William Evans.

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

. (page 32 of 105)
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 32 of 105)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

to his lot, he became very serviceable amongst

his brethren, who were then but few in number
in those parts. The Lord was pleased to lay
a concern upon him to visit the churches in
divers places in this nation, also in Scotland
and Ireland, several times. And I doubt not
but his labour of love was blessed, he being
endued with a gift of the ministry that was
not only plain, but powerful and edifying, and
often fell upon the heritage of God, as a sweet
shower upon the tender grass, whereby they
were comforted and refreshed in the Lord.
His care was great over the churches of Christ,
that all might be preserved in true love and
unity ; and the Lord was pleased to furnish
him with an excellent understanding in the
affairs relating to the Discipline, and the good
order established therein. He was very dili-
gent and unwearied in attending such meet-
ings ; and his blameless conversation, and the
authority he was endued with, gave him great
room amongst his brethren, who much loved
and honoured him. It is not within the reach
of my capacity to set forth the worth of this
my dear husband, yet I thought it my duty to
pay this tribute to his memory, for he was not
only an husband, but even as a nursing father
to me, and a tender and watchful father over
our children. The remembrance of the many
sweet and comfortable times I have enjoyed
with him among the Lord's people, gives me
occasion to bless the Lord, and also humbly
to beg of him to raise up others in the room
of him, and of many more of our worthy
ancients who are removed from us, to stand
as faithful testimony-bearers, for his name and
truth upon the earth ; that the Lord's great



work that he has begun may go on and pros-
per, and many may be turned to him. My
dear husband was a pattern of humility and
good conduct in his family in the time of his
health ; and exemplary in his last illness,
patiently bearing his affliction. His disease
was not violent ; but, of the nature of a con-
sumption. H^e continued to attend meetings
very diligently, as long as natural strength
admitted, and many times a})peared in testi-
mony very sweetly and lively, though very
weak in body. He died the 6th day of the
eleventh month, 1720, and his remains were
buried the 8th day of the same, at Friends'
burying-place at Hetherside, being accompa-
nied thither by a very great number of Friends
and others.

Bridget Story.

The Testimony of Aaron Atkinson, concerning-
his beloved friend, Christopher Story.

My deceased friend was the instrument in
the Lord's hand for my convincement. In the
year 1 688, 1 went to an evening meeting, held
at the house of Christopher Taylor, at Hether-
side, in the parish of Kirklinton, and county
of Cumberland, where he preached the evei'-
lasting Gospel in the demonstration of the
spirit and power of God; at which time I was
effectually convinced, and fully resolved never
to depart from it. The next morning this
meek man of God came where I was, and set
me on my way, and tenderly dropped matter
suitable to the condition I was then in, to mv
comfort and encouragement. He continued
to be a father in Christ to me ; and my spirit
was subject to him, as his son in the Lord. I
sincerely loved him, and preferred him in
meetings of worship and business ; and I do
not remember that I ever was in a meeting
where his mouth was opened, but he added
something to me. After it pleased God to en-
gage me in the ministry of the Gospel, I
several times travelled with this Friend, and
he was a great help to me in my exercise ; I
could freely lay both my strength and weak-
ness open to him to judge of. He was a good
example in self-denial, humility, and tempe-
rance, a true Christian, a qualified elder, and
a gifled minister of Christ, by whom God was
pleased to edify his church. He was a wise
man, and understanding in things of this life
also ; and was very serviceable among Friends
in weighty matters. I often wiih satisfaction
beheld his innocency and patience, and how
forbearing he was in the time of provocation
for the church's peace, and careful when he
spoke to matters not to give offence to his
brethren. He was so preserved in the peacea-

ble spirit of Christ, in the management of the
afi'airs of the church, that there was an ear
open to hear him to his dying day. And
without doubt, those that were joined with him
in a concern for Zion's prosperity and Jeru-
salem's welfare, will feel the loss of him. T
visited him in the time of his illness, and found
him well in the Lord, and had true unity with
him; and I am satisfied he is entered into
evei'lasting rest. The Lord who in love and
mercy raised him up, and made him servicea-
ble in his generation, is able to bring up others
in his stead to answer the same service, to the
honour and glory of his own name.

