The Wisdom that is from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of Mercy, and good Fruits, without Partiality, and without Hypocrisy, JAMES iii. 17.

PHILADELPHIA: Printed by D. HALL, and W. SELLERS, at the New Printing-Office, opposite the Jersey Market. 1768.

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MY mind hath often been affected with sorrow, on account of the prevailing of that spirit, which leads from an humble waiting on the inward teaching of Christ, to pursue ways of living, attended with un­necessary labour, and which draws forth the minds of many people to seek after outward power, and to strive for riches, which fre­quently introduce oppression, and bring forth wars and grievous calamities.

It is with reverence that I acknowledge the mercies of our heavenly Father, who, in infinite love, did visit me in my youth, and wrought a belief in me, that through true obedience a state of inward purity may be known in this life, in which we may love mankind in the same love with which our Redeemer loveth us, and therein learn resignation to endure hardships, for the real good of others.

While the eye is single, the whole body is full of light, Matt. vi. 22; but for want of this, selfish desires, and an imaginary superiority, [Page 4]darken the mind; hence injustice frequently proceeds; and where this is the case, to convince the judgment, is the most effectual remedy.

Where violent measures are pursued in opposing injustice, the passions, and resent­ments, of the injured, frequently operate in the prosecution of their designs; and after conflicts productive of very great calamities, the minds of contending parties often re­main as little acquainted with the pure prin­ciple of divine love, as they were before; but where people walk in that pure light in which all their works are wrought in God, John iii. 21, and under oppression persevere in the meek spirit, and abide firm in the cause of truth, without actively complying with oppressive demands, through those the Lord hath often manifested his power, in opening the understandings of others, to the promoting righteousness in the earth.

A time, I believe, is coming, wherein this divine work will so spread and prevail, that Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor learn war any more, Isaiah ii. And as we, through the tender mercies of God, do feel that this precious work is be­gun, I am concerned to encourage my bre­thren and sisters in a holy care and diligence, [Page 5]that each of us may so live, under the sanc­tifying power of truth, as to be redeemed from all unnecessary cares; that our eye be­ing single to him, no customs, however pre­valent, which are contrary to the wisdom from above, may hinder us from faithfully following his holy leadings, in whatsoever he may graciously appoint for us.

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TO have our trust settled in the Lord, and not to seek after, nor desire outward treasures, any further than his holy spirit leads us therein, is a happy state, as saith the prophet, Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.

Pure wisdom leads people into lowliness of mind, in which they learn resignation to the divine will, and contentment in suffer­ing for his cause, when they cannot keep a clear conscience without suffering.

In this pure wisdom the mind is attentive to the root, and original spring of motions and desires, and as we know the Lord to be our refuge, and find no safety, but in hum­bly walking before him, we feel an holy engagement, that every desire which leads therefrom may be brought to judgment.

While we proceed in this precious way, and find arden longings for a full deliver­ance [Page 8]from every thing which defiles, all prospects of gain, that are not consistent with the wisdom from above, are considered as snares, and an inward concern is felt, that we may live under the cross, and faith­fully attend to that holy spirit, which is suf­ficient to preserve out of them.

When I have considered that saying of Christ, Matt. vi. 19, Lay not up for your­selves treasures upon earth, his omnipotence hath often occurred to my mind.

While we believe that he is every where present with his people, and that perfect goodness, wisdom and power, are united in him, how comfortable is the consideration.

Our wants may be great, but his power is greater. We may be oppressed and de­spised, but he is able to turn our patient suf­ferings into profit to ourselves, and to the advancement of his work on earth. His people, who feel the power of his cross, to crucify all that is selfish in them, who are engaged in outward concerns, from a con­vincement that it is their duty, and resign themselves, and their treasures, to him; these feel that it is dangerous to give way to that in us, which craves riches and greatness in this world.

[Page 9] As the heart truly contrite, earnestly de­sires to know Christ, and the fellowship of his sufferings, Phil. iii. 10, so far as the Lord for gracious [...]nds may lead into them; as such feel that it is their interest to put their trust in God, and to seek no gain but that which he, by his holy spirit, leads into; so, on the contrary, they who do not reverently wait for this divine teacher, and are not humbly concerned, according to their mea­sure, to fill up that which is behind of the af­flictions of Christ, Col. i. 24, in patiently suffering for the promoting righteousness in the earth; but have an eye toward the pow­er of men, and the outward advantage of wealth, these are often attentive to those employments which appear profitable, even though the gains arise from such trade and business which proceeds from the workings of that spirit, which is estranged from the self-denying life of an humble contrite Christian.

