William Evans.

The Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) online

. (page 101 of 105)
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paired, indications of dropsical disease ap-
peared ; he however continued to attend meet-
ings, and to visit the sick and afflicted.

In the third month, 1804, he was confined
to the house, except occasionally riding for
the benefit of exercise and change of air.
During the course of his sickness he was
supported in resignation to the Divine will,
and notwithstanding his abundant labours in
the service of his Lord and Master, w^as led
to take a very humbling view of himself, as
an unprofitable servant, having nothing to de-
pend on but the long suffering and goodness
of God — observing, " I thought I was once
strong for the work, but now I am a child
brought back to my hornbook, and have no-
thing to trust to but the mercy of God through
Christ my Saviour." He had been remarka-
ble for his firm and unshaken belief in the
divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
in his propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of the
world, and in all his glorious offices for the
salvation of mankind, being often fervently
engaged in setting forth these blessed Gospel
doctrines and enforcing them on his hearers;
and in the solemn moments of disease and
death, his reverent dependence and hope in
his Saviour did not fail him, but proved as an
anchor to his soul. And a short time before
his death, under a sense and feeling immediately
imparted, he expressed "glory to God," and
continued in great composure of mind, until
the 19th day of the sixth month, 1804, when
he calmly resigned his spirit into the hands
of Him who "ave it.






A CONCERN having for some time remained
on my mind to commemorate the tender deal-
ings of a merciful God, in visiting my soul
in the days of my youth ; I have endeavoured
briefly to set forth the same in the follovi^ing

I was born in London, the 3d day of the
first month, in the year 1693-4, of religious
parents, and by them strictly educated in the
profession of the church of England, so called ;
who, according to the best of their understand-
ing, endeavoured to inculcate into my mind the
knowledge of a Divine Being, and how neces-
sary it was for all professing Christianity, to
live in the fear of God. But this good advice
I too often slighted, as likewise the blessed re-
proofs of the holy spirit of Christ in my soul.
Though I was but young, I was, through
mercy, preserved from the commission of gi'oss
evils ; yet being of a cheerful disposition, and
having a turn to music and singing, I was
much delighted therewith, and was led into
unprofitable company, all which had a ten-
dency to lead my mind from God, for which
strong convictions followed me as a swift wit-
ness against sin. But he who had compassion
on me from the days of my infancy, was
pleased in the sixteenth year of my age, to
visit me with a sore fit of sickness, nigh unto
death, which reduced me very low both in
body and mind ; for the terrors of the Almighty
took hold of my soul, and then was brought
into my remembrance all my sins and mispent
time, as well as the good counsel my dear pa-
rents had tenderly given me, which I had un-
happily disregarded. In this distressed condi-
tion I shed many tears, making my moan to
Him who is the helper of his people in the
needful time, and was ready to make covenant,
that if he in mercy would be pleased to spare
me a little longer, the remaining part of my
days should be dedicated to his service ; and it

was as though it had been spoken to me,
" if I restore thee, go to Pennsylvania.'''' To
which the answer of my soul was, wherever
thou pleasest. This opening appeared strange
to me at that time ; but all I wanted then, was
peace of mind and health of body. However,
it pleased the Lord to raise me up from this
low condition, and I as soon forgot the prom-
ises I had made in deep distress, and returning
again to my old amusements, endeavoured
thereby to stifle the witness of God, which had
been raised in me.

But he who in tender mercy strives long
with the children of men, and would not that
any should be lost, followed me in judgment,
and often when alone, brought me under great
condemnation, so that I was made to cry for
strength to overcome the evils which so easily
beset me. Then Pennsylvania came again
into my mind ; but as I was much delighted
with outward objects, and strongly attached to
such things as were pleasing to my natural
temper, so the cross of Christ was thereby
made great in appearance to me, and I would
reason thus; "What shall I do in a strange
country, separated from the enjoyments of all
my relations and friends V But on a certain
time, it was said in my soul, " Go, there shalt
thou meet with such of my people as will be
to thee in the place of near connexions ; and if
thou wilt be faithful, I will be with thee."
This was spoken to me in such power, that I
was broken into tears, and said, " Lord I will
obey." But I unhappily got over this likewise,
and so remained until the visitation from on
high was again extended, which was like
thunder to my soul, and by the light of Christ,
though I knew not then what name to ascribe
to it,' I was clearly told, that if I did not com-
ply, I should be forever miserable; wherefore,
I took up a resolution, and acquainted my pa-
rents with the desire I had of going to America ;



