A Sermon Delivered by James Backhouse, Date and place not given.
Sermons Preached by Members of the Society of Friends. London: Hamilton, Adams, & Co., 1832, pages 10-12.

This is The Quaker Homiletics Online Anthology, Part Three: The 19th Century.

Not knowing that I may have another opportunity, I think it right for me to express a matter before this company separates: it is earnest desire that I feel, that we, as a religious society, may not be neglectful to make a right of the means put within our power for our edification. I believe it is the design of our heavenly Father that we should feel how much influence things which surround us have upon us, and how apt they are to draw away our attention from the things which belong to life and salvation. When we consider this, I believe we may say that we have great need to be diligent in the use of those means which are put within our reach, and I have no doubt that many among us, perhaps most among us, are in the use of those to some degree or other, And among those means I would enumerate the practice of assembling day by day with our families, for the purpose of reading the holy scriptures, and the practice also of making pauses at pauses at our meals in order that we may give God thanks, and of retiring in private for the purpose of meditating before the Lord and pouring out our petitions unto him. But a fear has often possessed my :mind lest the enemy of all good should draw us into formality in these things; should draw us into a state of self satisfaction in doing them, while we may be neglecting the spirit in which they ought to be done: while I earnestly desire that we may be diligent in the practice of reading the holy scripture with our families, and not neglecting to have servants with us, for their souls require care as well as our own, and when they are placed in our houses we are answerable before God for the charge we have in them, as well as for those that our immediate relatives, whether children or others; and the earnest desire of my heart is, that these occasions, as well as on occasion of our taking pauses before and after our meals (and I believe we cannot be too frequent in this practice at all our meals) that our hearts may be gathered before the Lord till we come at a feeling of his presence, and some ability to acknowledge his mercies; for though he may for purposes of his own wisdom see meet to withdraw from us any of sense of his presence, it is not his design that we should be satisfied when this is the case, but rather that it should be a cause of deep searching of soul, and that we should not by any means feel comfortable till we feel the lifting up of the light of his presence among us, either at these times or in those of our solemn meetings, as those of the Lord's poor to whom the blessing appertains. When he withdraws his sensible presence from them, they are those that hunger and thirst after its return, and cannot be satisfied without it, and are widely distinguished from those who are contenting themselves in a state of desolation and barrenness of spirit, who are not living to the Lord as they ought, and not caring for their own souls; now the more we receive the injunction of the blessed Redeemer, "and thou when thou prayest enter into thy closet and shut thy doors about thee," in a literal as well as a spiritual sense, the more we are thus before the Lord, the more we shall feel him to be with us, and the more the world shall be of our hearts, and the world under our feet, to own peace, and the glory of the Lord.