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William Evans.

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

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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 31 of 105)
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them concerning marriages, that none might
come together in a disorderly manner, but that
all things might be clear on either side, and
the consent of parents obtained before mar-
riage, and that all things might be kept in oi'-
der, and savoury in the sight of God and men.

" And divers epistles were written from se-
veral elder brethren, for their encouragement
and direction in this good work ; for we knew
it was God's work, and would tend to the
limiting of loose and unruly spirits, who sought
liberty more than sincerity ; and sensuality,
more than Christ's government, and subjection
to the divine power of God. And when some
18



138



INSTITUTION OF THE DISCIPLINE.



exalted spirits came to see unto what this work
would tend, they took offence thereat, and
sought to weaken the hands of faithful Friends
in this good work, under pretence, that all
must be left to the witness of God ; and if peo-
ple did not find judgment in themselves for
what they did, they must not be judged by
others, being themselves gone from truth's
judgment and hardened : then they cried out
innovation and imposition, and such like.

" And hereupon were many again seduced
and subverted, and drawn away from their
steadfastness in the truth, and began to appear
against the good order of the Lord's people,
and to reflect upon the godly care that lay
upon them, with unhandsome and unsavoury
speeches and writings, until a secret root of
bitterness and enmity got into several that
had been convinced. In this root the enemy
wrought with great craft and subtlety, to draw
them from the blessed unity that is in Christ
Jesus, the true Head of the true church, and
begat them into many jealousies and ground-
less fears of an apostacy, while in the mean
time he drew them so far to apostatize from
their first love and first works, that they pro-
ceeded to expose Friends both in particular
and in general, to the reproach and scorn of
the world, as much as in them lay.

" All which was borne and suffered with
much long-suffering and patience, and a great
travail lay upon many to endeavour the re-
storation of them that did thus oppose them-
selves ; for we knew our sincerity, and kirew
that the Lord would stand by us, and bless
our work and labour of love, and blast their
work of enmity, and that their striving against
the Lord and his blessed work in the hand of
his innocent people, neither would nor could
prosper. We doubted not at all, but he that
had stood by us, and helped us from the begin-
ning, would still stand by us, and give his
truth and people the victory over every tongue
and pen that rose up in judgment against us,
as he hath done to this day, and their work is
manifest, and they can proceed no further,
blessed be his name for ever."

" Also, my friends, it is worth your consi-
deration, to behold, how by his invisible pow-
er, many faithful watchmen are raised up upon
the walls of your Sion, that in most of your
meetings, there be men and women upon whom
God hath laid a concern, to be taking care for
the good of the whole, and to take the over-
sight upon them, to see all things kept in good
and decent order ; and to make due provision
for comforting and relieving the necessities of
the needy and distressed, that nothing be lack-
ing to make your way comfortable. These
have not been, nor are brought under this
charge, by any act of yours ; but God hath



raised up pastors and teachers, elders and dea-
cons, of his own election and choice, and
bowed their spirits to take upon them the work
and service to which they are appointed for
the Lord's sake, and for the body's sake,
which is the church ; to whom it may truly
be said, as in Acts xx. 28, take ye heed to the
flock of God, over which the Holy Ghost hath
made you overseers, &c. And such ought to
be hearkened to in the discharge of their trust,
as those that must give an account to him that
called them, and gifted them for their several
works and services in the church.

" By these means hath the Lord establish-
ed among you a heavenly government, and
built as it were a hedge about you, that ye
may be preserved from generation to genera-
tion ; a people fitted for the glory that is, and
shall daily more and more be, revealed among
and upoia the faithful, who delight in that
power that called them to be saints, and to
bear a profession for the holy name of God,
against the many names and ways that men
in their changeable minds have set up, that
the name of the Lord alone may be exalted."

