled by learning pieces of poetry, a book being generally open at her side while thus employed.
Earnestness of purpose and unwearied energy were characteristics of her mind. Whatever she undertook was done thoroughly and with an untiring industry, which often claimed the watchful care of her parents from the fear lest she should overtax her strength. It was evidently difficult to her to avoid an unsuitable strain on her physical powers, whatever might be the nature of her pursuit,—whether her own private reading or other intellectual occupation. At one period her time and energies were closely occupied for some months in the formation of very elaborate charts, by which she endeavored to impress historical and scientific subjects on her mind. The collection and examination of objects illustrating the different branches of natural history was also a very favorite pursuit, in which she delighted to join her sisters. But the reader will best understand how completely any pursuit in which she became deeply interested took hold upon her, from her own account of her experiences respecting poetry.
While deeply feeling her responsibility for the right use of all the talents intrusted to her care, and earnestly engaged in their cultivation, she was equally conscious of the claims of social duty, and as solicitous to fulfil them, seeking in every way to contribute to the happiness of those around her, whether among the poor or among the friends and relatives of her own circle.
Her journal, while it exhibits an intense earnestness in analyzing the state of her own mind, and perhaps rather too much proneness to dwell morbidly upon it, also evinces the tender joy and peace with which she was often blessed by the manifested presence of her Lord. It unfolds an advancement in Christian experience to which her conduct bore living testimony, and proves that in humble reliance on the hope set before her in the gospel, with growing distrust of herself, her faith increased in God her Saviour, and through his grace she was enabled to maintain the struggle with her soul's enemies, following on to know the Lord.
Thus it was, as she sought preparation for a more enlarged sphere of usefulness on earth, her spirit ripened for the perfect service of heaven; and six weeks after she left her father's house a bride, the summons was received to join that countless multitude who "have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple."
The diary which was kept by the beloved object of this memoir, and the extracts from which form the principal part of this volume, is contained in several volumes of closely-written manuscript, and, taken as a whole, is a most interesting record of mental and spiritual growth. At times it was continued with almost daily regularity, but at others, either from the pressure of occupations or from various causes, considerable intervals occur in which nothing was written. It has been the endeavor of the editor to make such selections as may preserve a faithful picture of the whole. There is almost of necessity a certain amount of repetition, as in seasons of depression, when faith and hope seemed to be much obscured, or, on the other hand, when cheerful thankfulness and joy of heart were her portion; and in such places it did not seem right to curtail her words too much. Many entries referred too closely to personal and family matters to be suitable for publication, and the uneventful character of her life does not leave room to supply in their stead much in the way of narrative; but it will be remembered that it is the heavenward journey that it is desired to trace, not simply towards the land "very far off," but that pilgrimage during which, though on earth, the believer in Jesus is at times privileged to partake of the joys of heaven.
The first volume of the series is entitled, by its author, "Mementos of Mercy to the Chief of Sinners." Some lines written on her fourteenth birthday—about the period, of its commencement—may appropriately introduce the extracts.
6th Mo. 9th, 1837.—
Can it be true that one more link In that mysterious chain, Which joins the two eternities, I shall not see again?
Eternity! that awful thing Thought tries in vain to scan; How far beyond the loftiest powers Of little, finite man!
E'en daring fancy's fearless flight In vain would grasp the whole, And then, "How short man's mortal life!" Exclaims the wondering soul.
A bubble on the ocean's breast, A glow-worm's feeble ray, That loses all its brilliancy Beneath the orb of day.
Can it be joyful, then, to find That life is hastening fast? Can it be joyful to reflect, This year may be our last?
Look on the firmament above, From south to northern pole: Can we find there a resting-place For the immortal soul?
* * * * *
Where can we search to find its home? The still small voice in thee Answers, as from the eternal throne, "My own shall dwell with me."
And I have one year less to seek An interest on high; Am one year nearer to the time When I myself must die!
And when that awful time will come, No human tongue can say; But, oh! how startling is the thought That it may be to-day!
How shall my guilty spirit meet The great, all-searching eye? Conscious of my deficiencies, As in the dust I lie.
How shall I join the ransom'd throng Around the throne that stand, And cast their crowns before thy feet, Lord of the saintly band?
12th Mo. 6th, 1836. There are seasons in which I am favored to feel a quiet resignation, to spend and be spent in the service of Him who, even in my youthful days, has been pleased to visit me with the overshadowing of His mercy and love, and to require me to give up all my dearest secret idols, and every thing which exalts self against the government of the Prince of Peace.
4th Mo. 3d, 1837. Almost in despair of ever being what I ought to be. I feel so poor in every good thing, and so amazingly rich in every bad thing. Still this little spark of love that remains, seems to hope in Him "who will not quench the smoking flax."
6th Mo. 4th. I have cause to be very watchful. Satan is at hand: temptations abound, and it is no easy matter to keep in the right way. To have my affections crucified to the world is my desire. The way to the celestial city, is not only through the valley of humiliation, but also through the valley of the shadow of death.
6th Mo. 11th. Many things have lately occurred which have flattered my vanity. I have received compliments and commendations: old Adam likes these things, and persuades me that I am somebody, and may well feel complacency. How needful is watchfulness! may the true light discover to me the snares that are set on every side.
7th Mo. 2d. May I be enabled to give myself up as clay into the Potter's hand, without mixing up any thing of my own contriving; and in the silence of all flesh, wait to have the true seed watered and nourished by heavenly dew.
8th Mo. 2d. I feel humbled at the sight of my many backslidings and deficiencies. Oh, may He, "who is touched with a feeling of our infirmities," in just judgment, remember mercy. If He does not, there can be no hope for me; but oh! I trust He will. "Let not Thy hand spare, nor Thine eye pity, till Thou hast made me what thou wouldst have me to be."
8th Mo. 20th. Utterly unworthy! Oh, my Father! if there be any right beginning, if there be the least spark of good within me, carry it on: oh, increase it, that I may become as a plant of thy right hand planting, that I may become a sheep of thy fold. Assist me to present myself before thee in true silence, that I may wait upon thee in truth, and worship thee in the silence of all flesh, and know "all my treasure, all my springs, in Thee."
10th Mo. 13th. We have just been favored with a visit from J.P., which has been to me a great comfort. At our Monthly Meeting he addressed the young; and it seemed as though he spoke the very thoughts of my heart; and the sweet supplication offered on their behalf that they might be preserved from the snares of the delusive world, may it be answered.
4th Mo. 15th, 1838. I want to give up every thing, every thought, every affection, in short, my whole self, to my offered Saviour. Then would His kingdom come, and His will be done. Instead of the thorn would come up the fir-tree, and instead of the brier the myrtle-tree. How precious, how holy, how peaceful, that kingdom! Oh! if I may yet hope; if mercy is left, I beseech Thee, hear and behold me, and bring me "out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon the rock."