" I told them that it seemed as a duty laid upon
me, and that I thought it might be for my good
to go, for that by being among strangers, I
might with more freedom serve God, accord-
ing to their frequent precepts to me." I re-
member the remark my father made on these
arguments, was, " the girl has a mind to turn
Quaker.'''' I said, " I hope I shall never re-
nounce my baptism."

He charged me never to speak any more
about it, for he would never consent to my
going ; his will was as a law to me, and there-
fore I concluded to obey him, making myself
for the present easy, with having so far
endeavoured to comply with the heavenly
requiring. But it did not last long, Pennsyl-
vania was still in my mind, the thought con-
tinued, that if I was among strangers, I could
better serve God, though I had no thought of
leaving the profession I was brought up in,
nor had I any acquaintance with Friends or
knowledge of their principles. But my friends
were all averse to my going, and my mother
took occasion to lay before me the danger and
difficulties one of my years and circumstances
might be subjected to, in such an undertaking,
which had such weight with me, that I was
again diverted from it. After some time I
grew very uneasy, insomuch that sleep de-
parted from me, and the weight of the exercise
was so great, that I was made willing to forego
everything else, to pursue what I believed to
be my duty, and concluded, that whatever I
suffered, I would not delay any longer, but
embrace the first opportunity of going to
Pennsylvania, provided the Almighty would
go with me, and direct my steps, which like a
little child I humbly begged he might be gra-
ciously pleased to do. In a little time the way
opened. One Robei't Davis, a Welchman,
with his wife and two daughters, were going
to settle in Philadelphia ; a friend told me of
their going, and went with me to them ; we
soon agreed, that he should pay for my pas-
sage, and wait until I could earn the money
on the other side of the water, for which he
accepted of my promise without note or bond,
or my being bound by indenture in the usual

Under these circumstances I came into this
land, and have great cause, with reverence
and fear, to bless the name of the Lord, whose
good hand did, I believe, direct in this weighty
undertaking. We arrived in Philadelphia the
16th day of the third month, 1712, in the
nineteenth year of my age. As soon as I was
landed I was provided with a place, among
people of repute, of my own society.

As I had not gone into this undertaking in
my own will, or to fly from the cross, but in
a degree of obedience to the will of my

heavenly Master and Father, and much in the
cross, so now I felt his good presence near to
me ; and an eye being opened in me toward
him, I became weaned from the gaities, plea-
sures and delights of this fading world ; they
were all stained in my view, and an ardent
thirst to partake of the waters of life and sal-
vation of God took place in my mind. I loved
solitude — sought retirement — and embraced all
opportunities of attending Divine service, so
called, having free liberty from those among
whom I lived so to do, they being very kind
to me ; but still I found not that solid peace
and satisfaction to my seeking soul, which I
wanted. The reason hereof, as I have since
experienced, was, because I sought the living
among the dead, as too many do ; and the
enemy of all good, was still unwearied in his
attempts against me. Having learned in my
native country to sing, he stirred up those with
whom I now lived, to draw me into that vain
amusement, which, as I plainly saw it was a
snare of his, it brought trouble and uneasiness
over my mind.

After I had been in Philadelphia somewhat
more than a quarter of a year, Robert Davis
insisted I should sign indentures, binding my-
self a servant for four years, to a person who
was an utter stranger to me, by which means
he would have made considerable advantage
to himself. But as this was contrary to our
agi'eement before-mentioned, which I was wil-
ling to comply with to the utmost of my power,
and as a remarkable uneasiness and deep ex-
ercise attended my mind, when I endeavoured
to comply with his mercenary will, I thought
it best to withstand him in it, let the conse-
quence be what it would ; whereupon he had
recourse to the law, and by process laid me
under confinement. This was a trying cir-
cumstance. I was a poor young creature
among strangers, and being far separated
from my natural friends, they could not re-
dress my grievances nor hear my complaints.