" And all you, dear Friends, upon whom the
Lord hath laid a cai^e for his honour, and for
the prosperity of the truth, and gathered you
into the good order of the Gospel, to meet to-
gether to manage the affairs thereof ; take
heed that ye have a single eye to the Lord ;
to do the Lord's business in the leadings of his
spirit, which is but one, and brings all that are
given up to be governed by it, to be of one
mind and heart, at least, in the general pur-
pose and service of those meetings. Although
through the diversity of exercises, and the se-
veral degrees of growth among the brethren,
every one may not see or understand alike in
every matter, at the first propounding of it ;
yet this makes no breach of the unity, nor
hinders brotherly kindness, but puts you oflen
upon an exercise, and an inward travailing, to
feel the pure, peaceable wisdom that is from
above among you, and every one's ear is
open to it, in whomsoever it speaks ; and
thei'eby a sense of life is given in the meeting,
to which all that arc of a simple and tender
mind, join and agree. But if any among you
should be contrary minded in the management
of some outward affair, relating to the truth,
this doth not break the unity that ye have
in Christ, nor should it weaken brotherly
love. So long as he keeps wailing for an un-
derstanding from God, to be gathered into the
same sense with you, and walks with you ac-
cording to the law of charity ; such an one
ought to be borne with and cherished, and the
supplications of your souls will go up to God
for him, that God may reveal it to him, if it
be his will, that so no difference may be in un-



INSTITUTION OF THE DISCIPLINE.



139



derstanding, so far as is necessary for the
good of the church, no more than thei'e is in
matters of faith and obedience to God.

" For, my friends, it is not of absolute ne-
cessity that every member of the church should
have the same measure of understanding in
all things ; for then where were the duty of
the strong bearing with the weak 1 Where
were the brother of low degree ? Where would
be any submitting to them that are set over
others in the Lord 1 which all tend to preserv-
ing unity in the church, notwithstanding the
different measures, and different growths of
the members thereof. For as the spirits of the
prophets are subject to the prophets, so are the
spirits of all that are kept in a true subjection
to the spirit of life in themselves, kept in the
same subjection to the sense of life given by
the same spirit in the church. By this means
we come to know one Master, even Christ,
and have no room for other masters, in the
matter of our obedience to God.

" While every one keeps in this true sub-
jection, the sweet concord is known, and the
oil is not only upon Aaron's head, but it reach-
eth the skirts of his garment also ; and things
are kept sweet and savoury, and ye love one
another, from the greatest to the least in sin-
cerity and without dissimulation. This love
excludes all whispering of evil things ; all
backbiting, tale-bearing, grudging and mur-
muring, and keeps Friends' minds clean one
toward another, waiting for every opportunity
to do each other good, and to preserve each
other's reputation ; and their hearts are com-
forted at the sight of one another. In all their
affairs, both relating to the church and to the
world, they will be watchful over their own
spirits, and keep in the Lord's power, over
that nature in themselves, that would be apt
to take ofl^ence, or construe any word or ac-
tion to a worse sense than the simplicity there-
of, or the intention of the other concerned, will
allow of.

" And whereas it may ofl;en fall out, that
among a great many, some may have a diffe-
rent apprehension of a matter from the rest of
their brethren, especially in outward or tem-
poral things, there ought to be a Christian
liberty maintained for such to express their
sense, with freedom of mind, or else they will
go away burdened. If they speak their minds
freely, and a friendly and Christian conference
be admitted thereupon, they may be eased,
and oftentimes the different apprehension of
such an one comes to be wholly removed, and
his understanding opened, to see as the rest
see. For the danger in society, doth not lie so
much in this, that some few may have a dif-
fering apprehension in some things from the
general sense ; as it doth in this, namely, when



such that so diff*er, suffer themselves to be led
out of the bond of charity, and labour to im-
pose their private sense upon the rest of their
brethren, and are offended and angry, if it be
not received ; this is the seed of sedition and
strife that hath grown up in too many to their
own hurt.

" And, therefore, my dear friends, beware
of it, and seek not to drive a matter on in
fierceness or in anger, nor to take offence into
your minds at any time, because what seems
to be clear to you, is not presently received ;
but let all things in the church be propounded
with an awful reverence of Him that is the
head and life of it ; who hath said, Where two
or three are met in my name, I will be in the
midst of them : and so he is, and may be felt
by all who keep in his spirit. But he that fol-
lows his own spix'it, sees nothing as he ought
to see it.

