The following is the entirety of the address:
An Address to the Membership of Salem Quarterly Meeting
Printed by direction of the meeting, 1896.
Excelsior Job Print, Columbiana, Ohio.
The Committee appointed in Second Mo. last, "to extend care and sympathy to meetings and individuals, by visit or otherwise, as way might open," produced a report, also an address to the members of this Quarterly Meeting, both of which were read and approved.
The Committee was continued, in care of the concern another year, and directed to have a sufficient number of copies of the Address printed, for distribution among our members.
Taken from the minutes of Salem Quarterly Meeting of Friends, held the 8th of 2nd Mo. 1896.
Jesse Edgerton and Sarah Ann Hobson, Clerks.
To the Members of Salem Quarterly Meeting.
Dear Friends: -
Seeing that "It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" aright, it is essential that we earnestly and humbly seek for Divine help and guidance, that our ways may be ordered by unerring Wisdom. The Apostle advises: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given to him."
We have remembered the words of our blessed Savior to Nicodemus, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the spirit." Again it is declared, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, 'Lo here!' or 'Lo there!' for behold the kingdom of God is within you."
The wisdom of man is not sufficient to enable us to comprehend the mysteries of redemption, but it is only as we come to the footstool of the Master, in the simplicity of little children, willing to submit to the washing of regeneration, to the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire, that we will experience what it is to be born of God, and as babes in Christ, to desire the sincere milk of the Word.
As we continue to look unto Him, we shall grow from stature to stature, from the condition of children to that of strong men and women in the Lord, and finally as our trust and confidence are in Him, by a steadfast continuance in well-doing, may become, through Divine Mercy, as pillar in his house that shall go no more out.
This change from the condition of little children to that of an establishment in the Truth as it is in Jesus, is well described by Mark 4:28 "First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear." Obedience to the little intimations of duty, to the little checks for wrong-doing, prepare the way for further discoveries of the Divine Will concerning us, and begets the tenderness of heart and submission unto Him, which are so acceptable in His sight. Obedience must keep pace with knowledge, if we would grow in the Lord's favor, and as we come to taste of Heavenly things, the world, its riches, its customs, its fashions and its pleasures will lose their attractions for us, because we have found something better, and we will realize that there is no joy so sweet as the joy of God's salvation.
We have remembered the language of the Apostle, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies, a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service." Paul here teaches, not only the great importance of Divine worship, as a Christian duty, but he informs us, it must be a "living sacrifice holy and acceptable." He also reminds us that it is but our "reasonable service." The assembling of ourselves together for the purpose of Divine worship, is certainly a duty we owe to our Heavenly Father as from his dependent children, and it is also a privilege we should highly prize, as herein we may confidently hope for a renewal of spiritual strength, as we are concerned reverently to wait upon the Lord. He is faithful who has promised that even "where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
"Sitting down in our little week-day meeting yesterday," writes a worthy Friend, "I was enabled to feel the inexpressible privilege that we, as a highly professing people enjoy beyond others, when we turn our backs upon the things of time, and sit down together, silently to wait for Divine help to worship and adore that pure and holy Being who desireth to be worshipped in spirit and truth. Oh! that such opportunities were more prized by our young people in particular; and that we might all watch carefully against wandering thoughts "or a drowsy, sleepy habit" and labor to draw near to the Source of all good, that we may be preserved from the snares of the wicked one, who in this day of great excitement would willingly draw us away from a reverential waiting upon the Lord.
It is impossible that anything should bring to the saving knowledge of the will of God, but the light and spirit of Christ, by an inward manifestation. How precious the quickening influence of the Holy Spirit, as was formerly experienced when Truth "reigned over all." The blessed Master told his followers "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." How many of us in our daily lives, reverse this Divine order, and allow the things of this world to so engross our time and attention as to crowd out, our most vital interests, leaving these matters of eternal moment for future consideration! Can we reasonably rely upon, or ask the fulfillment of the Lord's promise, that the necessary things will be added, unless we are willing to comply with the terms "Seek ye first the kingdom of God"?
Believing in Chrsit, in all that he hath done for us in that outward and prepared body wherein he offered himself a most acceptable sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, we must also be willing to receive him in his inward and spiritual appearance in our hearts, where he is represented as "The Comforter which is the Holy Ghost" and "The Spirit of Truth" (John 14:18-26).
As we come to experience Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith (Eph. 3:17) we may through his sanctifying and baptizing power be enabled to exemplify in our daily lives the beauty of the religion we profess. "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." We will thus, both older and younger, become prepared to fulfill the designs of our Heavenly Father concerning us, and be diligent in the work whereunto he may call us. May our dear young Friends dwell humbly at the feet of a meek and lowly Savior, submitting to the turning and overturning of his holy hand upon them, that they may be fitted and prepared to take their alloted places in the Militant Church.
Let us then lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith. Our blessed Redeemer has said "I am the vine, ye are the branches. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine no more can ye except ye abide in me."
We believe that it is the Divine will, to draw us nearer unto Himself, and through Him into closer relationship with one another in Christian love. Let us seek to become engrafted into the true Vine; then as living members thereof, dependent upon Him for all virtue and spiritual life, how intimately are the interests of all associated! Do not, dear young Friends! seek to excuse yourselves from the duties and privileges of Christian discipleship, because of your youth. The great Head of the Church not only allots to each one his or her particular service to perform, but he invests our neglect or refusal to perform this service with imminent peril to ourselves.
Oh! that we may be made sensible of our great responsibility herein, and be found willing to "Fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in our flesh, for his body's sake which is the Church."
It will be necessary in the earnest Christian life to which we would commend all, to surrender much that is cherished by the world, its vain and transitory pleasures, its ungodly associations. It was when Israel was abiding in his tents, separate from the surrounding nations, that the emphatic declaration of approval was uttered: "How goodly are thy tents Oh Jacob! and thy tabernacles Oh Israel!"
But dear young Friends, you will for this surrender receive great and abundant compensation, in richer and more exquisite spiritual blessings. And as we continue faithful we may come to realize in some measure the experience of that eminent servant of the Lord, Thomas Story, where he says "I called unto my God out of the great deep; and he had compassion on me because his love was infinite, and His power without measure! He called for my life and I offered it as His footstool; but he gave it me as a prey, with unspeakable addition! He called for my will and I resigned it at his call; but he returned me his own in token of his love! He called for the world and I laid it at his feet with the crowns thereof, I withheld them not at the beckoning of his hand. But mark the benefit of exchange! For he gave instead of earth, a kingdom of eternal peace, and in lieu of crowns of vanity, a crown of glory. I said, what am I that I should receive such honor? But he removed the mountains out of my way, and by his secret working pressed me forward."
Oh! that we may, dear Friends! as the Lord presses us forward by his secret power working in us, be enabled to come up in the line of his appointment submitting to the operation of his transforming power upon us, preparing us to take our allotted place in his service; for we believe that the fields are even now "white unto the harvest," but the laborers - how few! "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth more laborers into his harvest."
With a message of Christian love we are your friends.
Signed on behalf of the committee,
Jesse Edgerton and Sarah Ann Hobson.
1st Mo. 23rd, 1896.