5th Mo. 26th, 1839. A beautiful First-day. Every thing sweet and lovely; fulfilling the purpose of its creation as far as man is not concerned. Birds and insects formed for happiness, are now completely happy. But ah! they were formed to give glory to God, by testifying to man His goodness. Ten thousand voices call upon me to employ the nobler talents intrusted for the same purpose. Nearly sixteen years have I been warned, and sweetly called upon to awake out of sleep: "What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, and call upon thy God!" How shall I account, in the last day, for these things? It is often startling to think how time is advancing, and how ill the day's work keeps pace with the day. For even now, poor drowsy creature that I am, it is but occasional sensibility, with the intervals buried in vain dreams; and even at such times, my poor warped affections, and busy imaginations, crowded with a multitude of images, refuse to yield to the command, "Be still, and know that I am God." I have, indeed, found that in whatever circumstances I may he placed, I can never be really happy without the religion of the heart; without making the Lord my habitation; and oh, may it be mine, through Christ's humbling and sanctifying operations, to know every corner of my heart made fit for the dwelling-place of Him who is with the meek and contrite ones. Then shall the remaining days of my pilgrimage be occupied in the energetic employment of those talents which must otherwise rise up for my condemnation in the last day.
6th Mo. 2d. It is not for me to say any more "thus far will I go, but no farther," either in the narrow or the broad way. In the former, we cannot refuse to proceed without receding; in the latter, if we will take any steps, it is impossible to restrain ourselves. Besetting sins, though apparently opposite ones, sad stumbling-blocks in the way of the cross, are unrestrained activity of thought and indolence: the former proceeds from earthly-mindedness; and the latter as a sure consequence from the want of heavenly-mindedness. Oh that by keeping very close to Jesus, my wandering heart may receive the impression of His hand, that the new creation may indeed be witnessed, wherein Jerusalem is a rejoicing and her people a joy; then may I find that quiet habitation which nothing ever gave me out of the fold of Christ.
6th Mo. 9th. Alas! how shall I account for the sixteen years which have, this day, completed their course upon my head? What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits? Shall I not, from this time, cry unto Him, "My Father, thou art the guide of my youth"? But, for the year that is passed, what can I say? I will lay my hand on my mouth and acknowledge that it has been squandered. Yes, so far as it has not been employed about my Father's business. But, alas! it has been crammed with selfishness; though now and then He, whom I trust I yet desire to serve, has made me sensibly feel how precious is every small dedication to Himself.
6th Mo. 16th. The consideration of the peculiar doctrines of Friends having been lately rather forced on my attention, let me record my increased conviction of the privilege of an education within the borders of the Society; of the great value and importance of its spiritual profession, and the awful responsibility of its members to walk so as to adorn its doctrines, and shine as lights in the world.
Warmly as she was attached to these principles, she ever rejoiced in the conviction that all the followers of Christ are one in Him, and that, by whatever name designated, those who have attained to the closest communion with Him are the nearest to one another; and when differences in sentiment were the topic of conversation, she would sometimes rejoin in an earnest tone, the "commandment is exceeding broad."
2d Mo. 2d, 1840. Time passes on, and what progress do I make, either in usefulness in the earth, or preparation for heaven? Self-indulgence is the bane of godliness, and is, alas! mine.' This world's goods are snares, and are, alas! snares to me. Coward that my heart is, when pride is piqued, I have not resolution to conquer my own spirit. Pride, indolence, and worldly-mindedness are bringing me into closer and closer bondage: the first keeps me from true worship by preventing me from seeking the help and teaching of the one Spirit; the second, by making me yield without effort or resistance to the uncontrolled imaginations which the third presents. And now do these lines witness that, having been called to an everlasting salvation, God, the chief good, having manifested His name unto the least of His little ones, my soul and body are for Him, belong to Him, to be moulded and fashioned according to His will; and that if I frustrate His purpose, His glorious holiness and free grace are unsullied and everlastingly worthy.
7th Mo. 12th. If I acknowledge my own state, it is one cumbered with "many things." Alas! amid them how little space is there for the love of God! I have remembered the days when untold and inexpressible experiences were mine; when a child's tears and prayers were seen and heard before the throne! The stragglings of grace and nature have been great since then. I can look back to years of struggles and deliverances, years of revoltings and of mercies. It is like "threshing mountains" to meddle with the strongholds of sin; but mountains, I sometimes hope, will be made to "skip like rams."
10th Mo. 5th. How long have I been like the "merchantman seeking goodly pearls"! Ever since reason dawned I have longed for a goodly pearl; though dazzled and deceived by many an empty trifle, I cannot plead as an excuse that I could not find the pearl. I have seen it at times, and felt how untold was the price, and thought I was ready to sell all and buy it, sometimes believed that all was sold; but why, ah, why was my pledge so often redeemed? I have been indeed like a simple one, who, having found a "pearl of great price," cast it from him for an empty, unsatisfying show.
1st Mo. 17th, 1841. Very precious as have been the privileges vouchsafed the last two days, I can this morning speak of nothing as my present condition, but the extreme of weakness and poverty. On 6th day evening R.B. addressed us in such a way as proved to me that the Divine word is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. The chief purport was the necessity of a willingness to learn daily of the great Teacher meekness and lowliness and faithfulness in the occupation of the talents intrusted; "for where much is given, much will be required." Yesterday his parting "salutation of brotherly love" was such as cannot be effaced from my memory; and oh, I pray that it may not from my heart. And now my prayer, my desire, must be for a renewed dedication. The separation, as R.B. said, from the right hand and the right eye must be made: the sacrifice which is acceptable will always cost something.
3d Mo. 8th. Oh, may I become altogether a babe and a fool before myself, and, if it must be, before others! God has been very graciously dealing with me.
3d Mo. 19th. Words must be much more guarded, as well as thoughts. This morning I am comforted with a precious feeling: "I will take care of thee."
3d Mo. 27th. How does my heart long, this evening, that the one Saviour may be made unto me "wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption!" Teach me to keep silence, O God! to mind my own business and be faithful to it; to deny my own will and wisdom; give me the spirit of true Christian love, that my whole life may be in the atmosphere of love!
3d Mo. 28th. * * * To cease from my own works, surely in a very small degree, I can experimentally say, "this is the only true rest." This blessed experience seems to me the height of enjoyment to the truly redeemed. Oh, a little foretaste of this sabbath has been granted, when I have seemed to behold with my own eye, and to feel for myself in moments too precious to be forgotten, the waves of tumult hushed into a, more than earthly calm by Him who alone can say, "Peace, be still." My tossing spirit has never found such a calm in any thing this world can give.
During her first attendance of the Yearly Meeting in London, in 1841, she wrote the following affectionate lines in a letter to her sisters at home:—
The crowds that past me ceaseless rush Stay not to glance at me, As falling waters headlong gush Into their native sea.
But hearts there are that brightly burn, And light each kindling eye, And home to them my thoughts return, Swift as the sunbeams fly.
* * * * *
To home, to home my spirit hastes; For why? my treasure's there; 'Tis there her native joys she tastes, And breathes her native air.
Oh, sweetest of all precious things, When this wide world we roam, When meets us on its balmy wings A messenger from home!
From home, where hearts are warm and true, And love's lamp brightly burns, And sparkles Hermon's pearly dew On childhood's crystal urns.
Oh, sweet to mark the speaking lines Traced by a sister's hand, And feel the love that firmly twines Around our household band!
