32: False and Forward Ministers

Abington, the 18th of the Second Month [April], about 6 or 7 at night:

Dear Friends,

As I was at work in the garden, it came into my mind that many of our preachers would or did make preaching so common that [to] many of our young people, and old ones too, [it] did not much matter. Nay, I believe many—yea, very many—loath it. It is fulsome and burdensome to them, instead of edifying and strengthening. By reason of [which] many—I fear very many—[are] going and running in their own will and times.

Which brings a very great exercise and many heavy burdens upon some tender, dear young ministers and others which are rightly concerned, which cannot receive their chaffy doctrine, but are almost choked with it. As well they may [be], for it is very killing to sit under their dead, dry, noisy, dark, dreaming, in-and-out harangues, with death in the pot (Kings 4:39–40), which brings death and darkness over our meetings [for worship] such as may be felt. Something like that in Egypt (Exodus 10:21), where the tongue of the dogs (Philippians 3:2) was heard, the voice of the stranger (John 10:5) which darkens counsel with or by words without knowledge (Job 38:2), being alienated from the life of God—indeed—through the ignorance that is in them because of the blindness of their heart (Ephesians 4:18).

False ministers are working in their hour and power of darkness (Luke 22:53; Matthew 6:23). If the Light that is in them be turned to darkness, it is very great (2 Peter 2:1–4; 1 John 1:6). Such are wells without water, clouds without rain, wandering dark stars (Jude 1:12–13; 2 Peter 2:17).

He that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness; darkness has blinded his eyes (1 John 2:9–11). Some for a pretense make long prayers: they shall receive the greater damnation (Matthew 23:14). Oh that the Almighty would be pleased to cut this Rahab and wound this dragon, and dry up the tongue of this Egyptian sea (Isaiah 51:9–10), and put an hook in the nose of this leviathan (Job 41:1–2), that plays and sports himself in the mighty waters (Psalm 104:26). The people are as watersvery unstableand so are ready to receive unstable and unsound doctrine. Although it may prove to their destruction in timeere they are awareand utter ruin of the church and people or congregation. “Oh that it might be prevented before it is too late!” saith my poor soul.

Abington, the 30th of the Second Month [April] 1737:

This day as I was sitting at my door, musing about or concerning the miseries or poverty of mankind, it came into my mind that it was ignorance and idleness, luxury and pridenot temperance, frugality, and industry; for with parsimony, as one said, a little is sufficient, without it: nothing—which leads to covetousness, and covetousness leads to them. The one is the cause, and the other the effect:  riches, then pride; luxury and pride, then oppression and covetousness to maintain it.