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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And when he had thus spoken, the sheriff
called for him ; he supposed it had been to
prosecute Friends, but it proved that himself
was arrested on a judgment for debt, and was
sent to prison. After awhile Friends were
released ; but he remained for many years,
and was much afflicted other ways, as well as
with poverty and want ; because of which
Friends often relieved him, till he died in
prison at last.

Here the church was at rest for a time, and
they that had stood at a distance for seven or
eight years, came and joined with us. There
were some who thought they might live so
as to find acceptance with the Lord, and
not come under the scornful name of Quaker ;
but many came to see at last, that nothing
would do short of confessing Christ Jesus be-
fore men ; and all things wrought together for
good to them that loved God. When they
that had stood at a distance for years, thinking
to have lived such a life that they might have
been equal with us, saw our innocency and
how the Lord had preserved us, many of them
came and joined with us ; and among the rest,
John Scott of Highberries, who had been con-

vinced for seven or eight years, and his life
and conversation had so preached among his
neighbours, that many were ready to say " If
John Scott cannot be saved unless he become
a Quaker, what must become of us V Many
relations and neighbours followed him, and
became honest Friends, and he himself a pillar
in the church. The Lord's loving kindness
continued in sending his servants and hand-
maids amongst us, building us up in the most
holy faith, and to the convincing of others.
As our love to the Lord increased, so our care
increased in keeping to our silent meetings.
Glorioifs and heavenly times we had, when no
words were expressed.

Some years after our convincement, being
met in the house of Christopher Taylor to wait
upon the Lord, his power and presence in a
wonderful manner overshadowed us in our
sitting together; and there was much broken-
ness and tenderness on the spirits of Friends,
which spread over the whole meeting, except
three or four persons who sat dry, and they
proved not well. I being near the door, saw
many in the room filled, before the power of
the Lord reached me : yet the Lord, in his free
love and mercy, was pleased to give me such
a share among my brethren, that my heart is
always glad when I remember that season of
God's love, though now upwards of twenty
years ago. And though we wei'e at times
plentifully fed with that bread which came
down froiji heaven, and sat together at the
Lord's table, where the wing of his power was
known to overshadow us ; yet at other times
the Lord tried us with want ; and at a certain
time it entered mj^ mind as a weighty conside-
ration why it should be thus, we being the
same people, and sometimes had very good
and comfortable meetings, and were sometimes
very dry and barren in our meeting together.
As I was thus concerned in my mind, it opened
to me, that there should be seed-time and har-
vest, summer and winter, unto the end of the
world. So I saw clearly there were times to
abound, and times to suffer want ; and I de-
sired to rest satisfied in the will of God. As
we sojourned here, desiring nothing more than
to follow the Lord fully, he not only led us
out of the gross evils which are in the world,
but out of the customs and fashions that are
evil. So that we were singled out from the
world in everything we saw to be needless and
superfluous : and the fame of truth spread,
and our meetings were large, and the exercise
of the faithful was to draw nearer and nearer
to the Lord. And when a little child's state
was witnessed in our meeting together to wait
upon the Lord, having the mind retired for a
considerable time until the Lord was pleased
to appear and fill our hearts with life and



power, it made some of us to say, a little child's
state is a good state, and we greatly desired to
remain here, whei'e the glor}^ of the Lord filled
the temple. This made us beautiful, though
we were not come so far as to have a word
given us to speak unto others by way of testi-
mony publicly ; and though it was the desire
of some to have remained here, yet the Lord,
in his own time, gave them to experience, that
the Gospel, which is the power of God, is not
received but by the revelation of Jesus Christ;
neither is this Gospel to be preached in the
will of man, or in man's time, but in the Lord's
time. And though it is written, " Quench not
the Spirit, despise not prophesyings;" yet many
have been unwilling to speak the word of the
Lord, though it hath burned as a fire in their
bones, and they have been filled with it as a
bottle with new wine, lest they should offend
the Lord, or burthen his seed in the hearts of
his people. This hath made some say, "Lord,
let me never speak a word in a meeting while
I live in this world, rather than I should speak
that which might offend." And though some
may have been too backward for a time, and
there may have been a sense of trouble for it,
and judgment from the Lord, yet it being in a
godly fear and awe, lest it might prove an un-
timely birth, the Lord hath been meix-iful unto
such, and hath again and again appeared and
not only brought to the birth but enabled to
bring forth : and as the work is his, the praise
and glory belong to his great name. In the
Lord's time, to us that had been under the re-
gion and shadow of death, light sprang up ;
and our mouths were opened, and tongues
loosed, to speak well of the Lord. The Lord
raised up planters and waterers, and made
several as useful instruments for carrying on
his great work in the earth.