While I write on this subject, I feel my mind tenderly affected toward those honestly disposed people, who have been brought up in employments attended with those dif­ficulties.

To such I may say, in the feeling of our heavenly Father's love, and number myself [Page 10]with you, O that our eyes may be single to the Lord! may we reverently wait on him for strength, to lay aside all unnecessary ex­pence of every kind, and learn contentment, in a plain simple life.

May we, in lowliness, submit to the lead­ings of his spirit, and enter upon any out­ward employ which he graciously points out to us, and then whatever difficulties arise, in consequence of our faithfulness, I trust they will work for our good.

Small treasure to a resigned mind is suf­ficient. How happy is it to be content with a little, to live in humility, and feel that in us, which breathes out this language, Abba! Father.

If that, called the wisdom of this world, had no resemblance of true wisdom, the name of wisdom, I suppose, had not been given to it.

As wasting outward substance, to gratify vain desires, on one hand; so slothfulness and neglect, on the other, do often involve men and their families in trouble, and re­duce them to want and distress; to shun both these opposite vices, is good in itself, and hath a resemblance of wisdom; but while people thus provident, have it principally in view to get riches, and power, and the [Page 11]friendship of this world, and do not humbly wait for the spirit of truth to lead them in purity; these, through an anxious care to obtain the end desired, reach forth for gain in worldly wisdom, and, in regard to their in­ward state, fall into divers temptations and snares. And though such may think of ap­plying wealth to good purposes, and to use their power to prevent oppression, yet wealth and power is often applied otherwise; nor can we depart from the leadings of our holy shepherd, without going into confusion.

Great wealth is frequently attended with power, which nothing but divine love can qualify the mind to use rightly; and as to the humility, and uprightness of our children after us, how great is the uncertainty! If, in acquiring wealth, we take hold on the wis­dom which is from beneath, and depart from the leadings of truth, and example our chil­dren herein, we have great cause to appre­hend, that wealth may be a snare to them; and prove an injury to others, over whom their wealth may give them power.

To be redeemed from that wisdom which is from beneath, and walk in the light of the Lord, is a precious situation; thus his people are brought to put their trust in him; and in this humble confidence in his wisdom, good­ness [Page 12]and power, the righteous find a refuge in adversities, superior to the greatest out­ward helps, and a comfort more certain than any worldly advantages can afford.


HAVING from my childhood been used to bodily labour for a living, I may express my experience therein.

Right exercise affords an innocent plea­sure in the time of it, and prepares us to enjoy the sweetness of rest; but from the ex­tremes each way, arise inconveniences.

Moderate exercise opens the pores, gives the blood a lively circulation, and the better enables us to judge rightly respecting that portion of labour which is the true medium.

The fowls of the Air sow not, nor gather into barns, yet our heavenly father feedeth them, Matt. vi. 26; nor do I believe that in­finite goodness and power would have al­lotted labour to us, had he not seen that la­bour was proper for us in this life.

The original design, and true medium of labour, is a subject that, to me, appears wor­thy of our serious consideration.

[Page 13] Idle men are often a burden to themselves, neglect the duty they owe to their families, and become burdensome to others also.

As outward labour, directed by the wis­dom from above, tends to our health, and adds to our happiness in this life; so, on the contrary, entering upon it in a selfish spirit, and pursuing it too long, or too hard, hath a contrary effect.

I have observed, that too much labour not only makes the understanding dull, but so intrudes upon the harmony of the body, that after ceasing from our toil, we have another to pass through, before we can be so com­posed as to enjoy the sweetness of rest.

From too much labour in the heat, fre­quently proceeds immoderate sweats, which do often, I believe, open the way for dis­orders, and impair our constitutions.

When we go beyond the true medium, and feel weariness approaching, but think business may suffer if we cease, at such a time spirituous liquors are frequently taken, with a view to support nature under these fatigues.

I have found that too much labour in the summer heats the blood, that taking strong drink to support the body under such labour, increaseth that heat, and though a person [Page 14]may be so far temperate as not to manifest the least disorder, yet the mind, in such a circumstance, doth not retain that calmness and serenity which we should endeavour to live in.