" Let all beware of their own spirits and
natural tempers, and keep in a gracious tem-
per, then ye are fit for the service of the house
of God, whose house ye are, as ye keep upon
the foundation that God hath laid ; and he will
build you up, and teach you how to build up
one another in him. As every member must
feel life in themselves, and all from one head,
this life will not hurt itself in any, but be ten-
der of the life in all ; for by this one life of
the Word, ye were begotten, and by it ye are
nourished, and made to grow into your seve-
ral services in the church of God. It is no
man's learning, or artificial acquirements ; it
is no man's riches, or greatness in this world ;
it is no man's eloquence and natural wisdom,
that makes him fit for government in the
church of Christ : all his endowments must be
seasoned with the heavenly salt, and his spirit
subjected, and his gifts pass through the fire
of God's altar, a sacrifice to his praise and
honour, that so self may be crucified and bap-
tized into death, and the gifts made use of in
the power of the resurrection of the life of
Jesus in him. When this great work is
wrought in a man, then all his gifts and quali-
fications are sanctified, and made use of for
the good of the body which is the church, and
are as oi'naments and jewels, which serve for
the joy and comfort of all who are partakers
of the same divine fellowship of life, in Christ
Jesus our Lord. Thus many come to be fit-
ted and furnished to good works, which are
brought forth in their due seasons, for edifica-
tion and building up the weak, and for repair-
ing the deca5'-ed places, and also for defence
of them that are feeble, that hurtful things
may not come near them."

" In the next place, my dear friends, when
ye are called upon in point of justice, to give
a sentence of right between Friend and Friend,



140



INSTITUTION OF THE DISCIPLINE.



take heed that neither party get possession of
your spirits beforehand, by any way or means
whatsoever, or obtain any word or sentence
from you in the absence of the other party,
he not being yet heard. There is nothing
moi'e comely among men, than impartial judg-
ment. Judgment is a seat where neither inte-
rest nor affection, nor former kindnesses may
come. V/e may make no ditfei'ence of the wor-
thiness or unworthiness of persons in judg-
ment, as we inay in charity ; but in judgment,
if a good man, being mistaken, hath a bad
case, or a bad man a good case, according to
his case must he have sentence. It was a
good saying, he that judgeth among men,
judgeth for the Lord, and he will repay it.
Therefore, let all be done as unto the Lord,
and as ye are willing to answer it in his pre-
sence ; and although some may for a time be
discontented thereat, yet in time, God shall
clear up your innocency as the sun at noon-
day. They that kick at sound judgment,
will find hard work of it ; they do but kick
against that which will prick them ; and, how-
ever such through their wilfulness, and their
abounding in their own sense, may hurt them-
selves, yet you will be pi'eserved and enjoy
your peace and satis '^'action in the discharge
of your consciences in the sight of God.

" Concerning practical charity, ye know it
is supported by liberality ; and where liberal-
ity ceaseth, charity waxeth cold, yea, so far
ceaseth. Where there is no contribution, there
is no distribution ; where the one is sparing,
the other is sparing. Therefore, let every
one nourish charity in the I'oot, that is, keep
a liberal mind, a heai't that looks upon the
substance that is given him, as really bestow-
ed upon him as much for the support of char-
ity, as for the support of his own body. And
where people are of this mind, they will have
a care of keeping back any of God's part, for
he hath in all ages, in a most singular man-
ner, espoused the cause of the poor, the widow
and fatherless. He hath often signified by his
prophets and ministers, a special charge upon
rich men, that have this world's goods, that
they should look to it that they were faithful
stewards of what they possessed, and that they
might be found in good works, and might not
suffer their hearts so to cleave to uncertain
riches, as to neglect the service God had given
them the things of this H'b for, either to give
them up when called for, in a tesHmonv for
his worth V name, or to communicate of them
to those that were in necessity.

" Now, as concerning the necessities of the
poor, there is great need of wisdom when ye
meet together about that affair ; for as I said
before, though the worthiness or unworthiness
of persons is not to be considered in judgment,



yet in this it is. You will find some that God
hath made poor, and some that have made
themselves poor, and some that others have
made poor. These must all have their several
considerations, in which you ought to labour
to be unanimous, and not one to be taken up
with an affection to one person more than an-
other ; but every one to love every one in the
universal spirit, and then to deal out that love
in the outward manifestations thereof, accord-
ing to the measure that the Lord in his wis-
dom working in you, shall measure forth to
them.