To one of her sisters:—
LONDON, 6th Month, 1841.
* * * * I lay still half hour, and read over thy tenderly interesting and affecting sheet, and poured out my full heart; but what can I say? How I do long to be with you, and see, if it might be, once more, our beloved uncle! But perhaps before this the conflict may be over, the victory won, the everlasting city gained, none of whose inhabitants can say, "I am sick." And if so, dare we murmur or wish to recall the loved one from that home? Oh for that childlike and humble submission which is befitting the children of a Father of mercies, and the followers of Him who can and will do all things well!
After the Yearly Meeting, she thus writes in her Journal:—
6th Mo. 12th. Many and great have been the favors dispensed within the last five weeks. The attendance of the Yearly Meeting has been the occasion of many and solemn warnings and advices, and, I trust, the reception of some real instruction. But, truly, I have found that in every situation, the great enemy can lay his snares; and if one more than another has taken with me, it has been to lead me to look outward for teaching, and to depend too much upon it, neglecting that one inward adoration for the want of which no outward ministry can atone. But I hope the enemy has not gained more than limited advantages of this kind, and perhaps even the discovery of these has had the effect of making me more distrustful of self. And, now, oh that the everlasting covenant might be ordered in all things and sure, and He only, who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, be exalted over all, in my heart; and the blessed experience thus described, be more fully realized: "He that hath entered into his rest hath ceased from his own works as God did from his."
6th Mo. 21st. Very early this morning the long struggle with death terminated, and the spirit of our beloved Uncle E. was released from its worn tenement. The stony nature in my heart seems truly wounded. May it not be as the wounded air, soon to lose the trace. My heavenly Father's tender regard I have, indeed, felt this evening; but I tremble for the evil that remains in me. May I be blessed with the continued care of the good Shepherd, that I may be preserved as by the crook of His love. And now, seeing that much is forgiven me, may I love much. I feel that my Saviour's regard is of far more value than any earthly thing; and oh that my eye may be kept singly waiting for Him!
The decease of her uncle was soon followed by that of his youngest son, Joseph E. In reference to his death, she remarks:—
7th Mo. 22d. He, in whose sight the death of His saints is precious, has again visited with the solemn call our family circle, and summoned away the sweetest, purest, and most heavenly of the group. Our dear cousin Joseph last night entered that "rest which remains for the people of God;" rest for which he had been panting the whole of the day, and to which he was enabled to look forward as his "happy home."
7th Mo. 28th. Yesterday was one long to be remembered. The last sad offices were paid to him whom we so much loved; and oh that the mantle of the watchful, lowly disciple might descend abundantly upon us! Yet it is only by keeping near to the divine power, that I can receive any thing good; and, though yet far away, oh, may I look towards His holy habitation who is graciously offering me a home where there is "bread enough and to spare."
4th Mo. 3d, 1842. He who has been for years striving with me, has lately, I think I may say, manifested to me the light of His countenance, and enabled me at seasons to commit the toiling, roving mind into His hand. This morning, however, I feel as if I could find no safe centre. Oh that I were gathered out of the false rest, and from all false dependence, to God Himself, the only true helper, and leader, and guide! How precious to recognize, in the light that dawned yesterday and the day before, the same glory, and power, and beauty, which were once my chief joy! But oh, I desire not to be satisfied with attaining again to former experience; but to give all diligence in pressing forward to the mark for the prize, even forgetting things that are behind.
10th Mo. Mercies and favors of which I am totally unworthy have been graciously bestowed this morning, and, may I hope, a small capacity granted to enter into the sanctuary and pray. This week I have been unwatchful,—too much cumbered; yet, oh, I hope and trust, at times, my chains are breaking, and though I must believe the bitterness will come in time, the gospel of salvation is beginning to be tasted in its sweetness, completeness, and joy.
1st Mo. 1843. I desire that the privilege of this day attending the Quarterly Meeting at Plymouth, may be long held in grateful remembrance; that the language, "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes," may be my increasing experience. Conscious that the state of my heart, long wavering between two opinions, has of late been fearfully in danger of fixing to the wrong one of these, I would ask of Him who seeth in secret, and who is, I trust, at this very moment renewing a measure of the contrition, which, amid all my desires for it, did but gleam upon me this morning, to do in me a thorough work, to remain henceforth and ever.
2d Mo. 12th. About four weeks since, we had a precious visit from B.S., and it has been a sacrifice to me to make no record of his striking communications; but I have been fearful, lest in any measure the weight and freshness of these things should vanish in words; and I have never felt at liberty to do so.
In this year, she wrote but little in her Journal, and it appears to have been a time of spiritual proving; yet one in which she experienced that it was good for her "to trust in the name of the Lord, and to stay herself upon her God."
6th Mo. 16th, 1844. One week ago was the twenty-first anniversary of my birthday. In some sense, I can say,—
"The past is bright, like those dear hills, So far behind my bark; The future, like the gathering night, Is ominous and dark.
"One gaze again—one long, last gaze; Childhood, adieu to thee; The breeze hath hurried me away, On a dark, stormy sea."
Deeply and more deeply, day by day, does my understanding find the deceitfulness of my heart. Well do I remember the feelings of determination, with which I resolved, two years since, that this period should not find me halting between two opinions,—that ere this day I would be a Christian indeed. And looking back upon my alternating feelings, ever since reason was mine, upon the innumerable resolutions to do good, which have been as staves of reed, I must want common perception not to assent to the truth, that "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" But, oh, it is not this only, which my intellectual conscience is burdened with: when I look at the visitations of divine grace which have been my unmerited, unasked-for, privilege, through which I can but feel that in days past, a standing was placed in my power to attain, which, probably, now I shall never approach, the question does present with an awful importance, "How much owest thou unto thy Lord?" Seeing we know not, nor can know, the value of an offer of salvation, till salvation is finally lost or won; seeing that such an offer is purchased only by the shedding of a Saviour's blood, how incomprehensibly heavy, yet how true, the charge, "Ye have crucified to yourselves the son of God afresh." I know well that of many now pardoned, for sins far deeper in the eyes of men than any I have committed, it might be said that little is forgiven them in comparison of the load of debt that hangs over my head; and I have sometimes thought, that the comparison of debtors was selected by the Saviour, purposely to show that guilt in the sight of God is chiefly incurred by the neglect of His own spiritual gifts, not in proportion merely to the abstract morality of man's conduct. It is certainly what we have received that will be required at our hands: and oh, in the sight of the Judge of all the earth, how much do I owe unto my Lord! This day, though I was not in darkness about it, seems almost to have overtaken me unawares. I was not ready for it, though I knew so well when it would come; and, oh, for that day which I know not how near it may be, when the account is to be finally made up—how, how shall I prepare? With all the blessings, and invitations, and helps, which the good God has given me, I am deeply, deeply involved. How, then, can I dream of clearing off these debts, when there can be no doubt that I shall daily incur more? Alas, I am too much disposed to keep a meum and tuum with heaven itself in more senses than one. * * * As to setting out anew on a carte blanche, I cannot. There lies the deeply-stained record against me: "I called," and, oh, how deep the meaning, "Ye did not answer." Yes, my heart did: but to answer, "I go, sir," does but add to the condemnation that "I went not."
