Abington, the 1st of the Fourth Month [June] 1738
To John Cadwallader, Jr., of Horsham
Dear and well-beloved friend,
It came in my mind early this morning once more to write a few lines to thee concerning the close exercise of mind that is now on me—and has been many years, long before I ever saw Pennsylvania—concerning that pernicious destructive spirit, that destroyer of much good in our Meetings. I say, that pernicious spirit, that appears in a false as well as a forward ministry in our Meetings to their great disturbance and annoyance, especially of the faithful, both ministers and others.
O! this mighty monster (false ministry) with his many heads, horns, and crowns, this monstrous, beastly spirit in men and women, rising up out of the sea—or people. This beast that had a wound by a sword, but does live. But it is the life of a beast, although it was wounded by the sword of the Spirit, by some convictions for gross sins. But the deadly wound being falsely healed, the beast doth live, and is alive and reigns in full strength in them, and has got the dragon’s power and seat, and great authority. And the whole world wonders after the beast—the worldly mind and dark earthly spirit amongst us.
Then again there is seen a little beast with two horns like a lamb, rising up out of the earth. And it exercises all the power of the first beast that went or came before it, being of the same essence, nature, and substance, formed in the same womb, born of the same mother, mystery of Babylon, the mother of harlots or of bastards, illegitimate, base-born children—full of all, all, all iniquity, the very depth of the mystery of iniquity.
Dear friend, is this little beast with his two horns like a lamb? Very demure in the outward appearance, seemingly zealous for right discipline and good order in the church, very loving to Friends of repute—ministers especially, good and bad—and gets to their houses and tables. The richest sort of Friends, and those of the greatest note, to be sure, and [of] most account in the world, that they may spread their name and their fame wherever they come or go, that they may more securely, covertly, cunningly, and hiddenly carry on their design in the church: in making of parties to strengthen their own interest in the church, and their families’, by trading and great dealing either in land or goods, executorship, or whatever way or means [by which] wealth may be obtained, to set up themselves and furnish their posterity with rich wives and husbands, that they may be great in the earth.
And this to be contrived, carried on, acted, and done with the face and appearance of religion and sanctity, and under pretense of preaching the Gospel too. This is the very secret of secrets of the mystery of iniquity and the depth of Satan, which many thousand amongst us I believe doth not see. And here Satan doth work safely. And will work until he is discovered by the single eye, the cleansed eye of the mind, that is opened and cleansed by the very Light and Power of Truth itself. And kept open too and clean in and by the eternal Light and Life of Truth; or else the dirt or dust of the earth may and will get in again and stop the eye up again and make it more dark and blind than ever—never, never more to be opened. And this is a sad, dismal state indeed for any to fall into—deplorable, never, never, never to be recovered.
They that are not right be down in sorrow, though they hide it from others for a time. They feel it themselves: having once begun to preach for some base end, they are ashamed to and afraid to leave off, although they are convicted and condemned in their own consciences, clearly and heavily to be sure. And so it follows: he that doubts is damned, so it is written.
In the building [of] that glorious temple or house at Old Jerusalem, there was neither hammer nor ax nor any tool of iron heard or to be heard. All things were made ready before they were brought there. And yet that [house] was built by men. But the glory of the latter house in New Jerusalem doth and shall exceed and be and is greater than the glory of the former house—as much as light [is greater than] darkness, and heaven [is greater than] the earth. The former was a type, the latter the anti-type. The former was built by men to abide for a time and of earthly materials; the latter was, is, and ever shall be built by TRUTH itself, of heavenly substance, and shall abide forever. Glory be to the pure TRUTH alone, that was and is and is to come.
Now, my friend, if there was such and so much care, quietness, stillness, silence, and awfulness in building that outward natural house built by men but for a time, [how] much more abundantly had we need to be in an awful, reverend, holy, pure, still, and quiet frame of mind, when we meet together in order for the building up of this inward and spiritual house, New Jerusalem, whose builder and maker is God himself, the eternal TRUTH, and none else but he, and he himself alone, which was and is, is, is, to come, the alpha and omega, the author as well as finisher of our most holy faith.