" And as to those who by sickness, lame-
ness, age, or other impotency, are brought
into poverty by the hand of Providence, these
are your peculiar care and objects pointed out
to you, to bestow your charity upon, for by
them the Lord calls for it. For as the earth is
the Lord's and the fulness of it, he hath by
his sovereign power, commanded in every dis-
pensation, that a part of what we enjoy from
him, should be thus employed. The Israelites
were not to reap the corners of their fields,
nor to gather the gleanings of the corn nor
vintage, it was for the poor. And in the time
of the Gospel, they were to lay by on the first
day of the week, a part of what God had
blessed them with, for the relief of those that
were in necessity ; nay, they did not confine
themselves in their charity to their own meet-
ings, but had an universal eye through the
whole church of Christ, and upon extraordi-
nary occasions, sent their benevolence to re-
lieve the saints at Jerusalem, in a time of need.
All that keep in the guidance of the same uni-
versal spirit, will make it their business to be
found in the same practice of charity and good
works : to do good, and to communicate, for-
get not, saith the apostle. They that forget
not this Christian duty, will find out the poor's
part in the corners and gleanings of the profits
of their trades and merchandizing, as well as
the old Israelite did the corners and gleanings
of his field ; and in the distribution of it, will
have a regard to comfort such who are by the
divine providence of God, put out of a capa-
city of enjoying those outward comforts of
health, and strength and plenty, which others
do enjoy. For while they are partakers of
the same faith, and walk in the way of right-
eousness with you, submitting themselves pa-
tiently to the dispensation of God's providence
towards them ; they are of your household,
and under your care, both to visit, and to re-
lieve as members of the one body, of which
Christ Jesus is head ; and he that giveth to
such poor, lendeth to the Lord, and he will
repay it.

" But there is another sort of poor, who
make themselves poor through their sloth and



INSTITUTION OF THE DISCIPLINE.



141



carelessness, and sometimes by their wilful-
ness ; being heady and high-minded, and tak-
ing things in hand that are more than they
can manage, and make a flourish for a season,
and then through their own neglect, are plung-
ed down into great poverty. These are a sort
which the primitive churches began to be trou-
bled with in the early days of the Gospel. For
the apostle took notice of some that would not
work at all, and sharply reproved them, and said,
they that would not work should not eat ; and
these are commonly a sort of busy-bodies, and
meddlers with others' matters, while they ne-
glect their own, and run into a worse way
than the unbelievers, while they profess to be
believers, yet do not take a due care for those
of their own household.

" The charity that is proper to such, is to
give them admonition and reproof, and to con-
vince them of their sloth and negligence ; and
if they submit to your reproof, and are willing
to amend, then care ought to be taken to help
them into a way and means to support them-
selves : and sometimes by a little help in this
kind, some have been reclaimed from the
snares of their souls' enemy. But if they
will not receive your wholesome counsel and
admonition, but kick against it, either in their
words or actions. Friends will be clear of such
in the sight of God ; for it is unreasonable in
them to expect you should feed them that
will not be advised by you, because they break
the obligation of society, by their disorderly
walking. For our communion doth not stand
only in frequenting meetings, and hearing
truth preached ; but in answering the blessed
principle of truth, in life and conversation,
and therein both the rich and the poor have
fellowship one with another.

" There is another sort that are made poor
by the oppressions and cruelties of others.
These oppressed poor, cry loudly in the ears
of the Almighty, and he will in his own time,
avenge their case : but in the mean time there
is a tenderness to be extended to them, not
knowing how soon it may be our turn ; and
if there be need of counsel and advice, or if
any application can be made to any that are
able to deliver them from the oppressors in
such cases, let all that are capable, be ready
and willing to advise, relieve and help the dis-
tressed ; and this is an acceptable work of
charity, and a great comfort to such in sharp
afflictions, and their souls will bless the instru-
ments of their ease and comfort.