But the Lord heard my cries and raised me
up many friends, who visited me in this situa-
tion and offered me money to paj^ Davis for
my passage, according to contract, but I could
not accept even of this kindness, because I was
well assured Philadelphia was not to be the
place of my settlement, though where I was
to go was yet hid from me; however, as I en-
deavoured to wait, the Lord provided for me
after this manner. The principals of four
families living at Plj'mouth, who had several
children, agreed to procure a sober young
woman, as a school-mistress to instruct them
in reading, &c. And on their applying to
their friends in town, I was recommended for
that service. When we saw each other, I
perceived it my place to go with them; where-



fore, on their paying Davis twelve pounds cur-
rency, being the whole of his demand against
me, I bound myself to them by indenture, for
the term of three years, and went cheerfully
with them to the aforesaid place. And I have
thought how wonderful it was, that though va-
rious scenes attended me, yet I was enabled
to perform the service they had for me. The
children learned very fast, which afforded com-
fort to me and satisfaction to their parents; my
love to them was great, and theirs equally so
to me, so that all my commands were obeyed
with pleasure, and when we met could tell one
another of it with sincere regard and affection.
They proved sober, religious men and women.

I served my time faithfully, and never had
cause to repent it ; the people with whom I
lived, were those called Quakers, and as I had
not been among any of that denomination be-
fore, I had desires in my mind to be acquaint-
ed with their principles, and manner of wor-
ship, and having liberty, was very ready to go
to their meetings, though at first only as a
spy ; but after I had been some time among
them, and took notice of their way and man-
ner of performing Divine worship to God, I
was ready to conclude and say in my mind,
surely these are his people ; and a brave, liv-
ing people they really were; there being divers
worthies among them, who I believe are now
in the fruition of joy unspeakable, and full of
glory, the eai'nest of which, they through
mercy then at times partook of, to the satis-
faction of their hungry and thirsty souls.
The solid, weighty and tender frame of spirit
some of them were many times favoured with,
in meetings, brought serious considerations
over my mind, with this query : Why is it
not so with me? And I said in my heart, these
people are certainly better than I am, notwith-
standing I have made a great deal more to do
about religion than they.

As I was pondering on these things, the
saying of the apostle, " that circumcision or
uncircumcision avails nothing, but a new crea-
ture in Christ Jesus," was often brought to my
mind. I saw this work must begin in the
heart, and be carried on by a Divine power.
This I was soon convinced of, and therefore
could wait with patience, though in silence.
But yet the whole work was not completed, it
went on gradually, step by step, which dem-
onstrates the paternal care of our heavenly
Father, carrying the lambs in his arms, lest
they should be weary and faint ! Who can but
admire his goodness, and celebrate his praise?
His wisdom and power are great. Oh ! that
all would but dwell under his peaceable go-
vernment, and learn of him, who is pure and
holy. Through the operation of Divine Good-
ness, great love was begotten in my heart to

these people ; and if at any time Friends were
concerned to speak against any evil habit of
the mind, I did not put it from me, but was
willing to take my part, and have sometimes
thought it all belonged to me.

As I continued in this humble frame, and
was diligent in attending meeting when I
could, Infinite Goodness was graciously plea-
sed to favour me with a fresh and large visita-
tion of his heavenly love, and often tendered
my spirit and begot strong desires after true
and saving knowledge, and that the way of
life and salvation might be clearly demonstra-
ted ; and blessed be his eternal name, he heard
my cries and was pleased to send his servants
both male and female, filled with fife and pow-
er, who sounded forth the Gospel in Divine
authority, declaring the way to the Father
through the door of Christ, and opening the
principles of these people, by turning our
minds inward to the pure gift and manifesta-
tion of the spirit.