After I was convinced, and had joined myself
to Friends, as I received the truth in the love
of it, my love greatly increased to the Lord,
and to his people : I was diligent in going to
meeting at home, and often had a desire in
my mind to a;o to other meetings and sit among
Friends in silence; and many times was sweetly
refreshed, and returned in peace.

About four or five years after my convince-
ment, I had it in my mind to go to several
meetings in our county ; and the first I went
to was Wigton, their week-day meeting being
on the fourth-day ; and sitting down in true
silence with my mind stayed upon the Lord,
those words sprang livingly in me, "The year
of the jubilee is now come ;" and they opera-
ted in me to that degree, that I had much ado
to contain; but being fearful to open my mouth
in the assemblies of the Lord's people, I rea-
soned till the life and power withdrew ; and
though the words remained, I saw I could do

nothing, having quenched the spirit : judgment
seized upon me, and I was under trouble and
exercise for my disobedience. Being inclina-
ble in my mind to go to the other meetings, I
greatly feared what I should do if the Lord
appeared again as he had done, for to give up
to speak a word in the meetings of the Lord's
people was a thing very weighty to me ; and
to undergo his judgments as 1 had done, was
very heavy ; and therefore I desired in my
mind, the Lord might not appear to me in that
manner. To the next meeting I went, and
was still and quiet, and pretty easy in my
mind; and on the sixth-day we had a meeting
for business for our county, and I was glad to
see Friends. On seventh-day I went to the
Holm, to be at their meeting on the first-day ;
and as I went, I desired the Lord might not
appear as he had done, for I much dreaded
the Lord's appearance. When I came, the
Lord withdrew, and left me to myself; and I
was so poor and weak, I could scarce fox'bear
falling asleep, though I had known so much
of the Lord's goodness to my soul for many
weeks, and some years, that if I had been
sleepy when I came into a meeting, through
the Lord's help, sleep would have vanished.
This proved such a surprise to me, that I said
within myself, I will go home, and mourn out
my day. The Lord, who knew the intent of
the heart, saw what was the cause of my back-
wardness, which was lest my ministry should
not be as ripe fruit ; and I often desired of the
Lord, that I might never speak a word in that
way while I lived, rather than I should speak
that which might burthen his seed in the hearts
of his people. I remained for several weeks
under great exercise of mind, lest I should be
forward and miss my way, and bring trouble
upon myself. In this time the Lord often
filled my soul with life and power, and gave
me his word ; but through fear, I fell short in
publishing it, because of which, I was often
under judgment; and then thought, if the Lord
would but appear again, I would give up. But
time after time, though the Lord did appear, I
fell short and quenched the spirit. An ancient
solid Friend perceived it, and spoke to me to
give up. And at last, being in a week-day
meeting at John Ivison's in Jerrish town, I was
filled to that degree with life and power, that
I could not contain, but spake forth these words
as they sprang in me, " that they that sat in
darkness, had seen a great light ; and they
that were under the region and shadow of
death, to them light is sprung up : glory to
God for ever." And as I thus gave up to an-
swer what the Lord required of me, I had
abundance of peace in my own mind, and
cause of rejoicing. This was in the beginning
of the winter, in the year 1677. I remained at