6th Mo. 23d. This morning, I believe, the spirit was, in measure, willing, though the "flesh was weak." I have thought of the lines—
"When first thou didst thy all commit To Him upon the mercy-seat, He gave thee warrant from that hour To trust his wisdom, love, and power."
My desire is to know that my all is committed, and then, I do believe, He will be known to be faithful that hath promised. The care of our salvation is not ours; our weak understandings cannot even fathom the means whereby it is effected; but this we do know, that it indispensably requires to be "wrought out with fear and trembling." The Saviour will be ours, only on condition of our being his. Religion must not be an acquirement, but a transformation; and surely that spirit, which could not make itself, and which, when made by God, has but degraded itself, is unable to "create itself anew in Christ Jesus unto good works." No, fear and trembling are the only part, and that but negative, which the spirit of man can have in working out its own salvation; but when led by the good spirit into this true fear, when given to wait, and held waiting at the feet of Jesus, it is made able, gradually, to receive the essential gospel of salvation; and so long only is it in the way of salvation as it is sensible of its constant dependence on the one Saviour of men.
May Friends, above all, while distinctly maintaining the doctrine of the influence of the Spirit on the heart, be deeply and personally sensible that there is but one Saviour, even Jesus Christ, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom, as we are led to true repentance, I believe each one will be ready to think "I am chief." The distinguishing practices of Friends, as to dress, language, etc. are in no manner valuable, but when they spring from the root of essential Christianity. This is certainly the great thing. "Cleanse first the inside of the cup and platter."
I have been grieved to fear that some would resolve the vast meaning of "a religious life and conversation consistent with our Christian profession" into little more than "plainness of speech, behavior, and apparel:" then I do think it becomes a mere idol. The tithe of "mint, anise, and cummin" is preferred to the weightier matters of the law. But I am going from the point of my own condition in the warmth of my feelings, which have been deeply troubled at these things of late.
11th Mo. 18th. I believe it is one and the same fallen nature which, at one time, is holding me captive to the world; at another, filling me with impatience and anxiety about my spiritual progress; at another, with self-confidence, and at another, with despondency. Oh, the enemy knows my many weak sides; but I do hope and trust the Lord will take care of me. "Past, present, future, calmly leave to Him who will do all things well." If the root be but kept living and growing, then I need not be anxious about the branches; but, above all, the root must be the husbandman's exclusive care.
11th Mo. 30th. I believe I sincerely desire that no spurious self-satisfaction may be mistaken for the peace of God, that no activity in works of self-righteousness may be mistaken for doing the day's work in the day. Oh, who can tell the snares that surround me? Yet I have been comforted this morning, in thinking of the declaration, "His mercies are over-all his works;" which I believe may be very especially applied to the work of His Spirit in the soul of man. Over this He does watch, and to this He does dispense, day by day, His merciful protection from surrounding dangers; "I the Lord do keep it, I will water it every moment; lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day." Oh, the blessedness of a well-founded, watchful, humble trust in this keeping!
12th Mo. 27th. The mean self-indulgence of sleeping late has come over me again, though I found, a week or two since, after a firm resolve, the difficulty vanish. This morning I had no time for retirement before breakfast; and, should circumstances ever become less under my control, this habit may prevent my having any morning oblation. The weakness and sinfulness of my heart have been making me almost tremble at the thought of another year: how shall I meet its thousand dangers and not fall? In religious communications in our house, I am apt to look for any intimation that I could appropriate of a shortened pilgrimage; but very little of the sort has occurred: indeed, I expect my selfish wish will not be gratified, of escaping early from this toilsome world; but how rash and ungrateful are such thoughts! how much better all these things are in my Father's hands! Oh, if I may be there too in the form of passive clay, and receive all His tutoring and refining, this will be enough: and should my future way be full of sorrows, heaven will bring me sweeter rest at last; when the whole work is done, when the robes are quite washed, when the fight is quite fought, and the death died; when the eternal life, which shall blossom above, is brought into actual health here, and real fellowship is made with my last hour.
1st Mo. 10th, 1845. I am inclined to set down the events of my little world for the past week; that in days to come, should it prove that I have been following "cunningly devised fables," I may beware of such entanglements again; and that if they be found a guidance from above, their contemptibleness and seeming folly may be shown to be in wisdom. I have, from my childhood, delighted in poetry: if lonely, it was my companion; if sad, my comfort; if glad, it gave a voice to my joy. Of late, I have enjoyed writing pieces of a religious nature, though I must confess the excitement, the possession which the act of composition made of my mind, did not always favor the experience of what I sought to express. Two pieces of this kind I asked my father to send to the Friend: he liked them, but proposed my adding something to one. I had had a sweet little season by myself just before: then, sliding from feeling to composition, I thought of it all the rest of the evening, and when I went to bed, stayed some time writing four lines for the conclusion; after I was in bed, my heart was full of it, and I composed four lines more to precede them, with which I fell asleep. In the morning I resolved not to think of them till I had had my silent devotions; they came upon me while I was dressing, and, having forgotten one line, I stayed long making a substitute: then I retired to read, and, if possible, to pray, but it was not possible in that condition: I did but sit squaring and polishing my lines; and having finished them to my heart's content, I gave them to my father about the middle of the day, conscious, I could not but be, that they had "passed as a cloud between the mental eye of faith and things unseen." Every time they passed through my mind, they seemed to sound my condemnation. My evening retirement was dark and sad; I felt as if any thing but this I could give up for my Saviour's love; "all things are lawful, but all things are not expedient;" and yet the taste and the power were given me, with all things else, by God. I had used them too in a right cause, but then the talent of grace is far better. Which should be sacrificed? Why sacrifice either? I could not deny that it seemed impossible to keep both. But it might be made useful, if well employed. "To obey is better than sacrifice." Now they are written, they might just as well be printed; but the printing will probably be the most hazardous part. I shall be sure to write more, and nourish vanity: or else the sight of them will cause remorse rather than pleasure. If I should lose my soul through poetry? For the life of self seems bound up in it; and "whosoever loveth his life shall lose it." But perhaps it would be a needless piece of austerity; it would be a great struggle; it would be like binding myself for the future, not to enjoy my treasured pleasure. The sacrifice which is acceptable will always cost something. So I prevailed upon myself to write a note, and lay it before my father, asking him not to send them, trembling lest he should dislike my changeableness, or I should change again and repent it. My father said nothing, but gave me back the lines when we were all together, which was a mountain got over. I thought to have had more peace after; but till this First-day I have been very desolate, though, I believe, daily desiring to seek my God above all; and thinking, sometimes, that that for which I had made a sacrifice became thereby dearer.
After this striking and instructive account, which shows how zealously she endeavored to guard against any too absorbing influence, however good and allowable in itself the thing might be, it seems not amiss to remark that Eliza's taste for poetry was keen and discriminating; and that her love of external nature, and more especially her deeper and holier feelings, found appropriate expression in verse. If some of these effusions show a want of careful finish, it must be remembered that they were not written for publication, but for the sake of embodying the feeling of the occasion, in that form which naturally presented itself.