Aaron Atkinson.
Leeds, the 21st of the
2d month, 1721.


Birth — Education — Early Convictions — Mar-
riage — Becomes convinced of the Principles of
Friends — A meeting settled — Meetings gene-
rally held in silence — Many convinced — Call
to the Ministry — Visit to Scotland.

I WAS born at Righead, in the parish of
Kirklinton, in Cumberland, about six miles
from Carlisle, and nearly as much from Scot-
land, in the beginning of the fourth month, 1648.
My father's name was Thomas Story, a
younger brother of the family of the Story's,
who lived at Lake, in that parish. My mother's
name was Elizabeth Parret, eldest daughter of
Christopher Parret, who had been priest of the
same parish, and being an industrious man, he
bought that estate of land, which I now pos-
sess, and improved it to a good degree. Being
the only son my father and mother had, who
lived to grow up, they began betimes to give
me education, and I gained favour of most
that knew me.

My father, having been servant to Philip
Musgrave, of Edenhall, knight, (of an ancient
family in the county of Cumberland,) who in
the time of the civil war between the king and
parliament, was for the king, underwent many
jeopardies, to ihe hazard of his life. But when
King Charles II. was restored to the crown,
the said Philip Musgi'ave being in favour with
him, had great places of px'ofit and trust under
government; and then he rewarded my father
for his former services. Being sometimes with
my father, when he went to see him ; he
ordered him to send me to his house, at such
times in the year as he thought best, to learn
breeding and good manners, as they call it.
At one time he said to my father, he had a
son to send to the university, about my age ;



and if he would fit me with learning suitable
for that place, he would send me thither with
his son and bear my charge.

I was kept at school until the time I was to
have gone to the university, but when it came,
my mother was not willing, and her reason
was this, "If I should be educated at the
college, it was doubtful whether I ever came
to live in the country; and it might happen,
that I would sell the land, and live elsewhere;
'and considering that I was likely to have sufR-
cient to live upon, she would not consent I
should go."

And I may say, that God, who created man
in his own image, for a purpose of his glory,
hath regard unto him and to his future happi-
ness ; as appears by his patience and long-
suffering, which hath led many to I'epentance :
notwithstanding their former disobedience and
rebellion against his law written in their hearts,
and his good spirit that he hath put in their
inward parts.

Amongst the many thousands of the diso-
bedient and rebellious, unto whom the Lord in
his love and unspeakable kindness, extended
mercy, in and through his dear Son, Christ
Jesus, I was one whom the Lord called by his
grace when I was young in years, and pre-
served me from many evils, to which I was
prone as well as others. I scarcely knew it
was the Lord, but felt there was something
near me and with me from a child, that in-
clined my heart to seek afler the Lord, and to
read the Holy Scriptures. As I grew up to
years of understanding, I was sober and more
moderate than some others, though the place
of my abode was in the border of England,
where wickedness of the grossest sort had
swelled to that height, that theft, robbery and
bloodshed, with many other crying sins, were
so very frequent, that hell (in that sense) had
opened her mouth ; the remembrance of which,
much affects my heart with sorrow. When I
think of such as are gone, who were but an
age before me, and several others that are
largely made partakers of the mercy of God ;
that the Lord in his free love, should pluck us
as brands out of the fire, and preserve us from
those gross evils, which generations before us
were found in, I feel is an obligation never
to be forgotten.

As the Lord was pleased to get himself a
name in the earth, in calling us to be a people
to his praise, who were as the outcasts of the
nation, he began to work in the hearts of a
young generation, when but tender in age, of
which I was one : and though we were short
of having an eye unto the Lord, in all our
undertakings, yet He was not short in having
an eye over us for good. I was brought up in
a public-house, my father and mother keeping

an inn where people of many sorts resorted,
yet the Lord preserved me beyond many from
the sin of drunkenness, and the excessive
smoking of tobacco I never loved.