Thus toiling in the heat, and drinking strong liquor, makes men more resolute, and less considerate, and tends very much to disqualify from successfully following him who is meek and low of heart.

As laying out business, more than is con­sistent with pure wisdom, is an evil, so this evil frequently leads into more. Too much business leads to hurry. In the hurry and toil too much strong drink is often used, and hereby many proceed to noise and wanton­ness, and some, tho' more considerate, do often suffer loss, as to a true composedness of mind.

I feel sincere desires in my heart that no rent, nor interest, might be laid so high as to be a snare to tenants. That no desires of gain may draw any too far in business. That no cares to support customs, which have not their foundation in pure wisdom, may have place in our minds, but that we may build on the sure foundation, and feel our holy shepherd to lead us, who alone is able to preserve us, and bring forth from every thing which defiles.

[Page 15] Having several times, in my travels, had opportunity to observe the labour and man­ner of life of great numbers of slaves, it ap­pears to me that the true medium is lamen­tably neglected by many, who assign them their portion of labour.

Without saying much at this time, con­cerning buying and selling men for term of life, who have as just a right to liberty as we have; nor about the great miseries, and ef­fusion of blood, consequent to promoting the slave-trade, and to speak as favourably as may be, with regard to continuing those in bondage who are amongst us, we cannot say there is no partiality in it; for whatever ten­derness may be manifested by individuals in their life time toward them, yet for people to be transmitted from a man to his posterity, in the helpless condition of slaves, appears inconsistent with the nature of the gospel spirit. From such proceedings it often fol­lows, that persons in the decline of life, are deprived of monies equitably due to them, and committed to the care, and subjected to the absolute power of young unexperienced men, who know but little about the weak­ness of old age, nor understand the language of declining life.

[Page 16] Where parents give their estates to their chil­dren, and then depend on them for a main­tenance, they sometimes meet with great in­conveniences; but if the power of pos­session, thus obtained, doth often reverse the obligations of gratitude and filial duty, and makes manifest, that youth are often ignorant of the language of old age, how hard is the case of antient Negroes, who, deprived of the wages equitably due to them, are left to young people, who have been used to look upon them as their inferiors.

For men to behold the fruits of their la­bour withheld from them, and possessed by others, and in old age find themselves de­stitute of those comfortable accommodations, and that tender regard which their time of life requires:

When they feel pains, and stiffness in their joints and limbs, weakness of appetite, and that a little labour is wearisome, and still be­hold themselves in the neglected uncomfort­able condition of a slave, and oftentimes to a young unsympathising man:

For men to be thus treated from one ge­neration to another, who, besides their own distresses, think on the slavery entailed on their posterity, and are grieved! what dis­agreeable thoughts must they have of the [Page 17]professed followers of Jesus! and how must their groans ascend to that almighty being, who will be a refuge for the oppressed, Psalm ix. 9.


Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God, Mark x. 14.

To encourage children to do things with a view to get praise of men, to me appears an obstruction to their being in­wardly acquainted with the spirit of truth. For it is the work of the Holy Spirit to direct the mind to God, that in all our proceedings we may have a single eye to him. To give alms in secret, to fast in secret, and labour to keep clear of that disposition reproved by our Saviour, All their works which they do is for to be seen of men, Matt. xxiii. 5.

That divine light which enlightens all men, I believe, does often shine in the minds of children very early, and to humbly wait for wisdom, that our conduct toward them may tend to forward their acquaintance with [Page 18]it, and strengthen them in obedience thereto, appears to me to be a duty on all of us.

By cherishing the spirit of pride, and the love of praise in them, I believe they may sometimes improve faster in learning, than otherwise they would, but to take measures to forward children in learning, which na­turally tend to divert their minds from true humility, appears to me to savour of the wis­dom of this world.

If tutors are not acquainted with sancti­fication of spirit, nor experienced in an humble waiting for the leadings of truth, but follow the maxims of the wisdom of this world, such children who are under their tuition, appear to me to be in danger of imbibing thoughts, and apprehensions, reverse to that meekness, and lowliness of heart, which is necessary for all the true fol­lowers of Christ.

