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Further losses and afflictions---Several occurrences,
and letters General visit to Friends in Long-
IN this year, 1724, I met with various trials, afflictions, and tribulations; and had not the secret hand of the Lord, which I felt underneath, borne up my spirit from sinking, I think I could never have waded through them.
I was now removed, as already related, into the country for retirement, which I greatly loved and delighted in; but as soon as I was a little settled there, the enemy of all good endeavoured to disquiet my repose, by stirring up some bad people against me, who lived near, and in time past had fawned upon me: and, to add to my afflictions, I lost a vessel, in which, I suppose, 1 had upwards of five hundred pounds; and another vessel came in almost a wreck, in which I suffered in my interest several hundreds more, and a third I heard o , in which I had the like loss; and about the
same time I had also a good new barn burnt to the ground in a few minutes ; so that I was exceedingly stripped that way. And to add yet more to my exercise, I was sorely afflicted with sickness, having a swelling in my jaws, mouth, and throat, to that degree, that I could neither speak nor swallow for some time, nor eat nor sleep for about seven days, as I remember, without great difficulty. What the distemper was, we could not be certain : some supposed it to be the quinsy, others an imposthume. Also, my little and only daughter at the same time was likely to die; and as for my own part, I was very willing to go, if it so pleased God; for I saw through the deceit of the world, and that the friendship of it was not permanent; and in my sore afflictions in body, mind, and interest, it fared with me as with Job; for divers of my pretended friends added to my afflictions by undue reflections; whom I pray the Lord to forgive for his Son's sake! At these times the remembrance of that saying of Christ, “ The very hairs of your head are all numbered,” Matt. x. 30. at times supported me in hopes, that all would work together for good.
When I got a little well, so that I could go to meetings, I went to German-town, Abington, Philadelphia, and Derby. My first going abroad was to Philadelphia, where, on a First-day, we had a large meeting, and divers things were opened my
mind. I told them they had Moses and
the Prophets, and Jesus Christ, who was arisen from the dead; for neither death, hell, nor the grave, could detain the Lord of life and glory. And I was opened to declare to them, that they had a great advantage of the coming of Christ, not only in his appearance at Jerusalem, but as he came to, and spoke to the heart, by his inward and spiritual appearance; and that this gospel dispensation was by his coming, made more conspicuous, þright, and glorious, than that which went before. Friends were very glad to see me abroad again, they having expected daily to hear I was dead, and there was tenderness over the meeting, and God over all, through his dear Son our Lord Jesus Christ, was praised and glorified, who is worthy for ever.
In this year two sober young women, Elizabeth Levis and Jane Fenn, were concerned to visit Friends in the island of Barbadoes, and they meeting with some discouragement, in Christian love I wrote them the following letter, to encourage them in the work of Christ.
Frankfort, Ist of the 12th mo. 1724. “ My dear friends, Elizabeth Levis
and Jane Fenn, “ Understanding by our Friend Grace Lloyd, that you have proposed your intention of visiting those few Friends in the island of Barbadoes, and that you meet with some discouragement inwardly and outwardly, therefore it is in my mind to com
fort and strengthen you in so great and good an undertaking and honourable work, as is that of the cause of Christ, who, for our sales crossed himself abundantly beyond expression, more than is possible for us to do for his sake, or the sake of his people, whom we may so entirely love, as to lay down our lives for his and their sakes. But what are our lives, to the life of the only begotten Son of God? and truly, we must give them up often, if we have the cause of souls at heart; and then he often gives them to us again, Glory to his holy name for ever! As Christ said, He that will save his life, shall lose it, and he that will lay down his life for my sake and the gospel, shall find it; which reacheth your case in this undertaking. And, indeed, some of our lives, in our own sense, are hardly worth mentioning, considering the cause of Christ.
66. And, dear children of our heavenly Father, I may through some good experience, truly inform you, that there is much openness in many people on that island, and good encouragement I have had, from above, in my visiting the people there ; though, true it is, the inhabitants, too generally, are luxurious, and much given to vanity: yet I have this seal in my heart, that the Lord hath a seed in that place who desires to serve him, and that seed will surely join with you in your exercise, and you will be comforted one in another, and in the Lord. And that there are differences among them, is also true; but they have the more
need of being visited by such who are, through their wise conduct and healing disposition, likely to heal those breaches which are, or may be among them. Some, indeed, have gone among them and have done hurt, by a rash and turbulent way of management, and by so doing, have rather made the breaches wider, than, by a meek and loving, as well as lowly disposition, lessened their differences, and healed them.
And, tender Friends, though it may seem hard for you in several considerations, to give up to go to sea, and also to divers who love you, and are nearly related to you ; know ye, and such so concerned, that the Lord is stronger than the noise of many waters, and than the mighty waves of the sea.
And I really believe that you, as well as my soul, with the servants of Christ, have, and will experience it to be so, as David did, whose words they are.
" I remember the words of our great Lord and Master Jesus, when he sent forth his servants to preach his word and gospel; I send you forth as lambs among wolves. No question but you, like innocent lambs, before your return, if it please God to give you to us again, may meet with the wolves' spirit, or the spirit of the beast, in some or others among whom you may travel ; then will the counsel of Christ, added to his commission, be good for you to keep close to :
Be ye wise as serpents, but innocent or harmless as doves.