This doctrine agreeing with what I had in
some measure been convinced of, I was made
willing to join heartily with it, and was ready
to say, these are true ministers of Christ, for
they spoke with Divine power and authority,
and not as the scribes. Now I was mightily
reached unto, and stripped of all self-righte-
ousness, and my state was opened to me in
such a manner, that I was quite confounded,
and concluded that though I could talk of re-
ligion, of being made a child of God, a mem-
ber of his church, and an inheritor of his holy
kingdom, there was as much need as ever to
cry. Lord have mercy on me a poor sinner !
not having yet witnessed the law of the spirit
of life in Christ Jesus, to set me free from the
law of sin and death. Outward ceremonies
availed nothing, the new birth was wanting,
and must be witnessed, in order to prepare me
for the work whereunto the Lord had called
me, and was about to engage me in. The
baptism of the spirit was to be known before
I could be a member of Christ's church ; this
great work I saw by Divine favour, I must
submit unto if ever I came to be a partaker of
that bread which nourishes the soul unto eter-
nal life.

But Oh, the weight and exercise I was under
during this time of refinement ; the days
and nights of godly sorrow and penitential
mourning I underwent, are far beyond my
ability to set forth in words ; and once being
alone I wept exceedingly, and the desire of
my soul was, that it might please the Almighty
to show me his ways, to teach me his paths
which lead to peace, and give me strength to
walk therein according to his word ; promising
that I would endeavour to follow in the way
which was most pleasing to him, for that was



what my panting soul most desired. My de-
sires were not for great things, but Divine
favour; the Lord alone was become the centre
of my happiness, and I beheve I should have
died at that time, had He not been pleased in
a wonderful manner to manifest himself a
present help in that needful time, and to re-
veal himself through his dear Son Christ Jesus,
by administering consolation to my wounded
soul, filling my heart with heavenly love, so
that my cup ran over, and I was made to cry
out, Oh that all may know thee and thy good-
ness ! His matchless loving kindness so over-
come me, that I thought I could have gone
through the world to proclaim the tender deal-
ings of a merciful God to my soul. Here I
again renewed my covenant with God, and
promised obedience to his commands ; and
Oh ! the calm, the peace, comfort, and satis-
faction wherewith my mind was clothed, like
a child enjoying his father's favour, and with
inexpressible delight, beholding the smiles of
his countenance. I was afraid to do or say
anything that might offend the Lord, lest the
rod might be laid heavy on me, for this is the
portion of disobedience. In that time I be-
came a wonder to many, but was treated with
great tenderness by most of the Friends and
neighbours. I had laid aside all superfluity of
apparel, for which I had been condemned ; I
attended meetings diligently, and walked three
or four miles to them, sometimes alone medi-
tating upon the Lord, and thought the work of
my pi'esent and future happiness was now com-
pleted in me, that I had nothing to do but sit
contented under the enjoyment of Divine fa-
vour, rejoicing that I had left all and followed
Christ, whom I loved more than my natui'al
life. Thus I concluded in my own mind, not
knowing as yet what the Lord was preparing
me for, nor that there was a further work al-
lotted me, which I was a stranger to, till one
time being in a meeting, and sitting very con-
tented under my own vine and fig-tree, a call
arose in my mind, " I have chosen thee a ves-
sel fi'om thy youth to serve me, and to preach
the Gospel of salvation to many people ; and
if thou wilt be faithful, I will be with thee unto
the end of time, and make thee an heir of my

These words were attended with life and
power, and I knew his promises were yea, and
amen forever. Yet I must confess, this awful
word of Divine command shocked me exceed-
ingly, my soul and all within me trembled at
the hearing of it ; yea my outward tabernacle
shook, insomuch that many present observed
the deep exercise I was under. I cried in
spirit, " Lord I am weak and altogether incapa-
ble of such a task, I hope thou wilt spare me
from such a mortification; besides I have spo-