Children at an age fit for schools, are in a time of life which requires the patient at­tention of pious people, and if we commit them to the tuition of such, whose minds we believe are not rightly prepared to train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, we are in danger of not acting the part of faithful parents toward them; for our heavenly father doth not require us to do [Page 19]evil, that good may come of it; and it is needful that we deeply examine ourselves, lest we get entangled in the wisdom of this world, and, through wrong apprehensions, take such methods in education, as may prove a great injury to the minds of our children.

It is a lovely sight to behold innocent children! and when they are sent to such schools where their tender minds are in im­minent danger of being led astray by tutors, who do not live a self-denying life, or by the conversation of such children who do not live in innocence, it is a case much to be lamented.

While a pious tutor hath the charge of no more children than he can take due care of, and keeps his authority in the truth, the good spirit in which he leads and governs, works on the minds of such who are not hardened, and his labours not only tend to bring them forward in outward learning, but to open their understandings with re­spect to the true christian life; but where a person hath charge of too many, and his thoughts and time are so much employed in the outward affairs of his school, that he does not so weightily attend to the spirit and conduct of each individual, as to be enabled to administer rightly to all in due season; [Page 20]through such emission he not only suffers, as to the state of his own mind, but the minds of the children are in danger of suffering also.

To watch the spirit of children, to nurture them in gospel love, and labour to help them against that which would mar the beauty of their minds, is a debt we owe them; and a faithful performance of our duty, not only tends to their lasting benefit, and our own peace, but also to render their company agreeable to us.

Instruction, thus administred, reaches the pure witness in the minds of such children who are not hardened, and begets love in them toward those who thus lead them on; but where too great a number are committed to a tutor, and he, through much cumber, omits a careful attention to the minds of children, there is danger of disorders gradually in­creasing amongst them, till the effects there­of appear in their conduct, too strong to be easily remedied.

A care hath lived on my mind, that more time might be employed by parents at home, and by tutors at school, in weightily attend­ing to the spirit and inclinations of children, and that we may so lead, instruct, and go­vern them, in this tender part of life, that [Page 21]nothing may be omitted in our power, to help them on their way to become the children of our father, who is in heaven.

Meditating on the situation of schools in our provinces, my mind hath, at times, been affected with sorrow, and under these exercises it hath appeared to me, that if those who have large estates, were faithful stew­ards, and laid no rent, nor interest, nor other demand, higher than is consistent with universal love, and those in lower circum­stances would, under a moderate employ, shun unnecessary expence, even to the small­est article; and all unite in humbly seeking to the Lord, he would graciously instruct us, and strengthen us, to relieve the youth from various snares, in which many of them are entangled.


As our understandings are opened by the pure light, we experience that, through an inward approaching to God, the mind is strengthened in obedience; and that by [Page 22]gratifying those desires which are not of his begetting, those approaches to him are ob­structed, and the deceivable spirit gains strength.

These truths, being as it were engraven upon our hearts, and our everlasting interest in Christ evidently concerned herein, we become fervently engaged, that nothing may be nourished which tends to feed pride or self-love in us. Thus in pure obedience, we are not only instructed in our duty to God, but also in the affairs which necessarily relate to this life, and the spirit of truth which guides into all truth, leavens the mind with a pious concern, that whatsoever we do in word or deed, may be done in his name, Col. iii. 17.

Hence such buildings, furniture, food, and raiment, as best answer our necessities, and are the least likely to feed that selfish spirit which is our enemy, are the most ac­ceptable to us.

In this state the mind is tender, and in­wardly watchful, that the love of gain draw us not into any business, which may weaken our love to our heavenly father, or bring unnecessary trouble to any of his creatures.

Thus the way gradually opens to cease from that spirit which craves riches and [Page 23]things fetched far, which so mixeth with the customs of this world, and so intrudes upon the true harmony of life, that the right me­dium of labour is very much departed from. And as the minds of people are settled in a steady concern, not to hold nor possess any thing but what may be held consistent with the wisdom from above, they consider what they possess as the gift of God, and are in­wardly exercised, that in all parts of their conduct they may act agreeable to the nature of the peaceable government of Christ.

A little supports such a life; and in a state truly resigned to the Lord, the eye is single, to see what outward employ he leads into, as a means of our subsistance, and a lively care is maintained to hold to that without launching further.

There is a harmony in the several parts of this divine work in the hearts of people; he who leads them to cease from those gainful employments, carried on in that wisdom which is from beneath, delivers also from the desire after worldly greatness, and reconciles the mind to a life so plain, that a little doth suffice.