I am sorry there is so much reason to say and proof to be made that there is amongst us many foolish (if not right-down sinful and wicked) builders—that pretend to be teachers too—that consider little of these weighty concerns and know less. These are them that are crucifying the dear Lamb in his spiritual appearance, when they are still crying hosannah with their sinful lips in our public meetings [for worship], to the wounding and piercing through the sides [of] all true and faithful ministers and right worshippers amongst us.
The 4th of the Fourth Month [June]
Dear John, this morning I was in my garden pulling up some weeds, [and] it came in my mind what was objected against me lately by one that ministers amongst us—Nicholas Austin—and hath done near 20 years: that I was for setting up some ministers and pulling down others.
Now, dear friend, I must confess I do not approve of a false minister, much less to set him up. Neither would I pull down the true by no means, nor touch the truly anointed to do them any harm, for they are very near to my life I can truly say without any reserve, and I hope ever will be while I have a being.
But if one should ask any Friend—even a false minister himself, if we might at any time receive—”should or ought [we] to encourage a false minister? or approve, join, and unite with him in prayer or in his testimony?” he would answer in the negative. No, no! if not for conscience yet for fear of shame or blame. But then, says he, “who shall be judge?” Why truly I may say if we have no judgment in our goings and doings, we are in a very poor dark condition, as well as other people [are], as false ministers and prodigals would have us, that we might receive such husks as they have to feed swine withal.
But the true children in ours the True Kingdom cannot feed on such chaff. If they offer to receive it by conniving at or seemingly approving of or joining with such swineherds in prayer or testimony, they will be in danger of being choked. For they themselves have not true peace; their master Satan cannot give it them. Now if anyone offers to prove or make manifest [that] their pretensions to preaching are all deceit and cheat, and their seeming seed-corn nothing but chaff and husk—their peace flies away at once, like chaff before a strong wind. This I have often seen in England, here, and elsewhere. This chaff, dear friend, will not do for [the true] children. The beast, the beasts, beasts can feed on it, for it is agreeable to their natures as bread is to children. Like loves its like.
This little or lesser beast with his two horns [looked] like a lamb but [he] spake like a dragon—like the dragon that gave his power to the first beast and his seat, and great authority to rule and govern in the church with a high hand in lordly manner. And [to] they that would or could not submit to his commands, although never so unjust and unreasonable, he spake as a dragon, especially if any found it their duty to contradict and oppose his usurped authority and his unjust commands and arbitrary proceedings. Such must expect no mercy from him.
And yet [he] has all the profession and outward appearance of a meek follower of the dear Lamb, who suffered the contradictions of sinners for our sakes, that we might follow his example. So the beast, I say the beast [that] had two horns like a lamb, got into the outward form as much as possible, the more craftily to deceive. And thus the beast is a beast still, being a little outwardly reformed in speech and habit.
He then gets to preaching, and that is his masterpiece: And here Satan is exalted and shows himself that he is god, chief ruler. And here Satan’s chieftains think they reign in glory or gloriously. And maybe others think so too, that see them and hear them hold forth, such I mean that know not anything but what they know naturally, as brute beasts. So even let those swineherds with their herds of swine go down into the sea and be choked together, if they please. That the true sheep and lambs might never more be troubled with them would be joyful news to many afflicted dear souls who go mourning on their way because of the oppressor.
There are likewise some others amongst us, I am well satisfied, that have been favored with a part and a portion, and a good portion too, of the ministry with the saints and faithful ones, and have reigned with them in the firmament of God’s power; and I would to God, that they did reign so still. But alas, alas, some of these are fallen—not from words but from Life, and that is all in all. The dragon’s tail hath prevailed [and] drawn them down to the earth. They smell and savor of it, [they] that were once fresh and lively, feeding in the green pastures [and] loving to sit in silence in meetings [for worship], as silent as a flock of sheep and lambs in a field, sweetly feeding without noise of words. But alas, some of these are grown restless and uneasy in sitting in silence, [and] must and will be hammering and tampering, especially if they feel but a little tickling of some former or old experience [like] a drop of wine in their old bottle, undigested and unrefined, thick and muddy, the bottle not being very clean. However, having a strong opinion of their own performances and a rich conceit of the great good they do and have done, to work they go, with noise of words and oftentimes no sense. Then comes forth the tongue of Egyptian sea, and the language of Ashdod is heard, and the linsey-woolsey garment is seen, and the plowing is managed with the ox and the ass joined together—poor plowing with beasts so ill-matched, so unequal in their nature and stature, one drawing one way and another another way. And then the field is sown with two sorts of seed, maybe a little good and a great deal of bad. Dear friend, I wish these plowers and sowers would stand still a little, and look over the field they have plowed and sown, and behold the produce of their labors.
