« PreviousContinue »
humbler names, a sacramental host, who did good service to the cause in their day and generation, have gone too, leaving the principles they espoused, and the society they established, to be defended, sustained, and preserved, for succeeding generations by those who cherish their memory and occupy their places.
EARLY LIFE.-TASTES AND TENDENCIES.
On the 19th of January, 1788, in the chamber of a small house in Spitalfields, and in the evening of the day, a youth, of good talents but limited education, who had just completed his seventeenth year, began for the first time to commit to paper a daily record of his thoughts and feelings, his actings and experiences. The lad was William Allen, son of Job and Margaret Allen, honest and worthy people, members of the Society of Friends, then engaged in the manufacture of silk, and thereby doing well in the world. The diary, continued with but few intermissions during a period of more than half a century, was faithfully kept, and at length embraced the almost entire history of a long and useful life.
The very first entries distinctly indicate the character that was in process of formation, They are brief, but pointed and spiritual.
The young disciple records the comfort' he had experienced in striving against evil thoughts, regrets his impatience,' resolves to spend no time unprofitably,' and meditates on the “happy state of those who are led and guided by the Spirit of truth.' These were
WILLIAM 18 A DECIDED FRIEND, profitable thoughts for seventeen;' they proved that the endeavours of his pious parents to make religion attractive to him had not been in vain; and they harmonize with the emotions of love and gratitude which, even in early childhood, filled his eyes . with tears, as he repeated to his schoolmistress the evening hymn.'
William was already a decided · Friend,' and fully able to estimate the principles professed by that Society. He mourns to hear it said, by a person not of our Society,' that
the Quakers are the proudest people upon earth, and the most difficult to be pleased in their apparel;' and he is satisfied that those who give occasion for such remarks are not Quakers, whatever they may call themselves.' The ministry of Friends is to him accompanied by “a Divine sweetness. John Pemberton advises him to be faithful in small things,' and the words are recorded as the utterances of an oracle. James Thornton remarks, • Every act of obedience to the Divine requiring brings strength, and every act of disobedience, weakness,' and the sentiment is noted down for everlasting remembrance. Surely,' he observes, there is something more than words in the testimonies of the servants of the Lord; something within us bears witness to the truth, and what is it but the good Spirit of God ?'