Here the real comforts of life are not les­sened. Moderate exercise, in the way of [Page 24]true wisdom, is pleasant both to mind and body.

Food and raiment sufficient, though in the greatest simplicity, is accepted with con­tent and gratitude.

The mutual love, subsisting between the faithful followers of Christ, is more pure than that friendship which is not seasoned with humility, how specious soever the ap­pearance.

Where people depart from pure wisdom in one case, it is often an introduction to de­part from it in many more; and thus a spirit which seeks for outward greatness, and leads into worldly wisdom to attain it, and support it, gets possession of the mind.

In beholding the customary departure from the true medium of labour, and that unnecessary toil which many go through, in supporting outward greatness, and procuring delicacies:

In beholding how the true calmness of life is changed into hurry, and that many, by eagerly pursuing outward treasure, are in great danger of withering as to the inward state of the mind:

In meditating on the works of this spirit, and on the desolations it makes amongst the professors of christianity, I may thankfully [Page 25]acknowledge, that I often feel pure love be­get longings in my heart, for the exaltation of the peaceable kingdom of Christ, and an engagement to labour according to the gift bestowed on me, for the promoting an hum­ble, plain, temperate way of living. A life where no unnecessary cares, nor expences, may encumber our minds, nor lessen our a­bility to do good; where no desires after riches, or greatness, may lead into hard deal­ing; where no connections with worldly minded men, may abate our love to God, nor weaken a true zeal for righteousness. A life, wherein we may diligently labour for resign­edness to do, and suffer, whatever our hea­venly father may allot for us, in reconciling the world to himself.

When the prophet Isaiah had uttered his vision, and declared that a time was coming wherein swords should be beat into plowshares, and spears into pruning hooks, and that nation should not lift up sword against nation, nor learn war any more; he immediately direct the minds of people to the divine teacher, in this remarkable language, O house Jacob, come ye and let us walk in the light the Lord, Isaiah ii. 5.

To wait for the direction of this light, in all temporal as well as spiritual concerns, ap­pears [Page 26]necessary; for if in any case we enter lightly into temporal affairs, without feeling this spirit of truth to open our way therein, and through the love of this world proceed on, and seek for gain by that business or traffic, which is not of the father, but of the world, 1 John ii. 16, we fail in our testimony to the purity and peace of his go­vernment; and get into that which is for chastisement.

This matter hath lain heavy on my mind, it being evident, that a life less humble, less simple and plain, than that which Christ leads his sheep into, does necessarily require a support, which pure wisdom does not pro­vide for; hence there is no probability of our being a peculiar people, so zealous of good works, as to have no fellowship with works of darkness, Titus ii. 14. Ephes. v. 11, while we have wants to supply which have their foundation in custom, and do not come with­in the meaning of those expressions, your heavenly father knoweth that ye have need of [...]ll these things, Matt. vi. 32.

These things which he beholds necessary [...] his people, he fails not to give them in his own way, and time; but as his ways are above our ways, and his thoughts above our [Page 27]thoughts, so imaginary wants are different from these things which be knoweth that we have need of.

As my meditations have been on these things, compassion hath filled my heart to­ward my fellow creatures, involved in cu­stoms grown up in the wisdom of this world, which is foolishness with God, 1 Cor. iii. 19; and O that the youth may be so thoroughly experienced in an humble walking before the Lord, that they may be his children, and know him to be their refuge, their safe un­failing refuge! through the various dangers attending this uncertain state of being.

If those whose minds are redeemed from the love of wealth, and who are content with a plain, simple way of living, do yet find that to conduct the affairs of a family, without giv­ing countenance to unrighteous proceedings, or having fellowship with works of darkness, the most diligent care is necessary:

If customs, distinguishable from universa [...] righteousness, and opposite to the true sel [...] denying life, are now prevalent, and [...] mixed with trade, and with almost [...] employ, that it is only through hu [...] waiting on the inward guidance of [...] that we may reasonably hope to walk [...] [Page 28]and support an uniform testimony to the peaceable government of Christ:

If this be the case, how lamentably do they expose themselves to temptations, who give way to the love of riches, conform to expensive living, and reach forth for gain, to support customs, which our holy shep­herd leads not into.

The END.

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