Those that go forth with sparks of their own kindling, shall lie down in sorrow. I think: Oh that these would wait for the still, still voice that would direct them a-right, when and what to speak to the people, and when to be silent, and not go forth in the hurry and bluster of their own spirits in their own time, but wait the Lord’s time. No[t] in the fire, nor the wind, nor the earthquake, where the pure TRUTH is not known, nor his voice heard.
I say again, I wish those [ministers] that have been so long plowing with their ill-matched pair of creatures, and sowing the field with divers kinds of seeds, would or could be prevailed upon to stand still a little and be quieted, and look back and round about the field, and see what sort of plowing they have made, and what sort of seed they have sown, and what sort of grain is grown up. Whether there is not thirty-, sixty-, or a hundred-fold more bad than good? And if so, sure[ly] there has been a great deal of bad seed sown in the field, or it would not have been so, I firmly believe. I do not believe it is all owing to the badness of the ground [the congregation], but for want of honest labor performed by faithful and true laborers. And then to have good, weighty, sound, clean, pure, substantial Seed sown without mixture in it by such Seed men and women [ministers]—and such [Seed] I love as my own soul—much more [than] that which dwells and grows in them or in us: the pure eternal Truth.
Now my friend, let all the impudent, false, forward, restless, uneasy, bold, self-conceited, turbulent, noisy, clamorous, covetous, self-willed preachers, plowers, and sowers in our Meetings look over the field where they have labored, and compare it with any of their neighbor’s fields, and see whether it be in any better conditions than theirs, if not much worse, all things well considered. The advantages we [Quakers] have had and the great favors [spiritual and material] that have been bestowed upon us, more than any people in the whole world that I know of since the apostles’ days.
Friend John Cadwallader, is it not written: if thou takest a bird’s nest thou shalt not destroy the dam, and the young, the young, but shall let the dam go? But some of these forward spirits destroy all, lavish out all, leave their nest empty of all goods, not considering there should be store of good seed left for increase. And are like the foolish idolaters that lavish silver out of the bag to enrich and beautify their idols. And are left poor and needy themselves. And so it is with these idolaters, these profane Esaus: a mess of pottage or porridge, a rich wife or husband, worldly honor and profit, the good of the belly or applause amongst men, or some other base sinister needs.
Oh, these Nimrods! These mighty hunters before the Lord—before him, not followers of him, not followers of the dear Lamb through suffering and death in the cross, in a holy, severe, strict, pure life of self-denial and the daily cross. This daily cross, how contrary it is to proud, idle, sinful flesh and blood. What a burden it is to it, the very thought of it. And yet how easy, light, sweet, safe, and pleasant it is, when once well attained, as the dear Lamb Jesus declared, my burden is light and yoke easy. But Satan’s damned burden full of sin, or sinful burden, is heavy enough. I would not wish anybody a heavier burden, but rather, that all might be redeemed or freed from it.
The 2d of the Fourth Month [June]
Dearly beloved John Cadwallader, this morning early I opened the Bible and met with that chapter 23 of Jeremiah, verse 9, and read it to the end, with some concern, to think: what will become of us as a people? and of those bold confident persons, male and female, that dare to speak in the name of the Lord, when he doth not nor never did speak by them, and run and go, when he the Holy One never sent them?
But it is to be feared there are many, yea, many amongst us that encourage them. And they are Friends of note too, if I may call them Friends. I think, dear friend, I may say as one said, Oh that my head were as water and my eyes fountains for tears! that I might, oh, that I might weep enough for the slain and the blind! that the enemy hath blinded. Indeed, for my writing or speaking will avail little, no, no, no.