Yet as I grew in years, I was drawn after
the vain pastimes which are in the world ; as
shooting with guns and bows, and following
them that played at cards, and I was success-
ful in playing, and my mind as much taken
with that foolish practice, as most things. For
this the Lord gave me a sore rebuke in myself,
that I was sensible of trouble of conscience
for many days, and was consulting with my-
self, what to do, not knowing of one man who
judged the thing unlawful to be done. The
old enemy appeared in my heart and brought
a fair pretence with him, viz : that I might
safely play at any time except the first-days
at night, being a practice amongst us ; and this
gave me a little ease for a time ; and I observed
it. Then a fear entered my mind, that I durst
not join with young people in their pastimes,
and light began more to appear, and I saw
we must be more religious than formerly; but
the enemy would suggest to me that I was
young, and might live long, and it was time
enough for me to be religious when I was
married ; and here I rested for some years,
though often under trouble, believing I must
live more godly, or otherwise I could not enter
God's kingdom. — When I was about eighteen
years of age, my father and mother were de-
sirous I should marry a young woman whose
parents were of good repute in the country ;
and a weighty concern it was to me, and un-
der the sense thereof, I prayed to the Lord in
the night season, "that if it were for our good,
it might come to pass, and if not, it might not
be so." About this time, my heart came to
be more and more opened, and I saw the dan-
ger of poverty and riches, and at a certain
time, I retired, and the saying of the wise man
came into my remembrance, and I prayed to
the Lord to give me neither poverty nor riches,
for I saw there was danger on both hands ;
and though I desired to keep company with
those that were most sober, yet was I often
under great affliction of mind.

When I was at any time with the profane,
if I partook of their joy at night, sorrow came
in the morning. While I remained here, a
great fever being in the country, and many
dying, when it entered my house, and my wife
was taken ill of it, I was persuaded to go to a
woman who was blind, and pretended she could
do great things. I inquired of her if I should
take the distemper, she being one who under-
took to tell what would come to pass : She
told me, no, and I believed her, but when the
Lord visited me with sickness, my disobedience
on the one hand, and my believing her, which



I looked upon as distrusting God, on the
other, brought such horror and trouble of mind
upon me, that I concluded, if I should then
die, there were no hopes of mercy for me.
My mother being in great trouble for me,
would have comforted me with this, that I ex-
ceeded others in my life and conversation, but
I could not believe there was any favour at
the Lord's hand for me, except He should re-
store me to my health, and I become a new
man. I saw I was not to regard soothsayers,
or such as pretend to tell things to come, they
themselves being out of the life of righteous-
ness. Under this gi'eat distress and anguish
of soul I cried mightily unto the Lord, thai
he would spare me yet a while ; and that saying
came into my mind, the prayer of the righteous
availeth much ; and knowing not but the priest
might be one of them whom the Lord would
hear, I had a mind he should come. When
he came, he wanted his book, and could not
pray, so that I was disappointed, but may say
though all other helps failed, yet the Lord
never failed, for he was pleased to restore me,
and when restored, inclined my heart to seek
after him. I thought it my duty often to pray
to the Lord, in secret places, to show me his
way wherein I should walk, for I was satisfied
I was out of the way ; because of the trouble
of mind I was under. As prayer seemed to
me to be a duty, I thought it my place to wait
upon the Lord, to feel what would open upon
my mind to supplicate the Lord for, and not
to pray in form ; but having little answer of
well-done from the Lord, I grew weary, and
became more and more formal in my pi'ayers,
and my distress increased. Then I began to
doubt that I had not been so diligent as I should
have been in my devotion in the time of our
worship, though I frequently went ; so I re-
solved for the time to come, I would go to
church with the first, and hear and observe
every word the priest said ; but I saw all that
I could do, signified little : and I was not to
sing, neither durst I open my mouth as others
did, but sat solitarily. Then the Lord showed
me the effects of the priests' ministry. They
could tell what sin was, and what would be
the reward of the righteous ; and what would
be the reward of the wicked ; but how to come
out of sin, which was the thing I wanted to
know, they left me at a loss, and this lessened
their esteem in my view. I read much of the
Scriptures and could talk of them.