The pieces alluded to in the foregoing extracts are the following:—
"WHAT I DO THOU KNOWEST NOT NOW."
Hast thou long thy Lord's abiding Vainly sought 'mid shadows dim? Lo! His purpose wisely hiding, Thee He seeks to worship him.
Shades of night, thy strain'd eye scorning, Have they; long enwrapp'd the skies? He, whose word commands the morning, Soon shall bid the day-spring rise!
Are ten thousand fears desiring To engulf their helpless prey? One faint hope, his grace inspiring, Is a mightier thing than they.
Has the foe his dark dominion, As upon thy Saviour, tried?— As to Him with hastening pinion, Lo! the angels at thy side.
Is thy spirit all unfeeling, Save to sin that grieves thee there? Thee He'll make, his face revealing, Joyful in His house of prayer!
Hast thou seen thy building falter Can thy God thy griefs despise? 'Mid the ruins dark, an altar Fashion'd by His hands, shall rise.
Thee, to some lone mountain sending, Only with the wood supplied; He, thy God, thy worship tending, Will Himself a lamb provide.
Has He made it vain thy toiling Fine-spun raiment to prepare? 'Twas to give—thy labors spoiling— Better robes than monarchs wear.
From thy barn and storehouse treasure Did He take thy hoarded pelf? Yes: to feed thee was His pleasure, Like the winged fowls—Himself.
* * * * *
"WHAT PROFIT HATH A MAN OF ALL HIS LABOR THAT HE TAKETH UNDER THE SUN?"
Must we forever train the vineyard sproutings, And plough in hope of harvests yet to come, Nor ever join the gladsome vintage shoutings, And sing the happy song of harvest-home?
Must we forever the rough stones be heaping, And building temple walls for evermore? Comes there no blessed day for Sabbath-keeping, No time within the temple to adore?
In faith's long contest have life's quenchless fountains Bade calm defiance to the hostile sword? But when, all beautiful upon the mountains, Shall come the herald of our peace restored?
Must we forever urge the brain with learning, And add to moral, intellectual woes? Nor hold in peace the spoils we have been earning, And find in wisdom's self the mind's repose?
Long have we watch'd, and risen late and early, Rising to toil, and watching but to weep; When will the blessing come like dewdrops pearly, "On heaven's beloved ones even while they sleep?"
Since life began, our life has been beginning, That ever-nascent future's treacherous vow; When shall we find, the weary contest winning A present treasure, an enduring now?
Ten thousand nameless earthly aims pursuing, Hope we in vain the recompense to see, And must our total life expire in doing, And never find us leisure time to be?
Has not our life a germ of real perfection, As holds the tiny seed the forest's pride? And shall its ask'd and promised resurrection In dreams of disappointed hope subside?
Yes, all is hopeless, man with vain endeavor, May climb earth's rugged heights, but climb to fall; Ever perfecting, yet imperfect ever, Earth has no rest for man—if earth be all.
Yet oft there dwell, in temples frail and mortal, Souls that partake immortal life the while; Nor wait till death unbar heaven's pearly portal, For heaven's own essence, their Redeemer's smile.
—12th Month, 1844.
* * * * *
From the Journal relating to daily affairs, at this time, kept distinct from her spiritual diary, the following, and a few other extracts, have been taken. Never suspecting that this would see the light, she left it in an unfinished state. Had it been reconsidered, portions of it would probably have been altered; but it sufficiently shows her desire to understand the agencies of intellectual action, and the philosophy of knowing and acquiring. She recognizes the importance of systematic knowledge, questions the purpose and use of every attainment, and manifests throughout a desire that all the operations of the intelligence may subserve a nobler aim than knowledge in itself possesses:—
5th Mo. 16th. That life is a real, earnest thing, and to be employed for our own and others' real and earnest good, is a fact which I desire may be more deeply engraven on my heart. It is certainly a matter of spiritual duty, to look well to the outward state of our own house. There are already many revolutions in my mental history, passed beyond the reach of any thing but regrets. As a child, play was not my chief pleasure, but a sort of mingled play and constructiveness; then reading and learning; I well remember the coming on of the desire to know. In a tale, false or true, I had by no means, the common share of pleasure—Smith's Key to Reading was more to my taste. Poetry I have ever loved. History I am very dull at; a chain of events is far more difficult to follow, than a chain of ideas—causality comes more to my aid than eventuality. Well, the age of learning came: in it I learned this, that, and the other; but, alas! order, the faculty in which I am so deficient, was wanting, I had not an appointed place for each fact or idea: so they were lost as they fell into the confused mass. I am full of dim apprehensions on almost all subjects, but know little of any. However, it may be that this favors new combinations of things. I would rather have all my ideas in a mass, than have them in separate locked boxes, where they must each remain isolated; but it were better they were on open shelves, and that I had power to take them down, and combine at will. The age of combining has come; I feel sensibly the diminution of the power of acquiring: I can do little in that, but lament that I have acquired so little; but I seem rebuked in myself at the incessant wish to gain—gain for what? I must do something with what, I gain; for, as I said before, I have nowhere to put it away. I love languages,—above all, the expressive German; but I know too little to make it expressive for myself. But my own mother-tongue, though my tongue is so deficient to use thee, canst thou afford no other outlet to the struggling ideas that are within; may I not write? I did write poetry sometimes: is it presumptuous to call it poetry? It was certainly the poetry of my heart; the pieces entitled "The Complaint," and "What profit hath a man, etc." were certainly poetry to me. But the fate of my poetry is written before. Perhaps it was a groundless fear; but still it has given it the death-blow. But may I write prose? I will tell that by-and-by. This has brought down my history in this respect till now:—
The constructive playing age, The learning age, The combining age, So far the intellect.
* * * I am conscientious naturally, rather than adhesive or benevolent. This natural conscientiousness, independent of spirituals, has been like a goad in my side all my life, and its demands, I think, heighten. It is evidently independent of religion, because it is independent of the love of God and of man. For instance, I form to myself an idea of my reasonable amount of service in visiting the poor. Have I fallen short of this amount, I am uneasy, and feel myself burdened; the thing is before me, I must do it: why? Because I feel the love of God constraining me? Sometimes far otherwise. Because I feel benevolence towards the poor? No; for the thing itself is a task; but because it is my duty; because I would justify myself; because I would lighten my conscience. I have called this feeling independent of religion; but perhaps it is most intense when religion is faintest. This latter supplies, evidently, the only true motive for benevolent actions. Then they are a pleasure: then the divergence of the impulse of duty from the impulse of inclination is done away; and I believe the love of God is the only thing, which, thus redeeming those that were under the law, can place them under the law of Christ. Though it is little I can do for the poor, I ought to feel it both a duty and a pleasure to devote some time to them most days. To see the aged, whose poverty we have witnessed, whose declining days we have tried to soothe, safely gathered home, is a comfort and pleasure I would not forego; and, though the real benefit we render to them must depend on our own spiritual state, their cottages have often been to me places of deep instruction.
