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A sensual earthly mind is too much vitiated to relish the pure joys, or to suit the society of the spirits of the just made perfect. Goodness is painful to the wicked, being so contrary to the depravity of their nature. Heaven would be no heaven to them.
A change of heart is necessary to be experienced by every man, from a state of nature to a state of grace; from earthly and sensual dispositions and affections, to holy and heavenly, in order to be fitted for the fruition of, as well as the admission into the kingdom of heaven. It is then the greatest wisdom, while time and opportunity are afforded, to use all diligence to attain that state of mind in which we may be prepared, when all the transitory delights, amusements and desirable objects of this world fail, to be received into everlasting habitations. Our hearts ought to be filled with thankfulness to God, who in his universal love to mankind, hath provided for them a physician, able and willing to heal all nations, to create clean hearts, and renew right spirits in all who submit to him and follow his directions.
But in order to attain this desirable state, we must make a total surrender of ourselves to the divine will revealed to us, in daily self-denial and fidelity ; persevering therein to the end of our days, ardent in desire to do good, and to be conformed to the mind of our Creator.
The less we look unnecessarily into the world, or covet its honors, favors, friendship and greatness, and the more we look to God with an eye single, and covet his honor, favor, friendship and riches, the more shall we experience a growth in the very root, and in all the branches of the divine life, that we may be as a chaste spouse to Christ in every desire and aim, in every motion of the mind, and its companion the body too. Surely He ever merits
it from us, even He who has graciously visited, and from day to day invited and called us out of the spirit and ways of the world, to join Himself, in order to partake with Him and his, of pure peace and joy in the present life, and infinitely in a future state. His call is, “ come out from among them, and be ye separate; touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you, and I will be a father to you,” &c.
By this call were our honorable predecessors in the beginning separated from the spirit and ways of the world, and incited to refuse touching the unclean thing, or whatever sprang from an impure source, what persecution soever that refusal might cost them; knowing that He whom they obeyed and in whom they trusted, would carry them through all opposition, which they experienced, to their unspeakable joy, to be fulfilled, and many of them testified it to the world, both living and dying.
Those happy men and women, through their faithful labors, with the divine blessing upon them, left the Lord's vineyard well fenced and clean, having gathered out the stones thereof, and abounding with the excellent fruits of the holy Spirit of Christ.
After this, degeneracy stole in, a revolting to the world, imbibing its spirit, resuming its customs, language and manners; which has since widely spread and overflowed like a deluge, broken down the fence, and introduced an unhappy change in the state of our Society.
Yet there is no change in God or his laws. O then, that we may speedily return back to Him and them, and to that state from whence we have fallen, else great is it to be feared, will be our condemnation.
Having premised these brief observations, I now proceed to the narrative of my own life.
BIRTH AND PARENTAGE. EARLY RELIGIOUS IMPRESSIONS, AND
EDUCATION. REMARKS ON HIS NATU'RAL PROPENSITY TO EVIL. OBSERVATIONS ON THE CONCERN OF FRIENDS FOR
THE WELFARE OF THE YOUTH IN WESTMORELAND. ENTERS THE SCHOOL OF DAVID HALL, AT SKIPTON, AS AN USHER. COMMENTS ON TWO OF HIS ASSOCIATES. NARROW ESCAPE
FROM GREAT DANGER AT LIVERPOOL.
I was born at Kendal, in Westmoreland, on the 27th of Twelfth Month, 1712, and my parents, John and Mary Gough, professing the truth as held by the people called Quakers, I received my education in the same profession. My mother, who was an industrious, careful, well-minded woman, taught me to read; and when I was a little turned of five years of age, I commenced a scholar in Friends' school in my native town, under the tuition of Thomas Rebanks, at which school I continued till my fifteenth year. Having a good genius, and a propensity to learning, I attained with facility and readiness, the Latin and Greek languages; and my quick proficiency therein—I being of little stature for my age—excited admiration, procured me the fame of a great scholar, vastly magnified my little stock of attainments; and also introduced me to the notice of several persons of eminence in
the town, who would frequently question me in respect to my learning, and were generally pleased with my ready
In particular, a distinguished justice of the peace, with his wife, took a singular notice of me, admitting me, young as I was, to free conversation with them, and introducing me, at times, into grand company which frequented their house. The said justice would say, that if my parents would give me up to him, he would send me to the University to receive a proper education. This flattered my ambition, as it was what at that time I heartily wished for.
By these means the seeds of wild nature, the noxious weeds of pride and vain conceit, the produce of every soil, received strength and nourishment in my early minority, and shot up high for my childish age.
But in some sort to counterbalance these incentives to pride and airy notions, I had the advantage of receiving my education in a place, in and about which there lived many worthy Friends, whose exemplary lives and religious care and labors, often in my early years made good impressions on my mind, which, though my own propensities soon effaced them, left fixed upon my breast an honorable esteem for those truly good men and women, with painful reflections under the sense of my own infidelity, and secret wishes for that happy condition, which I really believed them to be established in, by Christ their Redeemer and Sovereign.
My understanding was enlightened, when very young, to see both my own deficiencies in duty, and those of many others more advanced in years; and I thought, if I lived to be a man, their harms should be my warnings.
I remember a worthy minister, Joseph Jordan, from Virginia, having had the small-pox at a Friend's house in
Kendal, and being raised up again ; at the first meeting which he got to after it, was drawn out in such a moving manner in his ministry, that the meeting in general seemed to be impressed with great tenderness under it; and I then, though but very young, had a share therein. The desirableness of living so as to obtain divine favor, seemed to be very clearly and strongly set before our view. And the opportunity had some good effect upon my mind for a short season.
Here we may remark the advantage that accrues to religious society, and to meetings, where they are favored with a number of faithful elders, living ministers, and spiritually-minded friends; men of truth, “fearing God and hating covetousness." The liveliness of their spirits, the clearness of their sight, and the uniformity of their conduct and conversation, qualify them to show the people how they should walk in the pursuit of peace, both by precept and example; precepts drawn from the living spring of experience, and examples formed by a watchful attention to the pointings and limitations of truth. I remember some whose very countenances seemed to command awe, and impress observers with serious consideration ; as the salt of the earth, seasoning those amongst whom they walked, with a sense of the truth which lived and predominated in them; under the powerful influence thereof, these kept up meetings both for worship and discipline, and were enabled thereby to keep things in good order, as themselves were a good savor in their allotments. On the other hand, we may observe that where the elders and active friends are not under this qualification; but under the form, are suffering their hearts to go after their covetousness, secretly departing from under the influence of this divine principle, the cause and pre