In this time of distress, the Lord sent his
servants amongst us ; and at a place called
Langtown, there was a meeting appointed,
which being about three miles from the place
of my abode, I never heard of it till I was
come to the church, (so called) it being the
first day of the week. When I heard of this

Vol. I.— No. 4.

meeting, there was such an inclination in me
to go to it, though it was a little past time, that
I went in great haste. When I came, the
Fi'iend, whose name was John Wilkinson, was
preaching. He had formerly been an Inde-
pendent preacher ; but I, being so much hur-
ried, and having an eye out to the exercise
some were under, was but a little reached ;
yet had a great desire to speak with the
Friend; and went into the inn among Friends,
hoping to get some discourse, but not being in
the same room with him, was frustrated.
Though I was but a little reached, yet what
he said was afterwards brought to my remem-
brance, and it wrought like leaven, and I
searched the Scriptures, and thought to have
rest there.

Another meeting being appointed about a
mile off, there was full notice of it, to which
many went; and Robert Barclay going north-
ward, hearing of the meeting, came and spoke
the word of truth excellently to the people, so
that I could have said amen to several things;
and amongst the rest, he said, " If a man
could begin at Genesis, and repeat all the
Scriptures to the end of Revelations, and was
not led and guided by a measure of that spirit
by which the Scriptures were given forth, it
would avail him nothing." Then I saw, all
that I had, availed nothing. After the meeting
was over, and Friends and people were about
to part, there came a young priest and oflered
some discourse. I being forward, having read
much of the Scriptures, was willing to join
with the priest against Friends ; but Robert
Barclay perceiving there was little good to be
done, I'br there was like to be an uproar among
the people, some shouting and making a noise,
there being many sorts of people, took his
horse and went away. But some Friends per-
ceiving I was forward in discourse, cast them-
selves in my way ; and another young priest
that had been at the meeting, took part with
me ; and in the hearing of many, we discoursed
about many things. I saw clearly that Friends
were too hard for us, though I would not ac-
knowledge it, and I put on a resolution that
I would never more dispute publicly with

Being come home, and under great exercise
what to do, I searched the Scriptures — read
much, and wanted to be informed concerning
many things that Friends held. In this time
Friends appointed another meeting about a
quarter of a mile from my abode, and I had
many serious thoughts what to do. At last I
resolved I would go to the meeting, and get
near the public Friends, and hear every word
they said ; and if I liked them well, I would
invite them to my house, on purpose to dis-
course with them privately about several things.



While I was under this resolution, one who
had professed truth but had proved unfaithful,
coming to work at my house, we presently
began to discourse about religion, though I
took little notice of him, because of his mis-
carriages ; but when he perceived I was dis-
satisfied with the priests and their doctrine, he
went away home, and brought me a little book
written by Francis Howgill, the title of which
was ' Mystery, Babylon, the Mother of Harlots.'
The reading of this, satisfied me much, and
drew me nearer in my mind to Friends ; and
I began to say to him " Dost thou think if I
should invite your friends to my house, they
would come with me 1" He answered, " If I
did so, I would do well ; and further added,
that they who gave but a cup of cold water in
the name of a disciple, should not lose their
reward." The meeting day came, and many
people flocked to the meeting ; and I was dili-
gent to hear the testimony of truth.

Thomas Carleton, a man of a sweet counte-
nance (as I remember) spake concerning the
spirit of truth being come that convinceth the
world of sin, and that this if taken heed unto,
would lead out of all sin ; of which words I
was heartily glad, for I said in myself, "I have
felt that from a child which condemned me for
sin ; and if this be sufficient to lead out of sin,
it is what I have long wanted." The meetins;
parted, and people going homeward, I went
away serious ; and when gone about two hun-
dred yards from the place where the meeting
was held, it suddenly came into my mind what
I had been thinking of the week before. I
stood still to consider what to do ; and began
to reason that they were strangers to me, and
it was not safe to meddle with them. I began
to go homeward, and had gone but a little
way, when I met a Friend whom I knew; and
he asked me about the meeting ; and speaking
of my satisfaction, I asked him, if he thought
the Friends, (who were Thomas Carleton and
Thomas Langhorn) would go home with me,
for the thing was pressing upon my mind.
Said he, "Shall I tell them?" I said he might.
After he was gone, I began to reason, and was
much afraid I had missed my way, but thought
I M'ould stand still to see what they would do.
When they came near, a mighty dread seized
upon me, and I had much ado to abstain from
shaking and trembling, that I abhorred myself.
But when the Friends came and took me by
the hand, and asked me if I was willing they
should go with me, and I replied, I was, my
strength came to me again ; and going home
to my house, the report spread abroad I was
turned Quaker, and the Quakers gone to my
house. In a few hours, it being in the winter,
and the nights about the longest, many neigh-
bours came to hear and see ; and the house