ken much against women appearing in that
manner." This and more such like reason-
ings I was filled with, which did not adminis-
ter peace, but death and judgment. Great
darkness began to spread over my understand-
ing, and increased to such a degree, that no-
thing but horror possessed my soul. I went
to meetings as usual, but I felt not the least
enjoyment of the Divine presence, but on the
contrary, inexpressible anguish of mind, so
that I could not shed a tear, and concluded all
was over with me, and that I was lost forever.
My very countenance was changed and be-
came a true index of my deep distress, and a
person that I had a great love for, told me she
had the word of the Lord to declare to me,
which was, that I had withstood the day of
my visitation, and now was left to myself.
This I readily believed, and so gave over all
hope of salvation ; and the grand enemy got
in with his temptations and suggestions, and
like a torrent which bears down all before it,
made my sorrow and bitterness of soul in-
expressible; and certainly he had prevailed
against me with his wicked devices, had not
the Almighty, by his eternal arm of power,
interposed, and drove him back, saying unto
me, in the hour of my deepest probation, "Be
obedient and all shall be forgiven ; and thy
soul shall be filled with joy and peace un-
speakable." At the hearing of which, I broke
out into tears, and in deep humility blessed his
holy arm for delivering me from the mouth of
the lion, who seeks to devour all he can. I
renewed my covenant with the Lord, and
prayed for resignation to his Divine will.

But alas ! When it was again required of
me to stand up in a meeting and speak the
words he bid me, I again rebelled, and justly
incurred the displeasure of my great and good
Master. I went from this meeting in sorrow,
and offered my natural life a sacrifice to be
excused from this sei'vice, but it was not ac-
cepted ; nothing would do but perfect obedi-
ence. In this situation I continued six or
seven months ; I could have but little rest night
or day, by reason of the anguish of spirit I
was in; yet still longed for meeting days, and
made many promises that if I found the like
concern, and it would please Infinite Goodness
to be with me, I would submit to his Divine
will, come what would. But though I went
with these resolutions, when the time- of trial
came, I put off the work which was required
of me, and came away as before, full of sor-
row and anguish of soul, and knew not what
to do ; but often wished myself dead, hoping
thereby to be exempt from pain. Yet not duly
considering that if I was removed out of time
in displeasure, my portion would still be more
dreadful, and that it was the old liar who in-



troduced such a thought, and intended not only
to bring me to destruction, but also to make
me the instrument of it myself.

Oh, I have often admired the long forbear-
ance of a merciful God with me ; and when I
considered his loving kindness in preserving
me from the devil's temptations, desires were
begotten in my soul to conduct through time
with reverence and fear, to his glory. And
here a still more refined snare was laid for
me, which was a conclusion to stay from the
meeting, because I believed I might, when
there, disturb the quiet of others ; and really
I was ashamed to be seen in the condition I
often was in when at meeting.

The Friends with whom I lived, and many
neighbouring Friends sympathized deeply with
me, and intimated their concern that I had left
off going to meetings, and begged, as those
with whom I lived gave me full liberty to go,
both on first and week days, that I would com-
ply with their request, and go with them as
before. Their arguments had weight with me,
and I went, but had not sat long before the
concern to stand up and speak a few words
came powerfully upon me, with this close hint;
" this may be the last offer of this kind thou
wilt be favoured with, embrace it, I will be
thy strength and exceeding great reward." I
then said, " Lord I will submit, be thou with me,
take away the fear of man, thou shalt have
my whole heart." And sitting a while I felt
the aboundings of heavenly love towards God
and his people to arise in my soul, in which I
stood up, and after pausing a little, like a
child, spoke a {"ew words which were given
me, and sat down in the enjoyment of heavenly
life. The Friends were sensibly affected, and
as many said afterwards, it was a time not to
be forgotten. And so it was to me indeed, for
I went home rejoicing, and renewed my pro-
mise of future obedience; but though I cannot
charge myself with wilful disobedience, yet for
fear of a forward spirit I have, I believe, been
guilty of the sin of omission. And though it is
dangerous and criminal to withhold the word
of the Lord, yet, Oh, saith my soul, may all
who are called to this honourable work of the
ministry, carefully guard against being actua-
ted by a forward spirit which leads into a min-
istry that will neither edify the church, nor
bring honour to our holy High Priest, Christ
Jesus. As the tree is known by its fruit,
so is such ministry known by its effects, pro-
ducing death instead of life; and such as offer
this, will sooner or later sit down in sorrow
and condemnation, for running before the true

About this time the Lord was graciously
pleased to renew his merciful visitation unto
the Friends and inhabitants of North Wales,

and Plymouth ; many of the youth were reach-

Online LibraryWilliam EvansThe Friends' library : comprising journals, doctrinal treatises, and other writings of members of the religious Society of Friends (Volume 1) → online text (page 101 of 105)