The useful desire to learn, may be carried too far; we may sacrifice the duties we owe to each other, by an eagerness of this kind; nor, I believe, can we, without culpable negligence, adhere tenaciously to any plan of study. The moral self-training which is exercised by giving up a book, to converse with or help another, is of more value than the knowledge which could have been acquired from it. Indeed, I am convinced we are often in error about interruptions. We have been interrupted; in what?—in the fulfilment of our duty? That cannot be; but in the prosecution of our favorite plan. If the interruption was beyond our control, it altered our duty, but could not interrupt it. Duty is the right course at a given time, and under given circumstances.
A subject, which has of late been very interesting to me, is that of the Jews. I am convinced that much, very much, is to be done for them by Christians, and for Christians by them; but I think the interest excited in their behalf, in the world at large, is, in many cases, not according to knowledge. An historical view of their points of contact with the professing Christian world, has long been on my mind; and I think it needs to be drawn by an independent hand,—in short, by a Friend. That "He that scattered Israel will gather him, and feed him as a shepherd doth his flock," is confessed now on all sides. The when, the where, and the how, are variously viewed. But what will He gather them to? is a question not enough thought of. One wishes them to be gathered to the Church of England, another to the Church of Scotland; but I am persuaded their gathering must be to the primitive Christian faith. I say not to Friends; although I hold the principles of Friends to be the principles of primitive Christianity. For I do think a vast distinction is to be made between the principles of truth professed by Friends, and the particular line of action, as a body, into which they have been led, (I doubt not by the truth,) under the circumstances in which they were placed. My belief is, that the Jews are to be gathered to none but a Church built "on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, of which Jesus Christ himself is the chief corner-stone;" and that to such a Church they are to be gathered immediately and instrumentally, by the Spirit of God himself. A view of the manner in which they have been regarded and treated by professing Christians from the Christian era to the present time, and of their own feelings towards Christians and Christianity, if well drawn, would be valuable and useful.
This interest in the Jews led Eliza to devote much, labor, during several years, in collecting information relating to their history since the Christian era. Had her life been spared, she would probably have made some defined use of the large mass of material collected, which, whilst valuable as an evidence of deep research, is not sufficiently digested to be generally useful.
7th Mo. 3d. This evening I have finished copying the foregoing scraps, previously on sheets, into this book, that they may yet speak to me, in days to come, of His manifold mercies, whose "candle has ofttimes shone round about me," and "whose favor has made me glad."
7th Mo. 5th. I desire gratefully to acknowledge the privilege of which we have this week partaken, in the occurrence of our Quarterly Meeting, and a most sweet visit from ——; full of love is —— to his Master, and full of love to the brethren, and even to the little sisters in Christ. Most kindly and tenderly he and his wife advised us, and myself, when we happened to be alone, to wait and watch at the feet of Jesus, from whom the message will come in due time, "The Master calleth for thee." Manifold has been the expression of sympathy for us all this week, in the prospect of parting with our dear father on the Indiana committee, in about five weeks, and the comforting expectation expressed that his absence will be a time of sweet refreshing from the presence of the Lord. Oh, we have much to be thankful for in the grace that has been bestowed.
7th Mo. 9th. I have been much blessed the last few days; not with high enjoyments, but with a calm sense of dependence and trust on my Saviour, and assistance in watching over my own heart. This morning I have been tried with want of settlement and power to get to the throne of grace; but faith must learn to trust through all changes in the unchangeable truth and love of Jesus. I am sensible that this has been a time of much renewed mercy to my soul; and oh that if, as —— told me, the Lord has many things to say unto me, but I cannot bear them now, I may but be kept in the right preparation, both for hearing and obeying!
7th Mo. 27th. I am sometimes astonished at the condescending kindness of my Saviour, that he should so gently and mercifully "heal my backslidings and love me freely." I think my chief desire is to be preserved alive in the truth, and growing in the truth; but sometimes, through unwatchfulness, such a withering comes upon me, I lose all sense of good for days together, and this nether world is all I seek pleasure in. Then there is but a cold, cheerless, condemning feeling, when I look towards my Father's house; but when all life seems gone, and I am ready to conclude that I have suffered so many things in vain, how often does the gentle stirring of life bring my soul into contrition, into stillness! and He, who upbraideth not the returning sinner, reveals himself as "the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in."
The following lines describe her feelings at such a time as this:—
Then disconsolate I wander'd, Where my path was lone and dim, Till I thought that I was sunder'd Evermore from heaven and Him.
Then it was my Shepherd found me, Even as He had of old, Threw His arms of mercy round me, Placed me gently in His fold.
7th Mo. 29th. The expression, I think, of William Penn, "Let the holy watch of Jesus be upon your spirit," is a fitting watchword for me.
7th Mo. 30th. Oh, this must be the watchword still.
8th Mo. 10th. First-day morning. I was helped to cast away some of the weight of worldly thoughts last evening, and fervently to desire after the Lord. It is a blessing to have his manifested presence and love with us; but this is not at all times the needful or the best thing for us. To have the heart right with God, to commit my all to him, to live in the very spirit which breathes, "Thy will be done," in and through me,—oh, this is to be alive in Christ; this is indeed the work of the spirit; this is to lose my life, that I may keep it unto life eternal.
At the Yearly Meeting of 1845 occurred the appointment previously alluded to, under which John Allen became a member of the committee which visited Indiana Yearly Meeting. As communication between Great Britain and America was not so easy and frequent in those days as at present, both he and his family very strongly felt the prospect of separation. In allusion to the appointment, Eliza writes, "My father allowed the business [of the Yearly Meeting] to proceed, but at length said that he felt too much overwhelmed to speak sooner,—that the subject touched his tenderest feelings, and that he felt very unfit for such an engagement, but that the sense which had been and was, while he was speaking, present with him, of that goodness and mercy which had followed him all his life long and blessed him, was such that he dared not refuse to do any little offices in his power for those dear friends with whom he should be associated." She then gives an account of the receipt at home of the unexpected intelligence of this long journey, and of the calmness which eventually followed the shock to the feelings which it occasioned. After he had set out, she wrote an interesting account, too long to be given at full length, of what had passed in the intervening time,—the hopes and fears, the preparations, her father's parting with his friends and their words of encouragement to him, with his own counsel and exhortations to his children. A few words of his last address to them may not be out of place:—"I earnestly desire for us all that when we shall meet again we may all have made some progress in the heavenward journey and be enabled to rejoice together in the sense of it. For you, my dear young people, especially, I earnestly desire that you may be preferring the best things, not setting your affections on trifling objects, but valuing an inheritance in the truth above all those things that perish with the using. * * * Be willing to be the Lord's on his own terms, and prize above all things the sense that you are his; and you will be his, if you are willing to walk in the narrow way—the way of self-denial."
It does not pertain to this volume to give any further account of this journey or of the mission in which he was engaged. The visit of the deputation is probably fresh in the remembrance of many Friends in the United States.
8th Mo. 24th. The great parting is over: the love and mercy of our heavenly Father sustained my dearest father and mother beyond expectation. On this occasion, when I have been helped back from a sad, lone wandering on barren mountains, I may learn, more deeply than ever before, the safety, the sweetness, of dwelling in the valley of humiliation. Oh, let me dwell there long and low enough. I ask not high enjoyments nor rapturous delights; but I ask, I pray, when I can pray at all, for quiet, watchful, trustful dependence upon my Saviour.