being pretty well filled, Thomas Carleton and
Thomas Langhorn advised me to speak to the
people to sit down, and we would have a meet-
ing. I did so, and we had a meeting ; and
afterward several of us, Christopher Taylor,
William Graham of Sikeside, and Francis
Story, who was clerk and schoolmaster, with
some others, went to an upper room, and
having written some queries, came down.
When the Friends perceived what we aimed
at, Thomas Carleton, .being pretty quick and
expert in answering questions, called for a
Bible, and did not so much argue with us, as
endeavour to let us see what the Scripture said,
putting us gently by, for we were much for
arguing : we parted pretty well satisfied.
Next morning the Friends going to Carlisle,
Christopher Taylor and I went with them ;
■ and we asked many things, which they an-
swered to our satisfaction. In our going along,
a heavenly melodious song sounded through
Thomas Langhorn, and we were affected with
it. After we had parted, in our return home
we said one to another, " If there be saints
upon earth, those men are two of them."

Friends hearing of these things, J. Wilkin-
son appointed another meeting in two or three
weeks after ; and coming to the place, it being
a wet season, Christopher Taylor was desired
that it might be on his ground, on a little hill
called Meggs Hill, (now Friends' burying-
ground,) which he readily granted. There
was a very glorious meeting, and many were

That night Christopher Taylor invited John
Wilkinson to his house ; and he, his wife, and
his brother Andrew, all received the truth in
the love of it, became worthy Friends, and
died in the faith.

After several meetings amongst us, and
divers convinced, we were advised to keep a
meeting to wait upon the Lord, though there
were none to speak words ; so we agreed to
have a meeting at my house in the year 1672.
Being but a few, we concluded to have it in
an upper room of mine ; and when we sat
down together, I may say I was hard beset to
keep my mind from running hither and thither
after the transitory things of this world ; and
a great warfare I had for the greatest part of
the meeting. Yet near the conclusion, those
vain thoughts vanished, and the Lord was
pleased to bring to my remembrance, how that
men who had great possessions in this icorld,
had their day, and were gone ; and I saw
clearly, in a little time that my day would
soon jjass over. I was comforted in my spirit,
and my inward man renewed in a sense of the
Lord's nearness ; and being thus encouraged,
we kept to our silent meetings, and report
went abroad that we had settled a meeting ;



and several came and sat down among us.
When there was a public Friend, we mostly
had the meeting without doors; but when only
ourselves, we still met in that upper room. In
about a quarter of a year, there was as many
as thirty or upwards, most of them of good
repute and conversation : then we agreed to
settle the meeting at four Friends' houses, and
go by turns ; and abundance were convinced,
that stood at a distance to see what would be-
come of us. For the enemy began to rage
and persecution to arise ; and because we could
not pay tithes, or put into the priests' mouths,
there was war prepared against us; and a hot
time of persecution there was. Gilbert Atkin-
son, who had been of repute formerly, but
giving way to temptation and immorality, after-
wards became an informer, made spoil of
Friends' goods, especially Christopher Tay-
lor's ; and not only so, but was instrumental
to cast Friends into prison. At this time he
was much exalted, and many were ready to
think we should be ruined. Many eyes were
over us, some for evil, and some for good.
This informer was so hot, that nothing would
serve him but for Friends to be wholly ruined.
And though he was one that had been afraid
to go to Carlisle, lest his body should be ar-
rested for debt; yet now he looked upon himself
to be so much the king's servant, that he might
go any where ; and boastingly appearing at
the sessions at Carlisle, lest Friends should
get their liberty, said to the neighbours who
were come upon Fz'iends' account, that it should
be either his day, or the Quakers', for ever.

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 32 of 105)