home until the spring ; having had something
in my mind for some time to visit Friends in
Scotland, if any Friend was going who wanted
a companion. In the second month following,
a Friend from Yoi'kshire, whose name was
Edmund Winn, going for Scotland, wanted a
companion. I made ready, and went along
with him. The first meeting we had in that
nation was at Allassudin, where Walter Scott
lived, who had been early convinced, and suf-
fered for truth : and being a man of an estate,
the meeting was kept in his house. But when
we came, he refused to have the meeting in his
own house or to go to it when it was held in
another Friend's house in the town, alleging
that meetings wei'e but a form and every man
might worship God as well in his own house
as in a meeting ; and so withdrew himself.
Both he, and several of his children that were
once hopeful, forsook ti'uth and Friends, and
the meeting was lost afterwards. We visited
Friends till we came to Aberdeen, where we
found the greatest part of men Friends in
prison, and had been for near two years :
amongst the rest our friend Patrick Living-
stone, whose habitation at that time was in
England. Being come there to visit Friends,
the magistrates of that town were so severe,
that what men Friends they found at the meet-
ing they put in prison : and though they had
set them at liberty several times, yet finding
them in the meeting again, they committed
them to prison, where Patrick Livingstone
continued, with several others, until their per-
secutors were wearied, and let them have their
liberty. We being there about that time, and
having grown weary, they took no notice of
us. And though by this time I had received
some little strength, that I could (but not with-
out fear) speak a few words in a meeting, when
I believed I had them rightly given me in the
life and power of Truth ; yet it had never been
required of me to supplicate the Lord in pub-
lic ; and this looked to me a more weighty
matter to do, than to speak a few words in a
meeting. Being in a meeting at Aberdeen, it
was upon me to pray unto the Lord, and I was
hardly beset in my mind how to give up; and
another Friend kneeling down to pray, made
way for me to follow, and I was easy.


Return from Scotland — Religious Service in
part of Yorkshire, c^c. — Visit to George Fox
— Attends the Yearly Meeting in London — A
time of Persecution — Much Convincement.

Having visited Friends in the north, where
there was great openness, several were con-

vinced, and divers amongst themselves livingly
opened by way of testimony, we returned for
England again, and staying at home that sum-
mer, I had it in my mind to go and see George
Fox, whom I had never seen, and who was
then at Swarthmore ; and the time that was in
my mind to go, was after the harvest was
over. But when the time drew near that I in-
tended to set forward, it was before me to visit
divers meetings in Westmoreland, and in the
dales of Yorkshire, in my way : and a Friend
going along with me, we went forward, and
visited meetings all along until we came to
Wensleydale in Yorkshire, where we found
great openness amongst Friends in their meet-
ings. In Wensleydale meeting, there was
so much brokenness and tenderness among
Friends, that after I had said a little, I sat
down in silence ; and it opened in my mind to
speak of the Lord's appearance unto the pro-
phet, not in the earthquake, nor in the rushing
wind, but in the still small voice. From thence
we went to Swaledale ; and though the Lord
was near in meetings, and his comfortable pre-
sence and opening life I was a witness of, yet
many times, when out of meetings, I was load-
ed and much under exercise of mind, and did
not know what was the cause. At last I be-
gan to think I had missed my way in coming
into those parts ; and if I did not grow more
easy, I would return home : and being at the
widow Cherrie's, I was in the fields a little be-
fore the meeting ; and not being much ac-
quainted with the weight of a testimony, was
much cast down in my mind. Being come
into the house, after a little time came in Rich-
ard Robinson of Wensleydale, whom I knew
to be a weighty ancient Friend ; and having
been at their meeting the day before, began to
fear he had something against me, for I per-
ceived by his own words he was come on foot
six miles ; and he said he had not done the
like for several yeai's. Concluding in my
mind he was not come for nothing, I resolved,
whatever he had to say to me, I would take it
well, and withal I thought I would say but lit-
tle if I could help it. The meeting being ga-
thered, after some time I could not easily for-
bear, but I must say what opened upon my
mind, in the spring of love, and after I had
done, Richard Robinson appeared, and con-
firmed what I had said, and was, with other
Friends, loving and kind. But after all this,
when we were parted, I was under exercise
again, as much as before, and this being on
the sixth-day, we intended for Masham meet-
ing on the first-day, and in our going, I con-
cluded if I was not more easy, I would ap-
point no more meetings, but would go home.
After I sat down in the meeting, I found the
Lord was near to supply those that had their



