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Claridge, and subscribed by William Kiffin and him, 1694.
2. An Appendix to the same, 1694.
3. A Preface to Hercules Collins's Sandy Foundation of Infant-Baptism Shaken, 1695.
4. An Appendix to the same, 1695.
He also wrote, while a Baptist, an Answer to Richard Allen's Essay, Vindication and Appendix, to prove that singing psalms, with conjoined voices, is a Christian duty, 1696. Part of which was afterwards published by the Baptists, in the year 1697.
We find also among his manuscripts, the following hymn, which, expressing a pious fervour of spirit, we here insert.
"The gracious Soul's experience in Duty."
Come, come, O come with heavenly flames,
And thaw my frozen heart.
I find great coldness in myself,
And oft do hinder me.
"2. My soul is willing, many times
And angel-like would move.
"3. I would sometimes with Paul be rapt,
And in my duty to my God,
With dove-like motion move.
"5. He doth dispel those darksome fogs,
And with fresh visits glad my soul,—
With new enlivenings quickened now,
"6. From whence she would not lured be,
She values none but Jesus Christ,-
Of thy salvation stay;
"16th of Eighth Month, 1693."
SOON after Richard Claridge had declined preaching among the Baptists, he began by degrees to withdraw from their communion. For though, as
his own manuscripts express it, he found them to have a serious remnant among them, sounder in doctrine, holier in life, and to have less of human invention in their worship, than those of the national way; yet were they far short of that purity in faith, worship, and discipline, for which the primitive Christians were so famous in the age of the apostles. And therefore, his soul being desirous to find out and walk with a people, whose ministry, church, doctrine, worship, and discipline, were in all things according to the apostolical pattern; the Lord, who raised this desire in him, was graciously pleased, by his divine light, to shine more and more into his soul, and by gradual manifestations and discoveries, in his waiting humbly upon him and sincere breathings unto him, to lead him to his holy hill, and heavenly tabernacle,-to Christ Jesus in his inward spiritual appearance, by his light, grace, and Holy Spirit in the heart, where he found him whom his soul desired, the living rock, the sure foundation, the chief corner-stone in the spiritual building. And now, his eyes being opened and his mind turned from darkness to the true light, he saw the insufficiency of all those foundations, gatherings, faiths, and worships, which men have invented in their carnal wisdom, and by which they have distinguished themselves one from another; and upon a serious inquiry into the principles and practices of the people in scorn called Quakers, he found them to be a people called, gathered, and constituted in church society, according to the Holy Scriptures, to which he had a special regard in this great concern of his soul; as he also found them to have, though the contrary was said of them by their adversaries.
Upon this, he began to frequent the meetings of that people, where he met with the desired satisfaction, which his soul had long sought after. Their ministry he found to be lively and edifying, and their meetings attended with the gracious presence of God, ministering abundant consolation and.refreshment to weary and waiting souls; of which divine enjoyments, as he received a taste and relish, those meetings were more and more desirable to him, and he quickly became a constant attender of them.
Being now no longer exercised in external forms, and shadowy administrations, he set himself to seek the true living substance, waiting in silence and humility, to hear the voice of Christ, in the secret of his own soul. The dealings of the Lord with him at this time, are best expressed in his own words.
"I was high in notion, and full of imaginations and reasonings, and abounded with words; but as I came to cease from my own reasonings and imaginations, and to be still before the Lord, so I came to hear his voice, and to give up in obedience to his word. The Lord brought me to lay aside all creeds, articles, and confessions of faith, drawn up in the fallen wisdom of man; all notions I had learnt from the study of the letter of the Scripture; yea, I became as one dead to chapter and verse, even as a fool that I might be made wise: for the Lord stript me of all my old jewels and ornaments, wherewith I was wont to deck myself; and enabled me to part with those large possessions, wherein I took delight and pleasure. Now, as I came to be stript and emptied of my own enjoyments, and to have an hunger and thirst after the true riches, the wisdom and righteousness of God; so the Lord had a regard to the desires he had raised in my soul, and began to open his bountiful hand, and to fill the hungry with his good things, and to teach me his judgments; and so I came to receive the law at his mouth, and to mind his inspirations, which alone give understanding; and
as he opened mine understanding, so I came to understand the Scriptures, and the glorious things recorded therein."
In this state of humble silence, and patient waiting upon God, he remained a considerable time, passing through the dispensation of condemnation, and ministration of judgment, until he came to witness the ministration of life and peace, and to walk in the light, wherein the true Christian fellowship stands. Being now humbled, and judged for his former preaching, in his own will, wisdom and time, he dared not again to open his mouth, in a public assembly, until he felt the immediate operation of the Holy Spirit, and found himself acted thereby to pray or preach, as He should be pleased to give both matter and utterance. See his "Lux Evangelica Attestata," p. 11. This was at a meeting at Sarah Sawyer's, in Aldersgate-street, London, on the 24th of the Eighth Month, 1697; being the first time he declared among the people called Quakers, and above nineteen calendar months after he had desisted from preaching among the Baptists.
In this year, he gives an account of his going to a meeting of the Philadelphians, which we shall insert in his own words.
"A few people that called themselves by the name of the Philadelphian Society, having spread some papers abroad relating to the said society, and therein given notice of their meeting in Hungerford-market, I was moved this 15th of the Sixth Month, called August, 1697, to go to their meeting, whereunto I went in the afternoon, not because I had any the least doubt or scruple about the blessed truth professed by the Quakers, and whereof I am convinced; but to satisfy myself about the people and their worship, that made high pretences to such a peculiar dispensation of the Spirit, which no other professors of Christianity besides themselves (if they may be credited) were under.