8th Mo. 27th. We have had a ride in the country this afternoon, and during a solitary walk of a mile and a half I had very sweet feelings. Jesus seemed so near to me and so kind that I could hardly but accept of him. But then there seemed some dark misgivings at the same time; as if I had an account to settle up first,—something I must do myself; the free full grace seemed too easy and gratis to accept of. But all this I found was a mistake. I thought of the lines—
"He gives our sins a full discharge; He crowns and saves us too,"
and of a remark I had seen somewhere, "Look at Calvary, and wilt thou say that thy sins are easily passed by?"
This evening in my andachtzimmer, I wished to pray in spirit; but not a petition arose that I could offer. I felt so blind, and yet so peaceful, that all merged into the confiding language, Father, Thy will be done!
[Footnote 1: Devotional retirement.]
9th Mo. 2d. On First-day, the twenty-first, I had a great struggle on the old poetry-writing question. I had written none since the great fight last winter; but now to my dearest father I ventured to write, thinking I had got over the danger of it. But when all was written, I was forced to submit to the mortification of not sending it. The relief I felt was indescribable, and I hope to get thus entoiled no more. My scruple is not against poetry, but I cannot write it without getting over-possessed by it. Therefore it is no more than a reasonable peace-offering to deny myself of it. * * * "And now, Lord, what wait I for?" Enable me to say, "My hope is in thee." It seems as if the path would be a narrow one; but, oh, "make thy way straight before my face;" and, having enabled me, I trust, to give some things to "the moles and to the bats," leave me not till I have learned "to count all things but loss, for the excellency of Christ Jesus my Lord."
The following is the unfinished piece just alluded to:—
TO HER FATHER IN AMERICA.
And thus it was, as drew the moments nearer That stamp'd their record deep oil every heart; As day by day thy presence grew yet dearer, By how much sooner thou shouldst hence depart.
Love wept indeed, though she might seem a sleeper, Long ere descending tears the signs betray'd; And the heart's fountain was but so much deeper, The longer was its overflow delay'd.
The page my unapt heart has learn'd so newly In the dark lessons which afflictions teach— Oh, it were vain to try to utter truly In the cold language of unapter speech.
That hearts when thus their very depths are burning Alone should know their bitterness, is well; But, oh, my heart more joys than aches in learning Another lesson, would that words could tell.
New depths of love in measure unsuspected, Ties closer than I knew, were round my heart; And half I thank the wrench that has detected How thoroughly and deeply dear thou art.
And 'twas to tell thee this that I have taken The tuneless lyre I thought to use no more, Yet once at thy returning may it waken, Then sleep forever, silent as before.
And not more narrow than the dome of ether Beams heaven's unbounded, earth-embracing scroll; Then be it thine and ours to read together Of Him who loves not less than rules the whole.
And not more slow than was the bark that bore thee To an untried and dimly-distant land— Our hearts' affections thither flew before thee, And now are ready waiting on the strand.
—8th Month, 1845.
10th Mo. 1st. Much struck with the suitability of the expression, "under the yoke," truly subjugated. not merely offering this or that, but being offered "a living sacrifice." Oh for a thorough work like this! This is "when the yoke Is easy and the burden light." I know almost nothing of it by experience, but think it is "now nearer than when I first believed." For a day or two I have been given to desire it earnestly.
10th Mo. 12th. Evening. Many thoughts about faith in Christ. But oh for the reality, the living essence of it! We can be Christians, not because we believe that the blood of Christ cleanses from sin, but because we know the blood of Christ to cleanse us from sin.
About this date, in the diary of daily affairs, is the following:—
"A conviction has come upon me that, in all respects, now is the time to reform, if ever, the course I am now pursuing. Religion, the main thing, may it ever more be the main object; and then, as to moral, social, and other duty, oh, be my whole course reformed. ... From this time forth may I nightly ask myself these five questions. 1. Has my employment and economy of time been right? 2. Has my aim been duty—not pleasure? 3. Have I been quiet and submissive? 4. Have I looked on the things of others as my own? 5. Have propensities or sentiments ruled? I wish to give an answer, daily, to each; and now say for yesterday. 1. Some wasted time before dinner. 2. Pretty clear, 3. No temptation. 4. Pretty well. 5. Pretty [well] except at meals."
In this concise and simple manner are these questions answered, almost daily, throughout the year, until, "finding that daily records of employment are of little use, and that the intellectual and spiritual could not well be longer separated," she discontinued the practice, and recorded in the same book "any thing in either line that seemed fit to reserve from oblivion."
Alluding to a religious magazine, she writes:—
"It is always pulling down error—seldom building up truth. Surely Antichrist comes to oppose Christ, not Christ to oppose Antichrist. Is there, then, no positive Christian duty? Are we never to rest in principles and practices of actual faith and love? or are we to be always on the offensive and negative side, stigmatizing all who act contrary to our belief of the truth as doers of the work of Antichrist? Antichrist, I fear, cares little for orthodox doctrines, but fights against the Christian spirit."
9th Mo. 13th. Conflicting thoughts again. I long that there may be no building on any sandy foundation. But oh, the fitness that appeared to me this evening in the blessed Saviour to supply all my need. The one sacrifice He has been, and the one mediator and way to God He ever is,—His own spirit the one leader, teacher, and sanctifier; whereby He consummates in the heart the blessed work of bringing all into subjection to the obedience of Christ. Oh for a personal experience, a real participation in all this, a knowledge that He is my own and that I am His.
16th. Somewhat puzzled at myself. This has not been a spiritually prosperous day—passed just to my taste, much in reading, but not much, I fear, with the Lord. Yet I have had very loving thoughts of Christ this evening, and was ready to call Him my own dear Saviour, though I trust on no other terms than His terms, namely, that I should be wholly His. Some misgivings are come up that I am tempted to think Him mine when I am not in a state to be His; some fears lest Satan has put on the winning smiles of an angel of light; and yet where can I go but to Thee, Saviour of sinners? Thou hast the words of life and salvation; suffer me not to be deluded, but at all hazards let me be Thine.
Thou who breakest not the bruised reed, oh, bring forth in me judgment unto truth, and let me wait for the law of life and peace from Thee.
9th Mo. 18th. Rode to Lodge to get ferns. Enjoyed thoughts of the beauty of nature, imperfect as it is, because one kind of beauty necessarily excludes another. What, then, must be the essence of that glory in which all perfection is beauty united? Thus these things must be described to mortal comprehension under contradictory images; such as "pure gold, like unto transparent glass," &c.
9th Mo. 19th. I think harm is done by considering a society such as "Friends," "a section of the Christian Church," as societies are so often called. It can be true only by considering the "Christian Church" to mean professing Christians; but surely its true meaning is the children of God anywhere. Of this body, there are no sections to be made by man, or it would follow that to unite oneself to either section, is to be united to the body, which cannot be.
10th Mo. 1st. I fear I have so long been childish and thoughtless, that I shall hardly ever be childlike and thoughtful. Oh for a little more care without carefulness!