dependence upon him ; and after I had spoken
what was upon my mind to the meeting, Ro-
bert Lodge said on this wise : " It is now, as
it was in the days of old, when the priests of
God went mourning, between the porch and
the ahar, not because of their own sins, but
because of the sins of the people ; and now
many are made to go mourning between meet-
ing and meeting, not for anything they have
done, but for the sake of others." This eased
me greatly of my burden, and I was helped
on my way, for which the Lord shall have
the praise. Taking meetings in the way, I
came to Swarthmore on the seventh-day, and
was at their meeting on the first-day, where
was George Fox, Margaret his wife, and four
of her daughters, and all very loving and kind;
when we parted, George exhorted me to keep
to the grace, and I should grow. After this I
came homeward, had some meetings by the
way, and remaining at home in the winter,
had a desire to go to the Yearly Meeting at
London, but supposing there were many
weighty ancient Friends, in the county, who
were much more qualified, I was unwilling
to speak of it. Being at our county meeting,
which was of the nature of a Quarterly Meet-
ing, but kept oftener, at that time inquiry was
made of all the particular meetings, who in-
tended for the Yearly Meeting at London, and
none appeared to go in all the county, but
John Banks ; and when the meeting was far
over, and I perceived Friends were desirous
there should be another Friend at least, to go,
I desired a Friend to tell John Banks if he
would accept me for a companion, I would
offer my service to the meeting : he told me,
if I had a desire in my mind to go, he was
satisfied I should go with him, but he would
not draw me.

The time being short, I had to make ready ;
he appointed to meet me at Great Strickland,
and wished to have a meeting. According-
ly I went, and we had divers meetings by
the way, in which John Banks had good ser-
vice, and I was well satisfied with his compa-
ny. This Yearly Meeting was in the year
1679, and the first Yearly Meeting I was at,
and a good and glorious meeting it was to me,
and many more ; who were wet plentifully
with the dew from heaven : and that which
confirmed us the more was to see the aged
and the young keep their places in humility,
endued with heavenly wisdom, that nothing
which tended to strife and contention could
appear without rebuke, in order that love,
unity and concord, might be maintained in the
churches of Christ.

After the meeting was over. Friends parted
in great love and unity : we went towards
Bristol, and had many good meetings in di-

vers places in the way, and also in our return
to Cumberland.

Calling at Swarthmore, we stayed their first-
day meeting, where we had George Fox's com-
pany, who inquired of tbe affairs amoftgst
Friends, and of oar travelling from place to
place, where the Separatists* dwelt ; and what
openness there was in places where we came,
to hear truth's testimony declared ; to all these
John Banks gave him a full account. After
this we journeyed home, and I found several
Friends in prison, and the informer in prison
with them, as I have related before. This was
a time of hot persecution, in the reign of King
Charles II. ; except between the time of the
first informer's being put into prison, and the
other taking his place ,* in which time. I visit-
ed Friends in Scotland, and afterwards An-
drew Taylor and I visited Friends in Lan-
cashire, Cheshire, and some places in the west
of Yorkshire, in the year 1682. There was
fining Friends, and putting them in prison in
most places where we came ; and in our re-
turn homeward, we came to Sedbergh in
Yorkshire, and having heard that Friends had
suffered a great deal in Dent, and were still
under suffering, we concluded rather to go by
than to add to their bonds ; f and being at Sed-
bergh the night before, we were intending to
come home, but an exercise came upon me in
the night, my sleep went from me, and I could
see no way to have peace, but to go to Dent.
At last I gave up, and when the morning came,
told my companion I must go to Dent, and we
acquainted some Friends with it. They told
us we might expect a prison, for there was a
warrant signed by several justices to appre-
hend any sti'angers they found preaching in
Friends' meetings, upon suspicion of being
Jesuits ; but having concluded in my mind, I
was resolved to go, and I would have had my
companion to tarry, but he had more freedom
to go. So on the first-day morning we went,
and Edward Atkinson, of Syde, with us.
When we came into the Dale, Friends were

* These Separatists were the party who left the
Society with Wilkinson and Story, in consequence
of their dissatisfaction with the DiscipUne.