" And, my dear friends, as God hath honour-
ed you with so high and holy a calling, to be
his servants and workmen in this his great
and notable day, and to work together in his
power, in setting forth his praise and glory in
the earthj and gathering together in one the

THE



scattered seed, in this and other nations ; oh !
let the dignity of your calling, provoke and
encourage you to be diligent attenders upon
the work and service you are called to. Let
not your concerns in the world, draw you
fi'om observing the times and seasons appoint-
ed to meet together ; but you that are elder,
set a good example to the younger sort, by a
due observation of the hour appointed, that
they that come first one time, may not by their
long staying, for others, be discouraged, so as
perhaps they may be last another time ; but
when the time is come, leave your business
for the Lord's work, and he will take care
your business shall not suffer, but will add a
blessing upon it, which will do more for you,
than the time can do that may be saved out of
Iiis service.

"And when ye have to do with perverse,
and froward or disorderly persons, whom ye
have occasion to reprove and to rebuke for the
truth's sake, and you find them stout and high,
and reflecting upon you, then is a time for the
Lamb's meekness to shine forth, and for you
to feel your authority in the name of Christ to
deal with such an one, and to wait for the pure
and peaceable wisdom from above, to brino-
down and confound the earthly wisdom. In
this frame of mind labour together, to pull the
entangled sheep out of the thicket, and to re-
store that which is gone astray, to the fold
again, if you can ; but if you cannot, yet ye
save yourselves from the guilt of his blood ;
and if such do perish, his blood will be on his
own head. But, on the other hand, if ye suf-
fer their perverse spirits to enter, and their
provocations to have a place in you, so as to
kindle your spirits into a heat and passion,
then you get a hurt, and are incapable to do
them any good ; but words will break out that
will need repentance, and the wicked will be
stiffened and strengthened thereby, and you
miss the service that you did really intend.
Therefore, dearly beloved, keep upon your
watch, keep on your spiritual armour, keep
your feet shod with the preparation of the
Gospel of peace, and the God of peace will
be with you, and crown your endeavours with
good success, to your joy and comfort. He
will bring his power over your adversaries and
opposers, more and more, to which many shall
bow and bend in your sight ; and will bring
shame and confusion upon the rebellious, who
harden their hearts, and stiffen their necks,
against the Lord, and his Christ, and kinor.
dom, which he will exalt in the earth, notwith-
standing all that satan and his evil instruments
can do, to hinder the growth and progress of
his blessed truth ; for of the increase of the
government and of the peace of the kingdom
of Christ, there shall be no end."



A BRIEF ACCOUNT



LIFE OF CHRISTOPHER STORY,



A MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL, IN THE SOCIETY OF FRIENDS.



' The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Prov. iv. 18.
'Mark, the perfect man, and behold the upright ; for the end of that man is peace." Psal. xxxvii. 37.



The Testimony of Bridget Story, concerning
her deceased husband, Christopher Story.

The Lord, who is the giver of all good
gifts, and from whom all our mercies and
blessings proceed, graciously favoured me with
the privilege of this my dear husband, whose
company and fellowship, whilst I enjoyed them,
were esteemed by me, as the greatest of tempo-
ral mercies. The loss of such a worthy hus-
band affects my heart with great sorrow ; but
in consideration that my loss, though very
great, is his unspeakable gain, I am therefore
made to bless the Lord, who gives and takes
away at his pleasure. We lived together in
the married state upwards of fifty years, in true
love and sweet concord. It pleased God, a
few years after our being married, to visit my
dear husband with the day-spring from on
high, and it had such good effect, as to bring
him under the just judgments of God for sin.
And notwithstanding his being religiously in-
clined from his youth, yet when the Lord was
pleased to open his understanding, he saw his
building must all be thrown down, being not
upon the true foundation ; and being humbled
before the Lord, he willingly bowed under the
yoke of Christ, and took up his daily cross,
and thereby became a disciple and follower of
him. The Lord having prepared him for his
service, in his own time endued him with a
gift of the ministry, being one of the first that
was raised up in that service in this part of
the country ; and continuing in faithfulness
both in doing and in suffei'ing, which soon fell



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 31 of 105)