10th Mo. 2d. Much struck with Krummacher's doctrine of "Once in grace, always in grace." "After the covenant is made," he says, "I can do nothing condemnable. I may do what is sinful or weak, but my sins are all laid on my Surety." True, if my will-spirit humbles itself to bear the reforming judgment of the Lord—but I think his doctrine utterly dangerous; his error is this, that "the covenant cannot be broken." Now, suppose a Christian, therefore, in the covenant; he sins, then the Lord would put away his sin by cleansing him from its pollution and power, by the blood of Christ, who hath already borne the punishment thereof. But he may refuse this cleansing, in other words, this judgment, revealed within; not against himself, as it must have been except for Christ's intercession, but against the evil nature in him, and in love to his soul. He may refuse this, because it cannot but be painful, it cannot but include repentance for his transgression, whereby he has admitted ground to the enemy. And if he refuse it, persisting in withdrawing his heart from that surrender, which must have been made on his adoption into the covenant, who shall say that the covenant is not at an end? Who shall say that the way of the Lord is not equal, in that, because he was once a righteous man, made righteous by the righteousness of Christ, "now, the righteousness that he hath had shall not be mentioned unto him, but in his trespass he shall die"? Far be it from me to say how long the Lord shall bear with man; how long he may trespass ere he dies forever; but I think it most presumptuous to suppose that God cannot in honor (for it does come to this) disannul the covenant from which man has already retracted all his share; though this, truly, is but a passive one, a surrender of the will-spirit to the faith of Jesus.
What good it does me to clear up my ideas on prayer! but there is a limit beyond which intellect cannot go. No one can fully explain the admission of evil into the heart. We say "it is because I listen to temptation;" but why do I listen, to temptation? Because I did not watch unto prayer. The Calvinist would say, perhaps, "Because I am without the covenant;" but he allows that a person may sin who is in it. Suppose I am one of these? The origin of evil must ever be hidden, but not of evil only; the moral nature of man must ever be a mystery to his intellectual nature, for it is above it. There is a natural testimony to the supremacy of the moral in man above the intellectual.
10th Mo. 8th. The charm of book and pen has been beguiling me of my reward; but now my soul craves to be offered a living sacrifice.
10th Mo. 19th. The world was fearfully my snare yesterday,—I mean worldly objects, innocent, in themselves. These things only show the depth of unrenewed nature within. Though it slumbered, it could not be dead. My "wilderness wanderings," oh, I fear they must be exceedingly protracted ere the hosts that have come out of Egypt with me fall; ere I can find in myself that blessed possession of the promised inheritance, which, I believe, in this life is the portion of the thorough Christian: "they that believe do enter into rest." Why, then, do not I? Oh, it is for want of believing; for want of faith; I fear to trust the Lord to give me my inheritance and conquer my foes, and will not "go up and possess the land." Then, again, in self-confidence, I will go up, whether the Lord be with me or not; and so I fall. But surely, surely it need be so no longer. I might devote myself to Christ, and He would lead me safely through all. The shining of the fire and the shading of the cloud are yet in the ordering of the Captain of Salvation.
20th. Exceeding poor; and yet I rejoice in what I trust is somewhat of the poverty of spirit which is blessed.
"Nothing in my hand I bring; Simply to Thy cross I cling; To the cleansing fount I fly: Wash me, Saviour, or I die."
21st. I feel myself in much danger of falling,—manifold temptations all round to love the world, and how little stay within!
22d. Yet the Lord was kind, most kind, to me in the evening, constraining me to say within my heart, "Surely I am united to Christ my Saviour." Oh, the joy of feeling that we are in any measure His! May I by no means withdraw myself from His hands, that He may do for me all that His mercy designs, and which I am well assured is but begun. This morning a crumb of bread was given me, in the shape of a sense that Christ is yet mine, but that He will be waited on in simplicity of heart to do His own work. Oh, the comfort of having a fountain to flee to set open for sin! hourly have I need of it.
11th Mo. 2d. I have felt deeply the necessity of the thorough subjugation of the will to the Divine will: if it were effected, all must work for good to me. Little cross-occurrences, instead of exciting ill tempers, would serve as occasions for strengthening my faith in God. When He giveth quietness, what should make trouble? 'Tis wonderful to think what long-suffering kindness the Lord has shown me! I can compare myself only to the prodigal son saying, "Give me my portion of goods"—goods spiritual; as if I thought once furnished, never again to have recourse to a father's compassion. Oh, often have I wasted this substance in a very short time; but the Lord has reckoned better than I in my self-confidence. He saw how I should have to come back utterly destitute, and again and again has had mercy. Oh that I might no more ask for a portion to carry away, but seek to dwell among the servants and the children of His house, to be fed hourly by Him, learning in what sense He does say to those who are willing to have nothing of their own, "All that I have is thine."
12th Mo. 6th. Nice journey to Falmouth. Here we have been since Second-day learning our own manifold deficiencies; but this, under a genial atmosphere, is, to me, never disheartening,—always an exciting, encouraging lesson. ——'s kind words on intellectual presence of mind, and his animating example of it, have determined me to make a vigorous effort over my own sloth and inanity. I believe the first thing is to be always conscious of what I am thinking of, and never to let my mind run at loose ends in senseless reveries.
12th Mo. 25th. Seventh-day. I trust, now we are all together for the winter, there will be an effort on my part to help to keep up a higher tone of feeling, aim, and conversation: not mere gossip, but really to speak to each other for some good purpose, is what I do wish. What an engine, for good or evil, we neglect and almost despise! and if it is not employed properly, when at home, how can it be naturally and intelligently exercised when abroad?
Fourth-day, 31st. Called on a poor sick man,—he quietly waiting, I hope, for a participation in perfect peace, and penetrated with the sense that man can do nothing of himself. Surely this must be a step towards knowing what God can do. I hope he will be able to see and say something more yet; but I would not ask him for any sort of confession. It is a fearful thing to interfere with one who seems evidently in hands Divine.
Thus ended 1845. Oh that it had been better used, more valued, more improved in naturals, intellectuals, and spirituals! Oh that I had cultivated kindness and dutiful affection in the meekness of wisdom; and as an impetus seems to have been lately received to industry in study, etc., oh, may God give me grace to spend another year, so far as I live through it, in industrious Christianity too!
1st Mo. 7th, 1846. I should gratefully acknowledge the loving-kindness and tender mercy which, after all my wanderings, has again been shown: "I will prepare their heart, I will cause their ear to hear," was sweet to me this morning. Though sometimes lamenting that I hear so little of the voice of pardon and peace, I have felt this morning that I have ever heard as much as was safe for me in the degree of preparation yet known.
1st Mo. 19th. Some earnest desires last evening, this morning, and in the night, to be set right in spirit. Struck with the text, "His countenance doth behold the upright,"—not that the upright always behold His countenance: that is not the thing their safety consists in. "Thou most upright dost weigh the path of the just," that is, of the truly sincere and devoted. Ah! how blessed that such an unerring balance should apportion the way of a finite and blind being!
3d Mo. 2d. Little E.P. died last week, aged three years,—a child whom God had taught. I ventured a little poem for his mamma, I think without harm. The poetry-contest, some time since, was doubtless useful as a check, but I seem to have lost the prohibition, and enjoy, I hope, innocently.