f This expression will be better understood when
it is stated, that the law under which Friends were
persecuted imposed a penalty of twenty pounds for
suffering a meeting to be held in a house or barn,
and twenty pounds for each preacher who spoke in
the meeting — both to be levied on the goods of
such Friends in the neighbourhood as were able to
pay. The apprehension that their appointing a
meeting at Dent might thus bring increased suf-
fering on their brethren there, and expose them to
be afresh plundered by the informers, operated as
a discouragement, and induced them to "conclude
to go by rather than add to their bonds."



going to the meeting, and other people also,
and we told them we were come in love to
visit them, but it was with some concern of
mind, lest they should be fined on our account ;
but they answei'ed, there was nothing in that,
for they were fined already more than they
had goods to pay with. We came to the meet-
ing, and divers, both Friends and others, being
there, afi;er some time Andrew Taylor stood
up, and had good service, but before he had
done, several constables came in, and required
him to go along with them, but he taking little
notice, some Friend that was near, prevailed
with the constables to forbear a little, till he
had done, and they went out awhile, but
thought he continued long, so they came in
again, and commanded him to go along with
them, by virtue of the warrant, which was
signed by several justices. Being present,
among many others, I desired to see the war-
rant, yet they took no notice of me : and afi;er
some discourse, the constables were willing to
dismiss him, upon promise of two Friends that
he would meet them at Dent town the next
morning. This being done, we continued our
meeting until Friends were free to part, having
had a good opportunity, to the satisfaction of
most that were there. Several were reached
and tendered, and Ann Knowles was convinced
and continued an honest Friend.

The next morning we went to Dent town :
the constables thought it needless for them all
to go with Andrew Taylor to justice Otway,
and therefore agreed that only one should go.
As we went, I was much concerned about my
companion's going to prison, and my going
home without him ; for his mother not being
of our persuasion, and this one of the first
journeys he took to visit Friends, I expected
she would blame me, for she loved him well.
Having an opportunity, I informed the con-
stable, that if he did not take an oath, but
only brought him before the justice, it might
be he would not send him to prison : and that
if he took an oath, he would be the informer,
and would have the trouble of conducting the
Friend to York, which was sixty miles, or
otherwise cause Friends to be fined. To be
an informer the constable much despised, and
therefore resolved to be favourable, and com-
ing near the place, being many in company,
we agreed that Andrew and Richard Harrison
of Dent, should go with the constable, to the
justice's house, and we would go to an inn in
Sedbergh, until we heard from them ; and
parting, they came to the house. It being a
wet day, the Friends stayed under a shade,
and the constable went in to acquaint the jus-
tice, and meeting with him, told him, he had
found a stranger in the Quakers' meeting, and
had brought him thither ; he asked, if he

preached : he answered " Yes." " What said
he V said the justice. " Nothing but well,"
said the constable. " However," said the jus-
tice, " you must take the oath." " For the
Lord's sake," said the constable, " excuse me,
for I will not swear." The justice being a
lawyer, and perceiving the man in good ear-
nest, after he had considered a little bid him
go his way ; and coming to us at Sedbergh,
we entertained him civilly, and he rejoiced
greatly in what he had done. Parting with
Friends in great love, we came home, and a
new informer having made information against
me, with several others, for having a meeting
in my house, I was fined twenty pounds, when
I was in Lancashire, forty miles ofl^.

Notwithstanding the endeavours of our per-
secutors, truth prospered, and there were many
added to the church, insomuch that our dwell-
ing-houses were too small to keep our meet-
ings in ; so we saw it needful to build a meet-
ing-house, and purchased wood of Henry Da-
cres, for that purpose. But the priest with
some others, petitioned the bench of justices,
in the time of sessions, not to permit us to
build a meeting-house, for they alleged if we
built a new chapel, they might pull down the
old church ; for by this time, people's eyes
were so much opened, that though the parish
was five miles in length, yet sometimes not
above five besides the priest and clerk, were
there. Three clerks were convinced, one after
another, and came among Friends, though one
of them fell away, yet he never would be clerk
again. One of them being a conscientious
man, told the priest, whose name was Robert
Priestman, he could not say Amen to him, for

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 33 of 105)